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BLOGTOBER Day 27: Top Ten Tuesday: Ten favourite candies

It’s only four days until Halloween, so for today’s Halloween freebie I decided to shine a spotlight on my favourite candies. I have the biggest sweet tooth in the world – which is dangerous, because I work in a chocolate shop – so if you 

BLOGTOBER Day 26: Autumn playlist

Autumn is in full swing: the clocks have changed, the leaves are falling and the temperature is dropping rapidly. That makes it the perfect time to update your playlist to reflect the new season, so here are ten songs which just scream autumn to me. 

BLOGTOBER Day 25: Review: It by Stephen King

BLOGTOBER Day 25: Review: It by Stephen King

It’s hard to review a book like Stephen King’s It, because there is nothing I can possibly say about it which hasn’t been said before. Despite that, I thought I’d share my thoughts on this tome, because I’ve spent the past three weeks gradually clawing my way through it.

It starts off extremely strongly. We meet Georgie Denbrough – the iconic little boy in the yellow rainslicker – as he chases his paper boat down the flooded street. The boat disappears in a drain, and when Georgie goes to investigate he discovers a clown lurking down there… A clown called Pennywise which quickly grabs hold of Georgie, ripping his arm off and killing him.

Thus begins another cycle of terror in the town of Derry, Maine. Every 27 years bad things start happening again: kids are abducted and murdered, good-natured folk suddenly flip into psychopaths while bystanders turn the other cheek and refuse to acknowledge the truth of what’s going on. The only ones able to see what’s happening are Georgie’s brother Bill and his friends in the Losers’ Club, who have all come face-to-face with It and have managed to escape with their lives. They know that It is behind all of the badness in Derry, so they take it upon themselves to fix Derry’s problem.

However, they don’t quite finish the job, so 27 years later each member of the Losers’ Club receives a phone call from fellow member and librarian Mike Hanlon, summoning them home to defeat It once and for all.

The way that Stephen King crafts this story is impeccable. Jumping from 1958 to 1985, we meet each of the members of the Losers’ Club as adults, following them back to Derry, where we eventually get told the story of what happened when they were younger. As well as that, each of the parts of the story is broken up by an interlude narrated by Mike Hanlon, during which he shares more stories from the horrible history of Derry.

Weaving multiple stories together like that is so clever and it helps propel the plot: for a book which is so long the story moves quickly, even though it does feel repetitive at times.

That’s my main problem with It – it is repetitive, at times verging on formulaic. There are multiple moments throughout when each member of the Losers’ Club will share their experience with It, so you’ll get a similar scary story from Bill, Eddie, Richie, Ben, Mike, Stan and Beverly. By the time you get halfway through the lineup you just think, “I get it, It’s scary. Can we move on now?!”. It works brilliantly at the beginning of the novel when the Losers are adults who haven’t seen each other in years and who are leading vastly different lives. However, when they’re sat around as children sharing stories, the determination to give them each their own viewpoint grows grating (although it does make it hard not to care for each of these kids).

I cared deeply about all of the Losers: overweight Ben, asthmatic Eddie, Stuttering Bill, short-sighted Richie, Jewish Stan, tomboyish Beverly and Mike, the only Black boy in town. They all have their own trials and tribulations which makes them all strong characters, and it’s impossible to choose a favourite throughout the story.

However, the focal point of the story isn’t any of the Losers OR Pennywise the clown, it’s Derry. Stephen King takes pains to craft every single centimetre of Derry, and it’s so vibrantly realistic that I found myself unable to believe it when I discovered that Derry is completely fictional. The way he writes the streets, the canal and the park, you would genuinely believe this is a place he walks through every single day of his life.

In fact, I think the little vignettes of Derry – the Kitchener Ironworks explosion, the murder of Adrian Mellon after the town fair, the fire at the Black Spot – are the most interesting parts of the story. I flew through each of these sections, unable to put the book down during any of Mike Hanlon’s interludes, and then struggled to motivate myself to pick up the book during the later parts.

Part of this is due to the repetitive nature of the story, but part of it is because towards the end of the book it does get hard to keep track of what is happening when. Instead of switching from the present to the past towards the start of the chapter, King begins flipping back and forth hectically, and I found myself getting totally lost. It did detract from my enjoyment of the novel a little bit: he takes his time crafting 90% of the book and then seems to rush the ending, which seems like a waste!

There are a few plot holes which annoyed me, but it makes sense that there would be minor oversights in a novel of this size. I’m a picky reader so it was hard to look past those issues, but despite them I was still torn between a 3 and a 4 star for this book because it is impressive. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending – that scene in particular seemed unnecessary and didn’t contribute to the plot – but I’m glad I’ve finally read It and can give the film adaptations a go.

Have you read It? If so, what did you think of it?

See you tomorrow,

Alyce

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BLOGTOBER Day 24: 25 Before 25 update

I’m 25 in six months, which means it’s been six months since I shared my 25 Before 25 list. For day 24 of Blogtober, I thought I’d give you a quick update on which books I’ve currently read… And I’m embarrassed that I have only 

BLOGTOBER Day 23: Book-to-screen adaptations I want to see

In direct contrast to yesterday’s list of five book-to-screen adaptations which I’ve already seen, today’s list features five book-to-screen adaptations that are at the top of my list of things I want to watch. The Hate U Give I read The Hate U Give last 

BLOGTOBER Day 22: Book-to-screen adaptations I’ve seen

I haven’t seen a lot of adaptations, but I’ve always wanted to watch more of them. This is something I’m going to try to focus on next year, so I thought that I’d use today and tomorrow to discuss book-to-screen adaptations – the ones I’ve already seen, and the ones I really want to.

I’m only picking five adaptations for this list, even though I’m sure there are more that I’ve seen. I’ll be honest and say it was a struggle to even think of five, though (or at least five which weren’t inspired by graphic novels, as most of the adaptations I watch are Marvel films!).

Twilight


I actually enjoyed the Twilight books quite a bit, but I wasn’t a fan of the movies.

I have seen the first two a couple of times and can’t remember a single thing about them (except for shirtless Taylor Lautner…), but from what I can remember they are pretty true to the novels. That’s one of the most important things about a book-to-screen adaptation for me – if I enjoyed the book and want to watch the film then I normally want them to be as close to the source material as they can be.

I never bothered watching Eclipse or either of the parts of Breaking Dawn, but I might try and finish watching these films eventually. While I found the books endearingly cheesy the films were just a bit too much for me, although I do think the best thing that came out of these films was how much Robert Pattinson loves to hate Edward Cullen.

Paper Towns



Paper Towns was not the first John Green adaptation I watched – that was The Fault in Our Stars – but it’s definitely the best out of the two.

The casting for this movie is flawless. Cara makes a brilliant Margo; she’s very compelling to watch and makes the plot of the film feel as though it moves much faster than the plot of the book, while Nat Wolff is a cinnamon roll (and the only good thing about The Fault in Our Stars, which he also appeared in).

I read and watched Paper Towns as a reading challenge during a readathon a few years ago, and I still have fond memories of both the book and the film.


The Haunting of Hill House



The Haunting of Hill House is the exception to the rule of wanting adaptations to be close to their source material. The Netflix adaptation tells a completely different story to Shirley Jackson’s gothic horror novel, and I might even go so far as to say it tells a better story.

I highly recommend both the book and the show, as they’re both extremely unsettling. However, I think the show is just that little bit scarier. I’m not great at visualising scenes while I read, so something about horror always struggles to translate for me. However, I’m a sucker for horror films and shows because they always get into my head and freak me out, and I remember struggling to sleep for a couple of weeks after watching The Haunting of Hill House.



The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins



The only one on this list that I’ve seen but haven’t read (yet!), and that’s purely because my friend put it on at her birthday party and no-one would listen to my protests of “but I haven’t read the book yet!”.

So many people love both the films and the movies of The Hunger Games, so this is a series that I want to get on board with sooner rather than later. I’m planning on reading them before my next birthday, but I was also planning on reading them before The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was released back in May and that didn’t happen so… We’ll see.



Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth




I’ll go on the record saying I still think Divergent is one of the best YA series starters that there is. I reread the trilogy last year, and although I knocked a star off of my rating for Insurgent and completely trashed Allegiant, Divergent was still a five star read.

However, I’m not a huge fan of the movie. This is probably because Shailene Woodley is the lead actress, and I am not a fan of hers at all. Thinking about it, that also might be the reason why I hated The Fault in Our Stars



I hope you enjoyed this post! What is your favourite book-to-screen adaptation and why? Are there any that you’d recommend I check out ASAP?

While writing this last sentence I’ve literally just yelled, “CITY OF BONES!”, so an honorary mention to that, too. Good book, terrible adaptation, but the casting of Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower as Clary and Jace is *chef’s kiss*.

See you tomorrow,

Alyce

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BLOGTOBER Day 21: Top Five Wednesday Revisited: Top five current favourite albums

It’s been a while since I’ve written about music, so today I’ve decided to focus on my top five favourite albums (at the moment). My original list features five albums which I still absolutely love – and have not been giving enough love to recently 

BLOGTOBER Day 20: Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I’ve Read Because of Recommendations

I’m someone who normally runs out and purchases my friend’s recommendations immediately… Then they sit festering on my shelves for so long that I completely forgot who recommended which book to me. (I’m terrible, I know). However, these ten books are ones which remind me 

BLOGTOBER Day 19: Barking ‘Bout Books Tag

I was only talking about Erik from Breakeven Books a couple of days ago when I shared a list of my favourite Booktubers, so imagine my excitement when I discovered that he’s made a book tag! I discovered this tag when I saw Andrew from The Pewter Wolf Reads shared his responses, so definitely check out his post too.

Sadly Erik’s doggo Max recently went over the rainbow bridge, so he’s created this dog-themed book tag as a tribute to him. It’s such a lovely way to remember him, so even though I haven’t been tagged myself I wanted to join in. I lost my doggo Charlie last year and I still miss him so much.

I’ve Got a Bone to Pick With You: Name a book that was good until it wasn’t



For this prompt I have to pick Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

I shared my in-depth thoughts about this book on day 2 of Blogtober so I won’t say too much more about it here, but this is definitely a book which starts off extremely strongly and plummets hard and fast into 1 or 2 star territory.

At first I loved this story. We follow Clay Jensen as he receives a set of thirteen tapes from his classmate Hannah Baker, who died by suicide a few weeks earlier. The way that the book is written makes it feel like a conversation between Clay and Hannah – his thoughts interrupt the soliloquy of her tapes – and it’s written really well… But things start to fall apart very quickly, and before you know it I was groaning and getting so frustrated with the direction that the story was heading that I was tempted to throw it out of the window. Sean did when he read it!


Welcome Home: Name a book or series that gives you the warm feelings of home




That would be The Gunslinger by Stephen King. Sean and I read most of our books together, but we often read them in the car while driving to or from seeing my parents or going to the supermarket, so most of the books we read remind me of our car Harley rather than home!

However, we read The Gunslinger together in one sitting during lockdown. Whenever I think of this book I get a really strong mental image of the sun shining in through our front window, my feet in Sean’s lap, Ezra asleep on my chest and Zophia rearranging the living room. It’s a very homely feeling, and it makes me feel intense gratitude for my family, too.




Ruffin It: Name a book that has a travel or journey element


I could think of hundreds of books which fit this prompt, but I decide to go with First Day of My Life by Lisa Williamson. It’s a 5 star read which I don’t talk about enough, so I’m glad to have an excuse to gush about it a little bit more.

Lisa Williamson’s fourth novel focuses on two best friends, Frankie and Jojo. Frankie is worried when Jojo disappears on results day – without collecting her results, ditching Frankie at the school on her lonesome – and becomes even more concerned when she phones Jojo and hears a baby crying on the other end of the line. Just a couple of hours ago a baby was abducted from a car at their local services, and Frankie is convinced that Jojo has stolen the baby and gone on the run.

Frankie teams up with her ex-boyfriend, Ram, to drive across the country, chasing Jojo to Swindon (my hometown, of all places!). That means this book features a train journey, a road trip, a lot of running around Swindon and a ton of personal growth – that makes it perfect for this prompt.


Marking Your Territory: Name a book or series that you will always stand by no matter what

Red Rising by Pierce Brown



Predictable, but it would have to be Red Rising by Pierce Brown.

Despite the fact that I wasn’t a huge fan of Dark Age, the fifth book in this series, Red Rising will always be my favourite book and I will recommend it and rave about it until the day I die. Nothing will ever change that.

If you’ve ever visited this blog before you’ll already know all about Red Rising and why I love it so much, but in case you’re new here I’ll just say that this is a book set on Mars about the lowest people in society rising up and trying to tear down the privileged cast that have supresses them for decades. It is bloodydamn brilliant.




Diggin Holes: A book that had some hidden secrets or a big plot twist uncovered



Again, I could think of hundreds of books which would fulfill this prompt perfectly, but I decided to go with The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

I took part in the blog tour for The Inheritance Games last month, and I really enjoyed it. This YA mystery follows a girl called Avery Grambs who discovers that she’s been included in the will of a very rich stranger. This rich stranger has disinherited his two daughters and his four grandsons to leave the majority of his billions of dollars in wealth to Avery, and he’s left behind nothing but a series of puzzles to explain himself.

If you loved Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson but you found yourself wishing it was following the glamorous family from Dynasty, this will be your new favourite book.


Stand By Me: Name a book or series that portrayed a very loyal friendship between its characters


The reason Stephen King’s It popped into my head as soon as I read this prompt is because I’m just over two thirds of the way through it. I’ve been reading it since the beginning of the month and have been enjoying it a lot, but when you’re reading a 1,400 page book and working full time it slows your reading progress down dramatically.

It tells the story of a group of friends – Bill, Ben, Eddie, Richie, Beverly, Mike and Stan – as they discover that their town is being terrorised by a glamour which shapeshifts itself into each of their deepest, darkest fears. Set in both 1958 and 1985, It follows the kids as they decide to team up to take down Pennywise the clown, and then rejoins them as they return to Derry 27 years later to try to finish Pennywise off for good.

I still have no idea how this story is going to end, but at the moment I’m reading the reunion section where the grown ups meet up again for the first time and begin reminiscing about their childhood days. Their friendship is everlasting despite – or perhaps because of – the trials that they went through as children, so their friendship is definitely a loyal one.

Tug of War: A book that you have very mixed feelings about


I didn’t enjoy The Queen of Nothing. I thought it was half the length it should have been – if it had been longer things would have been more fully fleshed out, but as it was they were horrendously rushed – and that the big twist in the story was nonsensical.

Whenever I think about this book I find myself feeling so disappointed by how the Folk of the Air series finished, because although I really disliked the second book I absolutely loved the first one.

However… I gave it 4 stars?!

I’m not sure if that was because I’d just given birth and my brain was all hyped up on hormones (“Someone wrote this book! Good job! 5 stars!”) but that rating definitely makes me doubt my sanity. So although part of me feels like this is a 1 star book, that 4 star rating makes me think I must be forgetting some really great aspects of it. I’m probably going to end up rereading it before I unhaul it just in case.


TREATS: A book that you are super excited about and will reward yourself by reading it


I’m not supposed to read Shorefall this month because I didn’t draw it while playing TBR Trick or Treat, but also my TBR has gone to hell this month anyway because It is taking me so long to read so why shouldn’t I pick up Shorefall!

Shorefall is the sequel to Foundryside, which I read last month and absolutely loved. With snark reminiscent of Pierce Brown and an extremely unique magic system, my first Robert Jackson Bennett read has already made me wonder whether I’m going to be adding him to my list of favourite authors one day.

I borrowed Shorefall from the library so I should read it sooner rather than later, so why shouldn’t I treat myself to reading this as a reward for finishing It?




I hope you enjoyed my answers to the Barking ‘Bout Books tag! Once again a huge thanks to Erik for creating this tag.

I’m only going to tag one person, and that’s Barb at Booker T’s Farm. I hope you still read my blog, Barb, because this dog-themed book tag is perfect for you!

See you tomorrow,

Alyce

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BLOGTOBER Day 18: Spooky recommendations

I posted my autumn recommendations earlier in the month, but thought I’d wait until a bit closer to Halloween to give you 10 spooky book recommendations. If you’re looking to read something unsettling or scary, these are the books to pick up! 10. Rules For