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October reading – talking skeletons and robots

Well, November is off to an interesting start. Some of us are back in lockdown…

Well, November is off to an interesting start. Some of us are back in lockdown (England). Some are coming out of lockdown (hi, Wales!). Some places are doing just fine (I see you there, NZ), and some places are making brilliant progress (yay, Victoria!). And, of course, there was some election or something going on, which you may have heard about.

Wherever you are in all this, things have been hectic and weird, and opening the news every morning has felt like opening a box that may be full of snakes or may be full of really, really angry snakes who’ve just been shaken about the place in the back of a delivery van and fully intend to blame you for the whole ordeal. Things are weird. Things are unsettled. I still don’t know what to expect each day. I’m honestly slightly astonished that asteroid didn’t give us at least a glancing blow, just to keep things interesting.

So I hope so much that you’re looking after yourselves. I hope you’re comfort reading, and comfort watching, and comfort eating, and doing everything you need to do to get through, whatever that looks like to you. I hope that you’re staying safe, and practising whatever form of self care works for you, and making it a priority to do so. Because these things matter.

self care, mental health, october, reading, anxiety

Art by The Latest Kate

And now, books. I always get worried when series restart after a gap. I also get worried when they continue for longer than needed. Things tend to go a bit wonky. Characters start acting bizarrely, like caricatures of themselves, or just stop growing and refuse to change any more. Strange plot devices get thrown into the mix (wait, what was the explanation for the armoured bunnies?), new characters are added to spice things up (so the armoured bunnies’ trainer is also the high priestess of bunny religion and a new love interest? Okay …) and the next thing you know your favourite comfort reading sci-fi adventure has somehow become a high fantasy live audience sitcom.

And no, I’m not referring to any particular series here, because I rarely see a long series out, either in print or on screen. For a start, I have no discipline, so something else will catch my eye and I’ll wander over to take a look and promptly forget what I was reading before. I am an awful series reader/viewer in that respect. Also, as soon as I start trying to think of a series to use as an example I either can’t think of the reasons why I stopped reading/watching, or just can’t actually think of any series, ever.

I’ll remember around four a.m. tomorrow, probably.

Anyhow, to bring this back around to book chats and blogs – in October I (nervously) started a continuation of a series I loved in its original arc, the Skulduggery Pleasant series. In fact, I loved the original series enough to finish all nine books, which is kind of an outlier for me. Hence the nervousness. But more on that below …

Read on, lovely people!

snake, self care, mental health, positivity

Well, that sort of snake would be fine … art by

Resurrection, Midnight, & Bedlam (Skulduggery Pleasant Books 10 – 12), Derek Landy. I’m doing these all once, because I read them one after the other, and you honestly can’t expect me to keep the events of each books straight. I mean, come on. I loved the original series. And I’m enjoying the continuation. I really wasn’t sure about even reading these extra books, as I felt the original nine had a fantastic story and character arc. However, I love Derek Landy’s style – the stories are inventive, the characters well-realised, and the banter between the Valkyrie (the MC), and Skulduggery is always so much fun. So I tried them.

And I’m so glad I did. I’m still not entirely sure they live up to the first books (and there are a lot of subplots flying around that I can’t keep track of), but they’re fun, gripping reads. Valkyrie is now an adult, and several years have passed since the last of the original series. She is not okay, which, given the events that ended the series, makes perfect sense, and Landy handles this well. She struggles with her past, struggles to present a strong face to the world, and doubts both her mental state and if she can even trust herself. Just getting through the day is tough, and now she’s being dragged back to face what she did. And yet – still funny. Still great banter. Some fab new characters as well, and Valkyrie’s new character arc is looking interesting. So, yes. Shall be reading the rest. Five cuppas, but nothing for Skulduggery as he is, after all, a skeleton so the whole drinking thing doesn’t really work.

“Just the usual,” Valkyrie said before Skulduggery could answer. “People with strange names doing strange things for strange reasons.”

― Derek Landy, Midnight

A Robot in the Garden, Deborah Install. This was recommended to me by the same lovely friend who got me completely hooked on the Lindsay Buroker Death Before Dragons series, so I can already tell that this friendship is going to do terrible things to my TBR. But I can’t complain when it turns up such lovely little gems as this. This is a truly sweet book, revolving around the titular robot, who’s called Tang, dribbles oil if he gets a fright, and is probably not going to survive too long if the human who discovers him doesn’t find out where he came from and who can fix him. Which results in a quest around the world and a lot of learning for the human, who does start off horribly annoying. Five cups of tea again – it was the perfect antidote to the news.

“Why would there be a robot in the garden? Have you left that bloody gate open again, Amy?”

― Deborah Install, A Robot in the Garden

And now on to the vid!

And over to you, lovely people – what are your comfort reads and watches? If you’re in lockdown again, what do you have planned? Let me know below!

And if you need some ideas for lockdown 2.0 entertainment, you can revisit my post from the last one here. Yay… 😉

a robot in the garden, book chat, book reviews, books, deborah install, Derek Landy, october reading, reading, Skulduggery Pleasant

  1. Marie Cordalis says:

    Love the cat graphic BTW. Yes, my personal stress level feels completely maxed out now and STILL self isolating (very immune compromised here) and feeling like I’m in prison. Never thought I’d see the day when I’d wistfully watch my husband off to the grocery store feeling very left out and abandoned. I mean, the GROCERY store for goodness sake! I just finished rereading Chrys Cymri’s “Penny White Series”, getting ready to reread all the “Beaufort Scales” books (more Please!!!! Whine….) And I just want to drive up to the White House and say “The election is OVER. You LOST. HAVE SOME DIGNITY!! GET OUT!!!” So. The stress continues and seriously books are the only thing getting me through at this point…..So, not to be whiny ( I guess really, but…) but more of everything please!

    1. Kim Watt says:

      Ach, I’m so sorry. This has just been *such* a year, and I can’t even imagine how hard it is to still be housebound to protect yourself. It must be just scream-inducing as well, to see people refusing to distance or wear masks. I know it frustrates me, and I can get out and about as I need to (although I rarely do. It’s amazing how long a shop can last when you get reeeeally inventive…). And the election – well, that was so stressful to watch from a distance, so being in the middle of it – ugh again. Maybe that’s my word of the year, rather than interesting?

      And I can’t promise a new Beaufort book yet, but I can promise a book of Toot Hansell short stories and recipes will be out in December! My writing has suffered a bit as the year has gone on, so everything’s running a bit late. I started out strong, but … ugh. This year. 🙄

      Hugs and dragonish strength to you – you have all my admiration for getting through this. Hang in there!

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