Would You Rather?: Book Edition

9:43 am

Another day, another book tag stolen from the lovely Jen at The Book Journal! Delving through the the dark abyss that is my bookmarks folder, I found a huge amount of saved blog posts I intended to use as inspiration for my own posts which, naturally, I've only just gotten round to looking at. Today's tag will be the 'Would You Rather: Book Edition' tag! You're all tagged, of course.

1. Would you rather read only trilogies or only stand alone novels?

I've not read a huge collection of book series', so I'll choose stand alone novels. I like self-contained stories and find a lot of the series I have read have gone on for longer than I personally thing is necessary. However sad it is to leave the world of stand alone novels after such a short time, I think it's best in the long run.

2. Would you rather read only male or female authors?

I've read a lot of amazing female fiction recently, but I think it would be silly to try and choose between the two when there are glorious works being written by all genders every single day.

3. Would you rather shop at Barnes & Noble or Amazon?

If my budget allowed, I would always choose bookshops over online outlets. Plus it's so much easier to find new things in bookshops by just stumbling upon them.

4. Would you rather books became films or TV shows?

Obviously it always depends on the book. Some series' that have been turned into films I really feel deserved to be turned into a TV show instead. You have so much more space to flesh things out then.

5. Would you rather read 5 pages a day or 5 books a week?

Five books a week, of course!

6. Would you rather be a professional reviewer or an author?

If you're an author, there are always going to be people who hate your work. If you're a reviewer, there are always going to be people who disagree with your opinion. I couldn't pick, they both sound so intense.

7. Would you rather read your favourite 20 books over and over or only read books you've never read before?

Never read before. New worlds to explore and new people to meet! I will always hold the memories of my favourites.

8. Would you rather be a librarian or a bookseller?


9. Would you rather only read your favourite genre or every genre except your favourite?

I don't really have a favourite genre, oops. I'll let you know when I do.

10. Would you rather read only physical books or ebooks?

Physical books. I like visualising how far through I am without looking at a little written percentage.

M x


Book Review: Lorrie Moore's A Gate at the Stairs

7:07 pm

'Twenty-year-old Tassie Keltjin yearns to escape her provincial home. She moves to the college town of Troy to start university and takes a job as a part-time nanny to a glamorous couple. Tassie is drawn into their life and that of their newly adopted toddler. As the household reveals its complications, Tassie is forced out of her naivety, and the past and the future burst forth in dramatic and shocking ways.'

I love coming across a book that, when finished, makes me want to consume the entirety of the author's canon as soon as possible. A Gate at the Stairs is a beautifully written story of a young woman and her journey from her hometown to university, finding a job as a nanny to a white couple in the process of adopting a black daughter. The story is one of race and the reactions of people to each other in a paranoid post-9/11 world.

The book starts slow, introducing the reader to Tassie and her world, the things she loves, and the fears she has for the future. Coming from a small farming household, a university town opens up a whole new world to her, a world that is full of paranoia and tragedy. I was gripped from the first chapter despite there being little 'story', with Moore's storytelling making me feel attached to Tassie from page one. About two-thirds into the book is where the real dramas set in and, boy, does it all happen very quickly. Unfortunately I found the ending of the book a bit slow after the highs it reaches, but Moore's style is one I didn't tire with at all.

I would recommend A Gate at the Stairs to young women unsure of their future and interested in issues of race and gender. I thought this was close to the perfect novel for me and, as I said before, made me want to read everything else Lorrie Moore has written. A beautifully tragic tale echoing the racial issues that our world cannot seem to get rid of however hard it tries.

**** / 5 (maybe 4.5)

M x


Saturday Links #7: Reading more, amazing podcasts, cancelled shows, and Richard Ayoade.

9:00 am

Working hard? Or hardly working? I'm not even sure myself. What I am sure of is that I have things to share with you, and those things are here. Ta da! (Also, Weekly Links has been rebranded as Saturday Links. I think it looks nicer)

  • Leo Babauta of Zen Habits shares his 'Delightfully Short Guide to Reading More Books'. I heartily agree with carrying a book around with you at all times. There are so many moments in the day, especially when out and about, that you find yourself doing nothing. These are the moments you could be reading!

  • NPR have a new podcast in their network called Invisibilia, and I am absolutely in love with it! Hosted by Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller, the podcast talks about topics related to the theme of the invisible, with the first two episodes focusing on dark thoughts and fear. I'm hooked and have both laughed and cried out loud listening to it already.

  • In The Flesh, one of my favourite shows I've discovered over the past year, has been cancelled after two series. It's like The Hour all over again. Somebody hold me. It is such a unique take on the popular zombie theme of the past few years so it's a huge shame to see it go.

  • Still on the topic of television, here is why you should be watching the charmingly weird Rick And Morty.

  • Ella over at Ellalogy wrote this wonderful post inspired by Maggie Gyllenhaal's Golden Globes acceptance speech on 'real women' characters.

  • Regarding Sia's Elastic Heart video I was talking about in last week's Weekly Links, here's why we shouldn't be calling everything we see paedophilic when it isn't. 

Have you read/watched/relished anything you'd like to share this week? Leave me a comment below!

M x


Book Review: Don DeLillo's Falling Man

10:59 am

As you may have guessed from my recent post on Cormac McCarthy's The Road, I'm a big fan of trauma in writing. It's a big part of my masters degree scheduling at the moment and something I've been quite passionate about for a while now after becoming interested in contemporary fiction. I don't know what it is about it that draws me in, possibly the extremes of emotion or the upheaval of ordinary life. These are two subjects drawn upon heavily in Don DeLillo's Falling Man, the story of a 9/11 survivor and his attempt at a return to daily life with his estranged wife and young son.

I knew the initial story would grip me, and it did. The description of people wandering the streets in the initial aftermath of the attacks was dream-like and haunting. DeLillo has a wonderful writing style that I've really enjoyed in the past (I read White Noise last summer and would really recommend it) but as the book progressed I found myself falling more and more out of love with it. I thought the characters were bland, especially the protagonist, Keith, whose life changes were more irritating than understandable. Events seemed to occur for little reason, and with little resolution, bringing a book that started off as a 4-star read down to a 2-star, much to my disappointment. From reading reviews from newspapers and Goodreads, I can see a lot of people felt the same way, as if the novel was a huge tangent from his usual quality writing. Considering this I haven't been put off reading more of his books, even though this really did leave me underwhelmed and a bit annoyed.

** / 5

M x

P. S. Don't forget to follow me on Goodreads here.


Book Review: Cormac McCarthy's The Road

5:53 pm

Not a book for the faint-hearted, or those of you who want to have a nice time. The first night after starting this book I alternated between being unable to sleep and horrible dreams, so you have been warned. Only read in the daylight when you have several hours to recover before bed. That aside, this book was beautiful in a way it shouldn't be. Set in what I can only assume is post-apocalypse America, The Road tells the story of a father and son trekking the bleak and ash-filled landscape of this new world, barely surviving and heading for the coast. Most life has been wiped out, from humans to the ashen trees that stand around them, permanently on the verge of collapse. There's no food, no water, no warmth, only violent scavengers who track the road and may or may not have a taste for human flesh.

I would say the book is full of highs and lows, but more accurately it's a book of horrific lows and slightly less-awful lows. McCarthy's language is incredibly simple, which only worsens the events that occur in its progression, describing what happens in such plain words it's uncomfortable. If you're like me and enjoy books on personal trauma, post-apocalypse worlds, or human relations, this is one you'll fly through, even if it is against your own will.

My edition is part of a Picador McCarthy collection all with matching cover designs that I really love, even if the selected review takes up more of it than the name of the author and title of the book. It's a clever choice in my opinion and really works as part of a collection with the typewriter key-esque typeface.

**** / 5

M x

P.S. Post-apocalyptic fiction with no zombies, score.

P. P. S. Don't forget to follow me on Goodreads here!


Weekly Links #6: Batman, female scientists, speedrunning, and Tavi Gevinson.

11:12 am

Blimey, apparently I haven't done a Weekly Links post since last May! It was never intended to be a regular feature, but I really did go off track there. Regardless, here is your first Weekly Links of 2015! Here are a few things I've been learning/reading/watching/listening to this week...

M x


Book Review: Keri Smith's Living Out Loud

1:01 pm

Keri Smith has been on my radar for a while now with Wreck This Journal and other quirky (for lack of a better word) books she's created for this in need of a creative boost. Living Out Loud was one of her works that I hadn't heard of before but immediately new I had to read when I saw it lying on my parents' bookshelf. It's spiral-bound pages, hardback cover, and bright colours scream inspiration and creativity. Because of the nature of the book, a source of inspiration for creatives and non-creatives alike, it's easy to flip through and find something that'll get you going. There are personal anecdotes from Smith as well as fun exercises that don't always follow the typical 'do this to get inspired artistically' pattern you see usually when you Google 'HOW DO I INSPIRE MYSELF AGAIN?' frantically at 2am. Speaking from experience? Was it that obvious?

The spiral-bound pages, some perforated, provide the perfect environment for cut-out activities as well as pages of stickers, postcards with inspirational messages, and small tear-out mantras when you're in need. Other pages fold out in order to jam the book with even more creatively-juicy material. Although I'm not directly in a creative career or studying a creative subject, I still found this book really useful just as a way to get re-inspired with live. There are sections on personal motivation, brightening up dull days, activities for growth, etc. It's not just a book for creative inspiration, but one for bettering yourself, whether with transformative play in the garden or organising your space if you live in piles.

I really would recommend Living Out Loud to anyone who likes books to give them a boost. It's one you can pick up and flick through again and again when you need a quick pat on the head and gentle kick in the right direction. The sections on journalling resonated with me especially, inspiring me to start creating journals again! Also at the end of the book is a bibliography of texts she would personally recommend on creativity, great journal-keepers, and inspirational women. Let's just say it's added a lot to this year's TBR pile.


M x

P.S. Don't forget to follow my reviews, TBR, and more here on Goodreads!


Book Review: Toni Morrison's Paradise

10:37 am

'They shoot the white girl first' is the opening line to Nobel Prize Laureate Toni Morrison's 1997 novel Paradise. Quite the hook to new readers, isn't it? The book starts with a massacre outside of the town of Ruby where a Convent resides, containing many women deemed by the town as unacceptable and slovenly. They are accused of witchcraft, performing abortions, and satanic rituals. The remainder of the novel slips back in time, telling stories of these women individually about their lives before coming to Ruby, and how they ended up there. Paradise is an odd name for a book with such a horrifying opening, but one that begins to make sense as the novel progresses as you come to learn the purpose of Ruby (a black-only town created by former slaves in order to stay separate from the white population). The characters in this novel are where it thrives in my opinion, creating believable and troubled young women, as well as the male residents of Ruby, who have vastly different but  not over the top back-stories. Connie, Mavis, Gigi, Seneca and Pallas are women you will feel love towards despite their troubles, and their conflicts with one another are ones you can believe. After finishing Paradise I was blown away by the realism and horror of the world Morrison created and I had become so absorbed in. It's a tale of love and race that makes me eager to pick up even more of her works. 

Rating: ****/5

Follow me on Goodreads here for more reviews!

M x


Favourite Reads of 2014

9:00 am

The Martian  - Andy Weir
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing - Eimear McBride
The Edible Woman - Margaret Atwood

Fun Home - Alison Bechdel
The Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon
Orlando - Virginia Woolf

Y: The Last Man series

Looking for Alaska - John Green
Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel

Hunger Games trilogy - Suzanne Collins

What books did you love reading in 2014? 
M x


2014 in Instagram

9:00 am

January - The month I passed my masters degree interview.

February - The month we did tonnes of hands-on classes.

March - The month Ayoade blew me away.

April - The month I turned 21.

May - The month I handed in my final essays.

June - The month I moved back home.

July - The month I passed with first class honours and graduated.

August - The month I did work experience.

September - The month I crammed in the masters reading!

October - The month the MA started.

November - The month it started getting cold...

December - The month I ended sledding at Wayne Manor.

Happy new year to you all and I hope 2015 treats you wonderfully!

M x