November Wrap Up


November was a weird month of reading for me. I really wanted to read good books but every book I started I got bored with, within a few pages.

I ended up reading four books over the month, which isn’t too bad, and I am officially over my Goodreads Book Challenge so yay!

The Princess Bride
by William Goldman
****


After reading Cary Elwes As You Wish memoir last month, I had a really urge to read the original Princess Bride novel again. This was a re-read but I understood so much more this time around! I first read this novel when I was about 14 or 15 and I didn’t realise it was a satire and so got really confused by the multiple narrators and characters. Now I’ve re-read it I’ve soaked in a lot more and I really love the characters and the humour. Some of Goldman’s lines and comic sarcastic are utter genius!

The History Boys
by Alan Bennet
(Audiobook)
*****


If you read my blog frequently you’ll know that I read this book last month. But this month I listened to it instead! It is my first audiobook and one I really enjoyed listening to on my morning commute. As the book is a play it was simply like listening to the play but some snips to the text to make it suitable for radio. Great listening for a first-time audiobook!

Blue is the Warmest Colour
by Julie Maroh
****


I’ve been meaning to read this Graphic Novel as long as I’ve had a blog, so coming up for three years. It is a beautiful love story between two girls and also a coming-of-age story of growing up gay. It was before it’s time and the graphics are beautiful! Everything is dark and dreary except for the blue of Emma, one of the protagonists. It’s a great story for anyone looking to read more LGBT novels.

The White Princess
by Philippa Gregory
*


I always read at least one Philippa Gregory book a year and I wish I hadn’t read this one. It was so dull and repetitive and downright confusing although nothing happens! The story of Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth couldn’t have been made duller! Nothing much did happen in this period beyond rebellions and piety, due to the King’s Mother religious insanity (she’d a terrorist today!) but Gregory didn’t have to make such a long novel about it! Painful reading. But I finished it all the same. I only hope the Starz TV drama they’re completing on this book is better than the novel itself!

Next month I’m hoping to read more than I did this month! I’m still between books at the moment, although I am making my way very slowly through three as well!

Now that I’ve lost my Goodreads challenge I don’t think I have the motivation to put down my downloaded BBC documentaries on the train in place of a book. But you never know what will happen in the next few weeks to get me reading happily again!

Let me know what books you’ve been reading this month!

Happy Reading!

My Hogwarts Story Tag

My Hogwarts Story Tag

I saw this tag on Twitter, on the lovely Tania’s blog, and I just had to do it! Anyone who knows me will know my love/obsession with Harry Potter so it seems fitting!

This tag was created by the wonderful Danielle on her blog Underland to Wonderland so definitely check her out! I will forever love her for this!

But anywayon with the tag!


I solemnly swear that I am up to no good... 


Are you Pure-Blood, Half-Blood or Muggle-Born?
I imagine I am a Half-Blood! Probably my mother is the Witch (in the nicest way) and my dad is the muggle! He seems more sensible and muggles always seem boringly sensible (again, in the nicest way!) Whereas my mother has that kind of bonkers attitude which I associate with the Weasleys. Although I bet she wishes she had a magic wand to clean the house!

Which Wand chose you?

Did you take an Owl, Cat, Rat or Toad with you?
Cat. Cat all of the way. Owls would be really useful for carrying messages, but the school has owls! I don’t like toads and although rats are cute I am forever scarred by the idea of having a ‘Scabbers’ moment. So a cat!

Where did the Sorting Hat put you?
Hufflepuff! I was always going to be a Hufflepuff and, like Newt Scamander & Eddie Redmayne, I am extremely proud to be one!

Pottermore Hufflepuff poster

What house did you want to be in?
I think as a child I wanted to be in Ravenclaw and my heart sunk about being a Hufflepuff but actually after 7 years I am a proud Hufflepuff!

Which lessons are your favourite and least favourite?
I think I would really enjoy Charms or perhaps Muggle Studies. Just the idea of studying muggles as a Witch would be fascinating (also incredibly easy if I were a half-blood!) I know I would be terrible at Defence at the Dark Arts and Transfiguration. But I would do well in Care of Magical Creatures!

The form your Patronus takes is...
The one thing I know is wrong about Pottermore: My patronus is a Bassett Hound. Nope. No. Never. Sorry – I do like Dogs, but bloody hell my patronus is a a cat or a goat or a squirrel (odd choices, I know!) My patronus is not a Bassett Hound! I do not share an affiliation with this animal and it does not share anything to do with my soul!

Bassett Hound Patronus Pottermore

When confronted with a boggart, what does it look like to you?
A person I love who is dead. Like Molly Weasley in the Half-Blood Prince. It is the thing I fear the most.

Do you partake in any school sports or magical hobbies?
I would try out for Qudditch but I doubt I would get far. So probably Charms club or a Chocolate Frog Card Collectors club. 

If you had free time, where would you be found hanging out?
The Library! Come on! Who does not want to find out about the wizarding world! I would probably be teaching myself the history of the Wizarding World – but skipping the Troll Wars and the Goblin Rebellions!

You're most likely to get detention for what?
Probably for doing something other than what I was meant to be doing. Like reading in potions or practising wand movements in A History of Magic.

What career do you want after leaving Hogwarts?
I would like to have been a Magical Historian or an Editor of the Daily Prophet or a Wizarding Publishing house.

...Mischief Managed! 

Definitely link your answers to this tag in the comments below! I would love to have a nose at everyone else’s answers!

I tag everyone reading this to have ago! Spread the Potter-love!


Happy Reading!

Under-Rated Books

Underrated Books

Today I am going to discuss those books that I have read and think are great yet I’ve rarely seen mentioned anywhere else!

The Painted Veil
by W. Somerset Maugham

I think this is an under-rated classic! You think Classic and your mind automatically jumps to Austen, Bronte Dickens, it kind of skips W. Somerset Maugham, perhaps because of the length of his name! But this book is brilliant and the film is pretty good too. Although there are differences.

When Kitty marries to get away from her family she marries a dull, scientist. They move to Shanghai where she pursues an adulterous relationship and he pursues medical research. In the middle, he discovers the relationship and he punishes her. It is misogynistic in places, but also feminist in others. It’s great writing as well!

The Midwich Cuckoos
by John Wyndham

This is a book that is famous but because of the movie and not because of the book. This was the book behind The Village of the Damned and it’s technically a sci-fi horror set in a pastoral English Village in the 1960s. It’s entirely unique and has the best opening chapter I’ve ever read! Yet I rarely see people have read this. In fact, when I attended an interview, having just read this book, the employer was surprised anyone of my generation was reading it! Yet I thought it was a good!

The Worlds’ Wife
by Carol Ann Duffy

Her best collection of poetry, I think. A lot of people skirt around modern poets these days, in favour of the Romantics and the World War One poets and I think that they’re great too! But I think people under-estimate modern poetry and Carol Ann Duffy is forever tainted as being a ‘school-poetry lesson’ rather than poetry for pleasure. I think she is underrated because of this!

Love Lessons
by Jacqueline Wilson

This is my favourite Jacqueline Wilson novel. I don’t understand why I’ve never seen anyone else talk about it. I read this as a 14-year-old and was fascinated and shocked that this ‘children’s novel’ existed! It’s all about a previously home-schooled girl spending money on lingerie and falling in love with her Arts-Teacher after moving to school when her abusive father has a stroke. It’s insane how many unsettling themes there are but so beautifully written that it was hard to put it down! I think it’s one of Wilson’s best works!

The Secret Life of Bees
by Sue Monk Kidd

This is one of my favourite novels, ever. And I re-read it this year and it reminded me how good and strong it is! A white girl in the 1960s leaves her abusive father with their recently beaten black maid to find people who knew her mother – who she accidentally shot and killed as a 4-year-old! Again, another heavy topic story with beautiful characters and stunning writing! It all about Civil Rights and judging people in the 1960s and it’s incredibly moving! I think it should be on the school syllabus in Britain, for anyone learning about Civil Rights and Humanity!

There are 5 underrated books. There are many more out there! But I’ve yet to stray off the ‘hyped-path’ of reading. I hope to branch out soon, particularly with regards to feminist literature!

I’ve realised lately, from reading Feminist Non-Fiction, that, my reading is very structured about Bestsellers and slightly less about good and modern writing! I want to change this!

If you have any recommendations for some under-rated books let me know! I would love to discover more!

Happy Reading!

Dream Book Panel || EllesBellesBookshelf


Last week I was inspired by Eventbrite to write a post about my Dream Book Panel! There are so many directions you could design your panel, choosing from people like Suzanne Collins and John Green talking about YA fiction, or maybe J.K. Rowling and Tolkien discussing Fantasy!

I think I have two dream panels: the first being the writers and the second being the characters! I mean who wouldn’t want to have a comic-con panel of the 'real’ Harry Potter characters! Although Harry would hate it!

But, in all honesty, if I could arrange my own dream panel of authors I think I would choose

-      Sarah Crossan, the author of One.

-      Tanya Landman, the author of Apache and Buffalo Soldiers

-      Louise O’Neill, the author of Only Ever Yours and Asking For It

And Laura Bates, the writer behind Everyday Sexism and Girl Up, as chair.

To discuss strong female characters and feminism.

I love all four of these women’s work! And whilst I wish I could include a male on the panel to, to introduce some form of male perspective, there are just no male writers that scream ‘feminism’ to me, yet.

If you know of any: let me know!

Feminism is a topic close to my heart and I love a strong female character. This is probably because of my own gender but also because it’s needed in literature!

If I could resurrect Anne Bronte and Angela Carter I would totally have them on the panel too! To discuss feminism across the ages.

In terms of a Character Panel, I wish I could humanise:

-      Neville Longbottom, from Harry Potter

-      Samwise Gamgee, from Lord of the Rings

-      Little John, from Robin Hood

Chaired by Dr Watson, from Sherlock Holmes

Going from one entirely female panel to entirely male. I would want to ask these characters about what is like to be the sidekick/friend to a stories hero/heroine!

Do they feel appreciated, did they feel responsible, was it duty, loyalty or simple friendship that made them stay with the hero etc. I would want to know about them and their choices!

There we go! My Dream Book Panels!

I’m much more intellectual when it comes to panels then I am 'fan-girly’ but I am very pleased to see on Eventbrite that Tanya Landman and Sarah Crossan are meeting at Bloomsbury in 2 weeks’ time to discuss their novels respectively! So I am buying my ticket and going! For more information about the event click here

If you are planning an event you can use the Eventbrite Conference Management website to plan and find conferences in your local area! They’re not just in London! 

There are some great events coming up! I’ve included a list of links below to some of the most exciting ones in my opinion!




Let me know if you are too or if you see any panels or events you like the look of on Eventbrite and tell me about your dream panels too!

Happy Reading!

Working from home…or just not working? by Jo Platt || Blog Tour


Jo Platt has written a lovely guest post for my blog today to promote her new book It was You which I am currently reading and enjoying!

About

Alice, Miriam and Lydia had been inseparable since they first met at Bristol University. They knew they would be friends until they were old and grey but as life’s events take hold it gets harder and harder to keep in touch. When Miriam has a baby she persuades everyone to set up The Short Book Group so they maintain contact. But then Lydia becomes ill and suddenly Alice and Miriam are forced to face a very different future.

Fast-forward three years and Alice has been happily single for some time after having her heart broken by a lying ex-boyfriend. But when her best friends in The Short Book Group offer their match-making skills, she decides to take the plunge and start dating again. From a handsome pathologist with a penchant for battle re-enactment to suave businessman with a beautiful car, Alice is unindated with prospective suitors. But things soon unravel as she uncovers the secret heartache, calculating lies and hidden hopes of those closest to her. And her most surprising discovery is the life-changing truth which she has kept hidden even from herself

Can Alice face up to her own shocking secret – even if it means hurting those closest to her?

I leave you with that and Jo Platt’s own writing, about writing! Enjoy!

Working from homeor just not working? The writer’s guide

By Jo Platt

Today, I am, self-evidently, writing a blog piece about working from home.  My main problem, up until now, has been how to fit writing it in between washing my whites, drinking tea, scouring the internet for celebrity gossip, eating three mini Toffee Crisps, phoning Rosemary to see what we’re doing for Sally’s birthday, drinking more tea (because my mouth was very dry after all those Toffee Crisps) and moving the guinea pigs to a fresh patch of lawn.  In short, I am facing the daily battle of how to juggle work with all the procrastinating I’ve got to do.

And independent procrastination is just one of the obstacles I face whilst working from home.  Third-party assisted procrastination is also a problem.  Because although my friends are aware that I now write books for a living, very few of them seem able, or willing, to accept that making stuff up all day actually qualifies as ‘working’.  So it’s not unusual for one of them to knock when passing on a day off, just to see how I’m getting on with ‘not working’.  And, of course, I have to answer the door and invite them in for a mini Toffee Crisp and a cup of tea, because to do anything else would simply be rude, wouldn’t it?

Of some comfort, even if it’s slightly on the cold side, is the fact that at least I’m not alone in my struggle to work effectively and efficiently from home.  One friend’s very expensive solution was to build an office in his garden, away from all the daily distractions of the house.  Unfortunately, over time (less than twenty-four hours) his new office simply became a miniature replica of his kitchen, complete with kettle, radio, magazines and all the other mesmerizing baubles he was attempting to escape.  And another friend confided that, after reaching the nadir of polishing his door furniture (he insisted this was not a euphemism) instead of proof-reading a magazine article, he has now given up trying to work either from home, or indeed anywhere near home, and opted instead for renting serviced office facilities at a cost of around £150 per month.

Building a posh shed in the garden, or shelling-out for a downtown printer and desk are not options I really want to consider.  This is partly due to cost, but mainly due to the fact that the former is already a proven failure and the latter comes free with fellow hot-deskers and a tea machine which are, for me, perfect distractions just waiting to happen.  And besides, I did for a while find the perfect, no cost, solution to my problem.   Roofers.  Yes, my top tip if you have problems focusing whilst working from home, is to simply arrange for your house to be completely encased in scaffolding, from which roofers can, without warning, appear at any window of your home and catch you skiving.  It is the perfect deterrent to lounging on the sofa in your tea-stained, Dr Spock dressing gown, scoffing mini Toffee Crisps while reading the Daily Mail online.  The roofers only caught me the once, but once was enough.  After that, I was fully clothed every morning by 8am and there was nothing on my screen except the stuff I had made up myself, as opposed to the stuff made up by the Daily Mail.  All naughty chocolate or social media-related lapses were from then on confined to our windowless downstairs loo.  OK, so I did spend a lot more time in there over a four-week period than is usual for someone with a perfectly functioning colon, but overall I got a lot more done with the roofers on board than I did without them monitoring my every move.

But all good things must come to an end and, sadly, the roofers and scaffolding have now gone and I am once more forced to seek alternative methods of resisting the call of the kettle and the cookie jar.  And this morning my solution to the problem of working from home is simply not to.  I am, in fact, typing this final paragraph from the freezing discomfort of my Mini Cooper, which is currently parked on an all-but-deserted side road of the Bristol Downs.   A drastic solution, I grant you, but, as I close this post, the approach has proved to be a successful one.  With no kettles, no Toffee Crisps, no wifi and no well-meaning friends to distract me, I have completed the piece in just an hour or two when, under normal circumstances, work on it might have extended into the New Year.  Instead, all that now remains to be done is a little proof-reading, which won’t take me long at all.  And I shall get on with that just as soon as I’ve eaten these fruit pastilles I’ve just found in the map rack, and then popped all those loose CDs from the glove compartment back into their correct cases and tidied up the back seat.  Or maybe, first, just a two-minute leg stretch.  In the direction of the café might be nice


It Was You was published by Canelo on 31st October price £1.99 as an ebook. Visit canelo.co or follow #ItWasYou on Twitter.


October Book Haul || EllesBellesBookshelf


I bought books! Well there is a surprise! But I was calm. I didn’t buy too many and I bought all of them – bar one – in charity shops. The odd one out was sent to be me for review by the Borough Press!

The Cranford Chronicles
by Elizabeth Gaskell

Adding to my Vintage Red-Spine editions I picked up the Cranford Chronicles by Elizabeth Gaskell I have the Penguin English Library edition – which is much smaller – but I wanted to add to my collection and it is pristine condition and only cost £2! Bargain beauty.

A Town Called Alice
by Nevil Shute

Another addition to my Vintage Red-Spine collection. My mother bought me the book originally as she think it is a story I will enjoy and I will get around to reading it eventually! It is set during the Second World War and revolves around a romance between two prisoners of war – one female and one male – in Malaysia. It is more than just a wartime romance though, it is about economies and starting life anew after a traumatising experience.

The Girls
by Emma Cline

This was the book to read this summer and I still haven’t read it. I got a copy via Netgalley but since I only occasionally read on my iPhone on the way to work I struggled to get into it. So when I found the book in my local charity shop I thought: why not pick it up in hardback! The story is set in the 1960s and is about a young girl who meets and falls in with ‘the girls’, carefree girls of the 1960s. A coming-of-age novel, supposedly very good! I, hopefully, will find out for sure in a few weeks!

Asking for It
by Louise O’Neill

I have Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill and I haven’t read it yet. Shamefully. I have heard great things about her writing, particularly the feminist sexist-shaming element of them both. I expect I’ll love it, but like most things, I imagine I’ll have to be in a certain mood to want to pick it up.

Where My Heart Used to Beat
by Sebastian Faulks

I had to pick up Sebastian Faulk’s latest book since Birdsong is my favourite book ever! I will get around to reading it eventually but my co-worker told me it has a slow start but picks up pace. I’ve heard this a lot and less bad things. I want to make sure I go into it without the ideas of Birdsong in my mind, though!

Oola
by Brittany Newell

I received this proof from the lovely people of Borough Press. Written by Brittany Newell, a 21-year-old in California, it is set to be a big hit. A coming-of-age novel about the life of post-college-girl with themes of sex, privilege, desire, and creativity! It sounds entirely unique and just a little sinister! I can’t wait to dive in and have a read!

Linda
by Penelope Skinner

A play. I recently saw Noma Dumezweni playing Hermione Granger in Harry Potter & the Cursed Child and I remembered that she had taken over from Kit Cattrall, in the very last minute, in the production of Linda in which she got rave reviews even though she was still learning the lines on opening night! It’s an impressive feat and the story sounds quite interesting – an over-worked mother/worker begins to crack under the strains – a timely piece of drama. I started reading some of the train home and it was fairly gripping!

They were all the books I bought this month! What books have you bought lately?

Happy Reading!