Monday 28 March 2016

Rereadathon! Or, I know, I am terrible...

Rereadathon! That is a thing that has been happening this past week (and continues until Wednesday, if you have any pressing things to reread), not that you'd know it from being around this blog... I HAVE FAILED AT EVERYTHING AND I LOVE UPDATING ABOUT READATHONS, SERIOUSLY!

But anyway.  If anyone would like to hear my excuses, I have them and they involve smooshing almost the same amount of work hours into fewer days last week, using the easter weekend to clean, shop, and eat (with a tiiiiiny bit of reading Watchmen which I have fully left at my parents' house), and every single evening doing yoga I am not even kidding. It cuts into my reading time, sure, but do you know how relaxed I am basically all the time now? It is a lot.

Anyway. Why am I even bothering to update you now, I hear you cry? Well. This evening I juuuust finished Eleanor and Park and it is worth talking about because OH MY GOD THIS BOOK. So I first read E&P during one of the 24 hour readathons and I liked it plenty because Rainbow Rowell is a genius and should just write all the things. After I read it, though, I saw everyone everywhere saying it was their favourite Rowell book and I never thought of it as mine because, although I am loathe to pick a favourite, I probably lean more towards Fangirl or Attachments than any of the others (maybe).

But. Oh my god. I think I absolutely read Eleanor and Park too quickly last time because this time? It broke my heart. Shattered it. I'm not ok! Will I be ok again? I'm not entirely convinced. I do now completely understand people saying it's their favourite Rowell (although I'm still not willing to choose!) but more than anything else, I want to emphasise the importance of the reread. Because my GOD! Eleanor and Park could have just passed me by as a very-good-but-not-the-best book, and now I'm just full of the belief that it is The Best. I'd be pretty happy to reread it again right now, if I'm completely honest.

My plan for the next two days is to reread To Kill A Mockingbird, but I've got work tomorrow and a LOT of errands to do on Wednesday (multiple locations and everything!), plus all that yoga, so it might not pan out that way. But even if it doesn't, I've had the best rereading experience with Eleanor and Park and I'm most sincerely thanking Ms. Bex for hosting this grand week and a half of rereading. Even if I only reread one book each time, it's still going to be worth it to revisit some of the very best books I've ever read.

Sunday 20 March 2016

Sunday Sundries: Ummmmm...

So... This week... Happened, I guess?

I don't know when I became such a boring human, but I can't really think of anything that notable that has happened this week. I've realised this is a lie because a few things happened this week, but they're notable in how much I don't want to be notable about them, which is to say, I'd only tell you a really boring story about this stuff and is it even worth ittttt?

Ok, let's do these notables:

  1. Our fridge broke on Monday (booooooo) and despite emailing the church (we rent the house off the church at the end of my road, have I ever mentioned that?) ON Monday, it still took me calling on Friday, getting an 'oh whoops, forgot to do that!' to get a new fridge sorted. Which I did and it's coming on Tuesday and yassssssss!
  2. Our fridge also had a freezer in the bottom. Don't ask me what I've been eating, I don't think you want to know.
  3. In a continuing series of fails, I had to go to Richmond on Wednesday because the prescription in my new glasses was wrong AF (to be fair, Specsavers have amazing customer service and will totally fix it if something's not right) which could have been really dull but I took my mum with me (i.e. she drove me) and we actually had quite a nice outing in the end! Worth the hassle.
  4. I saw my cousin and her baby on Thursday morning so she could wax my eyebrows and we could gossip about whatever and also go to Starbucks, and that was nice! And then I had to go to work and noooooo what shut up what even is this bullshit?
See what I mean about kind of notable but also kind of boring? It's been a pretty good week though, I've been doing yoga EVERY DAY (I know!) even when I didn't feel like it, and I've made some flashcards to try and learn the Japanese alphabet/s which has been... mildly successful? Maybe like 4 successful. I'm pretty lazy, like I've said. 

So this week coming! The re-readathon starts on Monday (woo!) so I might actually write blog posts this week! Or at least one blog post I can update! Fun story about reading this month- I finished Armada yesterday (I have... thoughts. Not good ones. But also good ones. It's complicated.) and thought 'gosh, I've read so many books this month, what is it now, like 10?' and then realised that was the first book I'd finished in a week and I've only read one other novel this month, the rest has been like comic books and teeny novellas and whatnot.

I've just realised that was a story that could have stayed in my head and we all would have been equally as happy. I'm really sorry!

Anyway. I have taken up enough of your Sunday time now, what are you still doing here? Get outside and enjoy the crap out of your lives, go on now, you hear? Good. Good.

Sunday 13 March 2016

Sunday Sundries: Booooooooooks!

I know, I know. It's shocking that I would be writing a post about books on my book blog. What even the what? But this is not the way of Sundays, and I feel like this is wrong, but I have two stacks of books to show off so what can I say? This is happening.

First though, some other things of this week:

  • I downloaded a new yoga app on Wednesday (because why not?) and have, since then, gone slightly crazy on the yoga, in that I have done some instead of none. The app I have (Yoga Studio, £2.99 on the app store if anyone wants in on it) is great because you can schedule sessions that link with the calendar on your phone so it tells you that you need to yoga RIGHT NOW and I am powerless to resist such orders! I've been doing relaxation yoga every night and it's been great, and I really feel like I could get into a proper routine with this so yesssssss!
  • I usually avoid superhero movies because something something too many men something something, but having decided that Deadpool sounded like my kind of thing, I finally watched it on Friday night (don't ask me about legality, I have no time for you) and OMG. It's ENTIRELY my kind of thing, by which I mean it takes the piss out of superhero movies whilst also being one and Deadpool himself is irreverent and hilarious and I think he might be my soulmate? I'm into it, is what I'm saying. May the superhero watching continue (genuinely going to watch Daredevil after I've finished this)
  • Work has become so much less stressful because we finally have enough staff and maybe also a bit because of the yoga thing. So into feeling pretty chill most of the time, and so into not working Sundays because OMG that was killing me.
And now for something completely the same... Books! 

Yesterday I went to Richmond to meet Katie (no mean feat considering there was rugby at Twickenham and oh my goddddd rugby fans are obnoxious), which is relevant to books because hellooooo, we both have book blogs, and is relevant to my life because Katie is great and I had a really excellent time. We had cake and book shopping and no nandos because it was closed for renovations (SOB) and a seriously much needed talk about life and whatnot. And also did I mention there were books? JUST LOOK AT THEM:
Ok, so. I know I'm not supposed to buy books, but... It's ok. It's all fine. Special occasions and all that. So. This is a fairly low quality photo so allow me to narrate, from the top down. I got A Confederacy of Dunces for reasons sort of unknown to me except that I assume someone read it and I have generally heard it is good. Was it you? If so, I hope you weren't lying. The teeny book down from that is Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell, a little story she has written for (I believe) World Book Day and it cost £1 and frankly how could I not buy it? The next one down I shouldn't have really taken a photo of because I'm going to pass it on to my mum to give me for my birthday, but it's If This Is A Woman- Inside Ravensbruck: Hitler's Concentration Camp For Women which I read about in BUST and sounds totally harrowing but also sort of amazing. I finally, finally found the last Game of Thrones book I needed, A Dance With Dragons, Part I, which was very exciting but now I actually have to read the buggers which is a bit upsetting to face! I bought The Martian because I KNOW that everyone's been going on about how excellent it is, and I'm into that, and FINALLY we found the Moomins Cookbook in a charity shop and Katie offered to buy it for me as an early birthday present and I was of course totally into that! It's especially exciting because I've seen it for years and years but didn't necessarily want to pay full price for it, but charity shops are magic (plus in the end I didn't pay anything for it!) 

Anyway. I know, naughty naughty naughty, but it has to be done every now and then, and now I don't have to go into any charity shops for ages because I've finally bought all the Game of Thrones books that can be bought!

I bet you thought I was done with this post, but wait! There's more! You lucky buggers. SO. Bex is hosting a re-readathon at the end of the month and I'm pretty excited. Her last one was kindofsortof arranged just for meeeeee because I had finished my Masters and was finally allowed to read what I wanted again, but it turned out that I sort of didn't want to read anything because can you say burnout? Yes, that. Anyway, I am determined to do it properly this time, and have arranged a modest but quietly sure stack of books to contemplate:
TA DA! I will frankly be ok with just reading Eleanor and Park and To Kill A Mockingbird (even if it means finally accepting that Harper Lee is actually dead which I just cannot) but I have reasons for the other three books, namely:
  • I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time in literally an afternoon, and have memories of it being excellent but I can never really remember why? So I definitely feel like it needs revisiting
  • I remember being really excited by The Unbearable Lightness of Being but I now can't remember anything about it (damn you, pre-blog reading life) so I feel like I need to revisit it, especially since I bought another Milan Kundera book on the bookshop crawl and I feel like I need to be made more excited about it
  • I just really want to re-read Brokeback Mountain. I just do, ok?
As I've been writing this, I had a sudden longing urge to also re-read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn so I think I'm going to add that to the pile and see if the urge remains. And please, join us! What do you want to re-read more than anything else in the worrrrrld?

Tuesday 8 March 2016

Devouring Books: One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson

Of the books I read in February, the only one I really wanted to talk about was One Summer. Reading this book is a way bigger commitment than I had realised- I only had the kindle copy (I assume it was a daily deal at some point) and so starting it wasn't a problem until I realised the 'percentage read' counter crept up so. Slowly. What. Even. Is. This? Perusals through amazon revealed that I'd inadvertently agreed to read a 672 page book without realising it, so when it ended less than 80% of the way through (soooooo much bibliography, soooooo much index), whilst I could have read so much more, I was almost slightly relieved.

It's just... It's a whole lot of non-fiction and I wanted to move on with my life, yeah?

So. This book pretty much does what it says on the tin. It's basically a chronicle of the summer of 1927, a summer which, I'd like to say, is not one that we necessarily think of as historical (all the years between WWI and WWII are kind of murky to me) but in which a lot of stuff happened all the same. And my, the stuff that happened! I'm of the personal opinion that Bryson pretty much wanted to write a book about Charles Lindbergh/the race to fly from New York to Paris, AND wanted to write about the Yankees and their amazing season (since these are the two main events he returns to) and realised they happened at the same time so combined everything into one book.

And weirdly, it works. Working chronologically through the summer, Bryson finely details every event that gripped America, in a time before TV and at the very beginning of talkies, when events COULD transfix a whole nation in a way that, because the internet especially allows you to consume whatever you want and ignore everything else, I don't really think can happen anymore. Because this is Bryson, everything is awesomely written, often with little tongue-in-cheek moments that Bill always provides, for example on the French attitude to Americans at the time: "Patrons of many pavement cafes were assaulted and in some cases savagely beaten just for looking intolerably bourgeois", and his especially savage take on Herbert Hoover: "Two things accounted for Hoover's glorious reputation: he executed his duties with tireless efficiency and dispatch, and he made sure that no one anywhere was ever unaware of his accomplishments."

I just... God I love Bryson.  

And Bryson is really what makes this book, just like all of his books, really dynamic and interesting and exciting. I didn't know I wanted to know about baseball until Bryson wrote about it, nor about boxing, or baseball, or so many of the things the book covers that I now know 100% more about. I feel better informed about America in the 1920s, but also like I've been entertained the whole way through. Whilst this book focuses pretty much exclusively on America at the time (see: the title), I think the format is a really exciting one because you could easily apply it to Britain's summer of 1927, or even any other year and still get a book as rich and informative and excellent as this one.

I lied when I said I was relieved the book finished early. I was kind of sad, as I always am to leave Bryson's writing. This one has done nothing to quell my love for the man, and I recommend it to anyone who has any interest in anything ever. This will make you care about things you never thought you would, and even if it doesn't then it will make you laugh in public, which I think is something we can all get on board with.

Sunday 6 March 2016

Sunday Sundries: On Travel

Happy Sunday greetings everyone!
Today is Mother's Day (in the UK, don't worry other countries, you haven't failed your mothers) so I'm heading out soon to have lunch with my family, cuddle my mum and all that other good stuff. This is the first proper weekend I've had for *counts on fingers* four weeks, and it feels. So. Good. It feels like a weird thing to complain about since I don't work Wednesdays anyway so I have been having two days off every week like all other people but there's something about not having two full days off in a row that makes me feel like all my life force is being sucked out of me.

But now I don't! Which is great!
Anyway. Travel is a thing I've been thinking about this week (or, ok, I had like one thought yesterday...) so allow me to share my thinking. It occurred to me yesterday that, even though I think about it all the time, and even though I've been to so many places through books and tv, I haven't really ever travelled anywhere as a grown up. I haven't left the country for almost 7 years (so depressing), and whilst I've been to quite a few places in England (thanks friends for living in interesting places!) it's not really the same.

I don't really have anything to say about this. I've pretty much had the dual issues of not really having anyone to holiday with (or, ok, no boy someones) but, more pressingly, not having any money to go anywhere with anyway. I do sometimes want to kick myself for moving out of my parents' house because I could almost definitely afford holidays if I still lived with them, but there's no way I'd want to trade 52 weeks of independence a year for 1 week abroad so thems the breaks, I guess.

I'm not trying to complain, and I also don't subscribe to the idea that travelling makes you an innately interesting person. I know that I'm plenty interesting without having been anywhere much, and I'm also really lucky to (kind of) live in one of the best cities in the world, that I could probably visit every weekend for the rest of my life and still not see all of it. But all of that aside... I do wanna travel. I don't even want to travel in a whole backpackery kind of way because I really really like home, I just want to be in a life position to have a holiday or two a year, and oh man do I want to go to Japan! I so do.

But anyway. I'll get there eventually (Japan, and everywhere else for that matter) and in the meantime, I'll be so happy that I'm a reader because it has honestly made me believe I've travelled everywhere already. I've been to Japan with Murakami, and road tripped around America with Steinbeck, lived in France with Julia Child and been on so many fantasy journeys with Stephen King. It's really no wonder that I've only just realised that I haven't been anywhere, because I'm lucky enough to have been everywhere I've wanted to without leaving my bed.
But seriously. Tell me all about your travels and maybe I'll start a pinterest board or something of all the places I need to go in the world. And, have a lovely Sunday! Tell your mum you love her whether you're in the UK or not, ok?

Thursday 3 March 2016

What I've Been Watching Lately- The Netflix Edition

Oh well hello there! I haven't told you about the things I've been watching for approximately 10,000 years, have I? Normally this is where I interject "weirdly, because that's all I ever do LOL" but this time that is not the case! Admittedly, over November/December when I was making all the things, I did rewatch basically all of Mad Men, but since my hands have been free to do other things (HA) I've been reading up a storm (comparatively) rather than just wasting away in front of the TV. Mostly. A bit. And yet, here are the things I've watched of late, please join me as I ruminate on them.

Making A Murderer
Or, Aking A Rderer, apparently...
So. Obviously everyone's seen this by now, but here was my journey through the process of watching:

  1. Frances texts me all weekend about how horrible but addictive Making a Murderer is.
  2. On Wednesday, after getting home from my friend's house at about 7pm, I decide it'll be a good idea to start watching it, just to get a feel of it.
  3. Watch 6 episodes. Feel unquenchably angry, horrified, all the things one is supposed to feel when someone's life is messed with and when, even if they're not innocent, there is SO not enough evidence to convict and omg what the hell are the police doing?
  4. Go to bed at 2am. Wake up at about 7am. Feel like you're dying all day. Watch one more episode after work then admit defeat and go to bed.
  5. Go to work. Come home. Immediately watch the last 3 episodes. Cry about Brendan Dassey. Think about it for about 10,000 years.
I mean, seriously. I want to discuss with all of you how horribly biased everything seemed, and how fucked the American justice system seems to be (totally fucked, right?) but I still can't cope with the fact that Brendan is in prison when he's just a scared kid who got fucked over by the police and whyyyyyy?! 

Yeah, basically Making a Murderer damaged me and I am broken and I am not ok. But you should all still definitely watch it, it won't break your spirit!

Jessica Jones

Getting me to watch Jessica Jones was a combined effort on the parts of Frances (again!) and Ellie but I didn't take much convincing because you know that thing where I bitch about there not being lady superheroes? I think to make that a plausible complaint, I actually need to watch things with lady superheroes in. 

For me, Jessica Jones was perfect. Perfect as in I can't think of anything I would want done differently with it. Perfect as in, there are things like lesbian couples and non-white people and the hero is a woman and FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS but these things aren't just shoved in to meet some quota, they just are because that's how the story goes and that's what it is. Perfect because I loved every second of it and it's all I wanted to be watching at any given time and ugh just YESS GIMME MORE. Special mention goes to David Tennant for being an excellent villain (scared of that shit) but also somehow hilarious at the same time? And just to THE WHOLE DAMN SHOW SERIOUSLY NETFLIX GIMME MORE!

(Do you know how many porn gifs you get if you type girls gifs into tumblr? It is A LOT)

It's not exactly a new thing for me to be watching Girls, but I missed almost all of last season on account of Shakespeare and then watched it all (apart from the two episodes I'd already seen) in a day. It was preeeeeetty good, and I like that Hannah is being forced to grow up and I'm just really into this show, ok? Is that ok? Ok good.

Better Call Saul
Better Call Saul was another Shakespeare leftover- I think I watched about 4 episodes when they originally came out, then NO TIME and I finally finished them not-quite-in-time for the new series that started on the 15th Feb. But anyway. I REALLY like this show, in the sense that it extends and expands the Breaking Bad universe, but also in the sense that it's a really fucking good show. It's funny because it's Saul, but it can also be a bit devastating at times, and touching at others. I guess liking the character (A LOT) to begin with doesn't hurt when you're watching this, but I personally believe that everything Vince Gilligan touches is golden and so yeah, this is great. If I have a tiny criticism (and this is really just of all prequels) it's that you know how it's all going to end up regardless of where the story goes, but something something journey rather than the destination something? And it's a pretty great journey at that. 

But tell me, TELL ME, what do I need to watch next? Netflix suggestions always appreciated, please stop me from watching Breaking Bad for, like, the fourth time because OMG that is what I will do if left to my own devices.

Wednesday 2 March 2016


Stephen King films and mini-series are notoriously terrible. I can't even tell you how much I want the six hours I spent watching The Stand back, and unless it's made from one of his books that have little-to-no supernatural stuff in it (looking at you, Shawshank, Green Mile, Stand By Me, and Misery) it's not going to be a good movie. I don't blame the source material AT ALL (obviously) but I do feel like, when faced with the supernatural in his books, directors sometimes focus too much on this and overlook the humanity that is always, always there as well.

And yet. I am excited and optimistic about the upcoming Dark Tower movie even though I have no good reason to be, and it's all because of JUST ONE THING:
I feel like I have never properly expressed Idris Elba love here (like I maybe mentioned him when I talked about The Wire?) but it is deep and everlasting. It also grew exponentially when I watched Luther and he was a good guy so I didn't have to feel bad about liking him like I did with The Wire cause he does horrible things. I hate Bond films but I would go and see them about 8 times at the cinema if he was the new Bond and (AND!) he actually seems like he would be genuinely excellent to hang out with in real life, and not just because he's beautiful.
So I feel like we know where we're going with this post now. It has now been announced that Idris Elba has been cast as Roland in The Dark Tower film (with, it's worth mentioning, MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY as his nemesis. Like, yesssssssssss let the McConnaissance continue) and I am all over this casting. The article I read about it this morning, more than once, forced Stephen King to relate EXACTLY the EXACT way he had pictured Roland as looking (i.e. forcing him to admit that no, Roland wasn't a black guy when he wrote the books but also saying LIKE THAT MATTERS because Stephen King is the best) and whilst I am *eyeroll emoji forever* over that, mostly I'm just excited.

Because, it's Idris Elba! Being all tough and mysterious and 1,000,000% badass and also will he get naked? Let's hope he gets naked.
Anyway. I have one more Dark Tower book to re-read until I'm done (re-done?) with the series, and you can bet your ass I'm going to be picturing Roland as this glorious man forevermore BECAUSE I CAN. When I saw that this was a news thing, I couldn't think of anyone to specifically tell- I think plenty of people I know think Idris is smoking hot, but none who would understand why this is the perfect juxtaposition of things for me and so YOU GUYS (you lucky, lucky guys) get the full brunt of my excitement.


Tuesday 1 March 2016

Things I Read in February

And another month has gone byyyyyyy! I tend to kind of hate winter, and by the time we get to February I'm just so ready for it to be over. And now it is, and everything's great! So. I didn't get a whole lot of reading done in February, which I pretty much put down to busyness- I worked three Sundays out of four (please kill me), found myself busy on most of my Wednesdays off, and Saturdays I had to do household things usually that prevented that much reading. Still, I made an effort and crammed a few books into my brain. Voila:

Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa
I am so into Ogawa's writing that I can't even tell you. Although I started with The Housekeeper and The Professor, which is beautiful and sad, I've come to discover that her typical style is something slightly more disturbing and unsettling- a Japanese Shirley Jackson, if you will. Hotel Iris is about surface impressions and about what's going on underneath, about inappropriate relationships and teenage obsessions, and then everything gets a little bit S&M-ish and I was shocked and intrigued. Very interesting, very unsettling, definitely worth a read (did everyone see the Japanese Shirley Jackson part? EXACTLY.)

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
I read The Shock of the Fall in about four days, and by the end I was sobbing quietly. The Shock of the Fall is a story about encroaching mental illness, at the same time as being the story of how someone tells a story. It contains such insights as "I think people who are generous with food have a goodness about them" (same) and "I think she decided to become a teacher to give her life a meaning, or to distract her. I don't suppose there is much difference" and I am into books with insights and shit. If forced to criticise this book (which no one is forcing me to do, and yet here it comes!) I'd just say that I didn't necessarily LOVE the writing style, but there aren't that many writing styles I do love, so it's only really a minor point, especially when you consider the crying at the end. I got attached to this character, and wanted good things for him in the end. What more can you ask for from a book?

One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson
I have legit written a review of this already which is very rare and also exciting! So yeah. This was what I was reading for the majority of the month, and it was totally worth the time it took to read, trust me.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
I think it would be fairly redundant for me at this point to once again say how much I love Rainbow Rowell's writing and storytelling and literally everything about her, plus this book deserves a full on review, but I will just say this: I was really nervous about the premise of this book when in fact I should have given Rainbow my full trust because she has never steered me wrong before. If you've been putting off reading this because you're not sure about it then you need to stop and read and oh my GOD you're going to have so much fun, I can't even tell you.