Showing posts with label ghost story. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ghost story. Show all posts

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Comics Wrap-Up - Setting Fire To The Sky








Graphic Novels



This week, I reviewed Rendez-Vous in Phoenix by Tony Sandoval (UK - USA ) a generally great graphic novel about a young man crossing the border into America.






There are some issues with the representation of black people, which I went into further in my review, but overall it's a great book.







Other Stuff


I read a fairly damn cool ghost-based webcomic called 'The Auntie' by Alyssa Wong and Wendy Xu.






-0-





Over on Women Write About Comics, Sergio Alexis wrote an awesome post about queer rep.

Alexis, quite rightly, points out that The Big Two (Marvel and DC to those who don't speak hard-core nerd,) are cr*p at selling queer comics, but that queer comics do sell elsewhere.

It's a really interesting piece, so give it a glance :)








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Saturday, 22 October 2016

Welsh Halloween Traditions

Stop the presses! She's talking about Wales again!










Look, I know, I talk about Wales a lot but that's because

a) I'm Welsh,
b) this is one of the most beautiful and magical places on the planet,
c) you guys seem to know very little about my lovely country/principality, and
d) WE ARE NOT ENGLISH AND I WANT THE WORLD TO UNDERSTAND THAT.




So, humour me a little more, and let me tell you about Welsh Halloween traditions. Most of which, unfortunately, are now passed over in favour of trick or treating and parties.

I never went trick or treating, but that's because my parents are socialist hippies who viewed it as a disrespectful form of begging.

And I'm vegetarian and most of the sweets were made with gelatine.

(I did go trick or treating with two of my mates as a teenager - I told my parents we were just having a party at one girl's house. I'm such a rebel, lol.)








Pumpkins


My mother tells me when she was young, they would carve swedes for Halloween. Yes, swedes. Not pumpkins.

Pumpkins actually aren't native to the UK, and in the 60s and 70s, it was easier to get hold of swedes instead (though definitely more difficult to carve!)

Also, Jack o'Lantern is an old British (yes, that includes non-Welsh Britain,) word for a Will o'th' Wisp - a dancing light sprite/fairy/spirit thing that tempted travellers into dangerous places like swamps and hidden pools.







Nos Galan Gaeaf


The Welsh version of Halloween is Nos Galan Gaeaf (not to be confused with Nos Galan - New Year's Eve.)

Nos Galan Gaeaf is the night before the first day of winter. It was thought to be Ysbrydnos - a night when spirits are abroad and able to gather at places where the worlds are close together like graveyards, stiles, crossroads, bridges, etc.





Divination


Halloween has always been the perfect time for divination here, because the other world is close. It's also one of our most important Halloween traditions.




One form of divination involved hanging clothing/underwear on a washing line at midnight.

Some stories tell of young women hanging their knickers on the line; the spectre of the man she was to marry would appear and touch them (I know, this story sounds considerably dodgy.)

Some stories say that the future was revealed by whatever ghostly image appeared by a person's clothing - a crib, for example, meaning the person would have a child soon.

The spookier stories tell of coffins appearing above a person's clothing, and death soon after.
















Then there's the rocks, placed in a fire, with the names of the people in the household written on them.

If the rocks were gone in the morning, that person would die within the year. This was mainly a North Welsh tradition, I think, so I don't know much about it.






In honesty, there seem to be as many divination rituals here as there are families.

Everyone seemed to have a different method of telling the future, though even within the last 50 years it's gotten less and less.





Apple-bobbing was also a divination method; that's how it started. The first girl to actually bring up an apple was the next to be wed.

And of course, they would then peel the apple, in as long a strip as possible. You then drop the peel, and whatever letter it seems to make will be the initial of the person you are to marry (this one is still relatively popular.)















Mari Lwyd

Still occasionally carried out, mari lwyd ('the grey Mary') is a traditional costume and/or effigy using a horse's skull, garlands, and a sheet. 

It's now usually used around Christmas and New Year, but originally was used at Halloween too. It chases people (in modern times, the people have agreed to this!) around their homes in exchange for money and/or food.

No-one actually knows why.
















Goblin/ghost funerals

This isn't a phenomena specific to Halloween, but I think it's probably worth mentioning here, as the worlds being closer together ups the chances of it occurring.

There are numerous stories here of processions of the dead - sometimes this is the people who will die within the year, all marching through country lanes, sometimes it is the portent of a funeral to come - complete with the mourners who will be there.

Sometimes it's a procession of Y Tylwyth Teg - the Fair Folk, (the Grey Folk, the Ladies and Gentlemen, the Old Ones, etc.) carrying out their own funerals.

(Always speak respectfully of the Grey Folk, and never thank them - they don't like it. Also an alcoholic beverage, or some sugar, or some dairy produce, will go a long way. And potentially make the local cats very happy.)








Look, we have a lot of folklore - and I read a ridiculously large amount of local folklore books, ok? ;)



Saturday, 1 October 2016

Month in Review(s) - September 2016

September was the month that various sh** hit various fans.








In case you're not caught-up on all the goings-on of the bookish online community, let me briefly summarise:


  • Some people questioned authors about the lack of diversity in their books (no matter you're opinion on this, those people had the right to ask the questions.) This resulted in trolling.

  • There was a video on BookTube (the bookish portion of YouTube,) by a horrible person who sees diversity as a dirty word, and is generally a bigoted jerk. She then took offence when it turned out a lot of people didn't agree with her.

  • White supremacist & Nazi trolls decided to spread their racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, etc. hatred by trolling members of the online bookish community. Most of these people were also Trump supporters.

  • A US library magazine called VOYA showed some of the worst customer service you can imagine in their response to criticism of their apparently bi-phobic reviewing.
...I think that covers most of it. It was an... interesting month.











But we, as a community, are pulling through this... I hope.





As far as my blogging stats go this month, things have been good :)




I discovered an acronym for my blog which had been staring me in the face the whole time - DORA. Which I will now be using when Diary of a Reading Addict is too long-winded.

I passed 30k page-views for the first time (!!!!) and now see between 100 and 300 page-views on a typical day :)







I gained a handful of followers on BlogLovin and Twitter, though not as many as I would've liked.

I also noticed something in terms of my Twitter followers, which kind of upset me.







Whenever I tweet about anything to do with LGBTQ+ issues, I lose 2-3 followers; that's per tweet where I mention queer issues, characters, books, etc.







At first I thought it was just coincidence - but after that it became too regular, and I couldn't believe it was coincidence any more.

It's not like I tweet about LGBTQ+ an excessively large amount... is it? I don't think I do.

Anyway, I figure I'm better off without followers like that. As upsetting as that is.






But I just want to thank all the people who do read this blog, like and RT my tweets, comment on my posts, and continue to follow me.

I love you. Each of you is worth 1000 of those homophobic a*sholes.

In a month of trolls, bigotry, and bad news, there were two high-points - my birthday, and you guys.






So, to the books I reviewed this month:




Young Adult








Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova - Fantasy, Witches, LGBTQ+
As I Descended by Robin Talley - Ghost story, Horror, LGBTQ+




Adult










Comics




The Sun Dragon's Song #1 - Kids, Fantasy



Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Review Time! - As I Descended by Robin Talley











Title: As I Descended

Author: Robin Talley


Genre: YA, Ghost Story, Horror, LGBTQ+ (F/F and M/M)

Release Date: 6th September 2016

Amazon: UK - USA










A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.

A young adult re-telling of Macbeth. In a boarding school. With LGBTQ+ protagonists. Hell yes!

I sooo wanted to read this - so much so that when my request to receive an eArc was declined on Edelweiss, I marched myself straight over the NetGalley to see if it was listed there.

And on NetGalley I was approved!!!!!!! XD XD

Happy book nerd all around!!!!!!!





Premise:

Lily wants her girlfriend to come to the same college as her after they graduate.

Maria deserves the best, and the Cawdor Kingsley prize would mean the scholarship of her choice. It would be perfect.

The thing standing in their way? Queen bee Delilah Dufrey.

It wasn't meant to go down like this. But after that night with the Ouija board, nothing goes to plan.

They wanted Delilah out of the way, and they just might get it.





Best bits:

Let's just take a moment to appreciate the diversity in this book:

The central relationship is between two girlfriends, one of which is Latina, and the other of which is disabled.

The two main supporting characters are boyfriends Mateo (another Latinx character) and Brandon.

None of this feels forced, and none of the characters feel 2-dimensional.

As well as being diverse, it is a damn good horror/ghost story.

With enough nods to the original Macbeth to keep the bard lovers reading, Talley weaves a story full of creepy tension and layers of meaning.









Because there is some deep sh** going on beneath the surface here - themes of ambition, insecurity, and hypocrisy all feature.

And Talley doesn't shy away from the issues either.

Her characters face the sting of homophobia in a variety of forms, and the irritation of being the only people of colour (PoC) in the school and therefore used by the establishment as proof that the school has left its racist roots behind.

The achievements of Lily and Mateo are often put down to 'affirmative action' - despite how hard they work, they can never get full credit for what they've done; and this, understandably, makes Lily in particular pretty damned angry.

The way Talley deals with these issues is truly skilful. She neither belittles them, nor makes them the central point of the book. They are an aspect of a complex plot filled with complex characters.

Honestly, there's so many excellent points that I could make about this book that I couldn't possibly get to them all. You'll have to read it to find out ;)





Not so great bits:

Personally, I would've loved an expansion on some parts of this book.

What is up with minor characters Austin and Felicia, who clearly know a hell of lot more than they should? Why is the dining room such a focal point for the spirits? Is the woman really La Llorona, like Mateo thinks? I NEED MORE!

It would've also been a plus to up the exploration of the Brandon/Mateo and Lily/Maria relationships.

I felt like there was so much more space for development there, and was left slightly unsatisfied when this aspect didn't fulfil its potential.

I also found the ending slightly underwhelming. There was nothing wrong with it - I just felt like it needed more POW!









('POW!' is now officially a technical term. I've decided.)

There're some issues in this book that people may have trouble with, including (but not limited to,) - death, ghosts, homophobia, self-harm, suicide, drugs, and a disturbing lack of interest by the authorities in what is happening at this school.

I didn't notice any swearing, but the odd word might've snuck in there.

There's a lot of violence, blood, gore, and references to the sexy times.

If you don't like ghosts or horror, then maybe try a different book. ;)








Verdict:


Well-written diverse YA horror with complex themes and characters!!!!!!!!

Book, will you marry me? ;)






Update 27th Jan 2017 - In the interest of fairness and openness, here is a Goodreads review from a reviewer who had a lot of problems with the representation of various people in this book.







Buy Now UKBuy Now USAGoodreadsAuthor's Site








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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Month in Review(s) - June 2016

We're half-way through the year folks! Which is kind of rocking, really, because it means we're that much closer to Christmas.

(I love Christmas!)





Anyway, back to the summer-ish-ness of June, and I can honestly say I read a little bit of everything this month.










Plus it was a pretty fab month blog-wise: I reached over 750 Twitter followers, over 15k blog page-views (ARGH!!!!!) and over 30 Bloglovin followers.




AND JUNO DAWSON LIKED MY TWEET!!!!!!

(I'm a massive Juno Dawson fan - so this was kind of a fantabulously big deal to me.)






So catch up on all my reviews this month with this handy link-list (and I've added cover images, because I spoil you.)




Kids










Young Adult







These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly - Historical Fiction, Crime







Adult







Life Blood by V M Black - Romance, Paranormal, Vampires, Novella
Landline by Rainbow Rowell - Contemporary, Chick Lit, Magic Realism, Romance* (*ish)






Graphic Novels






Codename Baboushka, Vol: The Conclave of Death - Spy, Gangster, Thriller, Crime
Klaw, The First Cycle - Young Adult, Fantasy, Superhero*, Paranormal* (*ish - there are shifters of various types and somewhat of a superhero origin story.)




Saturday, 4 June 2016

Review Time! - Say Her Name by Juno Dawson

Title: Say Her Name

Author: Juno Dawson (James Dawson)

Genre: YA, Horror, Ghost Story

Amazon: UK - USA





A few starting notes:


I read Hollow Pike (UK - US) by Juno Dawson ages ago because a paperback copy in my local library had purple-edged pages.

So I picked it up because, y'know, I'm easily amused/attracted by pretty colours. Lucky for me, that book rocked.

So, since then, I've wanted to read the rest of Dawson's books - and I eventually got around to this one! (Again, lucky for me!)





Premise:


People fool around with it all around the world - say 'Bloody Mary,' five times, in front of a mirror, at midnight, by candlelight.

Then her ghost is meant to show up... apparently.

People do it all the time. Nothing ever happens... right?

So, when Bobbie and her friends agree to it as a dare, nothing will come of it... right?

Or so they think. But time's running out.

In five days, she will come.





Best bits:


I loved this book - hands-down loved it!

It could have been soooo clichéd - but instead, every time it started to ever-so-slightly veer in that direction POW! - a new twist.

(Yes, I just used 'POW!' - In a book review. Deal with it.)

The characters were fab, believable, and not intensely stupid. (Which is always good.)

Bobbie? I loved her. She was really relatable and quite bookish (yay!) without being pretentious.










She's also really sweet - which is always nice - but not boring, which was a relief (yay for nice-but-not-boring characters!!!!!)

(Yes, I've had coffee. Coffee is good.)

The plot a) keeps you guessing, and b) refuses to be held down by all the urban legend Bloody Mary stuff that came before, while also not ignoring it.

(Which is skilful - and impressive. *Nods approvingly.*)

This was one of those books which was like: one more chapter - just one. And six chapters later, you're still there, and still reading.

And while it is creepy, it's not so creepy that you want to give up half-way through. (But then, I like horror, so other people may have a different opinion.)

I'll say it again: I loved it ;)





Not so great bits:


There's not a lot of things I can really argue with here...

It does deal with subjects that a lot of people may find distressing: references to self-harm, abuse, murder, suicide, etc. etc. But it doesn't feel overly-heavy with it.

And if you have a mega-fear of ghost-girls, mirrors, and/or ghosts in general, this is probably not your book.

There's some mild violence, gore, etc.












There's also some mild swearing (cr*p, etc.) Honestly, I doubt it'll bother anyone, but if I don't mention it, someone's bound to come back on me about it. Because that's usually how my luck goes.

Oh, and there's some references to sexy-times, but nothing overtly graphic.

I guess my only real issue is the whole absentee-parents thing that YA gets away with a lot.

But as that trope goes, I really can't argue with the way it's handled here - the boarding-school deal-y neatly sidesteps the issue.






Verdict:


I loved this book - it's fresh and original where it could've been clichéd and rusty, it draws you on, it has great characters...

Basically, this is a great YA horror. And I definitely recommend it.










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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Books On My 'To-Buy' List

Do you have a 'to-buy' list?

My 'to-buy' list isn't quite the same as my tbr - if I bought everything on my tbr I wouldn't have any money left for things like... food.

Some of them are on my tbr, obviously, but a lot are books that I've already read but want to own so that I can re-read them, or just because I want to know I have them (Don't judge me!)

I really want these books... I'll just have to save my pennies!

straight james gay james cover

Straight James/Gay James by James Franco (UK - US)

You may have noticed, but I really love this book. That's why I want to own it. I want to have a nice paperback copy in my hands :) That came out decidedly weirder than how I intended it to sound.




crimson peak cover
Crimson Peak: The Official Movie Novelization by Nancy Holder (UK - US)

I've seen the film (UK - US) (Tom Hiddleston - yes, please!) but have heard very good things about the novelisation - which caught my attention, because normally people are a bit like 'Ehhhh...' when it comes to novelisations.





20th century ghosts cover

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill (UK - US)

I've read this twice from the library. I love Joe Hill. I love short stories. I love Joe Hill short stories. I really want this book.




locke and key 1 cover


Locke & Key: Welcome To Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (UK - US)

Joe Hill + graphic novels = one happy reading addict!





shutter island cover
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (UK - US)

Another book I've borrowed from the library not once but twice, and one I was first inspired to read by the Leo DiCaprio film (UK - US) (yes, sometimes I watch the film without having read the book - please don't hurt me!)


It also started my Dennis Lehane addiction; Leo has a lot to answer for.




live by night cover

Live By Night by Dennis Lehane (UK - US)


Another Lehane book to feed my junkie habits. This is book #2 of the Coughlin series (you can read my review of book #3 'World Gone By' here.)

I love Joe Coughlin; I shouldn't because he's a gangster. But I love him.






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