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.

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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