Which Characters from my Favourite Books am I?

Hello all! I have a reallllly big guilty pleasure: I love online quizzes. Yeah I know it’s illogical and about as accurate as reading a horoscope- but if Buzzfeed wants to try and gauge what Westerosi house I am from my choice of breakfast cereal, then I’m all for it! And since it’s becoming a bit of a tradition for me to do a post like this every year, I stole this from the wonderful Katie @Never Not Reading! I thoroughly enjoyed her answers (and found I have a lot in common with her, which I kinda already knew 😉) and love reading her posts in general- so *highly recommend* checking her out!

Now let’s jump into the questions!

Six of Crows

Quiz: Which Six of Crows character are you? (Grishaverse.com)

What I think I’ll get: maybe Inej?

What I got: Kaz!

Oh wow- not sure if this is true- but I’m happy cos he’s wicked smart!

Percy Jackson

Quiz: Which Percy Jackson character are you? (Playbuzz)

What I Think I’ll get: I’d love to get Annabeth!

What I got: Yay I got Annabeth!

I feel like this has affirmed my whole existence 😉 Athena is easily my favourite Greek goddess and I love Annabeth!

The Raven Cycle

Quiz: Which character from The Raven Cycle are you? (Buzzfeed)

What I think I’ll get: I want to get Ronan, but don’t think I have much in common with him!

What I got: Blue Sargent

Well I think that was rather random, especially cos lots of the images had been taken down, but that said I think it’s somewhat accurate (at least the outspoken part)

The Lord of the Rings

Quiz: Which Member of the Fellowship Are You? (Playbuzz)

What I think I’ll get: Well I’d like Eowyn…

What I got: Aragorn

Well that’s very flattering

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Quiz: Which “Simon Universe” character are you? (EpicReads)

What I think I’ll get: Simon I suppose

What I got: Simon!

Really like the description here! Makes me feel all warm inside! (like the book did)

Harry Potter

Quiz: Which Harry Potter character are you? (Buzzfeed)

What I think I’ll get: I think I’m most like Luna Lovegood (don’t know if that’s an option though)

What I got: Dumbledore?!

I get Dumbledore so often in these quizzes and I don’t really get how! I have so many feelings about Dumbledore- not all of them good… so I never feel amazing about getting him! Sorry!

Quiz: Which Hogwarts professor are you?

What I think I’ll get: Really want McGonagall! (cos I’m basic 😉) But, let’s face it, I’m gonna get Dumbledore again…

What I got: I’m going to leave it for you to guess hahaha!!

This is just part of the course now! I’m just going to have to embrace it (and get myself a silver beard to cosplay with)

(oh god I just remember that I did this as a kid)

(I’m not kidding, it’s all coming back to me and I’m guessing that’s why I keep getting Dumby).

Pride and Prejudice

Quiz: Which Pride and Prejudice character are you?

What I think I’ll get: I desperately want Elizabeth!!!

What I got: Elizabeth!!

Aha this makes up for being a secretive old guy with a beard! While Pride and Prejudice isn’t my favourite Austen novel (just cos I love her others so much more) Elizabeth is the best Austen character! And I’d love to be considered anything like her!

And that’s all for now! Do you enjoy quizzes too? Do you identify with any of these characters? Let me know in the comments!

My Must Read Non Fic

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know I didn’t use to be a massive non fiction reader. When I was younger I struggled to read any non fiction book from cover to cover. Then I started including non fiction in my yearly goals to make sure I got my fill. But now- this year- for some reason I can’t explain, I’ve been devouring the non fiction. Maybe it’s cos I got into memoirs last year, maybe it’s cos I can’t seem to click with a lot of my usual favourites this year. Either way, I thought it might be good to recommend a few of the very best non fic books I’ve read over the years. Books that are *vital*, that will shake you to the core, that will mean a lot to any reader. Now, while this won’t be a favourites list, I will say that my interests in non fiction are pretty niche, so be prepared for an unusual selection. But I hope you get as much out of these as I did:

Big Magic– I want to begin on a positive and empowering note- so what better place to start than with something that will spark your creativity? Insightful and inspiring, this was such an uplifting read for me. And it might just give you a kick up the backside if you need it 😉

The Art of War– one of the most spectacular books I’ve ever read. This is full of ancient wisdom that still feels very relevant. And while the title might suggest it’ll only be of use to military generals, I’d strongly recommend this to anyone writing a book or just needs to understand people a bit better. The advice is surprisingly universal.

Man’s Search for Meaning– I’ve gone on about this book so often, I almost feel bad… but it’s such a good book!! It made a massive difference to my own outlook on life. Frankl may have been through hell, however, he used it to empower others to find meaning in suffering.

Twelve Years a Slave– a heartrending, true account, sometimes I just think it’s important to understand history and look evil in the eye. Speaking of which…

Evil– this is in part to understand how and why other people do evil things, but also to understand our own nature as humans. In my view, that is the only way to truly prevent evil in all its forms. When I first started looking into moral psychology, this book was recommended everywhere and for good reason. Not only is it a thorough exploration in its own right, it’s also got a very good bibliography that you can use as a springboard for further research.

Ordinary Men– this is a book I found because of Evil (and other recommendations). Even though I knew it would be tough, I also understood that I had to read it if I wanted to truly understand how ordinary men can do evil things. As important as it is to remember victims, I’d argue it’s more important to understand how the human heart can be twisted to do the unthinkable. Lest we are doomed to repeat it.

Wild Swans– I’m not just recommending this because it’s emotional and moving and interesting- though it is all those things. It goes beyond personal stories to be an account of a historical era that, while recent, seems to have been quickly forgotten. We ought to know more about it.

In Order to Live– I was blown away by this memoir. It was both an incredible and universal tale of human endurance, giving us just a peek behind the fences of North Korea. Hearing of how Park not only persevered and survived, but also thrived was such an inspiration to me. It was impressive beyond belief. Human endurance.

Gulag Archipelago– even if you just read volume 1, I think it is tremendously important to understand the full scope and tragedy of communism. This is the definitive explanation as to why it did not work and why it could never work. It also demonstrates how the same tragedy repeated itself across borders and how the experiment fails the same way every time. I also personally found the parallels with 1984 astounding- which, interestingly enough, the previous two recommendations also explicitly referred to.

Communist Manifesto– because of my last two recommendations, this may be a surprise. However, unsurprisingly, this is not an endorsement of communism. Far from it. I believe that an honest evaluation of this creed is necessary. I trust people to check it out for themselves (and come to your own conclusions about whether it’s a good idea to denigrate human endeavour, family and freedom).

On Liberty– whether you agree with this or not, I feel like it’s important to understand the founding principles of a lot of Western political systems. I think this is a great place to start.

Righteous Minds– given the gulf that exists between political classes right now, I’d say there’s never been a more important time to read this. Explaining why different people react differently to the same information and why people might have different political inclinations, I think this could be really useful for people looking to reach an understanding. In my view, this book can help people move towards productive conversations and see each other’s perspectives. I reckon we could all do with this in our lives.

Woke– and since we’re ending on a political note, then I must once again talk about THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK OF OUR TIME! This book will CHANGE YOUR WHOLE WAY OF THINKING! You will see what A GODDESS TITANIA MCGRATH IS! (okay, for the record, this is satire, don’t make the same mistake as that bookshop that took it too seriously 😉 but I do think it’s a must-read, because there’s no greater cure for all the *bonkers* in the world than a little bit of laughter!)

So, have you read any of these? Do you agree with me? Disagree? Have any MUST-READ books to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

My Battle with War of Art

war of artOof this was a painful one for me to read. If you liked it, then more power to you, but for me this was an uphill battle from the start. Look elsewhere for positive reviews, because I’m going to go all in on this one. I don’t want any fights to break out, I just found this book ridiculous. Something (well a lot of things) really rubbed me the wrong way here.

My issues started with the childish personification of “Resistance”. And, no, that’s not my capitalisation. The author does that to make it seem Oh So Very Important. To me, this idea that “People have Resistance” didn’t come across as especially profound. It just seemed like a rather juvenile way to say sometimes people procrastinate. Well, that’s how the idea starts out- it gets a lot more ludicrous.

Within a short amount of time, the author proceeds to call *EVERYTHING* “Resistance”. If you’re out walking your dog, that’s Resistance. If you’re having sex, that’s Resistance. And if you’ve got a mental health problem, well guess what? That’s Resistance. Thankfully he does acknowledge some mental health problems are real (and not marketing ploys like other issues)… buuut also calls them Resistance. Great expert analysis there.

Who am I kidding? This guy knows jack shit about anything. Look, I get it, self help books tend to be light on facts- however this takes it to a whole other level! He plucks statistics like “70% of doctors think there’s nothing wrong with their patients” out of his arse and I’m over here thinking WORKS CITED?! I mean, even if that wasn’t an opinion, I’d like to know where he got that figure from. I also don’t think opinions should be stated as facts by the way- for instance I get that he hates critics, yet sadly for him it’s not true that no one successful ever critiques anything. Still, my favourite of his hilariously wrong “facts” was this:

“You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture. Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it an overstatement, but I’ll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.”

I hate to burst his bubble about Hitler, but a quick google search could have corrected this assumption. Hitler painted plenty- although, as is typical of narcissists, they’re not up to much. Perhaps- and you can call this an overstatement if you like- if Hitler hadn’t been a raging psychopathic narcissist he wouldn’t have started WWII. Or maybe Hitler was resisting his Resistance and following his dreams- after all, according to this author, foisting your opinions onto the world could also be living up to your potential 😉 And if all that sounds silly, that’s because it is. I’m taking this book as seriously as that paragraph deserves.

What makes this even more ludicrous is how so often the ideas put forward are later contradicted. For instance, you know how I mentioned that he called sex Resistance? Well you can also be Resisting having sex (so I suppose that’s resisting resistance?) Early in the book, he says not to worry about what you’re writing, as long as you do it (BTW that’s how you end up with books like this in the world). He feeds into one of my pet peeves of favouring money over fulfilment; he talks about obsessing with craft over writing… BUT THEN decides to go full-on kooky in the final part. Look, I may not agree with being purely practical, yet you can hardly call people precious when you invoke the Muses. That’s about as flighty an idea as you can get. It’s just so unbelievably hypocritical.

Would I say there’s nothing of value in it? No, but frankly I don’t want to go digging through mud, looking for the occasional (cheap) gem. Even if I agreed with one or two of the ideas (like not giving into victimhood and continuing on after success) I’m afraid it’s too little, too late. Frankly, if I’d never heard those ideas before (which, obviously I have cos they’re not very original) I wouldn’t have taken them to heart coming from this terrible book.

I found this so lazy that I’d guess it was far more effort for me to read than it was to write. It was grandiose and pompous, while at the same time being utterly mundane. It may not be the worst book in the world, but I can’t give it more than:

A banana peel!

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Yeah that was a little harsh- I’m sorry! Some books just wind me up! Have you read this? Did you get more out of it than me? Do you (still) plan to read it after my review? Let me know in the comments!

How On Trend Am I? Looking at Whether My Taste Follows the Crowd When it Comes to YA

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I’ve talked before about whether my taste follows the crowd and it’s something I often wonder about. Last month, when Goodreads celebrated YA, I noticed how closely my taste follows the crowd… well, for the most part.

Looking at 40 most popular recent Young Adult Novels and 100 most popular YA books of all time, I was surprised to find I’d read most of the books. Even more significant is how much I liked the books- my average ratings were 3.9 and 3.47 respectively. I gave 15% of books 5* in the recent YA books and 10% 5* in the most popular of all time. There were some outliers that I didn’t love (like Caraval and Lord of Shadows) or won’t read (Turtles All the Way Down), but for the most part I was at least satisfied with the vast majority of the books on the popular recent releases list. Clearly, I’m enjoying these a lot more- suggesting I’m on the right track to keep reading them. Turns out, I know my own taste! (go figure 😉)

To me, it makes sense that I’ve read so many of these as well, since these are the books with the most visibility and I’m not immune to marketing 😉 Plus, these are also books that are more readily available on a budget and if you use libraries a lot. So, in this case, I don’t feel all that bad about my taste following the crowd- especially given it’s leading to high levels of satisfaction! As much as I’d enjoy being a bookish hipster, I guess I’m quite mainstream when it comes to YA.

One thing I have to note from this experiment is that there were books on the most popular YA of all time that (at least to my mind) weren’t YA at all (Red Rising and Anne of Green Gables being the most obvious). But that’s a discussion to have (again) another day. I don’t think it massively skewed my results- though have to do my due diligence and mention it 😉

Alrighty then! Do you notice your taste follows the crowd in particular genres and categories? Are you bothered by it if your taste is quite mainstream like mine? Let me know in the comments!

Hot off the Press for Cooler Weather- New(ish) Releases to Enjoy This Autumn!

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Hello all! Now we’re heading into autumn, I thought it might be cool to follow up my summery HOT RELEASES. This time, I’m spotlighting a few that give me more *fall feels*! Let’s get into it!

beach read

Beach Read– starting off on a warmer note, this was probably the most fun, fluffy contemporaries I read last season. If, like me, you’re still needing a getaway vibe, then this will be right up your street!

weekend away

The Weekend Away– speaking of not coming back from holiday, this was another HOT HIT for me this summer. Set in Lisbon, this thriller offers a killer deal, taking tourists on a quick spin around a city they just might not return from… Definitely recommend if you’re not ready to return to reality!

clap when you land

Clap When You Land– on a more poignant note, this contemporary that deals with grief and family really hit some emotional highs and lows for me. It deserves a round of applause.

the huntress

Huntress– I hunted down this book after a recommendation from Beware of the Reader and I’m so glad I did, because this was a thrilling historical fiction set during and after the second world war.

his and hers

His and Hers– in a small town, with bodies piling up, there are plenty of deadly turns to this thriller… and many sides to this story.

one by one

One by One– another high-body-count murder mystery, this is a more modern take on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Prepare to feel cut off in this ski resort, as horrible things go down!!

good girls guide to murder

Good Girl’s Guide to Murder– I haven’t mentioned this before, but I really did enjoy the twists and turns of this YA thriller- especially the ending!

wilder girls

Wilders Girls– I don’t talk about this nearly enough- even though it was one of the most absorbing and atmospheric reads of the last year. I recommend this Lord of the Flies style dystopia for anyone in the mood to be a bit freaked out this fall.

this is how you lose the time war

This is How You Lose the Time War– just as unique, this sci fi love story captivated me with its beautiful writing.

sorcery of thorns

Sorcery of Thorns– of course, if you’re looking for a more traditionally escapist read, then I can’t recommend Sorcery of Thorns highly enough! I mean, let’s be real, this had me at *magical library* 😉 Luckily it didn’t disappoint!

serpent and dove

Serpent and Dove– on the note of *sheer entertainment*, you can’t go wrong with this (slightly bonkers but entirely enjoyable) romp. With enemies to lovers and forced marriage, this one made me very happy (and super excited for the sequel!) Also, it has witches, which most certainly gets me in the Halloween-y mood!

And that’s all for now! Did you enjoy any of these? Are you planning on reading them? And do you have any recent releases you’d like to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

One by One Piqued My Interest

***Received from Netgalley in exchange for review, but the upbeat ramblings are all me!***

one by oneBeing stranded in the snow-covered alps with a group of people that hate each other sounds pretty close to the ninth circle of hell. No spoilers ahead, but that’s pretty much the vibe of Ruth Ware’s spin on And Then There Were None. To give you a quick snapshot, One by One gives us an inside peek at a tech company retreat that goes horribly wrong. And as you might suspect from a book with such strong Agatha Christie vibes, this has some pretty wild twists and turns.

Isolated in at a ski chalet after an avalanche, it’s the perfect setting for a claustrophobic thriller. Even though I was reading it in the summer heat, I caught chills. The atmosphere totally transported me. I was locked into these character’s heads, not knowing who I could trust and where it was leading.

Very quickly, the story freefalls Off-Piste. People start dying. There’s real tension as the pace picks up and the tenuously forged alliances go downhill. The plot plummets over the edge as it races towards a heartstopping conclusion.

Each of the POVs worked for me. They led me down one path, only for me to discover I’d been led astray. My allegiances shifted with the narrative. I loved snooping inside the main character’s heads and thought their perspectives were fascinating. One by one, their secrets get revealed… until there were none.

Speaking of nosing into other people’s business, that’s along the lines of what this tech company does, listening to celebs music taste along with them. While I didn’t relate to this social media aspect completely (I’m much too uncool for all that) I have to admit it added a salaciously soapy dimension. I couldn’t look away.

Ultimately, this ticked so many boxes for me. Thumbs up!

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Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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And that’s all I’m going to give you! Do you plan on reading One by One? Have you tried Ruth Ware before? Let me know in the comments!

Choice Words About Chosen Ones

chosen onesWell, this was a little bit disappointing. When I first heard the concept, I was psyched: I loved the idea of chosen ones in their post-saving-the-world days. It was a great idea and I was hearing promising things. And I had high hopes as I flew through the initial pages… yet sadly that fell a little flat by the end.

When the book first got going, I thought wow Veronica Roth has really matured from her Divergent days. We were given some articles to hint at characters and give us a clue about the backstory. I especially liked how these snapshots contrasted the protagonist’s actual perception and issues with PTSD. I thought it drew on the idea of trauma and its consequences really well.

But then that kind of disappeared into thin air. The story began to be about the death of one of the Chosen Ones and stopped trying to detangle the concept of life after heroics. It just dragged through a mystery and adventure that I couldn’t bring myself to care about. I was surprised (and a little let down) to find it was more about defeating a Big Bad than anything else. It just felt somewhat generic and the reveals were underwhelming.

Not only was I disappointed with the direction of the plot, I also didn’t care for the characters. Matt didn’t have much depth. Nor did the other male lead (whose name I’ve forgotten). And for all Sloan’s prickliness, she was pretty flat. I never found her likeable enough to get invested in her struggles. I also felt like the structure of “oh they saved the day before” only served to make me feel like I’d missed all the good bits in their development.

So, no, I’m not going to leap off a roof and jump on the hype train for this one. It wasn’t nearly as interesting as I thought it would be and it certainly wasn’t memorable (which hopefully explains all the gaps in my review 😉)

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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So, have you read this? What did you think of it? Did you like it more than me? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – Swiftly Moving into September!

monthly mini reviews version 2

Hello all! I’m coming out of a bit of a tumultuous month- and not just cos of the scorching heatwaves one minute and thunderstorms the next. Personally, I thought the universe was over-relying on pathetic fallacy to write the story of my life right now 😉 That said, some cool things happened, like getting to see my brother for the first time in a year and a half 😊 In terms of reading, I’ve been mercilessly DNFing (which I’ll talk about more soon!) Yet, even with all those duds, I did still manage to read some good stuff and made it to 1500 books read on Goodreads!!! And also, to top it all off, this happened:

1000 posts orangutan librarian

I’m so glad to have made it this far and thankful to everyone that’s stuck with me!

Alrighty then, let’s get to talking about what TV and books I’ve been into this month.

 

Jane the Virgin- seasons 1-4– this is basically all I’ve been watching this last month. I started in season 2, cos I’d already watched (and enjoyed) the first season about a year ago. While I haven’t finished it, I’ve no doubt I’ll love where it ends up, cos this is just the tonic for a overly dramatic 2020! And speaking of drama, this has it all. Inspired by a lot of South American tv tropes, this packs in action, romance, family themes, cultural elements and a little bit of humour. Just like a telenovela, this makes me gasp one minute and cry the next. Admittedly, I don’t normally love all the tropes (highlight for spoilery examples: amnesia and back from the dead in particular). And this even centres on a love triangle for crying out loud! BUT this is one of those times when I can make an exception, because in each case, I totally get why the trope is there. They’re partly used to pay homage to the fun genre of telenovelas, partly to deconstruct them. Plus, everything is geared to forcing Jane to choose between the two men (whilst putting her in a position where it was in no way her fault that she had to choose in the first place!) Basically, it’s not just fun, it’s clever. I also love the characters- from Jane as the main character to the slightly antagonistic Petra. Even Mateo has a big role to play. And, a bit random, but I tried (and failed) to learn some Spanish a while back and it’s been so great for me to just listen to the language to see what I can pick up. Highly recommend this if you just need something to kick back and relax with!

crave

Crave– speaking of a bit of fun, I wasn’t exactly craving a vampire book, but I did feel like some paranormal YA. Plus, the sassy voice promised a little bit of bite and I thought why the heck not. In some ways I was rewarded for my optimism, flying through this faster than a vampire bat could launch itself at an unsuspecting victim. I liked how it didn’t take itself too seriously and how there was a more logical structure to the story than Twilight. Still, on the subject of Twilight, it did mirror that infamously sparkly tome in a way that wasn’t very subtle, so I could see the reflection a little too clearly. And I really wasn’t sold on the corny romance. Nonetheless, there was an interesting final twist that had me somewhat intrigued. Not sure if it’ll be enough to get me to read more- maybe if I’m feeling like the living dead again when it comes out 😉

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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beach read

Beach Read– what a fun beachy read! The story of two rival writers in a small town, this doesn’t just deliver an entertaining hate to love romance, it also ends up being a love letter to books and writing. I loved how this went from rivalry to romance at a delightful pace. And the chemistry *sizzled* off the page. I also liked how this handled the topic of grief, exploring how sometimes we just don’t know the people we love. This managed to deliver some heartbreaking moments and put a big smile on my face. For me, it was a beautiful example of how to balance a bright, bubbly read with just a hint of the blues. Dare I say it’s the perfect beach read, with or without the beach!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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sharp objects2

Sharp Objects– I’m going to try and not be too cutting for this one, because there were parts I liked. It was sharply written, yet the plot was blunted by being a little too obvious. In this small-town secrets story, a reporter returns to her home town to investigate the murders of two little girls. There were a couple of good twists a long the way and an especially excellent final reveal. It made sense of the earlier plotholes. However, I did feel like there could have been more of a punch to the final reveal. And, another thing that stopped me loving this on a personal level was that of the descriptions made me a little queasy (I forgot quite how graphic Flynn can be). I do recommend it, just perhaps don’t expect it to be too edgy.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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weekend away

Weekend Away– this would have simply been an enjoyable thriller that took me on a quick spin around Lisbon… if not for the creepy last second twist that I ended up thinking about for days after. There’s a lot to explore here. I liked the basic premise of two friends going on a weekend away and only one comes back (*dun dun dun*). What made this especially good was the execution. The characters and their relationships are slowly revealed a bit at a time. I especially liked how it built up the profile of the antagonists and the threat they posed. One thing I wasn’t keen on was how the main character was pretty clueless- but it did make sense and helped the plot progress. The best thing was that there was enough drama to keep me flying through the pages. Ultimately, it was exciting and suspenseful with an explosive finale.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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the flight

The Flight– this was slightly more of a letdown. It’s not a bad book by any means, it just didn’t wow me. It didn’t have that compulsive quality that keeps me whizzing through the pages. It didn’t take me to new heights because it was a little too pedestrian. The biggest issue for me was that it was more interested in telling us that domestic abuse is wrong than telling an interesting story. Frankly, I thought it was preaching to the choir. It didn’t help that the pacing felt a little bumpy- jolting between a quick takeoff and a rather slow middle where we were told one of the dual perspective’s backstory. It often vacillated between far-fetched and mundane. I also didn’t think it stuck the landing- while I quite liked how it linked up, it didn’t exactly blow my mind. Though it was a solid book, I felt like this just didn’t fulfil what I look for in a thriller. I need something a bit pacier and with enough intrigue to send me into a tailspin.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? Did you like them? Let me know in the comments! And I hope you all had a good month!

Songs I Wish Were Books

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There are *so many* songs out there that inspire me and make me think “I’d love to read a book about this!” So when I saw this prompt for a Top Ten Tuesday a few years back, I wanted to do it… But forgot! Luckily, the brilliant Kat @Life and Other Disasters reminded me of it recently with an awesome follow up! So be sure to check it out if you like this topic!

Blank Space– I mean, let’s be real, I mostly want to fill this with Taylor Swift songs 😉 However, if I had to pick just one, I’d go with this because I think it’s got cheeky Gone Girl vibes and would make an excellent thriller. The lead would be charming and potentially sociopathic OR, even better, the final twist could be that the media got it all wrong and stitched up an innocent woman! (seriously, someone needs to write this book!)

Strange and Beautiful– call me masochistic, I just love stories about unrequited love. Preferably if it ends tragically…

Winter Winds– this is another one where I think it’d be interesting if the characters didn’t end up together. I just think it could be an interesting, character-focused story about people growing up in their early twenties in London (and I love books with a strong London setting!)

Blackbird– I just think this is beautiful and I can see the characters flying around… Actually that’s not a bad idea- it’d be really cool as a fantasy story! Someone write it please!

Ruby Tuesday– I imagine this would be nigh on impossible to pull off capturing the enigma of the titlular character… then again Taylor Jenkins Reid always pulls that off with her main characters… so maybe she should write it!

Galway Girl- this is another one where I can just picture the character… Not Ed Sheeran, I don’t really care about his part and would write him out of the narrative. It’s The Girl who is enigmatic and fascinating and I just want to read her story.

Homeward Bound– weirdly, out of all of Simon and Garfunkel’s narrative driven songs, this is the one that speaks to me the most, even though there’s less of a story to it. There’s just something about it that leaves me longing to know the full story. It could be a kind of modern-day Odyssey… with musicians!

Zombie– I mean, this song speaks for itself. It could be an amazing book about war. It’d be really cool to do it as a split timeline, during a conflict and after. Maybe even don’t say whose perspective the after perspective is from, so you don’t know who survived… *dun dun dun*

I Will Follow You Into the Dark– this could be a really cool paranormal fantasy, heavy on the romance 😉 On the note of fantasy…

Kashmir– this is super trippy and could make a really good, really odd book.

Bad Guy– a song for an anti-hero. A bit of a loopy one.

All These Things That I Have Done– another anti-hero-ish potential-novel. And if someone said they’d based a book on this, I’d definitely read it!

Tomorrow– yes I know this is from a musical, but I always had lingering questions about whether tomorrow ever came for this character!

Shine On You Crazy Diamond– there’s actually crazy story about this song. The way I heard it told, it was a tribute to Syd Barrett, a troubled former member of the band. Bizarrely, when they were recording the song, he turned up, so different that they almost didn’t recognise him, then left. I’d love for someone to do a fictionalised version of it (only have him be missing instead of kicked out of the band and turn up for one performance in a sort of mystical fashion at a festival).

Mad Woman– I know I said that I said I wouldn’t just fill this up with Taylor Swift songs, but I can’t help including just one more! And every time I listen to this lately, I can’t help but think this would be a nice spin on the whole mad woman in the attic trope!!

And that’s all for now! Do you agree with any of these? Would you tell any of these stories differently? And what songs would you like to see become books? (by Taylor Swift or otherwise! 😉) Let me know in the comments!

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Wasn’t Quite Harmonious, But Held a Tune!

Well this is an odd one to talk about.

ballads of songbirds and snakesAs many of you will know, this is the Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the Hunger Games prequel, focusing on (future evil President) Coriolanus Snow’s role in the tenth Hunger Games. As you can imagine, telling the story from the future baddie’s point of view caused a bit of a stir: would we lose his character in a bid for sympathy? Would this attempt to redeem an irredeemable character? I had my own reservations when I heard about it and was consequently less enthused to pick it up. And the verdict? Pretty mixed if I’m honest.

Despite all the pre-publication controversy, there was no need to fear him being turned into a hero. I read him as a straight-up anti-hero. He’s just as unsympathetic as a protagonist as he was an antagonist… which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Mildly sociopathic and manipulative, he’s the same old Snow we know and hate. As much as it was a bold choice to tell the story from Snow’s perspective, I’m not sure it paid off. No matter what hardship he was facing, I found it impossible to relate or root for him (in fact, I just kept thinking he kinda deserved it).

Still there were parts I really did like- especially how it showed the games being developed. When I heard it was about the tenth hunger games, I had my reservations, because I thought that it would just be a rehash of the games Suzanne Collins had already written about. Not so. At this stage of Panem, with the Capital and Districts very much in the shadow of the civil war, the games (and the concepts behind them) are a work in progress. It’s not just interesting to see Snow play his part, it’s fascinating to see the theories that go into it (not sure it makes a whole lot of sense to have your underclass in a constant state of conflict rather than making them think they’re at peace, but I’ll let that slide, cos I don’t think evil masterminds always come up with the best policies for running a country). I did like that the timeline meant it raised moral questions for the organisers- like the fact that this was the children of rebels rather than rebels themselves. I also liked how it hinted, rather than showed, future developments. The subtler nods to the original made it feel more like its own story. The one part I wasn’t super keen on was how only 2/3 of the book were about the games- it just felt a little jarring when that stopped.

That said, even with the issues I had with the structure, the writing was strong. And I also liked the side characters. Though I wasn’t much taken my Coriolanus or the not-very-fleshed-out Tigress, Lucy Gray had an edge to her and I loved the Grandma’am.

All these elements left me satisfied enough with this Hunger Games prequel, so I’ll feed it:

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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

Have you read Ballads of Songbirds and Snakes? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!