Short Story | Luck

Luck

(100 words)

There’s not much left of the carnival. Muddy bumper cars, faded signs, a few tall metal frames.

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Book Review | Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

“And my mom told me that part of growing up is just … learning that people come in and out of your life, and that there are all kinds of levels of friendship, all different types”

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When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting elective in her senior year, she thinks it’ll be an easy credit. Instead, it’s a disaster. First, her childhood friend who she doesn’t speak to anymore, Jamie, is part of her group, and then their amazing plan to boost listeners threatens to blow up in their faces in a series of hilarious circumstances. Everything spirals out of control, but perhaps that’s okay.

I’m a big fan of Emma Mill’s books, as they’re always lovely and funny and full of interesting characters. I was really looking forward to Lucky Caller, and I wasn’t disappointed!

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This book has a chaotic but really hilarious kind of plot. Things go wrong, they’re feverishly trying to be patched up, things go wrong again, and just when you think you know what’s going to happen, it turns around again completely surprising you. It might seem a bit unrealistic at times, but it doesn’t feel strange or unrealistic within the fiction. It feels magical in the way it can sometimes feel when the right coincidences happen at the right time. I really loved how Mills solved the ending, even if it’s a little over the top. It’s okay to just have fun with a story!

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Reading During Distressing Times

The times right now are.. distressing, to say the least. Routines are upturned, the news is scary, people panic buy heaps of toilet paper. It’s okay to be concerned, scared, sad, but it’s also okay to distract yourself for a bit and take a break. To do something you enjoy, that takes your mind of things. We need to take care of ourselves, and of others, and reading can really help with that.

So I’ve made a list of the kinds of books (with some recommendations) I reach for when things feel too overwhelming! I hope it helps someone maybe. Here it is, what I read during distressing times..

 

Rereadsthe peach keeper sarah addison allen

I have a shelf in my room where I put the books I love to reread most often. Most of my shelves are very high up on the wall, I need a small ladder to get to them (or perform some unstable acrobatics) and this is the lowest shelf so I can easily get to them and reread them when I need it. What’s great about rereading books is that you already know what is going to happen in the story, so even if it contains distressing parts, you are prepared (or you can even skip them, it’s okay!). Besides, the stories might remind you of calmer times. My personally favorite books to reread are: anything by Sarah Addison Allen, but especially The Sugar Queen or The Peach Keeper.

 

Children’s Books

I admit, children’s books can be very distressing and scary (think Coraline) but there are some books among them that are just very calm and cute and portray a world where not much can go wrong. Especially the very short books that are mostly pictures, because it doesn’t require much brainpower and looking at beautiful art always calms me down. If you still have books from your own childhood, it might be especially comforting to reread those, because they remind you of simpler times. My favorite children’s books are: The Tomten and The Tomten and the Fox, both by Astrid Lindgren, and, what I’m currently reading, the Brambly Hedge books by Jill Barklem.

 

Non-Fiction

lucy worsley jane austen at home

I like to read non-fiction when I can’t handle the emotional turmoil of most fiction books, but it’s tricky, because some fiction books hit you hard with the truth. So you need something that isn’t reminding you that the world is on fire, but books about smaller things, or perhaps just not about your own life, or about something that has already come and gone. I’m currently reading Mudlarking by Lara Maiklem, and it’s wonderful in it’s extraordinary ordinariness, and a reminder that life happens and goes on. I also like to read about history, like Jane Austen At Home by Lucy Worsley. Or, one of my favorites, The Stopping Places by Damien Le Bas. Gardener’s Nightcap by Muriel Stuart is good if you like gardening, short pieces about gardens.

 

Graphic Novels and Comics

The adventure zone here there be gerblins

There are some very distressing graphic novels out there, but I find that they can also be very absorbing because you have both the text and the art to look at. They can really take you out your own worries for a bit, plus they’re often short and easy to read, so you don’t need much brainpower. Comics I like to read are Customer Service Wolf by Anne Barnetson or False Knees by Joshua Barkman. A graphic novel I love is The Adventure Zone.

 

 

Nothing At All

Sometimes, reading just doesn’t work. You’re just too stressed to focus on it. It’s okay to not read for a while if you can’t or just don’t feel like it. There are so many other things to calm you down. I’ve been watching comedy shows on Netflix. Even finally started watching Virgin River on there (which I love but can also be stressful). It’s also a good time to get creative, because it’ll make you feel like you’re doing something. I’ve been making coloring pages for some children we might need to entertain now the schools are closed, and put them up for download for free, so if you like coloring, you could print them!

Do whatever you need to comfort yourself, wash your hands, take care of each other and yourself. We’ll get through this!

Do you have any recommendations for calming reads and/or activities? Share them in the comments!

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Book Review | Silver in The Wood by Emily Tesh

“The Green Man walks the wood,” he tried explaining. “But the wood remembers.”

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Tobias lives in the forest, hidden from most passers-by, away from the villages, together with his cat and his dryads. He’s there to protect, both the wood and the people, but mostly lives a quiet life. Then one day a handsome young stranger passes by his window, and he invites him in. With the coming of the stranger, everything changes, and Tobias will have to face his troubled past.

I was quite excited to read this novella (it’s about a 110 pages) because the premise just sounded right up my street. A mystical Green Man living in the woods? Romance? Old secrets better left buried? Dryads? Hell yes. IMG_20200217_173109_338.jpg

And I really enjoyed it. The story is quite creepy and exciting, the plot well-formed and well thought out. While it wasn’t revolutionary, it went places I didn’t expect it to go. It managed to let the plot develop just so that it all makes sense but you can’t quite predict what exactly is going on. I especially love that the story has its own lore that is a big part of the mystery, and also existing lore from our own world. Especially because the story is told through the eyes of someone who is part of that lore. It’s really well done.

I also really liked all the characters and their relationships between them. I especially loved Henry Silver, and how he’s much more than he initially lets on. I also thought his mother was an interesting character! Plus I loved all the dryads and how they were described, and how they spoke. Tesh really managed to bring them to live.

The only things I didn’t like that much were both the writing style and the pacing. The writing just didn’t completely pull me into the story, I kept being aware that I was reading, rather than completely disappearing into it. It could have just a little more atmospheric detail, I think, personally, a little more to pull all your senses into the story, a little more padding. The pacing feels quite erratic to me, even though there are ‘rest points’, I had a feeling the story was rushing through the events a bit too fast.

All in all a really cute story with an interesting plot and great characters, but it could have been a little bit better.

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Film Review | Little Women (2019) (with some spoilers)

Warning: this review contains spoilers for both the book and the movie.

Years ago when I read Little Women, and I loved it. So when I heard a new adaptation was coming with an amazing cast, I knew I had to see it. (And had to WAIT till February before it was released here!!)

I had seen the 2017 mini-series and the 1994 film, but both of

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those were a little disappointing to me. The characters didn’t entirely feel the way they should be to me, still a little too sweet, still a little too meek, as if the writers/directors hadn’t looked past the moralistic side of Little Women (in my humble opinion). And the pacing was often off, either to slow and too fast.

So I was looking forward to the new one, but also not trying to get my hopes up.

I needn’t have feared. Little Women (2019), directed by Greta Gerwig, is amazing.

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Announcement! New Blog For Stories

Hi! As some of you may know, I like to write fiction too as well as book reviews, and since this December I’ve been posting some short stories on here.

It’s beginning to feel a little strange to have them mixed with my book reviews and bookish blog posts, mostly because I figure people who follow The Reading Hobbit come for books, not necessarily stories (or maybe you do, I have no idea).

So I decided to make a new blog, for my fiction writing! I think I’ll still be posting some of my short stories here because, well, this is where I have an audience (in fact, I posted a new one today) but in the future I will solely post my work on my writing blog.

You can find it here, if you’re interested. I’ll also be posting news regarding my writing (like future publications, and I’m sort of planning to do some sort of novel length story in serial form, but that’s still way way in the future) so if you like what I write and want to stay updated, you can follow me on there 🙂

I’ll still be writing books reviews and other bookish things on here, so if you only like those (and that’s fine!) nothing here will really change! And you can just keep following The Reading Hobbit!

Have a good Sunday 🙂

Short Story | Darlings

Darlings

(967 words)

The clicking of the woman’s heels echoes against the high walls. Beneath her, the polished marble floor mirrors her silhouette in vague grey as she moves through the hallway. She carries a tray with two tall glasses of iced tea. The house is quiet, full of empty space. Somewhere a hidden air conditioner hums, working hard to keep out the summer heat.

The woman’s footsteps are suddenly muffled by a richly embroidered rug when she reaches the sitting room. Her friend is waiting for her in one of the two leather armchairs by the window overlooking the front lawn. She is watching three little girls playing outside on the grass.

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