October Update: Study Breaks And Halloween Reads

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It’s been a while since I last posted anything and I thought I’d give everyone a quick update on what’s been going on.

If you read my last post you’ll remember I was all excited about Self-Pub Fantasy Month and then that kind of fell by the wayside. That’s because I started a class to help me prepare for a certification exam for work. I work in Human Resources and I’m studying for the SHRM-CP/SHRM-SCP exams(s). If I pass I’ll get some coveted letters after my name which in theory attests to the fact that I’m a professional in my career field. The exam (whichever I take) lasts 4 hours and costs like $400.00 and you can only attempt it twice a year. The CP exam only has a pass rate of about 67% and the SCP exam has a pass rate of about 57% so I need to take the class and all the reading (I’ve got four large books) pretty seriously. The class is three hours one night a week and then there’s all the reading and studying, the combination of which began to interfere with the latter half of Self-Pub Fantasy Month. I didn’t get to write the last two reviews I’d hoped to post or some of the additional things I wanted to do. I still plan on getting those reviews done…at some point.

This month though I’ve had a hard time focusing on the reading for the class. All I’ve wanted to do was read some fiction…which leads me to part two of this post…

Halloween Reads!

I love Halloween. Always have. It is one of my favorite “holidays” during the year and October really kicks off my favorite extended season running through Thanksgiving and on to Christmas. This year I’d already selected a number of books to read for Halloween and no amount of certification studies was going to stop me. So here’s what I’ve read…

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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of those books I’ve felt guilty about not having read for a long, long, time. It’s one of THE classics of the genre. I’ve owned the book for more than a decade and still never read it. I’ve got no good excuse I know. This year I decided it was time to rectify that mistake in my reading history.

So what did I think of it? Well…meh. I know, I know, some of you are already screaming at your screens, “what do you mean meh!?” Well, what I mean is I didn’t really care for it like I’d hoped. For me it’s the prose. I’ve always struggled with 19th century novels. That’s not really true. To be more specific I’ve always struggled with early nineteenth century novels. The way the narrative is written, and especially the way dialogue is written is something I really struggle with. I’m not a moron…I understand it, and even recognize the beauty in it, I just have a hard time immersing myself in it. It isn’t just European works that have this effect on me. I’ve tried to read Moby Dick like three times and have never even made it half-way through.

Anyway, the writing is part of it, and dialogue in general. But part of it was the character of the Monster. The fact that he picked up language so quickly and with such a high level of linguistic understanding and vocabulary just didn’t seem plausible to me. And yeah I know it is a form of speculative fiction so you can make up your own rules, but in any form of speculative fiction you have to have some things that seem real or plausible or you can’t really connect with it. This just seemed to incredulous for me and really got in the way of the reading.

Now, what I did like about Frankenstein werey the themes and motifs within the story. Specifically for me it was the question of who was really the monster, the so-called monster, or Frankenstein himself. There was also an interesting theological theme throughout that forces the reader to examine questions of God and creation and sin and the fall over against the vain human attempt to be like God…and whether blame for the result of things lies with creator or the created. You don’t have to believe in God (or a god) to pick up on this theme and the questions it poses.

Anyway, I recognize the greatness of the book and why it is still considered a classic. It just didn’t become a favorite of mine. Don’t hate me.

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The book I’m currently reading is Anno Dracula by Kim Newman. I’m about a third of the way through and am really enjoying this one. To be honest I’m kind of a sucker for vampire stories. Not the Twilight ones though. I don’t really like those. But most other vampire stories are right up my alley. They are such a cool character type. Almost immortal, super-human speed and strength, sensual, nocturnal (I’m a night owl), and the list goes on.

I’ll admit the concept behind Anno Dracula seems a bit far fetched. I mean the idea that somehow the people of England and the world at large would come to accept vampires living among them as a normal part of society is a bit of a stretch. But I can live with it. Because vampires.

What I really like is the way Kim has taken Bram Stoker’s story and expanded upon it. That and the narrative setting he’s placed around the story, including other fictional characters like Dr. Jekyl who appears more than once and Sherlock Holmes who is (so far) mentioned off hand or historical ones such as Billy The Kid (also mentioned as an aside), really keeps the story interesting. I love the fact that Bram Stoker is even a part of the story.

Another thing I’m enjoying is the way Kim seems to be critiquing Dracula as a narrative work in the midst of his own narrative. It’s kind of subtle but it’s there. It would be cool to write up a review that looks at this critique but I’d probably need to re-read Anno Dracula and Dracula to get a good handle on it.

Pending Self-Pub Fantasy Month Reviews

I still need to post reviews for Kingshold, and The Wolf of Oren-Yaro. They are coming, I just don’t know when yet. I tend to spend hours and hours working on reviews and I need a clear head and not many distractions. I haven’t had any of that in weeks. But it will happen. “But,” you say, “you’ve had all this time to read other books, why not write?” Well, reading is easier to be honest.

I’ve started the review of Kingshold, which means I’ve been typing up the summary but not the actual review part of the review. I really can’t say when I’ll get it done. But I will. Odds are I’ll be changing my review style/format a little and will be going for posts that aren’t as long. I really like the format where I break everything down into categories but I may move away from it a little. I don’t know for sure and probably won’t make up my mind until I really get to work on it.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to. Not sure when my next post will be but I’ll try not to be a stranger. I’m still on Twitter pretty regularly so you can always find me there. I’m also keeping up with other blogs and regularly check other’s reviews. If you’ve got a great new read you are just aching to tell me about let me know. I’m always looking for another book to buy.

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7 thoughts on “October Update: Study Breaks And Halloween Reads

  1. I reread Frankenstein for Halloween a couple years ago. This year I’m rereading Dracula (which is better told than Frankenstein, I think, even if the latter is stronger from a literary perspective).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The last time I read Dracula was about 25 years ago. I’m due for a reread. At the time I didn’t like the letter/journal style of the way the story is told but that was probably more the teenager in me. I think I’d enjoy it more with some years behind me.

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  3. I definitely agree that reading is easier. Plus, I feel like when I have to choose between reviewing and reading, I’ll choose reading, because that’s what I actually enjoy best. Reviewing is just another hobby to complement the reading. Good luck with your studying and exam!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: October Update II: Study Breaks And Halloween Reads | Off The TBR

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