Saturday, 10 June 2017

Books I Read in May!

I had a pretty good reading month in May! I was completely expecting to come back with another two or three book month because I had deadlines and health stress, but I think after having such a disastrous April, I needed to read some good books! Three of the eight were audiobooks which might've helped too because I can listen to them when I'm really poorly.



A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Who got taken in by the new Audible audiobook editions of the Sherlock Holmes books read by Stephen Fry? I did! I snapped those babies up as soon as my monthly credit came through and immediately dived in.
The thing is- I'm not sure I like the books as much as I like the idea of the the characters? A Study in Scarlet was definitely the most interesting account of how Sherlock solved the case of the two novels and the bunch of short stories I've listened to so far. I'm always interested in the observations and deductions. There was such a tangent to tell the backstory though. It was just a weird anti-Mormon tirade that kept going, and it didn't even add anything. Motive is important. But I didn't understand why I needed the history of the Mormon religion with it.
"One's ideas must be as broad as nature if they are to interpret nature."


The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Oh boy, the racism. I get it, it's the time period that it was written in but it was really uncomfortable. And the quote from Sherlock; "Women are never to be entirely trusted", at least Watson brushes this off but it really held no purpose to the story apart from alienating me as a reader.
As far the story though, it was pretty interesting. The motive tangent in this one wasn't as long or as monotonous as A Study in Scarlet at least.
"-I never guess. It is a shocking habit- destructive to the logical faculty."


Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer Worth
I've been reading this for months. I checked my Goodreads and I started it in February. That's a long time to be reading the same book, but it's also a long time for me to not completely give up and relegate it to my 'paused' shelf.
I really enjoyed the first book. But it had a lot to do with the format; short chapters encompassing a whole experience, while the book itself slowly moves forward along in time. This second book was written in such a different way that I looked in the acknowledgements, and even Googled, to find out if there was a ghostwriter. If there is, it hasn't been talked about but this is written like a fiction book rather than a collection of memories. It just didn't work for me in the same way. There was so much obviously fabricated because I really doubt that some of the people written about talked about their stories, and definitely not in the amount of detail this book wants you to believe. It's a shame because I want to know about Jennifer Worths life and how that was affected by the people she treated, not fictionalised histories where she plays a minor background role.
However, I've flipped through the next book and it does seem to go back to the format of the first book so I'm not put off yet!
"-The more I read, the more ignorant I realised I was. I devoured history like other chaps devoured booze."


The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
This is the only book I ended up reading from my A to Z Readathon TBR and it really deserves a full review like book one and book two because I loved it and have so many thoughts and feelings!


Not Your Average Nurse by Maggie Groff*
I wrote a full review here!


Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation and GPS Technology by Caroline Paul and Wendy MacNaughton
Lost Cat was so cute and I have a review coming with pictures posed with my cats. Because of course.


The Child by Fiona Barton*
I read and reviewed The Widow by Fiona Barton last year. This is being published at the end of June and I'll be writing a full review to follow that trend!


The Martian by Andy Weir
I listened to the audiobook of The Martian at the beginning of May and I liked it. The protagonist Mark Watney was funny and totally the type of guy whose diary log I can listen to for eight hours. I much preferred his first person segments to the prose style when Weir wrote of the characters back home, but maybe that's the podcast-fan in me. I listen to a podcast similar to this and it's just kept going, no ending in sight. Whereas all I get are feelings of disappointment that the ending was so abrupt from The Martian, it could've given us way more. Watney is also living my best life with all those potatoes, I don't know what he's complaining about!
The thing is, I listened to this at the beginning of May and now that it's a month later- I know I'm never going to listen to it again which is rarely my experience with audiobooks!
"How come Aquaman can control whales? They're mammals! Makes no sense."


What did you read this month?

Friday, 26 May 2017

Books I Read in April!

Please don't look at the date because this is extraordinarily late. But that accidentally rhymed so- it all evens out, right? I finished four books in April and three of them were one/two-day-reads. Most of my reading time was taken up listening to the audiobook of my new favourite, Lolita. And boy, I'm going to need an entire post to unravel that one!


Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
I loved this book. I loved it. And I have a lot of feelings about it that I need to write so look out for that.


The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend
So it got to the 19th and I realised I hadn't finished an entire book so far in April. So I looked at the 500+ books I have on my TBR and picked out something I knew I could read fast and would probably enjoy. I might've been a little off with my choice.
Don't get me wrong, I read this fast (in a day) and it was entertaining to a degree but I got to the end of the book and was like- okay. Even now, I really can't really think of anything to say. It's a diary by a 13 year-old boy who is just a real rat bag. It has some really dated and offensive terms considering it's only 30+ years old. For example, Adrian wishes his father wouldn't wear an apron while cleaning because "he looks like a poofter in it". And Pandora has long hair "like girls' hair should be". Urg.


The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend
I'm not one for continuing series if I don't love the first book but something about book one taking me a day to read, pushed me to pick up the next. It would've taken longer if I didn't enjoy it a little, right? This also didn't take long to read and it was amusing, but not laugh-out-loud funny. Adrian gets a little more self-aware but also more pompous. I get that he's supposed to be an immature teenage boy but he's just utterly unlikable.


True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole by Sue Townsend
Say hello to my breaking point! This was the last Adrian Mole book that I owned from the series, and also the only one I hadn't read as a kid. It doesn't have just the usual diary format. It starts with a letter from Sue Townsend talking about the book as if Adrian is real (he's not) which is very strange? It then goes onto diary entries, letters and essays that he's 'written' and therefore wasn't as quick or easy to read. Even as an adult, he is still the worst kind of pompous man. For example; "I never read bestsellers on principle. It's a good rule of thumb. If the masses like it them I'm sure that I won't." Can't you just imagine him mansplaining what a metaphor is to an English professor?
That goes on for 90 pages, then turns over to a diary from Sue Townsend. That's 50 pages of no-plot. Then we get 20 pages of a fictional teenage Margret Thatcher diary. Now, I'm from the North and therefore I was born disliking Thatcher. But I have no interest in reading a diary written by someone who clearly doesn't like her either and needs to villainize her as a teenager. It was just strange. A weird end to a chaotic 160 page mess that was still priced at £7.99.

What did you read in April?

Monday, 15 May 2017

Book Review: Not Your Average Nurse by Maggie Groff!

My non-fiction shelf is dominated by medical memoirs; be it a doctor from the 1800s or a midwife from the 1950s, I can't get enough of the mix of medicine and drama. So when the opportunity to be on the blog tour for Not Your Average Nurse by Maggie Groff* came up, I jumped! Based in the 1970s? Covering student nursing? In London? It sounded right up my alley, and I couldn't wait.



To a young girl the life of a student nurse sounds exciting, but with long hours and short shrift it's never easy. So when Maggie Groff embarks as a student nurse at London's King's College Hospital she must quickly get to grips with the demands of her chosen career. It's sink or swim.

In a delightful romp through time, played out against the march of feminism and the fashion, music and movies of almost half a century ago, we follow Maggie's highs and lows as with trial and much error she becomes a highly skilled nurse and sets sail for a new life in Australia.

From the watchful gaze of stern ward sisters and the ordeals of nursing at a poor housing estate to becoming an industrial nurse at the iconic Sydney Opera House, Maggie shares her stories of mistakes and mayhem, tea and sympathy, and the life-affirming moments that make it all worthwhile.

This book is a wonderfully written memoir covering 1970 to 1985 and has some brilliantly written parts, as one would expect from an award-winning novelist. What I didn't expect was to be whipped away to Switzerland, Australia and Ibiza, and to be shown the differences between hospital nursing, industrial nursing and even elderly nun nursing. All while staying pretty charmingly British and cosy to read.

Maggie Groff has had a truly amazing life. She shows the up and the downs of nursing- and life at the same time. While I don't think I could handle the night duty and the emergencies, I'm totally jealous. I was quite close to looking into a nursing career while reading! But I think what this memoir really shows is what you can do with a strong attitude and determination. Maggie Groff knew what she wanted and she did it, be it quitting an underpaying job or flying out to live across the globe all alone.

The comparison to Call the Midwife has to be made because they're both memoirs about UK based nursing in the past, although set 20 years apart. I get the same comforting feeling I get from the books, and the slightly-less-so-but-still-there judgement of women by their appearance, but Maggie Groff has had a much more varied career. If you liked one, I think you'd like the other.

One thing I did raise my eyebrows a little at the one racist paragraph, where she tells the reader about a rumour implying the Chinese nurses were eating ducks from the park; "I never believed the rumour, especially as I had started it." It was obviously the 1970s and we all say things when we're young, but this was never addressed again which is unfortunate.

Overall though, this is what it says on the cover, an entertaining true story of a student nurse in 1970s London. And so much more. Prepare to see the effects of Feminism in nursing, a family lose a mother to cancer and a great balance of a polished story and the raw real-life events.

If you want to read it, you can pre-order here for it's release on Wednesday. And there will be more blog tour posts from KellyDeeJoLorraineCarly and Adele during the week!

"It wouldn't matter if he was a thief or a prince. Everyone who walks through the hospital doors receives the same respectful treatment. It's what underpins King's, Maggie. It's what's right."

 Where do you put memoirs on your shelf; fiction or non-fiction? Will you pick this one up?

*I was provided a copy of the book for the blog tour, this hasn't changed my opinion.

Monday, 1 May 2017

My #AtoZReadathon TBR!

Everyone joins the odd readathon the day they start, right? Denise has created an amazing readathon and I wanted in! You can hear all about it here but in short, there are three levels: Easy, where you use the titles and authors names to get all the letters A-to-Z. Medium, where you use the titles. And Hard, where you just use the first letter of the title. I so want to try that hard version but I have deadlines galore in May and I occasionally have to chose to be responsible. So- medium! I had a blast picking out my books and using a little excel spreadsheet to make sure I hit all the letters. Here's my TBR...



The Light Fantastic and Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
I haven't had the best time with Terry Pratchett in the past, but I've read enough on the internet to be reassured that his work gets better. And books with Q in the title are super hard to find. So, I'm going to give books two and three again. Especially since book three; Equal Rites is the first of the Witches books. They're what I'm super interested in getting to.

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey
I'm really excited to get to this book! I bought it years ago and it's about a gritty London paranormal detective. I completely forgot about it until I searched for books with a V in. I've seen a lot of comparisons to the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher, which I wanted to read a while ago and have since discovered it's pretty misoginistic, so I'm hoping this will fill the gap!

The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Despite loving the first book and the second book in this series, and being really excited for the third book to come out- I completely forgot about The Bronze Key. I ended up buying it months after it was released and still haven't read it. I'm not good with current series apparently. It's time I finally read it.

Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides
There were a couple of different books I could've picked to get the letter X but I've never read a book with an intersex character before. I think it's about time I did. Plus, I've been listening to a couple of modern classics on audiobook lately so I kind of want to see what happens when I try to read-read one.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This was actually the last book I added because J was the hardest letter to find and I still needed P. So why not read my first Jane Austen? This has been mentioned over and over on my blog so I'm glad to get that final push to start it! Plus, maybe after reading this I'll stop trying to spell Prejudice like 'Predjudice'.

Sneaky view of my spreadsheet for the curious!
So that's my TBR! I think I have a pretty neat little selection too, and a couple of books to read that I hadn't thought about in a while. I love that about readathons with interesting challenges.

Are you joining the #AtoZReadathon?

Friday, 21 April 2017

Book Unhaul #1

One of my 2017 Reading Goals was to replace some of the books in my collection that I'm no longer interested in, with books I am. My thought process so far is to have a one in, ten out kind of balance to really refine down my shelves so today I'll be showing you the first 10 books I'm saying goodbye to. I don't know what I'll be replacing them with yet but I'm starting a post-it note with a proud little count of how many books I owe myself.



Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Don't panic! This is one of about four copies I own and I really don't need a pilfered school edition that I never actually read and dates back to 1987.

Private, Invitation Only, Untouchable, Confessions and Inner Circle by Kate Brian
I lived the horrors of all-girls school so I have no idea why I felt the need to read about it in my youth. Enid Blyton just made me idealise boarding schools, I guess. These are being passed on to Lauren who is in the mood to read a trashy teen book.

This Raging Light by Estelle Laurie
I read this almost a year ago and didn't really rate it. I'm also passing this onto Lauren and I'm really interested to hear her thoughts though. She's an elder sister like the character in the book and might empathise more than me, a younger sister.

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas
I rarely re-read mysteries, and I can't see myself re-reading this mystery since I really didn't think it was that good. I hate when things that the first person narrator knows are kept from the reader deliberately to create a twist.

The Glam Guide by Fleur De Force*
I liked this book! But it's one of those instructional books that once you've read it and adopted the parts that you want to into your life, you don't need the book anymore. So I'm also passing this onto Lauren who I'm sure will like it.

The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola*
As beautiful as this book is, and seriously- look at that cover, I didn't connect with the characters in any real way. I have to balance out books that are pretty with books that I want to read but don't own yet. My sister-in-law is kindly taking this off my hands as she likes the occasional historical fiction so I'm looking forward to hearing her opinion.
Do you unhaul books? What do you do with them?

*These books were sent for review

Monday, 17 April 2017

Books I Read in March!

So I actually read some books in March! After my first no-book month of the three years of Imogen's Typewriter back in February I was pretty ready to read some dang books. Admittedly, three isn't the best number but heck, the Alison Weir novel is over 500 pages. I'm happy with my little pile.



Southern Spirits by Angie Fox
I hate reading ebooks. I get migraines so I try to avoid looking at tiny words on my phone screen for very long. However, I had a migraine-free day in March and decided to risk it and try to start an ebook. Night Shift on, brightness turned way down, I was ready. And I ended up reading Southern Spirits in one day. One dang day. I flew through it. I've had it for a while as it was free on iBooks but never really dived in. But it was so fun and hit those paranormal cosy crime vibes for me, while still being a super imaginative set-up for the main character and the rest of the series. I'm not sure if I'll pick up the next book- just because I'm trying to cut down my TBR and read books that I already own, but this really made a boring day very fun.


The White Road by Sarah Lotz*
Oh boy. Sarah Lotz is back and knocked this one out of the park! It wasn't quite The Three, which I hold up to impossible standards, but it was miles above Day Four. I'll post a full review nearer to the 4th of May release date. A welcome addition to my shelves.


Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession by Alison Weir*
This is being published on the 18th of May so I'll post my full review around about then. But in short,  Alison Weir blew it out of the park again for me and I'm counting down the days until I can get my hands on the beautiful hardcover to match Katherine of Aragons.


2017 Reading Challenge: 9/80 (I really need to catch up!)

What did you read in March?

Friday, 14 April 2017

On being Busy and Lost

It's been pretty quiet on this blog of mine for the past couple months, eh? In fact, between this blog and my previous blog- four blog posts in two months may actually be my least in over six years. So I thought about all the posts I could write today; the books I read in March, or the ones I took on holiday, my recent unhaul, or a review. But instead, I wanted to write this...



I told you in my 2017 goals that I wanted to find a balance with everything in my life, and to update you more, so I can say pretty honestly that I haven't found that balance yet. In fact, I've felt even more out of centre. I've fallen behind on university work so working on assignments is harder than it needs to be, I'm in a reading slump, I have a throat infection and I'm just generally feeling lost. I know logically that I want to do things like blog, study, write and read. It's just hard.

So this isn't an apology, because realistically I don't think bloggers should apologise for taking breaks or not posting. It's a- hey, stuff is kinda happening right now and I'm working on it. And commiserations if you're going through the same thing.

"The Past is gone and can no longer hurt you. And though the Future is fast coming for you, it always flinches first and settles into the gentle Present." - Welcome to Night Vale

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Book Review: Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? by Max Brallier

Anyone who knows me, knows that Zombies are kind of my thing. I find them fascinating. In The Walking Dead, it's been said that the zombies outnumber the survivors 5000:1 so by that logic there would only be 13,000 people left alive in the UK. The answer to the question- Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? For me, is no. But I wanted to explore every option...


Hours of bone-crunching zombie action with 100 paths and 50 endings to choose from. Inside these pages lies unspeakable horror. Bloodsplattering, brain-impaling, flesh-devouring horror. You’ve probably read your fair share of zombie stories. 

But this time it’s different. No longer can you sit idle as a bunch of fools make all the wrong moves. All hell is about to break loose—and YOU have a say in humanity’s survival.

In Max Bralliers Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book, you're a 25 year old male in Manhattan. And it's time for you to take control. Much like the Walking Dead video game, every decision has consequences down the storyline. But it's more obvious than the game, where every little thing might come back to bite you. The decisions can be a little ham-fisted with their obviousness of good/ bad/ silly. 

There was definitely a lot of enjoyment to get out of this book though. I liked a lot of the secondary characters that were introduced- from the Hells Angels to the childhood sweetheart. It really did vary wildly depending on what path you took, but there was probably 4-5 main branches of the story that then had their own offshoots.

I would've liked a little more fear- the writing didn't really hit that note for me, and a little more of that long-run survivalist side to zombies that World War Z by Max Brooks does so well. But hey!  Overall, this was a fun read! 

But a tricky one. If you're like me and want to know how every storyline ends then I recommend you arm yourself with some sticky notes and a method of keeping track. For that reason, I'm not sure I'll be looking out for more of this style of book. At least not until I read one of those infuriating books where every choice the main character makes is so obviously wrong and I need to take back some control! As the book says; "no longer do you get to sit back and watch as a bunch of fools make all the wrong moves."


To stay alive you need to think. One mistake, you're history. And not the good history- not the kind that ends up in a middle school textbook- the bad kind, the forgotten kind.

Have you read a Choose-your-own-Adventure book?

Friday, 3 March 2017

My Spring TBR!

It feels strange to be writing this while there's snow on the ground but hey! I didn't do a post-Christmas Winter TBR because January is a busy yearly-wrap-up time on the blog, then February was just wow busy. In fact, it was my first month in over three years that I have no books for a Books I Read in monthly wrap-up! Although I did start a lot of books in February.



So, to jump-start my March reading and my Spring TBR...



These are the books I started in February! With the exception of The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien which I took a break from while listening to Catch-22 by Joseph Heller on audiobook in January. I need to jump back into that.

Another series I'm continuing is the Call the Midwife series, with the second book; Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer Worth. I read the first book last September and really enjoyed it but I had no plans to continue so soon. However, the new season of the show is out and I really wanted to delve into the books again. As you can see, I'm about half-way through and should finish it up easily.

My reading goals for 2017 included challenging myself and to stop putting books off. So when I saw that sales of 1984 by George Orwell had skyrocketed after Trumps presidency, I wanted to see why. Reading this in London? With all the CCTV cameras? Spooky. I already had the book but I've since bought the audiobook which I prefer for classics to finish.

My favourite book last year was If You Go Away by Adele Parks so I was super excited to get my hands on her new book, The Stranger in my Home* and meet her and have her sign my book. And I'm really liking her writing style in contemporary.

I also met Alison Weir in February and she blessed me with a proof copy of Anne Boeyln: A King's Obsession* which you might remember from my most anticipated releases post, or the first book being one of my favourite books from last year. I've been carrying this around like it's my baby since I got it but it's slow reading. I still prefer Queen Katherine though!



Onto the books I haven't yet started! While I was at the book event where I met Adele Parks and Alison Weir, I was introduced to Nikola Scott. Her debut novel, My Mother's Shadow* is coming out this year and if it's half as good as she is nice- it'll be an amazing book. Nikola is one of the loveliest people I've ever met and I can't wait to read her book.

While I was there I also snagged a copy of The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams*. I missed out on her last trilogy so I'm looking forward to jumping on at the first book with her new one; The Winnowing Flame trilogy. It's also been a long time since I sat down with a hunking great fantasy book and lost myself so I'm hopeful.



After reading A Young Doctor's Notebook in January, I mentioned to my parents that I really enjoyed it and ended up getting The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov for my birthday! I'm all about reading more challenging books this year and after loving his short stories, I think I'm really going to like his novel.

Another translation is A Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. I was looking for German classics because I'm currently learning German and was feeling quite classic-y at the time, when I came across a book I already owned! I got this in a bundle back in March 2014, so it might be time to finally read it.

And lastly, Small Island by Andrea Levy. When I'm feeling bored/ blue/ procrastinate-y, I re-organise my books and I was looking through my stand-alone when I came across Small Island and thought, yeah. I want to read this soon! It's won award after award and deals with post-WWII racial issues, which isn't a subject I know much about.

Phew! Wish me luck! What do you want to read this Spring?

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Beauty Review: Yoga Bomb Bath Bomb by Lush!

Yoga and hot baths are some of the most common things I hear recommended as cures for stress. So why not kill two birds with one stone and follow up some yoga with a bath and the Lush Yoga Bomb bath bomb? That was my logic anyway! I tried this on a day where stress was probably radiating of me like cartoon radiation and it worked like a dream.

Yoga Bomb Bath Bomb by Lush Cosmetics


Yoga Bomb is a Oxford Street exclusive, which is how I got mine, but it is currently available online!

Yoga Bomb Bath Bomb by Lush


The outside of this is a very plain orange but don't let that fool you! Inside is purple, along with a good amount of golden shimmer that mixes with your water to make a burnt orange bath. Plus, the shimmer didn't stick to me.
The scent to me was a mix of orange and this scented talcum powder my family had in the bathroom when I was little. I know that's not a hugely helpful explanation of the smell but it made the experience weirdly nostalgic for me. I like when a product scent can be a throwback like that sometimes.
Either way, it was a fun bath bomb to watch fizz. The different colours and shimmer mixed nicely to make a calming bath water. The scent could've lasted longer. But, just like real yoga, I left feeling a little bit looser and more relaxed.

Want to try this out for yourself? It's online for £4.25 here!

Have you ever tried the Yoga Bomb bath bomb?

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Books I Read in January!

About half a month ago, we said goodbye to the first month of the year! And with it, the first month of my first numbered reading challenge. I actually ended on schedule which I'm really happy with because that quickly went caput with how busy February has been. Plus, I read a good mix of books. I even took up the challenge of one of my reading goals and stopped delaying when it came to reading Catch-22! So what did I read?



We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I actually got this for Christmas and forgot to pop it in my Under My Christmas Tree post because I had already moved it to my read-pile. It was actually my first book of the year, as early-morning-1st-of-January-Imogen started to panic about reading 80 books. It was short, to the point, and I read it aloud in a Skype call to a group of friends who were playing video games and not really paying attention. Except this managed to grab their attention because it was making some very powerful points.
The one thing that stopped this being a five-star read for me came with the line; "Women can have babies, men cannot." That's a really quick way to exclude trans-women and infertile women from your feminism. Obviously nobody can go into a huge amount of detail in a 48-page essay but that definition of women is just a little too exclusionary for me. I haven't got around to her full 30 minute talk but I'm hoping for more detail.
-A man who would be intimidated by me is exactly the kind of man I would have no interest in.


A Young Doctor's Notebook by Mikhail Bulgakov
I've wanted to read this since I watched the TV show with Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm. I don't read many translations or books from the 19-20th centuries. I also don't think I've read any Russian literature. And I definitely haven't read anything about the way people were treated medically in Russia in this era- although I have been listening to a really great podcast called Sawbones about medical history which gave me a vague idea- so this was completely new. I was a little nervous going in but I needn't have been.
This reads unbelievably modern for something from 1925. I was expecting to have to ask Siri about a lot of words, especially medical jargon, but either the translation worked this out or Mikhail Bulgakov knew his future audience. Either way, amazing. I loved it. I was completely taken out of myself and thrown into the Russian countryside, the cold weather, the small hospital with all the patients and this poor, inexperienced doctor.
I'd say, and this is a rare occasion, try the show first. I think you'll appreciate the source material more, and probably the show. The way they take the short stories, and the separate piece; 'Morphine' and work them together is really great. Plus, Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe.
"There's great experience to be gained in the countryside," I thought, falling asleep, "Only I have to read, read a lot... read..."


Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Full review coming soon!


Shakespeare's Trollop by Charlaine Harris
I struggled with this one. As you might be able to tell from the title, the murder victim is the towns 'trollop'- or, y'know, woman who isn't ashamed to have lots of sex. On one hand, I can completely see where Charlaine Harris was going with it. The evolution of Lily's character in the series has been ongoing and this fit in that arc. She's a rape victim and the only way she has addressed this is to get very strong, take martial arts and she believes it's a woman's responsibility to protect herself. And I completely understand slut-shaming exists in the world, more-so in 2000 when this was published. But I didn't want Lily to do it. I want her to be better. Even if she half changes her mind at the end, she still finds the moral of this half-change 'beyond her'.
Judging it just as a book on it's own, it's just not as good as the rest of the series. Which is strange, because what leads is...


Shakespeare's Counselor by Charlaine Harris
I feel like this book is the foremost of Charlaine Harris's books. I've now finished every complete series that she's written and this is right up there as one of my favourites! Lily starts to get help for her problems which is an incredibly healthy message after the last book. Her support group addresses victim-blaming and lots of positive stuff, all the while their counsellor is being stalked and people around her die.
I shut the book feeling like Lily was going to be okay, and I understood her better. I might not agree with her about rehabilitation not working for criminals, and I think women have a right to feel safe even though it's a modern idea, but as a writer, Charlaine Harris made me understand and care for the character. And wrote a good mystery at the same time. I didn't expect the ending. I'm off to dig out the Sookie Stackhouse novel that Lily features in and re-read her small part.
"No matter how much sympathy I have for you, it won't heal you faster or slower. You're not a victim of cosmic proportions. There are millions of us. That doesn't make your personal struggle less."


2017 Reading Challenge: 6/80 (graphic novel review coming soon)

What did you read this month?

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Series Review: The Harper Connolly Mysteries by Charlaine Harris!

If there is one author who makes me sound like a broken record, it's Charlaine Harris. I loved her Aurora Teagarden series, I loved her Sookie Stackhouse series, and unsurprisingly- I liked her Harper Connolly series. I reviewed the four books in the omnibus separately (1, 2, 3, 4), but I've finally put together my series review, where I tell you a few things I thought about the series as a whole.



Harper Connelly has always been unique: ever since she was struck by lightning she's had the ability to locate the dead. She can sense the final location of a person who's passed, and share their very last moment. The way Harper sees it, she's providing a service to the dead while bringing some closure to the living - but she's used to most people treating her like a blood-sucking leech.
She does what she can to put her unique ability to good use, with the aid of her step-brother Tolliver, but it's not always easy. Her cases can be heart-wrenching, complex - and sometimes, if someone would rather the body wasn't found, they can even even be dangerous...

The Premise
The premise was what originally drew me towards this series although, admittedly, Charlaine Harris could write a VHS manual and I'd want to read it. Harper is able to sense the dead, and when she finds them, she can see their final moments. I love a paranormal story that's a little different and I've never read anything like that before. Plus, the living characters can be just as interesting in how the death affected them. As Harper points out; The dead could wait forever, but the living were always urgent.

The Romance
This is the part that I wasn't as much of a fan of. It's no secret that the romance in this series is, at best, semi-incestuous. You can write it however you want, but the majority of people are always going to find that a bit icky (a word borrowed from an interview Harris herself did about the couple), even if it's 'just' step-siblings. I try not to judge but no thank you.

The Writing
This wasn't Charlaine Harris's usual. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a complete shake up, but it felt weaker. I loved that she took the opportunity to talk about some of Americas problems, while Harper faced serial killers, rapists and torturers along with the run-of-the-mill murderers. But the character development and the actual mysteries wasn't up to her usual standard. I actually find it really interesting that this series was written a few years after the Lily Bard mysteries, which I'm currently reading. They both deal with dark subjects but Lily feels much more real- of course, she doesn't see dead people so...

Overall, this was very much a three star series for me. Not bad by any means! Readable and fun. Just not the high level that I usually put Charlaine Harris at and I didn't immediately want to jump into the next book. 

I couldn't fathom people who longed for the past. They weren't thinking about the absence of antibiotics, that was for sure.

Have you read this series? What did you think? 

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Under My Christmas Tree!

It's been over a month since Christmas but considering I just finished packing up my decorations this morning, I figured it wasn't totally too late to show what was under my tree this year. I really like writing these posts because I like the memories that are associated and looking back at the years that have come before. There's like a secondary rush of gratitude which is nice as well.



Usual disclaimer; just showing some of the cool stuff I was lucky enough to get. Not bragging in any way. 



While I was in Germany, I mentioned in passing to my mum how my art teacher at school had told me not to draw. It wasn't my area. I spent a lot of time with my hands covered in clay while she taught me and I loved it. But I always kind of wished I had drawn, at least a little. Especially after seeing Chris Riddell in Summer. Somehow Santa found out and I now have some fancy drawing pencils, pens and a sketch book!

And since it wouldn't be Christmas without something Liberty print in my stocking; the cutest pin-cushion mouse that ever existed, thread scissors and a tape measure. Santa really wants me to be crafty in 2017.



Books! Glorious Books! Gladly added to my shelves are The Ladybird Book of the Zombie Apocalypse, F*ck You, 2016 (a gift from my best friend because seriously- f*ck 2016!), Lost Cat by Caroline Paul, The Indisputable Existence of Santa Claus, Cats by Jane Brown, Please Take Me Home: The Story of the Rescue Cat by Clare Campbell and a b-e-a-uuuutiful illustrated copy of Watership Down by Richard Adams



I totally spoiled myself when I picked up my mums phone to play a game of Tetris and found a text from my brother telling her he was buying me Pokémon for Christmas. My bad! I just need to finish Alpha Sapphire and I'll be right into this one, Lauren's review has me super excited.

I asked for the Home Improvement DVDs. I loved that show when I was a kid and you just can't find a good version of it online. I really want to just dive in but- self control prevails. I'm saving it for my week off in summer, not that it has stopped me doing the Tim Allen Grunt whenever I catch sight of my snazzy new boxset.



And chocolate, of course! My new Lindt mug is a welcome addition to my collection and the chocolate Santas were a welcome addition to my stomach. Chocolate coins are a classic. And my dad knew I was really upset about the new Toblerone so he got his friend at the newsagents to hook him up with a box of ten of the old versions. 2017- possibly the year my heart explodes? We'll see!

What did you get for Christmas? Can you even remember?

Friday, 20 January 2017

30 Before 30: Three Years On!

It's my birthday! And that means it's time for me to watch 11 hours of the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings, have a look at my 30 Before 30 list and do an update. I updated it when I turned 21, then again when I turned 22, and now I'm 23! *gulp*! That's not early-twenties anymore, that's just twenties. Next year I'll be 24 and that's mid-twenties. To distract me from this revelation, on with the list...

Some of the photos on my Instagram over the year!


1. Complete Pokémon.
Pokémon Yellow was re-released on 3DS for the 20th anniversary but I haven't got it yet. Honestly, haven't been playing that many video games. I need to get on this in 2017 since it's probably one of the easiest to complete on this list. I may buy it for myself as a birthday present!
2. Write a Novel.
Do 10 beginnings count as one? I need to work on finishing projects this year.
3. Earn at least a 2:1 in my degree.
Working on it!
4. Do a 365 photo a day challenge.
I've mentioned every year, this is one for later in my life when my life is more interesting.
5. Copy the 'Three Men in a Boat' trip.
Not yet! Although at least with my procrastination, there's less risk of being exploded by a WWII bomb!
6. Take a plane on my own.
7. Start a Podcast.
Remember how 2016 was awful? This idea got delayed because of that. It's hard to do a podcast when all your hosts are having a hard time in their personal lives. Fingers crossed for 2017!
8. Learn to drive.
I think I just decided what I'm going to do with my birthday money. Time to take that test.
9. Write a will.
10. Own The Walking Dead #1.
I might just buy a reprint and be done with this.
11. Host Christmas.
12. See my brother get married.  
13. Go to Vegas with my oldest friend.
14. Make a quilt.
I have a few patterns ready, I just need some fabric and time now.
15. Own a Hyundai Ix35.
16. Own a collection of mugs that all have meaning.
I'm counting this as done although I'm still collecting. I have an amazing collection at the moment that are all lovely and mean so much to me. 
17. Get back into Archery.
Something I love about these updates is that this list can grow as I do, and I no longer wanted to 'start a small business'. But something that I've wanted to do for years, and clearly need an extra push for, is getting back into archery. So it was time for this to change.
18. Review 200 books. 
I recently finished reading my 200th book, so I'll have finished this goal when I write up my reviews for my January reads. I can't quite believe it. I thought this was going to take me all ten years if I'm honest. And all the reviews so far are here!
19. Road trip the UK.
20. Go to SDCC.
21. Grow a bonsai tree and keep it alive.
Last year I had just bought two little saplings that were still alive but not growing. One did end up dying, but the other is finally growing and looking more alive! You can see him in the background of some of my blog pictures here and here. This is in progress!
22. Travel Europe on a train.
23. Cosplay.
24. Go to all the places Ashley wants to bring me to.
25. Learn to crochet and make something.
I learnt to crochet so long ago! I did start a project in 2016 though, a nest-bed for my cat, but I haven't finished it quite yet.
26. Keep bees.
27. Cut my hair and donate it to the Little Princess Trust. 
I did this last year, and I'm thinking of doing it again in 2017 because my hair has grown long again. It's such a worthy cause and I'm not exactly doing anything with my cut-off hair!
28. Learn German.
I had a weird 30 credits that I needed to take to complete first year because of changing universities and one dealing in 40 credit modules and the other in 60. I saw a German class and knew I needed to take it. It's been amazing, super helpful and I feel like I'm finally getting my head around the language! Enough that I'm hoping to read a book in German this year
29. Visit the German Christmas Markets. 
I visited Köln/ Cologne in December 2015, that you can see here! It was such an amazing experience that I actually went to München/ Munich in December 2016, that I posted about here! German Christmas Markets really are magical.
30. Act.
I didn't put this on last years list because I thought it would come across kind of silly, but I've actually been going to acting classes since April. My confidence has built up, at least enough to put it on this list publicly. We'll see!

Four out of thirty- but with six on the way of being done. I'm feeling a lot better about this list then I was last year. Progress is fun.

Do you have a 30 Before 30 list? What's on it?

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