Sunday, 14 August 2016


2016 hasn't been a good year so far.

Lots of great people have died, from Professor Snape to the Goblin King, and Britain's left the EU, resulting in an increase in racism and xenophobia that's made me feel ashamed to be British.

Outside of those issues, though, it just hasn't been a great year so far for me personally either. I'm not happy, and I haven't been happy for a while. One of the things we don't prepare young people for is how difficult your 20s can be and my 20s have been pretty miserable so far; I'm living far away from pretty much all of my friends, despite trying to find work near them for the past two years, and while so many of my friends are out moving into their own apartments, advancing in careers they love and just having fun together, I feel like I'm wasting time watching my life go by while I'm stuck in this rut I didn't ask for.

I can't catch a break. No matter what I try nothing works out, and there's only so many times I can hear 'You'll get to where you want to be eventually' before I feel like tearing my hair out. I've been in a creative slump since the beginning of the year, both with the reading and writing I've been doing, and the less I write the worse I feel and the worse I feel the less I write. I feel stuck, and I think my blog has been suffering from it; I haven't been updating my blog as regularly as I'd like and even when I do manage to write something I feel like my heart isn't in it.

So I'm going to go for a little while. I may still post the odd thing if the mood takes me - I have a joint review with my lovely friend Natalie @ A Sea Change to write up for the end of the month - but right now I need to concentrate on becoming a little happier. I'm still going to read blogs because I love knowing what you guys are up to and what you've been reading, but right now I don't want to be regularly posting content if I'm not happy with it.

Sorry this has been so whiny and self-pitying, and thanks to everyone who continues to read and comment on my blog. I hope I'll be back with some new stuff sooner rather than later!

Pokemon Go Book Tag

I have to be honest, I was always more of a Digimon girl than a Pokemon girl, but I was certainly in on the hype when Pokemon first became big in the UK. I think Pokemon Go's such a clever idea and, yes, I do have it on my phone, too - it's surprisingly fun!

This tag was created by Aentee @ Read at Midnight, and after seeing Deanna @ Deanna Writes do it I couldn't resist giving it a go myself.

That's such a hard question. I've always been surrounded by books; my parents read to me every night from a very young age, particularly my dad, so I don't think I could single out one book that made me love reading. Some of my earliest memories, however, are of having The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Rainbow Fish and Fantastic Mr. Fox read to me, so I suppose it'd be any one of those!

It has to be Harry Potter. I grew up as part of the Harry Potter Generation, and the series will forever be very dear to me.

Probably The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I have a copy and I'd really like to read it at some point, but everyone loves this series so I'm both worried that I'll be the one person in the world who doesn't like it while also feeling like it can wait longer for my attention than other books on my shelves that aren't as well known.

Lauren Oliver's Delirium falls into the YA dystopian category, but it does it well. When The Hunger Games set dystopian fiction as the next trend in YA quite a lot of rubbish was published, but Delirium's great!

I've heard such good things about Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, but it's so huge it even has footnotes! It intimidates the hell out of me, but I'm determined to read it one day...

The last book I can remember sacrificing sleep for is Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. I just had to know what happened.

Quite a few. Cinder and Kai from The Lunar Chronicles; Meche and Sebastian from Signal to Noise; Saba and Jack from Blood Red Road; Sue and Maud from Fingersmith; Sephy and Callum from Noughts & Crosses; Sabriel and Touchstone from The Old Kingdom; Maia and Csethiro from The Goblin Emperor... Like I said, quite a few.

I have to go with Moira Young's Blood Red Road, which was just so much fun to read. I started reading it one night a couple of years ago when I couldn't sleep, and ended up staying up until four in the morning. Oops.

I don't have an answer for this one because I think everything has to come to an end eventually. I know that's a really boring answer, but I'd much rather see something end brilliantly than drag on until it becomes crap.

I had to read Louis Sachar's Holes in school, and when we were first given it my thought was 'how is reading a book about a bunch of guys digging holes going to be interesting?' but Holes is so much more than that. By this point I'd say that Holes is pretty much a modern classic within children's fiction and I loved every second of reading it.

Probably Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series, which I guess is a lot less hyped now. I've been meaning to read it for years and still haven't got to it, but I love Greece and Greek mythology and I'd like to at least read the first book and see if I'm interested in the rest of the series soon.

I love beautiful books, but I'm not usually one for collector's editions. That being said, I do think this exclusive edition of The BFG is beautiful.

I'm really looking forward to Audrey Coulthurt's debut, Of Fire and Stars, about a princess who's betrothed to another kingdom's prince and ends up falling in love with his sister.

I will buy pretty much anything that has Silvia Moreno-Garcia's name on it. I adored her debut, Signal to Noise, and loved her second novel Certain Dark Things. Whatever she brings out next, I'll be buying it.

I've been impatiently anticipating Becky Chambers' A Closed and Common Orbit for months and months. I loved The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet so much and I can't wait to get my hands on Chambers' second novel.

If you'd like to give this a try then consider yourself tagged!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

This Week in Books | 10/08/16

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

Now: I'm actually in the middle of several books right now, as I have been all year so far, but right now I'm most actively reading Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent, which explores the relationship between religion, science and folklore. The cover's beautiful and it's written wonderfully - I'm enjoying it so far!

Then: I finally introduced myself to Muriel Spark with her most famous piece of work, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I read it in one sitting and while it's not usually the kind of thing I'd read, and a few years ago I probably wouldn't have liked it at all, I did enjoy it; in fact this is the first book I've read where I can genuinely say I enjoyed the way it was written, the structure of the story, more than the story itself, but that didn't make me enjoy it any less which is unusual for me simply because I prefer story to writing technique. It's made me want to read more of Spark's work!

Next: I recently received an eARC of Robin Talley's As I Descended, a modern day lesbian retelling of Macbeth, and I can't wait to get to it. Talley's one of the few YA authors I actively follow, I've read both of her previous novels, and I'm looking forward to seeing how she's adapted my favourite Shakespeare play.

What have you been reading recently?

Friday, 5 August 2016

Review | When I Grow Up I Want to be Mary Beard by Megan Beech

by Megan Beech

My Rating:

Burning Eye seeks to break down some of the barriers that are put up between young poets and publishers to make it more accessible for poets to put work out early in their career. This chapbook from Megan Beech is the third example of Burning Eye working with a young poet in this way. Although still in her second year at University Megan has already caught attention with her infectious reeling wordplay, but, as is already evident in When I Grow Up I Want to be Mary Beard, she is quickly moving on into more complex writing. Megan is not afraid of speaking her mind and grappling with political themes with a confidence missing in many older poets. When I Grow Up To Be Mary Beard captures the sound of a resurgent feminism that demands to be heard and marks Megan out as a name to watch.

When I grow up I want to be Megan Beech.

I practically never review poetry on my blog for two reasons: 1) because I don't read anywhere near as much poetry as I probably should, and 2) I don't think I know enough about poetry to write a fair review. Having said that, this is my blog and, regardless of my inexperience with poetry, when I love a collection as much as I love this one I have to say something about it.

When I Grow Up I Want to be Mary Beard is brimming with fantastically feminist spoken word poetry, from the titular poem all the way through to the very last. As far as poetry goes I'm still figuring out what kind of poetry I like and this collection has made me want to find even more spoken word poets. Thinking about it now I've always enjoyed spoken word poetry; I'd much rather listen to a spoken word poet read their work aloud than read it myself, which is why I've never really found as much joy in reading poetry as I do in reading fiction, and I actually read a lot of these poems aloud to myself, which was such a fun way to read them. Beech uses language and internal rhyme so cleverly and with such skill that, if this is her debut collection, I can't wait to see what she brings out next.

What I loved about Beech's poems, as someone who often finds poetry difficult to translate in my prose-centric head, is that I understood them and I understood the rhythm of them and, most importantly, I understood the message in them. There are moments when this angry, political, frustrated voice breaks through that I identified with so much it's no wonder I love this collection.

Some highlights for me were 'When I Grow Up I Want to be Mary Beard', 'Shakespeare was a Gangster Rapper' and 'Vontrapped', but there wasn't a single poem that I disliked. If I were to put my English graduate hat on and offer any criticism it would be that some of the poems were quite similar in a literal sense; the same words would pop up here and there and I think I only noticed it because this collection is fairly small compared to other collections I own, but it didn't bother me in the slightest. We don't look at the work of poets like Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen and say 'Eh, too much war', so there's no way I'm going to criticise an emerging poet who's using her voice to tackle issues she's passionate about.

Really this is less of a review and more of a gush, but whether you like poetry or not I highly recommend you give this collection a try. I can't wait to see what Megan Beech does next - I'll be keeping an eye on her!

(And if you're interested, you can listen to her read her titular poem here!)

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Olympic Book Tag

The 2016 Olympic Games begin this Friday, which is bizarre; it feels like only yesterday I was watching the 2012 opening ceremony and Rio seemed so far away. How time flies.

Despite not being sporty in the slightest I do enjoy watching bits of the Olympics and luckily, for unfit bookworms such as myself, the lovely Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight has created an Olympic Book Tag so people like me can get involved with the celebrations without breaking out into a sweat, tears or any other kind of bodily fluid.

So, without further ado, let's do the Olympic Book Tag!

I actually found this really difficult to answer, because it's very rarely that I love a book from the very first page. Some of my favourite books in the world I wasn't sure about when I first started reading them, and some books I hate I thought I was going to enjoy when I read the first page. In the end I decided to go with My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland, because it was just what I needed when I read it and, from the very first page, I was invested, interested and entertained.

Technically it's more of a space trip than a road trip, but the title says it all: Becky Chambers' gorgeous debut really is about the long way to a small, angry planet. I love this book, and I can't wait to read A Closed and Common Orbit!

I really don't like love triangles, so I can't answer this one. I'm sure there are some brilliantly written ones somewhere but they're not something I enjoy reading at all.

I enjoyed Transformations, I love poetry that's inspired by fairy tales, but I'm still learning how to understand poetry; I read fiction and non-fiction way more than I read poetry, something I'm trying to rectify, so when I do read poetry I don't always understand it the first time around...

You can't get more summery than a summer-themed anthology! Honestly this anthology is a lot gloomier than I expected it to be considering how cutesy the cover is, so I'd recommend My True Love Gave to Me over this one.

There's a lot more violence in Dark Places than I was expecting, but it suits what's essentially a violent story. I wasn't keen on Gillian Flynn's debut, Sharp Objects, but this book is brilliant.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Fingersmith is the twistiest, turniest book I've ever read, and it's fantastic. Check out Sarah Waters if you haven't already!

I'm still not over it.

One of my favourite novels of all time, The Goblin Emperor's like a rich, delicious bar of chocolate you have to savour to enjoy. To be honest whenever I read this book I speed through it because I love it so much, but it's certainly slower than a lot of the more action-packed fantasy books out there.

I adored The Rainbow Fish when I was a little girl - it's one of the first books I can remember reading, or having read to me, along with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and I think I actually liked this one more than The Very Hungry Caterpillar...

If you didn't know already I love guinea pigs, so what could be more perfect than A Guinea Pig Pride & Prejudice?

I know it's basically SFF blasphemy, but I really didn't enjoy Among Others and I had to force myself to finish it. Check out my review here if you'd like to know more about my thoughts on it!

Whose friendship could possibly be better than Harry, Ron and Hermione's? I love these three dorks, and this series, a hell of a lot.

All three of these books are on my TBR! Dark Mermaids is a crime thriller that features Olympic swimmers who, rather topically, were doped by their government; The Fair Fight is all about 18th century female boxers; and Eat Sweat Play is a non-fiction book about the role of sport in women's lives.

Thanks to Shannon for creating a great tag, and if you want to do it then do it! I'd love to see your answers.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Top Ten Tuesday | Shut up and take my money

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 Books You'd Buy Right This Second If Someone Handed You A Fully Loaded Gift Card', which I actually found quite tough purely because I have no control - I buy way more books than I should, in fact most of my wages go on books, but I do have a few I still haven't completely convinced myself to buy. Yet.

Tale as Old as Time: The Art and Making of Beauty and the Beast by Charles Solomon: Disney's Beauty and the Beast is my favourite film. Ever. The Mummy is a very close contender, but I've adored Beauty and the Beast since I was a little girl and still love it now. I wish I had this book on my shelves, but I believe it's out of print which means it's being sold for around £200 online. I want it, but I don't want it that much. One day I hope I can find one for a decent price!

His Last Fire by Alix Nathan: This is a collection of historical fiction short stories, something I very rarely come across. I love historical fiction and I'd like to read more short stories in this genre, and this collection has received a lot of wonderful praise.

Red: A History of the Redhead by Jacky Colliss Harvey: I came across this book in my local Waterstones a couple of weeks ago and almost bought it, until I discovered this beautiful hardback edition existed. Unfortunately the hardback is a little expensive, so I'm hoping to either snap it up when the price has come down or ask for it for my next birthday.

Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino: Since going to Rome last year I've completely fallen in love with Italy, and was lucky enough to return there again earlier this year when I went to Florence. This is quite a chunky book of folktales, and another fairly expensive one, so I think it's another book I'll be adding to my birthday list this year...

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: I've never been too fussed by Leigh Bardugo. The Grisha trilogy doesn't interest me and while I've heard great things about Six of Crows, and I do love a heist story, nothing has compelled me to pick it up until I read her short story 'Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail' in Summer Days & Summer Nights. I really enjoyed Bardugo's addition to the anthology, so I'd like to check out Six of Crows soon!

The Uninvited by Cat Winters: Mallory @ The Local Muse has been recommending Cat Winters to me for yonks, and I love the sound of The Uninvited. I think I'm going to pick a copy up near Halloween, as I'd like to read a bunch of spooky novels this October!

Female Gothic Histories by Diana Wallace: Unlike any of the other books on this list, Female Gothis Histories is actually a piece of academic criticism - it's the kind of book I was always dipping in and out of during university to pick out quotes for my various essays. I actually work at the publishing house which publishes this book and therefore can get a discount, but even with the discount this book, being an academic book, is very expensive. Diana Wallace specialises in the study of historical fiction, during my MA I ended up dipping in and out of her other books, and in Female Gothic Histories she explores how female writers have used the Gothic to rewrite women into history, which is an idea that fascinates me.

The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood: I seriously need to read more Atwood. One of my colleagues recently recommended The Robber Bride to me, and it wasn't until he recommended it that I realised it's actually a fairy tale retelling. I really enjoyed The Penelopiad (reviewed here!), another of Atwood's retellings, so I'd like to get my hands on a copy of this one, too.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: I've heard nothing but amazing things about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and her novels have recently been released in these gorgeous new editions, so I'd like to treat myself to a copy of her debut novel soon.

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis: Doomsday Book sounds like time travel that's dedicated to accurately portraying the history rather than exploring the science, and I love the sound of that. I've heard it takes some getting into and that it's rather slow-moving but I don't mind that at all - I think I may add this book to my Christmas list this year!

Which books made your list this week?