May Wrap Up & June TBR


 
May was a good month for reading! I read a total of eight books – although 6 of those were Harry Potter Books and re-reads! They still count.

I finished University this month, but not before I was a tad unwell, so to comfort myself through illness and revision I thought I would re-read Harry Potter.

I re-read the series every summer, but I started earlier this year as it most definitely is not summer. Currently the weather makes snow look appealing.

So Books 1-6 were:

-         Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone

-         Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secret

-         Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

-         Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

-         Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

-         Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I am currently reading the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but I just got to Dobby’s death and I can’t handle anymore until this evening…so I won’t be finishing it tonight.

Now…

The 7th Book I read this month was:

-         Seriously Funny: The Endlessly Quotable Terry Pratchett by Terry Pratchett

 
I picked this up from my work experience at Transworld, Penguin Random House, it came out a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed.

I had, of course, heard of the great late Terry Pratchett but I’ve never read any of his books – something which my father will forever try and remedy – but I found myself flicking through this little book, as it is only tiny, and I was chortling with laughter!

Terry Pratchett has got to be one of the most quotable people that ever lived. It’s hilarious, honest and heart-warming. Some of the quotes are from his books – not all of them, or anywhere near enough from the character of Death, which is why I only gave this little 4 stars – but there are also some quotes from Terry Pratchett himself.

I’ll give you a snippet of some of the wondrous lines that this book contains:

‘Give a man a fire and he’s warm for a day, but set fire to him and he’s warm for the rest of his life’

Think about it!

Now laugh!

The final book I read this month:

-         The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton

 
I have been indoctrinated into loving Tim Burton by my best friend who I think would happily marry him.

That being so I saw this little book in a second-hand bookshop, unaware that he had ever written anything, and so purchased it. Now it says ‘stories’ but to clear some things up this is a book of prose poetry. All of the stories are poems which rhyme, although most have no rhythm and really don’t make sense.

But that’s part of the fun.

The characters are incredible. They suit Tim Burton’s imagination to a tea. There are long stories of characters such as Oyster Boy – a boy is literally an oyster – and then really short ones about characters called The Pin Cushion Queen, James, Junk Girl, Mummy Boy.

Some of the stories are very funny and others are just a little too gruesome for words.

It is a weird book in all it’s glory but unfortunately due to its original yet weird style of writing it feels like a children’s book but I most definitely would not give this book to a child for fear of traumatising them. So it kind of doesn’t fit anywhere, yet is enjoyable all the same.

It’s worth looking at the creepy illustrations as well – all done by Tim Burton.

 
I gave this book 3.5 stars out of 5.

They are all of the books that I have read in the month of May. I am now going to do my June TBR, which is first since I haven’t done a TBR in quite a while.

June:

1.     The Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige – I want to read this as soon as I’ve finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

 
2.     The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham – I fancy re-reading this now I have it in a lovely red-spine vintage edition

 
3.     Smoke by Dan Vyleta – This is soon to be published in July and it has been described as a cross-over between Harry Potter and the Mortal Instrument series, I think. I’ve got a proof copy so we shall see if it lives up to the high expectations!
 
What books have you read this month and what books are you planning to read?

Happy Reading!

May Book Haul // Part 2


 

Part 2! So many books…

I’m going to jump straight into this second part as I appear to have even more books than I first thought!

1.     The Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige

I’ve been really loving the ‘Dorothy Must Die’ series by Danielle Paige and this is the latest instalment. I thought it was the last one of the series but it is tiny and by the sound of the review it is not…I’m looking forwards to reading this but I want to get through re-reading Harry Potter first then I’m going to catch up with this series.

2.     The Ballroom by Anna Hope

This was another book I’ve got whilst working at Transworld. It is set in 1911 and involves two characters meeting at an insane asylum, I’m currently reaching both topics for a new project I’m working on so I can’t wait to read this.

3.     Wake by Anna Hope

Another book by Hope and another historical novel, but set after the First World War rather than before. Other than that I know nothing, but since the 1910s is my favourite era to read about I think I am going to like Anna Hope’s novels.

4.     The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

I’ve read this novel before – it is a complicated classic about a couple who are badly suited for one another yet and punish each other for their inadequacies, in the worst ways. It’s really interesting and I love the relationships, even though it is not a love story by any means, but there is a really fascinating fragility and honesty about the relationship that is gripping. One of my favourites.

5.     The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton

I saw this collection and had to buy it. Whilst the book is full of stories – some of them only four lines long, it is also a prose poetry book. With Burton’s own illustrations and odd characters it embodies the director/writers quirkiness and unique imagination.

6.     Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

I have previously owned this book and got rid of it, for reason or another. I love the BBC series, well-worth watching if you haven’t seen it yet, but I found this book in a gorgeous second-hand shop in the Penguin English Library collection, a set of books with beautiful illustrations on the cover. I collect them so I thought: why not!

7.     A Country Road, a tree by Jo Baker

This novel is historical fiction based on the life of a writer during the invasion of Paris in the 1940s. I don’t know much about the writer or indeed life during the invasion of Paris, but the story sounds intriguing and very well-written from what I can tell of the few pages I’ve read already.

8.     God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

This novel has been heavily awarded lately, having been nominated for the equivalent of a book bafta, the Costa Book award among others. It is a semi-sequel of another novel by Kate Atkinson – Life after Life – about one of the minor characters of that book during that time in the Second World War.

Aside from sensing a theme of World War Two I have got a lot of books to get through this month. And I can’t wait! There are some really good buys and gifts in here. It’s been a good month!

Let me know what books you’ve bought/received this month.

Happy Reading!

May Book Haul // Part 1


Hi!

I know I’ve been lacking in posts over the last few weeks that is due to:

-         Me finishing University! I had two exams, a lot of revision and last-minute goodbyes to deal with.

-         Work Placements! I did a two-week work experience at Transworld, an imprint of Penguin Random House, which explains the number of books I have recently got…but also why I had no time to blog

-         I’ve moved home and started some part-time work.

So I’ve been busy…but my-god I’ve got a lot of books! Most of which were given to me from various different people!

I am splitting this month’s book haul into two – I have that many! – so without further ado lets begin!

1.     A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

This book is a very hit and miss book, and one hell of a stonker, but I was lucky enough to find it in one of the nearby charity shops to my office for a bargain! This book – revolving around four young men in New York – was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year, nominated for a book-bafta recently and is currently shortlisted for the Bailey’s Book Prize. It’s got a lot of accolades and this intrigues me.

2.     Crisis by Frank Gardner
I was lucky enough to meet Frank Gardner whilst at work – a very nice gentleman – and he signed a copy for me. Crisis is Frank's debut novel and the first part of a trilogy about a British Intelligence officer. Not something I would usually read but my goal for this year was too be diverse in my reading choices so…

3.     Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johanssen

There’s been a lot of talk about this book, and indeed the series, on Booktube and on various blogs and I thought it was about time I read it. I've got this lovely hardback edition and I can't to get into it. The story is about a young girl who, unknowingly, is a princess – I've been told it's not as cliché as it sounds – she has been brought up outside of her kingdom for her own protection, but when she comes off age she has to return and rule. No pressure then.

4.     Crooked Heart by Lissa Edwards
 
Crooked heart is set during World War Two. The protagonist is a 10 year boy who is evacuated from London during the Blitz and is relocated to live with a woman called Vee who is drowning in debts. With the help of the young boy they set up a sort of black-market business (from what I can tell) and dangerous things happen on the way. Peaked my interest.

5.     The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

This is tipped to be the next big thriller – and from the team that propelled The Girl on a Train into international-acclaim, I don’t doubt it’ll be successful – I have wrapped this book so many times (yes wrapped, as in Christmas present wrapped) but it still interests me, and thrillers rarely do. A new set of parents decide to leave their baby girl asleep in her cot at home whilst they attend a dinner party next door. They keep the baby monitor with them and check on her every half hour and think it will alright. Until it’s not. They return after half an hour and their baby daughter has gone. Cue the massive man-hunt, a twisting tale and a lot of other thriller-ish aspects.

6.     African Solo by Mark Beaumont

Another book I received from the author themselves. Mark Beaumont is a record-achieving cyclist who holds the Guinness world record for travelling around America and the world, and now Africa, on a bike in the quickest time. He cycled from the top of Africa to the bottom in 41 days! Dude! He’s also very friendly and very Scottish and has a really good talent for drawing little bicycles.

7.     The Virago Book of Fairy Tales edited by Angela Carter

I saw this in a charity shop and decided to pick it up. I have a very temperamental feeling towards fairy tales – as you’ll have noticed if you read any of my book reviews over the early months of the year – but I’ve never tried reading originals from  other countries. This collection holds a mass amount of fairy tales from Russia to Italy to Britain to France. And the titles in which they’re collected intrigue me: Good Girls and Where it gets them for example…hmm.

8.     Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

First off ‘Curtis’ is a female – I know, I was confused too – this is the fourth book in a set of Jane Austen re-tellings. So far Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey and Emma have been re-written by other authors, all under their original title, this is the re-telling of Pride and Prejudice (and the title has been changed). Whilst the other three books have been pretty much slated by the readers this book has peaked some pretty big lists of late, mostly: Compulsory Summer Reading. It’s look fun – a modern re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, and maybe my lack of interest in the original will help me to keep an open mind. We’ll see.

9.     Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I remember saying I would pick this book up years ago…well I finally have. I hated the film of Coraline – dead creepy! – but I’ve found that a lot of Neil Gaiman TV/Film Adaptions are nothing like the book. I hope that is the case this time, and maybe I’ll actually like some of Gaiman’s work.

10.                        Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

Sharon Bolton is an acclaimed writer of thriller books but this book is said to be the one to put her on the map – so watch out! – the cover is gorgeous and the premise interesting: a charming, handsome man is in prison for the murder of three young women, but he gets daily fan mail. A female lawyer likes to take on cases of prisoners who she thinks she can get out of jail and this prisoner wants her to get him out. She thinks that she’ll be able to resist his charm…but will she. He loves me…he loves me not.

So there are just a small handful of the books that I have got over the last 25 days. I will be doing a Part 2 of my May haul tomorrow so keep an eye out for that!
Until then…

Happy Reading!


Top 5 Mother Figures in Literature


Everyone has a mother. Simple fact. But everyone should have a favourite book-mother too. Not to say our mothers are not up to scratch – mine is pretty amazing (not trying to brag) – but there’s always that one mother-figure (or several) who you are think are pretty awesome.
Here a few of my favourite mother figures in books:
1.      Marmee from Little Women and Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott
 
Marmee is one of the kindest, intelligent women in fiction – let alone historical fiction. She has down-to-earth sensibilities, nothing but time for her children and still wants to give back to a community that has shunned her. If ever there is a more encouraging mother I will never know. But she has her little qualms, which make her more delightful in my opinion – her lack of tact is legendary, and whilst it is never meant maliciously it does create some humour within Little Women that is downright believable. Love her.
2.      Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
 
She is the best cook EVER! Not to mention a kick-ass woman. I wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of her but at the same time I’d love to be invited to tea at her house. She’s thrifty, creative, kind and sassy and has all of the warm qualities every maternal woman should have. Love her to bits.
3.      Mrs Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
 
I know Mrs Bennett from Pride and Prejudice is very silly – if annoying – but I favour Mrs Dashwood. She can be a stubborn and slightly dim at times but she loves her daughters and she encourages their romances whether they be for wealth or not. She supports them and loves them and carries on when all is lost. To me she is a very realistic form of mother – down on her luck but willing to soldier on.
4.      Ma from Room by Emma Donoghue
 
A slightly odd choice but there is not a stronger mother out there. To have a child, born of rape, and brought up in a small box room for 5 years is traumatic. To do it with affection and care as Ma does in Room seems downright impossible, but it is based on a true story. Ma, although flawed, only wants what is best for her son and it is so harrowing and raw that you can’t help but praise her. Some may disagree with her choices but I for one think that the character of Ma is entirely unique and a fascinating character.
5.      Catelyn Stark from Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
 
Another strong mother. Heavily maternal – to the point of murderous – but also warm. She’s a difficult character to describe because she’s a great mum but she’s a flawed woman. She has a lot of pride and a fragility for family, some might call it ‘female fragility’ but it also shows the strength of her love.
There are five of my favourite mother figures in literature. There are plenty more to find but these are the five that spring to mind when I think of mothers in literature.
Happy Reading!