R(eaders) I(mbibing) P(eril): Year Seven

The leaves are turning shades of red and orange. The air is cooler. I made my first pot of soup last night. School started weeks ago. It’s time for this young girls’ thoughts to turn to vampires, werewolves, psychological terror, and grisly horror.

RIP VII is here.

I cannot believe it’s been seven years since I first took part in this magical, mysterious, and blood-curdlingly exciting event. Without a doubt, it is the highlight of my favorite season. My plans are to do Peril the First (read up to 4 books), Peril of the Short Story (I never succeed at this, but I always keep trying!), Peril on the Screen (hopefully starting with ParaNorman!), and Peril of the Readalong. Andi and I are hosting a readalong of The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, a bloody good spooky book, over at The Estella Society. And, despite the fact I’ve already reread The Graveyard Book this year, I will probably do that one too. It is, after all, probably my most favorite book, now that The Princess Bride seems to have been knocked from that pedestal (hangs head in pitiful sadness).

Come on over and join in. It is SUCH a good book and perfect for RIP.

Contenders, since no RIP post is complete without pictures of books, am I right?

And also on my iPod:

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, read by Simon Vance
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova , read by Justine Eyre, Paul Michelle (reread, if I can get my husband to read it too)
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly, read by Steven Crossely (ditto the above)
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, read by Stefan Rudinicki (if I can’t get into the book. I’m determined to read this one this year!)
Dracula by Bram Stoker, read by Anthony Valentine (reread, since last years’ reread was so disappointing. I think this one is unabridged!)
Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, read by Simon Vance (haven’t read this since college!)
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, read by Scott Brick
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (got hubby reading listening to this now, may have to reread so we can discuss)
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (this makes me laugh. I’ve never read this book and despair that I ever will!)


The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (It may be a stretch, but I’m putting it down anyway. Those monkeys are hella scary.)
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes ed by Georgia McBride and Michelle Zink
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Peterson
The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Ratcliffe
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

And maybe also this:

Do I get a nose?

Now I think I’ll sneak off and start reading. If you would care to join in the fun (please, you should!), head on over to Carl’s blog and sign up. Happy RIP everyone!

North & South Discussion: The Conclusion

Dear Ms. Gaskell,

I finally finished your novel, North and South. I was dubious as to whether I would indeed, do that, and I was completely unsure as to how I would feel about said novel when I turned off my iPhone. Since I listened to the audio and all. I did finish it on the “liking” it side, but that is no thanks to your stellar writing, lovely and engaging characters, or tendency to being a windbag.

No, you have our own Iris, to thank for that.

So, tell her thank you, Ms. Gaskell. Oh, that’s right. You’re dead.


Yes, Iris did a much MUCH better job of explaining ole Mags than you did. That Iris, she’s brilliant, I tell you. You could learn a few things from her, you know, if you ever get over that “being dead” thing. There has been talk your novel needed zombies, so this may be something you want to consider.

So, yes, let me get on tangent, if we’re lucky, and talk about ole Mags. Mags is a hard character to like. She’s stoic. She’s emotional. She’s resilient. She’s…I don’t know how to put it other than Stuck in a Rut. To me, she seems to have little purpose in this story, at least for 99.5% of the book, other than to take care of her sick mother, then look after her despondent father, and worry about her traitorous brother. For most of the book, I was like, but what about Margaret? What does she want to do? Does she want to get married (kind of obviously not!)? Does she want to… well… what can she do? A woman of her social standing can’t work, right? It’s marry or be a spinster. (Aside…is it ever told how old she is?) But then, lo and behold, she gets purpose! Kindly (yet slightly creepy) Mr. Bell leaves her his fortune! Happy days, Mags has something to do with herself! Oh, wait, no, let’s just give it to Mr. Thornton. Because you know that’s what she’s going to do, right? Give it to Mr. Thornton? Because he’s teh man?

See, this is normally where I go WTF Mrs. Gaskell? WTF!

But then Iris, dear, sweet Iris, chimes in and breaks Margaret on down. Margaret is a rebel. All of that above? The “what she’s supposed to be doing”-ness of her? She’s not doing it. She wants no part it in, if her heart isn’t in it. Yes, she’s a bit brutal in her rejections, but she recognizes that these men (at least at the time) are not for her. She gives them the whatever and goes on about her business. And y’all. For a woman of her situation, age (if it’s young, which I think it is), that takes balls. She is, in her own subtle way, subverting her roll in life. Props to Mags. She is going to be honest and if that makes her a bitch? Well, so be it.

I’ve seen some say that Margaret’s devastation after the death of her father was out of character. After all, she was the rock when Mrs. Hale died. I actually don’t think this is the case. Who was Margaret being a rock for? Her father. Take her father away and who’s left? Who does Margaret need to be “the rock” for? No one. Freddy’s in Spain getting it on with his young Spanish Lolita. Mr. Thornton is off…being Mr. Thornton. Loving her, yes, but he’s not around. The only people around are Edith, her Captain Lennox, and the babies. Who needs to be a rock for Edith? She’d just call you ugly and toss you out in the drive. So Mags reaction to her father’s death didn’t bother me in the least.

What bothered me is that it took almost TWO YEARS for her to realize (if you can call it that) that she loved Mr. Thornton. There were intimations, but no AH HA! moment. I wanted an AH HA! moment Mrs. Gaskell. Really. And while your “delicious silence” was, well, delicious, ending it right there was just cruel and unusual punishment. I listened to over 30 hours of audio. That was very little payout in the end.

It’s probably hard to tell I liked it. If I gave it a rating, on a scale of 0-5, I’d probably give it at 3.5. Gaskell is a windy old bag, but I like her heart. And yeah, I’ll probably read another Gaskell someday. Maybe Mary Barton. It looks positively tiny next to North and South. Wives and Daughters too, for that matter. I can’t wait to watch the miniseries. I’m hoping they used an editor. I wish you had had one.

So, thanks for going on this journey with Andi and I. You guys made this all the fun in the world. And N&S needed all the help it could get. See you in September for The Little Stranger?

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks

You may have seen this for like a MINUTE the other day when I accidentally hit publish. This is what happens when you are running two blogs. *sigh* Whoops. Sorry about that.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend
By Matthew Dicks? Green? Who are you today?
Read by Matthew Brown. I do not think this is the same Matthew, but who knows with this identity crisis of his.

Yeah…. So….

This is the sort of book that I close and go “Okay, so, now Heather, just how are you going to review this one without giving anything away?” And that sneaky little voice in my head goes, “Honey. I have no idea.”

And I had so many difficulties with this book. The publisher sent me the audiobook out of the blue and I read the book and was like, wow. That sounds so amazingly new and original! A book, told from the point of view of a young autistic boy’s imaginary friend? And it’s compared to Room? “Let me get on this right now!” I thought. And I did, as soon as I was able. Then, well, things got rocky, but I’ll get to that in a minute. First, so, what is this book about? Thanks for asking! What would I do without you?

So, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is about the life of an imaginary friend, right? Budo is the imaginary friend of Max, a young autistic boy, and Budo will only exist as long as Max believes in him. Budo helps take care of Max, deal with awkward social situations, and loves him. Most importantly, loves him. Budo loves Max more than anything else in the world. Budo has lived the longest of any imaginary friend that he knows, which he is glad of, because he is afraid of disappearing. So Budo knows there is a fine balance between helping Max along, and keeping himself needed. So, when something completely out of the ordinary happens, Budo has to make a decision; how does he help Max without loosing himself completely?

Like I said, I had huge problems with the listening of this audiobook. I couldn’t get into it! I couldn’t connect to Budo at all, Max was a mystery (although I think Max is SUPPOSED to be a mystery), and I just felt like I was struggling to get through the book. In talking with a friend about it, I realized that it might be the listening itself. I didn’t even really have a problem with the reader, except that his reading felt somewhat emotionless to me and I didn’t think he sounded very much like a child. Since I had the eGalley from NetGalley, I decided to switch over and, suddenly, I was in the narrative. Totally into it. Could. Not. Put. It. Down. Into it.

The beginning of the story takes us through Budo and Max’s days at school. Budo shows us how Max struggles with his classmates, his father who refuses to believe something could be wrong with him, and his mother who desperately wants to get Max the help he needs. Budo tells us how he helps Max go to the bathroom, how he helps “the bravest little boy in the world” do things other children do without batting an eye, and most of all, just how much he loves this little kid. In many ways, Budo seems older than Max, like an older brother even. Budo is special in the world of imaginary friends, in that he can be away from Max. This could get Budo into trouble. Budo is Max’s special protector, so what will Budo do when he can’t get to Max to protect him any more?

That’s all I can tell you. To tell more would be to give so much away. The second half of the story becomes one of such suspense. Something happens to Max, something Budo witnessed all by himself, and, being an imaginary friend, can’t tell any one. Budo has to be smart, very smart, to get to Max and help Max see that this time, Max is going to have to help himself. No matter the cost.

I can see where this book would be compared to Room. A young protagonist is telling the story, and there is a measure of suspense in the second half of the narrative. Yet, for all the suspense, the writing wasn’t quite as tight as Emma Donoghue’s in Room. There were times where it felt like I was just hanging around, waiting for something to happen because Budo didn’t know what to do next. This kept me reading, but at the cost of a tiny bit of irritation. Irregardless of that little bit of nit-pickery, Matthew Dicks (I’m picking Dicks because that’s what’s on my ebook) has created one of the more imaginative characters (Ha! See what I did there?) I’ve encountered yet. Budo is the kind of imaginary friend I know I would want (no disrespect, Penelope, you were fun and all, I swears) and any kid would be lucky to create. Max, like most autistic kids, is distant, hard to know, and so endearing. You just want to wrap him up in that hug he wants no part of. It’s been a couple of months since I finished this book and it has really stayed with me. Highly recommended.

North & South – Discussion #3

Since Andi is out of commission with her new online classes, I’m just going to go with it and ramble this week. I’m a hella good rambler.

From the chatter on Twitter (through the #NSread hash tag and whatnot) it sounds like I’m not the only one having trouble reading this book! Whew! Thank goodness. And I AM still behind, but not as behind as others. I’m on chapter 36, so only 3 chapters behind. It finally (!) started picking up in this section, but rest assured, ole Mags is getting on my nerves just as much as ever.

My first question is just how OLD is Margaret supposed to be? In some ways she reminds me of an old spinster and in others she reminds me of an immature 17 year old. I can’t figure it out. Not that I agree with it or anything, but for this time period, isn’t her main goal in life to find and marry an ideal husband? And start making babies? Which brings me to complaint number 2.

I don’t think I have ever, ever encountered a character (and this includes Ms. Elizabeth Bennett) more full of herself, mainly in regard to men. I could practically FEEL the sneer on her face after Mr. Thornton confesses his love for her. OMG I wanted to smack her in the face. And then she did that DREADFUL THING and can’t look him in the face once she realizes he saved her. I loved it. I LOVED IT. Put her in her place Mr. DreamyBoat Thornton! Woot! It’s like she doesn’t even realize she’s come down in the world. She’s not going to balls, or parties, she’s not out sketching and promenading around showing off her gowns and what not. She’s in an industrialized town, where people actually have to WORK, and her father is ONE OF THEM. Hello? Quit yer highfalutin-ness already!

Which brings me to complaint number 3, and this is completely a personal preference problem (how about that alliteration?) (also, hitherto known as PPP) but I can’t stand these social commentary novels. This is why I detest Dickens. There are Dickens’ novels that I know I would love for the story, (I love the main story of Great Expectations) but I get so bogged down in the commentary (I’m sorry, I feel awful about saying this but damn it, I’m going to be honest) that I don’t care much about. No, that’s not right. I DO care, I care about the history and I DO want to know about it, I just don’t want to be bashed upside the head with it at every opportunity. That’s the way I feel about Dickens’s writing and, so far, that’s the way I feel about Gaskell’s too. *hangs head in shame*

Another problem I’m having, again a PPP, is I’m just plain sick of classics. I tried my very best to read nothing but classics last month, I think I wound up reading 3 (?) and then this chunkster and I’m beat. I’m ready for something fast-paced, action-driven, overwrought with emotion, and completely the OPPOSITVE of a classic. Bring on the YA. Bring on RIP. I can’t wait for RIP, seriously, can’t stand it. Let it BEGIN already!

So, how about you? How is North & South going? Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel? Did you hit a road block? For those up-to-date in the reading; what did you think of Mag’s SCANDAL? And her reaction? OMG I died laughing. Simply died.

Come to the Society

It took almost a year of planning, but we finally brought it back to the world yesterday. The Estella Society went live and I know I can speak for both of us; Andi and I couldn’t be happier with the response. It has been so great to see people just as excited as we are by our new venture! So go, check it out, enter the international audiobook giveaway (!) and, most importantly, get involved! Mwah!

North and South – Discussion #2

Ugh! This month has been so freaking crazy so far! I’m still behind! At the time of this writing, I’m on chapter 22. I hope to have caught up before this publishes at midnight, and to update accordingly, but so far, nothing is going as I wanted! Grrrr! Luckily for me, I came up with this week’s questions, so I don’t have to answer anything I don’t know the answers to! Or something like that…. lol

1. What do you think of Margaret aiding her mother in keeping Mrs. Hale’s illness from her father?

I don’t know about you guys, but this actually really ticked me off. AND it really seemed out of character for Margaret. As I will discuss in the 3rd question, Margaret seems to be an extremely honest person, to the point of having little to no tact. To keep something of this magnitude from her father just feels inexcusable to me. And boy, he doesn’t take it well when he finds out! They did NOT feel bad enough for my taste either.

2. Margaret describes Mr. Thornton has her first “specimen” to “study.” How is Margaret using Mr. Thornton as a “study” and how does using him as such affect her opinion of him?

I really really dislike how Margaret treats Mr. Thornton. This whole, STUDYING him as a SPECIMEN, got on my last nerve. How completely ridiculous. Actually, I think I pretty much dislike Margaret. And I’m starting to get to the point where I don’t like Mr. Thornton because he loves such a woman. I really hope she starts growing on me soon, but, with half the novel left, I’m not holding out much hope!

3. Last week, Heather touched on Margaret’s lack of tact. What do you think of her tact? How is it lacking? Or would you argue that it isn’t lacking at all?

I find Margaret abrupt, unreasonably honest (as in, she says what she thinks with little regard for feelings, yet also keeps secrets better told), and tactless. Good Lord, this woman gets on my nerves.

4. Anything else you want to discuss?

I totally had something earlier and completely forgot it. Oh well. Do you worry for me and this book? So. Do. I.

Stuff I Love Saturday

If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Tumblr, you may have noticed, I got a new camper.

I’ve wanted to replace our poor, broken camper, that died a painful death last year, ever since the accident, so I am beyond happy. I’m blissful. SO blissful. And bursting with ideas, because you know the first thing I did was consult Pinterest for ideas. And by golly, did I find some! I found redecorating ideas:

This is the first thing I want to do. Except maybe not with those covers. They are way too perky for me.

Then there is all the food to make!

I can’t wait to go camping!

Another thing I’ve been plotting is birthday’s. My son is constantly changing his mind on what kind of party he wants. Last I heard, he wants a Kirby party. No, wait, I just asked and now it is a BeyBlade party. This mama has little to NO idea what BeyBlades ARE exactly, but I know he went nuts when he saw this cake:

Daughter, at this moment, wants a Camping Party. Something along the lines of this:

I’m seriously in love with this cake.

That’s all I’m loving on this week. Between getting Estella ready to go for Wednesday (eek!!!) and school starting tomorrow (you guys! I have a third grader! AH!), I don’t know which end is up. I’m ready to get all this stuff going already!

Have a great week everyone!