War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | Week Seven

Welcome one, welcome all, to the seventh of my weekly progress reports  for War and Peace. If you’re curious about how last week went (terribly), then you can pop on over and see part one or part two of week 6’s progress. I’ve fallen behind with the schedule, to the point that earlier today I read something close to 100 pages just so I could claw back and post last week’s weekly wrap-up vaguely on-time. I know, I know, I make such sacrifices for this readalong.

For those who have no idea what I’m going on about at all, you may want to head on over to the blog of the War and Peace Newbies Read-along host Laura from Reading In Bed. Every week I’m doing a short progress post or wrap-up of my thoughts so far on the book, all very low key, probably in the form of bullet points, and likely not always coherent. So don’t expect eloquence or a comprehensive guide to the novel is what I’m trying to say – at best, my approach is scatter-gun and what catches my eye probably isn’t the most important detail in the text. Expectations lowered accordingly?

In my last posts, I summarised the action from Volume II Part V and Volume III Part I but this past week I moved onto Volume III Part II and officially broke the 900 page mark. There’s no turning back now, we’ve reached the point of no return (hopefully)…

  • We open this section with Napoleon, obviously, because Tolstoy hates me at this point and just wants to make me suffer.

  • The note I wrote on this scene was ‘men are idiots’… I mean… ok I think I might have been a tad grumpy when reading this section but it’s not wholly inaccurate because:
    • “Napoleon went to war with Russia because he could not resist going to Dresden, could not resist the adulation, could not resist the idea of donning the Polish uniform, and could not contain his petulant outbursts in the presence of Kurakin and later on Balashev. Alexander refused all negotiations because he felt personally insulted. […] Rostov attacked the French because he could not resist the temptation to gallop across a flat field.” (p. 756) Of course he couldn’t resist, stupid Nikolay.

Continue reading

War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | Week Six, Part Two

Welcome one, welcome all, to the sixth (and a half) of my weekly progress reports  for War and Peace. You may have seen my previous post which was meant to summarise week 6’s progress, but in fact was a post of two halves because I’d fell behind with the weekly schedule. This post is officially part 2 for week 6 and it’s a little late (to say the least), but I’m here now so let’s all just appreciate that – ‘better late than never’ and all that jazz.

For those who have no idea what I’m going on about at all, you may want to head on over to the blog of the War and Peace Newbies Read-along host Laura from Reading In Bed. Every week I’m doing a short progress post or wrap-up of my thoughts so far on the book, all very low key, probably in the form of bullet points, and likely not always coherent. So don’t expect eloquence or a comprehensive guide to the novel is what I’m trying to say – at best, my approach is scatter-gun and what catches my eye probably isn’t the most important detail in the text. Expectations lowered accordingly?

So, in my last post, I summarised the action (and boy was there action) from Volume II Part V- so much drama! This was how I felt about Volume III Part I which, for the most part, felt longer and more introspective for some reason, so I had less observations overall but here they are…

  • This section opens with a resituation of events in terms of the overall historical timeline – we’re in 1811/1812 and I can feel another history dump and I’m not happy about it…
  • All that being said, Tolstoy has some great ruminations of the ’cause and effect’ pattern that we like to apply to war, you know, for understanding and sanity’s sake. He discusses whether we are all just pawns, essentially, of the inevitable playing out of the world – it’s a common theme, especially explored in literature and theatre, of having the world as a stage and all the men and women (merely) players. (Cheers, Shakespeare.) But Tolstoy does something extra interesting with it in casting people as the slaves of history:
    • “Although on a conscious level a man lives for himself, he is actually being used as an unconscious instrument for the attainment of humanity’s historical aims. A deed once done becomes irrevocable, and any action comes together over time with millions of actions performed by other people to create historical significance. The higher a man stands on the social scale, the more contact he has with other men and the greater his impact on them, the more obvious are the inevitability and the element of predestination involved in everything he does. ‘The hearts of kings are in the hands of God.’ Kings are the slaves of history. History – the amorphous, unconscious life within the swarm of humanity – exploits every minute in the lives of kings as an instrument for the attainment of its own ends.” (p. 670)
  • We quickly go from a quote that intrigued me, to one that just made me roll my eyes and laugh. Napoleon is out and about and men keep throwing themselves at him to show their devotion to him and his cause. It must be tiring, truly, poor Napoleon, he’s the Gretchen Wieners of War and Peace. 
    • “This was nothing new for him; he needed no reminding that his presence anywhere on earth, from Africa to the steppe-land of Muscovy, always had the same devastating effect on men, sometimes driving them to acts of madness and self-sacrifice.” (p. 674)

Continue reading

Tag | The Book Blogger Memory Challenge

Welcome to Tag Thursday! This isn’t your first rodeo, I’m sure, but in case it is, every Thursday (cough if I remember cough) I try to post a fun little tag I’ve found on the blogosphere or Booktube. Everyone loves a tag, right? This is more of a little test than a tag and I found over at the ever-brilliant Thrice Read, and it was originally created by Laura @ Laura’s Book Review.

The rules are pretty damn simple but here they are:

Answer these 10 questions before reading my answers. Your challenge is to answer all of them without looking at your shelves or online. After you’ve done that come back and see if you matched any of my answers!

Q1: Name a book written by an author called Michael.

Michael Bond wrote the Paddington bear books… I have no idea why this was the first book that came to mind but here we are.

Q2: Name a book with a dragon on the cover.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini, a book which I pretty much hated because it just took every other fantasy book and smushed it together in an unsophisticated way. However, it does have a dragon on the cover.

Q3: Name a book about a character called George.

George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl – and his name is in the title, talk about efficient answering.

Q4: Name a book written by an author with the surname Smith.

Dodie Smith wrote a book called I Capture the Castle, I believe? I bought it long ago from the Oxfam bookshops in Lancaster whilst I was at university but I still have yet to read it, oops.

Q5: Name a book set in Australia.

I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever read a book set there, but I’ve learnt by osmosis that Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty is actually set in her native Australia though they changed it to the US for the tv show.

Q6: Name a book with the name of a month in the title.

I’m really struggling with this one… there are plenty with seasons in the title but I’m really struggling for one with a month! My head is not so helpfully repeating ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’ by Green Day on a loop which is all well and good but not a book! A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks – I just remembered one! Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it, so much that I never finished this, and have no intention to go back to it.

Q7: Name a book with a knife on the cover.

The Dinner by Herman Koch – it’s an actual knife as in the innocent utensil rather than a weapon because, apparently when called upon, I forget precisely every knife-wielding heroine on the cover of YA fantasy books. (There must be knives on the Sarah J. Maas Throne of Glass series UK covers! Spoiler alert: I checked, there are swords… close enough?)

Q8: Name a book with the word ‘one’ in the title.

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus – I keep seeing this everywhere so it’s no surprise that it’s wormed its way into my subconsciousness. Despite everyone talking about it I have no idea what it’s really about apart from The Breakfast Club vibes (which doesn’t entice me to read it, tbh), nor do I have a huge desire to actually read it. C’est la vie!

Q9: Name a book with a eponymous title.

Emma by Jane Austen – I don’t think anyone can be surprised by me automatically thinking this. There are a few of my namesake in literature and I’m not sure any of them are particularly nice… if you know a nice ‘Emma’ in a book please let me know because I need some good ones!

Q10: Name a book turned into a movie.

There are so many to choose from though! I’m going to go with Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier because Hitchcock made a film out of it in 1940 and they had to change the story’s ending a little bit because of the censor’s requirements. The adaptation definitely gets across the sense of tension and suspense, as you’d expect from Hitchcock.


Well, folks, that was the The Book Blogger Memory Challenge, if you feel like testing yourself and doing this, please consider yourself tagged/nudged to do so by me. If you do this quiz, please do leave a link to your post below; I’d love to take a look!

Goodreads | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Bloglovin’

T5W | Characters’ Fitness Routines You Want

Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is Characters’ Fitness Routines You Want: This can be interpreted a bunch of different ways! Fitness comes in many different packages. This can be about characters who are super-fast, strong, agile, good at dancing, good at climbing, athletes, or foodies! Whatever it means to you. This is inspired by those routines you see in magazines for actors, but with more of an open mind and less body shaming.

5. Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I’d like Bilbo’s fitness routine, namely the bit where he eats the requisite 7 meals a day. The life of a hobbit seems pretty damn good to me.

4. Kelsier from The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

Ok, I’d mainly just like Mistborn powers, because Allomancy sounds cool as fuck, and he seems to be able to take care of himself in a fight, if needs be. I’d also like to have an ounce of Kelsier’s charm and his ability to plot and scheme plans to overthow the empire… that seems a pretty cool person to be, I can only assume his fitness routine is full of such shenanigans, as well as metal-pulling and pushing.

3. Sabriel from Sabriel by Garth Nix

At the start of this story Sabriel pretty much has the life of a boarding school girl (complete with field hockey, I’m sure) with additional magic usage. The charter magic seems like a pretty damn terrifying but power to hold, and Sabriel just turns out so badass and competent by the third book, Abhorsen, that I need in on her routine, stat.

2. Kell from A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Who wouldn’t want to be an Antari and/or take part in the Essen Tasch, I ask you? I presume if I had Kell’s fitness routine, I’d also have his powers and (most importantly) his coat – that’s essential to his fitness, right? Thought so.

1. Inej from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I wish I had even 10% of Inej’s agility and confidence at heights… actually, scratch that, I wish I had 10% of Inej’s ability and confidence when I was on the ground. I can’t help but think she’s someone who is very comfortable in her surroundings and has great situational awareness. I could do with some of that, to be honest, so if she has a fitness routine to share, that would be fantastic.


That’s it for now, folks, those were my Top 5 people whose fitness routines I’d want – do you agree/disagree with my choices? Let’s chat in the comments below! And be sure to link me to your own Top 5 Wednesday post, if you have one, as I’d love to read it.


Goodreads | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Bloglovin’

War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | Week Six, Part One

Welcome one, welcome all, to the sixth of my weekly progress reports  for War and Peace. You may have seen my previous weekly post summarising my week 5 progress, if not please do pop on over to it to see how it went. And for those who have no idea what I’m going on about at all, you may want to head on over to the blog of the War and Peace Newbies Read-along host Laura from Reading In Bed. Every week I’m doing a short progress post or wrap-up of my thoughts so far on the book, all very low key, probably in the form of bullet points, and likely not always coherent. So don’t expect eloquence or a comprehensive guide to the novel is what I’m trying to say – at best, my approach is scatter-gun and what catches my eye probably isn’t the most important detail in the text. Expectations lowered accordingly? Ok, then let’s see how Week 6 went, which covered Volume II, Part V and Volume III, Part 1 of War and Peace…

All right stop (collaborate and listen) – I have a confession to make. I seem to be falling into an unhealthy cycle of falling behind on the reading schedule, so speed-reading to try to catch up, and then forgetting to take notes so it makes the weekly summary wrap-up posts harder so then I re-read and… wash, rinse, repeat. This week I decided to take as many notes as I wanted whilst I read and it turns out that doing this (AND participating in Tome Topple, which ends Thursday, AND signing up for The Reading Quest, which started yesterday) isn’t the best idea, on reflection, and the upshot of it all is that I’ve only read half of what I’m meant to have read in the past week. However, I’ve decided to just roll with the punches and split last week’s wrap-up into two sections, this is part one which will cover Volume II Part V and part two with Volume III Part I will follow… at some point… hopefully soon. I took waaaay too many notes on this section but I guess I must have been really invested in what was going on so that’s not exactly a bad thing!

  • As this section opens, Pierre shuns his fellow masons and consorts with the bachelor gang again – quelle surprise. He does it so much so that even Helene is like ‘this is unacceptable’, so Pierre abandons her for Moscow instead so as not to “compromise her” – how about you just stop doing the bachelor thing instead? No? Oh, ok…
  • Everyone loves Moscow Pierre, except himself, it seems because he’s become everything he used to hate; he’s now “wealthy husband of an unfaithful wife, a retired gentleman-in-waiting, fond of his food and drink […] a type he had found so profoundly repellent seven years ago”. It’s ok, Pierre, we’ll love you all the same.
  • But he’s having an existential crisis again because we can’t go for a part without one. But he takes time out of his busy schedule of crisis-ing to be rude about Helene, again, ugh – “My Helene has never cared for anything but her own body and she’s one of the stupidest women in the world […] yet everyone thinks she’s the last word in intelligence and sophistication, and they all bow down to her”
  • “It was too horrible to be ground down by life’s insoluble problems, so he latched on to any old distraction that came along, just to get them out of his mind” – he turns to wine and books which I think we can all agree are pretty good choices.
  • Moscow is the place to be – Pierre’s back in Moscow, and now ol’ Prince Bolkonsky and Marya head there too. As well as a new locale, Bolkonsky has a new fondness for Mademoiselle Bourienne and I so do not want this plot-line. Nope, no sir, please no.

Continue reading

#TheReadingQuest | My Quest Progress

As you may know if you say my Sign-Up & TBR post yesterday, I am currently taking part in #TheReadingQuest, a readathon which is running from Sunday 13th August through to Sunday 10th September. This post is my place I will record all my progress – the books I’ve read, the challenges I’ve completed, and the points I’ve accrued over the course of the quest. I’ll probably be updating this periodically as I finish a book, as much as to keep myself accountable as anything else!

Experience & Health Points

Experience Points
For reference, everyone starts out with 10 Experience Points (EXP). For every book finished you get +10 EXP (unless it’s graphic novels/manga then it’s +5 EXP). However, if it’s a marginalised author, it’s +20 EXP for every completed book.

Once a Character Quest is complete, you earn another +50 EXP. Additional Character Quests completed before the Quest ends will gain +30 EXP. Characters level up with every +50 EXP.

Health Points
Everyone begins with 10 Health Points (HP). Every 10 pages read or 20 minutes listened to an audiobook gains +1HP (unless it’s a graphic novel/manga, it’s 20 pages to gain +1HP).

Tweeting on #TheReadingQuest hashtag or Instagram photos of books/TBR pile earns +1HP each. You can gain a maximum of +20HP from Social Media interactions.

Current

Currently reading: Doing It by Hannah Witton
For: Verb in the title
Pages read: 30

Knight Challenges

Challenge completed: Read a book with a weapon on the cover
Book read: Kong: Skull Island novelisation
EXP gained: 10
HP gained: 38

Challenge completed: Book with a TV/film adaptation
Book read: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
EXP gained: 10
HP gained: 27

Side Challenges

Challenge completed:
Book read:
EXP gained:
HP gained:

Overall

No. of challenges/books completed: 2
EXP total: 30
HP total: 75


Goodreads Twitter Tumblr Instagram Bloglovin’

#TheReadingQuest | Sign-Up and TBR

What is the most sensible thing to do when you’re in the middle of doing a long readalong of a super long book AND a readathon where you read only 500+ page books AND you have a backlog of book reviews and blog posts to write? That’s right- sign up for another reading challenge! (It made sense in my head, I swear. Yes, I may be procrastinating.)

I could not resist joining in with this one though because it looks like SO MUCH FUN and has a pretty gameboard and challenges and side quests and I’m basically a sucker for anything like this. “This” is #TheReadingQuest which was created by Aentee from @ Read At Midnight. All the amazing artwork that accompanies this challenge was created by CW of Read, Think, Ponder. Be sure to check both of them out because they have great blogs! The readathon runs from tomorrow, Sunday 13th August until Sunday 10th September – so we’re in this one for the long haul, guys.

The Reading Quest Sign Up Post

The readathon is based round a challenge board, a bingo board if you will, and you pick a book to complete each square on your chosen path across the board. ‘But how do I chose my path?’ I hear you ask – well, you pick which Character Class to play as, and you start off on their quest path accordingly. There are 4 to choose from (Knight, Rogue, Mage, and Bard) and the challenges on each path reflect the chosen character type – i.e. on the Mage path you read books about magic and mythology. Just like the very best video games you can also branch off and complete side quests to earn extra points during the course of your quest. And once you’re done with one character’s path, you can then move onto the next one, and continue questing onwards! You earn experience points and health points as you go along – for a full run-down of these I’d advise everyone to go check out Aentee’s original post because she explains it better than I ever could!

Continue reading

War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | Week Five

Welcome one, welcome all, to the fifth of my weekly progress reports  for War and Peace. You may have seen my previous weekly post summarising my week 4 progress, if not please do pop on over to it to see how it went. And for those who have no idea what I’m going on about at all, you may want to head on over to the blog of the War and Peace Newbies Read-along host Laura from Reading In Bed.

Every week I’m doing a short progress post or wrap-up of my thoughts so far on the book, all very low key, probably in the form of bullet points, and likely not always coherent. So don’t expect eloquence or a comprehensive guide to the novel is what I’m trying to say – at best, my approach is scatter-gun and what catches my eye probably isn’t the most important detail in the text. Expectations lowered accordingly? Ok, then let’s see how Week 5 went, which covered Volume II, Parts III and IV of War and Peace…

  • First off, guys, I did a bad thing – I read War and Peace for a good three or four days without thinking about the fact I was doing these vague summary posts each week. Oops, my bad. In an effort to catch up I’ve quickly went back and skim-read sections, but I apologise in advance as this week’s wrap-up is extra patchy and probably very long.
  • I like how this section starts with almost an historical overview of Napoleon and Alexander’s 1808 meeting and the outcome of it, the way that Tolstoy goes from the macro to the micro in order to resituate the story is A+ – “the ordinary life of real people […] went on as usual, far removed from political considerations, such as being for or against Napoleon and all questions of reform”
  • By this point Tolstoy is definitely comparing Andrey and Pierre’s characters – they both have similar goals but different approaches, and ultimately Andrey’s is the one that produces some results: “He possessed in the highest degree the one quality that Pierre totally lacked: the practical application to get things going with no fuss or struggle.” This has come as a huge shock to me because I don’t hate Andrey any more??? I’m quite glad because this section of the book seems to focus on him and it would be a shame if I spent so many hours reading about someone I hated.
  • That being said, I’ve been waiting for Andrey to visit the Rostovs ever since I found out how was cast as him and who was cast as Natasha in the BBC miniseries – because obviously those two actors look like TV would put them together… yeah, yeah, I know, my obsessive knowledge of actors is why things like this are ruined but oh well
  • Basically Andrey is so blown away by Natasha’s natural energy and youth that he rethinks his solitude and comes to the epiphany that “life isn’t over at thirty-one” – jeez I’d hope not dude or else I only have 6ish years of life left to live and that is one hell of a sobering thought

Continue reading

T5W | Second Book Is Best

Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is Second Book Is Best: We’ve talked about series that went downhill, and series that are worth it, but which series were best in the middle? So, as you can see from the topic explanation, this is about the times when the middle book was best, i.e. the second book of a trilogy was by far the best one out of the three. Let’s not waste any time and just jump right on in to my list…

5. The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon (x)

We start of with kind of a cheating answer as this series hasn’t been completed yet! However, I think The Mime Order is by far the best book out of the three currently published in Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season series. It’s got an amazing plot, great character development, THE BEST magic battle climax scene, and we get to see more of the underground clairvoyant gang system of Scion London – 10/10 would recommend.

(Side note: If it wasn’t for the slight cheating element, this book would probably be in the number 1 spot!)

Continue reading

Discussion | Marking Up Your Books

Today’s discussion post was brought to you by this tweet which I saw whilst scrolling aimlessly through Twitter. Yes, this is a discussion all about marking your books, specifically by dog-earring the pages. Please do not shrink away in fear or brandish the sign of the cross at me, I assure you I am not evil. The vehemence with which some people on Twitter were categorising readers who does this as HEATHENS really got my back up… until I remembered, I used to be one of those people. However, nowadays, oh boy… *deep breath* my name is Emma and I dog ear the pages of my books. No, please don’t back away, please I’m not a terrible person, I swear!

Don’t get me wrong, I used to be just like those people on that tweet who are jokingly (or not so jokingly) calling people who mark their books as EVIL. I used to think that anyone who would dare to despoil a book in such a cruel and callous way deserved the fieriest of deaths. Alongside those who purposely crack the spine of paperbacks and take some joy in the sound of the binding crying out in pain. And those people at the back? Those readers who not only annotate in the margins in pencil but in pen too – evuuuuul!

Yes, I am being dramatic. And I am being dramatic in order to present my change in thinking.

Continue reading