Thursday 31 January 2013

February Reading

I know that this didn't work out too well for me last year, but I have been going a little bit mad with the library lately, and in preperation for Modern March, I feel like I should probably try to get through at least some of the mountain!! In fairness, I've kind of cheated as I've glanced through some already. In case you can't see what's in the awful photo, the pile is thus:- 

(from top to bottom)
  • The Library Book - produced in aid of The Reading Agency this is a collection of essays by different people about the importance of libraries to them. I've been dipping in and out of it and so far it is ridiculously great. I have pages and pages of quotes for my eventual review and I'm planning to get somebody to buy me my own copy at some point. 
  • My Life in France by Julia Child - I've wanted to read this since watching Julie & Julia a couple of years ago and it just happened to be sitting there in the library the other day when I went to pick up another book...
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller - so. much. hype about this last year, and it was on the longlist for the Orange Prize which I usually take as a good sign. Also I'm about to start a course on the Ancient Greeks and this is all about the Trojan War, so it seemed a good fit!
  • The Fire Gospel by Michel Faber - part of the Cannongate Myths Series that I've been trying to get through for a couple of years
  • A Cat, a Hat and a Piece of String by Joanne Harris - I love Joanne Harris, but I didn't even know that this existed. It's short stories which is super great for my limited attention span at the moment, and I'm looking forward to it!
  • Great reading, Weaning. Exciting, I know, but Benji is starting to chew on anything that comes near him and stare at my biscuits longingly, so I figured it was time to find out how to go about feeding him something other than milk... Although they recommend waiting till 6 months, if he's ready I can do it from a couple of weeks time. So we'll see how it goes. 
  • The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer - I ordered this in for my Wishlist Challenge and I'm already half way through it, so it should just be a little finish up job. So far it's really great and making me think about all the things, which is great. 
  • How Not to F*** Them Up by Oliver James - another parenting book, but this seems really interesting and has lots of stats and stuff so I can read it all and weigh up the pros and cons of being a working mother and then completely ignore all the advice and do what the hell I want anyway :-) 
  • The Art of Handmade Living - this is just a kind of cute little crafty book with ideas about how to accessorise things around the home to make them prettier. It's more of a flip through book than one that actually needs to be concentrated on. 
The last one is The Vintage Tea Party Year which I've already had a look through. It is possibly the most beautiful book that I've ever seen, and has some really cute invitations you can photocopy or download from their website. Thanks to it, I've already decided that Benji's 1st Birthday party in October will be Circus themed. Yes, I know he'll be 1 and unable to remember anything or really participate at all, but it will be tons of fun for the adults!!

I am also determined to finish reviews of Snow White and Mirror Mirror and of both book and film of Beastly for the Telling Tales Challenge, plus finishing the draft of my review of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce which has been sat in my drafts folder for a few weeks now... 

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Modern March Event

Last year I kept signing up for events and then not actually managing to participate in them. This year it's all change! I've made it through January without buying a book for myself, I'm keeping on track with my reading and already making progress with some of my challenges - I'm feeling good! Allie of A Literary Odyssey is hosting A Modern March, during which the aim is simply to read literature from the Modernist period. It's weird that I would voluntarily return to something which formed the basis of my most hated class at University, but time obviously takes its toll in weird ways and here I am! 

I have a couple of shelves where I've pulled together all the books I already own for challenges this year, and on the shelf there are definitely a couple at least which fit in with this event. Keeping my targets low, as I know my reading rate at the moment, realistically, is far from where I'd like it to be, during the event I am definitely going to hope to read The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald. If I get time I might pick up Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, which is also on my Classics Club list, Hemingways A Moveable Feast, or one of the other beautiful Fitzgerald editions I have sat on my bookshelves. I'd also like to keep up with the poetry reading goal I've set myself (which I'm already failing dismally at!) and try to read some T.S Eliot to accompany my March!

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Reading Poetry and Other Projects I Don't Have Time For...

I currently have three poetry books on my list for The Classics Club, and as it stands, almost no hope of actually ever getting to them. The way I'm currently reading (i.e slowly and whatever the mood takes me to read), they will languish at the bottom of the list, unread, forever. So I'm taking on another project. I will aim to read one poem a day, every day, until these books are done. It shouldn't be too difficult - after all poems aren't very long, and while one book is by an author I have a difficult relationship with, one I have no experience at all of, the last one is T.S Eliot, the greatest of all the greats, so that shouldn't be a problem. These are the books I have to read:

My plan is to alternate, so that I read from Ariel one day, Kid the next, and finally from T.S Eliot. I also plan to share the poems which really strike me here. For those who are curious, Armitage is the author I have no previous experience with. Somehow I managed to miss out on studying him both during GCSE and A Level English Lit (we did Carol Ann Duffy instead. Blergh.), and Plath is my turbulent relationship. It took me until the third year of my degree to admit that the woman can actually write. Up until that point I was so consumed by how self-obsessed she is that I just couldn't get past it. NO, WOMAN, YOU CANNOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO THE PEOPLE WHO SUFFERED DURING THE HOLOCAUST! Argh.

Anyway. I'm trying to have a better relationship with her, and I'm hoping that putting her next to Eliot will have a positive effect. We shall see.

Here's a list of the poems I've read so far (linked to the poem online, if you want to read):

Morning Song by Sylvia Plath (about motherhood, so quite resonant...)
Gooseberry Season by Simon Armitage 

And then we hit this, which is such a beautiful poem that I wanted to put it up here, but it's really long, and to be honest I'm pretty sure a lot of people aren't as geeky about poetry as I am, but if you are you should hit the link and read it because it's awesome. And if you're super geeky, read it aloud. Makes it better. 

The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock by T.S Eliot

So, poetry aside, there's a couple more things I've decided to do recently. Because obviously I need more to do - looking after a small baby all the time while attempting to not let my house become the pit of desolation and ensure clean clothes/dishes/dinner exist is obviously not enough, but there we go. I'm the kind of person who isn't happy unless they've taken on far too much. Obviously. 

After two years of sitting on my bum watching stuff about it on TV and listening to other people blog about their experiences, I finally got motivated and signed up to be a giver for World Book Night. I say got motivated - today was the last possible day for signing up, but still, I did it! Have to wait till February to find out if I get to do it but I feel better for having applied, even if I don't! And if I don't I'm thinking I'll do some kind of giveaway or something to celebrate anyway. (While we're on the subject, I'm still selling books in aid of the National Literacy Trust & doing a 10k in March for them too. Sponsor page is here!). Part of me really wants to launch yet another project to read all of the World Book Night books from the last three years, but I'm actually making progress with my challenges so far and I think that adding to my reading list would just be an incredibly bad idea. Especially since everytime I go to the library to get books which are actually from my list, I pick up something else that isn't which just looks really good....

And finally, I discovered Coursera this week when Sam blogged about how she was taking a course with them (for which I thank her profusely!). I've been looking for somewhere to study something for the past two years, but failing dismally as all of the local adult education places around here refuse to acknowledge either literature, history, or film as valid subjects. Obviously these are the subjects that I want to study. Anyway, I got all over excited the other day and have signed up for a course on the Ancient Greeks starting in March. There's a fair bit of reading for it so I hope I'll be able to keep up! I really wanted to do the Greek & Roman Mythology one that they run, but there was definitely too much reading for that! :-( Maybe next time. 

So that's my pile of crazy. If you read till the end, have a cupcake :-) 

Tuesday 22 January 2013

The Classics Club : January Meme

As per my resolution for this year, here is the first Classics Club meme question for 2013!

The question for January is thus: 

What is the best book you’ve read so far for The Classics Club — and why? Be sure to link to the post where you discussed the book! (Or, if you prefer, what is your least favorite read so far for the club, and why?)
If I answer the question as is it will be pretty boring as I've still only read three books from  my list. Shocking, I know, but my favourite of the two is, of course, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, which was so great that I wrote two posts about it. Soooo instead I will answer a question which will undoubtedly come up in coming months and I'll have to repeat myself. The book that I'm most looking forward to reading from my list. 

I think it's probably between two (and one is kind of cheating). Firstly the fairytale buff in me is ridiculously excited for the mythical day when I will finally get my hand on a copy of Tales of Mother Goose by Charles Perrault, but I'm also really looking forward to sinking into a big re-read of the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome. Bring on the summers of sailing away from adults and responsibility and eating sweets and climbing trees and planning strategic boat captureyness on each other all day. Oh yes. 

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Telling Tales Challenge 2013 Master Review List

This is the master list of all the review links for the challenge this year - all the reviews posted in the monthly link ups will be added here. The 2012 list is here if you'd like to see what was read! The sign up post for the challenge if you'd like to join us in reading anything related to fairytale or mythology is here.






Gil Marsh by A.C.E Bauer (Michele)



Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm (Sarah

Scarlet by A.C Gaughan (Doing Dewey)
Stuart Little by E.B White (Carolyn)

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan (Jessie)
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (Rachel)
The Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn (Sarah)
The Outlaws of Sherwood Forest by Robin McKinley (Doing Dewey)
The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald (Rachel)
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (Jessie)
The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan (Jessie)
The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams (Nina)
Towering by Alex Flinn (Sarah)
Unnatural Issue by Mercedes Lackey (Rachel)

Monday 14 January 2013

Review: - Fables Volume 8: Wolves by Bill Willingham

Because I’m reading ridiculously slowly lately, there’s really no excuse for me not to review things pretty much as I finish them, provided Benji’s being ok. I’ve been reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, but you know how it is when you’re reading something and it’s really good but after a while you just kind of feel in the mood for something else? Since Fables is part of my reading for both The Graphic Novel Challenge and the Telling Tales Challenge and since I know graphic novels are quick, I took Wolves and had a long bubble bath. It was awesome.

Basically, Wolves follows straight on from where Arabian Nights (and Days) left off and sees Mowgli out looking to find Bigby and bring him back to Fabletown for a special mission. The book is split between Mowgli’s mission and the Farm where Snow White & Bigby’s children are facing their own dilemmas. It’s pretty much a continuation of the Fables’ struggle against the Adversary and in the spirit of not ruining any plot twists for those of you who want to read this series (and you really should be reading it if you’re in any way into fairytales) but haven’t got as far as this.

There weren’t any major new characters introduced in this volume, and it wasn’t as gripping as some of the previous volumes have been. It was still great though, because they all are, but it kind of felt like a ‘middle of the trilogy’ sort of book – like Willingham was just trying to move the story along and setting the groundwork for something much bigger to come in the next volume. It was solid, but there were no fireworks.
Can I just say though, I seriously love Bigby Wolf. He is just too cool and [SPOILER] in this volume he and Snow FINALLY get it together!! Also their kids are just too cool – being able to turn into a wolf and to fly would be just the best thing ever. As always, Wolves is beautifully drawn  and it super sucks that I can’t buy the next one because of my silly book buying ban!

And now I’m off to read some Nora for my Essay reading project!

Sunday 13 January 2013

Showcase Sunday - Being a Baby gets you loads of stuff...

This week I decided I should start doing weekly showcases of the books that have come into the house, so that I can easily keep track of where our books come from. I swear sometimes they just appear without me even having any clue how they got there! Obviously, because I decided to do this, the week then went ABSOLUTELY INSANE. Admittedly, most of these are Benjamin's books, not mine, but to be honest I love these kinds of posts and we have been ridiculously lucky this week, so if you're bored by posts with lots of pictures and lists of books, stop reading now. You have been warned....

This weekend we went to see some family, and Rhys' dad's friend gave us a box of children's books she'd been saving for Benji from the charity shop where she works. I expected there to be a few, but I didn't expect this:

Apologies for the horrendous photography, but just for information purposes, there are 31 children's books in this photo. Loads of board books, pop up books, books to teach him about counting and the alphabet, picture books. It literally goes on and on. It was the best box I've opened since the box of awesome Hanna sent us when he was born! Horrendously, though, I just inputted all the books into my spreadsheet (yes, I have a spreadsheet for books, I'm a huge geek, I know) and then hit 'no' to the do you want to save this option. So now I have to do it all again, because I am crazy. I'm not going to list what's in this picture, because I think even I would get bored. Also, I have no point of reference, because of the deleting them from the spreadsheet malarky...

Also waiting when we got back from our weekend at my parents' were three parcels from Amazon. As previously mentioned, Hanna got Benji a voucher for Christmas, which I spent, and there was also a present from Laura for us both waiting. This is what was in the parcels: 

With Hanna's voucher I bought:
  • Superbabe by Deborah van der Beek because it is the most awesome and difficult to find children's book EVER. He needed it. 
  • The Nursery Collection by Shirley Hughes 
  • Winnie the Witch by Valerie Thomas
  • All in One Piece by Jill Murphy because we love the Large family. 
Whatever Next! also by Jill Murphy (for those who know their Jill Murphy, it's the one where the bear goes to the moon wearing a colander on his head!), and also a copy of I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron (for me!) were from Laura and Benjamin and I just want to say that we love you both!

Lastly, Rhys and I had a day off from baby raising on Saturday and went to watch Les Miserables in the cinema (I am a massive fan of the stage show and just in case anyone's wondering if the film's good, it is!), and we had a wander around some charity shops while waiting. I spent a grand total of £4.50 and here's what I got:

  • The Alfie Treasury by Shirley Hughes was the one that set me back the most (a whole £2.50!), but I had to have it because it's in lovely condition and I have a serious fondness for the Alfie books. 
  • The Bravest Ever Bear by Alan Ahlberg because I love Alan Ahlberg and it was 49p...
  • The Gruffalo's Child by Julia Donaldson because ever since Laura sent us The Gruffalo before Benji was born it's felt wrong that we don't have this. And also, it was 49p too!
  • Slinky Malinky by Lynley Dodd because Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy is pretty much the best children's book ever and this is pretty epic too. Also, 99p isn't bad for a board book in near perfect condition!
Also this week, Rhys' dad sent me a copy of Good Omens and one of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close that somebody had given him. Terribly, and despite being a gigantic fan of both Gaiman and Pratchett, I haven't yet managed to finish Good Omens. My copy went awol half way through so I never finished, so here's my opportunity! 

The last thing I want to showcase is my brand new shiny copy of Stitch N Bitch Superstar Knitting by Debbie Stoller. When I made my resolution about my book buying ban, this was the one book I was allowed to buy for myself this year, and pretty much a day later it was on eBay for £2. So, now I have it and while that may not seem exciting to some of you I assure you that it is, because it means that I can now learn how to do really pretty stuff and even write my own patterns!

It's been a ridiculously good week here. There may in fact never be a week as good in terms of book acquisition again. 

How's your week been?

Thursday 10 January 2013

2nd Blogoversary! (only a day late...)

I can’t believe how fast this past year has gone, and somehow I have managed to make it to my second anniversary of blogging! Technically it was yesterday, and despite actually posting yesterday I totally forgot until after I’d posted, and then Benji screamed  all afternoon, so I kinda ran out of time and energy. But anyway, here it is!

I really wish I could do a giveaway for it like I did last year, but because of the baby I am totally skint, so I can’t L I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank all of you who read the blog. I know that a lot of people find their blogs pressurising but this has never been that for me. Although I do feel a little guilty if I don’t post for a couple of weeks, and I know that the content of the blog has been very memey/photos of booky lately, I still love it. The blog is somewhere to come and just ramble and revel in books and chat with all of you guys and I just love it. It’s my little escape, and I definitely need that more than ever now with the baby!

I love being a part of the blogging community and the support that it’s given me through some pretty rough times over the past two years. It seems silly that something I started purely to keep track of the books I read could have become such a big part of my life, but there we have it. It’s also, like I said last year, pretty much the only thing (motherhood excepted) that I’ve ever stuck at, and I’m ridiculously proud of it. Although I work a lot harder on some of my reviews than others, and it shows, there’s still a huge amount of content on here that I’m not horrifically embarrassed by, so that’s good.

In the next year I’d like to be more disciplined about the blog. I’d like, for example, to resurrect my long dead monthly Fairytale Feature, and the Monday Spotlight on a children’s author that I did for a while. At the moment I’m in kind of a transitional phase – Benji’s just about started sleeping properly at night and I’m nearly well rested enough to start organising stuff to do with my evenings. I’m doing a lot of crafts and I really do plan to spotlight those more in the coming year as well. This will always remain primarily a place to talk about books, though, and if the crafts get overpowering, I may even start a new blog just for them. 

I don't want to continually be mentioning the same people over and over, but special mentions must (as always) go to Ellie, Hanna & Laura, who are weirdly a very constant part of my actual everyday life despite the fact that we've never actually met. 

Thanks guys, and here's to another awesome year! :-) 

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Very Belated Christmas Book Haul!

I meant to post this just after Christmas, but stuff got a bit mental and I forgot. To be honest, I didn't get that much in the way of books, but between the three of us we did well!!

Soooo basically the books at the front are mine, the middle left pile are Rhys' and the ones on the right and at the back are Benjamin's! Here's what's in the pile:

  • Fables Volume 8: Wolves by Bill Willingham was a present from my awesome sisters. I knew it was coming because my sister told me not to buy it way back in like November, but I'd forgotten so it was still a great surprise!
  • The Hairy Bikers Mums Still Know Best cookbook from my brother (although I suspect my mum bought it and just gave it to him to give to me!). I loved the series and have been after the book for a while now :-) 
  • The Great British Bakeoff Showstoppers. Can't actually remember who this was from. I think it was my parents, but with a family the size of mine and everybody giving out their presents all at the same time it's difficult to remember! Anyway, I have the other Bake-Off book and I adore it so I can't wait to try some stuff from this!!
That's it for me, but Rhys got:
  • Stephen Sondheim: Finishing the Hat from my parents. I don't know if I've mentioned how Rhys has an MA in music and is obsessed with musicals, but he is. This is an annotated collection of his lyrics.
  • Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins Comes Back & Mary Poppins Opens the Door by P.L Travers from Santa (me). Again, because he loved the musical of it and we're both pretty big fans of the film and have never read the books. 
  • Make Your Own World of the Theatre (pictured below) again from me. It's one of those model making books, but with loads of really tiny pieces, so it's grown up modelling and not at all childish. Obviously :-) 
Benji's haul was definitely the best, because he's a baby and everybody wants to buy books for babies, right?
  • Benjamin's Book & Noisy by Shirley Hughes from my parents. We especially love Noisy, mostly because he is, but also because Shirley Hughes' illustrations are just beautfiul. Lately he's taken to screaming through his bedtime story, but prior to that he was quite mesmerised by the pictures in this. 
  • Spot's Magical Christmas by Eric Hill & Funnybones Collection by Allan Ahlberg from three of his aunties. Both are a little long for him to sit through at the moment but I'm especially excited about Funnybones as it's a collection of 3 stories and he's really into the rhyming stories at the moment!
  • Pictured below: ABC 3D by Marion Bataille again from his aunties. My sister is studying graphics and she saw this and had to get it for him. It is AMAZING. It's literally the alphabet in pop up and the way it's done is really ingenious. Letter pop out of other letters and slide out from underneath and such. I think it's going to be one of those presents that's too beautiful for him to actually touch!!

And aside from all that, lovely Hanna sent me Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O. McNees, both of which I'm ridiculously excited to read. She also sent Benji an Amazon voucher which I've just spent, but I'll save the pictures of those books for when they arrive!!

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week has a different subject, and this week is Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2013.

I've already written about a few of my goals, but I reckon it's worth putting them into a Top Ten Tuesday post, as I'm sure there are more which will come to me as I write! 

1. Don't buy any books for myself for an entire year (running 1st Jan 2013 - 1st Jan 2014) - I can buy books for the baby, and for gifts and RAK for people because I seriously think I'd have problems if I couldn't buy any books at all all year, but I'm going to try as hard as I possibly can not to buy a single book for myself all year. 

2. Read all the books on my challenge lists that I already own - as I'm not known for being the greatest at completing the challenges I join, I'm going to aim to at least read the books that I already own for them. To this end, I've put them all onto shelves together and I'm going to pick from those shelves whenever I'm looking for a new read. 

3. Continue with my Amazon ban - this is with the exception of gift cards, as I am obviously not going to reject the generosity of people (yes Hanna I'm talking to you!) who have gone out of their way to give me presents just because I have an issue with Amazon. 

4. Sign up for RAK every month - I love it, even if nobody picks me to send a gift to, I really love sending other people things and hopefully I can find a way to continue with it when my maternity pay stops in April and we're all poor again...

5. Read more non-fiction than I did last year (so more than 14 books) - I have Wild by Cheryl Strayed and The Library Book reserved at the library, so that's a good start. 

6. Participate in a readathon - I can say pretty definitively that much as I really love it, this won't be the 24 hour readathon, as I kind of feel that with my current baby schedule it would be pretty impossible for me to do it and still be any semblance of a normal person for my husband and baby. I am thinking of signing up for Bout of Books again, though, as the last time was really fun!

7. Do the Classics Club meme every month - I love the Classics Club, and I've actually included 10 of the books from my list on my 'must read in 2013' list. For the first few months it was going, I was really good about doing the monthly meme, but after Benji was born I got bad at it, and I'd like to start up again as it made me think about things a lot :-) 

8. Go to an actual, real life literary event - I have pretty much never been to an author signing, literary festival, or anything of the kind (barring the time I got an honorable mention in the poetry competition for Kingston Literary Festival, but that was years ago and as far as I'm aware there were no authors there, so doesn't count!). I really really need to change this and 2013 must be the year to do it!

9. Read the Mumsnet Book Club book every month - I just joined this in December so this month is my first month, and they give away copies of the book to a certain amount of people every month, so I got The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce in the post yesterday. Started it today and I already love it, plus I really miss being in a book club and I love the fact that because it's run by Mumsnet, people understand slow reading paces and attention span crises and they schedule their discussions for 9pm-10pm. So yes, every month. Book reading. 

10. Comment on blogs and make an active attempt to discover new blogs - I did this a lot in 2012 and loved it. It was so great to discover new blogs and 'meet' new people - favourite discoveries are Devouring Texts (already previously mentioned), Reader. Writer. Nerd., and outside of the realm of book blogging, Peacefully Knitting, Yarn Harlot, An American Cupcake in London, and The Bloggess, who I cannot believe I didn't read before 2012!

I'd also like to participate in more blogger events in 2013, like Bloggiesta, Armchair BEA, and The Broke and the Bookish Secret Santa if they run it again (please, please do!!), as I had an awesome time with it in 2012!

Saturday 5 January 2013

Review: - Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Last year, around the time I begrudgingly decided that in order to call myself an eclectic and unbiased reader I really had to get over my unreasonable dislike of YA books and start to read some, I added Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares to my Wishlist. I think that I’d read a couple of reviews of it and decided it sounded like something I could just about deal with. What I didn’t realise was that a) there was a book of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (which I absolutely adore the movie of, probably because of my completely illogical love of Michael Cera – because, come on , Scott Pilgrim vs the World was pretty much the best film of the last few years. It just was.), and b) it was written by the same people behind Dash and Lily. So there’s that, and it was a good start.

Victoria very kindly sent me this copy of Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan as an RAK last month and I started reading it pretty much the moment it arrived. It’s written in alternate chapters, one from Dash’s point of view and one from Lily’s, which is a format I really enjoyed as a teenager, so immediately I started reading I was taken back to the books I loved as a teenager and I’ll admit to being sucked in early on. I also loved the fact that while the central storyline is fairly standard (boy meets girl etc etc), the way that it’s written is a little out of the ordinary . Dash and Lily, for the majority of the book, communicate through a red Moleskine notebook which they leave in various places, asking each other questions and daring each other to do various things. I have an obsession with Moleskine notebooks – there’s just nothing like them for inspiration. I think it’s a combination of the binding and the gorgeous paper, but every time I write in one I just feel like a genius, despite being very far from. So they have their own special kind of magic and because of that I totally got the importance that it holds for them, but especially for Lily.

While I’m at it, can I just say that I really loved Lily. If I’d finished this in 2012, she would have been my most memorable character in the End of Year Survey, but oh well. I love that she’s so excited about things and so self aware and into her family and just generally lovely. There should be more lovely characters in books I think. Obviously, I also loved the fact that a bookshop runs through the centre of the story, and that there are constant quotations and literary references. Basically, it was pretty good and did nothing to help me rationalise exactly what it is that made me object so much to YA for so many years. Hmm.

After reading Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, I’m quite keen to add everything Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written to my wishlist, starting with Nick and Norah. 

Friday 4 January 2013

2013 Young Adult Reading Challenge

This is absolutely my last challenge for 2013, but I had to sign up for it as it ties in so well with my personal YA reading project! I'm just going to go for the easiest level as I've already got quite a lot of other reading commitment, so I'm going to attempt to read 12 books. Here's my list: 

  1. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
  2. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  3. Paper Towns by John Green
  4. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
  5. Shiver by Maggie Steifvater
  6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  7. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  8. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
  9. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  10. The Outsiders by S.E Hinton
  11. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  12. Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

January Telling Tales Review Link up!

And so it begins! The second year of the Telling Tales Challenge is upon us! Every month (as close to the beginning as I remember to do it!) I'll be posting a review link up where you can come and post reviews of anything and everything you've read for the challenge in that month. Then I'll put all the reviews into a master list, like I did last year

If you'd like to join us in the challenge, you can sign up here, and if you want to talk about the challenge on twitter, please add the hashtag #ttchallenge, so I can find your posts easily! Alternatively you can tag me in (@fairybookgirl). The master list of reviews can be found here. Thanks and happy reading! 

Tuesday 1 January 2013

2012: My Top Five

As some of you may know, 2012 was a pretty tough year for us for a lot of reasons. Some family stuff went down which was (and still is) ridiculously difficult to deal with, but despite that the year was still pretty brilliant. Rhys asked me what my top five moments of the year were, and of course that just seemed like an invitation for a blog post, so here you go! My top five moments of 2012...

5. Cake Party! - for my 25th birthday in June I had a party back in London for which, because I wasn't drinking because I was pregnant, I asked people to bring different types of cake. There was a ridiculous amount of cake, and my sisters made me one that was shaped like books. It was awesome. It also doubled as a baby shower so there were tons of presents and I just had a great time :-) 

4. Jesus Christ Superstar - my siblings directed, stage managed, and performed in an amateur version of Jesus Christ Superstar (or JCS as it's now affectionately known in our house) over the summer to raise money for their church's youth pilgrimage to Rio this summer. I kind of expected it to be painful, but it was seriously really good. They're a very talented bunch if I do say so myself!

3. Holiday - In August Rhys and I went on holiday to my parents' friends massive house in Devon. We spent all of my childhood holidays there and it was just brilliant to be able to show Rhys all the places we used to go as kids :-) Hoping we get to go back this year!

2. Olympics! - When the Olympics tickets went on sale, we applied for about £300 worth of tickets thinking we'd get nothing, and ended up getting tickets to both the final of the women's football and ATHLETICS!! Although we ended up giving the football tickets to my mum and sister (who had a great time), we went to the athletics and climbed up about seventy flights of stairs (while I was about 7 months pregnant - fun!), and got to be there when Jess Ennis ran her amazing hurdles race and for the high jump. The atmosphere was just incredible and I'm so happy we got to go. 

1. Benjamin - Obviously, Benjamin is my favourite moment of 2012. Not the whole 'actually giving birth experience', but that kind of becomes insignificant after he's actually there. And look how cute he is. Just amazing. 

It's really nice to think back to the nice things that have happened, because at time 2012 really felt like we wouldn't get through it. I know it was a difficult year for a lot of people, but now we're through it I really feel like all the awful has kind of only made us better. I can't say I'm glad that some of the stuff that happened happened, but I'm starting to appreciate that it happened for a reason. Also the tough times made me realise how truly amazing my family and friends (both in real life and online) are, so I'm really grateful for that!

Anyway, enough of the sap, as my 2nd blogoversary is coming up on January 9th so I'm sure there'll be enough of that to last everyone all year then!

Here's another, more blog related top five:

Top 5 books of 2012

5. Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
4. 1602 by Neil Gaiman
2. Peaches for Monsieur le Cure by Joanne Harris

You should all read all of these books now, and I know they were my top five because I actually managed to review all of them!

Happy New Year, everybody! :-) 

2012 Goals Review & the Setting of Some for 2013...

2012 was the first year that I started as a 'proper' (for which read established) blogger, knowing what I wanted to do with the blog and having some aims. I set myself a fair amount of goals, some of which I've achieved and some that I haven't. 2013 will be very different. I have a nearly 3 month old baby now and we're hoping to move again in the New Year to be closer to work and family. I've also been trying to get to grips with not working and doing stuff with the baby and suchlike. So my goals for 2013 may be a little different from the previous year!

Anyway, I just thought that now would be a pretty good time to look back and see what I've done this year, and what I'd like to do in the next.

Goals for 2012:

  • Go longer than three months and a week without buying books - I entirely failed at this; I think I lasted approximately a week, but I'm trying again in 2013 with the caveat that if I find Stitch and Bitch: Superstar Knitting in our local independent bookshop, I can buy it because I didn't get it for Christmas and I feel that it's necessary to the continuing of my knitting education (speaking of which, I'm knitting multicoloured fingerless gloves at the moment, and I love them.)
  • Go the whole year without buying anything from Amazon - In this, I have spectacularly succeeded, and for most of the year I wasn't even tempted! I will be continuing it next year and for the forseeable future :-) I'm also extending it to try to shop in independent shops as often as possible.
  • Make a list at the beginning and end of every month tracking what I've read - I mostly failed at this. I think I did it for the first two months of the year, but after that everything got a bit mental, what with being pregnant and everything. I'm not going to plan to do it again in 2013, as with the baby what I'm in the mood to read changes pretty much daily and my attention span is pretty short at the moment! I've made a list of what I want to read over the course of the year, so I'll just be going off of that I think.
  • Continue to read more non-fiction than I did last year - in 2011 I read 14 non-fiction titles. This year I have read exactly the same number, but only 85 books total so the percentage is higher, which is definitely a win. I'm going to try to continue reading more non-fiction in 2013, as I am enjoying it increasingly more.
  • Complete all of the challenges I sign up for (ha!) and post a link - up every month for the Telling Tales Challenge - I did complete the last half of this, and I am aiming for it again in 2013 as I've signed up for quite a lot less challenges so far!
  • Comment on blogs and make an active attempt to discover new blogs - I've done this all year, although commenting has been more difficult since October! I've found loads of new blogs this year and I've started following a lot more craft and baking blogs as well as book blogs! I'd love to keep this up in 2013 as blogs are such a source of inspiration to me :-)
  • Participate in RAK every month - I've done this every month except one, I think, and will continue to participate in some way in 2013. I love it so much and the excitement of getting a parcel from a total stranger hasn't got any less!
  • Get over my aversion to YA - still not totally over it, but I'm getting there and I have a list that I'm excited to start getting through next year! I've also developed a love for John Green.
  • Re-vamping the blog - I had a total design change midway through this year and I love it :-)
There's a lot of other stuff I want to do in 2013, but I figure I'd better not get carried away! I also want to participate in at least one readathon, but it probably won't be the 24 hour one as I think that would be a little too intense for me with the baby!