I bought and read Kate Mosse's new book of short stories, The Mistletoe Bride and Other Haunting Tales. I'd been looking forward to this for a while, as a) I loved Mosse's full-length ghost story The Winter Ghosts and b) I love ghost stories, full stop. While I found it perfectly enjoyable and very atmospheric, it was ultimately rather forgettable, and thus something of a letdown. There are echoes of Daphne du Maurier's early stories in some of Mosse's, with 'early' being the operative word, both because those du Maurier stories aren't particularly strong (so that's not as much of a compliment as it seems), and because many of the tales included here are early themselves, originally published or written before the author became successful. If you're accustomed to reading ghost stories then there isn't going to be much here that will surprise or spook you: there are some clumsy endings and a distinct lack of unexpected twists. Mosse's main strength here is the creation of magical, wintery settings, rather than the 'haunting' content, which is often quite predictable. In fact, I think 'winter tales' might make a more fitting subtitle.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, a book I'd repeatedly heard was terrible that was actually okay: Alexa Chung's It. I only took this out of the library because I kept hearing such negative things, and I was curious. I quite like Alexa Chung, largely based on her style - I don't think I've ever seen her presenting anything - but that's probably the way most people think about her, hence the publication of this scrapbook-cum-style-guide rather than an autobiography. It is a combination of irreverent commentary, fashion advice, photography and illustrations, mixed with autobiographical anecdotes. And... it's quite a nice, enjoyable, amusing book. I don't know exactly what it is people were expecting that's made so many so irritated with this - did they think Chung was going to write a detailed step-by-step guide on how to replicate her life and wardrobe? It's exactly what I would have expected it to be, and although it is a very quick read and probably more something you'd buy as a gift than get yourself, I didn't think it was disappointing (although, to be fair, my expectations were low). It may indeed be quite pointless, but there's nothing wrong with that now and again, and if I'm reading a style book by a celebrity then I don't want it to be challenging anyway.
I saw Thor: The Dark World and I don't have much to say about it that isn't a load of garbled nonsense about how much I love Loki, Tom Hiddleston's performance as Loki, all the lines given to Loki, THE DEVASTATING BIT and THE ENDING (because of Loki). I don't know if I can really go into much more detail without spoiling everything. I really want to see it again asap - and probably in 3D.
Found this really interesting article via Vice - This Computer Painting Program Has Feelings. I find artificial intelligence at this level both terrifying and endlessly fascinating. I don't fully understand it, but it's pretty amazing.
Fantastic review of Morrissey's Autobiography by Terry Eagleton, via The Guardian. I'm still reading the book - I read non-fiction very slowly, and want to make the most of it - but that review reminded me of what I've loved about it so far and how much I feel I have in common with him.
I've started building up an increasingly long list of 2014-release books I want to read. In fact, there's a few I've been lucky enough to read already. First up: Phil Hogan's A Pleasure and a Calling, a creepy unreliable-narrator tale about a very unscrupulous estate agent, which I really enjoyed. I'm currently in the middle of reading the excellent Lucie Whitehouse's third novel Before We Met. Also on my wishlist are two books from the Hammer imprint - Cat Out of Hell by Lynne Truss and Breakfast with the Borgias by DBC Pierre - and the new thrillers from Louise Douglas and Samantha Heyes. I've got Emma Healey's Elizabeth is Missing (a vastly inferior title to the original Strange Companions, if you ask me) waiting to be read as well. What books are you looking forward to in the new year?
Here's a cheesy ~inspirational~ playlist I've been listening to recently. Happy Friday!