RIPX Round Up

 

rip10300If you remember way back in September I decided to take part in R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril X hosted this year by the Estella Society. The goal was simple; read books that embody the “halloween” or “fall” spirit. The spooky, the chillers, the thrillers. There were also options for short stories and movies, which I also took part in.

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Peril the Second: Read two books of any length that you believe fit within the R.I.P.categories.

The first book read for RIPX was “Daughters of Witching Hill” by Mary Sharratt, a fictional retelling of the events of the Pendle Witch trails that took place in Lancashire, England in 1612. As someone who got pretty hooked on the Salem witch trials (and honestly the interest hasn’t let go, I really want “The Witches by Stacy Schiff, and honestly I wore my Salem, Mass. “It’s a wicked good time” shirt yesterday without shame) it was interesting to read about another witch trial in a different country that had very different causes (this one being old white men threatened by women). I’ve had this book for awhile and never got around to reading it, but I’m very thankful for RIPX for giving me the push to finally read it. I very much enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone interested in anything to do with witches, witch trials, life in the 1600s, ect. You can find my review here.

The second book I read for RIPX was actually a reread of “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire. I can’t really explain the relationship I had with this book. I remember reading it in high school and it felt like my first “grown up” book. It was the first book I read with sex in it, anyways. But it was the bandaid I ripped that got me into reading more “grown up” books. Beyond that I genuinely love this book. You might be more familiar with the Broadway musical by the same name and roughly based on it. This is a very rare occurrence, because even though the musical lightened the themes and basically “disney-fied” it, I still love both versions. Both have a place in my heart and I honestly don’t dislike the completely different adaptation.

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Peril On the Screen: This is for those of us that like to watch suitably scary, eerie, mysterious gothic fare during this time of year. It may be something on the small screen or large. It might be a television show, like Dark Shadows or Midsomer Murders, or your favorite film

For this part of the RIPX challenge I threw myself a mini Johnny Depp marathon, because honestly when you think “scary, eerie, mysterious gothic fare” who else are you going to watch? I watched “Sleepy Hollow”, “From Hell”, and finally “Sweeney Todd”. Jokingly, I pointed out that it was like a trilogy, where Johnny Depp goes from investigating murders to eventually having enough of it and becoming the psycho murderer himself.

Of the three I think “Sweeney Todd” is still my favorite. They’re all fantastic, of course, but Sweeney Todd was my first Rated R flick. (What’s with this pattern of my first “grown up” stuff being creepy musicals about murderers?) I have a love-hate relationship with “From Hell”, on one hand it’s a pretty okay movie with Johnny Depp and Robbie Coltrane (not playing a giant). It also has the added bonus of being about my favorite serial killer in history (Jack The Ripper). Sadly, it’s just an okay movie, and it’s even less of an okay adaptation of an amazing graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell.

eddiecampbell2Since I’ve never met Johnny Depp and have in fact met Eddie Campbell, and Eddie Campbell drew me a little Jack the Ripper; novel wins out.

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Peril of the Short Story:We are big fans of short stories and the desire for them is perhaps no greater than in Autumn.

I technically read two books that were anthologies of short stories by two authors. The first was “Major Tales and Poems” by Edgar Allan Poe. You can find more about this in my midway recap of the challenge. I fell in love with Poe right around the time I got interested in the Salem witch trials. When you go to read Poe, Poe Delivers. The real surprises were the stories of his detective Dupin, which I found to be some of my favorites of the lot.

Which leads me to the next set of short stories. I finally got around to reading my “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle book. Originally published in 1812, it is a collection of 12 Holmes stories. Each of the Holmes stories has relatively the same structure; Watson describes the mundane happenings without a case, Holmes bursts in with a case, the person coming to them with it shows up rather suddenly, the case it told, Holmes disappears for a bit comes back, drags Watson to go solve it. The police procedurals of the 1800s, and yet each just as interesting as the last. Of the 12 I read, 2 I had already read, and I would have to say my favorites include “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” and “A Case of Identity”


My RIPX reading will be continuing into November as I just got my hands on “The Library at Mount Char” by Scott Hawkins, and fully intend on buying “The Witches” by Stacy Schiff this month as well. I fully enjoyed this challenge. As I said when I signed up, this is my literary weakness. I’ve never been one for the typical Halloween “Thrillers” or “Slashers” but give me a good Gothic novel or psychological chiller and I’m good to go. I love the symbolism in the genre and the history of it. I can’t wait for it to come back around next year.

BONUS SUGGESTION: Spotify has a “Southern Gothic” playlist that pretty much embodies this challenge and is really good to get you in the mood for reading about ghosts, and murders, and boarding up dead wives in brick walls (seriously, Poe, why?).
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Daughters Of The Witching Hill; mini-review

 

51+OzuX7CmL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I very much enjoyed this book. I’ve had it for awhile, since Borders went out of business and their books were 200% off (okay it wasn’t that much). I was going through a phase around that time; we had just took a trip to Salem and I still looked fondly back on the Crucible. Okay maybe I’m not entirely out of this phrase considering I’m currently wearing my “It’s a Wicked Good Time” Salem, Mass. shirt.

So, I might be biased, but looking at this book objectively I still love it. Historically, it takes place in the late 1500s-early 1600s. There’s references to which monarch is in command when they switch (as they were switching a lot until Bess the First took over) and how that effects the people. From my limited knowledge the book is historically accurate of country living in England during that time. I particularly liked looking at the peasantry of this era, as typically it’s royalty that get the attention.

Additionally, I found the discussion of religion in the book particularly interesting as the main character Bess is old enough to have remembered when Catholicism was the religion of England and lived through Mary the Bloody and finally Elizabeth I. The tension between the old and new religion, and the conflict of the mythology that was seemingly accepted in old Catholicism, sparked my interest early in the novel.

There are a few plots that go unfinished, but I find a few loose ends realistic; you don’t tie up everything before you die in real life after all. But above all the novel gave me what I wanted; a realistic and interesting tale based off a real historic event. The backstories were rich, the characters reasonable, and the explanations clever. I was thankful it was a historic novel written in plain language, it added to the overall tone of the book.

Daughters Of The Witching Hill was the perfect light read (if not also tragic) to start autumn. Cleverly written, with interesting and different characters, and just enough witchy-ness for the season.

Daughters Of The Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt
Added to Reading England 2015
Apart of R.I.P.X Reading Challenge

R.I.P.X Update

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R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril X

In 11th grade I had a teacher who did a lot for my love of literature and my confidence that I wanted to continue studying it. Among the countless other things he did for me, he showed me that people can have a favorite author. That might seem like a common thing, but from my isolated small town this was a big discovery. This teacher’s favorite author happened to be Edgar Allan Poe.

We spent 2 months on his work in a class that had up until then been broken into genres. My teacher’s license plate was a variation of NEVERMORE and he had an Edgar Allan Poe action figure hung up on the bulletin board at the front of the class. He loved Poe, and through that taught me it was okay to obsess over someone who died hundreds of years ago and did nothing else in their life by write.

Well, thanks to R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril X I finally got around to reading those short stories and poems from Poe that I didn’t read in 11th grade.

I am reading from the “Major Tales and Poems” Borders publication (which tells you how long I’ve had this book). What this edition does REALLY well is the order it’s presented the short stories. They flow from one to the other naturally, and tend to share a theme with the one before it. However, the one annoyance I have with it is that Poe tends to quote in French, Italian, or sometimes Latin, yet this edition has not provided a single translation.

Since I’m taking a break before tackling the poems I’ll tell you my top ten favorite short stories from those that I had not previously read (in no particular order);

The Fall of the House of Usher
The Premature Burial
William Wilson
The Gold-Bug
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Mystery of Marie Roget
The Purloined Letter
The Oblong Box
The Oval Portrait
Eleonora

The five that I had previously read are;

The Tell-Tale Heart
The Black Cat *
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Cask of Amontillado
The Masque of the Red Death

*Yes, it has the word cat in the title. IF YOU LIKE CATS DO NOT READ THIS SHORT STORY!!!

The three bolded titles above are of Poe’s detective “C Auguste Dupin”. The first “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” is often considered the first fictional detective story. I highly recommend it. I loved it. The second “The Mystery of Marie Roget” is actually based on a real life murder of Mary Roger. The third is very good as well (although I have no fun fact about it).

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This weekend I also decided to have a small movie marathon in the tone of RIPX. It was also, not surprisingly, a Johnny Depp marathon. It could have been a Tim Burton marathon, but I got away with 1 of the 3 not being directed by him.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)
From Hell (2001)
Sweeney Todd (2007)

I’ve seen all of these before and own the last two so this was more for my lazy Saturday viewing. After reading Edgar Allan Poe for an entire 2 weeks you get pulled into a mood.

I’ve always liked the changes Burton made to the tale of Sleepy Hollow. It didn’t feel as jarring as a lot of differing interpretations can be. I understand Burton’s decision to not stick Depp in a bunch of prosthetics to make his Ichabod canonically “ugly” but to let it show through in his actions and choices. I also kinda love the fact that Christopher Walken, an actor known for his voice never speaks. And I do agree with the crew about the set; it looks like what walking through Burton’s mind must look like.

Sweeney Todd was the first rated R movie I was allowed to see in the theater (with my mom). I was SO excited for this movie and I still love it (even if Anthony Stewart Head’s role got practically cut). It’s really one of those adaptations where you just look at it and go “My god they got the perfect director and the perfect actors and literally what the hell could you change about this.”

From Hell holds a special creepy spot in my heart. I don’t know why I like the story of Jack the Ripper so much, but I do. When we went on the Whitechapel tour on my studyabroad I freaked the professor out by how much I knew about Jack the Ripper. I actually wasn’t aware that the movie was based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell until I took a true crime class in which we read it.

On a side note I absolutely love this graphic novel. I don’t 100% agree with the theory it poses (even though it’s really thought out and frickin cool), but it’s wonderfully written and the art is beautiful. And I’m not just saying that because I heard Eddie Campell speak on campus and had him sign the paper I wrote on From Hell and then he drew a wittle Jack the Ripper on it

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Look at that little cutie serial killer.

 

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Hosted by The Estella Society

I’ve decided to take part in this year’s R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril mainly cause I find the genres to be literary crack. Poe was one of the first poets I found I actually liked, let alone love. My mom made a stop on our summer road trip to Salem Mass. cause I might have gone through a serious Crucible phase of life. My favorite week of my study abroad was our “Mysteries of London” week where I became best friends with the guest professor while also freaking him out on my knowledge of Jack the Ripper during our tour of White Chapel. And during my last year at college I was taking a “Classic Horror Monster” Literature/Film class the same semester I was taking a “true crime”  literature class.

From the challenge’s page:

“Without further ado, pick your poison, won’t you? September 1st is here, and we’re ready to begin!

Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.

Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.

That is what embodies the stories, written and visual, that we celebrate with the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril event.

As time has wound on, we’ve discovered that simple rules are best:

1. Have fun reading (and watching).
2. Share that fun with others. “

The challenge will run from Sept. 1 – October 31st. I probably wont get officially started until the weekend but here’s my challenge pile.

RIPX

 

I’ve read a lot of Poe’s short stories and poems, but I plan to read through those in the collected works volume I have of his work. Same goes for my Sherlock Holmes collected works.

I read Dracula and Frankenstein for my “Classic Horror Monster” class but like the majority of English Majors who are taking multiple lit classes during their senior year; I heavy duty skimmed em.

“Vampire Stories” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a book I vaguely remember reading a few of the stories from but never finished. (But seriously, who knew Conan Doyle wrote vampire stories.)

“Daughters Of The Witching Hill” by Mary Sharratt is a novel I picked up way back when Borders was going out of business. The novel was inspired by the 1612 Pendle witch trials.

 

JSMN-cover1library-mt-char-jacketI also intend to buy these two novels by the end of the challenge. I’ve been wanting to have them anyways, this is just good timing for it. They’re “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell”, a novel set in England during the Napoleonic Wars where Magic once was practiced and existed in England. And “The Library At Mount Char” a recent release set around murders and a cult-ish like group.