Honest YA Dystopian Book Blurb

(Un)inspired by the subject of my last review, I decided to write my own Honest YA Dystopian book blurb- enjoy!

This is one hundred percent about important issues- sort of…

I mean there will be an end of the world plot… even though the world already ended before this book began… But who cares? The world can end twice, right?

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Plus- get excited cos we have not one, but several oppressive governments nested inside each other like a Russian doll (really this book is a bargain- that’s why it’s £9.99 for a kindle edition)

And don’t worry about Instalove- IT WILL BE INCLUDED- we know how much you love it. And expect plenty of staring at the main love interest to- *lots and lots of stares*- to convey all the *emotions*. We wouldn’t want this “love at first sight” thing to be subtle. Also, we know this is important to you as a reader, so THERE WILL BE NO LOVE TRIANGLE (until book 2)…

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You’ve probably read about ten (better) versions of this before- but ho hum, what’s an eleventh gonna hurt? So sit up and take notice- cos I swear this will not be as exciting as the Hunger Games or Divergent (nor will the protagonist be nearly as kickass, but the narrator will tell you she is on countless occasions)

Also, if this blurb makes you *in any way* afraid for the main character, don’t be! We all know corrupt systems of government are totally useless at stopping teenage girls and their hunky boyfriend(s).

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Annd that’s it- you’ll have to read the “book” to know more  😉 Hope you enjoyed that! 

Books are about empathy, not division

The whole point of reading is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

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It’s about relating to people that *are not* like you. I thought for a bit about books with characters like me in them and they weren’t people that matched me in identity, but in thoughts, feelings and actions. When I read I can be anyone else.  So why would I just want to be me?

And since it’s almost guaranteed that someone will go “ah that’s cos you’re privileged and represented in books so many times” and it always comes back to technicalities of “what you are” instead of who you are, I will be blunt: the vast majority of the time I’ve read about people with my ethnicity and gender they’re being murdered… so lucky me, I guess?

But really the point here is not to say “I need books where people like me are not being murdered”; nor is it to say that there is some secret class of people that somehow manage to abscond with all the “privilege” in the world. If you know me at all, you’ll know that’s not what I’m about. In fact I am saying quite the opposite- the truth is we can all relate to books where on-the-surface there is nothing relatable in them. Art is the great leveller in a free society.

Let’s be honest, none of us have much in common identity-wise with Dobby the House elf, but many of us still cried when he died (come to think of it I don’t have much in common with Hedwig either and that did me in too…). Books do not have to be about what we are at all to have a profound emotional effect.

So read beyond what makes you comfortable, never segregate your reading habits and explore horizons you never thought you could.

Just a thought… Let me know what you think in the comments! 

Book Borrowing Horror Story!!!

Okay- that title implies quite a bit more drama than actually ensued, but I thought it would be fun considering my post the other day where I basically said that I find writing in books (for the most part) a-okay, to flip the conversation on its head and talk about why I’m hesitant to lend books and the perhaps surprising fact that if people mess with my bookish babies, they will have to deal with the full force of a monkey wielding a bunch of bananas…

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I also have to add that this post was inspired by a wonderful post Emily @Embuhlee Liest did a while back where she shared a harrowing story of borrowing betrayal… You guys should check it out!!

twilightMy own story revolves around an unsuspecting series I’ve actually unhauled- so I shouldn’t actually have been as scarred by this as I was- and that book series was Twilight. I know, I know- this is the equivalent of my saying “I’m really upset by what happened to my reader’s digests I stored in my basement for years”. But whatever, let’s go back in time to my teenage years, when sparkly vampires were a thing (yes as much as we’d all like to forget it, it was in fact a thing) and this actually mattered to me. It was just before the films came out and only two of us in my 60-in-a-year girl’s school had read these books. So when someone I wasn’t too friendly with asked if she could borrow the first one from me, the resident bookworm, I said yes…

When she was done with it, she wanted to lend it to her friend, and then she wanted to lend it to her friend and before I knew it, my books had passed through every girl in my year! (Yes, yes, I blame myself for spreading this cancer to this day). Not only did it take me ages to track down where these books had ended up, but when I was finally reunited with my books, they were all torn and beat up- the *horror*!! And of course, everyone said “I got them like this”.

So because of all this I have some pretty darn strict rules for lending books:

  • I don’t lend books I expect to get back. If a book is special to me, it’s staying right where I can see it.
  • I only lend to people that reciprocate- partly cos it’s like a book hostage situation- “wanna see your book again… well then give me mine back!”
  • Mess up my books and expect the aforementioned banana pelting (and for the record- just cos I said writing in books is fine, don’t write in your friends books!)
  • Lastly if someone says “oh I lent it to someone else…” well let’s just say the person will be going on my lending blacklist- I don’t care if the person is your gf/bf, mother, aunt, best friend’s sister- don’t lend out books on my behalf! Not cool!!

That’s all for today! Hope you’re having a lovely Sunday! Do you have any rules for book borrowing? Let me know in the comments!

In Defence of Writing in Books

So this is pretty pretty controversial, but I thought in the spirit of talking about deadly sins, I thought it was time I discussed one of my bookish habits… And that is writing in books!

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Now I know that just mentioning it will be enough to get many people running for the torches and pitchforks, but I do have my reasons for this. I rarely do the whole *oh look I got a humanities degree* thing unless I’m looking for laughs, but in all seriousness, this is standard practice for students and academics in this field. For purely practical reasons, writing in books not only helps with selecting poignant quotes, but is the most effective way of dissecting language. To give an example, here is my copy of Dorian Gray:

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I didn’t just highlight it for kicks or because *pretty colours*- I actually did that to expose the layers of meaning across the text, particularly in this incidence colour coding specific symbolism and techniques Wilde used. While I have actually poked fun at this before in my Goodnight Moon post, I can also tell you that this is an accurate look at how a poem that’s been properly analysed will end up looking. For me and many others, writing in books is device to encourage thinking.

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Even though I keep a ton of notebooks to hand, it’s not sufficient for all the ways a book needs to be taken apart and there are downsides for doing a proper thorough analysis just using one technique– time wasting if nothing else is a huge issue with writing out all the quotes- a lot of books need both to do it justice.

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And while I wouldn’t personally write in a library book, I’ve found other people underlining passages in non-fiction helpful and add to the debate/discussion the book is having. I don’t know about you, but I’m a “work as close to the deadline as is humanly possible” kind of gal, so if at uni I picked up an annotated non-fic book where some kindly soul had drawn arrows literal to the important bits, I’d be singing Hallelujahs all the way home. As for writing in books I borrow from friends- well, I’m not an *animal*! (Just a cheeky monkey- but I still wouldn’t dream of doing that!)

Other people also say writing in books is a way of making a book more personal too- which is fair- because, even though I only annotate classics, would-be classics or non-fiction, I do feel like people reading my books are getting a bit of a more personal experience (or just getting walloped over the head with *foreshadowing* signposts as my sister complained to me once). Whatever way you personalise your books, there is something to be said about picking up a used book and finding someone else’s impressions in it (it’s a weird quirk I have, but I even love stranger’s inscriptions in the front of used books).

One last complaint I have seen is “what would the author think!” Well the obvious answer is “I have no idea” but then nor does the defender of clean copies. Some writers might be offended, sure, but I can only live my life as a “do as you would be done by” sort of person. And I can safely say for myself, as a writer, that if someone annotated my work I would be over the moon. Because it would be saying “look how many thoughts I had because of what you wrote!” I cannot imagine anything more flattering.

So- dare I ask- do you agree or disagree? What is your opinion on writing in books? And should I expect an angry mob outside my home tonight for being a *tad* too controversial? Let me know in the comments (so I can barricade my front door!!)

A Critical Review of The Tiger Who Came To Tea

*Insert usual “this is satire” disclaimer here: sometimes my brain just comes up with this and I can’t be held accountable 😉 *

In times of Trump…

And of Brexit…

What we really need is to come together and invite tigers into our homes… to steal our food and make our water bills impossibly high…?

Wait a minute… I don’t think this book is actually being inclusive. In fact, I think The Tiger Who Came to Tea is actually bigoted propaganda for the BNP… or something…

Oh my goodness, Judith Kerr ran away from the Nazis to start her own genocide against tigers!!! This is racist bilge and we must burn it… Cos that worked out so many times before…

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#MakeCensorshipGreatAgain

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Oh boy- I just know I’ll get in trouble for this one- I really shouldn’t be allowed near children’s books, should I?

It’s That Time of Year Again- Spring Cleaning My Bookshelves

Well hello there! And hello Spring!! I cannot believe that April just crept up on me like that- where the hell has ¼ of the year gone already?!

Anyway since it’s spring, it’s time for me to *spring clean my bookshelves* aka do a massive unhaul!

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I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a limited amount of space for books, so every so often, some of my books have to *make way* in the great Circle of Book Life!!!

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As tough as this is, I do like to think of my books going on to bigger and better things  (and I’m beginning to sound like I’m about to be parted with my children instead of just my books… AH WHO AM I KIDDING MY BOOKS ARE MY BABIES!!!) Okay, let’s get started before I get (more) emotional!

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Let’s start with something I have zero guilt about: The Age of Five Trilogy. I had high hopes for this trilogy, but in the end it did very little for me.

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I actually liked this book- but I didn’t love it and I just know I’m never gonna read it again. So… it’s with a little regret that I’m gonna say goodbye. Still not too much regret cos it will be sacrificed on the altar of Making Room For New Books *and* I’m pretty sure whoever picks this up will enjoy it

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I never actually reviewed this book, cos nothing about it really stayed with me- except that it was weird and I didn’t get it at all… I just don’t think this kind of magical realism is for me (especially considering my feelings about One Hundred Years of Solitude). Can’t say I’ll be sorry to see this one go.

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This one’s a bit of a shame, cos I had looked forward to it for years… and I didn’t like it. And since it seems to be a habit that I didn’t review the books on this list, I’ll give you a quick rundown on my thoughts. To be honest, I found the story and the characters were massively cliché. Great if you’re fond of descriptions of castles- sadly not for me though. Funnily enough, I actually did end up enjoying the last one in the trilogy more than the others- which is strange cos that’s the one most people hate- I guess I’m just a total oddball. As for giving up this book, I am only sorry that this was such a pretty edition. Ah well- I’m sure whoever picks this up is bound to appreciate what’s inside more than me.

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Another one I liked- like most Dianna Wynn Jones books, it’s sweet. It just wasn’t a favourite and I have to be pretty ruthless right now regarding space.

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This turned up in my old collection of books (that I was briefly reunited with). I don’t actually own any of the other ones, can’t see myself reading it again, and hadn’t meant to buy it in the first place… Fun series though- if anyone’s thinking of checking it out! (Boy am I sending mixed signals here)

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A bit superfluous to the Chocolat storyline if you ask me.

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I don’t really remember this book- except that it was about an old lady? And twins? Maybe?!

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This one was just AWFUL!!! This was described as a “pageturner” and that was one hundred percent true- I just kept turning the pages waiting for it to be over!!

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I was recommended this by a good friend and I can see its merits- I JUST DID NOT CONNECT WITH IT AT ALL! I was tempted to hold onto it, cos *wow that cover*, but no, it’s gotta go!

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This post is really making me seem like I have some problem with Joanne Harris, isn’t it? But I swear I don’t- I actually liked this one too- as you’ll see in my review– but it’s just another one I didn’t feel strongly enough to keep.

And lastly…

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I’m giving my copy of Watchmen to a friend that likes graphic novels. I got this second hand- so *no guilt* about giving it away, especially since I know it’s going to a good home!! 😀

But wait- there’s more! As usual, I need your help with whether to discard a couple of other books:

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As you may or may not know, I did not like these books *in the slightest* BUT I’m still debating over whether to get rid of these two, cos the covers were perty and, unlike most of the books on this list, they weren’t second hand… so?!

What do you think? Should I give these away too? Or can I assuage my guilt for another few months before another purge? Let me know what you think in the comments!!

My favourite poem in the whole wide world…

I really believe this is the best poem known to mankind:

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Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

’Twas about seven o’clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clouds seem’d to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem’d to say-
“I’ll blow down the Bridge of Tay.”

When the train left Edinburgh
The passengers’ hearts were light and felt no sorrow,
But Boreas blew a terrific gale,
Which made their hearts for to quail,
And many of the passengers with fear did say-
“I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay.”

But when the train came near to Wormit Bay,
Boreas he did loud and angry bray,
And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

So the train sped on with all its might,
And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sight,
And the passengers’ hearts felt light,
Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year,
With their friends at home they lov’d most dear,
And wish them all a happy New Year.

So the train mov’d slowly along the Bridge of Tay,
Until it was about midway,
Then the central girders with a crash gave way,
And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!
The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
Because ninety lives had been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,
And the cry rang out all o’er the town,
Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down,
And a passenger train from Edinburgh,
Which fill’d all the peoples hearts with sorrow,
And made them for to turn pale,
Because none of the passengers were sav’d to tell the tale
How the disaster happen’d on the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.

YES THAT’S RIGHT- William McGonagall, the world’s worst poet, is my favourite!

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YES- SERIOUSLY! I swear to you this is not an April Fools- I wouldn’t lie to you like last year… I’m not kidding; I never kid… Oh alright then APRIL FOOLS!

(But I really do love that poem- gets me every time 😉 )