Sunday, 30 September 2012

Banned Books Week Giveaway

This coming week is Banned Books Week in the USA, and Sheila of BookJourney is hosting a huge event with loads of blogs hosting reviews and things. I was meant to be posting about The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I've been wanting to read for about three years but when I went to find my copy so I could read it for this, it's disappeared. I was going to post about The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie but the reason for originally wanting to post on The Perks of Being a Wallflower is that I knew that I just don't have the focus for The Satanic Verses at the moment, much as I want to read it. I currently have 9 days to go until my due date and it's all getting a little hectic around here, so this is basically my apology for the fact that there isn't actually a review up here as such.

I have lent the book to my sister though, so somebody is reading it during Banned Books Week, and there is still a giveaway. Keep reading for details! My thoughts on banning and censorship in general will be up tomorrow!

The prize for this giveaway is one book of your choice from the ALA list of frequently challenged books. There are three lists; 1990-1999, 2000-2009, and the list of banned and challenged classics. You can pick any book from these lists which is £10/$15 or less from The Book Depository. The giveaway will run until Saturday 6th October and (allowing for my due date being the next day!), I'll email the winner to get their choice of book. 

The Rules
1. To be eligible to enter you must fill in the form 
2. You do NOT have to be a follower, although obviously all followers/subscribers are greatly appreciated!
3. You must be from a country that The Book Depository ships to
4. The book you choose must be £10/$15 or less
5. Giveaway ends Saturday 6th October 2012.
That's it!

*Update* Neil Gaiman tweeted this link to a list of banned and challenged Graphic Novels this morning, which I found really interesting as it contains loads of my favourites!!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Nora Ephron and some serious Julie & Julia love

I love food. I love cooking, and I really love books about food and cooking. There's been a lot of talk about Nora Ephron of late, and my association with her is very flimsy - I pretty much knew her name from repeated watching of You've Got Mail (although I somehow still don't actually own the film!), and then when she died last year people started mentioning how her writing was hilarious and I hadn't even realised that she wrote...

Around the time that Julie & Julia came out I was in Bath rescuing a friend from an awkward situation and I had a spare couple of hours which I (obviously) killed in their awesome Waterstone's and came across Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell, on which the movie is based. I read it, loved it, and shortly after bought the movie for about £3 ex-rental in Blockbuster. I watched it, I fell in love, and that's where I've stayed ever since. 

This evening I bullied my sister into watching it, as she has no appreciation for Meryl Streep and I was trying to encourage her (it kind of vaguely worked). Also I had a bit of what turned out to be a themed impromtu trip to the library today because I knew they had I feel bad about my neck by Ephron and I wanted to grab it and give it a go to see if it was as happily hilariously awesome as her movies are, and then while  we were there I succumbed to this horrible weakness that I have for books with the word 'Club' in the title. The Friday Night Knitting Club sparked an obsessive reading of all of Kate Jacobs' novels; The Jane Austen Book Club pushed me to finally get on with reading Emma and Persuasion, The Chocolate Lovers Club inspired me to eat a lot of chocolate... You see where this is going? So if the library are going to stick a copy of The Meryl Streep Movie Club on the stand right next to the door, I am going to borrow it. It's just inevitable. And yes, I know I have far too many half started library books at the moment (library books I've started to read which are lying around the house include: The Sisters Brothers, The Pirates in an Adventure with Moby Dick, and Let's Pretend this Never Happened. Plus Let the Great World Spin is staring reproachfully at me from a chair and I really want to get to it because it sounds much better than I thought it would be...), but it will probably only take me about a day to read and that will be motivating because of my whole not having finished any books in recent memory thing. Anyway! The point of this post wasn't really to ramble about the library. I think (although the inception of the post now feels so far in the past it's difficult to remember) that was I was really talking about was Nora Ephron and how late I am to the party of her awesomeness. So. 

Awkward confessions which will probably make Ephron lovers throw stuff at me a lot: 
1) I have never read any of Nora Ephron's writing
2) I have only seen When Harry met Sally once. And that was almost ten years ago.
3) I really dislike Meg Ryan. Except in You've Got Mail. I also really dislike Tom Hanks. Except in You've Got Mail which 
4) I still don't own.

And so I've decided to do my own mini Nora Ephron project, because if my very limited previous experience is anything to go by it will be fairly easy to focus on in my imminent (1.5 weeks!!) post baby life, and because Julie & Julia makes me feel eternally happy. And hungry, but you know. Also because Amy Adams is just so cute and I want to put her in my pocket. Which is totally a legitimate reaction to have to Amy Adams. So yes. According to Wikipedia I have these things to get through:


  • Silkwood
  • Heartburn
  • When Harry met Sally (rewatch, because it's been toooooo long!)
  • Cookie
  • My Blue Heaven
  • This is My Life
  • Sleepless in Seattle (which I actually own but have never watched because it was on when I was on a train from Melbourne to Adelaide for 10 hours but I had been sleeping in a train seat all night, so I wasn't very awake)
  • Mixed Nuts
  • Michael
  • All I Wanna Do
  • You've Got Mail (I've seen it at least four times, but I still plan to actually buy a copy)
  • Hanging Up
  • Lucky Numbers
  • Bewitched 
  • Wallflower at the Orgy
  • Crazy Salad: Some Things about Women
  • Scribble Scribble: Notes on the Media
  • I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman (I have this from the library so hopefully it will get me off to a resoundingly successful start!)
  • I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections
I also have a copy of the book of Heartburn, but Wikipedia doesn't seem to think that's a thing.... :-/ So yes, library books and Sleepless in Seattle up first. I have duly added all the films (except Cookie and Lucky Numbers which they don't seem to have) to my Lovefilm list, and the books to my wishlist. We shall see how we go. 

I know there's a lot of Ephron love out there at the moment, so please tell me your favourites and where I should start!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Unfinished Series

I’ve been up since 5.50am this morning. I’m not at all happy about it, especially since my house is cold, I refuse to put the heating on when it’s not even winter yet, and my slippers are in with my hubby who is ill and sleeping. Anyway, what better way to make use of time than to make a TopTen Tuesday list, right? Would be a great plan, except my internet is currently not actually working and hasn’t been for a couple of days so when you see this post be happy for me as I will be doing an internet victory dance. Yes, it’s a legitimate thing J

1)      A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R Martin – I really enjoyed A Game of Thrones but kinda got bored somewhere in the middle of the second book. People tell me it’s worth reading and I probably will someday but the major problem I have with fantasy is that I don’t necessarily want to read eleven or twelve books by the same author in a row, and if I don’t read them in a row I tend to have forgotten what happens by the time I read the next one....

2)      The Elder Gods series by David Eddings – By the third book, I felt like I was just reading the same story over and over rehashed from ever so slightly different but not so different you’d really notice angles. And Eddings has two or three seriously infuriating phrases he overuses so much I just couldn’t anymore.

3)      Delirium etc by Lauren Oliver – I read Delirium. It was ok. I’m still not sure if I liked it enough to read more in the series. I think I preferred Before I Fall if I’m honest...

4)      Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome – I was seriously in love with Swallows and Amazons as a child. I wanted to sail away and spend my summer on an island despite the fact that a)there are very few islands where I live and b)neither I nor any of my siblings have any sailing expertise whatsoever. Anyway I read maybe three of these as a child but I’m really quite excited to get the whole series together and have a read!

5)      The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan – By now you’re probably sensing a pattern. I don’t really like fantasy series (unless they’re by David Gemmell. Or Terry Pratchett, but the Discworld doesn’t really count as they can all be read as standalones. Ditto Gemmell, so win for both of them), and especially not the ones which for some inconceivable reason seem to go on for hundreds of books. Also WOT kinda read like a bit of a LOTR rip off and as I’m a huge LOTR fan that wasn’t really a big selling point for me...

6)      Fables by Bill Willingham – OK so I break my not finishing fantasy series rule for graphic novels and I LOVE this series. I’m up to book 8 at the moment and I just haven’t had a spare £14 to spend what with baby madness and other such things...My sister just recently got a library job though and I think she’s magicked it up from her awesome resources so I may just thief it from her as she has thiefed the previous seven from me...

7)      The Cousins War by Philippa Gregory – this is another series that I really like, but I’ve slightly stalled with. The latest, The Kingmaker’s Daughter is out, but I was sent the last one for review and so read it ages ago and as previously mentioned, don’t have a lot of spare new book buying resources at the moment so I’m going to have to wait for the library to get it in I think.

8)      Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery – to be honest I didn’t really realise I’ve never completed this series. It’s another one I was obsessed with as a child (Anne is a loud redhead with an overly active imagination. I thought she was me.) but despite owning the first six books I just never got around to the last three. I recently picked up Rilla of Ingleside in a charity shop so hopefully I’ll get to it sooner rather than later!

9)      The Jackson Brodie books by Kate Atkinson – I read Case Histories and One Good Turn after watching the BBC mini - series with Jason Isaacs being awesome as Jackson.  I own When Will There Be Good News? And Started Early, Took My Dog and they are both on my list of planned reads for this year, I just haven’t got to them yet. Really not sure why as I really enjoy Atkinson’s writing.

10)   The Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich – This is probably my mostly chronically unfinished series. I’ve read the first two, I own the fourth, and the library only ever seems to have about the seventeenth. I really enjoyed the first two but I kind of hate reading them out of order so I just haven’t yet. I will get to it because they’re light hearted and kind of great and I also want to see the film because I have all of the love for Katherine Heigl. So.

And that’s my ten. I’m really surprised that I actually managed to get ten. And some are series that I actually have intention to read! Yay!
P.S - Victory dance!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Inbox/Outbox September 22nd

This is entirely stolen from Bookriot. They want us to tell them about what we've received and what we've finished in the previous week, and I would've done it in the comments like everybody else but I wanted to ramble and put in pictures so I thought better to do it here and bore everybody with it!


Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke - Sent to me by the wonderful Ellie, who is the best at ninja RAK ever. I've wanted to read this for years purely because Whoopi Goldberg recommends it to Lauryn Hill in Sister Act 2. Yes, I am that suggestible. It's teeny tiny and I'm really excited to read it!

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova - I read Still Alice by Lisa Genova a while back and really enjoyed it. I also am really interested in books about autism, as both my mother and I used to work with children with autism a lot and so I find it a fascinating subject. I was sent this by Ally from Simon and Schuster yesterday and I'm already 3/4 through it. It's beautiful.

The Hours by Michael Cunningham - I talked about how I was going to get this because of what Laura said about it earlier this week, and I immediately went and swapped for it through Readitswapit. I'm quite excited about it, and I'm also thinking I should probably watch the movie as well..


I have finished a grand total of nothing this week....

In the Queue

I'm currently in the middle of a fair amount of books. Probably more than I've read at one time for quite a while:

The BFG by Roald Dahl which I started reading for Roald Dahl Day and have (of course) managed to get distracted from despite its' awesomeness. I'd forgotten just how great it is and there is no excuse I can offer for it having taken me over a week to get nearly to the end...

Continuing the Roald Dahl theme, I've also been reading
Storyteller: a Life of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock, which is brilliant but has fallen victim to my whole 'non-fiction books take me at least a month to finish regardless of how much I love them' thing. I'm trying to keep up with it though as I'd really like to finish it, and it is realy interesting.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe which I am actually really enjoying (probably unsurprising seeing as how I have a deep and enduring love of 'stranded on a desert island' stories, especially The Swiss Family Robinson, which honestly this reminds me a bit of) but not getting very far with, mostly because I refuse to stop starting other books.

The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum is on my list for The Classics Club and I have it as an audiobook so I started listening to it this week. To be honest though, this is one that I will probably save for once the baby comes as I will hopefully listen to it and some of the rest of the series during those night time feeds!

And then finally Love Anthony which I will hopefully finish today!

Anybody else done better than me at finishing stuff this week?

Friday, 21 September 2012

Review:- The Taste of Sorrow by Jude Morgan

I talked a little while ago about how I went to Haworth and saw the Bronte Parsonage and how totally in love with all things Bronte I am at the moment, especially after reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, so when the lovely people at Headline offered to send me a copy of The Taste of Sorrow, a novel about the Bronte family, I couldn't resist! I know lots of people will probably be familiar with the story of the Brontes and how incredibly sad it is;  pretty much everybody dies, and I knew this going in, but it was still a little overwhelming in places. I was reading it while we were away on holiday and had to stop at one point because I was getting too emotional. Do bear in mind that I am currently pregnant and incredibly (I mean ridiculously) emotional, but still. It's not a happy story. 

I am an awful, awful photographer 

It is, however, very well told, and very interesting. Although there is no narrator as such it is primarily told from Charlotte's point of view, as she outlived all of her siblings, and although it is marketed as fiction, it is as informative as reading a straight biography. It's likely that I will retain more information from reading The Taste of Sorrow than I would if I'd gone to the non-fiction section and pulled out a Bronte biography, as the novel has a sense of drama and character which is not usually present in non-fiction. Also, apparently non-fiction takes me about two months to finish, regardless of how good it is, whereas this took me less than a week. Jude Morgan does a wonderful job capturing the individuality of each of the Brontes: Emily's self-contained poise, Anne's obedience and attention to her duty, and Charlotte's wildness and longings for independence. And then there's Branwell. People mention Branwell in passing, usually, or sometimes in an 'oh it's so sad, he could have been the genius of the family if not for the drinking and the drugs' kind of way, and while there is some of this feeling about it, his decline in the novel is pretty much shown as a result of his own actions. The girls are all very stoic and relentless. Branwell on the other hand, spends most of his time wallowing in what he perceives as his misfortune. It is very sad as in childhood he is undoubtedly the leader of the gang, and the inventor of their fictional world to which they all (especially Emily) return often well into adulthood. Having said that, though, I can totally see the appeal; he's a very romantic character, and in a lot of ways there's quite a bit of the Heathcliffe about him. Laura (who I apparently can no longer write a post without referencing) said that she thinks she has the hots for him, and I get it. He's a very compelling character. I think she should definitely read this book...

I knew that the school from Jane Eyre was based on real experiences, but I didn't realise how real. Two of Charlotte's sisters, Maria and Elizabeth both died from tuberculosis while attending Cowan Bridge school, where the standards of the food provided to the boarders among other things, was the cause of an outbreak of typhoid. After finishing this it just made me realise how much I need to read the rest of the Bronte books, as I could see parts of their lives which had been used in their fiction even in the limited amounts that I have read. I loved that despite the slightly despairing feeling that runs through the novel, none of the girls ever give up on each other or themselves, and I particularly loved how resilient Anne was. I've just recently discovered Anne, and as some of you will know I entirely fell in love with The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Although I loved Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, for me Tenant is just kind of kick-ass in a way that neither of the above quite are, and in this novel Anne was pretty kick-ass too. 

It's taken me SO LONG to write this review (we're talking about a month here) purely because I found it so engrossing, as I find the Bronte's themselves engrossing, and I didn't want to just go off on a totally fangirlish rant about how great they are. Unfortunately I don't think there's any way to avoid them. Basically, I'm a little bit in love with this book, with all of them, and with Yorkshire in general. 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

My New Favourite Reading Place..

In the very distant past i think I've posted pictures of my amazing armchair which I got for 99p from eBay and which was the inspiration for the title of my blog. I don't want to be 'a massive betrayer', but despite its' awesome comfyness, I am currently unable to sit in it without seriously getting stuck, so we had to get another one. 

This is my new favourite place for sitting, and my new chair (it rocks and comes complete with rocking footstool which you can just about see!), bought for the purpose of feeding the baby but already in use for general sitting as it's the only place in our house I can sit without getting backache at the moment! It's ridiculously comfy and has pockets in the side for keeping baby feeding essentials (or books...), and Rhys keeps trying to sneak it while I'm not looking. The room it's in is a little bit of a mess at the moment as it used to be our bedroom and is currently in the process of being turned into a nursery which means that it kind of has the debris of two rooms. It is brilliant though - as well as the comfy chair, the light is better in here than in any other room in the house, it's just been thoroughly cleaned so I don't get any allergic reactions to dust or anything, it has three bookcases in it, and also has awesome pictures on the wall (the one you can see above the chair is the alphabet mural we made for the baby the other day. I'm compiling a really boring baby crafts post with pictures of it and other stuff. Watch this space..). The aim was to make it a relaxing place to feed the baby during the night especially, and a place where he can play during the day as he will be sleeping in our room for the first few months, and I think we've almost achieved that. The play gym and bouncy chair are stashed in the cupboard at the moment but I'm pretty proud of both of them, as they are both second hand but beautiful :-). 

I think I'm going to need to be careful to remember that it's actually his room, not my reading room. It kind of feels like my personal library/craft room at the moment....

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Books for Baby #5

It's been a little while since I did a baby books post, and I've managed to accumulate a few more. I'm particularly impressed with this lot though, as one was free and all the others were less than £1.50 which is pretty much winning, in my opinion. 

In the picture: 

  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak - This was one of my favourite books as a child, but the problem with being the eldest of seven is that all of my favourite childhood books are pretty much owned by my younger brother, who, at age 11 is really too old for them but is clinging on to his 'baby of the family' status by refusing to relinquish them to his nephew. So I had to buy a new copy, but this came from a charity shop and is in pretty great condition so I'm not complaining!
  • The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr - I found this at a car boot sale, and the lovely lady who was selling it obviously took pity on the fact that I'd got stuck on the floor looking through the box of books and let me have it for free! Super excited because this is another favourite I've been after for a while. 
  • Threadbear by Mick Inkpen - I had totally forgotten all about Threadbear until I saw it at one of the summer fairs they have down by the seafront here. It was 75p and is in lovely condition :-) 
  • Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr - Picked this up in a charity shop yesterday also for 75p after having a mini freakout about the very small number of board books the baby actually has. Tried to explain to Rhys about the scrunching and grabbing and eating of paper which is normal around small babies and pretty much just ended up shouting 'he needs more books!' at him. He didn't look convinced...
  • That's Not My Train... - recommended originally by lovely Lyndsey, we've been looking at the seemingly endless books in this series for a while now, but every time I find a second hand one it's in rubbish condition. I've been wanting to collect only the ridiculously impossible ones (That's Not My Reindeer/Dragon/Spaceship etc), but yesterday we found this and it's in brilliant condition and was cheap. Thus the collection begins!
  • A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond - I know we have this on audiobook but I really want to own the collection of the physical books as well and I've never seen them in charity shops before. This was 75p and hopefully I'll be able to pick up the rest at some point. Paddington is quite essential, I feel. 
If you are particularly interested/can be bothered, here are parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. This may well be the last one of these I do before he is born, but to be honest I quite enjoy writing them so I may keep it on sporadically after he's here. Rhys keeps telling me to stop buying children's books as if we already own them all he won't get the joy of going out and buying his own books, but honestly, there are so many books I don't think it's possible for us to have so many he won't want to read other things as well. Also, most of mine (outside of board and picture books which obviously I have to buy for him as he won't be old enough to buy for himself) are classics, so he still has the entire of contemporary children's literature to explore for himself! 

As usual any suggestions or your personal favourites are much appreciated! 

Monday, 17 September 2012

The Classics Club September Meme

I'm sure I've mentioned how awesome The Classics Club is and how everybody should go and join it. One of the things that I love the most about it is the community aspect and the fact that the moderators are always pushing members to find each others' blogs and read reviews and offer support, and there are so many events and readalongs and things hosted by members. It's awesome to be able to read without pressure, but with kind of a cheer section I guess? Anyway, I love it. The question for this month is:
Pick a classic someone else in the club has read from our big review list. Link to their review and offer a quote from their post describing their reaction to the book. What about their post makes you excited to read that classic in particular?
I'm being predictable this month and picking a review by somebody whose blog I am continually going on about, but I swear I found the review through the review list and not through her blog! The reason I picked this review to start with is mostly that it was of a slightly different book which wouldn't necessarily be on everybody's list. Although I'm guilty of having a lot of the popular books on my list as well, it seems like loads of people are reviewing Jane Austen and the Brontes, so I went looking for something different, and I found Laura's review of The Hours by Michael Cunningham. This book isn't currently on my list, but I think I will be changing that as I've wanted to read it for quite a while and the review makes it sound awesome. This is the bit that convinced me:
even though I fear that it's another one of those things I like that other people might find pretentious (American Beauty, I'm looking at you) I just really couldn't care less. Because it's beautiful. 
American Beauty is pretty much one of my favourite films and I've been told before that it's hugely pretentious but I don't care, like Laura, because it's so beautiful. The fact that she compared this book to that film means that I must immediately get hold of a copy. Immediately. 

Because The Hours wasn't already on my list, I picked a second review of a book which already is. Honor's review of The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov convinced me that I should pick up this book sooner rather than later as it seems like it will be totally different from what I thought it would be. I'm actually not sure what I was expecting it to be about, but definitely not the Devil and talking cats! Honor says that
the 'fantasticality' was done in such a satirical and witty manner I actually found this book incredibly refreshing.
which is great, because sometimes when people stick fantastical elements into a novel it can either just turn into fantasy (which is great if that is what its' meant to be, but not so much if not...) or become slightly ridiculous. I'm really looking forward to reading this now, as the plot sounds really intriguing!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Review: - The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

The greatest thing about maternity leave is that I can go to the library whenever I feel like it. After months of it being either closed or only having the opportunity to go on my day off if we weren't doing something else, this is an awesome kind of bliss. Yesterday I ended up picking up quite a few things as the result of blogger recommendations, and as it was sunny I decided to walk to the beach (just for reference, the beach is down a big hill and then an even bigger cliff). Due to the whole 35 weeks pregnant thing, I had to rest for quite a while once I got there and started reading The Borrower, and then couldn't stop.

I forget exactly where I first heard about this book, but I know it was online and thus I blame you lot! I know I'm like a lot of people in that I absolutely adore books about books, and The Borrower is; originally set in a library, has a central protagonist who is a children's library, and is really about the escapist power of children's literature. 

Having read the book straight through in a day, I have mixed feelings about it. The story follows Lucy Hull, a children's librarian in Hannibal, Missouri, and Ian Drake, a ten year old who spends a lot of time in the library, battling with a very religious mother who only wants him to read books containing 'the breath of God' and has recently enrolled him in an anti-gay class at their church. When Lucy finds Ian camped out in the library she manages to get herself into an awkward kidnapped/kidnapper situation which is difficult to find a way out of. I really enjoyed Rebecca Makkai's writing, especially the atmosphere of the library that she evoked - it reminded me a lot of my library when I was a child, and I think that for a lot of people as children the library becomes a kind of refuge. I know that whenever I was feeling socially awkward (a lot of the time, I have social anxiety problems), or just wanted more books to read (always), the library was always the place I went, so I can totally relate to Ian. It's the place Ian finds solace and escape and the books, like Matilda that he secretly reads crouched in the corner of the library, or which he smuggles home underneath his jacket. 

It's kind of fitting that I'm trying to review this while reading about Banned Books Week in the U.S. I know that as a parent it's important to know what your children are reading and watching in terms of them not being exposed to things which will scare or confuse them before they're ready for them, but when I was a child I don't remember my mother ever stopping me from checking a book out of the library. Admittedly I usually chose them from the age appropriate stacks, but I was one of those kids who exhausted the children's section at around age ten or eleven and migrated into the adult section, and I don't remember ever being stopped. I'd like to think that I would never stop my child from reading a book if they wanted to. The problem as I see it with some parents' attitude to literature is that they don't want to discuss with their children the issues that will be raised by some books, and so they find it easier to simply stop their children from reading them. I'm not really sure that this is the way forward, but I've just written a whole post about it for Banned Books Week, so if you're really excited to hear my views you can read about them then!

The one thing that bothered me about the book is that never, at any point, is it made clear why Ian has run away. He just runs, and Lucy never asks him what he's running from. She just accepts the situation, which at times seemed a little unbelievable to me. It wasn't that the storyline was lacking cohesion so much as it was lacking purpose, and although the book was still perfectly readable, the middle did seem to drift a bit, introducing characters and events for little to no reason. That said, I loved the beginning and the end, and the characters were OK.  I didn't fall in love with any of them, but I could get along quite well with them and none of them made me want to hit things - always a plus! 

There are a lot of quotes I'd like to stick in here but they're mostly from the end and so spoilers! If you like books about books, though, I would recommend reading this, and meanwhile, I may start up a Tumblr, just for quotes... 

Friday, 14 September 2012

BBAW The Last Day!

Today is the last day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week and I am so glad I discovered it! The final prompt is to think about what our favourite part of the week was and what we have gained from it. Personally I feel like I've gained a lot from it, in the way that I always feel much more positive after participating in something that involves me reaching out to discover new blogs, talk to new people and think about things in a different way.

I think my favourite thing about this week is probably the topic for Day 1, where everybody shared their favourite blogs and I got to find a load of new ones! I recently had a huge cull of my Google Reader as a lot was piling up on there that I never really read and by bloggers I didn't necessarily have much in common with. It was good because it made me feel organised and stuff but at the same time I felt a little bit bereft, so this week has enabled me to discover some great new bloggers who read the same kinds of things as me or who just have brilliantly written blogs :-)

I also really enjoyed reading people's posts on what blogging means to them, especially people whose blogs I love and am slightly in awe of. It was really nice to know that a lot of book bloggers feel the same way about the blogging community as I do. It made me feel less of an over-emotional geek!

Mostly from this week I think it's just been reinforced to me how lovely the book blogging community is. I've had some really sweet comments from people I knew previously and people I'd never met before and I feel a whole lot better about possibly having to disappear for a while after the baby is born. Like so many people have said to me this week,the book blogging community will still be here when I get back!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

BBAW Day 4: Pimp that Book!

My major problem with today is that I wanted to be non-obvious about the books that I'm going to try to make you want to read. Therefore I can't talk about The Night Circus, How to Be a Woman or anything by Scarlett Thomas (although go out and get hold of all of the aforementioned right now!). From a blogging point of view I really should talk about The Night Circus as it's the book I would never have read without blogging, but I've mentioned how much I love it so many times that I think regular readers will be getting bored of my obsessiveness... Scarily this leaves me at kind of a dead end for knowing what to write about and I know there are tons of great books that I love and which are currently escaping me, so I'm going to peruse my shelves...

So, awesome books I would never have discovered without blogging... 

Firstly, the Fables series by Bill Willingham. I think it was on Kim's blog that I first heard about these while I was looking for something to read after finishing Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. They are a series of graphic novels based around characters from fairytale and fables who have escaped a war in their magical homelands and set up a new community in modern day New York. When I first heard the premise I wasn't sure either, but they are surprisingly gripping and great and it's quite awesome how Willingham keeps introducing new characters pretty much every book. Don't let the fact that they are graphic novels put you off either if you're not a graphic novel fan - they're beautiful and really well told and just generally great if you're into fairytale or folklore at all. I'm up to book number 8 at the moment and I've been reviewing them in groups! My reviews are here (the prequel and #1), and here (#2,3,& 4), review of 5,6, and 7 are forthcoming! 

I hate blogger today. I can't get any of my pictures to format properly and it's sticking gigantic holes in my posts so I apologise for that. Blogger - you suck. Tender is the Night, however, does the opposite of sucking. Although it had been sat on my shelf for literally years, I probably never would have got around to reading it if not for the now defunct Classics Circuit. I read it for the Lost Generation Tour and I'm so glad I did. You can read my review of it here, and see how it is basically just awesome. It's pretty much about the transient nature of everything, and about mental illness and fragility but covered up with Fitzgerald's trademark glitz and cocktails. 

So there you go, awfully formatted post, but some great books :-)

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

BBAW - What Blogging Means to Me

I love this week so much. I've been really enjoying reading other people's interviews and finding new blogs through everybody's recommendations. Today the topic is what blogging means to me. 

When I first started blogging over a year and a half ago, I wasn't really aware that there was a book blogging community as such. Yes, there were other people who also blogged about books but I didn't know that everybody interacted to the extent that they do. For me starting my blog was pretty much just a way to catalogue my thoughts about what I'd read and to have an outlet to start writing again after finishing University and relocating to a different part of the country where I felt pretty lonely. It didn't take long to realise how great other bloggers are though, and today I'd have to say that it's the community as much as my blog itself which makes blogging amazing for me. At the moment I'm not having much luck with the actual review writing, I think mostly down to the huge upheaval which is preparing to have my first baby in just under four weeks, but I love that I can keep my blog going with things like Top Ten Tuesday, The Classics Club monthly meme and events such as BBAW and Banned Books Week. 

My blog is one of my favourite things for a few reasons. Firstly because it proves to me, a chronic non-finisher, that I can actually keep up with something, and then because I'm really proud of the list of reviews that I've built up over the past 18 months. Also I am constantly evolving it in terms of what I write about. When I first started I had a very structured way of writing about what I read, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to review every single thing I read. Now, not so much. I write about the things I feel inspired to write about (and by write about, I quite often mean 'start a review and then leave it sitting in my drafts folder for months'), and lately I've been thinking that I should try to review books less and more just talk about my reaction to them, which is usually quite emotion based and as such doesn't always fit into the traditional review format. I think my writing is better when I ramble, and I love that my blog gives me a place where I can do that if I want. Likewise, if I want to talk about the crafts I've been doing lately or just rant about something, I can do that too. It's brilliant. 

Through book blogging I've 'met' some amazing people who have been ridiculously supportive of me through crisis situations, despite having no idea (and never asking) of the specifics of the situation. I've also fallen in love with so many blogs, and my wishlist grows pretty much daily as a result of all the awesome reviews and bookish lists I read on your blogs. Even if I'm having a blogging slump myself, seeing new content on certain people's blogs always brightens up my day and that is such a great thing to be part of. 

I know my life is going to change a lot in the next few weeks, but I'm really hoping that I'll be able to keep up with the blog at least from time to time. If I disappear for a while though don't worry, I will be back!!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

BBAW Day 2 - Alternative Questions

Today is interview swap day in Book Blogger Appreciation Week, but since I didn't sign up till yesterday I didn't get a person to interview. Therefore I am sort of self- interviewing and answering some questions about my reading habits!

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack? - I do sometimes, it depends on my mood. Lots at the moment, and mostly biscuits and occasionally apples and grapes. Anything I can eat with one hand, really!

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? - I used to annotate books a lot while I was at university. Since then I don't, because I tend to go a little over the top with pencil notes and end up not being able to read the books anymore, but lately I've been thinking I probably need to start at least keeping notes as I read because I think having no reference point is part of what's making it so difficult for me to write reviews that are as coherent as I'd like them to be lately.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? 
Laying the book flat open? - I mostly dog-ear my books, although I do always feel bad about it. The exception is graphic novels, which I ALWAYS use a bookmark of sorts for, although sometimes that will be whatever piece of paper I have hanging around  rather than a conventional bookmark. I used to leave books around flat open when I was a child, but then I realised that my books were falling apart a lot quicker, so I stopped that. Dog-earing is the habit I'd like to break next, as I love bookmarks and if I actually used them it would give me an excuse for collecting them!

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both? - Both, but I tend to read more fiction and read it a lot faster than non-fiction, even when the non-fiction is great. For example, I finished three fiction novels last week, but I've been reading a great Roald Dahl biography for around three weeks and am nowhere near done with it yet.

Hard copy or audiobooks? - Hard copy. I do enjoy audiobooks but I tend to use them as occassional relaxation rather than regular reading. 

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point? - I can pretty much put a book down whenever, it doesn't have to be the end of a chapter.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? - Not always, it depends how lazy I am!

What are you currently reading? - Some girly book I  can't remember the name of, Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock, and I'm just about to start a re-read of Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. 

What is the last book you bought? - The Sherlock Holmes Case Book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time? - I can read more than one at a time, again it depends on my mood. At the moment I'm feeling really unsettled with my reading, so I keep starting new books in the hope that something will grab me and hold my attention. 

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read? - I love reading on the train, because there's nothing else I should be doing, and it means I can shut off from everything that's going on around me. On that basis, probably on the way home from work just because I can read to turn off from everything that's happened during the day and just have some time for myself. 

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books? - I know my answer keeps being 'it depends on my mood', but so much of my reading does. If I'm in the mood for it, I love a good fantasy series, but I have to have the books lined up before I start otherwise I find that by the time I get hold of the next book I'll have forgotten what happened in the previous book and that's just annoying. If a book is really great, it's always nice if it's part of a series because then it doesn't have to be over, but I also love stand alone books (for example The Night Circus) because sometimes they're just kind of perfect on their own.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over? - The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. I literally push these books on people all the time. Aside from that, I also find that I recommend F. Scott Fitzgerald a lot. 

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?) - It varies. At the moment, I have categorized them by 'read' and 'unread' and then divided the unread by genre and then alphabetically within genre. 

So basically my reading habits are very much dependent on how I'm feeling at the time. And I have a lot of reading habits I'd like to break, but hey don't we all? 

Monday, 10 September 2012

Book Blogger Appreciation Week - Day 1!

I didn't realise it was Book Blogger Appreciation Week until this morning when I was flicking through my Google Reader and saw Jillian's post, and I thought, since I've actually managed to catch something on Day 1 rather than half way through, that I would actually join in for once. Throughout the week there are topics to post about, and today is Appreciation. 

In previous years there have been awards for different categories of blog. This year there are no awards but it's still all about sharing the blogs we love and sending other people in their direction and I love the idea of that. There are a LOT of blogs that I love; some of them don't even read the kind of books that I like, but the blogger writes so beautifully or interestingly about book related things, or sometimes even just about their lives and problems that it stays a favourite anyway. I thought about it quite a bit, and I think the only way to do it is to try to narrow it down to a top ten sort of thing. Although I hate to leave people out, and I undoubtedly will, I also cannot link directly to all 200+ blogs I follow in one post. You'd get bored. I'd get bored. So, alphabetically,(because that's how my Google Reader goes!) here are my top 10:

  1. A Literary Odyssey - Allie blogs mostly about her inspiring journey through 250 of the classics, as well as occassionally other books, sometimes interspersed with her own personal stories. Her blog is really well written and she also hosts some awesome events (such as the Victorian event she ran over the summer) and readalongs.
  2. A Room of One's Own - run by the previously mentioned Jillian who mostly blogs about the classics and is the founder of the awesome Classics Club (if you've not already heard about this you should really go take a look at the website!). I love this blog because Jillian is so passionate about her journey with books and she writes such thought provoking posts. Also, she is lovely!
  3. Booking in Heels - Hanna is pretty much my book twin. I don't think that I've ever read a book she loved and hated it, and our wishlists tend to coincide fairly often. She is also the first person in the book blogging community that (to use a phrase that makes me want to vomit) I really 'bonded' with. Her blog is hilarious and brilliant and I read pretty much everything she writes. She's also just generally a brilliant person, you should go visit her :-) 
  4. Devouring Texts - Laura is a fairly recent addition to my reader, and to be honest I'm not entirely sure how I survived in the blogging world without her. She blogs about other stuff as well as books, and reads a lot of Stephen King - I'll be honest, the only Stephen King books I've read are his memoir, On Writing and The Shining because my sister forced me to. Both were brilliant and I have a lot of respect for him as a writer, but I don't like horror. There. I said it. But still, her blog is really well written and interesting and funny and so is she. She's also great for entirely random twitter conversations about what we used to read in Infant school....And if you haven't already, go sign up for The Grapes of Wrath readalong that she's hosting in October. It'll be great!
  5. Dead White Guys - Amanda blogs mostly about books (you guessed it!) by dead white guys, otherwise known as the classics. She is very opinionated and sarcastic and hilarious and if I'm honest I'm a little in awe of her. She has two young twin boys, but still manages to have time to read and blog and work. I hope I can somehow manage to be that organised once our baby arrives!
  6. Delaisse - I'm having a little guilt in regards to this blog at the moment, because I said I would start reading Robinson Crusoe on September 1st and I haven't, but you shouldn't let that put you off. Mostly classics based, O also blogs about her experiences with life and literature in general and her posts are always beautiful and generally full of the fragility and awesomeness of life that they make me jealous. 
  7. Estella's Revenge - Another readalong I recently signed up for and then failed to participate in, and can I just say I'm not usually this bad, I blame my baby brain! Andi is pretty kick-ass and although her reading tastes aren't always the same as mine, I still love her blog. She has recently stepped away from the pressure of reviewing to anybody's schedule but her own (shunning ARCs and suchlike), and I love the fact that she reads, as her tagline says, whatever she wants, whenever she wants...
  8. Musings of a Bookshop Girl - Ellie is the other blogger who I actually interact with at a social level as well as just reading her blog. Again, although our reading tastes sometimes collide, often she reads stuff that's totally different from what I read, but it doesn't matter. Her blog is lovely and she writes very honestly so that reading her blog you really feel like you're getting to know her. When you speak to her, she sounds just like her blog too. Also, she owns and works in a second hand bookshop, which is totally awesome. 
  9. Sophisticated Dorkiness - run by Kim who is a newspaper editor, this was pretty much the first blog I discovered which is pretty much dedicated to non-fiction. Everything Kim reads sounds really interesting, and sometimes when I get that (stupid) feeling that my TBR is too small I go over there and browse for recommendations. Her writing is always really clear and to the point, and if I'm honest, how I wish my posts were. 
  10. Tiny Library - Sam's blog is the first book blog I ever really read, and the one which inspired me to get into blogging myself. She reviews a lot of literary fiction and prize winners and also set up the Literary Blog Directory, so if you're looking for a blog about literary fiction, head over there and have a look!
There are so many more, and I feel guilty writing this list for the people that I've missed off it even though they probably don't know that they should have been on it, but like I said I don't want to write a 200 strong list and bore everybody to tears. So there we go - it's a starting point anyway! 

There will be other posts appearing here throughout the week, providing nothing untoward happens. The schedule for BBAW is thus: 

Tuesday: interview swap (I will not be participating in this, because I signed up too late. Sigh)

Wednesday: What does Book Blogging mean to you?

Thursday: One of the best parts about book blogging is the exposure to books and authors you might never have heard of before. Pimp the book you think needs more recognition on this day. Get creative! Maybe share snippets from other bloggers who have reviewed it or make some fun art to get your message across.

Friday: Share a highlight of this year’s BBAW. Whether it’s a blog you discovered or a book you’re going to read or a way you felt refreshed, this is the day to celebrate the week!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

RAK September Sign Up

If there's anybody left in the world who doesn't know about RAK, it's a monthly event hosted by the lovely girls at Booksoulmates. Each month that you plan to participate you sign up with your wishlist, and then you pick things from other people's wishlists and send them books, and hope that somebody sends you one too. It's lovely and I think everybody should do it :-)

I didn't sign up last month, because it was the month I started my maternity leave and I wanted to figure out our financial situation a little before I committed to sending out books as I tend to get a little carried away. It's difficult to limit myself to sending just one book when there are so many people asking for brilliant ones! But anyway, last month things worked out better than I expected, so I'm back again for this month at least!

If anybody is interested, my wishlists are here and here (they're basically the same, but the second link has pictures), and if there's anybody out there who would rather send a book to the upcoming baby than me, then I totally support that and have even made him a wishlist in aid of such endeavours, which can be found here.

Telling Tales Challenge September Link up!

We are now officially three quarters of the way through this challenge! As well as links this month, can you please also let me know if you've completed the goal you set for yourself with this challenge and if you have, when you did? I'm planning things for the end of the year and this info would come in handy! When I started this challenge up I had no idea that people would respond the way that they have, so I just wanted to say thanks for your continual reading and for making it so much more fun than it would've been doing it alone!

Once again, the linky is not working. If anybody can shed any light on what I can do to make it work, I'd be really grateful but for now, please leave your link as a comment.

If you haven't signed up for the challenge and still want to, you can do so here.
The master list of all the reviews I've been given links to for this challenge is here. If I've missed off anything, please let me know and I'll add it on!
You can talk about the challenge on twitter using #taleschallenge- if I don't have you on twitter  please leave your handle in the comments or add me: @fairybookgirl.

Happy reading!