Dracula Daily

People, Devil, Vampire, Dracula, Halloween, Horns

I’m so annoyed at myself. I learnt about this weeks ago and planned to share it and then I completely got side-tracked and forgot about it. I was going to cut my losses but I am only a day or two late so I am charging ahead.

There is a fascinating project happening from Daily Dracula where the entirety of Bram Stoker’s Dracula will be sent to your inbox in snippets throughout the year coinciding with the time frame of the book. As the website states:

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is an epistolary novel – it’s made up of letters, diaries, telegrams, newspaper clippings – and every part of it has a date. The whole story happens between May 3 and November 10. So: Dracula Daily will post a newsletter each day that something happens to the characters, in the same timeline that it happens to them.

I think this is fascinating. You can read about the events in the story as it’s happening to the characters and because it’s in small segments and through various formats you can experience in a unique way. As I say, because I am late doing this, and not sending it around last week like I had hoped, you’ll miss the start in your inbox. However! You can catch up on the posts you’ve missed on the website archives, or read the beginning of the book and catch up before relying on those handy inbox arrivals to get your daily Dracula fix.

This is something that happened last year and the individual posts are available on the website so you can read them there, catch up any you miss in future and see how it went down last year. It might be a good place to start, not only because I am late in telling you about it, but you can see if the structure is something you’d want in comparison to having it in the book or another medium. The best part is because they’ll be coming to your inbox you can read each one as it comes or save up a few and do them in groups, read at your own pace.

Because of the way the story is written there won’t be an entry every day, and naturally they’ll vary in length, but if you’ve always wanted to read Dracula and felt daunted by the size of think it’s too intense, maybe this could be your way in.

There Goes the Bride (#20) by M. C. Beaton

Published: 23rd September 2009 (print)/01 July 2012 (audio) Goodreads badge
Minotaur Books /Audible
Pages: 277/6 hrs and 18 mins
Narrator: Penelope Keith
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Cosy Mystery
★   ★  – 2 Stars

Agatha’s former husband James is engaged to be married to a beautiful, young woman and Agatha has been kindly invited to the wedding. To take her mind off this, Agatha decides she has fallen for Sylvan, a Frenchman she met at James’ engagement party. To distract her still further she decides upon a holiday and flies to Istanbul, where unfortunately she bumps into James and his fianc e not once but twice – convincing him she is stalking them.

So when the bride is murdered on her wedding day, naturally Agatha is Suspect Number One – but then matters are turned on their head when the dead bride’s mother engages Agatha to take on the case of her murdered daughter! And very soon Agatha’s own life is in danger while she tries to solve the mystery of the corpse bride while fighting off (halfheartedly) the advances of a very attractive and determined Frenchman!

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this because even I can’t complain about the same things over and over again with this series. This plot was a mess. So many things happened, one after the other, sometimes on top of each other and you could barely adjust that one things had happened before it changed again.

The James/Agatha/new wife situation was a convoluted as you’d expect. Agatha is obsessing over James, falling in love with someone else, and trying to clear her name. Plus, no one seems to like anybody despite being in a relationship with them.

James is as horrible as ever, his self-centred misogynistic ways rear their head. Why Beaton is trying to bring back James only to have him leave time and time again is a mystery. It’s rehashing the same storylines of Agatha being in love, him being horrible, then leaving, her recovering only to have it cycle through again.

Beaton does reveal to us more about Agatha which gives us a bit of history on her life, and how she came to be how she is. There is a different side of Agatha that comes out every now and again, you see it sometimes when she is around Toni, around Charles. The vulnerable person who has a rough upbringing who is insecure and hurt, but that is often thrown against a shallow, abusive, selfish appearance that does make you less sympathetic to her plight.

In terms of audio Keith does a great job once again. Her narration is consistent and she does bring Agatha’s brashness to life, as well as the various other characters and their unique idiosyncrasies. With all the usual players involved we see regular characters in and out of the Cotswolds environment and the interactions with each other are always entertaining, even with the uninspiring writing.

The murder itself had intrigue, international crime and multiple bodies with uncertain connections but it also felt scattered. One saving grace is that sometimes cases take time. They span over weeks and months, there’s weeks where Agatha deals with other business with her agency – granted it’s summed up in one line as the same thing every time of finding lost pets and missing teenagers – but rarely is anything solved instantly which adds some reality, especially given the fewer resources. It also helps that characters are all too eager to give any information or access needed. The weak excuses and subterfuge always work, and even when found out people are still happy to oblige. It keeps the story rolling I suppose getting the answers you need without any real barriers.

The extra padding Beaton is adding to the stories recently never seems to fit. They are extra moments added in as weird side plots or scenes, and there’s multiple times you think the story is ending when it keeps going. By the time you get to the end of the book anything that happened at the beginning has no relevance. The murders have been solved, Agatha’s had multiple dates, done some local village good service, the agency has gone through an upheaval and she’s had a mini holiday. All of which sounds like it takes a lot of time but most of it is over in a chapter or less and the next random thing begins. Agatha and Charles had a moment together which I do always like because they are good together but on top of this weird mess of a book it didn’t really have an impact.

You can purchase There Goes the Bride via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

The Littlest Yak by Lu Fraser

Published: 1st October 2021Goodreads badge
Peachtree Publishing Company
Illustrator: Kate Hindley
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

On the tip of the top of a mountain all snowy, where the ice-swirling, toe-curling blizzards were blowy, in a herd full of huddling yaks, big and small, lived Gertie . . . the littlest yak of them all.

Gertie is the littlest yak in her whole herd, and she’s feeling stuck in her smallness – she wants to grow UP and have bigness and tallness!

But when it turns out that there are some things that only Gertie can do, might she come to see that she’s perfect, just the way she is?

I was immediately won over by the cute cover, it basically sealed the deal and I am so glad the story held up to the same standard.

Being the smallest in the herd and feeling like she needs to be bigger, Gertie is a great character for all those kids who wish to grow up faster. They are tired of being small, and they feel useless and just too small to be of any help. Gertie is told numerous times that she will grow up eventually but of course she doesn’t listen and seeing her montage of activities to get big was fantastic. I love Fraser’s rhymes and accompanied by adorable pictures this book could do no wrong.

I loved the illustrations so much, Hindley’s pictures are beyond adorable and the contrast of Gertie and the bigger yaks is wonderful. I loved the detail and colour scheme of her surroundings and the little knitted hats the yaks wear are delightful. I could easily steal a few of these pages and put them on my wall they are so cute.

The story is told with wonderful rhyme and there is a great flow that keeps you engaged and turning the page. The story itself has a great message about being yourself, not wishing to grow up too soon and that bigness can come in all shapes and sizes. Seeing Gertie try and grow up and be big is endearing but it’s wonderful when she learns that she is just right the size she is now.

You can purchase The Littlest Yak via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

A Spoonful of Poison (#19) by M. C. Beaton

Published: 30th September 2008 (print)/01 Feb 2012 (audio) Goodreads badge
Minotaur Books /Audible
Pages: 288/6 hrs and 20 mins
Narrator: Penelope Keith
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Cosy Mystery
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Cranky but lovable sleuth Agatha Raisin’s detective agency has become so successful that she wants nothing more than to take quality time for rest and relaxation. But as soon as she begins closing the agency on weekends, she remembers that when she has plenty of quality time, she doesn’t know what to do with it. So it doesn’t take much for the vicar of a nearby village to persuade her to help publicize the church fete—especially when the fair’s organizer, George Selby, turns out to be a gorgeous widower.

Agatha brings out the crowds for the fete, all right, but there’s more going on than innocent village fun. Several of the offerings in the jam-tasting booth turn out to be poisoned, and the festive family event becomes the scene of two murders.

Along with her young and (much to her dismay) pretty sidekick, Toni, Agatha must uncover the truth behind the jam tampering, keep the church funds safe from theft, and expose the nasty secrets lurking in the village—all while falling for handsome George, who may have secrets of his own.

At book 19 it’s just passed the halfway mark in this series and this is indeed a middle book because it is quite forgettable. Even amongst the cookie cutter style of these stories and repetition this one hasn’t stuck in my head very well.

Away from Carsley we have a lot of new characters to play with, each getting the Agatha treatment but there was some variety in their characters. Agatha’s instant love and affection for the new man George goes over the same thing we’ve seen before, and even with new characters to get to know there isn’t anything different. There is extra story away from the main murder, padding details and random extra scenes but it was enjoyable enough. I understand that these are meant to work as standalones, you can pick them up wherever and not really need to know what was going on, but the amount of repetition those of us who do read the entire series has to put up with is frustrating.

The characters are unique and flawed which is entertaining but Beaton needs to learn to stop bringing out the same flaws each time, we do get another miniscule revelation of Agatha’s life but it’s not nearly enough given the amount of times we’ve been told about her bear like eyes, her ailments, and her body issues. What was interesting was that newcomer Toni gets additional focus as we see her pushed along by Agatha to branch out on her own, plus a new village of new faces to get to know and suspect, but what is a Raisin book without Agatha bringing up the rear with the usual complaints, brashness, and obsession of love and loneliness.

It also wouldn’t be an Agatha book without James making an appearance as we’re lured into the next book with his surprise engagement. Anytime James is mentioned it brings the tone down of these books and why Beaton keeps dragging him back into storylines where it doesn’t make sense is beyond me. Hopefully this time she can settle his storyline and move on.

You can purchase A Spoonful of Poison via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Memory Jars by Vera Brosgol

Published: 25th May 2021 Goodreads badge
Roaring Brook Press
Illustrator: Vera Brosgol
Pages: 48
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

 A young girl finds a clever way to keep her favourite things–and people–close to her forever.

Freda is devastated when she can’t eat all the delicious blueberries she’s picked. She has to wait a whole year before they’re back, and she doesn’t want to lose them! Then Gran reminds her that they can save blueberries in a jar, as jam. So Freda begins to save all her favourite things. But it turns out that saving everything also means she can’t enjoy anything, and Freda realises that some things are best saved as memories.

This was a surprising book because what I thought was going to be a fun book about wanting to keep all the special things in jars, it actually manages to have a great lesson at the end. There isn’t a great focus on the lesson, it wraps up fairly quickly, but there’s enough there to provide a satisfying conclusion.

It is certainly a relatable feeling wanting to capture all the good things and experiences and look back on them again and again but Brosgol shows us that if that were possible, not only does it mean others can’t enjoy them, but if you enjoy it all the time the magic of those moments is lost a little too. You even see from a few of Brosgol’s illustrations that Freda’s desire to capture all the good things means she actually never gets to enjoy them. Unplayed with toys, uneaten lollies, and other pleasurable experiences aren’t actually being enjoyed because they are being safeguarded in a jar.

The full page illustrations are detailed and colourful, reflecting the accompanying text on the page. We see Freda’ story play out and Brosgol shows us each of Freda’s preservations in colourful images. There is a sense of magical realism because of course you can’t put the moon and the stars in a jar anymore than you could a cloud or your friend, but it doesn’t take away from the story as we follow Freda on her mission.

There is a sense of not wanting things to change, and if it was kept in a jar it will remain just as it was, but seeing Freda realise that once she has captured everything in a jar it isn’t as wonderful as she thinks is a great lesson. It’s a great book to help kids understand fleeting moments like special occasions, good moments and other enjoyable things don’t always last, and helping them to see that even if the moment has past that the memory of the good times and the special feelings still remains and gives them something to look forward to.

You can purchase Memory Jars via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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