Thursday 29 September 2016

Stasia: By the Book.

I know this is a beloved feature that The New York Times has been doing for some time, but I actually only heard about it when Jillian did her own version on her blog a few weeks ago. I've since read quite a few of the ones on The New York Times's website and it seemed like a fun idea to choose a few questions from some of them and make my own so here we are!

What books are currently on your nightstand?
I don't actually have a nightstand. What I do have is a pile of books on the floor next to my bed, which is my immediate TBR pile, and the book I'm currently reading is usually hanging around on my bed or on my desk. Right now I'm reading Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan and the books on the pile next to my bed are The Wind in the Willows, Career of Evil, Northanger Abbey, Six of Crows, and The Mists of Avalon.

Which genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?
I used to read almost exclusively young adult contemporary romance novels, and still have a real soft spot for them, but I'm really enjoying more classics and fantasy at the moment. The only things I really tend to avoid are horror and erotica, but I mean, I'll try pretty much any genre once.

Which writers - novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets - working today do you admire most?
Rainbow Rowell immediately springs to mind because she seems to have this fearlessness that I really admire when it comes to the different genres and age groups she writes in. It really seems like she can turn her hand to almost anything and it will be fantastic. Also, J.K. Rowling, obviously. To have written the most successful book series of a generation and then not succumb to the, I would think, almost inevitable fear of following that up but instead keep going in a completely different genre, must have taken a lot of guts. Clearly, the ability to write across genres is something I admire a lot.

You're hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?
Ernest Hemingway, Jane Austen, and William Shakespeare. It could be a disaster but who wouldn't want to say they've had dinner with any of those three? Alternatively, I think Rainbow Rowell, Meg Cabot, Maureen Johnson, and I would all just genuinely have a great time. So either or.

What's your ideal reading scenario? Paper, electronic, late at night, morning, in the tub?
Definitely paper. I do read on my iPad and I think it's great, especially for travelling, but you can't beat a real book. I tend to read mostly in bed before I go to sleep and when I'm in the bath, but my absolute favourite place and time to read is in the garden, in the early evening, in the middle of summer.

Who is your favourite fictional hero or heroine? Your favourite antihero or villain?
After all this time I think my favourite hero is still Harry Potter. It might sound nuts, but I kind of think he's underrated a little bit. I think people concentrate on the surrounding characters a lot more and sometimes forget this tiny child at the centre of it all who constantly throws himself into the fight and willingly walks to his own death to save the world. I don't think you can get more heroic than that. As for villain? I guess I'll go for Voldemort. You can't have one without the other, after all.

What kind of reader were you as a child? Your favourite book? Most beloved character?
Determined. I remember finding out that one of the boys in my class was reading books from a higher level than me when I was about five and literally telling my mum that I wanted to be better than him at reading. I aimed way too high, trying to read Lord of the Rings when I was nine, actually reading About a Boy when I was ten, and mum used to complain that I was reading books faster than she could buy them. I succeeded though. I mean, I don't know if I ended up being a better reader than the boy in my class, but at age 11 I apparently had the reading age of a 16+ year old, so that was good enough for me. I loved Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling, Lemony Snicket, Meg Cabot, and Jacqueline Wilson, but clearly I would read pretty much anything I could get my hands on. I don't know about most beloved character but I did choose to be Ron every time I played Harry Potter with my friends at lunchtime.

What books might people be surprised to find on your shelves?
I don't think it would be at all surprising to people who know me well, but I am slowly gaining somewhat of a collection of Arthurian literature. Also, I have the first nine Torchwood tie-in novels. Again, probably not a surprise to people who know me well.

What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?
So many. Most of them classics. All of Jane Austen's novels, which is why I'm taking part in the Austentatious book club, and Catch-22, which I borrowed from my dad like ten years ago and still haven't read, are right at the top. Also, my mum bought me a really beautiful Folio Society edition of The Railway Children when I was a child because I loved the movie and I still haven't read that either.

Whom would you want to write your life story?
Oscar Wilde. Go big or go home, right?

What do you plan to read next?
The Wind in the Willows. I'm seeing the stage play next month and I really want to read the book first.


Tuesday 27 September 2016

Signed books.

I'm not generally of the inclination to collect autographs, but there is something undeniably special about having an object signed by the person (or people) who created it and, of course, it's even more special if there is a story behind the signature. Watching Jean's video about her signed books collection recently got me thinking about my own, so that's what today's post is all about!

The Ring of Words edited by Roger McGough and Bad, Bad Cats by Roger McGough

For most of my young childhood my mum worked as a manager in a hotel and I used to read a lot of children's poetry as a child. So, of course, when Roger McGough was staying at the hotel, mum took the opportunity to ask him to sign a couple of his poetry collections for me.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This one, I know, almost everyone has. John Green signed every single copy of the first run (and possibly others? I'm not entirely sure) of The Fault in Our Stars and it came out at a time when the Vlogbrothers and Nerdfighteria were a huge part of my life. To some extent they still are, I still enjoy John's books and I recently started listening to the podcast Dear Hank and John, but I'm far less in the community than I once was. Still, this is a really nice reminder of a time when I used to watch every Vlogbrothers video and sneak around bookshops, leaving nerdfighter notes in John's books.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

There is absolutely no story to this one, honestly. I won this book and signed bookplate in a competition last year. I haven't read Illuminae or anything else by either of these authors yet, but I am certain that I will enjoy Illuminae when I do get around to it and then I will be very grateful to have this signed copy of the book.

The Lily-Livered Prince by Christopher William Hill

The last two Octobers I have attended a children's book festival with some of the children from my old primary school, where my mum is now the chair of governors, and both years I have seen Christopher William Hill speak. I haven't read any of his books yet but he is always so funny and engaging with all the children that when, last year, mum asked if I wanted her to buy me any of the books on offer that day and get them signed I immediately chose one of his. When mum asked him to sign it for her daughter and explained that she would be giving it to me as a birthday present, Christopher William Hill asked how old her daughter was and when she said '24' he was apparently a little worried that I wouldn't actually like the book. Mum assured him that I had chosen it myself after having seen him speak and he said that in that case, he would have to include an extra little comment: 'Hope you enjoy this terrible tale!'

Five Minutes' Peace by Jill Murphy

Jill Murphy is sort of a friend of a friend (or a couple of friends, actually. In fact, the Large family of this book is actually based on the family of a childhood friend of mine) and I met her a few times when I was very young. The first time was when she came in to school to talk to us about being a writer. I think that was the first time I ever really realised that all the books I loved so much had been written by real people, and that being a writer was something you could actually do. She told us about the first 'book' she ever wrote when she was a child, and she signed our books, and clearly she sparked something in me because lord knows I've been trying to write a book ever since.

The Forgotten and The Wandering by Saruuh Kelsey

The Forgotten and The Wandering are particularly special because Saruuh is a close friend of mine. I see her work on all of her novels, I help her check for spelling errors, and every time I look at my little stack of her books I am so filled with pride for her making her dreams happen.

The History Boys by Alan Bennett

Now, this one's a little different because, as you can see, it isn't actually signed by the writer. The History Boys is probably my favourite play and, knowing this, my friend Kate bought me a copy of the script for my 21st birthday and got it signed by Samuel Barnett, who played Posner in the original run and in the film, when she saw him in a different play in London. Then, earlier this year, Kate bought tickets for us both to go and see Jamie Parker, who played Scripps, in Guys and Dolls, with the express idea that afterwards we would try and meet him at the stage door and get him to sign the book too, which we did. I also have a signed postcard of Samuel Anderson (Crowther) from another friend, that I keep with the book too. The aim is to slowly collect the signatures of all of the Boys, but I think James Corden might be a harder get these days...


Sunday 25 September 2016

A few of my favourite blogs.

I tend to fall in and out of love with blogs a little bit, both writing and reading, but I'm very much in love at the moment and while I am I thought now would be a great time to share just a few of the blogs that I am always in love with, no matter how I'm feeling about the rest of the blogging world.

Also, I am immediately seeing that the post dates in all of these screen shots are going to reveal how far in advance I'm writing posts at the moment but that is just how sure I am that I will still love all of these blogs weeks from now.

Rhianne's blog is dedicated to her film photography and her pictures always remind me why film is so magical. For the easily distracted... was 100% my motivation to pick up my 35mm camera again.

Recent post recs:
204-208 366 Project
194-198 366 Project
Day 145: Rabat and Mdina

Jillian has such a way with words, and her posts always feel like memories you're sharing with her rather than just reading about. It's a talent I wish I could learn!

Recent post recs:
Cape Cod Year Four
Jillian Denning: By the Book

Olivia's photographs are out of this world. They're always so dreamy and beautiful and they totally make me want to up my photography game by about 1000%.

Recent post recs:
While the World Speeds Up, I Slow Down
Chasing Stars | Night Sky Photography
A Castle by the Sea | Bridal Editorial at Caerhays Castle

Alex's blog is just gorgeous. On Serpentine Shores is one of those blogs whose posts I always leave for last when I'm catching up on my bloglovin' feed so that I can truly savour them.

Recent post recs:
De La Mer
Let's Get Lost
Freedom Fields

Jennie's posts are sometimes very short and sweet and sometimes long and deep but always, always beautiful.

Recent post recs:
I haven't ever been a small person.
Five for Friday
In This Moment

Beth's blog was, until recently, one of my favourite book blogs, but now she has started to branch out more into lifestyle posts so The Quiet People can be one of my favourite book blogs and one of my favourite lifestyle blogs. Neat.

Recent post recs:
Bake Off Bake Along #1: Lemon Drizzle Cake
The Great Book Buying Ban 2016
Bronte Month | Agnes Grey | Anne Bronte

Last but by absolutely no means least is possibly my favourite blog of all at the moment. This is the other blog whose posts I always save until I can give them my full attention. When I'm reading Sarah's posts I can have absolutely no distraction from her spellbinding words or pictures. Honestly, I just recommend every single one of her posts.

Recent post recs:
Confessions of an Internet-Avoider: Why I Struggle with Being Online
A Letter to August: Bonfire Tales
Mythical West Cornwall: Lands End & The Merry Maidens

These are by no means all of my favourite blogs but I think they'll do for today.


Thursday 22 September 2016

Mount Edgcumbe and Kingsand.

Mount Edgcumbe Country Park Cornwall

I'm scheduling this post a few weeks in advance so I can only imagine that by the time it's actually published we will be fully into pumpkin spice season and these pictures will be a lovely little reminder that we did have a summer once, however long ago I'm sure it will seem to me by then.

These are all from the August bank holiday Monday, which I spent exploring Mount Edgcumbe and the surrounding area with my parents and getting a spectacular sunburn on my shoulders (factor 50 everywhere else but I forgot to get someone to do my back. Rookie mistake.) 

Mount Edgcumbe Country Park Cornwall

Mount Edgcumbe Country Park Cornwall

There's a lot to see in the Mount Edgcumbe Country Park. We spent hours there and I don't think we saw even half of it. There is a fee to get in the house but the grounds are completely free and from the formal gardens to the coastal walk, there is certainly enough to keep you busy all day. We actually didn't even see the house.

Mount Edgcumbe Country Park Cornwall

Mount Edgcumbe Country Park Cornwall

Mount Edgcumbe Country Park Cornwall
I want one of these in my garden. Pink and all.

Mount Edgcumbe Country Park Cornwall

You can see Plymouth from the coastal path at Mount Edgcumbe, beyond all the boats and from an angle I'd never seen it from before, but my favourite part of the park was probably the Italian garden. I'll definitely be heading towards more of the formal gardens if I go again.

Mount Edgcumbe Country Park Cornwall

Mount Edgcumbe Country Park Cornwall

Mount Edgcumbe Country Park Cornwall

After we left Mount Edgcumbe we stopped off at Kingsand and Cawsand. Kingsand and Cawsand are twin villages near the border between Devon and Cornwall. So near in fact that Kingsand used to be in Devon and Cawsand in Cornwall until the boundaries were changed in the 19th century and both become part of Cornwall.

Kingsand Cawsand Cornwall

Kingsand Cawsand Cornwall

We didn't go into Cawsand but Kingsand is a beautiful seaside village, every part what you might think of when you think 'Cornish village'. The clock tower suffered a lot of damage in storms a few years ago but it has since been completely restored and there was certainly no sign of any bad weather the day that we were there!

Kingsand Cawsand Cornwall

Kingsand Cawsand Cornwall

We sort of stopped at Whitsand Bay on the way home (literally, we just stopped in a tiny car park at the side of the road) but decided not to walk all the way down to the beach because, well, it was already getting to the end of the day, and I didn't much like the prospect of walking back up again. Maybe next time.



Tuesday 20 September 2016

Britney Spears Book Tag.

Bee over at Vivatramp did this tag a few weeks ago and as soon as I saw the title I knew I had to do it myself. Britney Spears and books? That is everything I loved as a young teen. It's a pretty long tag so if you don't mind, I'm just going to get straight on with it!

Mickey Mouse Club
A book you read as a child that sparked your love of reading

Okay so my first book is actually an audiobook. I used to listen to this tape of Danny the Champion of the World over and over again as a child. I would put on side A to listen to as I fell asleep and if I woke up in the middle of the night I would flip it over to side B and do the same again. Really any of Roald Dahl's books could have worked for this one (or Jacqueline Wilson's for that matter) but Danny is always the one I think of first when I think about when I started to love stories.

Oops, I read it again!
A book that you love to re-read

As you can probably guess from the numerous creases on the cover, this copy of Avalon High is extremely well loved. I'm pretty sure I've read it more than any other book I own and I have a friend who has borrowed it more than once too.

Jamie Lynn
A book that looks really similar to another book

While these two aren't exactly the same there is a definite similarity to the design of Campari for Breakfast and Where'd You Go, Bernadette.

A severely underrated book

I don't really understand why Born Confused isn't seen as a classic YA novel. It's beautifully written and I can only assume that maybe the way it explores issues like cultural appropriation was a little ahead of its time when it came out in 2002. I would love for it to reach a wider audience now though because it really blew me away when I finally read it a couple of years ago.

Justin Timberlake
A book you can't get over

I finally read Purple Hibiscus as part of Read Women Month in June and I have not been able to stop thinking about it since. The story, the setting, the way it was written, I just loved it all. I need to get the rest of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's books immediately.

A book with an older character you secretly want to make out with

Okay so I might be cheating a little bit with this one but thanks to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Ron Weasley is now officially older than me and totally counts.

The Onyx Hotel
A book you quit half way through

Twice I tried to read The Library of Shadows and twice I failed. I did better the second time but something about this book and me just doesn't work.

The book you most regret bringing into your life

I hate The Time Traveler's Wife and I don't want to talk about it.

Barefoot in the Bathroom
A dirty book

At first I thought I didn't actually have a book for this one but then I remembered The Vincent Boys. I won The Vincent Boys along with a pile of other books from Hot Key in a twitter competition a while ago. I did read it but, although I can see why a lot of people like it, it's definitely not for me.

The Cheeto
A book with an orange cover

Every Day has probably the most orange cover I have ever seen on a book.

A book that was tough to get through

I started reading Le Morte d'Arthur before I went to university, took a three year break in the middle, and then finally dedicated myself to finishing it after I finished uni. It was written in the 15th century so it's just a little dense. Malory feels the need to list every single knight who is present at every single battle. And there are a lot of battles.

'Gimme More'
A book that should have had a sequel/series

I actually feel like I've heard somewhere that Sofia Khan is Not Obliged is getting a sequel but I'm really excited by that prospect and I can't think of any other book that I think should have a sequel more.

A book that kept you up all night

Now that I'm a little older I can better see the flaws with these books but as a teenager in the height of my Twilight obsession, I spent many a school night sitting up in bed until 2am with the House of Night series.

A book featuring a love triangle

I know To All the Boys I've Loved Before technically had a love triangle but in my opinion that love triangle was nothing compared to the one in P.S. I Still Love You. I think this is the only book I've ever read where I was on the side of both guys at the same time.

A book you thought was really cool

Lorali is really unique and definitely super cool.

'Work Bitch'
An inspirational book

I've read quite a few books on writing but Becoming a Writer is hands down the most useful and inspirational of them all. I really recommend it to anyone who considers themselves a writer.