Books Books

The Laughing Man

I have some amazing friends, and some of my amazing friends are amazingly talented. One such friend, who I have known since High School, has recently published his second book. Just because it’s with an Indie publisher does not make that any less impressive. I’ve even had the pleasure, though a lot more recently, and through a different friend (amazing how your friends can know each other without you when you all like writing!) to meet the main brains behind Ouroborus Books, which is the Indie publishing company several of my friends have been published through.

In an even more amazing coincidence, I was at a different friend’s party a little while before Christmas. This is a friend I knew from my first high school, before I met the previous fr5iend I was talking about, who I’ll get to again shortly. While talking with the other people there, I discovered that one of her work colleagues is also published through Ouroborus Books. Okay, well, I thought it was an insane and amazing coincidence, though I can understand if you don’t find it the same.

So, my friend from high school. Let’s call him… Robert J. Barlow. Although I mostly knew him as just Rob in high school. I honestly don’t think I could tell you what his middle name is, aside from the fact that the initial is J. I wouldn’t even be able to tell you that much if he hadn’t opted to include it for his nom de plume with his debut novel The Laughing Man.

So. The Laughing Man. There’s a lot I could talk about here. Both Rob, the author, and Sabrina, the publisher, are my friends, so I don’t want to chew him out, but I also want to be truthful. So, here goes:

The story: I was, like everyone I know who has read this book, captivated by the story. It’s an amazing story, well written, with an incredibly interesting world, and some fabulous (some in more ways than one) characters.

The characters: I can’t fault anything here, they were all wonderfully well written. They were engaging, dynamic, thoroughly interesting, and all wonderfully individual.

I was absolutely honestly thoroughly into this book, the world, the plot, the story. It was incredible.

My issues? There were a few places where the editing could have been a bit tighter. The copyediter didn’t seem to do the best job. I feel kinda bad saying this, but it took me so long to get through this book (I started reading it last month) because there were moments I just had to massage my brain to get through it.

On a passing glance, it would absolutely pass muster. Unfortunately, there were some paragraphs in later chapters that weren’t indented properly. Sometimes a single paragraph contained two different characters speaking (Something I distinctly remember being a huge no-no in one of my classes last semester, when my tutor thought two different characters were speaking, when it was just the one…) which made me unfortunately a bit confused at times. There were a few cases of “in” in the place of “on” and vice versa, or other similar slip ups, and a few little spelling errors.

That, and there were a few phrases here and there which I found I had to stare at for a while in order to understand what it was that was trying to be conveyed. Though honestly I’m not sure how much of that was my not necessarily being 100% engaged in the book at that time for whatever reason, or something that might have been able to be clarified by a little bit of editing.

So, on the whole, absolutely do love and would recommend the book. (Not just because one of my friends wrote it and another published it) It might have a few kinks still, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an absolutely stunning read. I will absolutely be reading this book again, and hopefully when I have money again sometime I’ll be able to buy The Spinning Sister, which is the second book in the series, and has already been out. (Okay, so it took me a while to get around to buying the book, and then reading it… I’m not the best at reading books I buy promptly. Also not always great at buying books immediately when they come out, which is mostly a money thing, and sometimes a “that book caught my eye more immediately” thing.

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Welcome to October

It’s coming into October, my favourite month of the year. Ever since I was a child, I have always loved Halloween. Imagine my disappointment to have been born in Australia, one of the few big Western nations that doesn’t particularly celebrate Halloween. Naturally, all the Australia’s love for all things American when it comes to TV just made everything worse. After all, is an American TV show without a Halloween special actually an American TV show? I don’t think so.

Don’t get me wrong, Halloween not being overly celebrated in Australia never stopped me from trick-or-treating. My Mum and Nana would help me with a costume, and then my god-sisters and myself would walk around my Nana and Grandad’s neighbourhood. I have no idea how Americans always seem to have pillowcases filled with candy by the time they walk around a neighbourhood. I mean, sure, perhaps the neighbourhood I would walk around wasn’t quite as big as the American neighbourhoods, but that wasn’t the real problem. The problem was that no one was prepared for trick-or-treaters to come around. Not when I was growing up. Well, no one is an overstatement. A few people had some candy or chocolate bars. The vast majority, however, would just shrug and say “Oh, it’s Halloween? Sorry, I don’t have anything for you.” A couple of people were really nice, and they would give us two dollar coins instead.

The world is changing, and I like the way it’s changing. Now it’s becoming common for children in Australia to trick-or-treat. We still have a long way to go before it’s as normal as it is in other countries, such as America, but we have come quite far from when I used to be the only child in the neighbourhood to go trick-or-treating. There’s even a set of rules that are being generally acknowledged by parents, children, and just people living in houses. If you wish to participate and have trick-or-treaters come to your house to give away candy, you just leave your outside light on. So parents will take their children around neighbourhoods, going to houses with their lights on. One day it may even be as common here as it is in the United States.

I don’t go trick-or-treating any more. I’m a bit too old for that now, sadly, and don’t have any children to escort around. Maybe one day I might steal a child from a friend. That’s not to say that Halloween is any less boring as an adult. Now, I can just buy all the candy I want to eat and binge-watch Halloween movies.

Which is, of course, my plan for this Halloween. I have a bunch of friends who I plan to voice call while watching the wonderful world of Halloween movies. The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Hocus Pocus are naturally two of the first movies on our list. Of course we’re also going to be watching some Beeltejuice as well. There are just so many other good Halloween movies out there as well that I don’t know what else to add to our list. Especially since I’m trying to educate a couple of my friends, who haven’t seen some of these movies before. (I know, believe me, I’m just as shocked as you are. Don’t worry though, they have agreed to being educated.) Any particularly important must-see Halloween movie suggestions would be more than welcome.

There are three other things that I’m particularly looking forward to this wonderful spooky month. Firstly, there are Halloween events. I don’t necessarily mean at bars, or places like that. Although if I can find any events like that, I may very well do just that. However, what I am talking about is the wonderful world of gaming events. Okay, so, the one game in particular, although I can hope that other games might also have events. For example, I’m hopeful that the Harry Potter mobile game, Mystery at Hogwarts, might have a Halloween event. Given that it’s still a growing game and mostly in development, I would not be surprised if such an event didn’t happen this year, however they are doing some events for unique skins fairly regularly, so I think my hope may just pay out.

The game I’m particularly looking forward to, however, is Overwatch. Now, I haven’t been playing this game since it came out. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not good at it. I’d like to be, but I’m only a lowly bronze player. (In comp as well as border). Maybe upgrading to a better mouse and keyboard might help with that for me. Or maybe I’ll just find out that no, I’m still horrible at it. Though, my skill level isn’t the point I want to talk about right now. Instead, I want to talk about the Halloween event. I had so much fun last year when playing Junkenstein’s revenge. It was the first special event arcade mode that I played, since I joined at the end of the Anniversary event last year.

Overwatch is great, I’ve been enjoying playing it a lot lately. Although it’s one of those things that’s definitely better with friends. Even better when it has those Player vs Environment events, as opposed to constantly Player vs Player. I’m just going to ignore the whole trend towards Battle Royale that games seem to be going to at the moment due to the popularity of some certain free to play ones, because let’s face it, those modes are undoubtedly my least favourite. The PvE modes, however, Junkenstein’s Revenge, Uprising, and Retribution are some of my favourites. Let’s face it, Overwatch players can get quite salty sometimes, whether you’re playing with them or against them. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing competitive, quick play, or arcade, unless you’re playing with a six stack, you’ll almost inevitably find a teammate who doesn’t co-operate. That’s not to say that you don’t find that in those PvE modes. In fact, sometimes you get players who either disconnect or purposefully leave, which results in a very unbalanced group, since unlike other game modes, there isn’t any back-fill for these PvE games, which are designed for four players to work together.

The game mode isn’t the only thing that’s got me excited. I’m a pretty big fan of some of the skins that already exist in the game, but Halloween skins will always be among my favourite on any game that has such a mechanic. Some of the ones that I got last year during the event are still up there among my most-used skins. The Dragon Symmetra skin, and the Cultist Zenyatta skin in particular are absolutely wonderful. As someone who currently “mains” Moira, I’m naturally hoping and praying for a Goblin Queen Labyrinth-style skin. If not this event, perhaps I’ll be lucky next year.

The second exciting thing about this month is that it’s going to be my last month at university. Now, I’m not going to say forever, at this point. I know myself too well to say that. Maybe one day I’ll go on to do a Masters. For the moment, however, with what I’m currently studying, I am nearly done. This is both exciting and absolutely terrifying for me. Having to go out into the real world as an adult with a degree? What on Earth will I do? It doesn’t help that it’s a Fine Arts degree. I’m just going to be so employable!

The third thing that’s happening this month is connected to the second, and is essentially the main reason I’m writing this whole thing right now in the first place. I’ve just spent the past three years working on a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing. Naturally I want to go on to do something with this. Which is why I’m starting this blog. The blog is just a small part, of course. I’ve also taken steps to become a sole trader, so that I can begin getting paid for writing and editing. It feels like a big step for me, quite possibly because it is. I’m going to be putting myself out there, which hasn’t always ended well for me in the past. Not that such things have always ended horribly for me, but when you have anxiety, you always begin to expect the worst.

So here goes, the first blog for my site, talking about my favourite month, and letting everyone know that Marlee McDougall, writer and editor, is officially open for business.