Monday, September 28, 2015

Day 361: Eleven, Rhymes with Heaven!

Well, it rhymes better than 'Books' does. They do mean the same thing though. Books are what we are about today. Not interested? Have a look at the pictures and have a fabulous day! Otherwise, following are my progress reports on assorted book challenges for the year:

Avanti Ciera 2015 Let Me Count the Ways Reading Challenge

Goal: Multi-Diamond—10,000+ Pages

January: 1887 pages
February: 2491 pages
March: 2436 pages
April: 3197 pages
May: 3973 pages
June: 1951 pages
July: 3235 pages
August: 4503 pages

Total Year to Date: 23673

Goal Blown Out of the Water! According to Goodreads, I have actually only read 22,133 pages, so something has gone slightly awry somewhere. But I still count that as Job Done. And two giant diamonds for me so far. I wonder when they will arrive?

10000 Pages

Book'd Out's Eclectic Book Challenge 2015

Reading some, finished some, yet to start the rest.

Retellings (of fairytale, legends or myth): Two Years Eight Months and Twenty Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie (referencing the 1001 Arabian Nights)

A book set in a country starting with the letter S (eg. Sweden, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Slovakia): Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum - Switzerland

PI Crime (fiction featuring a private investigator): The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

A novel published before you were born: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Contemporary romance: Good Girl Gone Bad by Karin Tabke

Fiction for foodies (fiction featuring food/food related business) The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

Microhistory (Non Fiction) Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett

Science Fiction set in space: The Martian by Andy Weir

Sports (Fiction or Non fiction) The Meaning of Sport by Simon Barnes (eek, sport *cough, cough*)

Featuring diversity: Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older

Epistolary Fiction (fiction written in the format of letters/emails/diary entries) The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland

Middle Grade/YA Adventure: Fairytales For Wilde Girls by Allyse Near

4 Books
12 Books


Started at: 53 Books
Updated to: 65 Books
Re-Updated to: 69 Books
Re-Re-Updated to: 75 Books
To Be Re-Re-Updated at the end of October to: TBA Books

Read: 63 Books

Best Reading Year. Ever!!

63 Books
75 Books

Bookmark to Blog 2015 Monthly Key Word Challenge

In which you choose a book with one of a selection of words in the title each month.

Jan: Girl - The Tattooed Girl by Joyce Carol Oates
Feb: Lie - The Lie by Chad Kultgen
Mar: Kind - Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent
Apr: Dream - Dreamland by Kevin Baker
May: Thief - The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland
June: My - My Notorious Life by Kate Manning
July: Sun - The Battle of the Sun by Jeanette Winterson
August: Glass - Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
September: Life - Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng
October: TBA
November: TBA
December: TBA

3 Books
12 Books

My Own Alphabet Challenge with no Time Line

Abducted; TR Regan
(The) Beach House; James Patterson
(The) Cat Who Could Read Backwards; Lilian Jackson Braun
Dolores Claiborne; Stephen King
Emma; Jane Austen
Fairytales for Wilde Girls; Allyse Near
Galapagos; Kurt Vonnegut
(The) Help; Kathryn Stockett

7 Books
26 Books

Book Journey's Harry Potter ReRead (until 31st March)

Before the finish date:
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

After the finish date (and therefore irrelevant really):
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

7 Books
7 Books

Tournament of Books 2015

In which I read all the books that have been chosen for this year's ToB

(And by 'read' I mean 'will start soon'. Come on! I've got until March next year on this one.)

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Adam by Ariel Schrag
All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Wittgenstein Jr by Lars Iyer
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall by Will Chancellor
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay
Redeployment by Phil Klay
Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

16 Books

Semi-Charmed Summer 2015 Book Challenge

Finished: Ran from 1st May to 31st August

Any book that fits the general rules. The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

A book you have never heard of before. (Just go to a shelf and pick a book based on the cover, the title, whatever you want!) Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

A book that has been on your TBR list for at least two years. (If you've had a Goodreads account for 2+ years, this will be easy to figure out. If you don’t, do your best to pick a book you’re pretty sure you’ve been wanting to read for years.) No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (added to my To Read list in 2012)

A book that won a Goodreads “Best Book” award in 2014. The Martian by Andy Weir

A book by an author who is completely new to you. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

A book by an author you have read before. (No re-reads for this one.) Shakespeare: The World as a Stage by Bill Bryson

A book with "light" or "dark" in the title. (Or "lightness" or "darkness.") Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson

A book with the name of a city, state or country in the title. Edited to add: The place must be real, either current or historical, but not fictional. Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut

A book with an animal on the cover. Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz

A book that is part of a series with at least four books. Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger, Book One of the currently fourteen book long series featuring Cork O'Connor

A book that is longer than 500 pages long. — Submitted by winter finisher Kristen from See You in a Porridge. The Stand by Steven King - 1153 pages

A book with an alliterative title. (All words in the title must begin with the same letter; no exceptions for articles or prepositions. Examples: Gone Girl or Nicholas Nickleby. Yes, this is tough, which is why it's worth the most points!) Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb


115 Points
200 Points

And one I decided to join recently:

My Readers Block: Colour Coded Challenge

Please consider this my sign-up

"Blue" or any shade of Blue (Turquoise, Aquamarine, Navy, etc) in the title/on the cover. Half Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older

"Red" or any shade of Red (Scarlet, Crimson, Burgandy, etc) in the title/on the cover. Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

"Yellow" or any shade of Yellow (Gold, Lemon, Maize, etc.)in the title/on the cover. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

"Green" or any shade of Green (Emerald, Lime, Jade, etc) in the title/on the cover. Olive Ketteridge by Elizabeth Strout

"Brown" or any shade of Brown (Tan, Chocolate, Beige, etc)in the title/on the cover. Jackie Brown by Elmore Leonard

"Black" or any shade of Black (Jet, Ebony, Charcoal, etc) in the title/on the cover. Black Dog by Stephen Booth

"White" or any shade of White (Ivory, Eggshell, Cream, etc)in the title/on the cover. Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Any other color in the title/on the cover (Purple, Orange, Silver, Pink, Magneta, etc.). Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson

A word that implies color (Rainbow, Polka-dot, Plaid, Paisley, Stripe, etc.). Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

9 Books

And the one I said I never would (because something always annoys me about it). Twice:

Goodreads Seasonal Challenge: Spring 2015

Finished: Ran from 1st March to 31st May

A book title with a '?', '!', or '...' in it: Because I Said So! The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids by Ken Jennings

A book with a Goodreads rating over 3.5: 15 Seconds by Andrew Gross

A book on either the 'Did Not Finish' or 'Abandoned' lists on Goodreads: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

A book with the genre science, science fiction or mystical realism on its title page on Goodreads: The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

A book whose author's surname ends in ER: The Sins of the Fathers by Matther Scudder

Total: 70 points/1035 points

1035 Points

Goodreads Seasonal Challenge: Summer 2015

Finished: Ran rom 1st June to 31st August

A book of your choice: No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

A book from one of the suggested Summer Reading lists—San Fransisco Public Library 2014 Adult Summer Reading List: The Martian by Andy Weir

A two book task:
Book 1: A book that is #1, #5, #7, or #9 in a series: Iron Lake (Cork O'Connor, #1) by William Kent Krueger

Book 2: A book with one of the following words in the title - heaven, celestial, prime, void, dark, wind, spirit, fire, earth, river, ocean, mountain, forest, thunder, time, sound: Walking Into the Ocean (Peter Cammon Mysteries #1) by David Whellams

A book with a stand alone or embedded genre of 'Paranormal': Ghost Night (Bone Island Trilogy, #2) by Heather Graham

In honour of Terry Pratchett, a book with a genre of Science Fiction or Fantasy or any combination on its main book page: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) by Sarah J. Maas

A book that shows a body of water on the cover: Ghost Shadow (Bone Island Trilogy, #1) by Heather Graham

TOTAL POINTS: 80 points/1085 points

1085 Points

The Outfit
Dress (or, Nightgown perhaps?): Op-shopped
Singlet: Target
Jeans: Target
Necklace: Junk Jewellery Store somewhere
Shoes: Swedish Hasbeens

Photographer de Jour: V——

Getting linky today with:

Not Dressed As Lamb

Join us! Click the Spotlight

still being molly


Friday, September 11, 2015

Day 360: Ten Little Surprises

I'm organising a holiday. It is a secret. Do not tell Mr Earwig. Later this year he is turning fifty. But it wasn't me that told you okay? He doesn't want anyone to know. He doesn't want a big party; he wants to disappear for a few days and come back like it never happened. So on the actual day we are going to a wedding. That should cover that up nicely. A few days later we will do the disappearing act. He knows something is afoot. It is, I realise now, quite difficult to fly solo on organising something as momentous as this. Sure, when we do it together I usually put a very strong case forward as to why my plan is the best—and he doesn't often argue back—but I would normally get to run every other option through him before I decide which is the best in the first place. I can't do that here.

I've managed to get in a couple of 'Would you rather *scenario 1*, or *scenario 2*?' Q&A's, where scenarios include things like staying put or being above sea level or basic economics and accounting. but otherwise he has no idea.

This is what he has hoped it wouldn't be: Bali (volcano smoke cloud) or the Maldives (too close to sea level) or Mexico (too many drug cartels). Ummm, who in their right mind doesn't want to go to the Maldives? And Mexico? For: food, people, culture, language, colour, beaches, weather, sights, Mexico City. Against: a drug cartel or two. It balances 'in favour' in my mind. I can neither confirm nor deny if we are going to any of these three places.

Every few days he grabs the globe and spins, rattling off names. Ireland, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK, Fiji, Hamilton Island, Myanmar, Tunisia. I can neither confirm nor deny if he has got that right.

He hasn't suggested Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Poland, Turkey, Uruguay, the Turks and Caicos Islands, San Fransisco, cruising the Alaskan Inside Passage, Greenland, Zanzibar, or travelling to the North Pole on an Russian Nuclear Powered Icebreaker. I can neither confirm nor deny whether any of these would be a better guess.

Today starts the 'getting off sugar' campaign. I was contemplating doing it as a give-up-along online but the dates coincided with the trip. Sitting and discussing it on the couch I came up with this gem: 'We can't give up sugar right in the middle of our trip to Europe'. I can neither confirm deny whether that was a slip of the tongue or a red herring.

All will be revealed, I can confirm, on the 21st October. At a wedding. I hope there won't be disappointment after all this build up. *fingers crossed*

The tenth pair of shoes in my count down?, count up?, are proof positive of why Mr Earwig deserves this surprise. He bought them for me—he knows my size and favourite website. I love their mustardy tweediness. And truth be told, it's like a book you wouldn't ordinarily read and are coerced to, only to really enjoy—like The Martian by Andy Weir for example. I may not have bought them myself, but now I love that I have them. Close inspection reveals how much one of my mutters loves them too. Grrr.

The Outfit
Shirt: Op-shopped (outgoing, with a tear at the front seam)
Skirt: Op-shopped
Belt: Op-shopped
Necklace: ModCloth
Shoes: Poetic Licence Whiplash

Photographer de Jour: Moi

  Sharing the amazing love with:


Lena B, Actually

Style Elixir

Not Dressed As Lamb

Join us! Click the Spotlight


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Day 359: You're Making Me Feel Hot

Well now that the silliness is over, I can relax, look back and see what Christmas 2013 was all about. In our family we have on-years and off-years. On-years are when we get together with the core family members (we're a complete two generation family that moved to Australia from South Africa in the eighties and so, before everyone got 'partners', Christmas was always just our core family); off-years, the second of every two, are when everyone goes to the other halves' family events. A simple plan. It works quite well. This was an off-year. But there seemed to be lots of using the fact that my Dad had been unwell during the year and was unlikely to travel over Christmas as an excuse to abandon the usual plan and head up to the Gold Coast. My sister and family did it. And V—— and I did too. I had Xmas Eve Eve, Xmas Eve and Xmas day off work and we hightailed it up there to make the most of a three day holiday with the lot. This was the outfit I sort-of wore on Christmas Day—my mum kept telling me to take off my cardigan because she felt too hot. I'm sharing it's emerald-green-ness over at the Trend Spin Link up with Laura, Erin and Alison.

List_Addict               Irene

There was swimming in the pool, swimming at the beach and swimming at Wet 'n Wild (water park on the Australian Gold Coast for those who don't know). At Wet 'n Wild we paid a bit extra and got a Fast Pass which allowed us, much to the chagrin of everyone else queuing on hot concrete, to go straight to the front of the queue. Every time. On the five most exciting rides. I felt bad for the waiting people, but only for a second, then I was riding rides and screaming down tunnels and ramps. I do think I picked up some nasty bug in the pool though, as I got a throat infection that I still had up until about a day ago (and it is now mid January!) From feral, bug-infused, small people I believe. Sorry to people who think of those things as the more commonly used 'children'.

The forecasts for the twenty-seven days prior, the three days during, and the thirty-nine days post our trip are like this: high of 28C, low of 21C; high of 28C, low of 21C; high of 28C, low of 21C; and repeat. Too hot for cooking a large, traditional Christmas dinner. So while we were all out of the house at Wet 'n Wild on Christmas Eve, my mum did the ham and the turkey, and on Christmas day we had cold Christmas meats and salad for dinner. V—— and I had to leave to come home again in the evening. All in all it was a fabby Christmas. And we got to celebrate it for days afterwards because B——'s new Xmas handwash, which played a carol whenever you squeegied some foam into your palm, decided to play its carol every time someone came into the same room. It was possession; a Christmas poltergeist. Luckily the batteries ran out quite quickly.

The Outfit
Dress: Op-shopped
Christmas Cardigan: Thrifted, Christmas Cardigan Aisle, Savers, Lubbock, Texas
Necklace: Lovisa
Shoes: Irregular Choice 'Alaska'

Photographer de Jour: V——

Who wore it better?

Putting a link on with:

STYLELIXIR Style Sessions


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Day 358: Nine Sugar Shoes, No-Sugar Shoes

I'm quitting sugar. Yeah, yeah, very funny! Close those mock-shock mouths and get up from your soccer-style, fall-to-the-floor feints. I don't believe I can do it either. But I am going to try. I was going to start today. But I thought I would make banana bread at seven am and think about this properly instead. I need to be ready.

Ready Plan Item Number One:

Buy Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar.

Accomplished/Work in Progress/Failed

Ready Plan Item Number Two:

Throw out all the things in my cupboard house that contain sugar, or send them to work where Mr Earwig can keep a secret stash he shouldn't have, away from me and any knowledge I have of it.

Accomplished/Work in Progress/Failed

Ready Plan Item Number Three (Most Important One and The Real Reason For The Delay):

Taste for the last time those things which mean so much to me, that bring sunshine to my life, and that will never pass these lips again.

Here is the list:  
  • Darrell Lea's Peanut Brittle
  • Lime Milkshake
  • Picnic Bar
  • Coffee and Cake in a Cafe
  • Cinnamon Donut from the Vietnamese Bakery ✔️
  • Red Skins
  • An Exotically Flavoured Macaroon
  • Jaffa Cakes
  • Tunnock's Tea Cakes
  • Thai Food in a Thai Restaurant (apparently it's full of sugar!!)
  • Pancakes after Night Shift
  • Salted Caramel
  • Fake Sugary Swedish Cider

Accomplished/Work in Progress/Failed

The mission (and I do choose to accept it) is to have all this done to start the rest of my life sugar-free on the 12th September. Eek. But it will be fun in the mean time. I hope it means I will lose weight, because getting there will mean putting it on by the looks of it!

The Outfit
Dress: Target
Jacket: Op-shopped
Necklace: Junk Jewellery shop somewhere
Shoes: Irregular Choice Golden Harpy

Photographer de Jour: V——

  Getting linky today with:

pleated poppy


Kimba Likes

Monday, August 10, 2015

Day 357: Can Eight Pairs Make You Happy?

Ironically I find it more difficult to find things to write about when I write less often than when I do it all the time. All the time means you need to think outside the box, be creative. Once in a while feels like it should be a catch up. For lack of any other bright ideas, I was going to tell you about the holidays we had been on since I became a slack writer/blogger—Jervis Bay (dogs in water) and the Gold Coast (dogs in hammocks)—but a couple of weeks ago I had a spell in which I was so-oooo-ooo blue. And it got me thinking about a different topic altogether: Do the people who do okay in the First World have the right to be unhappy?

Mr Earwig and the Earwig babies at Australia's, and maybe the world's, whitest beach: Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay

Because, really, I am doing okay. I have a job. Maybe it is a stressful, anxiety-producing and under, or not-at-all, appreciated job. Maybe it is a job that doesn't let me use my brain enough or my creativity at all. But it pays. Pretty well. I have a home. Our own home. Well one point one nine percent ours—the bank owns the rest, but that is a privilege in itself. I have people who love me: more importantly they put up with me. Not all of them are human. I have access to information and technology and health care (if I really, really had to!) and food, utilities and clothing and transport, clean water, books and education—I even live where there is a slightly more progressive social attitude to gender, justice and inclusivity (progressive I said, not perfect).

Given all that, I feel obliged to be happy. That makes being unhappy a lot, lot, well ... unhappier. Do you ever feel like this? I don't have high or unrealistic expectations of happiness; I know that contentment is a much better goal. Maybe it is chemical, maybe hormonal. Maybe it is the swing of life going in the other direction. Maybe I feel my life has no meaning or worth or value. Am I alone in this? In a world where we have everything we could want, what is it that would actually make us happy?

I have no idea. I don't know what drives me, I don't know what I want to be when I grow up (and that day is fast approaching, I am sure), I don't know what I am passionate about. Or maybe I do, but I am scared to commit to changing it in case it takes a lot of work and I decide I was wrong. Although, would that be any different to where I am now? Maybe nothing I do will make any difference; maybe life isn't dependant, at all, on what you do, but only how you look at what you do. Maybe I think about it too much. Maybe life is not meant to be any more than four days of the craziness of humanity lumped onto my screen at work to dispatch, and then four days of hiding under a blanket reading books and ignoring the state of the house! Maybe life is just absurd!

I believe there are two keys that will unlock the puzzle box: 'creativity' and 'meaning'. And I believe there is one thing that is willing me to, wishing I would, kicking me in the butt with spurs in the hope I turn those keys, even though I seem so reluctant—the idea of doing what I do for a living until I am seventy. Mortifying! Putting creativity and meaning into either of the four day blocks in my life (work or home) is what needs to happen. Working out how to do that is what is making me unhappy. Whether I have the right to be or not?

The very picture of unhappiness? Gold Coast, Queensland

But about the shoes. Pair eight is a new trend for me in two ways: they are neutral (I know!!) and they are from the op-shop (thrift store for you Northerners). I have managed to get a nice little thrifted collection of shoes recently—criteria being they fit, and that they seem unworn to the highest possible degree. These meet criteria.

The Outfit
Mohair jumper: Thrifted in the USA
Jackette: Op-shopped
Skirt: Op-shopped
Belt: Gold and Op-shopped
Shoes: Op-shopped

Photographer de Jour: Moi

  Getting linky today with:

STYLELIXIR Style Sessions

Elegantly Dressed and Stylish: Click Here

I do deClaire

Lena B, Actually

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Day 356: Seven—Showing and Going

I am bowing out this pair of shoes—number seven. I have worn these shoes through. Literally. I can't show a better picture of them because they are all holes. Sparkly with a flowered, sequinned toe; darkly with insides splattered with (fake) blood. From Iron Fist. They did me well. I think I'll pop over and see if there is something I might like to get from them again ...

No luck.

But that doesn't mean I haven't been shopping.

Are we fools when we blackmail ourselves? Or does it work? Do you do it? I have started a scheme by which I reward myself for walking. Each month I choose an item I would like. This premier month it was a pair of the flat chunky sandals that are so 'in' at the moment. I chose these ones from Dirty Laundry via Modcloth:

In order to have those in my grubby little hands rather than on my wishlist, I told myself, I need to walk over ten thousand steps a day for at least fifteen days in June. The ten thousand step thing is, it seems to me, often made out to seem easily achievable. I walk more in the daily grind than a lot of other fishes I know. I take the dogs out, I walk up and down the railway station when I am waiting for the train, I don't own a car. But to get to the ten you do have to actually walk, or run, or hike, on top of all of that. And some days I end up running up and down on the spot as well to make it up and over.

About twenty days into the month I realised the shoes were nearly sold out. I gambled. I bought them. If I didn't get the requisite number of days, I self-reasoned, I would immediately take those shoes over to the op-shop (thrift store for the Northern Hemisphere-ians). As of yesterday (twenty-ninth) I reached the fifteenth ten thousand step day. *Phew* Safe.

Next month I would like a yellow raincoat.

Walking more is a part of the ever present need desire obsession to lose weight. I don't do it for health or to keep diabetes away. I do it to get into clothes I have bought because I love them not because they fit. My mother was visiting recently. She needed a cardigan and so I took her to Savers (thrifting superstore). No ulterior motives. She picked up two cardigans, a coat, a bag and a puzzle. I walked out with the other fifteen items on our docket. I snatched a couple of S/S, or A/W 2015 as it is here, must-haves. The button front denim skirt and the shirt dress. Neither of them fit. I don't believe in trying things on. But now I have to believe in doing whatever it takes to get smaller.

Since April Mr Earwig and I started on Lite n' Easy. Calorie controlled meals; everything you need for your day delivered to your door. It was more food than I had eaten in, well, forever. Definitely more bread and rice and corn. I'm not sure if my metabolism is so badly damaged that it is in shock with this latest development, but nothing happened. I'm going to persist with tricking my metabolism. And I am going to walk myself to that yellow raincoat. Hopefully the combo will result in being able to wear the trending items in the trending season. We'll see.

The Outfit
Jumper: Op-shopped
Tutu: Modcloth
Necklace: Modcloth
Puzzle Ring: Store in Taxco, Mexico
Felt Ring: Gifted, The Barony Centre, West Kilbride, Scotland
Shoes: Iron Fist, retired

Photographer de Jour: V——

  Linking the Love with:

Elegantly Dressed and Stylish: Click Here

STYLELIXIR Style Sessions

I do deClaire

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Day 355: Six—They're a Bit Pink Aren't They?

*This post contains Spoiler and Spoiler-by-Implication Alerts*

**This was going to be one of two posts I sent to Book Riot to try and be a contributor. Why waste it?**

Do you like Harry Potter? The person? Yeah, yeah, I know he isn't real. People don't have to be real to garner our opinion. Do you like Severus Snape? Rowling set us up to keep a corner of our hearts open for Snape. Not matter how bad he may have seemed at any given time, Dumbledore trusted him. And surely Dumbledore couldn't be wrong. Surely? It is a classic authorial ruse. We need our antagonists and enemies and nemesis-is-ises-es-ees (what is the plural again?) We like knowing who the goodies (protagonists) are, and the baddies, and the baddies-who-are-actually goodies. But what about the weird subsets? I have read three books lately whose characters were splattered in odd spots on the good-to-bad spectrum: the likeable bad good guy; the unlikeable good guy; and; the really likeable but not main player—the one with spark and gumption and character—who dies right in the beginning just when you were getting to love her. What? That last one is a category, even if I just made it up thirteen seconds ago.

The Likeable Bad Good Guy

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

Frank. A strange, quiet, spooky, (mostly) loner who lives with his father on a small island in Scotland. He is essentially a creative serial killer. Decidedly odd. But strangely likeable. How is it that we like a person who is doing bad things? Is it because we know it isn't real? It's fiction? Do we read a sadness or a cause in the behaviour? Or is it that the characters are written in a way that makes us consider what makes a person likeable in the first place. Life is filled with nice people who do bad things. Unlike Harry Potter, real life is greyer. In fact life is wholly grey—even if it so light it appears white, or so dark that it appears black. We like flawed characters. They remind us that we are okay despite being flawed ourselves. The likeable bad good guy is a common character. Dexter. Walter White, or Jesse Pinkman. A myriad of noir detectives or Supernatural boys who get the job done even if a few rules have to be broken. These bad good guys are often more like the romanticised rebel. Almost sexy. Often Sexy. Frank is just disturbing. And asexual. (Great twist—read the book!). Is that deliberate Mr Banks? The more I watch Breaking Bad, the more I wonder if Walt is even good. Are we too attuned to labelling the protagonist the 'good guy'? Maybe what we have here, after all, is much simpler—a likeable bad guy.

The Unlikeable Good Guy

Vulgar Things by Lee Rourke

Jon. Because of recent bad turns in his life—divorce, job loss—Jon is the obvious (available) choice to go to Canvey Island to sort out the belongings of his recently deceased Uncle. Atmospherically strange and haunting, the place and people of the island and its adjacent township, not so much lead, but misguide, Jon towards a revelation of a family secret. The sub-plot follows Jon's obsession with a woman from town who we are led to assume is possibly the victim of sex trafficking. But, oddly, he can never really be sure he keeps seeing the same woman, or, perhaps, a series of mistaken identities. To sum it up like that makes the premise engaging, but this book got one of my lowest Goodreads ratings. Ever. And I'm not sure I even rated it low enough. I didn't like the protagonist. He annoyed me. And I have been unable to analyse a literary rationale for an unlikeable good guy. Can you? What, despite an obsessional disorder, would keep you reading about someone who doesn't have your empathy or understanding. I wouldn't mean 'like' or 'enjoy' but I do 'like', in some other sense of the word, to read books that I dislike (make sense?) because they show you what makes a book unlikeable. A book doesn't get published and critically received if no-one likes the protagonist. The only thing that counts here is that I don't like him. It's personal. It's not about writing, it is about reading. This isn't a tool that Rourke has used to make us think about the issues he has raised. In fact, it's a distraction. I will never get what other people get from this book because I'll spend my time obsessed about my annoyances. It's my loss, but what can I do about it? It's The Cable Guy all over—man, I hate that movie, because I hate Jim Carey's character. I bet you love it though eh? It's just me.

The Really Likeable, Although Not Main, Player—With Gumption and Spark and Character—Who Dies Right in The Beginning When You Are Just Getting to Love Her

The Wire in the Blood by Val McDermid

Shaz. Our wordy descriptor above refers to one of the psychological profiler, Tony Hill's, new students on the National Profiling Squad he is building. She is feisty, smart, witty and engaging. You can't wait to see what happens. How she will be instrumental in solving the crimes, catching the bad guys. And then? Dead. End of Shaz. Two hundred pages into a five-fifty page book. In a literary world glutted with crime fiction this seems like a very cruel and cunning way to get our attention. With the empathies of those of us who indulge in the dark side (crime writing, not Death Eaters) being pulled so many ways, this is a very useful way to make us care more for the victim. Often victims hang between two and three dimensions of characterisation. Shaz doesn't. She's fully blown. You didn't know this would happen. It won't make you pick up the book in the first place, but it will certainly make you keep reading. I have just recently started a Goodreads shelf called 'abandoned-150'. On it are the books, or book rather, which, by the time I got to page 150, I just couldn't force myself to keep reading. It happened once before. In London. I borrowed Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward from the library. I pretended later that I couldn't keep borrowing it and that was the only reason I hadn't finished it. It was, at the time, the only one of its kind, but now I am getting too old to waste time on the seriously-unable-to-finish books. The flaw in my narrative theory for this character is that two hundred pages in you aren't going to abandon. Seriously? You won't, will you? So why kill Shaz? Maybe it happens often, and I have only just stumbled over an author who does it? Crime writing is rarely about the one-off book. It's the series. Is Shaz a sacrifice who had to be made to ensure that I, List_addict, keep reading the series until the end instead of wandering off to peruse another author I might like more. Conceivable. I am reading the third now. A little over two hundred pages in. Who will McDermid kill off on me now? Have to keep reading. Now! Mischief managed.

What about you? Do you like your characters black or white? Or is it more interesting to work out what shade of grey they are?

P.s: The shoes. Pair number Six. My sneakers. They are the shoes I wear the most actually. On the commute, on the dog walks, on the occasional exercise jaunt. Ugly, even they are pink. But practical and required.

The Outfit
Swimmers: Retail
Top: Op-shopped
Shorts: Target
Hat: Convenience store, Koh Samui
Shoes: Nike *tick*

Photographer de Jour: V—— (Filmed on location in Koh Samui, Thailand a little while ago)

  Linky today with:

Join us! Click the Spotlight

Thrifters Anonymous

still being molly

Linkup Button
On the Daily Express/More Pieces of Me