Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Eleven - 2014 Reading Goals


I am not going to set any reading goals for 2014. I will not be joining any reading challenges.

It's not there aren't reading-related things that I'd like to do. I'd love to demolish half of my TBR and discover dozens of new authors. I'd like to read more classics and more literary fiction and more of everything I already love and read regularly.

It's not that there aren't challenges that I could probably complete with little effort. The New Author challenge is quite easy, and I could take part in multiple YA challenges, I'm sure!

And it's not that I haven't enjoyed taking part in challenges in the past. I think that reading challenges are a great way to push yourself to read more and to share what you're reading. I was even thinking of hosting a new challenge this year.

But I did not do very well on my 2013 reading challenges. I haven't finished any of them, and I'm not going to. I think I need a break. I think I need to make it easy on myself and to let myself read more for pleasure, without a target in mind.

I am setting goals for other areas of my life, and I want to really focus and get lots done. I don't want to have lots of goals for my career and blogs and hobbies all jostling around in my brain, competing for attention.

So 2014 will be the year without reading goals! I'm nervous and excited. Mostly excited. And I expect that by the end of the year I'll be looking forward to 2015's challenges!

Are you setting yourself any reading goals for 2014?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Monday Amusements 25

My latest piece of book post! This is such a striking cover, I really like it.

This is a short one today as I've been far too busy over Xmas to spend as much time as I usually do collecting links!

Jo at weartheoldcoat got to interview Melina Marchetta!!! I'm not one to overuse exclamation marks but I think this justifies it. I don't even have time to read it right now (I want to read it properly, not when I have twenty other things on my mind) but I thought I'd include it anyway as it looks fab!

Happy Christmas and Reading Resolutions for 2014 from For Books' Sake, featuring a top ten of women authors to try next year.

It's a sad fact of life that few of us have the space to keep every book we acquire. A Brief Guide To Culling Your Books at Good Books Good Wine is a very sensible guide to completing the difficult task known as the bookshelf cull.

Finally, a bit of humour - How to Write the Perfect YA Heroine (via Malinda Lo).

What have you been reading over Christmas? Have I missed any great blog posts while I've been eating and telly watching and eating and partying and eating?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Ten - Blog Plans for 2014


It's the fourth day of Christmas, and we're moving on to New Yearish themes! Today I'm going to be sharing my hopes and plans for this blog in 2014.

Reviews

I didn't read very many books this year, which really helped me make sure I reviewed everything I liked! I want to read a lot more next year, but I'm hoping to stay on track and post my reviews as soon as possible after I read the book.

Memes

I want to get back into the Top Ten Tuesday habit in 2014, but I might experiment with some other memes too. I don't think haul post are my thing but there are some other question-and-answer theme posts that I like reading on other people's blogs.

Personal/discussion posts

These are my favourite kind of posts to read on other people's blogs, but I've always been shy about writing my own. I definitely resolve to try to write more of these in 2014! 

Vlogging

Of course I'll continue to be part of the Bookish Brits channel, but I'd like to post a video once in a while on my own channel, Better Than Dreams (because books are...). When I first started making videos, it took me hours to film and edit them - I think my first video took over five hours to produce! I'm pleased to say that I've gotten a lot faster - depending on the length of the original recording, it can take me as little as an hour and a half to film and edit now. So hopefully, now that the process is getting faster, I'll be able to make more videos.

What are your plans for your blog in 2014? Are you going to keep going with your favourite topics and tried-and-tested memes? Do you want to try something new?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Eight - The Character I'd Like To Help Me Make Christmas Dinner


IT'S CHRISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSTMAAAAAAAAAAAS! As usual, my mum is doing the cooking, but I imagine that one day it'll be me having to produce that Christmas feast. And which book character would I ask to help me?

Well, she's enthusiastic about baking and hilarious, so I'd have to ask Ruby Oliver. Plus, she's a vegetarian, and although I eat meat, I happen to find a lot of veggie cooking absolutely delicious, so we would have a truly lovely feast.

I hope you have a great day! Which characters would you ask to help you make Christmas dinner?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Seven - Christmas Books on My Wishlist


The Bookish Brits Book Club is reading Let It Snow this month, which I requested from the library but it took too long and my request expired. I would definitely like to read it in the future though! I expect that it will become a bit of a YA Christmas classic, likeDash & Lily's Book of Dares, another one that I've yet to get around to reading!

I love big themed short story anthologies, and I really enjoyed The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales, so I'd also like to try The Oxford Book of Christmas Stories.

Christmas, for me, is all about the food! I got my mum this Christmas Cupcakes book a few years ago, but it would be great to have some new ideas, and make cookies too, so I'd like to get hold of Christmas Cupcakes and Cookies - Adorable ideas for festive cupcakes, cookies and other treats.

I love the BBC Good Food books and wholeheartedly recommend the 101 One-pot Dishes and 101 Pasta and Noodle Dishes books, but I've yet to try 101 Christmas Dishes, though it looks amazing.

Finally, my second favourite thing about Christmas, after the food, is the decorations! A Fairy-Tale Christmas: Creating Magical Celebrations Inspired by an Enchanted Castle sounds wonderful in the description, though the reviews are so-so. I'd like to have a look at it in real life before I bought it, but it seems to be an import, so honestly I'm much more likely to indulge my inner child with Christmas Decorations to Cut, Fold & Stick! Doesn't it look fun?

What Christmas-themed books are on your wishlist? Have you any recommendations of books that would help me get into the Christmas mood, or create something delicious or pretty?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Seven - Christmasses (and similar festivals) That I'd Love To Read About


I can group this topic into three themes that I'm sure will be familiar to anyone who's ever read or watched a version of A Christmas Carol:

Christmasses Past

I would love to read about historical Christmasses! From early solstice celebrations to the Middle Ages, the Reformation on to the Victorian era, it all sounds fascinating. Even more recent history has potential for Christmassy interest - I'd love to read about a 1920s/1930s and wartime Christmasses.

Christmasses Present

As I live in the northern hemisphere I've always been fascinated by the idea of Christmas on the beach, or Christmas barbeques, like I've always been told are the custom in parts of Australia and New Zealand! Different cultures have different customs for Christmas and it would be great to see these feature in fiction.

Christmas...Future

I wonder if Christmas will still be celebrated in the future, and what form it will take. Will people stop sending physical cards and gifts? What fabulous decorations will people design, and what kind of parties will they attend?

Would you like to read more stories set during Christmas? What kind of Christmasses would you like to read about?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Six - Fictional Items I'd Love to Find in My Stocking


Today's post is all about the imaginary objects, both magical and mundane, that I'd love to find in my stocking on Christmas Day!

Obviously the first thing that popped into my head when I started thinking about this topic was Hermione's time-turner from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. There isn't anything in my past that I'd like to go back and undo - I'd just use it to get a lot more reading done! And also sleeping, if I'm completely honest!

When I was writing my Monday Amusements post earlier and looking through all the links I'd bookmarked, I decided that I'd really love a copy of The Higher Common Sense, a fictional book that's mentioned in Cold Comfort Farm. I imagine that it would be both enlightening and hilarious!

I'd also love to have Edie's magical pink slip dress from French Kiss - though I wouldn't be able to wear it until the summer!

If you could wake up on Christmas morning to find a fictional item in your stocking, what would you choose?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday Amusements 24: Christmas vs New Year

 
I'm really enjoying all the Bookish Brits year end videos. I just watched Michelle's latest, above.
 
Even though I'm really busy with Christmas preparations, I'm desperately trying to read as many books as I can to try to get at least a little bit closer to reaching my 2013 reading challenge goals. I know I won't reach any of them, but I'd like to have a better overall total! This year I was a bit boring and picked things I thought would be achievable or that would get the most of my TBR down, and I really want to get excited about reading again, so I think that next year I need to be easier on myself and simply pick the challenges that sound the most fun! As always I'll be turning to the A Novel Challenge blog for ideas. I'm feeling drawn towards the Jumble Your Genres Reading Challenge and I'd love to do the Arthurian Literature Challenge, but we'll see how I feel at the start of January!

I've also been thinking about my blogging plans for next year (I really enjoyed Jamie's post at The Perpetual Page-Turner about her blogging plans and ideas) - I'm longing to try to plan out the whole year in advance, but I'm not sure I'm quite capable of that yet! Maybe six months? Three?

One thing I definitely must do next year is re-read or watch Cold Comfort Farm - this piece reminded me how much I love it.

Back to the here and now - I loved Faye's post 'Watch Out, It’s the Grinch!' - I love Christmas for all the reasons she mentions. I especially love the decorations - every time I'm out I find myself grinning in delight and exclaiming over all the lights I see on buildings, even ordinary houses. I also adored From My Bookshelves / Books for Winter at prettybooks. I would be requesting as many of those books as I could from the library right now, had I not already picked out my reading for the month. Oh well, January and February are winter months too, right?

My favourite review this week is by Debbie at Snuggling on the Sofa (I've been catching up on the other Bookish Brits' blogs, can you tell?). The Naturals sounds so exciting!

Have you thrown yourself into New Year preparations already, or are you like me, determined to squeeze as much as you can into 2013?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Five - Favourite Bookish Presents That I've Received


I've previously shared my/Sister Christmas' bookish gift ideas, so now it's time to list the best bookish presents that I've recieved!

I haven't actually had that many bookish presents. I usually give my parents a list of the books I'd like, but I have received a few books in the last year from book-loving friends, which is the most exciting thing ever as nobody usually picks books for me!

I also, as often mentioned, love my Gimble and have an lovely collection of bookmarks, most of which were random flyers/freebies, but some of which were gifts:


I love that Christmas bookmark, I've had it for years, I think my parents gave it to me at some point when I was a kid. I think the train bookmark was a gift from my grandparents. Also pictured: my Gimbles, a book light that clips onto your book, the notebook I use to write reviews in, and the first of my Mslexia Writer's Diaries, which came with a gift subscription.

So what are the best bookish presents that you've recieved? Do you collect bookmarks, or is there a book someone else picked out for you that you really love?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Four - Presents I Would Buy For Characters


Today I'm playing Santa and imagining that I'm shopping for some of my favourite characters!

I would give Polka-dot a penguin-shaped dog toy, inspired by the cover of my edition of The Boy Book.

To Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo, I would give a copy of She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth, to help her rewrite her list of the ten women she admires most, and get on Grand-mere's good side.

Julia from The New Girl would get a list of websites that shewould enjoy looking at, where she could make new friends with similar interests and stop moping around.

To Ann Bradshaw, I would give a really beautiful dress of her very own. Poor Ann has it hard and I think that owning something lovely would lift her spirits.

I'd give Ananka some library cataloguing software - she needs some sort of system to keep track of all the books in her house.

To Jeane, my fictional BFF, I'd give lots and lots of Haribo, and a list of the top ten videos of dogs on skateboards, with ratings for cuteness and for hilarity.

If you were going to give Christmas presents to your favourite fictional characters, what would you give and to whom?

Bookish Brits Vlog 4: Looking Back at 2013 and Forward to 2014!


I tried to find my Santa hat for this video, but couldn't. Hopefully it'll be in the next one, but in order to record this in time, I had to DIY!

My Top Eight New Reads of 2013:

Pushing the Limits, by Katie McGarry
St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, by Karen Russell
Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City, by Kirsten Miller
Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
The Princess Diaries, by Meg Cabot

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Three - Bookish Gift Ideas, with Sister Christmas!


Today's post is actually a video, with a Guest Star! Oh yes, the one and only Ms Meredith "Sister Christmas" Claus is here to share some bookish gift suggestions! WHOOOOO!


What do you mean, she looks exactly like me?

*shifty eyes*

Anyway, if you have any more bookish Christmas gift suggestions, link up your own post below or leave a comment!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Bookish Brits Vlog 3: Three YA Books That Feature Different Types of Bullying


I'm late posting this, I know, but I wanted to wait until all the other videos were up and I could post my video with the playlist feature enabled. On the Bookish Brits channel we've spent the last two weeks talking about bullying, both in books and in real life. It's an issue that is very close to my heart and I hope you enjoy watching the videos.

Review of A Great and Terrible Beauty
Review of The Boy Book (second in the seriest, first is The Boyfriend List)
Review of Last Chance/Keeping the Moon


Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Two - Books On My Christmas List! AKA Help!


I'm actually still in the process of writing my Christmas list! I'm the black sheep of the family, as the sole book nerd. I've bought cookbooks for my mum and photography books for my sister, and my dad reads the occasional thriller, but I'm the only one that loves fiction, so I have to tell everybody what books I would like as they would have no idea what to do if they went into a bookshop!

I have so many books and such little space that I have to operate a very strict entry policy for my bookshelves. I only buy and ask for books that are not available at the library. Now that my borough has joined the London Libraries Consortium, and I can order books from any London public library for 75p, loads of books that would have been on my Christmas list before, like Eleanor & Park and the Night School sequels, have moved to my library wishlist instead! Which is great, but my Christmas list is looking a little sparse as a result.

I thought that looking at imports would be a great place to start, but the LLC has loads of them. One that the library doesn't have is Girl Defective, by Simmone Howell, but that's not even available on Amazon. It also doesn't have How To Be Bad, by or...oh, wait, that's it. Literally every other book title I've put in the library search has produced a result. So that means that at the moment, the only books on my Christmas list are How To Be Bad and Buffy Season 8 collections (which I have to own - there's a little space on my Buffy shelf)!

Today I'm asking you - what books are on your Christmas list? And do you have any obscure YA recommendations to help me fill mine? If you write a blog post, link it up below.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Monday Amusements 23


 Everything I plan to read this week. Aiming high, got to read as many books off this list as I can so that next years must-reads can be fresh and new! Okay, maybe not new...

I bought my Nook a few months ago, and ever since I've been wrapping it up in a pair of leggings in my bag! It really needs a proper case, so I'm currently deciding which one I should put on my Christmas list. Unfortunately, most purple Nook cases available in the UK are variations on the same fake leather theme, so I've turned to Etsy for something a little more fun. I like this case's polka dots, but I prefer the kind of cases that you can open like a book. This is very pretty and elegant, much more me than PU leather, but do I go sophisticated-goth or do I go for this case, with an amazing print of cats playing musical instruments? I think I'm torn between the hepcats and this swirly design, which can stand up. I'd better decide soon, before it's too late for shipping from the USA!

I enjoyed seeing Carly's Top Five Paranormal/Supernatural Reads, I've been curious about The Eternal Ones ever since I read Kiki Strike and the Shadow City, I will definitely have to get my hands on a copy. I also liked Sophie's 5 Books I Wish My Little Sister Would Read, as all those books are on my to-read list, and I'll definitely be adding the books mentioned in Michelle's Things I'm Drawn To In YA post.

Bestselling YA Authors Share 'The Book I'm Most Thankful For...' (via @sona_c).

If you consider yourself a member of YA fandom, take this survey to be part of an interesting-sounding piece of research (via @ScottWesterfeld).

Finally, Waterstones put together this adorable response to the Amazon drones announcement:

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): One - Favourite Christmasses in Books!


Hello and welcome to the first in a series of posts I will be doing to get myself (and hopefully you) in the festive mood. I love Christmas. I'm not religious, but I love the season. I live in the northern hemisphere, so Christmas is a bright glittery spot in the middle of gloomy wet winter, and I try to make the most of it.

NaNoFiMo is over, and I've finished the first draft of my novel  (more on that in another post), so I'm going to take a little break and read lots of books, to remind myself what good novels feel like to read and help me get in the mood for editing. I'm tempted to make some of those books Christmassy, as tis the season, after all! I've ordered Let It Snow for the Bookish Brits December Book Club, and since reading and loving Cold Comfort Farm, I've really wanted to read the short story 'Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm', a prequel, too.

So I started to think about my favourite Christmasses in books, and quickly decided that would be the topic of my First Post of Christmas.

When I was a kid I read Little Women several times, and the story begins just before Christmas. I loved reading about how the March girls and Marmee spread Christmas cheer, though they are a bit sickeningly sweet and self-sacrificing. I much preferred reading What Katy Did at School. Katy and her sister Clover are at boarding school and decide not to go home for Christmas at the journey takes three days each way. Instead they receive 'Christmas boxes' from their families, full of presents and flowers and delicious-sounding cakes. I used to read this scene over and over again and attempt to recreate it by finding things I owned that were similar to Katy and Clover's presents, wrapping them up, putting them in a box, and then opening it all again! It's my favourite part of the entire novel and must be at least partly responsible for my love of recieving parcels in the post!

A more recent read was Rebel Angels, by Libba Bray, which is set in the Victorian era and of course it was the Victorians who lay the foundations of Christmas as we know it - inventing greetings cards and enjoying seasonal parties. I loved the historical detail in this book - the balls and other events, as well as the Christmas shopping! I also loved the Christmas scenes in Adorkable - when Jeane went to stay with the Lee family I almost exploded from the cute overload.

What about you? What are your favourite Christmasses in books? If you don't celebrate Christmas, how are the festivals you enjoy portrayed in books? Any recommendations? I'd love to know. If you write your own blog post on this theme, there is a linky below so that you can share it with me and other readers.



I'll also be including linkies on my other posts in this series, and will put the list up here as they go up. I'll be putting up a Post of Christmas every three days, so keep checking back or subscribe!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Amusements 22 and Authors for the Philippines fantasy shopping!

All the books featured in my last Bookish Brits video!

'The Girl Myth in YA Fiction (And Beyond)' is a really interesting look at the way that reviewers judge girl characters as likeable or unlikeable and how this is informed by and impacts upon the way that girl characters are written, avoiding some stereotypes only to create others. I personally love reading about girls that cross the likeable/unlikeable binary - unlikeable girls who still try to do good things, or likeable girls who decide to make decisions that benefit themselves more than others, so I really enjoyed reading this post and seeing the recommendations.

I absolutely adored reading Michelle at Fluttering Butterflies' Top Ten Favourite Reading Memories post, so much so that I'll be writing my own version in the next few weeks!

Daphne at Winged Reviews is celebrating her second blogoversary with a stupendous giveaway.

Anti-Bullying Blog Week has just begun at A Day Dreamer's World - and Bookish Brits is beginning an Anti-Bullying themed fortnight! We're also looking for a new vlogger to join the team - could it be you? (end lottery voice)

Becky of The Bookette attended a School Libraries as Learning Centres course in Portugal and wrote about the experience: Part One and Part Two. I'm not a librarian but as a lifelong library fan I enjoy thinking about the future of all kinds of libraries.

On that subject, Voices for the Library just published a great piece: Why Terry Deary has got it wrong on public libraries and e-readers (via @readingagency)

Emily of the Mira Ink blog reports from an event at Waterstone's Piccadilly, and asks Is any subject taboo in YA literature? I have to agree that the answer is no - and that it is a good thing!

My favourite review this week was BookaUhu's review of Geek Girl by Holly Smale - I'd heard a lot of good things about it but now it really must go on my Christmas list or up to the top of my library wishlist!

I'm sure you must have heard about the Authors for the Philippines auction by now - if you follow me on Twitter, I've been tweeting and retweeting on the subject several times a day! If you haven't heard, all you need to know is that it's a charity auction to benefit the victims of Typhoon Haiyan via the British Red Cross. There are a whopping 468 items currently listed!

All the items that I would bid on have soared out of my tiny aspiring-novelist's budget, so I thought I would pretend I was a richer woman and engage in a bit of fantasy shopping...

My name isn't really pop band material but I'd be seriously tempted to buy item 406, Your name as the name of a popular band in YA author Luisa Plaja’s next book, for my cousin who has just started secondary school. I don't think she's read any of Luisa's books yet but wouldn't it be awesome to discover your name in a book? If you don't fancy making your name or someone else's into a band name, you can choose a character name instead or have your name shouted by a badger.

Various agents are offering critiques, and it would be utterly amazing to have a critique from any one of them, but especially Karolina Sutton of Curtis Brown. Several other people must agree with me as the bidding is now up to £450!

Finally, I would be unable to resist the signed Veronica Rossi books, including an ARC of Into the Still Blue, or the advance proof of It Felt Like a Kiss, by Sarra Manning.

If your budget is bigger than mine, do take a look at the auction site - bidding is open on all these amazing items and many more until 8pm GMT on Wednesday 20th November 2013.

I hope you're having a great Monday!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Monday, November 04, 2013

Monday Amusements 21


I hope you've been watching all the Bookish Brits videos! 


Gender Balance in YA Award Winners since 2000 takes on the idea that female authors 'dominate' YA fiction. Another fascinating read is On Book Packagers and Literary Development Companies (via @catagator). I've known about book packaging since the first time I read an article about Alloy, but it was really interesting to read about the new literary development companies started by well-known YA authors.

I love all this jewellery inspired by books! It's part of an auction running this week and I am really tempted to bid on a couple of items! (via @cloverness)

A letter To My Fairy Bookmother. I would ask for a chair that never gets uncomfortable, perfect recall of all my favourite books (I don't want to waste time remembering my least favourite too), and for Robin McKinley to write a sequel to Sunshine, or better yet, a whole series.

I also enjoyed reading Sex, swears and… er… unicorns? at Author Allsorts (via @Yayeahyeah), which makes a very good point!

I thought that Lit Medicine: 11 Books To Save Your Ass (Or Just Your Weary Soul) was great, especially as I'm planning to make my own list of comforting or inspiring books.

Have you read any really good blog posts or articles about books this fortnight?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

NaNoFiMo?

This is a sponsored post. I used Grammarly for proofreading this post because I really really really really really overuse the word really and am really determined to stop. Really.

Unfortunately, Grammarly cannot do a thing about my terrible handwriting.
I tried NaNoWriMo for the first time last year, but failed because I didn't have enough of a plot for that idea and really I wanted to be working on my ongoing project. So this year, I'm joining my boyfriend and becoming a 'Nano Rebel', though I'm not entirely sure I can claim that title as I've never won NaNoWriMo in the ordinary way.

Finishing the first draft of my novel is my number one creative goal for this year. If I don't manage it, I'll only have achieved number two (plan second novel) and number nine (learn to cook more meals), which were quite easily done and are not particularly pride-inducing. Also, I have been working on it, on and off, for years. It's time to get it done, edit it, and move on to new creative pastures. I don't even think I have that many words left to write on my current project, so I won't even be working towards the standard word count of 50,000. Nevertheless, my goal is to finish my first draft by the end of November. Hence, NaNoFiMo, or perhaps just NoFiMo, as two people does not a national event make. Then again, NoFiMo sounds like I'm morally opposed to modelling clay.

But why claim a connection with NaNoWriMo when I'm doing something different? It's the social aspect. Last year I mostly NaNoed alone, though I did make some notes and start a short story during the Write-In on the last day! I think this is another reason why it didn't work.

I've got into the unnatural state, at least for me, of finding it hard to allow myself the time to write. I think that taking a netbook and going to sit in a cafe or pub or bookshop with other writers and the Wi-Fi turned off will help. I want to see if being around other people who are fervently working on their novels helps me. I used to write easily and freely more days than not, and I intend to force myself back into the habit!

I'll lose some of my free time, because of the journeys into central London, but I figure I can use the journey time to read and fill my creative well.

Do you have any tips or advice for me? How do you force yourself to finish projects? Do you find endings easy or difficult to write? Does anyone else spend as much time as I do worrying that their plots are too basic?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday Amusements 20 and Bookish Brits Announcement!

I'm thrilled to announce that I'm joining nine other UK book bloggers for the new collaborative channel, Bookish Brits! Here is the introductory video for the channel:


I hope you enjoy it and make sure that you also watch the first of the personal introductions, by Fluttering Butterflies' Michelle! My intro will be going up a week today. I'm scared, excited...and I can't decide which hat to wear.

SisterSpooky presents her thoughts on Book Tours. I agree with all her points really and would add that I almost never read book tour posts for debut authors, but on the other hand I can get excited about book tours for authors whose books I have previously read. I think that reviews and trailers are much better promotional tools for new authors.

I love reading books about characters I can relate to, but also adore reading about people who are as different to me as can be. As Tanya at Girlxoxo points out with her post On Only Reading Books You Can Relate To ... Why? (Dangerous Reads Month), I'd be missing out on a lot of wonderful books if I limited myself only to those I can relate to.

Five Fictional Characters Saved by the NHS!

 If you live anywhere near Newcastle, Holly Black and Sarah Rees-Brennan will be discussing gothic fiction at Seven Stories. If you go I will be very jealous.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Book Review: My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time, by Liz Jensen

It's 1897 and lady-of-the-night/morning/afternoon Charlotte comes up with a brilliant idea to enable her to afford enough fine dresses, food, and schnapps to get through the cold winter. She and Fru Schleswig, a woman who followed her to Copenhagen from the orphanage she grew up in, claiming to be her mother, will clean the home of Fru Krak, a local widow with delusions of aristocracy. Fru Frak, soon to be married to a pastor, is fond of daytime shopping trips; with her out of the house, Charlotte will steal and sell as many of the Kraks' valuable ornaments and household goods as she can.

But after Charlotte hears some intriguing stories about the missing and presumed dead Professor Krak, she can't keep herself from investigating the mysterious locked basement. What she finds there is a device that saves her life and transports her, rather roughly, across time to modern day London, where her adventures continue in a way she could never have imagined.

I had a lot of fun reading My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time, and it was a great choice to take on holiday. I loved the premise, along with Charlotte's personality (though not her penchant for ampersands) and shameless money making-schemes. She is a very funny narrator, vain but charming, bold and cunning. But as the story progresses, she becomes less active and more of an observer, and although I still enjoyed it, I felt that some of the magic was lost as the tale progressed.

I think it was largely the fault of the love story, which seemed very rushed. Charlotte meets her lover, and in the space of a few pages, they are in a serious relationship. It seemed like the author wanted to focus more on the time travel, which would have been fine except that Charlotte has little interest in either the mechanics or in actually travelling all over time and the world. After some initial excitement, she doesn't even seem that thrilled by modern-day London, and she doesn't spend much time exploring it, which was a shame because I really wanted to see what she thought about my home. There are other characters that do more in the way of time travel, but we only find out what they got up to through Charlotte.

I would still recommend it to people looking for an amusing, easy read. It's an entertaining, silly adventure, with a few mysteries along the way.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Monday Amusements 19


My reading challenge spreadsheet in action.

The Booktrust has put together a list of the 100 Best Books for Children up to the age of 14. Don't forget to vote for your favourites!

If you're in the mood for a shorter list, check out 5 Signs You Are Reading Too Much YA from Book Riot. I exhibit none of these symptoms. Must read more YA ;)

I loved this post about Dream UKYA Collaborations at YA Yeah Yeah.

6 Tricks To Stay Healthy While Sitting + Staring At Screens All Day - because I'd like to be able to type when I'm 90, wouldn't you? Yes, by then typing might be a completely obselete method of inputing data, but it would be nice to have a functioning back and flexible arms and fingers regardless.

If you are a writer in or near London you must check out the Spread the Word Autumn 2013 events programme. There are some really interesting workshops available this season, and I am looking forward to the debate about the new gatekeepers in fiction publishing in December.

How well do you market yourself or your blog? Marketing isn't my number one priority at the moment when it comes to my blog, because I'm focusing on establishing a regular posting schedule. However, it is still something that I think about often. I would love to have more commenters and for my posts to lead to proper discussions, and I know that I will have to have a proper marketing plan in order to achieve this goal.

I love reading all sorts of bookish memes, even though I only currently participate in Top Ten Tuesday, so I was thrilled to see The Master List of Book Blogging Memes at Girlxoxo.

What posts have you enjoyed recently?

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Book Review: Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak is a difficult book to review. So many other blogs and articles have featured it before that I am afraid that I will have nothing more to add to the conversation; however, it is a book that should be talked about often, and I will try to explain why!

Melinda, the narrator, is just beginning her first year at high school. She has no friends because of an end-of-summer party that went wrong when Melinda was raped by a older, more popular boy. She called the police but left the party before they arrived, and has never explained her actions. The other teenagers blame her for ruining the party and getting them into trouble, while Melinda's parents don't know what's wrong and get annoyed at her for being withdrawn. Speak is about how Melinda retreats into silence before finally finding her voice.

What I liked most about Speak is that it's not a harrowing read. Obviously, due to the subject matter, it can be uncomfortable at times, but Melinda is a witty narrator, which lifts the tone enough to stop it being relentlessly depressing. Her silence is largely due to fear and shame, rather than actual bullying. Her isolation is at least partly self-imposed. She thinks that nobody will understand what happened to her, and for a long time she tries not to think about it. She can't explain it to anyone else because she can't explain it to herself. Once she thinks about what has happened, and accepts it, she starts to be able to find the strength she needs to tell other people.

I also really liked the characters at school that Melinda interacts with. Her art teacher is a fantastic character, dealing with his own anger at the school board through his work. I also thought that Melinda's former friends were well-developed, interesting and believable characters.

It's not a book that I will read again - this isn't a criticism, because I don't think it's that sort of book. It's very much an 'issue' book, honest and realistic, but there are no exciting plot twists or enthralling love stories to entice me to re-read it. I think that the message it sends out is important and am appalled by the controversy - this is just the type of book that school libraries should stock.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday Amusements 18

It's a short one today as I've been away and been ill, and I'm about to go out!

SisterSpooky's Blogger Thoughts: Swearing in YA explores an issue that I've been thinking about over the last few days. On Friday I  finished reading Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which has a lot of swearing in it. The f word appears a lot, sometimes several times a page, and I thought it was perfectly normal, but I've read several reviews since by people who find it really offensive. Personally, if I was offended by swearing, I'd give it a one line mention in my review. But it's almost all these reviewers talk about! They don't write about the characters or the plot, just the swearing, and I find that unfair and really quite bizarre. At the same time, when I'm writing, though I'll put in the odd swear word where it seems natural, I'm afraid of putting too many in, in case I'll be asked to remove them all later!

Another thought-provoking post is Relationship History and what I'd like to see more of in YA... at Fluttering Butterflies. It would be great to see more characters dealing with breakups, or long periods of being single. All the talk of soulmates and destiny makes me more than a little uncomfortable.

A list of time-travelling teen fiction, at Stacked (via @strangechemistry).

How To Rekindle The Flame When The Blogging Honeymoon Is Over! - See more at: http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/2013/02/how-to-rekindle-the-flame-when-the-blogging-honeymoon-is-over.html#sthash.dTQpnTsp.dpuf
How To Rekindle The Flame When The Blogging Honeymoon Is Over! is another great post, with advice for getting over a blogging slump.

The Broke and the Bookish ask: If you had to be a book villain, which one would you choose to be and why?
How To Rekindle The Flame When The Blogging Honeymoon Is Over! - See more at: http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/2013/02/how-to-rekindle-the-flame-when-the-blogging-honeymoon-is-over.html#sthash.dTQpnTsp.dpuf
How To Rekindle The Flame When The Blogging Honeymoon Is Over! - See more at: http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/2013/02/how-to-rekindle-the-flame-when-the-blogging-honeymoon-is-over.html#sthash.dTQpnTsp.dpuf
How To Rekindle The Flame When The Blogging Honeymoon Is Over! - See more at: http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/2013/02/how-to-rekindle-the-flame-when-the-blogging-honeymoon-is-over.html#sthash.dTQpnTsp.dpuf
How To Rekindle The Flame When The Blogging Honeymoon Is Over! - See more at: http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/2013/02/how-to-rekindle-the-flame-when-the-blogging-honeymoon-is-over.html#sthash.dTQpnTsp.dpuf

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review: The New Girl, by Emily Perkins


In an unnamed town, during a hot, dry summer, Julia, Chicky and Rachel are celebrating the end of school and waiting for the exam results that will determine their futures, whilst trying to decide what to do next. Although their town is dull - so boring that they sign up to a free class at the local library - it's a difficult place to leave. Everything they've ever known is here, and only Julia really thinks that she might leave, inspired by Miranda, their beautiful, charming new teacher.

But Miranda is no angel, having come to escape the city, and the mistakes she made at university. She seems like a positive influence, a breath of fresh air with big ideas and pretty dresses, but the longer she stays, the more her darker side comes out, and her presence cannot remain benign.

The main protagonists are Julia and Miranda, though the novel cycles through many other points of view. I found them both really interesting. Miranda is a narcissist dressed up in Manic Pixie Dream Girl clothing - black hair, fringe, and all. She enjoys inspiring people and getting them to adore her. She's convinced that she knows best and doesn't care about the emotional fallout of her actions. Julia is naïve but intelligent, and she knows that she has to leave the town if she wants to do anything really exciting with her life, though she has a strong emotional connection to her friends and family, especially Chicky, Rachel, and her mother.

I also loved reading about Julia's mother, Mary, who had Julia when she was young, and is now a kind woman who loves her daughter and husband, but is aware of everything she missed out on by staying in the small town. She struggles with her husband's lack of interest in their daughter, and with the possiblity that Julia might leave.

There were some characters that I would have liked to read more about, and some scenes that seemed skipped over. When Miranda first comes to the town, she goes to meet the local women, most of them mothers, at a party hosted by the woman who hired her to teach, Gretchen. We only get to read about the party before Miranda arrives, and I would have liked to have seen how it went. I would also have liked to find out more about Chicky and Rachel, especially Chicky, who is brash and brave and yet seemingly content to stay in the town.

I'd like to read more books that deal with these type of issues - books about deciding what to do next, about the mistakes new adults can make when dealing with people who have been adults for a lot longer than they have. If you like the idea of 'New Adult' but not the fact that most of the books sold under that category are romances, give this a try and let me know what you think, though it is literary fiction - rather than NA or YA - because the story is sometimes told from the parents' point of view. If you have any recommendations for me, please do leave a comment!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Would Love to See as a Film or TV Show

We don't really say 'Movie' in the UK, so I changed the heading to 'Film'. What? It made me uncomfortable.

Top Ten Tuesday was created and is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This is my twenty-seventh Top Ten Tuesday.


Top Ten Books I Would Love to See as a Movie or TV Show

1. Kiki Strike and the Shadow City, by Kirsten Miller - because how many films about awesome girl gangs are there? Not enough. I'd love to actually see the Shadow City.

2. Night School, by C. J. Daugherty - I would love to see the beautiful buildings of the Cimmeria Academy, and all the intrigue would make a great television show.

3. Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman - just imagine all the detail that could go into a television adaptation! There is so much drama and angst and heartbreak - it would be devastatingly good TV. Massively controversial though, I'm sure...

4. Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation, by Martin Millar - you could just pretty much directly adapt this book into a surreal comedy film without making any changes to the plot or characters.

5. Under the Never Sky, by Veronica Vossi - When I read it, I thought that I would definitely watch a film adaptation!

6. The Diary of a Crush trilogy, by Sarra Manning - I'm not so sure that the third book would work (better as a TV film?) but all the ridiculous drama in the first two book would make fantastic telly. And the wardrobe designers would have so much fun dressing Edie, Shona, Poppy, Grace and the art boys...

7. Everything Beautiful, by Simmone Howell - I've never heard of any summer camp films with stories like Everything Beautiful, and I think it would be nice to see.

8. The Forestwife, by Teresa Tomlinson - I have longed for this trilogy to be a TV show ever since I finished reading the first book for the first time. Come on TV bosses, stop making all those standard adapations of the Robin Hood legend and bring this to the small screen instead!

9. Ten Things I Hate About Me, by Randa Abdel-Fattah - I was reluctant to pick any books with 'internet stuff' in them for this list, because we all know that it's usually cringe o'clock when films or television shows feature anything to do with e-mail, but I think this one could work as a television show.

10. A Great and Terrible Beauty, and the rest of the Gemma Doyle trilogy, by Libba Bray - I think this could work as either a film or a TV show. There is so much atmosphere and I'd love to see all the locations!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Monday Amusements 17

I love the barcode scanner on the Goodreads app so much.

YA Contemporary is currently celebrating a School Days Theme Week. I really liked this post by Liz Filleul about how British boarding school stories have changed since the start of the millennium.

Jo of weartheoldcoat reviewed Stone Cold by Robert Swindells, as part of her I Dream of Carnegie challenge, and brought back the memories I have of reading it for the first time!

Unpacking why adults read young adult fiction is an amazing piece by Malinda Lo that pretty much does what it says on the tin. I'd really love to steal that PhD idea!

Call Me Maybe – a quiz of literary pseudonyms (via @bookriot). I got 6/10, which I'm quite surprised by! But I can't answer any of the questions in So Many Books, So Little Time's Book Quiz!

The One Thing White Writers Get Away With, But Authors of Color Don't - sadly, not all that surprising.

I could read about cool libraries all day. 4 Innovative Libraries Transforming Lives Around the World, at Mental Floss.

The Bookette's Guide to... Where we are with children and eBooks and School Libraries is really interesting. I loved my school libraries but remember that they didn't seem to acquire new books very often, unless there was some kind of donation promotion event going on. My secondary school library seemed to be mostly stocked with random adult fiction donations (I read some very odd stuff as a teen thanks to that), and this was long before the recession, so I'm not surprised that they're still short on cash.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Book Review: Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation, by Martin Millar

My most mundane review photo yet?

I was still ill when I finished Persepolis. I wanted to keep reading, but I didn't want to dive into anything too long and taxing in case my slightly-feverish brain couldn't keep up with it. I surveyed my shelves until I spotted Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation, Martin Millar's first novel. I read the book that he is  probably most well known for, The Good Fairies of New York, a couple of years ago, and have slowly been collecting more of his work. Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation is very short - 152 pages - and knowing that it was likely to be easy going, surreal, and silly, I decided that it was perfect for the occasion.

Alby Starvation, the main character, is a small time drug dealer living in Brixton, hiding from an assassin sent by the Milk Marketing Board. At first I thought he was just paranoid, but as the book switches viewpoint and introduces all the other characters, we find out that there is a Milk Marketing Board, and that they are pretty evil. It's not all so unrealistic. There is also a supermarket manager who mainly just wants to buy a hot tub, and his wife, dreading it. Two men, one desperate for attention, the other a master of meditation, battle each other in the video game arcade, with a crowd of fans cheering them on.  Professor Wing is secretly hunting for the crown of Ethelred the Unready, having stolen council equipment for digging up roads. Okay, I'll admit, that's a weird one, but June, the Brazilian assassin, is pretty normal, except for that whole killing people business!

There is only a little magic, in the form of a nurse with healing powers, but most of the events have at least a touch of the surreal. I did find it a bit confusing at the start, as there are a lot of different characters and the narrative jumps around in time a bit, especially in the sections from Alby's point of view. It's very fast paced, but eventually everything falls into place.

If you like stories in which one coincidence after another pushes the characters together in ever more entertaining ways, you'll probably love this. If you need a clear and definite plot and don't like silliness, this won't be the book for you, especially as it ends quite suddenly. Little is resolved, but there are clues that suggest how the characters will end up. The Good Fairies of New York has more of a plot and a more linear narrative, so if you're not sure, try that one first.

I finished this book in a much better mood, and resolved to a) make more of an effort to track down copies of Martin Millar's other books, and b) convince more people to try his work! I should probably hurry up and review The Good Fairies of New York already...

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Reading in the Afternoon, Blogging in the Evening





I've been a slow reader for the last couple of years. If I remember rightly, in 2009, the year I finished my MA, I read 91 books. That's my all-time record. I've hit 50 a few times, but that year I read books like it was my job, because it was my job.

My MA is in Creative and Life Writing, and for me, reading and writing are co-dependent. I've never been one of those writers who has to put reading on hold when they're working on a project. Reading helps me to write. There are other things that help me write quickly - green tea, walks, anger, the sudden resurfacing of ordinarily-buried memories. But I have to keep reading too. I can't go too long without it. I have to fill myself up with words to compensate for those I'm putting out. Writing requires reading, and reading induces writing.

Only, there's this thing called blogging...Oh, blogging! How I love you! It's kind of like creative writing, except with almost-instant gratification thanks to comments and retweets. It's very easy to get carried away with it. To find yourself making schedules and other plans and ignoring the little voice that says 'Can we PLEASE work on the novel now?'.

So I get up in the morning and do my morning pages and look at my blog schedule and go 'Oh yes, I must write that before Friday' and I draft whatever it is and then I go to work. I come home and finish it and post it and then I'm too tired to do anything else so I play Flash games on the internet until it's time to go to bed. Or if I don't have work, I fit in some procrastination and some more Flash games instead.

And I don't read any books, and I don't write any books.

After deleting a load of old feeds from my RSS reader a few weeks ago I reached Peak Internet. This doesn't happen very often, but it's a powerful state to be in. Basically, I'm bored of the internet. I can hardly bear the sight of it anymore. I don't want to surf Wikipedia or read depressing articles on The Guardian or play Flash games for longer than ten minutes at a time. This has freed up my mind to do some problem-solving.

I need to read so I can write. I prefer not to read under the light of my yellow lightbulb, which is right above my bed so I can't lie on my back to read without it blinding me. Therefore, I've started reading in the afternoons, after I've done some writing.

IT'S AMAZING. I still manage to blog, but now I'm forced to be more organised, and to procrastinate less. Excellent.

When do you prefer to read? Mornings? Evenings? Afternoons? Do you get most of your reading done during your journey to work, or do you read more at home in the evenings? I read a lot more during the week than at weekends, when I have more social activities competing for my attention. How about you?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Memorable Secondary Characters

How many secondary characters are all that memorable? Often the most important secondary characters are love interests, or parents, but I deliberately didn't pick them, as I'm sure they'll be popular choices. I went through my 'read' list and chose best friends, sidekicks, and enemies. On to the list!

Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters

1. Meghan, from the Ruby Oliver Quartet by E. Lockhart - Ruby's perception of her goes through a dramatic change. In The Boyfriend List, Meghan is just the boy-obsessed girl that drives Ruby to school, but they become closer in the following books and in Real Live Boyfriends Meghan is just awesome! I loved Meghan so much by the end of this series and when I next re-read it I will be paying much more attention to her character.

2. Scarlett, from Adorkable by Sarra Manning - Scarlett is the quiet, pretty, popular girl who (sort of) 'steals' Jeane's boyfriend. She's silly but funny and I quite liked her.

3. Felicity from the Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray - Felicity isn't nice. In fact, a lot of the time she's quite horrible. But oh, she is interesting, and finding out her secrets and watching her develop is one of the best things about this trilogy.

4. Oona, from the Kiki Strike series by Kirsten Miller - Oona is a wonderfully cunning girl who runs a beauty salon where the staff all pretend they don't speak English in order to gather lucrative gossip about their patrons' husbands' business deals. I am looking forward to seeing more of her in the other books.

5. Grace, from Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry - Most people would probably choose Echo's best friend Lila, or Noah's friends Isaiah and Beth, and they all have their own books now. But I would love to find out more about Grace, the enemy of everything that dares to be unpopular, the girl who is so terrified of being tainted by Echo's outcast status that she refuses to look at her in public.

6. Marron, from Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi - For some reason, I was not expecting a character like Marron or a place like his enclave of technology to exist in this book. He was one of the highlights for me and I'm hoping we get to see more of him in the rest of the series,

8. Jo, from Night School by C. J. Daugherty - How could anyone forget Jo and her many troubles and dramas? At first she seems quite normal, with just a few family problems, but as Allie persues the truth about Cimmeria Academy Jo starts to lose control of herself.

9. Laney, from Saving June by Hannah Harrington - Laney, Harper's best friend and co-conspirator, was my favourite character in Saving June. Unfortunately as she wasn't a love interest she spent a lot of time off-scene. I would love for her to get her own novel.

10. Finnick, from Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - Finnick first appears in Catching Fire, but it's not until Mockingjay that he really comes into his own as one of the most charismatic and tragic characters in the Hunger Games trilogy.

I'm sure half the blogosphere will pick Finnick but I'd love to know if anyone else really wants to find out more about Pushing the Limits' Grace! Do you agree with my choices, or would you have chosen other characters from these books?

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by its fabulous creators at The Broke and the Bookish. This is my twenty-sixth Top Ten Tuesday so please do check out the others if you enjoyed this one!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Amusements 16

Happy Monday! If you're in the UK chances are you might be enjoying a bank holiday right now, just as I am. I'm going to be playing board games again, yay! If you have a job that requires you to work today, you have my sympathies, as my current job is the first job I've had that didn't count bank holidays as an ordinary day of work. Regardless of whether you're at work or play, I hope you enjoy my link selection.

First up is the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation of The Book Thief, which I do not like at all.


Maybe it's just the voiceovers, but it looks so cheesy. Yes, I said voiceovers. The man's voiceover at the end is bad but Liesel's introduction at the beginning is pretty corny too. Hopefully it's just this trailer and the actual film will be better!

Why Keep Books? I keep books for all of the reasons listed by Tasha Brandstatter at Book Riot, and also because I want to share them with friends. I like to lend books I loved to other people, so they can enjoy them too. I also lend books that I had mixed feelings about, because I want to know what the other person will think.

I'd love to visit Hay-on-Wye, but I think it will have to wait until I acquire a lot more bookshelves! If I do go, I want to visit The Bookshop Cafe, as reviewed by Anushka Tay. The food and the books look delicious.

I really enjoyed Raimy's thoughtful post about being an adult reader of children's books. I don't read many children's books, outside of the teen age category, but I absolutely loved those that I have read in the last few years.

A Guide to YA Novels with LGBTQ Characters (via @Caroni_Clarke) is a graphic guide that will help you find just the book to match your tastes! If you're looking for a feminist YA novel, Sophie at So Many Books, So Little Time has put together a short list of her favourites. On Twitter (@sophie_waters) she shared this fantastic piece about Sarah Dessen and her recent revelations about her past, which I totally agree with.

Jessi at Auntie Spinelli Reads posted the first review of The Bone Season, by Samantha Shannon, that I've seen, and made it sound so intriguing I must get my hands on a copy!

At Winged Reviews, Jack poses the question Do Authors Deserve a Second Chance? Personally, I am open-minded and will pick up a second book by an author if the reasons I didn't like it were relatively superficial. If I didn't like the protagonist or the ending then I'm happy to give them another go. But if the book was badly written, or if the author was pushing a point of view that made me feel uncomfortable, it's very unlikely that I'll try their work again.

Have you written or read a great post in the last two weeks that I've missed? Let me know in the comments, and check out the Monday Amusements archive if you want more to read!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Book Review: Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi

I'd wanted to read Persepolis for quite some time, even before I saw the film. I had vague intentions of getting it out of the library, but my to-get-from-the-library list is about a mile long and has to compete for attention with all the books I own. Happily, I got given a copy as part of a Secret Santa, so it managed to jump the library queue. Yay!

Persepolis is a (slightly-fictionalised according to various sources) memoir in two parts, which were originally published in French. The edition I have from Vintage Books collects both parts in a trade paperback, but it is also available from Pantheon Books in a larger format. The first part, 'The Story of a Childhood', follows the author's childhood in Iran, following the Islamic Revolution and exploring how her everyday life was altered. She becomes more and more rebellious when she reaches her teens, and her parents decide that she will be safer and happier if she goes away to school in Austria, which is where the second part begins. 'The Story of a Return' is about her experiences in Austria, and her decision to return to Iran.

Successful memoirs feel honest, and Persepolis certainly does. Marjane Satrapi shows herself and the people she loves as flawed human beings, and therefore I found it easy to trust her impressions of people who treat her or other people badly. Persepolis balances the serious, unflinching depictions of wars and revolutions with humour and details about her family life - I cried a couple of times but I laughed a lot more.

I loved all the little snippets of Iran's history. The school curriculum in the UK treats British history as if it's the history of the whole world, while simultaneously leaving out most of the parts of British history that are actually important to world history, ie. all the unsavoury details about the British Empire. I feel like there is a shamefully huge gap in my knowledge and I actually really enjoy learning about history when it's not confined to the World Wars. What is great about Persepolis is that the historical details are interwoven with the author's life - they are things that she learnt about in childhood, or that she explains briefly to the reader so that the surrounding parts of the story make sense. It made me want to find out more.

I started reading Persepolis when I was ill - I was feeling dizzy and wanted something that would be easy to follow, and that would take my mind off of all the things that I was incapable of getting on with. It was the perfect choice, and has left me with a craving for more graphic memoirs. If you have any recommendations, please leave me a comment!

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