Monday, 29 June 2015

Review: Precocious



Oh but I’m late reviewing this book, mostly because it’s taken a lot of thinking about, a lot, because I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to say about it, or how to get across my complicated feelings about the subject matter without feeling like I saying bad things about the book, which I’m not, really. – it’s a funny feeling, enjoying a book but having negative feelings about the story and the characters and I swear I’ve gone forwards and backwards with myself about this one so many times that I feel a little seasick. I’m still not entirely sure I’m going to get this even remotely right, but, time and book reviews wait for no girl….


So, like I talked about earlier this month, I always feel weirdly guilty when I only give a book 3 stars; that totally feels relevant now because this is a three star review and here I am feeling like I need to whisper ‘but that’s a good thing’ because you know, it is.

Joanna Barnard’s Precocious – let’s talk about it.

What is it about the teacher/student relationship thing that people find themselves somehow drawn to? It holds this weird kind of morbid curiosity and why exactly is that? I mean, really, if we’re going to be perfectly honest the whole thing is spectacularly fucked up, and yet. And yet. Perhaps that’s what it is: the fact that it’s so taboo (and I don’t mean that weird fruity drink that you mix with lemonade and that I always kind of like whenever I have a curry)  It’s the kind of thing that you can’t help but have an opinion of, that as a teenager you might see the romance of even though as an adult you’re (hopefully) more like ‘holy abuse of power, batman’ and probably it’s that that makes Joanna Barnard’s novel Precocious such an interesting concept.

Fiona is thirty years old and married when she bumps into her former teacher Henry Morgan again, for the first time since school. Turns out Fiona and Henry had an affair when she was fourteen, and after that chance encounter in the supermarket 15 years later, it’s not long before they’re at it again and what follows is an interesting look at desire and morality and control. The book is told from Fiona’s point of view, both in the present day, and through diary entries when she was at school, which again is super interesting: the juxtaposition of 14 year old Fiona from then alongside 30 year old Fiona from now is a really clever way of telling the story.

As a whole though, I’m kind of on the fence about it, I think.

I mean it was an interesting take on the student/teacher thing and it wasn’t badly written at all – the opposite in fact: Barnard is A Good Writer. The whole first person narrative as Fee tells her story, not to the reader but to Morgan, is really rather excellent and very very effective. Oh you know what, have a quote, lemme share some pretty words.


You are everywhere.
Your initials. I see them in car registrations and my heart skips a beat. I seek out the letters H and M in newspapers and draw them together with my eyes.
HM
Him.


So, there were parts of it that were really good, that had me smiling a little in recognition; some of Barnard’s insights into love and relationships and humanity were spot on and I do rather like the way she writes but, I don’t know…it made me kind of uneasy. Perhaps it was supposed to. I really hope that it was supposed to.

Uneasiness aside – I’ll come back to that later - I struggled with Fiona, which was a problem because a protagonist you can’t quite get along with always makes a book harder to read. She just felt like a really young thirty. She’s only two years younger than I am now, and I am damn sure that my head was a hell of a lot more screwed on two years ago than Fiona’s is. She made so many questionable choices and was so naïve and so very willing to bury her head in the sand and I just, I really wanted to shake her.
Open your eyes woman, because this guy was shagging you when you were fourteen and he was responsible for your wellbeing and even if you couldn’t see how fucked up that was then because you were a child, surely you can see it now??
I was so frustrated. I know a lot of 30 year olds, obviously, because that’s my peer group, and I can’t think of a single one that is as naïve or as emotionally immature as Fiona. The whole way through, I wasn’t thinking ‘oh Morgan’s such a clever bastard’ I was thinking ‘fucksake Fiona open your stupid eyes.’ The way she regressed when she met Morgan again and some of the consequences of that made me want to punch myself in the face (even though they were very well portrayed.)



As for Morgan, well, he just creeped me out.

I’m talking close to Humbert Humbert levels of creeped out here (and do not tell me Lolita is a love story. Do not. I WILL BE SICK IN MY MOUTH. I’m not saying anything about Nabakov’s ability as a writer, at all, because you know he uses his words very well, it’s just that, oh you know what I’m not even getting on that soapbox right now; another story for another day.) 


The point, right now, is that Henry Morgan gave me the creeps. I guess that was kind of the point though, I mean, I doubt I was supposed to come away from this thinking ‘now where can I get me a Henry Morgan.’

As creepy villains go, he was pretty top notch without even trying and without even being particularly villainous (apart from you know, the relationship with his 14 year old student thing. Shudder.) That’s pretty impressive on Barnard’s part if you ask me, because really, sleeping with schoolgirls aside, Morgan’s pretty ordinary. & I hated him. I just, there is nothing about a guy that knowingly has that kind of relationship with a child that is fine, at all, and Morgan’s relationship with Fiona both then and now was just so problematic.

She was a child. He was her teacher. She was a child.

The thing is, the thing that I liked is that Morgan is nothing special; the whole story seemed to me to be about this kid (and later, this woman) head over crazy high heels in love with this guy that’s just a guy. To a degree that worked for me, narratively speaking I mean – it made the whole thing more real somehow, the idea of this schoolgirl falling for an older guy who made her feel special rather than for the hot teacher her friends drooled over; that he’s just a guy like any other and not some kind of superhero, it kind of made sense. I’m floundering a bit here, I know. I think, that’s the thing about that kind of crush isn’t it, that’s what a crush is, idolising somebody who really is just another person. Mr Morgan was just another person, just an average guy, Fee put him on a pedestal and he totally took advantage of that. And it made so much sense for it to be that way than for Mr Morgan to have actually been, I dunno, a Colin Firth lookalike.  Do you hear me?

Precocious made me feel things, and maybe those things weren’t the best things, but I’m totally calling this a job well done regardless: the point of a book is to provoke an emotional response, is it not? And it did. This is a book with a message, and it delivers it, even though both the main characters are pretty unlikeable, Morgan because he’s supposed to be and Fiona because I just couldn’t relate to her. I read it in three hours on a train because that’s the way I roll. It was an easy read and even though it was a frustrating read, it wasn’t a bad one. It’s compelling and it’s disturbing and I feel like I got out of it exactly what I was supposed to somehow, like the point was that your formative years are called that for a reason and when somebody has that level of control over you then, it’s going to have a lasting impact on who you are now and that really, any person who wishes to engage in a sexual relationship with a child (a fourteen year old is a child and you won’t ever convince me otherwise) – particularly one in their care - needs to be out of a job and probably in a prison cell.

Precocious is published on Thursday by Ebury Press. You can get hold of a copy here. 

Friday, 26 June 2015

This Is A Post About Me



This week has been a week, not a terrible week but not a great week either. Seems like sometimes That Break Up feels so much more raw than it has any right to be really, this far down the line, and it’s hard to get past the fact that my heart just hurts. I’ve totally self medicated though, with OItNB and new bedding and San Pellegrino. It’s been a week of being in bed by 8 pretty much every day, but whatever.

Soooooo, the week might have been pretty miserable but I will not be defeated because now? Well, first of all there’s THAT HARRY POTTER NEWS. You’ve all heard that by now right? That JK Rowling has confirmed that a new Harry Potter play will be coming to the London stage next year? It’s called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and whilst she’s keeping all her cards v close to her chest like she does, she has said it’s not a prequel. I have all the feelings. I am simultaneously excited and nervy (I am not so good with the unknown. The unknown makes me very anxious) and you just know that I (along with oh, the rest of the world) will spend some time in London Town next year. Ha. 

So, there’s that. There’s also the weekend. Hurrah. It’s going to be a good one. LEMME TELL YOU AAAAAALLL ABOUT IT.

I’m meeting Helen for lunch any minute. Helen’s baby is due in August (I AM VERY EXCITED ABOUT THIS FACT YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW) and she’s easing herself into her mat leave; last Friday marked her last Friday at work and we’re celebrating that fact today with lunch just because we can. Hurrah. Sometimes all you need is a bit of QT with your BFF you know?
Time with Helen is different to time with anyone else and it’s my best. Last week we met up and visited her nephew before we went to Maccies and then just huddled under blankets on her sofa to watch Before I Go To Sleep which mostly meant we talked shit to each other the whole way through, renamed the characters, got very angry at Mr Darcy being a badass, criticised Kidman’s hair, and generally took the film nowhere near as seriously as we should have done thus missing a few important plot points. I can’t do that stuff with anyone but her.

This evening my pal Jane and I are headed to Hoyster’s for dinner. 



Look how lush it is. You wanna come, right?

Prosecco on tap, this is not a drill.

Prosecco. On. Tap.

For some reason I see lots of prosecco in my future. Also tapas. Oh, all the tapas.  Jane and I often have these grand plans of big nights out and cocktails and living the high life. The truth though? We’re eating at 6.30 so do not be surprised if we’re tucked up in bed for 11. Ha. We’re the most rock and roll. I’m excited because I haven’t been out since Before the Break-Up so you know, it’ll be fun to dress up and drink bubbles and let my hair down a while.

Tomorrow I’m getting my culture on with a matinee performance of Dreamers at Oldham Coliseum. It's a new comedy musical about a group of girls in 90's Manchester: small town nights out, friendship and 90's Indie classics. I am all over that. I’m going with my friend Natalie – the show was co-written by her sister in law, which is super cool. Then, we’re heading back to Natalie’s for takeaway food (I hope Chinese. Nat, if you’re reading this, shall we have Chinese?) and a film – we’ve mentioned Selma as we missed it at the cinema. It will be a delightful day of delightfulness and will probably involve us making plans for when we go to London in October to see Cumberbatch as Hamlet. Nat was all Cumberbatch crazy until I gently pointed her in the direction of Elementary. She’s seen the (Jonny Lee Miller shaped) light, naturally because how could you not when he’s that sexy, but she still has a soft spot for old BC and me? Well I just like London and the theatre and cocktails so you know, fun times. We’re going to do Hamlet and hit up some of the galleries and find some awesome cocktail bars and generally just spend a weekend being super sophisticated. I’ll follow Natalie’s lead on that then, I know: I am the least sophisticated of them all...

On Sunday I have a blissful ZERO PLANS, but whatever I end up doing it will not involve food. [& next week will involve a lot of gym time. That cross trainer and I will become very well acquainted] I might just drive home, and watch the rest of the first season of Grimm in bed. Yep. That sounds like it could be a plan. I’m still on the fence about Grimm. Ems and I watched six episodes the other Sunday which means I have to finish it, because I’m too far into it not to, but I’m not sure that I love it, yet. I might also finish my book.  I’m reading The Beach Hut at the moment, which is brill and marv. I love the way Cassandra Parkin writes. I also love that the beach in the book is based around Perranporth. I love Perranporth. Anyway, I’ll talk about it properly when I’m done but in the meantime, you can (and should) get a copy here. Next on the list is the new Rosamund Lupton The Quality of Silence which is out next week and which as a lover of Sister I am super excited about.


I’ve also been house-hunting which is both exciting and terrible. I have a lot of emotions about it, and if I let me think about it properly then I get rather weepy but, well, the actual ‘let’s find a cool place to live,’ that’s sort of fun. I feel like I’ve found the perfect place, actually. . It’s at the upper end of my budget, as in the very most I would be prepared to pay right now, which is obviously not ideal: the higher my living costs the lower my savings/book money, but it’s beautiful, so beautiful. I’ve even been furnishing it in my head this week which is perhaps not sensible. So, I made a deal with myself: it’s not even available til August, so, if it’s still on the market this time next month I’m going to go and view it. If it’s not, well, then it was never meant to be and I shall find somewhere less beautiful and less expensive. This is my plan.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Throwback Thursday: Josephine's Book Edition



Angela Carter’s books have been around forever, but I hadn’t heard of her at all until a few years ago, when my Mum bought me her Book of Fairytales for Christmas. 

I’m still not sure what prompted that book choice, whether it’s the fact that it’s stunningly pretty, or whether she liked it herself or whether she just saw it and thought of me. Probably a combination of the three. I have always loved a pretty book and a fairytale. Anyway, I got it that Christmas and I loved it (if you’re not familiar with that book then you should fix that problem) and I went out and bought myself some more of Carter’s work, specifically The Bloody Chamber, Wise Children and Nights at the Circus. They’re all the Vintage copies, so it must’ve been at that Red Spine loving time. I have about ten of those I think, Grimms' Fairy Tales being one of them.

I hadn’t thought much about her for a while but I was down visiting pals last weekend and my friend Mark had left the Penguin Deluxe edition of The Bloody Chamber in his kitchen. I was drawn in by the pretty and thought ‘oh, I know this book,’ found myself flicking straight to The Courtship of Mr Lyon and thought, ‘yep, actually, I do, I love this book.’

& I know I have a copy already, but these Penguin Deluxe copies, they’re like witchcraft, you touch them and you have to have them and I got straight on the internets and ordered me a copy. Honestly, there’s really not much you can say to me about how unnecessary it is because look at me, I have the Harry Potter series twice and the number of copies of Alice I have goes into double figures. & this book is pretty, the cover is lush and the pages are all uneven and wonderful and it’s just beautiful.

Then Jen made this video and did some Twitter asking about favourite fairytales and thus, this particular Throwback Thursday had its theme.


It’s an awesome book and with the current trend for twisted fairy stories, I can't help wonder if Angela Carter – who would have been 75 this year - was one of the first to re-imagine fairytales like this? Jen will tell me, Jen knows – right Jen?

Most of the stories in this collection are familiar, some only if you squint, but all of them are dark and edgy like a good fairytale should be.

We’ve got stories based on Beauty and the Beast and Puss in Boots and Little Red Riding Hood, and the terrifically gruesome The Snow Child which I guess you can maybe say was inspired by Snow White although, it is in no way the same story: I told you, sometimes you have to squint, and Jesus God you’ll never see this story Disney-fied. Skin as white as snow is pretty much where the similarities end I think.

Carter takes what you thought you knew about stories you grew up with and turns them on their head. Here be no damsels in distress, no princesses needing saving because Carter is Queen of the kickass female protagonist. Is this ‘feminist literature’ then? You know what, yeah, it probably is. All of Carter’s women are strong and liberated and somehow the dark and gothic settings make that all the more apparent – she tackles sexuality and sex, stereotypes, coming of age, identity and balance of power and she does it so freaking well. Probably they’ll blow your mind a little bit.

My personal faves? The Courtship of Mr. Lyon because I always love me a good Beauty and the Beast story (I think maybe the other version in the book The Tiger’s Bride got more acclaim though, certainly it’s darker and the ending has a definite twist), The Company of Wolves where Red Riding Hood is totally in control of how her story goes (she knew she was nobody’s meat) and Wolf-Alice - a girl raised by wolves, rescued by nuns and eventually sent to live with a werewolf, and a story that’s all about independence and self-discovery I think, perhaps more than any of the others. The whole collection is worth a read though and with fairytale re-tellings being A Thing right now, you could do a lot worse than The Bloody Chamber.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Author Visit: Fredrik Backman



Guess what people. Today is an exciting day because I’ve got the marvellous Fredrik Backman – author of the wonderful A Man Called Ove and the shiny brand new My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises - here to chat about all things bookish. Hurrah!
I know, right, how very exciting.
 




 
Fredrik! Hello!  Thank-you so much for stopping by my little corner of the blogosphere; grab a coffee and a piece of cake and make yourself at home – in fact it’s imaginary cake, take two pieces. TAKE THE WHOLE CAKE.
                  
Before we get started, let’s warm up with a quick fire round.


Ready, steady, GO:

  1. Coffee, tea or…?
I'll have some "or". Sounds delicious. 

  1. Favourite film?
My wife says that I can't answer any film questions from anyone anymore because "the only films Fredrik likes are films where Kevin Costner plays baseball!". 

  1. Favourite book?
Brother Lionheart, by Astrid Lindgren.
  1. Summer or winter?
Which one is it that keeps coming in Game of Thrones? I'll have the other one.

  1. Favourite Colour?
Cheese.

  1. Last thing you ate?
Cheese.

  1. Dream holiday destination?
Cheese. Or I mean...well...a baseball stadium where Kevin Costner is would be splendid.

  1. If you could jump to any point in history, who would you have dinner with?
My kids. At a point in history where they don't throw food at me. Any point will do fine.

  1. How do you like your steak?
In my mouth.

  1. What are your pet peeves?
My what? 

I do love that bit! Anyway, on to the proper bookish fun stuff! 

Let’s get started. 

Firstly, I’ve read A Man Called Ove (and I loved it) but for anyone who’s yet to get acquainted with the book, can you tell us a little bit about it and about Ove?

He's a 59 years old man who drives a Saab and who is a bit a annoyed with the fact that people can't read signs anymore.

And how about My Grandmother Sends Her Regards… which is on my To Read pile (near the top, don’t worry!) The blurb for that made me do a happy dance because a storytelling Granny sounds remarkably like my own childhood! Tell us a little bit about it. 

It's about a grandmother and her granddaughter and a secret land they have built together called The Land of almost awake, that you can only travel to by almost falling asleep. It has a few made up animals in it and swords and stuff. My wife read it and told my publisher that "this is what happens when you let Fredrik sit in his office for 6 months without going there and ask him what he's doing. I warned you!".

Where did the idea for Granny’s story come from?

I didn't have a lot of friends growing up. I don't have a lot of friends now. It gives me a lot of free time. Plus, there's always alcohol.

Which of the books did you find easiest to write, and why?

I've never considered writing "easy" or "hard". I consider it "fun". 

And is the answer to that question the same as the answer to ‘which is your favourite’ and if not, which is your favourite? & I hope that doesn’t make you feel like I’m asking you to choose a favourite child! 

I would have no problems choosing my favorite child. I like the little one who still thinks I'm cool.

If either of the books was a DVD what would the special features be - are there any scenes that ended up ‘on the cutting room floor’ that you can share? 

In A man called Ove, in my first draft, the cat didn't appear until chapter 14. It was my cat loving editor, god bless him, who felt so strongly about the cat and worried that the other cat of the book (Ernest, who belongs to Oves father in law) stole the thunder of the REAL catstar of the story. So my editor and me ended up having a huge fight and he almost threw flowers at me and in the end I wrote an alternate version where the cat enters in chapter 2. And it was of course a lot better. Just don't tell my editor. He still thinks he owes me one.

My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises is such an excellent title. Did the title come first, or last, or at some point in the middle?

It came pretty early on. My publisher hated it. We spent six months of emailing about different versions they wanted to cut it down. It started with "can we call it 'Grandma' or "Grandma's sorry' or something like that?' and ended up six months later with "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CAN WE AT LEAST GET RID OF THE WORD 'MY' SO THERE*S ROOM FOR A BLOODY ILLUSTRATION ON THE COVER!!!???". I said no. I don't have a publisher at the moment. Apparently I'm "hard to work with". 

Tell us about how you write: do you prefer a loud room or a quiet room; is your manuscript typed or handwritten, do you write during set hours or as the word comes, and at home or some place else? What works best?

Well, I have children. So...no. I don't really have any of those preferences. I write when I'm allowed. Sometimes I write on a computer in my office but more often I write on the backside of restaurant menus when we're on family holidays or in texts to myself on my phone while sitting on the bathroom floor waiting for someone to finish their epic Spiderman vs Rainbow Dash death battle in the bathtub so that we can all go to bed. Sometimes I write by hand, which is wonderful, but that's a pleasure I treat myself like I would whisky or ice cream: When the rest of the family is asleep.  

What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

My third novel, "Britt-Marie was here", is out in Sweden, Denmark and Norway and set for release in Britain next summer. And I'm writing a couple of things that I don't really know that they are yet, but I think one might be a play and one might be a pretty strange series of short stories and one might just be a fairly good joke and might actually be a novel. We'll see.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk? (I have a Clanger on mine that makes a noise when you press its middle. I liberated it from the desk of my boss….)

I have an american football, and very often the fists of my terribly orderly friend Niklas that I share my office with who is trying to take the ball from me and throw it out the window because apparently I'm "fucking annoying!" when I throw it around the office sometimes hitting his computer screen and sometimes hitting him. He's not really a sports fan.

What’s the best writing tip you’ve been given?

"The best type of comedy is stupid but smart." Which, put in a simpler way, would mean that some things has to look really easy although they might be very hard to achieve. A laughter is a very spontaneous thing, so even if the joke took you weeks to construct a sentence around it always has to sound as if you thought of it just now and just wrote it down. That's comedy to me. I view storytelling much the same way. First you figure out all the really difficult stuff with characters and scenery and epic feelings and vital plot points, and then you have to find the easiest possible way to tell it all to a stranger. Because that's the only way it will sound believable. It's like when police investigators always say that you can spot a lie from a suspect because it's too well constructed, the details are too perfect and thought out. Truth doesn't really sound like that. Well...now that I think of it that really wasn't a simpler way to put this at all. 

What do you wish you got asked in these interviews but never do? 

What's your favorite kind of Ben & Jerry's? Well THANK YOU for asking. It's New York Super Fudge Chunk, thank you very much.

& because I’m always on the look out for new book recommendations, what are you reading right now?

"A band of misfits", by Andrew Baggarly. It's a book about the San Francisco Giants baseball team and their way to winning the world series.I'm also reading the instruction manual for our car because there's a light that keeps blinking and my wife refuses to tell me what it means because she claims I "need to learn to read a MANUAL!". As it happens she also refuses to drive the car or let me drive the kids in it while the light is blinking, so I'm guessing whatever she knows is not very good.


[If you haven’t read either of Fredrik’s novels then, well, you totally should. You can get hold of copies here. I’m tempted to provide my Dad with a copy of A Man Called Ove. I think he might like it]

 


Fredrik Backman is a Swedish blogger, columnist and author. His debut novel A MAN CALLED OVE has been a number 1 bestseller across Scandinavia.  It has now sold over 1 million copies. Fredrik's second novel, MY GRANDMOTHER SENDS HER REGARDS AND APOLOGISES, also went straight to number 1 in Sweden on publication in 2014.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Book of the Year 2015 (so far...)



Thursday again. Where do the weeks go? I guess this one seems shorter because I was travelling on Monday. I spent the weekend in Lewes with my pal Emma. There was baking and eating and walking and Netflix and it was generally just a really lovely time. It also means that this week is only a 4 day working week. Hurrah.

This week I’m throwing back Thursday in a different way, because we’re halfway through the year, so I’m going to talk at you about my Top 5 of 2015…so far! This year has been super actually from a bookish point of view, because I’ve read stuff I might not normally have picked up and pretty much all of it has been excellent.
There’s still some crazy exciting looking stuff on my TBR for the back end of the year too so as ever it will be interesting to see how many of these 5 books still make the cut at Christmas.

Naomi Novik’s Uprooted is a book I discovered via Netgalley, and that I was drawn to by the cover. I totally judge books by their covers, I’m not even ashamed to say it. Cover art is so amazing these days, how could you not? Anyway, I read it and loved it and have m own shiny bought-and-paid-for copy on its way to me because as marv as these e-ARCs are, I kind of feel like when I love a book, I ought to show that love by you know, buying it. So I did. Uprooted is amazing. It’s about this little village on the edge of an evil forest. The villagers are protected from the ways of the wicked woods by The Dragon who lives in a tower and who every ten years takes a girl from the forest to live with him as payment for his service. It’s amazing. Did I say that already? Italk about it in more detail here.

I cannot tell you enough times how much I loved The Gracekeepers. I already reviewed it, but, seriously: this book ticked all the boxes for me. It has it all. It’s just incredible and I love it and I wanted to read it forever and I swear to you if you are not reading this book then you are doing life wrong. It’s sort of part fairytale and part dystopia and completely utterly glorious.

Last Night in Montreal is a book I probably wouldn’t have read (yet) because let’s be honest, when you hear Emily St. John Mandel you think Station Eleven. Everybody has been all about Station Eleven for ages and I really really want to read it but I was sent a copy of Last Night in Montreal around about the time of the UK publication earlier this year and figured it was probably polite to read that one first. I’m so glad I did, because eurgh, so good. So very very good. It’s about this girl called Lilia who has spent her entire life leaving her life and the people in it, behind, never looking back. When she leaves her latest lover, he’s not quite so cool with it, and he follows a trail of breadcrumbs to find her only to discover there’s so much more to Lilias story than he ever thought. It’s so beautifully written and so intricate and there are all these threads to the story that weave together perfectly and it’s just a stunning piece of writing, and I talk more about why I love it so much in this post.

I talk all about Sarah Pinborough’s The DeathHouse here, but I’ll just tell you quickly again now that this book blew me away. It got right under my skin and broke my heart and just made me feel all the things and I absolutely loved it. Loved it.

And finally we come to The Girl WhoCircumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making which, well, I don’t really know what to say. I’m planning a proper post about the Fairyland books at some point, but basically: every person ever needs to read these books. This is the first in the series and holy smokes it’s been a long time since I fell in blooklove like this. Jen pointed me in their direction, I say pointed; it was more on a very insistent demand that I read them. Which I did, because Jen has yet to rec me a book I didn’t love, and I fell. I’m talking Alice levels of love here, I’m talking his Dark Materials, I’m talking Harry Potter. That’s how much I loved it. It’s amazing.
It’s all about twelve year old September who meets The Green Wind at her window one day and is taken on an adventure to Fairyland. Fairyland is being ruled by the fickle and mean Marquess and only September with her friends, A-through-L, the Wyvery (his Mum is a wyvern; his father is the library) and a wonderful mysterious boy by the name of Saturday, can save it.
The story is clever and moving and funny and playful; the language is all kinds of incredible, smart and pretty and whimsical; the characters are characters you want to put in your pocket and keep there forever( SATURDAY!!!!); and the illustrations, I WANT THEM ON MY WALL. There is so much going on in this world and it feels like a modern day Wonderland. This book, I swear. It’s like if Through the Looking Glass and His Dark Materials had beautiful perfect babies (and then read book 2, read book 2 and we’ll talk about Coraline).  I can’t wait til I have children and I can read them this book. It deserves all the accolades. It deserves to be on every bookshelf ever.  It’s so amazing it makes me want to cry tears of happy.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Let's Talk Ratings



I’m always kind of curious about ratings and how people rate the books they’ve read, and how they might interpret the ratings system and how it all works and what it all means. 
& sometimes because of this I feel bad because – for example - I think 3 stars is good, but what if other people think 3 stars is only okay, what if they think I liked a book less than I did because I’ve ‘only’ given it 3 stars and why do I care so much. 
Also, 5 stars.
I see so many 5 star reviews and that’s amazing, naturally, because who doesn’t want to read all the 5 star books, but I dunno, I kind of save my 5 stars, I only give them to books that blow me away and when I see people giving 5 stars to everything, it makes me wonder if they see 5 stars as something different to me and if they give 5 stars to everything then what do they have left when that book comes along? (How many times did I say 5 stars in that paragraph good gracious.)

And so, because I keep thinking about this, I figured if for no other reason than to shut myself up, today I shall talk about how I rate my reviews– broken down into the star rating and how I interpret it, with a little Blaine Anderson gif for illustrative purposes because I love both Glee and Blaine Anderson completely unironically (but that’s another story for another day.) Basically, I just want Darren Criss’s face on my blog. 



So. HERE WE GO.

 If I give a book 5 of the stars it’s because I’m saying to you that THIS BOOK IS SO AMAZING I HAVE LOST THE ABILITY TO EVEN. This is booklove like no other guys, this is me, drowning in feels and unable to do anything other than flail around in a mess of fangirl. It’s reserved for the best of the best.


4 stars means this book is an excellent book. This is a book that made me happy, maybe even left me with a book hangover. A book that whilst may be not quite head over heels in love with, I could certainly see myself fall for. It’s a book that’s different, and well written, that grabbed me and didn’t let go and left me feeling like it’s better than most other books. 



3 stars: This book is a good book. I liked it. This is always the iffy one for me, because I think 3 stars is a pretty darn good rating but I feel like other people might feel like it’s only ‘okay.’ & that makes me wary. Sometimes I feel like I need to justify a three star rating. Here’s the thing: if I give a book 3 stars then it’s because it’s A Good Book. Do I enjoy my 3 star books?



2 stars: I am indifferent towards this book. It was okay. I didn’t like it, particularly, but I didn’t really dislike it either. These books probably leave me feeling a bit ‘meh,’ a bit 'what did I just read?' These are the books that I've finished but I won't re-read and won't recommend and certainly won't be gushing over. The books that make me feel a bit '....what?'




 1 star: Do not like. Nope. In fact, we could even go so far as to say I actively dislike the 1 star books. I don’t rock out the 1 star very often, which pleases me. 



And that is that. So tell me: do you rate in the same way I rate, and if you don’t then what do you do differently? And is Blaine Anderson not the most adorable Blaine to ever Blaine?