Birthday Book Tag!

Today is my birthday which means I get to do the Birthday Book Tag. I saw this on Anna’s Book Nook a couple of months ago and was really eager to do it, so here I am.

I’m having a fairly chill birthday; I’m making some afternoon tea for brunch later complete with a glass (or two) of prosecco. After that, I pretty much have the day to myself. So I’ll probably read or watch a film – I have so many on my TBR and TBW shelves that I really need to make a dent in them. Plus all the new books and films I’ve received as presents.  But I shall stop rambling on and answer some questions:

1. Count your birth day along your bookshelf and then subtract your birth month. What book does it land on?

Goodbye to BerlinGoodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood. Which I have never read (oops). From my understanding this is the inspiration for the musical Cabaret, and that is pretty much all I know of the book. If that is even right; let me know down below if it’s not. I picked it up because Berlin is one of my favourite cities, I really like learning about German history, plus I enjoyed Isherwood’s A Single Man. So I figured a book set in Weimar Germany ticks all those boxes. Just writing about it here makes me tempted to pick it up, so it will be getting bumped up the TRB ASAP.

 

 

2. If you could spend your day with any fictional character who would it be and why?

That’s a hard one, there are so many. I feel like the March sisters would be a lot of fun, or maybe Jay Gatsby since he knows how to throw a party. Either of them would be cool to hang out with for a day.

3. Find a book that takes place in the season you were born in.

The Secret GardenI’ve picked The Secret Garden but any childhood favourite would do. For some reason spring makes me think of children’s books, and just cosy, warming reads. Perhaps because spring feels like a new beginning or a fresh start, so I think of books that have a sense of hopefulness. Admittedly, I think The Secret Garden spans across more than just springtime but the many descriptions of the natural world also makes me think of this season.

 

 

 

4. Find a book that is the colour of your birth stone. 

The Emerald StoneI have absolutely no books with an emerald cover but Google tells me The Emerald Stone by DJ Loomis does, so there we have it. Saying that The Secret Garden cover has a ton of green, but not sure if that counts as emerald.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Is there a series with the same number of books as your age? If so what is it.

Again I have to Google this as I have no idea. I highly doubt there’s many series with 28 books.

I’ve found a compilation titled ‘Elsie Dunmore Complete Series: 28 Books in One Edition’ by Martha Finley. I’ve never heard of Elsie Dunmore in my life, and I’m not sure if there are more books in this series; this was made in 2017 so more could have been written. But we will go with this. I’m not doing so well on these questions: I think there’s maybe two so far which feature books I’ve actually read.

6. Pick a book set in a time period, world, country you would like to have been born in. 

Harry Potter series, hands down. I would loved to have been a student at Hogwarts and learn how to use magic.

And there you have it! Let me know what your answers would be for the questions!

Christmas Tag!

Hi everyone! The reviews will be back on Thursday but I thought today I would do a tag to get into the Christmassy mood. It’s hard to believe it’s 16 days until the big day. And I still haven’t finished my Christmas shopping yet. Whoops. So without further ado, let’s get into the questions:

What’s your favourite Christmas movie?

home aloneI have two: Home Alone and Bridget Jones’s DiaryHome Alone I’ve watched countless times; probably every single year since that film was released. And every time I forget about the big ass spider until I catch a glimpse of it. But nonetheless, putting my arachnophobia aside, Home Alone never fails to get me into the holiday mood, plus I’m reminded of all the times I’ve spent with my family watching it. I don’t know if Bridget Jones’s Diary technically counts as a Christmas movie – it begins and ends at Christmas if that helps. But it never fails to cheer me up, and it’s a movie my mum and I love so again it reminds me of family. I might do a blog post with my favourite Christmas movies, as the more I think about this question, the more movies that spring to mind.

Have you ever had a white Christmas?

Oh God, yes. I remember in 2009 we had ridiculously heavy snow; it got to the point that schools shut early (which we loved) and you could no longer see the pavement from the road. It was so heavy that our car was basically stuck in our drive, so we would have to trek out on foot to get shopping. Thankfully, other Christmasses haven’t been as severe, and it’s always nice to go out when snow has just fallen. I love the crisp sound boots make in snow.

Where do you usually spend your holiday?

I spend every year with my family. My gran also comes to visit us on the day as well, so it’s nice to see her too.

What’s your favourite Christmas song?

Again, I have two – I’m not good with picking favourites. If we’re including hymns then I adore Silent Night. I find it such a beautiful, haunting song and it always makes me think of Christmas. If we’re talking more pop songs then Jona Lewie’s Stop the Cavalry, which admittedly isn’t the most festive song given the content. But I still love it nonetheless. John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War is Over) is also a close contender.

Stop_the_Cavalry
By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38015391

Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?

I feel like my mum would murder me if I did that. We open them together on Christmas morning.

What holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?

I wouldn’t say we have any traditions per say. I do look forward to the quizzes/games/charades that gets played after Christmas dinner, just because it inevitably dissolves into madness and it makes me laugh.

What’s your favourite holiday food/treat/sweet?

All of it. I really like cooking and food in general so it’s hard to pick one food. There’s obviously the mountain of chocolates or the cheese board with red wine. I also really like stuffing and pigs in blankets and all the side dishes that go alongside the turkey. I even like brussel sprouts. So…yeah. All the food!

Be honest. Do you prefer giving or receiving gifts?

Both. I like getting presents and I also like the challenge of gifting presents; I try to get people something they would really like but is not entirely obvious.

What’s your dream place to visit during the holiday season?

I would love to visit the Christmas markets in Berlin. I adore Berlin anyway; I went in October a couple of years ago and loved it. But I would love to see the famous markets, they always look so picturesque and I get envious when my friends post about them on social media.

berlin markets

What makes the holidays special for you?

I think getting to spend time with my family. Plus in general, Christmas always has this feeling of joy, of happiness and love. To be able to celebrate these things, even just for a day, makes it one of my favourite seasons.

And that’s it! Feel free to answer these questions if you fancy it. I should point out that I couldn’t find the original creator of this tag; if anyone knows who it is then please let me know so I can credit them. See you on Thursday for some more book reviews!

 

 

 

All About Halloween Book Tag

Happy Halloween! Halloween has always been one of my favourite times of the year. I think because I’ve always liked the autumn season in general and the longer, colder nights drawing in with the fallen leaves crunching underfoot . There’s something quite magical about it, which lends itself nicely to supernatural things. Plus I love seeing everyone’s costumes and how creative they are – a stark contrast to mine. So I thought to celebrate another 31st October I would do a Halloween themed tag, which I found on Kristen’s blog. So without further ado, I’ll dive into the questions:

1. What are your favourite Halloween movies?

Possibly my favourite is The Others (2001) with Nicole Kidman. I’m not the biggest fan of gore, so tend to stay away from horror films like the Saw series and stuff like that. But I do really enjoy The Others; I find it very atmospheric and creepy. An older movie that gives me a similar vibe is The Innocents (1961) with Deborah Kerr. Those two are really good ghost stories.

2. What is your favourite Halloween book?

the little strangerPossibly The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters – again it’s not really bloody  (there’s many 3 or 4 scenes in total which contain violence) but it’s more the atmosphere that Waters creates. There’s something really unsettling in the whole book, and I think Waters does a brilliant job of writing this ghost story with elements of romance, historical fiction, and social critique all combined within it.

 

3. What other Halloween books would you recommend?

Anything by Neil Gaiman tends to get me into the Halloween spirit. Also Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier – clearly anything involving a big spooky house I immediately associated with Halloween. I love haunted house stories, so if anyone has any recommendations let me know!

4. Do you own any ugly Halloween sweaters?

No, not at all. Now Christmas – that’s another thing entirely! I love ugly Christmas sweaters, they remind me of Bridget Jones’ Diary, a film which will be getting whipped out come December. But yeah, I must look into ugly Halloween sweaters. I am an absolute pro at having bad taste – I’m sure I can find a horrendous one no bother!

Bridget Joness jumper
Got the jumper. Need to find Colin Firth. 

5. What are some of your favourite Halloween costumes?

When I was younger, I tended to go for the classic witch outfit, though occasionally I switched it up and went as a devil or a bat. I’m not very good with sowing/making outfits, so am always jealous of people who can make really clever costumes. My favourites now tend to be topical, or a clever play on words. Basically the stuff it would take me months to think of.

6. What are you doing for Halloween this year?

As it’s a Thursday, I shall be sitting on my laptop doing work – boring I know! There are some kids that live in my neighbourhood so I imagine I’ll get a few visitors, which will be quite nice as for the past few years there hasn’t been any. They all just seemed to have moved here at once! So yeah, I will be sitting online and listening to bad jokes all night. Oh, and might consume my body weight in sweets.

7. What is your favourite childhood Halloween memory?

I always liked meeting up with my friends, playing Halloween-themed games, and generally making nuisances of ourselves. Was still consuming my body weight in sweets then, which helped to make everyone hyper. One time, I remember going to Disneyland Paris with my family when I was about 12. They had all the Halloween decorations and parades out, which made that holiday even more magical. As I got older and went to University, there was always Halloween nights out organised – sometimes at 4am I’d still be wandering about with my costume on. The Students Union normally closed at around 3, so we would traipse back to someone’s flat. Now, I’ll be in bed at 9pm with a book. Rock n roll!

What is your favourite Halloween memory? Let me know in the comments below!

The Wasted Potential Book Tag

Hi everyone! Today I thought I would do another book tag – it’s been a wee while since I did one and I have always wanted to do The Wasted Potential tag, created by the lovely Elise over at The Bookish Actress. This makes me sound like a grumpy old (wo)man, but when I first read her questions I had several candidates for all of them. I’ve only picked my worst offenders for each question though, otherwise we would be here all day.

  1. A book that tried and failed to tackle an issue

only ever yoursI have ranted about this book before on my blog, so it should come as no surprise that it is Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill. I will try not to rehash my full review here, but to sum it up, O’Neill attempts to tackle sexism by creating a dystopian world and fails completely. Well, not entirely completely. The general idea was good but the execution let it down badly. Some aspects of this world didn’t make sense, or weren’t explored fully enough. The characters are as flat as pancakes – deliberate yes, but it means there was no growth or development in a 300+ page novel, making it a slog to get through. Also for a book tackling the treatment of women, O’Neill slips into a trope I despite concerning women in fiction – she’s ‘not like other girls’. Whilst that phrase is never explicitly stated, I felt it was heavily implied in the narrative (eg. the main character not watching the TV shows other girls are). Only Ever Yours felt like a good idea but the execution was poor.

2.   An intriguing series that didn’t pay off

This is a hard one, mainly because I don’t really read a lot of series anymore. But I have never completed Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, so I will go with that one. It’s a shame really, as I really enjoyed the first four or five in the series. But it just…kept going. And I never knew why, as the plot didn’t feel like it would stretch much further. Also the plot of the individual books started to feel repetitive, and they became a bit dull to me. That doesn’t mean I won’t one day read them to the end (or at least read the last one to find out what happened to the parents). But I doubt that’s happening any time soon.

3. A great beginning with a mediocre ending

SnapThis one had a lot of candidates, but the one that first springs to mind is Snap by Belinda Bauer. I read this because it was one the Man Booker shortlist, and I was intrigued as to why it was selected. I still wonder why to this day, considering all the excellent books that could have taken its’ slot. Snap starts off promising – a young, pregnant mother disappears at a road side and later her body is discovered. Fast forward a few years, and we see how her children are coping following the tragedy, plus following another pregnant woman whose house is broken into. I was definitely hooked, the storyline was well paced and the characters interesting enough. But the conclusion annoyed me. The solution came about through a series of coincidences that didn’t feel at all realistic, and some scenes felt like they belonged more in an action movie. It was disappointing to see how Bauer tied up the loose ends – it felt like she was making it up as she was writing, rather than having it all worked out beforehand. It just didn’t work for me.

4. A last minute twist that ruined it all

I won’t say which twist it was – mainly because there are a couple which didn’t work for me plus I don’t want to spoil anything – but The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. These occur in the last 25% of the book, and I found them frankly ridiculous. One was so unbelievable that you wonder how dense the characters were – could they not see something was off right there and then? The other – dealing with how our narrator finds himself at the house – left me puzzled. I don’t understand his motives going into the house, or indeed the purpose of the house in general. The whole ending left me going, huh? That’s it? Which was a shame, as I had been having fun up until that point.

5.  A great plot with some boring characters

handmaidKind of linking in with Only Ever Yours, I’m going with The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. The premise of the book sounded really interesting, plus it is considered a modern classic and a great piece of feminist literature, so I picked it up. Nothing quite braced me for just how boring Offred was. She seemed to dither between accepting her fate or rebelling throughout the entire book, to the point I wanted to yell, ‘Do something! Anything!’ But alas, no. How any of the other characters find her interesting is a mystery to me since her character development and personality are as deep as a puddle. Plus some of the secondary characters felt more dynamic and fascinating, which annoyed me more as why couldn’t Atwood have followed their stories instead of the most boring character in existence? As you imagine, I haven’t nor plan to read The Testaments. I’ve learnt my lesson.

6. A character death that ruined a book (Spoilers)

There is only one answer to this: The Mayor of Casterbridge and Lucetta Templeman. I know why she has to die, that certain plot points wouldn’t work if she survived. But I liked Lucetta and wanted her to have a somewhat happy ending. But this is Hardy and no happy endings exist. Still, I found the circumstances surrounding her death a bit ridiculous and they drew me out of the plot. I found myself rereading that passage a couple of times, just to convince myself I hadn’t just dreamt that. Lucetta definitely deserved a better send off that the one she got.

7. A romance that ruined a book for you

Deathly HallowsIt didn’t necessarily ruin the book for me, but the romance between Harry and Ginny as always felt forced to me. It feels like it just pops out of nowhere, and funny enough The Deathly Hallows could also have come under the mediocre ending category. The scene where all their kids are fully named made me cringe.

 

 

8.  A romance you wanted to happen

Again, I understand that it doesn’t happen because of plot and character development, but I really wanted Jo and Laurie from Little Women to happen when I read it. I found the dynamic between the two really sweet and a joy to read, I could have happily have read about those two for ages. However, I am happy with who Jo winds up with – less so Laurie. He could do better.

9. A scene you have petty beef with

To be honest, any of the books mentioned above could easily fit here. They all annoyed me in some form or another. But I thought I would pick a book I haven’t mentioned previously; a book in fact, that is one of my favourites.

cover.jpg.rendition.320.492And that is Jane Eyre. The scene in particular I don’t like is when Rochester is pleading with Jane to stay, though she has already decided to leave him. He’s getting desperate, repeatedly declaring his love for her, and then this little nugget falls out of his mouth:

Jane! Will you not hear reason? (he stooped and approached his lips to my ear) ‘because, if you won’t, I’ll try violence’.

Why? Why make your leading, romantic man hint that he might rape the main character? What does that accomplish? It’s such a terrifying thing to say, that when I first read it I was completely thrown off. Were we supposed to hope Jane and Rochester would be together after that? It makes it hard to root for him, and I have often wondered if that line was truly necessary. The fact that the adaptations I have seen all leave that line out (with good reason) suggests not.  So yeah, perhaps not a beef with a scene, but a line instead.

 

And that’s it! As always I won’t tag anyone in particular, but if you fancy giving the tag a go, let me know! I’d love to read your answers.

The 20 Film Questions Tag

Hi everyone! So when sorting out my reviews for the next couple of weeks, I decided to have a nosey at my recently published posts. To cut a long story short, I basically went down the rabbit hole and realised I hadn’t done my favourite films of 2019 so far. In fact, I haven’t done a film post since last year. Since we’re coming to the end of August, I thought I would leave the ‘favourite films’ until December since there’s no point in doing two within 4/5 months of each other. So instead, I have decided to do the The 20 Film Questions Tag. I’m not sure who invented this, so if you have any ideas let me know down below and I shall link to them. But without further ado, let’s get into the questions.

1. How often do you watch a film?

This is a hard one. I go through periods, similar to reading actually, where I will watch tons of films and then others where I watch none at all. On average, I would probably say once or twice a week.
2. What film genre are you particularly fond of?

Drama. I’m not really into genres nowadays. I mean I watch some, like Star Wars, but apart from that…no.
3. What was the last film you watched and liked?

Pain and Glory and I adored it. Pedro Almodovar is one my favourite directors.

pain and glory.jpg

4. What was the last film you watched and hated?

That’s a hard one – I tend not to hate films. I don’t watch films I know I’ll dislike, so that’s maybe why. I don’t understand people who ‘hate watch’. One I watched recently that I don’t think I understood was Stockholm, my Love starring Neneh Cherry. Some scenes I enjoyed, but I’m not sure what the film was trying to say overall.
5. What is your favourite movie of all time?

The Godfather

That’s a hard one. Since I can’t narrow it down to one, I shall say both The Godfather and Amelie.

6. What’s your favourite guilty pleasure film?

Oh there’s so many! Meet the Parents trilogy, Johnny EnglishBaby’s Day Out… the list is endless.

7. What films have you watched a million times already?

Amelie and Black Narcissus probably. I reckon I could quote huge chunks from the pair of them. Also, I will sit and watch any Harry Potter when it’s on the TV, regardless of how far into the film it is. So yeah, they’d be up there.

8. Are you the type of person who watches a film on its first day of showing?

No. I don’t like big crowds, and I always feel like I need to rush to get tickets/snacks/seats etc because there is so many people. Saying that, I did see Toy Story 4 on its first day which wasn’t too bad. But that was because it was Friday and I had that day off.
9. Do you use fandango or prebook film tickets?

Neither. I mostly just stroll up on the day and get my tickets.

10. Cinema, download or dvd/Blu-ray?

I love going to the cinema, and I’m lucky that I have a small, independent one near where I live which has affordable prices. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t go anywhere near as much as I do. I’ve never downloaded a film, so DVD/Blu-ray would be my next choice. If I want to watch an older film I will check websites like Archive.org which has quite a varied selection.
11. How often do you go to the cinema to watch a film?

In a similar way to the first question, I have periods where I go a lot and others I’m barely there. When it comes to Oscar season I practically live there – I like seeing most of the nominees before the ceremony. Then I’m there maybe twice a week. At other times though, I might only go once or twice a month.
12. What are the films that made you cry?

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird never fails to make me cry, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. It’s the bit after the court case, and Atticus is the last person to leave. Scout and Jem are told to ‘stand up – you’re father is passing’. That gets me, every damn time.
13. Do you watch foreign films?

Yep, frequently. I don’t understand peoples’ reluctance to subtitles.
14. What are your favourite foreign films?

Amelie (obviously), The Lives of OthersI Loved You So Long, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and Throne of Blood are all great.
15. Who are your favourite directors?

Alfred Hitchcock, Pedro Almodovar, Michael Powell, Agnes Varda, Douglas Sirk. There’s a lot of directors I’m a fan of.
16. Are you particular with film scores/soundtracks/music?

No, strangely enough. I do like music, but I don’t listen to film scores outwith the movie. Of course if the music is distracting from the plot I will notice that, or when I sense my emotions are being manipulated by the soundtrack. But 9 times out of 10, no.
17. What film soundtrack can be found in your iPod?

Like I said, I don’t listen to film soundtracks, though I do have songs that have featured in films. But that’s as close as I get.

18. Who are your favourite actors/actresses?

Montgomery Clift, Marilyn Monroe, Cate Blanchett, Domhnall Gleeson, Ingrid Bergman… again this list can go on forever. I like Golden Age Hollywood a fair bit, which you can see from my favourite directors and performers.

19. Do you read the book before watching the movie, or vice versa?

I normally read the book first. In some cases I don’t, like for example if I don’t have time to finish the novel before seeing the film. There have also been a couple of occasions where I didn’t realise it was an adaptation until the credits showed up on screen.

20. Tag!

As per, I shall let anyone answer these questions. So if you fancy a go, consider yourself tagged!

Book Blogger Confessions Tag

Hi everyone! It has been a couple of months since I’ve done a tag, and was fancying one on this humid (and grey) Scottish morning. I’m not sure who the original creator is – sorry! If anyone does know, leave me a comment down below and I will add their blog here. As usual, I bend the rules of tags, which for this one are:

  • Answer questions truthfully
  • Tag 5 bloggers to do the tag

Whilst I can do rule no.1 no problem, no.2… I shall just leave open. There are so many bloggers that I don’t know who has done this particular tag, so if you haven’t and would like to do it, consider yourself tagged! Now without further ado, let’s get into the questions:

1. Which book, most recently, did you not finish?

This is quite a hard one, as I tend to finish novels even if I’m not loving them. I suppose I cling on to the hope that the second half will be so much better than the first. So instead, I will give you the book that I wish I had DNF’ed:

only ever yours    Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill. It was an interesting premise but bogged down with clunky writing, terrible characters, and a pace so slow a snail would whizz by it. I also found myself getting irritated by the repetition throughout. I understand why it’s used in the novel, but because I didn’t like spending time with these characters it was just so frustrating.

Normally, I tend to look back on books more fondly, forgetting their flaws. Not here. In fact, reflecting on Only Ever Yours makes me realise how damaging the novel is to young girls – despite its warnings about what damages young girls. The main character is portrayed as ‘not like other girls’ whilst secondary ones are portrayed as shallow for liking reality TV. It seems to defeat the purpose of the book.

2. Which book is your guilty pleasure?

the book thief     Is The Book Thief the best novel I’ve ever read? No – it’s probably not even in the Top 10. But I still love it and have loved it for over a decade now. I read it at a certain point in my life when I wasn’t reading as much. I was a young teenager and books/reading were never seen as ‘cool’.  I was also feeling really isolated due to a number of reasons. The Book Thief restored my interest in reading and gave me back one of my main hobbies; it also made me feel less alone. So I always hold fond memories of it. I think it is nostalgia rather than the writing style that makes me enjoy it so.

 

3. Which book do you love to hate?

50 Shades of Grey.png I’ve not even read 50 Shades of Grey, and was completed confused when my friend tried to explain it to me when it first came out. And whilst I have never been tempted to crack open the cover (maybe when I’ve read every single book in existence) that hasn’t stopped me from reading snippets people have posted online. Because I’m a masochist apparently. My favourite part of the novel? The talking ‘gopher’. It took me a couple of re-reads to work out what James meant.

 

 

4. Which book would you throw into the sea?

Tangerine by Christine Mangan  Tangerineis not a bad book. I really enjoyed the plot and suspense of it all. What frustrated me, and thus its getting thrown into the sea, was the writing. Here was a great plot let down by clumsy writing. Mangan at times felt like she had to explain everything to the reader, which ruined the rhythm of the sentence and overall flow of the book. It’s a debut and you can see it in these moments.

Nonetheless, if you like thrillers I’m sure you’ll like Tangerine. There is a lot to enjoy. But in the end it became quite a frustrating read for me.

 

5. Which book have you read the most?

cover.jpg.rendition.320.492Jane EyreWithout a doubt. It is my favourite novel and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read it. All I know is that my copy is now falling apart at the seams because I’ve read it so much.

 

 

 

 

 

6. Which book would you hate to recieve as a gift?

This is a hard one for me. I love many types of books, and there isn’t something I wouldn’t read (apart from 50 Shades of Grey). Even if it is a genre I’m unfamiliar with I would still give it a shot.

With that being said, I wouldn’t like a diet book as a gift. I like cooking and learning new recipes/trying new foods so the content wouldn’t be the problem. It would be the implication. Ditto on self-help books. I don’t know how I would feel if one of friends saw one of them in the shop and went, ‘I know who would be perfect for these!’ For someone to imply I need to lose weight or improve myself…yeah that would get me down. So probably don’t get me one of those.

7. Which book could you not live without?

image

Snarky bitch answer would be: a ‘how to’ manual. But I would probably pick Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. This is a very close second behind Jane Eyre, both in terms of my favourite books and the amount of times I’ve read them.  I love Gothic- inspired stories, and basically anything with a potentially haunted house is a plus for me. Plus Du Maurier’s writing is gorgeous. There are passages I’ve read several times over, just to bask in the word choice and imagery. If stuck on a desert island, I would definitely take this. And maybe that ‘how to’ manual.

8. Which book makes you angriest?

Heroes and Villains There are two contenders for this title. First is the previously mentioned Only Ever Yours. But my anger for that novel only started to brew upon finishing it. Whilst with Heroes & Villains, I was angry from a quarter of the way through. There were times I wanted to throw the book away. I won’t go into details here – mainly because I can feel the anger towards it resurfacing and I don’t want to turn this tag into a rant – but here is my review from earlier this year. It pretty much sums up the many, many problems I had with this book. It is especially disappointing as Carter’s The Bloody Chamber is my favourite short story collection.

 

 

9. Which book made you cry the most?

The Mayor of Casterbridge

This was also a hard one too. Quite a few books have made me cry. To Kill a Mockingbird, The Book Thief, and Lincoln in the Bardo have all caused me to sob. But none of them have made me cry harder than The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy. I can’t even say why – it occurs towards the end of the novel so will be a massive spoiler if I said it. Yes, the story is melodramatic but I adored the characters and just wanted to follow them forever so the ending was emotional. I’m still not convinced it was the best ending for some of these characters but I still love it regardless.

 

10. Which book cover do you hate the most?

Hot take alert: I don’t like the Persephone covers. Those pale grey ones. I think they look so bland, and more like home décor than an actual book. I’ve noticed quite a few Booktubers buy them, but not actually read any of them. Yes, they may look nice and tidy on shelves but if you’re not going to read them what’s the point? Apart from Ana Steele, they are the only people who seem interested in grey.  I’m also not convinced on not using a blurb, with Persephone putting a snippet of the novel on the French flaps instead. I quite like having a couple of lines summing up the plot, it gives me a better idea on whether or not I’ll enjoy it. So…yeah. There’s not specific book for this answer, but a whole collection of them. Sorry.

 

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Versatile Blogger Award

Hi everyone! So a couple of weeks back the lovely Emily from Literary Elephant (whose blog you should check out if you don’t already) tagged me in the Versatile Blogger Award. As WordPress has decided not to sent me notifications, I didn’t notice it right away so I’m doing it now. Sorry Emily! Here are the rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you
2.  Link to the blog of the person who nominated you
3. Share 7 facts about yourself
4. Nominate 15 more bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award

I may have cheated slightly bent the rules in my favour on one of them. But we will come to that in a minute as here are my 7 facts about myself (I’m afraid I’m not the most exciting person so they may be a bit dull!)

  1. I have seen Ralph Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave, Lily James, Derek Jacobi, and David Suchet perform on stage. Not all in the same play – Fiennes and Redgrave in Richard III, James and Jacobi in Romeo & Juliet, and Suchet in The Importance of Being Earnest.
  2.  I enjoy musicals and was a chorus member in my University’s productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita.
  3. At secondary school, I was once locked in the PE locker room by accident and wasn’t noticed missing until the end of the lesson. Missed a whole 45 minutes of hockey. Worth it.
  4. The last place I visited was Madrid (loved it!) but my top three cities are New York, Berlin and Paris. Hopefully I’ll be able to visit them again some day.
  5. I had a poem published in an anthology for secondary school pupils. It was awful.
  6. Despite my love of films, I’ve never attended a film festival. I hope to change that one day.
  7. I have never read an Agatha Christie novel. I have seen film, TV, and stage productions of her novels and really enjoyed them, but never read a single word. This is probably sacrilegious as I run a book blog but it’s true.

And that’s it! My 7 facts. Like I said, I’m not sure how interesting they are but I’m afraid I am a dull person.

Now the bit where I ‘bend’ the rules. As I have no idea who has done this or not, I shall nominate… everyone reading this that hasn’t completed the Versatile Blogger Award! Yes, that means you!

Hope you enjoyed my post; I’m sure everyone can think of more exciting facts than me! Let me know if you do or have done it so I can read your responses.

Marvel Avengers Book Tag

Hi everyone! The last time I did a tag was August 2018 so I’m probably a wee bit overdue, plus rumour has it that next week Avengers: Endgame tickets will be released (fingers crossed!). So what better tag to do than the Marvel Avengers Book Tag?! I spotted this over at Bookishly Brittknee and if you haven’t checked out her blog yet, you really should. I’m not going to tag anyone, but if you fancy answering the questions then go for it!

Iron Man: A book that made you laugh out loud

This is an interesting one as I don’t normally read comedies. It’s not that I don’t enjoy comedy but I often have a hard time sussing out which authors’ humour gels with my own. Saying that, there is one book that springs to mind:

Bridget Jones's Diary I love Bridget Jones’s Diary, the book and the film starring Renee Zellweger. They never cease to make me laugh and whenever I’m feeling down, I reread or rewatch just to cheer myself up. Most people know the plot, following thirty-something Bridget as she navigates her way through life and love in London. I find the story witty, clever and  painfully relatable. Whilst I have read and seen the sequels, nothing quite compares to the original.

Captain America: A book that sends a positive message

Three Things About Elsie

Now to be honest, I never particularly liked Three Things About ElsieI found it too saccharine, too on-the-nose with its themes. Regardless I do think it has a very nice, positive message, the idea that everyone is important in their own way, no matter how small they may feel. In quite cynical times it felt like a breath of fresh air to see positivity, happiness and kindness celebrated unreservedly. Does this mean I have changed my mind about how the book was written? No. But I do appreciate the message Cannon was getting across in the novel.

Thor: A book with a character’s strength you admire

cover.jpg.rendition.320.492Jane Eyre. I adore Jane, ever since I read Bronte’s novel as a 13-year-old, shy school child. Her inner strength is admirable and was a massive influence to me during my teenage years. The idea not to lose yourself, who you are and your beliefs, no matter how tempting it is or how futile your efforts feel, was extremely important to me, and I still reread this book every so often. Mainly to remind myself that strength doesn’t always manifest itself in physical power, or who can speak the loudest and longest. The strongest person in the room could be the one no one notices.

Black Widow: A book with a kick ass female protagonist

I may have cheated on this one. Whenever I see the phrase ‘kick ass’ my mind instantly goes to action figures. This person doesn’t necessarily fall into that category but I reckon she could be pretty kick ass if she wants to be.

Gone with the Wind  Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind might be one of the best characters I’ve ever read.  Feisty, stubborn, childish, spoilt, brave… there are numerous adjectives to describe her and she is both lovable and detestable during the novel. Funny enough, she could also have been included in the last question as she is also an incredibly strong character. Gone With the Wind was one of my favourite books last year, and Scarlett was a major reason for its’ inclusion in that list.

Hulk: A book that made you incredibly angry

Out of all the questions in this tag, this was the hardest one to answer. Because some books made me incredibly angry on purpose, for example the injustice in To Kill a Mockingbird. There are other books which made me angry yet had some good qualities, even if I disliked the overall novel (Only Ever Yours). But there is one book which the more I think about, the more I detest:

vinegar girl I’m going to leave my review for Vinegar Girl here. Be warned, I do spoil the ending at the bottom of the post, but there is a wee note beforehand. The book is lazy, filled with clichés that made me roll my eyes so hard I’m surprised they’re still in their sockets. Just really bad writing and characterisation. But the thing that tipped me over to hating the book was the ending. It went in a direction I could not support, and would never endorse. A character behaves in the most appalling ways and is applauded for it, even supposed to be cheered on by the reader. For a romantic comedy, the novel felt more like a horror, leaving me feel a bit queasy.

Hawkeye: An underrated book you think more people should pay attention to

 Montpelier ParadeGiven that Montpelier Parade was nominated for Best Debut Novel at the Costa Book Awards in 2017, I’m probably playing fast and loose with the term ‘underrated’ here. But I never saw many people discuss it on blogs, youtube, or twitter so I’m counting it. Set in Dublin, our protagonist is Sonny, a 16-year-old whose live is turned upside down when he begins a friendship with an older woman. A beautiful, haunting debut and one that left me emotional by the final page. Definitely check this out if you like quiet dramas, or if you want one last book to sneak in for the Irish Readathon.

Loki: A book with a twist or surprise that tricked you

the little stranger  I’m not going to spoil the book for you; instead I shall say I loved The Little Stranger when I first read it and I continue to think about it nearly 2 years after reading it. Whilst the film version with Domhnall Gleeson and Ruth Wilson is good, nothing can quite beat the book. Set just after the Second World War, Dr Faraday is called to a crumbling manor to see to an ill maid. He befriends the owners, the Ayres family, and quickly becomes their confidante. However, strange and sinister things start to happen in the house. Is it a ghost? And that’s all I shall say; I won’t even tell you where the twist is in the book.

 

And that’s it! Hope you enjoyed the tag and my answers. Let me know in the comments below if you agree (or disagree) with any of my choices.

The Secret Life of a Book Blogger Tag

Hi everyone! This is a first for me as whilst I love reading people’s answers to tags, I have never actually done one myself. But I saw this on Brunching Bookworms (and you should follow them as they’re amazing) and I couldn’t help myself. So without further rambling let’s get on with the questions.

1. How long have you been blogging?

Random Book Reviews Web started in May 2017 so about a year and 3 months. However I did run a Tumblr years ago. At the time I thought I was being quite non-conformist and edgy, but in hindsight I was a spotty schoolgirl reblogging Van Gogh paintings and philosophy quotes, thinking I was ‘deep’. Cringe.

2. At what point do you think you’ll stop blogging?

I don’t have any immediate plans to stop blogging, but I reckon when it stops being fun I’ll probably quit. I don’t see the point in continuing something just for the sake of it.

3. What is the best thing about blogging?

The community. I know everyone says that but it’s true. It’s fun to chat with fellow book lovers, especially since I don’t know that many readers in my real life, plus I love getting recommendations or discovering books I had never heard of.

sunflowers
Nothing says ‘edgy’ like sunflowers     National Gallery, London

4. What is the worst thing? What do you do to make it okay?

My harshest critic is myself. I get really annoyed with myself if I miss a deadline for a blog post- even though there is no ‘deadline’ per say and it’s just a random date I decided I would publish on. Two recent examples were when I wasn’t feeling well and when my laptop broke down. On both occasions I panicked my content wouldn’t upload on a certain date, despite knowing no one would notice or care if I skipped a day. I think this needs to be a goal for 2019: worry less!

5. How long does it take you to make/find pictures to use?

Since the vast majority of my pictures are book covers, probably less than 5 minutes. However I do have a post coming up which will require a bit more photography prowess on my part. Which is going to be…interesting.

6. Who is your book crush?

Rochester is pretty much my go-to answer, I love his character and the novel. Though a recent one might be Lenny from Linda Grant’s The Dark Circle; despite having some problems with the ending I thought Lenny’s character arc was beautiful and touching.

7. What author would you like to have on your blog?

I’m going to split this into dead and alive authors but to be honest there’s so many I couldn’t possibly name them all.

Dead: Daphne du Maurier and George Orwell. Both helped me get back into reading as a teenager, and their books still have an effect on me despite multiple rereads. Also I would quite like to know Orwell’s thoughts on the current political climate.

Alive: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I adore all of her novels, with Purple Hibiscus being one of my favourite books. I just find them brimming with humanity, with some moments warm and witty while others just heartbreaking. I can’t wait to read her next novel.

the dark circle
Lenny still fav after over a year book blogging

8. What do you wear when you write your blog posts?

It depends. On weekdays probably jeans and a shirt and on weekends, in all honesty, I’m probably in my PJs.

9. How long does it take you to prepare?

Again it depends. I usually write notes while I’m reading so I don’t forget later on. I then collate my notes to try and form coherent thoughts. I also normally edit a post a couple of times before publishing it so, excluding the reading/note taking time, on average about 2 hours.

10. How do you feel about the book blogging community?

I think I answered this in question 3, but I’ve found everyone really friendly and welcoming.

11. What do you think one should do to get a successful blog?

I’m definitely the wrong person to answer this question. I think if you start a blog purely for monetary gain/internet fame/free stuff/material gains you’ll be disappointed.

Other than that, I would say just be yourself, which I know is quite naff advice. For example I was terrified of reviewing Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl. I loathed that book (still do) and I knew Tyler had a large fanbase and is a really respected, prolific author. I was worried people would judge me for not liking it, which I know is silly. But I decided to be honest and it became one of my most read and liked reviews of 2017! So yeah, even if you think you have an unpopular opinion about a book, just share it anyway – people prefer it if you were honest about your opinions rather than hiding them.

vinegar girl
Do. Not. Read. This. Book.

And that’s all the questions! Sorry this is a lot longer than I anticipated. I won’t tag anyone but instead leave it open if others want to join in!