Monthly Challenge… April Fail

Soooo yeah…

I’ve done well so far, right? Ever since the Monthly Reading Challenge started last October, I’ve managed to complete each and every one.

As you can probably tell, this month did not go very well >_<

I was so excited to finish Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (which I did!) and complement the reading with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth-Grahame Smith… but I didn’t

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My work may have suffered thanks to this little guy, too.

even get close to the parody book…

I had every opportunity, don’t get me wrong! I went to the library numerous times, I splurged on books at some indie bookstores on National Indie Bookstore Day, I watched a couple of movies at home and definitely could’ve atleast rented the movie.

Alas, none of those things happened. I still don’t know the fun parody story around zombies in England during Elizabeth Bennet’s time period, but I did catch up on a good amount of Regency Romance novels because I’ve been absolutely STUCK in this genre. I love everything about it, which is so outside of my normal library. I have some fun books coming in that I can’t WAIT to show you all… perhaps, these new excitements distracted me a bit from the actual challenge, because boy did I have my mind filled with other reading options.

In terms of accomplishments, though, I think this month was a great one. I had my first 5-star self-published book review on this blog (Thanks again, Christi Smit!), my first author interview, and I have finally FINALLY finished my first draft of my own “novel.” Quotations because, in all honesty, I do not plan on trying to get it published. It is a very personal story in terms of my approach, but I really want to try to edit it the way I would in hopes of actually publishing.

I am also past the halfway point in my reading goal on Goodreads. 16/30 finished as of the end of April, and I plan to exceed the yearly expectation. If all goes well, I should be able to, but let’s just forget this monthly reading mishap 😛

I may also participate in this ADORABLE Bookstagram idea started by Serena @ livinginthepagesofbooks. It’s an instagram challenge inspired by their monthly book club, and although I’m not reading May’s book, I still think it is a cute idea and want to take a shot at it 🙂 Let me know if you think it’s a good idea, and follow me here on instagram if you want to see my pictures!

I’ll take to you avid readers soon, and hopefully next month I’ll come up with a more feasible challenge 🙂 (or I’ll stop getting so distracted with other books!). Let me know if any of you have read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies… I’m curious what I’ve been missing out  on for so long! Is it worth pursuing still?

 

Until next time, everyone!

Live,

Morgan Paige

Monthly Challenge: Facepaint, Mr. Darcy, and Aliens?

April Monthly Challenge!

You all know how much I love my science-fiction, horror, and fantasy genre, don’t you? It’s hard to miss when that’s pretty much all I review and all I have on my Goodreads reading list ☺️

Which is why I surprised myself when I went to Barnes and Noble and picked up Pride and Prejudice…. Really?

It was a bit of a crazy moment for me. Not only did I pick up Jane Austen’s novel, but I also grabbed Lisa Elridge’s Facepaint and a debut novel called ____ by ____. My most secret hidden passion is makeup and skincare, and only my mom and my boyfriend really know the extent of that love. So when Elridge came out with her own history of makeup I knew I needed it! And this debut novel looks just like perfection… I can’t wait to review it for you guys!

But, as for Pride and Prejudice… wow. Just… wow. I’m not done reading it, but I already love it so much. It’s been kind of heartbreaking tearing myself away from it to read other stories that I have in my queue. I was trying to figure out a way to kind of roll the book into the blog… it’s so out of left field in terms of genre, but don’t we all have those random attractions that just don’t fit into our usual style?

And then it HIT me!

Pride and Prejudice… and Zombies! 💀

What an awesome novel-y spinoff, and as soon as I remembered this was a thing, I started imagining how cool Elizabeth Bennet would be killing zombies. Seriously, I’m her newest fangirl.

So, this month’s challenge is going to be a compare and contrast of the literary goodness of Pride and Prejudice and its horror counterpart Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. If I’m not too crunched on time, maybe I’ll even do a separate movie review of the two! Who would like to take part in this awesome challenge? It’s a bit much, two books in one month, but I think we can do it! From what I’ve read, P&P&Z is essentially Jane Austen’s own novel with extra gory scenes nuzzled on in. It should be fairly easy going then, right?

Those of you who are with the times and have already read both of these books, maybe you can find something else to compare and contrast. Maybe the classic Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Interview with a Vampire or something? There are so many books that play on older classics, like A Monster’s Notes by Laurie Sheck/Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman/Paradise Lost by John Milton, etc. If you need some other suggestions, I can point you to some resources!

Well, here’s to another Monthly Challenge! Here we go!

Live,

Morgan Paige

Monthly Challenge: TBR and House of Leaves

Hello everyone!

It’s a new month full of new reading opportunities and goals, and I’m happy to see how all of you are doing with your reading challenges. I feel like the year has started off pretty well for all of us. I am actually ahead of schedule, and based on the Goodreads counter on their website, a good amount of other readers are, too!

I tried coming up with a specific challenge this month, but nothing seemed to really fit. I’ve been devouring traditional, classic horror stories lately and just felt like I needed a good shake up… you know that feeling? Where you’ve been stuck in a thematic hole of literature that you need something to entice you anew.

None of the new releases at nearby bookstores seemed like much of a challenge right now… so, staring at my bookcase and at online retailers, I realized I just couldn’t find a suitable story that would fit this month. I feel like we all kind of have months where we just read what is new or reread a favorite rather than something that would actually challenge our minds, and that’s when I caught myself looking solemnly at the stack of to-be-read stories that have been waiting patiently for my attention.

So this month, I figured it’s best for all of us to tackle one of those stories that has been lying around, neglected and forgotten. It’s easy to get caught up in all the new books that come out and sometimes there are some older gems just waiting for us to give them a try. So, sift through your TBR shelf and let me know which one you feel like revisiting or finally finishing!


For me, I will be tackling the monster that is House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. This novel has been touted as one of the creepiest haunted house novels that will cause you to question reality and have nightmares. I’ve picked this book up about three times so far and had a very hard time getting into the story despite its talented writing and obviously enticing story. It is an incredibly cerebral ghost story that plays with style and format more than any other book I’ve seen. Because of this, and because of it’s length, it’s been a REAL challenge to get through. I’m giving it another shot! Have any of you read this book? Is it as spooky as those that have referred it say it is? I’d love it if someone read along with me; you can follow my progress below at my goodreads profile, stay updated on fun updates in my Instagram or Twitter, or just follow along and see what inspires me on Pinterest.

Let me know what you’re going to read this month, can’t wait to hear about it!

Until next time,

Live,

Morgan Paige

Check out my About page, too if you feel like contacting me via email 🙂

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Monthly Challenge: February and the Chinese New Year Completed!

Monthly Reading Challenge: February

Title: The Girl with Ghost Eyes

Author: M.H. Borosonimg_0077

Publisher: Talos

Summary: Living in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the late 1800s, Li-lin is a Daoshi exorcist training under her father’s advanced tutelage. Recently widowed, she trains in Kung-Fu and the magical properties of the Maoshan tradition that allows her to use her special yin eyes to hunt and protect against ghosts. Armed with her teachings, Li-lin becomes prey to a brutal plan aimed to destroy her father and Chinatown itself, but with the help of a small protective ghost and her own tools and knowledge, Li-lin will fight this enemy at all costs.

Impression: This is Borson’s debut novel, and honestly is the best debut I’ve read yet. It is the perfect style for a Chinese cultural novel- not overly flowery in prose and perfectly steeped in Chinese religion and traditions. Borson includes his own literary notes at the end to help explain to the reader what certain terms are and what they mean, so for readers like me who aren’t familiar with fighting move names, you can learn as you go!

I found myself annoyed with the novel at certain points because of the sheer sexism that pervades Li-lin’s life. However, it is completely historically accurate and truly paints the picture of what life was like back then for a female Chinese immigrant in the western United States. In terms of storytelling, it was a bit choppy, but at the end all of the loose ends come together nicely. I am under the impression that Borson has more stories with Li-lin in mind, and I’m eagerly awaiting the sequels if so. I would absolutely recommend this book, but if you’re sensitive to sexism like I am, try to stay objective J it’s not only a nice fantasy story, it’s also historically and culturally accurate.

Rating:

Until next time!

Live,
Morgan Paige

Disclaimer: My ratings incorporate overall design of the book, complexity of characters, storytelling proficiency, themes, accuracy, grammar, and overall enjoyment. If you require more information than what is in the “Impressions” section why a book receives a certain rating, please feel free to comment or message me at thedriftingpaige@gmail.com.

Monthly Challenge: Reflection and Popular Horror

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January Reading Challenge: Popular Horror from 2015

Hey all! This month’s reading challenge is going to be a bit of a reflection of last year, as the Goodreads Reader’s Choice 2015 list has just been released. It’s a very interesting contest where readers get to vote which books were the best in certain listed genres. I did vote for my favorite books, but none of them actually made it to the winning position (my heart just about broke when The Cuckoo’s Calling didn’t win in the thriller genre). For the sake of educating myself, this month I decided to read some of the books that won and discover why they were so popular.

For the horror section, Dean Koontz’ book Saint Odd was the winner… which is a bit of a problem, because apparently it’s the seventh book in the series. Cue me being overwhelmed by the amount of reading I would have to do to catch up…

There are some other amazing books on the horror genre list, like Alice by Christina Henry (a twisted take on Alice in Wonderland), Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates, and another story by Clive Barker’s expertise, The Scarlet Gospels (a new installment in the Pinhead stories, I believe). I decided to pick just one this month, as for 2016 I’m trying to break out of my norm and pick authors and/or genres that I wouldn’t normally choose.

So, since I’ve never read a Dean Koontz book before and he’s one of the most popular modern authors of the day, I will be picking the first book in the Odd Thomas series, aptly named Odd Thomas, and hopefully one day will work my way up to reading Saint Odd (maybe then I’ll understand this year’s hype!). I honestly don’t know anything about the series (I tried not to read Saint Odd’s synopsis for fear of spoilers), but I’ll be happy to share the story with you soon!

Is anyone in the process of reading any of the books that were featured on the Goodreads Book Choice Awards? Or have you read any and already formed opinions on them? I’d love to hear about any of the books, any genre, because this was my first year knowing about the awards and I’m not sure if the voting system is legitimate or not. Is it basically a popularity contest? Or is it more biased towards main stream books/authors? Let me hear what you think!

Until next time,

Live,

Morgan

PS. So, in doing a tiiiiny bit of research, I’ve found that this book was actually made into a movie. If I finish the book in time, I’ll also include a comparison review for those that are interested! Could be interesting, right? 😊

Monthly Challenge: Sugar Plum Nightmares!

Monthly Challenge: December is Complete!

Hey all! Here’s to a monthly challenge completed!

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I hope you enjoyed this month’s reading material, because let me tell you: I was thoroughly entertained by the two books that were chosen. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill and Krampus by [Gerald] Brom were two of the most ingenious, darkly humorous, and yet frighteningly realistic novels I have ever read.

It’s funny, because without knowing what either of the books were about (besides the Christmas/thriller theme), they both ended up being very similar in terms of style. Brom and Hill both have a very dark sense of humor and specialize in writing brooding, unsuccessful, bottom-of-the-barrel characters that the audience really has to dig to find the good in. Vic, the main character in NOS4A2 is a tattooed wraith of a woman with an alcohol problem, a serious mental instability, and the bullheadedness of a psychopath. Jesse, the main character in Krampus, is a destitute musician living out of a tiny trailer with no job, a wife that has left him, and no backbone to speak of.

I loved both of these books and have become a devoted fan to both authors. I’ve actually already lent out NOS4A2 because one of my friends was so keen on reading it after hearing my review. It was such a great book, because I could feel myself becoming even more immersed in it the more that I read. The trials that Vic had to endure actually felt like my own. I felt like I was losing my mind. I considered the fact that maybe the whole story was actually a dream sequence that Vic was making up and I was being taken along for the ride. I think this technique was Hill’s clever play on the unreliable narrator. I feel like madness in characters usually makes it hard for the author to tell a concise story, but Hill also employed the use of other character’s POVs. This in turn made the story more authentic and therefore more terrifying. The antagonist in this novel, Charles Manx, is so utterly disturbing. Hill made him one of my favorite villains, mostly because I know someone like this can actually exist… and it’s terrifying. So not only was Hill’s creation of the characters just masterful, but his grip in the art of storytelling is beautiful (he managed to write a very satisfying conclusion to this book, unlike some of his dad, Stephen King’s, novels).

Brom is an author that I hadn’t heard of before, but after looking him up I realized he has a huge cult following and is, first and foremost, an artist. He used to draw for the Magic: The Gathering card game, other RPGs and movies (like Sleepy Hollow), and is the author behind the book The Child Thief. His dark artistic style is prevalent in this story, but he balances it beautifully with themes of hope and morality. Throughout the entire book, I just knew that the ending would be dark and hopeless… I was falling in love with each of his character and I figured he would take the easy way out (like some dark horror writers) and would just kill off each of the guys I was rooting for. Fortunately, I was wrong! I felt so deeply for each character, and it kept me enthralled. I kind of wish I lived in that little town of Goodhope just so I could have experienced this thrilling adventure with Krampus and his Belsnickels. I think the story style is similar to how children’s books are set up: morals at the end, the characters learn something about themselves, there is some hope at the end after all, etc…. but it definitely isn’t kid friendly, just as a word of warning.

All-in-all, a beautiful couple of books to have read for Christmas time. There was some whimsy, some bloodshed, and even some happy family get-togethers that remind the audience to be grateful for your own quirky family. There were magical creatures that promised gold or smiled their candy-cane grins, and entrances to Hell… literally and figuratively. Overall, two equally entertaining and heart-warming books that I would suggest to anyone. 🙂

Until next time!

Live,

Morgan Paige

Monthly Challenge: Happy Holiblogs!

Monthly Challenge: December

Happy Holiblogs!

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Barnes and Noble… My weakness…

I have to admit… I’ve been looking forward to this monthly challenge since October. I just LOVE the Christmas holiday and the entire month leading up to it. I think I’ve been scouting to find the best “winter” smelling candle to douse my apartment in, just so I can feel comfort as well as cold (these temperatures are definitely not my favorite…).

I’ve known exactly what I wanted to review this month with you guys, and, of course, it has to do with twisted Christmas stories. I am a wholehearted lover of the movie Nightmare Before Christmas, but it’s honestly a very hard genre to look for in regards to books. It’s difficult to find something that has that nostalgic twinge of happy Christmas time and the same shiver of fear that comes with any horror story. That’s why, when I stumbled upon NOS4A2 by Joe Hill and saw that Krampus was coming out in theaters, I had to base this month’s challenge around stories like those.

I triedimage1 finding a book about the Krampus mythology at our local library (I honestly would much rather pick up books at the library than buy them… it supports the community and my wallet), but they literally had nothing. However, I had seen a beautiful illustrated novel at Barnes and Noble and I took that to be a sign I should just go to the store and pick it up for myself. I mean, just look at that cover. The graphics in the center are just as fantastic. This book called Krampus is written by an author named Bram, and is based on the German myth about an anthropomorphic creature that scares naughty children into being nice. Fantastic, right? Just the right amount of the good with the bad.

And NOS4A2… oh boy… I’m so happy to be able to review this book this month. This book follows a girl named Vic who discovers she has a mental ability to transport anywhere she needs to go, as long as she goes through a mystical covered bridge. She isn’t the only person in the world who has special powers, however. A man named Charles Manx can also transport places when he drives his magical Rolls Royce Wraith… but he can only go to one place: Christmasland. He never goes alone- he brings children with him and traps them in this land of imagination, and Vic makes it her mission to work out the reality behind their powers and her involvement in Manx’ messed up world.

So, I’ll be balancing these awesome stories with some healthy doses of Nightmare Before Christmas, A Christmas Story, and every Harry Potter movie that plays on ABC Family, because that says Christmas to me!

I’ll also throw up a couple of gift giving ideas and vegan baking/dessert wine pairings this month J I love December! Are you guys going to be reading anything in particular this month? Any feel-good traditions you all carry on? Can’t wait to chat with you guys soon!

Until next time!

Live,

Morgan Paige

Book Review: Cormac McCarthy,another Challenge Completed!

Monthly Challenge: November

November is over and so is another Monthly Challenge!

About three weeks ago, I posted a challenge for myself and all of you readers to pick up a new book that included twisted versions/themes of this month’s most popular holiday: Thanksgiving! I decided to focus on the “food” aspect of Thanksgiving, and read two out of the three stories I had listed in the post.

I focused on books on cannibalism: The Road by Cormac McCarthy and Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl.

I wasn’t sure what I was really getting into with either of these books, I just knew that McCarthy was famous for his writing and Dahl was famous for his children’s books. After jumping into them, I think I finished these stories faster than anything else I had read in the past six months. I devoured The Road in two days… I seriously couldn’t put it down, and it stunted my200px-The-road NaNoWriMo goal during those days. I absolutely love McCarthy’s style of writing. The book is about a dystopian world in which the audience is left to speculate how the world and society was destroyed, while they watch a young boy and his father travel across a desolated, empty United States. The sheer descriptions of the environments weren’t too heavy-handed and the strange punctuation (no quotation marks… would be off-putting if there weren’t literally five speaking characters in the whole book) really lent substance to the story. It gave a juicy, real feel to the story that otherwise could have come off as boring or contrived. I was so happy to come across this book- McCarthy quickly became a favorite author of mine, and I’m lucky to have Blood Meridian sitting on my bookshelf to pick up next. And just as a side note, there wasn’t really cannibalism in this story. It was mentioned, I think cannibalism and dystopias go hand-in-hand, but there wasn’t anything gruesome.

Lamb to the Slaughter was also a delight to read, because Dahl turned such a short, simple story into something tense and suspenseful. He wrote 44513from a first person POV of a pregnant woman who receives life-changing news from her husband. She beats the man in the head with a frozen piece of lamb, and her cunning, psychopathic mind holds the audience from the first sentence to the chilling last. It really was an incredible read- I had rented this book from my library as it was included in an anthology, and this short story led me to read more of Dahl’s more adult stories. I would absolutely recommend this anthology to any other adult readers out there who enjoy chilling fiction.

I hope you all enjoyed this month’s challenge- did any of you read something similar or anything special this past month? I am really happy to have stumbled upon an author that I absolutely adored. When was the last time something like that happened to you?

Until next time!

Live,

Morgan Paige

NaNoWriMo Winner!

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OH MY GOD

I committed… and somehow, someway, managed to actually knock out 50,000 words of a book last month.

It’s November 30th and, as you can see, I had a fairly consistent approach to the challenge, but the last two weeks were hard for me to get ahead of the curve. Life got in the way, I had a lot more projects to do at work, and I ran into a lot more writer’s block than I had anticipated.

 

winning nanowrimo snapshot

I didn’t start NaNoWriMo with a complete outline. I just had a basic story plot and a couple of subplots, so there are two major points in my story that I just kind of… winged it. For example, where I ended today I had written myself essentially out of a paper bag. I just kinda guessed and plodded my way through following my characters the whole time. I don’t like the chapter and know that I’m going to have to go through and rewrite it, but I at least have an idea of what needs to be accomplished.

I think this whole challenge has been eye opening and life changing. I am making this a life style change- writing daily really has been the best thing I’ve done for myself in a very long time. It’s creative, therapeutic, and personal. I can do it for me and, though I might not always be happy with the results, I’m happy I’ve taken the time to do something for myself. I don’t know about the rest of you, but being able to put time into a passion or hobby is kind of hard to find. NaNo-2015-Winner-Badge-Large-Square

If anyone is interested, I can run through and edit the first chapter/opening scene that I wrote and throw in a kind of synopsis for my NaNoWriMo story called The Lost Sailor.

It is certainly choppy and rough, but we’ve all put so much effort into writing this month that we deserve to share it 🙂 I can’t wait to see what you’ve all written and surf through the posts of excerpts and chapters.

 

Until next time!

Live,

Morgan Paige

November Challenge: Eat to Your Heart’s Content

Hey, everybody!

With NaNoWriMo trucking along swimmingly, I’ve found it a little tough to post as often as I’d like. I have a few Dare to Pairs in the planning, because, come on, NaNoWriMo definitely calls for some alcohol and indulgence, and I also came up with a fun November Challenge! This obviously extends to the rest of you if you’re interested, or, at least, not of the faint of heart…

Clearly, the most popular and beloved holiday in November is Thanksgiving. Usually (unless you’re in New Hampshire like I am and it’s still 70 degrees out), it’s chilly and feels like fall outside. The leaves are changing and wood stoves make the air smell like home no matter where you are. It’s a wonderful, happy time full of good food, family, and friends, and I thought: why not put all these themes together?

Food and family/friends… a somewhat distorted take on consumerism and sustenance… and relationships…

By now, you should all realize I’m a glutton for horror and thriller stories. So I wanted to challenge myself and yourself, of course, to try to find books that can take the traditional themes of Thanksgiving and make it, well, horrifying. This months goal isn’t to analyze thanksgiving/traditions, I just find the human relationship with food to be quite fascinating as well as the difference between what kind of food is considered socially acceptable to eat and what isn’t (based on your culture, beliefs, religion, etc.). That’s why, I think it would be terrifyingly fitting to read the following books:

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

These are all books that are psychologically stimulating and have the running theme of cannibalism. I have seen the movie The Silence of the Lambs, and I just bought my brother The Road, but I think it’s about time I caught up to society and educated myself on these acclaimed novels. It’ll be a nice twist to the otherwise light-hearted holiday, and maybe you’ll find yourself as entertained as I know I will be.

I’m especially excited to read Lamb to the Slaughter, specifically because it was written by acclaimed children’s author Roald Dahl. I feel like some authors can tackle multiple genres so beautifully, kind of like the author of The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins. She got her start writing for the TV show Little Bear on Nick Jr., and I honestly would suggest her series as well for this Thanksgiving themed monthly challenge. It’s dark and entertaining, and paints a heartbreaking picture of how society has a very twisted relationship with food.

Let me know what you all think, maybe you have some suggestions that I may not have thought of? I am open to any genre, I love learning about different suggestions/themes. Or are you reading something totally different this month? I’d love to hear!

Until next time!

Live,

Morgan Paige