Musing Monday (31st Aug)

musingmondays51

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of The Daily Rythym that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What is your favorite book? (or, one of your favorites!)

Today’s question is about favourite books. Normally I would say Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell but know I’ve mentioned it quite a lot recently so am fairly certain you all know that’s one of my favourite books.

My other favourite book has to be Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I have to admit I was hesitant to read it as I hated The Hobbit, but after the first LotR film came out I mentioned that to my mum and she advised me to read LotR anyway (she also hated The Hobbit and has dyslexia so finds reading quite difficult at times), I’m so glad I did (obviously as otherwise it wouldn’t not be my favourite book). While it is considered a classic, and the writing style can sometimes be awkward, it is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read. So beautiful that I instantly knew I had to read more of Tolkien’s books.

The two that stand out most to me (other than LotR of course) are Tales from the Perilous Realm which is a collection of 4 short stories – The Adventures of Tom Bombadil being one of them. Tom Bombadil is possibly my favourite character from LotR and this entire story is told in his lyrical speech. The second is Letters from Father Christmas which is a collection of letters he sent to his sons each year from Father Christmas. It was put together by one of his sons, complete with the original drawings and it has rated itself among my top Christmas books.

I also own The History of The Lord of the Rings but have to admit I’m a little intimidated after a good stab at trying to read The Silmarillion and not getting far. I am sure I will give both of these a try at some point, but not this year as I already have a full quota of ‘heavy’ books on my tbr list.

Have you read any other books by J.R.R. Tolkien? If so, what did you think of them?

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Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (and GIVEAWAY!)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy KalingGiveaway is now closed.

Title: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Author: Mindy Kaling

Publisher: Ebury Press

Published: November 2011

Genre: Non-Fiction Autobiography

Source: Penpal swap

My Rating: 3/5

Mindy Kaling is most well known for her work on The Office (US) as a writer, actor and producer. She is also the creator of The Mindy Project. In her autobiography she shares anecdote, advice for teen girls, and how she went from starving artist to success.

I haven’t seen any of Kaling’s work, but someone in a swap sent me her autobiography Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Problems) and who can resist such a pretty cover.

The main thing that stood out for me was the inclusion of lists. There are lists of questions and answers, lists of alternate names for things, lists that show Kaling’s break-down of possible tropes, etc. To be honest, this is was the main thing I loved about this book. It made it into a quick read, while showing more of Kaling’s personality than a straight-up autobiography would have, not to mention Kaling’s comedy which is clearly strongest in this format.

There were many moments during this book that made me smile to myself, however it wasn’t nearly as funny as I was expecting from a comedy writer and actor. Perhaps it’s just my lack of that kind of humour, but in my opinion a lot of felt like it was trying too hard, and the rest was bordering on laugh out loud but somehow missed the punch line each time.

However, as a writer, I am always interested in other writers’ work habits and how they get ideas to paper so to speak. While the majority of the book is about being a performer and getting through the day to day parts of life (friendship, work, fashion, being ‘chubby’ [her word, not mine, and quite frankly offending that she thinks she’s fat], there is a section on writing which I really enjoyed, though I wouldn’t say that in itself would be enough of a reason to pick this book up.

There are a few photos throughout the book, which she then describes or explains. The only problem being that they are in black and white and very small, when Kaling is writing as though we can see both the colours and the details of what she’s wearing, etc.  For me this simply made the book seem cheap (unlike the gorgeous cover), and it was irritating that I could barely make anything out as that seemed to defeat the point of including the photos in the first place.

Unless you are a huge fan of Mindy Kaling, I have to admit this wouldn’t be anywhere near the top of my recommendations list. That said, if you’re looking for something easy and girly to ease you into non-fiction this would make a great book for you.

I realise this review isn’t glowing, however I am giving away my copy of the book, as I feel it’s only right to pass it on. Entering is as simple as pressing a button on rafflecopter, though I’d love it if you followed me on Twitter or Goodreads or commented on this post as well. This giveaway is international (I’m willing to send it anywhere my post office will let me), and ends midnight Sunday 11th September (GMT).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

Teaser Tuesday (26th August)

teasertuesdays2014e

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Sorry this is up a little later but thought better late than not at all.

My Teaser:

When I graduated my aunt Sreela and uncle Keith gave me the single best present I’ve ever received: a professional-level karaoke machine. I don’t know if they were aiming to become my favorite aunt and uncle for all eternity, but that was the result.

~p.p. 64 Is Everyone Hanging Out Without ME (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Musing Monday (24th August)

musingmondays51

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of A Daily Rythym that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Does your local library ever have book sales? What are the prices like? Tell us about any great finds you have found there!

My Musing (and answer)

I have stacks of books both physical and digital, ready for me to read; yet I don’t feel like picking any of them up next. So today I went to the library to find something I’d be excited about

Weird little segue into today’s questions – yes, my local library often have sales of books 30p each or 4 for a £1; though recently it has only been children’s books and other than the odd book picked up for a friend’s toddler I haven’t bought anything from them in quite a long time.

And back into what I was saying. So I wanted to find something that was light and fun, without being boring. I have been reading a lot of war intense books lately, both fiction and non-fiction and think I need a break. I also didn’t want a love story, which is when I discovered that pretty much every book has a love story, and it’s usually the focus. Every book I picked up, the blurb described a boy and a girl who have to learn to deal with each other. And this was in every genre.

I looked at Fantasy and nearly picked up a discworld book by Terry Pratchett but then decided if I was going to read them I should start at the beginning and they didn’t have the first one (it made sense in my head at the time), and most other Fantasy books were a lot thicker than I was looking for (not that I have a thing against big books, just that I’m trying to at least attempt to keep up with my Goodreads goal of 50 books this year). I’ve never been into Horror or Thrillers so I gave them a pass as I wasn’t looking to widen my scope, just find something I would love reading. I looked for the Science Fiction section which said it was in the same place but was filled with Horror so I gave up looking for that. I looked at YP Fiction, but again everything was about romance.

Just as I’d given up hope of finding anything that would appeal to me I came across the 15+ section which I didn’t even know existed and settled on Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly which (according to the blurb) is about a girl who is sent to France and discovers a diary written by another girl during the French Revolution (I only now realised this means I’ve probably picked up another war book but hopefully it won’t all be doom and gloom). Once I’d picked it up it was as if a weight was lifted and suddenly almost every book looked interesting. I allowed myself to get one other book (Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho), as honestly I don’t need to be going to the library for something to read.

While it took a while for me to ‘wander’ (in my mobility scooter) and find anything that sparked my interest, the trip to the library was definitely worth it as I’m starting to feel excited about reading again which is just what I needed.

Any suggestions on happyish/fun books that don’t have too much romance filling their pages?

Teaser Tuesday (18th August)

teasertuesdays2014e

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

Dominik looked down at his plate. His final slice of toast sat there, forlorn.

p.p.26 Eighty Days Red by Vina Jackson (just so you know, this is a BDSM erotica series)

Musing Monday (17th August)

musingmondays51

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of A Daily Rythym that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Have you ever won a copy of a book (other than for review)? What was the book, and what were the circumstances?

My Musing/Answer:

I have entered a lot of competitions/giveaways online, most of which are for books, though lately I haven’t entered so many (this question has made me think I should start doing so again).

There is one book I’ve won that stands out for me; I can’t remember exactly how I won it, though it was through entering giveaways on blogs. This was a physical copy of Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. For me this was a big deal as I’d been following her writing blog for a few years and felt like I’d been with her on her journey to being published. I no longer have the copy I won; it was hard for me to give away but knew I no longer needed the physical book to remind me of winning it, and if I choose to read it again (I’ve read it twice as read it when Supernaturally came out), I’ll buy it on Kindle (as the other two books in the series are already on my Kindle).

Review: Harry’s War by Harry Drinkwater

Harry's WarTitle: Harry’s War – The Great War Diary of Harry Drinkwater

Author: Harry Drinkwater

Editor: Jon Cooksey

Publisher: Ebury Press

Published: July 2014

Genre: Non-Fiction HIstorical Diary

Source: Library

My Rating: 5/5

Harry’s War is nothing more than a diary kept by a soldier during the First World War; yet it so much more than that as it’s one of the few (if not only) vivid and descriptive firsthand accounts written by a soldier who not only survived the War but went back and edited his diary accounts.  Recently rediscovered and edited, Harry’s War was published for the centenary anniversary of the start of The Great War.

I have an interest in history, particularly accounts and memories of those who lived, rather than just names and dates. Because of this I’ve always felt a little annoyed there wasn’t more than metaphoric poetry to describe what life was like at the front during the First World War (I now know diaries were forbidden on the front which no doubt is why there are so few accounts). Perhaps it’s because so much is written about WWII that the utter lack of description from the First World War bothered me; though it is also the need to learn and understand.  Shortly into Harry’s War I understood why so many chose not to actively remember and discuss their experiences.

Harry Drinkwater honestly recorded as much of his experiences as he could, which in itself. However, I felt a lot of it lacked emotion, with gruesome details being plainly described (the one that will always stay with me is when his arm literally sunk into a dead German as Harry tried to use him to lever himself out of a hole). I expect this is because to survive living through something as horrific as the frontline during the First World War, the men must have dissociated themselves from what was happening on a day-to-day basis; but it makes reading this diary not only very uncomfortable and disturbing, but sometimes causes the reader to dissociate from the experience as well, making it an effort to truly accept the terribleness of what actually happened.

One thing I particularly liked about Harry’s War is that the diary doesn’t stop when Harry was on reprieve, so that it covers all of his experiences as a soldier rather than simply what happened to him on the front. In fact, Harry himself often comments on how the time spent away from the front is like heaven compared to the hell of being in the trenches, showing he had clarity and could understand how bizarre his situation was.

To bring together the diary, the editor Jon Cooksey includes notes which put the situations and places into context in regards to the war, and important events that were happening at the time.  I found this really useful as it gives the reader information to understand how Harry’s experiences related to what else was happening at the time. This, along with Harry Drinkwater’s voice, is gratefully the closest any of us can get to imagining what The Great War was like.

I would recommend Harry’s War to anyone with an interest in social history or the First World War, though I think almost everyone could benefit from reading this detailed account of man’s fight to create the world we live in today.

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

Teaser Tuesday (4th Aug)

teasertuesdays2014e

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

Several ambassadors are holding court in huddles, reminding me of circles of boys in a playground. The British one’s about somewhere.

p.p. 309 The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Apologies

Apologies for the lack of review this week, I promise it’s in the process of being written and I’ll post it the moment it’s finished so you wont miss out. Unfortunately sometimes this will happen as I live with M.E. and am not always able to get done what I plan to do and really hope you understand and won’t mind waiting a few extra days.