Tag Archives: Stephen King

August Round Up

…but what happened to July?

It’s been a long while since I posted (June 19th, in fact), and for that, I apologise for being so lazy. Thing is, I didn’t really have any blog-able news, and I haven’t read anything particularly note-worthy (for shame!).

Some review news:

-Today, my review of Girl Trouble: Panic and Progress in the History of Young Women (Carol Dyhouse) was published by LSE Review of Books. Check it out by following the ‘review’ link.

-Sept/Oct will be positively brimming with review work; I will be submitting two reviews to LSE, Feminist Activism, Women’s Rights, and Legal Reform (ed. Mulki Al-Sharmani), and A Feminist Voyage Through International Relations (Ann Tickner).

-I shall also be submitting a review of Gender, War and Conflict (Laura Sjoberg) to FWSA, after a long hiatus (unintentionally long I must add!).

Hopefully that should give me a kick-start into the new academic year, and I should feel some kind of enthusiasm regarding my MA dissertation.

In terms of fiction reading, I’ve found myself at a bit of a loss, if I’m honest. It’s quite possibly that all my sub-conscious really wants to read is Revival by Stephen King… (when it comes out in November…). Oh lordy…is there anything out there that can sate me for the time being?!

I am sure I’ll survive…right? RIGHT?!

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Too many pies, not enough fingers…

Well, I went on holiday…and came back. As you do. I was a veritable reading champion and managed to make my way through no less than four books. Hurrah! I read the aforementioned In The Woods by Tana French, I Have Waited and You Have Come by Martine McDonagh; I also read The Gunslinger (Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King, and The Case of Mary Bell: a Portrait of a Child Who Murdered by Gitta Sereny. I was EXTREMELY naughty and read The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule BEFORE I went away. Self control=zilch. My holiday reads ran the gamut from fantasy, crime, post-apocalyptia (is that even a word..?), and true crime (though Sereny’s analysis of the Mary Bell case is far from sensational. It’s more a sensitive deconstruction of the nature of ‘evil’; an approach Sereny mastered in her biography of Albert Speer whom she met on many occasions).

Aside from reading, I’ve been pursing an altogether different past-time…indoor gardening! That’s right!

My little kitchen garden

My little kitchen garden

Seemingly unstoppable mint cutting...

Seemingly unstoppable mint cutting…

I planted a garlic clove and this is the result after a week

I planted a garlic clove and this is the result after a week

Scooping the guts out of aloe vera leaves...

Scooping the guts out of aloe vera leaves…

I find it all very relaxing. The results also speak for themselves. I am currently growing garlic (possible even in erratic UK climate…), basil, parsley, mint and lettuce. I also just planted some coriander seeds. Jamie Oliver I ain’t, but it’s fun and really easy. I am currently drinking a mint tea of my own making. I don’t even like mint tea but I have so much of the stuff I have to do something with it…I also made a face mask from some of my wilting aloe leaves. Even a fool of Took like me can manage to keep some plants alive. I am quite proud…

Other news:

-I have just finished a two-week unpaid work placement scheme in the Richard Burton Archive on the Swansea University campus. It was a fantastic introduction into the world of archives, and my placement partner and I produced some pieces of writing on our experience here and here. We also produced a web guide on a church in Swansea and how WW1 affected the lives of its congregation; information uncovered from primary sources such as logbooks.

-I am currently editing my next review for LSE Review of Books, The Brotherhood of Freemason Sisters: Gender, Secrecy, and Fraternity in Italian Masonic Lodges by Lilith Mahmud. It should be available for you to read online from the 19th of this month (June).

S’about it for now.

I’m currently reading House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, and Mr Mercedes by everyone’s favourite literary uncle, Stephen King.

I’m currently listening to The Handsome Family (thanks True Detective!), the Night Vale podcast (how I never discovered this before is a mystery to me…).

 

Holidays are coming!

I took a proverbial holiday from my blog for a good few months and now, I am actually going on a real-life holiday, to Tenerife! Woohoo!

Despite still feeling rather resentful about having to pay £70 for ONE hold bag with Ryanair, I’ve decided to concentrate on my reading list instead, as we all know that choosing the right holiday reads is an essential part of any trip.

Because I have recently become addicted to reading true-crime books (I know, I know…), my first holiday read is The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule; a friend of Ted Bundy, who was entirely unaware that he was, in fact, a killer of women.

My second holiday read is In The Woods by Tana French. I’ve heard a lot of good reviews so I am excited to get stuck into this one.

My final holiday pick is I Have Waited, And You Have Come by Martine McDonagh, which tells the story of Rachel, who meets a mysterious stranger in a post-apocalyptic world…can’t wait!

My poolside reading runs the gamut from true-crime to post-apocalyptic fiction but not being the Chick Lit type (what a horrific ‘genre’ title…), I felt I needed some reads I could really sink my teeth into. I am, quite literally, going to read my face off.

If I have enough cash, and can justify buying another book, then Tracks by Robyn Davidson will make the cut. I saw the trailer for the film in the cinema the other night and I literally swooned with excitement (having never heard of Davidson’s real-life trip before) and felt ludicrously inspired to go on my own intrepid journey right there and then (which was ridiculous considering that I had work in the morning, and was in fact, stuck in a cinema…). There’s always the future, right?

I am currently in the middle of reading and reviewing Wounding by Heidi James and I am about half-way through, at the moment. Watch this space for the review!

 

 

That day I met Margaret Atwood…

…well, I say ‘met’, but I really mean ‘went to her talk in Bristol and got signed copy of MaddAddam for my troubles afterwards’. Still, it was totally amazing. See?!

Fangirl level 10 for awesomeness...

Fangirl level 10 for awesomeness…

And MaddAddam itself has not disappointed so far. I will write a proper review when I’ve finished it. If you are not familiar with the Oryx and CrakeYear of the Flood-MaddAddam trilogy, and like feminist, future concept, environmentalist, anti-capitalist mash-ups, then I suggest you check it out.

Some other news:

-I entered a contest ran by Hodder and Stoughton to be the first person in the UK to read Stephen King’s upcoming Doctor Sleep (incl. night in a luxury hotel). Unfortunately, I didn’t win the top prize, but I won an official poster. Better than a punch in the face, eh?

-I wrote a review for FWSA (Feminist and Women’s Studies Association) of Anti-Porn Feminism: The Resurgance of Anti-Porn Feminism by Julia Long. So watch this space, yo.

-I am currently reviewing Female Suicide Bombers by Rosemarie Skaine, also for FWSA.

-I wrote a review for The F-Word a while ago. You can read it here.

Spill the Zines favourably reviewed my Stephen King fanzine ‘Death is When the Monsters Get You #1’. Thanks, Cath

Some choices titles from my TBR pile and my lovely pug mug

Some choices titles from my TBR pile and my lovely pug mug

 

A noob’s introduction to Game of Thrones

Unless you’ve been living on Mars, you’ve probably heard about fantasy epic Game of Thrones. I avoided it for a long time. Clutching my battered horror paperbacks nervously to my chest I have hurried past the massive GoT displays in Waterstones.

I’m no literary snob. Far from it. But I guess I have always had an irrational aversion to fantasy. Friends LOVE The Dark Tower series; my boyfriend reads Peter K. Hamilton; the whole universe has been reading, watching and raving about GoT…and I have been conscientiously avoiding the lot.

I guess I like to discover things in my own time…so one day last week I thought, what the hell, and purchased a spanking new copy…

…DAMN IT’S GOOD. SO GOOD. So good that when I finished the first book yesterday afternoon, I rushed straight out to buy the second. I COULD NOT stop thinking about it ALL DAY.

I was absolutely ENTHRALLED.

Yeah sure, there are so many characters that I couldn’t really keep track of them all (one of the things that put me off fantasy before) and some parts (not many) I did find a little…filler-y, but all-in-all, I thought GoT was fantastic.

Favourite character so far? Daenerys Targaryen, without a doubt.

Everything in my life, except for sleeping, eating and going to work, seems entirely inconsequential compared to reading just one more chapter…

…it’s kind of like the buzz I had as a teenager when new Harry Potters came out.

I haven’t watched the GoT series yet, but thanks to the internetz, I know EXACTLY what is going to happen, so thanks for that. Though I am hardly surprised considering George R.R. Martin‘s notorious reputation for killing off his best and bright characters. 3ovhbz

I also bought the first Dark Tower book, The Gunslinger, in Oxfam the other day for a paltry £2.

Has my aversion to fantasy finally been broken down? We will see.

Here’s to a summer of new discoveries!

(n.b. I am also pledging to support my local book store, Uplands Book Shop, by buying the GoT series from their fine establishment).

 

Review: Small World by Tabitha King

When we think of the King family writing dynasty (Stephen, Owen, Joe Hill), perhaps there is one important family member we overlook; Tabitha, matriarch of the King clan.

Having been a life-long Stephen King fan, I thought it was about time I checked out some of Tabitha King’s work. Not only has she been credited over the years as her husband’s driving force (and of course, famously, the woman who retrieved ‘Carrie’ from the trash and persuaded King to keep writing), she is also honoured in the dedication of her son Joe Hill’s latest work, NOS4R2, as the ‘story queen’.

41RARRSEARL._

So, I decided to buy Small World, her first novel, and see what all the fuss was about.

Small World centres on pampered, dysfunctional life of socialite Dorothy ‘Dolly’ Hardesty Douglas, daughter of a former President and avid doll-house and miniature enthusiast.

In the midst of restoring her prize doll-house; a scale replica of the White House, Dolly is approached by a man named Roger Tinker, a former government worker who offers her a novel and fantastical way to deck out her doll-house with everything, and everyone, Dolly desires…

…thus ensues a tale of high-end monument theft, tangled family relations, and the strange, obsessive world of miniature hobby craft.

Tabitha King has created a world where we are invited to cast a critical eye over the foibles of the rich and famous; Small World is sexy, thrilling, grotesque and suspenseful.

Just like Dolly is obsessed with her doll-houses and miniatures, the reader finds themselves drawn into her superficial world of glamour and luxury. We can draw an obvious link between the ‘chaos’ of Dolly’s fish-bowl existence in high society and the perfection she craves, and demands, for her White House replica doll-house.

Dolly is controlling, manipulative and sly, but she is a villain whose exploits we read with a perverse glee.

I imagine Dolly as a kind of Alexis Colby figure, from Dynasty (anyone remember that show?!)

Anyway, I thought Small World was great; imaginative and witty. I recommend it.

I will definitely read Tabitha King again.

 

 

 

Recent Shenanigans

New zine project:

Feeling inspired after the successful completion of my Stephen King fanzine, ‘Death Is When The Monsters Get You‘, I decided to embark on another zine making project; an as-of-yet unnamed literary zine.

There are no firm guidelines; there is no specific theme and contributors are welcome to submit pieces of fiction in any format they choose (short story, flash fiction, Twitter fiction, haiku, poetry, monologue, screenplay etc etc).

If you would like more details then please click here. The word count stated is just a guide; I’m willing to compromise!

Being interviewed by Radio Tircoed:

Cath Elms and I, founding members of Swansea Feminist Network, were invited to appear Radio Tircoed to chat about feminism on their Women’s Bits show.

We were pretty nervous about the whole thing, but all-in-all, it went very well!

The chat was an informal one and we were asked about the origins of Swansea Feminist Network, why we identified as feminists, our activism activities and campaigns and what the future held for our organisation.

I feel this whole broadcasting malarky is something that we, as an organisation, can really get into and it’s inspired us to start thinking about how we can use radio and podcasts as part of our activities.

Unfortunately, can’t link you to a podcast of the chat, as Radio Tircoed doesn’t currently offer them, but we’re hoping to get an MP3 sent to us, so keep you posted!

Cath and I with the presenter of Women’s Bits, Alison ‘Lenny’ Lenihan:

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Reviewing ‘Dirty Work’ by Gabriel Weston for The F-Word:

After responding to a call-out by The F-Word on Facebook, I have now joined their list of fiction reviewers! Books for free! Hurrah!

I am currently reviewing ‘Dirty Work’ by Gabriel Weston in audio-book format.

The synopsis is as such (from: Telegraph Author Interviews):

‘Dirty Work is about Nancy, a young registrar working in gynaecology and obstetrics, who is summoned before a panel to investigate why, at a crucial moment while performing an abortion, she completely froze and sat motionless while her patient almost bled to death.’

The novel broaches a very contentious and timely issue, I’m sure you’ll agree.

I am an hour in and I am really enjoying ‘Dirty Work’ so far. Weston’s descriptions of colour especially strike me as almost sumptuous.

I will post a link to the review when it’s done!

Swansea Feminist Network fundraiser: 

It’s that time of year again; the first of the bi-annual Swansea Feminist Network fundraisers!

Each year we hold two fundraisers in aid of Swansea Women’s Centre  (where I am also a trustee and volunteer); we ask local female-fronted musicians to perform for us and we sell our zines, vegan cakes and raffle off various goodies for an excellent cause.

Here is the Swansea Feminist Network committee in all our drunken glory:

I am in the white floral dress...

I am in the white floral dress…

We raised just under £300 for the Centre this time round and in November, we will be holding another event for the White Ribbon Campaign; a campaign ran by men to end violence against women.

Details of all our events and activities can be found on the SFN blog (link posted above somewhere…).

Books I have read recently:

Joyland by Stephen King.

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks.

NOS4R2 by Joe Hill (my review here, some spoilers!)

Changes to review policy:

Well, I don’t really have a review policy as such but I have made a decision to try and limit the amount of spoilers I use in any given piece. I feel perhaps it detracts from the review itself, and might discourage readers from checking the books out; something I would feel pretty bad about.

I also am thinking of self-imposing a word-limit on my reviews as they tend to go off on existential ruminations; maybe this is something that readers don’t like? Short and snappy best? Lengthy good sometimes?

Some feedback would be appreciated!