First monthly reads post on the new blog, yeah! I used to post those ones on my anime blog, but from now on I'll be putting them here. Anyway, October was a pretty good reading month - I tried to read some slightly spooky things in the run-up for Halloween and enjoyed most of them! (By the way, the books not shown on the photo are ebooks as I obviously couldn't take a picture of those.
Rising (Thomas Harris)
First off, I haven't watched the classic Hannibal movies or read any book of the original trilogy yet. However, I have at least watched the Hannibal TV series, and that's why I started being interested in the books, too. (Fun fact: I watched the TV series last October, but I never mentioned it to anyone in real life...days later my mum suddenly gave me this book and told me she bought it because it might interest me. Quite scary, that. Even more so because my mum wouldn't normally buy me a book about a serial killer even if I would politely ask her to. Which made me seriouly wonder if she reads my blog.) So, this is a prequel story about how Hannibal Lecter became the person (and cannibal) we know. I actually liked reading this origin story. I don't know whether someone who already read the other books would think differently – actually, I do know from some reviews I saw: they do – but from my point of view the story made sense. People might say that giving Hannibal a sympathetic backstory takes something away from the fascination of the character. Maybe they are right, but I still wouldn't necessarily agree. Sure, if it were a sappy story about how a entirely normal little boy turned into a cruel killer because of some traumatic event from his past...no, that really doesn't sound like Hannibal Lecter at all. But I got something different from the story: how a boy with a brilliant mind descends into darkness instead of stepping into the light and being recognised as a genius on the field of medicine, for example. (I'm aware that sounded a bit melodramatic. But that actually sort of fits the subject, I think!) I did enjoy reading about that, and it made me look forward to watching (or reading) the original trilogy one day.
Chronik der Unsterblichen 1: Am Abgrund (Wolfgang Hohlbein)
I usually enjoy Wolfgang Hohlbein's books. He's not one of my absolute favourite author, but his stories are usually really thrilling and just the right kind of book to read if I want to take my mind off real life. And once again, I wasn't disappointed. This book is the first volume in a long-running historical fantasy series, which is the reason why it mostly served as a prologue for a longer story and introduced a cast of characters we will probably meet again later on. Also, I did recognise some tropes from the author's other books – for example, the relationship between Andrej and Frederic reminded me a lot of a similar dynamic between two characters from his book 'Thor'. Still, it was already plenty entertaining and I'm curious about where the story will lead the main character and also us readers.
Two Virgins (Boris Johnson)
Oh my. That was...bad. And to make two things entirely clear from the beginning: no, I don't like Boris Johnson and no, I didn't expect this to be any good – quite the contrary, actually. And yet I still got disappointed. I thought there might still be some fun to be had in reading this book, in a sort of 'ha-ha, I can't believe the guy who wrote this shit got elected as PM of the United Kingdom' way. If that makes any sense. What definitely didn't make any sense was the book. I don't know, but the people who compared this to the writings of P.G. Wodehouse might have been drunk, because...this book was neither funny nor witty while the Wodehouse books are definitely both funny and witty. And yes, I tried to forget who wrote this. It was still bad. I have to add that I think I even got what he wanted to do with the plot: lots of seperate plotlines which converge at a certain highlight point of the entire thing, where everything gets resolved and one of all those losers turns out to be a hero. Or something like that. Just that it didn't work. I didn't care about those people at all, and not even lenghty explanations about their past and motivations could change this. Seriously, it was so obvious how he tried to paint the British member of the terror gang as basically just a poor guy who got mislead by the evil Arabs – while also heaping on him because he was also some antisocial deadbeat who basically just wasted taxpayers money through his sheer existence. Add some more extra casual racism and sexism plus some semi-funny puns on every second page and well, now that sounds the BJ we all know and love. Or hate. Or love to hate. I really don't know anymore. Nevertheless, I would still say reading this book was at least worth something, because it made me feel better about my own writing. I mean, seeing how even bad books can get published makes me feel less anxious about whether the quality of my fanfictions is good enough. At least I don't charge money for those, even if they aren't exactly literature!
Britty Bang Bang (Hugh Dennis)
A while ago I bought a few books written by British comedians, partially because I just really like the author or also because some nice people on Tumblr responded with lots of recommendations when I asked them for Britcom-related books. This one here fits in the former category because Hugh Dennis is one of my favourite panelists from both Mock the Week and Taskmaster. And I was even pleasantly surprised by the book, because I also learned some new things about Britain while having fun reading an entertaining book. That's just how I like it!
Carmilla (J. Sheridan Le Fanu)
I initially downloaded this short novel because one reviewer called it the superior vampire story when compared to Dracula. And I couldn't really believe that, because...well, everyone knows Dracula, but Carmilla? Not so much. (I knew her from the smartphone game Fate/Grand Order. Yes, being a fan of anime and games does have some benefits!) However, having read both stories I have to say....I entirely agree with that reviewer! I just really enjoyed Carmilla, and I can't believe that this story is actually even older than Dracula because it felt so...fresh? Modern? I can't really put it in words, I think. I mean, a story about a lesbian vampire preying on young girls? That sounds like something straight from some of today's B-movie horror flicks! However, there obviously isn't anything even remotely similar to a sex scene in the novel (well, I'm aware that a vampire's bite is basically a metaphor for a sexual act, but I think you get my meaning) and so this isn't a cheap horror thrill, but a really interesting and at times chilling and thrilling read. The only thing I liked not as much was the ending because it felt somewhat rushed and almost made me lose interest. But that didn't ruin my overall enjoyment of the story and I would still absolutely recommend it to anyone who would be interested in reading a classic vampire story.
Dracula (Bram Stoker)
I already mentioned Dracula, so...well, you already know that it's not my favourite classic vampire novel. Don't get me wrong, there were things I greatly enjoyed about it. The beginning of the story and the first part set in Dracula's castle were just great and I was curious to see what would happened next. Also, the parts about Renfield's strange obsessions and also Lucy's story were intriguing. However, everything felt just way too lenghty. Sometimes nothing meaningful happened for many pages and especially the middle part after Lucys death felt somehow dreadful – not because of Dracula's doing, mind you. The ending part turned out to be more interesting, but I don't think I'll ever feel the need to re-read this story, if I'm entirely honest. And I think it is worth mentioning that I haven't watched any film adaption of Dracula before reading the book. So I guess fans of the various adaptions might not like the actual book at all. Still, it was interesting to read about the origins of one of the most famous literary and pop-cultural figures of all time.
Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)
Everyone knows Frankenstein's Monster, and many people actually confuse the creator (=Frankenstein) with his creation (=the Monster). Then again, are they really wrong about thinking that this is a story about a monster called Frankenstein? Because I for one absolutely came to loathe the guy during the course of the book. I mean, creating a initially gentle yet ugly 'monster' just to suddenly realise that he possibly did a bad thing and thus leaving the monster entirely to its own devices – only to revile his creation at their next meeting which happened many months later. Still, the monster doesn't even assault him like the proper ugly evil bastard it's supposed to be (if he's ugly, then he has to be evil, right?) and tries to explain his motivations and the way it lived to far. Well, at least then our dashing hero sort of begrudgingly pretends to understand the monster's plea and agrees to make a companion for him. (Not without lots of whining though because he feels so bad about it! Seriously, I've never seen a more whiny protagonist.) After another meeting with the monster he suddenly decides to say 'fuck it, I'm not gonna do this' instead and is subsequently really shocked that the monster exacts his revenge against his creator. The rest of the book was almost funny to me, to be honest. The wedding night scene almost made me laugh: 'I fear that my wife might be in danger, so I'll just waltz around our house and leave her entirely unprotected in our bedroom!', just to be really surprised and shocked to find her dead when he came back. I'm sorry, but that was funny. Then more whining ensued, before he finally decided to man up a bit and chase his nemesis literally to the ends of the world: the Arctic. That also where he tells his sob story to the captain of a ship who rescued him – and the poor captain basically seems to fall in love with his new acquantance, judging from the way he talked about him. I just love how Frankenstein repeatedly claimed that the monster possessed huge powers of persuasion and no one should believe it when it talks about its sad story. I think he mixed up things there: actually he was the slimy smooth-talker himself, because he was so persuasive that he basically calmed down a bunch of mutinous sailors in mere minutes. The monster on the other hand never got a fair chance to persuade anyone because of how ugly it was. So that's that, I'd say.
Anyway, I guess this whole rant sounded a lot like I didn't like the book. And that's not true, I actually liked it quite a bit. Maybe because I sympathised with the monster in some way. Even though I'm obviously not a artificially created giant person (I promise), I know how it feels like to be judged based on wrong first impressions, always being the odd one out and thus starting to feel a certain kind of resentment towards other people. And I don't think I'm the only person who can. Frankenstein, on the other hand...well, I rarely ever hated a book protagonist as much as I hated him. Which is an achievement in itself, I think! But the douchebag still didn't ruin my enjoyment of the book, so...that definitely was a classic worth reading, even though I fear that I lack the deeper understanding of literature to properly analyse all the themes used in the novel.
Who: The Crimson Horror (Mark Gatiss)
A pretty enjoyable novelisation of a pretty enjoyable episode, I'd say. Sure, the plot was pretty crazy and sometimes a bit over the top, but I liked the Victorian setting a lot and the story had just the right amount of craziness I enjoy about a Doctor Who story. The latest stories in the TV series are sometimes a bit over the top for my tastes, I have to say. But well, there's always the possibility of rewatches or revisiting favourite stories via the novelisations!
you, Jeeves (P.G. Wodehouse)
I read a collection of all Jeeves and Wooster short stories at the beginning of this year, so it's quite odd that it still took me this long to actually finish this first novel about their hilarious adventures. Well, maybe because I'm determined to save up the Wodehouse novels as a cure-all measure for bad reading slumps. The short stories were basically the only thing I could still read when I faced my worst ever reading slump, and I'll be eternally grateful for that. I think I maybe liked the short stories a little bit more than this full-length adventure, but it was still really, well...the bee's knees would a fitting expression! It's not like I had any real doubts, but I'll definitely go on reading the entire series now. And I'll also want to take a look at PG Wodehouse's other books – good thing that there are so many of them!
Case of Blackmail in Belgravia (Clara Benson)
I only read this because I could download the ebook version for free, but I actually enjoyed it a lot! I'm just really weak for stories set tin 1920s/1930s England, whether it's a crime novel, a comedy story or really anything. This one falls in the first category and while it wasn't exactly one of Agatha Christie's books it was still highly enjoyable. I might buy the next volumes in the series too, if I ever feel the need for some light fun reading because that's exactly what I got from this novel!