R.I.P Blog Hop-NOS4R2 by Joe Hill

 

Like The Woman in Black this is a story about stolen children.

Charles Manx takes children away from parents he deems inadequate, and carries them off in his vintage Rolls Royce to Christmasland, a twisted never land of his own imagining.

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image from Pixaby

Only Victoria McQueen has the means to stop him, as she can also travel the unseen roads to Christmasland. When Manx takes her son, she has to get him back before the journey to Christmasland changes him forever.

This book has always appealed to me because of jolliness of Christmas being spliced with the terrible. Snowmen decapitate each other and the sleigh coaster does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin.

Manx too is both sinister and goofy. A benevolent ringmaster with the physical similarities between the 1930s film version of Nosferatu. (Get it?)

Reading this book also came at the same time I’d become obsessed with teaching Baby Pumpkin body safety, and found something repulsively wrong about Manx calling a boy’s penis a fiddlestick.  Not that there is any sexual assault on children in this book (Manx is asking the boy if he needs to pee).

The cruelty to children comes instead from Manx’s parenting style, which lacks empathy (the road to Christmasland takes away fear and sadness) and focuses on giving children exactly what they want, rather than what they need.

This makes Manx the parent of over 100 self-interested, undisciplined and violent brats who like to pull the legs of moths and gouge the eyes out of adults with scissors. Imagine sitting next to that family in a restaurant.

Manx is a true villain that believes that he is doing the best for his stolen children.

Then there is the parenting style of Vic McQueen, alcoholic and drug addict, who has been absent for most of her son’s early life. She struggles to do the right thing, and she is not always an easy character to like. She can, however, admit that she has messed up and needs to change.

She is an Imperfect parent doing the best she can with the resources she has. Aren’t we all?

This book is extra scary because the stealing of children gets under your skin, and I am particularly sensitive to other people judging my parenting skills at the moment.  As Christmas is on the way, I’d better watch out.

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Image from Pixaby
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5 Geeky (and inappropriate?) Lullabies

I was excited about choosing a bedtime lullaby for Baby Pumpkin. No Twinkle Twinkles or Rock a Byes for me as everyone else would be singing those. I had my eye on something special that would be just between him and me.

Bearing in mind when I say sing, fantasy and reality are very different.

 

Both cat and girl from Pixaby

Plus, I soon worked out that any song I loved would be ground into shards through the sheer monotony of repetition with crying baby on accompaniment. I found myself swapping songs about to retain sanity.  Here are five of the geekiest, and possibly most inappropriate that I find singing in the early hours of the morning.

1.Gollum’s Song from The Two Towers.

Level of inappropriate: moody revenge song.

Level of difficulty: both verses are similar enough that they get mixed up in my head and I lose the narrative of it, but that means that I keep singing while I try and work out the place where I’m going wrong.

But, It has a perfect rhythm to rock too.

2. The Firefly Theme Tune

Level of inappropriate: not too bad, although does deal with the destruction of the singer’s world.

Level of difficulty: Easy peasy, and more upbeat than your average lullaby.

And it’s the Firefly Theme Tune. How cool will it be when my geeky son sits down to watch his first episode and is, ‘Wait…I know this!’

3. Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera.man-158329_1280

image from Pixaby

Level of inappropriate: sung by a creepy man in mask hiding behind a mirror in someone’s bedroom.

Level of difficulty: Impossible to get all the words straight in my head, and hit most of the notes.

But, it’s an awesome song to get lost in and keeps my brain occupied.

4. The Outlander Theme Tune

Level of inappropriate: I’m pretty sure that this is more standard lullaby territory as it’s based on the Skye Boat Song. However, the words ‘all that I was has gone’, resonated a bit too much with me in the early days of acclimatizing to motherhood. The whole thing became kind of self-indulgent.

Level of difficulty: moderate as it suffers from the same pit falls as Gollum’s Song, with the added danger of slipping into the original lyrics.

But, it’s so much fun to sing and has nostalgia value as it was one of the first things I could play on the recorder.

5. Trust in Me from The Jungle Book.

Level of inappropriate: fall asleep little boy so I can eat you. Plus, now Kaa is the token female in the movie adaptations there’s the whole destructive mother/Shelobesque subtext to go with it.

Level of difficulty: easy, if somewhat monotonous.

But, it’s fun doing the hissing.

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Image from Pixaby

I’d like to say that some of these work.  Honestly though I think my husband has the most luck with ‘Daisy, Daisy’.  Never the less, I have not resorted to ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ as yet.

 

R.I.P Blog Hop – The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Arthur Kipps is set to look through the papers of deceased client Alic Drablow of Eel Marsh House. He encounters the ghostly woman in black, and eventually the curse that follows her appearance.

To read other scary reviews, or join the linky list follow the link

This is a book where the scenery and the the weather are on the side of the ghost.  An isolated location, accessible only at low tide, desolate marshes and sudden sea mists.  Names also push up the creep factor, Drablow, Nine Lives Causeway…Everything contributes to the slow burning terror of this short book.

The story is told by an older Kipps, looking back on his twenties. We know he is married to Esme, but was once engaged to a girl called Stella.  Repetition too is used to creepy effect, the ‘bump, bump, pause’ or a rocking chair; the refrain ‘I do not believe in ghosts’, and an invisible pony and trap.

My son is not riding in a pony and trap until he is at least 30.

In a book told by men, the history of the woman in black herself is a story of two sisters, a twice lost child. The ghost is a mother who’s hate and lust for revenge means that no one can run far enough, live long enough or be innocent enough to escape her.  She cannot forget, and so nor can you.

I read this book in a nursery, sat in a rocking chair nursing my son as evening fell.  Not the best bedtime decision I have ever made. I had to resort to a riddikulus spell, imaging the ghost traversing Eel Marsh House on a skateboard, or rocking so hard in her chair she flipped over backwards like a failed contestant in Graham Norton’s Red Chair.

Before, I have always found the woman in black’s curse justifiable as the mute frustration of a wronged woman without a voice, and no other way to express her grief.  Now I am rightly terrified by the depths or her inconsolable hate and lack of sympathy.

My son is never riding in a pony and trap. I have decided. Enough.

 

 

 

Image from Pixaby

Ghost Eve Approaches…

The year is turning, leaves are starting to fall and I have broken out the woolly jumpers.

The most wonderful time of the year is on the horizon. Halloween is less than two months away, and this year Readers Imbibing Peril (RIP) has it’s own website.

Join the fun and choose a peril to complete by reading and reviewing scary books, films and short stories. Share by signing up on the linky list.

So this year is a year of scary mothers for me, and I am being incredibly unambitious and revisiting some old favorites, including NOS4R2 by Joe Hill which I read last year and never reviewed!

  1. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.  The ghost has always been the hero of this book for me, and I can feel sympathy for her without condoning what she does.
  2. NOS4R2 by Joe Hill. Another scary Christmas Story, this time with a flawed mother as the antagonist.
  3. Carrie by Stephen King, if I have time because it’s been a long time since I read anything by him and the mother sounds terrifying.

And for Peril of the Screen I have a copy of Byzantium (still in cellophane) about vampiric mother/daughter duo.

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Mwhaha.

An Unexpected Source of Motivation

Turns out there is nothing like having a child for motivating me to sort myself out.

I’m practically 37 and vaguely remember a time in my mid twenties when I was convinced I’d have everything worked out by 30. Ha!

Admittedly back then I was thinking about the big stuff like career, house and relationship. Now I find myself conscious of the small habits and attitudes I dislike about myself and have been working on and failing to break for years.

Passive aggressive snark can be fun, but is usually counter productive, but before baby (BB) it wasn’t hurting anyone but me.

Now I have someone watching me all the time, and I’m his template for healthy social interactions.

I’d run screaming from the room except that I’d be failing to demonstrate proper emotional regulation to him.

Things that I’d normally be annoyed about but not act on (being interrupted, for example) have suddenly started to make me stand up for myself. I’m decisively laying down the law on weaning, setting ultimatums about Christmas and vehemently disagreeing with anyone who dares to tell me ‘if you let him nap now he won’t sleep later.’

I’m accidentally modelling my parental style on a cross between Molly Weasley and Sarah Connor, if you can imagine that? 

But then I’m not really standing up for myself but what I think my son needs, and that makes it easier to speak out. Not always in the calm and authoritative I’d like, but still…

And honestly I have no idea what I’m doing. Still, if anyone is going to mess up my son (either emotionally or mentally) it’s going to be me, his mother. I’m the one that will end up dealing with the crying at bedtime after all.

My son is five months old

It feels like forever and yet no time at all. Finally though I have come up for air, or been brave enough to put my head above the parapet to see what wreckage of my former life is still standing.

“Don’t make any plans for the first six months,” a work colleague(mother of two girls) said.

I nodded. Didn’t believe her. All babies do is sleep, right?

Sort of true. He sleeps on me mostly. His cot is an offence to his delicate baby sensibilities.

“Mwhaha. You will never be early for anything again,” My brother (father of a boy and a girl) texts me when I tell him I will be ten minutes late. No, make that twenty.

And I thought I had no time to write before baby was born.

It’s a whole new world. Honestly, nothing prepared me for the complete mind bending wonder, and emotional and mental fuckery of it.  He is amazing and exhausting. Constantly.

And I’ve made it through. Am still making it through and rebuilding. Or reinventing rather because now nothing is ever static. I am reinventing my life because it just got more beautiful.

R.I.P Challenge: Seriously, what just happened? White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi.

Have you ever read a book that made you wish you were smarter? Or that you’d read it slower? You enjoyed it, but felt that there was something the writer was trying to do or say that you just didn’t get?

That’s how I felt about White is for Witching. It’s a gorgeous, tangled nightmare of a book.  There was a haunted house, matriarchal ghosts, a mad Gothic heroine and fascinating supporting characters.

The plot never really moved though.  Miranda Silver (the Gothic heroine) is mad. She stays mad until either;

  • She has a break down and runs away;
  • She is murdered;
  • She is absorbed by the house and joins her family ghosts.

Nothing about her really changes, and she never really tries to change.

It’s all very disturbing, but it remains only disturbing.  The overwhelming feeling of dread and claustrophobia that Oyeyemi conjures is absorbing (I couldn’t put the book down) but never really grows to become anything else.  The moments that should have been really frightening were more puzzling because I felt distanced from her characters and/or was never really sure what was going on (or in which reality it was happening.)

Has anyone else read this? Or read anything else by Oyeymi? I’d really like to know what you thought.

For more information on Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P) go to Estellas’ Revenge  or My Capricious Life

You can also follow the Twitter hashtag #RIPXII