Superlatives Tag

Hello all! Phew, it feels like I’ve not been on in ages, because I’m falling so far behind with comments and bloghopping- all I can do is apologise profusely for that. I’m juggling quite a lot at the moment and at the same time I feel at this point peppering every post with excuses will drive everyone (including me) mad. So just consider me the *most sorry* monkey on the planet. And that’s a nice segue into…

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how happy I am to do the Superlatives Tag! Thank you so much Kelly @Another Book in the Wall for tagging me! Now, I’m not exaggerating at all when I say Kelly is absolutely lovely and makes such an interesting wide range of topics- I’m constantly blown away by how awesome her blog is!

#1 Most Likely To Be in the Movies: the Book That Would Make the Best Movie

Red Rising Pierce Browns

Red Rising! Can you imagine how good this would be? Roman culture *in space*- I’m imagining this in my head right now and it’s amazing.

#2 Biggest Drama Queen/King: The Most (Overly) Dramatic Book or Character

thirteen reasons why

Thirteen Reasons Why– *Very* unpopular opinion, let’s not start a row in the comments section about all the various controversial aspects of this book (I’ve made my opinion on it clear years ago and I stand by pretty much all of it) but I’ve been watching thirteen reasons why and it’s reminded me how much I hated the mc. She’s not actually nice to *anyone*- ever. Not to her parents, not to her friends, not to potential bfs. And she takes rather drastic means of revenge, which ends up hurting people who didn’t deserve it and psychologically damaging them (I mean, didn’t Jessica suffered enough?! Why torment Clay when he wasn’t a reason?) Of course, people are free to reach entirely different conclusions, I just really didn’t like her.

#3 Best Dressed: The Book With the Best Cover

hazel wood

Hazel Wood- ahhh- I read it recently (review coming soonish) and I LOVED every second! I can happily say this is gorgeous both inside and out.

#4 Most Creative: The Book With the Most Unique Plot, Characters, & Structure

eleanor oliphant is completely fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine- tempted to use We Were Liars like Kelly, but I talk about that a lot anyway. This is so different to anything I’d ever read- in every area! I was thinking I was in for a fluffy contemporary, but I was wrong, in a good way! And there was no way I was expecting that ending. This book certainly kept me on my toes!

#5 Most Popular: The Book With the Most Ratings on Goodreads


Harry Potter- erm pretty sure Harry Potter’s pretty popular and justifiably so 😉

#6 Most likely to succeed: The Book That is Going to be Appreciated For Many Years to Come


Homegoing– I actually mentioned this in my mini review– it’s a remarkable book and I’d be surprised if it isn’t a future classic.

#7 Class Clown: The Book That Made You Laugh Out Loud

the light fantastic

The Light Fantastic– really I could have said any of Pratchett’s books, only I read this the most recently (I’m all over the place with Rincewind books) and yeah, as per usual with Discworld books, it made me laugh out loud 😉

#8 Most Improved: The Book That Started Off Slow, But Really Picked Up

magician's guild

The Magician’s Guild­- this started off so s-l-o-w. Grinding through infodumps and non-action, I really wanted to DNF it. But my friend told me to power through because it gets better. And do you know what? To my amazement, it did. In fact, I ended up loving that series. So I guess I’m grateful to my friend for the heads up (I also blame this book for me forcing myself through so many books that *do not* get better).

#9 Cutest Couple: Cutest Couple in a Book

carry on

Carry On– okay, I wanted to be all original, but really, it’s got to be Baz and Simon!

#10 Biggest Heartbreaker: The Book That Broke Your Heart

words in deep blue

Words in Deep Blue– I spent the vast majority of my time reading this in floods of tears. I need to sort out my thoughts and do a review soon, but it’s gonna be hard, cos this book is *emotional*.

And on that note, I tag: Bethan May, Jill Jemmett, Lit Crit Pop, Kat@Life & Other Disasters, Samantha@Modern Witch’s Bookshelf, Sam@Rivermoose Reads, Bookish Owlett, Journey into Books, Angelica, Howlin Books, The Sweaterist and The Readers Bay

So what do you agree or disagree with the *most*? Let me know in the comments!




Game of Thrones Season 2 “A Very Small Man Can Cast A Very Large Shadow”

*This post is dark and full of spoilers for season 2 and plenty of HINTS for later on*

Hello all! I’m back with my second instalment of my Game of Thrones series review! If you missed last week’s, you can catch up here.

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I will admit, rewatching Game of Thrones, I forgot how dark the show was. I guess with the more fantastical, hopeful aspects of the later series, it had slipped my mind. These early stories are all “out of the frying pan and into the fire”. There’s harrowing scenes littered throughout, including the murder of all Robert’s bastard children and Bran’s visions of death. At the same time, there’s grim visual settings, like the Red Waste, Harrenhal and the Garden of Bones. And of course, we get our first look at the army of the dead. While I rarely think of season 2 as the most memorable, there’s certainly a lot to it.

Daenerys Targaryen


One of the best pieces of imagery that ties the whole first episode together is the red comet and as we’re told it “means one thing- dragons”. I love how this again hints at the connection Dany has to all of Westeros, even in exile. This is of course the cue for Daenerys “Where’s my dragons?” Targaryen. Of course this is the season where she comes into her own as the mother of dragons. It is a season where she has to make difficult choices and sacrifices– so well exemplified by her vision of the throne room covered in ice (not so subtle foreshadowing) where she must leave behind the dream of her husband and child, as life calls her back. And that call is of her baby dragons who need their mother.

She doesn’t have a whole lot of power to begin with, exemplified by her ragged appearance at the gates of Qarth, yet she becomes even more queenly than the previous season. Perhaps it is because even borne so low, she never loses that regal quality. I think this is one of my high points for Dany, because even with so little, she has such a commanding presence in this series.

However, she does some shall-we-say morally ambiguous things in this season too– namely locking the scum who betrayed her in a vault to die. *Ahem*, yeah, I know it’s wrong, but I can’t say I blame her for that one. It does however act as a precursor for some of her more dubious actions later on.

Jon Snow


I feel sorry for Jon in this (and every) series- I mean he was made to stand out- he’s sharp and has a strong moral compass regarding Craster’s sons- but he’s constantly pushed into the shadows and told to shut up. However: “You want to lead one day, then learn how to follow” is good advice for all the would-be leaders on the show. Highlight for season 7 spoilers: It kinda makes me more forgiving of him bending the knee to Dany, only I wish it hadn’t been one sides and wish they had pledged themselves to each other instead.

Speaking of humility- it turns out that what our hero needed was a wildling girl to tell him “You know nothing Jon Snow”. And as a major plus, he gets one of the best love stories in the show, because Ygritte is simply awesome- SO CHEER UP JON! (alright spoilers, but given how that one turns out, I can’t blame him for pouting there)

He does also have tough challenges like killing Qhorin Halfhand- but he steps up and actually does it- showing not for the last time that he is not a Stark (truthfully, I’ve no idea if the Starks are capable of that, but it’s an interesting question). Personally I think this shows he has both honour and wit.

Moving on to someone who has neither of those…

Theon Greyjoy

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WTF Theon?! Why are you so thick!! Sorry, had to get that out my system. He makes *the worst* decisions this series. It’s bad enough that he decides to switch sides in the war, making him a traitor (though I guess one could argue he was a traitor to his own house before) still, on top of that, he gets a very simple task and effs it up. I mean, I’m hardly condoning the notion of “paying the Iron price”- yet does he really think people need moral support in reeving and raping? Really?! He’s trying to play this honourable leader figure to people whose main purpose in life is to raid and pillage. Plus he gets good advice from people like Yara and Maister Lewin annnd he totally ignores it.

There’s also a ton of things he shouldn’t have said this season:

  • “Winterfell has stood for a thousand years”– that’s TV code for it’s about to burn to the ground.
  • “I’m looking at spending the rest of my life looking at spending the rest of my life looking like a fool and a eunuch”– *ahem*, awkward…
  • “It’s better to be cruel than weak”– are you sure? Tell me that after one of your sessions with Ramsay Bolton.

Okay, I know I’m being excessively harsh, but he did betray his friends, murder two innocent children and a shit ton of other things. My sympathy for Theon at this point in the story was at rock bottom.

Onto other mistakes…

Robb Stark

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Ahh poor Robb, a great military leader, but OH MY GOODNESS he makes *so many* mistakes. Let’s go through them shall we:

  • Trusting a Greyjoy. Actually, scratch that- just trusting Theon- that guy has snake written all over him.
  • He should’ve stayed in the North. I know, it’s closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, but at this point, they didn’t have all that much to gain from military action. Once Ned was dead, the cause feels more aimless and trying to get to King’s Landing seems like a waste of time. Even if you say “oh it’s to save Sansa”, that’s nonsense, because the Lannister’s would have killed her before he ever reached the capital. I dunno, maybe I’m crazy saying they could’ve sued for peace- I just know, tactically speaking, they could have held the North on their own and they couldn’t take the South, so…
  • Not attempting to trade Jaime earlier, before things got out of hand. And then, like I said, RETURN TO THE NORTH. With Sansa and compensation (crazy idea, I know).
  • Yeah marrying someone for a bridge is pretty dumb- but do you know what’s more dumb? Marrying someone else when you’re already engaged for political reasons. Look, I get it, I used to love his romance with Talisa- however knowing everything that comes to pass… it’s too hard to watch it with blinkers on. I did like his little jibe at Cat though when she criticises him: “the only parent I have left has no right to call anyone reckless.”

Honestly, I don’t know if my suggestions would have made things better, it’s just speculation on my part, but I think we can all be certain (knowing the events of season 3) IT COULDN’T HAVE BEEN MUCH WORSE. I feel like this entire season is laying groundwork for the catastrophes that are to come. Yet, if you think I’m letting Cat off the hook for her part, you have another thing coming…

Catelyn Stark


Now I’ve already said that I think there was an option for a prisoner swap (actually, I didn’t mention this last time, but there’s a lot of times when she’s partially right- still she only ever gives enough advice to have leeway to say “I told you so”, never mind that the other half of her advice is always godawful). *However* swapping the Kingslayer for two girls had to come with more provisos- aka money and peace. Yet, Cat’s still got her eye on revenge, when she should be taking in the whole bloody picture.

Again, her negotiation style leaves a lot to be desired– how can you say to two grown men who call themselves kings “I’ll knock your heads together”? Really, Cat? Thanks for your oh-so-helpful input. But if you want to talk about non-negotiations- letting Jaime go in exchange for his word is INSANE! If you really believe the Lannisters are the villains you say they are- then what the hell are you thinking?!?

Stannis Baratheon

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From one awful character to another- and I’m not just talking about Stannis. I’m of course referring to the Red Woman. She’s one of the most evil characters in the show- and that’s saying something! She kills people for no reason and says charming things like “You will betray everything you once held dear”- good pep talk I guess? She also is a bit of a fraud- I mean, she had to know sticking a random sword in a fire wasn’t going to make it Lightbringer- or is she a fool? It’s a possibility, since her catchphrase is “the night is dark and full of terrors” and doesn’t realise she’s evil.

Not to say that Stannis isn’t awful too. Let’s discuss some of the things he does wrong:

  • He sleeps with some bloody weird priestess, not only breaking his vow to his wife, but creating a demon baby to kill his brother.
  • He decided not to align with the Northmen out of pride that they were taking half your kingdom- dude you lived under the Targaryen’s and never thought to be king- why are you so attached to it?
  • He has this righteous arrogance and thinks he’s the chosen one- which he uses to justify *anything*.
  • He has no heart– I mean not only does he not care when people are burned alive in his name, he also sacrifices all of his men at the battle of Blackwater and is pretty callous about it.

So yeah, not a fan of Stannis. There was a point later when I almost liked him, but that’s a story for another post.  The Onion Knight is awesome though.

Tyrion Lannister


On the other side of the Battle of Blackwater, Tyrion gets the chance to shine and boy does he LIGHT IT UP WITH DRAGONFIRE BABY! Okay, I’m getting carried away, but this is one of Tyrion’s best moments. He shows he’s a master manipulator and the best Hand of the King. He manages to get Varys on side, use Littlefinger and expose treacherous Maester Pycelle. He also blackmails Lancel to spy on Cersei and puts Joffrey in his place. All whilst looking out for people like Sansa.

Sansa Stark

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Poor Sansa has a crap time of it this season. Cersei and her monstrous son take full advantage of her vulnerability. I did have one criticism for her this season in that I always thought she should have had courage to go with the Hound– she knew he’d protect her and frankly even if Stannis had won the battle, she’d have just flitted from one cage to another. BUT I did appreciate some of the smart things she did, like how her quick thinking saves Ser Dontos from being murdered and how she plays her part very well when she’s released from her engagement.

Cersei Lannister

With more freedom afforded her, we get to know Cersei better this season. Her saying “love no one but your children” to Sansa sums her up completely. There’s interesting elements in Cersei developing Joffrey’s sadistic stupidity (both this season and the last filling his head up with arrogance and idiocy). However, I appreciated seeing Blackwater from her personal angle. When I think of season 2, I often get images of her, entertaining the frightened hens of her court, getting drunk, wishing she could be a part of the man’s world and having the only courage afforded to her, waiting on the throne with Tommen as the battle rages. Sure, she does terrible things and she’s not that smart (calling Joffrey away from the battle kills morale) but I can’t deny there’s something very iconic and human about her on the brink of taking her own life, telling a story, with the notes of Rains of Castamere starting up in the background.

Arya Stark

arya stark

Now I would be remiss to not to talk of another strong female character. With her sharpened wits and her little blade, she begins her adventure with Jacquen. Well, I use the term “adventure” very loosely. She watches people get murdered, tortured and everything in between. There’s a very poignant scene when she asks “how do you sleep?” And with everything she’s seen, it’s no wonder she has trouble. Yet she does not let that deter her, constructing a scheme to help her and her friends escape the horrific Harrenhal.

One of the best things about this season is her interactions with Tywin. I know this is fictionalised for the show, yet it works so well. And of course, I haven’t had time to talk about Tywin in either of these reviews, but let’s just say, I think the character, introduced last season symbolically skinning a deer, is enigmatic.

So how did you feel about season 2? What did you all think of some of the character decisions? In particular, what do you think about my alternative Robb Stark strategies- yay or nay? I’m open to hearing all your suggestions! 

My Austen Rankings – Inspired by Never Not Reading

So in case you don’t know, I’ve pressed pause on the favourite classics list for now, but the whole process of doing that has got me thinking. Especially since there were a ton of books I put on the list and then took off the list- it was a bit of a hokey pokey process 😉 I kept trying to select the absolute best ones by any given author, otherwise it’d just be a never ending list. One of the more difficult ones for me to decide over was Austen because I actually adore 5/6 of her books… so how did I choose between them?! Well, that’s why I thought it might be fun to talk about them all (and yes, I know I’ve talked about the top two recently, but you can never talk about Austen too much!)

This post was inspired by the absolutely lovely Katie @Never Not Reading, who came up with this awesome idea a few months ago and who has the most *incredible*, interesting, thought provoking content. She’s currently on maternity leave (MASSIVE CONGRATS to her and her whole family 😀 ) but that is *no excuse* not to check out her blog- I guarantee you won’t be disappointed! Her blog is one of my favourites!!

And of course I loved her post on this! The thing that excites me about everyone’s preferences when it comes to Austen is that no matter who you talk to, no one seems to have the exact same order- which makes it such a fun thing to do! Let’s get to my ranking:


Emma– ahh it can hardly surprise anyone, given the number of times I’ve cited this as the perfect book 😉 I’m gonna be brief, I’m into everything about this book: the wit, the character growth, the romance- it all makes me swoon 😀 Plus, it’s kinda fitting for this to be my number one since it’s the book that made me fall for Austen in the first place. Although in fairness, depending on my mood, you could switch it out for…


Persuasion– yup, there’s loads of times this has been my number one Austen- the romance is so intense in this one! As I’ve mentioned before, the love in this gets me all sappy, because dammit they’re still in love after all this time and ISN’T THAT JUST THE SWEETEST! *Ahem, regains cool*- I also have a great respect for the heroine- she’s kind, without being a total pushover (*cough* like some other characters I will mention… *cough cough*) But yeah, I’ll summarise my feelings about this book thusly: squeeeeeeee!!!

pride and prejudice

Pride and Prejudice– *confession*- the first time I read this, I wasn’t especially taken with it (I was a bit young and I don’t think I picked up on the irony) then I got set it as one of my AS texts and just *groans all round*. At least, that was my initial reaction- before I reread it, I picked up Emma and fell in love with that… so much to my surprise, when I reread this I fell in love with it too! Now I adore everything about this book and will happily reread it any time 😀 So moral of the story, I can change my mind about books 😉 (although I can’t think of anything else I’ve drastically changed my mind about since then 😉 )

northanger abbey

Northanger Abbey– it feels so wrong putting this fourth on the list given how much I love it. I do hover about whether I put this ahead of Pride and Prejudice *all the time*. It’s such a romantic book- and hilarious at the same time! I also think the parodic elements get funnier with every gothic book I read.

sense and sensibility

Sense and Sensibility– again, I really enjoyed this one, so don’t assume I’m putting it at number 5 on the list for any other reason than I like the other ones slightly more. Like Pride and Prejudice, it has strong sisterhood themes and I was definitely into the relationship drama.

mansfield park

Mansfield Park– okay, I’m not going to make any excuses about putting this last- quite simply, it’s the only one I dislike. Fanny’s a drip and the relationship’s incestuous- I actually was rooting for her to end up with the Mr-Wickham-stand-in (is it obvious I’ve not read this in a while?) I am actually tempted to reread it and see if I still hate Fanny just as much (plus I did just go on about giving Pride and Prejudice another chance)… but also really can’t be bothered because there really wasn’t anything I enjoyed about this one- sorry!

What I learnt just then was that ranking Austen is HARD! Honestly the first four often end up in different positions, so this doesn’t even feel definitive. Anyhoo, do you like Austen? What’s your ranking? Let me know in the comments!


All-Time Favourite Classics #4

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Wahey we made it to part 4!! As I said in the first week, I’m going to pause this series after this post, though I’d like to continue it someday. For now though, I’m working with a more “realistic” (*ahem* mostly) theme to round off these favourite classics:

canterbury talesCanterbury Tales– I was endlessly surprised to find how realistic the characters in this were- not least because this was written OVER 600 YEARS AGO! And yet the fundamentals of human nature haven’t changed. What is also incredible is how complex and layered each of the stories are, how they tales interplay with their role in the prologue and how this all builds up the character study even more.


great expectationsGreat Expectations– ahh the king of realism- Dickens. And this happens to be my favourite I’ve read so far. A part of this comes down to how much I adore the story- and yet I find that somewhat imperfect- not intentionally so (I just prefer Dicken’s original ending where *spoiler alert* he doesn’t end up with Estella, it made more sense from a narrative standpoint). But mostly, because I cannot get over that image of Miss Havisham, sitting in her wedding dress. It’s both tragic and horrifying.


catcher in the ryeCatcher in the Rye– this one will surprise people straight off the bat, because it is such a Love-it or Hate-it book. I for one won’t pretend that I liked Holden Caulfield- in fact I spent a good deal of time disliking him- and yet… there was something so compelling about him. I could not deny the realistic tenor to his character. Nor could I say that I didn’t grow sympathetic to him over the course of the book. That change struck me and took me by surprise- it felt like getting to know an actual person. Yes he may be whiny and difficult on the surface- however strip away the layers and there is so much more to him. So feel free to love him or hate him, but you can’t deny that this book captures something very real.


to kill a mockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird– I genuinely do not have any words for this book. The realistic characters, the finest fictional father figure of all time, the story, the beautiful writing, the message- ah it makes me speechless. If you do not know why it is on this list, then quite simply you haven’t read it.



king learKing Lear– okay, yes I’m following with a shall-we-say less good fictional father? (yes, I will admit I didn’t know what book to put next). But on the positive side this play made me cry… wait a second… JK- what I mean is this is a deeply moving play (not that I’m a masochist who seeks out stories that will make me cry… okay I totally do that- whatever 😉 )


brothers karamazovBrother’s Karamazov– speaking of dysfunctional families (gosh I ought to make a “favourite dysfunctional families” list) In all seriousness, this book is magnificent- not least because this has some MAGNIFICENT characterisation. I have to say that I love the intellectual tussles between Ivan and Alyosha (#teamAlyosha… which is weird because I should rightly pick Ivan… whatever I’ll psychoanalyse that comment later 😉 ). Incidentally, anyone that knows me might be surprised to have found no Dostoevsky’s my favourites so far- never fear, this part has three- pahahaha!


hamletHamlet– but if what you’re looking for is philosophical questions, why not get to the crux of the existential issue. To be or not to be– damn I get shivers from that speech every time. There’s a reason it’s quoted a million times. And sure, Hamlet might procrastinate for half the play about whether to avenge his father, but all his romps through faux madness and his eventual spurts of violence are so worth it… err… sort of. Stay in school kids.


waiting for godotWaiting for Godot– well since we’re on the subject of existential despair, we may as well go in for a penny in for a pound. And okay, this slightly surreal play is kind of the opposite of the realism theme I’ve been leaning towards here. Despite the strangeness of the play, however, it’s very clear that the themes it plays with- the passage between life and death- are very tangible issues. Some could say the most real of all. And of course, I could give any number of reasons for this being on the list- but what I will say is that what makes this play special is how it makes you feel alive with laughter one minute, and then, all of a sudden the warmth fades away, and you are left with nothing but a chill.


notes from undergroundNotes from the Underground– I actually studied this for a “Novel and the Collapse of Humanism” course (I know, cheery stuff). Here Dostoevsky explores the paradoxical nature of man- both alien and atypical of his society. It is a work of pure genius- exhibiting the internal chaos of humankind- as we struggle to find our place in the world (and if you’re in any doubt as to how seriously cool this book is, this 19th century book smashes through the fourth wall, like a Deadpool comic)


idiotThe Idiot– and yet it is The Idiot which probably takes the spot as my favourite Dostoevsky. I’ve mentioned time and again how I love the hero, Prince Myshkin (#relationshipgoals), because he is one of the most saintly characters ever written… and that’s his greatest failing. Which leads me onto my rather bizarre favourite thing about this book- it kind of fizzles out at the end- yes, it’s unintentional, but that’s what I like about it- it’s a failed book about failure.


judeJude the Obscure– okay, let’s be honest, if we’re going to talk “doomed from the start”, Jude really takes the biscuit. I’m not saying that this is a dark book, I’m saying THIS IS THE MOST DEPRESSING THING I HAVE EVER READ IN MY LIFE. I really don’t blame people for not liking this one to be fair- nonetheless, for me, this is one of the most memorable books I have ever read. I can never shake the images it has planted in my brain. So I guess all that’s left to say is: hey Jude, don’t be afraid… watch out for women who try to trap you in marriage, just sayin’


richard iiiRichard III– okay to leave off on a more positive note- let’s talk about someone who actually deserved to get their comeuppance. Cos let’s face it, from the opening speech, we can be certain Richard’s the baddie. And I know, I know, some historians and novelists have tried to rewrite the character in a more sympathetic light BUT there’s no following Shakespeare. He is “determined to prove a villain”- and what a villain he is! Too bad he couldn’t get hold of a horse.

Previous Posts:

All-Time Favourite Classics #1

All-Time Favourite Classics #2

All-Time Favourite Classics #3

I will admit that over the course of these posts I did add to this list, but I’ve decided to give it a rest for now. Anyway, have you read any of these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!


A Doodle from my Uni Days

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This is exactly what it says on the tin- I found this in my stuff, think it’s amusing, so thought I’d share. It’s good to know I was paying so much attention in class. Also *rock on* medieval fables about chickens- I guess I was really taken with it 😜 I seem to remember one of my friends coming to my room and asking why, of all the stories we’d studied, I had an illustration of this one stuck on my wall- I guess I’m just very cool… 😂 Don’t believe me? Well here is my hipster chicken to prove it:

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What am I doing with my life, I could’ve been a chicken artist… 😂



Why I Love the Last Kingdom

*No spoilers*

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So I’m feeling some resentment towards this series at the moment. I mean, it basically took over my life so I *had to* binge watch it, made me preoccupied when I wasn’t watching it and then had the audacity to end?! (well, I ran out of episodes) I’ve been bereft since I finished! Really, it was TOO GOOD. I’ve not been able to watch TV properly since I finished it a few weeks ago (no joke!) And with the time I haven’t been watching the show- in typical bookworm fashion– I’ve been reading the books (I’m already upto number 4 and loving it!) I just can’t get it out my head! Ach, I love it so much, too much. But- you might ask- why do I love it?

Well, I’m glad you asked 😉 It’s simple really: I love a damn good story. Each episode/chapter is action-packed and also manages to build up to a dramatic crescendo. Meaning, I didn’t have to wait forever for something to payoff, while there’s always the promise of bigger, better things to come. My heart was in my mouth the whole time I was watching it- there was tumultuous relationships, tender friendships, brilliant fight scenes, and pain that was all too REAL. Simultaneously agonising and cathartic, it crushed me and rebuilt my hopes over and over. I felt so alive with it that it made me want to go out and have adventures of my own– and you can’t give a series a better compliment 😉 In short, it was EPIC.

It was also stunningly shot. I know it’s nots big budget, but I don’t think that’s always necessary to do a story justice. And there was something authentic in this– it felt super gritty. This may sound like a weird thing to mention, but one thing my mum used to complain about with BBC productions is how often they have clean faces- they go to all the trouble of getting the costumes right and then make everyone spotlessly clean, even poor people super clean (even though in the book it mentions how royalty bathe once a month). I know historical cleanliness is something that’s up for debate- but having people who’ve been fighting or farming be somewhat grubby makes this feel more realistic to me.

For all this, the show still has a very lively spirit and this is thanks to… the main character. Oh my goodness, Uhtred is a fantastic hero. Funny, clever, slightly immature, arrogant as heck, all heart, but strong as a blade- he’s pretty hard not to love. One thing I did notice is how the book and TV show highlight different aspects of his personality, though all of the ingredients are the same. In the book, he’s more head than heart- and I did like seeing him being more calculating and particular successes being more down to cunning. However, I feel like this was swapped out for a tad more joie de vivre and so there was something ineffably charming about the TV iteration. There were also some other necessary for TV changes- like ageing him up faster- but again I feel like they played with this by making him younger in mind rather than physically showing it.

On top of that, there were so many interesting side characters and the show certainly played around with them. In particular, I found myself intrigued by King Alfred, both ally and on-and-off antagonist. He’s one of those weirdly complex individuals who I both dislike and respect at the same time. Some characters did feel superfluous earlier on, but the best ones always get intriguing storylines, which adds a little more depth.

Something else I loved, in both versions, is how the story explores the meeting of Saxon and Dane cultures. I believe (from what little I know of the period) that there eventually was cohabiting and intermarriage between the cultures- and I do like how the show allows this to develop organically. Plus, I think the depictions of *world’s colliding* is brilliantly done. Obviously, Christianity is in the ascendancy in the story, though that clash between the old gods and the new is still a consistent cause of tension. And one of the best ways this is done is through Uhtred’s inner conflict about being a Saxon vs being a Dane. This struggle then ripples out to the how others interact with him and how he moves within the world. I appreciated how subtly this is tackled- both in the book and the show- so it simmers in the background, infrequently boiling over and yet never fully flooding the other aspects of the plot.

Likewise, I liked how this tied into historical events (what little I know of them anyway), without being overpowering. The music and setting go a long way to creating a convincing atmosphere for this peculiar, fascinating, lost world. I know it’s filmed abroad, still it feels like a lost corner of England, if that place had been frozen in time.

What is most amazing about The Last Kingdom was that when I finished my first question was “why don’t we learn more about the Saxons/Vikings in British schools?” And then, with some fateful research, I read online that this was what had inspired the author. Now, call me crazy, but when an author actually manages to light the same fuse in its audience with their book, I think it’s pretty special. Any story that manages to get across its exact premise is a success to me. And this most definitely fed my hunger for history. It’s like the creator passed over the torch to the showrunners, and they passed it over to me (and hopefully other viewers).

I personally am very happy I watched the TV show first– I felt it conveyed the atmosphere brilliantly and I had *so much* fun with it. While I liked the books- they are written with plenty of clarity, are funny at times and Cornwell has a strong voice- I did find they are foreshadowing heavy (which is fine, I often like that, but in the case of spoilers, I liked going into the show fresh and unaware where the plot was headed). Either way, I believe the two exist very well as separate entities and stand on their own just fine.

I can safely say the show will go into my very selective hall of *favourite shows*. I am absolutely enthralled by this story and think it’s a MUST WATCH. And yes, I am saying this so that more people watch it (it’s on Netflix! Go now! #nonspon). While they’ve commissioned season 3 (*mush mush*) I need this show in my life for longer! Or I will make like a Dane and get an axe… *ahem* in case you can’t guess, I kinda want to to BE a Viking warrior now…

orangutan viking

(yes I know the helmet’s historically inaccurate, but c’mon, doesn’t my monkey look cute?)

Okay, I will admit, I got a little carried away in that last paragraph- but can anyone blame me? This show is awesome! Have any of you seen it? What do you think about it? Do you plan to watch it? Let me know in the comments!


Throwing a Little Shade at One Dark Throne (but not too much!)

Welcome back to the world where three sisters fight it out to be queen. In case you didn’t remember, I reviewed Three Dark Crowns a while back, and found it a bit lightweight for my tastes. Still, I found book two in the library and decided to give it a shot- cos why not?

*Massive spoilers for Three Dark Crowns– you have been warned*

one dark throneAnd I can safely say it was marginally better. Particularly as Katherine, the most meh character in the first book, underwent a dark turn and became the most intriguing. Fortunately no one was calling her sweet in this book- and let’s be honest, she was sharp as a barb, so no chance of that. Unfortunately, however, this came at the cost of me feeling far less interested in the other two sisters. While still an okay sort, I wasn’t as invested in Arsinoe and thought Mirabella was a bit of a damp squid this time round.

In terms of writing, it was fine. I can’t believe I didn’t notice this for the first one, but it was written in present tense, which gave it an immediacy, though could be somewhat jarring (I don’t suppose that’s a criticism, more a personal taste thing). It also struck me that the perspectives flipped really fast- which again made the pacing whizz by. I’ll admit, my notes got sidetracked by the technique here, even though it’s not the flashy sort of writing I usually pay close attention to- which sadly was a consequence of not giving a monkeys about the characters.

Anyway, on the positive side, I was not here for that- I was here to be entertained.

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Fortunately, this was fun fun fun. The plot certainly thickened in this one and, thanks to Katherine’s more edgy character, it wasn’t as predictable. I didn’t know what was going to happen the whole way through- which is a lot better than guessing the whole thing in the first page I must say! The only thing in terms of the plot that really bugged me was how no one’s guessed Katherine’s a naturalist (oh spoilers, cos this isn’t technically in the book as far as I remember, but that’s only because everyone’s slow on the draw). For those who aren’t into the series, the three queens each have distinct powers: naturalist, poisoner and elemental- and the twist in Three Dark Crown’s was that the naturalist is actually a poisoner- da da! Which makes the poisoner a naturalist. Now, you’d think that if I could figure this out on page 1 of book 1 (you know, the snake familiar was a pretty big giveaway) you’d think that people living in this world would’ve guessed by now… but nope. All they keep saying is “huh funny there were two poisoners in one year…” *facepalm*. Why play out a plot twist that’s already been exposed? I’ll never understand that.

Another thing I wasn’t keen on was the romance. I was unconvinced by Billy, had *no idea* how Kat even entertained the idea of getting back with Pietyr and Joseph could go drown for all I care. Highlight for spoilers: yeah I probably shouldn’t have written that for people that want to read this- he did, quite literally, drown, and no, I didn’t care. I did however think it was cool that Kat killed one love interest by sleeping with him- so, yay? I dunno, like I said, really not in this for the romance. Fortunately, the friendships and other family relationships caught my attention more.

One last thing that’s been bugging me as I’ve read these books is WHERE THE HELL ARE THEY? Seriously, this world building is so sparse- I cannot get a clear picture of where they’re supposed to be.  I keep getting loud and clear that this is not like the outside world- but what’s the outside world like? I have no frame of reference apart from them not having queens, not having powers (I think?) and wearing black at funerals… so really, nada! Help me out here!

Okay, I may have thrown a bit too much shade at this book, but I swear I didn’t have such a bad time with it! It was pretty average, but that was fine. I enjoyed it more than book one at least.

Rating: 3/5 bananas


Yeesh- I hope I haven’t ruined that for anyone. Has anyone read this? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!