Christmas Films I Love

Seasons greetings!

It’s dark at 4pm, I’m living in my snood, hat and gloves and the heating bill is sky-rocketing. No number of blankets is too many, no amount of tea is too much and no mince pies is probably a crime. Winter is well and truly here.

Our house is full of fairy lights and tinsel and despite how small it is we somehow have managed to fit five (5) Christmas trees around (one in the living room, one in the porch, a small one in my bedroom and two in my sister’s room). Gifts are already wrapped and waiting and my quest to turn my home into a Christmas grotto is well underway. It is the holiday season, well and truly.

Despite the fact that I’ve yet to see what I believe is a proper Christmas classic on television yet (although Deck the Halls has been on several times), I do believe it is the perfect time to binge watch all of your favourite Christmas films. If you haven’t started yet, I’d suggest popping one on at the earliest opportunity, snuggling up with a blanket and a warm drink and letting yourself feel ferociously festive.

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The films I’m about to list, in no particular order, are not necessarily the best Christmas films, but they are films I enjoy watching at this time of the year. They’re not the best, they’re not the most underrated, and it’s definitely not all of the films I love. They’re just ones I enjoy, and wanted to show a little appreciation for.

  1. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

This stop-motion film is my go-to version of the classic reindeer tale. It’s weird, and a little bit creepy at times (my sister and I actually refer to it as “creepy Rudolph”), but I couldn’t imagine Christmas without it. Rudolph isn’t the only misfit you meet throughout this film and there’s a lot more adventuring than in the song we all know. Rudolph and his crew of misfits (that’s where they fit in) travel around the North Pole, venturing to The Island of Misfit Toys and even ending up in the cave of the fearsome Abominable Snow Monster.

At not even an hour long, it’s an easy film to squeeze in whenever you have the chance, and for me, it wouldn’t be Christmas for me without watching it.

  1. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

I know many people probably prefer the original 1947 version, and I enjoy that as well! But this is the version I always seem to end up watching. It’s heartbreaking at times, but it’s a wonderful story about belief. It doesn’t really matter if Kris Kringle is really Santa Claus, and it isn’t fully explained whether he is or isn’t, and that’s just how I like it.

  1. Dr Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

This was the first Christmas film I watched this year. I also love the Jim Carrey film, which I owned on VHS, but I do love this cartoon version, too. It’s short but still enjoyable; it’s bright and entertaining and I can’t help but to sing along.

Also, on the topic of the Grinch: last week I was on the bus when I overheard a girl on the phone to her father saying she was compared to someone and trying to remember his name. “Who’s that man? No, you know, that man. That man that stole all the presents. The man—oh yeah! The Grinch!

Something about it just made me laugh and has kept me smiling whenever I recall it.

  1. Elf (2003)

I don’t believe I’ve met a single person who doesn’t love Elf. I definitely believe it is one of the absolute best modern Christmas films and has become a Christmas staple for myself and many of my friends. After all, we all have a little bit of Buddy in us, don’t we?

  1. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

I mentioned in my last post that I love pretty much every retelling of A Christmas Carol. I’ve seen the films, I’ve seen it in the theatre, I… haven’t read the book yet but I’m changing that this year. However, considering my immense love for The Muppets, this is the version that’s making the list for this post.

I love listening to Gonzo retell this classic, I adore Rizzo’s endless questions as to how Gonzo knows what will happen. I love seeing Kermit as Bob Cratchit and I love Robin as Tiny Tim. I love the songs, I love Michael Caine as Scrooge, I love everything about it. It makes me cry, laugh and grin. I cannot believe I actually managed to see it in the cinema this year! It was wonderful, and it is wonderful, and I love it.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of my favourite Christmas films. There are dozens more, but these are just a handful that I wanted to mention today. Do you love or hate or not care for any of these? What are your favourites? What are your Christmas staples?

Until next time, stay merry!

-K

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Christmas Reading

The end of November is drawing near, and even all lf the Grinches are soon going to have to accept that the Christmas season has well and truly begun. With the American thanksgiving but days away, everywhere is about to be twinkling with fairy lights and unexplainable amounts of glitter, and I, for one, cannot wait.

Since my last post was about not being able to enjoy reading, I thought that for this post I would take some time to talk about a couple of books that I hope to find myself reading over the Christmas season. It’s going to be a short post, and I really do just mean a couple of books, but I’ll say a little bit about each of them.

Hogfather, Terry Pratchett

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Despite thoroughly enjoying Terry Pratchett’s writing from the couple of works of his that I’d read, I’d never read any of the Discworld books until recently. Hogfather was a book that my partner loved and used to listen to the audiobook of every year at Christmas, so a couple of years ago I bought her a beautiful copy of it and at Christmas she read it aloud to me for the first time, and I fell in love immediately.

Reading Hogfather has now become something I look forward to all year and one of my favourite parts of the Christmas season. If you haven’t read it, then I encourage you to pick it up. You surely don’t need me to tell you what a wonderful writer Terry Pratchett was, but I will tell you that this immediately became one of my all-time favourite books. It’s funny, it’s exciting and thrilling and it’s honestly magical. It’s also not really, truly about Christmas – it’s set at Hogswatch – so if you don’t enjoy Christmas then you can still get into the Hogswatch spirit instead by reading this.

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

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I said during my Victober post that I had never really read any Dickens, and that I was going to save A Christmas Carol for Christmas. It’s still one of my favourite stories – I saw it a few times on stage growing up and I’ve seen countless adaptations of it (my favourite one is the Muppets adaptation because I love Kermit the Frog) and they’re a staple of my Christmas, but despite this I’ve never actually read the book. That’s really weird, because I love reading and don’t really know why I’ve never bothered to pick it up before now.

Since I’ll be reading Hogfather with my partner, A Christmas Carol is going to be my solo-read this season. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll be reading it on my kindle or splashing out on a lovely copy, but I’m excited nonetheless. I already know that it’s a story I love, and I can’t wait to see if I love the book as much as everything else. I can only imagine that I will.

So those are my Christmas reading plans! Like I said, just a couple, but stories that I love. What are you reading this holiday season? Do you have any staples or are you trying something new?

Until next time, stay cool.

-K

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Shuffle The Music Tag

Okay, so I wasn’t tagged in this. That’s unsurprising – I’ve only been blogging regularly since September and I definitely don’t fit into a niche, so I haven’t really found a spot in the blogging community yet. However, when I was looking through my collection of post ideas and prompts today, nothing really seemed like it was the right time to post it. Then, whilst scrolling twitter, I came across this tag from Britt at Alternatively Speaking.

I listen to music every day and I’m always finding new artists and new genres to explore. However, I mostly listen to music on spotify now – playlists made by my partner and friends and a couple I’ve made myself. I thought it would be fun to do this tag using my iTunes because I haven’t used it for a  good couple of years now, and it would be interesting (and a little nostalgic) to see what I had to say about the songs that came up!

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THE RULES:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you for this tag and link to their blog.
  2. Shuffle your entire music library (no matter how old songs the songs are) and talk about the FIRST FIFTEEN songs that come up (anything like why they are there, if they signify something, any story, why you like them, etc.)
  3. Mention the songs as well as the artists.
  4. Tag 7 people or more to do this tag and please let them know!

‘The Bitch of Living’ – Spring Awakening Broadway Cast

This was the first song from this musical that I ever heard, and I knew nothing about the show itself but I really, really liked this song. A couple of years later I came across the rest of the music from the production, but this one is probably still my favourite. I love rock music and I love theatre music and this combines the two beautifully. Listening to it again now after a year or so since I last heard it has made me remember just how fond I am of it.

‘The Fighter’ – Gym Class Heroes ft. Ryan Tedder

This is absolutely one of my favourite Gym Class songs and it’s one I still listen to regularly. It’s a song that always makes me feel better – it motivates me and reminds me that I’ve already made it this far so there’s no reason to give up now. It’s okay to struggle and it’s okay to not always feel like you’re winning because that doesn’t mean we’ve lost yet. We can keep going and it might be tough but there’s no reason I can’t do it, and anyone that doubts me is in for a shock.

‘A Change of Heart’ – The 1975

The 1975 are one of my two all-time favourite bands (joint top place). I’ve seen them live three times already and I fully intend to see them every time they return to Liverpool/Manchester for the foreseeable future. I think this is one of the songs from ILIWYS that I don’t hear about as much, but it’s one of my favourites. There are so many throwback lyrics in the whole album but especially in this song – it really speaks to me about growing up and changing. Over the past couple of years I’ve changed a lot and so have the people around me, and it’s led to us having to let go of some friendships because things just weren’t clicking like they used to. It’s sad, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s okay to let go. Things don’t always go like we plan, but at least we have beautiful songs to share the changes with.

‘212’ – Azealia Banks ft. Lazy Jay

This is the kind of song that I can listen to in the day and enjoy, but if it came on while I was out with friends I know I’d have a totally different reaction. It makes me want to go to a club.

‘Push’ – Matchbox Twenty

I really love Matchbox Twenty. This is a really sad song, but I still love it. The music is just really familiar to me and even though the contents of the song are definitely unpleasant, the music itself just makes me feel really full. I think it’s the combination of them both. I can’t help but sing along.

‘She’s American’ – The 1975

Oh wow, another.

I love this song, but a lot of the time I see it interpreted in a way that doesn’t pay attention to half the lyrics. I feel like people only hear the ‘she’s American’ lyrics and not the rest of them. But, to be fair, just because I interpret it one way doesn’t necessarily mean it’s correct, and I wouldn’t try to tell anyone else how to interpret it. To me, though, it’s not a song about having a good time. I always heard it as being around someone who doesn’t really care what’s going on beneath the surface for you as long as they can enjoy these fleeting and shallow moments.

I really love this song, though. One of my favourite things about ILIWYS is how upbeat the music is and how that contrasts with the lyrics and content of the songs.

‘Raise Hell’ – Brandi Carlile

This song reminds me of my pirates. Over the years, as a writer, I’ve written a lot of characters who are pirates – some entirely fictional and some inspired by real historical characters. This is one of the songs that I’ll always associate with them.

‘Toy Soldiers’ – Marianas Trench

Ah, my other favourite band! These guys share the top spot with The 1975, and I’ve seen them live twice. This is one of the first songs by them that I heard. I don’t listen to it very often anymore because I kind of over-did it when I first heard it, but I still think it’s an absolute jam. It’s another one of those songs where the content is about an unhealthy relationship, but the music makes it almost impossible not to sing along for me. This isn’t one of my favourite MT songs, but it’s definitely one I’m fond of because it’s one of the first ones I heard and there’s a lot of nostalgia attached to it.

‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful, Yet So Unaware Of It’ – The 1975

Well done, Shuffle, you’ve brought me three songs from ILIWYS so far.

There isn’t a song by The 1975 that I can think of that I don’t like. I love the music in this, I love the soft singing; I love it all. The lyrics, few though they are, are so colloquial and I adore that. I really like the use of ‘the big light’ because that’s what I’ve always referred to it as, but I’ve never really heard it used in the media (TV, films or music).

‘What A Catch, Donnie’ – Fall Out Boy

This song is so important to me and to a lot of people around me. It’s a song that deals with depression and suicide and struggling, and to me, it’s a reminder that just because we’re struggling doesn’t mean we’re not doing great things, and most importantly, that we’re not alone.

‘You Could Be Happy’ – Snow Patrol

This song makes me really sad, and I’ve heard it in a lot of different places at a lot of different times, but the one that stuck with me? Gavin & Stacey. Every time it comes on I remember that episode. I don’t even especially care about their relationship (come on, it’s a story about Smithy and Nessa told through the relationship of Gavin & Stacey), but this song makes me want to cry… but I still never skip it.

‘Your Song’ – Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge soundtrack)

I really love this film, and this song makes me think of my partner. It kind of reminds me of a bad time in my life, when I’d just started college and everything seemed to be going wrong, but looking back on it I can only be happy that everything worked out.

‘Odds Are’ – Barenaked Ladies

I’m an absolutely massive Barenaked Ladies fan, and this is one of my favourite songs. It’s so uplifting! Yeah, there are a lot of bad things that could happen, but the odds are that everything is going to work itself out. A funny thing for me about this song is that I heard it, and then later realised that the music video for it (which I didn’t see for a long time after hearing the song) was made by Rooster Teeth. If you know me, you know how important Rooster Teeth is to me. What are the odds? Eh? Eh???

‘The Parting Glass’ – Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag OST

AC is my favourite game series, but Blag Flag is not one of my favourite games. That said, the side characters? My absolute favourite. Hearing Anne sing this at the end of the game absolutely breaks my heart. It’s a lovely tune, but I’m an emotional baby who gets too attached to fictional characters and listening to this song makes me feel like I’ve lost my friends, too.

‘What Are You Drinking About?’ – Florida Georgia Line

Catch me passionately singing this song whenever it comes on. Literally every time. I cannot relate to this song even a little bit but you wouldn’t believe that by the way I sing along.

Now, I don’t think I actually know any bloggers well enough to tag at this point, so since I’m already cheating in that I wasn’t tagged I’m going to cheat again and over this up to anyone who is interested in the tag.

Let me know in the comments if you like any of these songs or artists! And leave me a comment if you do the tag as well and I’ll be sure to check out your own post on it!

Until next time, stay musical.

-K

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#Victober: ‘The Familiar’ by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

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‘No, no, no,’ interrupted he, with irritability – ‘no, sir, I am not a credulous – far from superstitious man. I have been, perhaps, too much the reverse – too sceptical, too slow of belief; but unless I were one whom no amount of evidence could convince, unless I were to contemn the repeated, the perpetual evidence of my own senses, I am now – now at last constrained to believe – I have no escape from the conviction – the overwhelming certainty – that I am haunted and dogged, go where I may, by – by a DEMON!’

-‘The Familiar’, J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu was born in Dublin in 1814 as the son of a clergyman. During the early years of the Tithe Wars, his family lived in Limerick, where Le Fanu was exposed to the folk superstitions that would likely influence his later writing. He studied law at Trinity college but went on to become a journalist and, later, a writer of fiction.

‘The Familiar’ is the second story from his collection In A Glass Darkly. It was originally published as ‘The Watcher’ in his Ghost Stories and Tales of Mystery in 1851. It follows Captain Barton as he is stalked by a seemingly supernatural creature that resembles a miniaturised version of a man from his past – a man that Barton insists it could not possibly be.

As are all the stories in In A Glass Darkly, ‘The Familiar’ is draped in layers of narration. The story itself

  1. centres on the experiences of Captain Barton
  2. is retold by an acquaintance of his
  3. whose writings are found in the possessions of the recently deceased Dr Hesselius along with his own notes on the case
  4. all of which are being shared with us by his assistant.

This, obviously, leads to some doubt to the legitimacy of the story. I know, I know – it’s fiction, of course it isn’t real – but you know what I mean. Personally, that’s one of the things I like about this story. I’m a fan of the unreliable narrator. I like that we’re left to wonder. When you read the story, it’s presented as fact: Barton is being stalked. The first time he experiences The Watcher (which is how the creature refers to itself) is merely the sound of footsteps following him on his way home, but when he turns he finds the street deserted behind him. As we read it, this did happen, but if you take a second to think about it – can you be sure it did? Was it just the fancies of a man alone in the night? Is it being exaggerated? By whom? For me, this adds mystery – more mystery – to the story, and I love that.

In my initial Victober TBR post, I mentioned that I was already a fan of Le Fanu. I was actually quite interested to see if I enjoyed his writing as much as I remembered or if, in the absence of it, I’d grown fonder. It was the first. I knew vaguely what ‘The Familiar’ was about before I read it, having discussed it briefly when we studied ‘Green Tea’ and ‘Carmilla’, but it was the first time I had actually read it and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s only about 40 pages long, so it was easy to read in one sitting, but it wasn’t the length that had me read it in one – I just didn’t want to put it down. Not only is it easy to read, but it’s easy to picture in your mind.

It was considerably past midnight when Mr Barton took his leave, and set out upon his solitary walk homeward. He had now reached the lonely road, with its unfinished dwarf walls tracing the foundations of the projected row of houses on either side – the moon was shining mistily, and its imperfect light made the road he trod but additionally dreary – that utter silence which has in it something indefinably exciting, reigned there, and made the sound of his steps, which alone broke it, unnaturally loud and distinct.”

It’s basically a scary story staple: a deserted street, misty moonlight and the feeling that, despite all evidence, you are not alone. The desire to run home like a frightened child is almost overwhelming, and as you read it you want nothing more than for Barton to finish his walk. We’re like children playing tag and home is ‘den’. There is, logically, no reason to believe we would be any safer at home – if something wishes us harm, why would they be stopped by a closed door? But we believe we’ll be safe, and that alone is enough for us.

[[[SPOILERS AHEAD]]]

Perhaps that is why the ending of the story is so disturbing. That Barton, shut up in his bedroom of the apartment he fled to in fear, is still pursued – that the creature sits on his bed. It’s frightening. It violates the spaces we feel safest. It harks back to Freud’s ‘The Uncanny’ and the idea of the unheimlich – the unhomely. If you know me, you know I am not a fan of Freud. I actively dislike Freud – but, when analysing Gothic, ‘the Uncanny’ is very useful. These supernatural creatures invade the spaces we feel safest – they take the familiar and make it unfamiliar. Where do we flee to when our bedrooms are invaded? The threat comes inside the places we feel safest – it crosses that boundary. We are not safe. Perhaps that is why the ending disturbed me the way it did – and I loved it.

[[[END OF SPOILERS]]]

So, for my first Victober recap post, I give you Le Fanu’s ‘The Familiar’. It’s a gripping, simple tale. It probably won’t terrify you, but it’s delightfully spooky, and perfect for October. Being followed is scary – being unrelentlessly followed and stalked to the point of madness is scarier. If you have an hour or two to read 40 pages (depending on the speed you read), I’d highly recommend it. I’d recommend any of the stories from In A Glass Darkly – give Le Fanu a chance if you’re looking to get into Victorian literature. IAGD is perfect – the stories are short, they’re easy to read and I, personally, thoroughly enjoy them.

[This completes challenges 1 and 3 of Victober]

What have you been reading this month?

-K

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Celebrating Halloween as a Halloweenie

So we’re five days into October now, and I’m pretty sure you’re all already sick of all of the Halloween-themed blog posts. Initially, I had intended to post my first #Victober recap post today, but I’m a little behind schedule with my reading because I’ve had a busy few days, so I’m shuffling around my schedule! For those of you who are already sick of Halloween blog posts, I’m sorry. Feel free to leave. This is one of them.

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I have a phobia. It is bad. I don’t use that word lightly – I’ve studied phobias, and I know the difference between having a phobia and a fear. My phobia is somewhat popular around Halloween, this year more than ever. I’m a massive fan of the holiday because I love (almost) all things spooky and scary, but every year I have to make the adult decision to stay inside, no matter how much I’d love to go out. It’s not fair for me to put the responsibility of caring for me on my friends when I inevitably see the object of this phobia – it’s a pretty bad reaction involving panic attacks and crying, and it would undoubtedly spoil everyone’s night.

So – what can you do on Halloween if you can’t go out and party? If you’re like me, and it’s not worth the risk? Or maybe you just don’t fancy going out but still want to get into the holiday spirit? Here are some of my favourite ways to spend it…

HALLOWEEN BAKING

I’ve mentioned before that I want to bake more this season, and Halloween is a great excuse to try my hand at it. I’m not a terrible baker – I took food tech in school and I did well at it, and I bake occasionally, but I never tend to branch out with flavours or foods, instead opting for the same muffins and cakes time and time again.

I’ve been perusing the Halloween collection on BBC Good Food for inspiration, and am hoping to try my hand at making this pumpkin cake this month. I realised recently that I actually have no idea if I like the taste of pumpkin, but since we’ll likely be carving a few anyway, it seems like the perfect time to figure it out! However, if you’re not a fan of pumpkin flavour but still want to make some spooky snacks, you can always make something you do like and decorate it with a spooky pattern or face! These spider web muffins are adorable, as are these little ghost biscuits!

SCARY READING

I love ghost stories. I’m a massive fan of Tom Slemen’s Haunted Liverpool series and have been reading them since I was… well, too young. There’s nothing I love more than walking past somewhere and saying, “Oh, there’s a ghost here, you know!” to whomever I’m with. There’s something about it being here, in my home, that makes it that much more exciting and spine-chilling, and I love that.

If you’re not one for real ghost stories, though, there are plenty of scary books you can check out. One of my favourite scary books that I’ve read in recent years has been Juno Dawson’s Say Her Name, and if you’re a YA fan and you haven’t read it yet I implore you to do so. However, if YA isn’t your thing, then there are plenty of other books out there. You could try something classic, like Frankenstein or Dracula, or you could even go with something like Northanger Abbey. I studied that in my Gothic module at university (definitely one of my favourite modules of my entire degree), and it was extremely interesting to discuss/debate whether we agreed that it was a Gothic novel, what makes something a Gothic novel and the problems of genre definition, especially in terms of Gothic, in general.

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Spooky Cthulhu photo box by Jon Turner*

SPOOKY MOVIES

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a true “Halloween recommendations” post if I didn’t tell you to watch some films. You’ve undoubtedly already got your own list of favourite films for this time of year, so I won’t waste too much time with recommendations. My favourite scary film is Scream (1996), but if you’re looking for something spooky that won’t give you nightmares, then my go-to is The Addams Family (1991). There’s no shortage of film-recommendation blog posts for Halloween, so I’m sure if you do a little searching you’ll find something to your taste.

So, go on ahead, get your snacks and sweets, light some seasonal candles and curl up with a warm blanket and make this holiday your own. You can also, obviously, decorate your home with Halloween decorations whether you’re throwing a party or not! I’m a big fan of the Halloween stock in shops like Poundland – it’s fun, it’s cute, and it’s all £1. You can’t really go wrong at prices like that.

What are your favourite traditions for Halloween? What would you recommend for someone like me who is too much of a Halloweenie to go outside? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time, stay spooky.

-K

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*I got this wonderful artwork at MCM Liverpool 2017 back in March. It’s by Jon Turner, and he has tons of gorgeous artwork, from robots and monsters to Pokémon! You can find him on Instagram HERE, and can shop his artwork at his Etsy store HERE.

Victober TBR

October is within striking distance, and I’ve been a terrible reader lately.

Okay – there doesn’t seem to be any connection between those two clauses. Let me explain. Recently, I haven’t read many books. I have a couple of books on the go – a non-fiction history book and a fantasy novel – but I haven’t really been finding time to sit and just read for a little while, and considering I’ve just spent the last three years getting an English degree with a heavy focus on literature, that seems a bit of a shame. I love reading, but after uni… I sort of took a break. Sometimes, you just need to let your brain rest and know that it’s okay to do that, but I’m ready to get stuck back in and I’ve decided that Victober is the perfect way to do that.

Victober, for those of you who don’t know, is basically “reading Victorian literature in October”. This year it’s being hosted by Katie of Books and Things, Kate Howe, Ange of Beyond the Pages, and Lucy of LucyTheReader. You can check out their announcement and recommendation videos on their respective YouTube channels if you’re interested in following along, learning more or joining in. They’re all linked there.

Despite never taking a module exclusively on Victorian literature, I did read my fair share across my degree. Some of the material I’ll be reading throughout October I’m familiar with, but I’ve mainly tried to selected literature I haven’t experienced before, and I’m looking forward to discussing it on here – you’ll get to see me actually put my degree to some kind of use. Don’t worry – I won’t make you read any full blown essays!

There are five challenges participants of Victober are encouraged to complete. These are:

  1. To read a Victorian book by a Scottish, Irish or Welsh author.
  2. To read a lesser-known Victorian book (less than 12k GoodReads ratings)
  3. To read a supernatural Victorian book
  4. To read a Victorian book recommended by someone else
  5. To read a Victorian book written by a female author

While I’ve selected five books (hey, I’m easing myself back in!), most of the books combine multiple challenges in some way. Here are the books I’ve chosen, along with a little bit about why I selected them!

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In A Glass Darkly by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

I am a big fan of Le Fanu. I first encountered him in my first year of my English degree when I took a minor in Irish literature (Irish literature is super interesting), and we studied ‘Green Tea’ and ‘Carmilla’ (both included in In A Glass Darkly). Then, in third year, I took a module on Gothic literature and film and ‘Carmilla’ was once again one of the texts we studied. I really like Le Fanu, but despite having owned this book for years, I haven’t read any more of it! I am really looking forward to seeing if I enjoy the other stories included in here as much as I enjoyed both of the ones I’ve already read.

This book will complete challenges 1 and 3!

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The Old Curiosity Shop, by Charles Dickens

Despite what I said earlier about having read my fair share of Victorian literature, I haven’t actually read much Dickens. I feel like I sort of had to put some Dickens on here, purely because of that. I asked some of my friends from university what works they would recommend, and it was a toss-up between this and A Christmas Carol. I decided to save ACC for December, so The Old Curiosity Shop it is!

This book will complete challenge 4!

East Lynne, by Ellen Wood

I knew I would be taking a novel straight from Ange’s announcement video for her challenge, and this one piqued my interest the most. I don’t think I’ve really ever heard about it before – not enough to remember, anyway, and after having a quick look around, I decided to stick with East Lynne. I really have no idea what to expect going into this one, but I’m looking forward to it nonetheless.

This will complete challenges 2 and 5!

Now, you might have noticed that we’ve completed all the challenges, so maybe you’re expecting me to stop here. We’re not stopping here.

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The Lifted Veil, by George Eliot

Deciding that I wanted more spooky entries to my TBR, I went back and added a couple more. I know I’ve wanted to read this in the past and never gotten to it, so onto the list it went! October is my favourite month for all things supernatural and spooky, and I also wanted to add more female authors to this TBR, so I am very much looking forward to reading this one. It will probably end up being read much earlier than you would think by its placement in this blog post.

This will complete challenges 3 and 5!

Gothic Tales, by Elizabeth Gaskell

This one is another collection, but I couldn’t narrow down the stories I wanted to read. I might not read them all, but this is definitely one I’m interested in picking up. Again, I wanted both more spooky entries and more female entries, so that’s why this one is here. I’m looking forward to it.

This will also complete challenges 3 and 5!

So, there you go. That’s my TBR for Victober, and I’m pretty excited. I’ll be sure to write up blog posts on each book I read (as per my desire to review the content I consume), so keep an eye out for those. I might even go into a little bit of history and analysis, but I won’t make any promises there because I’m not sure exactly how busy I’ll be throughout October.

Are you taking part in Victober? If so, what are you planning on reading? If not, have you read any Victorian literature before? Do you prefer other time periods? Contemporary? Let me know in the comments!

-K

TWITTER // INSTAGRAM // BLOGLOVIN’

Pokémon GO Book Tag

pokemon-go-book-tag

Listen – I have loved Pokémon for as long as I can remember. I mean it. I’ve played the games, watched the anime, had guides and books and board games and pokéballs and socks. The first person I ever fancied – a boy that was in my class – I fancied for literally around five years, and then I stopped fancying because after I mentioned Pikachu one day he said “Pokémon isn’t cool anymore.”

Naturally, I’m ecstatic about Pokémon GO. Being a Pokémon trainer is my dream, and if this is as close as I’m going to get then I’ll take it. I got the game a little after everyone else because I had an old phone, but I worked hard to catch up to all of my friends because I wanna be the very best.

Anyway, when I saw Read At Midnight had created a Pokémon GO book tag, I knew I had to do it. Combining two things I love is a sure fire way to get me to join in. Let’s do this.

Pokemon-Tag-01Starters

For the record, I always pick the fire starter.

I’ve loved reading since I was a tiny thing, like most book bloggers. I remember my mum sitting in our shared bedroom (us meaning my two sisters and I – we had a small house) and reading The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis to us. The first books I remember reading independently that really set me on this path were The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton. As I got a bit older I discovered things like Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events (which I am currently reading to my girlfriend who never experienced the tragic lives of the Baudelaire Orphans in all of their… well, misfortune). These books really, truly, are what made me fall in love with reading. I can still find echoes of Lemony Snicket in my own writing.

Pokemon-Tag02Pikachu

Pikachu was one of the first Pokémon I caught when I started playing GO, and now whenever I complain about not having seen a Pokémon (WHAT I’D DO FOR A VULPIX OR A MANKEY) my girlfriend likes to point this out. Apparently, I’m not allowed to complain.

Harry Potter is an easy answer for this one, but considering I’ve already mentioned that once I’ll pick a classic classic. I’m studying English at uni, so I’ve read my fair share of them. My first thought was Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett, which I hated whilst reading it but absolutely fell in love with once I began to analyse it, but that’s a play so I won’t count it. My favourite module so far on my degree has been 19th Century American Literature, and I loved pretty much everything I studied on that – especially Edgar Allan Poe. I love the Dupin stories so I think The Purloined Letter” could definitely go here… this is tough.

I think I’m actually going to have to disregard American Literature (although The Last of the Mohicans and Moby Dick are both interesting reads and tremendous fun to study), and say Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I do love the book itself, but more than anything I love the inspiration I find in Mary Shelley herself.

Pokemon-Tag-03-Zubat

Zoobs, you plague me in every cave I visit on my Nintendo and lurk around every corner I walk in my real life. When will I be free of this curse?

I try not to be a dick when it comes to any kind of media anymore, because hating things just because they’re popular is something 13-year-old me would do and I like to think I’ve grown as a person. However, I have a truckload of problems with the C*ptive Pr*nce series, and I really wish people would at least stop pretending that the text isn’t enormously problematic.

Pokemon-Tag-04-Ditto

I can’t wait for Ditto to appear in the game. The episode of the anime where the Ditto can’t change its face is too cute – I love seeing the various Pokémon with his cute little smile!

I’m struggling to think of a book I love that reminds me of other books, but Say Her Name by Juno Dawson has a lot of horror tropes that remind me of various TV shows and movies – you know, things like The Ring? Still, I absolutely love this book, it’s probably my favourite of all of Juno’s novels, and I think it would make an amazing TV miniseries.

Pokemon-Tag-05-Snorlax

Oh my God, I have seen one Snorlax and he ran away from me. It was devastating. I want this big soft bundle of sleepy cuddles. Come home, Snorlax.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to look into the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson for ages, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. I really will… but I’m really trying to cut down on the amount of books I buy before I read at least some of my TBR pile.

Pokemon-Tag06-Gengar

Squidge. I love Ghost Pokémon.

Both Only Ever Yours and Asking For It by Louise O’Neill kept me up all night because I couldn’t put either of them down. They’re both incredibly powerful, important, harrowing reads, and I would definitely recommend them  (though Asking For It is extremely triggering for rape and so I would always trigger warn any one I recommended that to).

Pokemon-Tag07-NidokingQueen

I’m glad Read By Midnight clarified that this was not expected to be a heteronormative answer.

Me being me, it’s very rare that a ship I actually care about becomes canon, so prepare to disagree with me! I think, honestly, my longest standing book ship is Remus/Sirius from Harry Potter, which I will ship until my dying breath (no, I don’t hate Tonks, I love Tonks, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop shipping Remus/Sirius).

Pokemon-Tag08-Rapidash

I love Rapidash. I had no problem collecting Ponytas until I was one away from being able to evolve a Rapidash, and I haven’t see one since.

I’m not sure if everyone would agree, but to me The Foxhole Court by Nora Sagavic (which immediately became my favourite series of all time after I read it) fits this. It’s a fantastic book that honestly I can talk about for hours. I can’t do it justice, and I urge everyone to read it (the first book is free on kindle!) but PLEASE look up a list of triggers before you do! It’s phenomenal and everything is addressed properly and well, but it can be incredibly triggering. Some triggers include: physical/emotional/sexual abuse, including rape, drugs, self harm, alcohol, torture… but it is amazing and LGBTQIA+ and so beautifully written. And I hate sports and yet I have never been more excited at a game than reading those Exy matches.

Pokemon-Tag09-Eevee

I love Eevees. I love every Eeveelution. I will never get tired of them. I can’t wait for the other Eeveelutions to make it into Go and you bet your ass I am going to make sure I have every one (I do that with every single Nintendo playthrough anyway).

I’m actually kind of… blah, about spin offs. I don’t mind when it’s new characters in the same world, but I get a bit tired of processing all the emotions that come with letting characters go and saying goodbye or continuing to develop my own detailed ideas of what happens next and then suddenly having those characters taken back and experience things that make them completely different people. Like, listen, I understand authors can do what they want and it’s not my place to tell them to stop, but I don’t tend to care about spin offs for this reason.

That said, I’m excited to finally take a look at the new Lemony Snicket series because since reading ASOUE again I’ve remembered how deeply I love this world, and I can’t wait to dive back into its secrets.

Pokemon-Tag14-Magikarp

MAN you know when people get salty when they hatch a Magikarp? WHY? You need 400 candies to evolve a Gyarados and you get more candies when you hatch them! If I hatched nothing but Magikarps until I had a Gyarados I’d still be happy.

Although I haven’t finished the series yet (I have the last book but I haven’t started it yet), I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Did I Mention I Love You? By Estelle Maskame. I don’t usually care about books concerning Heterosexual Romance, but I did really, really enjoy it.

Pokemon-Tag12-Legendary

If you think I’ll give up playing GO before I have a Legendary, you are wrong. So very, very wrong.

Anyway, for some reason I still haven’t picked up The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I’m excited to finally pick it up and maybe even more excited to read The Ketterdam Duology afterwards. I might even end up reading Six of Crows first…

Pokemon-Tag15Mew-MewTwo

I can’t even find a Mankey. It’s going to take me god knows how long to find a Mew/Mewtwo.

Anyway, without beating around the bush, I’m poor. I’ve never really fussed much over collector’s edition because they’re expensive and I don’t like to long for something I have no chance of owning. That said, the Discworld Collector’s Library copy of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman is beautiful… but my copy of Good Omens (I went to abbreviate it and then released it’s GO) is signed by Neil with a personalised message so… I’ll keep my tatty paperback, thank you!

Pokemon-Tag10-Egg

Everyone seems to be hatching Vulpixes and Vulpix is my favourite Pokémon and yet here I am, hatching Drowzees.

I’ve heard a lot about Caraval by Stephanie Garber and it sounds right up my street. Despite my extreme phobia of clowns (and yes, I mean phobia, not fear), anything vaguely circus-themed is sure to appeal to me. I’ll definitely be checking it out.

Pokemon-Tag11-Lure-Module

Lures haven’t really been attracting anything interesting near me lately, but still, there’s nothing more pleasant than heading out to a pokestop in a nice secluded area and having a picnic taking turns setting lures.

Maureen Johnson is probably this author for me, closely tied with Juno Dawson. Their books are like pick-me-ups to me, and I always feel a bit better after one. I actually discovered Juno because she was doing a joint tour with Maureen and I’ve loved her since!

Pokemon-Tag13-Server-Down

I haven’t actually seen this screen since I started playing, even though I constantly see the spinning pokeball as it attempts to connect to the server.

I have a really bad memory and even when I’m excited about something, if I wait too long I tend to forget about it and miss its release. I haven’t been waiting forever, but September can’t come fast enough if it’s going to bring me The Graces by Laura Eve.

This was a really fun tag! It took me a lot longer than I thought it would to complete, but it’s definitely made me think about joining in with more tags in the future.

Also, VALOR.

-K

TWITTER // INSTAGRAM // BLOGLOVIN’

REVIEW: Rooster Teeth’s ‘DAY 5’

[[Minor spoilers for Day 5 episodes 1 and 2]]

If I should die before I wake…

Screenshot 2016-06-27 22.57.13

SO… WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Sobering up after a well-timed drug bender, addict Jake (Jesse C. Boyd) is fortunate enough – depending on what you count as ‘fortunate’ – to discover he’s one of the few members of the population still alive after an epidemic set in rendering sleep fatal. With most of the world already dead in their beds, and with fatigue and delirium beginning to set in, Jake teams up with a quick-thinking 13-year-old (Walker Satterwhite), an overnight doctor (Stephanie Drapeau) and a red-eye pilot (Davi Jay) to search for answers… but is sleeping again a possibility, or is it just a dream?

Day 5 is an apocalypse like no other.

BUT… WHO IS ROOSTER TEETH?

Alright, if you were referred here by me, you probably aren’t asking this question, but this is the part of the review where I throw in some production details, so bear with me.

Rooster Teeth is the company behind many internet sensations, including (but not limited to) the incredibly successful, longest-running-web-series-ever Red Vs Blue and their newer, also incredibly successful anime-style cartoon RWBY. Day 5 is their first dramatic series, and it seems set to be a hit. It doesn’t have the humour of the two aforementioned shows (though I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve cried my eyes out at both of them), but it’s clearly been injected with the same pure, undiluted brilliance.

AND… IS IT ACTUALLY ANY GOOD?

TL;DR: Yes

Since the next stop for a TV show after the mind is the page, I’m going to jump into reviewing the script. I wasn’t sure what I was going to make of Day 5 considering that I’ve never been a fan of apocalypse-style programmes, so shout out to writers Josh Flanagan and Chris Demarais for hooking me. There are no wasted words in Day 5: there is a clear understanding of the power of silence, especially with a concept such as this. Characters don’t always need to be discussing what’s going on – seeing Jake frantically running around his empty town is suspenseful enough to give us that squelching horror in the pits of our stomachs as we watch his futile efforts. There’s a good balance between desperation and denial and the sickening calm of acceptance:

“This is a nightmare. I just smoked some bad shit, and I’m gonna wake up soon. Wake up, Jake. Wake up. Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!”

“You are awake. Sorry, but you’re awake. Trust me. Otherwise, you’d be like them.

Day 5, Episode 1: Waking Nightmare.

There’s humour, too, but it’s not light-hearted at all. It’s clear that these characters are scared and when all hope is lost it’s better to theorise becoming a shark than to actually face the fact that you’re probably about to die. It’s raw, but it makes a nice change from panicked screaming and in-fighting or sleepless delusions.

I’m a big fan of the voices of each character, too. Jake is floundering, always seeming on the verge of tipping over but never quite ready to accept a fate. He’s a desperate drug-addict, but he’s also clearly carrying a lot of pain and baggage and ready to accept some sort of flimsy sense of responsibility. Sam is a brilliant 13-year-old, but smart as he is, he’s still 13. He’s scrappy, but he’s as scared as any kid would be. Ally and Ellis are both smart in their own rights but provide obvious contrasts to each other: Ellis is your typical lone-wolf character who has accidentally picked up a scrappy gang of misfits, but he’s still ready to set off solo at any point, whereas Ally is insistent upon sticking together – there’s safety in pairs.

The different settings all provide unique explorations of survival: a house of regulated pill-popping, a systematic hospital, a literal dance-till-you-drop rave. These are complimented beautifully by the actual shot-choices, but I never studied film and am less-able to properly discuss that. Shit looks good, my dude. It’s obvious when we move from reality to hallucination but it isn’t jarring enough to pull you out of the world you’re engrossed in. 45ish minutes isn’t enough.

I can’t fault the acting. Boyd has done a brilliant job of getting viewers invested in Jake – we want him to succeed and we feel his pain despite his obvious (huge) personality flaws. He’s not a bad person because he’s an addict, evidenced by his close friendship with 13-year-old Sam – possibly influenced by Jake’s loss of his younger sister to the sleep epidemic. Jake also isn’t just magically better because the situation calls for him to take control – he’s struggling, and clearly finding a way to sleep won’t be the end of his list of problems to fix. Satterwhite likewise does a brilliant job of portraying a teenager who is in many ways the opposite of Jake: Sam has his own issues and his own secrets, but he uses initiative and is perhaps (…well, definitely) more useful to the group than Jake is. But, as previously stated, he’s still 13, and he’s still scared.

REALLY? NOTHING TO FAULT?

My dude, we are two episodes in. I honestly don’t really have anything to fault at this point. My only hope at this point is that more episodes of this quality are in store for us, and that any more questions we have are answered in due time. I’m going to stick around to see, and I hope others give it a chance.

-K

Day 5 airs Sundays at 4:00pm CT for Rooster Teeth sponsors.

You can become a Rooster Teeth sponsor here.

You can find all available episodes of Day 5 here.

Episodes are also uploaded to the Rooster Teeth YouTube channel one week after they premiere on the site.

Songs Shaping and Saving 21 Year Old Me

Ah, music. It’s important to all of us, probably. It makes us happy, it makes us cry, it gets us through long bus journeys and the daily walk to uni (or, you know, daily walk to wherever your daily walk takes you to). Its influence really sets in during our teenage years, I think, and it never really leaves you. Sure, tastes develop and change, but it’s all still music, you know?

13-year-old me was all about the music. I bought a guitar (that I still can’t play), I bought the Kerrang! Magazine every Wednesday, I only really hung around with people who had similar music taste as me. I’m not as… obnoxious as I was then, though. I don’t judge people on the music they like any more. I can appreciate a good JBiebs song even if I’m not a fan of him as a person, and 1D has some bangers. I like dancing to music in clubs and I think pop music is fun as heck. I’m varied now.

At the start of 2015, I made a playlist of songs to get me through the year. All positive, fighting, keep-moving-forward songs. I didn’t do that this year, and I haven’t touched that playlist in a long time. However, lately I’ve been thinking about the influence music still has over me. I’m not in the best place in my life, and music is one of the things that keeps me moving. Here are a few of the songs shaping and saving 21-year-old me.

IMG_0123

SONG: Migraine – Twenty One Pilots

FAVOURITE LYRIC(S):

They’re trying to eat me, blood running down their chin,
And I know that I can fight or I can let the lion win,
I begin to assemble what weapons I can find,
‘Cause sometimes to stay alive you gotta kill you mind.

Shadows will scream that I’m alone,
But I know we’ve made it this far, kid.

WHY?:

I think there’s something, for me, about the struggle, the perceived helplessness, and then – the fight. “Am I the only one I know waging my wars behind my face and above my throat?” God damn, I feel that. My mind is my biggest enemy, and sometimes it can feel like the only person that doesn’t want me to succeed is my own head. It’s what stops me from getting out of bed in the morning, from picking up my pen and doing the work I know I really need to do now. But, like 21p say – we’ve made it this far.

SONG: The Ballad of Me and My BrainThe 1975*

FAVOURITE LYRIC(S):

Well, I think I’ve gone mad – isn’t that so sad?
What a shame; you’ve lost the brain that you never had.

WHY?:

I love The 1975. This isn’t even my favourite song off their second album, but I haven’t skipped it a single time since I got it. There hasn’t been a time when it’s come on my iPod or iTunes and I’ve thought “nah, not in the mood for that”. It’s another, “wow, I need to take care of myself” song, and it’s true. Asking for help and taking time to take care of myself is something I really struggle with, and it’s a problem I come back to again and again and again. I know it’s okay to ask for help, I know it’s okay to not be okay, and yet I always end up just pretending I’m fine until it’s almost too late. This song is a reminder to me: look after your brain, and yourself, before it’s too late.

SONG: Turbulence – Bowling For Soup

FAVOURITE LYRIC(S):

And we’re all just passengers tonight,
And we’re all just travelling through our lives,
We will reach our destination,
So just hang on for the ride,
Say a prayer and close your eyes,
It’s just a little turbulence.

WHY?:

Bowling For Soup were my favourite band when I was younger. I stopped listening to them when I was still in high school, not for any reason but just because I just sort of drifted away from them – but I never stopped loving them. Then they came to Liverpool last February, and my partner got me tickets to see them, and all of that love started burning up again. It was at that gig that I first heard ‘Turbulence’, and it just makes me think that everything can get better if you give it a chance to. Turbulence is temporary – if you can get through this bad patch, you’ll find something better on the other side. I’m only 21, so there’s plenty of time to smooth out the bumps.

SONG: Stay AliveAndy Black

FAVOURITE LYRIC(S):

Stay alive for the good times,
Stay alive through the bad.

WHY?:

Okay, it’s a bit on the nose, isn’t it? But why is that a bad thing? We don’t always need metaphors and similes and personification and all of those beautiful nuggets of imagery – sometimes we don’t need to force people to dig around to find what we mean. Sometimes it’s okay to just say it. Sometimes that’s all you need to hear. Stay alive.

I’ve never been a fan of Black Veil Brides simply because it’s not my music taste. I was really surprised when I discovered Andy’s solo album and found that I love every song. It’s very different to BVB’s sound and much more to my taste. This, again, isn’t even my favourite song, but it’s one of them. So, get this: Tuesday before last (May 10th, 2016) I discovered Andy Black, listened to his album, and decided I loved him. Last Monday (May 16th, 2016), I saw him live. That’s less than a week. That sort of sealed it for me – obviously, the stars had aligned for me to love Andy. ‘Stay Alive’ was the first song Andy played at the gig, and let me tell you, it’s just as glorious and encouraging live as it is recorded.

I think it’s just that simple, really: stay alive for the good times, stay alive through the bad. He’s not saying it’s easy, he’s just saying it’s worth it. And it probably is. Like I said – I’m only 21, what the heck do I know? It’s a struggle, and it’s exhausting, but I’ll try.

BONUS: SONG ALBUM: Astoria – Marianas Trench**

FAVOURITE LYRIC(S):

‘Cause I’ll find out in all due time what happens to never say die // Sometimes you can’t yell loud enough, Sometimes a whisper’s just too much // Don’t let go tonight; by tomorrow this will be yesterday // And I’ve been broken but I’m better every day // I’d rather be a riot than indifferent // [THE ENTIRE BRIDGE FROM DEARLY DEPARTED BUT IT SEEMS EXCESSIVE TO POST THE WHOLE THING…]

WHY?:

There isn’t a song on this album that I don’t love. I think this might be my favourite Marianas Trench album – influenced only a teeny bit by the fact that The Goonies is one of my all-time favourite films. I love the 80s sound, I love the words. I love everything about his album. It makes me want to get up and that’s enough. But also… just, there’s fight in this album. We’re back to the ‘fight’ thing. It’s defiant and it can seem a little bitter but it’s powerful and I love that. I want to be defiant, too.

I’d rather be a riot than indifferent.

Okay, so, common theme here is that all (most?) of these songs relate to mental health, which is the thing I am struggling with the most right now. I’m not going to pretend that these songs have made me all better, because that’s not it at all: these songs encourage me. It’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to not be okay, it’s okay to break things down to their simplest parts if that’s how you can complete this task. Ask for help. Get through today. Stay alive.

There are dozens and dozens of songs that I love and that make me happy and they are equally as important as these songs, but when I got the idea for this blog post and started thinking of songs to include, all of these came almost instantly. This is, basically, a miniature keep moving forward playlist.

I would love to hear what songs are important (or have been important) to all of you: they don’t have to be as on the nose as mine. Does ‘Call Me Maybe’ get you out of bed? Does ‘What Do You Mean’ make you want to get up and dance? Are these songs having an effect on you? I want to hear what’s important to all of you, so leave a comment!

You can also find me on TWITTER and INSTAGRAMand follow me on BLOGLOVIN.

-K

*No YouTube link for this one because I can’t find a video with the whole song! Check it out on spotify instead (you’ll need an account!)

** Since this is an entire album, again, it made more sense to link to spotify. You still need an account!

Hey there, Little Red Riding Hood

I’m willing to put money on 99% of the people reading this being huge fans of, well, reading. I’m going to guess that you’ve all got To Be Read piles threatening to engulf you in your sleep and are scraping the pennies from the bottom of your purse to try to scrounge up enough change for this week’s most anticipated release. Me too! I love reading. I really do. I love finding new books and discovering a new series to obsess over, and I love screaming about it with likeminded folk, arguing over what that character’s utterance really meant, and eagerly awaiting the next instalment. But, honestly? 100% truly? All of that pales in comparison to how I feel about a certain web-series.

I feel a little guilty admitting it. I feel like I’m betraying my bookish pals to say that this series has captured my imagination in a way that a book hasn’t for a long time, but hey, it’s true. And I think that’s okay.

The series in question is RWBY, Rooster Teeth’s anime-like creation from Monty Oum, being carried through now by our beloved team of animators, writers, producers and actors. It follows a team of teenage girls (team RWBY) attending Beacon Academy, a school for Hunters and Huntresses, who are training to fight the creatures of Grimm (giant monsters attracted to negativity). They’ve also got to deal with more than just monsters, though. There’s bad people threatening everything they hold dear, too. It’s hilarious, it’s painful, it’s beautiful and it’s inspirational. It’s probably my favourite thing in the world.

rwby

Now, Rooster Teeth itself is a huge part of my life, and I doubt that without the community I would have remained as invested as I was when I originally watched the series as I am now. I remember waiting for each trailer to be released, and then oddly enough I let it slip by me and didn’t watch the series at all until towards the end of volume 2 – and I was hooked. It’s always my go-to recommendation and the episodes are so short that it won’t take you long to catch up on at all!

One of the things that first drew me into RWBY was the unexpected complexity of the characters. I know it was the intention of Monty to present these seemingly one-dimensional characters and then to delve deeper and deeper into their personalities to show that they’re so much more than that, and Miles Luna and Kerry Shawcross (the writers of RWBY) follow through on that brilliantly. It’s beautiful, and it’s painful. How do we react to a snobby heiress with a difficult home life, trying desperately to live up to and surpass her family name? Or a party girl who actually is deeply caring and nurturing for her younger sister while simultaneously mourning the loss of their mother and searching for her own birth-mother? What do we say when the silly, comic relief character who is way out of his depth and isn’t remotely on the same skill level as everyone surrounding him tells us that he knows that’s what he is and he hates it?

RWBY gives us plenty of food for thought. One of my favourite things about the show is that it shows us people faltering. We see characters fighting, blaming each other when they don’t deserve the blame. We see characters struggling to cope, losing sleep and working themselves so hard that the rest of their team is terrified for them. But we also see how, despite everything, they stand together. They find their own families, they stick by each other’s side, and they support and believe each other even when there doesn’t seem to be a reason to.

So, yes, sometimes I feel a bit guilty that I’ll happily put down my book to watch RWBY, because being a reader is such an important part of my identity. But I don’t think I feel guilty about loving it more. I’ve made it my mission to get every one of my friends to watch RWBY – I don’t think you have to be an anime fan to enjoy it, anyway, because it’s only sort of kind of yes it is but no it’s not not really anime. And look at these girls!

rwby2

Plus, all characters are based on fairy tale characters/story book characters/etc. For example, our main team, team RWBY, consists of: Ruby Rose (Little Red Riding Hood), Weiss Schnee (Snow White), Blake Belladonna (Belle from Beauty and the Beast), and Yang Xiao Long (Goldilocks). Come on! I know we all love fairy tales.

Also, have I mentioned how cool their weapons are? Almost all of the weapons transform between 2-3 different weapons. For example, Ruby’s weapon, Crescent Rose, built by herself, is not only a scythe, but a customisable, high-impact sniper rifle…

rubyc

…which means, it’s also a gun.

I wrote this blog post because I’m sitting here nervously awaiting the volume 3 finale, and I wanted to express my deep affection for this show, the creators and the community surrounding it. Plus, it was the first thing that I felt confident enough to cosplay properly:

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Photo credit: in2thereview (and please excuse my split fringe. I was tired!)

So yes, I love books, but there’s nothing wrong with indulging in a favourite programme now and again, and I’ll urge each and every one of you to go and watch RWBY. Right now. Do it. I’ll wait. Go on. Get going.