Fandom Friday | Costumes on a Budget!

I am a big advocate of the budget costume. For the past few Halloweens I’ve been a poor student, and this year I’m a poor graduate – I have budget costumes down to a T, and by now I think I have enough tips to write at least a post about it!

1) Don’t buy a costume!

Okay, hear me out – of course you’ll have to buy a few things, that’s obvious, but don’t buy a full costume. They may be quick and easy, but they’re also generally speaking cheaply made, overpriced and nothing you can’t do yourself! Unless you’re really pressed for time or intend to wear it several times, they aren’t worth the expense.

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I had to buy the apron & headband for this Magenta costume because I ran out of time & don’t have the sewing talent! I only got one wear out of them – not worth it. 

2) Come up with an idea based on what you already own.

I must admit that most of my wardrobe is black. This makes Halloween pretty easy – just add a few accessories and some face paint to an LBD and I’m good to go! A lot of costumes can be based around normal clothing, and don’t forget any unwanted clothes that still even vaguely fit – they could be zombified! My costume in first year was a zombie look based on a dress with a hole by the waistband; add some more rips and holes and some brown/black eye shadow & it looked great.

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If in doubt, coat yourself in fake blood.

3) Things that are worth buying: face paint, coloured paper, glue, fake blood.

Last year I was a scary clown. As a crafty person I already had things like card and glue, so it was a no brainer to make my own accessories – a ruff, hat and buttons. I already had the dress, so all I spent money on was a face paint set (on sale at a toy shop before I went back to uni), tights and some neon orange paper. If you have a good stash of craft things you’re probably set – if not, there are plenty of places that sell the basics pretty cheap. Unless it’s something you really, really can’t make, I’d say try DIY!

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I was so proud of this costume tbh. Getting blackout drunk was an appropriate way to show it off. 

4) Not crafty? Not a problem.

There are plenty of easy peasy costumes that require little to no crafting ability while still looking good. As previously mentioned, zombie costumes are so easy – just scruff up some clothes you don’t care about using scissors and some dark eyeshadow – you can’t go wrong because they’re supposed to look messy and ripped (although if you don’t want to flash I would suggest tactical ripping!). Another easy one is a mad scientist – you’d have to get hold of a lab coat, but what you wear underneath is up to you; as crazy or normal as you’d like. Mess your hair up, put some blobs of odd coloured eyeshadow on the coat/your face et voila! I did this one for a SciFi social, basing my look on Steam Powered Giraffe’s Walter Workers, and won best costume! If you’re really last minute and stuck, don’t doubt the power of some pound shop/dollar store fake blood – turn dark clothing into a vampire look with a few dots on your neck and some drops on your chin. There’s no excuse not to make even that little bit of effort!

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5) Have fun & get creative!

Halloween is a great excuse to explore your crazy, wacky, fun side and express yourself in any way you want – so go for it! Don’t be scared of having a ‘Mean Girls Moment’ – I have before and while it was a little bit embarrassing at first, I had the most fun putting my costume together and I think I probably felt the best.

Just have fun & so long as you feel good in your costume, it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks! These last two are two of my favourite costumes from uni (the other favourite being my clown costume) – in the first I was a gothic loli girl & wore a lacy black dress, ripped tights and boots, all of which I already owned. The second is my Megara cosplay – I did spend money on this, buying a stretchy lilac dress, a violet scarf for her waist and a long, grecian style skirt; but I’ve worn it several times and definitely got my money’s worth, as well as wearing the individual parts for other costumes.

I unfortunately only have pictures of my full body in the costumes with other people and most are pretty messy (read: drunken) so unfortunately shoulders up shots will have to do! I think they illustrate my point well enough though! What are you going as for Halloween? Have you got your costume together yet?

See you soon,

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Last Post: Review Wednesday | Book Review – The Radleys

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Review Wednesday | Book Review – The Radleys

They talk some more, Will prompting Peter into remembering their early childhood on the barge. How their parents always went that extra mile to make their infancy special, like the time they brought a freshly killed department store Santa Clause home for their midnight Christmas feast.

The Radleys are a pretty average family. Peter, Helen and their two teenagers Clara and Rowan live a fairly normal life – until the local bully tries to assault vegan Clara at a party. Let’s just say she finds her taste for meat.

The plot of The Radleys isn’t particularly original. A family of non-humans trying to fit in to normal society? It’s been done a million times. What Matt Haig brings to the table, however, is a twisted sense of humour and gruesome detail. This book is very funny and immensely enjoyable. The characters, while vampires, are very realistic. The plot appears quite silly, but the book doesn’t read that way – if you don’t have much of a sick sense of humour, I wouldn’t recommend! The Radleys is gruesome and dark, and doesn’t sugar coat the addictive qualities that blood supposedly possesses for the vampires. It’s more than just not drinking it, it’s an addiction that plagues Peter and his brother Will especially.

I think one of my favourite parts of the book are the extracts from ‘The Abstainers’ Handbook’ between chapters. ‘The Abstainers’ Handbook’ is a book owned by Peter and Helen. It is a guide for vampires living without drinking human (or vampire) blood, and provides a lot of the information the reader gets on the vampires’ subculture. It adds a layer to the book that ties everything up wonderfully, and expands the world.

This is the second Matt Haig book I’ve reviewed, the first being Reasons to Stay Alive. This makes Haig the first author I’ve reviewed more than once (although I have written about JK Rowling on several occasions). In Reasons to Stay Alive Haig has a very distinctive voice, and this is still very clear in the Radleys, despite it being fiction and non-biographical. There’s something very real and relatable in his writing style that pulls me in.

Overall, The Radleys is a brilliant magical realist novel, with comedy and heart by the bucketful. I’d definitely recommend this book!

See you soon,

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Last Post: Me Monday | The Liebster Award

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Me Monday | The Liebster Award

So I was recently nominated by the wonderful Lauren ‘Lizabeth to do the Liebster Award Tag! After my accidental week long break I thought this would be a nice way to get back into the swing of things, so here we go.

The Rules:

  1. Thank whoever nominated you.
  2. Post 11 facts about yourself (optional)
  3. Answer the 11 questions you have been given
  4. Nominate at least 5, but no more than 11 other bloggers
  5. Create 11 other questions for your nominees

I’m not going to post 11 facts about myself as I’d be here all day trying to come up with something interesting, so here goes the questions:

  1. If you could be any character from a movie, who would you be and why?

Oh man, this is a hard one! My aunt was ill around this time last year and told my mum that Wednesday Addams was like me, so I think I’ll have to say her!

  1. What is your favourite celebration? (Eg Christmas/Easter/Halloween..)

I love Christmas but Halloween has to be my favourite! The best films, fancy dress, and ALL the sugar – what’s not to love?

  1. If you could create your own chocolate bar, what would be in it and what would it be called?

But I like all chocolate! I do particularly love caramel, toffee etc though so I’d have to have something with those sorts of flavours- no idea on the name though!

  1. What is your favourite animal and why?

My favourite specific animal is my Labrador Ruby. I love all animals but especially dogs, bats (I’ve rescued two!) and horses.

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  1. What is your go to item in your wardrobe – no matter what the occasion?

I’d have to say my leather jacket – it’s really warm and has big pockets haha! It’s the jacket I always have ready to pick up and go.

  1. Favourite restaurant?

I don’t eat out enough to have a favourite restaurant!

  1. If you could invite three famous figures (living or not) to a meal, who would you have and why?

Oh god, this is so difficult. I have a huge list of people I look up to and would love to speak to!

  1. Where would you like to live if money was no object?

I feel like my brain makes this far more difficult than it needs to be too! I’ve always said I’d love a cosy family home in Wales or something but in recent years cities and more modern designs are growing on me. Generally I’d like somewhere with a nice community and good wifi, I don’t really care where!

  1. Who is your favourite TV presenter?

Mel & Sue. Undoubtedly. I also have a soft spot for Claudia Winkleman, but M&S reign supreme.

  1. When you were younger, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be a vet, unsurprisingly!

  1. What movie always cheers you up or makes you feel better?

Do I have to pick just one?! It depends on why I’m upset but current favourites are basically any and all Halloween films!

 

Okay, now to come up with some questions myself – this should be horrendously difficult!

  1. What music has stuck with you the most and (if it’s not too personal) why?
  2. Do you have a favourite book or genre of books? If so, what is it?
  3. What would you consider the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
  4. What’s your favourite memory and why?
  5. Favourite smell?
  6. How do you get yourself motivated?
  7. What’s the weirdest dream you’ve ever had?
  8. What do you see as your greatest achievement?
  9. What’s your biggest goal in life?
  10. Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? Why/why not?
  11. What’s your favourite past time (blogging doesn’t count!)?

 

I don’t know who hasn’t done this!! If you’ve already done it you don’t have to do it again or anything (you don’t even have to do it anyway, I know lots of people plan their posts way in advance!) but I’ll nominate:

 

Breanna (when her blog is up and running!)

Mchi at Mchiouji

Sophie at Blame It On Chocolate

Sarah at A Little Reader

Jennifer at Young & Twenty

 

And if there’s anyone in the blogosphere who hasn’t done it yet, consider yourself nominated! It’s so hard to come up with original questions so if I’ve nominated you & you don’t feel like doing it I won’t be offended!

 

See you soon,

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These tags honestly make me feel so loved! 


Fandom Friday | Non-Scary Films for Wimpy Halloween Lovers (AKA Me)

I am the first to admit that I’m a huge wimp when it comes to scary films. It’s the idea more than anything; I watched Blair Witch Project with friends and didn’t find it scary. What I do love though is Halloween – the quirky, fun-loving celebration, the history, the costumes (I am a sucker for dressing up). While a lot of people choose to watch scary films and spend the night creeping themselves out, I’d much rather tap into what has become the spirit of the holiday and enjoy some kooky, spooky fun! Here’s my list of favourite Halloween films – although it should be noted that while they may not be scary, they aren’t all suitable for children!

The Halloweentown Trilogy

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There will be a lot of Disney on this list. The Halloweentown films are essential for 90s kid throwback Halloween film nights! Three ordinary children discover that they descend from the famous Cromwell witches, and embark on a journey to their grandmother’s home in Halloweentown – a place full of weird and wonderful new friends. Unsurprisingly, trouble is brewing and it’s up to the new Cromwell witches (and their brother – the males in the line have little to no magical power) to save the day.

Nightmare Before Christmas

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This one is pretty self explanatory. A classic Autumn-Winter film, this is a must watch around Halloween. If you need a costume idea, you will almost certainly find inspiration here!

The Addams Family

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Is it Halloween without the all together ooky-ness of The Addams Family? Whether you prefer the original tv show or the later movies, nothing helps get those festive spirits up like the Addams’. Also, Gomez + Morticia = Goals. Seriously.

R.L Stine’s The Haunting Hour (Don’t Think About It)

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This is a great first “scary” film – it’s not really scary, but it has the tropes and suspense of horror films. A classic DCOM-style Halloween film.

The Corpse Bride

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Burton at his best, the Corpse Bride combines the darkness and kooky, colourful madness that make Halloween what it is.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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Do I really need to say anything about this one? Just watch it.

Coraline

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Okay, so this doesn’t fill the “non-scary” quota as well as the others. Coraline is certainly much darker in tone than the others, and definitely creepier, but it didn’t scare me so you’re probably good. It’s a beautiful film and a really strong concept that I’d definitely recommend.

Beetlejuice

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If you’ve followed my blog for a while you are probably aware of my huge crush on Winona Ryder, so this will come as no surprise to you. It’s dark, it’s funny, it’s sick – but it’s not scary. Perfect.

I know this post is really short and it’s definitely not at the level of quality I wanted for it but I ran out of time and I just don’t have the time this weekend to do it as a late post instead. Hopefully it’s been useful anyway and you like some of my recommendations!

Are you a massive wimp too? Did I miss any of your favourites out?

See you soon,

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Last Post: Review Wednesday | Book Review – The Museum Guard

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Review Wednesday | Book Review – The Museum Guard

Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1938. Orphaned at the age of nine by a zeppelin crash, DeFoe Russet grew up in a hotel under the care of his magnetic uncle Edward. Now thirty, DeFoe works with Edward as a guard in Halifax’s three-room Glace Museum. By day, he and his uncle break the silence of the museum with heated conversations that show them to be ‘opposites at life’. By night, DeFoe spends his time trying to keep the affection of Imogen Linny.

[…]

When the Dutch painting ‘Jewess on a Street in Amsterdam’ arrives at the museum, Imogen becomes obsessed and abandons her life in favour of the ennobled one she imagines for its subject – even though being a Jew in Amsterdam is becoming more and more perilous as the clouds of World War 2 begin to gather.

I’ll say it now – this is not a happy book. While there are certainly many warm, happy and even funny moments, the book is overall actually quite unsettling. Much of it is relatable and familiar, and yet as the novel (and time) progresses the threat of war and the larger events of the novel itself loom over the residents of Halifax. Listening to the radio late at night, for example, turns into religious following of Ovid Lamartine, a Canadian reporter in Europe, as he discusses the increasingly dangerous situation in Europe.

The smaller details make this novel what it is. There is a huge amount of drama, heartbreak, betrayal and moral uncertainty in the book – all of which is countered by Norman’s incredible ability to bring the banal to the forefront. DeFoe’s coping mechanism is ironing – scenes of great drama are softened by piles of crumpled laundry. The Museum Guard paints the picture of a world dangerously close to destruction, and yet this isn’t the focus; in fact the novel ends before the war starts. There’s something poetic in this – we are left with the same sense of impending doom that the characters experience throughout the novel.

The way the novel ends and the setting leaves the reader in a very strange position – we cannot feel much hope for the characters, and the novel doesn’t give us any reason to have any; we know what is about to happen to the world in general, and any predictions we can make about the characters are not positive ones.

This is a very short review, I know, but this book really does speak for itself. The plot is incredibly odd, and yet remains real and raw. Norman has honestly left me speechless, and that’s definitely a good thing.

See you soon,

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Last Post: Review Wednesday | Book Review – Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather

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I couldn’t think of (or be bothered to find) a good gif for this, so I’ll leave you with my favourite quote from the book instead;

Life is full of dramas of the soul’s estrangement and reconciliation.

 


Review Wednesday | Book Review – Fish Change Direction In Cold Weather

When his parents split up, and his dad leaves home, a ten year old boy begs the sky to help him. The next day an ice storm covers his city. Then the power goes out, the temperature drops and people must turn to each other to survive.

Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather is a novel by Pierre Szalowski, translated into English by Alison Anderson. It is set in the infamous Montreal ice storm in 1998, and centres around several people in one small area. The format is quite Love Actually esque; the characters’ stories slowly and improbably intertwine as the narrative unfolds.

This isn’t exactly a revolutionary book. It’s been done and it’ll be done again. The ending was quite predictable, and not just because we know the facts about the ice storm. Despite this, however, it was a very enjoyable book. The story played out well and although the characters weren’t massively developed, this almost added to the feel within the book that this fleeting event not only has the characters thrust into each others’ private lives, but it has thrown the reader in there too. We know bits about the characters’ back stories, but for the most part we are only shown what happens during the ice storm; this often leads to a sort of awkward intimacy that is reflected in the characters’ interactions with each other. We don’t know them, they don’t know each other, and yet we’re all forced into each others’ lives for a short period.

There are 9 main characters in the book (and 4 fish). This seems like a lot, but like most narratives of this nature they can be split into groups;

The Narrator and his parents – The narrator is a 10 year old boy, coming to terms with (or rather, denying entirely) his parents splitting up. He asks the sky for help the day before the ice storm hits, and spends much of the novel believing that he is controlling the storm.

Alex and Alexis – Alex is the narrator’s best friend and kind of a jerk. He pushes the narrator around and misbehaves at school, however we are encouraged to sympathise with him due to his living conditions; his father is an alcoholic and sleeps much of the day away, while his mother is nowhere to be seen.

Simon and Michel – An older gay couple, Simon and Michel were both previously married to women before finding each other. They are often mistaken for brothers in the street and are scared to ‘out’ themselves; they tend not to leave the house together if they can help it, much less show affection in public.

Julie – A stripper with 3 cats, Julie leads a relatively unknown life before the storm. We see very little of her and unfortunately I wasn’t satisfied with her character; it felt as though she was left behind because ‘stripper’ was enough explanation for her.

Boris – the character behind the title of the book, Boris is a Russian mathematician. He has been working on a dissertation for years about the affects of temperature on the trajectory of his four fish’s paths.

I don’t want to say much more about the characters for fear of spoiling the whole book, but they are all generally easy to read and even the less savoury do have likeability. Overall, I enjoyed this book and although it might not be the most original or surprising, it’s a heart-warming and lovely little read. The message of the book is basically that everything falls to shit sometimes, but there’s always hope and good – I personally think that it never hurts to be reminded of that.

See you soon,

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Last Post: Me Monday | Very Superstitious…

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Me Monday | Very Superstitious…

Superstition has been around as long as humans have. Good luck charms, rituals to ward off bad energy and precautionary tales have become part of the human condition. Even those who may claim to not believe in anything of the sort may find themselves following a superstition, from avoiding ladders and cracks in the pavement to wearing certain things for certain events (anyone else have exam pants?). Even saying ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes stems from superstition – there are many variations of this all over the world, but all appear to originate from the belief that a sneeze opens the body up to evil spirits; blessing the person protects them from said evil.

We throw spilt salt over our shoulders, ‘touch wood’, dislike black cats (black animals continue to be the least likely to get adopted from shelters – because of a ridiculous and harmful belief stemming from associations with witches.)

But why, in a world that increasingly rejects the belief in anything other than the known world, do we still have superstition?

Personally, a lot of my beliefs are based on the idea that we simply don’t know what’s out there. We can’t prove that there is a god or higher being, but we can’t solidly disprove it either. There are plenty of things without scientific explanation, and plenty of reasons to believe that there could be something else. Luck and karma may seem farfetched, but energy is definitely something I can get behind; it is common sense that if you have a good attitude towards something that you’re more likely to be successful, right? So why is it so crazy to believe in letting good energy in and keeping bad energy out?

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Is this the face of evil? I mean she is, but not because of her colour!

Of course, many superstitions do stem from basic common sense. Walking under a ladder is dangerous to both yourself and the person on the ladder, and walking on uneven paving can make you trip over. I also feel, however, that many superstitions that we still follow nowadays may simply be a case of not wanting to find out what happens if you don’t follow the superstition. People with good luck charms tend to get distressed and thrown off if they forget or lose them, in the same way that not following a routine may stress someone out. There is also a sense of fear; while you may not believe in whatever bad thing will supposedly happen if you don’t follow superstition correctly, there may still be enough fear there to do that thing. This article by The Atlantic discusses this phenomenon – while atheists should have no issue reading statements claiming God will damn them to Hell, it still makes them as uncomfortable as it does religious people. When asked what would happen if a witch offered to cast an evil spell on them, students said that they should accept the spell with no worries – and yet personally most wouldn’t risk it.

It doesn’t matter how logical we are, humans still have some kind of doubt about what exists and what doesn’t. Superstition and religion are thought by many to be irrational and illogical things to believe in. They’re often seen as old explanations for things, which are becoming more and more obsolete with the evolution of science. While this may well be the case, there is clearly something about superstition and supernatural belief that sticks with us – whether it’s force of habit and a matter of tradition or a sincere belief and fear of a judgemental universe with a distaste for umbrellas and love of rabbits’ feet.

Are you superstitious? If so, what superstitions do you adhere too & why? If not, do you believe in luck or karma?

Some more things I read while writing this that were really interesting:

13 Common (But Silly) Superstitions– Live Science

Why Do We Say ‘Bless You’ or ‘Gesundheit’ When People Sneeze? – Howstuffworks

Knock on Wood in Different Languages (or the equivalent sayings) – WordReference

See you soon,

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Last Post: Fandom Friday | Welcome Home: Fandom that Sticks

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