Friday 29 November 2013

End of the Year Readathon

So with this what I've basically done is cave in to peer pressure. Ellie, Hanna, and Katie are all doing it and every time I've seen a post go up I've thought 'oooh that sounds like a good plan' and gone back to whatever I was previously doing. Not this time, however! This is me, publicly declaring my intention to actually read some books and what's more to also write about them! The End of the Year Read-a-thon is hosted by Jenny and Dana and it runs from December 9th - 22nd. The aim is pretty much to read some of the things we meant to read this year and haven't yet. Sounds like a good goal to me! 

Much of my reading will probably be centred around A Tale of Two Cities, because my readalong of it runs December 1st - 22nd and it's Dickens so aside from that I don't want to be too ambitious, but here are a few things it would be nice to get to: 

Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue was given to me as an RAK at least a year ago if not more and it's kind of a travesty that I haven't read it yet. The Virgin Suicides I really liked the film of years ago so I'm interested to see what the book's like. The Newlyweds Laura sent to me when she moved so it doesn't really count as one that's been waiting for me to read it for ages, but still it looks interesting. Till We Have Faces by C.S Lewis has legitimately been sitting on my shelves for at least two years and has been on all my TBR challenge piles and I've never got to it. LIke Kissing the Witch it's mythology based so it's kind of bad that I've still not read it. Might have to make it the first thing I read... and finally Will Grayson, Will Grayson was a Leeds purchase, so again pretty recent but I really like John Green (sorry people who hate TFioS) and I know it will be a quick read so it looks likely that I'll pick it up at some point before the end of the year!

Have you read any of my books? Any that I should definitely read, what should I avoid? 

Saturday 23 November 2013

Saturday Stuff #1

This is that Saturday post I promised to write weekly about three months ago, and no I'm not that fussed that it takes me ages to get around to doing things I plan to do. Life gets in the way!

So. This week has been pretty uneventful except that I finally posted about our epic blogger meetup in Leeds and a schedule for my A Tale of Two Cities readalong which starts next Sunday and which you can still sign up for here. I also learned that people lie when they list things as being in 'very good condition' on Ebay. Several ranty emails later, I'm still waiting for a response from what are supposed to be a fairly reputable, well known company who trade on there. 

Blogwise, I'm in the middle of thinking about trying to write a review of The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult, but it's about the Holocaust and parts of it were great and other parts were a bit rubbish and I kind of don't want to say that in detail in case I get bashed for having negative things to say about a book about such horrific things. I did have trouble reading it, as I always do with Holocaust related things, because it was far too real. With fiction, even fiction about stuff that happens to people (like all of Jodi Picoult's books ever) I can usually distance myself from it because it's mostly not happened to me, but I can never do that with Holocaust stuff, and I guess that's a good thing because while people, even people who are totally unrelated to it like me, still feel it so deeply it makes us extra defensive against that kind of thing ever happening again, but still, not easy reading! So yeah, there may or may not be a review of that coming up!

The other thing I finished this week was waaaaaaay more light, thank goodness! Relish by Lucy Knisley is a graphic novelly food memoiry type thing, not dissimilar to Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, but about food. I discovered it through the Nonfiction November event that's going on at the moment and it was awesome. There is a great page of facts about cheese in it, so I was very happy. I am going to write something about it at some point. 

The big thing that I decided this week while pondering my lack of Christmas charitability (totally a word) in the past year or two is that I'm going to ask people, including all you lovely readers of my blog to sponsor me for my reading in December. To that end I will make an effort to read consistently and you can either sponsor me per page I've read (like, a penny per page or whatever) at the end of the month, or just an amount at whatever point you want. At the end of the month I will also be making a donation of my own. Originally I was going to match whatever I raise through sponsorship, and if that's £50 or less then I still will, but otherwise it will be an amount determined in discussion with my husband! All the money I raise will be going to the fabulous Great Ormond Street Hospital, who you can find out more about (if you don't know!) here. They're the people J.M Barrie left the copyright to Peter Pan to when he died and they do great things for sick kids, basically. 

If you want to sponsor me, now or later, you can do so at my fundraising page, here. For some reason Just Giving still think my name is my maiden name and I can't get it to change. Never mind. I know reading is something I'd be doing anyway and not particularly ground breaking or energetic of me, but I'm doing things of my own which are groundbreaking and energetic enough at the moment and this is a way to do some good so help me out! :-) 

So yeah, that was basically my week. Tomorrow we're having a lazy day and possibly going to a Christmas craft fair, which I'm obviously very excited about, in between knitting crocodiles and salami. My life is a whirlwind :-p 

Thursday 21 November 2013

I Am Challenge Free in 2014, Except...

For this! I made my Classics Club list a couple of years ago now I think, but I've still failed to read very much from it and so when I saw Twelve Months of Classic Literature over on their blog I thought why not set myself a list of some titles from my list that fit in with the themes and get me back to being a more active member of the club again? Here's the plan

January : William Shakespeare - Macbeth 
February: Harlem Renaissance/ African-American Literature - Jazz or Paradise by Toni Morrison (not on the list but in my house & has been for years!)
March: Feminist Literature/ Persephone/ Virago Literature - A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
April: Transcendentalist Literature - Walden by Henry David Thoreau
May: Postcolonial Literature/ World Literature - The Stranger by Albert Camus
June: World War One/The Lost Generation - The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald
July: Post-Modernist Literature - Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
August: The Englightenment Thinkers - 
September: Romantic Literature - Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (re-read)
October: LGBT Literature - The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall
November: Victorian Literature - Something by a Bronte 
December: Freebie Month - James Bond!!

So there we go, hopefully not too much to deal with. I'm dreading Catch 22 as I've tried it before and had to give up, and I'm a little nervous about the Toni Morrison because aside from Beloved I've never really been able to get into her writing, but never mind. I'll give it a go! Is anybody else doing this? 

Tuesday 19 November 2013

A Tale of Two Cities Schedule

A little while ago I announced that I would be hosting a readalong of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens during December, in an attempt to actually read another book from my Classics Club list. Quite a few people have signed up to read it with me and if you want to join us you can still declare your intentions on this post! So here's the schedule as far as I can work it out. My book is in three sections, I assume other editions are as well but just in case they're not I will give chapter numbers as well!

December 1st - 8th: Beginning of Book 1 - end of Book 2 Chapter 9 (first 15 chapters of the book)

December 8th -  15th: Book 2 Chapter 10 - end of Book 2 (chapters 16- 30)

December 15th - 22nd: Book 3 - end (chapters 31 -45)

Please let me know if this doesn't make sense to you! And I know 15 chapters a week is quite a lot if you're reading other stuff at the same time, but it's really not a long book and the chapters are quite short generally so it should be fine!

My general thought was that I will post about that weeks' chapters on the Sunday with a linky so you can link up your posts if you want to write one, or we can have a discussion about it in the comments of my post. Either way is fine and it's really up to you how much you want to commit to it :-) 

So yay, and once again if you want to sign up to readalong with us you can do so here, the more the merrier! See you on December 1st!

*Edit* If you want to tweet about the readalong, the hashtag I have at the moment is #dickensindecember but as it's quite long, if anyone can think of a better one, please let me know!

Sunday 17 November 2013

THE NORTH, People Who Do Indeed Have Faces and (of course) Books!

Ok, so Ellie and Laura have both already written about this, which is great because it means that I can just do the short version. Not that I'm lazy or anything, but Benji's been up since 6 today and 4:45 yesterday and then I was at a craft fair all day yesterday (which went ok for those who want to know - we made back our table fee plus a bit of pocket money so better than we'd expected!) so I'm knackered! 

Basically, last Tuesday Laura and I headed up to the vast and ominous NORTH (which is only vast and ominous if you are one of those people who has never left the South of England ever) to see Hanna again and meet Ellie and Charlotte for the first time :-) This was very exciting for a number of reasons:

  1. I got to get a train for 2.5 hours with Laura, who is awesome and who, it turns out, I have much more than just books to talk about with. Seriously, we talked the entire way there and the entire way back and it wasn't awkward or boring or small talkey even once. That's a serious achievement considering we've only physically met once before!
  2. I got to go back to Yorkshire which we went to on our honeymoon two years ago but only got vaguely lost trying to drive around Leeds so it was lovely to actually visit the city, and it was so pretty and nice and people were lovely and friendly so that was good. 
  3. I got to see Hanna again
  4. I got to meet Ellie and Charlotte, and Charlotte has a face, which is great. 
  5. I GOT TO GO BOOK SHOPPING WITH PEOPLE WHO UNDERSTAND ABOUT BOOK SHOPPING. And I got to do it unencumbered by the push chair. 
It was an amazing day. If you want the long version you can read about it here and the slightly less long but with more of the train delayedness here

What I'm here for, though, is really to show you all (but especially Ellie who is particularly curious) what I bought! We were all in such a frenzy of buying books and being with other people who fully supported the buying of books that we weren't paying too much attention to what each other was actually buying, which was thus: 

That's a bad photo. Here are some more broken down ones:

This isn't a much better photo, but never mind we'll make do. On the top was my only charity shop buy of the day, Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs which I heard a lot about a while ago (can't remember why) and liked the sounds of, so I'm excited to start it. Plus it was bought in a charity shop where all the books were squished into one tiny corner and so we had to upset an old gentlemen trying to squish our five selves plus bags in to have a proper look. So that was fun. The three underneath were on the 3 for £5 offer in The Works. The two Jasper Fforde books were... heavily influenced by Hanna but I have been looking for more since I read The Eyre Affair way back before I started blogging, and The Carrier by Sophie Hannah (which I think Ellie also bought?) was because I needed a third book and Charlotte said it was great. I'm looking forward to it!

HMV was next, and I haven't seen a HMV with as many books as they have in the Leeds one for quite a while! I kept picking stuff up and putting it down again and finally ended up with these. Last Orders by Graham Swift is another I heard a lot about from various people (possibly a sister or two?) a while ago and it sounded fun plus I quite like the front cover and it was only £1.99 so how could I not? Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is a brilliant film so I'm super excited about reading the book. I will be thinking about Mary Stuart Masterson throughout (not in a creepy way, although kinda cos I want to be her in Some Kind of Wonderful. She is all the awesome), and Bed by David Whitehouse for no reason other than that it was 99p and sounds kind of cool. 

We made a quick stop at Candy Hero, where I bought a load of Jelly Beans that you can see in my main picture, and where I resisted buying more chocolate Tea Pigs, because we already have 8 types of tea in our house and that really should be enough, right? Anyway! Then it was time for Waterstone's! I haven't bought a new book in a while, and despite having left my £10 gift card in Kent (because I'm stupid), I got swept up in the excitedness of the moment and ended up with this lot:

The picture lies a bit, because Moon Over Soho actually came from the Canterbury Waterstone's the night before. I was reading Rivers of London and was nearly at the end of it with a 2 hour coach journey coming up, so some emergency book shopping was needed! So only the bottom four are actually from Leeds, and only three are actually for me (stop rolling your eyes, Laura!), because Raising Steam is my Dad's Christmas present. It's an annual tradition that I buy him the newest Terry Pratchett and then 'test read' it (carefully, obviously) before giving it to him. So that just leaves Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan, Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel and The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan which I had to have despite it being hardback because Maine was so good, and I did start reading it on the train home!

Those were my books, and here are a few pictures of various of us in various places :-) 

Hanna and Charlotte, having faces before shopping

All of us, photo by Charlotte whose arm may have nearly broken off trying to get a decent one!
Laura with her books and mine at the station... we have no idea how there came to be so many...

So basically I had a great day! Those I had previously met were as lovely as remembered and those I hadn't were as lovely as I thought they'd be :-) It was amazing to meet people and instantly feel so comfortable with them and like we'd known each other for ages, which I guess we have! And really nice to be able to put faces and voices to blogs and tweets. It must be done again soon. 

Friday 8 November 2013

Wolf Hall, or How My Love of all Things Tudor Will Never Die

I thought about reserving Wolf Hall at the library a year or two ago when everybody was talking about it, but I had so much to read (nothing changes, clearly) at the time that I thought I might as well just leave it until the hype had died down, as I would've been 35th on the list anyway, and the day the hype died down was last week. I was browsing in the library when, behold! Wolf Hall, sitting on the shelf casually minding its own business. 

There's a bit of a disclaimer on this post, which reads thus:
I grew up approximately a half hour walk from Hampton Court Palace. Age 6 I begged my grandparents to take me round the palace by myself. They thought I would never walk round the whole thing, but I did. Because I'm cool. We used to go in the gardens and the maze with my mum and siblings every single summer holiday and most Easters until they started charging silly amounts to get in. When I was young, the gardens were free and the maze was about 50p. It was awesome. We also used to get the boat there all the time. As well as all this we went on school trips to various parts (just the kitchens in Infant School, the kitchens and great hall in year 3, the whole palace in yr 5 or 6, the whole palace again in years 8, 9 and 10), so while in some ways I'm all Tudored out, in other ways I have a deep and abiding love of that period of history which will probably never die. My mind still boggles at all the chimneys. 

File:Hampton Court Palace 20120224.JPG

So yes, basically what I'm saying is that when I heard that Wolf Hall was about that period of history which I've recently been revelling in reading Philippa Gregory's various books, but actually about Thomas Cromwell and Cardinal Wolsey (the man who originally build Hampton Court) as well as being about the whole thing where Henry VIII was a massive egotist and created the Church of England so he could marry some random woman whom he decided, three years after having finally married her, he didn't actually like enough to keep alive anyway, and obviously for all the above stated reasons, I had to read it. And it was goooooood. The book is massive, but I read it in three days which is entirely unheard of for post baby me. I am very proud of myself. 

There's no point in comparing this with The Other Boleyn Girl et al, but on the whole I did feel a lot less like Hilary Mantel was just making up what she thought could possibly have happened, at some point, somewhere, and more like she was basing her writing around things which a few people agree have actually happened. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Philippa Gregory's books very much, and of course it's great fun to imagine all the things which could have happened as well as the things that did, but reading Wolf Hall I felt a lot more submerged in history than I ever have reading Gregory. 

So now that's over, pretty much what I'm saying is that I really enjoyed Wolf Hall. It has a lot of characters, but they are pretty much all well developed (or well developed enough to suit their purposes) and Mantel did a great job of making everybody very human. There weren't a lot of people I hated in this, which I liked because there was too much else to keep track of to allow time for hating people. It is pretty well written and very pacy and despite its massive size it was a very quick read for me. 

Sticking with my whole 'this isn't a review' thing, all I will say is that if you have anything like my love for the Tudors, you should probably read this :-) 

Saturday 2 November 2013

Things That Happened in October

Hi everybody! It's me, you might not recognise me because I've been a totally crap blogger recently, but I've been busy!! Lots happened in October, starting with this: 

Benji had two parties for his first birthday, because most of our family and friends are still London based at the moment, but the picture is from his second party at my Aunt and Uncle's house, who now live just up the road from us. It ended up being just a little gathering, with my cousin and her partner but you wouldn't have known it from the amount of sweets and cupcakes my Aunt made (yes, made from scratch, by hand and they were yummy). We were eating them for a while :-) That took up a couple of weekends, and then there was this, which I have already blogged about

That's a very blurry picture of the Neil Gaiman event from where we were sitting. The view was much better than it looks from this, and I'm really glad this was such a great event because it's really inspired me to try to go to more author events next year!

Also this month was the Halloween Ninja Book Swap, and although I'm still waiting for one of my parcels to turn up I think I've waited long enough so I wanted to put this up and thank the lovely Becky of Becky's Barmy Book Blog for sending me this parcel of awesomeness!

In case you can't see, it contains a 4 pack of Dairy Milk bars, a 4 pack of Flake bars, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher which I read loads of great reviews of during Banned Books Week this year, and some awesome Harry Potter magnets plus a lovely card :-) The chocolate disappeared veeeeerrry quickly and I'm waiting for the right moment to start on the book! 

Finally this month I decided to bite the bullet and host my first ever readalong in December. If you'd like to join in and read A Tale of Two Cities with us, you can find the details and sign up link here

In bookishness this month, I have actually read quite a bit for me! Books I've finished are thus:
I am hoping to write about Good Omens, Fables and The Fearless Treasure in the next week, but we shall see how it goes. My first craft fair is sneaking up on me ridiculously quickly and I've also had a few orders to work on, which is nice, but has left me no time to do much else! So that's it from me and this is something I've made this week that I love :-)