Thursday, 25 February 2016

The Feminist Orchestra Book Club- Jean 'Bookish Thoughts'

Jean Menzies of Bookish Thoughts is launching a feminist book club called The Feminist Orchestra. The plan is to read and discuss one feminist text a month, and Jean has chosen a range of books from novels to non fiction and graphic novels to poetry. All the details are on the Goodreads page, where people are recommending books and will discuss each month's read. I plan to blog about each book on here too! This book club's launch was perfect timing for my resolution to read more feminist literature. It also feels a little bit more accessible than Emma Watson's Our Shared Shelf, which has over a hundred thousand members to The Feminist Orchestra's 1000 odd. I feel like more meaningful discussion will be able to take place in this smaller community. The first book is I Call Myself a Feminist: The View from Twenty-Five Women Under Thirty, to read during March.

 Follow along on #FeministOrchestra!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Books I read in January! Short Stories: A Portable Shelter, My True Love Gave to Me, A Winter Book, The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales, Through the Woods

January reading! I made January a month of short stories and yanno what it was fun! I had two Kirsty Logan collections on my list, A Portable Shelter and The Rental Heart, as well as Tove Jansson's A Winter Book, the Christmas YA short story collection, My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins, and a graphic novel of short stories, Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. I do like having a theme to my months, but I was super keen to read a whole novel by the end of it!

A Portable Shelter

I've been waiting to read this lovely little boom for absolutely ages. It's set in tiny coastal cottage in the north of Scotland, where Liska and Ruth tell stories to their unborn child, so I was determined to wait to read it until I was up in my family's west coast cottage. Definitely worth the wait! The couple has agreed not to tell their child any lies, and so pregnant Ruth tells the baby stories while Liska is at work, and Liska tells hers while Ruth is asleep. The stories are dark fairytales, with modern selkies and werewolves and ghosts. Stories of love, lies, grief, loss, regret, life, and death. Each story is accompanied by a beautiful illustration by Liz Myhill, which just adds to the overall beauty of the book as an object itself. Definitely get this on your wish list!

My True Love Gave to Me

I read this at the beginning of January for some post-Christmas wintery vibes. Twelve short love stories by twelve great YA authors, including Ally Carter, Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Rainbow Rowell, Matt de la Pena, David Levithan, Stephanie Perkins, Kiersten White, Kelly Link, Jenny Han, Gayle Forman and Myra McEntire. Festive, romantic, quirky, lovely YA stories to warm your heart on a chilly winter's eve! I recommend to YA romance lovers. Stephanie Perkins' story of a girl befriending the Christmas Tree selling boy was just perfect. 

A Winter Book

This was a reread for me from a few years ago probably. I absolutely love Tove Jansson. The gentle humour and playfulness comes through in each story. From childhood to old age, through the seasons, with the latter half of the book focussing on winter stories. There's such magic and light in her stories, I bet she would have been wonderful to spend time with. I love the story 'Jeremiah' about the geologist living on the island one autumn, and 'Snow' about the strangeness of not being in the city for snowfall. As usual for Sort Of Books' publishing Jansson, the book itself is beautiful, will well chosen photographs from her life throughout. Not just for winter this one- add this beautiful blue book to your wish list for sure!

The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales

More short stories from Kirsty Logan, this one from 2014. Very surreal and dark and wonderful stories. The clockwork heart story is beautiful, the coin-operated boy is weird and wonderful. Magical realism mixes with love and sex and steampunk-esque imagery in these intensely rich short stories. The relationships throughout are beautiful woven. There are currently three copies in the LGBT section at Hillhead Library in Glasgow, so if you happen to live nearby, so check one out! I may have to read this one again, as I have a feeling it'll reveal different things to the reader each time. 

Through the Woods

I picked this up at Fopp just after my birthday for £9 in paperback. I've been eyeing it up since it came out and fiiiiiiinally bought it. I did not regret it as the stories within are so dark, magical, gruesome, and wonderfully told. It has 24,385 ratings on Goodreads, so this book has certainly been well read. I remember reading His Face All Red, the story about the two brothers, online quite a while ago and was definitely intrigues then. There is beautiful artwork throughout, with copious use of blood red for all the gore. Possibly not for the faint of heart. My counting-graphic-novels-as-novels plan for 2016 is going really well so far. I'm so much more drawn to reading them now they count to the dreaded Reading Challenge! I've also been enjoying my local library's collection, which is helping to save the pennies. Definitely get Through the Woods for your collection, it's a beautiful book and will only maybe give you nightmares. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

2015 Reading Roundup and 2016 Reading Goals

In 2015 I managed to read 52 books, yippee! This count includes novels, I didn't include any graphic novels, of which I think I read about 7, but for 2016 I reckon I will include them in the count because they're a kind of novel after all! Same goes for audio books, and non-fiction: all book based reading counts in 2016.

I read a whole lotta YA and a whole lotta 2015 releases, so without further ado, here are some lists of my favourites reads of the year, followed by some reading goals for 2016:

Top 5 Releases of 2015:

1- A Portable Shelter- Kirsty Logan
2- The Wolf Wilder- Katherine Rundell
3- The Big Lie- Julie Mayhew
4- Am I Normal Yet?- Holly Bourne
5- The Sin Eater's Daughter- Melinda Salisbury

My Top 10 of Reads of 2015:

1- Life After Life- Kate Atkinson
2- The Country of Ice Cream Star- Sandra Newman
3- A Darker Shade of Magic- V.E. Schwab
4- Vivian Versus the Apocalypse- Katie Coyle
5- Wild Song- Janis Mackay
6- The Gracekeepers- Kirsty Logan
7- The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks- E. Lockhart
8- Asking For It- Louise O'Neill
9- One- Sarah Crossan
10- The Wolf Wilder- Katherine Rundell

Graphic Novels I read in 2015:

1- Nimona- Noelle Stevenson
2- The Never Weres- Fiona Smyth
3- Lumberjanes- Noelle Stevenaon, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen
4- This One Summer- Mariko Tamaki
5- Anya's Ghost- Vera Brosgol
6- Dungeon Fun- Colin Bell and Neil Slorence
7- Bitter Sweets: Adventure Time- Kate Leth, Zack Sterling, Meredith McClaren

Reading Goals for 2016:

-Read more graphic novels: The seven I read in 2015 listed above were excellent, so in 2016 I'm going to try to read a few more, maybe even once a month. Plus book buying excuse!!

-Read some feminist lit: There are a few feminist books that have been on my wish list for ages and ages and I really should get round to reading them. Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist, Men Expain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit, The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, and Laura Bates' Everyday Sexism are all on the list to conquer this year.

-Read more adult fiction: As in not exclusively young adult fiction, not 'adult' in that way you dirty sods. Now I think there are very exciting things happening in young adult fiction, which is why I read so much of it, but a few big fiction books managed to pass me by last year. I'm a 'proper adult' so I reckon I could manage some proper adult fiction.

-Read some classics: I tried to do this last year, I may have failed. But I want to tackle some classics this year, cos you know, some of them are meant to be good and you know, self improvement. 

Monday, 1 February 2016

One Year of Book Blogging/ Books I read in December: Heap House, The Wolf Wilder, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Hellooo! Long time no blog! No excuses just somehow managed to have a whole January away from blogtown. Oopsie. I started book blogging a year ago in January, mostly to keep track of what I was reading and to encourage me to read more. I hit my 50 book challenge, which I was very pleased about, and have a blog full of posts with my thoughts on those books. I also managed to blog everyday in August, which was a total challenge, but I was super proud of myself for following through. This year I'm gonna keep book blogging, and really really properly try to do some popular culture commentary style blogging, in a bid to keep my essay writing skills up to scratch.  Sticking to the 50 book challenge again, although this year I'm allowing in graphic novels to that count. For some reason last year I decided to keep it strictly to novels, but graphic novels totally count! I intend to keep my eyes peeled for blogging opportunities and collaborations and be super duper active in the book blogging community. Cos if something's worth doing, it's worth doing properly. Hear, hear!

I finished the year off with a relatively small number of reads, but I did start the year off aiming for three books a month so it's perfectly reasonable really. Those books were Heap House by Edward Carey, The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell, annnnnd a reread of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by Her Majesty J.K. Rowling. 

Heap House

I really enjoyed this book and despite it taking me ages and ages to read, I really enjoyed being in its world. Heap House is set in a world of rubbish heaps outside London, in a sort of trash based steam punk Victorian alternative history. Heap House is owned by the Iremongers, a family who rule the heaps and all have very close relationships with their 'birth objects', items which have been assigned to them at birth. Clod Iremonger has a special ability to hear these objects speak their own names, and the story unfolds to unravel the meaning behind this mysterious gift. I got very wrapped up in the world following Clod and Lucy Pennant at their opposite ends of the house and social hierarchy. I have books 2 and 3 in this series so I'm looking forward to diving right back into that world. For Lemony Snicket lovers and Steam Punk appreciators.

The Wolf Wilder

I think I might give this it's very own stand alone review because I loooooooved it. I picked up The Wolf Wilder at the Edinburgh Book Festival last year and saved it til the winter months to get in the right cold, dark mood for some Russian wolf based adventuring. The story follows Feodora, who lives with her mother in a very snowy remote part of Russia, where they 'rewild' wolves who have been the fancy pets of fancy people in the cities. The horrible, evil Russian army come and ruin everyone's day, leading to a departure from this beautiful way of life, to one on the run. Feo travels through terrible snow storms with her pack of wolves to seek justice. There are quite a few sad bits (my copy is currently lent out to Katherine, who can't keep reading for fear of more wolf-harm), but I promise there is a happy ending, and it really is an exciting, snowy, wolfy adventure. For lovers of wolves, mother-daughter relationships, and baddies getting poked in the eye. 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Wellll of course this is a reread, but I don't think I've read it in several years, possibly even not since my last reread the year it came out. But that can't be true suuuuurely! As it had been so long there were loads of little things I had forget/had been written over by the films in my brain: Harry's birthday at the Burrow with the giant snitch cake; Harry on Polyjuice potion for Bill and Fleur's wedding to look like a random Weasley cousin; the final goodbye between Harry and Dudley; poor Kreacher left behind at Grimmauld Place; Harry mending his own wand, then putting the Elder wand back in Dumbledore's crypt; and ohhhh my that final show down in the great, with Harry firing curses from under the invisibility cloak then appearing to shock everyone, and then the rising sun hitting his and Voldemort's faces after Harry's big monologue where suddenly he understands everything, and then the final spells pow! Ohhh so great. So so great. My heart was facing. It's facing again just thinking about it now. I should probably so start from the beginning again, which I could do with the illustrated Philosopher's Stone I got for Christmas!

Sooo that's all folks, I did start reading My True Love Gave To Me but I finished it in January so it'll appear in my post on that month. January was short stories month and it was raaaather fun. It was my birthday in January too, so I think I'll do a post on the books I got for Christmas/Birthday from people/presents to myself. 

Heap House was sent to me by Hot Key Books in return for an honest review. The freeness of the book in no way affected my opinion.