Tag | Guilty Reader Book Tag

Welcome one, welcome all, to yet another Tag Thursday! Every Thursday (disclaimer: when I remember), I like to post a fun little tag post to mix things up a bit. This week’s tag is courtesy (once again) of the lovely ladies at Thrice Read and it’s called the Guilty Reader Book Tag. (I’m not sure of the originator of the tag but if you know please do let me know because I’d like to credit them!) Let’s not waste any more time since life if short (and I have a tonne of posts to try to write and schedule before I leave for the US this weekend), let’s dive right on into the tag.

The Questions

 

1. Have You Ever Regifted A Book That You’ve Been Given?

Nope! Probably because very few people gift me books in the first place – they tend to give me Waterstones vouchers or money to spend on Amazon – so I have very little occasions to then regift to someone else.

2. Have you ever said you’ve read a book when you haven’t?

I may have not entirely read a book I did my undergraduate dissertation on but, in my defence, it was Les Misérables by Victor Hugo and it is bloody long so I read the sections I needed to use for my argument and then skipped over the rest. One day, I will read it cover-to-cover though, I’m determined, and after I’ve finally finished War and Peace no book will ever seem quite as daunting – one day, I will!

3. Have you ever borrowed a book and not returned it?

Accidentally, yes. I borrowed a copy of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis from a friend at school who now doesn’t live in the area we grew up in, and neither do I for that matter. Next time I see her I will try to give it back but I’m very unlikely to remember it – yikes, I’m a bad book borrower!

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Review | Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Title: Murder on the Orient Express (1934)
Author: Agatha Christie
Read: 18th – 23rd August 2017
Genre: mystery; crime
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer in case he or she decides to strike again.” (Synopsis taken from the publisher’s website.)

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Tag | The Coffee Book Tag

I missed posting yesterday because I’m an idiot who frequently forgets what day it is, so here have Tag Thursday… on Friday. The fact it’s a Bank Holiday over here next Monday is throwing me all out of whack, please don’t question it and just go along with it. Ok? Ok! So today I bring you The Coffee Book Tag. I saw this this morning over on Kelly’s Rambles blog and though I’m not tagged I still wanted to join in because as I type I’m sipping on a freshly made cappuccino and I can’t get enough of it. (It helps that my workplace has a fancy af coffee machine that’s A+ 10/10 would recommend!)

1. Black Americano: A book that’s hard to get into but has hardcore fans.

I think it’s widely accepted that a lot of fantasy is hard to get into but, once you’re in, you’re in – I’m looking at you Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, and George R.R. Martin. However, I’d say, for me, what epitomises “hard to get into” and “hardcore fans” is probably Sarah J. Maas’ books. The ‘Throne of Glass’ series now has so many books that the fact I’ve only made it through the first two means I’ve fell behind, and, at the rate at which she churns them out, I’m unlikely to catch up. Do I want to anymore? I’m not sure- I’ve DNFed Heir of Fire on two separate occasions so, yes, maybe they’re a little hard for me to get into and stay into?

2. Peppermint Mocha: A book that gets more popular around Winter.

Without a doubt Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It’s a classic so you can feel accomplished for reading a classic but it’s also quite short so is less commitment than trying to read another Dickens like, I don’t know, Bleak House or The Pickwick Papers. Plus it’s seasonal so a lot of people host readalongs of it, or do buddy reads, during the holiday season. I wouldn’t say it’s the cheeriest of reads over Christmas but it sure is timely.

 

 

3. Hot Chocolate: Your favourite children’s book.

When I was a child my favourite books were The Worst Witch, Matilda, and a picture book called Lucy’s Quarrel. (I did a whole post about the childhood books that made me the reader I am today – it’s here, if you’re interested!) To list them all here would be redundant, I think, because I loved A LOT of books.

 

 

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Review | The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

Title: The Art of Asking: How I learned to stop worrying and let people help (2014)
Author: Amanda Palmer
Read: 20th – 23rd July 2017
Genre: non-fiction; memoir
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“Rock star, crowdfunding pioneer, and TED speaker Amanda Palmer knows all about asking. Performing as a living statue in a wedding dress, she wordlessly asked thousands of passersby for their dollars. When she became a singer, songwriter, and musician, she was not afraid to ask her audience to support her as she surfed the crowd (and slept on their couches while touring). And when she left her record label to strike out on her own, she asked her fans to support her in making an album, leading to the world’s most successful music Kickstarter. Even while Amanda is both celebrated and attacked for her fearlessness in asking for help, she finds that there are important things she cannot ask for-as a musician, as a friend, and as a wife. She learns that she isn’t alone in this, that so many people are afraid to ask for help, and it paralyzes their lives and relationships. In this groundbreaking book, she explores these barriers in her own life and in the lives of those around her, and discovers the emotional, philosophical, and practical aspects of THE ART OF ASKING. Part manifesto, part revelation, this is the story of an artist struggling with the new rules of exchange in the twenty-first century, both on and off the Internet. THE ART OF ASKING will inspire readers to rethink their own ideas about asking, giving, art, and love.” (Synopsis taken from the publisher’s website.)

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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.

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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)

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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!

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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.


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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.

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#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.

 

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

Challenge completed: First book in a series
Book read: A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
EXP gained: 10
HP gained: 35

Challenge completed: Book with a verb in the title
Book read: Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops by Jen Campbell
EXP gained: 20
HP gained: 11

Challenge completed: Book with a red cover
Book read: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander/J.K. Rowling
EXP gained: 10
HP gained: 4

Side Challenges

Challenge completed: Open World: read whatever you want
Book read: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
EXP gained: 20
HP gained: 23

+50 EXP for completing Knight quest

+20 HP for Social Media interactions (Twitter update thread here)

Overall

Level: 3
No. of challenges/books completed: 6

EXP total: 130
HP total: 158


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