Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Top Ten Tuesday | She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain

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 everything you need to know about joining in here!

This week's theme is 'Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds'; this includes characters who read, characters who write, characters who work in a bookstore... You get the idea.

This will be my last TTT post for a few weeks, as I'm going on a sort-of hiatus to get some much needed writing done!

Oddly enough I did struggle with this list a little. I have a lot of books about readers on my shelves, but I haven't read a lot of them yet; Among Others by Jo Walton, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, and The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly are all books I still need to read.

While I often find myself reading about readers, I think writers have a tendency to gravitate towards readers, I also read a lot of books about people with other interests. As an avid reader I already know what it's like to be an avid reader, so I like to read about people who enjoy music and maths and science and food.

Anyway, in the end I actually ended up with eleven rather than ten. I tried to narrow it down, but I didn't want to cut any of these characters from my list!

So let's get the most obvious choice over with first...

Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: Of course Hermione was going to be on this list, and I wanted to include her because she seems to read more nonfiction than fiction, particularly while she's at Hogwarts. I don't read about enough characters who enjoy reading history books and academic books, so I couldn't leave Hermione out!

Jo March from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: Jo reads and writes voraciously, and she's always been one of my favourite classic heroines because of it. The book can be a little sickly sweet at times but I love the March sisters, and I particularly love the 1994 adaptation starring Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon and Christian Bale!

Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey is a fairly recent read for me, and I loved Catherine's obsession with Gothic Literature. I ended up studying a lot of Gothic while I was at university, so it was fun to revisit so many of the tropes with Catherine. I'd love to think that if Catherine were to live in the 21st century she'd be a big SFF fan, dragging Henry Tilney to Comic Con so they can cosplay as Han and Leia.

Sebastian from Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Did you really think I was going to miss an opportunity to mention this book? You thought wrong! I fell in love with Meche and Sebastian when I read this book, and it was nice to see Meche as the science-minded character while Sebastian took up the role of book lover, as so often it's women who are portrayed as artsy and men who are portrayed as logical.

Dee from Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch, and Stjepan Šejić: I think any introverted book-lover could relate to Dee who, while at a party, was much more interested in reading her book than being hit on.

Haroun from Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie: If you haven't read this book then I highly recommend that you do, especially if you're a fan of retellings and books about books. Haroun learns to love stories all over again when he goes on an adventure to save the Sea of Stories, which is being poisoned and putting his father Rashid, a storyteller, out of business.

Matilda Wormwood from Matilda by Roald Dahl: Matilda is another character who just had to be on this list. I think Roald Dahl will always be remembered as one of the best children's authors of all time, and one of the reasons he was so brilliant was because he wrote for everyone. Not only is Matilda a fun story, but it's also a deeply hopeful story for the people in this world who, sadly, are born into families that just don't appreciate them.

Lirael from Lirael by Garth Nix: Another introverted bookworm, I first read Lirael when I was around fourteen and I've loved The Old Kingdom series ever since. Both Lirael and Sabriel are quite bookish, but Lirael is similar to Matilda in that books help her to feel less alone.

Dash from Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: Really I could have used Dash and Lily for this, but I decided to go with Dash because, if I remember correctly, he liked to collect dictionaries. If that's not a book nerd then I don't know what is!

Maddy Whittier from Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon: When you're allergic to basically everything and you can't leave the house, you have a lot of time to read.

Mo Folchart from the Inkworld trilogy by Cornelia Funke: There were so many characters I could have picked from this series for this topic, but I ended up going with Mo because he was one of my favourites. It certainly doesn't hurt that I picture him like Brendan Fraser in my head. (Yes, I know, the film adaptation was terrible, but Brendan Fraser is very pretty, okay?)

Who made your list?

Monday, 27 July 2015

Review | Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

by Nicola Yoon

My Rating:

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

I received a copy of Everything, Everything from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Everything, Everything follows the life of Maddy who has an incredibly rare illness which means that she's basically allergic to, well, everything. If she went outside she'd probably die. She's never been able to make real friends her own age or go to school or learn to drive or go on a date. Then a new family moves in next door, and Maddy meets Olly...

What an easy read this was! I sped through Everything, Everything, which was just what I needed because, before I picked it up, I could feel myself falling into a post-amazing book slump after I finished Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor. Maddy's narrative voice was so easy to fall into, and I loved her sense of humour. I wasn't sure what someone who's allergic to everything would be like, but Maddy was rarely self-pitying or bitter, even though she had every right to be, nor was she a saint. She was an ordinary girl, who also just happened to be ill.

This is quite possibly one of the most diverse books I've ever read, though considering Nicola Yoon's own feelings for the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign I'm not all that surprised. Maddy is mixed race; half of her ancestry is Asian (Japanese, I think?) and the other half is African American. I haven't read a single book starring another character with that background, so that was fantastic. And there wasn't only Maddy; Maddy's mother, her nurse, and Olly's friend were all people of colour, which is awesome.

The best thing about it, though, was that it didn't feel like Yoon was trying to do a racial paint by numbers. It never felt as though she was including these people 'just to be diverse', but that she was including these people because when she looks at the world it isn't, and never has been, all white. I loved that.

I thought the romance in Everything, Everything was believable and really quite lovely. Maddy and Olly were great together, but they were also great separately, too, which doesn't always happen when you get stories in which the romance is one of the main aspects rather than a sideplot. I could understand why the two of them fell so deeply in love with one another and, perhaps more importantly, I as a reader was hoping for their happiness.

The only thing I had a problem with was that some aspects of the story felt too easy. For example, I would have liked to have known more about Olly's sister and I feel like the only reason we didn't see more of her is because it was easier to just not write about her. Does that make sense? There is also something that happens near the end of the novel that I did kind of like, it's certainly interesting and quite suspenseful, but then it's also a little unbelievable, and another part of me can't help feeling that perhaps Yoon didn't know how else to end it, and so she ended it the way she did. That's so unhelpful, I know, but it's impossible to talk about the thing I'm talking about without spoiling the novel.

All in all, I did enjoy this. For a debut novel it's pretty good! Contemporary isn't the genre I usually lean towards, but I sped through this in two sittings, and definitely recommend it to anyone who's been eying it up.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Upcoming Hiatus... Sort of!

As you can see above, I call myself a writer. I am a writer. Recently, however, I've found myself writing more blog posts than stories - in fact I've struggled with fiction since I finished my MA.

For any of you who don't know, in December 2014 I graduated with an MA in Creative Writing, a year in which I dedicated my time towards a 30,000 word portfolio with a 5,000 word reflective essay. I chose to work on a historical/speculative fiction novel involving witchcraft in Tudor England, and I really enjoyed it.

The MA was fantastic because we had two two-hour workshops each week in which we critiqued each other's work, and my MA group were an amazing source of support and encouragement. In the end my work paid off because I came out of my MA with a Distinction, but since then I haven't touched my novel (one of the main reasons being some big aspects of the plot are undergoing a major overhaul, so I need to pretty much rewrite a lot of the stuff I originally wrote anyway) and I've barely written any short fiction either.

As I'm sure you can imagine, this sucks. I love writing, and I hate how frustrated I become when I find it difficult to write. I have so many ideas, and then when I sit down to put them on paper it's like my brain leaks out of my ears. Also, let's be honest, I've also become a bit lazy since the completion of my MA. Because I no longer have a group to submit my work to I've found it more difficult to write, and I hate that; I should be writing purely for my own enjoyment, not because other people are going to read it, but I can't deny that knowing other people would be reading my work made me work my butt off to finish something even when I thought it sucked. Now if I think I'm writing something crap, I just let me convince myself it's crap and that I have no talent whatsoever and I might as well just quit while I'm ahead.

Not only that, but now that I'm working full time I have even less time to write. When you work eight hours a day five days a week, it becomes more difficult to dedicate your time to writing everything you want to write, reading everything you want to read, and then still trying to have a social life and me time somewhere in between. And I'm currently learning how to drive and applying for a PhD... I have a lot going on, though I know that's no excuse.

So no more! Because I am a writer, and at times I'm even a good writer, and I want to work at becoming a better writer. The only way to do that is through practice, so in August my blog is going to take a backseat.

That doesn't mean I won't be posting anything because I already have some things scheduled, and I like to write book reviews soon after finishing a book so my feelings are fresh in my mind. All this really means is that I won't be taking part in posts like Top Ten Tuesday or My Week in Books throughout August, and if I go the odd week without posting anything I'm not going to let that freak me out.

So my blog's not going to be dead because I don't like extremes. If I say 'I'm not going to touch my blog once throughout August!' all I'll be thinking about is my blog. What it means is that from this post on and throughout August I'll be a little quiet, but I hope you'll stick around! If you leave me a comment (please do, I love reading your comments) and I don't reply I'm not being rude. I will reply to you, even if it isn't straight away.

I've found a few anthologies currently looking for submissions and a couple of competitions I'd like to enter, and I have a whole pile of unfinished short stories that I want to finish. I want to get more of my work out there and continue to build up my writing portfolio.

So yeah. This is just a little note to say I may be quieter than usual during August and I promise I'm not ignoring you. I'm just going to take some time to get myself back into the swing of writing regularly, and get some of these stories finished!

Friday, 24 July 2015

Sexuality in Harry Potter | Harry Potter Month

Throughout July, Micheline @ Lunar Rainbow Reviews and Faith @ GeekyZooGirl are hosting Harry Potter Month. You can find out everything you need to know about it here! 

As much as we love the Harry Potter series, I think we can all agree that it isn't perfect. I like names with meanings as much as the next person, but considering Remus Lupin's name basically translates to Wolf McWolf it's no wonder Fenrir Greyback bit him.

In recent years I've seen more and more people eager to know more about the LGBT* community at Hogwarts, which I think is wonderful. We've become much more aware of diversity in the literary world, and though we still have a long way to go we've certainly made some improvements.

I totally agree that when it comes to diversity, authors need to start saying that their characters aren't white or straight instead of just hinting at it. However, I can understand why sexuality isn't really discussed in the Harry Potter books: because it's not relevant to Harry's story.

After J.K. Rowling announced that Dumbledore was gay, something I think most of us picked up on upon reading the seventh book, there were some people who were disgusted because they're gross and homophobic, and there were some people who were angry because they felt as though she was simply jumping on the LGBT* bandwagon.

Though I could understand the anger amongst some members of the LGBT* community I wasn't sure it was entirely justified. In what way was Dumbledore's sexuality important to Harry's story? More to the point, what did J.K. Rowling have to do to 'prove' that Dumbledore was gay and that she wasn't just lying for the sake of a publicity stunt? Did people want her to be horribly stereotypical and portray Dumbledore wearing sparkly robes and gushing over musical theatre?

Dumbledore's sexuality wasn't at all important to Harry's story. In fact no one else's sexuality was important to the story which was why, in my opinion, J.K. Rowling never openly discussed anyone's sexuality in the books. That doesn't mean the books are perfect, but I don't think their lack of openly discussed sexuality makes them terrible books.

But just because a character's sexuality wasn't discussed doesn't mean they weren't there! I know that's completely contradictory to my earlier point, but I'd like to refer to the wise words of Cosima Niehaus:

When it comes to sexual diversity I think we need to see more characters outside of the straight and gay spectrum. I've never read a book in which a character has identified as bisexual, not for lack of trying, and I've certainly never read a book in which a character has identified as asexual, demisexual or pansexual. If you have any recommendations, I'd love to hear them!

So I've made a little list of some of the Harry Potter characters who I believe aren't heterosexual.

(I also really hope I don't end up offending anyone with this post. If you're part of the LGBT* community I'm not trying to portray non-heterosexuality as 'cool' or 'quirky', I genuinely read the characters below as queer.)

Albus Dumbledore

Okay, so this one we already know. Dumbledore is gay which, like I said before, is something I think most of us picked up on while reading Deathly Hallows. I've started to like Dumbledore less and less as I've gotten older because I'm really not sure he was the best teacher (or the best human being), but his and Grindelwald's story was heartbreaking.

Sirius Black

Personally I think Sirius is pansexual. Pansexuality is described as sexual attraction, emotional attraction and/or romantic love towards people of any sexuality or gender identity. Sirius has always struck me as an 'if I like it, I like it' kinda guy. He does his own thing, and always has done, that's why he ends up in Gryffindor and eventually ends up living with James after his own family disown him. Out of all the Marauders, I certainly think Sirius was the one who was most experimental with his sexuality.

Remus Lupin

I've always thought of Remus as bisexual. In the books we know he marries Tonks, but because J.K. Rowling herself has openly stated that werewolves are treated in much the same way that AIDS sufferers have been treated I refuse to believe that he's straight. The AIDS virus devastated the LGBT* community, particularly during the '80s and '90s, and Remus was a young man in the '80s. On a much less serious note I like me some Remus/Sirius just as much as I like me some Remus/Tonks...

Charlie Weasley

I have a huge crush on Charlie Weasley, and I'm also pretty sure that he's asexual. I'm not trying to say that people who never get married or have kids must be asexual, but J.K. Rowling once said something along the lines of 'he's more interested in dragons than women', and I've read him as asexual ever since. Perhaps he's also aromantic, though a person can be asexual without being aromantic and vice versa!

Luna Lovegood

This one I have no 'evidence' for, it's simply what I think: I read Luna as demisexual. People who are demisexual only feel sexually attracted towards people they already have an emotional and/or romantic bond with; it's often described as the 'grey area' between asexuality and bisexuality. There's something about Luna - she's serene to the core - that's always made me think of her as demisexual. I don't think of her as sexually experimental in the same way that Sirius is, but I can see her falling in love with a woman as easily as she'd fall in love with a man.

Do you read any of the Harry Potter characters as queer?

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Jane Austen Book Tag

I saw this tag and thought 'why not?' I love any opportunity to do a book tag! This tag was created by Jenessa @ Thoughts from Nowhere - you can find the original here!

Sense and Sensibility
A book with a dynamic sibling relationship

I had to go with Merricat and Constance Blackwood from We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I read this book earlier this year and really enjoyed it, and Merricat and Constance's relationship is certainly interesting...

Pride and Prejudice
A book that didn't seem interesting at first

I don't tend to read a lot of contemporary. I had no idea if I was going to like If I Stay, but I decided to give it a chance and I ended up really, really enjoying it - in fact it's now one of my favourite contemporaries!

A book in which two close friends fall in love

I had to go with Signal to Noise, because I will always take advantage of any opportunity to mention this book. Seriously, read it. It's such an underrated 2015 debut and it's so fantastic! And it has one of the best romantic relationships I've read in a while.

Mansfield Park
A book with a 'rags to riches' storyline

I had to go with The Goblin Emperor which is another of my absolute favourite reads of 2015, and has quickly gone on to my favourite books of all time list. It's brilliant, and you can't help but root for Maia.

A book involving second chances

This might seem like a bit of an odd choice, but I had to go with My Life as a White Trash Zombie because, oddly enough, it's getting turned into a zombie that gives Angel a second chance at life - and she takes full advantage of it! This is such a fun urban fantasy series, and I recommend it.

Northanger Abbey
A book with an imaginative character

How could I not choose A Little Princess? After Sara Crewe is left destitute and abused by the headmistress of her boarding school, it's her imagination that keeps her going.

I tag:

Jumping On the Brandwagon

I have a confession to make: I've never read anything by Brandon Sanderson.

In today's book blogging world I know that's practically blasphemy, but there are so many books to read and such little time to read them all in that, unfortunately, Sanderson's work has fallen to the wayside so far, despite my owning four of his books. Three of those books just happen to be the Mistborn trilogy, and I've heard such fantastic things about it that I'm determined to read at least the first book this year.

My lovely friend Natalie @ A Sea Change is a huge fantasy fan but, like me, she's yet to read any Sanderson. So the two of us have decided to read The Final Empire together throughout August!

I'm very excited to see what I make of this book for myself, and also to read it with Natalie who I already irritate on a weekly basis with my reading updates. She and I did our MA together and unfortunately she's been unable to escape me since. It's tragic, really.

(Do check out her blog; not only does she post great reviews, for everything from books to TV shows to arts events, but she's also an amazing poet and an all-round good egg).

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

This Week in Books | 22/07/15

This week I'm joining in with Lipsy @ Lipsyy Lost & Found to talk about the books I've been reading recently!


This week I finally decided to give Jane Austen a second chance. I was first introduced to Austen when I was eighteen and I had to study Persuasion, and I loathed it. After that I was convinced I just didn't like Austen, and though I've been wanting to try her again for a year or so it's difficult to let go of feelings of such contempt, however ill-founded they might be. But as her books are all free on the kindle, I've been reading Northanger Abbey on my way to and from work because it was the one book of hers that sounded most up my alley. I'm enjoying it so far, as much as it pains eighteen year old me to say! I do still struggle with her writing in places - she uses so many commas that sometimes by the time I've gotten to the end of a sentence I've forgotten how it began - but this time around I have found her pretty funny.

I'm also slowly making my way through Uprooted by Naomi Novik and Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. I'm enjoying them both, it's just taking me a while to read them because I always use my kindle on my way to and from work, and when I get home from work I try to write rather than read.


I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Everything, Everything from NetGalley, and I read it in two sittings. I easily could have read it in one if I hadn't started it in the evening when I was tired. I don't read contemporary all that often, but I usually enjoy it when I do. Just before Everything, Everything I read The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, which I absolutely adored, so I was glad to have a quick contemporary to prevent me from going into a post-amazing book slump. Look out for my review of Everything, Everything next week!


I tend to struggle with 'Next' because I don't really plan what I'm going to read; I'm very much a mood reader. Even so, I've been reading quite a few standalones recently (I love standalones) but I'd like to continue with one of the many series on my shelves. White Trash Zombie Apocalypse is the third book in the ongoing White Trash Zombie series. I read the first two earlier this year and really enjoyed them both - it's such a fun urban fantasy series!

What have you been reading?

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Top Ten Tuesday | Books That Celebrate Diversity

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 everything you need to know about joining in here!

This week's theme is all about books that celebrate diversity, a topic I'm very excited about! I became very passionate about diversity in literature during my MA, and since then I've tried to read as widely and diversely as possible. It's been wonderful to see so much diversity in the publishing world in recent years, though I think we still have a way to go.

The Ms. Marvel series by G. Willow Wilson and Various Artists: I don't think I'd read anything with a Muslim protagonist before I started reading this series, which frankly I'm ashamed of. This series is so much fun, and I love that Kamala Khan is a Muslim girl in a series that's written by a Muslim lady.

Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories ed. by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios: The title pretty much says it all, doesn't it?

Cress by Marissa Meyer: The Lunar Chronicles in general is an incredibly diverse series, something I've talked about on my blog plenty of times before, but I decided to go with Cress because it's the book with the most characters in so far!

Rat Queens, Vol.1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch: One of the main ladies in this series is a poc, and another is queer. Yay!

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon: I recently read this (look out for my review next week!) and the thing that impressed me the most was just how diverse this book is. The main character, Maddy, is mixed race; her father is African American and her mother is Asian American. I've never read a book with a character like her before.

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy: Yay! Body positivity!

Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Signal to Noise is one of the best books I've read this year, and it's set entirely in Mexico with an entirely Mexican cast of characters.

Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant: This fun novella has several characters with disabilities; a couple of the characters are in wheelchairs and another is deaf.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters: Sarah Waters is well known for her LGBT* historical fiction, and there's a bit of cross-dressing in this one, too!

Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History ed. by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older: This is another short story anthology, made up of speculative historical fiction starring a whole cast of diverse characters.

Which books made your list?

    Monday, 20 July 2015

    Cover Reveal | Lorelai, You'll Never Die by Laura Konrad

    I'm very excited to be taking part in the cover reveal for Lorelai, You'll Never Die by Laura Konrad! Laura is a friend of mine, so I'm so pleased to be taking part in the cover reveal of her debut novel. She's a fantastic writer.

    by Laura Konrad

    Release Date: 20 August, 2015
    Publisher: Dryden House


    Lorelai is a woman with many stories to tell.

    She was just a promiscuous secretary at the county evidence locker. But all that changed with the apocalypse.

    She found herself alone and wandering the country in search of something, she just wasn't sure what. She came across many different types of people along the way, some freaks and some who are just like her trying to survive. Her adventures forced to adapt in ways she never thought she could, made her feel in ways she never thought she would.

    In the apocalypse you either learn to adapt or you die...

    Author Bio:

    I'm Laura Konrad and I'm a 22 year old writer from Canada. I love science fiction and apocalyptic stories and my first book was published with The Dryden Experiment, a set of stories that were illustrated by Danielle Evert. When I'm not writing, I'm reading copious amounts of books in a search for inspiration.

    Review | The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

    The Goblin Emperor
    by Katherine Addison

    My Rating: 

    The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an "accident," he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

    Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

    Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend... and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne – or his life.

    Honestly I have no idea if this review is even going to be coherent, because if I could give this book all the stars in the sky I would.

    After I finished The Goblin Emperor I felt so lost. The story was over. There was nothing more to be said. And though I'd finished the story only seconds before I already missed the world and all of the characters in it. I usually love standalones, but for the first time in a long while I found myself mourning that The Goblin Emperor isn't the first in a series.

    If you're a fan of sprawling, epic fantasies with quests and dragons and sword fights and the whole world being at stake, then The Goblin Emperor might disappoint you. I say 'might' because I don't see how this book could disappoint anyone.

    Rather than being a 'typical' fantasy book, The Goblin Emperor is a story of politics and courtly intrigue that also just happens to be a fantasy novel. I understand that you might see the word 'politics' and think 'boring', but it really isn't. If you're a fan of history or historical fiction then I'd say this book is right up your alley, especially if you don't tend to stray into fantasy but would like to.

    I'm only just getting back into high fantasy and, as a big history nerd, I love a bit of political intrigue, so this book was perfect for me. The writing style took a little getting used to at first, but after a few pages I had no trouble whatsoever, and sometimes the names could be confusing - luckily for me, however, I read this on my kindle, so whenever I wasn't 100% sure who someone was I just had to tap on their name and remind myself!

    So, why isn't this book boring? For one thing the entire world Katherine Addison has created is so rich I still can't quite believe it's not real, and for another... it's the characters.

    I don't think I can put into words how much I fell in love with Maia, the fourth, half-goblin son of the late emperor who is suddenly thrust onto the throne after the deaths of his father and his three older half-brothers. It was so refreshing to read a book about a character who is a good person, but is still a believable person. Poor Maia is thrust into kingship with no idea whatsoever what he's supposed to do or whom he can trust, but throughout his many trials he stays true to himself and I love him for it. He's a little sweetheart and I have never wanted to befriend and cuddle a character more.

    And then there are characters like Csevet, Cala, Beshelar, Csethiro, Vedero, Kiru, Telimezh and Idra, so many characters to fall head over heels in love with. I want to hold a dinner party and invite all of them because they're all amazing and I really hope Katherine Addison writes something else about these characters, even if it's just the odd short story.

    Basically I could gush about this book forever, and I'm probably going to gush about it on my blog for the rest of the year and every year after. It's that good. In fact it's so good that as soon as I finished it on my kindle I ordered myself a pretty hardback edition, because I need a copy of it on my shelf.

    Please, please, please just read it.

    Friday, 17 July 2015

    Be, Room, Cliff | Harry Potter Month

    Harry Potter Month continues! Hosted by Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows and Faith @ GeekyZooGirl, Harry Potter Month is taking place throughout July - you can find out everything you need to know about it here!

    I'm a little bit behind schedule with my posts; this post was supposed to go up last Friday, but last Friday I was in Italy and I completely forgot to schedule anything because I'm a moron. So let's try that again...

    Today I'm doing something that's just plain, good ol' fashioned fun. Many of you are probably familiar with the Marry, Kiss, Cliff Tag, and the Be, Room, Cliff Tag is much the same, only it's more along the lines of bromance than romance.

    So, if you're a heterosexual lady you'd talk about some fictional fellas for Marry, Kiss, Cliff, but for Be, Room, Cliff you have to decide between three different female characters. Pick one to be, one to be your roommate, and one to throw off a cliff.

    My favourite wizarding family in Harry Potter is the Black family so, naturally, I thought I'd do Be, Room, Cliff with Bellatrix, Andromeda and Narcissa!


    I thought long and hard about this one. Now obviously I don't want to be Bellatrix - she's cray - but I like both Andromeda and Narcissa. Ultimately, however, I think I'd have to be Andromeda. Now obviously out of her and Narcissa we could argue she gets the short straw, she loses her husband and her only child while Narcissa does not, but I don't think I could live with the few prejudices Narcissa has. That's not to say Andromeda isn't prejudiced - obviously she has no problem with muggleborns because she marries one - but I've never been fond of the fandom's way of her painting her as this saintly figure who loves everyone for who they are on the inside. We know from the way Tonks talks about her that she's not always easy to live with. But that's one of the reasons I love her despite the fact that we see so little of her; Andromeda, like Narcissa, is on no one's side but her own.


    If I'm not going be Bellatrix then I'm sure as hell not going to share a room with her, especially if I'm the sister who married the muggleborn. I like to imagine that Narcissa would be quite a fun roommate; maybe not in a 'let's eat Ben & Jerry's and watch Bridget Jones's Diary' kind of way, but certainly in a 'let's judge the rest of the world together' kind of way. And frankly most of my friendships have been formed over a mutual dislike of other people. I'm painting a lovely picture of myself, aren't I? Plus I really love Narcissa, I think she's a fantastic character, and considering how much of a neat freak she is I think I'd go mad if Andromeda was my roommate. I like a bit of organised chaos.


    Don't get me wrong, Bellatrix is another fantastic, fascinating character, but out of the three she's the one I'd have to kill. I don't want to be her, I certainly don't want to live with her, and ultimately she killed my favourite character; if she's going to go around throwing people through suspicious looking upholstery, I'm going to take pleasure in throwing her over the side of the cliff. Besides, knowing her, she'd probably be fine.

    So what would you do?

    Thursday, 16 July 2015

    Review | To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    by Harper Lee

    My Rating: 

    'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'

    A lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic novel - a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the thirties. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man's struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much.

    To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age story, an anti-racist novel, a historical drama of the Great Depression and a sublime example of the Southern writing tradition.

    Yeah, yeah, I know, the whole world and his wife has read this. In fact nowadays I'm pretty sure babies emerge from the womb already having read it, but I didn't get around to this classic until this year.

    But why? I imagine to hear you ask for the sake of this review. Why has it taken you so long to read the most stupendous book of all time? Didn't you do English Lit at uni? What's the matter with you?

    Well, friend, I'll tell you. First of all, I'm British; I was born and raised, for the most part, in England, and in England you tend to look at British authors. I read Shakespeare, Charlotte Brontë and Seamus Heaney at school, and though we did branch out into international authors when I reached my GCSE years, the American book chosen for us was Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. In fact nobody at my school read To Kill a Mockingbird.

    When I did my A Levels I read a little more American Literature, this time Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, and I loathed it. I know everyone loves it, but I just couldn't stand it. It's so depressing - yes, I know that's the point - but the practical part of me couldn't help thinking 'dude, just move house!' throughout the entire novel. I had to force myself to finish it, and sadly, though it shouldn't have, it put me off American Lit for a while.

    And the third reason I didn't get around to it until this year was for the simple, stubborn reason that everyone told me I should read it. Hyped books make me very wary, because so often we can build ourselves up to expect one thing and then be incredibly disappointed when we get something else entirely. I wanted to read To Kill a Mockingbird, but only when I could go into it with no expectations or preconceptions whatsoever; the same reason I didn't read Rebecca until last year.

    So now that I've read it, did I love it? Yes. I really, really did.

    I was almost disappointed when I realised how much I'd enjoyed the book, like I was just 'conforming' or some other ridiculous notion, and then I realised how stupid that was. Some people are cruel enough to say that other people say this is their favourite book because they want to sound smart, and while that may very well be true in some cases (but who cares if it is?) the fact of the matter is some books are well-loved for a reason, and this is one such book.

    I found Harper Lee's writing so comforting and welcoming, and it settled in me like a delicious roast dinner on a cold day. Scout is a charming protagonist, and she and Jem both felt so real to me; I felt as though I was reading a book by a woman who hadn't forgotten what it was really like to be a child.

    And then, of course, there's Atticus, who frankly I was incredibly attracted to. What can I say? I like an older man.

    I adored the cast of characters Lee created, from the Finches to Boo Radley to Tom Robinson, and I was surprised by how lovely the book was. When a book is described as an anti-racist novel or an anti-sexist novel or an anti-any sort of 'ist' novel, it can be difficult not to expect it to be incredibly heavy handed, to knock you over the head with its message so hard you see stars. I didn't feel that with this book at all, and I think a lot of that has to do with it being a coming-of-age novel. 

    When a story is told through the eyes of a child, who is still learning the difference between what is and isn't right and what she believes is and isn't right, any message the book is trying to convey immediately feels all the more authentic because we can see how the characters reach their ultimate conclusion of how they perceive the world. Had the book been from Atticus's point of view, I think it would have been incredibly preachy to the point of disbelief. It's hard to believe anyone could be as perfect as Atticus, but we can believe he might seem that way through the eyes of his children.

    I loved this book, but I don't think I would have if I'd read it when everyone was telling me to. I needed to approach it in my own way at my own time, and I encourage any of you who haven't read it, but are considering it, to do the same. And if you have no intention of ever reading it, that's fine. This book might be a well-loved classic, but don't force your way through a book you don't think is for you when you could be reading something else you love.