Thursday, 29 August 2013

RIP VIII or My Intentions to Read Outside My Comfort Zone...

I have been reading in the vicinity of the R.I.P (Readers Imbibing Peril) Challenge the entire time I've been blogging. It is run by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings, who is very nice and pops up on Twitter from time to time where we have discussions about such things as how awesome old book smell is and other such randomness. His annual Once Upon a Time challenge was the original inspiration for my Telling Tales Challenge, and every year I've wanted to participate in R.I.P and every year I've wussed out. But not this year!

The combined forces of Laura and Charlotte have convinced me that I should just do it, and upon perusing (I love that I just used perusing in a sentence) my bookshelves I have discovered the following few books that I think will fit the bill: 

The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter - I did my dissertation on Carter and it's actual horrendous that I haven't read this yet. Also all of her stuff is a little gothic and at least a little creepy, so it should be great!

The Lost World and Other Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle 

Also I have a collection of Edgar Allan Poe somewhere which I can't currently find, and that will be making its' way in as well aaaaaand I am officially stating my intention to join in on the group read (or in my case, re-read) of Elisabeth Kostova's The Historian which I read and loved a few years back :-) 

So I guess that means that I'm intending to do Peril the First? Or Peril the Second and the Short Story? I am a little confused, but either way the intention is there, and I am excited! 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge Day 2: Bedtime Reading

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge | Good Books And Good Wine
The prompt for the second day of the Book Blogger Challenge, hosted by Good Books and Good Wine is about bedtime reading rituals. From as early as I can remember my parents read us a story every night, or my dad would tell us a 'made up story', which were the best and I'm still trying to get him to let me proofread them and 'publish' them for Benji, so that got me into the habit of reading at night very early on. As soon as I could read to myself I used to beg to keep the light on for just ten more minutes and read just one more chapter. I also used to keep my current read in the end of my bed, with my stuffed toys. Not a lot of my childhood books have survived...

In terms of bedtime reading as an adult, I go through phases. Honestly, on nights when I'm at home I wish I could just go to bed about 9:30 and read for a couple of hours before I sleep. As it is, I'm mostly using my evenings either to actually see Rhys, or to craft/network like a crazy person for my business and so I don't generally get to bed that early at all. That said, I do still usually read for at least an hour once I'm in bed, which generally just means that I am knackered the next day, but better knackered than no reading, right?

I know that I sleep better when I read before I sleep. I always wake up feeling more rested. Back in the days before I got married, I would quite often come in in the wee small hours, a little bit the worse for wear and fall asleep in front of episodes of Friends or Gossip Girl which was nice, but I always woke up feeling like I hadn't slept, whereas now I get probably the same amount of sleep but a) I'm not drunk, so I don't wake up hungover, and b) I read before bed rather than watching a screen and that helps my mind switch off a lot faster, so it's all good. 

I may start to give myself a bedtime again, though, and go to bed half an hour earlier than normal with a hot drink to give myself time to wind down :-) I'm reading so many things at the moment, it would be nice to have a bit of quality time with some of them!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 1 - Confessions

I've been seeing this on various people's blogs, and as you may have noticed I've lost my blogging mojo a little bit lately. I'm hoping it'll return now my internet is back up and running, but just in case it doesn't it seems like this challenge might help! It was created by April of Good Books and Good Wine and is a pretty brilliant idea. There's a different topic for every day (see the button) and the topic for Day 1 is Confessions.
15 Day Book Blogger Challenge | Good Books And Good Wine

I'm not sure that I have 15 book related confessions, but I'll do my best. Here goes!
  1. I am incredibly judgemental of those books that everybody reads (The Davinci Code, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, 50 Shades of Grey etc). I can't help it. It's not that I feel like my reading tastes are better than other people's, it's just that when you see people reading some of these books and then hear some of the things coming out of their mouths, it's really difficult not to judge. I know it makes me a terrible person, and I'm working on it. If people who don't normally read at all are reading, that's absolutely great. This is totally my issue and I need to get over it. That said, although I read the first two I mentioned (the first was kind of rubbish, the Steig Larsson series I loved), I really don't want to read 50 Shades. I borrowed it from my friend because I felt like I should find out what the hype was about, but... I have 900 books in my house I actually want to read. 
  2. I love chick lit. Seriously. Aside from the authors whose every book I pick up because I know it will make me feel happy, about every two or three months I just go round the library picking up everything with a pink/glittery cover or that has pictures of shoes or handbags or beaches on it. It's that shallow, and no, I'm not ashamed.
  3. I liked the film of The Perks of Being a Wallflower more than the book. And I'm not too worried about liking films more than books, if they're better. The ending was just lovelier. 
  4. I really love having so many unread books. I often start reorganising my shelves just so that I can sit amongst piles of books, flicking through the first few pages of things I'd forgotten I'd even bought. 'Often' is less so since I had Benji, but he loves his bookshelves too, which brings me to number 5..
  5. I have bought more books for my child than he can reasonably be expected to read. If I keep up the rate of purchase (and I somehow manage to, despite being skint and having no room) he will have to move out of his room aged about 3 as the books will have taken over. He loves them, though. He takes them off the shelves and 'reads' them (sits and turns the pages over, and hardly ever even eats them now!) and I am so proud. 
  6. I have a serious library addiction. Kent library services let us take out 30 books per card, so that's 30 for me, and 30 for Rhys (who almost never uses his card) AND 30 for a 10 month old who only ever gets three books out at a time. When we first moved I couldn't imagine who could ever need to take that many books out at a time. Now I'm getting dangerously close to the limit. I had to make myself a Library Books box to keep track of them all. 
  7. I always, always over pack on books. Even if I'm going away for two days, I'll take at least 3 books. In everyday life I always have two books, usually more. My bag is really heavy. 
  8. I love other people's bookshelves. The first thing I look for in other people's houses is their books, and my favourite kind of people are totally cool with me being ridiculously nosy!
  9. Considering I read so much, I'm stupidly incapable of remembering anything about anything. I often totally blank when asked what I'm currently reading, or even what my favourite book is. Then I feel like a moron. Argh. 
  10. I dog ear books, really badly. And there is no reason for this because...
  11. I have a huge collection of bookmarks :-/
  12. I borrow books from family and keep them for months. In my defence, I never do this with friends, or with books somebody really loves. In these cases I make sure to read the book straight away and return it, but I have a couple of books I borrowed from my mum two years ago and still haven't go around to. She usually just buys me my own copy of stuff she thinks I'd like when she finds it in the charity shop now!
That's about it I think! There's much more judgement in there than I'd like, but such is life I guess, and in reality, I'm a much more judgemental person than I'd like to be, so it's just a reflection of reality! 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

I'm Back and I Have Broadband! (and Cookies)

GUYS! Our Broadband arrived today and IT'S AMAZING. There will probably be a lot of capitals in this post and exclamation marks, in fact I kind of feel like I need a GIF with somebody dancing, except I know absolutely nothing about GIFs or how to get them or make them work or anything. So never mind, but the capitals. Yes. There will be capitals. 

I haven't had access to broadband internet since we moved to Kent, so pretty much three years ago. I don't know if most people will be able to understand the level of excitement contained in this house at the moment. We gave up our TV licence a couple of months back, and the excitement of having iPlayer and 4oD back is compounded by the fact that we can play the shows on the Wii and thus it's as if we were actually watching TV, except minus £150 a year. Also, all our internet access since the move has been either via the stupid BTWiFi 'hotspot' (i.e. if the neighbour whose connection provides the hotspot goes on holiday or turns off their modem for any reason or if it's sunny or windy or snowing in Thanet our internet connection dies) or the library, which is great but a bit full of sweaty old men also using the computer/trying to chat me up :-/ Anyway! Those days are now over and I can type all my randomness at my own leisure without having to think about whether I've remember to transfer posts to memory sticks and whether I have the accompanying photos also on the memory stick. I can find my email again. I can visit all your blogs again and actually comment without getting halfway through and giving up when autocorrect tries to change 'hello' to 'death' or something equally ridiculous. 

Basically, I'm back, I have a full sized screen, a (hopefully) reliable internet connection and I love it. I'm off to comment the hell out of all your blogs :-D

Friday, 16 August 2013

Miniminimini Reviews!

While I was away, as previously mentioned, I read quite a bit. However on returning I’ve found myself without the momentum to actually write proper sized reviews of any of the books, so with the exception of The Girl Who Fell Below Fairyland and Led the Revels There which I am absolutely determined to do full justice to, here are some tiny, bitesized reviews which are really more just my thoughts/opinions. There will be no pictures, due to previously mentioned internet rubbishness!

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
I feel bad about this, because Un Lun Dun was good enough that it really deserves a full review, but I just know with my motivation and internet connectivity the way they are at the moment, if I don’t include it in this post it will just sit on the side and never get reviewed and I’d rather say not enough about it than nothing at all.
It’s another book about a parallel London, and is in lots of ways vaguely reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, in the best of all possible ways. Aimed at a slightly younger audience, the protagonist is a young girl, Deeba, and the book follows her adventures in UnLondon and her quest to save it from a terrible oppressor. It has some gorgeous passages, especially the one where Deeba finds her way to UnLondon by climbing up the shelves of books in a library. This was the passage which first made me want to read it when I read it in The Library Book, and I can report that if you like Neverwhere, or really any kind of fiction in which anybody saves stuff from bad guys (Harry Potter, anyone?) then you should be reading this. Thank you Charlotte for sending it to me!

Second Chance by Jane Green
I bought this on holiday, and it was pretty much a Jane Green book. A little deeper than a lot of her ‘chick lit’ counterparts, this novel follows the story of schoolfriends who haven’t seen each other for years, reunited after the tragic death of another of their friends. I enjoyed it, and I read it in a day, so that was good, but it wasn’t as good as The Love Verb, or other of her books that I’ve read.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Again, I’ve tried to write a full review of this, but it seems that John Green is destined to be woefully underappreciated in print on this blog. He is definitely fully appreciated in actuality, although the words never make it to paper. The Fault in Our Stars is about 16 year old Hazel, who is living with terminal cancer; her life prolonged by a ‘miracle’ drug which doesn’t work in 70% of people. When she meets Augustus Waters it seemed like this was going to be a typical ‘boy meets girl’ type thing, and it was, but it also wasn’t. The story is really about expectations, and what drives people to behave the way that they do, and what kind of effect knowing that you’re going to die has on the way you live your life. And because it’s John Green, there is a slightly unexpected twist, and it is beautifully written. Obviously.  Not my favourite of his (I think An Abundance of Katherine’s still holds that title, but I still have Paper Towns to go) but definitely good and thought provoking.

The Accidental Marriage by Jane Green
Found it in the library and since I seem to be on a bit of a Jane Green kick at the moment and hadn’t read it I thought I should pick it up. It’s about two women living on opposite sides of the country who seem to have nothing in common, until they both discover a life-shattering secret. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Second Chance, but it was ok, although I did have one of those moments half way through where I suddenly realised exactly what was going to happen, and there were no surprises after that. Again, it was pretty solid and fairly enjoyable. Nothing really amazing about it, but not a waste of time.

Wedding Tiers by Trisha Ashley
I really liked this book. It’s about Josie, living in a small country village with her childhood sweetheart, Ben, and living self-sufficiently in a house left to her by her Gran. It’s a pretty typical book of its’ genre, but the characters were likeable (and hateable when you needed them to be!) and there was loads of self-sufficiency (which is my current kick, as some of you will know!), recipe related stuff, and talk of cakes as Josie makes wedding cakes. She also starts up a wedding business with her friend, and we all know I love a bit of ‘creative female entrepreneurs doing it for themselves’ in a book. Silly, happy, fun with hens.

So there we go. I think I’m up to date now, and feel good because there’s finally some book related content on the blog! I really do miss it, but I love that I’m still reading (and posting lists!) and I’ve never let the blog pressure me before, and I’m not about to start now!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The (Sort of) Return

I’m sort of back. Although I got back from holiday a couple of weeks ago, we still have no internet in the house. Hopefully that will change on 20th when we’re due to finally get broadband, but there may be some extenuating circumstances which could delay it, so we’ll see...

Without internet access I’m finding it really hard to be organised enough to get all the stuff written that I need to. Every time I sit down to write a review I swear my brain just shuts up shop for the day and refuses to do any forming of coherent sentences and the like. I may just do a load of mini reviews to get the current pile out the way and start fresh once I have access to unlimited browsing on a proper sized screen which doesn’t have a stupid touch keypad attached to it! I swear I didn’t realise how awesome laptops with keyboards are until my only internet access was through a stupid touch screen phone which is rubbish at the best of times and totally useless at the worst. Most of the time I can’t even be bothered to do anything which could be vaguely termed ‘interacting’ on it, or I get half way through a comment or tweet or something and it freaks out and starts trying to get me to voicedial someone and I end up throwing it at the wall. So if you were wondering where I’ve been the past couple of weeks, I’ve been screaming at inanimate objects...

The internet is now refusing to play ball. I had a whole post about all the books I bought on holiday (there were 19) but it now refuses to let me upload ANY OF THE PHOTOS. If I die of stress, the internet will be the cause. So there we go. This was going to be a post full of book porn, but instead what you have is me, basically saying I'm back... but not really.

If you're interested in craft, I'm starting a UK crafter of the week feature on my craft blog and have some seriously talented people lined up. The first one goes up on Monday, provided I can upload the photos to it, and I have some mini reviews for the blog so I can finally get some bookish content back up. I miss blogging SO MUCH but without internet access there's no way to maintain it to any decent level. I'm always rushed and stressed and end up posting crap or just getting so stressed out I give up all together. Keep your fingers crossed the broadband guy actually turns up on Tuesday and gives me back the ability to browse. 

I miss you guys :-( 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

The Weekly List #4: My List of Mood Boosting Books

Last week I posted The Reading Agency's most recent list of mood boosting books, and then I went and sat down and tried to write a list of books which, on repeated reading, have never failed to put a smile on my face once I've finished with them. You should go and do the same, seriously, it's harder than it sounds... Here's what I eventually came up with:

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

The End of Mr Y – Scarlett Thomas

Harry Potter – J.K Rowling

Anne of Green Gables – L.M Montgomery

The Railway Children – E. Nesbit

Little Women and sequels – Louisa May Alcott

Quentins – Maeve Binchy

These Old Shades – Georgette Heyer

About a Boy – Nick Hornby

Chocolat – Joanne Harris

Anything featuring cupcakes or chocolate by Jenny Colgan

Anything and everything by Noel Streatfeild, but especially Ballet Shoes, A Painted Garden, The Growing Summer and Apple Bough.

How to be a Woman – Caitlin Moran

Things by Bill Bryson are also generally a good bet.

Matilda – Roald Dahl

I realised after a while that the vast majority of these books are either children's books, or books I read when I was in my early teens. I wonder whether that's because kids books often have a more optimistic subject matter or are more humorous? Or just because of the time of life I was at when I read them; do they make me happy because I was less jaded and cynical when I read them? I'm not sure, but I'm inclined towards the latter way of thinking... What would be on your list? And if you do accept my challenge and write one yourself, please leave a link to it in the comments so I can have a look!