Nothing to see here... Move along please... YES THAT MEANS YOU MADAM... Keep things moving... :)

Monday, 1 September 2014

R.I.P. IX: Things are about to get SCARY

lavinia portraitRIP9275
Kudos to Abigail Larson for the gorgeous art work on this year's banners!

It's R.I.P. IX tiiiime!  This is my third year taking part; I always start to veer towards darker reading in the autumn anyway, so why not make it official and do it with friends?  Anyway, R.I.P. (that's Readers Imbibing Peril, by the way) is practically an institution around this little corner of the blogosphere, so I couldn't not join in really, could I?

Basically, the event runs until the end of October (because duh, Hallowe'en) and all you have to do is read and/or watch spooky, dark, fantastical or supernatural books, movies or TV shows.  That's it!  The range is pretty large - anything from Stephen King's finest horror novels to Wilkie Collins's gothic classics to Gillian Flynn's psychological thrillers.  You can link up your reviews on the R.I.P. IX review site, you can Tweet using the hashtag #RIPIX, and there's a group read of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson going on too, which I would definitely have been up for if I hadn't literally JUST read We Have Always Lived in the Castle... 

For more details, and to sign up, hop over to Stainless Steel Droppings by clicking here!

I'm hoping to complete PERIL THE FIRST - that is, reading at least four books that fit the R.I.P. theme between now and the end of October.  I think I managed seven last year (alongside other lighter reading), so that should be more than doable!  I was idly sitting in my library corner a couple of days ago staring around at my books, and realised I literally have R.I.P. contenders in every single one of the 48 Kallax cubes that currently make up my fiction section, plus a handful of true crime and other non-fiction books that would fit the bill, AND at least one horror-themed library book checked out right now...  Let's just say I'm definitely all set, whether I'm in the mood for dystopian menace or crime thrillers or all-out straight-up horror!  I'd really love at least one or two of my choices to be classics too - maybe Dracula, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, or The Island of Doctor Moreau?  WE SHALL SEE.
  • Red Dragon (Hannibal Lecter 1) - Thomas Harris

I'm also signing up for PERIL ON THE SCREEN, which involves watching spooky or thrilling movies or television.  Again, I have quite a few contenders on my newly-arranged DVD shelves, plus some TV box sets (like Dexter and American Horror Story), my sister's and family DVD collections to plunder, AND we've just got Netflix, so I might manage to watch Bates Motel at some point.  Oh, and my long-anticipated copy of Only Lovers Left Alive should FINALLY be arriving sometime in September, so that's a must-watch.  I managed to tackle a fair few book-to-movie pairings during R.I.P. VIII so hopefully I'll be able to do that again this year too!
  • What will be first?  Check back and see...  :)
(I'll add movie posters here as I go!)
I'm not usually much of a short story person, but I'm going to step up and aim to complete my R.I.P. IX experience with PERIL OF THE SHORT STORY.  I'd like to read The Birds by Daphne du Maurier so that I can watch the Hitchcock film, and I also have collections by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and Ian Fleming that would count as dark, thrilling or frightening.  I'd really love this year to be the year I FINALLY step up and read some of these!

  • What will be first?  Check back and see...  :)
(I'll add book covers here as I go!)

Are you signing up for R.I.P. IX too?  What's on your Hallowe'en reading list this year?  And if you have a master post of your own, feel free to leave me a link in the comments so I can drop by every so often and see how you're getting on!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Bout of Books: Sunday and Wrap-Up

Bout of Books
It's the last daaaaaay!  I have a headache again - recovery from yesterday, I think - but I'm hoping with a mug or two of coffee I can zap that and get reading, and hopefully get at least a few pages read to add to my total for the week.  BRING IT ON, MOTHERFUZZERS.

Books I've read from:  The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan; Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
Pages read today: 64
Books finished today:  The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan; Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
Running total:  3 books; 475 pages 
The menu:  Choc chip muffin, two bowls of mixed fruit, coffee, strawberry laces, salmon pie with peas and sweetcorn, choc chip cookie, bran flakes with sultanas
Today #insixwords:  Finished two books... OVER AND OUT.

1pm:  A good start!  I've finished The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which ended in yet MORE unnecessary death thanks to Mary's recklessness with everyone else's lives (grrrr, Mary), but also a note of hope, at least.  This book was just so relentlessly bleak; I wanted some of the characters to have a hope of survival, and a future, but it was like being stuck in one of those nightmares where you're running slower and slower and the bad guys just keeeeep on coming.  I am, however, very intrigued by the next book in the series, which I think answers some of the questions that got raised but then ignored in this one, because it's from the perspective of Gabrielle, the Outsider turned Fast One.  I've requested it from the library already.  :)

I've also spent some time writing a belated post about yesterday and going to Leeds, yaaaaay, plus I've applied for another job, and withdrawn from one where SORRY but they've added loads more information now that's completely changed the job description and NO NOT COOL.  Soooo, yes.  A productive morning!

4pm: I had the yummiest salmon pie (a Basics one, no less - it's nicer than the expensive ones!) with peas and sweetcorn, and sat with it on my knee reading Ghost World.  Admittedly I did have one dicey moment where Millie was like "Oooh salmon I'll just completely coincidentally try to jump on the chair and OH NOES MY NOSE WENT IN IT how simply dreadful".  I think she THINKS she's being very subtle about it, but no.  Anyway, after I'd finished removing a small cat from my dinner, I FINISHED Ghost World, which is another book down, hooray!  I've really enjoyed dipping into the world of Enid and Rebecca and their snarky, completely realistic relationship with the world and each other.  I'll be happy now even if I don't read any more today!
9:30pm: Which, as it happens, I haven't.  I'm not sure where the time's gone - shower, Candy Crush, blog hopping - but GONE IT HAS, so I think I'm going to round out my Bout of Books week by WATCHING Ghost World.  I used to love the movie as a young teenager, before I even knew it was a comic/graphic novel first, so it'll be nice to revisit it again.  Obviously it's going to be different from the book, but since Daniel Clowes wrote the screenplay I'm hoping it'll keep the same tone and overall style.  I last watched it so long ago that I don't remember much about it!  Time to fetch some fruit and a cookie and a drink and settle in, I think.

~ Wrap-Up ~
We've come to the end of another readathon - so how did I do?  Not spectacularly well, is the answer, although I was out having funtimes on Saturday, I applied for a couple of jobs, watched two movies and vastly improved on last week's total of ZERO PAGES, so... it's all relative really!  And actually when you look at my original goals for the week, I didn't do toooo badly.
I didn't hit my goal of finishing five books, but I did end up (finally!) finishing the last chunk of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore, before moving swiftly on to one of my nearing-their-deadline library books, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.  As a break from the relentless misery and peril of that one, I also picked up the quirky Ghost World by Daniel Clowes, which Ellie (Curiosity Killed the Bookworm) sent me at Christmas.  I finished both of those on Sunday, and also read the first few pages of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson on the train to and from Leeds on Saturday.
 In terms of non-reading goals... *consults goal list again*... well, I actually DIDN'T take part in one of the Twitter chats, for the second Bout of Books in a row.  The second one was in the middle of the night, the third one was while I was on the train home from Leeds... and I read right through the first one.  My bad.  I completed three challenges, as per my goal, plus Saturday's but I did that late for fun, so I'm not sure it counts!  I watched The Double on Monday, completing one of the many 'adapted from a novel' book/DVD pairings lurking on my shelves, and also watched Ghost World last night - so a double page to screen success this week!  I did, admittedly, spend quite a bit of time online, and I didn't start taking bookshelf tour photos because I took a lot of OTHER photos for my challenges and updates, but those goals weren't too important so I don't mind.  :)
So, what DID I manage to accomplish this week?  In the end I read a total of 475 pages, well up from my usual vague weekly reading aim of 350 pages, and posted every day, with pictures, stats, challenge entries and reading updates.  I did the Book Scavenger Hunt Challenge (Monday), the One True Pairing Challenge (Tuesday) and the 'Like This, Try This' Challenge (Thursday), as well as putting together a late unofficial response to the Spell It Out Challenge (Saturday), just because it looked like fun!  I think my favourite was the Book Scavenger Hunt, because it was fun picking out the perfect book for each prompt and none of them were too obscure or hard to find.  As usual, you can read all my updates, see all my photos and GIFs, and check out my challenge entries in one handy package by clicking here!
I hope you've enjoyed coming along for the ride with me again, and that you've had a fantastic week of reading, whether or not you were taking part in BoB this time!  In the comments you can let me know what you've been reading and how you did, and feel free to leave me your links so I can come visit!  Until next time, read-a-thonners...  :)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Bout of Books: Saturday

Bout of Books
I'm posting this late, because BUSY, but I didn't want to combine my weekend posts after all because I HAVE STUFF TO SAY.  I had a lovely day yesterday with Charlotte and Hanna, and since it was vaguely book-related I'm going to tell you aaaaaall about it for Bout of Books.  Sit down boys and girls, make yourselves comfortable...  THERE BE BOOK BUYING AHEAD!

Books I've read from:  We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Pages read today: 20
Books finished today:  None
Running total:  1 book; 411 pages 
The menu:  Water, aniseed balls
Today #insixwords:  Book buying and ALL THE CONVERSATION.

SUNDAY:  So, very little reading happened yesterday, because I WAS IN LEEDS.  I read a bit on the (very busy) train on the way there, and some more on the (surprisingly quiet) train on the way back, even though my head suddenly felt like it was going to explode because TOO MUCH TALKING NOT ENOUGH WATER... but it was only 20 pages altogether, so not much to write about really.  Although I haven't finished The Forest of Hands and Teeth yet, I ended up taking We Have Always Lived in the Castle with me instead, because TINY PAPERBACK.  It's interesting so far, nicely written and enigmatic.  I'm sure I'll get on with it better when I'm not trying to distract myself from epic headachiness and also not having my thoughts drowned out by a loud party of slightly drunk twenty-somethings on their way home from the Races.

I did, however, have a bookish time in other ways, because I was with Charlotte (Lit Addicted Brit) and Hanna (Booking in Heels) aaaaaaall day.  We had unknowingly picked a mad weekend to meet up - Leeds Festival AND the York Races were happening, meaning the train was packed with either people in wellies and scarves (AHAHA Blogger tried to correct that to 'willies and scarves'), or people looking like they were going to the world's least tasteful wedding - but MEET UP WE DID.  We hit Waterstones for coffee and snacks, then basically shopped the shit out of it for about an hour, which was predictably awesome.

Amazingly, I actually bought the least books of the three of us, which is positively unnatural, but whatever.  Part of the reason for this is that most of the books I really wanted just WEREN'T THERE (and Hanna promised me her copy of one of them - Horns by Joe Hill - so I didn't buy that either), and I was too indecisive to pick between the rest because my buying priorities were suddenly shot to pieces.  I did still buy five books, however, so I wasn't exactly the picture of restraint!  I ended up going for Carmilla by J. Sheridan le Fanu, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of 'Psycho' by Stephen Rebello, Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman, The Monk by Matthew Lewis, and finally Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira, which Hanna sneaked into my basket using a highly original "LOOK! OVER THERE!" ruse that Charlotte and I BOTH FELL FOR.  Ohhhhh, the shame.

Aaaand then we got drenched because UNEXPECTED RAIN STORM, and went back to Charlotte's for pizza and garlic bread and chocolate and tea and basically talked for the next six hours about everything under the sun, until we realised how late it was and that we should probably give Charlotte her house back at some point.  We discovered, for example, that Hanna's passport photo looks disturbingly like one of those penetrating lady serial killer mugshots from the sixties.  Charlotte apologised for EVERYTHING, including major friendship deal-breakers like the rain, the fact that a bird had pooed on her car, the colour of her living room fireplace, and the crispiness of the pepperoni on our pizza (like crispy pepperoni isn't THE BEST PEPPERONI!).  Also, I don't know quite what we said, but at one point Hanna was laughing so hard she was literally face-down in a sofa cushion trying to stop, which was simultaneously slightly worrying and very infectious.  I don't know what they learned about ME, but I hope it wasn't anything too awful.  It was such a wonderful day... though I'm slightly worried about that last part now I've thought about it.  :)

Aaaand then I came home and had a late supper and watched BookTube videos and went to bed.  Yaaay!

Spell It Out Challenge
Hosted by KimberlyFaye Reads

I'm not officially entering this challenge because 1) I'm too late and 2) I don't have an e-reader anyway so the giveaway is a dud for me, but it looks like fun so here goes nothing!  Now that all my books are out and shelved instead of crammed in boxes all over the house, I've decided to go ambitious and spell out my blog name.  So ambitious did this plan turn out to be, in fact, that the book piles wouldn't actually fit in one photo.  Go with it...  :)

B eauty Queens - Libba Bray
O thello - William Shakespeare
O n the Road - Jack Kerouac
K insey: A Biography - Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy

A ttachments - Rainbow Rowell
D ark Places - Gillian Flynn
D own Under - Bill Bryson
I t's Kind of a Funny Story - Ned Vizzini
C hoke - Chuck Palahniuk
T rouble - Non Pratt
E nduring Love - Ian McEwan
D awn of the Dumb - Charlie Brooker

B eneath the Wheel - Herman Hesse
L ord of the Flies - William Golding
O bsidian - Jennifer L. Armentrout
N orthanger Abbey - Jane Austen
D arkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay
E cho Boy - Matt Haig

Just a few more hours to go...  Are you feeling good about your progress this weekend?  Feel free to link up your updates in the comments if you're a BoB-er too!

Friday, 22 August 2014

Bout of Books: Friday

Bout of Books
*stumbles onto blog* *stretches and looks around blearily*  ANOTHER morning where I didn't want to get up, dudes.  Partially because the sounds coming from the other side of my window sounded suspiciously like rain, partially because it's suddenly gone COLD, and partially because said cold possibly means I've been scrumpled up in bed all night and given myself cricked ALL THE THINGS.  It pains me to say it, but it may be time to break out the cold-weather pyjamas.

AAAAAANYWAY, let's get down to some Bout of Books reading, shall we?  I might not get that much done tomorrow because SURPRISE!  I am going to see Charlotte and Hanna to buy more books (big Waterstones, yaaaay!) and also lounge around on a sofa being a lazy wench.  Still bookish, and hopefully I'll get some reading done on the (hour each way) train if I'm not wedged in someone's armpit in the vestibule again, but I might combine my Saturday/Sunday posts if I don't have much to share.  WE SHALL SEE.

Books I've read from:  The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Pages read today:  68
Books finished today:  None
Running total:  1 book; 391 pages 
The menu:  Choc chip muffin, two bowls of mixed tinned fruit, coffee, Indian mini bites (samosas, pakoras, bhajis), chocolate mousse, lasagne with sweetcorn
Today #insixwords: Such an eye-burny, sleepy day, ugh...

2pm:  Not a bad start to the reading day!  Yes, I spent my semi-awake breakfast time watching BookTube instead (what can I say, I have a lot of subscriptions pouring into my email inbox these days!), but I had an unexpected reading boon during a bit of a cake disaster this lunchtime.  It's not a very interesting story - my stepdad made a cake slightly wrong, left it in the oven then went out, leaving me in charge.  Nearly an hour and a half later, this bloody cake was black on the top but still soggy inside, and the lengthy amount of time I spent sitting at the kitchen table, testing the cake with a skewer every ten minutes before finally giving up, dumping it on the worktop and putting my dinner in the oven instead proved MARVELLOUS for kickstarting my reading. 

I've read about 50 pages of The Forest of Hands and Teeth so far today, and it's still... a bit much of a muchness?  There's constant peril from the zombies and lots of rending of garments with the melodramatic love affair of Mary and Travis, but there aren't really enough twists or carefully doled-out answers to keep my interest really gripped.  One unexpected death (NOT THE DOG ARGOS IS THE BEST) or different twist or revelation of something that answers one of the many questions thrown up in this post-apocalyptic zombie world would be enough, but I'M STILL WAITING.  There was a nice moment where Mary discovered some old newspaper articles from early on in the Return, with pictures of New York City as it once was, but it doesn't answer any of the questions about how the world became the way it is, or why the Sisterhood were so frickin' creepy, or any of that stuff.  I NEED ANSWERS, RYAN.  DON'T YOU DARE LEAVE THEM ALL FOR THE NEXT BOOK.  In the meantime, I hate to say it but there's a slight hint of...

10pm: Okay, so I may have spoken too soon - in the very next chapter shit got REAL - but I'm too tired to talk about it now so HAHA NOPE.  I've had all my tablets tonight so that hopefully I'll be relatively calm and pain-free for tomorrow's shopping jaunt, only at least two of them are drowsy-making which means I AM NOW HALF ASLEEP.  Soooo, no more reading tonight.  I didn't quite finish the book, but I'll start something new on the train tomorrow anyway (something in paperback instead of hardcover, and that I'm not 90% finished with obviously) and carry on with TFoHaT when I get home.  So long readers, back tomorrow!  Hopefully with POST-SHOPPING BOOK PICTURES!  :)
Did you have a lovely bookish Friday?  Looking forward to the weekend?  As always, feel free to link up your update posts or videos in the comments!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Bout of Books: Thursday

Bout of Books
Hello, hello!  A quieter day in Ellie-land today, which should mean more reading again, yaaaaay!  Also I had a really good night's sleep last night and got up quite late this morning, which should improve my concentration a bit.  Let's get this thing going!

Books I've read from:  The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Pages read today:  99
Books finished today:  None
Running total:  1 book; 323 pages 
The menu:  Choc chip muffin, two bowls of mixed tinned fruit, coffee, Indian mini bites (samosa, pakoras, bhajis), chocolate mousse, strawberry pencils, a couple of squares of Cadburys' Marvellous Creations chocolate (the popping candy one), cottage pie with peas and sweetcorn
Today #insixwords: Still procrastinating - but I'm reading too!

12 noon: Not quite as quick a start as I'd originally anticipated, thanks to another late-to-rise kind of morning, followed by some more BookTube watching and skipping around a few updates from today's Bout of Books linky (something I'm notoriously bad at during readathons)... but I'm reading now!  I'm hoping to just keep diving back into The Forest of Hands and Teeth today, in the hope that I can at least NEARLY finish it by the end of the day.  I'd so like to cram in another novella or two by the end of the week, especially with library deadlines looming!  Best get cracking...

9pm: Okay, so I didn't do too badly today; I've been sitting in my library corner most of the day reading, with meal breaks watching BookTube videos (to keep with the bookish theme), and I've read nearly 100 pages, yaaaay!  The book's definitely interesting, but the forward momentum seems to stop and start and the main character, Mary, is becoming a tad self-absorbed for my liking.  Some of this is explained away by the unprecedented 'are we the last humans?' situation in which she's found herself, and the fact that until the fence breach she's basically been backed into a corner by the Sisterhood in the village with regards to her entire life and future - but she's still a bit annoying.  We'll see how the last chunk of the book goes - in the meantime, I'm off to watch another episode of New Girl before bed, because NICK IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL.  :)
Quote of the day:  "Who are we if not the stories we pass down?  What happens when there's no one left to tell those stories?  To hear them?  Who will ever know that I existed?  What if we are the only ones left - who will know our stories then?  And what will happen to everyone else's stories?  Who will remember those?"
- From The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The 'Like This, Try This' Challenge
Hosted by Writing My Own Fairy Tale

This challenge pretty much does what it says on the tin: you recommend a book based on another book, TV show or film, and explain why they go together!

If you like Blackfish, the increasingly high-visibility documentary about the plight of orcas at SeaWorld (in particular Tilikum, a male orca now implicated in three deaths at the Orlando park), you should try the book Death at SeaWorld by David Kirby.  It explores various trainer deaths in their fuller context, including the ramifications of keeping and breeding adult killer whales in a captive environment - for example, how their temperaments and lethality towards humans are markedly different to wild orcas.
How's your Day 4 looking?  As always, feel free to link your update post or video in the comments so I can return the visit!

Bout of Books: Wednesday

Bout of Books
Hello fellow readers!  How are you all getting on as we barrel towards the mid-week point of Bout of Books?  All good?  I had another decent reading day yesterday - though not as good as my Monday kickoff - but I'm not sure how much reading I'll get done today.  I'm shopping for my new room at some point today, and applying for jobs as well, so it might be a functional kinda day rather than a good one for bookishness, we'll see!  Let's get cracking...

Books I've read from:  The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan; Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
Pages read today:  38
Books finished today:  None
Running total:  1 book; 224 pages 
The menu:  Choc chip muffin, two bowls of mixed tinned fruit, coffee, leftover Domino's vegetarian supreme pizza, cookie, fisherman's pie with peas and sweetcorn, cookie
Today #insixwords: A more practical day... READING FAIL!
11am: Okay, I was up a bit late today (oooops), but I've done a bit of catching up over the READATHON BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS (muffin, fruit, coffee, for those of you as yet uninitiated into Ellie's Readathon Rules) and read my first chapter of the day.  I think we're off to Dunelm Mill now to buy some bedding and stuff so my bed vicinity actually matches the rest of my new room décor, then it's back to the reading...

4pm: ... Ooooor it would have been, if I hadn't then got caught up eating lunch, watching some of the hilariously wonderful The Book Junkie on BookTube (seriously, Veronica's brilliant and enthusiastic and reads all sorts of great stuff, check her out!), then finished filling out the ginormous form and personal statement for a job application... only to find that you attached your CV at the end anyway.  Which has pretty much the exact same information, in a far more concise and intuitive format, and would have taken five seconds to upload on its own rather than the fifty minutes it took to fill out the rest.  DAMN YOU, GENERIC ONLINE FORMS!

9pm: Okay, I give up for today.  I've basically spent too much time doing other shizzle and then playing Candy Crush in between, and even though I've made an effort this evening to read some more of both my on-the-go books, my eyes are getting tired and I'm feeling like internet time is going to happen now.  Ah well.  TOMORROW.  TOMORROW IS FREE AND I SHALL READ.

Quote of the day:  (Enid, on personal ads) "... I remember when I first started reading these I thought "DWF" stood for "dwarf"... I could never figure out why so many dwarves were placing ads..."
- from Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
I hope you all have a great day 3, and as always, feel free to link up your progress in the comments so I can come and cheer you on in return!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Bout of Books: Tuesday

Bout of Books
Mornin' all!   After a pretty good first day of the readathon - I fulfilled my goal for the day, to finish Lamb by Christopher Moore, plus I read half of Ghost World AND watched The Double, based on the Dostoyevsky novella - I've woken up with a headache this morning, so... not such a great start.  I'll do my best, however, and hopefully do another challenge as well because FUN.  For any of you still hovering on the sidelines, this is the last day you can sign up for the week, so if you're sailing in late get on over to the Bout of Books blog, quick!

Books I've read from:  The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Pages read today:  84
Books finished today:  None
Running total:  1 book; 186 pages 
The menu:  Choc chip muffin, fruit (raspberries, apricots, pineapple), coffee, Domino's vegetarian supreme pizza, cookies, some kind of red juice with pomegranate, grape, apple and other stuff in it
Today #insixwords: Damn you, readathon headache! DAMN YOUUUUU!
10am: Lalala, breakfast, lalala, just gonna watch a few minutes of BookTube while I'm getting rid of this headache and eating, lalala...

11am: Phew, okay, that went well.  Probably time to read now...  Oooh look, Candy Crush!

11:30am: Okay, no more Candy Crush lives.  Ooops, Mum just sent me an email with some jobs to look at.  I can just apply to this one really quickly, it sounds good.

12:30pm: I could probably eat a slice of pizza now, maybe watch another BookTube video, read a couple of blog posts... then I'll be nicely ready to read.  Definitely.


1:15pm: This level sucks.  No lives.  That headache's coming back, I haven't applied for the second job yet because GINORMOUS FORM TO FILL IN and I think I might want a shower now.  (These things aren't related, by the way.)

1:45pm: I made myself leave the laptop alone and stop following the cat around demanding cuddles, and have forced myself to actually pick up The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan before I will allow myself to go shower.  Good call, Ellie, because even though I've only read ten pages (the first chapter) I'm already intrigued and it'll be sooooo much easier to keep reading now I've begun.

4:15pm: FINALLY, I have something worthwhile to report that doesn't involve putting pizza in my face or clearing jellies from an inconveniently tricky board.  I've now read abooooout 30 pages of The Forest of Hands and Teeth - which is already proving very compelling and has these wonderful little "well, that was nicely put" moments, which I always appreciate in a novel.  I'm also showered, so... go me?  I now plan to take some more tablets for my STUPID HEADACHE, eat something cookie-shaped (because you have to feed a headache, everyone knows that) and THEN carry on reading.  So far TFoHaT is a bit of a cross between The Village (the M. Night Shyamalamalamalaman movie) and I Am Legend (the Richard Matheson book), so... yay.

7pm: Maaaaaan, my eyes are tired and that headache's never really gone away.  I HAVE now hit about 70 pages down in The Forest of Hands and Teeth though, and things are getting very interesting.  Our rebellious and intelligent young heroine is in love with a man she can't have, the Sisters that reign over the village enclave are turning out to be crazy sinister under all the praying/tending to the sick and injured, and an actual human bean has just ARRIVED through the never-used gate leading onto the Forest path.  Oh yes.

9pm: Okay, I give up for today.  The headache's still lurking, my eyes are burning and my brain's gone fuzzy, so I think it's time to grab me a drink and a snack and maybe watch an episode or two of New Girl before bed.  I've got to the "Wow, Nick looks like a great kisser... lucky, lucky Jess" segment of season 2, so it's all very addictive.  Night all, get your reading oooon if it's still daytime where you are!  :)

Quotes of the day:  "I return to staring at the fence.  Watching the light slide down the sky, casting crisscrossed shadows on the ground at my feet.  I blur my eyes, throwing my surroundings out of focus.  The fence does not exist when I do this.  As if we are all one world."
"Outside, pure white snow covers the trees and fence, blanketing the Unconsecrated.  It is a bright clear day, the sun sparkling off the ice crystals.  One of those days when you can't understand why there is such beauty in a world that is nothing but ugly."
- both from The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
One True Pairing Challenge
Hosted by Infinite Ink
For this challenge, we have to share our OTP - the couple we love most and ship hardest in literature, regardless of whether or not they actually pair up in the book(s)!  I definitely have a bunch of favourite ships - mostly from film and TV - but I don't really have an OTP.  I tend to just pick a pairing that I like and run with it for a while.  I do have rules for my fanfic consumption though: the individuals have to be (mostly) in character and in the same fictional universe - no high school reimaginings, for example - and I definitely prefer the M-rated fics because, let's be honest here, you want your ships to get it ooooon. 

Probably the closest I've come to literary shipping (as opposed to a favourite literary couple, which is completely different) is a complete mental mix-up of the Harry Potter universe.  When I first discovered fanfiction this was the obvious place to start, and there are so many characters that it's kind of addictive playing matchmaker with different pairings.  Remus x Sirius would be an obvious one, for example, Draco x Harry (Drarry) is ever-popular, and Hermione x Draco (Dramione) was an early discovery for me (because every good girl needs a bad boy, opposites attract etc etc).  My absolute favourite HP pairing is Remus x Hermione, because AWWWWW.  There are some really good 'Hermione goes back in time and meets the young Marauders' and 'Hermione as an adult falling for her old professor' fics out there, and I LOVE THEM.  Remus is possibly my #1 Potter crush anyway (plus I'm a bit of a Hermione, SO IT ALL FITS), and I like the fact that they're both highly intelligent, bookish and lovely people who've been through some heavy stuff and come out the other side.  They'd make a great couple.  I ship them WAY harder than Lupin and Tonks!
How's your Day 2 looking?  Settling into the pace nicely?  Tell me what you're reading in the comments, and as always, feel free to link your updates so I can return the visit!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Bout of Books 11.0: Goals and Monday

Bout of Books
IT'S BOUT OF BOOKS TIIIIIIME!  And it couldn't come at a better point for me, just as I've finished getting my bedroom decorated and furnished and lovely.  Time for a break and some quality reading time at last - I haven't read a page in a week and a half and I'm starting to get twitchy!  I'm going to head into my reading corner and get started; as always, if you fancy joining us you can find all the information you need over at the Bout of Books blog.  The sign-up Linky's open until the end of tomorrow so you've still got time!
~ My Goals ~

 I'm currently reading Lamb by Christopher Moore, which has been on my reading pile since THE END OF FRICKIN' JUNE, so the absolute top priority for the start of the week is to finish that already.  I've got about 70 pages left, so hopefully by the end of today that'll be done and I can finally move on to a new novel.  I have some library books, as well as my entire book collection back out of boxes and installed in my new book nook, so I'm well set for choices!  My overall aim for the week is to maybe finish... five books?  That would be amazing - but then, I'm also planning on tackling some pithy, fast-paced and potentially SHORT books during the readathon to get my motivation back a bit after nearly a fortnight of not reading at all.  These are just a handful of the books I MIGHT pick up this week:

That's definitely my main goal - reading as much as possible - but I still have a few tiny side-goals that might be fun to achieve if I get the chance.  These include:
  •  Taking part in at least one of the Twitter chats.  I missed all of them during the last Bout of Books, and it made my week feel that bit less sociable and awesome, so I don't want to make that mistake again!
  • I'd like to do at least three of the week's challenges.  They're always fun for a bit of a break from all the reading, and it can be a good way of discovering new blogs too.
  • I really, really REALLY want to get my internet time under control and spend more time reading than messing around online.  It's just too easy to 'pop onto Twitter' and then realise you've been hopping around newspaper websites and blogs and Buzzfeed for two hours!  I say this every time though, and the results have been dubious thus far, so...
  •  I'd like to watch The Double at some point if I feel like a break from reading.  I read the Dostoyevsky novella back in April specifically for this reason, and bought the DVD last week when it came out, AND it's only a 90-minute film so it'd be a good way to tie into the week's bookish theme without reading ALL the time!
  • Ideally I'd like to start taking photos for a set of bookshelf-tour posts now that all my books are unboxed, organised and back within reach again.  The lighting isn't great on that side of the room now (because BOOKCASES!) so it'd be good to make a start in daylight!
  • I'll be updating here on the blog, as well as on Twitter.  My handle is @BlondeBookGirl, and I'll be using the read-a-thon hashtag #boutofbooks.

Good luck to all my fellow Bout of Books-ers - and feel free to leave your links, comments, encouraging words or random book-addled thoughts at the bottom of any of my posts this week and I'll do my best to return the visit!


Books I've read from:  Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore; Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
Pages read today:  102
Books finished today:  Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
Running total:  1 book; 102 pages 
The menu: Choc chip muffin, fruit (pineapple, apricots and raspberries), coffee, Domino's chicken strippers and garlic pizza bread, cookie, tea
Today #insixwords:  A satisfyingly (and surprisingly!) productive start

10am:  Starting off the day by PRETENDING to read while doing the informal intro challenge in my PJs, followed by a lengthy period of time gathering books for the Book Scavenger Hunt then scrabbling around on the floor taking pictures of them trying to get the lighting right.  GOOD START, ELLIE.  Now... actual reading, maybe?

THIS, Instagram celebrities, is what #nofilter #nomakeup actually looks like.
1pm:  That's more like it.  I've read about 20pp of Lamb - so about 50 to go before I finish the book and hit my tentative goal for today - and I have Domino's pizza to celebrate day one of Bout of Books.  The world is good.  I really want to just power on with the book now, because I thiiiiink it's the ending that's been putting me off reading.  *SPOILER ALERT* You know it's not going to go well, y'know?  Like when I went to see Titanic when I was 12 and *MORE SPOILERS* got more and more anxious as the minutes went by because I knew it was all going to be traumatic.  COME ON, ELLIE.  READ.  YOU CAN HAVE A COOKIE AFTER.
Pizza-ordering restraint is a life skill I have yet to master.  Pizza for every meal!  For three days!  YES!
4:30pm: Chicken strippers and most of a garlic pizza bread eaten, two giant mugs of coffee consumed - and I FINISHED LAAAAAAMB.  So happy right now, even though Sarah totally fibbed on Twitter and said the ending wasn't too bad and it actually destroyed me a little bit.  You don't have to be religious to feel like you've been kicked in the gut when someone gets crucified and stabbed with a spear and DIES while his best friend is forced to watch.  It was hideous.  The epilogue redeemed the misery a tiny bit but I was still reeling from the preceding few pages so... dammit, Moore.  The book was amazing, by the way.  Funny and irreverent and warm, yet also strangely respectful for a novel basically inserting kung fu, exotic travels and all sorts of other fun stuff into the life of the most famous individual who ever lived.  *fist-bumps Christopher Moore* *goes back to glaring at him in faintly betrayed manner*
11:30pm: I am so pleased with how I've done today!  Not only have I finished Lamb and completed my first challenge of the week, I've also read about half of Ghost World by Daniel Clowes, which was completely off-TBR but felt right, and then settled in this evening with a bowl of fruit and a mug of coffee (and Millie the small ginger cat) to watch The Double.  It was trippy and stylistically beautiful and very dark, yet also blackly funny and managed to cram in cameos by two of Richard Ayoade's fellow IT Crowd cast members, three actors from his previous film Submarine, plus poet comedian Tim Key.  Oh, and Jesse Eisenberg's a frickin' tour de force, as always.  Very happy with my progress so far, especially given that I haven't read a single page in so long and have mainly been watching BookTube videos and New Girl this past week or two!

Quote of the day:  "Joshua went down the steps to a low-ceilinged room with a mosaic floor and small windows cut high in the walls.  Joshua's mother and brother James had joined the apostles.  They all sat there against the walls, their faces turned to Joshua like flowers to the sun, waiting for him to say something that would give them hope." - from Lamb, right before Joshua is arrested in Gethsemane and taken to trial

Book Scavenger Hunt
Hosted by The Book Monsters

Such a fun challenge to kick of the week!  This involved finding books to fulfil five prompts, either using our own shelves and a camera, or the magic of the interwebs.  Here are mine:

1.  A book that begins with 'B' (for Bout of Books!)
For this one I've gone for Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, one of the biggest books on my shelf but also one of the ones I think will be most exciting and easy to speed through like a maniac.  It's basically a bit like The Hunger Games, with a classful of Japanese students being abandoned on a desert island by a totalitarian government to fight to the death until only one is left.  I haven't seen the film yet, but as soon as I'm done reading I'll buy a copy!

2.  A book that has been made into a movie or TV show
I have SO MANY pairings to choose from on my book and DVD shelves, but I chose We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.  My sister tried to put me off reading it after they were allocated it during a book club at school (whaaaat), but I finally read it last year and it was without doubt my favourite book of 2013.  Wonderfully written, completely absorbing, extremely thought-provoking - and the movie, starring the always-fantastic Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller (two of my favourite actors full stop) is beautifully made too.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

3.  A series you love
I haven't read one of these in ages - and I haven't read beyond #4 full stop, in fact - but I LOVE the Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris.  I love the kooky humour, I love the darkness and sensuality of Harris's supernatural beings, and I am maaaaajorly Team Eric.  Obviously.  I used to read them on days off from work, curled up in bed, and really want to reread the ones I've already enjoyed and carry on with the series this autumn and winter!

4.  An anthology of poems or short stories
I don't really buy poetry anthologies - mostly single-author works - and I don't usually enjoy short stories either so I tend to get those from the library unless the book's something special, but I DO have this old copy of The Nation's Favourite Poems.  It's a BBC book from when I was much younger - ten or eleven, maybe? - and it contains some of my favourite poems of all time, including 'She Walks in Beauty' by Lord Byron (which I can happily recite on command), 'Sonnet 116' by William Shakespeare (ditto), 'Ozymandias' by Percy Bysshe Shelley (KING OF KINGS), and the rather less high-brow but bloody brilliant 'Please Mrs Butler' by Allan Ahlberg, which was a staple in my classroom in year 2.  We'd all join in on the last line with great merriment.  "BUT DON'T ASK MEEEEEEE!"  Ahhh, memories.  :)

5.  A book on your TBR shelf, or your full TBR shelves
This is more a hastily-grabbed mini-sample of my current TBR - which is pretty much every book on my bookshelves.  All seven new bookcases' worth.  I HAVE A PROBLEM OKAY?!  Anyway, here's a few from the top of the heap: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (because then I can justify buying the movie); Packing For Mars by Mary Roach (yay space!); Richard II by William Shakespeare (so I can finally start watching The Hollow Crown); And the Hippos Were Boiled in their Tanks by Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs (so I can watch Kill Your Darlings - are you sensing a theme here?); We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (which needs to go back to the library soon); A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood (ditto); The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (same again); Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell (because I've had it forever and I LOVE the movie) and Geek Girl 2: Model Misfit by Holly Smale (because I read the first one in June and don't want to wait forever to read the second!).

How did you get on today?  Starting slowly, or firing on all cylinders?  Feel free to link up your update/goal post in the comments so I can return the visit!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

July book and DVD haul

So hey, remember when I posted my June book/DVD/library/ Harry Potter/birthday haul a month late and then promised to get my July one out within the next few days?  Yeaaaaaah, that didn't happen.  I have literally not read a page in well over a week, nor have I been near the blog, because life suddenly got BUSY.  I have spent a large amount of time sanding, wiping down, painting and glossing every surface in my bedroom, followed by lugging furniture around, a trip to Ikea, two days of putting up flat-pack shizzle, MORE lugging stuff around, getting every book and DVD I own organised and onto my new bookshelves, unpacking random boxes of crap from when we moved a year ago, and getting the carpet cleaned so everything was shiny and new and done. 

Time for a break?  NOOOO JOB APPLICATIONS.  I spent another two or three days intensively making over my old C.V., template cover letters and all that stuff, a further day emailing everyone because I was panicking about getting in too deep with a particular job, and ANOTHER day filling out the world's most elaborate online application for a DIFFERENT job as well.  Let's just say having Bout of Books week ahead of me is a sweet, sweet siren call to go back to my reading and relax a bit.  IN MY NEW LIBRARY CORNER.  Which I shall talk about more in a later post, but YEAAAAH.

This gives me so many happy feels, it's ridiculous

So, let's get into the new stuff, shall we?  First up, a few random things I picked up over the month.  I still haven't read A Game of Thrones, but because I plan to read it soon and I don't want to have to wait to buy the next one if it's amazing, I got ahead of myself and bought A Clash of Kings, the second in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, from Tesco.  £3.85 for a book this size?  NOT GONNA ARGUE WITH THAT.  The second book I bought in July was from one of those Book Depository 25-hour sales where they put a new book up at a crazy-low price every half hour; I snapped up Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton, the story of the people behind Twitter and how it became the phenomenon it is today.  I think it's basically The Accidental Billionaires (or The Social Network, if you saw it in movie form) but for Twitter.  The reviews make it sound compelling, anyway! 

My other miscellaneous buy early on in the month was The Angel and the Soldier Boy, a vintage half-hour animation that's sort of in the same vein as The Snowman - no talking, beautiful music, gentle style, old-fashioned animation, appeals to everyone - only this one has a HAPPY ending.  It's about two little toys, an angel and a soldier boy, and their adventure trying to retrieve a girl's birthday coin after it's stolen by a gang of pirates from her new picture book.  It came out around the time I was born, and I watched it all the time at my grandparents' house as a child; it's so ripe with nostalgia for me that when I found in on YouTube about a year ago and heard that music again, I burst into tears!  I was actually tracking down a copy to buy for Bex and her boys as part of her 'yay new baby!' package, but I ended up finding a woman with a stockpile of the DVDs and bought one for myself as well.  If you want to check it out, it's also on YouTube; the first part is here.  It's well worth it!

My sister gave me her copy of Dear Me, a collection of letters written by celebrities to their sixteen year-old selves, because she didn't know enough of the names for it to mean that much.  Ohhhh Hannah.  Some of the more 'mystifying' examples she offered during my bemused questioning about this were Debbie Harry, Simon Callow and Baz Luhrmann.  BAZ LUHRMANN!  Clearly, she did not DESERVE to own this book, so it is now mine.

Around the same time, YALC happened as part of the London Film and Comic Con, and both Jess and Rachel were there hobnobbing with authors and befriending other book folks amidst the chaos.  They'd very kindly offered to take my copy of Matt Haig's The Humans with them to get it signed; unfortunately we didn't get that sorted in time, so instead they very sweetly bought me a copy of his new book Echo Boy while they were there and got it signed AND dedicated.  I was so overwhelmed when they 'fessed up, and again when Rachel arrived at my house with it, especially given how much work Matt Haig does for mental health awareness.  Did you know he tweeted me when I was super-depressed and struggling earlier this year?  DUDE ROCKS.  Thank you so much ladies, it means the world!  :)

This book should have been in one of the other pictures, but I FORGOT because I was already reading it - so instead, here's a photo of it with some delicious jellybeans, outside on my sunlounger, while it was still July and sunny instead of August and chilly/cloudy/rainy like it is now.  It's Caitlin Moran's brilliant new novel, How to Build a Girl, recently seen ALL OVER THIS CORNER OF THE INTERNET thanks to Emily's readalong.  I didn't take part officially, but I bought the book, read it, read all the blog posts and commented like a maniac, so... basically I was the world's laziest participant?  ALL THE READING FUN, NONE OF THE PESKY WRITING ABOUT IT.  As I said in my July wrap-up, the novel was hilarious and philosophical and just wonderful, I loved it!
Obviously, being a functional grown-up, the next books into my house were shiny new copies of Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.  Matilda's one of my favourite childhood books anyway, and I have a totally legit crush on Willy Wonka, so I was bound to acquire replacement copies sooner or later, and Tesco had a whole new shelf full of children's classics on a 2-for-£7 offer, so... DON'T JUDGE ME.  Another week, another 2-for-£7 deal (is it just me or do most of my books seem to come from Tesco at the moment?), this time in the form of The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (highly recommended by Katie) and Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan.  I already have (or have read) all of her other foodie novels, and Bex really enjoyed it, so it had to be added to my shelves eventually.  Lalala, no willpower ETC.
Aaaaand then I went to Meadowhall.  While my mum and grandmother literally scoured Marks and Spencer from end to end (vouchers to spend, THEY WERE IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL), I managed to hit numerous fun places by myself, including HMV, Waterstones and The Disney Store (like I said, GROWN-UP).  While I managed to resist the urge to buy a Pascal beanie toy or a glittery Princess cup (GROWN-UP), I did have a tiny splurge in Waterstones and an even tinier splurge in HMV.
First onto my mini Waterstones pile was Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell.  I actually already have a copy, but it's old and a bit nasty and I wanted the beautiful PMC edition to go with my others.  I think I'm going to love the book, if it's anywhere near as good as the movie (which is one of my favourites for a rainy day), so I didn't mind investing in a nice copy!  Next up was Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas; I had it from the library but it had to go back before I read it, and I was faiiiiiirly confident I was going to like it, based on the synopsis (it's about a talented young swimmer who has a meltdown) and how much I enjoyed Loaded back in 2012.  I was actually done there, but the lady on the desk helpfully pointed out that I had one half of a BOGOHP deal and asked if I wanted to pick something else as well - so I did.  I decided to hit the YA table for my last choice and went for We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, a book I've seen buzzing like crazy around BookTube recently.  It looks pretty fast-paced, so it's definitely a potential read for Bout of Books this week. 
Finally, despite going into HMV with a list of movies I was looking for, pretty much the only one I found was Nowhere Boy.  It's a biopic of the young John Lennon starring the divine Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and it was only £3.99, which is a bargain even in an Amazon world.
That's it for my July buying!  I've been fairly good in August so far - just a handful of things trickling in, mostly because I've been so immersed in all my own books and DVDs while I've been organising my library - so I might include those things in my reading wrap-up for the month instead of giving them their own post, who knows?  There's still time for me to fall off the wagon yet.  :)
Have you read or seen any of these already?  Anything I should push right up the pile?  And would you all be interested in a series of posts comprising a full bookshelf tour, now that all my books are finally out of boxes and back on proper shelves again?  Let me know in the comments!