Discussion

Sunshine Blogger Award

On Friday I was so excited to find out I was nominated by Sunshine and Cyclones for the Sunshine Blogger Award. This is a tag type award which means I will answer some questions set by Sunshine and Cyclones then set my own questions for more people to answer.

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Here are the rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the eleven questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate eleven new blogs to receive the award and write them eleven new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

So now for the questions!

What’s your favourite part about having a blog?

I love being able to have a space to write my thoughts and opinions on book-related things.
Reading or writing? And why?

Definitely reading! I have don’t creative writing in school before but I much prefer reading other people’s work.
What’s your happiness formula? (eg- bed+book+tea=happiness)

That one just listed! I absolutely love being surrounded by family and friends, or a good book and a cup of tea.
What’s your favourite song?

I don’t think I have one favourite song… I really like James Blunt, Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys and ABBA. I know, a rather varied mix.
Which superpower do you desperately need and why?

Telekinesis please! I’d love to be able to just hover a heavy hardback book in front of me so my arms don’t get tired.
Which language do you wish you could speak?

Well I studied Spanish for a few years at school but I don’t remember much of it. I wish I could learn more of the language because it sounds so beautiful.
Which book to show/movie adaptation is your favourite?

Pretty much any adaptation of Pride and Prejudice! I especially love The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on YouTube.
What is your Patronus on Pottermore? (or your spirit animal if you aren’t a potterhead?)

I’m not really a potterhead but I love owls so I think they would be my spirit animal.

What social cause do you feel the strongest about? (eg- lgbtq+ rights, animal rights etc.)

All rights really. I feel especially strongly about gender equality but I believe in treating everyone and everything with respect.

What book made you cry the most?

The Fault in Our Stars. I’ve read it twice and cried so much both times. I also watched the film and cried a lot. John Green’s writing just gets me all emotional!
Favourite fictional book couple (OTP basically)?

Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. I just love the development of their love and how similar their flaws are without realising.

 

So now it’s my time to ask the questions:

Why did you create your blog?

What is your all-time favourite book?

What is your least favourite book?

What is your favourite genre?

Where do you enjoy reading? Do you need music or silence?

What film (book adaptation or new) are you most looking forward to in the near future?

Do you have a favourite musical? If so, what is it?

What was the last book you bought purely based on the cover?

What was the last book you bought purely after seeing it being reviewed on a book blog/video?

Tea or coffee (or neither)?

Where do you see your blog going in the future?

 

I nominate:

Em’s Book Corner

Abigail’s Books

Curious Cat

A Literary Potion

Karalee

Ola

Sarah at Written World Words

Olivia’s Paper Adventures

 

Discussion

Banned Book Week

Print

Today is the start of Banned Book Week which runs from 25th September to 1st October. It is there to raise awareness of books that have been challenged and banned all across the world due to themes that some wish to ignore.

Book banning seems like old practice. The Nazis burned Jewish books, the Russian Soviets banned books that didn’t fit with their politics. It even happened throughout the UK and the US. However, what is most surprising is that it still happens today all over the world.

Many schools and libraries across America choose to challenge the book so they believe their children should not read. Many of these books carry important messages and ideas that I personally believe are important to read about to better understand the world. The American Library Association website lists the top books banned in different categories and years. It would surprise you how many popular books that you may have read and loved are frequently challenged.

This year’s Banned Book Week has the theme of diversity, something that has been talked about a lot recently. There are lots of books that have been banned for using racial slurs or racism as a theme, certain political ideas, people of colour characters and LGBTQIA characters. Check out the American Library Association’s lists of challenged books for more information.

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This week, in support of promoting the censorship of such important themes, I am going to read some frequently challenged books.

The first book on my list is Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian’s Gray. This 19th century novel was very controversial at the time of publication Durban to homosexual suggestions and was banned in the UK for many years, whilst Wilde was imprisoned for being gay himself. I recently found out that when it was published, it was censored and a lot of Wilde’s original content was removed by the editor. An uncensored version was only published in 2011, over 100 years after it was originally published. I sadly don’t have the uncensored version so I will be reading the standard one this week.

The second book I plan to read is Looking for Alaska by John Green. This is a contemporary young adult novel that was listed as the top challenged/banned book of 2015 in American by the American Library Association. This is due to it being apparently unsuitable for the age group as a result of offensive language and being sexually explicit. John Green has discussed this in a video on his Vlogbrothers YouTube channel and he does not agree with these reasons. I have read Looking for Alaska before and I also do not agree that it should be banned. The ‘offensive language’ is much milder swearing than I have heard from real teenagers and the ‘sexually explicit’ scene is not explicit and is actually an educational and honest detail in a coming of age story. Looking for Alaska is one of the best young adult books I have ever read so I am so please do to reread it in order to raise awareness for Banned Book Week.

If I have time, I will also reread The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. This was in the top ten most challenged books of 2014 due to the acts of violence included in the story. As it is set during the Afghan war, it is no surprise that it is violent! It is an incredibly important and diverse read which is why it should be included in the Diversity themed Banned Book Week.

I hope that you will consider reading a challenged book, or at least just a diverse book, this week. It is vital that people know about different world problems or types of people so we can have a better understanding of the world around us.

Review

Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur

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In the past, I had always viewed poetry as something that is simply hard to understand and only for studying in class so, despite always enjoying English, I’ve never really enjoyed poetry.  That was until I read Milk and Honey.

Milk and Honey is a poetry collection by Indian born Canadian poet Rupi Kaur.  It is divided into four sections: the hurting, the loving, the breaking and the healing.  Each four feel vastly different but are all honest and raw in emotion.  The themes included in this collection are femininity, abuse, love and loss.

The thing that stands out the most to me is how wise Kaur’s words are.  She speaks so honestly about heartbreak and pain as if she has experienced lots of lifetimes yet she is only 23 (21 when she wrote Milk and Honey).  To hear so much raw emotion and wisdom from someone so young is very inspiring.

Rupi Kaur concentrates on body image and female sexuality a lot in the collection – something I have not seen in poetry before.  She gives very inspiring advice for all women, young and old, to follow, such as learning to love yourself for who you are and not judging other women by their appearance.

The language is very easy to read and understand.  Although the individual poems vary in length, most are very short.  There are very beautiful illustrations throughout the book and reflect particular messages from the poems but in a more visual form.  No illustrator has been named in the book so I am assuming they were drawn by Kaur herself which furthers adds to the rawness of the poetry as we can see visually her thoughts and feelings towards the topics she discusses.  I could have very easily consumed this book in a few hours but I tried to savour it a bit.  I tried to avoid reading the different sections together so I had gaps between each one to think about what I had read.  This helped me identify the varying emotions and messages in each section.  If you try to do this I will warn you that it is difficult.  Once you pick up this book, you won’t want to put it down until it is finished.

I really enjoyed reading Milk and Honey and I hope to go back to the four sections at various times in my life when I need Kaur’s words of wisdom.  I also hope this will not be the last poetry collection I read for pleasure.  I am now on the lookout for more modern feminist poetry – especially from other diverse poets – so if you have anything to recommend for me please let me know in the comments.

 

Discussion

How important is culturally diverse fiction?

“So I wandered the world through books.”

– Anna Quindlen

 

In the 18 years that I have been alive I have travelled to parts of Western Europe and various other places in the UK.  However due to reading, it has felt like I have travelled a lot further than that.  Through books, one can experience other lives, cultures, time periods and worlds.  From the countless number of American fiction I have read, I have fictionally been to various states and cities across the US.  Thanks to Khaled Hosseini, I have imagined the war zones of Afghanistan during the 70s to modern-day.  Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea gave me an insight into 19th century Caribbean whilst Asking For It, by Louise O’Neill, has shown me rural Irish towns in the modern day.  From reading Rupi Kaur’s poetry I can grasp an understanding of what life as an Indian woman is.  Some of these places I may visit one day but others I won’t.  I also sadly cannot time travel (yet) so books set in other time periods allow me to fictionally travel to places I really cannot go to.  Other forms of art and media can also do this but nothing is quite like the imagined world from cleverly written descriptions and narrative.

Not only do these books allow the mind to imagine a scene and country, but they also teach us about different kinds of people and cultures.  This is a very important thing to learn as it is the only way we can all understand and truly respect one another.  By reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, I learned more about Afghan customs and how they were affected by war than I ever have done from watching the news.  I knew a little about the wars in Afghanistan from British news channels but until I read Hosseini’s work, I did not really understand how they affected real people in Afghanistan.  Although the characters are fictional they give a valuable insight into real people suffering due to war.

Books have always allowed us to step into the mind of the main character and attempt to experience life from their points of view.  That’s why culturally diverse books – and diverse books in general – are important.  I will most likely only experience life as a white, middle class female in the UK.  I will only be able to truly understand life from my point of view as others will only understand life from theirs.  However, the more diverse fiction I read, the more I hope to learn about others.  With learning comes understanding, and with understanding comes acceptance.  I hope I can continue to expand my knowledge and appreciation for other people and their cultures in the future as I read more and more culturally diverse books.

 

Review

Am I Normal Yet?, Holly Bourne

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I just finished this book and even though this review won’t be posted until Thursday (it’s Monday right now), I had to write it immediately.

Am I Normal Yet? tells the story of Evie, a 16 year old girl with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder who just wishes to be normal now she has started college.  Evie’s plan to be ‘normal’ involves making friends (Amber and Lottie), going to parties and getting a boyfriend, all without them finding out about her OCD.  What could go wrong?

I absolutely love this book!  There were moments that made me laugh out loud but also moments where I cried and shouted for Evie.  I adore Evie, Amber and Lottie’s feminist club called the Spinster Club.  I wish I had a club like that when I was 16.  They meet up and discuss feminism and real world issues and eat biscuits instead of boys after they realise, as girls, it is something they talk about too much.  This book is actually in a trilogy.  Each one focuses on a different member of the Spinster Club.  I have the whole trilogy, as it was given to me as a birthday present last month, and I’m so  excited to read all their stories.

From watching interviews with the author, Holly Bourne, each book touches on a different theme that could impact young people’s lives.  So for this book, Am I Normal Yet? there is a very strong theme of mental illness and the relapses that can happen.  This isn’t a story about a girl whose mental illness goes away when she meets a nice guy, because that is not realistic.  This is a book about a girl who struggles with her mental illness and hides it from those who love her.

I found the details of Evie’s illness fascinating and made the story seem so true.  It was clear that the author had done a lot of research into different manifestations of OCD.  One of the most amusing parts of the story is Evie’s frustration for having the most stereotypical form of OCD.  However even with the most known form of OCD, there were still lots of things to learn about how hard people with OCD struggle with it.

This is by far my favourite book of the year.  It’s been a while since a book has made me laugh and cry like that.  I recommend this book as an insight into life with OCD or simply just an insight into life as a teenage girl.  I can’t wait to read How Hard Can Love Be?, the next book in the series which follows Amber’s story.

Review

We Were Liars, E. Lockhart

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This book…  Just this book!  Recently I have read many different types of books: classics, parodies, YA romance, poetry.  But nothing like this.  John Green described this book as “thrilling, beautiful and blisteringly smart” and that is exactly what it is.

We Were Liars is about a girl called Cadence who suffers severe migraines and memory loss after an accident on her granddad’s island one summer.  The problem is, two years on, she still can’t remember what happened that summer and her whole family seem very reluctant to tell her.  This is a story of discovery, family drama and love.

The conclusion of this book, which I will not spoil, absolutely stunned me.  I was not expecting that ending.  It shocked me so much and forced me to think back through the book to find clues to it.  I couldn’t find any.  It was just a bombshell of an ending and came out of nowhere.  It quickly became impossible to tell what in the book was truth and what was a lie/illusion.  I am not sure even re-reading it would make me understand what was going on in this book!

The writing itself was beautiful.  It was very poetic and full of metaphors.  In fact it reminded me a lot of John Green’s writing.  I did sometimes struggle to work out what parts were metaphorical and what were literal because of how thick the writing was with symbolism and metaphors.  However, I felt this added to the confusion of what was truth and what was a lie as we heard everything from the narrator, Cadence.  This meant that the events of the book were often skewed and patchy as we only got one side of the story.

Confusion aside, the story was very original, rich and fast-paced.  I finished this book in one sitting because I just could not put it down because I wanted to know what caused her memory loss.

This book was very hyped when it came out and I did read it a lot later than that.  To anyone who has not already read it, it is worth a read.  It is confusing but fundamentally a beautiful love story at heart.

 

Discussion

Book Blog Newbie Tag

I was inspired to do this tag after I saw Abigail at abigailsbooks.wordpress.com had done it. Like her, I’m quite new to book blogging so I’m hoping this post will be interesting to you, my followers.

 

Why did you start this blog? 

I started this blog because I’m doing an English degree at university in a few weeks time. I thought that starting a blog would give me something productive to do in the summer that I would really enjoy and that would give me lots of useful skills.  From this experience I wish to learn better analytical skills, time management, independence and a deeper understanding of digital media. I know that’s a lot to ask from one little book blog but it really is my hobby too!

What are some fun and unique things you can bring to book blogging?

I read a large variety of different books, both fiction and non-fiction, and from lots of different genres. I think I’ll always write a review that will interest someone somewhere.

What are you most excited about for this new blog?

More reviews and more book discussions. I’m just excited to keep it going once I’ve started university. I’m also excited to read more blogs by other book lovers and maybe meet some people at events in the future.

Why do you love reading?

It’s what I’ve always done. I’ve always loved reading and hopefully I always will. Reading lets you explore new places you haven’t been to and step into the shoes of so many different kinds of people. I love that.

What book series got you into reading?

Not really a series but the first books I ever read were by Roald Dahl. I loved how funny and silly his books were to a younger me.

What questions would you ask your favourite authors? 

That’s a hard question! I’d probably ask all of them what inspired them to write their books but that’s so obvious!

What challenges do you think starting a blog will be the hardest to overcome?

Making sure I post interesting and new content twice a week. Sometimes I’m not in the mood for reading or writing but by keeping this blog up to date, I’ve been able to fight some of those lazy feelings. I’ve been more productive this summer just from drafting, reading, thinking and taking photographs.

When did you start reading?

Pretty much always. When I first arrived home as a newborn, my mum read to me and continued to do so until I could read myself. My mum tells me often how amazed she was when I was really young and worked out that writing meant something. Before I could decode letters myself, I used to ask her to read everything to me. That’s when she knew I’d be a book lover.

Where do you read? 

Anywhere! Well, usually my bed but honestly anywhere. I take books on holiday with me so I’ve read in cars, on beaches, in parks, in my garden. I like that reading is an indoor hobby that can be so easily taken outdoors. Nothing makes me more happy than seeing people out and about in the fresh air reading a book I really enjoyed.

What kind of books do you read? 

A whole variety really. When browsing a bookshop, the main sections I look at are classics, science fiction, really science and young adult. I like fiction the most but I have a lot of non-fiction books too. Despite being an English kind of girl, I really love science so I have quite a few science books on my bookshelves.

 

So I hope that this tag has taught you some interesting stuff about me as a person and a relatively new blogger. If anyone else does this tag please let me know in the comments and I’ll check it out. I’m always looking for new and exciting blogs to read, especially from new bloggers like me.

Eloise 🙂

Review

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane Austen/Seth Grahame-Smith

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”

 

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As name suggests, this book is a parody of Jane Austen’s beloved classic novel Pride and Prejudice, with a supernatural, horror spin.  It follows the Bennet sisters as they find worthy husbands whilst battling the ever-increasing threat of a zombie army.

I have mentioned before (probably a lot of times) how much I adore Pride and Prejudice.  It’s really no secret!  It was because of this that I was a little worried about what Grahame-Smith would do with the original plot.  Other than the zombies and badass fighting scenes with the Bennet sisters, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies mirrors the original book rather closely.  In fact the little differences and new scenes really added to the book and helped create something new yet respectful to Jane Austen’s version.  I actually really enjoyed the supernatural twists to some of my favourite sections of the original classic – probably more than I thought I would.

Even the cover is a clever nod to Jane Austen and the era in which she lived in.  It is a ‘zombified’ version of the painting Marcia Fox by William Beechey, which is dated to around the same time as Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice.

I was a little apprehensive that it would be too gory and horrific for my taste but I found it to be a very lighthearted and humourous book despite the detailed descriptions of fights and zombie attacks.  Even the black and white illustrations inside by Philip Smiley are funny whilst being a little graphic.  I also really enjoyed the inclusion of a reader discussion’s guide at the end of the novel.  At first, I didn’t think anything of it until I read it and realised, it too, was a parody of classic literature and was actually really funny.

For anyone who has watched the film, I would urge them to read the book as well because the two are actually quite different.  I watched the film several months before reading the book but that did not spoil the book at all due to the different paths they took for the ending.  I don’t want to give away the ending to either but I will say the book follows the ending of Pride and Prejudice more closely than the film does.  However, both are extremely enjoyable for those who are fans of Pride and Prejudice and those who are not.

I strongly recommend this book and I really enjoyed reading it, especially the plot twists created due to differences in the original society compared to a zombie-ridden one.

Review

Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell

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So I have to admit early on that I had my doubts about this book.  I usually don’t read the super hyped books because either they are not my type of book or I am worried I won’t enjoy it as much as others do.  That is why I took me ages to finally read this book.  I am sorry I ever doubted the hype because this book is amazing.  It is probably the best book I have read this year.  My only complaint is that it had to finish!  I could’ve read about those characters for the whole of their lives.  The writing was beautiful, the characters were beautiful.

Fangirl tell the story of Cath and her twin Wren as they go to university.  Whilst Wren is outgoing and loves to party, Cath prefers cardigans and staying in to write fan fiction – which is lucky because Cath is really good at it.  Whilst at university Cath’s life is opened up to new experiences and relationships, which are scary for anyone but more scary for someone like Cath who has anxiety.

At university, Cath meets a guy called Levi who certainly makes everything more interesting.  It would be no spoiler to say that this book involves romance but it is deeper than that.  Fangirl delves into family relationships, unlikely friendships and the stress of deadlines and exams.  The changing relationship between Cath and Wren is something everyone will experience through life, even if they are not twins.

One of the most interesting elements of the book is the contrast between Cath’s love of reading and Levi’s struggle with it.  Like Cath, I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed reading – and writing too – but I have also met lots of ‘Levis’.  It seems more common than you would think, that people struggle to read or just find a large novel very daunting.  It is, however, not something commonly explored in fiction so I really love that Rainbow Rowell did, and explained in the afterword why it was important to do so.

 

I read this book with Em from Em’s Book Corner (emsbookcorner.blogspot.co.uk) and we have both written reviews for it.  Please check out her review now you have read mine.  I haven’t read a book with someone over the internet before but I really enjoyed it.  I hope I can collaborate with Em and more book bloggers in the future.

Book Stack · Discussion

September TBR

I am taking part in the September Instagram challenge called #booktemberGR.  Follow me on Instagram (@eloiseisreading) to check out my posts over the month.  I’m very excited to share some of these photos with you!

So I thought that I would give you all a little more information about my post for day 1, my September TBR.

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Up first is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  I love Pride and Prejudice so this one was obvious.  This copy was given to me as a present by my friend, Jules, so thank you Jules!  I started it this morning and so far it is great.  I have already watched the film so I know the plot but so far the book seems a lot funnier than the film.  Watch out for a review when I finish reading this one.

Next up in the photograph is Quiet by Susan Cain.  This is a non-fiction book about how introverts can use what they have to succeed in life.  As someone who feels often introverted (according to Cain, in an interview I watched about the book, there is a spectrum), I am intrigued to see if this book can actually help me.  It is also the only non-fiction book I have on my TBR because one of my latest personal reading goals is to read more non-fiction alongside fiction.

Then there is Two Summers by Aimee Friedman.  To be honest, I do not know much about this book.  I won in it a Twitter competition help by Chelley Toy, an amazing blogger and supporter of UKYA.  I know September isn’t really the summer anymore but right now, as I am writing this, there is sun shining through my window so who knows!

The next book I hope to read is Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne.  I got and the other 2 books in the Spinster Trilogy for my birthday (which was a month ago today).  I want to read at least this one before the Cheltenham Literature Festival in October where hopefully I can get tickets to see the feminism talk Holly Bourne and a couple of other YA authers are holding.  Due to exams, I didn’t get to go to the Hay Festival this year so hopefully I can go to Cheltenham this year instead.

Lastly I hope to read We Were Liars.  This book is really popular but I just haven’t read it yet.  I am borrowing this copy off a friend because she told me just had to read it.  Like Two Summers, I know very little about the plot of this one so I’m intrigued to find out.

I am also hoping to participate in the Banned Book Week later this month after I was horrified how many hugely popular books get banned in schools and libraries all over the world.  I am not setting a target for this challenge yet but I’ll probably make a blog post just before it with a week TBR.

So that is my September TBR.  I will be sticking mainly to Instagram for this challenge but I will probably do posts for my September haul and wrap up photographs at the end of the month.  I should be hopefully reviewing a few of these books too.

Eloise 🙂