Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Shirley - Charlotte Bronte

I knew literally nothing about this book before picking it up about a month ago. Except, you know, that it was Charlotte Bronte, and therefore certain to be pretty damned fabulous. And ultimately, I did really like the book. But it was a long, slow road to get there.

Shirley isn't so much the story of the titular character as it is the story of a small community in Yorkshire. The book opens with a group of characters who are ultimately quite insignificant to the story, and it can be a little confusing to spend the first few chapters focusing on characters that are essentially meaningless.

It's kind of a difficult book to review. At times, it very much reminded me of North and South. I mean, it's set in the north. A mill is involved. The mill owner clashes with his employees. One of the major female characters is Miss Helstone. You know, that place where Margaret Hale grew up and totally idolised in North and South? Yeah.

It wasn't necessarily a problem for me. I mean, I adore North and South. So something that felt a lot like North and South was always going to be a win for me. But I *did* spend chunks of time wondering whether Gaskell and Bronte's friendship meant that when Gaskell was influenced by Bronte's work when creating one of my favourite books...

Really, I think my biggest problem with it? Was that the blurb on my copy mentions that the titular Shirley - who, incidentally, is a FABULOUS character. She's strong and fierce and independent, and she's responsible for basically every woman who's ever been named Shirley - is in love with Robert's brother. Except that Robert's brother doesn't turn up until more than half way through the book. So I spent an awful lot of time being very confused about whether or not Robert's brother was actually going to turn up or whether the blurb was lying to me.

In short, it's full of glorious characters, and it's worth the effort even if it takes a little while to get your head around what's going on.

Twenty Classics Club books down, forty to go!

K xx

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mysterious absences and what causes them

You may have noticed, friends, that I haven't been around these here parts as much as usual in the past few weeks.

The reasons behind this are threefold:

1. 12WBT
Sometimes I feel like exercising and cooking and exercising some more takes up all my time, and by the end of the day? I kind of just want to collapse in a heap and not use my brain.

Yeah, I don't even know how this happened. I uploaded a video on April 1st, and then a bunch of my friends were all "WE'RE DOING VEDA!!" and I figured that I'd unintentionally started doing VEDA anyway, so I may as well keep going. Of course, given that I'm also on the Snark Squad channel every week for Segue Magic, this means I'm currently posting EIGHT videos a week. Hahahahaha ohgod. It's a lot of videos. And between shooting and editing and watching other people's videos? Yeah, it eats into what little time is left once I finish all that exercising and cooking nonsense.

(But, like, if you want to see me wibbling about books even more than usual, you should probably check out my VEDA videos...)

3. I GOT A FREAKING JOB!!!!!!!!!!
That's right, friends. I found the Holy Grail - a full time job in my field. Okay, so it's only a 12 month contract, but STILL. I start tomorrow morning, and I'm kiiiiiiiiiiiind of terrified because it's been forever since I've had to be a responsible adult on a full time basis. But it'll be FINE. In a terrifying but-I-already-don't-have-time-to-blog kind of a way.

And hey - I have an insanely long commute to get to work, so maybe if I can reach a point where my brain in capable of constructing sentences at like 7.30am, I'll write blog posts on my phone instead! Maybe. We'll see.

I'll get back into the swing of adulthood eventually, so this definitely isn't goodbye. Hell, VEDA will be over in another week and a bit, which will give me at least an extra hour a day to play with. But if I'm not around for a little while? That's why.

What's new with you guys?

K xx

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Any more and I'll have square eyes

I was originally planning on doing Top Ten Tuesday today, as per usual. But after spending the past hour looking for inspiring quotes and coming up with a whopping two possibilities, I decided that it wasn't worth spending the entire afternoon looking for others. And I've been talking about books a LOT at the moment anyway, so I figured I'd update you guys on what I've been watching lately. Because why the hell not.

Snark Squad stuff
We're getting towards the pointy end of series 2 of Doctor Who, and I've finally finished recapping season 3 of Supernatural (although I'm way ahead of schedule on that one at the moment). It's been a while since we got a Dawson's Creek recap up, but we're somewhere in the middle of season 3 with that one too.

Friday Night Lights
I'm nearly done with season 5, but I've been putting off watching it because I'm not sure I want it to end... Although thankfully, it's on Netflix Australia when I inevitably feel the need to revisit Dillon.

Criminal Minds
I'm half way through season 5, and I'm LOVING it. Although it's been on the backburner over the past week because I really can't watch it when I'm home alone or I rapidly become convinced that I'm going to be murdered.

For some reason, when I put Criminal Minds on the backburner, I thought it would be a good idea to start rewatching Bones. And somehow, I'm already half way through season 2. I honestly don't know how this happened, but I'm so busy squeeing over Hodgins and Angela being adorable that I barely even notice the disgusting rotting corpses...

I watched the first episode on Friday night and really enjoyed it. But then I spent the weekend catching up on Snark Squad stuff, and I haven't gotten around to watching any more yet. SOON. Because the opening credits are totally awesome, and I love the little nods to the Marvel movies, and I'm just really intrigued to see how it pans out, even though I don't care that much about Matt Murdock.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
I've watched the first two episodes of this, and to be honest? I'm not sure about it. It definitely has its funny moments, but there's also been quite a bit of stuff that's squicked me out. I was never a huge fan of Ellie Kemper on The Office, which probably isn't helping. Because it sort of feels like an entire show about Erin, except not... I feel like I should give it a few more episodes before I decide, but at this point? I'm just not sure...

How To Get Away With Murder
I think I've seen the first four episodes of this?? I was watching it as it aired in Australia, and then I sort of...forgot about it. So now there are a bunch of episodes that I've missed and at least one is no longer on Channel 7's catch up TV site and I'm not sure if I care enough to keep watching?? Because I was enjoying it. But it also felt really repetitive, with the same shots of the bonfire in every single episode...

Brooklyn Nine Nine
Sweet baby Jesus, I am in love with this show. The first season is on Netflix Australia, and I basically marathoned the entire thing. It's absolutely glorious from start to finish. Two of the three female characters are Latina. Two of the four major male characters are African-American, and one of those two is also gay. None of the characters ever feels like a stereotype, with the possible exceptions of Scully and Hitchcock, who are very much the old school, slightly inept cops. But they're there for comic relief more than anything. And it's kind of great to have the middle aged white men be the stereotypes for a change!

Basically, Brooklyn Nine Nine is a gift and it's quite possibly the funniest thing I've seen in years and I absolutely adore it and yes, I totally ship Jake and Amy. Because of reasons.

I really need to catch up on Castle and Elementary and Sleepy Hollow and Outlander and the current season of Supernatural. But there are only so many hours in the day, you know?

What are you watching at the moment? And should I keep watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?? Tell meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!

K xx

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Review - We All Looked Up

We All Looked Up
Tommy Wallach
Simon & Schuster

4 stars

The blogosphere has been all atwitter about this book for quite a while now, and with good reason. It's a fascinating and pretty unique concept, and I was super excited that I got my grubby little hands on an ARC. Thanks, Simon & Schuster!

Essentially, the gist of the story is that there's an asteroid heading for Earth. And there's a 66% chance that it will hit and wipe out the entire planet. And it's due to hit in two months. What would you do with your last two months?

The book follows the stories of four high school seniors: Peter, the popular basketball star. Eliza, the photographer with a bad reputation. Andy, the underachiever. And Anita, the brainy good girl with a dream of being a singer. The narrative flows between the four of them as their stories weave together during the last two months before the asteroid arrives. Where they were all expecting to graduate high school and move on to bigger and better things, now their futures are uncertain. 

Okay, first things first: I adore this cover. It's absolutely stunning, and it even includes the blue asteroid up there in the top left corner. I really enjoyed the changing narrative. Even when there were elements of the story that overlapped, each voice was unique and featured its own set of circumstances, complications and emotions.

On paper, Peter has the dream. But he's not happy. Eliza has a reputation she doesn't deserve and her father's dying of cancer. Andy wants to lose his virginity before the world ends and is kind of freaking out about his best friend's growing presence as a drug dealer. And Anita's father is ridiculously strict and doesn't think the end of the world is a reason to stop working. 

So the characters were all relatable and reading about their hopes and dreams over the last two months was bittersweet. I really enjoyed the writing, too. There were some beautiful passages, but I think my favourite was right near the beginning: 
"The best books, they don't talk about things you never thought about before. They talk about things you'd always thought about, but that you didn't think anyone else had thought about. You read them, and suddenly you're a little bit less alonein the world. You're part of this cosmic community of people who've thought about this thing, whatever it happens to be."  
(ARC, p. 11)

I think that quote actually sums up the book pretty well. I mean, it's a book about the end of the world. Who hasn't secretly devoted at least a little bit of time somewhere along the way to wondering what they'd do if the world were going to end tomorrow/in a week/in a month/in a year?

Personally, I'd eat cake for breakfast every day. And stop flossing. And demand that Sarah J. Maas release the remaining books in the Throne of Glass series immediately, even if they're still first drafts. And read everything on my TBR shelf.

Basically, this is an incredibly realistic book about the end of the world. Not everything is happy fun times. There's anarchy and looting and the authorities struggle to keep control of things. Which is FABULOUS because as if everyone's going to suddenly become peaceful BFFs when they find out that the world is ending. Please. Everything would go to shit in a heartbeat.

And that's what this book demonstrates. The loss of control. Everything you thought the future held being turned on its head. And learning that the little things everyone stresses over - getting a bad grade, for example - are totally and utterly meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

Does this sound like something you'd read?

K xx

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. We All Looked Up is available now.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

TTT - The Characters I'd Like to Check In With

Another Tuesday already? Must be time to talk about books and link up with the Broke and the Bookish!

The topic this week is all about the characters that we'd like to check back with and find out what happened to them after the book finished. And I have a LOT of these. But I limited myself to ten like a good child. 

1. Molly Gibson and Roger Hamley - Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
There's a very simple reason why these two are right at the top of my list: ELIZABETH GASKELL VERY RUDELY WENT AND DIED WITHOUT FINISHING THE BOOK. Obviously, she intended for them to end up together, but I still need to knoooooooooooooooow. And find out what happens next. 

2. Literally every single character - The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I mean, seriously. I will never be done. I need more. And not in those little bonus content-y things that Rowling posts on Pottermore for holidays. I NEED MORE BOOKS, DAMMIT. The longer the better. 

3. Rachel Watts and James Mycroft - The Every series by Ellie Marney
I want to check in on these two like five years down the road when they've finished university. Are they still investigating crimes? Helping the police? Have their own detective agency? Over their OMG-how-are-you-still-a-functioning-human-being PTSD yet? I might just go pester Ellie on Twitter until she tells me the answers... 

4. Fair Finley and Gomery Overbove - The Wilfair series by Alysia Gray Painter
Oh, my precious babies. I want to check in on them periodically for the rest of their lives and make sure they're doing okay. Alysia - my birthday is coming up. Feel free to write me a Finley/Overbove wedding. #justsaying

5. Becky Sharp - Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Becky's a total antihero, and she always manages to fall on her feet no matter how deep she's dug herself in. I'd love to check in with her somewhere down the track and find out what crazy schemes she's got in the works.

6. Aristotle and Dante - Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
This book ends on such a fabulous note. But it also ends with a beginning. And I would LOVE to see what happens next for these two and how they handle it. 

7. Ellie Linton - The Tomorrow series and The Ellie Chronicles by John Marsden
I was pretty excited when John Marsden wrote The Ellie Chronicles, because I KNEW that Ellie's story wasn't over yet. But that series ended with a slightly ridiculous bombshell that I still don't know how to process. And I'd love to know what happens as a result of that bombshell. 

8. Eleanor Douglas and Park Sheridan - Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
After that ending, how could you not want to check in on these two precious babies?? Fingers crossed Rowell will do a sneaky little cameo in a future book, like she did with Cath and Levi... 

9. Amy and Roger - Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Again, this book ended with a beginning. And yes, we get a sneak peek/cameo thing of these two in Second Chance Summer, but it's not enough dammit! I need to know what happened in between this book and that cameo... 

10. Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth - Persuasion by Jane Austen
I know that most Austen fans would say that Lizzie and Darcy are the characters they most want to check in with. But for me? I figure there are so many adaptations and retellings and sequels out there that it's pretty easy to find something that fits your particular head canon for what happens next. But Persuasion? Not so much. Given that Wentworth is in the Royal Navy and it's inevitable that they'd spend a lot of time apart, I'd love to see how these characters handled things. 

What's on your list this week?

K xx

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

March reading wrap up

Okay, how is it April already? I AM NOT ON BOARD WITH HOW FAST THIS YEAR IS GOING SOMEONE MAKE IT STOP. But I digress. It's time to wrap up my March reading!

Books read: 35. What the hell?! I need a life. Someone find me a life immediately, because this is getting ridiculous.
New vs rereads: 17 new books vs 18 rereads. And considering I had a ton of new library books to get through, that's kind of surprising!
Most read genre: Continuing the trend, contemporary took out first place with 7 books. Fantasy and crime were in joint second with 5 books each.

Favourite book: I read a lot of fairly average books this month. The only one I rated above 4 stars was Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty, so I guess that was my favourite by default! (It was pretty damned perfect)
Least favourite book: Food for the Dead by Michael E. Bell. He's a folklorist, so from that perspective the writing made sense. But as a history book? It was kind of all over the place.
Favourite cover: I don't know what it is about it, but I really love the cover for The Shattering even though it's pretty standard.

Diverse Books Project: I'm a couple of weeks ahead of schedule at the moment, which is good because I've got an ARC that I desperately need to get to before I start on any more diverse books. Also, I need you guys to tell me which thumbnail you prefer - the ones with my face or the ones with just the book cover. I NEED TO KNOOOOOOOOOOOOW.

In March, I ended up reading 2 graphic novels, 4 non-fiction books, and 29 novels. There are links to all my Goodreads reviews below!

Perfect Fifths (Jessica Darling, #5)
4.5 star books: Perfect Fifths

Dash & Lily's Book of DaresMade For YouThe Night She DisappearedSaga, Volume 1 (Saga #1-6)The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next, #1)Disruption (Disruption, #1)Jingo (Discworld, #21)The Fear (The Enemy #3)The Lost World and Other Thrilling TalesCrocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody #1)Batavia's Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History's Bloodiest MutinyThe ShatteringCorruption (Disruption, #2)One Good Turn
4 star books: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares | Made for You | The Night She Disappeared | Saga, Volume 1 | The Eyre Affair | Disruption | Jingo | The Fear | The Lost World and Other Thrilling Tales  | Crocodile on the Sandbank | Batavia's Graveyard | The Shattering | Corruption | One Good Turn

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Predators and Prey (Season 8, #5)The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar WaoDragon Keeper (Dragon Keeper #1)The Colour of Magic (Discworld, #1)HuntressOwls Well That Ends Well (Meg Langslow, #6)Afterworlds
3.5 star books: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Predators and Prey | The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao | Dragon Keeper | The Colour of Magic | Huntress | Owls Well That Ends Well | Afterworlds

Full Tilt (Full #2)The Doctors' Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever, and the Strange Story of Ignac SemmelweisMoving Pictures (Discworld, #10)CongoBlack Order: A Sigma Force NovelHigh Five (Stephanie Plum, #5)Manhattan DreamingThe Wrong Way HomeDead to the World (Sookie Stackhouse, #4)
3 star books: Full Tilt | The Doctors' Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever, and the Strange Story of Ignac Semmelweis | Moving Pictures | Congo | Black Order | High Five | Manhattan Dreaming | The Wrong Way Home | Dead to the World

Fourth Comings (Jessica Darling, #4)Bestest. Ramadan. Ever.
2.5 star books: Fourth Comings | Bestest. Ramadan. Ever.

Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England's VampiresThe Mysteries of Udolpho
2 star books: Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England's Vampires | The Mysteries of Udolpho

Three months in, and I STILL haven't rated anything less than 2 stars. I guess this means I'm getting better at picking books?? Then again, I've only given 5 star ratings to three books this year, and one of those was a reread. So I'm clearly not getting better at picking OMG AMAZING books. Sigh.

What did you read in March?

K xx
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