Monday, 30 November 2015

November Wrap-Up and December ANNOUNCEMENT!

Tomorrow it's officially December! Which means it'll officially be OK to listen to Christmas music (or at least to admit it!) and wear Christmas jumpers etc. Good times :)

This month I'm doing my wrap-up very slightly early so I can begin an EXCITING THING in December... But more on that in a bit! Let's get wrapping up shall we? (Appropriate to be wrapping up when it's nearly Christmas, eh???) (I'll show myself out)

What I wrote:

This month I've been doing a mini catch-up of some classics that I've always meant to read, so I put up a little TBR of books I'd like to try and get to (obviously not all of them, I'm not that ambitious!). I mentioned in my October wrap-up that I'd started reading The Great Gatsby, which I then finished at the start of November and absolutely LOVED! It actually reminded me a lot of Breakfast at Tiffany's, in that both books feature a central character who is a source of fascination for the much less charismatic narrator.

I also posted a couple of reviews, for The Catcher in the Rye and Ready Player One (the latter being a review that had been sitting half-finished in my drafts since July - oops!).

What I read:

I covered The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye above, but on top of that, I also read The Hound of the Baskervilles, which I also intend to review shortly (Spoiler Alert: I loved it!). Next, I started Frankenstein by Mary Shelley but got halfway through and fancied something else, so I picked up my new copy of The Hobbit that just arrived from Amazon.

I will finish Frankenstein at some point (hopefully soon), but I was finding it too hard a slog for my current mood. You know how it is, I'm sure! Anyway, I'm still on The Hobbit and loving it so far! I don't think I've read it since I had it read to me as a child, so it's definitely a much needed re-read.

What are you reading?

What I watched:

I've been continuing my love-hate relationship with Dr Who, as well as continuing my Merlin spree. I also watched a couple of films: Spectre (pretty good but SO violent! I couldn't believe it was a 12a!!!) and About Time (on my friend's Netflix). I was also given season 1 of Gilmore Girls on DVD, which will get watched in the coming weeks (/days/hours).

What I did:

Well, halfway through the month I had a birthday, which was nice. :) Apart from that I've been generally just chugging along, seeing friends, playing Frisbee and getting more and more cross with the weather as it tries to blow/rain/storm me off my bike on the way to work.

I've also been listening to the Pentatonix Christmas albums on repeat, particularly this song:

I'm obsessed...

Finally, my wonderful friend Carly introduced me to an app called Neko Atsume - Kitty Collector, which is basically Crazy Cat Lady: The App. But it's so adorable and I'm hooked! Just look!!!!


So yeah, I think that's all I wanted to mention for that.


Yesterday, I was having a read of some blogs, and I came across this post from Sophisticated Dorkiness in which she mentioned that some bloggers are doing a 'Month of Faves' blogging event throughout December. I had a quick look, and immediately decided to get involved.

I fully intend to stick to it at least most days! Hoorah! Take a look at the link above for the daily themes and let me know in the comments if you fancy getting involved too. Could be fun!?

So, how was your November?

Monday, 23 November 2015

Review: The Catcher in the Rye

The trouble with classics, especially ones as famous as this one, is that it can be hard to feel like your review can possibly contribute anything to the discussion that hasn't been said a million times (and a million times better!) before.

So I think this 'review' will probably be more of a personal reaction to The Catcher in the Rye and my experience of the book, rather than a review in the traditional sense.

Since I was first introduced to this book (when it was mentioned on 8 Simple Rules as being Bridget's favourite book), I've heard mixed things to say the least! Plenty of people declare it a book they thoroughly disliked, while others loved it. Having read it, I can certainly understand both points of view.

The book's protagonist Holden Caulfield made me feel a strong mix of pity, empathy and dislike. He is completely inconsistent, frequently complaining about behaviours and character traits in others that he continually displays himself, and he claims to hate all of his friends, while simultaneously wanting to be around them. Basically, he has no idea what he wants, or who he is, or what his life will be.

And I think that's why I liked this book so much. Sure, it also made me uncomfortable (much like Franny and Zooey did when I read that), but it also felt very real. All the things Holden does, all the little traits he notices in others, ring so true. And while Holden's experiences are certainly not reflective of mine, I think everyone can relate in someway to the feeling of being lost and of not knowing who you are.

I feel like if I'd read this book at a different time, a time when I was less uncertain of the future and more sure of my place in the world, then I wouldn't have liked this book half as much. But as it is, this book came at exactly the right time.

Is that weird?

How about you? Have you read The Catcher in the Rye? And, if so, what did you think?

Have you ever read a book at exactly the right time in your life?

Friday, 6 November 2015

November - The Accidental Classics Catch-Up Month!

So I'm aware that the title of this post is a bit of a mouthful, but I did just manage to pull a vacuum-cleaner down on my own head while cleaning the stairs, so don't be too hard on my OK..?

This month I started by reading The Great Gatsby, and now I'm reading The Catcher in the Rye. Both books are ones I've heard referenced and mentioned countless times on TV, in films, in other books and by people around me, both IRL and on the internet.

So I've made the spur-of-the-moment decision to spend November reading all those types of classics that I've been meaning to read for ages but never got round to it. You know the ones... The ones that are considered 'canon', and are always featured on Books You MUST Read Before You Die lists.

Now, I know the so-called literary canon is far from perfect, and I'm well aware I'm likely to be reading a good many straight, white men this month... But I feel like, while they certainly aren't the be-all and end-all of literature (unlike some readers would have me believe), I'm sure they are considered classics for a reason. And I feel like their influence on popular culture and the literary landscape makes them worth the read.

I've drawn up a sort-of TBR for November, to the end of reading as many of The Books I Always Meant To Read as I can. It's really more of a list of books I might read, in no particular order, but I thought it might be of interest anyway!

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (This is technically a re-read, but I haven't read it since I had it read to me a child, so it's almost a first-time read!)
  • Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Hmm... I think that's about all I can come up with! I left off all the really massive ones I want to read (*ahem* Les Mis *cough* Anna Karenina *cough* Moby Dick *cough*)

 Are there any I should add to the list?

 Please feel free to join me reading some classics if you feel like it! Let me know which ones in the comments below. :)

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Review: Ready Player One

I'm sure it's not escaped the notice of many of you that Ready Player One by Ernest Cline has been an extremely popular book of late. I've seen reviews just about everywhere, all of which have adamantly sung the book's praises. Once I'd gathered the book's premise, it seemed to me the perfect book to get for my brother (who can sometimes be less than enthusiastic about reading) for his birthday. Then, in true sibling fashion, I immediately borrowed it back, I was that impatient to read it!

So, what did I think?

I must admit, I went into this book with rather high hopes. And it did not disappoint! The world was interesting and (mostly) believable, the dialogue was fun, the characters were good, and the plot itself kept me on the edge of my seat. I actually considered canceling plans with friends because I wanted to keep reading it. That's how gripping it was!

I think part of what was so enjoyable, though, was seeing how much fun the author had obviously had with the book. Every page was crammed with geeky 80s pop culture references and the narration had a layer of snark to it that just added to the effect. To be honest, a lot of the references went over my head (since I wasn't around in the 80s) but I still found them really fun. I imagine the experience would be even better if you got all the jokes.

Let's be honest, this book was pure wish-fulfillment. The nerdy, unpopular, poor, unattractive gamer beating the odds and winning the most epic game in history, while getting a girlfriend and perfect body to boot, is straight out of a stereotypical nerd's cliché daydream. But so what!? It worked! And I thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

What did you think of Ready Player One?

Monday, 2 November 2015

October Wrap-Up

Hi folks, it's that time again where I discuss what's been going on over the past month! This month I actually read some books - quelle surprise!

What I wrote:

This month I did put out a couple of blog posts. Not as many as I'd like, of course, but baby steps...

Early on in the month I kicked off my 'Let's talk...' discussion post series with a post on re-reading books and my thoughts on that. Feel free to continue the discussion in the comments on that or link to your own post on that theme!

Next up (two weeks later...!), I posted a slightly personal post about writing and my intentions to start doing it again. I'm not doing NaNoWriMo, but feel free to let me know if you are! I'd love to cheer you on!

What I read:

Most of my reading this month consisted of a continuation of my Harry Potter re-read. I don't actually know what book I was on when the month began, but I finished the final book around halfway through the month. I actually re-read the final chapters of The Deathly Hallows several times, as I just love them so much! Next up I picked up Villette by Charlotte Bronte, which I actually started reading last year but ended up shelving as I had too much uni work. I was completely intrigued by this book, and ended up really loving it, despite how strange it made me feel - it's quite different to Jane Eyre!

Finally, I started reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which is one of those books (rather like To Kill a Mockingbird) which I am ashamed to have left unread for so long. It so pervades our culture and collective consciousness that I really felt it was a must-read. I actually finished it on the first day of November, but hey! I still read most of it in October so I'm counting it!

What I watched:

Almost all of my TV watching for this month has consisted of Dr Who, which returned to our (British) screens recently! I have to say, my love-hate relationship to this show has not eased up on the 'hate' (*coughStephenMoffatcough*), but a couple of the episodes had some good ideas. Electric eels though? Really???

And what's with the sonic sunglasses?

I also finished my series 1 box set of Merlin, and am desperate to start re-watching series 2 immediately! I just love that show so much <3 Finally, on Friday my dad and I watched the Hitchcock film Psycho, which I've never seen but have heard so much about. It's so so creepy but I loved it!

What I did:

This month was pretty much a continuation of that last, in that it was a fairly uneventful time of working and casual socialising. I did get a sort-of promotion at work (more responsibility but no more money, alas!) and that has made the job more interesting. I also visited a friend in London for the weekend, and managed to get tickets to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (the new HP play opening in the West End next year) for next July - excited!!! :D

Anyway, I think that's pretty much it from me!

Let me know in the comments what you've been up to :)
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