Monday, 29 August 2016

Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts

Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts is a weekly blogging event hosted by Bookishly Boisterous. It allows book bloggers (and non-book bloggers) to write about pretty much anything, bookish or otherwise (i.e. share exciting plans for the weekend, rants on things they've encountered during the week, etc).

1. Hello again, everyone! I hope everyone reading this is well. It's also August Bank Holiday here in the UK today so I'd like to wish all of my fellow Brits a very happy day :) Hmm, I seem to be making a habit out of writing these posts on a Bank Holiday...

2. The books that I'm reading at the moment are an edition of Jane Austen's juvenilia, a collection of Pablo Neruda's poetry (I've been slowly making my way through this book since May), and the audiobook version of As You Wish which is Cary Elwes' memoir about the making of The Princess Bride :)

3. I've signed up to participate in a blog event called Sci-Fi Month this November and I'm really looking forward to it! The event's being co-hosted by two bloggers called Rinn and Lisa and it's still not too late to sign up if anyone else is interested (just click on the above link). I'm planning on starting off the event with a short little introduction post and then going on to read and review some SF books: the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline :)

4. One of the reasons why I'm so interested in reading Ready Player One is because an adaptation of it is currently being made with Steven Spielberg directing, John Williams composing, and Mark Rylance, Simon Pegg and Ben Mendolsohn all starring. And where is this film being made? Er, WHERE I'M FROM!

5. Regular readers of this blog will know that I started watching the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender earlier in the year, completely fell in love with it, and then started to go through its sequel show The Legend of Korra. I'm about halfway through that show now but I've taken a short break from it, as I wanted to catch up on the first series of Poldark before its second series gets shown on the BBC later this week :)

6. I've joined yet another social media app: this time Snapchat. I haven't been posting anything on it though. I just really like some of its filters and have been putting them up on my Instagram instead.

7. I went to Cardiff last Friday and had a great day! We got there by train and went to its castle first. After that we then had lunch and did some clothes shopping in the city centre and then after that we got another train out to its bay area and had a look around there before heading home. Quite by accident we stumbled across an adorable independent bookshop/cafe/wine bar in the bay area called Octavos which I would completely recommend! The staff were so friendly, the wine was delicious, and the shop itself was so cute and lovely :) I bought two poetry collections from this place: one of Rumi's and one of John Donne's.

8. Apart from that I haven't really gone out very much over the past few months (which is usually pretty typical for me, lol!) and I haven't even been to the cinema much lately. I still haven't got round to seeing Star Trek Beyond yet and I missed out on seeing Love and Friendship sadly. I had planned on seeing it but I really wasn't feeling too well on the day that I'd decided to go so I gave it a miss. But then after that I struggled to find another time when I could see it so I'm now having to wait for the DVD release. Another DVD that I'm waiting for is Disney's Zootopia which I bought online last night. I've heard great things about it so I'm really looking forward to it! The film's called Zootropolis over here in the UK for some reason though :S

9. Has anyone seen the trailer for Guy Ritchie's upcoming King Arthur film? And am I the only one who thinks it looks AWFUL?! I'd been mildly curious about this one as it's been quite a long time since an Arthurian film came out (I think the last one was that film with Keira Knightley way back in 2004) and because I'd read that Katie McGrath (Morgana from the BBC's Merlin) would be having a minor role in it. But any interest that I had has been killed stone-dead now that I've seen its terrible-looking trailer and official synopsis! I mean, "a streetwise young Arthur who runs the back alleys of Londinium with his gang"?! I enjoyed certain aspects of Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films but turning King Arthur into a thuggish gangster is going much too far!

On a happier note, films that I am looking forward to seeing are:

Rogue One

A Monster Calls (I can't believe that we have to wait until January to see this in the UK though!)

A United Kingdom

10. And that's almost that for today. The only other thing that I want to mention are my travel plans. As some of you will know, I'm going to New York this November for five days (I'm planning on starting my chosen books for SF month in mid-October so I can get them all reviewed in time) but I'm also planning for a trip in April as well now. I can't say much about it at present but it's something that I'm extremely excited about! :D

Saturday, 20 August 2016

'A Monster Calls' by Patrick Ness (2011)

Synopsis: A Monster Calls is a low-fantasy middle-grade children's novel. The story was conceived by the author Siobhan Dowd but because of her terminal cancer she arranged for the book to be written by Patrick Ness. Connor O'Malley is a 13 year old boy living in modern-day England whose single mother is seriously ill from cancer. As if that wasn't upsetting enough, Connor's father has moved to America, he has a strained relationship with his grandmother, he's being bullied at school, and he's having a terrible recurring nightmare. Then one night, at exactly 12.07 am, an ancient monster turns up outside Connor's house. Connor isn't the least bit afraid of the monster (as the thing that he sees in his nightmares is far more terrifying) although the monster is certainly menacing-looking. The monster then makes a deal with Connor. The monster will tell Connor three stories that will be of help to him and in return Connor must then tell the monster a story - a story with a deadly truth that upsets Connor more than anything.

A Monster Calls is my first Patrick Ness novel. I'm not really a huge reader of middle-grade and YA fiction so that's probably the reason why I only found out about this hugely popular author a year ago! That was back when it was announced that Ness would be the show-runner of the new Doctor Who spin-off show Class. But when I then saw the stunning trailer for this book's film adaptation I was suddenly no longer content with Class being my first experience of Ness's work and knew that I would have to read this book sooner rather than later! :D

A Monster Calls has won many awards and it completely deserves them as it's an absolutely brilliant fable and is such an absorbing and compelling read. The book is quite short with a story that is superficially simple and yet it is so beautiful, moving and poignant. Obviously given that this book deals with grief, death and loss it's a very sad read in places - but then it's also a book with powerful themes of courage, love, hope and forgiveness. I can understand why some might be hesitant to read this book but it is a more uplifting read than one might think.

This book is so nuanced, compassionate and intelligently written as well. Connor does do some pretty bad things in this book but, because of his situation and his emotions being so vividly portrayed, as the reader you're able to understand exactly why he's behaving in the way that he does. This, combined with his spirit and his flashes of sarcasm, makes him hugely endearing and sympathetic. Also the stories that the monster tells go to some surprising places with its characters all being complex and morally ambiguous. This book isn't at all sanctimonious or condescending to its younger audience.

A Monster Calls may well have been written for a middle-grade child audience but it's an astounding novel with huge depth that teenagers and adults will also be able to love. I'm so excited to see this book's film adaptation and to experience more of Ness's work now, especially his dystopian sci-fi series Chaos Walking which is also getting a big-screen adaptation. I'd really like to read some of Siobhan Dowd's work as well.

Oh, and before I wrap this thing up I absolutely must recommend getting the illustrated version of this book rather than the non-illustrated paperback or the e-book version! I have nothing against e-readers at all (I myself own a Kindle) but Jim Kay's pictures in the illustrated version are so atmospheric, spooky and stunning! They not only complement the text beautifully, they enhance it. I mean, just look at them!

Rating: 5/5

Friday, 12 August 2016

'The Well of Ascension' by Brandon Sanderson (2007)

Synopsis: The Well of Ascension is the second novel in the Mistborn series and is set a year after the events of Mistborn: The Final Empire. Although the tyrannical Lord Ruler is now dead, the Final Empire is now in turmoil with various outlying regions having disintegrated into anarchy due to the collapse of the former government. Elend Venture has been crowned the King of Luthadel and is attempting to restore order but is facing numerous threats: including assassins, his council not trusting his decisions, a hidden kandra imposter in his court, and the three separate armies which are intent on conquering the city. Elend's lover and personal bodyguard Vin is also mourning the loss of her brilliant, charismatic mentor and father-figure Kelsier and is still continuing to struggle with her insecurities. Not only that, the mysterious mists which used to only appear at night have now begun to appear during the day and seem to be the cause of several deaths. The ancient legend of the well of ascension seems to be the only hope for their world but no-one is entirely sure where it is or what it can even do...

I read the first book in the Mistborn series, Mistborn: The Final Empire, about six months ago and I found it to be a brilliant read. The Well of Ascension is quite a different book to The Final Empire in some respects - the pacing is slower for the most part and it's more focused on the character development and political intrigue - but it's an enthralling sequel to that book and is probably one of the best sequels that I've ever read! All of the characters from the previous novel that are in this book get huge development (especially Elend, Vin, Sazed and Breeze), we're introduced to some highly intriguing new characters (Zane, Tindwyl, Allriane and OreSeur), and we get to learn a lot of fascinating new information about the kandra and the koloss. There were also three or four separate plot twists that were so clever and unexpected that they literally made my jaw drop! :D

One of the other things that I'm especially loving about this series right now is seeing how Sanderson is able to take these certain typical fantasy tropes and then be able to subvert them in creative and imaginative ways. For example one of the most interesting aspects of The Final Empire was that we were kind of able to get a sense of what Tolkien's Middle-Earth might have become if Sauron had actually won the War of the Ring, whereas in this book we now get to see what the consequences of overthrowing an evil despot are. In fact it's only now after reading this book that I realise just how shockingly under-explored it is in fiction! Usually we don't get to see very much of the consequences of a revolution at all in fiction apart from the immediate happy celebrations but that isn't the case with this book at all. Because even with the Lord Ruler gone things are still pretty awful in this world and in some ways the world is an even worse place.

I'm not planning on reading the next book in this series immediately but I certainly don't intend to hold off on reading that book for as long as it took me to get around to reading this one. The Well of Ascension was a fantastic read and it's hard for me to say which of the two Mistborn books that I've read so far is better. I did really miss Kelsier in this one of course so I think the first book may have the slight edge but there's really very little to separate them in my mind. If the third book is able to match their quality then it will easily go down as one of my favourite fantasy series.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists! Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. 10 is just a suggestion to aim for if you can hit it -- do a list of 3 or 5 or 20 on your list. Your post, your choice!

Today's Topic: Top Ten Tuesday REWIND -- go back and do a topic you missed over the years or recently or a topic you really want to revisit

For today I've chosen to do a topic that I believe came up sometime last year which was... Top Ten Characters You'd Like To Check In With (meaning, the book or series is over and you so just wish you could peek in on the “life” you imagine they are leading years down the line after the story ends). 

It was a lot of fun to think about the book characters that I would most like to read sequels about and in one instance a prequel about! Follow-up works can sometimes be horribly disappointing in real life of course but, when they're done well, it's a truly joyful experience to spend more time with the worlds and characters that we've come to love :)


1. James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.
At this current moment in time, the script for the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play has only just been published (I'm planning on writing a little bit more about that in a future post but for now I'll only say that I found it flawed but enjoyable) and we're still waiting on that first Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them film. However the depth of world-building and characterisation in the Harry Potter series is so brilliant that there are a myriad of potential spin-off stories that J.K. Rowling could still tell and the one that I would most want is a Marauders prequel. I had huge crushes on both Sirius and Lupin when I was a teenage girl and it would be so amazing to read about all of the Marauders' crazy antics and adventures when they were at Hogwarts! :D We'd presumably get to see the younger versions of Snape, Lily Evans, Regulus Black, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Frank and Alice Longbottom, Lucius Malfoy, etc. at the school as well and we could also get to learn more about the Marauders' work for the Order of the Phoenix.

2. Howl and Sophie Pendragon from Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle. Now of course Diana Wynne Jones did in fact write two sequels to this book (Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways) in which Howl and Sophie make appearances and in which we get to learn a little bit about their lives as a married couple but, as nice as this was, it wasn't really enough for me. I can't help but wish that Jones could have written a fourth novel in the series, with a story that was once again completely devoted to Howl and Sophie's lives and adventures.

3. Richard Mayhew from Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. Not only is London Below one of the most vivid and fascinating fantasy worlds that I've ever read, I'm extremely curious to know how Richard has settled down in this place and whether he's now in a relationship with Door?!

4. Nobody "Bod" Owens from Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. Yet another character from a Gaiman novel! As beautiful and perfect as The Graveyard Book's ending is - this book is my favourite of Gaiman's works - I'd be thrilled to get some closure about what happened to Bod after he left the graveyard. I desperately hope that Bod is happy and has found a home and made friends. *sniffs*

5. Shasta/Cor, Aravis, Bree and Hwin from C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia. The Horse and His Boy is such a brilliantly exciting adventure story in the Chronicles of Narnia. Its characters are wonderful as well and I really wish that C.S. Lewis could have written an extra novel in the series that focused on them more. We could have also learnt more about Archenland and the romance between Cor and Aravis in that book.

6. Margaret Hale and John Thornton from Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. I have no doubt that the two of them are happy but it would certainly be interesting to find out how Margaret has adjusted to her new role as the mistress of Marlborough Mills and to see whether her relationship with John's mother eventually improved! I also have a headcanon that Thornton took Margaret to Spain on their honeymoon so that she could visit her brother Frederick and his wife :)

7. Jonathan Strange, Mr Norrell, and pretty much everyone from Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.
I adore the incredible Regency AU that Susanna Clarke created in this book and I would love to spend more time in this world again and to find out what happened to its characters! Did Jonathan and Norrell ever manage to escape from the tower of darkness? Are they getting on better these days or are they still quarrelling as much as ever? I bet they're having tons of adventures on their travels. And what's it like in England now that magic has returned? What are Childermass and Vinculus getting up to these days? How is Stephen finding life as a king in Faerie? Is Arabella okay? And what about the Raven King? What's going on with him?

8. Matilda Wormwood from Roald Dahl's Matilda. With her genius-level intellect, I'm sure that Matilda went on to have a top career. But what did Matilda go on to do? Did she ever meet her parents again? I can easily imagine them trying to contact her again if she ever became rich and famous. Did Matilda's telekinesis ever come back? And what about Miss Honey and Lavender? What are they up to these days? Argh, so many unanswered questions! :D

9. Margaret Dashwood from Jane Austen's Sense and SensibilityI would love to know what happened to Elinor and Marianne's younger sister Margaret after they got married and left home! Margaret is of course a very minor and underdeveloped character in Austen's novel but I love the fact that Emma Thompson greatly expanded Margaret's role in the 1995 film adaptation and Emilie Francois' funny and adorable performance in that film. I think a love story involving a grown-up Margaret could be tons of fun! There's even a line from the final page of the book in which Austen implies that Sir John Middleton and Mrs Jennings began to switch their matchmaking attentions over to her after Marianne got engaged ('fortunately for Sir John and Mrs Jennings, when Marianne was taken from them, Margaret had reached an age highly suitable for dancing, and not very ineligible for being supposed to have a lover'). I strongly suspect that Margaret, being rather overlooked in Sense and Sensibility, wouldn't have minded these attentions towards her as much as it bothered her sisters and I really wish that Austen could have given Margaret her own story.

10. Kvothe from Patrick Rothfuss's The Kingkiller Chronicle. This is a bit of a cheat since The Kingkiller Chronicle isn't over yet and is still an ongoing series but - argh! - I need to read The Doors of Stone so badly! What turned the younger Kvothe into the world-weary, haunted man that we see at The Waystone Inn? Why is Bast so devoted to him? What's up with those giant spiders? I MUST KNOW!

And now, if you want, a bunch of questions that you might want to answer! Have you read any of the books that I've talked about today? Do you agree with my choices? What characters would you most like to check in with? What are your favourite sequels/prequels? What topics have you chosen for today? :)

Thursday, 14 July 2016

'The Rosie Project' by Graeme Simsion (2013)

Synopsis: The Rosie Project is a contemporary romance novel set in Melbourne, Australia. Don Tillman is a 39 year old genetics professor on the autism spectrum and has a meticulously organised lifestyle. Don is a very intelligent and handsome man but most people find his manners awkward and confusing. Don has struggled with social norms for all of his life, has never been on a second date, and has convinced himself that he's simply not wired for love, romance and marriage. But Don then changes his mind and decides to embark on a "Wife Project" after a comment from a friend that he would make a wonderful husband. In keeping with his ultra-methodical and logical approach to life, Don then creates an online profile with a detailed questionnaire attached that should eliminate all of the unsuitable women who do not meet his exact specifications. Don's perfect wife will most definitely not be a smoker, a drinker, a vegetarian, a late-arriver or a woman with "emotional issues". However, Don then meets a 29 year old barmaid called Rosie Jarman who is all of these things and is also beautiful, intelligent, sarcastic, and fiery. Rosie is on a mission to find her long-lost father and is hoping that Don's work as a geneticist and his access to a lab can help her. Don agrees to do so in spite of his reservations and soon finds himself becoming extremely confused by his feelings towards Rosie.

I'd been hearing some great things about this book and as I've been making a bit more of an effort in seeking out contemporary fiction lately (those of you who read this blog regularly may have noticed this) I thought I'd give it a try. I'm so glad I did because The Rosie Project is easily one of the best books that I've read this year! It's a wonderfully engaging, heartwarming and quirky romantic comedy that is genuinely hilarious!

Originally Graeme Simsion wrote The Rosie Project out as a screenplay but then decided to turn that screenplay into a novel after he had trouble landing a film deal. I wasn't at all surprised to find that out as this book is not only very fast-paced and tightly-written (I managed to tear through it in just a couple of days) but has some big comic set-pieces that would probably transfer to screen brilliantly e.g. Don using his martial arts skills on a couple of overzealous bouncers, his night out as a cocktail barman, and a dance number. Given this book's success I think a big screen version of it in the near future is pretty much inevitable and that it will probably be an excellent film but having said that I still think that the book would be the better of the two for giving us access into Don Tillman's head.

Don is such a lovable, funny, well-meaning and endearing character and his narration is one of the most unique and quirky that I've come across. Don is on the autism spectrum and probably has Asperger's syndrome although this is never explicitly stated in the book since it's told in first-person and Don hasn't diagnosed himself as one. The Rosie Project has been very well-received by the Autistic/Asperger's community and by the end of the book I definitely felt that I'd gained a much greater insight into what it must be like to be a person on the spectrum. Another aspect of this book that I especially loved was its setting. Although the majority of it is set in Australia - which was great! - there are a few chapters in it that take place in New York. I'm going to New York later this year and this book has made me even more excited for my trip.

The Rosie Project is such a funny and delightful read. I loved this book and it would make for a fantastic summer/beach read! :)

Rating: 5/5

P.S. I know that Simsion has written a sequel to this book called The Rosie Effect but I've been put off by its reviews which haven't been as positive as the reviews for The Rosie Project. If I do end up reading that book it's probably not going to be any time soon.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Mini Book Reviews

It's been over two months since I last posted a book review which is a long time for me! There are a couple of books that I've read during this time that I'm planning longer reviews for but I've written mini-reviews for the books below. The reason for that is because I don't really feel that I have enough thoughts or opinions on these books to write detailed reviews for them; and also because one of the books is a non-fiction title and I personally find it really hard to write in-depth reviews for non-fiction books without summarising everything in them. So, the books that I'll be talking about in this post are:

  • The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham (1925) - a 20th century classic
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman (2001) - an urban fantasy novel
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (2012) - a contemporary novel
  • Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde (2002) - this one spans a number of genres! (SF, fantasy, detective fiction...)
  • The Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today by Bryan Doerries (2015) - a nonfiction title

The Painted Veil. This book is a beautifully written character-driven novel. The book's heroine Kitty starts off as a flighty, self-absorbed, shallow young woman but then goes through a huge transformation and becomes a much stronger and wiser person. Even her husband Walter, who surprisingly gets very little page-time in this book at all, is an extremely vivid and well-rounded character. I'm always drawn to stories that have themes of forgiveness, repentance and self-growth and The Painted Veil is a wonderful example of that. Having said that, I read this book shortly after seeing the 2006 film adaptation and, as much as I enjoyed the book, I preferred the film. Because unlike the film, Kitty never comes to fall in love with Walter in the book and only ends up developing a sense of respect for him. I'm a romantic at heart so I couldn't help but find that aspect of the book rather disappointing. But I still think that this is a great book overall and I'd definitely recommend it.

P.S. This book was the 10th read on my Classics Club list. I'm finally onto double figures! :D

Rating: 4/5

American Gods. I first read American Gods many years ago. It was my first Neil Gaiman novel and I didn't think very much of it. But after reading several of Gaiman's other books over the years I now consider him to be one of my favourite writers and when it was announced that American Gods would be getting a TV adaptation from Bryan Fuller I thought it would be high time to re-visit this book. I was hoping that I'd be able to appreciate it a lot more but - argh! - I'm afraid that I still don't like this book very much :( It pains me to say it but I have to be honest! American Gods has a terrific concept and some interesting ideas but my issues with it are still there: namely that I find this book to be way too long and slow-moving and that I find Shadow to be a dull protagonist who lacks personality and is much too passive. It frustrates me so much that he just sort of... casually goes along with everything and that he's so unemotional as a character. Even though Gaiman says that Shadow is incredibly upset about his wife Laura's adultery and her death I never once felt it and I found it very hard to care about his character. To be honest the only part of this book that I really truly enjoyed was a colourful short story in it about an eighteenth century Cornishwoman.

Rating: 2/5

Me Before You. This book was actually a DNF for me. I gave up on it when I was about 1/3 of the way through. Not because I hadn't been enjoying the story (I found the writing engaging and the main character Louisa Clark very likeable) but because I lost my enthusiasm for the book due to all the negativity surrounding it. I wasn't aware of this until recently but there's been quite a backlash against this book as people in the disabled/quadriplegic community have argued that it's badly-researched, reinforces ableist stereotypes, and is a classic example of inspiration porn with Will Traynor being used as a prop for Louisa's character development. I'm not saying that I'm not ever going to read this book again now but I feel pretty leery about it at present.

Rating: a DNF so no rating. 

Lost in a Good Book. This book is the second novel in the Thursday Next series and is the sequel to The Eyre Affair (which was one of my favourite books from last year). But sadly Lost in a Good Book was another disappointing read. Although there are still some hilarious moments in this book (e.g. Thursday's television interview in the first chapter!) I found its plot far more slow-moving and confusing than The Eyre Affair's. Although I have heard that the next two books in this series are an improvement, I'm not sure if I'll bother with them now.

Rating: 2/5

The Theater of War. My favourite of the books on this list! It's both a memoir and a piece of literary analysis and was written by a man called Bryan Doerries - who runs a charity organisation called "The Theater of War" that has put on productions of plays (mainly Greek tragedies) for soldiers, prisons, churches, synagogues, hospitals, and natural disaster survivors. In the book, Doerries talks about the Greek tragedies, explains how he came to form his organisation, and includes some very moving stories from his personal life and the people that he's met over the years. The audiobook version of this book is read by Adam Driver (I'm not a huge audiobook listener but I try to keep a lookout for those that are read by my favourite actors) so I downloaded it on iTunes and listened to it on my way to work over several weeks. Unfortunately I never had the chance to learn about any of the Greek tragedies when I was younger as I don't think that they're very well-taught in British state schools but Doerries explained the plots and the relevance of the plays extremely well and now I feel far more enthusiastic about reading them! This book also works as a highly eloquent and passionate defence of tragedies in general. Tragic stories can sometimes get a very bad rap in our culture for being "negative" and "depressing" but this book effectively shows that tragedies can have a hugely positive impact: because they allow us catharsis, encourage us to develop empathy and compassion for the suffering of others, show us that we're not alone, and enable us to heal. Listening to this book was such a fascinating and thought-provoking experience and Adam Driver does a terrific job reading it. Highly recommended!

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists! Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. 10 is just a suggestion to aim for if you can hit it -- do a list of 3 or 5 or 20 on your list. Your post, your choice!

Today's Topic: FREEBIE WEEK -- topic of your choice or go back and do one you missed!

For today's post I've chosen to do a Top 10 Books You Could Read in a Day list :) All of the books on this list are either very short (at around 200 pages long) or very gripping or both so they could all be easily read in the space of a single day.

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone if you're an American reader!) by J.K. Rowling. The first book in the Harry Potter series which I absolutely adore! This series was a major part of my childhood: I was 11 years old when my parents bought me the first three books as a Christmas present back in 1999 (thank you mum and dad!) and by the time the final book came out in 2007 I was 19. My favourite book in the Harry Potter series is actually the third book The Prisoner of Azkaban but all of the seven books in this series are brilliant and even its companion novels (The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them) are great fun! The humour in these books is amazing (I have quite literally cried with laughter while reading them!) The characters are complex and engaging and completely unforgettable. The worldbuilding is fantastic and its themes (friendship, love, courage, sacrifice, etc) are deep and powerful. The books are also thoroughly gripping and suspenseful and, although I know some have criticised Rowling's prose, I really love her descriptions and think that she's a wonderfully visual writer. This series completely lives up to its hype! :)

2. William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope by Ian Doescher. If, like me, you're a massive fan of both Star Wars and Shakespeare then this book is an absolute must-read! This book is the first in an officially licensed series that rewrites the dialogue of the Star Wars films into Shakespearean iambic pentameter. Now some of you might be thinking that this is an awful gimmick and a horrible idea but this series is actually quite wonderful! Not only are the books hilarious and laugh-out-loud funny, they're also extremely well-written, are full of meta, and really make you appreciate just how Shakespearean the Star Wars films actually are (e.g. the themes of fate and destiny). At this moment in time Ian Doescher has written retellings of all of the current Star Wars films with the exception of The Force Awakens but he seems confident that he'll be given the chance to take that on at a later stage (yay!)

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The first book in the YA dystopian trilogy, I read The Hunger Games back in 2012 just a few weeks before the film adaptation came out. I'd heard a lot of good things about the series so I was pretty confident that I'd like the book but even so I was taken aback at how much I enjoyed it. I could not put this book down! The Hunger Games is such an intense, suspenseful, and powerful read and is a very clever satire on reality television, with Collins also drawing inspiration from Greek mythology and the Roman gladiatorial games. The second book in this trilogy, Catching Fire, I also thought was brilliant and almost as good as the first book although I must admit that I found the final book Mockingjay to be rather disappointing. I still consider myself to be a huge fan of the trilogy overall though and I think it's about time that I gave it a re-read...

4. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. I'm moving onto cover some classics now. The Hound of the Baskervilles was the first Sherlock Holmes story I ever read and it's still my favourite out of the Sherlock Holmes novels. It's full of suspense and spooky gothic creepiness, has some highly eccentric and memorable secondary characters, and is a particularly great story for John Watson (who gets lots to do in this one). If you're a fan of any of the Sherlock Holmes adaptations and are wondering which of the books you should start off with then this is the one that I would most recommend.

5. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. I remember being shocked at how short this play was given the length of its famous musical adaptation My Fair Lady! Inspired by the Pygmalion and Galatea story in Greek mythology, Pygmalion is such a delightful and charming play and I hope I'll eventually get the chance to see it live some day. The play is extremely witty and a lot of fun and yet it has so much social commentary. If you've seen My Fair Lady the story and much of the dialogue for Pygmalion is essentially the same but it has a completely different ending which I vastly prefer!

6. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster. I feel like I go on about this book a lot and my regular readers are probably starting to get tired of hearing about it but I am quite a fan of this one. I read it for the first time last year and I was so surprised because I really wasn't expecting it enjoy it as much as I did! This book is hilariously witty, its characters are full of depth, it has deep themes, and it's partly set in Italy (one of my favourite countries!)

7. Summer by Edith Wharton. Edith Wharton is best known for her New York high society novels (e.g. The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth) but she actually spent most of her adult life in France and this highly underrated book of hers is a novella that's set in rural New England with characters who are considerably lower down the social scale than the characters in her more famous works. Wharton's descriptions of the countryside are so lush and atmospheric in this book and I found it to be a deeply fascinating read. This book was also rather scandalous when it first came out due to its exploration of female sexuality (you go, Wharton!)

8. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson. One of the Persephone Classics titles (I keep meaning to read more of their stuff!), this is such an adorable, sweet and warm-hearted book. It's kind of like a modern (well, 1930s) Cinderella-esque fairy tale. Also the entire plot of this book actually takes place over the course of 24 hours so I think reading it in the space of a single day would be extremely fitting!

9. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I read The Great Gatsby for the first time back in 2011 or 2012 (I can't quite remember which year) and it's definitely due for a re-read. This book is beautifully-written and poignant and has profound themes and a fascinating setting (New York City and Long Island during the Jazz Age).

10. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I often find myself thinking about this book so you could say that it's left quite an impact on me! I'll be watching the news or reading an online article or whatever that will suddenly make me think "OMG that is so Fahrenheit 451!" This classic dystopia is still so eerily, uncannily relevant to today and is such a powerful read. The book is also extremely thrilling with beautifully-written prose that's full of symbolism.

So what are the books that you would consider to be great one-day reads? :)

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts

Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts is a weekly blogging event hosted by Bookishly Boisterous. It allows book bloggers (and non-book bloggers) to write about pretty much anything, bookish or otherwise (i.e. share exciting plans for the weekend, rants on things they've encountered during the week, etc).

1. Hello again, dear readers! :) Usually I start these posts off by talking about the particular book that I'm reading but I'm actually reading not one but three books at the moment! It's rather unusual for me but I think I might turn this into a regular thing. At the moment I've just started reading J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst's S  but I've also been dipping in and out of a book of Pablo Neruda's poetry for a while in addition to listening to a non-fiction audiobook called The Theater of War - read by Adam Driver - on my way to work.

2. I've recently joined Instagram! I used to think that it was mainly photography buffs and people who take selfies a lot who used the site but I started to get interested in it when I found out that it has quite a large "Bookstagram" community. Do feel free to follow me on there if you have an account, I'd very much appreciate it :)

3. A few weeks ago I bought a complete collection of Shakespeare's works (the hardback RSC edition with footnotes) and Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote. When I then uploaded a picture of the two books on my Instagram page, I was both very shocked and delighted when Craig Pearce (the screenwriter of Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby) liked it!

4. After completely falling in love with the TV show Avatar earlier this year, I've now started to go through its sequel show The Legend of Korra and have just finished its first season. LoK definitely isn't as good as Avatar but it's still enjoyable and is better than most things on TV. I'll talk more about the show when I've finished it or have almost finished it.

5. I've started to go to yoga classes once a week with my mother. A new centre has opened up that's literally around the corner from our house so it's extremely handy!

6. As I'm going away to New York this November (I still can't believe that this is happening!), I won't be going away on holiday this summer. I went on a day-trip to Stratford with some friends recently though and I'm hoping that I can have one or two more trips out...

7. If you've been reading my other Bookish and Not So Bookish Posts you'll know that I've been doing some baking in my spare time. This is a picture of a Carrot Cake that I made not so long ago :)

8. I'm getting more and excited about J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! I'm not seeing the play live - if only I were so lucky! - but I have pre-ordered the script which is due to be published next month. Up until fairly recently I'd been more excited about Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them project since it sounded more intriguing to me - wizards in Jazz Age New York! - but now that I've been thinking some more about what I'd actually like to see in a Harry Potter sequel my enthusiasm has gone up considerably. Since the epilogue to The Deathly Hallows implies that Harry's son Albus is a Slytherin I'd love for the play to follow through on that by having Albus sorted into Slytherin House. I imagine Albus would then feel under pressure to prove to everyone at Hogwarts that he isn't the black sheep of his family and I think it would be pretty awesome if he then ended up becoming friends with Draco Malfoy's son Scorpius. I would also love for Scorpius to then have a romance with Ron and Hermione's daughter Rose because oh my goodness can you imagine how Ron would react to that?! Comedy Gold! :D So that's what I'm personally hoping for with this Cursed Child play but even if that isn't actually what Rowling has written I'm still hoping that I'll love it anyway. I'm also taking it as a very good sign that the play had its first preview the night before last and that the audience absolutely loved it! I'm just hoping that I'll be able to avoid any spoilers until I read the play...

9. I've seen a couple of films recently. The first of those was Disney's new adaptation of The Jungle Book. I love both Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli stories and the 1967 Disney film very much but I wasn't a huge fan of this new version. It certainly wasn't bad - I still found it enjoyable overall - but it was definitely over-hyped for me. All of the actor's voices seemed weirdly disconnected from their characters and Idris Elba's Shere Khan didn't do anything for me. George Sanders' performance as Shere Khan from the original film is so much more charismatic and menacing. The other film that I saw recently though was Studio Ghibli's Only Yesterday and I loved that one! Only Yesterday was my fifth Studio Ghibli film - I've also seen Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke and My Neighbour Totoro - and its story is so simple but so beautiful, tender, beguiling and poignant. It's a "slice of life" story done incredibly well as it's much less fantastical than all of the other Studio Ghibli films that I've seen and is clearly a film that's more for adults than children. It reminded me a lot of Jane Austen's Persuasion as it has a very mature and contemplative feel to it and, just like Anne Elliot, the heroine in Only Yesterday, Taeko, has to reconnect with her past in order to move forward. The film has such a wonderful story that really spoke to me, it's incredibly beautifully visually, and the voice acting in it is great as well. I saw the English language dubbing for this film which I was so happy about because I didn't think it was going to be shown in the UK for a while. Usually I much prefer to watch foreign films with subtitles rather than dubbing but I really wanted to see the dubbing because of its cast. Taeko was voiced by Daisy Ridley who gave a very lovely, warm performance and did an excellent American accent (well it sounded excellent to this British girl's ears anyway). It also starred Dev Patel, Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars: The Clone Wars), and Grey DeLisle which made this Avatar fangirl very happy. DeLisle did the voice of Azula in the show.

10. Just before I finish this post, I thought I'd talk about the upcoming films that I'm thrilled about seeing. One of these is the new adaptation of Jane Austen's Lady Susan called Love and Friendship. Apparently it's got rave reviews and it will be my first time seeing an Austen adaptation on the big screen so that's going to be fun. I was hoping to see the film later this week but I don't think I'll be getting to see it until next Saturday now. Another film that I'm thrilled about is Ophelia which is an adaptation of a YA novel by Lisa Klein that retells the story of Hamlet from the perspective of Ophelia and will be starring Daisy Ridley and Naomi Watts as Ophelia and Gertrude. I adore Hamlet and these actresses so, yep, I'm very excited about it - I think I need to use more synonyms for "excited", lol - and also about the new Beauty and the Beast! :)

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists! Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. 10 is just a suggestion to aim for if you can hit it -- do a list of 3 or 5 or 20 on your list. Your post, your choice!

Today's Topic: Ten Three Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed (less love, more love, complicated feelings, indifference, thought it was great in a genre until you became more well read in that genre etc.)

1. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. This is a series that I now feel considerably less love for. Like a lot of people out there I started reading this series after getting sucked into its TV adaptation Game of Thrones and at first I enjoyed the series very much. The first three books in this series are pretty great. However the last two books in the series were extremely tedious reads for me: the snail-like pacing and lack of any real plot progression bored me beyond belief, I didn't care for any of the new characters (the Greyjoys, the Martells), and previous characters in the series that I used to love (Daenerys, Tyrion) frustrated me beyond belief. At first I thought I'd just stick with the TV show for a while but the rape of Sansa Stark and Shireen Baratheon's character getting burned at the stake last season were massive deal breakers for me. So I've given up on both ASoIaF and GoT now and I haven't found them myself missing them at all. I don't even feel any bitterness or anger towards them like I have with other series that I feel have got worse over time (e.g. the TV shows Heroes and Sleepy Hollow). If anything I feel relieved that I'm done with them and that a weight's been lifted off my shoulders! :D

2. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Mansfield Park was my least favourite Jane Austen novel for many years. It took three readings and the web series adaptation From Mansfield with Love for me to appreciate this book as much as I do now! During my first two readings of this book I struggled with it quite a bit due to my great dislike of most of its characters but now my feelings on the book have changed somewhat. Mansfield Park certainly isn't Austen's most entertaining or engaging novel I think - it's definitely not as fun and delightful as Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey or as romantic and moving as Persuasion - and the Bertrams still frustrate me at times. And yet this book has rich themes, is deeply thought-provoking, and is full of drama. The Crawford siblings are two of Austen's most fascinating and complex characters - certainly the most morally ambiguous I think - and although Fanny Price is by no means my favourite Austen heroine I've always pitied her and have felt that her character really doesn't deserve all of the hate that she gets. In fact if only Edmund Bertram were a more likeable hero I don't think I'd have the slightest hesitation in naming Mansfield Park as one of my Austen favourites!

3. Room by Emma Donoghue. Room isn't actually a book that I've read yet but it's on the list because it's gone from being a book that I thought I'd never read at all into one that I probably will. I first found out about Room about three years ago and I was immediately turned off by its subject matter: about a young woman and her son being imprisoned by a Josef Fritzl-like captor. It sounded too horrifying and disturbing, too much like misery lit. I only changed my mind about this book when my brother saw the film adaptation and insisted that there weren't any rape scenes on screen and that he thought I'd enjoy it. So I watched the film for myself and he was right. Yes, it was upsetting at times but I was deeply moved by Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay's stunning performances and the love between their characters and I felt that the film ended on an uplifting, hopeful note - which is why I now want to read the book :)

I don't often change my mind about books which is why there's only three on the list this week. So, what books have you changed your mind about? :)

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts

Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts is a weekly blogging event hosted by Bookishly Boisterous. It allows book bloggers (and non-book bloggers) to write about pretty much anything, bookish or otherwise (i.e. share exciting plans for the weekend, rants on things they've encountered during the week, etc)

Found on
1. A happy May Day Bank Holiday Weekend to any of my fellow Brits who might be reading this! :)

2. The book that I'm currently reading is Dorothy L. Sayers' Clouds of Witness which is the second novel in the Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries. Once I'm done with that book I'd like to finally get started on W. Somerset Maugham's The Painted Veil.

3. I'm going to update the "About Me" page on this blog sometime next week and I've also been thinking of writing up more "mini book reviews" in the future. Sometimes when I read a book I'll end up having a lot of thoughts and feelings about it and will be able to write up a fairly detailed, multiple paragraph review of it quite easily but then they'll be other times when I'll read a book and I'll find that I could quite easily cover everything that I thought and felt about in just a few short sentences. I imagine a lot of book bloggers will be able to understand where I'm coming from on this. So in the future what I thought I could do is, instead of trying to write a lengthy review of a book that I just don't have very much to say about, is to wait until I've read about four or five other books like that and then to review them all together. The reviews would only consist of a short paragraph and I don't think I'd give the books full synopses like I do with the lengthier reviews that I write. Another reason why I'd like to do mini-reviews is because I personally find it really hard to give in-depth reviews for non-fiction books without summarising everything in them *sigh*

4. I've only been to the cinema once this year and that was to see Midnight Special. There were a couple of plot points in that film that I'd have liked to have been better explored but it's still a fantastic film! :) It's a highly atmospheric and suspenseful SF thriller, its cinematography and music are both beautiful, it has strong spiritual overtones, the acting in it is superb, and I was wowed by its special effects. I love great cinematography and visual storytelling in films but I'm not usually very impressed by CGI even though I know that a lot of hard work goes into it. But in Midnight Special the CGI is genuinely awe-inspiring and makes the film look way more expensive than it actually was. And another great thing about Midnight Special is that it's an original film when there aren't nearly enough of them in the film industry. 

5. During April I shared a lot of poems that I like on this blog as part of a Poetry Month Celebration that my blogger friend Hamlette put together and I ended up writing a few poems of my own which I really wasn't expecting. If you haven't already seen them you can read them here: 1, 2 and 3. The event has also inspired me to read more poetry and I've ordered a collection of Pablo Neruda's poems to get started with. I wanted to share poems for every day of the month but, um, yeah, I failed on that one and I should have prepared for it better (I'm truly sorry, Hamlette!)

6. If you read my previous Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts post you'll know that I've been working my way through the complete boxset of Avatar over the past few months. I finally finished the show about a week ago and I really miss it. Thankfully I still have its spin-off The Legend of Korra left to watch but I thought it would be a good idea to leave it for a month or two before I get started on that show. I've heard that Legend of Korra isn't as good as Avatar and I think if I try to watch it immediately after Avatar I'm likely to be more critical of it. 

7. I did a bit of a baking in April. This is a picture of a Lemon Drizzle Cake that I made yesterday.

8. I'm now seeing Dreamgirls at the West End this December. It's not actually a musical that I know very well but my mum is a huge fan of it and asked me to go with her. Speaking of musicals, I've also downloaded the Hamilton cast recording. I haven't had much of an opportunity to listen to it just yet but I love the songs from it that I have heard and I'm happy that Lin-Manuel Miranda is going to be in the sequel to Mary Poppins along with Emily Blunt!

9. I got my hair done recently and went for a Balyage as you can see here :)

10. There are two things that I'm hugely excited about. One of these things is the new adaptation of Watership Down (one of my favourite books from my childhood!) that was announced the other day. It's going to be co-produced by the BBC and Netflix and the cast for it is just wonderful: James McAvoy, John Boyega, Nicholas Hoult, Gemma Arterton, Olivia Coleman, Ben Kingsley and Anne-Marie Duff! The other thing I'm hugely excited about it is Star Wars: Rogue One. As someone who's always adored the Jedi and force mysticism in the original films, at first I really wasn't sure how I felt about the thought of Star Wars spinoffs that would veer away from that. But a heist film set in the Star Wars universe is such a ridiculously awesome idea that it wasn't long before I was won over by Rogue One and I do love Felicity Jones. And the trailer! I now love Jyn Erso's character already, the cinematography in it is gorgeous, and the film looks suitably gritty and epic. I was also stunned at how much the actress playing Mon Mothma in this trailer looks like the actress who played the character from the original trilogy and I love the first shot of the rebels that you can see in this trailer at about 7 seconds in. I didn't realise this until someone pointed it out but the uniform that they're wearing is exactly the same as the uniform that the rebel soldiers are wearing in the first scene of A New Hope. It's a lovely touch.

Also, if like me you're also a huge fan of both Star Wars and Jane Austen I think you'll very much enjoy this.

I hope you enjoyed reading these various ramblings and flailings of mine! I'm now going to go off and eat dinner and then later on tonight I'll be making an index post of all of the poems that I put up on this blog in April. And I'll be also getting back to everyone who left comments on my blog recently as I know I've gotten very behind on replying again!