Sunday 31 July 2016

#LittleHouseRAL: Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

That's it guys, there are officially no more books with 'Little House' or 'Prairie' in the titles! We have read them all! But obviously we haven't read all the books yet, and of course it's the last day of the month and I only finished Little Town on the Prairie two weeks ago so obviously I'm writing about it tonight. Obviously.

I'm still loving the series, and I'm really enjoying seeing Laura and Almanzo's relationship begin. I found reading about the way people got together in those days really interesting, and she was so young!! As usual I loved her hard work and dedication in this book, and I liked that there was more focus on Laura's life and school and things rather that it all being about house building and what Ma's cooking (though you know I love that too!). I don't know if I'm just enjoying this series so much because it's such a gentle immersion in a place and time I know little to nothing about, but whatever it is it is so working for me. I will be so sad when this year is over!

I have to admit that I didn't really miss Mary in this book which kind of sounds awful but even before she couldn't see she was always just in the corner being good anyway so I don't miss her all that much. I enjoyed Laura's various run ins with Nellie Oleson this month - I do find her spirit and sense of injustice a very admirable and entertaining thing, and Nellie Oleson is just far too obsessed with herself for my liking.

As usual, not a huge amount to say about the book really, except that I continue to love it. This series is so comforting and such balm for the soul in turbulent times!

My link up for August will be a day late since I have my penultimate Middlemarch post going up tomorrow!

How did you find this book?

Monday 25 July 2016

#EliotAlong Chapters 43- 56

This week, at the recommendation of so many people I finally watched Blackfish on Netflix and I cannot get it out of my head. Because of that I've been really heart - heavy for most of the week - I don't know how else to describe it because it's like the weight of sadness for the people and whales involved is literally pulling me down, despite which I would really recommend watching it, particularly if you're interested in Orcas or our relationships with animals at all.

All of which is to say that Middlemarch has been a really welcome distraction this week and oh my goodness, it's all going on!

There is a thing with this book where Eliot only gives a sentence or two to major events and I keep having to go back and check they've actually happened - it happened with Rosamund and Celia and their respective having/losing babies, and with Bulstrode's purchase of Stone Court. There were a couple of mentions of it and then he'd just bought it. I think I like this way of doing business - it definitely keeps the story moving along!

So firstly, Casaubon is dead, hoorah! Although I'm super mad at him for the stupid codicil in his will. I'm going to refer to him as the happiness preventer from now on! What a douche.

One of the things I'm enjoying most about Middlemarch is how Eliot gives each of her characters focus. Often in novels with lots of characters many of them can feel underdeveloped or slightly pointless, but here, although the novel definitely has its central characters each of the peripheral characters is also given their moment in the sun. This week I was impressed with Mr Farebrother. I'm so used to deviousness in novels lately that I fully expected him to do something horrible with the Mary/Fred thing, but so far at least, he hasn't, and I like that. I really love feeling like I can trust characters and in Middlemarch I trust the vast majority to be pretty much as they appear, with the exception of Mr Casaubon, who is no longer a problem, and Mr Raffles, who is just odious.

Speaking of whom, I'm intrigued to know just what it is that he has on Mr. Bulstrode, Obviously Bulstrode was trying to take advantage of an older lady for some reason, and I presume the lady wasn't Mrs Bulstrode since she seems very much alive and not all that old, but apparently his step-son is Sarah Ladislaw's child, so is that Will? And what, if anything, does Will know about it? I want to know! Well done Eliot, intrigue and mysteries at every turn this week!

And oh Dorothea! Although I still hate your name I feel so sorry for you! In so many ways Casaubon's death sets her free, but whether she'll allow herself freedom remains to be seen, and I'm sad for her that she's realised her feelings for Will only when they are denied her.

I have to say that I'm really seeing why people call this Eliot's masterpiece. It is so well woven together and there's so much in it; so much about politics and society and feminism and religion. I think I mentioned before that Eliot had sort of been lumped in with Hardy in my head (omg SO boring, can't stand him!) but reading this alongside The Road to Middlemarch there's really no comparison. What an interesting woman, and what excellent writing!

How have you found it this week? Link up your posts below!

Monday 18 July 2016

Middlemarch Chapter 29-42 and Link Up!

Guys, we're half way through Middlemarch! I feel like this should be mentioned primarily because of its size rather than any difficulty with reading it because I don't know about you all but I'm still flying through it!

In much the same way as last week was all about the men, this week was mostly about how much I hate Mr Casaubon. He's just so hugely dislikeable, I actually can't find anything good to say about him, and I hate how he crushed Dorothea. I'm also annoyed with her though for putting up with it and suppressing her opinions so she doesn't disagree with him. I totally get that it's what women were taught to do at the time, and I do think that Eliot is absolutely brilliant at making you sad for all the things her female characters could have achieved if they'd lived in different times. Mary Garth is another one whose personality is too big for the space in society she fills, and although I'm not sure that I actually like her I do have a lot of respect for her, and I really want her and Fred to get together!

I think a lot happened this week but I'm not really sure about most of it. The focus was very much on Dorothea and Casaubon, and Rosamund and Lydgate got married with less than a sentence about it! I really enjoy the way that all the stories intertwine though, it's done very seemlessly and never feels disjointed. And can I just say how much I like Sir James? He doesn't get enough attention, I feel and I hope that changes!

How's everyone getting on? As much hatred for Casaubon as I have? Don't forget to tweet using #EliotAlong!

Link up your posts for this weeks chapters below!

Thursday 14 July 2016

TBR Inspiration #1

I think I've mentioned before that whenever I've really loved a book I go and use the 'people who bought this also bought' feature on Amazon to make a list of 10-20 other books. I start with the title I loved and then click on a title in the also bought list for that title, then one for the next title and so on so it makes a sort of chain of books. In pursuit of decluttering I'm getting rid of my old notebooks and flicking through them I found a load of these lists and thought I'd add them here as a semi - regular feature, because obviously we all need more titles to add to our TBR!

As you'll know if you've been reading this blog a while, I do not support or endorse Amazon for many reasons, and so although I used a feature on their site to make this list, all the title links will go to Wordery who I do fully support, endorse and am an affiliate of, so should you choose to purchase any of the books through these links I will get a small commission and love you forever. 


The first list I found in my notebook was after I read Eat, Pray, Love. In hindsight this isn't one of the best books I've ever read, but at the time I really loved it so here we go! 

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

One Day by David Nicholls

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada

The Backpacker by John Harris

Getting Stoned with Savages by J. Maarten Troost

A Land of Two Halves by Joe Bennett

31 Days in a Campervan by Pete Buckley

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry 

The similarity between some of these titles is clearer than with others - some seem entirely random to me, but there's lots on here that I'm interested to read! I've recently started a library wishlist as well as my regular wishlists, so that I can put titles somewhere and remember them without having to buy anything and lots of these will be going on there!

I've read a few - The Happiness Project and The Help are both excellent and well worth a read if you haven't already. I also enjoyed The Fry Chronicles, although it's probably only interesting if you're interested in Stephen Fry. He's an interesting man though!

Have you read any of these books? 

Look out for another list coming soon!

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Re-Readathon #4 is Coming!

Several times a year I get antsy for some re-reading. I've been hosting Re-Readathons since last year, and although it's usually just a small handful of people it's been really fun seeing what everybody reads and hosting mini challenges and giveaways. I love it!

The fourth Re-Readathon will run from Wednesday August 10th - Sunday August 21st, just after the Middlemarch Readalong ends, for anyone interested in participating in both! There will be link ups, challenges and giveaways here on the blog, and if anyone participating is interested in hosting a mini challenge or giveaway on their blog please let me know in the comments or email me using the link.

The idea of re-readathon is simple; just re-read. Post a picture of your TBR on your blog or social media, sign up with a direct link to your blog post or tweet about the event using the linky below and tweet and/or Instagram about the event using #ReReadathon. That's it! You don't have to commit to only re-reading during the 10 days or so the event runs, but fit some re-reading in there and you're taking part!

There will be lots of events, challenges and prizes throughout the event, check out the details here.

Who's with me?

Monday 11 July 2016

#EliotAlong: Chapters 15 - 28 and Link Up!

So I've had a pretty excellent week, to be honest, both in terms of life and in readalong terms. Last weekend I was in Leeds with blogger friends and then this week we had my sister and her boyfriend staying and my other sister and her fiance visited and then we spent this weekend exploring places and doing a medieval trail and visiting a theme park and taking the boys on their first carousel ride.. All of which is to say that this week there are no questions to guide you, just write what you want!

I really loved this week. From the beginning I was getting way more into the story than last week, and at one point towards the end of the section I actually nearly missed my bus stop because I was so engrossed! Lots and lots of men to love this week for me - firstly, Tertius Lydgate, coolest character name ever? I think I really like him. I definitely like how forward thinking he is. He just seems like the kind of logic-driven doctor you would want around you in life-threatening situations really, and I'm quietly enjoying watching Rosamund enact her sort of manipulative but not really marriage plan on him. It'll be interesting to see how that goes.

I also really liked Will Ladislaw this week. I thought he was going to be all grumpy and dislikeable when he was first introduced, but he's so far from it this week and I can't help loving him and feeling super sorry for him that silly Dorothea married extra boring Casaubon :-( I do feel bad for her as well now though, because although she was really naive and has absolutely no idea what marriage actually is, she's clearly now going to pay the price for that and I kind of want her to be happy.

Winning my heart forever though, despite his complete recklessness, is Fred Vincy. I love him. He's so pathetically endearing with his love of Mary Garth (who is also excellent) and although his lack of responsibility makes me mad I feel like his character has so much potential. I'm really interested to see what happens to him!

So yes, basically all about the men this week! There were women and I enjoyed their stories - the Garth family's in particular - but all the focus was on the men for me.

How was your week? Are you loving the book? Hating it? Tell me all, and link up your posts below!

Monday 4 July 2016

#EliotAlong Chapters 1 - 14 & Link Up

Apologies that this post is slightly delayed - I've been gallivanting in Yorkshire this weekend with Laura and Nahree and only got back this morning, so although I have finished the reading for the week it was only on the coach yesterday, so. In future weeks I'll be more punctual, I promise!

I'm liking Middlemarch so far I think, although it hasn't entirely sucked me in yet I'm not finding it a chore to read which is good. I really like the diversity of characters that have been introduced so far, and the amount covered in the first fourteen chapters is quite impressive. It feels kind of like Austen with more politics to me, which is definitely a good thing, To prevent rambling I'm going to utilise the questions I wrote when I'd only read half the chapters (and thus only knew of the existence of half the characters!).

1. Is this your first encounter with George Eliot? How are you finding it? Did you have any preconceptions about Eliot or the book before you started? 

This is my third Eliot experience, but all I remember about the other two is that I liked it (Silas Marner) and had no feelings about it either way (Adam Bede). So far I'm finding it funnier than I thought it would be, and the characters are much more relatable than I thought they would be. I like the balance - some of the characters are pretty dry but then others are lively enough to balance them out. Basically they seem pretty well - rounded, and although Eliot keeps going off on political tangents that I don't really have the background knowledge to understand properly it's making me want to find stuff out rather than making my eyes glaze over, so that's good. My preconceptions were pretty much that it was going to be really long and dry and hard work, and so far they're being proved wrong!

2. How do you feel about Dorothea?

I keep changing my mind. In the beginning I found her to be overly pious and it was a bit annoying, and although I still think that he expectations of life and particularly marriage are totally unrealistic and a little silly, it's kind of understandable given her age and the society that she is growing up in I guess. She's very sheltered and slightly unrealistic but she's intelligent and not afraid to speak her mind and I do like that about her. I definitely think Dodo is a better name than Dorothea though, that's what I'll be calling her from now on!

3. Who is your favourite character so far and why?

I didn't anticipate how difficult this question would be to answer when I wrote it! I think probably Sir James - he just seems like a really decent guy, and I agree with Celia that him marrying Dorothea would have been crap for him. I really appreciate that he's still going ahead with the cottage plan despite his disappointment, as lots of men wouldn't, and yeah. Basically I just think he's a good man.

4. The place of women is mentioned a lot in the first few chapters. Discuss.

I can't decide about this, because there's a lot of stuff about how maybe women should have more opportunities and education being great (obviously) and stuff, but also lots about how they need to be submissive after they get married and the traditional place of women and basically I don't have enough information to decide how this is going to go yet. So yes. That.

I pretty much feel like this week was an introduction and I'll have more information next week!

Link up your week one posts below so we can all come and comment!

#LittleHouseRAL Little Town on the Prairie

Apologies for the lateness of this months post, but it's July and we're reading Little Town on the Prairie! That means after this we only have two books left of the original nine book series! How fast is this year going? As usual use #LittleHouseRAL on social media and link up your posts here!

Friday 1 July 2016

#EliotAlong Week 1 Questions!

I mentioned vaguely in the kick off post that I might be posting prompt questions each week and I've decided it's probably a good idea. Of course you don't have to use them when you're posting about the book, but just in case you're stuck with what to write I thought questions might give us a good starting point for discussing the book.

As of writing this I'm only up to chapter 8, but I have a lot of time on a coach over the weekend so I anticipate being done by Sunday!

1. Is this your first encounter with George Eliot? How are you finding it? Did you have any preconceptions about Eliot or the book before you started?
2. How do you feel about Dorothea?
3. Who is your favourite character so far and why?
4. The place of women is mentioned a lot in the first few chapters. Discuss.
5. Anything else?

If you haven't signed up yet and still want to join us you can find the schedule and link up here - we're only one week in so you haven't missed too much!