Monday, 28 September 2015

Beautiful People: Jem

Here I am, sneaking in at the end of the month with Beautiful People!

One month I shall post before the 10th.

This is not that month.


As per, I'm posting about the Untitled WIP!


Corrie is my MC and narrator, and I've BP-ed about her a few times. The other MCs are her three best friends, Freddie, Mel and Jem. I've posted about Freddie before, and last month I did all four of them. If you want to read those posts, pop up to the page I Write and the links are there.

This month I'm writing about Jem! He is sixteen when the book starts and working as a messenger in Teyvanidan.

I always enjoy reading other people's BP posts; one thing I've seen a lot of you doing is posting from the actual characters' POVs. I've never done that before, but after being inspired by this genius post I'm going to give it a go! (The other characters may butt in. They do that sometimes.)

Jem never has been nor ever will be a narrator, but it will still be fun to get inside his head.

1. They’re in a crisis: who would they really like to see right now?
Jem: Depends on the crisis, I guess. Freddie can be handy, considering he can do magic--
Freddie: ~offended huff~ Is that all I'm good for?
Jem: Yes. Yes it is. Apart from you, Mel is the moral support, and Corrie has the ideas.


2. Are they easy to get along with?
Jem: ...
Me: If you decide to be nice, then yes.
Jem: I'm always nice.
Me: Well, that's categorically not true.


3. Who was the last person they had a deep conversation with? (I imagine this question means, at the point I'm writing at. I'm actually redrafting atm and Jem's not yet been introduced, so we'll take it from the end of Draft 1.)
Jem: Ah, yes, I remember. The night before the attack; the night before we all got caught. ~looks down~ His name was Jonathan Wray, and we'd become good friends. We spoke about the future: the future that, as it turned out, he'd never have. He was executed.


4. They’re in the middle of a huge crowd of people: how do they feel?
Jem: This is it, this is my element! You're anonymous in a crowd; you're one out of many. You're part of something greater. You're in the city, most likely. I love it.
Mel: Hear, hear!
Freddie: ~shudders~

5. Do they believe in luck or miracles?
Jem: There's little luck in the world, but there's no such thing as miracles. There are no gods.

6. Do they like and get along with their neighbours?
Jem: I suppose. There's a family on our left, lots of kids, I help out when I can--
Freddie: What a saint.
Jem: Shut up, Freddie. They're nice people. On the right is three old sisters living together, pretty nosy but nice to me. They give me cake occasionally.
Corrie: So you love them.
Jem: Of course. I mean, come on. Cake.

7. If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?
Jem: Tellarik!* I want to go to Ces Aretel!
Mel: ROAD TRIP!
Corrie: There's a war on, remember?
Mel: Oh. Right. Yeah. Spoilsport.
*A country east of Ivaria, (the kingdom where the book is set). Ces Aretel is its capital. Its famous for its magic and wonderful culture.

8. How do they feel about their body?
Jem: What kind of question is that? It's not like it's something I think about ...
Me: ~rolls eyes~ Typical boy. He is pretty much right, though, it's not on his mind often, although he does wish he were taller.
Jem: I do not!
Me: ~nods wisely~ He does. Freddie is, like, a foot taller than him.
Freddie: HA!
Jem: That's a lie!
Me: OK, maybe six inches!
Jem: Three and a half!
Freddie: ~won't stop laughing~
Me: The other thing is his eyes. They're brown but one has a big colour pigment defect so it's nearly entirely hazel. Which I think is quite cool, but it's not what you'd call classically good-looking.

9. What is the cruellest thing someone has ever said to them? How did they react?
Jem: I remember being about five and hearing my father tell my mother -- shout at my mother, I was listening when I should have been in bed -- that I was the only reason he was still with her, and he resented me every day. 
He left pretty soon after that.

10. What’s the kindest thing someone has ever said to them? How did they react?
Jem: Huh. Tough one. 
Me: I SAY KIND THINGS ABOUT YOU! 
Jem: You don't count.
Me: ~wounded expression~
Jem: I don't know, though. 
Me: He can totally think of something, he just won't tell us!
Jem: Probably something Corrie said.
Freddie, Mel and me simultaneously: OOOHHH! CORRIE!!!!
Corrie and Jem: Shut up!

And with that I leave them. I SHIP CORRIE/JEM SO HARD THOUGH. YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW.

~***~

Well, that was excellent fun! I'll have to do it like that again. Now tell me: did you do BP this month? Drop me a link!

PS Stay tuned because on Thursday I am posting something gargantuanally exciting! (I think it is, anyway. Drop by and see if you agree.)

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Recently Read

For a book blogger, I post surprisingly few book reviews.

I know, right? Sue me.

So, in life, school continues to be a stress but my application is ALMOST complete so I'm feeling a bit giddy with relief. Redrafting my novel is going well! Reading what I wrote aged fourteen is so so so painful, though. It's killing me (it's also hilarious). My favourite awful line so far is probably "I don’t even know how I feel. There are too many emotions tossing and turning just beneath the surface of my skin; it is as if someone is making soup from my feelings, and they want to use as many ingredients as possible." I almost died laughing when I read this. Talk about a laboured metaphor ....


Recently Read


21460571America was all that Teo and Emilia knew -- brought up there by their fighter pilot mothers, it was the only home they'd ever had. But when Teo's mother Delia is killed in an accident, Emilia's Momma acts on Delia's lifelong dream -- to fly in Africa. With Teo as her foster son, she moves them to Ethiopia as the 1930s begin. But with war brewing, the family's previous problems of race, nationality and gender will soon be dwarfed by bloodshed and fighting.

I have read Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire -- Wein's two WW2 novels -- and LOVED them. As such I bought Black Dove, White Raven soon after it came out, and reading it was just the delight I imagined!

Emilia and Teo are the book's two narrators -- it is written in the form of their flight logs and journal entries. They both had wonderful strong voices, and I loved their relationship; one of my favourite things about Wein's novels is that she focusses on the platonic rather than the romantic, and Em and Teo had a great bond as brother and sister. They gave a freshness to the narrative that kept me turning the pages, and as a historical novel the book was incredibly interesting. I knew nothing about the way WW2 affected Ethiopia, and it was amazing to learn. All in all, Black Dove, White Raven was an excellent read and I'd highly recommend it. 

~***~

Catherine dreams of a life as romantic and exciting as the gothic novels she reads. Aged eighteen she goes to Bath for the first time -- her debut introduction into society -- but in a world of balls, friends and appearances, she must learn the difference between fact and fantasy: and the dangers of those who claim to want her heart.

After a distinct lack of Jane in my life -- it's been over a year since I read Persuasion! -- I was really hankering to read an Austen novel. Northanger Abbey did not disappoint: a lovely short, sweet book in true Austen style. Whilst Catherine wasn't my favourite heroine, she was genuine and likable, and I LOVED the theme of books-within-the-book; Austen was gently mocking those who think of contemporary fiction as being not highbrow enough! I think it's so cool that, even in her day, this was a problem she felt the need to address ... and it makes me think, people who hate on YA and use Austen as their standard probably haven't read Northanger Abbey, or they might think differently! Catherine, the heroine, loves reading gothic and "sensationalist" novels and Austen really condones this, which I love. She also makes fun of cliched tropes regarding romance and a woman's role in society, as well as her relationship with men, which was awesome.

Though I didn't love the romance as much as that in Emma or Pride and Prejudice, the ship was highly shippable and the plot very enjoyable. I felt that it was a little rushed toward the end, but that's my only criticism of an overall lovely book.

~***~

Adarlan. The glass palace of the king. Celaena Sardothien is back.

I was getting increasingly excited about Crown of Midnight. I didn't think that Throne of Glass was amaaazing, but I still really wanted the sequel ... and I LOVED IT! Crown of Midnight was worlds better than Throne of Glass. It was a rollercoaster and a heartbreaker, and it had me gripped from start to finish.

First things first: I have become an intense Chaolaena shipper. I have to give Maas the credit, though -- her love triangle is developed in all its pointy perfection -- but, wow, Chaolaena. They have ripped out my heart and splattered it across the walls.

The other perfect thing was the ending: it had me gasping, spluttering, bending over the book like a very stunned sparrow.* On reflection I should have worked some stuff out, but I didn't, and, well. I was floored.
*This is the best simile my tired brain can manage. Don't question me. 

The character development of Celaena was excellent. I'm still finding it hard to get fully behind her, though -- hello, she's an assassin -- but, though Crown of Midnight showed us her much darker, more animal side, it also showed more of her humanity. I am utterly confused in my feelings for her. I'd like to hear somebody really defend Celaena, and somebody else tear her apart ... anyone?

The plot was excellent, although I had forgotten far more of Throne of Glass than I'd realised. Normally I'm fine with leaving months between books in a series and picking up where I left off, but I have to say I've got a little lost in Erilea's magic and ... stuff. I mean, there's magic, but there's also the force of Wyrd -- the ancient pagan concept of fate or destiny -- and there's witches and portals and parallel dimensions and ghosts and demons and riddles and ancient weapons and walking dead and ... well. I got a bit confused. It must be said.

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed Crown of Midnight, and I can't wait to read Heir of Fire!

Have you read any of these? What's the best thing you've recently read?

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Haul of Fame


[laughs interminably at own pun]

Currently in my life I'M REDRAFTING! I am very very excited about this (I've never done it before). It's pretty weird, though, returning to those early chapters. It's summer, and Corrie's not met Jacinthe or Mel or Jem or Freddie ... she is young and innocent. She does not know the pain that I will dole upon her as the book goes on. ~evil author laughter~

I'd love to tell you that this -- editing -- is why I've been absent for a whole eight days; that I've been writing such a feverishly beautiful second draft I've not had time to blog. Sadly, the real reason is that school has been horribly hectic.

I need to make my uni application by October 1st. That is very, very soon.

Yikes.

On another note, my hundred followers giveaways are now closed! Congratulations to my two lovely winners, Megan and Joanna.

So, today I bring you my later summer haul!


This is the last haul post you'll see in a while. At the end of August I went to the Edinburgh Fringe and stopped by Waterstones, and as I handed over £35 for Demon Road and the two Carol Ann Duffy books, I was just like ... this has got to stop. So no more books*, clothes, or any other unnecessary purchases until Christmas!**

*I know that books are necessary purchases, but if you saw the amount of unread ones on my shelves you'd understand. I need to just buckle down and read the books I own.
**I may reward myself with a fandom T-shirt at that point. For good behaviour.



Bought for me by my very awesome friend Joanna (the giveaway winner, yes) from a charity shop. They were 40p each! Sure, the spines are in terrible condition, but that's the secondhand life and I'm proud to live it.
I am so so so excited about my Percy Jackson future. I'm grinning right now considering the prospect.


These six beauties were NOT all bought this summer, but I thought I'd show you the whole lot!
First by accident, now by intent, I am building a very beautiful George Eliot collection.
(Now there even seems to be a colour scheme emerging.) I bought Scenes of Clerical Life in St. Andrews -- it is gorgeous* -- and Felix Holt in Glasgow. I'm so happy!

*The book, I mean, but the town is too.
Also purchased in St. Andrews, following the recommendation of an aunt to read some Amis. If you look carefully it's not in the top photograph because, uh, I forgot to add it in. Sorry, Martin.
It's a WW2 modern classic ... intriguing.
Next St. Andrews purchase: Ptolemy's Gate! That is the trilogy complete, as seen here, and after reading The Amulet of Sarmakand in July (review here) I am very much looking forward to continuing these books.
I've had so many recommendations for Murakami ... this lovely hardback specimen was also bought in St. Andrews. Have you read it or another of his works? What did you think?
Final St. Andrews buy. (We went there on a day trip during camp. I should probably have explained that sooner.) If you're very observant you'll see this isn't my photo -- that's because my sister took the book and now it is somewhere in the dark vortex we call her bedroom. I looked for it earlier, but to no avail. ~stares into the distance~ That room is a scary place.
Anyway, I love The Shadow of the Wind so I'm super excited to read this!

Now that I've got '...And that's when it fell off in my hand' I am 8/10 in my Georgia Nicolson collection! Yay!
I've read the first seven .... I'm going to read #8 very soon. So excited. So, so excited.

Mum: where did that spotty wrapping paper go?
Me: PHOTO OPPORTUNITY!
Also bought by Joanna (I love you ... good old Ur). She's obsessed with has a healthy affection for all things Tolkien. I think she's trying to indoctrinate me. 
(Not that I'm not fully willing to be indoctrinated. I am. LotR is life.)

And THIS I ordered online! I have an almost physically painful longing to continue this series. ~rocks back and forth~

It's a pity about that foul cover, though. I think that's the worst cover model cover I have ever seen. I mean it. Ugh. (It wasn't, incidentally, the cover Amazon said they'd send. Thanks for nothing, guys.)
I READ THIS AND ADSAFDGLKJSDFG!!!!
SERIOUSLY!
I'M SHIPPING CHAOLAENA SO HARD I MIGHT EXPLODE!
Ugh, but really, what a great book. So much better than Throne of Glass, in my opinion. I'm going to review it soon. I'm just a fangirling ball of feels right now, to be honest.

Another Amazon secondhand fail ... the title has been scratched with Biro, see, and if you look closely someone's written Mohsin Ahmed across her cloak. Mohsin Ahmed, this is not the way to treat your books!
OK BUT THESE ARE WHAT I'M REALLY EXCITED ABOUT!

As I mentioned, at the end of August I went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. My day started not very well -- the train was cancelled, so I missed my performance of Othello, and got very very lost, as I was alone and am terrible at finding my way -- but in the afternoon I went to see Carol Ann Duffy!

(She is the British Poet Laureate, if you don't know.)

Her recital was amazing. There were some wonderful poems. I'm going to link you to Mrs Faust, which comes from the The World's Wife, a collection wherein she imagines the lives of the women behind famous men. (Faust, for context, is a guy who sold his soul to the devil in return for limitless power.)

When she finished it was announced that she'd be doing a signing in Waterstones. I had a train ticket only valid till 4.30pm and it was 3.45, and in my pathetic little brain I was like "ooh I guess I'd better go home now" but when I was halfway down the street I had a sudden flash of light! "SHE'S THE POET LAUREATE!" I screamed to myself, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?!" I accosted a passerby with a cry of "WHERE'S WATERSTONES?!" and followed his direction up the street. "May a fair wind carry you!" he cried after me, waving a white handkerchief.* I burst into Waterstones and with beating heart purchased The World's Wife and Rapture. I waited in the queue, clutching them, as the lady herself entered the shop.

After thanking her, copiously, for the recital, I jumped in there with the question I'd been preparing: I told her I was a writer, and asked her about her editing process. She laughed, told me that editing is an art that takes many years, and encouraged me to read as much poetry as I could, and to treat my drafts as if I'd never read them before. I think this is great advice, and I'm thrilled to have met her.

The books are by my bed, and I still rejoice to open them and see her messily signed name. And I still got the 4.30 train. Which just goes to show, you should always seize the day.

*That not be entirely true. Dramatic effect, yeah?
BUT THIS ONE!

THIS IS THE ONE I AM THE MOST EXCITED ABOUT!

I have had a physical twist of anticipation every time I've glanced and seen Demon Road on my shelf. Derek Landy is one of my favourite authors -- if you're new here, one thing you should know about me is how much I love the Skulduggery Pleasant series. Heck, my url is a Skulduggery reference! Quite aside from the fact that I'm madly in love with the eponymous character, it's a warm, funny, thrilling series with amazing magic and marvellous characters and just ... wow. In my eyes, Landy can do no wrong. I don't know exactly when I'm going to read Demon Road, but it will be soon, and when I do you'll know about it. (Because my fangirl shrieking will be audible across the globe.)

Well! I am very interested to know: have you read any of these, particularly Time's Arrow, Colourless Tsukuru Taziki or Demon Road, and what did you think? And are you a Duffy fan?! Have you ever got a book signed? By whom?

Friday, 11 September 2015

What the Water Gave Me

A short piece written whilst on the Isle of Skye. I spoke about my love of wild swimming here.

The title is taken from a song by Florence + the Machine, which you can listen to by clicking here.

~***~

The moment is enough.

The surface of the river is glossy black, but shimmering beneath my white hand is coloured sienna: the legacy of the peat that has flowed off the moors. I feel no cold, only the softness of the water around me. The silence is of that kind that is not silent at all, a ripple, the river’s roar and gush, and yet it seems all quiet. Only my thoughts are audible, dropping with perfect clarity to the river’s punctuation.

I kick through the water, feeling it push against my. On this side I can feel the whisper of the current, drawing me back. Ferns trail at the pool’s edge, glowing with the green of summer. I paddle close, touching the fronds that branch like nerves or bronchi.

There is a tree half-submerged in the water, its branches bowing over the river. Under the canopy of leaves it is still and the air is patterned green, the notes of a foreign and faraway song.

I push out beneath the dappled sky, looking up at the bridge that spans the river in red and grey stone. It arches with solid certainty, promising that it has stood, will stand for many years. I wonder how many have crossed it and stopped to gaze into the water beneath. Did it tug at some dark place inside them? Perhaps the blackness spoke fear, homesickness, disenchantment. But if they raised their eyes to this mirrored pool beyond, their anxious pulses might have slowed. Perhaps the water showed them stillness, light, shadow. Peace.

My foot brushes a rock and I wonder how much is submerged, lurking, just below the glassy surface. It makes the pool feel old, as if it knows many things. I shiver. In a moment this place, lashed by rain, say, or in cold moonlight, could be sinister. But as the water laps around me I reject the thought. I am sure the pool is, though not safe, forgiving. Not tame, not written in lines and boxes, but loving.

The sun breaks through the clouds, sending a sparkling line across the water onto my face, and I breathe the smell of the river.

I am not cold, and the blackness is clear.

The moment is enough.



Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Wading Through Series (send help)

Hello! For the first time ever I am linking up with The Broke and the Bookish's meme Top Ten Tuesday. 


As a self-confessed list addict I don't know why I've never done this before ... 


Anyway, if you're here via the link-up, welcome! And you're here at a good time because I'm running two giveaways currently -- click here to enter!

This week's prompt: Top Ten Finished Series I Am Yet to Finish.

I am terrible at reading series. I mean, really, really bad. I'm a bookworm! I read a lot! So why is it that, after careful thought, I have only seven finished series to my name??

Reading series is hard, OK? Books come out once a year. I forget the plot.



As such, there is a grand total of one finished series that I've managed to read as they've come out -- the rest were all, or almost all, published when I started.

Skulduggery, you should feel very honoured.

But forsooth! You are a witness today that I am a changed woman, because I have Committed (with a capital C) to reading series. This list is long, but I shall finish everything on it.* This is my solemn vow.

*Except maybe #12. I'm still debating that one.

1. Department 19 by Will Hill
Started series: 2011-ish


That thing I just said about series that come out once a year? My finished count is about to number two, because I have put my name on the library waiting list for Department 19: Darkest Night.


I have never met another book blogger -- or, in fact, another person -- who's read this series. Maybe that is because they are vampire thrillers and the covers are atrocious. But they are actually the best thing since sliced bread and-- and-- I DON'T EVEN HAVE ANYTHING ELSE TO SAY I JUST NEED BOOK 5 I NEED IT

BUT THEN WHAT WILL I DO

AFTER D19

WILL THERE BE LIFE??

2. Georgia Nicolson
Started series: January 2012


Funniest books I've ever read. I adore this series to the power 872349. I don't want to finish it, though, because what will I do then?! (Well, I'll start The Misadventures of Tallulah Casey, Rennison's other series. That's what I'll do.)

3. Anne of Green Gables
Started series: July 2014

The loveliest series ever! I've read the first four and feel that #5 will happen soon ... I might read it after D19: Darkest Night, because I've found that Anne is excellent for filling the gaping holes left by other series.

(I swear, reading Anne of the Island was the only thing that got me through when I finished Skulduggery.)

5. The Leo Demidov trilogy by Tom Rob Smith
Started series: January 2015


I did not realise Child 44 was part of a series when I started it, but I loved it! Crime fiction set in terrifying Stalinist Russia. I'm super excited to pursue The Secret Speech.

6. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Restarted series: April 2015


Binge re-read first three whilst ill: best decision I ever made. This was one of the series I read as they came out when I was much younger and forgot all the plot of and generally failed to continue, but I LOVE them! I read #4 in August -- amazing! -- and am hopping for #5.

7. The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater
Started series: July 2015


Maggie, I love you.

Oh, but THIS SERIES! I read Linger in August. Even more perfect than Shiver! And Forever came in the post last week. ~cries real tears of joy~

But can please clear up why you can't get four of the same edition, in the UK at least? And why do the first three say it's a trilogy? My copy of Forever says it's the "heartstopping conclusion" of the series ... what about Sinner? PLEASE EXPLAIN, SOMEONE!

8. The Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
Started series: July 2015


A funny urban fantasy trilogy that I'll be happy to continue in the hopefully near future.

9. Gone series by Michael Grant
Started series: 2010-ish?


I LOVE THIS SERIES. But a terrible, terrible, thing happened!

I read the first five books as the came out. All was marvellous. But Light? Did the library see fit to get it in for ages? When it did, could my tiny brain do justice to the previous plot? No, and no. But I have a plan! I shall purchase (secondhand, of course, I'm still a miser) all six books ... and the binge read shall be glorious.

10. Threads trilogy by Sophia Bennett
Started series: 2013 or thereabouts


Covers and titles are appalling, I think you'll agree, but I LOVE this trilogy! It's so smart and funny and gritty ... I'm always complaining about lack of female friendship and too much romance, but despite Book 2's misleading title this trilogy has an amazing group of girls who don't spend all their time obsessing over boys. And the clothes! And the art! And it's set in London! 

Unfortunately this, too, fell victim to the library's tyranny -- I couldn't get the last one! -- BUT I have sourced #1 and #3 and as soon as I find #2, I shall binge and it shall be beautiful.

11. Septimus Heap series by Annie Sage
Started series: Like, 2009 (way back in the mists of time)


I loved this high fantasy series so much as a young sprog, but guess what? LIBRARY FAILURES.


No, no, library, I don't mean it! You're very good. Just not for my Septimus Heap reading experience.

Anyway, y'all know I am of the firm belief that a children's book can be enjoyed at any age so ... guess what? I'm buying them. And I'm going to binge! Yay!

12.  Small Blue Thing trilogy by SC Ransom
Started series: June 2015

This one I'm conflicted about. Small Blue Thing was OK .... good in part, distinctly poor in others. To DNF or not to DNF .... that is my burning question! If you've read this trilogy please please tell me ... if someone can assert that it gets better I'll continue, but if not ..... 




Bonus: They're Not Finished ... and Neither Have I

A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin
Started series: July 2014

If I don't read A Dance with Dragons soon I'm actually going to explode. Except, I kind of don't want to, because I'm super super worried about EVERYONE. Tyrion! Jon! JAIME, MY TRUE LOVE! ~runs around in frantic circles~

Comoran Strike by JK Rowling
Started series: May 2015
The Cuckoo's Calling was soooo good! JK Rowling is the forever queen of eternity. Honestly. And I have a copy of The Silkworm ...



Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Started series: April 2015 (You may have noticed by now I am a terrible person who has started a lot of new series this year. Ssshhh ... )



I mean, I don't think Queen of Shadows was the last one? Or was it? I am unforgivably ignorant of this series. But Crown of Midnight came in the post last week! And if I don't get D19 tomorrow, I'll read it next!

Bonus Bonus: The Ongoing Favourite Reread

The Icemark Chronicles by Stuart Hill
Restarted series: January 2015


Started what was meant to be a binge reread in January but only managed the first one. This Christmas, though, it's happening. I love this trilogy so much :')

The Roman Mysteries by Caroline Lawrence
Restarted series: April 2015



BEST! SERIES! EVER!

I have an incredible enduring love for these marvellous, marvellous books.


I loved them aged eight, nine, ten, and after rereading the first three in April that love is only stronger! I read two of them last week, as something nice to read after my emotional trauma at the hands of Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and they are just the best thing ever. Plots, characters, historical settings all perfect. A children's series that I couldn't recommend too highly to adults!

As you can see, I have a series-ous problem ......

No? Nobody? OK.

But tell me: did you link up for TTT? Drop me your url! And if not, share a couple of series you're yet to finish!
I am especially interested to know if anyone's read D19, the Threads trilogy, the Roman Mysteries or Small Blue Thing (should I continue??) ... or any of them, really. Happy series reading! (And don't forget ... giveaways! Enter!)

Saturday, 5 September 2015

The Genre Problem (and I'm running two bookish giveaways!)

Good day, everybody. A quick reminder: I'm running two giveaways at the moment, so click here to enter! Oh, and if you tried to watch my vlogs and found that they were private, have another look, because I fixed that. (It was a fail and a half on my part, but it's sorted now, so go and have a gander.)

Now. Proper book discussion posts were rather rare in these parts throughout August due to lack of inspiration but I've got my bloggy mojo back (I have a massive list of post ideas). Presenting:



I've been thinking.

This is a dangerous thing to do, I know. Don't worry. I'll stop soon.

There are a lot of teenagers who say they don't like classics. OK, hold up. There are lot of teenagers who say they don't like books, but that's another issue. I mean, out of us readers -- and specifically, us bloggers -- there are many who say they dislike the classics.

This, of course, makes me ruffle my feathers like a disgruntled chicken. "How dare they?!" I cry (inwardly. I'm not that awful). "What of Austen? What of George Eliot? It's a scandal!" I then make evil plans to force classic novels into their protesting hands and stand over them with a cleaver, making sure they're taking in every word. (I mean, I don't. This is hyperbole. Come on now.)

This is my gut reaction -- but recently, I had a thought. Classic fiction is a genre, like any other.

We all have favourite genres. Along with a smattering of other genres, I read classics and fantasy (high or urban, or paranormal, I'm not fussed). You might like YA contemporaries, or historical romance, or dystopia, or sci-fi. Whatever. The point is, everyone likes different things because everyone is different. 

There is a flip-side to this: we all have genres we don't really like. Personally, I barely read any sci-fi or any crime thrillers. I don't much care for them. And if someone is trying to make me, I feel that it's fully within my rights to say "Nah, I'm not mad keen on crime."

But if classics are just another genre, why can't people say they don't like them?

That is the heart of the issue. I hardly read sci-fi. You hardly read classics. Isn't that OK?

I'm going to say no. Not because I'm a book snob. But because I genuinely believe that no one should condemn a book just because of its genre. I am convinced that there are some wonderful books that fall into "classic fiction", and I really, really think you should read them.

I know what the converse of this is. If you're a sci-fi or crime fan, you're going to tell me that there are marvellous books of that genre, and I need to read them. And I'm willing to do so!

But does that mean that we shouldn't have favourite genres? Or that we shouldn't use genres at all? I don't think so. Whether it's male and female, summer and winter, red and blue, twenty-seven sub-species of mollusk, we as a race love to categorise. There's nothing wrong with that! In the Garden of Eden, didn't God tell Adam to name all the species of animal to differentiate them? (The answer to that is yes. Read Genesis, gee.) Categories are great for maintaining good boundaries, and letting us know what things are. And if books didn't have genres we'd never know what was going on. Reading would be an extreme sport. (I mean, it is anyway, due to the damaging nature of feels, but you get me.)

So, what? We should keep genres but pay no attention to them? That's not what I'm saying, either. It's perfectly fine to have favourite genres, to read more from them than from others. It's great to form opinions on any subject, books most of all. But I don't think we should close our minds. I don't think anyone should be monopolised by one genre. Don't write off a book because of what it is. Just because something falls into your favourite genre, doesn't mean you'll love it; and just because it's from a genre you don't normally read, doesn't mean it's not brilliant. The point is that the genre shouldn't define the book; it should exist outside of that genre's tropes. 

My challenge to you, therefore, is to pick something up from a genre you don't normally read. You might surprise yourself.

I'd love some recommendations in crime and sci-fi. I've done pretty well with crime this year, actually, reading and loving Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith and The Cuckoo's Calling by JK Rowling (though let's face it, I'd marry anything that woman wrote), but I want more crime recs! As for sci-fi, I've read zero this year, so, uh, yeah ... give me some ideas?

What are your feelings on the Genre Problem? How can it be rectified? And please tell me your favourite and least favourite genres, and why. Maybe I can help you out in recommending something you wouldn't normally pick it up. 

(And don't forget, go one post back for giveaways!)


Wednesday, 2 September 2015

100 FOLLOWERS APPRECIATION GIVEAWAY(S) // Q&A VLOG

*EDITED: If you came here before and it said the videos were private, I'm sorry! ~hangs head in shame~ Basically I am a fail and a half when it comes to the internet. They work now, though! At least I hope so ... Tell me if you have a problem! (Or, if you don't. That'd make me very happy.)*

Hi everybody! I am, at last, here with my 100 followers Q&A Vlog and Giveaway. Now I'll let, uh, myself do the talking ...

(It is over two videos because the camera cut out partway through the first time and I don't know how to edit them together. For this I am sorry. Please bear with.)






Now, those questions I said I'd return to .... Describe your personality in three words? I'm going to say creative, dreamer and enthusiastic.*
*I'm actually very unenthusiastic. But I can't think of anything. Suggestions?
And book covers? I don't want to clutter this post with extra graphics, but I'm going to say The Handmaid's Tale (I love that cover) and The World's Wife by Carol Ann Duffy (which I bought on Saturday, AND GOT SIGNED, AND I CHATTED TO HER, NOT A BIG DEAL ... more on that another time ... ). (Follow the links to Goodreads.)

PS Chocolate is not my favourite food. But pressure of time with a camera in front of you, you know?


GIVEAWAYS

Oh yes. Yes, I am running two giveaways.

This first is International, as long as the International Book Depository ships to you.
And this one -- UK only -- is to give away one of my favourite books, Come to the Edge by Joanna Kavenna. 

 a Rafflecopter giveaway



When our narrator leaves comfortable suburban life for a so-called farm retreat she doesn't know what she's getting into. As she embarks on life in the country with Cassandra White, a hardened widow of questionable sanity in a house with no heating and some psychotic goats, it is far more difficult than she imagined. But  an unlikely friendship forms, and before she knows it, she is involved in a mad (and legally dubious) Utopian scheme to reclaim the valley for the locals ...

Come to the Edge is a glorious riot of a book. Satire, character and narrative are perfectly balanced, and I could not recommend it highly enough.

Winners will be notified after the closing date (16/9/15). Good luck!