Apology!

Hey everyone ūüôā I hope you’re all having a fantastic weekend!

I unfortunately have not finished any books this week, due to being insanely busy. Because of this there won’t be a book review up tomorrow. However I plan to get back on track this week and will hopefully have one for next Sunday. 

Pip pip!

My fictional bucketlist.

Hello one and all! I came across this book tag the other day, originally created by YouTuber JesseTheReader and it seems like a lot of fun. The basic idea is that you compile a list of things you would do with fictional characters in their fictional worlds etc.  Without further ado, we shall crack on!

1/ Drink coffee and eat bacon and eggs with Idgie and Ruth at the Whistlestop Cafe

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

2/ Build a snowman with Scout and Jem

To Kill a Mockingbird

3/ Visit Bilbo Baggins for some tea

The Hobbit (Middle-Earth Universe)

4/ Go to Hogsmeade with Harry, Ron and Hermione

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)

5/ Learn magic from Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat

Wyrd Sisters (Discworld, #6)

Pip pip!

 

Essay collections I want to read.

Hey, how are you? Yeah…I’m pretty good, thanks!

So today I’m gonna talk about three essay collections that I want to read in the near future. I have become a fan of reading essays and reading essay collections. They are great to dip in and out of and they are short and consumable pieces on a plethora of different topics. There are two in particular which I have my eye on (which I have actually already bought…oops) and am hoping to get to shortly. Here we go!

How to be Alone by Jonathan Franzen

How to Be AloneThis is a socially critical essay collection surrounding the prospect of loneliness. This is something I am extremely interested in at the moment as I am attempting to become more independent and become better at being on my own (I will be doing a post on this soon). I have heard that this is controversial and out there collection, but I am excited for that!

 

 

 

 

The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan

The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and StoriesI think like a lot of people, the title of this drew me in. Again, I am interested in the topic and idea of loneliness and what it means to be alone, but I have heard that this collection has a lot more to it than that. Keegan has been considered an icon for our generation, and I am excited to see why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

Hello all. Since I haven’t finished a new book this week as I’ve been rather busy, I decided to review one that I read pre blogging. I read this book at the beginning of the year, and I still remember my thoughts, so here we go!

A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the “psychic” visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan’s terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan’s teenage stepson, doesn’t help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.

Now I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t really enjoy this book. I actually found it to be quite a flop. It was very short at 64 pages and so I pushed through to finish it, however I felt that Gillian Flynn could have done so much more with this book.

I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn in 2015 and I did enjoy it, and I felt that her ability to create a feeling of suspense made it¬†a fantastic and fast paced read, however I felt that it’s length gave it the time it needed to develop and entertain. However, 64 pages was just not enough pages to give her story the necessary appeal. I felt that it was slow at first, taking too much time describing certain aspects, and then at the end when things were being revealed and there were plot twists it became a rushed¬†mess.¬†It is so short that I feel it is hard to categorise the book into start, middle and end; however the middle part which describes the house and the relationship the main character starts to develop with Susan is the most interesting.

I previously mentioned the rushed ending, and quite frankly this was my least favourite part of the book. It seemed that Flynn was simply throwing every plot twist she could think of into the last five pages. One of the greatest appeals of this kind of thriller, suspense book is normally the ability to predict (somewhat) the ending, or to make guesses. However, Flynn threw so much into the ending that it all just became one massive blur and there was no possible way anyone could predict what would happen.

Overall, I would definitely read Gillian Flynn again, as her books are easy to read and can be very captivating. However, I feel this novella could have been far more fleshed out and enriched if it was even 150 pages instead of a mere 64. Disappointing!

Sorry this wasn’t my normal, more positive review. I tend to select my books pretty well and normally abandon books that I’m not enjoying before completion, and so I rarely have books I didn’t really like to review.

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5 Authors I want to read more of.

Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years…you’d maybe like to know what authors are on my must read list? You do? Excellent, here’s a list of 5 authors I have read before but that I want to further investigate.  Anyway, here we go!

John Wyndham:

I have read The Day of the Triffids, which is a somewhat apocalyptic novel about a society which goes blind. I loved this book, from the writing style, to the captivating plot. As far as I know, Wyndham’s work are considered to be science fiction or ‘logical fantasy’. His writing style captures vintage Britain, and his books are quintessentially British; more specifically, English. They were thought to redefine science fiction during the 40s and 50s and I want to read some more of his work. I have my eye on The Chrysalids and Chocky in particular.

John Steinbeck:

Words can’t quite describe how much I love John Steinbeck’s work. I have previously read Of Mice and Men and The Pearl, and what captures me most about Steinbeck’s work are his beautiful descriptions and metaphors and his characters. As somebody who has a very love and hate relationship with American classics (I hate to say it but I loathe The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye), Steinbeck crafts a beautiful story that I just fall in love with after the first page. I am most excited to read East of Eden, and have already started it. I think I would adore anything he writes, and I can’t wait to get to more of his work, as I have a feeling he could hold a place in my list of favourite authors.

Matt Haig:

I read Reasons to Stay Alive this year, knowing nothing of Matt Haig or his work. This book absolutely blew me away and touched my heart, earning a place as one of my favourite books of all time. However, it was only after reading this book and following Haig on twitter (which is an absolute treat if you’re interested @matthaig1) that I realised he has several works of fiction out there! I currently own The Humans and I want to read this first, as it seems to have an interesting premise and narrator, and it mentions dogs. Who doesn’t love dogs?

Ali Smith:

Ali Smith could very well be a new favourite for me, as when I read How to Be Both and I adored it. Ali Smith writes a lot of literary fiction and has a very interpretive and calming writing style. She doesn’t tend to use speech marks to define when a character is speaking, and a lot of the time there are different ways for readers to interpret her work. I have only read one book of hers, however I own The Accidental and am eager to read some more of her stuff.

Haruki Murakami:

Murakami is a Japanese, contemporary author who I have recently had the pleasure of reading. I know virtually nothing about Murakami, other than that I read Sputnik Sweetheart and I thoroughly enjoyed it (review on my blog if you’re interested). I’ve heard a lot about his work on Booktube and through blogs and I have heard that Norwegian Wood is a fantastic one to start with. Hence, it is my next must have!


 

ÔĽŅAudiobooks.

Hello ladies and gents. Today I thought I’d discuss audiobooks, something I have only really started to get into. I have a few pros and cons regarding audiobooks and lots of thoughts. Shall we crack on?¬†Here are the four main reasons I am now a loyal listener of audiobooks!

Multitasking:

I am the kind of person who would spend all day, everyday reading if I could. However, that type of lifestyle is sadly not widely accepted. Shame isn’t it? Audiobooks remove this problem however, as I can still ingest a story while getting on with my dreary responsibilities. I listen to¬†audiobooks on the bus, while cleaning my room, while painting, while typing up lecture notes, when I’m too tired to¬†focus on a¬†physical book…the list goes on. With audiobooks I can still take in information, whether fictional or otherwise with minimal effort. I particularly like to turn on an audiobook and listen to a chapter while I’m walking places, or while I’m working on artwork. Nowadays, where I would often listen to music while doing certain tasks, I instead get a chapter of my book in!

Accessibility:

I love how easy audiobooks are to access. As an iPhone owner, I use both the Audible app and the iTunes store, meaning I instantly have hundreds of thousands of glorious books at my disposal. I can download whatever I want to listen to and can do so on the go. What a magical thing these gadgets are!

I like Audible in particular as I can pay ¬£7.99 a month (very little in the grand scheme of things) and I have access to hundreds of thousands of audiobooks. The ¬£7.99 package entitles you to one audiobook a month. While this may seem a lot for only one audiobook,¬†they can be quite expensive when bought individually (they can reach up to ¬£20 or so), and so¬†this package entitles you to any audiobook, regardless of their price. The ¬£7.99 you pay is the equivalent of one Audible credit, which you can use whenever you please. And¬†as I am both an owner of an Amazon Kindle and have the Audible app, when I am alternating between listening to the audiobook version of a book and reading the book itself, Audible and my Kindle sync up and pick up wherever I left off! This means that for example, as I am currently reading Dictator by Robert Harris, I have been switching from listening to it before bed to reading it when I have the time. It’s so easy!

Great for rereads:

I have found that my favourite books to listen to, are old favourites that I have already read. As I said previously, the first audiobook I listened to was To Kill a Mockingbird, and since then I have also listened to two of the Harry Potter books (narrated by the fantastic Stephen Fry) and a Maya Angelou autobiography. I think this is¬†great way to experience your old favourites, and as I do not have unlimited time to read and reread my favourite books, I love sticking them on in the background while I’m doing other things.

Insomnia:

Lastly, I am a relentless insomniac. This is greatly due to an overactive mind and so I often find it hard to shut down at night. I am often too tired to read, yet my mind is still too awake to sleep. Enter audiobooks! I find that if I stick on an audiobook, put on the sleep timer, lie down and shut my eyes then I often fall asleep quicker. It is the equivalent of being read a bedtime story when you’re a little kid, and it’s great! It distracts me from thinking about the things which normally bother me when I’m trying to sleep, it causes me to get comfy in bed and to turn off my lights as if I were away to sleep, and I find it particularly calming when I am feeling overly stressed or anxious. Some nights I may listen to a whole chapter, other nights I can listen to the equivalent of a few pages and then I’m out like a light. This was especially useful during exam time, as I was finding it very hard to fall asleep and this took my mind off of those stressors and channelled my energy into something else. Also, it means I can avoid looking at screens in the last hour or so before falling asleep, which is allegedly meant to give you a better night of sleep. Win win!

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So there you have it! I am a newly discovered audiobook lover. However when all is said and done, there is still (in my eyes) nothing better than physically reading a book. As fantastic as audiobooks are, I look at them as two entirely different things, and I could never give up the act of reading a book for myself.

What do you guys think of audiobooks? Do you love them? Do you hate them? Do you view them as the same as reading? What apps or audiobooks would you recommend? I’d love to know.

Pip pip!

My favourite books of 2016 (part 1).

Hello guys and dolls!

It’s July, meaning we have successfully survived six months of 2016, and are into the second half. Let’s give ourselves a pat on the back for making it through. Congratulations!

2016 has had some ups and downs for me (more on that another time), still, for the most part it has been the best year I’ve had in a long time. While there have been hard moments, I have had some amazing experiences, met some amazing people and achieved some great things.

As I’ve said before, I live my life in between the pages of the books I’m reading at any point in my life. I am always reading, and this is generally one of the best things in my life. I have turned to books this year for guidance, reassurance and for pleasure. So far this year I have read 21 books. This is not as high of a number as I would have liked, however I have the entire summer to up that number. When considering my favourite books of the year so far out of those 21 books,¬† 4 come to mind. If I have written book reviews on the books mentioned, I will have them linked just in case you’d like to know more! Let’s crack on.

1.Imperium by Robert Harris

I started Imperium in April of this year, on the recommendation of somebody rather important to me. I trusted his judgement and was not disappointed. I later went on to read the sequels to this book; Lustrum and Dictator. I absolutely adored this series and found it fascinating, action packed, capitivating, inspiring, educational and just a treat from start to finish. For those of you who don’t know, Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator make up a trilogy which provides a fictionalised account of the Ancient Roman senator, Cicero. While the events in this book are true, the story has been fictionalised and embellished and is a well written and accessible access to Ancient history for those who maybe can’t handle non fiction. While it is obviously not entirely accurate, it has ignited a fascination in Ancient Rome for me, and I would recommend it to anybody who wants a series with something different.

2. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

This book, in a nutshell is the book that has helped me through the harder points of this year. This is an endearing and honest depiction of mental health and provides a great discussion and insight into stigmas surrounding the subject. I love this book, and I absolutely love Matt Haig’s writing style. He writes beautifully and in such a way that evokes so much emotion from me. Excellent.

3. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

My first foray into fantasy in a long, long time and what an experience it was! I was quite nervous to read such a cult classic, knowing so many people who hold this book in such high regard. I now understand why. This is a magical, funny, exciting book taking place in such a vividly crafted universe that I loved to imagine. I am definitely eager to read The Lord of the Rings after having read The Hobbit, and I can’t believe it took me so long to read this!

4. Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

I read this from the comfort of a sun lounger in sunny Tenerife in April and thoroughly enjoyed it. Despite not being 100% happy with the ending, I found the prose absolutely beautiful and the story itself quite still, yet very captivating. I got sucked into the story and enjoyed the very three dimensional nature of the characters. I thought it was a great introduction to Murakami for me, and I am very eager to read more from him. I felt the book translated really well into English, almost seamlessly. It was a great contemporary piece and I look forward to what I’ll read next.

There you have it; my top 4 books of the year so far. I am excited to carry on through 2016 and see what other gems I end up finding. If the second half of the year is as good as the first was for books then I am in for a great ride.

Pip pip!

The book hangover.

Book Hangover

(n.) 

  1. the inability to start a new book because you are still living in the last book’s world
  2. experiencing withdrawal symptoms upon finishing a book or series of books
  3. failure to reintegrate with society, preferring a literary world instead

In a sentence:

Amy recently finished the Cicero trilogy by Robert Harris and has been experiencing a book hangover ever since, we are very worried about her.

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Picture a 20 year old woman, lying in bed staring at the roof with tears steaming up her glasses and cradling an Amazon Kindle to her chest. You got that image? Do you feel bad for her? Do you feel embarrassed for her? Are you confused? Well, I can tell you…that was me this week, as I experienced a very brutal book hangover.

This past week I was both thrilled and devastated to finish a trilogy by Robert Harris following the Roman orator Cicero from the perspective of his slave Tiro. The series started with Imperium, which I read and reviewed a little while ago, and ended with Dictator. I stayed up until three in the morning to finish the third and final book, and upon closing my kindle at the last sentence of the book, I felt the hangover creeping in. As I sobered up and Ancient Rome faded around me and was replaced with reality I felt a surge of emotion. This is what I love about books.

Books, and in particular, fiction, have such a power and can really effect a person. While the time in your life that you may spend with one individual book is fleeting, they still have so much of an impact on your life. They can expand your knowledge, change your perspectives and really add something to your life. I often measure times of my life based on the books I have read, as I live my life between the pages of the books I pick up. Therefore, when a book comes along that grips me and excites me and causes me to become so addicted…I find it hard not to be effected by that.

Ah, the book hangover can be brutal. If you are a reader and claim you have never felt this…you may have just not found the right book. If you are not sure as to what a book hangover is or how it manifests itself, here are some of the stages that you experiencing during a book hangover:

  1. You go through a period of mourning for loss of a fictional world/character
  2. Crying
  3. Inability to move from the foetal position
  4. Reluctance to start a new book
  5. An inability to sleep
  6. A failure to reintegrate with society
  7. Anger
  8. Denial
  9. The urge to reread the book/series causing you such pain
  10. Comfort eating
  11. Researching the relevant author and subsequently buying every book they have ever published
  12. Sadness
  13. Uncertainty
  14. Desire to do nothing but stare at the wall thinking
  15. A feeling of emptiness that only a book can fill

Horrible, eh? Not to fret! I have the single, most important and most successful piece of advice for you to help cure your hangover. It is extremely easy…

Start a new book.

Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou.

Hola! Bonjour! Guten tag! Hello!

Today is Sunday, meaning it is also book review day, yay! I am sorry that this is going up later than normal, however I was working all day and didn’t get a chance to write my review earlier in the week. Anyway, today’s review is of Letter to my Daughter by Maya Angelou.

Dedicated to the daughter she never had but sees all around her, Letter to My Daughter reveals Maya Angelou’s path to living well and living a life with meaning. Told in her own inimitable style, this book transcends genres and categories: guidebook, memoir, poetry, and pure delight.

Here in short spellbinding essays are glimpses of the tumultuous life that led Angelou to an exalted place in American letters and taught her lessons in compassion and fortitude: how she was brought up by her indomitable grandmother in segregated Arkansas, taken in at thirteen by her more worldly and less religious mother, and grew to be an awkward, six-foot-tall teenager whose first experience of loveless sex paradoxically left her with her greatest gift, a son.

Whether she is recalling such lost friends as Coretta Scott King and Ossie Davis, extolling honesty, decrying vulgarity, explaining why becoming a Christian is a ‚Äúlifelong endeavor,‚ÄĚ or simply singing the praises of a meal of red rice‚ÄďMaya Angelou writes from the heart to millions of women she considers her extended family.

Like the rest of her remarkable work, Letter to My Daughter entertains and teaches; it is a book to cherish, savor, re-read, and share.

‚ÄúI gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters. You are Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian, Spanish speaking, Native Americans and Aleut. You are fat and thin and pretty and plain, gay and straight, educated and unlettered, and I am speaking to you all. Here is my offering to you.‚ÄĚ (Goodreads)

Now, if you saw one of my previous posts which was an author spotlight on Maya Angelou you will know that she is my biggest role model and how much I love her in general. Her spirit, her experiences, her attitude, her wisdom and her morals render me speechless and I find anything I read by her to be an absolute joy. This was no different.

This book is a collection of essays, some personal and some dealing with other issues. While varying in their topics, content and length, they all have a message or moral underpinning them. She tells short snippets of stories to do with previous experiences in her life and discusses things such as loss of loved ones and friends, independence and sexual assault. Each topic she addresses with eloquence and poignancy and each essay in itself is a testament to her and how good of a person she was.

 

 

‚ÄúI am convinced that most people do not grow up…We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies, and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are innocent and shy as magnolias.‚Ä̬†¬†

 

 

What I love about Maya Angelou above all, is how she never tries to hide the mistakes she has made or the times she may have been quick to judge or been ignorant etc. She instead highlights these and uses them as a lesson to learn from. I think this is a very great message to show as when you are¬†in control of how you are seen to the world, like Maya was, it would be all to easy to portray yourself as a saint without fault. However, Maya shows that she -like everybody- makes mistakes and that this is okay, and that while you may sometimes do something you regret or don’t think an action through, this doesn’t have to make you a bad person if you learn from it and take the experience through life with you. The books depict her so genuinely and honestly and that is part of why I love them.

In addition, I just think that Angelou had some wonderful thoughts. She thought widely and deeply about a lot of topics and so all of her essays are very insightful. The prose in this collection was as gorgeous as her other books, and oozes inspiration. As well as this, a few pieces of poetry were scattered throughout this collection which made it all the more beautiful and  creative.

I would really recommend this essay collection to anyone who is just starting to read essays, as it doesn’t read as some formal and boring non fiction, which I fear is what a lot of people may perceive essays to be. Instead this collection is bursting with life, emotions and lessons.¬† I would urge any of you to read this! If you are interested in more information on Maya Angelou’s work, click here to read it!


“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”

Pip pip!

Doric Poetry V

I haven’t done one of these in a while, so I hope you guys enjoy being transported to the drizzly, grey North East of Scotland!

A Young Quinie Caad Helen by Ali Christie

A handless young quinie caad Helen 

A clumsy young girl called Helen

She drappit a newly bocht melon-

She dropped a newly bought melon-

She was fu o’ dismay

She was full of dismay

Fin it rowed doon a brae-

When it rowed down a hill-

Noo they’re chasin a melon in Ellon! 

Now they’re chasing a melon in Ellon!

I love these poems, they always make me giggle. I hope you guys enjoy these posts every once and a while!