The TBR Tag!

Tis the season for readathons… And yesterday, I had actually planned to do a post announcing a TBR and deciding to plunge straight into one for the first time… Buuuut I kinda missed the boat. Trouble is, as much as I want to join some of these, I am currently drowning under my TBR and often feel like the challenges are more likely to push me under than act like a life raft (yes, I know, overdramatic much?)

So that was a realllly long (and unnecessary) preamble to explain why I’m gonna talk about my crazy TBR- cos maybe, just maybe, shaming myself out of my bad habits *might* force me to change (we can all live in hope)

Anyhoo, thank you so much to the *awesome* Katie @Never Not Reading for tagging me recently and the lovely Reg @ She Latitude and the wonderful Larkin @Wonderfilled Reads for tagging me ions and ions ago too!!

 

Onto the public shaming!!

shame.gif

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

Okay, first question and I’m already going to sound like a basketcase- I have several ways of keeping track of my tbr:

  1. My goodreads- nice and normal…
  2. My amazon wishlist- for books I will most likely have to buy to read- most “independent” books go on here
  3. My physical tbr which I place in full view so that I can’t escape it!!
  4. An excel spreadsheet which I try to update with unread kindle books
  5. Scraps of paper for books I can get out the library at some point… yeah… if you started reading this thinking I was really organised I doubt you’ll be thinking that now 😉

Here’s my current physical tbr:

IMG_20170803_125859792_HDR

Is your TBR mostly print or ebook?

However I can get hold of it! My usual choices are library/second hand sites/reduced ebook

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

I’m a mood reader- but my moods are often determined by whichever books (physical or ebook) that I have to hand 😉

A book that’s been on your TBR the longest.

hunchback-notre-dame-victor-hugo-paperback-cover-art

Annnnd I promised to read that last year- what’s wrong with me?

A book that you recently added to your TBR.

one of us is lying

Which one? I am intrigued…

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover.

I’ve gotten so much better about not adding books for pure cover value- I have been burnt so many times before- but I do have books on my TBR like Homegoing which both sound amazing *and* have pretty covers- result!

homegoing

A book on your TBR that you NEVER plan on actually reading.

Hahaha you caught me! I have a few books on my TBR I’ll probably never read. A couple of which I got free on my kindle- one is Ulysses and the other is the entire Virginia Woolf collection… I already dnf’d these books but I’m so stubborn I can’t bring myself to say I’m never gonna read it (I’m never gonna read it though)

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for.

Book of Dust!! Pierce Brown’s new book. Licanius trilogy.

A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read except you.

strange the dreamer

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you.

suitable lie

I first saw A Suitable Lie on Meggy’s blog and recently I’ve seen it tons of places- I want to read it!!

A book on your TBR that you’re just dying to read.

Pahahaha just one?! I’m gonna go with one that I don’t have- otherwise it’ll just be highlighting the fact that I have no excuse not to read so many of the books on my tbr!

furiously happy

And let’s pretend there are no more books I need to read… Oh alright then, here are two more that I’ve been “currently reading” forever because they are long and difficult- SHAME!

currently reading

(and if I do sporadically try to join into Tome Topple, these will be *it* for me)

The number of books on your goodreads TBR shelf.

Jeez- this is gonna be hard to answer! I considered just sneakily putting my goodreads on here, but that wouldn’t be terribly honest, so I’m going to give a breakdown:

  • 90 ebooks
  • 282 on goodreads
  • 135 on amazon wishlist

So 507… Yeah… like I said I’m drowning *gasp* *splutter* *gasp*

I’m gonna be lazy today and not tag anyone directly, cos I don’t know who has and hasn’t done this- but feel free to do it!!

Okay, that post was about as rambly as my TBR! Do you have a problem keeping up with your TBR? What are your shameful TBR confessions? Commiserate with me in the comments!

8 For 8 – August Mini Reviews

Wow- it’s August?! What the hell happened? What’s even scarier is that I somehow am not struggling to find books stuck in my backlog, even though it’s the eighth month (and that means 8 reviews according to my strange system). I genuinely don’t know how I have so many?! Anyway, this is guaranteed to be a long post, so let’s get on with it!

the falconer

The Falconer–  this was a thoroughly enjoyable book- I loved loved loved the intricacies of the world building. The relationships were done really well, the characters were complex and this was so fast paced that I whizzed through it. All credit to Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku for her excellent review for this one, because it made me pick it up and it was well worth a read.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana

mountain in my shoe

The Mountain in my Shoe– this had such a compelling, intriguing start. Actually scrap that: I was utterly absorbed from beginning to end. There was a lull in the middle, but overall it was as well written as you would expect from a book of this name (because wow that title!) There were a few moments of info dumps- but done in such a clever way that it really worked! (I know “info-dump” and “works” don’t normally go into the same sentence). Furthermore, this addressed raw and real subjects that I can’t normally bear to read about this- but this was an exception to my normal rules! Also I want to say another THANK YOU to Meggy for her amazing review that made me pick this up too 😀

Rating: 4/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian– I didn’t connect to this*at all*. Mostly I think that was down to the writing style: it read as whiny, a little gross and I had constantly to remind myself that these were serious issues because the voice was so distracting. I liked the cartoons, but this was yet another sign that this was not out for me because the style put it way out of my age range. I would really put this in the category of being for people who liked Tracy Beaker (I didn’t even like that even as a child) just with an American slant. To be honest, it was the Americanisms that made this feel more than a million miles away in the end- I think this will be far more relatable to an American audience.

Rating: 2/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana

don't stop me now

Don’t Stop Me Now– okay moving on from a whiny character to me being a whingebag… I feel like a grumpus for not liking this one cos it’s supposed to be feel-good and yet… it didn’t work for me. To be honest the main character and I got off to a rocky start, partly cos I’ve had similar mishaps in my life (aka dreams not coming true/things not going to plan) and yet I wouldn’t have got through if I’d mentally handled it the way she did. Putting myself in her shoes felt like shaking hands with worst parts of my own psyche. But mostly, I got kind of annoyed at the book because the radio hostess was a bit of a caricature of Katie Hopkins and I ended up playing devil’s advocate for her in my head- and that’s not somewhere I want to go as a general rule (and if you don’t know who she is just count yourself lucky and move on with your day). Basically, this ended up feeling like a hit piece on her, rather than taking on her ideas in a mature debate, which you know, is pretty darn easy to do considering she’s the person who said she wanted euthanasia icecream trucks for old people… Ughh see why I felt uncomfortable when this book made me accidentally relate to her?

Rating: 2/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana

a confession

A Confession– okay- let’s talk about something more uplifting. This rather short book is quite excellent and really resonated with me, because it explores both the depths of nihilism and, inversely, more spiritualistic pursuits. I do think this might work more for people of a Christian background (and even more so for people who are religious) but I still got a lot out of it and definitely think I’ll reread this in the future.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana

prisoner of heaven

The Prisoner of Heaven– I liked this the least of Zafon’s work so far. It was still really well written, but it felt disconnected at times and more of a footnote to the previous two books. I did enjoy the link to Count of Monte Cristo though.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana half-a-hand-drawn-banana

nomad partridge

Alan Partridge: Nomad– this takes the word “rambling” and runs with it: the subject matter, style, and structure all embody the word. What wasn’t rambly was the punchy humour. This did make me laugh less than Alan’s previous book, but it was sheer gold at time and when it did crack me up I couldn’t stop.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana

ice like fire frost like night

Ice Like Fire/Frost Like Night– I literally got nothing out of this- I have only one thing to say about it: why the hell did I bother to continue this series? Between them they managed an average of:

Rating: 1½/5 bananas

hand-drawn-banana half-a-hand-drawn-banana

So have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

The Queen’s (In)Justice

got 7-3.png

*As usual, there will be spoilers, proceed at your own peril if you’re not caught up*

Okay that title’s a tad misleading because not only did some of the characters have their just desserts, we as fans were served up more than our due! So so much of our patient waiting was paid off in this episode. Yet, for all the JUSTICE of this episode, this is Game of Thrones we’re talking about- and for every bit of satisfaction there was a nail-biting moment to set us on edge again!!

In the first five minutes we get a Tyrion/Jon reunion and one of my favourite scenes:

i am not a stark.gif

cue dragons

(I also believe the red dragon is Rhaegal- so it was doubly poetic!)

And next we had a decent interaction between Melisandra and Varys (I love how they understand each other). I loved her last spooky throwaway line “I have to die in this strange country just like you”. Either way, tata Melisandra… at least for now.

Then we get something to really rant over. Okay… I have a confession- I’m one of those people that’s been shipping Jon and Dany since season 1. I really reallllly want it to happen and now it’s in touching distance and I can’t breath and arggghhhh. As you might be able to tell I’m losing my cool now- this show is killing me. To be honest, I have literally no idea if this will ever happen, but I did enjoy their scenes on their own merit regardless.

Firstly, I loved the character development here. I think the screenwriters have come a long way from the Tyrion/Dany meeting (that felt very fanfic-y to me) because both Dany and Jon were so true to form here. First of all, it was fun to watch how stubborn they were, both bringing up good points, even while they butted heads with each other. I also loved how Dany spoke for herself, whereas a more humble Jon had to have the Onion Knight stepping in for him. To be honest, this was done so well that even though I know and like Dany I never expected her to cave, but was glad she did.

Add to that a brilliant script this week and we had some real television magic. It was so nice to have a bit of humour injected this week (who noticed the Onion knight’s short: “This is Jon Snow- he’s king in the North” to the super long Dany introduction). I even liked how it seems like Tyrion’s light-hearted touch has rubbed off on Dany because she had some very witty lines too. But really it was Tyrion back to his old ways and stealing the show again cos he had some real zingers:

brooding tyrion

monsters like my sister tyrion.png

dreary in the north tyrion

Now to talk a little about the Greyjoy situation. I might get a bit of stick for this, but I kind of started thinking about how Theon’s experiencing a bit of a character reversion right now (which to be honest brings back a lot of old anger I still have pent up for the character because if he hadn’t been such a shit at the start…) Either way, the one I feel sorry for is Yara, because she’s done everything right and doesn’t deserve this. Euron’s a total sleaze and I’ll admit, I’m beginning to dislike him, especially cos of how he’s treating poor old Jaime (still far from my fave villain though)

And speaking of villains… That Cersei scene was chilling. I was even moved by the sandsnakes’ plight- that’s how much I hate Cersei. (I can appreciate the rather biblical measure for measure justice she metes out though…) And I have to also say that her talk with the bankers made my skin crawl- I mean ewww to that “sometimes tragedies are necessary” line. Ultimately, Cersei is finally showing that she actually has a wicked clever brain- “a Lannister always pays their debts… Do dragons?”

But she’s not the only clever woman on the block now- she has a budding rival in the north. Let’s face it, Sansa is getting cleverer and cleverer with every episode- and I must say how much I appreciate this development for the character. I love her sarky tongue and how brilliant the dialogue was. And of course, one of the best things we had this week was her reunion with Bran!! (admittedly this did have a creepy tinge to it though I was relieved he doesn’t plan to take Winterfell off Jon).

Strangely enough for Game of Thrones, we got more than one sweet scene this week (I know- two in one week?!) I don’t usually get gushy over Jorah or Samwell moments- but *oh my goodness* this was done perfectly and got an “aww” out of me!

And then, just when we were all thinking this episode was going down without any action… We got *another* battle! I swear- the showrunners are not letting us down this season. What I liked about this was how it was shot differently, so we didn’t actually see as much bloodshed, but we did get the tactical narration in the background which was a change from the usual. It was nice to see Tyrion’s brain work with his super smart Trojan horse trick… for all of three seconds. Because damn it this is Game of Thrones and things never go to plan. It does not seem Tyrion is getting very far in this Lannister vs Lannister shenanigans.

But for all that, the theme this week was actually queens- and while we did get more than a little *woman power*, ultimately it was the Queen of Thorns who stole the show. As sad as it was to see the Tyrell’s wiped from the face of Westeros, Olenna’s swansong was EPIC! Because we got that final piece of justice, where Olenna confessed to killing Joffrey (although I predict this will still have no effect on Cersei’s view of Tyrion or Sansa- I do think her reaction could be something that pushes Jaime further away- but we will see…).

I can happily say that this was one of my favourite episodes to date- it was just done so well. Yet more players have been wiped from the board and there were many, many perfect moments. I can hardly wait for next week- so if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to rewatch scenes from this week for the umpteenth time!

So what did you think of this week’s episode? Are you dying for more? Let me know in the comments!!

Grappling with the Drowned and the Saved

drowned and the savedThis is one of the hardest books I’ve read this- or any- year. Not so much for it being intellectually stimulating, though it does stretch the brain somewhat, but for how emotionally draining it was to read.

The best way I can explain it is by putting it in direct parallel to Man’s Search For Meaning. Though of a similar nature and sharing the same subject matter (Auschwitz and the Holocaust), Frankl’s book is one of the most uplifting reads I’ve ever experienced. Victor Frankl more than just physically survived the war; Primo Levi on the other hand felt like a different story. Put simply: Levi is the darkness to Frankl’s light. Reading this is like wading through vast oceans of mental perturbation.

And fair enough. The Holocaust should never make for easy reading. Here is spotlighted some of the worst of humanity- the humiliation, the dehumanisation, the pointlessness- all contained in something so simple such as depriving inmates of spoons. I know that may sound meaningless to a lot of people, but the weight of Levi’s delivery and language carries you down into the depths of Nazi depravity.

Though simply written, Levi concentrates on complex ideas and philosophy, ranging from the grey areas of good versus evil to the very nature of reality and memory. So much of this is dedicated to trying to make sense of this atrocity- but I can’t pretend it reached any solid-ground conclusions. None of this will make you comfortable – I daresay some of you will even be discomfited by the review, but as Levi says:

“Uncomfortable truths travel with difficulty”

But at the same time as recognising this book’s brilliance, I could not help feeling adrift after. I confess that this book, written shortly before Levi’s suicide, was not something I was mentally prepared for and I was barely able to keep my head above the waves of its echoing despair. One day perhaps I will read another of his works, but not before I have a sturdier vessel to carry me to the dark places it will no doubt take me.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana

Have you read this book? Do you plan to read anything by Primo Levi? What book have you read lately have you struggled with? Let me know in the comments.

Hogwarts Tag

hogwarts logo

I wasn’t tagged for this, but I saw this brilliant post over on Zezee’s blog and even though I didn’t get tagged… this was too good to pass up!! Especially on Harry Potter’s birthday!

And if you’re wondering how I know that date, my answer is…

hermione bitch please

Am I a pureblood, half-blood, or muggle born?

Probably half blood- my family are batty enough that there’s got to be a wizard in there somewhere… but then there’d also be a lot of oblivious muggles I reckon

Which wand chose me?

wand pottermore

Did I take an owl, cat, rat, or toad with me?

I couldn’t pass up an owl, even if I’d want a cat! Which is a pretty contrary answer, but whatever, who could say no to this face…

chouette harfang

Where did the Sorting Hat put me?

ravenclaw

What house did I want to be in?

Ravenclaw- isn’t that how the hat works? It takes your feelings into account 😉

What lessons are my favorite and least favorite?

Favorites:

Charms (what’s not to like?)

Transfiguration (ditto)

Defense Against the Dark Arts (let’s kick some dementor butt!)

Divination (if not taught by Prof. Trelawney)

History of Magic (I never get why no one likes this- it’s *history* + *magic*- basically it’s fantasy books!)

Meh:

Arithmancy (I’m assuming it’d be like maths, which I liked up until my last year of school and then I got bored)

Astronomy (it’d send me to sleep)

Study of Ancient Runes (ditto)

Care of Magical Creatures (upsides and downsides- the upsides being nifflers and hippogriffs… the downsides being blast-ended skrewts)

Least favorites:

Divination (ARGHHH THE FUTURE IS SCARY- STAY AWAY!!)

Herbology (ughh basically biology)

Potions (Snape who, let’s face it, was a horrible teacher + chemistry = yeuch!)

Muggle Studies (ermm real life? Who’d pick that?)

The form my patronus takes:

ocicat

Ocicat- I was so happy with this, cos as I mentioned recently, my favourite animal is an ocelot, and this is pretty darn close!

 

What does a boggart look like for me?

Ermm a crazy person? A clown? A high building? I’m pretty easy to scare… I mean just ask any of my family members- I jump when they enter a room- so yeah- it’d probably just be someone going “BOO!”

boo.gif

Gosh I’d have the lamest boggart ever.

Do I partake in any magical hobbies or school sports?

Haha I’d love to think that I’d be good at quidditch- but let’s face it, I was never good at/interested in school sports. I’d have been that really cool kid that hung out in the library all the time with the books 😉

hogwarts library

Where would I find myself hanging in my free time?

Hehe okay, time for some naughty school confessions: I was very very good at hiding in all the schools I went to. Here are just some examples: in a secret corner of the music room I discovered was the perfect nook for reading (plus you could leave your book there before the lesson and read to your heart’s content- result!), anywhere where there were overgrown foliage, under the stairs, behind the shelves in the library, the careers room (no one was ever there), the roof (which makes sense, I *am* a monkey). It’s a wonder I was never caught- either way I imagine, even at Hogwarts (especially at Hogwarts!), I would be anywhere I wasn’t supposed to be. I’d snaffle that Marauders Map in a heartbeat and end up in the Shrieking Shack before you can say Alohamora!

whomping willow

Also the message of this story for anyone under 18: stay in school kids! (But more importantly, if you’re gonna misbehave *don’t get caught*)

What would I most likely get detention for?

Reading at my desk, writing things unrelated to class, duelling (I mean if I could manage to create epic battles with just a ruler- imagine what I could do with a wand!)

What career do I want after leaving Hogwarts?

This one’s actually really hard, cos I don’t know that many wizarding careers- I’d say writing for the Daily Prophet cos it’s the closest to writing I can think of (I could be the next Rita Skeeter… ugh what a thought)

 

I tag:

Sophie, Vicky, Kat, Marie, Reg, Nicola, Never Not Reading, Sherbet Lemon ReviewsWonderfilled Reads and anyone else who wishes to do it!

Ice Twins Gave Me the Chills

ice twinsWoweeee! This book was like dumping a bucket of ice water on my head. And before I can get into why this book was so awesome, I have to say a massive thank you to Meggy over at Chocolatenwaffles Blog because it was her *incredible* review that made me pick this up in the first place!! (And if you don’t know who Meggy is… where have you been? I swear when you go over there your TBR will grow exponentially, but it’ll be so worth it, cos all her recs are amazing!!)

In case it isn’t obvious, I loved this book. It had all the ingredients for a great thriller. An utterly chilling premise, unsettling narration and characters you couldn’t quite straighten out. Slowly, slowly it built up the doubt and the mystery. Then everything began to unravel. Ninety percent of my notes were expletive-laden questions, so intense and dark was the plot. I doubted everything; I questioned everything. Nothing was straight forward- and that’s just how I like books like this… But man, every second of this book was beautiful torture. I wanted to read on, I needed to read on, but I dreaded finding out what was happening.

One of the best things about this was the atmosphere. The tone was set off perfectly by the glorious backdrop of the Scottish Isles- taken away from civilisation and plunged into the wilderness where the uncanny dug its claws in…  Even now I’m thinking about it and that disquieting feeling is creeping up on me. I was frozen in place. Because as the house crumbled around them and the island reclaimed itself, I felt as if I was being taken over by this unnerving book.

I barely was able to catch my breath the entire time I was reading this. That was largely down to the exquisite writing. It was so beautifully written that my kindle looked like a rainbow of highlights by the end. But I regret nothing- because virtually every single line was quotable!

This book completely blew my mind and is easily one of the best books I’ve read all year!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

 hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana

Have you read this? Will you be checking it out? Let me know in the comments!

Stormborn was a BLAST!

got 7-2.png

*Spoiler alert!*

Well this episode ended up surprising me more than the last. I wouldn’t have believed it, partly because of how thrilling last week’s opener was and also since the beginning of this episode was much more mellow.

Given that the first scene featured Varys- an always welcome- but more of a Machiavellian than a dramatic influence on the show- I did not think we would see fireworks. As enjoyable as it was to see them discussing their war council, I felt like this episode was going to set things up like a game of chess, and this hour would be devoted to getting everyone into position… how wrong I was.

There was some stellar character development before we got to any of the action though. I was especially delighted with Tyrion’s plan and coded message- it is *so long* since we’ve seen that brilliant brain work! That was more than welcome reminder of why he is one of my favourite characters!

Along with this, there were some lovely tender moments and some ughhh-what-are-you-doing-scenes (with Cersei- they’re always like that though). And in terms of Game of Thrones trademark gore, this episode starred some hardcore greyscale, and I have to say this was the grossest thing I have ever seen- on this or any show! I mean: ewwwww!!

The other notable moment, before we get to *that explosive conclusion*, was when Arya and Nymeria were reunited. Bittersweet and heartbreaking, it wasn’t the reunion we’d hoped for and raised so many questions for me. I know that the showrunners have talked about how it shows that Nymeria found her own life… but I wonder if it hints at a dark ending for the Stark assassin. For instance, I’ve always thought the execution of Sansa’s wolf is the symbolic moment when she becomes more Tully than Stark- so is this too symbolic of Arya’s estrangement from her wolf? Does it show that she will never be tamed? Does it suggest she will never make it home to her family?

And finally… THAT ENDING!! I wasn’t expecting that. Of course I should know by now it was never going to be straightforward, but I really didn’t think I would see a full scale battle in the second episode. Like the battles last year, it was beautifully shot. They only get more exquisite to look at: the ashes falling, the fire dancing, people dying everywhere… and yet it was oddly stunning to look at. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from this grotesque spectacle (one of those moments that will sift the GOT fans from the Guardian writers- I saw yet another article complaining about the violence in this show and wondered why are they still watching it 7 years on?!? Anyway, I digress…).  I can’t say I’m sorry to say goodbye to the sandsnakes- but what happened to Theon and Yana was *devastating*. I will say, this is the first time in a while that I’ve begun to wonder about what would/will happen in the book…. Only time will tell (or not). Either way, I can’t believe how much has already happened here- the showrunners are not letting us down this year. God only knows what will come next (okay, I have some inkling from the trailer and I might have screamed).

Anyhoo- hope my thoughts weren’t too all over the place this week- it was a very exciting episode and all my coherence went out the window after that final scene. Have you seen this yet? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments!

And sincere apologies for this coming so late- the old Mad Hatter (my computer) is acting up (well, more than usual…)