reading

The Classic Book Tag

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Boy, do I love a tag. I recently found this one over on Poppy's blog and thought I'd give it a try, as classics aren't really a genre I talk about much over here. I don't spend a lot of my time reading classics, so most of these ones I've read have been via required reading for school or university reading lists. Fortunately I've had quite a good experience with the ones I have read, but I'm definitely more of a 'modern classics' girl in reality. Take that, canon.

(Poppy's blog is also one I've only just discovered, so you should go and check her out as her writing is wonderful, and her posts are refreshingly unique to read.)


1. A hyped classic that you really didn't enjoy:

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe - Found this very hard to read, language-wise.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James - Not even remotely spooky.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad - For a short book, this felt incredibly long.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Dickens does not float my boat, unfortunately.

2. Favourite time period to read about:

The turn of the century up until the end of World War II. Yes, that is quite a long period of time.

3. Favourite fairytale:

I haven't read many fairytales admittedly. I quite like the Swan Princess, and by that I mean the film. I do have plans to read a lot of fairytales and folk tales from around the world very soon, however!

4. What classic are you embarrassed to admit you haven't read?

Inferno by Dante if that counts as a 'classic'. It encompasses so many things I enjoy, but the verse and length have been putting me off so far. Also anything by Jules Verne, and Frankenstein.

5. Top five classics you want to read next:

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Fanny Hill by John Cleland
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

6: Favourite modern book/series based on a classic:

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, based on many fairytales including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel. I've read the first installment, Cinder, and at the time of writing I'm about a quarter of my way through Scarlet. I love how they've taken the base elements of these stories, but transformed them into science fiction adventures. Cinder is a CYBORG.

7. Favourite movie adaptation/tv series based on a classic:

I loved the Sense and Sensibility adaptation with Kate Winslet (despite never having read the book), and the BBC adaptation with Gemma Arterton of Tess of the D'Urbervilles (despite never having read the book).

8. Worst classic to screen adaptation:

Dorian Gray, the 2009 film adaptation. What an unnecessary destruction of something so wonderful. 

9. Favourite editions you'd like to collect more classics from:

I really like the Vintage Classics with red spines. They always have such beautiful cover designs. (I have quite a few, see above).

10. An under-hyped classic you'd recommend to everyone:

I know all classics are hyped, and all Shakespeare is hyped, but I would recommend Richard III. I feel like it's only really been brought to popular attention over the past few years since they found him under a car park, but it's such a dark, creepy, dramatic play, and probably my favourite work by Shakespear, bar Hamlet.


***I'm not sure who else has done this tag, but I'm going to tag Jennie over at The Book Journal, Bee over at Vivatramp, and Holly over at Holly Pocket to give this a try too. Of course anyone reading can give it a go too!***

lifestyle

A (Pre-New Job) Day in the Life

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Okay, so reading this through I'm going to just add the disclaimer that on this day (8th September 2015) I was technically still a student. And technically I am just sitting around waiting to start my new job, so this is definitely not a regular day in the life. However, it was a good day with a rather productive morning. It is only now I'm realising just how good at doing nothing I am. You will read the word 'Youtube' in this post far more than is healthy.


Morning

7:03 - Snooze my alarm.
7:22 - Read new blog comments on my phone in bed.
7: 35 - Admit I need to get up. Get up.
7:39 - Breakfast. Shredded Wheat. Read the New Statesman's review of Agent Carter as I'm eating and waiting for the kettle to boil. (You see, the day does start off rather productive and cultured. This will change come lunchtime.)
7:50 - Go back to my room with a cup of tea. Start up laptop, check Goodreads and other websites, watch a Minecraft Let's Play as I'm drinking my tea. Pause at 8:05 to play with dogs.
8:31 - Wash face and make bed. Brush teeth and sort out laundry.
8:51 - Get dressed, do hair and makeup whilst listening to the most recent Cortex podcast.
9:12 - Get things ready to go into town.
9:25 - Leave the house to get cash out and catch the bus whilst listening to the most recent Joy Junkie podcast. Do chores in town, pay a cheque into the bank, other such exciting endeavors.
10:30 - Get home and make a cheese roll, along with a cup of tea.
10:56 - Blogging time. Reply to some emails, reply to comments, write two new blog posts, all whilst listening to a Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast.


Afternoon

12:03 - Youtube and general chill. I don't even know what I did here. It was one of those periods where time just seems to pass but you do nothing. Moderate existential crisis.
12:20 - Decide cake is the answer. Eat banana bread, get distracted by dogs again, and do the dishes.
13:01 - More emails, this time concerning new job. Pick up Pure to continue reading.
13:25 - Computer games.
14:25 - Oops, an hour has passed. Read more Pure, answer more emails, format my dissertation, and eat more cake.
15:25 - Make another cup of tea, listen to the window cleaner singing next door, and do a bit of a mini magazine clear-out to feel productive.
15:46 - Read Pure until I've finished (16:06) and try and decide what to read next. I chose Scarlet. A whole load of time-wasting also happened here, and I definitely spent a good twenty of these minutes thinking about Star Wars fan theories.


Evening

16:57 - Oh god, stop sitting around and do something.
17:09 - Make dinner.
17:27 - Eat dinner. Salmon and veggie noodles.
17:40 - Contemplate whether I under-cooked the salmon.
17:49 - Look after little sister whilst my stepmum walks the dogs.
18:25 - Have a bubble bath and start reading Scarlet.
19:02- More Youtube and chill. Get into my pyjamas.
19:26 - Decide to go to Tesco in pyjamas disguised as normal clothing. Buy junk food and cheap flowers.
19:45 - Yet again more Youtube (I have a lot of subs to catch up with!) and chill, this time with snacks. Take break to play more computer games.
20:42 -Wash face, make the final cup of tea of the day, watch University Challenge and shake fists at my slow network connection.
21:49 - Tumblr, shh. Also attempt to fan-cast The Raven Boys and give up when there is no-one in the world who can play Ronan.
22:46 - Laptop time in bed.
23:37 - Pass out.

Maybe I'll do another one of these once I've started my new job, then there'll be a good chunk in the day where I'm out of the house being an employed person, and then I'll learn what I actually like to do in my free time!

M x

reading

Book Review: Moomin, The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip Volume One

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'I only want to live in peace, plant potatoes, and dream!'

If you know me, you will not be surprised to hear that I love Moomins. There's something about those squishy, hippo-like trolls that just appeal to my heart, and if you give me anything to do with them, I will love you eternally (take note). 

This volume is the first of eight collections of the original black and white Moomin comic strips written and drawn by Tove Jansson from 1954-9, with her brother from 1959-61, and just by Lars until its end in 1975. This first volume contains the first four stories Tove wrote: 'Moomin and the Brigands', 'Moomin and Family Life', 'Moomin on the Riviera' (recently developed into a French animated film in 2014), and 'Moomin's Desert Island'. As you can see above, there are four strips per page and the volume itself is a gorgeous fabric hardback that just makes me want to collect the entire set simply because they'll look so beautiful together. 

We are introduced in these first four stories to a great deal of the main characters of the series, including the excitable Moomin and his parents (Moominpappa and Moominmamma, as well as their 'relations'), the greedy Sniff, the loving Snork Maiden, the adventurous Snufkin, the determined Little My, and Stinky (no description needed). My favourite has to be Snork Maiden with her fluffy fringe and incapability of making her mind up about anything. 

There's not a lot I can say about this collection regarding story as they're really something you just need to pick up and read for yourself. A lot goes on in one plotline and the hidden details of the panels themselves create a depth that is one of my favourite things about the comic medium for telling stories and including the reader. Although these are pieces of translated fiction, the comedy and witticisms of the characters remain intact, as well as their famous philosophical musings.

This collection would make the perfect gift for someone in your life who loves Moomins. If you don't have anyone in your life who loves Moomins, be that person.

M x

reading

Book Review: Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys

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It happened, everybody. It happened. I've been sucked into the world of The Raven Boys and I can't get out. My copy of The Dream Thieves is winging its way to me as I write this, never getting here fast enough. (Edit: It arrived just as I finished writing this post!)

Our protagonist, Blue (silly name, good character), comes from a family of psychics but does not possess these powers herself. Instead she can increase the intensity of the psychic power in the space surrounding her, making her a valuable asset when clairvoyance is necessary. Every year she accompanies her mother to the local graveyard to help her communicate with the 'soon-to-be-dead', only this year she accompanies her aunt, and this year is the year she sees one of them. His name is Gansey, he goes to the local private school along with all of the other 'raven boys', and Blue has no idea why she can see him. Blue has also been told by her mother that if she ever kisses her true love, they will die. What is this connection? Is Gansey her true love? Why can she see him? How is he going to die? We're all waiting for her to fall for him when they eventually meet á la young adult fantasy...

And she hates him. He's rude, privileged, and just a bit weird. She much prefers Adam, a quiet scholarship student with a troubled background, and his best friend. Along with these two she also meets the 'smudgey' Noah and abrasive Ronan, who form the four 'raven boys' of the title. They're all involved in a quest of Gansey's involving ley lines, buried kings, and psychic energy, which is how Blue comes to be involved with these boys she has always been told to stay away from.

Now, you may be put off by all of the hype surrounding this series here, there, and everywhere, but honestly, I'm not one to fall for hype and this book absolutely blew me away. I haven't been able to stop thinking about the characters since I put it down; they're crafted in such a way that fleshes them out into real human beings. They have charm and attributes that make them all noticeably different, but not to the point of becoming caricatured 'young adult book characters'. They are all absolute sweethearts and I couldn't help but wish I was taking part in their (admittedly very dangerous and, at times, horrifying) adventure. The plot takes a few chapters to get going, taking time to form these characters and the emotional bonds between them, but when it gets going, it'll grip you right until the last sentence. The story is incredibly unique and successfully dodges every young adult fantasy trope I can think of. There are some truly startling revelations that caused me to actually put the book down in order to compose myself. Maggie Stiefvater is very good at hiding things in plain sight.

If you're looking for a new fantasy series to read and want something light with a really unique plot, you should pick up The Raven Boys. I'm so glad I gave in to this hype because I know this is going to end up being a series I love from beginning to end. Please never end.

M x

reading

Read Your Bookshelf-athon (RYBSAT) #6 TBR

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RYBSAT is a readathon with an intriguing idea. You choose a spot on your bookshelf, and you try to read from that point onwards over the space of a week. This time round it's taking place from 22nd-29th September, and I don't think I can turn down the challenge. It took me a long time to find a place on one of my bookshelves that I was happy to start from. Eventually I find enlightenment on my 'borrowed from other people/sent for review' shelf, and these are the three books I decided upon:

How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran - Moran's feminist fiction outing on a teenage outcast. Borrowed from my mum. 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan - Will Grayson meets Will Grayson and they have very, very different lives. Borrowed from my boyfriend.

The Chimes* by Anna Smaill - Man Booked longlisted dystopian release on a world without memory or writing, only music. Sent for review from Sceptre.

I've only chosen three books because hopefully (fingers crossed) I'll be starting my new job this week and it'll take me a while to settle into the new pattern. How much will I get to read on my commute each day? Will I read on my break? How exhausted will I be in the evenings? How many more exciting books will I find at work? Only time will tell.

M x

reading

Short, But Sweet: Books Under 200 Pages

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I'm a big fan of quick reads, especially to break up the reading of a larger tome, so here are some of my favourite books will fewer than 200 pages, along with a quick summary of what happens in each. I've decided not to include comics or graphic novels, simply because most of those that I read are under 200 pages anyway, so they're always an option for when you need a reading boost.

Children and YA - Looking for something simple, but fun?

Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret - Margaret is a pre-teen, eager to get a bra and start her period, and torn between her mixed religious heritage.

Anything in A Series of Unfortunate Events - The incredibly talented and tragic Baudelaire orphans are pursued by the evil Count Olaf for thirteen books through reptile rooms, mills, carnivals, and more.

The Wind in the Willows - A mole, a badger, and a rat set about to fix the industrialist, capitalist wants of their 'friend', a toad.

Sci-Fi and Fantasy - Looking for a quick adventure?


The Time Machine - An English inventor decides that time is simply a forth dimension and builds a time machine, travelling back to A.D. 802,701 to the world of the Morlocks, who steal said machine.

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories - A collection of fairytale retellings in the horror genre, written with biting feminist twists.

All My Friends Are Superheroes - All of Tom's friends are superheroes. At his wedding, his wife's ex-boyfriend makes Tom invisible to her, and he must salvage their relationship.

The Invisible Man - Griffin is an invisible man. People don't like that.

The Passion of New Eve - Evelyn is a misogynist, and after fleeing to the desert he is taken in by an underground all-female cult to be reborn as 'Eve', and must learn to adjust to life as a female.

Non-Fiction - Looking to learn something new?

The Doors of Perception - Huxley drops a lot of mescaline and writes about what happens.

A Room of One's Own - Woolf's famous feminist essay and what women need in order to become free and creative: a room of one's own.

The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly - The true story of an ex-French Elle editor who becomes fully paralysed after a stroke.

Other


The Importance of Being Earnest - Wilde's comedic play on mistaken identity. Read it, as there is no simple synopsis.

The Crying of Lot 49 - Oedipa Mass goes on a spiraling journey after her ex-boyfriend dies and leaves her as co-executor of his estate. A lot of this book is about the postal service.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Mr. Hyde is roaming the streets of London, killing and destroying. But who is he really?

Les Guérilleres - An all-female society set about recreating language in order to free themselves from the patriarchy.

Herland - Three male travelers come across an all-female world hidden away, where children are created by parthenogenesis, and they're confused by how everybody is so well-adjusted because surely women can't look after themselves without bickering.

The Body in the Library - Miss Marple strikes again. There is a body in a library.

The Wasp Factory - Frank looks back on his childhood and the ritualistic inventions he creates. Death and destruction surrounds him.

On Love/Essays in Love - The process of falling in and out of love, documented.

Mrs Dalloway - Mrs Dalloway is throwing a party. Septimus Smith is shell-shocked after the war. Their feelings intersect during one summer day in London.


What are some of your favourite short reads?
M x

reading

Book Review: Felicia Day's You're Never Weird On The Internet (Almost)*

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* I was fortunate to receive a copy of this book upon request from Sphere, thank you! *

The first time I heard of Felicia Day was watching Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog during my first year of university (watch it now), and since then I feel like she's always been a part of my life, in the background of my internet browsing. She's always tweeting (2.3 million Twitter followers can't be wrong), always making something new, and always involved in something to help other people. I knew the moment I heard she was writing a memoir that I needed a copy, despite knowing very little about her other than her web presence. 

Felicia takes us on a quick journey through her life with this book, mainly focusing around how technology and the internet have been a part of her existence from the very beginning. She talks about her dabbling (see: addiction) with various online games, from unheard of 'early internet' hits to the MMORPG World of Warcraft (as if you haven't heard of it), which served as a coping mechanism for her at a point in her life where she felt out of control. Honestly, I loved hearing about her experiences with gaming and how they formed who she is today, despite her bad experiences. It served as a refreshing view on a medium that is so frequently dismissed as a waste of time, even today when gaming it at such an all time high. 

Of course, being a woman playing videogames comes with its difficulties, with Felicia dedicating a chapter to her experiences during the GamerGate...debacle? Nightmare? There isn't really a word for it. Juxtaposed with her overwhelmingly positive experiences with gaming and the internet in the past (being so easily accepted as a 'female gamer' in her early online life), it's really sad to see how some large groups of fans of this medium have become so eager for segregation and dismissive of any positive changes for women in the community. She talks in detail about the threats she received for speaking out during this time, how her home address was leaked online, and the fear she felt every time she left the house (and the Twitter attacks she received for airing these fears). It's a hard chapter to get through, but fortunately it exists within a framework of more positive tales of the online world. It's just a shame it's one of the most recent ones, not giving a huge deal of hope for the future.

The way the book is structured put me off at first, with self-created memes dotted about and a very informal conversational writing style, but after a few pages I was hooked. I felt like I was reading a blog Felicia had written for her friends, with no pretense or fakeness about it. The book is 100% Felicia in its humour, its honesty, and its nerdy references. I think if you're not hugely engrossed in internet or 'nerd' culture, a lot of her jokes will go over your head, but I also think this could be an eye-opening read for anyone unsure of why the internet or gaming can be good for anybody, and even if you don't really know who Felicia Day is. She's like the nerdy big sister you always wanted. After finishing my copy of the book, I immediately watched the whole first season of her web series The Guild, which she talks about in length throughout the book, as it was her first real step on the path to who she's become today. All I can say is: I'm hooked.

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) was released by Sphere in hardback on 13th August, so is available to buy now! You can find Felicia over at @feliciaday (and I recommend you do, because she's hilarious). She tweets about conventions, animals, being a redhead, gaming, more conventions, and conventions. 

M x

reading

On the Library Shelf #1

1:00 pm


During what I can only imagine will be my second-to-last last library trip as an MA student (I mean, I need to actually take these books BACK), I found myself browsing the shelves for some fiction to pick up and give a read before my card expired. The first section I laid my eyes on was the poetry of Plath, and I decided to rummage around there for some things that looked short and that I hadn't heard of previously. The smallness of these two volumes stood out to me and without really reading the backs I was checking them out and taking them home with me. Fortunately, these ended up being really good choices.

The first of the two I read was Frederik Pohl's The Tunnel Under the World, which I can only describe using a blurb I found online as there's a lot to be spoiled with its synopsis:

On the morning of June 15th, Guy Burckhardt woke up screaming out of a dream.

It was more real than any dream he had ever had in his life. He could still hear and feel the sharp, ripping-metal explosion, the violent heave that had tossed him furiously out of bed, the searing wave of heat.

He sat up convulsively and stared, not believing what he saw, at the quiet room and the bright sunlight coming in the window.

He croaked, "Mary?"

Pinching yourself is no way to see if you are dreaming. Surgical instruments? Well, yes -- but a mechanic's kit is best of all
I'd never heard of Pohl before, but I've been reassured he's a big name in 1950s science fiction, with Gateway being his most accessible piece. After reading this short story I'll certainly be picking up more of his fiction as it was quick to read, exciting, and has that comfortingly weird feeling surrounding it that I get when I read 1950s sci-fi. Think Wyndham in language and tone, Orwell in subject matter. If you're a fan of this genre and fancy a quick, fun, but disturbing read, I would pick this up if you can get your hands on a copy. I've tried to hunt down more details on the publishers to no avail.

On the other side of the coin we have Cynthia Ozick's The Shawl, a short story in two parts, the former depicting a woman watching her child be murdered in a concentration camp, and the latter her as an elderly woman suffering from mental illness caused by her experiences during the Holocaust. Both of the stories centre around the image of her daughter's shawl and the effect this object has on those around it. The first section is substantially shorter than the second, but, however distressing the subject matter, was ten times as beautifully written. Ozick writes in an incredibly poetic manner without the need for long dialogue or descriptions of landscape. Both stories together create a sympathetic and deeply detailed view of Rosa, the lead character, with her entire life spread out in front of you, exposed. Again, this was a very quick read, and I'd like to pick up some more of Ozick's fiction in the future.

After such a successful first attempt, I'll certainly be rummaging through library shelves for some more random finds.

M x

reading

Book Review: Melinda Salisbury's The Sin Eater's Daughter

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The joy of finding an ARC in your local bookshop means you can potentially get a super-cool early cover, and that's definitely what I got with this copy of The Sin Eater's Daughter. It's a bit odd having a book with its name only on the spine, but this cover certainly is a work of art.

This is the story of Twylla, the daughter of a sin eater, whose skin poisons all who touch it. She's taken away from her family and hired by the queen to undertake the killing of her prisoners and those who don't obey her word. The queen's son is her betrothed, so she also has to cope with the idea of an arranged marriage to somebody she's trying her hardest to guard herself from, physically and emotionally. She is protected at all times by guards who fear her, but occasionally she makes friends with those who care for her safety. When her closest friend is incapacitated, she is assigned a new guard called Lief, who has the bad habit of questioning the queen's authority behind her back. Drama unfolds, as does romance.

I really enjoyed The Sin Eater's Daughter, despite it having a very simplistic writing style and, at times, rather standard YA fantasy characters: unique heroine, troublesome hero, power-hungry queen. However, I did still find myself invested in what happened during their adventures because the story was so different to anything I'd read before. I was drawn in by Salisbury's world-building and would really love to find out some more lore in the second installment of this series, as quite a lot of exciting things were revealed towards the end about its mythology and history.

* VAGUE SPOILERS AHEAD *

I'm never happy when someone recommends a film to me saying 'it has SUCH a good twist', but I feel with books it's a different case, especially when they're well written. I'm too invested in reading the words on the page and taking the journey the author is sending me on that I don't normally speculate twists (again, when they're well written, because sometimes twists are just annoyingly obvious). All of that aside, this book had some good twists, and none of them I could have guessed. These twists leave you with a satisfyingly juicy cliffhanger ending too, with a last line to keep you aggravated for however long it takes you to get your hands on the next book. Current release date for sequel: SOMETIME next year.

Since finishing this I've been craving some more young adult fantasy, so I've picked up a couple of Sarah J. Maas books in hoping to fill the void before the sequel to The Sin Eater's Daughter comes out. I know they will.

M x

reading

Book Review: Jennifer E. Smith's Hello, Goodbye, And Everything In Between*

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* I was fortunate to receive a copy of Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between from Headline via Bookbridgr, thank you! *

Warning: Whilst not explicitly stating spoilers, some of my comments may hint at what happens throughout the book, so if you don't want to be spoiled in any way, just read up to the spoiler shield.

Clare and Aiden have been together for two years, but that might have to come to an end soon due to their departures from their home town to their colleges on opposite coasts. On the final night before they leave, Clare makes a list to help her make the decision of whether tomorrow will be goodbye forever, or goodbye for now. The list is a scavenger hunt that follows their relationship from the first time they saw each other in science class, to the moment they're sitting in the car ready to say goodbye. Along the way we meet Stella and Scotty, their only two friends who are also still in town, with Stella soon to depart to a local college, and Scotty staying put after not being accepted anywhere. A lot happens in one night, and a decision has to be made: stay together or break up?

My feelings summarised: In short, I loved this after 100% expecting not to love this. My experiences with contemporary YA haven't been the most inspired so you can understand why I'd be skeptical going into this. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the maturity of this story, and how much I rooted for the protagonists to be happy, together or apart. This book has been dubbed 'perfect for fans of John Green', but I disagree with that statement completely. The characters were what they're supposed to be, 'young adults', making grown-up decisions, with the adventures they experience being realistic and relatable to an audience in a similar situation.


*** VAGUE SPOILERS FOLLOW ***


Pros: The characters. The stand-out character for me was Scotty, because when it comes to the time of leaving home and going to university, everybody either has a Scotty or is a Scotty, the person left back in the home town whilst all of their friends go off on new adventures. His actions seemed the most justified throughout and I found him a really believable representation of somebody unwilling to express how upset they are being left alone, resulting in them getting in a lot of trouble. I also really liked the two leads, Clare and Aidan, as their mature approach to the situation they're in was refreshing. A lot of young adult literature I've read involves teenagers making poor decisions due to just not thinking about consequences. Clare and Aidan weigh up their options like adults, knowing what is best for either of them individually might not be best for them as a couple. I did feel like I was reading about the decisions of grown humans, rather than the very young-sounding protagonists I've found so difficult to relate to in John Green novels. 

Cons: The cover. Yes, nothing to do with the story, just the cover. There's something about pink and black as a combination that really grates me. I don't know if it's some sort of memory of my teenage years and pink/black knee high socks, but I look at it and it screams emo MySpace, something none of us really need to be reminded of. That aside, I do like how all of Jennifer's books have been re-published with matching 'bright colour and black' colour schemes, it's just a shame this pink and black one rubs me the wrong way.

Other comments: The ENDING. That ending actually hit me, completely out of nowhere, right in the heart. It was what I found Eleanor and Park was trying to do, but just didn't work for me. 

The trade paperback of Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between was released by Headline on the 1st September, so you can grab your copy now! I'm definitely going to be picking up some more of Jennifer's books after enjoying this for a bit of low-key, more-mature YA fluff.

M x

personal

A (Very Positive) Long-Overdue Life Update

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Flicking through some old blog posts, I stumbled across one from July last year titled 'Some Saturday Thoughts' and it really struck a chord with me just how much things have changed over the past year, and just how much I enjoyed writing personal posts on my blog in the past. So here we go: a personal post. Hopefully, the first of many.

As I write this, I'm on the verge of handing in my MA dissertation! In my linked post I found hiding in the archives, I hadn't even started the course yet, and I can hardly remember what that feeling was like. I remember being nervous, and I can safely say to past Megan that there is little to be nervous about. My grades have been pleasantly surprising, everything I've studied has been fascinating, my dissertation has been such a joy to work on, and I've made a handful of wonderful friends either through classes or through the people I've met in classes. It'll be a shame to leave such a wonderful establishment after a very quick year, but what a year it's been.

In the past post I was yet to have found a job, and little did I know it would take until January for me to find one, and then I found two! After working at both of those jobs for seven months and eventually quitting in order to search for something more permanent, I'm happy to announce that as of September I will officially be employed in a library. A LIBRARY. Of course as an English graduate I'm working at a library.

Other exciting news is that a paper I've written has been accepted for me to read at a conference later in the year, which is something I've never experienced before, but there we go. New experiences abound! I'm not really one for public speaking but I know it'll be incredibly rewarding once it's over. Hopefully it will also get me in a mindset for deciding whether I definitely want to work towards a PHD in the future (current thoughts: YES).

I'm so happy with the way things have developed in the past year and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes in the future. Maybe books. Probably books.

M x

reading

Oops: A Book Haul

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Another week, another book haul. I think a book-buying ban, or at least a bit of a bookshelf cleanse, is in order. Having only recently (within the past four or five months) acquired two new bookcases and already filled them up, I think I need to chill out. However, this was a rather celebratory book haul as I have been offered a new job! Of course it's library-related, and I'm absolutely over the moon, hence the slightly manic spending.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas - I've finally picked up my first Sarah J. Maas book, and of course I was going to start with the Throne of Glass series. I have never heard a bad word about this and it appears the books only get better as you work your way through. I'm all up for eighteen-year-old female assassins. And yes, I got the good cover.

Tales of Hoffman by E.T.A. Hoffman - During a second-year theory assignment I stumbled upon the world of Hoffman and ever since I've been meaning to delve more into his sinister and spooky tales. I'm really happy to finally have my hands on one of his collections, found at the back of my local bookstore for £2.

All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki - Having only heard about this book from Jen Campbell, I was surprised to see this in the second hand section also. This is the tale of Yumi who returns to her hometown after running away at age fifteen to deal with her dying parents. It sounds like a very odd read, as alongside this story is another of political activism after her old farming community has been taken over by 'Agribusiness.'

Gwendolen by Diana Souhami - After seeing this book and discussing with my mum nearly ten times about how we need to read this, I've bought it! Gwendolen is the heroine of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, and now exists in her own standalone novel, forced to care for her whole family when their fortune is lost. She's a rider, an archer, and overall badass, but must decide what is best for her and her family when a wealthy aristocrat proposes. I'm yet to decide whether I want to read Eliot's book before this.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood - More Atwood for my collection. How could I ever turn this down? This piece of dystopian fiction is the first in her MaddAddam series.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas - More Sarah J. Maas, as I seem to already have faith in her writing despite never having read any of it. This is basically a Beauty and the Beast retelling with more magic, sex, and inevitably more drama. My need for female-driven young adult fantasy at the moment is insatiable. 

All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West - I know nothing about Vita Sackville-West other than the fact she was a lover of Virginia Woolf, but the synopsis of this book also won me over. Lady Slane, aged seventeen, wishes deeply to become an artist, but instead gets married, mothers several children, and is then widowed seventy years later. She moves away to Hampstead and meets an odd assortment of people who teach her that passion comes with the freedom to choose what you want. 

Please let me know if you've read any of these books I've picked up and what you thought of them!
M x

reading

August 2015 Reads

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It's been quite the reading month, this August, with two read-a-thons and whole lot of procrastination as it came closer to the end of my dissertation. For a round-up of what I've read this year so far, including a more detailed look at August, you can look at my reading challenge over on Goodreads.

I read a handful of books this month that aren't pictured above, either because they're ebooks or borrowed from somebody else, but those were the following: Brian K. Vaughn's Saga Volume One; Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret; Junji Ito's The Enigma of Amigara Fault; Emily Carroll's Through the Woods; Ali Smith's Girl Meets Boy; Kathleen Founds's When Mystical Creatures Attack; and 17 Lists That Will Change Your Life.

For me, the standout books of the month were Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist (which I reviewed here), Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, Philip Matyszak's The Greek and Roman Myths (review coming soon), Melinda Salisbury's The Sin Eater's Daughter (review coming soon), Andrew Kaufman's All My Friends Are Superheroes (which I reviewed here), Joe Meno's The Boy Detective Fails (which I reviewed here), Brian K. Vaughn's Saga Volume One, and Emily Carroll's Through the Woods

I'll be un-hauling Scroobius Pip's Poetry in (E)Motion (I love you Pip, but this just wasn't interesting for me), Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five (see my Booktube-A-Thon post for more details), and Dads are the Original Hipsters (a Tumblr should not be a book).

You can find wrap ups for Booktube-A-Thon here and Bout of Books 14 here

Let me know what you read over the course of August and what you thought!
M x

reading

A Selection of eARCS on my TBR

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Uh oh, I knew this would happen as soon as I started requesting eARCs. It began so well, but now I'm overwhelmed with choice and putting myself on a request ban (unless something monumental appears like a new Neil Gaiman, fingers crossed) until I lopped this list down. Here is a selection from my e-TBR shelf that I'm the most excited about reading, and they appear to all have absolutely beautiful covers. Don't judge a book, and all that.


Holy Cow by David Duchovny - Mulder from X-Files wrote a book about a cow. No more details are needed, really.

Piper by John E. Keegan - Piper's mother drowns in her husband's boss's jacuzzi. A cover-up follows.

The Children's Home (January 2016) by Charles Lambert - A group of children arrive at the door of a disfigured heir and his doctor. Mystery and revelations for fans of Shirley Jackson and Neil Gaiman. Creepy creepy creepy.

Roseheart: A Novel by Catherine Dehdashti - Valerie and Naveed are only just getting things together when Naveed's mother arrives along with many a secret. She's disapproving and Valerie must decide whether she wants to submit, or do things her own way.


Old Green World by Walter Basho  - The world is a forest 4000 years after the apocalypse. A new group grows within civilisation, planning to storm the forest and tame it. 

A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz - Fairies v gnomes v tightropers in a YA fantasy about loyalty and friendship. FAIRIES.

What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor - Milo is nine years old and is suffering from a condition that will eventually blind him. When his grandma succumbs to dementia, the grown-ups around him start to conceal the truth.

Everything You and I Could Have Been If We Weren't You and I by Albert Espinosa - 'Can you imagine a future where everyone has given up sleeping?' Enough said.


The Determined Heart (September 2015) by Antoinette May - A historical fiction based on the relationship between Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley, and how she came to create her Frankenstein.

Days of Awe by Lauren Fox - In one year, Isobel's husband leaves, her daughter grows apart from her, and her best friend dies in a car accident. The year is unraveled in front of us.

Young Babylon (September 2015) by Lu Nei - Set in 1990s China, Lu Xiaolu must adjust to the economic expansion of his country and all that goes along with it.

The Artificial Anatomy of Parks by Kat Gordon - Tallulah is 21, living in a grimy bedsit, when she hears the news of her father's heart attack. A story of estranged family and betrayal.


The Corridor by A. N. Willis - The first installment in new YA sci-fi series. Stel lives in a world where 'the corridor', a portal leading to a Second Earth, is normal. But her people are afraid of the 'Mods' who live on the other side.

Darkhaven by A. F. E. Smith - Ayla reluctantly takes her place on the throne of Darkhaven, and is then accused of murdering her father. Myrren is the only person who believes she didn't do it. 

Stones by Polly Johnson - Coo wishes her alcoholic brother was dead, then her life would be a lot easier. One day she meets a homeless alcoholic on the seafront and the two force a new friendship. 

A Hoarse Half-Human Cheer by X. J. Kennedy - 'In this sinister comedy, the mob blackmails a pedophile priest in order to take over his lucrative charity, The Children’s Crusade. Events follow fast: a car-bombing, a fiery holocaust, an exorcism that ends in terror, a raid on a brothel, a college commencement that turns into a shoot-out, a play-off basketball game in which rival gamblers have bribed both teams.' Wow.

If you've read any of these, let me know what you thought of them, or if you're planning on picking some up soon! 

M x

reading

Book Review: Joe Meno's The Boy Detective Fails

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This book was one of those books you have lying around on your shelves for several years, and when you finally come to read it, you really regret having left it there for so long. The story was always there, in the varying rooms I packed and unpacked my bookshelves over the past four or so years. I don't remember why I bought it, or what year, only that it's always sort of 'been there' in recent memory.

Billy Argo is the boy detective, the best around. Throughout his childhood he solved the mysteries and murders of his town along with his sister, Caroline, and their friend. They were spoken about in the press, praised as heroes, and the boy detective was never wrong. Once Billy headed off to college to study for his degree (and study he did), Caroline attempted suicide. She survived. Caroline attempted suicide again, and this time she was successful. This is the one time in his life that the boy detective would fail. The one question he couldn't answer: why did Caroline kill herself?

The story picks up with Billy aged thirty, recently released from a home for the mentally ill, but living there due to his fear of fully reentering the outside world. The mystery of Caroline's suicide is still one of the few thoughts filling his brain, and he sets about as the boy (man) detective once more, experiencing all the adult world has to offer: call centre jobs, complicated romances, and run-ins with ghosts from the past. He befriends two small children, Effie and Gus, and sets about helping them with their mystery: why does my bunny have no head? This is what sets him down the rabbit hole (ha) of madness that takes up the main thread of the novel.

The Boy Detective Fails is a masterpiece, no exaggeration. If Wes Anderson wrote a detective novel, this would be it. It's full of twee detective kits, headless ghosts in suits, buried treasure, full-pink ensembles, mysterious phone calls, bad wigs, science fairs, pickpockets, gentle giants, supervillains, disappearing buildings, and anything else completely bizarre you can name. Along with Meno's fiendishly easy-to-read writing, the whole thing whizzed by for me in a sunny afternoon and I'm so eager for more. It's heart-warming, like receiving a fuzzy hug from Mr Fox, but not without its darkness, clearly dealing with topics of suicide and mental illness, but, in my opinion, delicately and respectfully. 

I've seen nothing about this book anywhere else in the blogging world, which is understandable as it came out in 2006 and seems to only have 2,550 ratings, which is very low for a book nearly a decade old. I urge you all to read it as it was such a unique and beautiful experience.

M x