Sunday 19 September 2010

A-haunting we will go...

Gosh, look at this, sticking to my promise to post again today! What IS the world coming to??

It's not very often that I sit down and read a novel, I don't have the stamina for them. I tend to get very bored by novels very easily, but I do occasionally enjoy reading short stories, and especially SPOOKY short stories.

I'm a fan of M.R. James (the M.R. stands for Montague Rhodes) who is considered to be the finest ghost story writer of them all. The stories have contemporary settings when James wrote them (between 1904 to 1925) and many reflected his academic background and his expertise on medieval history, and it is this where most of his inspiration for his ghost stories comes from.

Some of my favourite stories of James' are "Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad", in which a man discovers a very old whistle with inexplicable powers; "Number 13" which pertains to a hotel room number which doesn't exist... or does it? But perhaps "A View From a Hill" is to me the most horrific, mostly because of a very eerie pair of home-made binoculars.

Many of James' stories have been dramatised for television (some of which are available on YouTube), although I particularly like the audiobooks read by the wonderful David Collings (who also played Silver in the late 70s/early 80s paranormal drama 'Sapphire and Steel', and was the voice of Monkey in the fantastic series of the same name (sometimes called 'Monkey Magic' but I always called it just 'Monkey').

Anyway, I was recommended to read 'Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror' by my friend Claire's eight-year-old son, Elliot.  As you may guess, the name 'Uncle Montague' is a nod to James himself, so how could I resist?  And to read a ghost book aimed at children seemed like not too much of a strain on my very short attention span. However I wasn't prepared for what turned out to be a real treat!

Chris Priestley has crafted a wonderful collection of very uncanny stories, tied together within the unsettling setting of Uncle Montague's creepy house, and by the very creepy Uncle Montague himself who tells the stories to the book's protagonist, Edgar. The stories are satisfyingly short and to the point, but with enough substance to linger in your mind for some time later. I am a slow reader by nature, but towards the end of each story I was racing through the last paragraphs as the pace quickened and the tension gathered.

Every story is accompanied by two black-and-white line drawings by David Roberts.  I really like Roberts' style of spindly, spidery lines, shadowy cross-hatching and uncanny settings, which go so well with the tales.

If you want to read an intelligent and short collection of spooky stories, now that the nights are starting to draw in and the leaves are starting to fall, this is an ideal book, whatever your age.

I've already read the sequel, "Tales of Terror from the Black Ship" and just started "Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth"; both are full of imaginative twists and the same creepy atmosphere of "Uncle Montague" that I've come to expect. I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for more like this to satisfy my taste for dark, creepy tales.

Further reading: 
Uncle Montague's very own blog! Which is humourously called "Uncle Montague's Nether Regions."
the author, Chris Priestley's blog:
Tales of Terror site (this is a beautifully-designed site with lots of creepy sounds things to look at, well worth a look!)

Hope you have a lovely Sunday afternoon, everyone!
Best wishes
Joey x

Saturday 18 September 2010

We have a WINNER!

What a lovely sandcastle... but only one flag... :-(
Hi there! I hope you've all had a super-smashing summer! I must apologise, this is the first blog post for AGES!! What have I been doing all this time, you may wonder? Well, nothing much... though I have read two books - albeit children's books, that is quite an achievement for me! More on that later, but now I must announce (sorry this is a bit late!) the winner of my sandcastle flag competition!

It's CARLA! Congratulations, Carla! She made a lovely big sandcastle with not just one flag, but THREE!  Nice work, Carla!

Carla with her sandcastle with THREE FLAGS! That's more like it! :D
(I'm sorry about the resolution of this picture, it was taken with a camera on a mobile. It's still lovely though!)

Carla has won her choice of one of my Kitty Pip brooches! Carla, please tell me (via your Auntie Claire) which one you'd like, and I'll pop it in the post to you! :-)

I have a few Kitty Pip brooches not in my Etsy shop, so if you would like to buy one, please ask via the comment form below.

I promise to do another blog post very very soon! Maybe even tomorrow! I want to tell you about the SPOOKY SUPERNATURAL books I've been reading, and the SPOOKY SUPERNATURAL audio book I've been listening to whilst embroidering... oh and I'll tell you about that too!

Best wishes
Joey x


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