Blowing the Dust and Cobwebs Off This Blog

Hello everyone!

First and foremost, a belated happy new year! Here’s hoping for a wonderful 2020 for all of us here at WP and everywhere else.

Anyway… the reason why I’ve been absent during the tail end of last year is because this old Louse has found (casual) employment! So, my shifts at work are kind of sporadic, now drafting up posts for TABL will likely take longer (and I’m binge watching Spongebob to unwind because I can). Though, this doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading during my downtime. I’ve already finished The Testaments by Margaret Atwood and plan to make some combo review of that and its prequel. I’m also currently reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt, but the more I read it, the more of a dingus I feel like I am (I don’t know shizz about Ancient Greek language, okay?).

I’ve also got a half-done review in the Drafts tab, regarding The House Across The Street by Lesley Pearse. Slowly but surely, it will be published soon! Not to mention, there’s a heap of books I still haven’t gotten around to, as well as other dnf’d works that I’m considering giving a second chance.

Well, I don’t want to bore you with my incessant rambling, so I’m going to draw it to a halt here. Stay tuned and keep on being your bookish selves! Looking forward to the new works that this new decade will bring us!

A Halloween Treat and No Tricks! TABL Presents…

sk book tag

Hey all!

It’s been a while since I posted on here, and I’d rather post something filler-ish rather than nothing at all.  Now that it’s Halloween season, I decided that I’ll do a book tag that’s all about my favourite spooky author of all time!  The credits to this tag go to Jessie, a fellow book blogger at Book Ballistic, who also translated this from French (if you are reading this, thank you so much!).

So here it goes, and as the Tenth Doctor would say, Allons-y!

The Stephen King Book Tag

Q: How many Stephen King books do you own?  

Freakin’ lots (to the point Dad started calling me Stephen).  Can’t be bothered to count them right now, sorry not sorry.

Q: How did you discover this author?  

When my aunt gave me her copy of Pet Sematary.  She was reading on a flight, and since she was done with it, she gifted it to a young Louse.

Q: What is the first book you read by him?  

kitty

Pet Sematary, of course!

Q: How long have you been a fan? 

Ever since I was in Year 5, so like 14 years or something close to that.

Q: Which one is your favourite book?  

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Don’t be fooled.  Don’t be FOOLED.

Hmm… I’d have to say Night Shift.  I enjoyed most–if not all–of the stories that were in this particular collection.  In other collections, however, the individual stories are either a hit or miss for me.

Q: Who made you most afraid?  

man in black suit

Y’all better start praying you don’t encounter this guy.

The eponymous entity from the short story The Man in the Black Suit.   There’s something’s superbly eerie about this story… not to mention, there are many true stories about encounters with strangers who gave off disturbing vibes to the point that some of these stories feel too supernatural to believe.  But I think this particular story taps into this specific fear of being approached by a stranger when you’re alone, and that this stranger may be quite… devilish.

Honourable Mentions: Pennywise (no duh!) – IT, George Stark – The Dark Half, the creepy black dog demon thing – The Sun Dog, the creepy, ever-so-changing painting of that woman – 1408. 

Q: Which book did you like the least?  

Joyland.  I ended up dnf’ing it because I simply lost interest and stopped caring about it.  It just wasn’t my cup of tea, plot-wise.

Q: Do you have any Stephen King books in your TBR pile?  

Yeppity yes.  Several of his new ones, mainly Elevation, The Outsider, The Institute, and Sleeping Beauties.  However, I don’t have my copies of the last two just yet.  Oh, and I also want to read Nightmares and Dreamscapes, but the book shops never have copies (sad face).

Q: What is your favourite new book?  

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (does this count as new?  Well, it’s new-ish, I guess).  While I do love Stephen King’s long novels, I really adore the various short stories this man puts out.  The short stories just prove how versatile his writing is.

Q: What do you think of adaptions?  What is your favourite? 

Well, taste in movies is subjective.  I like some adaptions and others are kinda meh to me.  My favourite would have to be Stand By Me, and I’ll shamelessly admit that this is a film I’ve watched over and over again.  So yeah!

Anyway, that was fun!  Although I’m reading another novel at the moment, I’ll definitely get to my Stephen King books in my TBR pile.  I’m also looking at purchasing more short story collections in the future (looking at you, Nightmares and Dreamscapes).  But I’ll have to conclude this post here.

For a few years now, Australia’s jumped on board the Halloween celebration train, and since it’ll be the 1st of November tomorrow (Aussie time), I’m planning on hitting the shops and buying some sweets that’ll be on clearance.  Gotta get that sugar in me!

Until the next post, stay reading and stay creative (and if you’re in the USA and anywhere else that participates in trick or treating, I hope you have enough candy to hand out to the kiddos.  But if I was there, I’d be wearing a Ghostface mask and screaming at them to get off my lawn).

Ok, I’ll shut up now.  Toodles!

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Can We Really Avoid Clichés Though?

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Nawwmygod this image has nothing to do with this blog post but look how cute they are (ignoring the fact that they could shred us to ribbons if we made them angry)

[Edit: I accidentally reverted this post back to a draft, because the editor was being super-glitchy, and I had a bit of a misadventure when I tried the “new editor”, but luckily I’m back to the classic one.  A word of advice, do not switch to the new editor or else your blog will be cursed!]

So, here’s another thing I want to get off my chest.

Anyway, I just wanted to write about this topic because it’s something we all deal with, whether we read or write a story.  We pick up a book, begin reading it, and as we take in the plot, we think, ‘well, I’m sure I’ve read this before’.  Sometimes, if we’re sassy enough, we roll our eyes.  We have times where we have an idea for a story and begin plotting.  Then, halfway through development, we go, ‘aw shucks, this isn’t original at all!’.  For instance, I’m planning on writing a romance novel (something that isn’t mindf%$#ery for once), and while the love interest isn’t a sexy, chiselled, 6-packed bajillionaire, he still has inner demons, and the trials that my lovebird protagonists go through aren’t exactly original either (no spoilers!).  So this was one trigger to my exploration of clichés in literature.
 
So this brings me to the question: can we really avoid clichés and certain tropes in literary works?  As avid literature fans, we all desire a breath of fresh air when we search for new books to read.  I’m a huge fan of psychological thrillers and the like, but then, there comes a point where I can predict a plot twist or pinpoint the true villain of the story (usually a wolf in sheep’s skin).  Are these devices repetitive?  Most certainly.  Are they boring?  Not necessarily.
 
Sometimes I feel that clichés and tropes can be inevitable at times.  It’s almost as if some genres are born to have particular tropes associated with them.  I suppose clichés work, and they sell.  Not only are the tropes and cliches within the story repetitive, so are the book covers!  In romance, there’s a woman in the arms of a very sexy (and often shirtless) man, and in crime and thrillers, there is either a dark corridor/alley or a silhouette of a person, and in sci-fi, there’s usually alien landscapes with a celestial body of some sort in the background (often a photoshopped Saturn).  Perhaps the reason that book covers are designed in a specific way so that they can appeal to their intended audience.  Though to me, I think that most typical romance covers look tacky, but that’s my own personal taste (minimalist covers are my favourites).  But at least they scream ‘ROMANCE’ to the fans of romantic stories.  Vice versa for other genres.
 
The main argument that I want to put forth is that no, we can’t always avoid certain clichés and tropes when we’re reading or writing particular genres of literature.  Despite critiquing the tropes/clichés, I’m also guilty of using some of them myself (ergo, I’m a HYPOCRITE).  I suppose the reason that we probably get a little too nit-picky with either our own or someone else’s works is because we want ORIGINALITY™.  But, no story is truly original, do you agree?  Stories do follow a certain type of formula to some extent, and we’re kind of pushing pressure on ourselves to try and write something that’s completely out of left field.
 
But I also want to say it won’t hurt to use them, and people are going to be peeved at clichés and stereotypes whether we like it or not, and we can’t impress everyone.  Yeah, they can be annoying and overused, but perhaps they could work if they are written well.  Additionally, is it really that fair to compare books to others in the same genre?
 
I’d like to hear your thoughts, and ask:
  • What do you think of the common clichés and tropes present in literature?  You can talk about genre-specific ones too.
  • What’s your favourite cliché or trope?  What is your least?
  • Have you ever added your own twist to an overused cliché/trope?  How did you do this?
  • Or, has an author whose works you’ve read twisted them around?
Anyway, now’s the time to say toodles, and have a nice day, wonderful reader!
 
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Gratitude

Hello everyone!

How is everybody?  Good?  Great?  Absolutely shithouse?  Well, wherever you are, I just hope things go well for you in your day.

Anyway, I just want to write this post to say, “HAPPY 1st BIRTHDAY, TABL!”

Just a year ago, I was on the fence as to whether I would start this blog or not.  I was going through a difficult time in my life and wasn’t exactly sure whether this will be a long-lived project or another abandoned one.  But now, I’m just glad to be here, still writing, despite my posts being sparse.  I totally enjoy being on WordPress, blogging and doing what I love the most: writing.

So, thank you, thank you to all the followers of TABL.  Even though we don’t really communicate much, I’m just grateful for your presence.  You’re all a bunch of talented, wonderful writers and I wish you all the best in your blogging endeavours.  I am glad to have encountered you all.

Thank you to all the readers that come and view this blog.  Although this is a small blog with not much activity going on, I’m thankful for whatever hits the blog get regardless.  (Side note: I’m not really someone who is after clout and a bajillion hits/followers, this is a site that is pretty much a literary diary that so happens to be public, so whoever sees it, sees it)

Again, I’m just glad to be here and glad to be doing this.  I’m really appreciating what blogging is and seeing just what is out there in the WordPress world (or should I say, WorldPress?).

Anyway, I would have celebrated TABL’s first birthday with a beer, but it’s currently winter here in Australia and the region that I live in can get fairly cold, so a hot chocolate will be the celebratory drink of choice tonight.

An enormous thank you to everyone who viewed/read/followed TABL.  Thank you for being on this journey with me.  I definitely enjoyed my year of blogging, and hope for many more years to come!

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Fanfiction

Hey stranger!

I know that I said that updates on this blog would be less frequent, but today I’ve got a bit of free time and I’d like to share with you some thoughts that popped into my head.

Firstly, so it turns out, I don’t really follow plans.  I’ve decided that I’m not going to follow a schedule or anything like that anymore.  I’m just going to write whenever I want to, and I’ll write whatever I want, and I’ll be happier that way (and that’s the way blogging should be).  But don’t worry though, the T.S. 1888 series will be happening, and more reviews and writing tips are coming up sometime this year.

Anyway, without further diverging, I’d like to talk about fanfiction.  We’ve all encountered it if we were on the internet; they were my guilty pleasures when I was in high school.  It can be literally about anything from The X-Files to Naruto, or any media we consume.  The main characteristic of fanfiction is that the franchise, the characters, and most of the things involved in the fanfiction are not entirely our own.  There are people out there that abhor fanfiction because of this; apparently, they’re not being original, and that fanfiction writers are just lazy and can’t be arsed to make up their own universes and characters.

I can see where they’re coming from.  We often like to show our creativity through the things we make, be it a painting, drawing, a story, poem, or whatever, and if for instance, I painted a picture that is reminiscent of Van Gogh’s art style, you may think, ‘you’re just copying him.  Try and find your own style’.

But here’s where I’ll disagree with this stance.  While the universe, characters, the franchise of the media is not our own, the idea of the fanfiction is.  We can view fanfiction as some sort of wish fulfilment for ourselves; I may want to write a fanfiction about two characters that I want to become a couple (but never will because their original writers CAN’T SEE THE FACT THAT THEY BELONG TOGETHER).  Or, there may be an event that you wished could occur differently or have a different outcome.  The idea is yours.  I know the Fifty Shades franchise gets criticism for starting out as a fanfiction series (I’ve shown distaste for this series on my About page, but I’ve since edited that out, and yeah, my opinions about these books haven’t changed).  But, was it Stephenie Meyer’s idea to have Edward and Bella have some sort of f*cked up, Dom/sub relationship?  Answer: no.  It was E.L. James’ idea (or should I say, Snowqueens Icedragon).

You know what else is original?  Characters you wrote yourself.  Granted, original characters are often frowned upon; there are some dreaded Mary Sues and Gary Stus that make me cringe even to this day.  However, there have been some well-written original characters that blend perfectly with the world of the book/show/movie/anime etc.

There are also what are called Alternative Universes (I like these ones a lot), in which the characters well… they’re in an alternative universe; it speaks for itself.  They may be in an alternative time frame (21st-century characters are in the 19th century and vice versa).  These are original too!

In other words, my views on fanfiction are quite positive.  I mean, there are reaaaallly bad fanfictions out there, but there are also some really good ones too.  Fanfiction is creative.  It enables a person to use their creativity.  It encourages them to write and read a lot more, just like original stories.  Additionally, it also encourages people to write their own original stories eventually.  In fact, I’ve written a few fanfictions, but never published them.  I wrote a fair amount in high school, but eventually, I broke off and wrote my own original stories.  While there are some people that can create plots and characters at a drop of a hat, some others may need a stepping stone to get to that level of creativity.

Here’s a writing exercise for ya.  Choose a franchise of media you follow.  Choose a minimum of two characters from that franchise.  Let’s say that these characters are travelling from their hometown to a city they’ve never been to before.  Then suddenly, their mode of transportation fails to bring them to the desired place (i.e. the vehicle breaks down or they fall off the carriage and the horses run away), so these characters are left to walk.  What are their interactions and dynamics?  What do they say to one another?  Then, a stranger stops and offers them a ride to wherever they’re going to.  How do these characters react?  What happens next?

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got to say about the topic.  What do you think of fanfiction?  Have you written one?  Comment below!

I’ll see you when I see you.  Take care and stay creative!

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Apt Pupil: A Review

(First of all, I’m so, so sorry that this review arrived the time it did. It could’ve been finished and posted earlier, but a tumultuous combination of uni work, procrastination, and a temporary job made me chuck this review in the backburner) 

Usually, when it comes to reviews, I often keep them short, simple and intend not to give too many spoilers away; they’re just merely opinions that I have in regards to the narratives and I don’t want to turn them long-winded either.  Also, there are going to be a fair amount of spoilers in this review, so read at your own risk.

!!Disclaimer!!: this review ain’t for the faint-hearted and contains sensitive material.  If you or somebody you know (such as a family member) has been affected by the genocides and war crimes of World War II, or if the topic of war and death is upsetting to you, please proceed with caution.  Or otherwise, you can spare yourself from reading the post altogether if it’s beneficial for your wellbeing.

Without further rambling, let’s get right into it!

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