Just Ok: Ghosts, Atmosphere, & Disappointment

I recently finished Sadie Jones The Uninvited Guests. I have been working on reading this novel since mid-summer, but only finished the novel this month. It was… okay.

Uninvited Guests

The Uninvited Guests is a ghost story that starts very strong, but ends on a few fairly disappointing notes.

I was really looking forward to this novel. I am a fan of a well written ghost story, and had heard excellent reviews and opinions of this one.

The novel begins promisingly. I liked the author’s style of writing, and felt that she did a great job setting up the appropriate atmosphere. It made me excited to know what happened next. The novel also has very long beginning chapters, though – which is a little disconcerting, when you don’t realize it. You tell yourself you’re just going to read a chapter before beginning your homework, and an hour or more later, you realize you’re still not quite done with the first chapter yet. (I’m possibly exaggerating, plus I read slow, but still, the chapter’s pretty long.)

In addition, my friend began reading this novel at the same time, and she did not initially enjoy the author’s style of writing. So it’s possible that not everyone would initially like the novel.

The setup was great, the characters were well written, I wanted to keep reading –

And then, the last third of the book takes a turn towards Disappointment Ranch.

Disappointment Ranch - where the

Disappointment Ranch – where the good ol’ American need for expansion usually results in death by malaria.

The characters change very suddenly, and without much reason. So the story feels as though it’s resolved very abruptly, like the author knew what ending she wanted, but ran out of steam trying to get there.

And far too much of the story’s last third and resolution depends on love. I have a boyfriend, and a son, and I love both of them, but the use of love at the end of this novel struck me as overwhelming. I was ready to throw my hands up and yell: “Yech! Stop! Cooties!” even though no kissing or sexy times occurred.

Have you read The Uninvited Guests? What were your opinions? Did you find the ending disappointing?

Thoughts on a Book I Just Finished Reading

That’s right, folks, I’ve finished The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless. And holy bovine, this book’s ending did not disappoint. Ah, the hilarity of a novel from the eighteenth century.

lol

During my last blog post about this novel, the hero of the story was courting a boring chick who I had secretly hoped would prove to be a lesbian, but whom he actually just married.

I'm assuming this is what hero Trueworth looked like on & after his wedding night.

I’m assuming this is what hero Trueworth looked like on & after his wedding night.

While Mr. Trueworth was busy being bored with the now “Mrs.” Snoozeville, the charming and vivacious Miss Betsy was being flirty and tempting possible rapists. This behavior worried her brothers – because, come on, you can’t expect men not to rape you if you’re going to be all beautiful and shit, right? The eighteenth century was possibly not the best time to be a woman.

Too bad, for Betsy, that it doesn't exist yet.

Too bad, for Betsy, that it doesn’t exist yet.

But don’t worry – Betsy’s brother’s weren’t worried for her physical and emotional well-being, or anything silly like that. In fact, they weren’t even particularly worried about her loss of virtue. They were worried she would be raped and people would find out about it and think poorly of the Thoughtless family – particularly, them.

Brothers.

Brothers.

Betsy’s brothers are so eager to get her married (and thus, off their hands & reputations), that they push her into a marriage with a guy who’s only pretending to love her.

Enter: Mr. Munden. #dundunduhn

Enter: Mr. Munden. #dundunduhn

Mr. Munden proves to be a real jerk, not giving Betsy much money, expecting her to pay for things for the house out of the pittance of an allowance he does give her, telling her she was being a prude when his friend he was hoping would give him money tries to rape her, and then having sexy times with a woman Betsy tries to help. Understandably, Betsy flees to her older brother’s house. Older Mr. Thoughtless allows this, because the woman Betsy was trying to help, and with whom Betsy’s husband committed adultery, was Mr. T’s former mistress.

Please don't tell my boyfriend I posted something Star Trek Enterprise related on this blog. I will never hear the end of it. #secrets

Please don’t tell my boyfriend I posted something Star Trek Enterprise related on this blog. I will never hear the end of it. #secrets

Some other stuff happens, but the important things are that Mr. Trueworth’s wife dies a few weeks after they’re married (smallpox), and Mr. Munden (Betsy’s husband) dies after their separation from some illness that’s never explicitly named, but sounds like “I’m-a-weenie-who-can’t-handle-my-karma.” Trueworth sees Betsy again for the first time in months, and realizes that not even frigid sexy times with his boring, now-deceased wife could help him get over Betsy. He still loves her, she’s really been in love with him since before she even married Mr. Villain, and after an appropriate grieving period, they get hitched.

A happy ending, wrought through 2 horribly painful deaths. #aw

A happy ending, wrought through 2 horribly painful deaths. #aw

Told you it was hilarious.

Short Story Stimulus: Resolution Gone Awry

While many fitness experts are trying to nix New Year’s resolutions in favor of pushing yourself to live healthy all the time, I have a feeling resolutions are a tradition we are not ready to give up any time soon.

We like, too much, our inebriated goals.

We like, too much, our inebriated goals.

“Resolution” is a wonderful word. It is a noun that indicates a firm decision. It does not, therefore, need to be solely attributed to New Year’s.

But a New Year’s resolution is a powerful thing. It gives the fresh, unsullied year a purpose. It gives the goal/resolution a deadline – within 365 days, the resolution maker will have done ___.

Then, we sober up, and usually realize that what we resolved was, indeed, a good idea, and pretend that we are going to attempt it, but usually just sit on the couch all day, eating chinese food and watching bad television.

New Year’s resolutions are lofty ambitions that most of us don’t really think we can achieve. Or, at least, not without a lot of hard work (which, let’s face it, is usually not in the cards).

So you can write a short story about New Year’s resolutions being attempted, and subsequently, not achieved.

Or, be more creative about it. Maybe a resolution, New Year’s or otherwise, results in a murder. Or jail time. Or falling into a magical wonderland.

Your characters could learn a lesson. Or not.

So many possibilities – but maybe try to resolve to finish your story before the new year begins. & don’t forget to link via Mr. Linky, or in the comments!

Good luck, writers! I think this prompt could yield very interesting results, and I look forward to reading them!

Fighting While Proofreading: Spaces & Periods

I’m not the best writer, and the American school system did not do a great job of explicating the technicalities of grammar. But the few obscurer grammar rules that I think I’ve managed to ascertain, I will fight about until a Google search proves me either correct or incorrect.

One such fight erupted recently between my boyfriend and I whilst he was proofreading my essays for graduate school applications. Specifically, the fight concerned how many spaces to place between the period marking the end of one sentence, and the beginning of the next sentence.

I said you only need one space; he said you need two.

Proofreading...

Proofreading…

The resulting Google search yielded this link, which tells you that – drum roll, please –

The recommendation is ONE space.

I love being right.

Thoughts on a Book I’m Not Done Reading

I am currently wending my way through the book The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless, an older novel from the eighteenth century which is very rambling, but which I find very amusing.

478688

At the moment, I am reading about Mr. Trueworth’s courtship of Miss Harriot, who, to be honest, seems pretty boring when you have to imagine, rather than see, her hotness. She’s highly moral, so Mr. Trueworth, who is truly worthy (bet you would have never guessed that), thinks she’s great wife material, particularly when contrasting her with that coquette Betsy Thoughtless, who is virtuous, but does not always appear so – because she’s thoughtless (noticing a theme yet?).

There were a few scenes in which Miss Harriot’s siblings (brother and sister) are trying to persuade her to encourage Mr. Trueworth’s courtship, so that she can get married and pop out babies. Oh, and also, Mr. Trueworth won’t immediately demand a dowry, which is helpful to Miss Harriot’s brother’s (Sir Bazil’s) situation. Sir Bazil is in love, but cannot marry his beloved without a bit more capital, so it seems like his sister’s marriage to Mr. Trueworth would be win-win for everyone, right?

Show me the money! #SirBazil

Show me the money! #SirBazil

Well – Miss Harriot begins to go on about how she’s not interested in marriage right now and might not ever have those feelings for a man.

My response to this was: “Cool! Eliza Haywood wrote a lesbian. I like it.”

Except it turns out Miss Harriot is really just shy, which is totes more boring, and also means that poor, deserving Mr. Trueworth won’t get to have sexy times until marriage, and even then, she might not be the “naughty librarian” kind of shy. He might just end up marrying a frigid bitch. & mistresses can be expensive, yo.

This could be what you're marrying, Trueworth.

This could be what you’re marrying, Trueworth.

In general, I’m not much of a fan of Miss Harriot, but I did like when she says this:

“‘…it is an ill judged policy, methinks, in you men, to idolize the women too much, you wish would think well of you; – if our sex are in reality so vain as you generally represent us, on whom but yourselves can the fault be laid?'”

She makes two excellent points:

  1. Being idolized never fares well for the subject being idolized. You can’t live up to it. Also, it’s usually annoying to have someone idolize you.
  2. Men convince women to think about themselves in a certain light (I’m looking at you, media run by rich white men), and then belittle women for thinking about themselves in the manner they have been taught.

Hypocritical males just got owned.

I’m still not a fan of Miss Harriot, but I did like her slightly empowering remark, and I liked her when I thought she was a lesbian.

I prefer Miss Harriot as a Sapphic beauty.

I prefer Miss Harriot as a Sapphic beauty.

Book Review: An UnSetterfielding Disappointment

I was so excited to open the package that revealed I had been the lucky recipient of the following ARC:

So. Excited.

So. Excited.

For those who are unfamiliar with Diane Setterfield, she is the author of the bestselling novel The Thirteenth Tale. You should run to a library, or better yet, a bookstore (let’s get a deserving author some royalties!), and grab a copy of her previous novel. Particularly if you like gothic fiction and/or the novel Jane Eyre.

40440 (1)

I adored The Thirteenth Tale. I adored that novel so much that I was worried Bellman & Black couldn’t live up to Setterfield’s debut novel. For me, this worry proved to be correct.

Sometimes, it's hard to be constantly correct.

Sometimes, it’s hard to be constantly correct.

Bellman & Black is the story of William Bellman’s struggle with death. A death that he caused, the death of those he loved or knew, and, of course, his own. As a result, Bellman & Black is pretty depressing. There are books about death that are beautiful; in my opinion, this is not one of them. This book is bleak and odd and disconcerting, which is not inappropriate, given the subject matter.

death

Based on the blurbs of the book I had read, I was expecting a dark story that was full of magic. Yet, now that I have read the novel, I don’t feel these blurbs were very accurate. Or rather, I felt that the story alluded to a particular type of magic – that found in mythology.

ravens

In particular, the theme of ravens that permeates the novel has a feeling of mysticism, wisdom, and an unconquerable defeatism often associated with zombies.

Don’t get me wrong; Bellman & Black is not a horrible novel. It’s well written, the character of William Bellman is drawn with broad strokes, but is understood by the reader. It just wasn’t quite the novel I was hoping to read, particularly when the novel The Thirteenth Tale was.

I would maybe recommend this novel as one to borrow from the library. On the scale of suckage to awesome-ness, I give Bellman & Black 3 ripe bananas – it’s the type of book that’s good when you’re in the mood for this type of book.

bananas no pajamas

Perspective

Subtitle: Stop Being a Crybaby (This is coming from a mother who has an increasingly temperamental toddler.)

Utilizing the power of the internet, I have been having a Project Runway AllStars season 1 marathon, and recently got to the Season’s Face-off Episode. I loved how the similarity between Jerell’s & Michael’s looks was made into such a big deal, when I was struck by the fact that everyone except for Rami & Mila had similar looks. But that’s not really what inspired me to write a blog post.

This inspiration came from Mondo.

Oh, Mondo. He of the Beetlejuice-inspired clothing in season 8 (if you think he should have won season 8, you probably missed that his outfits all tended to look the same, and if you think Gretchen Jones is bitchy, hopefully, you don’t want to work in the fashion world – plus, what the hell does being bitchy have to do with being the most talented designer?) is so. Annoying. I’m sorry, but having HIV-or-whatever does not mean that you deserve to win a reality show.

And as my boyfriend pointed out, he cried a lot on the show – specifically, on the runway. My boyfriend hated Mondo, because he said, “He’s being manipulative. He’s not crying because he’s so upset he can’t help it; he’s crying because he thinks it will help him win the show.”

I could not help but think of my boyfriend’s criticism  when Mondo broke down because the judges liked Kenley’s outfit more than his. Frankly, you should not be a designer if everyone needs to rave about your looks in order to prevent you from breaking down bawling. There is always going to be someone who is not dazzled by your look; get over yourself.

But I kind of had to laugh as he’s crying out “This is supposed to be my birthday present for my mother!”*

Because this was what Mondo was claiming was his mother’s birthday present:

Mondo's gift to mom was not loved

It’s an okay outfit, but I doubt many 60-year-old women want to leave the house wearing that outfit.

Also, way to use the day your mother escaped out of a vaginal canal to try to manipulate your way into a win.

My analysis of this situation made me think about perspective. I’m sure there are people who see Mondo cry, and think he looks like a sickly little bird that they want to nurse back to health so he can become the mega-bitch of the show Project Runway (and those people received the closure they needed at the end of Project Runway All Stars, since Mondo ultimately wins this season). My boyfriend and I, on the other hand? We think he is one of the more annoying reality show personalities.

And of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Mine just happens to be the correct one. #perspective

*paraphrasing here; I really don’t care enough to watch the episode again so that I can ensure I’m accurately quoting Mr. Manipulative

Book Review: Okay, It’s Official. I love Rainbow Rowell.

I read Fangirl in two days.

Fangirl is a bit fluffier than Eleanor & Park – which was nice. I was looking for a fluffier book to help me escape a bit from the stresses of school, grad school applications, and child-raising. I was looking for a fluffier book, but still a well-written book. I found what I was looking for in Fangirl.

The protagonist of Fangirl, Cath, might be difficult for a lot of people to relate to. She is shy, inexperienced, and scared to break out of her shell. The shell is protective, and if she stays inside of it, she might not experience very much life, but if she breaks out of it, she might get hurt. This extreme shyness, almost an ability to live, will not make sense to many people. But it does make sense to me. I was also very shy when I was in high school, and when I was in college.

There are two flaws with Fangirl.

  1. Pacing. The book takes awhile to get started. It’s still enjoyable to read in the beginning, but at the same time, the reader kind of feels like Is this book going anywhere? But don’t worry, because it does. Keep reading.
  2. Of course, Cath meets people who help her break out of her shell. Yet, at the same time, the reader kind of thinks Yeah, right. Like Cath just happens to meet the people with enough slightly stalkerish persistence to keep trying to become her friend when she keeps pushing them away. And as a formerly extremely shy individual, I can say that yeah, that does seem unlikely. When you’re not open to meeting new people, you tend not to meet new people. At the same time, most novels contain at least one unlikely coincidence, and it wouldn’t be much of a novel without these likable people with stalkerish propensities, so I think we can forgive R squared for this one.

Rowell does a great job with Cath. In the beginning, the reader doesn’t hate Cath, but doesn’t necessarily really like her, either. As this shy, timid character begins to open up to new experiences and friends, the reader grows to like her more and more, just as her acquaintances do as they tend to become friends.

The supporting characters are well done, too. I was particularly a fan of Cath’s roommate, Reagan, whom you don’t see much, but who is a very funny, punk rock kind of gal.

Overall, the novel is well written, can be read quickly, and is full of awkwardness, mistakes, and learning not just to find yourself, but to open yourself up to new experiences. I highly recommend it. On the scale of suckage to awesomeness, this novel warrants five T-rexes and a unicorn.

Read It. Rawr!

Read It. Rawr!

Image Attribution:

By User:tlcoles (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

By Billlion at en.wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

By Stefano Bolognini (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

My first grad school application is submitted!

Oh, ye strangers of the internet, ye wandering knaves who hast stumbled upon this blog, ye care not wot I am about to sayeth, yet my voice proclaimeth for all eyes to see:

MY FIRST MASTER’S IN ACCOUNTANCY APPLICATION IS DONE!

I have hit “submit.” I have stumbled through the intricacies of scanning a transcript that did not want to electronically upload properly into the system on a Mac computer, and saved a PDF in a reduced size. I spent time I didn’t have writing an essay. I uploaded reference e-mails over break, knowing that said references will probably not occur until sometime next week.

I still have another app to get out this month (hopefully that one will be done tomorrow), but right now, a feeling of accomplishment is washing over my person, and this feeling cannot be taken away by anyone. Until my Cost Accounting class starts, and I am woefully unprepared to ask or answer questions.

Ah, well. One application is done, and at the moment, all feels right with the world.