Monday, 31 August 2015

August Wrap Up

We made it! I blogged everyday in August! Thanks everyone who has read along and shared my posts throughout the month. It's been fun! I've had over a thousand views this month, which is exciting. The most popular posts were Best Harry Potter Food and Feasts and Top 6 High School Young Adult Fiction. And you can have a scroll through all of the August posts here. I still have plenty of ideas so stay tuned for upcoming posts, including more Harry Potter ones. Look at this pretty graph of all those views:

August Wrap Up:

I have read six books this month in between all that blogging and also started reading Frankenstein as part of my mission to make my way through more classics. They were all gooduns! Plenty of YA fiction, with Church of Marvels thrown in there too. I'll get my reviews up next week, but I got right into Holly Bourne's books, and was hugely impressed by Julie Mayhew's The Big Lie. 

Did I Mention I Love You?- Estelle Maskame
The Manifesto On How To Be Interesting- Holly Bourne
Church of Marvels- Leslie Parry
Am I Normal Yet?- Holly Bourne
The Big Lie- Julie Mayhew
Trouble is a Friend of Mine- Stephanie Tromly

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Half Read Books

I have a big stack of half read books, a long time tbr list of books I've put down for some reason and never picked up again. A lot of them I was actually enjoying before they were set aside, presumably for something else I was more eager to read. I think I was reading a few of these when big sequels came out for other series I was really into, so that contributed to them being cast aside. I'm not the kind of reader who has a few books on the go at once, I like to finish the books I start, and if there are too many books on my shelf I have yet to even open it makes me a little anxious. At the moment I have quite a few unread books gracing my shelves, basically because I've bought or been given a lot recently (book buying ban now in full force!), and when I began gathering up the ones I had at least started I ended up with a big pile. So I am now going to endeavour to finish what I've started by finally reading all these books, some of which I started almost three years ago. There are a few lurking half read on my kindle too I'm sure. I know I'll get a buzz when I get add them to my read list on Goodreads. Do you read more than one book at once? Can you stand to leave a book unfinished? Let me know in the comments! 

How I Live Now- Meg Rosoff
The Declaration- Gemma Malley
Noughts & Crosses- Malorie Blackman
Almost Grace- Rosie Rowell
The Bloody Chamber- Angela Carter
The Carbon Diaries 2015- Saci Lloyd
Un Lun Dun- China Mieville
"Who Could That Be at This House?" All the Wrong Questions- Lemony Snicket
1Q84 Books One and Two- Haruki Murakami

Saturday, 29 August 2015

September Wish List

There are so many books coming out around now, so I have a few biggies that I am getting super excited about getting my hands on in September! I have a few of these on preorder so should be dropping through my post box real soon, a few I'll be seriously considering spending my pennies on, and a couple I've already managed to get my mitts on! Here they are, the book son my September wish list:

Asking For It- Louise O'Neill
This book has been hotly anticipated by, EVERYONE, as far as I can tell. It's a super dark book dealing with consent and rape culture. So not exactly a cheery topic, however Louise O'Neill's writing is amazing: her first novel Only Ever Yours is a total favourite of mine and it left me feeling drained. It seems strange to wilfully put yourself through a dark read, but I know it will be well worth it. This one should be on its way in the post to me!

The Rest of Us Just Live Here- Patrick Ness
This will actually the first of Patrick Ness's books I have read. I know, I know, he's written some amazing books which I really should read immediately, I will get on it as soon as possible! The plot of this book just really stood out to me, looking at those who are not 'the chosen one', and I have been looking forward to its publication for a lot of the year. This too is on its way to me in the post!

The Wolf Wilder- Katherine Rundell
I've been looking forward to the release of this beautiful book for several months too. I was drawn in by the fairy tale story, the snow, and the wolves. I managed to get a copy at the Edinburgh Book Festival, and it is physically a really beautiful book. The cover is this really satisfying matt with shiny silver foil for the title, and the page quality is amazing, with little bits of illustration throughout. I'm really looking forward to be whisked away to the snow with this one.

A Portable Shelter- Kirsty Logan
I loved Kirsty Logan's novel, The Gracekeepers, and was fully whirled away to its high seas and circuses world. This book is a series of stories told by two characters to their unborn daughter, and is full of selkies and witches. I am so looking forward to reading this, and there's a character called Ruth in it. I already have a lovely hardcover copy of this, and in fact got it signed by Kirsty Logan today! She too is lovely. It's in a limited edition in this hardback format, with a paperback coming next year, so act fast if you want this lovely blue and silver edition!

I'm also looking forward to reading these September releases:

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa sounds awesome, with Brideshead Revisited as its inspiration. I have an arc copy from NetGalley so I'm looking forward to getting stuck in! Lauren James's The Next Together sounds great, and Lauren herself seems so nice, I've been following her progress on twitter for a a wee while now. I have already read Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon on kindle with a copy from NetGalley, but I really loved the book and I reckon it might be worth getting an actual physical copy, as the illustrations weren't in the copy I read. I also really like to own physical copies of books I've loved, anyone else do that?

Friday, 28 August 2015

Harry Potter: Harry's Presents Part 1

"On Christmas Eve, Harry went to bed looking forward to the next day for the food and the fun, but not expecting any presents at all. When he woke early next morning, however, the first thing he saw was a small pile of packages at the foot of his bed.
'Happy Christmas,' said Ron sleepily as Harry scrambled out of bed and pulled on his dressing gown.
'You too,' said Harry. 'Will you look at this? I've got some presents!'
'What did you expect, turnips?' said Ron..."
Harry's life at Privet Drive seemed to often revolve around Dudley and presents for Dudley. His birthday when he almost throws a tantrum for only getting 36 presents, two less than last year, only to be soothed by his parents who assure him they will buy him more presents that day. Harry of course never received this treatment. However when he first learns he is a wizard, he has just been handed a birthday cake by Hagrid, who then goes on to buy him Hedwig, his owl, as a real birthday present. The wizarding world is full of excess that Harry greatly deserves after his horrible Dursley upbringing; the feasts, piles of gold, more sweets than he can eat, and actual presents at Christmas and Birthdays from people who care about him. This is part one of Harry's Presents, as he receives quite a few gooduns over the seven books, and I want to give them all nice lengthy quotes, because I definitely love reading them and hopefully you don't mind either!

Hagrid's Birthday Present to Harry:
"'Just yer wand left- oh yeah, an' I still haven't got yeh a birthday present.'
Harry felt himself go red.
'You don't have to-'
'I know I don't have to. Tell yeh what, I'll get yer animal. Not a toad, toads went outta fashion years ago, yeh'd be laughed at- an' I don' like cats, they make me sneeze. I'll get yer an owl. All the kids want owls, they're dead useful, carry yer post an' everythin'.'
Twenty minutes laters, they left Eeylops Owl Emporium, which has been dark and full of rustling and flickering, jewel-bright eyes. Harry now carried a large cage which held a beautiful snowy owl, fast asleep with her head under her wing. He couldn't stop stammering his thanks, sounding just like Professor Quirrell."

Harry first Hogwarts Christmas:

-A wooden flute from Hagrid
"It was wrapped in thick brown paper and scrawled across it was To Harry, from Hagrid. Inside was a roughly cut wooden flute. Hagrid had obviously whittled it himself. Harry blew it- it sounded a bit like an owl."
-A Weasley Jumper and home-made fudge
"Harry had torn apart the parcel to find a thick, hand-knitted sweater in emerald green and a large box of home-made fudge.
'Every year she makes us a jumper,' said Ron, unwrapping his own, 'and mine's always maroon.'
'That's really nice of her,' said Harry, trying the fudge, which was very tasty."
-A large box of Chocolate Frogs from Hermione.

-The Invisibility Cloak
"This left only one parcel. Harry picked it up and felt it. It was very light. He unwrapped it.
Something fluid and silvery grey went slithering to the floor, where it lay in gleaming folds. Ron gasped.
'I've heard of those,' he said in a hushed voice, dropping the box of Every-Flavour Beans he's got from Hermione. 'If that;'s what I think it is- they're really rare, and really valuable.'
'What is it?'
Harry picked the shining, silvery cloth off the floor. It was strange to the touch, like water woven into material.
'It'a an Invisibility Cloak,' said Ron, a look of awe on his face. 'I'm sure it is- try it on.'"

Photo Album from Hagrid: 
"Hagrid wiped his nose on the back of his hand and said, 'That reminds me. I've got yeh a present.'
'It's not a stoat sandwich, is it?' said Harry anxiously and at last Hagrid gave a weak chuckle.
'Nah. Dumbledore gave me the day off yesterday ter fix it. 'Course, he shoulda sacked me instead- anyway, got yeh this...'
It seemed to be a handsome, leather-covered book. Harry opened it curiously. It was full of wizard photographs. Smiling and waving at him from every page were his mother and father.
'Sent owls off ter all yer parents' old school friends, askin' fer photos... Knew yeh didn' have any... D'yeh like it?'
Harry couldn't speak, but Hagrid understood."
Harry's Second Hogwarts Christmas:
"Hagrid had sent him a large tin of treacle fudge, which Harry decided to soften by the fire before eating; Ron had given him a book called Flying with the Canons, a book of interesting facts about his favourite Quidditch team; Hermione had bought him a luxury eagle-feather quill. Harry opened the last present to find a new, hand-knitted jumper from Mrs Weasley, and a large plum cake."
Birthday Presents from Ron and Hermione:

-Sneakoscope from Ron
"Harry sat down on his bed, grabbed Errol's package, ripped off the brown paper and discovered a present wrapped in gold, and his first ever birthday card...
Harry now turned to his present and unwrapped it. Inside was what looked like a miniature glass spinning top. There was another note from Ron beneath it.
Harry- this is a Pocket Sneakoscope. If there's someone untrustworthy around, it's supposed to light up and spin. Bill say it's rubbish sold for wizard tourists and isn't reliable, because it kept lighting up at dinner last night. But he didn't realise Fred and George had put beetles in his soup.Bye- Ron"
 -Broomstick Servicing Kit from Hermione
"Harry laughed again as he put Hermione's letter aside and picked up her present. It was very heavy. Knowing Hermione, he was sure it would be a large book full of very difficult spells- but it wasn't. His heart gave a huge bound as he ripped back the paper and saw a sleek black leather case with silver words stamped across it: Broomstick Servicing Kit.'Wow, Hermione!' Harry whispered, unzipping the case to look inside.
There was a large jar of Fleetwood's High-Finish Handle Polish, a pair of gleaming silver Tail-Twig Clippers, a tiny brass compass to clip onto your broom for long journeys, and a Handbook of Do-it-Yourself Broomcare."
-The Monster Book of Monsters
"He recognised the untidy scrawl on the brown paper at once: this was from Hagrid, the Hogwarts gamekeeper. He tore off the top layer of paper and glimpsed something green and leathery, but before he could unwrap it properly, and parcel gave a strange quiver, and whatever was inside it snapped loudly- as though it had jaws."
Marauder's Map from Fred and George:
"He nodded towards an empty classroom to the left of the one-eyed statue. Harry followed Fred and George inside. George closed the door quietly and then turned, beaming, to look at Harry.
'Early Christmas present for you, Harry,' he said.
Fred pulled something from inside his cloak with a flourish and laid it on one of the desks. It was a large, square, very worn piece of parchment with nothing written on it. Harry, suspecting one of Fred and George's jokes, stared at it.
'What's that supposed to be?'
'This, Harry, is the secret of our success,' said George, patting the parchment fondly."

Harry's Third Hogwarts Christmas:
"Mrs Weasley had sent him a scarlet jumper with the Gryffindor lion knitted on the front, also a dozen home-baked mince pies, some Christmas cake and a box of nut brittle. As he moved all these things aside, he saw a long, thing package lying underneath.
'What's that?' said Ron, looking over, a freshly unwrapped pair of maroon socks in his hand.
Harry ripped the parcel open and gasped as a magnificent, gleaming broomstick rolled out onto his bedspread. Ron dropped his rocks and jumped off his bed for a closer look.
'I don't believe it,' he said hoarsely.
It was a Firebolt, identical to the dream broom Harry had gone to see every day in Diagon Alley."

I'll leave it there for now! Lots of good Dobby presents coming up in Goblet of Fire and many more Mrs Weasley sweaters too! I hope you enjoyed this first Harry's Presents post, and if you want more Harry based blog posts, have a look at Best Harry Potter Food and Feasts and Harry Potter Ice Cream Moments.

All the quotes in this post are from the Harry Potter books, and I found them by searching on my Kindle and flicking through the books and so I haven't included page numbers because, you know, different editions. But needless to say, all by J.K. Rowling, thanks J.K.! 

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Review! YES PLEASE- Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler is just great. My love for her began fairly recently, in the last couple of years, when I began watching Parks and Recreation. The character of Lesley Knope is also Just Great. I have a lovely hardback copy of Yes Please, but I ended up listening to it on audio book because Amy Poehler reads it, alongside some of her comedy chums. I really recommend the audio book version, but also the physical copy for its super high quality colour pages and adorable baby-Poehler pictures. The book covers Poehler's childhood and teen years growing up in suburban Massachusetts, her discovery of comedy and improv and her years living in Chicago, the founding of the Upright Citizens Brigade, and her move to New York and job at Saturday Night Live. She also covers divorce, children, charity, and drugs. Her anecdotes are vivid and funny and honest. And there's a big Parks and Rec section. So I was pleased all round really. Yes. Please.

Five moments I loved in Yes Please:

1- The demon voice. I loved this image as it felt very true to dealing with body image issues:
"That voice that talks so badly to you is a demon voice. This very patient and determined demon shows up in your bedroom one day and refuses to leave. You are six or twelve or fifteen and you look in the mirror and you hear a voice so awful and mean that it takes your breath away. It tells you that you are fat and ugly and you don't deserve love. And the scary part is the demon is your own voice. But it doesn't sound like you. It sounds like a strangled and seductive version of you. Think Darth Vader or an angry Lauren Bacall. The good news is there are ways to make it stop talking. The bad news is it never goes away."
2- Amy's essential motto for women. A really useful way of avoiding woman on woman hate:
"Good for her! Not for me."

3- Treat your career like a bad boyfriend:
"Ambivalence is key to success... You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look... Remember, your career is a bad boyfriend. It likes when you don't depend on it. It will reward you every time you don't act needy. It will chase you if you act like other things (passion, friendship, family, longevity) are more important to you. If your career is a bad boyfriend, it is healthy to remember you can always leave and go sleep with somebody else."
4- Everything changes:
"The only thing we can depend on in life is that everything changes. The seasons, our partners, what we want and need. We hold hands with out high school friends and swear to never lose touch, and then we do. We scrape ice off our cars and feel like winter will never end, and it does. We stand in the bathroom and look at our face and say, 'Stop getting old, face. I command you!' and it doesn't listen. Change is the only constant. You ability to navigate and tolerate change and its painful uncomfortableness directly correlates to your happiness and general well-being. See what I just did there? I saved you thousands of dollars on self-help books."
5- Yes Please:
"I love saying 'yes' and I love saying 'please.' Saying 'yes' doesn't mean I don't know how to say no, and saying 'please' doesn't mean I am waiting for permission. 'Yes please' sounds powerful and concise. It's a response and a request. It is not about being a good girl; it is about being a real women. It's also a title I can tell my kids. I like when they say 'Yes please' because most people are rude and nice manners are the secret keys to the universe."

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Top 5 Feminist Young Adult Fiction

There have been some really really great feminist offerings in the YA scene recently. Exposing young people to feminist ideas through fiction is an awesome way to spread further understanding of the topic, as so much of the media we consume filters into our everyday conversations and reactions. These are some of my favourite recent feminist young adult fiction offerings, and I know there are plenty I have still yet to read. After writing this post I realised Holly Bourne, author of Am I Normal Yet?, featured below, has written a guest post of Queen of Contemporary with her Top 5 Feminist YA, thankfully the whole list isn't the same! It's a great list, check it out too! Also, all these book are by female authors!

Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill
A feminist commentary set in a dystopian future, which is an unsettling reflection on out current reality. Body image issues, living for the pleasure of men, female friendship and rivalry, queerness and breeding boys, this book covers a lot of bases. Louise O'Neill's second book Asking For It, is out soon, and tackles the issue of consent. Review here!

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne
The focus of this story is on Evie's OCD recovery process at a new college, but the backdrop of figuring out feminism with her new best friends is great. The Spinster Club is an inspired idea, and while not all their ideas are spot on (here's a little bit of a trans-exclusive chat) the point is that they create themselves a space to talk it all through and figure it all out.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E Lockhart
Frankie attempts to take down the patriarchal old-boys-network of her prestigious boarding school from within, by anonymously taking over an elite secret society. Her chats with her older sister on the phone, who has gone to university and discovered women's studies and feminism, are brilliant and provide a chance for Frankie to sound out her own thoughts on the topic. There is no doubt in the readers' mind by the end of the book, that Frankie is going to continue trying to question everything, and tear down to patriarchy. Review here!

Lorali by Laura Dockrill
Not an overt feminist young adult offering, Lorali is a story of a mermaid who comes to land, of  the pirates on her trail, and her new friends on land. The feminist undertones lie in the matriarchy of the mermaid community, deep in the sea, the male pirates who are meticulous in their beauty regimes and tailoring (stereotypically feminine concerns), and large part of the narrative narrator by the female voice of the sea. Little twists like Lorali feeling confident to make the first move, because that's how it's done down in The Deep, are perfect. Review here!

The Big Lie by Julie Mayhew
Set in 2012 in contemporary Nazi England, lead character Jessika Keller leads a life a total submission, just as she and all her peers have been taught. Through her outspoken and rebellious friends Jessika begins be more aware of the constraints on her freedom as a women in the setting of The Greater German Reich. Power, sexuality, patriarchy, and censorship are al explored in this great feminist YA offering.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Literary Kitties: Cats in Books

Literary Kitties! Doing this has made me realise there are a lot less cats in books than I had originally thought. Maybe I just imagine cats into all the books I read? In the books they are in however, they do get nice lengthy introductions, which seems right. All these cats provide great cattish relief in their stories, even when they play a tiny part, that part is by no means unimportant. There is always, in my opinion, room for a cat-based narrative somewhere in a book. Cats have a very important role in play in magic settings, so it's only right that there be three notable kitties in the Harry Potter series. Angus in the Georgia Nicolson books provides constant comic relief, harassing the neighbours' dogs, ambushing passing legs, spending time in the fridge. I was very pleased Buttercup was given a bigger role in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 film, where he entertains all by chasing a torch light in the bunker. So here are some (very long, sorry, but I just loved the full) introductions to literary cats:

Harry Potter:
-Professor McGonagall as a cat. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:
"It was on the corner of the street that he noticed the first sign of something peculiar- a cat reading a map. For a second, Mr Dursley didn't realise what he had seen- then he jerked his head around to look again. There was a tabby cat standing on the corner of Privet Drive, but there wasn't a map in sight. What could he have been thinking of? It must have been a trick of the light. Mr Dursley blinked and stared at the cat. It stared back. As Mr Dursley drove around the corner and up the road, he watched the cat in his mirror. It was now reading the sign that said Privet Drive- no, looking at the sign; cats couldn't read maps or signs. Mr Dursley gave himself a little shake and put the cat out of his mind...
As he pulled into the driveway of number four, the first thing he saw- and it didn't improve his mood- was the tabby cat he'd spotted that morning. It was now sitting on his garden wall. He was sure it was the same one; it had the same markings around its eyes.
'Shoo!' said Mr Dursley loudly.
The cat didn't move. It just gave him a stern look. Was this normal cat behaviour, Mr Dursley wondered."
-Mrs Norris, Filch's cat. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:
"Filch owned a cat called Mrs Norris, a scrawny, dust-coloured creature with bulging, lamp-like eyes just like Filch's. She patrolled the corridors alone. Break a rule in front of her, put just one toe out of line, and she'd whisk off for Filch, who'd appear, wheezing, two seconds later. Filch knew the secret passageways of the school better than anyone (except perhaps the Weasley twins) and could pop up as suddenly as any of the ghosts. The students all hated him and it was the dearest ambition of many to give Mrs Norris a good kick."
-Crookshanks, Hermione's cat. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:
"Ron buckled as something huge and orange came soaring from the top of the highest cage, landed on his head and then propelled itself, spitting madly, at Scabbers.
'NO, CROOKSHANKS, NO!' cried the witch, but Scabbers shot from between her hands like a bar of soap, landed splay-legged on the floor and then scarpered for the door.
'Scabbers!' Ron shouted, haring out of the shop after him; Harry followed. It took them nearly ten minutes to find Scabbers, who had taken refuge under a wastepaper bin outside Quality Quidditch Supplies. Ron stuffed the trembling rat back into his pocket and straightened up, massaging his head.
'What was that?'
'It was either a very big cat or quite a small tiger,' said Harry.
'Where's Hermione?'
'Probably getting her owl.'
They made their way back up the crowded street to the Magical Menagerie. As they readed it, Hermione came out, but she wasn't carrying an owl. Her arms were clamped tightly around the enormous ginger cat.
'You bought that monster?' said Ron, his mouth hanging open.
'He's gorgeous, isn't he?' said Hermione, glowing.
That was a matter of opinion, thought Harry. The cat's ginger fur was thick and fluffy, but it was definitely a bit bow-legged and its face looked grumpy and oddly squashed, as though it had run headlong into a brick wall. Now that Scabbers was out of sight, however, the cat was purring contentedly in Hermione's arms."

Fiddle- The fiddle turned into a cat by Gwendolen. Charmed Life:
"Cat started to learn the violin. He thought he was making good progress. He practised diligently. He never could understand why the new people living upstairs always banged on the floor when he started to play. Mrs Sharp, being tone-deaf herself, nodded and smiled when he played, and encouraged him greatly.
He was practising away one evening, when Gwendolen stormed in and shrieked a spell in his face. Cat found, to his dismay, that he was holding a large striped cat by the tail. He had its head tucked under his chin, and he was sawing at its back with the violin bow. He dropped it hurriedly. Even so, it bit him under the chin and scratched him painfully.
'What did you do that for?' he said. The cat stood in an arch, glaring at him.
'Because that's just what it sounded like!' said Gwendolen. ' I couldn't stand it a moment longer. Here, pussy, pussy!' The cat did not like Gwendolen either. It scratched the hand she held out to it. Gwendolen smacked it. It ran away, with Cat in hot pursuit, shouting, 'Stop it! That's my fiddle! Stop it!' But the cat escaped, and that was the end of the violin lessons... They made a great pet of the creature- naturally, it was called Fiddle. Though it remained bad-tempered, captious and unfriendly, it never went short of food."

Cheshire Cat- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
"And she began thinking over other children she knew, who might do very well as pigs, and was just saying to herself, 'if one only knew the right way to change them--' when she was a little startled by seeing the Cheshire Cat sitting on a bough of a tree a few yards off.
The Cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked good-natured, she thought: still it had very long claws and a great many teeth, so she felt that it ought to be treated with respect."

Buttercup- Prim's cat. Mentioned on the very first page! The Hunger Games:
"Sitting at Prim's knees, guarding her, is the world's ugliest cat. Mashed-in nose, half of one ear missing, eyes the colour of rotting squash. Prim named him Buttercup, insisting that his muddy yellow coat matched the bright flower. He hates me. Or at least distrusts me. Even though it was years ago, I think he still remembers how I tried to drown him in a bucket when Prim brought him home. Scrawny kitten, belly swollen with worms, crawling with fleas. The last thing I needed was another mouth to feed. But Prim begged so hard, cried even, I had to let him stay. It turned out OK. My mother got rid of the vermin and he's a born mouser. Even catches the occasional rat. Sometimes, when I clean a kill, I fee Buttercup the entrails. He has stopped hissing at me. Entrails. No hissing. This is the closest we will ever come to love."

Angus- Georgia's cat in The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson Series:
"When I did get to the door I had to go back and change my tights because my cat Angus had one of his "Call of the Wilds" episodes.
He really is completely bonkers. We got him when we went on holiday to Loch Lomond. On the last day I found him wandering around the garden of the guest house we were staying in. Tarry-a-Wee-While it was called. That should give you some idea of what the holiday was like.
I should have guessed all was not entirely well in the cat department when I picked him up and he began savaging my cardigan. But he was such a lovely looking kitten, all tabby and long-haired, with huge yellow eyes. Even as a kitten he looked like a small dog. I begged and pleaded to take him home.
'He'll die here, he has no mummy or daddy,' I said plaintively. My dad said, 'He's probably eaten them.' Honestly he can be callous. I worked on Mum and in the end I brought him home. The Scottish landlady did say she thought he was probably mixed breed, half domestic tabby and half Scottish wildcat. I remember thinking, Oh, that will be exotic. I didn't realise that he would grow to the size of a small Labrador only mad. I used to drag him around on a lead but, as I explained to Mrs Next Door, he ate it. Anyway, sometimes he hears the call of the Scottish Highlands. So, as I was passing by as a stuffed olive he leaped out from his concealed hiding place behind the curtains (or his lair, as I suppose he imagined it in his cat brain) and attacked my tights or 'prey'. I couldn't break his hold by banging his head because he was darting from side to side. In the end I managed to reach the outdoor brush by the door and beat him off with it." 
Let me know your favourite literary kitties! Maybe I'll do a part two! Yeah cats!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Moomin Words of Wisdom

Tove Jansson had a real knack for filling her Moomin characters full of wonderful words of wisdom.  Lessons on life and love and death, how to say no to relatives who want to stay in your house, how to feel glad to have emotions, how to embrace uncertainty and how sometimes it is ok to want to sack it all in and go live in a tree. Like Moomintroll, I too only want to live in peace and plant potatoes and dream. Here are some of the best pearls of wisdom Moomin characters have uttered over the years: 
“You can't ever be really free if you admire somebody too much.” ― Tove JanssonTales from Moominvalley
“A theatre is the most important sort of house in the world, because that's where people are shown what they could be if they wanted, and what they'd like to be if they dared to and what they really are” ― Tove JanssonMoominsummer Madness 
“All things are so very uncertain, and that's exactly what makes me feel reassured.” ― Tove JanssonMoominland Midwinter 

“You must go on a long journey before you can really find out how wonderful home is.” ― Tove JanssonComet in Moominland
“Someone who eats pancakes and jam can't be so awfully dangerous. You can talk to him.”  ― Tove JanssonFinn Family Moomintroll
“Quite, quite,' she thought with a little sigh. 'It's always like this in their adventures. To save and be saved. I wish somebody would write a story sometime about the people who warm up the heroes afterward.” ― Tove JanssonMoominland Midwinter
“I ONLY WANT TO LIVE IN PEACE AND PLANT POTATOES AND DREAM!”  ― Tove JanssonMoomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip, Vol. 1

“It's funny about paths and rivers," he mused. "You see them go by, and suddenly you feel upset and want to be somewhere else--wherever the path or the river is going, perhaps.”  ― Tove JanssonComet in Moominland
“‎''Just think, never to be glad or disappointed. Never to like anyone and get cross at him and forgive him. Never to sleep or feel cold, never to make a mistake and have a stomach-ache and be cured from it, never to have a birthday party, drink beer, and have a bad conscience...How terrible.” ― Tove JanssonTales from Moominvalley

“There are those who stay at home and those who go away, and it has always been so. Everyone can choose for himself, but he must choose while there is still time and never change his mind.” ― Tove JanssonMoominvalley in November  
“Moominpappa: "Tell us all that's happening out in the world!"
Snufkin: "Fuss and misery."
- from "Moomin and Family Life" comic strip” ― Tove JanssonMoomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip, Vol. 1
“When one’s dead, one’s dead… This squirrel will become earth all in his time. And still later on, there’ll grow new trees from him, with new squirrels skipping about in them. Do you think that’s so very sad?” ― Tove JanssonMoominland Midwinter

Wonderful Moomin Words of Wisdom quotes found on Goodreads.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Favourite First Lines

These are some of my favourite first lines. Capturing the attention of the reader, setting the tone for the rest of the book, and using a lot of commas, apparently:

I Capture The Castle- Dodie Smith:
"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink."

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone- J.K. Rowling:
"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."

Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen:
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

Peter Pan- J.M. Barrie:
"All children, except one, grow up."

The Hobbit- J.R.R. Tolkien:
"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."

The Slow Regard of Silent Things- Patrick Rothfuss:
"When Auri woke, she knew that she had seven days."

Howl's Moving Castle- Diana Wynne Jones:
"In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three."