Birthday bookish wishlist

Hello all you lovely bloggers! Did you know that one week tomorrow we will be celebrating a truly momentous day in bookaholic history?  The day that saw the birth of a person who may one day end up completely swallowed up  by all the books that she’s been unable to resist buying even though she really can’t afford them? That’s right, on the 12th of May it will be my birthday!! Can I get a woo hoo?! Okay, so I really can’t pull that off but what I am hoping I can pull off is that my birthday bookish wishes will be fulfilled and I’ll be lucky enough to get the books I’ve been dreaming of for months.

Just like with Christmas, my friends and family are always too scared to buy me books without a list given the amount of books I buy on a near constant basis. So I have had to be uber strong and resist buying certain books until now. It hasn’t been easy – in fact it has been a nightmare – but now thankfully, the wait is almost over!

The top books on my birthday wishlist are…

1. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor – The last in the trilogy in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, this one was a no brainer for inclusion in the list. I have been DYING to read this one ever since turning the last page in Days of Blood and Starlight!  Seeing it everywhere in the bookshops and hearing people talking about it in the blogosphere has been pretty tough but so far I have been able to resist. I’m not a violent person but it has been made pretty clear that if I don’t see this one on the 12th of May there will be consequences of epic proportions!

2. Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong – Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series was one of the first supernatural series that I really fell in love with so I was really excited when I found out that she was starting an all new series. This one tells the story of twins, Moira and Ashyn, who act as the Keeper and the Seeker in the Forest of the Dead – their jobs to quiet the enraged souls of the damned. But this time the souls don’t want to be quieted and an ancient evil is about to be unleashed….Ooooh, thrilling stuff am I right? Can’t wait to read it!

3. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige – This is one I first saw mentioned on the blogs last year, I think, and have been really excited to read it ever since. I’m not even really sure why I haven’t read it before now! When I was reading the first few lines of the synopsis at first I thought this would just be yet another Oz story – girl is sucked into Oz through a tornado and must find a way home. But then Danielle Paige threw in the twist that Oz was not the Oz in the stories we’re all familiar with – Dorothy has become a dictator who must be stopped. In short, Dorothy Must Die. I really liked the twist in this tale and I’m always a huge fan of stories of revolution too!

4. The River of No Return by Bee Ridgeway – Another one I came across on the blogs and added instantly to my Amazon wishlist. This is a story of time travel – Lord Nicholas Falcott is one minute about to die on a battlefield in Spain in the 19th century and the next jumped forward in time to the 21st century where he is unable to go home but taken in by the mysterious Guild. Nicholas adapts well to his new life until the day he’s summoned by the Guild and sent back to the 19th century to help a woman hunted by shady enemies due to a secret entrusted to her by her grandfather – time travel. I rarely read time travel books because they can get confusing and make my head hurt but this one, with it’s element of period drama, really appealed to me so I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

5. Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder – This is the second book in the Avry of Kazan trilogy and after really enjoying the first one I was keen to see what happens next. Will Avry be able to stop the army of the dead? Will she be reunited with her family and lover, Kerrick?? I have to know!!

6. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – The first book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder, was one I read purely based on the the raving reviews here in the blogosphere. It wasn’t my usual kind of book at all and if it hadn’t been for all of you lovely people I probably would never have read it. I am so glad that I did because it was amazing! I’ve heard this next one isn’t just as good but I can’t wait to get my hands on it anyway to find out what’s going to happen!

 

So what about you? What books are you all dying to get your hands on next?

Race for Life: Cancer Research UK

Okay so this is incredibly cheeky and not at all book related but it is for a verrrrry good cause and I promise to write a book related post later! But I’ve recently started getting back into my running again and to celebrate that, and help raise money for charity, I’m running a 5k race on Sunday 18th May. I’m running in the Cancer Research UK event, Race for Life because unfortunately I know too many people who’ve lost someone to this horrid disease and I want to play my part in helping them find a cure.

Now, until a few weeks ago I’d hardly been running for months so the chances are pretty good that I’ll collapse halfway and have to finish the event through a pathetic hands and knees crawl, but I’ll do my best! I appreciate just how tight things are for everyone right now and to be honest, I’m not really sure how an international donation would work, but if you could spare even the very smallest amount for this very worthy cause I would be eternally grateful. And if not, I would also appreciate you all keeping your fingers and toes crossed on the day that I don’t completely embarass myself on the day and trip over or something! Because trust me, that is a very real possibility!

If you can and are willing, you can sponsor me here.

Thank you in advance for any donations and positive thoughts, and sorry for being so cheeky in asking!

The Power of Books: Everyday sexism by Laura Bates

Every now and again a book comes along that really socks you between the eyes and forces you sit up and take notice – for me that book was everyday sexism by Laura Bates. Everyone within a 10 mile radius of me while I was reading this book was subjected to one outrageous story of sexism or unbelievable statistic after another and as I have this blog, I now get to share this experience with all you lovely people as well! You might be getting a bit worried now that I’m about to go off on a feminist rant here (you might be right about that!) but the issues discussed in this book are crucial for all of us, women and men, to consider so bare with me!

A journalist from the UK, Laura Bates was prompted to ask the question ‘Is it just me?’ on Facebook and Twitter after experiencing one sexist incident after another. The response to her question was overwhelming with responses flooding in from women (and men) all over the world and as a result of this massive outpouring of stories, the ‘everyday sexism’ project was formed to help share these stories, and help to inspire change.

Now, I’m not an idiot. I knew that sexism still existed and I could certainly have pointed out a few examples from my own life – either that I’ve experienced or witnessed – but if I’m being perfectly honest until I read this book, I don’t think I really grasped the true extent of just how much sexism, and the severity of it, that still exists in this supposedly advanced, modern age.

The book covers all sorts of topics such as women in the public sphere, women in politics, women in the workplace, the influence of sexism on young girls, double discrimination, motherhood… all aspects of our lives and the roles that we play. Each chapter starts off with vital statistics before going on to share the stories of real women from the project and the  more I read the more horrified I became.

I won’t bombard you with a whole post of examples from the book but here are some highlights:

  • In 2013, just 20% of parliamentary seats in the world were held by women and 19 of the world’s 196 countries had female leaders.
  • In 2012, in the UK girls as young as five, yes that’s right FIVE, were worrying about their weight.
  • Again in the UK, almost 70% of female university students in 2010 had experienced verbal or non-verbal harassment in or around their institution. A situation no doubt encouraged by the fact that during what we call ‘Freshers Week’ in the UK, many universities held welcome events with charming names like ‘Geeks and Sluts’.
  • 84% of front-page articles focused on male subjects or male experts in 2012 and of the 100 most successful films of 2013, only 28% of the speaking parts were female.
  • If you’re in the mood for some disgusting songs about women or maybe even a song suggestive of rape, you might want to try some of these shockingly successful songs – Blurred Lines, Rack City, U.O.E.N.O, Hold On, We’re Going Home and The Show Must Go On. Apparently the videos for the last 2 are just charming!

And I swear these are the last two!

  • The average female executive earns approximately $423,000 less over the course of her life than a male colleague on an identical career path.
  • In  2007 if you were a woman in the UK with a child under the age of 11 you were 45% less likely to be employed than a man.

These statistics are just a brief look at the scale of the problem that still exists and the stories of the women in this book are both terrifying and heartbreaking! I had such a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that this situation still exists in the 21st century!

What Laura is keen to point out is that isn’t a ‘man vs woman’ problem – in no way is she implying that all men are sexist or that they don’t themselves experience sexism. This is a ‘people vs prejudice’ problem. Everyone, to varying degrees, is affected by these issues and we all have to work together if we have any hope of overcoming them. This book should be compulsory reading in schools and for all of us. This is one of those books that’s not just a good read (though it is) but is actually important. Reading it really matters and could really make a difference.

So please don’t just dismiss this and think ‘It’s just a feminist book, it’s not for me’ or ‘Sexism isn’t that bad anymore!’. Please just read this because I guarantee it will be an eye opener and you might just be helping to change things for the better!

 

Anyone else read this book? Or are there any other books that have really made you sit up and take notice like this?

 

If you can’t say anything nice…

Last month I read a blog post on 101 Books about an interview that author, A.S Byatt had given a few years ago where she basically was not only insulting J.K Rowling but also those of us who read her work. Yes, apparently we’re all total idiots who can’t handle anything deeper than a trashy tv show or cartoon! Not that she’s actually read any of J.K’s work, of course. And then my friend sent me an article where another writer said that J.K. Rowling ‘sucked the oxygen from the entire publishing and reading atmosphere’ and that she shouldn’t be trying to venture into another genre when she was already so successful. J.K’s venture into crime was supposedly stopping other writers from being successful. Seriously??!

Now, I don’t have a problem with people not liking an author or series that I like – we all have our own tastes after all – and I’m even prepared to overlook the fact that they’re clearly making snap judgements based on things like media reports or popularity levels, rather than the actual content of the books themselves. Who hasn’t formed an opinion at one time or another based on very little actual evidence? We’re only human after all.

What bothers me about these authors mouthing off about J.K Rowling (and other popular authors like her) in the press  – is that no one seems to have taught these people that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. That might seem hypocritical from a blogger who isn’t afraid to share her opinion on here but I’m not a world renowned, award-winning, well respected, professional and successful author speaking in the national press about another author for no apparent reason.

I don’t know if A S Byatt was maybe asked her opinion of J.K Rowling or not and that’s what lead to that article but the simple way to get out of that would have been to simply say she hadn’t read any of her work so couldn’t comment. So why did she feel the need to say these things? She doesn’t need the publicity for herself. She isn’t a struggling author jealous of the success of Harry Potter. Is it snobbery perhaps? Does she not think JK is ‘literary’ enough? There does, after all, seem to be a snobbery in certain areas of the book world when it comes to things like awards, for example. I’m sure that the books nominated for the prestigious literary awards that exist are all well-deserving of the honour but it does often seem, in recent years anyway, that unless there’s a heavy-hitting issue in the book, it doesn’t get nominated. Even if the book is beautifully written and truly unique or imaginative. So maybe A.S Byatt belongs to that camp.

As for the crime writer who believes that J.K should stay out of her genre and give other writers a chance… does she really think that writers should stop after a certain level of success to give other writers a chance? Would she follow that advice herself? Or is it more realistic that her books haven’t come close to the level of success that J.K has achieved and she’s scared of the extra competition?

But basically my point, at the end of this very long and all over the place rant, is that these two writers are supposed to be professionals and grown-ups, and instead of acting like it, they’re taking the chance to bitch about a fellow writer to the press. And in the case of A.S Byatt, insult her fans as well. No matter what line of work you’re in, there will always be people that, for one reason or another, you just don’t like, but if you’re a professional, you would never dream of throwing a hissy-fit tantrum and bitching about them to the wider public (maybe just to your friends!). All that these writers have succeeded in doing is to show themselves in a very poor light and most likely put a lot of people – myself included – off ever reading any more of their work. Nice work, ladies! Now why don’t you grow up and remember that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!

Reading, reading and more reading!

Okay so you may have noticed I’ve been MIA from the blogosphere for quite a wee while now – if you’re still interested in reading my blog after my prolonged absence, a great big thanks to you for bearing with me, and if not, then I don’t blame you! If you’ve read any of my earlier posts over the last few months you might remember that I’ve been having a lot of dental issues – basically I’m a dental mystery who has ‘flummoxed’ the dental health profession. I’ve had numerous treatments including getting a wisdom tooth out and still the problem continues so next up is Uber Important Specialist types so fingers crossed I get some answers soon!

Anyhoo, I didn’t venture back on here to moan about my dental problems – phew, I can hear you all saying! I thought as I’ve been out of it for a while a good place to start is always to catch you up with some of what I’ve been reading and see if you have any literary treats I can add to my wishlist.

So we start with…

The Good

1. Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder – This is the first in a series and my first encounter with Maria V. Snyder.  It didn’t disappoint. Avry of Kazan is a healer living in hiding as her kind are blamed for a mysterious plague which swept the land. After she’s arrested, she is broken out of prison by a group of strangers who want her to help heal their prince. This was a very quick and easy read but the characters were still very well thought out and believable, and while there is a love story brewing in the background it’s certainly not the main point of the story. It’s exciting, intriguing and sets up the rest of the series well. Can’t wait to find out what happens next!

2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer – Another first in a series and another one that I was introduced to by many of  you lovely bloggers. I would never have thought  I would be interested in, let alone, really, REALLY love a story which takes the classic story of Cinderella and puts it into a futuristic New Bejing where Cinderella is Cinder, a talented mechanic and cyborg. Throw in an impending invasion from an evil queen and a violent struggle, and you’ve got the makings of a really gripping series which I am soooo grateful to all you bloggers out there who introduced me to it. I’m not a sci-fi girl and I would totally  have missed this one without you!

3. Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod – This was a book I came across totally by chance when my friend and I were looking at travel guides to Paris for our trip that we plan to make in September. It was a total impulse buy and the first time in a long time that I bought a book that I didn’t even read the reviews for! Gasp, I hear you all say! I cannot say how much I loved this book! It’s a true story – Janice was stuck working as a copy-writer in America and hated it so she saved for a year and quit her job. The plan was to travel around Europe and then who knows, but in Paris, she met her soul-mate and though she did travel around, she later moved to Paris. Now, an artist, you can subscribe to her amazing, beautiful watercolour letters each month where she paints a different scene from Paris and writes about life there. You should check out her blog here! It’s a slice of Paris life in your letter box every month!

4. The Vintage Girl by Hester Browne – Another impulse buy, this time when I saw it cheap in the supermarket and was having a bad day. It’s the story of Evie who works in an antiques shop and is invited to a castle in Scotland to assess the price of their heirlooms. If you’re looking for a thought-provoking read this ain’t the book for you but if you like candelit dances in Scottish castles, a handsome and cynical heir to the estate and an easy to like heroine, then you could do a lot worse!

The Disappointment

5. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – I feel like I’m saying nasty things about my best friend behind her back when I say this and I know a lot of you will disagree but I just couldn’t warm up to this one. I really wanted to after loving Fangirl so much but it just didn’t connect with me the same way.

Currently Reading

6. The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty – Another one I came across on the blogs, this one is definitely unique. Zoe has just moved back to New York after a disastrous experience in her last job and ends up working for a publishing company but this is no ordinary publishing company. This publishing company is working on a travel guide to New York for all the supernatural creatures of the world. Something tells me things could get messy!

To Read 

7. A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller – A period drama featuring among other things, a young girl posing nude and getting kicked out of finishing school, secret applications to the Royal College of Art, the suffrage movement and true love. Count me in!

8. Come to the Edge by Joanna Kavenna – A community taking up arms and embarking on full-on revolution against all the middle-class bankers buying second homes in the countryside and ruining their communities. A black comedy about locals trying to take back their communities. This one has been on my wishlist for a while so it’s about time I read it!

9. Angel’s Blood by Nalini Singh – Vampire hunters, angels, vampires, seductions… need I say more?

10. The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris – I will admit to being shallow here and say that the first thing that attracted me to this book was its pretty cover. But the story does look good too – a first person account of the rise and fall of the Norse gods, told by Loki himself. Looking forward to this one!

 

So those are some of my highlights. What about you? Read anything good lately? Any recommendations?

Top 10 Tuesday Rewind: Favourite kick-ass heroines!

toptentuesday2

 

Okay so last week was my very first time participating in Top Ten Tuesday organised by the fab girls over at The Broke and the Bookish so when I saw that this week’s topic was to choose a favourite from all the past Tuesday’s I was very excited! I’d missed out on so many great posts! The only trouble was choosing which one to write about! In the end I went with kick-ass heroines because growing up there weren’t that many good ones around in books but thankfully that seems to be changing now and that should be celebrated!

1. Celeana Sardothien from Throne of Glass

There’s no real surprise that Celaena is top of the list here. Sarah J. Maas has created a character that well and truly kicks ass and has an edge of steel! Sure there’s some love interest, fierce loyalty to friends and though she might fight it at times, she tries to do what is right and help stop the evil King. But the best bit is that despite these good qualities, she never ever changes into some soft, wishy-washy character. She keeps her edge and you do NOT want to mess with Celaena Sardothien!

2. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games

Again this is a no brainer. Katniss is a survivor, she does what she needs to do to protect her family (and friends) even if it means sacrificing herself. She doesn’t stop fighting for them no matter what. Along the way she also becomes the symbol of a revolution and gives hope to people that had none. Sure she’s screwed up and has a hard time figuring out whether she loves Gale or Peeta, and she never asked to be the symbol of a revolution but despite all the confusion, she just keeps on fighting.

3. Katsa from Graceling

In Katsa’s world there are people who are born with special abilities – Graces – that allow them to excel in certain areas. Her grace, and one that she wishes she didn’t have, is the grace of killing. She is forced by her Uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, to do his dirty work but unbeknownst to him, she and some supporters have formed an underground council who are dedicated to fighting back against the tyranny of Randa and the kings of the other 6 kingdoms. There are obvious similarities to Throne of Glass but this is a great story in its own right – the world building is amazing, the tension is built up nicely and although there is the wonderful Prince Po, there are no love triangles!

4. Jenna Strong from ACID

Jenna Strong is the only female inmate in a high security prison controlled by the brutal and oppressive ACID police force. She’s there for killing her parents although she remembers little about the actual attack. You very quickly get to see just how Jenna has managed to stay alive amongst men that are much bigger and stronger than her! She doesn’t pull her punches and you don’t want to get on her bad side! When she’s broken out of prison she becomes involved in a race against time to take down ACID, find out what really happened to her parents and get her life back.

5. Merit from Chicagoland Vampires

Merit becomes a vampire against her will when the Master of Cadogan House, the deliciously dreamy, Ethan Sullivan, turns her to save her life following a vampire attack that should have killed her. Despite her reluctance to embrace her new life she’s appointed the Sentinel for Cadogan House meaning she has to guard everyone in it against the other big bads that go bump in the night. I love Merit! She’s sarcastic, she’s intelligent and bookish, she LOVES her food and for a long time she doesn’t realise her own strength. Plus the whole tension between her and Ethan is fangtastic – do you see what I did there? Ha ha ha! Okay, I’m sorry that was bad!

6. Elena from Bitten

Elena is another one who was turned against her will but in her case she was turned by her boyfriend, Clay, into a werewolf. Understandably having had no idea that her boyfriend was a werewolf or that they even existed, when she luckily manages to survive the transition (something very rare for a female) she’s more than a tad peeved. She wants nothing to do with Clay or any of the Pack. Then a series of brutal murders threaten them all and she has to make a choice between the life she’s living where she has to hide what she is or to embrace her inner werewolf. This series by Kelley Armstrong is not one for kids. For many reasons. Elena is tough, she doesn’t take any shit and she, like Katniss, will fight to the death to protect the people she cares about. She is one tough cookie!

7. Mackayla Lane from Darkfever

Mackayla Lane, otherwise known as Mac, is just an ordinary girl who suffers a tragic loss when her beloved sister is murdered in Dublin under mysterious circumstances. Mac goes to Dublin to find the truth and finds out not only that there really are fairies and they are definitely NOT the sweet, cheeky Tinkerbell type but that she has the power to stop the Fae, and stop the end of the world as we know it. Like Merit, Mac is sarcastic, fiesty and has some great one-liners. She will stop at nothing to find out the truth and stop the ‘man’ who killed her sister. This series also has the best tension building between her and Barrons who is a bad, bad, bad ‘man’! 😉

8. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter

I don’t think there’s very much I have to say about this one. Intelligent, brave, a study-aholic and you could never ask for a truer friend. She never once strays from doing what’s right despite the risk to herself, she is always there whenever Harry and Ron need her (which let’s face it, is a lot of the time!) and she gives all us bookish geeks hope that we too can be a hero if we want to be! 🙂

 

Okay, so once again I didn’t quite make it to 10 but I’m dying to know what you think? Who would your heroines be?

If you’re doing Top Ten Tuesday, what topic did you choose?

 

 

 

A few of my favourite things!

Last night I had an amazing trip to my first ever ballet, Swan Lake, with my mum where I got to indulge both my cultural side – the dancing and music were absolutely superb, the acting was impressive and so was the set design – and my shallow side. The version of Swan Lake that we saw was Matthew Bourne’s and for those of you who aren’t familiar with his work, this version of the ballet has all the ‘swans’ played by men whose costumes consist of feathery trousers, a bit of make-up and as you can see from this video (from another theatre’s performance of the show), not much else. 😉

I had such a great time and it put me in such a good mood that I thought today I’d do a post on a few of my other favourite things – both bookish and non-bookish. Give you a glimpse behind the curtain of Confessions of a Book Ninja as it were! So here we go…

This first one won’t be a surprise to any of you lovely people! These are a selection of my beloved bookcases…

Bookcases

Also in this shot you’ll see a few of my other favourite things like my foam claw from the trip of a lifetime to the University of Berkeley where my inner-hippy always dreamed of going and hanging down the wall are the medals from the races I’ve done so far. I’ve recently re-kindled my motivation to run so hopefully I’ll be adding to these this year!

Whether I’m reading or watching tv, on the many wet and dreary winter’s nights we’ve been having lately, I do love to indulge my caffeine addiction and curl up on the couch with a duvet and a nice steaming cup of tea/coffee/hot chocolate…

Cuppa

Okay, so this was a lovely cuppa I got at a wee cafe by the harbourside in Largs and not one I made at home but I do love it when they make a wee design with the chocolate on top! 🙂 If I’m feeling really wild and crazy, I might accompany the cuppa with one of these…

Cupcakes

And while I’m supping and stuffing my face, if I’m not reading I might choose to escape with one of my favourite shows like these ones…

Favourite shows

My boxset collection is one of the few things that may actually rival my book collection. Both collections are pretty much taking over my house at this point!

One of the things I love about  living in Scotland is that on the very rare days we actually get to see some sunshine I can hop in my dream car called Berkeley (guess what she’s named after!)…

Berkeley

And get to go see things like this…

Arran

Or this…

Dean Castle

Now that I’ve shared a few of my favourite things with you all I have to go prepare for afternoon tea with my family. Unfortunately it won’t be an afternoon tea like this one at a speak-easy themed bar in Glasgow where the cocktails are served in teapots but as long as there’s caffeine and cake, I’m good! 🙂

Cocktail afternoon tea

What about all of you? What are a few of your favourite things? Bookish or otherwise?