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?

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Books I Took to Norway!

In a little bit of a last minute decision, I ended up spending the last two weeks of July in Norway. I'd never been before and it really is such a beautiful country! Of course, I had to overpack on the books as well. I ended up reading quite a bit- I finished six books while I was out there, but five of them were digital because I discovered my local library has an app and went a little out of control. But these are the books I intended to read...

Books I Took to Norway in a pile with the Norwegian flag in the background


Othello by William Shakespeare
In an attempt to get as far ahead as I can in my next module before it starts and I inevitably fall behind, I brought one of my set texts away with me so I could really get my head around it. I mean, it's Othello, what can I really say? He actually made a two hour flight go by in a flash!

Farewell to the East End by Jennifer Worth
This was actually the first book I finished on my holiday, reading it on the train from Oslo to Bergen. After starting this series in October of last year and really enjoying the first book, then being really disappointed by the second book in May, I wasn't sure what to expect. I just really wanted something with short chapters that I knew I could put down and pick up a lot without losing too much of a continuing plot.

My Mothers Shadow by Nikola Scott
This is a slow, savouring read that I've been really enjoying for a while now. I didn't want to leave it at home for a fortnight. I even saw a woman in the airport looking at a copy in WHSmith and after dithering about in shy anxiety for a minute, was that person and told her it was really good.

Night Shift by Charlaine Harris
Now, I took this to Corfu along with the first two books in the trilogy and read those. But I didn't get around to this one and decided to save it as a holiday treat. But it didn't fit with Norway. I know, I know, mood reader nonsense! I adore this series so I'll finish it soon I expect.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
There's a tiny reference to Norway in The Hithhikers Guide to the Galaxy. But also, this is one of those books that I haven't read yet but know that I'll really enjoy. I was just delaying reading it for some reason or another. And with one of my reading goals for 2017 being to stop this, why not bring it along? I didn't get around to it, but I have one more holiday this year and this is coming with me.

Empire and Dominion by Jennifer Ridyard and John Connolly
I am determined to finish this series this year. 2017. The year Imogen finally finishes the Chronicles of the Invaders. Even if I have to drag them all around the world with me.

Yesterday by Felicia Yap
This is being released in a couple days and I am so excited! I actually headed down to London last week for the launch after meeting Felicia in February and getting a sampler of her debut. I wanted to finish it after starting it at home but couldn't find the focus while I was away. This of course, came back as soon as I touched down on British soil but the book went on a nice holiday I guess!

The Swimmer by Joakim Zander
So, out of the 800+ books I own, none of them are set in Norway! The closest I could get was this, which is a mystery/spy/thriller that starts off in Sweden then continues around Europe. I've been meaning to read this for a few years but still haven't. Maybe a trip to Sweden is in order.

Have you ever been to Norway? What do you think of the books I packed?

Monday, 7 August 2017

Book Review: The White Road by Sarah Lotz!

The publication of any new Sarah Lotz book is cause for celebration in my mind, and The White Road is no exception. Ever since staying up way past my bedtime to read The Three, it's been my go-to recommendation for a book that will hook new readers. And while I didn't love Day Four as much, I recently went on a boat trip and it freaked me the heck out. So thanks for that Sarah Lotz!


Adrenaline junkie Simon Newman sneaks onto private land to explore a dangerous cave in Wales with a strange man he's met online. But Simon gets more than he bargained for when the expedition goes horribly wrong. Simon emerges, the only survivor, after a rainstorm trap the two in the cave. Simon thinks he's had a lucky escape.

But his video of his near-death experience has just gone viral.

Suddenly Simon finds himself more famous than he could ever have imagined. Now he's faced with an impossible task: he's got to defy death once again, and film the entire thing. The whole world will be watching. There's only on place on earth for him to pit himself against the elements: Mt Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.

But Everest is also one of the deadliest spots on the planet. Two hundred and eighty people have died trying to reach its peak.

And Simon's luck is about to run out.


I'm a fan of the 'found footage' genre, more the horror movie type than the sometimes more disturbing real ones.  It's always fascinated me that your last moments could be caught on film forever. The video of the man running in a panic around the catacombs, only to drop the camera with his only light source and continue on into the dark? Terrifying. Well worth a Google deep dive if you're in the frame of mind to be spooked. So I was interested to see how Sarah Lotz would take a very visual medium and adapt that for a novel. 

However, it's pretty difficult to transfer an event from one media to another- comic books work well as movies because they're very visual, book adaptations on film don't generally work because they lack detail, and a describing a viral video in words... I'm not sure it worked seamlessly. The writing didn't manage to put me in the shoes of Simon. It's definitely a book based on plot and that creepy vibe that's hard to pin down. That is definitely where Sarah Lotz excels, she is the master of the prickling at the back of your neck, from a cave in Wales to the top of Mount Everest.

Another thing that hooked me from the blurb was the fact that Simon is a blogger. He's more of a Buzzfeed kind of clickbait content creator than anything I would follow personally (yeah, I said it) but- I'll take it. At the beginning, when he's struggling for page views, oh boy did I empathise. 

And lastly, the OCD representation in the book was interesting to me as it's manifestation was similar to how my OCD is. And I appreciated that when Simon says it's "quite sweet", the character gives him a "'don't patronise me' look", because real mental health problems are anything but sweet. Later when Simon's own mental health deteriorates, he takes on the same coping mechanism. The representation is accurate, but shallow, showing only the surface of the problem with no conclusion which I know some readers don't like. But for me, I took this at face value. Sometimes mental health problems have no conclusion. I've read books before where OCD has been given to characters to make them more 'interesting' and that's gross, but this felt to me like a well-rounded but background character who has an obsessive compulsion disorder. 

Unless you're a climber, in which case your hobby might be ruined forever, The White Road is out now and can be bought here!

I was certain I could make out words hidden in the watery clamour; it was tantalising like listening to a conversation through a wall.

Will you be picking it up? Who's the author who gets you really excited? 

Friday, 4 August 2017

Books I Read in June!

Ever forget to post something and don't remember until you look for the post to link in next months wrap-up? Yeah, less said about that, the better. My reading in June can be categorised into two; kids books and Charlaine Harris. And it was a really good reading month! Everything I read, I gave a four stars or more and I'm always excited to get some more Charlaine Harris in my life. Even if they is the last series I have to read before I've finished her entire works, I took them to Greece and they were exactly what I needed.



Wonderboy by Nicole Burstein
You can read my full review of this on Sabrina's blog here!
They looked like the kind of school kids I read about in old adventure books, who drank ginger ale and solved mysteries in their half-term holidays.


Goodknyght! by Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore
Hello very battered copy! I find it so funny that I'm so protective of my books now whereas young-me just did not care about anything. Ah youth. This has been so obviously dropped in the bath as well as losing the cover.
Anyway, this is a fun kids book where you can also tell that great care has been put in so that adults reading to kids can be entertained too. Humpfrey the Boggart completely went over my head as a kid, as did the reference; "I think thish ish the beginning of a beautiful friendship." But as a grown-up? Loved it!
This also isn't a straightforward one-adventure-and-done kind of tale. The twists and turns of this rival some plots of the fantasy books I've read for the YA/adult market. And it had been so long that I had forgotten how this ended, so even I was surprised by the ending. I remember the reason I liked these books so much when I was younger was that while I read a lot of fantasy and adventure as a kid, there wasn't a lot of female characters that were physically strong and involved beyond using their wits. It's great to use your wits- I just wanted the occasional fight too. And this gives me at least one female character, and she's super strong and regularly gets the main male character out of all sorts of bother. So, not superb but overall, it's a great little book from its time.
"Well, the fact is, I don't want to be eaten. It's bad for my health."


Midnight Crossing by Charlaine Harris
I took the plunge. I finally started Charlaine Harris's latest and only series I haven't yet read, starting with Midnight Crossing. And unsurprisingly, I loved it. Since I've read everything else she's put out, I know a few of the characters and a lot of the lore already. Because of that, reading this was like getting into clothes fresh out of the dryer; soft, warm and fits like a glove.
The story is a murder mystery which is, in my opinion, what Charlaine Harris revolves her best books around. However, as always, it's much, much more. I fell in love with this little community in this tiny roadside Texan town. It's very early Welcome to Night Vale feeling with more neighbourly caring. I loved getting to know the inhabitants and seeing how they deal with a murder in their midst. And as always, I loved the writing. It might not be to everyones taste but the cosy crime paranormal domestic drama thing Harris has going on is exactly what I need to curl up with at the end of the day.
I will say, my one issue, and this is more an editing thing, is the use of the word 'hermaphrodite' which is wildly outdated. That should've been picked up by someone because the character clearly meant intersex and it wasn't being used as an insult, just a little note to future readers. These are decidedly anti-hateful books which is why it's so out of place, as Bobo says; "I'm pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-whales and tuna and wolves and every damn thing you can think of." Are book boyfriends still a thing? Can Bobo be mine?
-their lives altering as this body toppled all their pursuits in a domino effect, and she was profoundly sorry that she was the finger pushing the first tile.


Day Shift by Charlaine Harris
I think it took me all of twenty seconds after finishing Midnight Crossing to pick up Day Shift. I was on a roll while I was in Corfu.
This was another murder mystery, but had a mini side-plot that doesn't really come to a conclusion and another side-plot that put a bit of pressure on the story. And that might've been what made this slightly less enjoyable to me then the first book. I like the slow pace that Charlaine Harris can take with her cosy mysteries. I like the fact that this small town is generally not busy- so making it busy feels very strange. However, it's very much more of the same. The little Texan community pulling together to support their own, domestic drama and it was good to meet an old favourite from the Sookie Stackhouse books again!
I think the side plots will end up playing out in the third book as well, and just thinking about it has me itching to pick up the last book in the trilogy. I can't believe after Night Shift that I'll have read every series by Charlaine Harris. I need recommendations for an author that can fill the gap ASAP.
He's too much rose, not enough thorn-


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
What is there to say about the Harry Potter books that hasn't already been said?
For those who don't follow me on Twitter, I tweeted some thoughts as I re-listened to this and can basically sum up my entire experience into a complete confusion of how the wizarding world works. And also, I forgot how scary the monster was in the Stephen Fry audiobook! I'm a grown-up and was spooked, kid-me must've been much braver.


What did you read way back in June? Can you remember?

Sunday, 23 July 2017

My 5 Reading Goals for 2017: 6 Months In!

2017 is going by pretty fast, huh? I'm genuinely surprised we've managed to make it this far without any major international incidents! I've been pretty quiet over here on the blog, my personal life has been kind of a bummer and my university life has been keeping me busy- but I'm on Summer holiday now and just found out I passed first year! So why not start hopefully posting regularly again with a catch-up on my reading goals?

My 5 Reading Goals for 2017: 6 Months In!



1. Stop delaying.
This was all about reading what I want to read, when I want to read it. I think I'm actually doing pretty well with this one. I've read some amazing books this year that I've wanted to read for years and years; like Catch-22 and Lolita, and I'm currently reading my first Jane Austen! On the other hand, I've also found myself looking at the books I own and not wanting to read them. My tastes are changing and I can't pin-point where they're going to land yet.

2. Goodbye comfort zone.

I wanted to say hello to classics, non-fiction and longer books and welcome them into my life. Well- I'm doing okay on this one but I feel like I could definitely push the boat out further. My English Literature module starting in October is definitely going to bring more classics and books I wouldn't necessarily have picked up into my reading though. Othello, Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein; it's going to be fun!

3. Read a book in German.

I've finished my German module but I still don't think I could read and understand a whole book in German yet... Maybe I should just try and see how I go but I'm feeling really German-ed out at the moment. Hopefully the motivation to actually do this comes back once the stress of essays wears off.

4. Replace.

This was also part of my 2017 goals, with the hope of 'curating' my bookshelves a little. I've been following a bring in one book, for every ten that go out- rule and it's been working pretty well. By which I mean, I've unhauled ten books and bought one that I really wanted, so far. And I have about four drafted unhaul posts waiting in the wings for me to be organised enough to photograph them and ship them off to Oxfam.

5. Read 80 books.

Oh boy. I really jinxed myself with this one! I had this idea that since I read 80 books in 2015, but only 62 in 2016, that I should push myself back up to 2015s amount of reading. Makes sense, until I go back and realise that I was reading vastly different kinds of books that year- easier books! And that I was healthier, less stressed, less busy, etc. But hey! I'm only 13 books behind schedule, I could still bring it back around.

Did you have any reading goals for 2017? How are you doing with them?

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