Friday, 8 December 2017

My Christmas List!

I normally pop up my Christmas list on December 1st but since I was in Mexico, there's been a little delay! I really enjoy looking back at my old lists (2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016) and I love reading other peoples. It's so interesting to see the different things that different people want, and get ideas from them for what I'm going to get my friends and family.



I'm a big podcast person and some of my favourites have some really great merchandise. Like the My Favourite Murder 'Toxic Masculinity Ruins the Party Again' mug, an 'All Hail the Glow Cloud' pin from my favourite episode of Welcome to Night Vale, and a Vermilion Minotaur pin from Hello from the Magic Tavern. You can never have enough mugs or pins, right?

I tend to ask for a DVD box-set of Christmas of something that's older because they're generally not on Netflix and are super expensive to buy digitally, so over the years I've received absolute gems like FrasierMonk and Home Improvement. This year I have my eye on Golden Girls. A true classic!

I've never put books on my Christmas list while I've been book blogging because it would make for a very long list, but I was looking for a hardcover copy of Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome over Summer and found that The Folio Society has a truly beautiful copy. And I'm a sucker for having nice copies of my favourites.

This year is the year that I've started fostering kittens and while the charity I volunteer for is great at providing everything you need, I keep a list of things I think will make the kittens as comfortable as possible at a pretty traumatic time. Things like a Snuggle Kitty, a heating pad, various scratching toys, and plastic toys that keep them entertained while being easy to sanitize between litters. I also really want some new kittens to foster over the season to banish those holiday blues by feeling helpful so if Santa could hook me up, I'd love that.

What's on your Christmas list this year?

Monday, 27 November 2017

Four Years of Imogen's Typewriter.

I'm a little late on this because I'm currently in Mexico, but it was my blogs birthday a couple of days ago. 368 days have passed since I typed out Three Years of Imogen's Typewriter, 733 days since I wrote Two Years of Imogen's Typewriter, 1098 days since A Year of Imogen's Typewriter, and a whole 1463 days since I sat down and typed out my first post. Wild!



The past year has actually been a quiet year on the blog, as I've been writing about half the amount of posts that I usually write in a year. I've been busy and feeling a little lost. Though on the other hand, I'm prouder of the posts I'm actually hitting publish on. By putting less pressure to hit 2-3 posts a week, I've found myself able to really concentrate on good content like I predicted in my 2017 goals. Although I'd like to be able to hit a better balance in my fifth year.

I've been writing more in-depth reviews this year like; The White Road by Sarah LotzYesterday by Felicia YapThe Child by Fiona Barton, and so many half-drafts that I'm going to be finishing as soon as possible.

I've been replacing books I'm not going to read again like these and these with books I desperately wanted to buy- in fact, by following my 10 out, 1 in rule, I've only bought two books this year which has been a major change and helped me save for my current trip in Mexico!

I also started my second year of university which has been a big leap especially with the level of books I'm studying, I've suffered some big personal losses, I've been fostering kittens, I've been to France, CorfuNorway and now Mexico. And through it all, I've been blogging.

So thank you for reading and I'll see you in my next nostalgia-free post! 

Thursday, 9 November 2017

My Hallowreadathon Wrap-Up!

Another year, another Hallowreadathon over! It's always really lovely to see people getting their spooky reading on, and this year was no exception. It's hard for me to believe that this was my fourth year hosting my little readathon! Next year it'll be half a decade of spooks. But what about my reading, eh?

A pile of pumpkins next two two books: Poison City by Paul Crilley and Dracula by Bram Stoker


Poison City by Paul Crilley
As the readathon approached, I wasn't sure if I was going to pick up Poison City or Carrie by Stephen King from my TBR pile. But Poison City won out, mainly because I've read Carrie before and I find re-reads to be a little slower for me. I really enjoyed this, I didn't quite finish it but it's so much fun and I can't wait for the next book. It's a similar type of thing as the Ben Aaronovitch books I've dabbled with in the past, but the world feels more- real. I loved it, and it ended up having ghosts in at as well as a red cover!

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Oh boy. I don't know why I thought I could finish a 20-hour audiobook in 48 hours. Even on 1.25x speed, I didn't even get through half! But even a little Dracula was a relief to me, as I've not really been enjoying the gothic horror classics that I've been reading lately. Frankenstein? Didn't like it. My Jekyll and Dr Hyde? Hated it. Dracula? Loving it so far. Finally, an actual scare with a red cover.

So I didn't complete the challenge of finishing two books, but I'm still really happy with the reading I did and the spooks that came with it! If you want to see a more successful Hallowreadathon Wrap-up, check out Freya, who did great!

What did you read over Halloween? Have you read either of my picks?

Monday, 30 October 2017

Books I Read in September!

September was a good reading month! I feel like I hit a good balance of contemporary and classics, literary reads and genre, and I actually sailed through all of the books I 'read'-read with some cute foster kittens on my lap so that's always a win. So here's what I read and what I thought of them...



The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver
I've been wanting to re-read this series for a while. Well, years actually. But I've been actively thinking about it since last year, and I can tell because I took it to Northumberland and Munich!
The main character of this series is Lincoln Rhyme, a quadriplegic, and the disability representation in this book actually really impressed me. The research that Deaver put in shines through, and Rhyme isn't a cliché of a disabled person. There's no angelic patience, he's not there to teach an important lesson and he's not pitied- or at least, when he is, he finds it really annoying. In fact; "It infuriated him when people talked to him through others, through healthy people." Rhyme as a character feels real and it's one of the reasons this series stands out to me. If you, like me, like reading academically styled journals on current literature; here's a really interesting entry in the Disabled Studies Quarterly about this series that I found really interesting.
I love this book, I love the crime scene methods and the way the story unfolds so carefully. And I love that I am always surprised by the ending of this book, no matter how many times I read it. I always remember the ending wrong so I'm always remembering how I'm always surprised, as I'm surprised. It's just really clever.
Jeffery Deaver is one of my most owned authors and a lovely guy, and yet I hadn't read one of his books since last January! I'm so glad to be back on the bandwagon.


The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
It was Stephen Kings birthday in September, and I was already currently-reading a fair amount of books so I picked up my shortest King on my shelves. I could get my fix, then go back to what I was reading. Plus, I'd never actually read The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon before! It was all a new experience, made even cuter with having a foster kitten on my lap.
I enjoy survival books. Give me a girl lost in a forest, a group in the apocalypse, a man lost at sea, I'm there. But I expect spooks from Stephen King. I was a third into the book before I had even a hint of a spook. The spooks were quality, don't get me wrong, they just came too late. Besides that, I did really enjoy it. It hit me right in that soft spot where she's nine, there's no GPS, nobody knows where she is and she's all alone trying to survive.
I'm not a baseball fan, so that part just flew right over my head as well. If you have at least a little knowledge of baseball and you don't mind a short book but a slow burn, you'll probably enjoy this a lot!
How could anyone have such a cold and scary voice inside them? Such a traitor to the cause?


Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Look at me, getting all ahead of my required reading for university! I wanted to like this book so much. Mary Shelley is so highly thought of, she wrote it at 19 and basically created a genre. And I like science fiction- but in reality, I just didn't enjoy Frankenstein. Hopefully, this changes once I study it but for now; I was dreadfully bored. The writing didn't really blow me away and all of the characters points of view were identical, but more than that, so little of the book was actually action. It was a lot of sitting around being melancholy, and especially in audiobook form, I fell asleep more than once.
Also, I really disagree with that ol' saying; "Knowledge is knowing that Frankenstein is not the monster. Wisdom is knowing that Frankenstein is the monster." For me, a monster is someone that goes around killing people. He's literally a serial killer; having killed three or more people, taking place longer than a month with a break in-between them. I don't know if that's knowledge or wisdom, but it doesn't make me sympathetic...
-for nothing contributes so much to tranquillise the mind as a steady purpose- a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
I really didn't have a great time with classics this month! After adoring The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë, I really wanted to go on and read another book by the sisters. And instead of starting Wuthering Heights like I probably should've since it's one of my required reads, I read Jane Eyre.
Jane Eyre and I don't get on, I'm afraid. I have a lot of thoughts that I'm collecting up in a different blog post, but as far as a review? Eh. I think I've been spoiled by The Tenant of Wildfell Hall because I don't find Jane as endearing, as feminist, or as good as other readers. For me, it reads more like a tale of a woman so mistreated in her youth that she ends up in an abusive relationship. I can't understand the love story aspect. And boy, when Jane tells Mr Rochester about her dreams, that's just boring.
I will say though, when Charlotte aims to spook, she spooks! Listening to the audiobook in the dead of night, I certainly had chills down my spine. I would've much prefered an all-out fearful tale, like the images of Cathy at the window in Wuthering Heights, or an all-out liberated woman like Helen in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. In the middle, Jane Eyre has my attention but not my affection.
"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you."


Yuki Means Happiness by Alison Jean Lester*
I was first drawn to this book because of the unbelievably beautiful cover. And I wasn't sure what I expected. I don't read a lot of 'literary' type books so it was a new experience and one I enjoyed.
It feels very autobiographical for a story that isn't, written from a first-person perspective looking back at memories. Honest, brutal, it completely benefits from having a relatable main character in a unrelatable experience. Although I'm not sure the vague blurb really prepared me for a story that is, at its core, about sexual assault and the effects on the main character further on in her life. If I was searching for books about that, I wouldn't have found this. If I was avoiding books about that, I wouldn't have known. I was doing neither but it can be quite a tough read anyway.
The writing though. This is a fairly short book at under 300 pages, with a larger than average font. It's simplistic which makes it all the more powerful when it talks about such serious and complex topics. I sailed through it, and I'm going to have to return to this at a later date because I feel it could benefit from a second read when the character development, not the storyline, is my focus.
The nicest man in the world is still a man, and once you're taught that men are circling sharks, you're on the lookout for fins.


Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

My Hallowreadathon 4 TBR!

It's getting close to the Hallowreadathon and I'm getting excited! I prefer Halloween to any other holiday. I love the atmosphere with kids out trick-or-treating and carved pumpkins flickering while I stay in, curled up on the couch with a bowl of candy, a steaming cup of tea and a good spooky book. I've got a few choices for each Hallowreadathon challenge so if you're looking for inspiration, look no further...



1. Read a book with a ghost!
It actually took me a while to come up with a decent list on this one! Especially since I'm the one who set the challenge, I expected it to be easier. The book that prompted the theme was The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell which I won in a Goodreads giveaway and has been tempting me from my shelf ever since. I might not make it to Halloween for this one.
Another option is Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. I'd have to really get my read on to get through this and another book in 48 hours, but it's one of my required reads for this term at university and from what I've listened to on audiobook, it really captures that spooky spirit.
And finally The Shining by Stephen King! This is the book to fill this challenge in my Hallowreadathon Preparation box and I've never read it. Don't tell anyone. It was on a list of books with ghosts in it and I really really need to get to this soon.




2. Read a book with red on the cover!
My immediate thought on this one was my beautiful copy of Carrie by Stephen King that I haven't read since my teens. But red is a popular colour on my book covers so I tried to pick some other spooks...
I love cosy crime, but I've never read an Agatha Christie book. Terrible. So I might pick up The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie, it's a standalone thriller but introduces Colonel Race who features in some of her other books.
Poison City by Paul Crilley has splatters of red and I've been meaning to read this since summer, it's an urban fantasy type of book that I normally fly though so a good pick!
One book that my dad recommended that I shouldn't read because it freaked him out, was The Collector by John Fowles. So obviously I have to read it, right? Reading about a woman kidnapped is true horror.
Since reading Jane Eyre in September, I've been eying up Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye*. A homicidal retelling that's a little on the long side for a readathon (418 pages) but looks so good!



3. Read two books!
I always like to throw up a couple shorter options because I know two books in two days is a real challenge.
Starting with my last mention of Stephen King; American Vampire, written by Scott Snyder and Stephen King and drawn by Rafael Albuquerque. I've read this before but it's been a while and it's really great. A super fun 1920s vampire read with red on the cover. 
I mentioned in my post about Teen Creeps, a podcast I adore about YA pulp that I wanted to read one of those types of books! The only one I have is The New Year's Party by R.L. Stein, which might be better saved for New Years, but it has red on the cover.
Wailing Ghosts by Pu Songling is one of the Penguin Little Black Classics so it's around 60 pages, and 'ghosts' is right there in the title. Perfect for if you're cramming your second read in right at the end.

The winner of the Hallowreadathon Preparation Box has been announced so don't forget to check to see if you won here


What's on your Hallowreadathon TBR? Have you read any of my picks?

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Podcast Love #2: Teen Creeps!

I've never read a Christopher Pike book in my life. But boy, I know a lot about his body of work! I started listening to Teen Creeps over the summer and I haven't really stopped since. When I finally finished the backlog of over a year's worth of episodes, I just started right back at the beginning!



I love this podcast for a whole host of reasons; firstly, I never read teen YA pulp as a teen, I skipped right over it and terrified myself with some Stephen King so it's nice to actually experience that. One of my Hallowreadathon reads is probably going to be the only R. L. Stein book I own; a never-returned-to-the-school-library copy of The New Year's Party, because I'm starting to feel like I missed out. Although, I never had to read about a perfume bottle that possesses you with some sort of evil twin from ancient Egypt. So- you win some, you lose some.

The hosts are great. Kelly Nugent and Lindsay Katai are the kind of people you want in your earholes, on your Twitter feed and just generally around the internet. They don't just talk about the books. They go off on tangents, prompted by the plot or characters, about their past, feminism, love, depression, politics, relationships, racism, a little bit of everything! There are times when they will say something like; I can't believe I'm about to say this then share something super personal that totally resonates, or I'm crying laughing.

Teen YA pulp from the 90's can be a real mix of the good and the bad. There are teenage clichés, a lot of rape culture and so much incest. And Kelly and Lindsay don't shy away from critiquing the books they read. Which led to my favourite sentence from the podcast ever (not including all Kelly's creepy baby talk):

"There is that story out there, there is that story somewhere, but that needs to come from someone who has experienced it."

I started listening to this podcast because I love listening to people talk about books they're passionate about even if I've not read them. But what I got was so much more. It's like listening to two people become best friends over hours of conversation, like eavesdropping but you're welcomed in to listen. Kelly and Lindsay are my favourite hosts of all the podcasts I listen to, and Teen Creeps is my go-to when I'm having a hard time and need to laugh.

So check Teen Creeps out! Start at the beginning, or if a lot of swearing endears you- try the episode with Jackie Johnson. It's my top pick episode with a guest. You can listen on iTunes, they have a website and a Twitter. And keep it creepy.

Did you read YA pulp as a teen? What did you think of it?

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Book Review: Magisterium: The Bronze Key by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare!

This review might have slight spoilers for The Iron Trial and The Copper Gauntlet!



Magic can save you.
Magic can kill you.

Students at the Magisterium are supposed to be safe. Under the watchful eyes of the mages, they are taught to use magic to bring order to a chaotic world.

But now the chaos is fighting back. Call, Tamara, and Aaron should be worrying about things like pop quizzes and magic contests. Instead, after the shocking death of one of their classmates, they must track down a sinister killer… and risk their own lives in the process.


As Call, Tamara, and Aaron discover, magic can only be as good as the person who wields it. In evil hands, it has the capacity to do immeasurable harm, unless it is stopped in time.

Oh boy. This book just tugged at my gosh darn heartstrings with its twists and turns. Just when you think everything is fine- it's not! The plot of this series is brilliantly unfolding in each book, slowly revealing its depths while you get attached to the characters, discover the world, and find yourself attached. It takes a lot for me to tear-up as I read, I don't really show my emotion in that way, but you can bet I was rubbing at my eyes.

Jasper and Callums relationship remains a treat. I think every protagonist should have a person who calls them on their nonsense. It would prevent so many plot lines where you just can't believe what a character is doing. Their dialogue reads exactly like a conversation between two not-quite-friends teens should sound. Every friendship feels believable, and the first romance of the series is so teenage-awkward that I related with all of my own cringe-filled memories.

I haven't mentioned this in my past two reviews but I do think it's important to note that this series is not only diverse, but has a main character with a physical disability. And the magic doesn't really help. Yeah, he can float rather than climb down steep stairs but that also requires physical strength and mental energy in a way that interacting with an able-bodied world can be like. Personally, I really appreciate that and really hope that it continues to be represented in the future books.

I am really hoping for some of the background female characters to take a main role in the coming books since adding Jasper to the circle of trust does make a big male majority. It does look like it's going in that direction as far as I can tell from the ending though, so we'll see.

That ending though- oh the ending. Unlike the previous books, this did end with a little bit of a cliffhanger and after putting the book down I was immediately looking into release dates. Plus pulling out books to unhaul, so I know what happens next as soon as humanly possible without breaking my 10-out-1-in book buying ban. My pre-order arrived today and you can bet I started it as soon as I pulled it out of the box.

This series is just incredible and represents what middle grade/ YA books should be like. I'm even debating buying the U.S. covers since they come in hardcover and I like to have my favourites in hardcover.

Have you read this book? If not- why not?!

Monday, 2 October 2017

Books I Read in August!

August was a pretty interesting reading month! I only read-read one book and audiobook-read four, since figuring out my library app means I can listen to quick YA audiobooks while playing Sims 4 without having to 'waste' an Audible credit. Unfortunately, they weren't great. But I read an incredible classic that made up for it, and a really interesting thriller.



Point Blanc by Anthony Horowitz
The thing is ever since the first book had some questionable bits, I was on alert. So I noticed things that might slide by other readers, heck, I didn't notice them first time around. But things like that even though the villain is a white-supremisist and that's described as "disgusting" by the main character, the same boy also described a South-African woman as having an "ape-like face". And how the book also keeps using the term 'lunatic asylum', which is super outdated.
I really think I should've stopped there with this series (I didn't. I gave up at book five when Alex does black-face at a fancy-dress party).


Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz
Despite the garbage second book, I strode on and found myself in okay territory. The bad guy was anti-capitalist rather than a racist, which was a nice change. A female character was introduced, even though her name was Sabina Pleasure. And hey, Alex had some actual emotions about what happened to him!
But I can't rile up the enthusiasm I had for these books as a kid, even though I've managed for other YA series. And boy, the description of a disfigured character (a bad guy, of course) was super not-great.


Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz
I will say, this book contains one of the most memorable fictional deaths from my childhood, including the droves of dead from Harry Potter. But apart from that it's the usual high-speed chases, explosions, spy stuff that fills the rest of these books. It even has the ol' villain explaining his whole evil plan to the protagonist.
12-year-old me liked them, so I can't hate them that much. I can't remember any racism, sexism or anything too awful like the others and it sets up the rest of the series well, but by this point I was hanging on by a thread. The scissors to that thread was book five. Nostalgia can only get you so far.


The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
I'll be writing a full review for this one. I adored it, and started a '6-stars' shelf on Goodreads just to honour it!


Yesterday by Felicia Yap
Full review is here!

What did you read last month?

Friday, 29 September 2017

Hallowreadathon 4!

It's my favourite time of the year! The leaves are starting to crunch underfoot, Christmas chocolates are back on the shelves and Halloween approaches. And for me, Halloween means my lil' readathon, the Hallowreadathon, is back for its fourth year! It's 48 hours, starting at midnight on the 31st of October and running all the way through Halloween/ All Saints Day. And I'd be thrilled if you joined me!




There'll be the usual three challenges again this year to spook up your reading: 

1. Read a book with a ghost!
Whether you decide to take this literally and host a séance, in which case I cannot be held responsible for any exorcism costs in the future, or read a book with a ghost in it is up to you. 

2. Read a book with red on the cover!

Twitter voted, and the colour this year is red! From bloodstains to autumn leaves, hopefully you'll all be able to find a suitable read for this challenge.

3. Read two books!

Two days, two books. This is an actual challenge this year as it's a Monday/Tuesday but I believe in you!

As for the giveaways, there will be one that will be picked from people using the #Hallowreadathon hashtag on Instagram and Twitter after the weekend. I think a Christmas book might be in order for that one!

And again, I'll be giving away my Hallowreadathon Preparation box! It'll have chocolates/ sweets/ snacks that fit your dietary requirements so if you're Vegan, please mention it. And a book for each challenge; Killer Affair by Rebecca Chance has red on the cover. And The Shining by Stephen King features ghosts! The winner will be chosen on the 23rd of October to give it time to get to them before the readathon starts. And all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter below. 
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Will you be joining the #Hallowreadathon?

Monday, 18 September 2017

Book Review: Yesterday by Felicia Yap!

Yesterday was published in August and I've finally managed to collect up all my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes a review just flows as soon as you turn over that last page, sometimes books need to settle before you can figure out your feelings. This was one of those books.



How do you solve a murder when you only remember yesterday?

Imagine a world in which classes are divided not by wealth or religion but by how much each group can remember. Monos, the majority, have only one day’s worth of memory; elite Duos have two. In this stratified society, where Monos are excluded from holding high office and demanding jobs, Claire and Mark are a rare mixed marriage. Clare is a conscientious Mono housewife, Mark a novelist-turned-politician Duo on the rise. They are a shining example of a new vision of tolerance and equality—until…


...a beautiful woman is found dead, her body dumped in England’s River Cam. The woman is Mark’s mistress, and he is the prime suspect in her murder. The detective investigating the case has secrets of his own. So did the victim. And when both the investigator’s and the suspect’s memories are constantly erased—how can anyone learn the truth?

I'm always tentative when it comes to books that have multiple points of view. It can be done well but sometimes they just all blend together. It works in Yesterday though. I never forgot whose mind I was in when I was reading, they were all distinctive in their experience of the same day. And a book featuring an authors perspective is always something I'm intrigued in. I'm sure avid readers agree. It's one of many reasons I loved If You Go Away by Adele Parks so much, because it's a peek behind the curtain of the very book in your hands. Mark, one of the four main characters is a popular writer and with that comes some lovely bits about the reality of writing; "But it's hell that inspires the novelist. Not heaven." 

The memory aspect of the story is what makes this book stand out from your usual thriller. The class system in this world is based on those who can remember 24 or 48 hours, and the effort put into moving things from short-term to long-term memory is really important. I have a pretty terrible memory, so I empathised with 'monos' immediately. The whole idea is so original and interesting, although it took me a couple chapters to get my head around it. I would've loved it to be explained a bit more because the world is so similar to ours in every other way, and I imagined that such a big change would have more impact. But we'll have to wait until Today, the prequel expected to come out next summer.

This book says a lot about our own memory, and the way we decide what to remember and what to forget too. How the characters choose to represent themselves in their diaries is very similar to how we portray ourselves on social media sometimes. All those happy tweets I see on my Timehop don't always represent my reality of that day. As the book says; "Your diary says what you want it to say. Memory equals the facts you choose to retain. We are all victims of the pasts we prefer." I definitely want to start writing more in my diary, and honestly, after this read though. Memory doesn't last forever, in this fictional world, or in our own.

Lastly, mental illness features quite a bit in this book but in a pretty respectful and realistic way. One of the main characters, Claire, suffers from some form of depression and while her condition is "a considerable source of vexation" to her husband, she's not automatically assumed to be the murderer as it tends to in a lot of thrillers. Even her psychiatrist features to talk about it in a scientific way which tells me that Yap has put a lot of research into the way she is portraying this. Although the line "Richardson must suffer from some form of OCD, judging by the immaculate arrangement of his office," was a bit of a disappointing cliche.

Overall, Yesterday takes you through 24 hours of these characters lives, and within that you learn a lot more than even they remember. If thrillers aren't thrilling you anymore, Yesterday might be the book for you.

"Coroners are efficient sorts."
"That's because their clients are dead and can't argue with them."

Although not completely on topic, I have to mention how unbelievably nice Felicia is. She has a PhD, she's studied at Cambridge, she's worked as everything from a molecular biologist to a catwalk model and is still one of the most humble people I've ever met. The success from this book so far couldn't happen to a better person and you can bet I will be reading the prequel Today as soon as I can.
And if you want to buy Yesterday, you can here!

Will you be reading Yesterday? What would you do if you could only remember the past 24/48 hours?

Friday, 15 September 2017

Books I Read in July!

Finally! I'm catching up on blog posts and my numerical reading goal for this year, but looking at this pile- I don't know. I know there's no shame in reading what you want to read, it's a recreational activity and all. But I'm not feeling positive about the amount of middle grade I've been sailing through between last month and this. I mean, it's mixed with classics but there's no pattern to my reading this year and as a pattern-loving person, I miss them! Anyway, the books...



Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
So... I wasn't the biggest fan of Fahrenheit 451.
I expected to be! I love books about books. Half my favourite books feature reading and I'm always drawn to any character with a full shelf. But with Fahrenheit 451, I listened to the audiobook and fell asleep halfway through. When I woke up I was just annoyed that I'd have to re-listen to what I missed and isn't that just a bad sign!? The writing just felt clunky, especially with someone reading it. Even when I tried just reading the book myself, we didn't click.
The thing is that the moral of the story is the main point of this book. Not plot. Not characters. A punch-you-in-the-face moral. And oh boy, do I disagree with it. Ray Bradbury himself said many times that Fahrenheit 451 was about mass media like television being 'bad', which- sure. The current POTUS is a reality TV star and a nightmare, but there's complicated and mind-opening TV too just like there's close-minded simple books. Ray Bradbury was living in a pre-Lost era! He was inspired by seeing a woman walking down the street with her headphones in, but heck. I walked down the street with my headphones in listening to this dang book.
Also, his opinions on minorities not feeling represented. Now, I have a whole other blog post half-drafted on how censorship is wrong, and I do get a little confused when people hold classics up to todays standards even though I'm guilty of it at times. But looking forward, I don't see a problem with people wanting to read books that they're represented in. Or at least not wanting to read books that have a deliberately hateful message.
All in all though, I think Ray Bradbury wrote a book that fit his morals without much care for story or characterisation and I don't like the writing or the message... But it made me think. And I appreciate that in a book.
"There must be something in books, things we can't imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don't stay for nothing."


Dancing in Lughnasa by Brian Friel
This is one of the books I'm required to read for my next Open University module; Reading and Studying Literature (you can see the whole haul here). I liked it okay, it just didn't interest me. Chances are that I'll enjoy it a lot more when I study it because I'll start to understand the context and things like that. But for now, it's just a play about a family doing boring family things and all the interesting parts are not explored enough for my liking.


Farewell to the East End by Jennifer Worth
I finally got around to the last of the Call the Midwife books! I took this to Norway and it was the only physical book I actually got round to reading. I really enjoyed this last romp around London, and I have my eye on the newly released edition of In The Midst of Life.
Farewell to the East End went back to the tried and true format of the first book, with shorter chapters and much less talking of situations that she couldn't possibly know about. It focused more on the midwives, and the nuns which was really interesting as I know understand some of the character choices for the TV show a lot more. If felt grim, real, but uplifting at the same time. Jennifer Worth clearly got a lot from these experiences and these really are the kinds of memoirs I like to read!
We had experience, risk, and adventure enough to fill a lifetime. And to remember in old age is sweet-


Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
I borrowed the audiobook of this... from the library! That's a whole other thing but I ended up listening to this while my physical copy was around 700 miles away. Technology is amazing.
I've been meaning to re-read these books for a while anyway, because I loved them as a kid. I would take them from my brothers shelves and devour them. It's James Bond for teenage boys basically. Adventures and gadgets and all kinds of fun!
However, it was kind of... racist? Spoiler alert here, but the main story line was that a middle eastern character was racistly bullied so he became the bad guy. He, and his accomplice, are the only PoC.
And I probably could've done without the line: "We have to send in someone who won't be noticed... We were considering sending down a woman, she might be able to slip in as a secretary or a receptionist but then I had a better idea." With the better idea being to send a schoolboy into the dangerous situation. But there are female characters in power in the book, so I can't decide if it's sexism or a sarcastic observation of women's value in the workplace in 2000.
Overall, I'm proceeding with caution. 
No, the bank wouldn’t kill him. He didn’t even have an account there.


After Eight by Meg Cabot
Guess who finally got around to reading the last books of The Princess Diaries series? Yup. This woman. After discovering my library app, I went and downloaded the ebooks while I was in Norway, despite taking nine physical books. Of course. And I don't even normally read ebooks because they tend to exacerbate my migraines but I was having a couple of migraine-free days and everything just came together.
Anyway, I'm glad I finally got around to this book. There's a little of that old purity myth nonsense where I actually agreed with Mia's Grandmere: “-Virginity is no GIFT. You can’t even WEAR it!” but in general I liked the plot and these books are always fun reads.
Maybe that’s why I was put on this planet- not to be Princes of Genovia, but so that I can worry about everything so nobody else has to bother. 


To the Nines by Meg Cabot
The reason that this got four stars rather than the usual three of enjoyment-but-nothing-special, was because it was actually kind of special! Depression is something that's being dealt with more and more in YA novels nowadays but this was published ten years ago and deals with it really well! Mia goes to therapy, and I can only imagine how wonderfully normalising that could be for a kid reading these books that is dealing with the same things. It makes me wish I kept reading them when I was younger.
I also liked that this book talks about how teenage girls can be completely underrated, which is so true.
“Sometimes in life, you fall down holes you can’t climb out of by yourself. That’s what friends and family are for- to help. They can’t help, however, unless you let them know you’re down there.”


Ten out of Ten by Meg Cabot
And we're done. Amazingly, an exact year since I read book seven and over three years since I re-started the series. I'l admit, I got a little emotional! It's so strange saying goodbye to a series from your childhood. I can't really see myself re-reading it. I know there's Royal Wedding but- well, we'll see if I ever get around to it.
All loose ends are tied up, admittedly in a much longer book than they really needed, we get a happy ever after fit for a princess and my favourite bit of this one was the idea of genre fiction has it's place alongside literary fiction. Mia has written a romance novel and defends it so valiantly. I love a good book that talks about books!
-if you write something that cheers someone up when they’re feeling down, doesn’t that change the world?


Emma by Jane Austen
Did Imogen read her first Jane Austen novel? Yes, I did! I actually asked a bunch of people which I should start with and ended up ignoring all of their sound advice and reading the one that had an audiobook available in an Audible deal. But hey! I actually enjoyed it, and I'm looking forward to my next Austen novel so that's definitely a win.
I wasn't sure what to really expect with Emma, having never read an Austen before and only seeing very vague blurbs. But I enjoyed it well enough. It wasn't as action-packed as most modern novels are and that really disoriented me for a while, but it's really interesting as an insight into how life was lived by people of the upper-middle class in society at that time. There's domestic drama and a really natural community feeling. I fell into the world of Emma and sat with her at tea, walked with her down country lanes, and felt every blunder. It was a lovely escape with no really high stakes.
Now I just have to decide... What Austen next?
“Emma has been meaning to read more ever since she was twelve years old. I have seen a great many lists of her drawing up at various times of books that she meant to read regularly-"


What have you been reading lately?

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Book Unhaul #2

It's time for my next unhaul! I'm actually really surprised at how much I enjoy these posts. Going through all my books, old and new, is not only great for finding absolute gems from my childhood I thought I'd lost. But it's also really challenging the hoarding tendencies of my OCD in a way that rewards success- getting to buy a new book, but doesn't put pressure on me since the only one making me do this is me. Yay for steps forward with personal mental health! Now onto the books...



The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4, The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole and True Confessions of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend 
These went from the photograph for this round-up review, straight into the pile for this unhaul. This type of humour isn't for me, but I know it is for others. I really hope they find a good home from the charity shop and someone enjoys them.

The Calling by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton*
This was one of the first books I received for review way back when, before I researched authors pre-accepting review copies. After struggling through, I gave the prize a Google and found out about James Freys' frankly awful treatment of writers at Full Fathom Five. I still find it hard to believe this led to a three book series, eleven companion novellas, and $2 Million of gold for the prizes. But I barely hear about this series so... Bye.

The It Girl, Notorious, Reckless, Unforgettable, Lucky and Tempted by Cecily von Ziegesar
I wasn't in the book 'scene' when I was younger so I had no idea about amazing books for teens. What I wouldn't do to go back in time and hand younger-Imogen a copy of The Hunger Games. But no. Diversity? Feminism? Pah! Despite my mothers attempts to broaden my horizons, I lived in a fictional world of white straight teenage girls being horrible to each other. This is the Jenny Humpfrey spin-off from the Gossip Girl books, and while I'm debating keeping those for nostalgia, I was never too attached to this series. Those who saw my last unhaul might be spotting a pattern.

Have you read any of these? Have you unhauled anything lately?

Thursday, 31 August 2017

5 Things I Learnt from 24 Hours of Kitten Fostering!

In August I became a volunteer for Cats Protection, with my main interest being fostering. I discovered Kitten Lady about a year ago but up until a few months ago I had a very old and defensive cat. It wouldn't have been fair to him to put him under the stress of kitten roommates. When he passed, it was unbelievably heartbreaking. But eventually I realised that I now had the opportunity to help cats find homes with people that would love them like I loved him. The adventure started with looking after three kittens for 24 hours, and here's what I learnt...



1. It's hard. 
Seriously, kitten fosterers who deal with orphan newborn kittens are warriors. The three tiny babies I was taking care of were maybe three weeks old and I probably got about four or five hours accumulative sleep while I was taking care of them. They needed feeding every two hours because they were so malnourished, and because they weren't used to a bottle it took about an hour and a half to get them fed and settled. Half an hour later, it started right back up again!

2. You have to recognise your limits.
These three-week old abandoned kittens were originally estimated at about five weeks. At five weeks kittens are starting to wean from the bottle to solid food, they're starting to use a litter tray, they're much less dependent and I like to think I could've handled it. But when I actually got them, they were much younger, hadn't been fed overnight and throughout the day I discovered they were far from healthy. They needed more help then I could give and that was tough! I felt like a failure. But kittens come before pride and I knew that there was a limit to my knowledge. They were taken back to the vet, then taken in with a more experienced fosterer and have since flourished!

3. Kittens are always cute, even when they pee on your hand.
Very small kittens can't pee or poop on their own. They need stimulation. Normally this is the mother licking them but luckily a paper towel rubbing also does the trick. Sometimes, though, there's a very full bladder and pee gets on your hand. I swear I washed my hands more times in those 24 hours then I normally do in a week. But- kittens! They were so cute, they could pee on me and I'd just be like- oh you little sweetheart! Good job!

4. It's lifesaving.
While the kittens I had were under the wing of Cats Protection and luckily there were fosterers other than me to take care of them, in certain areas and shelters- there isn't. Orphan kittens who require bottle feeding every two hours, heating pads and manual help to pee and poop, are put down in a lot of shelters because there just aren't enough people to do the work. And not everyone can do it! It's full-on and full-time for the first couple weeks. But it literally saves kittens lives and even though I was only keeping the little guys alive for 24 hours, it felt really great to be able to do that.

5. Boy names are tough!
Throughout this post, the kittens didn't have names because they were three little boys and I couldn't think of any for the life of me! And just as I thought of some, they were leaving. I have so many girl names but boy names? I'm lost. Luckily, the kittens I'm looking after now are a boy and a girl so it wasn't quite as tough. Esther and Gilbert are named for Anne Brontë's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Literary names are the best.

Have you ever fostered kittens? Aren't they just the cutest?

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Required Reading Haul!

You know what's great about being an English Literature and Creative Writing student? The books you have to buy for your module don't count towards your self-imposed book ban. Right? Also, education and all of that great stuff. Anyway, I'm always interested in books that other universities set for required reading so I thought I would show the nine books I've bought for my next Open University module; A230 - Reading and Studying Literature!



The first few months of the module is looking at The Renaissance and the Long Eighteenth Century. So I might finally learn how to spell Renaissance without autocorrect! The books for this are Othello by William Shakespeare and The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster, looking at the treatment of love and death in tragedies. I haven't read Shakespeare since school so I'm a little nervous about that, but I love a good tragedy.

Oroonoko by Aphra Behn and Candide, or Optimism by Francois Voltaire


Then we'll move onto Oroonoko by Aphra Behn and Candide, or Optimism by Francois Voltaire, along with an autobiography of an ex-slave and accounts of mutinies. This is all about journeys and I'm really hyped for it. Does anyone else remember that scene in The Princess Diaries where Lily goes; "Voltaire, hair. I would personally like to learn about Voltaire." Now I finally get to!

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë


After that is Romantics and Victorians where the coursebook has a lot of the materials; poems by Wordsworth and Shelley, short stories by E. T. A. Hoffman and Robert Louis Stevenson. This is also when the chunky Victorian novels I'm really excited about come into play; mainly Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. The other books I'm to read are The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which I've coincidentally already read this year! And Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, which I have several copies of because it was one of my A-level texts and I've struggled to read it for fun since then.

The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon, Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel and The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald.


And if I get through all that, it's into The Twentieth Century. The focus starts with Cities, there'll be a bunch of New York based poems along with Dubliners by James Joyce. I actually mentioned this in Books I Want to Buy and Why #10. My university actually recommended this copy but I'm a sucker for the Penguin English Library covers and they had the same contents.

Then it shifts to Migration and Memory which just sounds fascinating! Especially with the time period; the wars and decolonisation. The books I bought are The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon, Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel (I forgot to photograph this) and The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald but I'll also be studying poetry by Elizabeth Bishop and James Berry’s Windrush Songs.

Overall, it's a really interesting bunch of books and I'm going to (hopefully) read most of them in advance before my module starts in October because I hate getting behind on set reading as a mood reader. I hope this was interesting!

What do you think of my haul? What was your favourite book you were required to read?

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