Friday, 30 May 2014

Spring TV Wrap-Up!

Today I'm going to do something a little different and talk about some of the shows I've been watching recently. I don't consider myself a TV buff at all - I tend to read more books than watch shows, and I'm envious of people who can dedicate their time to so many different shows and keep on top of all the characters and plotlines.

What I tend to do when it comes to TV is wait until a series is finished - either entirely, so that I have a few/several seasons to watch, or just the first season so I can get a taste for it and see what I think - and then watch it, rather than watch it as soon as it comes out. I'm lazy when it comes to TV, and it's really easy for me to grow disinterested; a show has to be really good to keep me waiting for a new installment each week, so I prefer being able to marathon an entire season over the course of a few days.

So far this spring I've finished four shows: Channel 4's New Worlds; BBC's The Crimson Field; Hannibal Season Two and Orphan Black Season One.

Let's get the worst over with first, shall we?

I decided to watch New Worlds after I saw a trailer for it advertised at my campus cinema and realised it would be on TV when I went home for Easter in April. From the trailer it looked like it was going to be pretty epic.

As you might have guessed from my love of historical fiction, one of my favourite things to watch on TV is a good historical drama, and I particularly love anything set in the 16th or 17th centuries. New Worlds is set during the reign of Charles II and takes place both in England, where the English are growing tired of Charles's tyranny, and across the ocean in Massachusetts, where the colonisers are trying to break away from English rule while also fighting against the Natives for their land.

What I thought was going to be the first season of a long series turned out to be a Mills and Boon-esque four part mini-series, with terrible character development and a plot which fell flat despite having so much potential. This show was a real disappointment and I really wouldn't recommend checking it out.

Thankfully I had three other shows over Easter to keep me going: Hannibal, The Crimson Field and Game of Thrones - I won't be talking about Game of Thrones here because season four hasn't finished yet!

Luckily for me where Channel 4 failed the BBC stepped up. This year marks one hundred years since the start of WW1, so over Easter the BBC broadcast a six-part drama, The Crimson Field, which follows a group of women who travel to France to work as volunteer nurses.

I really enjoyed this show, so much so that I'm hoping there's going to be more of it in future! Despite only being six episodes long, it used those episodes wisely to include as many stories - from the early management of shell shock to the punishment of deserters - and as much character development as possible without making the show feel crowded. 

I'd definitely recommend it, whether you're a fan of historical dramas or not!

Last week saw the finale of the second season of Hannibal; a show that has become one of my all time favourite dramas on television since its premier last year. Following the first season's amazing finale, the second season follows Will Graham's pursuit for justice by any means necessary - even if that means teaming up with the very man who incriminated him in the first place...

My love for this show knows no bounds. Not only is it a brilliant reimagining of Thomas Harris's stories, with both male and female three-dimensional characters, it's also visually stunning. Even if you've never read the books or seen the films, everyone is aware of Hannibal Lecter, and despite the fact that the show deals with something as brutal as murder and cannibalism it's still a piece of art in its own right.

The end of the second season was just as shocking as the end of the first, and I can't wait for season three! If you haven't checked this show out then I highly, highly recommend it, though the second season in particular might not be an enjoyable watch for the squeamish.

Hannibal came to an end the same weekend in which there wasn't a new Game of Thrones episode, so to stop myself from pining too much I decided to pick up where I left off when I started watching Orphan Black some time last year.

I watched the first two episodes of the first season last year, and even though I liked what I watched I didn't love it enough to continue watching it. The past couple of weeks, however, I've been seeing it all over Tumblr, so I decided to give it a try and I ended up marathoning the rest of the first season - from episode three to episode ten - in the space of about three days!

The show follows Sarah Manning, a con artist whose life is turned upside down after she witnesses the suicide of a woman who looks exactly like her.

I enjoyed this show so much more the second time around; Tatiana Maslany is an amazing actress and I loved the story. I'm a big fan of stories which feature any form of science vs. religion, and as someone who's just starting to get into sci-fi this show was perfect for me. I'm not quite ready for alien races and spaceships, but a sci-fi thriller I can handle.

One day I'll be ready for space. One day.

I haven't started watching the second season of Orphan Black yet but I will be soon, and I'm hoping to continue watching American Horror Story: Coven, another show I watched the first two episodes of and have enjoyed so far. I'm rather picky when it comes to shows involving witches, somehow they always end up cheesier than I'd like, but so far AHS isn't shying away from the darker side of witchcraft, and I love that.

As far as other shows go I'm also planning on sating my lust for historical dramas by finally watching Vikings and Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Ever since I went to see Pompeii a couple of weeks ago I've been craving something else gladiatorial and I've heard great things about Spartacus - I love a good rebellion story.

I'll be back with another TV wrap-up in the summer!

What have you been watching recently?

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

What's Up Wednesday! | 28/05/14

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk as a way for writers and readers to stay in touch!

What I'm Reading

Right now I'm a little bit over halfway through Deadline, the second book in the Newsflesh trilogy, and I've already cried. I'm loving this trilogy so much, and it's recently revealed something that I definitely did not expect. I'm probably going to have to go out and buy myself a copy of Blackout once I'm done with it; I have to know how this story ends.

It's also been a while since I picked up Maria V. Snyder's Scent of Magic, which I started pack in April. I'm hoping I can finish it and read Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl in the next couple of days, before I make a start on my June TBR, but that all depends on what kind of mood Deadline leaves me in.

What I'm Writing

I've been a bit bad this week in terms of writing and haven't really done any. I think what I really need to do is sit down and actually write out a proper plan for my WIP. I know it's pretty shocking that I don't already have one, but because I know where my novel's going I've always just been writing towards that point. Now, though, the story has expanded so much compared to what it once was so I need to organise all of my subplots before I drive myself mad.

What Inspires Me Right Now

For some reason I always struggle to think of an answer for this section of WUW, and then I see someone else's and I'm like 'damn, why didn't I think of that?' For whatever reason I find it difficult to pinpoint something as a definite inspiration, and sometimes I think we just can't be inspired but we need to make things anyway. Half the struggle of making any art form - whether it's writing, painting, singing, photography - is pushing yourself to do it when you're not feeling inspired. So I guess what inspires me is that every book lining the shelves in the book shops is there because someone slaved away at it, no matter how inspired they were.

What Else I've Been Up To

Last Friday was the Hannibal finale, and now I have to wait another year for season three. On the plus side there's going to be a season three so I suppose I can't really complain. I think I speak for all of us in the Fannibal family when I say we're all still pretty emotional.

Over the past few days I've managed to marathon the first series of Orphan Black. I started watching this show back when it first came out but, for whatever reason, I didn't carry on after episode two. I kept seeing it all over Tumblr, though, so this week I decided to pick up where I left off and I really enjoyed it. Tatiana Maslany is an amazing actress. If you're into sci-fi/thriller shows then I recommend checking it out!

One of my friends has also recently got me into an online game called Town of Salem which is deadly when it comes to procrasination. I don't know why it's so addictive but I've been enjoying it. It's a game in which you're given a role in the town, but no one else knows your role and you don't know anyone else's and it's a race to see whether the Town, the Mafia, or the Serial Killers win. It's surprisingly fun.

Other than that it's been pretty quiet/boring here. I'm off to the cinema tomorrow (what a shock) to see Maleficent, which I'm really excited for, and I'm hoping to go and see the new X-Men film soon, too.

What's new with you?

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Top Ten Tuesday | Books That Made Me Cry

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week you compile a list of ten books which coincide with that week's theme. You can find out everything you need to know about joining in here!

This week's Top Ten Tuesday theme is a freebie - we can pick our own topic! So, as I'm currently in the middle of a trilogy that's breaking my heart more and more with each page I turn, I thought today would be a fitting time to share with you the top ten books that have made me cry. Unfortunately I could only think of nine, but that'll have to do!

I never used to be much of a crier when it came to books and films, but half way through adolescence I started becoming an emotional wreck whenever I watched or read something which, for whatever reason, really struck a chord with me. There are a lot of instances in which I haven't cried where I probably should - I've never found any of the deaths on Game of Thrones particuarly cry-worthy, nor did I cry while reading Mockingjay - but do something horrible to a character that I love and I'll weep.

So, in the order I read them, here are the ten nine books that made me weep:

Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
I first read this series, which deals with themes such as race and terrorism, back in my early teens, and it had a huge impact on me. The first book in the series has always been my favourite, though the other three are also brilliant in their own way, and it has the honour of being, to my knowledge, the first ever book that made me cry. This is still one of my all time favourite books, and if you haven't read it you're missing out.

Harry Potter is always going to be one of my all time favourite series, and as a lover of Sirius Black I'm sure those of you familiar with the series can understand why this book made the list. I'm still not over it.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

I'm sure all of you can understand why this book's on the list. Oddly enough I didn't cry because of the deaths in this book, I actually cried because of the epilogue. It was so emotional to see these characters that I'd grown up with leading happy, peaceful lives, and knowing that as soon as I finished reading the epilogue the story I'd followed for the past ten years would be over.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

During the first year of my A Levels I studied War Literature, and while Birdsong wasn't on our syllabus we were given it to read by our teacher and I'm so glad we were. If you're familiar with the BBC adaptation but haven't read the book please, please read it; the adaptation was appalling compared to how exquisite this book is. Considering it takes place during WW1 I'm sure you can imagine why this book made it onto my list, and now is the perfect time to read it as this year marks 100 years since the start of the war.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

WW2 this time, and I imagine even those of you who haven't read Zusak's masterpiece know someone who has; this book touches everyone who reads it in some way, and I'm not ashamed to say I cried more than once while reading it. If you've yet to read it then do pick it up, but I'd recommend the film adaptation too - it's a great adaptation!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

An obvious one, I know. Do I really need to say why this book made me cry? I'm pretty certain everyone in the world has read this book by now. I wouldn't call this book one of my all time favourite books by any means, but all the same I found it very emotional.

Glitches by Marissa Meyer

This is probably a bit of an odd one because it's really more of a short story than a book, but I cried reading this. If you're familiar with The Lunar Chronicles then you've probably read this (but if you haven't Meyer has made it available online here!) and if you're not familiar with The Lunar Chronicles then you need to make yourself familiar with them. It's one of my favourite series, and it's so fun. This is a prime example of what I mentioned earlier: getting emotional over a certain character.

Cinder is one of my favourite fictional heroines (why not check out my Top 5 YA Heroines?) and this story takes place before the events of Cinder when Cinder is a little girl. It just broke my heart to see her so little and so vulnerable and so unloved by the majority of the people around her. I definitely cried.

Feed by Mira Grant

And now we're onto the trilogy I mentioned above as currently being half way through. I can't say too much about this book because the reason it made me cry - and I mean really, really cry - is a huge spoiler for those of you who might want to read it. Those of you who have read this book, however, can probably guess why I cried so much at the end of this book. This is another case of growing attached to a character and then having my heart broken because of it. If you haven't read these books yet please do, I haven't even finished the second book yet but I'm already certain this is one of my new favourite trilogies.

Deadline by Mira Grant

Yep, that's right. The second book made me cry, too. In fact I'm not even half way through this book yet and I've already cried almost as much as I did at the end of the first one. Again, those of you familiar with this book can guess why it's already made me into an emotional wreck. Read this trilogy, but prepare yourself for heartbreak.

So those are the top ten nine books that have made me cry! Which books make you emotional?

Monday, 26 May 2014

TBR | Graphic Novels

I don't read graphic novels very often and that's something I'd really like to change, because not only do I enjoy them whenever I do read them, but I have heard of so many that just sound awesome

Graphic novels are such a fun way to enjoy a story; as someone who can't even draw a decent stickman I am forever in awe of artists and the quality of work they can produce, so I love that through graphic novels I can appreciate two different art forms at once.

Here are a small selection of some of the graphic novels I'd like to read soon!

by Bill Willingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha, Craig Hamilton and James Jean

When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters have created their own peaceful and secret society within an exclusive luxury apartment building called Fabletown. But when Snow White's party-girl sister, Rose Red, is apparently murdered, it is up to Fabletown's sheriff, a reformed and pardoned Big Bad Wolf (Bigby Wolf), to determine if the killer is Bluebeard, Rose's ex-lover and notorious wife killer, or Jack, her current live-in boyfriend and former beanstalk-climber.

Fairy tale creatures in our world? A murder mystery? A fairy tale inspired story that includes oft-forgotten characters like Rose Red and Bluebeard? Gimme!

I keep seeing this particular series popping up all over the place, and whenever I see it mentioned I've only ever seen it praised. I practically grew up on fairy tales so I love reading retellings and reimaginings, and this particular story sounds like so much fun! One of my favourite fairy tales growing up, aside from Rumpelstiltskin and Rapunzel, was Snow White and Rose Red, so the fact that this series has included Rose Red makes me so unbelievably happy.

I enjoyed Once Upon A Time when the show first came out, in fact I own the boxset of the first season and I like it a lot. Unfortunately, for me it all started to go downhill when season 2 came along. Everyone is related to everyone else - seriously, it's ridiculous - and I was so disappointed that what could have been a great show wasn't. Hopefully this series will fill the hole that series left behind!

by Art Spiegelman

Combined for the first time here are Maus I: A Survivor's Tale and Maus II - the complete story of Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, living and surviving in Hitler's Europe. By addressing the horror of the Holocaust through cartoons, the author captures the everyday reality of fear and is able to explore the guilt, relief and extraordinary sensation of survival - and how the children of survivors are in their own way affected by the trials of their parents. A contemporary classic of immeasurable significance.

Here we have another graphic novel I've heard nothing but good things about. In Maus author and illustrator Art Spiegelman tells the story of his parents during WW2, in which all of the Jews have the heads of mice and all of the Nazis have the heads of cats.

As morbid as it sounds I'm fascinated by stories centered around the Holocaust - it's one of those dark, dark periods of history that a lot of us have trouble digesting - even more so by stories which aren't fictional, and given that Spiegelman is telling his parents' story I'm intrigued. Not only does this novel have truth working in its favour, but I also think that the use of animals representing certain people will add a poignancy to the text that can sometimes be lost to melodrama when it comes to the written word.

by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. 

From New York Times bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults. 

One of the reasons I rarely read sci-fi is because I'm so not scientifically minded that I often have a hard time picturing what it is the author's describing to me. I can picture futuristic technology to an extent, but a lot of the time I feel as though the only way I'd understand a sci-fi novel is if I was either a scientist or a mechanic myself, and sadly I am neither of those things.

So Saga seems like an ideal way for me to read more sci-fi without being utterly confused, because instead of trying to understand what I should be picturing through description I can simply look at the pictures instead! Not only that but it sounds like a really cool story and, like pretty much every other book on this list, I've heard nothing but great things about it.

by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Tom Taylor's life was screwed from go. His father created the Tommy Taylor fantasy series, boy-wizard novels with popularity on par with Harry Potter. The problem is Dad modeled the fictional epic so closely to Tom's real life that fans are constantly comparing him to his counterpart, turning him into the lamest variety of Z-level celebrity. In the final novel, it's even implied that the fictional Tommy will crossover into the real world, giving delusional fans more excuses to harass Tom. 

When an enormous scandal reveals that Tom might really be a boy-wizard made flesh, Tom comes into contact with a very mysterious, very deadly group that's secretly kept tabs on him all his life. Now, to protect his own life and discover the truth behind his origins, Tom will travel the world, eventually finding himself at locations all featured on a very special map -- one kept by the deadly group that charts places throughout world history where fictions have impacted and tangibly shaped reality, those stories ranging from famous literary works to folktales to pop culture. And in the process of figuring out what it all means, Tom will find himself having to figure out a huge conspiracy mystery that spans the entirety of the history of fiction.

Okay, read that synopsis and try telling me you don't want to read this book. Compared to the other graphic novels on this list this is probably the one I've seen around least, but I've still seen a few people talking about it. I think it's one of those stories that's either going to be done really well or... y'know, not so much. Either way I'd like to give it a try - it sounds fun if nothing else!

by Robert Kirkman

In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living. WithThe Walking Dead #1-48, this compendium features more than one thousand pages chronicling the start of Robert Kirkman's Eisner Award-winning story of zombie horror, from Rick Grimes waking up alone in a hospital, his band of survivors seeking refuge on an isolated farm and the controversial introduction of Woodbury despot, The Governor.

The Walking Dead had to be on this list. Thanks to the TV show it's probably one of the most widely known graphic novel series out there, and I'm a little ashamed to say I haven't been anywhere near it yet. I've watched the first series of the TV show (I know, I have a lot of catching up to do as far as the TV show goes!) but I haven't read any of the original story.

To be honest I've heard most people say that the TV show is actually better than the original series, even so I'd like to read them and see where it all started!

There we have it, a small selection of the graphic novels I'd like to read. Do you read graphic novels? What was the last graphic novel you read? Also if you've read any of these feel free to let me know which one I should read first!


Friday, 23 May 2014

Top 5 | Fictional Siblings

When it comes to the relationships in the books we read I think romantic relationships tend to get the most focus, which often means that other relationships - whether they're platonic or familial - are forgotten. This is a real shame, because there are so many amazing friends, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents in fiction that deserve to be celebrated.

This is the first in a small series of blog posts celebrating the underappreciated relationships in fiction. So, without further ado, here are my personal top 5 favourite fictional siblings!

Bellatrix, Andromeda and Narcissa, from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

At number 5 we have a set of characters who are rather different from the other siblings on this list, because we don't know an awful lot about them. The majority of the siblings I've chosen for this list I've chosen because I love the way they interact with one another, but in the entire Harry Potter series we never see all three of the Black sisters together. We meet each of them individually - and indeed Narcissa and Bellatrix are still on speaking terms - but we have no idea how the three of them acted around one another when they were younger.

These three are some of my favourite characters in the series, and while I would love to have known more about them I can understand why we don't learn everything. Their relationship is not integral to Harry's journey.

What I love most about these three is that everything they do, they do for love. Bellatrix's unhealthy obsession with Voldemort drives her crazier than she already was, and she does things for him no sane person would ever do. Andromeda defied her family and ran away so that she could spend her life with a muggleborn, distancing her from the sisters who, at some point in her life, she must have loved. And then we have the fantastic Narcissa, who lies to Voldemort's face to save the life of a young boy because she's a mother, and she knows that if the tables were turned she'd hope Lily would do the same for Draco.

I just love these three a lot.

 Boromir and Faramir, from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

At number 4 we have the only brothers on this list! While I was compiling this little list I began to notice how few books I actually own that include brothers. I had plenty of sisters to choose from, but I really had to look hard to find any brothers on my shelves who I felt strongly about.

Technically I'm cheating a bit here, because while I adore The Lord of the Rings I haven't actually read the books yet, but as I mentioned in my 2014 Booket List I'm hoping to cross The Lord of the Rings off my TBR list this year!

I am a huge fan of the films though, and I love the relationship between Boromir and Faramir. What I love about these two is that they so easily could have been a pair of siblings who hated each other; Denethor's favouritism could have distanced the two of them so much, but instead Boromir takes good care of his little brother. In fact Boromir acts like more of a father to him than Denethor does, and Faramir in return loves his brother unconditionally.

These two make me wish I had a brother.

Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

At number 3 we have a set of sisters I couldn't possibly leave out of a list like this. This book and its characters are on many of my favourites lists; it's one of my favourite classics, includes one of my favourite heroines and one of my favourite fictional friendships. While I love Jo's friendship with Laurie and her relationship with Professor Bhaer, it's her relationship with her sisters that I love the most.

What's lovely about these four is that they're all so different, so each of their relationships with each other is different, and yet they all compliment each other beautifully. There's a sister for every kind of person; in fact for a 19th century author Alcott does a pretty wonderful job of portraying women who are desperate for independence and women who are desperate to be married, and treating all of these women with equal respect.

Georgia and Shaun, from the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant

At number 2 we have a fairly recent discovery of mine. I read Feed, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy, just last week and I absolutely adored it, even though it broke my heart.

I'm glad I came across this book when I did because I've been wanting to compile this list for a while, and yet I noticed I had a distinct lack of important brother and sister relationships in the books I read. Then I read Feed, and fell completely in love with Georgia and Shaun.

What I love about them is not only are they funny - so funny, I love their banter - but they're also not at all ashamed that they're close. They love each other absolutely and they will defend each other until the ends of the earth.

Katniss and Prim, from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

At number 1, it really just had to be the Everdeen sisters. 

When it comes to The Hunger Games I find a lot of people tend to argue as to whether or not they're on Team Peeta or Team Gale, but for me the real love story in The Hunger Games is between Katniss and Prim. In fact nothing that happens in these stories would have happened if Katniss hadn't had a little sister that she loved more than anything else in the world. Katniss enters the Games to save Prim, and she ultimately ends up becoming the Mockingjay to avenge Rue, who reminds her of Prim.

For such a popular trilogy the relationship between these two is incredibly underrated, and personally I feel as though Peeta gets a lot of the credit that really belongs to Prim. Katniss wasn't a closed, cold young woman until Peeta came along; Prim is proof that everything Katniss does comes from a place of fierce love.

Who are some of your favourite siblings in fiction?

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

What's Up Wednesday! | 21/05/14

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk as a way for writers and readers to stay in touch!

What I'm Reading

Last week I took part in the Bout of Books 10.0 read-a-thon. I had  a very ambitious TBR and ended up reading none of the books on it, because a) I ended up having a very busy week (which literally always happens to me whenever I have something else planned) and b) I continued reading Feed by Mira Grant, got really into it and then had my heart shattered into a million teeny tiny pieces on Saturday when I finished it.

Since then I've been in... not a slump, exactly, but I've been in mourning since finishing Feed. This weekend I'm going to buy myself a copy of Deadline, the second book in the Newsflesh trilogy, and then I'm sure my already broken heart will break a little more.

Even though it broke my heart I highly recommend Feed; it's a zombie novel, but really it's actually more of a novel about the importance of truth and the news and it's just very thought-provoking and funny and heart-wrenching. Read it!

(Warning: If you look up Feed stay away from the other books in the trilogy; there's a huge spoiler in the blurb of the second book for something that happens at the end of the first!)

I also read the first few chapters of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights during the read-a-thon and I'm hoping to get back into that soon, I've enjoyed what I've read so far, and I also need to start Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I'm supposed to be reading it alongside my lovely friend Laura right now, but Feed broke me to the extent that I just wasn't in the mood for a happier, contemporary read over the weekend.

What I'm Writing

As always, I'm working away on Bloodroot and Bracken. Recently I've started to become more and more interested in one of my novel's side characters (which is ironic because she was originally going to be dead until I realised she was more helpful to the plot alive) and I'm considering writing her her own novel at some point in the future.

It's funny how the smallest characters make the biggest impression, isn't it?

What Inspires Me Right Now

The past few days I've actually found the weather pretty inspiring as far as novel writing goes. We've had a few really hot days here and on Monday it was really humid, so it's been getting rather stormy; one of the main characters in my novel is called Thora, so I can't help finding storms a little inspirational!

What Else I've Been Up To

At the weekend I went to see Godzilla. I feel like every week I update this section of WUW with a cinema trip, but I do go to the cinema a lot - I love me some films!

Godzilla was... interesting. My friend and I weren't really expecting much, and while it wasn't a bad movie, it's not quite the movie the trailer leads you to expect. Considering it's called Godzilla, Godzilla himself isn't in it all that much.

Other than that it's been pretty quiet here the past few days!

What's new with you?

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Top Ten Tuesday | Books About Friendship

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week you compile a list consisting of ten books which coincide with that week's theme. You can find out everything you need to know about joining in here!

I only discovered this feature this morning and as soon as I saw it I just knew I had to join in! I must give an honourable mention to the lovely Erin, who I first discovered on Tumblr and whose blog introduced me to this feature.

This week's theme is 'Ten Books About Friendship', and as someone who loves friendship in fiction (and who thinks it's somewhat underrated when compared with romance) I'm very excited about this theme! So, without further ado, here's my list:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Let's face it, a list concerning fictional friendships just wouldn't be complete without the inclusion of the book that first introduced us to Harry, Ron and Hermione.

One of the great things about the Harry Potter series as a whole is its focus on love outside of romantic love, which so many stories seem to focus on nowadays. I love how highly this series favours friendship.

Lirael by Garth Nix

I mentioned Lirael in my Top 5 YA Heroines list, and one of the things I mentioned loving most about her is that throughout the entirety of The Old Kingdom trilogy Lirael has no romantic entanglements. I enjoy reading romance as much as the next person, but as someone who's single it's nice to come across a book now and then which says 'you know what, it's okay to be alone and focus on your friendships'.

Lirael's main relationship is with the Disreputable Dog, one of my favourite fictional sidekicks, and their friendship is just gorgeous. If you haven't checked out this trilogy then you really should!

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

At first glance Year of Wonders probably doesn't seem like a book about friendship, it certainly isn't marketed as one. It's a wonderful piece of historical fiction set in 1666 in Eyam, Derbyshire, where the townspeople have elected to quarantine themselves to prevent the spread of the plague. It's such a powerful book, and well worth reading.

I've often seen it marketed with emphasis on a love story, but in all honesty the real love story in this book is the friendship that grows between Anna, our heroine, and Elinor, the pastor's wife. It really is a beautiful book.

(I reviewed Year of Wonders here if you're interested!)

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Okay so I'm probably cheating a little bit here because Cress is a novel about many things, but one of the things I love most about this book (and this series in general) is the friendships that develop between the characters. I particularly love the little trio that is Cinder, Iko and Thorne - they're so much fun!

(And I reviewed Cress here!)

The BFG by Roald Dahl

Who didn't love Roald Dahl's stories as a child? Growing up in Britain I was practically raised on every children's story Dahl wrote. The Magic Finger and Fantastic Mr Fox were always my favourites, but I've always had a soft spot for The BFG. It's an endearing little story, and the friendship between Sophie and The BFG is beautiful.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Here we have one of my favourite classics. The friendship that grows between Mary, Dickon and Colin in The Secret Garden is just exquisite. This is another gorgeous little book, and an ideal read if you're a little intimidated by classics and don't know where to start!

Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Like Cress, Noughts & Crosses is a book about a lot of things, but friendship is certainly one of its biggest themes. The relationship between Sephy and Callum is one of the most stunningly heartwrenching relationships I've come across.

If you're a fan of YA and you haven't read this book yet please, please do, but I feel I should warn you that it will break your heart into a million pieces!

Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson

If you'd asked me who my favourite author was when I was a little girl I'm pretty sure I would have said Jacqueline Wilson. I devoured her books when I was younger - it didn't matter what they were about, I loved them all - and when I think about fictional friendships, Secrets always comes to mind.

When I was little I had four different primary schools because we moved around a lot with my Dad's work; I would have loved to have had a secret friend hiding in my attic.

Skellig by David Almond

Speaking of secret friends hidden around the house, I first read Skellig in school when I was around 11/12 years old and I've loved it ever since. 

The story follows Michael who, after moving to a new house, finds a peculiar man with wings in the back of his parents' new garage. It's an amazing, heartwarming story, and well worth a read if you haven't read it already!

Pirates! by Celia Rees

Last but not least, Pirates! is a piece of MG/YA historical fiction which follows Nancy, the daughter of a plantation owner, and Minerva, the daughter of a slave, who flee to the high seas so that Nancy can escape an arranged marriage.

I've loved Celia Rees's novels since I was an early teen - in fact I have a blog post about Witch Child here! - and Pirates! was the first novel of hers I ever read. The relationship between Nancy and Minerva is much more important than their romantic entanglements and I just love that. If you're interested in piracy but you're tired of reading about boys having all the fun, then you should definitely check this book out!

So there we have my top ten! What are yours?

Monday, 19 May 2014

"She who has been the Queen of England on earth will today become a Queen in Heaven"

At eight o'clock in the morning on the 19th May, 1536, Anne Boleyn ascended the scaffold at Tower Green.

"Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul."

Her final words spoken, she knelt upon the scaffold and her ladies tied a blindfold over her eyes. Her executioner struck off her head with a single blow of his sword.

Anne was charged with adultery, incest, and plotting the death of the King, Henry VIII. Her real 'crime', however, was ambition.

In reality Anne was doomed the moment Henry took an interest in her. Henry VIII was a man used to getting his own way, and when this intelligent, charismatic, sexy woman refused his advances he wanted her even more.

Henry's pursuit of Anne would be seen as nothing short of sexual harassment if the two of them were around today. No matter how much she told him 'no', all Henry heard was 'yes'. To make matters worse Henry's wife at the time, Katherine of Aragon, was hugely popular, so much so that when Henry discarded her with the intention of making Anne his new Queen, Anne had no hope of being as beloved as her predecessor.

But Anne should never be villainized for the part she played in Katherine's downfall. Henry is the real villain of this tale, and he treated all six of his wives appallingly. In reality Anne had little choice; she could become the King's mistress until he tired of her and married her off to one of his courtiers, or she could use Henry's desire to put herself in a position of influence.

I don't believe Anne desired to become Henry's wife, nor do I believe she desired to see Katherine ruined. She was pressured, to an extent, into seducing the King for her family's benefit. I think she saw the chance to be Queen as a chance to spread the Reformation throughout England; a cause which Anne was incredibly passionate about.

I also think she saw the chance to rise above the usual restrictions of her sex, and become the most powerful woman in the country. This must have been some consolation for all the greedy men in her life who helped her get there.

Today marks 478 years since Anne's execution, and yet she is still being talked about, written about and read about all over the world, and will continue to be so for years to come. Why? Because the world hates injustice, and for many years Anne has been misunderstood as a gold-digging home-wrecker, when in reality she was a young woman who was harassed into becoming the wife of a tyrant, and then executed when that same man grew bored of her.

It's a tragic story, and one that should always be remembered.

Anne was survived by her daughter, Elizabeth Tudor, who became Queen Elizabeth I in 1558. Elizabeth ruled England for 44 years; her reign became known as "The Golden Age".

Friday, 16 May 2014

10 Books That Changed Me | Witch Child by Celia Rees

Continuing with the history theme from last month, this month I'm going to talk to you about Celia Rees's Witch Child.

I first read Witch Child when I was around 12/13 years old, and I can still remember picking it out from amongst the other books on the shelves when I saw it. There's something so haunting and enticing about the photograph on the cover that immediately drew me in.

I don't think I purchased it the first time I saw it, but each time I went into the book shop I kept making eye contact with this book, and I kept picking it up and reading the blurb and feeling the weight of it in my hands.

It wasn't just the physical book that interested me, but the story inside. As I've mentioned many times before I've always loved history, but I never really read that much historical fiction, and I think that's because, when I was younger at least, there weren't many pieces of historical fiction out there for younger readers. I'm sure there were, I just couldn't find them; when I was younger the Teen section wasn't full of all the fun, dark YA reads we have now, it was full of pink books about pretty teenagers who had spots and wanted boyfriends.

I'm not at all trying to shame people who enjoy reading those kinds of books - the contemporary romance books of today - they just weren't what I was interested in. I never grew out of my love for history and fantasy and horror. I didn't want to grow up and read about people in the real world; the real world was the place I was trying to escape from.

Eventually my parents bought me a copy of Witch Child and I adored it. In fact I'm pretty sure I reread it several times because one time just wasn't enough. Like the book I mentioned last month, this book made history approachable for me and other people my age, not by making history gruesome but by helping me to see history through the eyes of another teenage girl. Historical fiction became something I could access, too, it wasn't just for adults.

This is the book that first got me into historical fiction; in fact I think its influence on me is obvious even now, given that I'm currently working on a historical fiction novel that deals with the subject of witchcraft!

I'm 22 now, and I still recommend this book to other people. If I ever have a daughter of my own I'm going to encourage her to read it, too.

Which book do you remember most from your early teens?

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Bout of Books 10 | Mid-Week Update!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team.

When I said this was the first Bout of Books read-a-thon I hadn't been too busy to participate in I obviously spoke too soon.

I've managed to get a little reading done - mainly yesterday, to be honest, because I didn't get any reading done on Monday or Tuesday due to other commitments - but nowhere near as much as I'd hoped to read by this point. I still have the rest of tonight and the next three days to catch up, though, so not all hope is lost!

Contrary to my TBR, I've been reading more of Feed by Mira Grant and I've started Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. I'm really enjoying Feed - in fact I'd love to be reading it now, but I have some uni work to do - it's the first zombie story I've come across in which society hasn't just crumbled, and it's funny, too. Before the read-a-thon I was up to page 47, and now I'm on page 117, so I read 70 pages of Feed yesterday.

I picked up Northern Lights in the early hours of Wednesday morning when I couldn't sleep and I'm enjoying that one too; it's one of those fantasy books I'm always ashamed to say I haven't read. So far I've read 67 pages.

So, in total, I've read 137 pages so far this week which is terrible progress, but I didn't get any reading done on Monday or Tuesday and I'm unlikely to get any done today because I have uni work to do that I'm not likely to finish before midnight.

Hopefully I'll get a lot of reading done over the weekend. I'd love to finish Feed and I think I should be able to; it's a little thicker than the average book but it's so fun and easy to read. It'd be nice to get a good chunk of Northern Lights read too; I'll try and finish it if I can.

I'm also finally going to start Fangirl tomorrow! I'm going to be reading it alongside my friend Laura, and I think it'll be nice to have a contemporary novel there for when I want to take a break from zombies and daemons.

How's your progress so far? What are you reading?