Friday Wishlist #3

I’m borrowing this idea from Jane Emily over at Beyond Seventeen Reviews. These are books I would not only love to read, but would also like to own at some point.

1. Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

everyday sexism

Are you #ShoutingBack? After experiencing a series of escalating sexist incidents, Laura Bates, a young journalist, started a project called ‘everyday sexism’ to raise the profile of these previously untold stories. Astounded by the response she received and the wide range of stories that came pouring in from all over the world, she quickly realised that the situation was far worse than she’d initially thought. Enough was enough. From being harassed and wolf-whistled at on the street, to discrimination in the workplace and serious sexual assault, it was clear that sexism had become normalised. Bates decided it was time for women to lead a real change. Bold, jaunty but always intelligent, everyday sexism is a protest against inequality that provides a unique window into the vibrant movement sparked by this juggernaut of stories – often shocking, sometimes amusing and always poignant. With an Introduction by Sarah Brown, this book is a manifesto for change; a ground breaking, anecdotal examination of sexism in modern day society. Welcome to the fourth wave of feminism.

I am a feminist and I love reading about and developing my understanding of feminism and the issues which affect women across the world. I follow @EverydaySexism on Twitter (you should too) and some of the anecdotes and stories of people’s experiences of gender inequality are shocking. I intend to read this soon.

2. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

house of leaves

Johnny Truant wild and troubled sometime employee in a LA tattoo parlour, finds a notebook kept by Zampano, a reclusive old man found dead in a cluttered apartment. Herein is the heavily annotated story of the Navidson Report. Will Navidson, a photojournalist, and his family move into a new house. What happens next is recorded on videotapes and in interviews. Now the Navidsons are household names. Zampano, writing on loose sheets, stained napkins, crammed notebooks, has compiled what must be the definitive work on the events on Ash Tree Lane. But Johnny Truant has never heard of the Navidson Record. Nor has anyone else he knows. And the more he reads about Will Navidson’s house, the more frightened he becomes. Paranoia besets him. The worst part is that he can’t just dismiss the notebook as the ramblings of a crazy old man. He’s starting to notice things changing around him …Immensely imaginative. Impossible to put down. Impossible to forget. House of Leaves is thrilling, terrifying and unlike anything you have ever read before.

This just intrigues me. I love stories that are told out of chronological order, or that are told in interesting ways. I would love to own a copy of this to spend hours deciphering.

Which books are on your wishlist at the moment?

My London Experience – Part 2

This is the second of two posts about my two week trip to London for work experience.

I was working almost every day of my trip and so I wanted to make the most of the weekend. In the morning, I visited the National Gallery which is an amazing building for a start. Even the floors and ceilings are beautiful to look at. I found the layout a little confusing so opted for as logical an approach as possible because I wanted to see as much as I could. There was an exhibition of works by an artist called Peder Balke which I loved. He paints a lot of seascapes and his use of colour and light creates an amazing depth. I have always felt at home near the sea and his paintings just resonate with me.

Peder Balke, Nordkapp image from wikipedia

Peder Balke, Nordkapp
image from wikipedia

There were other parts I enjoyed, particularly Turner and other more modern artists, but I find it very difficult to love paintings of people. I much prefer landscapes, particularly those which use colour and shadow to create emotion. A lot of the works in the National Gallery blended into one for me. I guess that’s the beauty of art though – people see and appreciate different qualities in paintings and art in general.

After embarrassing myself by walking into a Caffe Nero that wasn’t even open for business yet (the confused lady repeated ‘we open tomorrow’ at least three times before I understood my mistake) I managed to find myself some coffee and lunch before my real treat of the weekend: a matinee of Matilda. This was my planned theatre trip and I hadn’t counted on seeing Les Mis earlier in the week so I had a really good seat for this, only four rows from the front and surprisingly central. The set for this show is amazing and the young cast were so talented (the adults were too, of course, but for eight and nine year-olds to perform like that is incredible). The story is very different from the original story which took me by surprise, but the music is great and I really enjoyed the experience.

On Sunday I had plans to visit the Natural History Museum because I remember loving it when I went with my family a number of years ago. I was feeling unwell on the tube, however, so I got off two stops early and ended up walking through Green Park and then through Hyde Park for around an hour and a half. It was lovely just to walk and it always amazes me that there are so many green spaces in the centre of a busy city. I got in the way of a number of runners who were running a half marathon and spent a little time at the Princess Diana memorial which is a beautiful water feature. Everyone is so calm and quiet there that it was nice to be able to just breathe.

Then I made my way towards the museum. By that point the queue was pretty long and I was still feeling not so great so I decided to go across the road and visit the Victoria and Albert museum instead. This was something my mum wanted to do last time we visited London so I thought I would give it a go. There were parts of it that were really interesting such as the exhibition of fashion through history (I would have liked to have seen the wedding dresses as well, but there were charging extra for that – over £10 extra which didn’t seem worth it). I don’t know whether it was because I was unwell and was therefore finding it hard to concentrate on reading the little plaques etc. but I didn’t particularly enjoy the museum. There was a lot to see, however, so definitely worth a trip if that’s your kind of thing.

By mid-afternoon I was still feeling ill and was tired (it had been a very long week) so I jumped on the tube and headed back to my accommodation. I had an excellent time in London; my placement was a great help and I really tried to make the most out of my time doing all the touristy things. I hope to move to London as soon as I can and so this trip was wonderful motivation to sort my life out!

My London Experience – Part 1

A couple of weeks ago I got back from a two-week trip to London where I did a work experience placement. Whilst I was there, I had time to take in some culture as well, so I thought I’d share some of my trip with you now.

During my first hour in London I managed to get myself stuck in a tube barrier with my giant suitcase and annoy everyone on the escalator by forgetting to stand on the right. Not a great start, but I soon found myself falling into the rhythm of the city. As someone who lives in a small village in a rural area, the capital is so full of life and energy – it makes me feel alive, as cliched as that sounds.

I was working Monday and Tuesday but was told not to come in on Wednesday and Thursday as nobody would be in the office. I took this opportunity to do some touristy things. On Wednesday I managed to get a ticket for a matinee of Les Miserables which is my favourite musical. I had never seen it in person before and was really excited to get a ticket. I decided not to go for the most expensive seat and ended up in row G of the upper circle. It was a much better view than I expected, but I did feel a bit distant from the performance and would probably choose a better seat next time. Despite that, the show was amazing. The cast were brilliant and the music is always fantastic no matter how many times I’ve heard it.

On Thursday, I visited the Tate Modern. To get there, I had to cross the Millennium bridge which was pretty surreal for me as all I could think about was it’s appearance in the penultimate Harry Potter film and the amazing visual effects which were used. The gallery itself was good; I spent a good couple of hours wandering around and there was plenty to see. There were a couple of pieces I really liked, but on the whole I don’t think modern art is really my thing.

In the afternoon, I visited the Museum of London which was fantastic. There’s so much to see and read about and you could quite easily make a day of it. They had a really lovely Paddington Bear display which was probably my favourite bit, although it was right at the end and I was pretty tired by then so didn’t linger for too long. The great thing about both the Tate Modern and the Museum of London is that it’s free to visit – all they ask for is a small donation as you enter/leave.

The Victorian Walk at the Museum of London image from museumoflondon.org

The Victorian Walk at the Museum of London
image from museumoflondon.org

It was great having so many museums and galleries right on my doorstep and I could easily have spent a lot more time exploring them.

Part 2 of my adventures coming tomorrow…

Top Ten Tuesday: Books from my Childhood

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week I’m listing my top ten books from my childhood. I’ve decided to go really young with this and choose some of the earliest books I remember reading because I talk about 9-12/YA books a lot on this blog.

1. My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards – I loved these books when I was younger. I remember loving the stories in which she curled her hair to have ringlets, bit Father Christmas, and had her hair cut.

2. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell – Whenever I hear someone reading this to their child in the bookshop where I work it feels so familiar.

3. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell – Okay, so this is still one of my favourite books. I love horse stories, and this makes me cry every time I read it.

4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – I still have a chocolate caterpillar birthday cake every year and on my twenty-first birthday a friend gave me hungry caterpillar birthday card. I’m not even sorry.

the-very-hungry-caterpillar

5. Topsy and Tim Go Shopping by Jean Adamson – I’m fairly sure this is no longer in print, although a lot of the other titles and some newer titles were relaunched in 2003. This was my favourite Topsy and Tim story. I’m not sure why exactly!

6. Elmer by David McKee – I used to read this a lot and even had an Elmer soft toy.

7. The Suitcase Kid by Jacqueline Wilson – I think this was the first Jacqueline Wilson book I read and it’s still my favourite.

8. The Terrific Times Tables Book by Kate Petty and Jennie Maizels – This is unfortunately not in print any more, but there are a number of used copies available online. I loved this book when I was younger. It has highly detailed illustrations and lots of flaps and other moving parts making it really interactive and a great way of learning the times tables up to 12×12.

terrific times tables

9. The BFG by Roald Dahl – Matilda is my all-time favourite Dahl book, but  the BFG comes a close second. I’m pretty sure I remember listening to it on audio cassette as I fell asleep, but it’s not a very strong memory.

10. The Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene – It was impossible to get hold of all of these, but I read every one my local library had and loved them. They’re part of what sparked my love of crime fiction.

This list is a bit of a mixed bag, but I had fun trying to remember the books I loved as a child. Let me know your favourites in the comments, or leave me a link to your own list.

Review: Half the World by Joe Abercrombie

half the world

Release Date: 12/2/15
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780007550234
Source: I bought a signed copy from Waterstones

SOMETIMES A GIRL IS TOUCHED BY MOTHER WAR

Thorn lives to fight. But she has been named murderer by the very man who trained her to kill.

SOMETIMES A GIRL BECOMES A WARRIOR

Fate traps her in the schemes of Father Yarvi, sending her across half the world to seek allies against the ruthless High King.

SOMETIMES A WARRIOR BECOMES A WEAPON

Beside her is Brand, a young warrior who hates to kill. A failure in his eyes and hers, he has one chance at redemption.

AND WEAPONS ARE MADE FOR ONE PURPOSE

Must Thorn be a tool in other hands or can she carve her own path? Is there a place beyond legend for a woman with a blade?

After the events of the first in the trilogy, Half a King, I wasn’t sure where Abercrombie could go with the character of Father Yarvi as his story seemed to have left him in a good place. Therefore, I was pleased to see this book follow the story of a different character: the young warrior, Thorn.

Thorn – like Yarvi in the first book – is not an entirely likeable character. She wants to be a fighter rather than follow the traditional path for a woman and  she must therefore learn to fit in with the men around her. She overcompensates with her tough nut attitude and is widely disliked at the start of the novel. Thorn is strong, determined, skilled (eventually), and emotionally tough which is wonderfully refreshing to see, especially considering how few major female characters we typically see in fantasy novels. She is not without flaws, however; at the start of the novel she is arrogant and not as skilled as she thinks herself to be, and she makes rash decisions without considering the consequences. These imperfections actually make her a better character though. She is a very real, well-rounded female character who doesn’t seem to care about people liking her. We need more of that, especially in fantasy as a genre.

There is enough of the tone and style of the first book for this sequel to work really well, despite the largely new cast of characters. I particularly enjoyed the parallels between Thorn’s journey and Yarvi’s – for example, the importance of time spent rowing and the bonds developed with their oarmates.

Overall, this is a fantastic sequel with a pleasing mix of action and politics and personal drama. I felt that the characters were well-developed with strong personalities and back stories, and I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I can’t wait for the final installment this summer!

Top Ten Books on my Spring 2015 TBR List

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the theme is books on your Spring 2015 to be read list. These are all books that I own and that I hope to read in the next month and a half (i.e. by the end of April, ideally).

1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – I haven’t read anything by her before, but I picked up a proof of this at work so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.

2. What I Was by Meg Rosoff – I read How I Live Now recently so I have three of her books left to read. I should probably get on with that!

3. The Establishment by Owen Jones – I was given this when I did work experience at Penguin Random House a couple of weeks ago. I’m still working on my unofficial goal of reading more non fiction but I’ve sort of stalled a little bit recently. I had to read an excerpt from Chavs, which is Jones’ other book, for my degree and really liked it, so I’m hoping this will be equally enjoyable.

4 & 5. Specials and Extras by Scott Westerfeld – I was enjoying this series but haven’t felt in the mood to finish it recently. It would be nice to get these off my TBR list and the series complete. I’m really interested to see how these end as well as there are so many unanswered questions.

6. A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale – I’ve heard a lot of good things about this one and have had a proof sat on my TBR for a few months now (that always makes me feel guilty).

7. No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary – I received my first ever bookbridgr request last week so that’s pretty exciting. I can’t wait to read this as it sounds exactly like the type of crime drama I like to watch on TV, but in book form. If that makes sense…

8. Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell – I don’t even know what this is still doing on my TBR. I bought this a few weeks after I left university and for some reason it just hasn’t quite made it to the top of the pile yet.

9. Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie – My second Christie mystery of the year. I’m trying to space them out a bit because technically I suppose these are rereads.

10. Are We There Yet by David Levithan – I’m halfway through this in ebook format and should really just finish it before my library loan runs out. I got so excited to have access to physical books again after a pathetic two weeks that I sort of abandoned it… oops.

I’ve tried to include a range of books and genres in this list because I know that the chances of me sticking to this list are incredible small. Unless I have a particular reason to have to read a certain book by a certain date I’m pretty much a lost cause. Hopefully, by choosing a wide range of titles, I might be able to actually read some of these without getting distracted by other books!

Top Ten Books for Readers Who Like Unreliable Narrators

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the prompt is your top ten books for readers who like [blank]. It’s no secret that I love books with unreliable narrators. There’s something about the limitations placed on me as a reader and the challenge of trying to work out what’s really going on that appeals to me.

1. Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey – I’ve mentioned this book before, and it’s still one of my current favourites. The protagonist, Maud, is the ultimate unreliable narrator as she’s suffering with dementia. As she tries to figure out what’s going on in her life and solve a long-standing mystery, the reader is pulled along with her, unsure what information to trust.

2. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – Cathy knows so little about her own life that she can’t help but be unreliable. It’s even better because as readers we start to realise what is going on before she does and that’s what makes this such a hard-hitting dystopian novel.

3. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – I could hardly leave this off the list…

4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Amy and Nick Dunn both tell lies and distort the truth and my sympathies kept switching backwards and forwards between the two of them. This is unreliable narration at it’s best because we know we’re being lied to, it’s just a matter of working out what to believe.

5. Room by Emma Donoghue – This is one of my favourite types of unreliable narration, that of a child. Not only that, but Jack is a very unusual child in that he has never known the outside world and believes that everything outside of his little room is fictional. A stunning novel, and one of my absolute favourite unreliable narrators.

6. The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness – This whole series rides on the fact that Todd does not know the truth about the society he is a part of. As readers, we are limited by his knowledge and we have to trust in him despite knowing that there is so much he doesn’t understand.

7. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov – Humbert Humbert is a deluded and manipulative narrator who tries to justify his interest in young girls through his narrative.

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – Charlie is suffering from the psychological effects of being abused as a child and his outlook is therefore completely unreliable. This story is told in letters and we are kept guessing right until the end.

I’m actually struggling to finish this list without just repeating a bunch of books I mention all the time. More Than This by Patrick Ness, The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer, and most YA dystopias could all sit comfortably on this list.

Please let me know if you have any recommendations for great novels with unreliable narrators (especially if they’re YA) and feel free to link to your own TTT list in the comments – I’d love to read them.