Tag Archives: books

What I Read in 2017

29 Dec

It’s here! My annual reading round-up!  As I have done every year since 2008, I’ve kept a record of everything new that I read this year. My favourites are in bold. I feel like I’ve bolded a lot this year…

Some of my books this year came in my Illumicrate subscription. I absolutely love receiving this quarterly book box – it’s like having a little birthday every three months. If you have a special occasion coming up for a book lover, you can wow them with this as a gift – or, indeed, buy it for yourself.

To the books!

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Style over substance: thoughts on SS-GB

12 Mar
ssgb

Sam Riley in the BBC’s adaptation of SS-GB

Whitehall draped in swastikas. Nazis riding the King’s horses in the centre of London. Churchill’s death. These are the moments in the BBC’s new adaptation of Len Deighton’s SS-GB that are meant to give us that little thrill associated with the taboo, or perhaps a pleasant relief that history took a different turn. It’s funny, though. Given the drama’s fortunate – or unfortunate – relevance at a time when nationalism, white supremacy and even outright Nazism seem to be emboldened, what should be searingly topical instead falls rather flat.

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What I Read in 2016

26 Dec

I’ve been looking forward to doing my reading round-up for a while. I made it to 51 books this year (so far – I’m sure I’ll squeeze in another before the very end), not beating my 2015 score of 64, mostly because I was driving to work for a few months. It’s the usual mix of literary, YA and trash – but I’ve also really got into non-fiction lately and read some absolute corkers.

As always, I’ve bolded those I’d particularly recommend. It’s quite a few this time.

  1. A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk
  2. Asking for It by Louise O’Neill (A devastating look at rape culture. Everyone needs to read this)
  3. Be Awesome by Hadley Freeman
  4. Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton (A super fun fantasy YA – sharpshooting in the desert)
  5. The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury
  6. Iron Council by China Mieville (I always think about CM’s books for years after reading them. Iron Council no exception. Fantasy with poison barbs) Continue reading

Summer Reading List

4 Aug

loungercrete

Hello all! I’ve just spent a lovely week in beautiful Crete. As a massive Hellenophile, a holiday in Greece is just my idea of perfection: sun, sea and souvlaki. I also got loads of reading done, which is good because I’ve been a bit behind this year and definitely won’t beat last year’s total score. I got through a book per day, and without planning it, ended up reading exclusively female authors.

 

Some thoughts (in reading order):

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What I Read in 2015

27 Dec

I can’t believe it’s nearly the end of the year – and time for my reading round-up. It’s a bumper edition of 64! I’ve read a really good mix of things, including some literary classics, some acclaimed adult fic and, of course, some cutting edge YA.

As per usual, absolute favourites are bolded.

The List: What I Read in 2015

Between the Shadow and the Soul by Susanne Winnacker

The Riddle of the Labyrinth by Margalit Fox (fascinating non-fic about Alice Kober and her contribution to the decipherment of Linear B)

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop

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The Bookish Community

29 Jul

Hello everyone! It’s been a little while. I would I’ve been busy, but now I’m on summer hols (mwahahaha) I can’t claim that as an excuse.

One thing I have been doing lately is engaging a bit more with the bookish community in real life, rather than online. Yesterday I went to my fourth ‘Super Relaxed Fantasy Club’, a meet-up/book-reading for fans of fantasy and sci-fi. There are lots of lovely authors, readers, bloggers and publishers who attend, and it’s a nice space in which to meet people and talk about great books! I’ve discovered a few new authors through the event, and it’s always interesting to hear from them in person about why you should pick up their work. Not all the authors are YA/children’s, although some are, and not everything is to my taste, but it truly is a relaxed environment so it doesn’t really matter. The event is held on the last Tuesday of every month at the Grange Hotel in Holborn. I can’t attend all the time because it’s quite a trek from school, so I definitely appreciate having the chance to do so during the holidays.

Of course, last week was also the second Young Adult Literature Convention (or YALC), which I blogged about last year. I attended on Saturday and Sunday and had a similarly brilliant time. This year, the set-up at Olympia meant we had our own area, which was far less frenetic and terrifying than the crush at EC. There were some great deals on new releases from a wide range of publishers, so I’ve stocked up on some promising paperbacks. I also picked up a huge amount of swag for decorating my classroom! Once again, a range of interesting panel discussions were held, and the big space allocated for this meant the awkward ticketing system was dispensed with. I saw talks on feminism, sex, fantasy, LGBT+ and troubled teens in YA, as well as taking part in the Hunger Games quiz, chaired by Caesar Flickerman himself.

Another interesting strand was the Agents’ Arena. Molly Ker Hawn’s discussion with Kat Ellis about the agent-author relationship was fascinating, especially as it revealed the amount of work on both sides that goes into submission. I also had another chance to take part in the Agent 1-1 sessions. As my (awesome) convention buddy Soizic noted, such sessions are really sought after and expensive at other events. What a privilege for us to get it included!

Speaking of Soizic, it was very nice to meet her for real for the first time. We have corresponded for a while ever since I happened to meet her boyfriend through a friend of my boyfriend (yeah, it’s confusing). It’s definitely helpful to chat things over with a fellow writer who understands the struggle…!

This year I decided to dress up, just for the hell of it. It was actually a really fun experience! My Saturday costume, Gansey from The Raven Boys, was super comfy and I found myself getting more into relaxed ‘boy mode’ as the day went on. I even had one photo request! On Sunday I dressed as Julie from Code Name Verity, which really changed the way I moved and felt. Wearing red lipstick and heels made me feel and act in a more feminine way, but it was definitely harder to sit down in!

Only 50 or so weeks to decide on next year’s costumes…

What are 13-year-olds reading?

17 Jan

The YA community is always abuzz with news of trends and ‘big books’, so much so that it can be hard to follow what’s in and what’s out. As we know, a large part of this trade is driven by adult consumers, but we must remember that YA also includes the Y part of the equation!

At the moment I teach five ‘literacy’ lessons a week to different classes, which includes time for silent, individual reading. Now that I work in a girls’ school, the majority of the pupils really enjoy having the chance to choose and read their own books (in a mixed environment, this was more challenging – there were many boys who liked to read, but some others found it hard to settle and focus for extended periods, or to find something that suited their interests – I highly recommend the Guinness Book of Records for such occasions). There are still one or two in my current classes who are reluctant, but as I always say, you can’t possible ‘hate all books’ – you just haven’t found the right one yet!

Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to post a snapshot of what one class of 13-year-old girls were reading this week, to give some insight into how the younger teens are engaging with YA (or not, as the case may be – many of their books would be considered MG). The results are interesting, and may surprise some people – overall, they suggest that what kids really want is something familiar and comforting, and that new releases are not necessarily foremost in their minds.

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