Monday, 30 November 2015

Review | The Only Woman in the Room by Eileen Pollack

by Eileen Pollack

My Rating: 

In 2005, when Lawrence Summers, then president of Harvard, asked why so few women, even today, achieve tenured positions in the hard sciences, Eileen Pollack set out to find the answer. A successful fiction writer, Pollack had grown up in the 1960s and ’70s dreaming of a career as a theoretical astrophysicist. Denied the chance to take advanced courses in science and math, she nonetheless made her way to Yale. There, despite finding herself far behind the men in her classes, she went on to graduate summa cum laude, with honors, as one of the university’s first two women to earn a bachelor of science degree in physics. And yet, isolated, lacking in confidence, starved for encouragement, she abandoned her ambition to become a physicist.

Years later, spurred by the suggestion that innate differences in scientific and mathematical aptitude might account for the dearth of tenured female faculty at Summer’s institution, Pollack thought back on her own experiences and wondered what, if anything, had changed in the intervening decades.

Based on six years interviewing her former teachers and classmates, as well as dozens of other women who had dropped out before completing their degrees in science or found their careers less rewarding than they had hoped, The Only Woman in the Room is a bracingly honest, no-holds-barred examination of the social, interpersonal, and institutional barriers confronting women—and minorities—in the STEM fields. This frankly personal and informed book reflects on women’s experiences in a way that simple data can’t, documenting not only the more blatant bias of another era but all the subtle disincentives women in the sciences still face.

The Only Woman in the Room shows us the struggles women in the sciences have been hesitant to admit, and provides hope for changing attitudes and behaviors in ways that could bring far more women into fields in which even today they remain seriously underrepresented.

I received an eARC of The Only Woman in the Room from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The first thing I feel like I must say is that I'm not a scientifically-minded person at all. I didn't enjoy science in school, and while science is something I've gotten a little more interested in as I've gotten older I'm still much more of a literature and history person. You might wonder why I requested this book in the first place if that's the case, but just because I'm not very into science myself doesn't mean I'm not aware of the stigma against women in science that still exists. Other than Marie Curie I don't remember learning about any female scientists at school, and there are so many unsung heroines of the science world; Margaret Cavendish; Ada Lovelace; Mary Anning; Barbara McClintock; Rosalind Franklin... You get the point. I already know plenty about women in literature and history who have been overlooked for their white, male counterparts, so I wanted to learn a little more about what it's like for women in the sciences.

This is a hard book to review, because there were some things I really loved and some things... not so much. An important thing to point out is that I think this book is actually quite misleading; both the title and the blurb imply that the entire book follows Eileen Pollack as she talks to women in the sciences, but that only takes up the final third of the book. The first two thirds of the book are Eileen's memoir, following her childhood, her time at university and the time in which she strayed from physics to writing. Personally I didn't mind that, I thought her memoir was really interesting, but I think it's very misleading for anyone coming to this book just for that final section, and it left the book feeling like two smaller books that had been mushed together.

I've become a lot more interested in non-fiction this year, and for the most part this is the kind of non-fiction I like - the majority of the non-fiction books I've read this year have focused on feminism, so I was glad to add this one to my list. As you can see from my rating I enjoyed it, there was a lot that reminded me of myself despite the focus on science, and I think all women could read this and relate to some of Pollack's experiences.

However, I think I could have given this book five stars if it weren't for a few things that just grated on me.

Firstly, I felt as though Pollack had a tendency to perpetuate some of the negative stereotypes that often work against women who want to work in the sciences. More than once she admits to only remembering the professors she had a crush on, and something about that really annoyed me. I think it's only natural for people to develop crushes on their teachers or professors, though I must admit that never happened to me, but Pollack seemed to have an obsession with potential romantic partners. When interviewing some other scientists she often asked them if they were married or in serious relationships, and while I could understand the question's relevance to the idea that a woman can't be a scientist and a wife, it felt as though we'd stepped back fifty years.

Quite often Pollack openly admitted her outright jealousy towards other women in science who had been able to do what she hadn't by working in science, and while I think it's very brave of her to openly admit that jealousy and there's the whole problem of internal misogyny that, as women, we must continue to fight against, it sometimes felt as though Pollack wanted to be the only woman in the room. She wanted to be told she was special, whether she was a scientist or a writer, and as much as I think there's a part of all of us that wants that, I don't think it's fair of Pollack to hold other women's success against them. When women in the sciences are already struggling, there's no room for girl hate.

One other thing that annoyed me quite a bit was Pollack's insinuation that women who decided to pursue the arts instead of the sciences were 'cheating'. Firstly, I think that's very hypocritical coming from a woman who now makes her living as a writer, and secondly, the arts aren't an easy fallback; I didn't pursue English Literature at university because I couldn't make it as an astronaut. I do agree that a lot more women need to be encouraged to pursue the sciences if they enjoy it or they have an aptitude for it, but I didn't like the insinuation that the arts is full of women who'd rather be doing science.

I do think this is worth reading. I know my review seems very negative, but please keep my rating in mind - there was so much in here that spoke to me and I enjoyed reading it, for the most part, I just had a lot of thoughts about the stuff I didn't like so much.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Review | The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

by Gillian Flynn

My Rating: 

A young woman is making a living, faking it as a cut-price psychic working at Spiritual Palms (with some illegal soft-core sex work on the side). She makes a decent wage - mostly by telling people what they want to hear. But then she meets Susan Burke. Susan moved to the city one year ago with her husband and 15-year old stepson Miles. They live in a Victorian house called Carterhook Manor, built in 1893. Susan has become convinced that some malevolent spirit is inhabiting their home, and taking possession of the stepson. She has even found trickles of blood on the wall. The young woman doesn't believe in exorcism or the supernatural, but she does see an opportunity to make a lot of money. However when she enters the house for the first time, and meets Miles, she begins to feel it too, as if the very house is watching her, waiting, biding its time.... 

The Grownup originally appeared as 'What Do You Do?' in George R.R. Martin and Gardner R. Dozois' Rogues anthology.

I've been telling myself I should read some Gillian Flynn ever since Gone Girl took over the world in the way it did, and now that I've finally read some of her work I'm definitely interested in picking up one of her novels. As much as Gone Girl seems to be her favourite among readers, I'm actually much more interested in picking up Sharp Objects or Dark Places.

The Grownup is a short story, and I never really review short stories on their own, but I decided to make an exception for this one. It's so easy to read with a very likable protagonist - at least I certainly liked her, though I've always had something of a soft spot for characters who are con artists, such as Orphan Black's Sarah Manning. I really enjoyed reading about the history of The Grownup's unnamed narrator and now she'd ended up doing what she was doing, and as soon as I learned a spooky house was involved I knew I was going to enjoy this story.

What can I say? I'm weak for a haunted house. Throughout the 60+ pages of this story Flynn scattered little tributes to some of the best Gothic fiction out there - The Haunting of Hill House; The Woman in White; The Turn of the Screw - which I loved, and I think she did a wonderful job of capturing the atmosphere that usually comes with a Gothic story, making the middle of this story my favourite section.

Then the third section happened and the story got a bit silly. There are multiple twists in this story, and while the first one took me completely by surprise and had me ready to give this story five stars and proclaim it one of the best short stories I've read in a while, the twist that followed kind of ruined it for me. Suddenly the story was weaker and it didn't seem as believable as it previously had been, which was a real shame.

I still really enjoyed it - it's got me looking forward to reading Flynn's novels and to reading the other stories in Rogues, which I actually own a copy of - but it could have been amazing if Flynn hadn't gone that step too far. Still, for just £2 I can't complain too much!

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Review | The Falconer by Elizabeth May

by Elizabeth May

My Rating: 

She's a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.

She's a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she's leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She's a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She's a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother's murder—but she'll have to save the world first.

The Falconer takes place a year after eighteen year old Aileana Kameron witnessed the murder of her beloved mother at the hands of a fae. Now, while trying to come across as a perfect lady who would make a wonderful wife to any eligible bachelor, she hunts the fae with the hope of avenging her mother.

Those of you who've been following my blog for a while will know that I love me some historical fiction. Add in a dash of speculative fiction - magic; mythology; folklore; fairy tales - and I salivate. Needless to say, The Falconer has been on my radar for a long while, particularly as I follow Elizabeth May on Twitter and love her tweets. I've sat back and watched her glorious feminist rants many a time, so I was very excited to read some of her fiction despite the mixed reviews I'd heard from other people who'd read the book. If anything, their opinions just made me more curious about what my own might be.

After receiving an eARC of The Vanishing Throne, the second book in this trilogy, I thought it was about time I read The Falconer, which I actually bought back in January and just hadn't gotten around to because I'm rubbish. So I finally picked it up!

And...? And to be honest, now that I've read it I can understand the mixed reviews, because what follows is a mixed review of my own.

First thing's first: this book is very fun, very fast-paced and so easy to read. In fact I'd recommend this book to anyone who's a little intimidated by historical fiction because this book is proof that historical fiction isn't boring. As a big history nut I don't mind the slower reads, but I'm not about to recommend something like Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which is over 1,000 pages long and has footnotes, to someone whose palms begin to sweat at the thought of reading historical fiction.

The Falconer isn't actually straight historical fiction; there are elements of steampunk and alternate history in it, so I think any readers who are fans of Gail Carriger's work would probably enjoy this, particularly fans of her Finishing School series. When I first realised this book was also steampunk I worried that the historical accuracy would slip, but I think Elizabeth May did a fairly good job of reminding me of the time period we were in; I would have liked a little more history, though, that was more than just 'oh good gracious me the neighbours saw my ankle how shall I ever show my face at the next tea party?'. I'm all for societal and marital politics - life was hard for women in the 19th century just as it was for them in any other century, because they had to be so accomplished and yet also so demure - but I didn't feel like I was reading anything new when Aileana was thinking about how limited her future was because she's a woman. That's not to say her feelings aren't valid or they shouldn't have been there, but it would have been nice to have seen it explored in a different way. Does that make any sense?

One thing I must say is that this book pleasantly surprised me with the complete lack of a love triangle, something which I've become so fed up with seeing in speculative YA fiction trilogies. I'm hoping this is a trend that continues throughout the next two books in the trilogy, because love triangles are just boring unless they're done well, and they're very, very rarely done well.

Having said that, there were still parts of the book that felt a little clichéd; Aileana's beautiful and intelligent and rich and kickass. I don't like to say that a character can't do all of these things - I'm still not sure if I like the term 'mary-sue' because I feel as though many of the qualities that make a heroine a mary-sue wouldn't make us bat an eyelid if it were a male protagonist who possessed them - I'd just like to see some plainer main characters in YA. And by that I mean characters who are actually plain and don't suddenly become stunningly beautiful when they take off their glasses or brush their hair.

Similarly Kiaran, a fae who's been teaching Aileana how to slaughter his kind, is described as beautiful as the men in YA often are. In other words I lost count of the amount of times I came across a description of his eyes. I did quite like Kiaran, though, but I suppose that's mainly because I have a fondness for characters who are sarcastic.

Personally I wanted more of Catherine, Aileana's best friend whose older brother, Gavin, was the character I feared was going to turn the book into another love triangle book. Considering Catherine is Aileana's closest friend I felt as though I didn't see enough of her, in fact Aileana spent most of the novel with a bunch of men which I was a little bit disappointed with. I understand that men had more freedom back then and, in the book's defence, two of the men she sees most often aren't actually human, but if Aileana can defy society's expectations why can't some of the other women do the same?

The most important relationship Aileana has is with her deceased mother, whose gruesome death still haunts her and whom she still misses dearly. That I can totally understand, and if I were in Aileana's shoes I'd want revenge, too - plus her mother seems to have been a very keen astronomer and sounded like a generally cool lady - but I started to get a little tired of hearing how desperate for revenge Aileana is. I felt as though I was being reminded every two seconds how all Aileana lived for was revenge and, dammit, I get it. Can we please talk about something else other than your unquenchable thirst for revenge?

In fact Aileana began to annoy me a little at the end of the novel. I'm not going to spoil anything, but some of the decisions she made were infuriating because if she'd just concentrated on what she was doing things would have turned out very differently. I'm intrigued to see what happens in the next book, though.

The Falconer certainly feels like the build-up to whatever's going to happen in The Vanishing Throne, but it's a really fun read and even though it's not the best thing I've ever read I did enjoy it, and I'm looking forward to reading more of May's work in future. I've never really read any books about the fae, so this was a nice change; I liked how May incorporated the folklore into her story, and I definitely got the sense that this was a novel she poured her heart and soul into creating because her love for the ties between Scotland and the fae is so clear.

Is it a mind-blowingly excellent masterpiece of brilliance? No, but it's a lot of fun and this trilogy has a lot of potential.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Adult Fiction for YA Readers!

I've met quite a lot of readers in the past who read only YA and want to read a little bit of adult fiction, but don't know where to start. So today I thought I'd recommend some adult fiction for YA lovers by selecting a few adult books that share some similar themes to certain YA books!

The Gargoyle is Andrew Davidson's debut, and so far only, novel, and I fell in love with it when I first read it. I'll admit it's nothing like A Thousand Nights, really; the main character is a severely burned and suicidal pornographer. So why do I recommend it to fans of A Thousand Nights? Well, it's another book with a nameless protagonist and one that is heavily reliant on oral storytelling. While in the hospital, the protagonist of The Gargoyle meets another patient who claims they were lovers in a past life, and she continues to visit him to tell him love stories from throughout history. In some ways she is his Scheherazade. It's a stunning book, and I highly recommend it!

I only discovered Robin Talley this year and I think she's such an important voice in the world of YA. I thoroughly enjoyed Lies We Tell Ourselves - you can check out my review here! - and when it comes to adult historical LGBT+ fiction then I can't recommend Sarah Waters enough. Waters has written six novels, all historical fiction, and five of those six have a queer female protagonist. Fingersmith is a wonderful place to start with Waters' work; it's a fantastically twisty and turny novel, highly inspired by the Victorian sensation novels that Waters loves to read, and like Lies We Tell Ourselves it has a wonderful LGBT+ couple at its centre. You can check out my review here!

It's been years since I read Things I Want My Daughters to Know, but I absolutely loved it when I first read it. The Year of the Rat and Things I Want My Daughters to Know are very different novels, but at their heart they're both stories that tackle grief, and in particular the grief that comes with losing a mother.

I admit these two may in fact have more dissimilarities than similarities; one main protagonist is a teenage girl while the other is a grown man, and one focuses on travelling through space while the other barely focuses on the travel at all. That being said, I do think fans of Across the Universe, and any other YA sci-fi like it, should give The Book of Strange New Things a chance. There is a lot about Christianity in it, but it isn't a Christian book; the main character, Peter, is travelling to a new planet to preach the Bible - the 'Book of Strange New Things' - to the natives there while, back on earth, his wife Bea begins to struggle with her faith. It's quite a slow-moving book, but it's fascinating.

Which adult books would you recommend to YA readers? Alternatively, which YA books would you recommend to people who don't read much YA?

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Top Ten Tuesday | Native American Characters

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 a Thanksgiving themed freebie, and here in the UK we don't celebrate Thanksgiving, so I thought I'd talk about some books that feature Native American characters because I just don't think there are enough out there, not only in books but in films and television, too. The recent film, Pan, is proof enough of that, where Tiger Lily was portrayed by Rooney Mara, who is whiter than milk.

More Native American representation please!

Witch Child by Celia Rees: Celia Rees is one of my favourite authors from my late childhood/early teens. Along with Eva Ibbotson, she's one of the authors I have to thank for sparking my interest in historical fiction when I read her novel Pirates! Witch Child was the second novel of hers that I read, and I loved it; it influenced me in a huge way in both what I read and what I write. Witch Child is told entirely in diary entries, from the point of view of Mary Newbury who is sent to 'the New World' after her beloved grandmother is executed for witchcraft. Once in America, however, she finds herself torn between the community of English settlers she should belong to, and the Native American tribe who seem to understand her abilities better than anyone else ever has. Love this book!

Sorceress by Celia Rees: This is a sequel to Witch Child, set in the present day, which follows a historian who is obsessed with Mary's diary, and Mary's descendent, Agnes, a young Native American girl. I didn't enjoy it as much as Witch Child, but it's still a good book.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie: This book, like most of the books on this list, is one that I haven't gotten around to reading yet. It tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist who leaves the school on his reservation to attend an all-white school where he is the only Native American pupil. It sounds fantastic.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer: I'm not even a little bit ashamed to mention this one. First off, I'm never going to deny that I went through the Twilight phase. I loved these books when they first came out, and I think they did a lot for YA in the publishing world. Secondly, say what you want about this series, but it's pretty much the only series I've read with a lot of Native American characters. Even better? None of them are white-washed in the movies. Just gonna throw that out there.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie: I mentioned Tiger Lily before, so I had to give this book a mention. I read Peter Pan for my Victorian Popular Fiction module at uni, but I have to admit I didn't really like it that much. It's sold as this whimsical, childhood story, but it's creepy as eff, man. It's a weird book.

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney: This book takes place in Canada, so I guess they're really Native Canadians rather than Native Americans. I started this book and couldn't get into it, but it has such high ratings on Goodreads that I want to give it another try, and given the cold setting I think it'll be a great winter read!

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks: Last year I read Year of Wonders and really enjoyed it. I've been eager to seek out more of Brooks' work ever since and Caleb's Crossing is the one I'm most interested in; loosely based on the story of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard in 1665, Brooks tells the story of a young woman, Bethia Mayfield, who longs for the education that her sex deprives her of. Bethia's father, a minister, wants to convert the local Native American people, and so he sends Caleb, a Native American boy and friend of Bethia's, to university. Bethia finds herself working as his housekeeper, and I think this book'll be so interesting to read.

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden: This is another piece of historical fiction, and what I love about it is that it includes conflicts between Native American tribes as well as conflicts between Native American people as a whole and white settlers.

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs: This is the first book in the urban fantasy Mercy Thompson series. Mercy is a walker (skinwalker, I'm guessing, which is a creature in Native American mythology) with the ability to shift into a coyote at will, as well as a mechanic. She sounds pretty darn cool to me!

The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich: This is another one that sounds fantastic. It's set in a small town in North Dakota where, generations before, a farm family were murdered. The case has yet to be officially solved but, from the description, I'm guessing the murder was blamed on Native Americans living on a nearby reservation. I can't wait to read it! Also I want to read as much of Louise Erdrich's work as I can, because she seems to write about Native Americans quite a lot.

What did you talk about this week?

Monday, 23 November 2015

Film Recommendations for Austen Fans

Considering I'm not a huge lover of Austen, though I will begrudgingly admit that she's starting to grow on me, it might surprise people how often she gets mentioned on my blog; when you do a degree in English Literature she's literally impossible to pass by!

Though I'm not the biggest fan of the way Austen's books are written I do enjoy watching adaptations of her stories - they are good stories, they wouldn't still be everywhere if they weren't - and today I'd thought I'd recommend a few films that aren't adaptations of the original texts, but are still films I think any Austen fan would enjoy. I have three modern films, set in the '90s and onwards, and three period films to share with you.

I guess this is a pretty obvious one, but I love Bridget Jones's Diary so I couldn't not mention it. I still haven't read the book but I always enjoy the film, and particularly love watching it around New Year. If we're going to be technical we could argue that this is an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, in the sense that it's a modern day adaptation, but I'm still going to count it anyway. If you're after a fun film with a bad first impression and a happy ending, much like Pride and Prejudice, then you'll love this!

This is another modern day adaptation, so I'll get this one out the way with before we get onto the more obscure choices. If you're a fan of stories with semi-unlikeable protagonists who are ultimately good at heart, like Emma, you'll like this film - it's also a great film if you happen to be a lover of films like Mean Girls and 10 Things I Hate About You. If you're a huge Austen fan, however, I imagine you've already watched Clueless and Bridget Jones's Diary!

This is probably the most obscure recommendation on my list, but I think it works! Of the Austens I've read so far (I say 'read', but I've only really read two of them all the way through and others I read bits of for university) Sense and Sensibility is definitely my least favourite. I just don't find the story all that interesting, and I really hate the ending; in my opinion Elinor and Marianne both deserved better, particularly Marianne. A Royal Affair is based on a true story, of the affair between Caroline Matilda of Great Britain (sister of George III) and her husband's personal physician Johann Friedrich Struensee. Caroline was married off to Christian VII of Denmark who struggled with mental illness throughout his life, back in a time when mental illness was understood even less than it is now. Caroline and Johann's story is heartbreaking and this film is so beautiful. To me A Royal Affair has that same gloomy quality that Sense and Sensibility does; they're both fitting stories if you've just been through a break-up and you need a good cry.

Fun fact: Mansfield Park is the only one of Austen's novels in which slavery is mentioned. I guess that's not exactly a fun fact, but it's interesting, right? Mansfield Park is also one of the two Austen novels, alongside Emma, that I haven't read at all, though I admit it's also one of the ones I'm most curious about because I hear it talked about so little. Belle is another period drama based on a true story, on the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle. Dido was the mixed race daughter of Maria Belle, an enslaved African woman in the West Indies, and Sir John Lindsay, a British naval officer. When Lindsay returned to Britain he took Dido with him and entrusted her to the care of his childless uncle, Lord Mansfield, and his wife. The two of them raised Dido as a lady, alongside their orphaned niece Lady Elizabeth Murray. Mansfield was Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, and during his time in this role he brought about the formal end of slavery in Britain. In his will Mansfield confirmed Dido's freedom (as she had been born into slavery) and made her an heiress. Pretty impressive. This is a brilliant film, and both Dido and Fanny Price have quite a bit in common as they are both sent to live with wealthier relatives and both struggle to find their place in the world.

Letters to Juliet is cheesy and predictable and, at times, pretty naff, but like Bridget Jones's Diary and Clueless, it's fun. If you're in the mood to watch something you don't really have to think about, something you want to sit back and enjoy with a glass of wine and a bar of chocolate, then this is the film for you. If you're a fan of stories about second chances, about lovers who didn't get it right the first time and want to try again, like Persuasion, then I recommend watching this film. Plus it's set in Italy, and Italy's beautiful!

Finally, we have my favourite Austen: Northanger Abbey. I love Guillermo del Toro's work - I think Pan's Labyrinth is fantastic, and I love others films he's been involved in such as the Hellboy films and Mama - and Crimson Peak is right up my alley. I love Gothic stories, love love love them, and stories about women who move to creepy new houses are right up my alley; the synopsis of this film reminds me of The Miniaturist, actually! I think the story of a young girl who moves to a spooky house inhabited by a mysterious family seems like the perfect film for any Northanger Abbey fan!

Have you seen any of these films? Are there any others you'd recommend?

Friday, 20 November 2015

Late November TBR!

Today I thought I'd share with you some of the books I'd really like to try and read by the end of November, but as this is a very over-ambitious amount of books and I don't do well when it comes to TBRs, we'll see how it goes. The majority of these books are sci-fi, because there's no better time to read sci-fi than during Sci-Fi Month!

I received eARCs of both of these from NetGalley, so I'd really like to get them both under my belt soon. I'm actually reading The Only Woman in the Room right now, and I'm planning to get to The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet very soon because I've heard nothing but great things about it.

I love historical fiction, and I love it even more when it has fantastical elements, so The Falconer has been on my radar for a while. I picked it up a few nights ago after I received an eARC of the second book, The Vanishing Throne from NetGalley, and I'm hoping to finish it soon and then jump straight into the second book and whack out some reviews!

I love the White Trash Zombie books and I always find them so quick and fun to read. If I can cross these two off my TBR during Sci-Fi Month I'll be a happy bunny, as I'd like to focus on Christmassy books in December and some other books I'd really like to have read by the end of the year.

I'm hoping I get to all of these. The Falconer and The Only Woman in the Room I'll definitely finish, and if I can read The Vanishing Throne and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, too, then I'll have crossed three of my eARCs off my TBR before I dive into my Christmassy eARCs! If I can, though, I'd love to get to those White Trash Zombie books, too.

What are you reading at the moment?

Thursday, 19 November 2015

The Book Bloggers and Books Tag!

I saw Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books do this tag, originally created by Kaitlin @ Reading is My Treasure, and I thought it looked like too much fun to pass up. The Book Bloggers and Books Tag basically involves talking about some of your bloggers and the books you think they're advocates for, or the books you most associate with them.

So I've selected a handful of my fellow bloggers, and I'm going to do just that!

Natalie is a huge fantasy fan. She loves Terry Pratchett - she's recently been reviewing the Tiffany Aching books on her blog - and Uprooted is one of her favourite books of the year, in fact I ended up reading it myself because she loved it so much. Poor Natalie also has the misfortune of knowing me in real life, which means I'm constantly throwing books at her while screaming 'READ THIS AND THEN TALK TO ME ABOUT IT', which is basically what happened with The Lunar Chronicles. It's one of those series I've been pushing on all of my friends, and luckily for me Natalie will often seek out the books I recommend to her. What a good egg.

Mallory's one of the few people I know who makes me want to give Austen a second chance. For some reason Emma is always the Austen I associate with Mallory, I think purely because I can vividly remember her very enthusiastic review of it. She's also a huge Cat Winters fan, she's really made me want to check out her work, and I've lost count of the amount of times she's told me I should read The Handmaid's Tale. I promise I'll get to it, Mallory! I really recommend checking out her blog, especially if you're a fan of classics.

Is this cheating? Nah. I love The Hunger Games, I think it's an excellent trilogy, but I've never met anyone who loves it as much as Shannon does. I love it when people talk about the books that mean the most to them, and it's very clear that this trilogy is very important to Shannon - she's the blogger I most associate with it. Even if she does like Peeta...

Check out Shannon's blog for even better gif usage!

A very blue-toned selection for Micheline! I really like how those three look together, actually. Like Natalie, Micheline's another blogger I associate with fantasy. She wrote a post all about how much she loves Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for Harry Potter Month, which she co-hosted with Faith @ GeekyZooGirl, and I know she's a big fan of Brandon Sanderson and Garth Nix, too.

If there's one thing I've learned about Deanna, it's that she loves Meg Cabot. Somehow she's one of those authors who managed to pass me by when I was younger, but Deanna loves her books so much I really want to check one out for myself. She recently wrote a post all about her love for Ready Player One for Sci-Fi Month, hosted by Rinn @ Rinn Reads, which is another book I need to get to. Basically Deanna's responsible for a lot of the books on my TBR...

There are three things I know for certain that Cait loves: Maggie Stiefvater, Derek Landy and dragons. Basically if Stiefvater and Landy teamed up to write a dragon book I think it'd make all of her dreams come true. The Raven Boys is yet another book I still need to get to, but I read Demon Road a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately I've never been able to get into A Song of Ice and Fire - I've tried reading it and I've tried listening to it - but the books have such a huge fanbase (including Cait!) so I'd like to give it another try in future.

I'm not going to tag anyone because I'm lazy, so if you want to do this tag then do it - I'd love to see which books you associate with other book bloggers!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

This Week in Books | 18/11/15

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

NOW: Last night I decided to pick up The Falconer to see if I was in the mood to read it, and ended up reading the first hundred pages in an hour. It's not the best thing I've ever read, and I do fear there may be a dreaded love triangle, but it's a lot of fun! I haven't really read any books featuring fae and it's been a long time since I read a book set in Scotland, so I'm planning to finish this one soon. I'm also currently reading Eileen Pollack's memoir The Only Woman in the Room, and I'm enjoying it so far.

THEN: I finished, and really enjoyed, Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked at the weekend; it was very interesting to see how the story of Little Red Riding Hood has changed over the centuries, and how it's been used as both a moral tale and for advertising. I recommend it, especially to any fairy tale fans!

NEXT: The main reason I picked up The Falconer is because I received an eARC of the second book in the trilogy, The Vanishing Throne, from NetGalley. The Vanishing Throne is actually released tomorrow, but November slipped away from me before I could try and read it in advance. I'm hoping to finish The Falconer very soon, though, and then I'll jump straight into this one and review them both! Also you should all check out Elizabeth May's Twitter account. It's brilliant.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Top Ten Tuesday | Don't Quote Me On It

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 'Top Ten Quotes I Loved From Books I Read In The Past Year Or So', and I decided to only pick quotes from books I've read this year. Purely because I've read quite a few books this year!

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

by Hannah Kent

by Jessie Burton

by Sarah Waters

by Becky Albertalli

by Jody Gentian Bower

by Jane Austen

by Emily Urquhart

by Elizabeth Gilbert

by Diana Rowland

Which quotes made your list this week?