Monday, 30 March 2015

Terry Pratchett's Bromeliad

A couple of weeks ago I read a lot of Terry Pratchett in memory of a great author and I'm just now getting around to actually talking about what I read. 

I read The Bromeliad (Truckers, Diggers and Wings) for the first time and now I can totally see why it's so many people's way in to Pratchett. Incidentally, if you'd like to see my recommendations for where to start if you've never read any, I wrote a post about that!

The basic premise of the trilogy is that our world are full of little 4 inch high creatures called nomes who move so fast that humans have no idea they even exist. The story begins when the few nomes left living outside, led by Masklin, leave their home on the back of a truck and arrive at 'the Store.' The store nomes think that the store is the entire world and that its founder, Arnold Bros (Est. 1905) is God, and the nomes from outside have their work cut out for them to fit into their new surroundings! 

All three books are very short and packed full of Pratchett's trademark satirical wit. Personally I loved how well big ideas were slipped in while making them seem like just part of a book for kids. I also loved the subtlety of the story, and towards the end of Wings particularly there was a really lovely bit which made me go 'aaaawwwwww'. If you enjoy Pratchett's writing you should definitely read these books. If you've never read any Pratchett, Truckers is a great place to start.  

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Currently: 29/03/2015

This week I've posted pretty much every day thanks to Bloggiesta. It was my first time taking part and I LOVED it. I'll definitely be back for the next one! I'm so excited about blogging again and have been scheduling posts like crazy as well so I'm really hopeful that this week has helped to revitalise my blogging spirit and get me more active within the blogging community again. Yay for Bloggiesta and thanks to the organisers for a great event!

Time and Place  14:22 in my front room. Rhys has taken the boys out to give me a couple of hours off prior to my return to work tomorrow and I'm getting stuff sorted out!

Reading Sigh. I'm three weeks behind on War and Peace now thanks to Terry Pratchett dying and then Bloggiesta. I don't think I'm going to catch up now, which is a shame as I was really enjoying it. Hopefully I'll still manage to finish it at some point as I am half way through it so it would be a shame not to, but we'll see as I think I've maxed out my renewals on it too.... I did finally finish Peter Duck this week for my great Swallows and Amazons reading project and start on Winter Holiday so I feel like I'm making progress with that. Besides that I'm reading A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki which I'm really enjoying but I'm reading it slowly. Savouring it. Oh, and I also finished up Jenny Han's Summer series by binge-reading We'll Always Have Summer over the space of about three hours. A review is coming!

Watching Last night Rhys was out at a concert and so I put on series 6 of Gilmore Girls and was amazed to find that there are some episodes I've never seen before! Super excited about that as I thought I'd seen them all! We also bought the move of Paddington which I watched with Rhys on Friday night and again with Benji yesterday afternoon. I love it.

Listening The soundtrack to the 2011 Muppets Movie over and over and over again. Also Jamie Cullum's album Interlude, because the whole family loves it. I'm also going to be listening to a few Terry Pratchett audiobooks over the next couple of weeks. We have The Light Fantastic, Thief of Time and Night Watch read by Tony Robinson, so I'm excited about that.

Spring Bloggiesta 2015Blogging Oh so much! I posted by Bloggiesta sign up post (linked above), a Top Ten Tuesday post on childhood books I'd most like to revisit, a post about reviving my fairytale feature as a monthly meme, a day in my life and why my most recent TBR restriction project is a charitable endeavour, not a ban.

Recommending Bloggiesta to everyone who's fallen into a blogging rut. And twitter chats. because they are awesome. I took part in my first couple this week for bloggiesta and loved them! Such great people, so helpful. Also the Piano Guys, especially this.

Loving Our new church. We've not really had a regular church since we moved to Kent four years ago but when we moved into our new house we decided to go church-hunting and hit the jackpot with the second one we tried. It's lovely to feel part of something again and an easy way for someone who struggles socially as much as I do to meet people.

Wtiches, Frogs & Happily Ever After: A Monthly Fairytale MemeAlso loving reading about fairytales again, creating prompts and generally rambling in preparation for kicking off the Witches, Frogs and Happily Ever After meme at the end of the month! I'm hoping lots of you will join me!

Making Mostly blog related stuff. Have you seen my cool new social media buttons? I love them, and I'm incredibly proud of myself for making buttons that work (and extremely grateful for this amazing post which helped me to make them!). I'm also going to finally sew the cover for the seat cushion for our new window seat/board game storage box tonight.

Anticipating Our 'Meet the Ninjas' project over on the Ninja Book Swap blog starting this coming Saturday. I'm going first so if you want to find out even more about me (ha) feel free to head over there then and spread the word!

I'm also excited and nervous about my return to work. It's going to be fine I know as I've already come back from (a much longer) maternity leave before and know how quickly I'll pick everything up again, but still it's always a little daunting. Plus I know they'll have hired new people while I've been off, so there's always a bit of that to overcome.

What have you all been doing?

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Another Way to Phrase a Book Buying Ban...

The other day I posted a picture on Instagram with a bit about how it had led me to a revolutionary resolution. Here are the details of said revolution. It is not a book buying ban but a new way of looking at my books.

As I mentioned on Instagram, having filled this jar to the top and still having over ten shelves of adult fiction and two or three of kids fiction to add to it made me really stop and think about the amount of books I have. I said something to Rhys along the lines of 'if someone had 300 pies they'd not eaten everyone would think that was obscene and disgusting' and he looked at me like I was crazy. The (badly made) point is that while books obviously don't have the same kind of potential for going bad that pies do, I don't know what I'm stockpiling them for. Yes, I'm always going to want to read more books; it's in the nature of being a reader and I wouldn't want to change that. I love discovering new titles and getting excited about them. I love the smell of new books (and old books, come to think of it) and I really love the thrill of coming home laden down with bags of books, but when I'm asked what the point of owning so many books that I couldn't read them in a year, or probably even two even if all I did was read I don't really have an answer.

For years my answer has been 'well what if I only had a few books and finished one and didn't feel like reading any of the ones I had? I'm providing for that eventuality.' Obviously the answer to this is that I go to the library or borrow a book from a friend, but instead I've been using it as an excuse to buy more and more books. This is fine and I'm absolutely not judging people for acquiring large numbers of books, but in the spirit of my One Little Word project this year I'm trying to be more grateful for the things that I already have and think less about things that I might acquire at some point in the future. I'm also attempting to express my gratitude by not buying things unnecessarily and while that doesn't always work, here is a place where I can at least try.

Now at this point I know the sceptical among you (or just the long time readers of this blog) are remembering all the other times I've put myself on book buying bans, or pledged to cut back but I'm determined that this is going to be different. Firstly, I'm not viewing it as a ban because I know that as soon as I tell myself I can't do something, that's all I want to do, so instead I'm not thinking about not being able to buy books but focusing on all the amazing books I already own that I'm excited to read, and secondly I'm motivating myself extra by putting a charitable slant on it. Every time I finish a book that I don't love so much I must keep it and pass it on to everyone I know immediately, I will put it up for auction on eBay, starting at 20p (plus postage). ALL of the money from any books I sell there will go to Beanstalk, an awesome charity which helps kids to be better at reading, plus I will donate £1 to them for every book I sell in this way. Over the course of the year I may also do extra book related fundraising for them (24 hour readathon, some kind of sponsored Banned Books Week event. I don't know), and obviously if you feel like helping to spur me on with my insane resolution you can just donate through my JustGiving page at any time and make me feel like my not buying books is making a difference to someone!

I'm planning to do this until the end of 2015 and because I know I have no staying power I've decided to introduce a forfeit. For every time I buy books, I have to donate £25 to the charity. This should be a good deterrent because I have no extra money! Hold me to this, blogging friends. I'm determined!

Friday, 27 March 2015

A Day in the Life

Today Trish is hosting an awesome blogger event called A Day in the Life. It's pretty self - explanatory - the idea is that everyone picks an ordinary day and just keeps a record of what they do and then shares. The day I journalled was actually this Tueday just gone as between then and now we've had a few odd days with appointments and then today Rhys has an extra day off work so we'll likely be out all day. I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone else's posts this evening though!

Day in the Life Event

If you want to join in the fun you can check out the other posts here

5.45am    Ben wakes up. Rhys goes in to stay with him and try to keep him in bed longer. It doesn't work all that well...

6.15am    I groggily respond to calls of 'mama!mama!' from Rhys and Ben (who think it's hilarious that they've made me get up!). Sam is now up too so we all hang out in the boys room having cuddles and reading a few stories. 

6.40am    I bring the boys downstairs. They play in the playroom while I make breakfast and Rhys gets read for work. 

7.30am   We have breakfast - cereal and toast. Rhys leaves for work. 

8am         Breakfast over, boys listen to Peter Rabbit audiobook and watch a little Fireman Sam while I do some blog stuff. 

9am        I hang laundry and play with the boys a little. This mostly involves throwing Sam in the air while he giggles madly and letting him bounce on my knees as if I were a trampoline. He gives a lot of kisses, which involve him grabbing my face in a fairly scratchy manner and then slobbering all over my face. Lovely :-) 
9.30am   Sam is grouchy so I put him down for a nap. 

10am      I do some painting with Ben while Sam naps. We are finishing off a 'Paint your Own Birdhouse' kit he got for Christmas. It's incredibly colourful, but most of the paint is running out so it's a good thing we're nearly done! After we finish we do a little drawing. Apparently drawing along a ruler is the funniest thing ever and causes Ben to laugh hysterically for a good five minutes. Then (predictably) we have to pretend pens are lightsabers and have a fight. Also predictably I have to be Darth Vader. It starts raining. 

10.50am   Sam wakes up. Ben and I get dressed (I know, really late!). We start to get ready to go for a walk but are interrupted by an impromptu dance party while listening to the soundtrack to the Muppets movie. 

11.15am    No walk yet, we got distracted by Beatrix Potter books, the favourite of the moment! We read most of The Tale of Mrs Tittlemouse and Sam is crying because he's hungry so we all have a snack. 

12 noon    We finally go for our walk! 

1,45pm    Back from our walk. We went down to the sea via the post office as I had to post some letters to international penpals. Ben counted boats (there were eight!) and Sam wore his Gruffalo jacket and giggled. Sam is sleeping when we get back and I'm anticipating having a little time to relax when Ben wakes him up by yelling. We have lunch. The boys eat while I check the fridge for leftovers to put in pasta sauce for the evening. 

2.30pm    Pasta sauce is on the hob. Eventually settled on carrots, mushroom and the last of the gammon from earlier in the week with tomatoes. Yum. We listen to the Muppets (again) while the boys play cars. I read some bloggiesta posts and then go and play cars with Ben. 

3.30pm    Boys watch another episode of Fireman Sam while I gather toys to bring on the bus trip to pick up Rhys from work (approximately 40mins). It's the first time we've taken the bus from our new house - up until now I've just been going to our old house and getting everywhere from there, so this is a big step! I'm finally accepting that I don't live in my old house anymore! (It is the same bus route as the old house, just further along but also perfect as a trial run to check how long it actually takes before I return to work on Monday!). 

4pm    We leave to pick up Rhys. The bus stop (just up the road) is about a half hour walk with Ben walking! Typically with me being so prepared with toys and snacks, both boys sleep the entire journey!

5.10pm   Arrive in Canterbury. Rhys doesn't finish til 6 so we go to the supermarket to pick up garlic bread for dinner and grab an extra drink. We walk around to Rhys' work and feed Sam while waiting. 

7pm     We get home after having to stop to pick up a carton of milk for Sam and feed him en route as he was beside himself crying for some reason. Teeth I think! Rhys puts Sam to bed while I cook pasta , garlic bread and reheat the sauce we made earlier. Rhys comes down from putting Sam to bed and we eat dinner. Ben and I look at his alphabet poster and talk about the letters and what sounds they make. For the past couple of days he's been obsessed with it! We've been going on 'letter hunts' outside where he basically spends a lot of time pointing at street signs and I tell him what the letters are.

8pm       Rhys takes Ben up to bed and I load up the laptop to work on the blog. 

9.30pm  I finish working on the blog. I've made social media icons which are pretty, the right size and work. This is incredible for me as my technical ability is pretty much zero! I've also commented on lots of Bloggiesta posts  so I'm pretty happy with what I've done!

9.30 - 11pm  I make a few more slips for my TBR jar and think about getting a bigger jar. I've only done nonfiction and graphic novels so far and it's already half full! I still have eight shelves of fiction to go, plus kids books I haven't read yet! After that I curl up with my book. I'm determined to finally finish Peter Duck after months of reading it and move along to the next book in the series for my big Swallows and Amazons read! I don't quite manage to finish as my eyes are closing, but I do only have one chapter left to go! 

11.30ish   Bed! Inevitably woken up at 2.50am by Ben refusing to accept it's the middle of the night. After 45 mins of struggling to get him to stay in his bed I give up and stick him in ours where he immediately falls asleep. Typical. 

So that was my day! Next week they'll start to look a lot different as I'm back at work two days a week and Rhys is in charge!  

What do your days look like? Anything like mine or totally different? 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Witches, Frogs and Happily Ever After: A Monthly Fairytale Meme

Some of you may remember that waaaaaay back at the start of the blog I wrote a monthly fairytale feature where I compared a traditional fairy tale with a modern reworking of it and talked a little about various issues surrounding the fairytale. I've been thinking about resurrecting it in some form for a while now but it wasn't until reading Joy's mini challenge post for Bloggiesta that I had the idea of making it a meme!

I loved writing these posts (which you can find here) as I love fairytales and really enjoy geeking out about them. When I first started blogging there was a meme I sometimes took part in called 'Friday is for Fairytales' but at the moment there doesn't seem to be much around for the fairytale lovers (except for the amazing Once Upon a Time of course!) so here it is!

The idea will be to post once a month (at the moment I'm thinking the last Friday of the month, but please let me know your thoughts and preferences) and link up here so that we can all indulge in a plethora of all things fairytale! Your post can be in my traditional format of comparison of a traditional tale to a modern retelling, thoughts about a fairytale related film or event, a review of a traditional or twisted fairytale or just your thoughts on the genre. Anything fairytale related goes really!

Occasionally I may post prompts for this although I'm not sure on that yet. What do you think? Would you prefer to be prompted with monthly topics/themes/stories? Or would you just like to write whatever you feel like?

I'd love your input on this. I don't mind posting just for me, but I'd love it if you wanted to take part so let me know your thoughts in the comments and spread the word!

Top Ten Books from my Childhood that I Would Love to Revisit

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they post a prompt and it's up to us to make a list of ten books based on that prompt! If you'd like to join in you can do so here

This week's prompt for Top Ten Tuesday is childhood books we want to revisit. As you can imagine there was no way I could not do this prompt! It did help that it also counts towards me ticking something off of my Bloggiesta list as well. 

For the purposes of the list I decided to steer clear of my teenage years as the reading was very different and honestly, I'm really nostalgic for some of these books. They were my friends in the kind of way fictional characters can only be your friends when you're at an age where although you know they're fictional, you can't quite convince yourself they don't exist somewhere in the universe and that's ok. 

1. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - kind of cheating since I plan on reading this over the next few days. Loved the story of horrible, stuck up Mary Lennox, her friendship with horrible, whiny Colin, and their discovery of the secret garden (and the film) as a child but haven't read it since I was below fifteen. Considering all the characters pretty much start out horrible, it's a beautiful book and very much about the importance of not being whiny or stuck up as far as I remember. It gives me an excuse to watch the film which I've owned for years but not watched since childhood as well! (Also as I was writing this I suddenly thought if I'm reading this I will also need to read The Painted Garden and then hello, Noel Streatfeild! Can open. Worms all over the place)

2. The Trebizon Series by Anne M. Digby - I think it was Katie I was talking to about these books the other day and I just came across them while perusing my shelves of children's books for this post. Not as great as the Chalet School books (also on this list) but still good solid boarding school books which made me want to leave home for boarding school immediately. 

3. Harry and the Wrinklies by Alan Temperley - my mum read this to my siblings and I as kids and I remember shrieking with laughter at it. A couple of Christmases ago I watched the BBC adaptation of David Walliams' Gangsta Granny (having never read the book. Terrible, I know) and it reminded me a lot of that and reminded me that I haven't read it in years. I probably will in a few years, once the boys are old enough :-) 

4. Anne of Green Gables and sequels by L.M Montgomery - Oh Anne, how I love you. Anne of Green Gables is pretty much what made being ginger in the 90s bearable. I have an undying love for all things Anne (although not quite as much as Katie I don't think) and haven't reread the whole series anywhere near as much as I should have. Plus I've never read (but now own both) Rilla of Ingleside or Rainbow Valley. There's a series reread in there somewhere!

5. Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer - I adored this book as a child but nobody else I know has ever heard of it. It's about Charlotte, who also goes to boarding school (are you sensing a theme here?) and sometimes wakes up in a totally different period of time as a totally different girl due to the magic of sleeping in the bed this girl used to sleep in. Amazing. 

6. Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss - Arguably the film is more from my childhood than the book is, but it had to go on there being that it was the book which basically started mine and Rhys' whole relationship. Another post for another time. Always a danger for the amount I will shout about the stupid kid who thinks it's a great idea to tie himself to ostriches and the blond and slightly slimeyness of Fritz/Ernst/whichever one it is who's slightly slimier than the other one. Nevertheless you can't beat classic shipwreck self-sufficiency in my book!

7. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr, The Silver Sword by Ian Serailler and Pied Piper by Nevil Shute - my collection of books I loved about the second world war from a non-British (or not set in the UK) perspective. I absolutely loved and adored the first two and read them over and over, and only read Pied Piper once but it's stuck with me all this time. I have a copy that I got in a charity shop but haven't actually read it since I was eight or so. 

8. Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit - Oh so much love. I nearly put The Railway Children on here as well because that's really my childhood love (just don't talk to me about the stupid remake of the film they did with Jenny Agutter as the mother. What the hell. Bernard Cribbins as Perks all the way) but then I remembered my mum reading us this as a bedtime story (she read us a lot of stuff as bedtime stories) and how she pronounced it 'Pasamead' instead of 'Samead' and it had to go on. I might actually reread this one soon too. 

9. The Chalet School Series by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer - I did not realise until I looked at my copy of The Chalet School & Jo while writing this post that these books were written in the 1920s & 30s! I knew they were old but I didn't really cotton on to how old when I was reading them as a child. Anyway they are the foundation of my desire to visit Austria (my sister now has an Austrian boyfriend so I may be getting closer...) and I never read all of them, so that's a thing that should probably happen soon...

10. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter - Pollyanna is pretty much the foundation of my One Little Word this year. Every time I start getting negative and forget about my word (gratitude) I try to play the 'just being glad' game. Another one my mum read as a bedtime story. Has the debatable perk of a Hayley Mills film to go alongside. Haven't reread it since I was twelve, so it's due really. 

What are some of your childhood favourites? I have an ongoing obsession with children's literature and a spare room full of books so I'm always happy to have recommendations for more to add to the collection!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Bloggiesta Sign Up Post!


Usually I see Bloggiesta go sailing by me on twitter and have no time to join in or anything I really want to do with the blog. This time however I feel like there's a lot that could be done with the blog and as this event is the first ever that's a whole week long I'm looking forward to some time to get stuck into some of the bloggy things I've been neglecting. I'm also excited to take part in some mini challenges and twitter chats. If you want details about Bloggiesta (it kicks off properly tomorrow) you can find them here

Here's my list for the week - I don't expect to complete everything and will probably also add to it as the week goes on/I am inspired by other people's posts! 

  • Make proper social networking button thingys (you can tell I know exactly what I'm doing, right?) for twitter, pinterest, instagram.  Done with the help of this amazing post (and free icons!)
  • Make a blog button
  • Make the blog its own Facebook page.
  • Sort out the labels on aallll my posts and add a search function to the blog
  • Check that all the widgets on my sidebar are up to date and necessary
  • Check all of my pages for relevancy and working links
  • Write a 'currently' post and a review
  • Write myself a schedule for restarting my fairytale feature. 
  • Take part in a twitter chat & mini challenge
  • Update my reading spreadsheet & add more columns for diversity
  • Organise Bloglovin
  • Start a TBR jar?
  • Clean up/make a page for my blogroll
  • Schedule at least two Top Ten Tuesday posts
  • Answer comments
  • Update Google+ and Blogger profiles
  • Back up Blog
  • Add 'share' options to bottom of posts
  • Visit three blogs a day and comment!
Are you taking part? What's on your list? 

Friday, 20 March 2015

#pratchettreadathon Day 5: Board Games and a Book Giveaway!

This week has been Terry Pratchett Reading Week here on the blog and I've really enjoyed talking about one of my favourite authors with all of you! I'm particularly excited about those of you who have never read any Pratchett who I've made recommendations to - I hope you'll let me know how you get on with it! 

For the last day of Pratchett-filled awesomeness I'm actually going to be a little bit lazy. In case you're not as big board game fanatics as we are in this house, there have been four Discworld board games released. Even if you're not into board games they are awesome fun and mostly not like conventional board games at all. My brother and sister have a board game blog and have written an awesome post about Terry Pratchett along with their reviews of all four games, you should definitely go and check them out! Unfortunately only Ankh-Morpork and The Witches are widely available at the moment, but keep your eyes on eBay and car boot sales - you never know what might turn up! 

Their post is here

And for my final contribution I'd like to give away two Terry Pratchett books. These books are not new but they are in good readable condition and would be a great addition to your library! To enter just fill in the rafflecopter form. I'll give you until Monday 23rd! Good luck!

Don't forget you can tweet about the Pratchett you're reading using #pratchettreadathon! 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Getting Started with Pratchett: A Beginners Guide

In case you've not heard yet, this week is Terry Pratchett Reading Week here at At Armchair by the Sea, celebrating the life and work of a great author. Today's post has been written before in many variants throughout the blogosphere, so I'm going to attempt to round up some of the most helpful posts I've found along with my own pointers for the Pratchett newbie (of which I know there are a few floating around!). If you've never read Pratchett before it can be easy to be intimidated by the sheer amount of books available, and everybody will give you different advice on where to start and which is their favourite so here's my opinion! 

Discworld Reading Order Guide 2.2 (English) for 2013. Please share :-). Write me an email to make a translation.
Click the link to see it bigger and for the image credit
There are many articles available which will give you details breakdowns of all the various mini series and characters, and in the interest of not writing something that's already been written I shall just point you in their direction.

Various starting points suggest themselves and I'm sure others will have their own suggestions, which I hope they'll share in the comments! My suggestions would be...

The Bromeliad (Truckers, Diggers & Wings) - this is where most people I know (but not me) started with Pratchett. I'm reading Truckers for the first time this week and I can see why - it's light, a little bit satirical and generally hilarious. Full of fantasy but so related to reality that at time, as often happens with Sir Terry, you forget it's fantasy you're reading.

The Wee Free Men - The first book in the mini series about Tiffany Aching (a 9 year old witch) and the Nac Mac Feegle. This series is technically YA and the tone is a little more accessible if you're not used to Pratchett's writing. It's also hilarious (of course), and the Nac Mac Feegle are as full of drinking and swearing and general debauchery as you'd wish for little leprechaun type characters to be. After you've read this and the other three Tiffany Aching books (A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith and I Shall Wear Midnight) you can head backwards and read the rest of the Witches books (starting with Equal Rites). 

Hogfather - A really good introduction to the characters of Susan and Death and a satire of Christmas and particularly Father Christmas. You can also watch the Sky adaptation starring Ian Richardson and David Jason which is pretty good. It's also pretty easy to go backwards from here and acquaint yourself with Susan's backstory via Mort

Going Postal - Although this comes relatively late in the series it's as good a way as any to acquaint yourself with the Discworld. Moist von Lipwig, a conman, is saved from the death penalty by Ankh-Morpork's ruler, Lord Vetinari, and put in charge of restoring the Post Office to all its former glory. Hilariousness (and a few assassination attempts) ensue! You can follow it up with Making Money if you like, and there's also an adaptation of this too - worth a watch. 

So those are my recommendations. I'd love to hear yours, or what you're planning to start with if you're new to this wonderful world! You can link up your posts this week here and use #pratchettreadathon on twitter and instagram! 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Top Ten (Terry Pratchett) Books on My Spring TBR List

I'm appropriating this week's Top Ten Tuesday theme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish to fit in with the theme of my blog this week which is basically Terry Pratchett. It was going to be my ten favourite but then I thought how hard it would be to actually work out which are my ten favourite, so actually fitting the list around the theme seems to work better. As I've been chatting to people about what they're reading this week, I keep adding things to my pile of Pratchett's 'to read/reread soon'. As I already have plans of a few I hope to get around to this week I've left those off of this list, so here are the rest, in no particular order.

* Mort - Not the first Pratchett I read but the first one I really loved. This was the book I pushed at everyone I talked to for months and during the reading of which I had to read bits aloud to whoever I happened to be with. It's also responsible for my only 'nearly meeting Terry Pratchett' experience. Basically, we went to see Mort: The Musical (an excellent experience) for Rhys' birthday... three years ago I think it was and due to my inability (ironically) to read we didn't realise that the reason for the evening performance tickets being so much more expensive than the matinee was because Terry Pratchett was going to be there doing a q&a afterwards. When we walked past the theatre on our way back from having dinner after the show and saw a black-hatted gentleman in the foyer we were kicking ourselves. I've reread it more recently than some of his other books but I do love it so it's due another I think. Also we've got the graphic novel version which I've not read yet. 

* Witches Abroad - I don't remember anything about this really except that I loved it the first time I read it, and I know that the Witches are generally awesome. I will be fitting it into my reading in the near future.

* Johnny and the Dead, Johnny and the Bomb, Only You Can Save Mankind - I haven't read this series and from reading the blurb and discussion with Rhys (who has somehow read all the Pratchett I haven't read and vice versa), I know that I should have. 

*Night Watch - One of my favourites (as are all the Watch books actually), I've only read it once and that seems like somewhat of a travesty, especially since I just picked it up on audiobook and really have no excuse at all anymore...

* Carpe Jugulum - Because I bought it today and have no memory whatsoever of it and haven't read it since I first read it, years ago. 

* The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight - Probably the mini series I recommend most to people. I actually gave two people copies of The Wee Free Men this week because they'd never read any Pratchett and I strongly feel that people should read these books. I haven't read any of them in a few  years and am looking forward to reading them back to back for the first time. 

So that was eleven. I could go on, as I've not read Raising Steam yet, or A Blink of the Screen, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, Strata or The Dark Side of the Sun, and want to reread pretty much the whole Discworld series (but still need to finish my big read of the Swallows and Amazons series before I commit to more series reading!) but I shall stop there. It gives me a starting point anyway, and I was so excited to have been given Where's My Cow? by my lovely husband for Mothers Day and actually be able to read a (mostly) appropriate Pratchett to my boys :-)  

If you're celebrating Terry Pratchett reading week in memory of the great author, you can link up any related posts here, or use #pratchettreadathon on twitter (@fairybookgirl/@NinjaBookSwap), instagram (@armchairbythesea) and Facebook (The Ninja Book Swap) to chat with everyone about all things Pratchett related. 

What Terry Pratchett book are you most looking forward to? 

Monday, 16 March 2015

Terry Pratchett Reading Week: Day 1 or It's Monday, What are you Reading?

I'm not sure how to start this post, it seems like too big of a topic to actually say anything about. When Robin Williams died last August (was it really that long ago??) I remember talking with family and friends about how sad we were because it felt like he'd been such a big part of our lives growing up that we almost felt as if we'd lost a friend. I felt the same when I heard about Terry Pratchett's passing last Thursday, except possibly more so. It's hard to explain the feeling and I bet some of you reading this will do it better than I can, but when you've loved an author's work and read it over and over and it's moved house with you several times because it's part of the pile of books you wouldn't even contemplate getting rid of, they become part of your life in some way and I am so saddened by the fact that after his last novel is published that will be it. Not to mention, what will I get my dad for Christmas now? 

I know that there is a JustGiving page set up in his memory which at the time of writing (Saturday afternoon) has raised an incredible £35,161 for The Research Institute for the Care of Older People so feel free to head over there and donate as much as you can. I wanted to honour his memory in some way because when I found out he'd died I rang my mum up and warned her because 'the family will mourn'. I am the eldest of seven siblings and all except the youngest are Pratchett fans. My dad, as previously mentioned, is probably the biggest fan of us all - an achievement as he doesn't read any other authors of fiction. Pratchett aside, it's historical nonfiction all the way for him. Along with David Gemmell, Terry Pratchett is the author who united my family with books. He gave us something to talk about when we'd run out of common ground, gave us a shared love, and most of all he made us laugh together. That's an amazing gift and I am so grateful for his genius and his prolific output which means I still have books of his that I haven't read even after he is gone. 


I've been wanting to take part in I'ts Monday! What are you Reading? hosted by Sheila of BookJourney for a while and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. The answer, obviously, is Terry Pratchett, but being that there is so much choice, where shall I start?

On Friday I posted this to my Instagram. It's a picture of all the Pratchett books I own that I haven't read yet. I know, shocking. 

Originally posted minus the butchering with red lines, since then I've finished Eric (obviously amazing) and made a start on Truckers. For most people I know, Rhys included, The Bromeliad (Truckers, Diggers and Wings) was their first Pratchett experience so it kind of seems like a travesty that I've not actually read them yet. They will be next. After that I might move on to a reread, possibly of one of these two

Night Watch is probably my favourite Discworld book, but I do also love the Witches books and this is the first of them that I haven't reread for a while, so we'll see how the mood takes me. I shall also be posting during the week about some of the visual and audio Pratchett experiences I plan to undertake during the week. 

The invitation for this week is this: read Terry Pratchett's books. Talk about them if you want to - here in the comments, on your own blog, on twitter, instagram and facebook (#pratchettreadathon), tumblr, goodreads or wherever else you talk about books. If you'd rather read in silence that's fine too. Reread or read for the first time. Remember, discover and most of all laugh and be happy that we have his incredible body of work and his sense of humour. If you'er new to the Discworld and don't know where to start, just ask. Everybody will enjoy disagreeing about their favourite characters/books I'm sure. If you'd like to join the discussion please do make sure you let me know where I can find you - I'd love to talk to you :-) 

I will try to post on a related subject every day of this week and there will be a linky live (here) all week so that you can link up any Pratchett-related posts you may write. I've already given some people who've never read his work a book on twitter but there may well be another giveaway at some point during the week, we'll see how we go. I don't want to be too structured about this and take focus away from the books. That's the point after all, so go forth, read books, and remember 

Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can. 

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Terry Pratchett Reading Week

I know that a lot of you reading this will have had a similar reaction to the news of Terry Pratchett's death on Thursday: shock, the hope that it was all a cruel internet hoax, followed by sadness and even tears as we mourn the death of this incredible author who was a formative experience in many of our reading.

It sounds silly to cry over the passing of someone I had never met in person - a fact which I will forever regret because I had several chances but for various reasons just never made it happen - but if it weren't for Terry Pratchett I wouldn't read fantasy at all, I definitely wouldn't have discovered Neil Gaiman at such a young age and possibly not at all, and many members of my family would still think reading was rubbish. My family collectively mourned his loss, as did many around the blogosphere.

To celebrate his amazing legacy I wanted to organise a readathon. Initially I thought a weekend would be good, but he's written so much and there are so many possibilities for discussion that then I thought a week would be better. Therefore, Terry Pratchett reading week will now run from this Monday 16th March until Friday 20th. You can read whatever you like and you don't have to post daily, although I will be and I will post daily link ups here in case you feel like posting daily. You can post about what you're reading, whether you're rereading or coming to it for the first time, or you can post about your Pratchett related experiences or really anything Pratchett related that you want. If you're a first timer please join us! If you don't know where to start, just ask, I'm sure suggestions will be forthcoming!

Let's use #pratchettreadathon to talk about it on twitter (where you can find me @fairybookgirl or @NinjaBookSwap), instagram (@armchairbythesea) and Facebook.


You don't have to have a blog to take part - you can talk about it on twitter, tumblr, goodreads or wherever you talk about books, even just here, in the comments. I'm starting with Eric because I've somehow never read it. Who's with me?

Sunday, 8 March 2015

War and Peace Readalong: Week Five

Apparently we're half way through War and Peace. I actually can't believe I'm still keeping up and actually enjoying it, but there we have it. A couple of things about this week - firstly I keep getting confused with the Kuragins and Julie Karagin. Are there not enough Russian surnames for their names to just be totally different and stop me thinking that Helen and Julie are sisters and then getting confused? Also although this weeks' chapters were pretty short I pretty much ended up just hating everyone. It's like Tolstoy was playing how annoying can these characters possibly be? The answer is, apparently, very very annoying!

So, this week's prompts...

1) Could the disastrous meeting between Marya and Natasha have gone any other way? Who was to blame?

Honestly, both of them were awful. Firstly, it's not Natasha's fault she's not Lise, get over it. For a woman who spends so much of her time trying to be godly, being a bitch to someone because they're younger and prettier than you isn't really a shining example of good Christian behaviour is it? And what the hell is wrong with Natasha? (this may be my battle cry for this week) Oh they don't like me/want me here so I'll act like a stuck up child and pretend everybody is beneath me. Urgh. So annoying. 

2) Everyone seems to be secretly considering Marya for marriage at the moment. Do you think it will ever happen for her? Was Boris right to pick Julie?

I do feel a bit sorry for Marya at the moment to be honest. Her father is horrible. It doesn't matter how much Tolstoy goes on about how he only does it because he loves her, I still think taking all your rage out on your child and constantly telling them they're shit and nobody will ever love/want them around is an awful thing to do. I like him less than I like Natasha at the moment. I don't think she'll ever get married though. She's too bound up in her duty and never makes any moves with men so they wouldn't even know she was interested if she was. I think Boris and Julie deserve each other to be honest - they're both a bit bleh and nothingy characters for me. Neither of them seem to have much of a spine or a story. 

3) There's too much drama with Natasha for me to formulate an all-encompassing question so...I don't know. Discuss. 

Thanks for the excuse to rant, Hanna! Natasha infuriated me this week. Up to now I've been quite a Natasha fan, but this week, argh. I honestly thought when the whole thing happened with Andrei that she'd mended her ways and was going to stop falling in and out of 'love' every five minutes, but then a pretty man shows up and she's like 'oh well I must love him or he wouldn't be telling me he loved me'. I don't even know where the logic is in that or how that would be a thing. Obviously people tell people they love them all the time without the other person reciprocating or encouraging it in any way, but Natasha must be an exception to that rule because she's special. I got so sick of her being such a diva, I just wanted to slap her, very hard, and tell her to stop being such a child. I don't know if it's just my translation, but she kept telling Sonya that she was her 'enemy forever' and shouting things like 'you all hate me and don't want me to be happy'. Um, hello, 14 year old me? I know she's not all that old but seriously? After this week I honestly don't care what happens to her now. The old Count Rostov is pretty much the only Rostov left who doesn't frustrate me. 

4) Lots of characters are being fairly dickish this week. Who wins the prize for the person you'd most like to slap? 

And that would be Natasha! Closely followed by Anatole actually, because nobody just deserves to have loads of money because they're pretty, and you can't just go round telling people you're not married when you are. What a knob. 

Apparently War and Peace made me angry this week! I still really enjoyed reading it though, and I'm still quite engrossed in the story. I think the hatred is as much a valid part of reading for me as is loving characters, in as much as if I hate most of the things most of the characters are doing I can still be liking the book overall, if that makes sense? I'm actually excited to read this weeks chapters!

Find out how the rest of the readalongers are getting on here.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Mini Reviews: Graphic Novels

I've finished a few things lately that I've not had time to talk about fully. Life is pretty hectic here at the moment - among other things we have people visiting left right and centre, Hanna and I are in the midst of another Ninja Book Swap and all the organisation that entails, and I'm madly trying to spend lots of proper time with my family before going back to work at the end of the month, at which point Rhys and I will only get one full day a week together again!
There are a few full length books I need to get to talking about as well, but I've been on a bit of a graphic novel kick lately, because they fit in nicely around War and Peace. Firstly I've been borrowing the Fables series from my sister and I finished Rose Red recently. It wasn't my favourite of the series but it was good, cohesive, and moved the story along nicely. I'm liking the twists the story is taking at the moment and I'm looking forward to the next installment. Actually a little bit annoyed because I meant to ask my mum to bring it with her when she came to stay this weekend and forgot but never mind. I'm sure I can wait a little longer to find out what happens next. I'm not talking about specific details because I want everybody to read this series. It's fairytale characters but not as you know them. If you like fairytales go google it now.

I also read the first volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore, primarily because my brother lent me the second volume and I need to get around to reading it. I got about half way through it before I was convinced. I know Alan Moore is great because hello, Watchmen and V for Vendetta, but I've not actually read anything else by him so after I picked this up last year at a car boot sale, I thought it was time to give it a go. Honestly, I wasn't convinced until something happened about half way through which made me go 'ooooh ok, maybe this can stay'. Up to that point the writing was fine, the characters were fine, the art was pretty good, but then slight twist and I'm totally sold. At one point during reading this I turned to Rhys and actually said 'I just realised... Dr Jekyll was the original Hulk'. Lightbulb moment. Anyway, so that's good and I'm fairly excited to start volume 2!
And finally (finally finally) Blankets by Craig Thompson. I think this is the graphic novel which has been on my wishlist the longest and I really wanted to read it because I also added Thompson's more recent novel, Habibi to my list without actually knowing whether I liked his style of writing/art etc and I can now report back that I really, really do. Blankets isn't all that monumental as a story - it's pretty much just a coming of age type memoir, but the way that it's told and the conjunction of that with the art is just really beautiful. I liked the way that religion was portrayed in it as well - so often when people have had extremely religious upbringings they end up taking the piss out of religion as an adult, but Thompson never really did that (ok, except the bit where the next logical step from getting addicted to porn is killing someone. That bit was both taking the piss and absolutely hilarious) and I just liked how everything kind of hinged around this one moment in his life. Beautiful book, highly recommended.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015


In my past couple of posts I've alluded to an excursion of epic awesomeness which occurred last week in London without actually telling you anything about it, but as I know you like to know details (especially Ellie) here they are. 

On Thursday I had arranged with my lovely husband that he would look after the boys (in preparation for me going back to work in a few weeks) and I would get an early morning coach up to London to meet up with Katie and Laura and do some serious book shopping. Firstly the coach was great. In the beginning there were only about two people on it so I managed to catch up almost the entire section of War and Peace that I was behind on the way there which led to me feeling very proud of myself as I made my way from Victoria to Waterstone's in Piccadilly, where we'd agreed to meet. 

On arriving I had to do a slightly creepy 'stand next to Katie and stare at her bag to check it's her' kind of dance, as all I had to go on was pictures from her blog and the fact that she was wearing a red hat, black coat and a bag with a Louisa May Alcott quote on it. Fortunately it was her and so I avoided being forcibly removed from Europe's largest bookshop. A few minutes later Laura joined us and the shopping commenced. 

I honestly have no idea how I've not been to Waterstone's Piccadilly before. It's massive and amazing and the door to the children's department is a circus tent. I'm going back soon. We didn't spend as much time there as any of us would have liked due to extreme hunger and the fact that Laura and I, when hungry, revert to being small children, but I did buy a couple of books - Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng for myself and Busy Bookshop for the boys. 

After a long trek in the wrong direction for any kind of affordable food, we ended up getting a train back to Leicester Square to eat noodles and debate politics, and I'd just like to add to Laura's point about telling off Katie and I for voting Lib Dem, that we're in the majority at the moment so really it should be us tutting and sighing in your general direction! Ahem. Anyway! Then we were full and giggly and I took these pictures:
Katie, hiding her fear really well (if you don't know why she'd be scared, check out the pictures in Laura's post, particularly the one where Laura and I are making the same face...)

Laura, holding...something?
and we headed off toward Forbidden Planet. Every time I go in that shop I end up with a pile and honestly it was fortunate that I was trying to avoid books from my wishlist or I'd have totally broken my self-inflicted rule of one book per shop! As it was I was all set to buy Marbles:Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me by Ellen Forney (as recommended by countless people during Nonfiction November) when Katie picked up Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh and told me I had to read it. Apparently it's that easy to persuade me, so I obligingly put down Marbles and bought it instead. Really glad I did as I read it (all of it) on the coach on the way home. It did get me some strange looks from my fellow passengers as I sat there giggling to myself but it was worth it!

Then Laura had to leave us, and after a slightly confused moment at Tottenham Court Road, and an equally embarassing bit where I fell down a fairly crowded train because I couldn't find a bar to hold onto, said I was going to hold onto Laura and then didn't which was just as well as she wasn't holding on either, so when I clutched helplessly at her arm while falling down the train she just fell on me instead, to the never ending amusement of the gentleman standing opposite. Oh and then Katie helpfully pointed out that I'd gone bright red, causing me to go even redder. Thanks guys! 

Anyway, after that Katie and I made our way to the Persephone Bookshop which neither of us had been to before and which turned out (unsurprisingly) to be really lovely, despite the staff talking about who had given who their winter vomiting virus.... My favourite thing about Persephone books, besides their beautiful endpapers, is that you have nothing to go on but the blurb in the front. Mostly I haven't heard of the authors and you can't judge by the cover because they're all the same. I tried to buy one (The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett, who I have obviously heard of thus disproving my previous point entirely but you know) but there was a 3 for £30 offer on so I picked up one of my previously discarded titles and I don't regret it for a moment! 

Our final stop was Foyles where we picked up a lot, put down a lot and I bought a beautiful copy of Rainbow Valley by L.M Montgomery, prompting a slight diversion down Anne of Green Gables lane. I really must reread those books and finish off with a first read of Rilla of Ingleside and Rainbow Valley! Honestly I always thought that Laura and I absolutely enabled each other in our terrible buying habits, but I think Katie and I were much worse! Our conversation around Foyles went something like this:

Katie: Do 80p books count as books?
Me: Nooooo. 80p isn't the price of a book. They're definitely not books. 
Katie: So if we wanted to buy some of those 80p Penguins they wouldn't count towards our limits?
Me: No, that would be totally fine. 

And later:
Katie: Does stationery count as a book?
Me: No. Stationery is essential for life and creativity and stuff. It's not a book. 
*Looks at all the stationery longingly*

So looking back on it, maybe it's just me who's the enabler! Sorry everyone I've ever been book shopping with!

Then there was just time to make our weary way back to Victoria where we just had time for tea/coffee and cake before I had to get my coach and Katie had to meet her sister. Oh and it turns out nobody even tried to attack me on the way home so I didn't need to utilise War and Peace as a weapon. Thankfully. 

The top and bottom books were for the boys and Rhys respectively. I had to buy him Castle Waiting Volume 2 after I slightly tricked him into buying the first volume last time we were in Foyles....

Basically what I'm  saying here is that book bloggers are pretty much the best people ever and if you get a chance to meet one, you should, especially if it's Laura or Katie (or Hanna, Ellie or Charlotte). 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

War and Peace Readalong: Week Four

I actually can't believe I'm about to say this but I caught up! As of this time last week I was pretty much a week behind and never actually posted on last week's chapters or read any of the other participants' posts due to warnings about spoilers (for which I owe much thanks to Charlotte - I would have been pissed if I'd found out about certain events before they took place!). Because this book is so long and there's already so much going on I'm just going to answer this weeks prompts and let last week go. 

It's only because I had a 5 hour (there and back) coach trip to London on Thursday that I have been able to catch up and I'm so excited that I'm where everyone else is now - I really didn't want to give up on this book as it's really good and I'm still really enjoying it. 

On to this weeks prompts:

1. Do you feel the tone of the novel changed this week? 

Honestly, this week and last week have all blurred into one for me so I don't think I can really answer this question. Was all the stuff about Denisov last week? If so then this week was less military and more of the personal, social, gossipy stuff (which I really like). 

2. Do you think that the story is uniquely Russian, or could it have been set somewhere else?

I feel like a lot of this is possibly down to the translation... My copy feels like it could just as easily have been set in England in the same period, except that there seems to be slightly more going on in Russian society than there would have been in England at this time. 

3. How about Andrey and Natasha's nuptials? Will they ever get married and do you think it will work out?

After my hatred of Andrei (in my edition) for the first two weeks I actually find myself really liking him now. He seems to have grown up quite a bit and thinks a lot less of himself now than he did in the beginning. I think he's had a bit of a shit time of it to be honest and I don't have a great feeling about whether he'll actually make it back to Russia alive, but I hope he does. I want them to get married, I think Natasha will be good for him. And I hope it works out, but so far the track record on marriages in this book isn't great, is it? 

4. Could Rostov have done more to help out his parents with their financial situation?

More than yelling at the steward guy and then getting more dogs? Yep, probably. It's like he did that and then considered his financial duty done and just carried on with his life as it had been up to that point. I totally get wanting to marry who you want to marry rather than some random rich girl, but I do think he could have lived up to his responsibility as a grown up slightly more and been a bit less childish about the whole thing. 

5. How do you feel about the lengthy hunting descriptions? Did you read the whole thing?

I could have done without them in all honesty. I tried very hard to make myself read them but I felt my eyes glazing over a bit during the whole bit with the wolf getting caught and getting away and getting caught again and the discussion about where everybody was standing. Maybe a little unnecessary!

And once again, I can't believe I caught up! And am nearly 50% through War and Peace. Major life achievement I'd say!

If you'd like to read other people's thoughts on the book you can find them here.