Saturday, 26 December 2015

Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles

Typical. Probably the most famous Sherlock Holmes story there is, and I'd read basically all of them except this one. I, as a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, should hang my head in shame.

But no more! Last month, I finally picked up this book after years of wanting to, which kinda what my Classics Catch-Up month was all about! Sure, this one wasn't actually on my TBR for the month, but I never stick to TBRs, and who am I to break the tradition now? ;)

Besides, as I said above, this is almost certainly the most famous Sherlock Holmes story, and I've seen quite a few adaptations of it. So I thought it was high time I read the real thing for myself!

Having read and loved all of the short stories, I found the longer ones I've read (A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four) to be a little disappointing. The stories themselves felt a bit like overlong short stories with a giant rambling explanation on the end, which is not exactly what I wanted from a novel.

But The Hound of the Baskervilles is much more of a fleshed out story, and has more of a novel-like feel to it. The tension builds much more slowly as the threads of the mystery are woven together. I loved the spooky atmosphere of the Dartmoor setting and the lurking threat of the Grimpen Mire, capable of swallowing up anyone who makes one false step.

As far as the mystery goes, I deduced who the villain was fairly quickly. But there were still plenty of satisfying loose ends to tie up after that. All in all, a highly worthwhile read. And it didn't take very long either!

Have you read The Hound of the Baskervilles?

What are you reading over the holidays?

Sunday, 20 December 2015

5 Fave "New to Me" Author Discoveries This Year

Hello! And welcome back to another post for #AMonthofFaves (check out the intro post for the details, including links to the hosts' blogs!).

Today's post is another one from last week (oops), and the topic is '5 favourite new-to-me authors of the year'. I read loads of authors this year that I'd never read before, so it'll be tricky to narrow it down!

Oh well, here goes nothing:

1.Thomas Hardy

"But Rachel, you didn't read a Thomas Hardy book this year!"

True. But I did listen to about half of the audiobook for Far from the Madding Crowd and absolutely loved it. I don't think audiobooks are for me (at least at the moment), but I did fall in love with Hardy's writing and I'm so so keen to pick this up in physical form soon.

2. Junot Diaz

"But Rachel, isn't this the first time you're mentioning Junot Diaz on this blog?"

Why yes, astute reader, I believe it is. This is a slightly embarrassing story... I read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao earlier in the summer, but I stopped about 6 pages from the end and still haven't finished it. Why? Not a clue!

I really loved the book though, and I can't wait to pick up This is How You Lose Her, which I bought recently with my birthday money.

3. Alice Walker

I LOVED The Color Purple when I read it this summer, and according to my sister the rest are just as good.

4. F. Scott Fitzgerald

I think my strategy for narrowing down this list is, rather than necessarily trying to choose my favourite (way too many!), to choose authors that have really made me want to delve deeper into their writing and read more of what they've got to offer. This kind of excludes writers like Harper Lee (I'm not that fussed about her new book) and Andy Weir, simply because it was their book as a standalone rather than their whole body of work which interested me. Hopefully that makes sense :P

Anyway, my absolutely favourite part of The Great Gatsby was Fitzgerald's writing style, and that's definitely something I'm keen to explore in his other works. I can't believe it took me so long to get to him, but I'm glad I finally did this year!

5. George R.R. Martin

Though he may not be my favourite author of the year, this guy has really made me want to read the rest of his books! I've been told they're not all as good as the first one, but that some of them are great. I can't wait to discover them!

So there you have it! My top 5 new-to-me authors of the year.

Who were your favourites?

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things in 2015

Plot twist: the bottom of this post is stuck on blue and it won't let me change it! 

Today's #AMonthofFaves topic is fun!!!

(Hop on over to Estella's Revenge or check out my announcement post for deets on what #AMonthofFaves actually is if you're not sure.)

Today's post is a list of favourite things from 2015, [Edit: I forgot to post this! It's the theme from December 3rd!] whether that's book-related or not. This is so great to reflect on - I've got so much to be thankful for, but I do such a bad job at remembering that. It's so good to be reminded once in a while of the good things in your life.

Favourite film of the year:

The Martian. Hands down. Loved the film just as much as the book and can't wait till it comes out on DVD.


My year of music listening has consisted very heavily of the Wicked soundtrack and (especially lately) Christmas music by Pentatonix. Judge all you like ;)


This year I was introduced by my housemate to the wonders of peanut butter and soy sauce and I've never looked back.


In my old flat we had a whole shelving unit filled with different teas, and it was wonderful. Clipper do an amazing blend called Snore and Peace (also, great name!), which is camomile and other loveliness. That was probably my favourite of the teas, but the rest were great too.

Item of clothing:

I got given a Ravenclaw scarf for my birthday last year and it got worn for a significant proportion of 2015. No regrets.


A pair of brown brogues. Great shoes = happiness :)

Internet decision:

Making a bookish Instagram. Best decision ever.


Honey Blossom scented candle from Yankee Candle. Closely followed by Cranberry Ice and Pink Sands. Not obsessed at all ;)

TV show:

Merlin. (Forever and always.)

Thanks buddy :')


Graduation! Actually quite a boring event in itself but it means I HAVE A DEGREE so that's always a good thing.

Outdoor activity:

Frisbee. Closely followed by cycling to work. (I also like Frisbee indoors)


Edinburgh. I went with a couple of friends in the summer and adored every second.

Animal encounter:

The elusive neighbour's cat (the cat is elusive, not the neighbour). But it's also the most adorable cat ever and I want it for my own.

Book-related gift:

This mug.

Thing to do:

Go for walks with my mum.

Biggest change:

Leaving education. Becoming an adult. Realising that I have to actively decide now what happens to me otherwise I'll stay in limbo in the same job forever and ever.

But I also get paid so... 

That's it for now! Let me know your faves of 2015 in the comments :) 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

5 Popular Books Worth the Hype

Hello again! I only posted yesterday and here I am again. What is this madness???

In case you missed it, I'm participating in the blogging event #AMonthofFaves throughout the month of December. Read all about it here, and be sure to visit the hosts' blogs (and the other participants'!).

Today's theme is:

5 Popular Books Worth the Hype

...and it just so happens that I've read quite a few popular books this year that I thought were well worth the buzz. So many, in fact, that it was tricky to pick just five, but I think I'm happy with how I've narrowed it down. Let me know what you think!

1. The Martian

This book received a lot of hype when it was released, and even more when the film came out earlier this year. I absolutely loved it and thought it was worth all the hype 100%. Even my brother thought it was great, and he doesn't even read that much! So there you go.

2. The Great Gatsby

This is an incredibly famous book, so it was difficult to know how to prepare myself to read it. I think the way I did it - a spontaneous decision without any forethought - was the best way I could have chosen. For me, it definitely lived up to its reputation and I'm really keen to read more Fitzgerald in the future.

3. A Game of Thrones

This book is absolutely everywhere! It was recommended specifically to me by my brother (he even bought it for me!), which is high praise indeed from such a sporadic reader. But another friend whose opinions I trust didn't enjoy it at all, so I didn't know quite what to think. I finally read it this year and thankfully I really enjoyed it (it's always more fun to enjoy things I think!), and am very keen to pick up the rest of the books.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird

I read this for the first time this year and absolutely loved it. It's often difficult to know how you'll feel about a book as famous as this, and it can be a bit off-putting to know that everything you're thinking about it has been thought and expressed a thousand times before. But nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of this book, and for me it was well worth the hype.

5. The Catcher in the Rye

I wasn't sure where I would stand on this as it's so well known and so divisive. Some people love it and some absolutely hate it. I think I definitely chose the right time to pick this one up. Loved it!

What 5 books would you pick?

Share your #AMonthofFaves in the comments!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

#AMonthofFaves {My Reading Year}

So this was supposed to get posted yesterday...?? Woops! Blogger, you fail!

Huzzah! It's here! December has arrived and I no longer have to fear judgement for blasting out Christmas music and wanting to eat mince pies every other minute.

December is also a fun time because of the #AMonthofFaves blogging event hosted by Girlxoxo, Traveling with T and Estella's Revenge, which basically involves writing a themed post for each day in December.


Today's post is all about bookish stats from this year, from best reading month to most-read genre and everything in between.

Total books read:

25 new books and 10 re-reads, including the entire Harry Potter series. Not spectacular by book-blogger standards (or compared with my previous years), but I'm pretty proud considering I was also doing finals for my degree.

Most read author:

J.K. Rowling - I re-read the whole Harry Potter series so that's 7 books. I think I only read one each by everyone else.. Though actually I did read two by Neil Gaiman so I guess he's second on the list.

E-books vs. physical books:

Of the 35 books I read in total so far this year only 3 have been e-books, so physical books win here by a large margin. Quite a contrast with last year where I spent a large portion of it abroad with only my kindle for company.

Most read genre:

I read a lot of classics this year, as well as a lot of books that I guess you would class as 'literary fiction'. But I did read a few fantasy books too (Harry Potter, Neil Gaiman books, GoT, Dracula...), and I'd love to read more soon.

Best/worst reading month:

I think July would probably have to be my best reading month as I read so many books on holiday, but I can't actually remember how many that was... Probably about 6 or 7.

As for my worst month, there were a couple of months where I read basically nothing at all, though I can't remember which those were. Almost certainly May and I think February as well. Sad times. But hooray for no more exams or essays!

Best book of the year:

Well that would be telling ;)

I'm not even sure I've decided yet! I think at the moment it's a tie between two that I really enjoyed. One because it felt so real and was so well researched and the other because it had such a unique voice. That's all you're getting for now!

How was your reading year?

Feel free to link to your #AMonthofFaves post in the comments! I'd love to read it :)

Monday, 30 November 2015

November Wrap-Up and December ANNOUNCEMENT!

Tomorrow it's officially December! Which means it'll officially be OK to listen to Christmas music (or at least to admit it!) and wear Christmas jumpers etc. Good times :)

This month I'm doing my wrap-up very slightly early so I can begin an EXCITING THING in December... But more on that in a bit! Let's get wrapping up shall we? (Appropriate to be wrapping up when it's nearly Christmas, eh???) (I'll show myself out)

What I wrote:

This month I've been doing a mini catch-up of some classics that I've always meant to read, so I put up a little TBR of books I'd like to try and get to (obviously not all of them, I'm not that ambitious!). I mentioned in my October wrap-up that I'd started reading The Great Gatsby, which I then finished at the start of November and absolutely LOVED! It actually reminded me a lot of Breakfast at Tiffany's, in that both books feature a central character who is a source of fascination for the much less charismatic narrator.

I also posted a couple of reviews, for The Catcher in the Rye and Ready Player One (the latter being a review that had been sitting half-finished in my drafts since July - oops!).

What I read:

I covered The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye above, but on top of that, I also read The Hound of the Baskervilles, which I also intend to review shortly (Spoiler Alert: I loved it!). Next, I started Frankenstein by Mary Shelley but got halfway through and fancied something else, so I picked up my new copy of The Hobbit that just arrived from Amazon.

I will finish Frankenstein at some point (hopefully soon), but I was finding it too hard a slog for my current mood. You know how it is, I'm sure! Anyway, I'm still on The Hobbit and loving it so far! I don't think I've read it since I had it read to me as a child, so it's definitely a much needed re-read.

What are you reading?

What I watched:

I've been continuing my love-hate relationship with Dr Who, as well as continuing my Merlin spree. I also watched a couple of films: Spectre (pretty good but SO violent! I couldn't believe it was a 12a!!!) and About Time (on my friend's Netflix). I was also given season 1 of Gilmore Girls on DVD, which will get watched in the coming weeks (/days/hours).

What I did:

Well, halfway through the month I had a birthday, which was nice. :) Apart from that I've been generally just chugging along, seeing friends, playing Frisbee and getting more and more cross with the weather as it tries to blow/rain/storm me off my bike on the way to work.

I've also been listening to the Pentatonix Christmas albums on repeat, particularly this song:

I'm obsessed...

Finally, my wonderful friend Carly introduced me to an app called Neko Atsume - Kitty Collector, which is basically Crazy Cat Lady: The App. But it's so adorable and I'm hooked! Just look!!!!


So yeah, I think that's all I wanted to mention for that.


Yesterday, I was having a read of some blogs, and I came across this post from Sophisticated Dorkiness in which she mentioned that some bloggers are doing a 'Month of Faves' blogging event throughout December. I had a quick look, and immediately decided to get involved.

I fully intend to stick to it at least most days! Hoorah! Take a look at the link above for the daily themes and let me know in the comments if you fancy getting involved too. Could be fun!?

So, how was your November?

Monday, 23 November 2015

Review: The Catcher in the Rye

The trouble with classics, especially ones as famous as this one, is that it can be hard to feel like your review can possibly contribute anything to the discussion that hasn't been said a million times (and a million times better!) before.

So I think this 'review' will probably be more of a personal reaction to The Catcher in the Rye and my experience of the book, rather than a review in the traditional sense.

Since I was first introduced to this book (when it was mentioned on 8 Simple Rules as being Bridget's favourite book), I've heard mixed things to say the least! Plenty of people declare it a book they thoroughly disliked, while others loved it. Having read it, I can certainly understand both points of view.

The book's protagonist Holden Caulfield made me feel a strong mix of pity, empathy and dislike. He is completely inconsistent, frequently complaining about behaviours and character traits in others that he continually displays himself, and he claims to hate all of his friends, while simultaneously wanting to be around them. Basically, he has no idea what he wants, or who he is, or what his life will be.

And I think that's why I liked this book so much. Sure, it also made me uncomfortable (much like Franny and Zooey did when I read that), but it also felt very real. All the things Holden does, all the little traits he notices in others, ring so true. And while Holden's experiences are certainly not reflective of mine, I think everyone can relate in someway to the feeling of being lost and of not knowing who you are.

I feel like if I'd read this book at a different time, a time when I was less uncertain of the future and more sure of my place in the world, then I wouldn't have liked this book half as much. But as it is, this book came at exactly the right time.

Is that weird?

How about you? Have you read The Catcher in the Rye? And, if so, what did you think?

Have you ever read a book at exactly the right time in your life?

Friday, 6 November 2015

November - The Accidental Classics Catch-Up Month!

So I'm aware that the title of this post is a bit of a mouthful, but I did just manage to pull a vacuum-cleaner down on my own head while cleaning the stairs, so don't be too hard on my OK..?

This month I started by reading The Great Gatsby, and now I'm reading The Catcher in the Rye. Both books are ones I've heard referenced and mentioned countless times on TV, in films, in other books and by people around me, both IRL and on the internet.

So I've made the spur-of-the-moment decision to spend November reading all those types of classics that I've been meaning to read for ages but never got round to it. You know the ones... The ones that are considered 'canon', and are always featured on Books You MUST Read Before You Die lists.

Now, I know the so-called literary canon is far from perfect, and I'm well aware I'm likely to be reading a good many straight, white men this month... But I feel like, while they certainly aren't the be-all and end-all of literature (unlike some readers would have me believe), I'm sure they are considered classics for a reason. And I feel like their influence on popular culture and the literary landscape makes them worth the read.

I've drawn up a sort-of TBR for November, to the end of reading as many of The Books I Always Meant To Read as I can. It's really more of a list of books I might read, in no particular order, but I thought it might be of interest anyway!

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (This is technically a re-read, but I haven't read it since I had it read to me a child, so it's almost a first-time read!)
  • Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Hmm... I think that's about all I can come up with! I left off all the really massive ones I want to read (*ahem* Les Mis *cough* Anna Karenina *cough* Moby Dick *cough*)

 Are there any I should add to the list?

 Please feel free to join me reading some classics if you feel like it! Let me know which ones in the comments below. :)

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Review: Ready Player One

I'm sure it's not escaped the notice of many of you that Ready Player One by Ernest Cline has been an extremely popular book of late. I've seen reviews just about everywhere, all of which have adamantly sung the book's praises. Once I'd gathered the book's premise, it seemed to me the perfect book to get for my brother (who can sometimes be less than enthusiastic about reading) for his birthday. Then, in true sibling fashion, I immediately borrowed it back, I was that impatient to read it!

So, what did I think?

I must admit, I went into this book with rather high hopes. And it did not disappoint! The world was interesting and (mostly) believable, the dialogue was fun, the characters were good, and the plot itself kept me on the edge of my seat. I actually considered canceling plans with friends because I wanted to keep reading it. That's how gripping it was!

I think part of what was so enjoyable, though, was seeing how much fun the author had obviously had with the book. Every page was crammed with geeky 80s pop culture references and the narration had a layer of snark to it that just added to the effect. To be honest, a lot of the references went over my head (since I wasn't around in the 80s) but I still found them really fun. I imagine the experience would be even better if you got all the jokes.

Let's be honest, this book was pure wish-fulfillment. The nerdy, unpopular, poor, unattractive gamer beating the odds and winning the most epic game in history, while getting a girlfriend and perfect body to boot, is straight out of a stereotypical nerd's cliché daydream. But so what!? It worked! And I thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

What did you think of Ready Player One?

Monday, 2 November 2015

October Wrap-Up

Hi folks, it's that time again where I discuss what's been going on over the past month! This month I actually read some books - quelle surprise!

What I wrote:

This month I did put out a couple of blog posts. Not as many as I'd like, of course, but baby steps...

Early on in the month I kicked off my 'Let's talk...' discussion post series with a post on re-reading books and my thoughts on that. Feel free to continue the discussion in the comments on that or link to your own post on that theme!

Next up (two weeks later...!), I posted a slightly personal post about writing and my intentions to start doing it again. I'm not doing NaNoWriMo, but feel free to let me know if you are! I'd love to cheer you on!

What I read:

Most of my reading this month consisted of a continuation of my Harry Potter re-read. I don't actually know what book I was on when the month began, but I finished the final book around halfway through the month. I actually re-read the final chapters of The Deathly Hallows several times, as I just love them so much! Next up I picked up Villette by Charlotte Bronte, which I actually started reading last year but ended up shelving as I had too much uni work. I was completely intrigued by this book, and ended up really loving it, despite how strange it made me feel - it's quite different to Jane Eyre!

Finally, I started reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which is one of those books (rather like To Kill a Mockingbird) which I am ashamed to have left unread for so long. It so pervades our culture and collective consciousness that I really felt it was a must-read. I actually finished it on the first day of November, but hey! I still read most of it in October so I'm counting it!

What I watched:

Almost all of my TV watching for this month has consisted of Dr Who, which returned to our (British) screens recently! I have to say, my love-hate relationship to this show has not eased up on the 'hate' (*coughStephenMoffatcough*), but a couple of the episodes had some good ideas. Electric eels though? Really???

And what's with the sonic sunglasses?

I also finished my series 1 box set of Merlin, and am desperate to start re-watching series 2 immediately! I just love that show so much <3 Finally, on Friday my dad and I watched the Hitchcock film Psycho, which I've never seen but have heard so much about. It's so so creepy but I loved it!

What I did:

This month was pretty much a continuation of that last, in that it was a fairly uneventful time of working and casual socialising. I did get a sort-of promotion at work (more responsibility but no more money, alas!) and that has made the job more interesting. I also visited a friend in London for the weekend, and managed to get tickets to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (the new HP play opening in the West End next year) for next July - excited!!! :D

Anyway, I think that's pretty much it from me!

Let me know in the comments what you've been up to :)

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

On Writing

*Disclaimer: personal post alert!*

A little less than two years ago, I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for the unfamiliar among you) and churned out about 27,000 words of a novel, a feat of which I am still extremely proud. At some point during the writing process, however, I lost confidence and became bogged down in questions about why I was writing at all.

I liked the novel, I really did, but it somehow felt like it wasn't coming from me. I was writing something I thought people would want to read, but I wasn't writing something only I could create. And I came to realise that this fear of uniqueness, of authenticity extended far beyond my writing; it was pervading every aspect of my life.

So I stopped writing, and I put that particular passion of mine in a box and stashed it away where it couldn't bother me, and I got on with other things.

But writing didn't seem to want to leave me alone. I thought about it secretly. I noticed it constantly. I seethed with envy whenever a friend or acquaintance came out as a writer on social media (which happened surprisingly often). And in the end I just had to give in!

So this is me declaring that I'm writing again! I don't know what, and I don't know where it will take me. But that's part of the fun isn't it!? Who's with me?

p.s. Sorry Stephen King, I stole your title.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Let's Talk... Re-reading Books

First off, let's get out of the way the awkwardness of not knowing if there really is a hyphen in 're-read'... My instinct says to put it in but I've also seen it without all over the place. PLEASE ADVISE!!!


So today, in honour of this not-having-posted-anything-in-forever-and-I-really-need-to-kick-this-habit blog post, I would love you all to join me in my new series of discussion posts. These will relate to all things booky and book-bloggy, and you're all more than welcome to join in the discussion in the comments.


Today's post, as you've probably worked out from the title, is about re-reading books.

Now I'm a huge re-reader, especially when it comes to my childhood favourites. In fact, I'm re-reading the Harry Potter series now, which is probably what prompted me to write this post!

Here are a couple of reasons why I re-read books. Feel free to leave your own in the comments :)

1. A safe bet

I'd say probably the biggest reason for re-reading books (for me) is that I know I'll like them. Although I love to discover new books too, sometimes all I want to do is hop back on the Hogwarts Express and lose myself in that old familiar world.

'He accused me of being "Dumbledore's man through and through".'
'How very rude of him.'
'I told him I was.'

This is one of my all-time favourite Harry Potter quotes. I love revisiting this moment in the book!

2. Noticing something new

This is often especially true of childhood reads. Sometimes, the new perspective that comes from reading a book in a different phase of life can make you see things you never noticed before. When I re-read The Railway Children, I was surprised by how much of an adult perspective is slipped in by the narrator. When I re-read Wuthering Heights, I was able to appreciate it in its own right, as opposed to comparing it constantly with Jane Eyre.

Sometimes you can tell from the first time reading it that a book will benefit from a re-read. I know there are loads of mysteries where I'd love to see if I can decipher the clues now I know whodunnit. And some books are just so complex or confusing - One Hundred Years of Solitude is one that initially springs to mind - that I just know I haven't gleaned everything I can from them!

This can be a bit of a double-edged sword though. Sometimes re-reading a book you loved as a child with an adult perspective can put a damper on your enjoyment and show you some of the flaws you never noticed before. Has this ever happened to you?

3. Connection with the past

This is a strange one... Do any of you associate certain books really strongly with a time or place? 

For example, whenever I think of The Professor by Charlotte Bronte, I'm transported back to my bed in my little flat in Germany with the rain pounding on the windows. Breakfast at Tiffany's reminds me instantly of the little holiday cottage my family rented in Wales, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes takes me right back to the table in the corner of the Costa where I used to work, devouring those stories on my lunch breaks.

Talk to me!

When/what was the last book you re-read? 
Do you ever re-read books? 
Why or why not? 
Have your re-reading habits changed over time? 
Has re-reading ever ruined a book for you?
Where do your books take you when you re-read them?

I'd love to hear your views! :)

Thursday, 10 September 2015

August Wrap-Up

Wow! It feels like a massively long time ago that I last posted on here. But it also feels like time has absolutely flown by!

First of all, a bit of news: I have a job and I am a grown-up and it's scary but also kinda fun!

Shelfie from my new place

So yes, I sort of have to stop being in denial about being a real proper grown-up now and pay council tax and think about savings and stuff. Say WHAAT!? I'm not really a full adult though because I bought some new Frisbee boots last week and left them on the train the next day. Fail.

Anyway, that's the life update bit sorted! Now onto the proper wrap-up!

What I wrote:

Er... Let's just skip this bit shall we...?

What I read:

Not a lot! But I did read a couple of things.

First of all, I picked up Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, inspired by the fact that I'd just bought it for my brother for his birthday and I actually just wanted to read it myself. Anyway, I really really enjoyed it as a story, though the beginning felt a bit info-dump-y at first. I do really recommend this book as a really fun and fast-paced read. Honestly, sometimes I was so keen to find out what was going to happen that I had to force myself to stop skim-reading. So that was a success!

Next, I picked up The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, which I also absolutely loved. It's so uniquely written. I think Junot Diaz hasn't written much (if I remember correctly), but I'm so keen to check out his other works. Oscar Wao is quite a strange story, but it's really powerful and not like anything else I've ever read. Seriously, give it a try!

Oh yeah, and I started a re-read of Harry Potter. I'm halfway through the third book <3

What I watched:

I'm currently in the middle of watching The Great British Bake-Off, along with the rest of the population of the British Isles. It's the best. I have also been introduced to an abundance of bizarre YouTube videos by my new flatmate (who sadly was only subletting and has already left). It's amazing what exists on the internet!

Finally, I've been rediscovering the wonders of Merlin, which, if you don't already know, is a hilarious BBC version of the Arthur/Merlin legend with some dodgy CGI and one of the best bromances on TV. Definitely worth a watch!

So yes. That was my month! Sorry I've been MIA and that this post is kinda late. I'd love to know what you've all been up to!

How was your month of August???

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

2015 Reading Goals - How I'm Doing So Far

Now, I'm pretty certain that at the start of the year I said I wasn't really going to set myself any challenges (I didn't set one on Goodreads for example). But after a month, I caved and posted this list of books I wanted to read to complete a reading challenge for the year.

I then promptly forgot all about it until just now. Oops.

So although it's way past the halfway point of the year (hello August, how did you get here???), I thought I'd just do a quick update on how I've done so far... Better late than never, eh? And who knows? Maybe I'll surprise myself.

1. A book with more than 500 pages: CHECK!

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

2. A classic romance

3. A book that became a movie: CHECK

I read The Color Purple, To Kill a Mockingbird, Dracula, and The Beach, all of which became movies! There are probably even more that I can't think of right now.

4. A book published this year

5. A book with a number in the title: CHECK

I literally just finished Ready Player One by Ernest Cline about 5 minutes ago, so that's another challenge complete! Yay! Hopefully I'll get a review up soon :)

6. A book written by someone under 30

7. A book with non-human characters: CHECK

I finished The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke a couple of days ago and that has some characters that aren't human... So I'm gonna go with that!

8. A funny book: CHECK

Read (and loved) The Martian earlier in the year. Not exactly the same type of humour as the book in my original post, but still really funny!

9. A book by a female author: CHECK

Loads of them!

10. A mystery or thriller: CHECK

I forgot to mention in my July wrap-up (woops) that I read Taken at the Flood by Agatha Christie, partly listening to it on audiobook in the car on the way to Norfolk, and partly via my own physical copy (which I flew through - I couldn't take the suspense!).

11. A book with a one word title: CHECK

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.

12. A book with short stories

13. A book set in a different country: CHECK

I put Burial Rites by Hannah Kent as my original answer for this, but I could also have gone with Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

14. A non-fiction book

15. A popular author's first book: CHECK

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, which I LOVED and really need to get on and review!

16. A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet

17. A book a friend recommended: CHECK

The Beach by Alex Garland. 

18. A Pulitzer Prize winning novel: CHECK

Well, I haven't managed to read Gilead yet, but I did read The Color Purple and To Kill a Mockingbird, which I think have both won the Pulitzer Prize.

19. A book based on a true story

20. A book at the bottom of your TBR list

21. A book your mom loves: CHECK

I didn't get round to reading the one I put on the list originally, but I did read Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson, which my mum adores!

22. A book that scares you

23. A book more than 100 years old: CHECK

Dracula by Bram Stoker. I also read some of the Penguin Little Black Classics that fall into this category.

24. A book based entirely on its cover

25. A book you were supposed to read in school and didn't

26. A memoir

27. A book with antonyms in the title

28. A book you can finish in a day: CHECK

I read The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster, which is super short, in one sitting (I think), and it completely blew my mind.

29. A book set somewhere you've always wanted to go

Does Mars count? ;)

30. A book published the year you were born

31. A book with bad reviews

32. A trilogy

33. A book from your childhood

34. A book with a love triangle

35. A book set in the future: CHECK

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

36. A book set in high school

37. A book with a colour in the title: CHECK

The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

38. A book that made you cry

39. A book with magic

40. A graphic novel: CHECK

41. A book by an author you've never read before: CHECK


42. A book you own but have never read: CHECK

Again, loads. I did read a lot of books I only bought this year, but I also read plenty that had been sitting on my shelf awhile.

43. A book that takes place in your hometown

44. A book that was originally written in another language: CHECK

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide.

45. A book set during Christmas

46. A book by an author with your initials

47. A play

48. A banned book

49. A book based on or turned into a TV show

I'm part of the way through A Clash of Kings so I'll probably count that here when I'm done with it.

50. A book you started but never finished

I'm coming for you Villette!

So there you go! If my counting is correct, I've completed:

21/50 challenges

Yay me! I'm definitely pleased with that :) I just hope I actually end up reading over 50 books this year (stupid exams). 

Are you guys doing any challenges? How's your reading going so far this year?

Saturday, 1 August 2015

July Wrap-Up 2015

Hi friends :) I've decided to try something new today! If you like it, let me know in the comments so I can do it more :D

What I wrote:

Here's a quick summary of the reviews I posted this month, in case you're curious about my thoughts! I'm still somewhat behind on my reviews and am sitting on a LOT of unfinished content... Oops! But never fear! It will all appear eventually :P Most of these books I actually read earlier in the year, but there we are:
I also wrote about my favourite books of 2015 so far, which was rendered slightly obsolete by my then immediately reading some more books that are definitely firm favourites now, and I also listed some hyped books I've never read.

What I read:

So July was quite a busy reading month at the beginning but kinda petered out towards the end. Something about being on holiday (which I was at the start of July) just speeds up my reading I guess. Before heading on holiday with my family, I re-read The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton, which was as crazy and beautifully written as I remembered it.

My holiday reading started out with To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (my first time reading it! Say whaaat!?) and The Color Purple by Alice Walker - I thoroughly enjoyed them both! Then I picked up the considerably more light-hearted but still really awesome Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson, and The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Finally, just before heading home from my holiday, I started How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn (though I'm still midway through that - I'm savouring it!).

Basically, my holiday reading was seriously awesome and all the books I picked up were 5-star books for sure (though, you may have noticed, I don't actually give star ratings).

Then I sorta fell into a weird reading mood, which initially started because I was so busy visiting friends and whatnot (which I was totally cool with), but continued to prevent me from concentrating on the books I was reading even after I stopped doing fun stuff (which I was very much less OK with). Hey ho.

So I only finished one other book this month, The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke, which I only finished last night and I'm still processing my thoughts on.

What I watched:

Short answer: some, but not a lot. 

I'm trying not to get too much into the habit of watching shows as I'm moving next week to a house without a TV (and I can't afford, neither time- nor money-wise, to get Netflix). But I have gotten rather addicted to watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, which is the perfect combo of hilarious/philosophical/hardcore-awesome to make it a hit with me :)

I've also been watching lots of Come Dine With Me with my sister. Sibling bonding yo.

What I did:

Aside from going on holiday and seeing friends, I also GRADUATED!! Crazy times! I got to wear a gown and hood and everything (though no mortarboard... apparently my uni doesn't believe in hats!)

Since then I've just been pondering what on earth I want to do with my life (fun) and trying to look for jobs while I figure it out (double fun).

How was your month?

Monday, 27 July 2015

Review: Chronicle of a Death Foretold

When I posted a picture of my recent book haul on Instagram (as I mentioned recently, I've finally jumped on that particular bandwagon!), a user called themreadsbooks commented to say that Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcìa Màrquez was an absolutely wonderful book and she highly recommended it. After that, curiosity got the better of me, so I bumped it up my TBR and whizzed through it in a single sitting.

Beneath the deceptively simple writing style, this book is very complex and nuanced. The plot, as far as it exists at all, is minimal, and the main events (or, I should say, event) are revealed very early on. But nonetheless the narrative continues to build, painting a more and more detailed and nuanced image of the 'reality' of what happened.

As it goes on, more and more moral ambiguities are evoked, and there is always a tension between what the characters are morally capable and morally willing to do. Those with the best intentions never seem able to prevent tragedy, and by the end it is clear whether the whole thing is a mess of coincidence or of fate.

The narrator tells the story retrospectively from a point in the future, and the memories, both personal and collective, of those who were there are woven into the story. Somehow, in many cases, the author does this in such a way that it only serves to throw more doubt on the reliability of narrative. Even something as simple as the weather is called into question, with some remembering glorious sunshine and others remembering rain.

There is no real conclusion to the story, and no real point where the themes come to a head or any further meaning is revealed. Instead, everything just hangs in the air and any solid purpose is only hinted at.

There are a great many themes,large and small: the reliability of memory, the individual versus the collective, the nature of moral responsibility in the face of what is (or is perceived to be) inevitable. And all of this against a scorching Caribbean backdrop. This book is not only wonderful and evocative, but incredibly engrossing. Not to mention it's barely over a hundred pages. Pick it up now! You won't be disappointed.

What did you think of Chronicle of a Death Foretold? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Review: The Color Purple

I bought The Color Purple by Alice Walker years and years ago without any inclination of what it was about, how significant it was, or its acclaim. It was only recently that I began to see reviews and anticipate that this novel would be really something.

And I definitely was not disappointed! From the outset, the voice of the main character Celie overwhelms the narrative, and it continues to do so throughout. Celie is not especially strong or smart or even all that likeable at first, but she has her own feelings and motivations, and her own tentative sense of self which develops slowly as the story progresses.

Celie has the worst start in life, and some of the things that have happened to her are really heartbreaking. But, gradually, she is built up by her friendships and interactions with the women around her and her growth as a person is truly heartwarming. The way female friendships are portrayed in this book is really remarkable; they are so full of nuance, balancing moments of fiery confrontation with deep-rooted affection and solidarity.

Not only do the characters feel wonderfully real, but the setting is also brought to life by Alice Walker's writing. In one of the rave reviews inside the front cover of my edition, it talks of 'a whole submerged world', which to me feels like the perfect description of what this novel does. It takes an experience that is completely alien to many of its readers and plunges them in headlong. The use of phonetically-written dialect is instrumental to getting the reader into Celie's head and into her world.

To sum up, The Color Purple is a daring and beautiful exploration of love and life, gender, race, sexuality, identity, family and faith. You don't always identify with or agree with the characters and their choices, but you do end up loving them and rooting for them. Celie is such a wonderful but unusual protagonist! She doesn't seem like anything special, but she loves and is loved, and she grows so much as a character throughout the book. By the end I was so desperate for her to get her happy ending, and when I closed the book it felt like saying goodbye to a friend.

What did you think of The Color Purple? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Top Ten Tuesdays - Diverse Books

Uh oh... It's actually Wednesday. Sorry!

Here we are again for another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is books or characters that are examples of 'diversity'. I've put inverted commas in there because diversity is often quite difficult to qualify. It seems to be a trending topic lately (for quite a while actually!), but it's not always clear what diversity really means. I guess in this context, I'm talking about books and characters that represent experiences outside of the 'norm' that is usually presented in books: straight, white, from the UK or North America, with a certain type of background or outlook on life.

I initially decided not to do this topic, just because I wasn't sure I actually had enough books to mention (and I'm definitely lacking in some areas of 'diverse' experiences), but having read other people's lists, I realised that I do actually have quite a few books to mentions. So without further ado, let's get on with the list.

1. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

I first read Their Eyes Were Watching God last year, and was completely engrossed by the story and blown away by how much it opened my eyes to people's different experiences. Janie, the protagonist, not only has a completely different experience to my own in that she is black and lives in the American south in the early 20th century, but she also has a totally different outlook on life and love. Even the use of dialect plunges you into a completely different world. This is a type of experience that is ridiculously under-represented in literature.

2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

I spotted this on Katie from Words for Worms's list yesterday and just had to include it. Christopher has autism and therefore processes the world and interacts with people differently. This book is great for understanding people with autism and helping people know how to interact with them better, most importantly it leads us to empathise with Christopher and helps us to see his point of view.

3. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

This slightly unexpected book (or is it a collection of novellas?) addresses grief and love in its different forms. But the reason it made it onto this list is because it features a transgender character, which is exceptionally rare in books! And the character is interesting and well-rounded. Besides, the book is great! Well worth a read even without it's 'diversity' bonus points.

4. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

The stories of four mothers and four daughters, all of Chinese immigrant families, intertwine in this novel about what it means to straddle two cultures and feel like an outsider in both. I think the most powerful part, for me, was the struggle of these families to understand and love each other across cultural barriers. An amazing book!

5. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I don't think I can recommend this book enough. The experiences represented here are not only diverse in the sense that they take place in Africa (a continent that is wildly under-represented in my reading and, I suspect, in many other people's too), but the two main characters also both go on to experience different continents themselves and go through changes, both in themselves and in their perception of the world. It's also a really interesting look at race in America and the experiences of an illegal immigrant in the UK.

6. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

This is probably the most famous of Schlink's books, but he also wrote a brilliant detective series about Gerhard Selb ('Self' in English!). This offers an interesting look at post-war Germany and people's complex motivations for doing what they do.

7. The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson

Shoutout to Susie from Girl with her Head in a Book who hates Jacqueline Wilson (sorry! :P), and who was very scathing about her novel The Suitcase Kid in her Top Ten Tuesday this week. But I vividly remember being really challenged by Jacqueline Wilson's novels when I was reading them as a child and young teenager. The Illustrated Mum is the example that comes most readily to mind; it's the story of a woman with bipolar disorder, told from the perspective of her young daughter. Throughout the book, we see the main character struggling to balance her fierce protective love for her mum on the one hand with her frustration and fear on the other. I remember discussing this one with my own mum afterwards.

8. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

Another one inspired by Susie's list (she disliked this one too! :P). I found this book to be a highly complex and nuanced look at race relations in colonial India, with Forster's trademark subtlety and understanding of human interaction. This book is so interesting, particularly in that all the characters are so flawed; even the 'good guy' is only free from prejudice (or at least relatively so) because of circumstance.

9. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

This book offers the perspective of an unrepresented and misunderstood character from Jane Eyre, which addresses the wider issue of white stories being given more page-space and importance than those of people of colour. I didn't actually love this book all that much, but it was really interesting and thought-provoking, and it's definitely worth a read as it offers a really important perspective.

10. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

I almost just put this as an honourable mention on the end of #1, but I just couldn't do it! This book (more than) merits a space of its own. It encompasses so many issues such as racism, the experiences of women in black communities, sexuality, abuse, faith, the nature of love, and the complex relationship between Africans and black Americans. Plus it's beautiful and heartbreaking. What more could you want?

So there you have it! I'm aware there are some massive gaps in my reading and there are still loads of types of people that aren't represented, but I still wanted to share a couple of book recommendations nonetheless.

As usual (but perhaps especially in this case), if you have any recommendations of your own, let me know in the comments! Feel free to share your own lists too :)

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Post/mid-exam Book Haul

So I bought me some books. Lots and lots of books. And since I just opened a funky new instagram account (disclaimer: may not actually be that funky), I have some lovely pics of said books with pretty filters on them. Mmm filters.

As you can see, I've gone for a pretty eclectic mix of genres. 

These first four were the ones I bought on my first attempt to spend my Amazon voucher:

I've heard loads of people talk about these books on YouTube and have had them all on my mental wishlist for a really long time, so when I finally had the excuse to buy them I jumped at the chance.

This second bunch of books were bought when I actually spent the aforementioned Amazon voucher (fail) (or win, depending on how you look at it):

I bought The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke on a total whim, based solely on my random sci-fi cravings, the beautiful cover, and some pretty impressive rave reviews (which are pretty good reasons to buy a book in my opinion). Amazon also recommended the Penguin mini classics edition of The Machine Stops, as well as these little black classics. And who was I to say no?

These next books were spontaneous purchases from a café in Bristol where I live, which has a 2 for  £5 deal (yes please!) on its books. Despite not actually being a bookshop, it does have a pretty good selection, and I managed to pick up a mixture of magical realism, memoir and sci-fi (which apparently has some philosophy thrown in). Can't wait to get to these! :D

So there you have it! I hope you enjoy ogling my beautiful purchases. Do follow me on instagram if you fancy, and meanwhile I'll work on getting a follow button put somewhere more accessible on the blog (I should probably redesign a bit while I'm at it... Any suggestions, let me know!).

What do you think of the books I bought? Have you read any? Or are there any there that you want to read? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, 17 July 2015

Review: Station Eleven

Like Burial Rites, this book was one that just kept cropping up on people's favourites lists at the end of last year. And for that reason I was compelled to pick it up while supposedly spending the day at the library to write an essay. (Woops.) I actually read this back in January, but the review in this form took a long time to materialise. I hope it's worth the wait! Do let me know if you've read the book and what you think in the comments.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is a novel about a flu epidemic, which wipes out the vast majority of the earth's population, and how civilisation picks itself up and starts over again. I'm really not one for apocalyptic novels as a rule, and I would normally avoid books that sound that depressing when in the middle of a stressful uni term. (Reading during term time is normally reserved for fun and comforting books only...) But this one had such intriguing reviews that I just had to pick it up and give it a go.

There certainly are many unique and fascinating ideas in this book. The narration hops backwards and forwards in time between the outbreak and immediate aftermath of the epidemic, the time leading up to that point, and twenty years later, when civilisation is seemingly getting itself back on track. During this third point in time, the story follows a woman who performs with the Travelling Symphony, a nomadic troupe of actors and musicians who traverse the country putting on Shakespeare plays. The idea of the Symphony really appealed to me, and from what I've gathered from reviews, it really appealed to a lot of other people too.

I found the flow of the storytelling itself very smooth and well done, with the constant jumping through time adding a certain element of fatalism, especially in the pre-apocalypse sections. In fact, I much preferred these pre-apocalypse parts; they were perhaps less inventive from a sci-fi/fantasy point of view, but I felt they had more heart and I cared much more about the characters.

There were a couple of points, which I found extremely irritating, where the writing switched suddenly to the present tense. There weren't too many sections like this, but when they did happen, I found them unnecessarily jarring and there didn't seem to be any point to it beyond novelty value.

Another point that didn't sit so well with me was the 'prophet' storyline. It had potential to be an interesting idea, but I found it unconvincing and underdeveloped. It felt a little bizarre that no one else seemed to be grappling with the theological implications of the epidemic, Perhaps this was an attempt to be diplomatic on the part of the author, but you'd think the religious questioning would go beyond the cultish and twisted interpretation of the book of Revelation by one psychopath. It just seemed like a bit of an unfinished thought, seeming to open a discussion about religion's role in a world going through an 'apocalypse', but then it didn't explore it at all. I appreciate the author was probably trying to avoid that can of worms, but not having any real exploration of the theme made the whole idea just fall a bit flat for me. Similarly, I could have done with more development on the idea of the symphony using theatre and music to go beyond mere 'existence'.

Mostly, however, I found the story thoroughly gripping and poignant. The writing was lyrical and interesting, but not so overdone as to detract from my absorption in the story, and there were some really beautiful and bittersweet passages. The pre-apocalypse parts, describing the life of a famous actor who died on stage the night the flu touched down in North America, were my favourite sections.

I would certainly recommend this book, perhaps not quite so highly as other people seem to, but highly nonetheless. As a fresh take on the 'end of the world' concept, this book works really well and I can see it appealing to a wide range of people.

What did you think of Station Eleven? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Review: Neverwhere

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is one of those books that I've been meaning to read for such a long time but never quite got around to it (does that sound familiar to all you other booklovers???). It's my flatmate's favourite book of all time, and she's normally very reticent with her opinions, so I knew she must REALLY love it in order to praise it so highly.

I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane at the beginning of this year (in fact, I think it might have been my first book of 2015), which was the first Neil Gaiman book I'd ever read. When I started Neverwhere, I thought I liked it a lot more than Ocean, but after finishing I'm not sure I still do. But I think Neverwhere felt more grounded and together as a story, and somehow more realistic (which is a bit bizarre, considering the subject matter).

From the outset, there are many threads of narrative woven together, which gave the impression of a complex and well-built storyline. Though, actually, it did take some mental gymnastics to work out how everything fitted together. And at some points I felt like I was sort of just taking the author's word for it that it all made sense. But, saying that, I also felt that about parts of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and that's one of my favourite series of all time, so it's not necessarily a deal-breaker for me.

The strongest element of the book, by far, was the world building. There were so many cool ideas on the go at once, and we got just enough of a glimpse into each aspect of this London 'below' to create just the right level of intrigue. I could possibly have done with a bit more explanation of some bits though.

The mysterious Croup and Vandemar were my personal favourites. Gaiman's descriptions hinted at their sinister capabilities so as to gradually build up a sense of dread. I also really enjoyed the writing style, which followed the likes of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams in its mixture of light and serious, finding a balance between the humorous and the sinister.

In summary, the writing style and world building were, for me, top notch. The other elements were still good, just slightly less so. Throughout, I had the distinct impression that it would've been better on screen as a TV series, just because of the visual nature of the world building, which I felt was slightly wasted on a standalone book. That said, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend! It would be especially fun, I imagine, for people with some knowledge of London.

What did you think of Neverwhere? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Hyped Books I've Never Read

Hello and welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted as always by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is top ten hyped books that I've never read, of which there are MANY. Some of these I don't ever intend to read, some of them I might get to eventually, and some of them I'm actually pretty embarrassed to never have read them... Oh well, that's what summers are for, ain't it!?

Anyway, let's get on with the list!

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This one is particularly shameful because not only do I own TWO copies of it (and have done for several years...), but it's also super short, AND Harper Lee's other book is coming out this month. I really really really have no excuse for this one! Hopefully I'll get to it this week while I'm on holiday though.

2. Divergent by Veronica Roth

This has been hyped by some as the next Hunger Games,but I'm just not fussed about it. I haven't read it and I don't intend to. Sorry Veronica!

3. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

This might not be such a hyped read for some, but I'm a massive Agatha Christie fan, and I'm slightly ashamed not to have read what is probably the most well-known book by the queen of crime.

4. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

I haven't actually read anything by Margaret Atwood, and I'm not sure if I'll get to anything of hers any time soon. She's an extremely popular author though, and The Handmaid's Tale is the book that I've heard mentioned the most, so maybe I should give it a try..?

5. The Giver by Lois Lowry

This one has cropped up a lot lately in videos and blog posts about books everyone has (or should have) read. So it's possibly a little embarrassing that I haven't. I think it's better known among Americans though, so I possibly shouldn't feel too bad. I do own it though and I imagine it'll be a quick read, so I should probably get to it soon.

6. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I've read The Hunger Games. I enjoyed The Hunger Games. But I never quite got round to reading the second book (or the third for that matter). Do I want to read it? Kinda. Will I ever get round to it? Probably not.

7. Nineteen-Eighty-Four by George Orwell

This book is super famous and I really want to read it. So why haven't I? Who knows.

8. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

As a huge fan of the Sherlock Holmes short stories, I really don't know why I haven't picked up what is probably his most famous work. I also own this one, so maybe I'll get to it this summer.

9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I know this book has received a lot of hype in the last couple of years (hence why it's on this list!), but to be honest it really doesn't appeal to me. On top of that, my flatmate read it and was underwhelmed, so I think I probably won't ever pick this up. 

10. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

And finally, we come to another very famous, very popular book that I'm sure deserves all its hype and that I really really want to read, but I just haven't! Life, eh?

So there you have it! My top ten hyped books that I haven't read. Any surprises on that list???

Let me know in the comments what you think of my list. What hyped books have you not read (yet)?

Friday, 3 July 2015

Books I'm Taking on Holiday 2015

So I really should be in bed as I'm going on holiday with my family tomorrow and I'm normally the one frantically still packing my bag while everyone else is getting in the car and tutting at my lack of organisation.

But I really wanted to share a quick holiday TBR with you all to let you know what I'll be taking with me. I have quite an ambitious stack of books, so it's a good job we're only driving to Norfolk again and there's no weight limit on my luggage!

The books shown are:
  • A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
  • The Secret by Charlotte Bronte
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
  • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Number one priority is To Kill a Mockingbird (for obvious reasons), but I'm super excited to get to all of these (or as many as humanly possible). I'm also bringing my kindle and two audiobooks from the library because, ya know, I might finish all of these (well it could happen...)!

What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - 2015 Favourites So Far!

Hello again blogosphere! So, I know I'm a little late on the Top Ten Tuesday front (only by one day!). but I have been reading other people's lists and enjoying reading about their favourite books of the year, so I just couldn't resist getting involved.

Of course, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted as always by The Broke and the Bookish, and this week's theme - as you can probably tell from the above paragraph and the title of the post! - is top ten books from the year so far.

My year of reading so far has been very stop-start, interrupted by uni stress and finals and post-final slumps where all I wanted to do was knit and watch YouTube videos... I haven't actually counted, but I'm pretty sure I haven't even read ten books in total this year yet (woops!). I certainly haven't put out that many reviews! I do have reviews lined up for all the books I read, I just haven't got round to polishing them and making them publish-worthy. Anyway, I'm still going to do the list, but I'm cutting it down to Top Four, otherwise it'd just be a list of the books I've read, and that's not quite so interesting ;) (also, I couldn't think of a fifth one to make it a Top Five!)

So let's just get down to the list then shall we?

(In no particular order...)

1. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

I didn't actually get as far as actually writing a review for this one, just because I really didn't know what to say about it, apart from that I LOVED it! This is a graphic memoir about Marjane Satrapi's life growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, and her then moving to Austria (I think that's actually in the second book, but I got a bind-up of the two). I whizzed through this book in one train journey, and I just found it so so interesting. It's a very hyped book but it's absolutely worth it! It was heart-wrenching and heart-warming at the same time, and also taught me a lot about the history of a country and time period with which I was wholly unfamiliar. Highly recommended!

3. The Martian by Andy Weir

This one was a very recent read, and one that I picked up because of all the hype that it's received. I thought the premise sounded really interesting, and had heard that it was really funny too! And I was absolutely not disappointed! At first, I did think the writing style might not be for me, but as I got into it I found it really engaging and I struggled to put the book down to carry out day-to-day tasks like eating and talking to people. In the end, I finished the book in almost one sitting and was gripped from start to finish. It perfectly balances nerdy scienciness with humour and action-adventure type shenanigans. And it feels really believable right to the end! Top stuff! :D

2. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

So I know everyone loves this book so it's kind of redundant to put it on a favourites list, but it's significant to me because I was sort of unconvinced that I would like it as much as everyone else. My brother got it for me for my birthday a couple of years ago, and I'd just kept putting it off, partly for that reason. But I'm glad to say that I absolutely loved it! Though it does come with the downside that I now care if I read spoilers, and there is no corner of the internet that is safe from GoT spoilers (cry).

3. The Beach by Alex Garland

This is probably vying for the top spot on this list. I absolutely LOVED this book! It was recommended by a friend who just told me that it was really clever and that it was her favourite book. And then she pressed it into my hands in the bookshop where we were browsing and coerced me into buying it (not that I really need much persuading when it comes to book buying). I won't say too much about it, just because I think it's one of those books where it's best to go in blind (besides, I have a full review coming soon! Be sure to stay tuned for that one!). But I will say that I couldn't stop talking about it when I'd finished it, and I kept making other people read it so I could discuss it with them. Just read this book! It's great! :D

Hmm... So I think I've exhausted my favourites for this year so far! 

Honourable mentions go to Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote (both re-reads), the former because it changed my opinion, and the latter because it confirmed it.

Let me know in the comments what your favourite books of the year so far have been! And feel free to link your TTT post :) 
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