Friday 28 February 2014

Daily Shenanigans, 28/02/2014: De-stress Day.

Well I decided not to audition. I knew for a while that would be the decision I would make, but I just have too much going on right now. I didn't have a song fully prepared, would have to hang around for 7 hours waiting, wouldn't have got to see Mat tonight, needed to get on with things, and didn't feel excited enough about it to want to commit to it after Uni. In fact all I want to do after Uni right now is curl up and sleep for weeks. The only thing that made me feel like I should do it is that everyone else thought I should and I didn't want to let anyone down. But in the end, I have to go with what is right for me. I thought I would spend the whole day moping and filled with regret and disappointment in myself. Instead, I had a really nice day today! I think that just confirms that I made the right decision.

I had a tutorial this morning with my Stage Management Tutor, who told me that she was pretty pleased with my progress so far. This is a great weight off of my mind as I was worrying that I had missed things and show day is fast approaching. From then on, I did a bit of work for an hour or so, then before going home, popped into work to let them know a few things about upcoming dates that I couldn't be there for. Having sorted that, I had time to get a bit of reading done on the train home (I'm making my way nicely through 'Wolves'). The book itself looks big but isn't actually that long, so I'm about a quarter of the way through it now as I had to put it on hold to finish challenge books. I'm still waiting for 'Tithe' and 'Daughter Of Smoke & Bone' to get here, so unless they arrive tomorrow, it's looking like I'll be starting Ivey's 'The Snow Child' next. I may just pick that one as my first full-length March read anyway, I'm so desperate to get into it!

'The Hotel Fakir' (Adam Smolka) did arrive today meaning that all of my giveaway reads have now arrived. It's such a short book, literally about 70 pages long, so I think I can get through it pretty quickly. I know it wasn't in my planned reads but I do want to get through all giveaway wins ASAP because I want to review them for Goodreads, so I think I'll read that while finishing 'Wolves' and starting my next book. I have every confidence that it won't take much more than a couple of hours! It looks a bit different to my usual choices but certainly intriguing enough to give it a good go! Talking of Goodreads, I joined a new group. Check it out, it's called Into The Forest and centres around Myth/Folklore/Fairy Tale retellings/spin-offs! There's a challenge and a few lists of some excellent looking books to check out!

My evening was spent with Mat and I had a lovely time. After pretty much spending the week with him last week, I've found I have really missed him over the last few days. We mostly chilled out and it was great just to de-stress and not think about my growing pile of work and stress levels for a while. I'm seeing him again tomorrow, and we plan to go to the cinema to watch 'The Book Thief'! I am literally so uncontrollably excited for this film, it is my favourite book (no exaggeration, I could read it again and again) and the trailer looks fantastic. I can't wait to blog all about it tomorrow and give my opinion on it. I've thought about doing proper film reviews seeing as I go to the cinema a lot (same with the Theatre) but I figure that for now, a book blog is enough to be dealing with. It's much better to express my opinions in a daily post like this one.

Planned Reads For March.

Well as it's the last day of February, I thought I would take the time to organise myself and plan my reads for March. I haven't decided on the order yet, just the books I will definitely be reading and the ones I would like to get through (but aren't top priority).

Books I Will Read:

  1. 'Daughter Of Smoke & Bone'; Laini Taylor: I have been waiting so long to read this series and so it's on the list to be read in March. I have literally seen five star reviews, and winning the second book in the series gave me the push I needed to buy the first, ready to read.
  2. 'The Snow Child'; Eowyn Ivey: This book has sat, untouched, on my bookshelf for a long time. It is based on a Russian Fairy Tale and I am really looking forward to finally getting round to reading it!
  3. 'The Wise Man's Fear'; Patrick Rothfuss: March looks like it's going to be a month of catching up! This book is the second in the 'Kingkiller Chronicles' and it's predecessor, 'The Name Of The Wind', was absolutely fantastic. Time to read the second!
  4. 'Tithe'; Holly Black: I remember reading this book a very long time ago. I remember it being very good. This one is a re-read and I can't wait to read it again so that I can finish the series, as I didn't get to read the next two!
  5. 'Finding Sky'; Joss Stirling: Now I don't actually own this book. But I want to, and I would love to get my hands on it and read it so that I can read the second in the series (which I do have). The trilogy itself has received such good reviews!
  6. 'Wolves'; Simon Ings: I'm in the process of reading this one at the moment, it was my first win in a giveaway and plan to get it finished in March!

Books I Would Like To Get Through:

  1. 'Alanna: The First Adventure'; Tamora Pierce: Guess who got the entire Tamora Pierce collection on Kindle? That's right, me! And I can't wait to get back into reading books by one of my favourite authors again!
  2. 'The Language Of Flowers'; Vanessa Diffenbaugh: This book belongs to my sister and she has said that I can borrow it. The cover looks so intriguing, and as a bonus, it fits nicely with one of next month's challenges!
  3. 'The Telling Error'; Sophie Hannah: I won as part of a 'Goodreads Giveaway' a copy of this book (an unedited proof in fact) which arrived yesterday. It certainly looks intriguing and I plan to read it if I get the time.
So as you can see, lots of exciting titles coming up! There are plenty here to keep me going, I may end up adding more if I get through these quickly, but a few of them are quite long so we'll see how far I get!

Thursday 27 February 2014

Daily Shenanigans, 27/02/2014: To sing or not to sing?

So, I finished 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower' today, which I was rather surprised about because I didn't think I'd get it finished that quickly. I enjoyed it and posted my review earlier, so check that out! That marks all of my February challenges complete! Yay! I have scheduled a 'Planned Reads For March' post for tomorrow to come out, so as you can see, it has been quite a productive day in terms of blogging and reading. As well as this, I've got a lot of Uni work done, schedules and rotas have been completed and just need to be printed out which I'll do tomorrow.

In terms of the Musical auditions I'm still unsure. I didn't get time to practice a song so I'm a bit under-prepared any way. But on top of that I have a lot of work that still needs doing and only a few weeks left before a good number of my hand in dates. I would rather use the time to be productive with work, particularly my Multimedia Piece, than practicing and preparing for an audition at the busiest time of the year. On the other side of the coin, this is my last opportunity to be in the musical, and Jesus Christ Superstar is one of my all time favourites! I'm in two minds and it looks like it'll be a last minute decision! I spoke to Mat about it, who thinks that I should only go for it if I really want to do it because my stress levels are starting to rise. I'll see how I feel tomorrow, after sleeping. Hopefully in a better frame of mind!

Two books arrived today, both giveaway wins! 'The Telling Error' by Sophie Hannah and 'Days Of Blood & Starlight' by Laini Taylor. I was pleasantly surprised as I won them quite recently and wasn't expecting them for quite a while! I'm still waiting on Adam Smolka's 'The Hotel Fakir', which I won a while back so I'm hoping that will arrive soon. My main focus for now is finishing 'Wolves' and then getting started on March's planned reads, though reading and blogging in general will have to take a bit of a backseat because of my upcoming assessments. They are the priority, as much as I enjoy doing this!

Book Review: The Perks Of Being A Wallflower; Stephen Chbosky

I am feeling so smug that I managed to finish this book before the end of February, and can get the review up for you guys this soon! I'm using this one as an entry for a couple of challenges. Firstly, the 'Jumble Your Genres' challenge asked for participants to read a book from the Contemporary genre, and this one fits perfectly into that category. Secondly, it was 232 pages in all and that means it can be entered into the 'Quick Fix Challenge' as a short story. Buttons for those, as usual, at the bottom of this post!

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
AUTHOR: Stephen Chbosky
PUBLISHER: Pocket Books
PAGES: 232
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

RATING: 4/5 Stars

Charlie is a freshman. And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all he requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

What I Liked:
  • There are a lot of uncomfortable and often rarely talked about issues covered in this book. Mental health, sexual abuse, domestic violence, sexuality. Chbosky deals with all of these in a very sensitive way that touches the heart.
  • The story-line itself, the build-up towards the end, is great. Often times, a book can lose itself. This book has so many sub-plots because it is being told from the perspective of a boy that likes to watch rather than take part. Yet Chbosky doesn't lose any in the process, he manages to keep each thread of the story going and ties them off wonderfully at the end. Once the plot-line got going, it really took off and I couldn't put the book down.
  • The characters were fantastic! I loved Charlie, Patrick, Sam, even Mary-Elizabeth despite her irritating behaviour. They were all unique, memorable and so fun to read. Patrick especially, his humour is great! The portrayal of Charlie's family too was very well done. Often, parents are written as unlikeable, naggy, strict or embarrassing. I thought that Charlie's parents, despite having very obvious flaws, were still written in such a way that you couldn't help but like them. They felt like actual human beings rather than just side characters.
What I Disliked:
  • The pace at the beginning. I was so excited for this book, but I found the first part so hard to get into. It was slow, and took a while to find it's pace. I struggled with it at first. This is to do with the sub-plotting involved. Every time Charlie would start us on one plot-line, he would move onto another, then another. I felt like I was reading lots of different beginnings which didn't seem to be going anywhere. This effect, I might add, was short-lived but still something that I didn't like about it.
Overall Conclusion:
Yes, I did have problems with this book. At first I thought I wasn't going to enjoy it and would have to rate it low. But as time went on, I grew to like it more and more. The story-line was captivating, and the characters so well written. I really did enjoy it and I would definitely recommend it, there are so many good points to it!

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Daily Shenanigans, 26/02/2014: Parking problems!

I got a lot done this morning in terms of planning for the next few weeks at Uni, we spent the lecture organising the Tech Rehearsal slots for the shows we have been allocated. It's a bit of a weight off of my mind to finally have that sorted, though at the same time, show week creeping up on me at an alarmingly fast rate and I don't like it. Thankfully, the Rehearsal I was meant to be attending this evening was cancelled meaning I could go home straight after lecture rather than having to hang around for four hours with nothing to do. Phew!

My morning did not start fantastically in terms of driving. The car was fine, but my parking strategy was just appalling! Normally I have no problem but today I just couldn't quite do it. A man actually took pity on me, came out of his house and directed me into the parking space (as well as pointing out a much easier one that I could have pulled straight into). I didn't know whether to yell at him or hug him, but luckily I went for neither option and just meekly thanked him instead. Nightmare! This afternoon, I got a bit more reading done (I'm about a quarter of the way through 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower'). I'm pleased with how quickly I'm getting through it, it's a bit of a slow starter but I'm enjoying it! I aim to finish it before February to complete this month's challenges so a review for that should be pretty soonish, especially as I have a day off tomorrow. Other jobs I have are to type up various schedules, send some emails and practice my audition song for the Musical. I'm a bit unsure whether I still want to do it or not but I think that's the stress talking, and so I'm going to go for it and see how far I get.

Also, I checked out a website today that I've seen posted in various blogs and Goodreads reviews. Net Galley allows people who consider themselves 'professional book readers' (including bloggers like me) to request books, which are advance copies more often than not, and download them onto their E-Device to read and review. It sounds like a lot of fun and something I'm definitely looking into joining, but I need to read up on it first! So I guess actually that's one more job for tomorrow! Wahoo!

Book Review: Pure; Andrew Miller

Well after having a few days off of this one (I've been rather busy), I've finally got it finished. I'm really glad because I've been so looking forward to sharing my thoughts on it! This review will be my entry for February in the 2014 Monthly Motif challenge, which I will leave a button for at the bottom of this post to check that out! The motif this month was 'Award Winners' and this book won the 2011 Costa Book Of The Year.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

AUTHOR: Andrew Miller
PAGES: 356
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Gothic, Literary Fiction

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Paris, 1785.

A year of bones, of grave-dirt, relentless work. Of mummified corpses and chanting Priests.

A year of rape, suicide, sudden death. Of friendship too. Of desire. Of love...

A year unlike any other he has ever lived.

What I Liked:
  • Miller's writing style. It is just so simple and flows beautifully. I find often with Historical Fiction that authors will try too hard to make it sound 'old'. Sometimes it works, and most of the time it just becomes hard to understand. This is not the case here. Miller is writing from 1875, and yet there is a certain modern touch that makes for much easier reading (without being patronising). You can still tell it is set from a period long ago, and in France no less, but I loved how easily I could understand the plot.
  • The characters are wonderful. I liked the Engineer, whose thoughts on the action we see most of all. I wanted him to succeed, and the characters that he met along the way I liked too. They were all big characters that stood out and were easy to remember, as well as being a lot of fun to read. Despite the French names, I knew exactly who was who most of the time.
  • The imagery in this book is just fantastic. Miller is so clever in his comparisons, and his descriptions of Paris, of Les Innocents (the Church & Graveyard which our young Engineer has been tasked with dismantling and digging up), of the characters and the ongoing action are so vivid. I saw each scene very clearly and I fell in love with how easy it was to grasp the world that the book created.
What I Disliked:
  • The beginning did throw me off a little. It was hard for me to think of something substantial to write here, but I found that when reading the start of the book it took me a couple of chapters to get into it. I was thrown quite literally into the Engineer's life and knew absolutely nothing about him, where he was, why he was there. It was of course, all revealed in the next chapter but it did leave me slightly confused to begin with.
  • I want to read more! That might, to most, not seem like a bad thing but like the beginning, I felt the ending was a little abrupt. Yes, the characters were each given resolution and were ready to move on with the rest of their lives, it wasn't a bad ending. I'm just a little upset that there isn't a planned sequel (as of yet) because I would love to revisit the world that Miller has so masterfully built again. It would have been great if this book was a little longer!
Overall Conclusion:
Despite the rocky start, I loved this book and it has definitely become a favourite of mine that I would gladly read again. Miller's style is just a joy to read and easy to get into. The book is broken up nicely and I was transfixed by each character, each situation. It is definitely worth a read, particularly if Historical Fiction is something that you enjoy. The subject, though horrifying is also fascinating. A wonderful little novel!

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Daily Shenanigans, 25/02/2014: Another one bites the dust!

I've been doing a lot of catching up today readers. I caught up on quite a lot of work for Uni, which I was very pleased about and made me breathe a sigh of relief. I then spent the rest of the day catching up with Mat on Pokémon, and catching up on my reading. I have finished Andrew Miller's 'Pure'. The review is all written (I've just done it) and is scheduled to go up early tomorrow morning, to break things up a bit. I'm so excited to share my thoughts on this book with you, I really enjoyed it and you'll see why when the review is up!

I've been a bit blog happy today, I also did my 'Top Ten Tuesday' post. I absolutely loved this week's topic, which was in essence, whichever topic we want! There was a list of topics that have previously been up and seeing as I only started three weeks ago, I had complete free reign on what to pick! In the end I chose to write about the top ten villains that I have read about, and it was a whole lot of fun. Next week's topic is 'Top Ten Popular Authors That I Have Never Read'. I've already planned exactly which ones I'll put and there may be quite a few that will surprise a lot of you! I read a lot of other bloggers topic choices and I find reading what others have put to be just as fun as writing my own! It's dangerous for my bookshelves though, I have so many books I want to read and so little space for them!

In other news, I joined Book Blogs (I'm waiting for a confirmation email before adding the badge to my side bar) but hopefully this means I'll be able to read lots of new blogs and meet lots of new people. Exciting! Two of the books that I ordered from Amazon arrived today: Maria V Snyder's 'Poison Study' and 'A Certain Slant Of Light' by Laura Whitcomb. I remember reading these books a rather long time ago, and loving them! I never finished either series though and I would love to! But in order to do so, I need to reread these. It might take me a while to get round to them, especially as I'm fitting them in with challenges!

Tomorrow looks to be a long and busy day, I'm in Uni early morning until late evening doing all sorts. It will give me a chance to get on with a few bits and bobs, but nothing blog related I don't think. I will however (between jobs) have a good crack at reading my final planned read for February which I'm starting tonight before sleeping. 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower' by Stephen Chbosky. I am really looking forward to this read, I've seen the film and it was both emotionally touching and heart-warming to watch. I can't wait to see what more the book has to offer! It's a short one too, only 232 pages!

Top Ten Tuesday REWIND: My picks for 'Villains/Criminals/Other Nasties'

This week's topic is a little broader, as it is a 'REWIND'. This means I get to choose from a list of past topics and pick one that I have missed/haven't done. I had a good look at the list but just couldn't resist picking the 'Villains/Criminals/Other Nasties' list because I am a sucker for a good villain! In fact, in most cases I think they can make or break a book depending on how well they are written. So here goes, my top ten!

1. Miss Trunchbull from 'Matilda'; Roald Dahl

How could I not start with this one? As a young girl, I really related to Matilda and her plight. I felt for her, having such nasty parents who actually deserve a spot on this list too for being so horrid. But by far, the character in the book that most terrified me was Miss Trunchbull, the militant, evil headteacher of Matilda's school who hates children with a passion. The thing I found most terrifying is that I genuinely felt that Matilda was in so much danger when this woman was about. There was no end to her evil, her anger. The thought of a teacher that could exert that much power, to the point of physically and mentally abusing children, and get away with it is actually a pretty scary one when you think about it. I shudder at the thought. Honourable mentions to Pam Ferris also, who plays her perfectly in the film.

2. Mr Wickham from 'Pride And Prejudice'; Jane Austen

Another mention for this wonderful book from me. It is one of my favourites and Mr Wickham is the closest thing to a villain in this one. What a slimy, horrible man! When we first meet him, he is of course the picture of charm, eloquence and friendliness. But Mr Darcy's intense dislike of him immediately gives way to some suspicions about his character. But after he elopes with Lydia Bennett (and has to be paid off to marry her and restore her honour), and we find out later that he tried the same stunt with Darcy's young and vulnerable sister, he makes it to this list just for being a massive sleazeball.

3. Dolores Umbridge from the 'Harry Potter' series; J.K Rowling

Yet another nasty teacher makes it to this list, but unlike the physically overpowering, brown suited, strict Miss Trunchbull, Professor Umbridge is a short, waddling, fluffy pink wearing nightmare. She loves kittens and politely coughs before speaking. So what if she takes an instant disliking to Harry Potter? What threat could she possibly be? Well don't let the sickly sweetness fool you readers. This woman has been instated into the school by the Ministry Of Magic and it has certainly gone to her head. She uses the power she has to perform all sorts of cruel acts, and if you don't shudder at the Detention Scene when Harry is forced to use her 'special quill' and write lines, then you are definitely not of this earth. She is present throughout the series but her evil deeds are most notable in the fifth book, 'Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix'.

4. Iago from 'Othello'; William Shakespeare

Iago is one of the most well written villains I have seen in a Shakespeare play. His complex motives of envy and hatred for the titular lead cause such devastation that even his own wife is disgusted by his actions at the end of the play. His cleverness too is just astonishing and I am totally drawn in by his ability to twist a situation and manipulate Othello's mind, turning him from a loving husband to a desperate and jealous madman, finally causing him to commit an unspeakable act on the innocent woman. Most Shakespeare plays are full of wonderful villains but this one just gets me every time.

5. Rafi Sadler from the 'Lion Boy' series; Zizou Corder

There are plenty of villains within this series of books. I think there are more villains than heroes in fact, and each of them are horrible in their own way. Rafi, a local Teenage thug that lives near our young hero Charlie and is hired to keep an eye on him while his parents are kidnapped is probably the least threatening of them all. He really is just a hired lackey. And yet he made it to this list above all the others because his stubbornness is actually really admirable. I never wanted him to catch Charlie but at the same time, I admired his relentless pursuit, despite being constantly outfoxed. He was very memorable too, I think out of all the villains in the book, Rafi was the one I most enjoyed reading and so that is why he is on this list!

6. Bob Ewell from 'To Kill A Mockingbird'; Harper Lee

This is a man you would never want to be in the vicinity of him. He is the very definition of lowlife scum. The book is set during a time when segregation and racism is at an all time high. A black man, Tom Robinson, is on trial for rape. Bob Ewell and his daughter Mayella are his accusers. As I read the book, it just disgusted me that despite Tom Robinson's obvious innocence and the rancid behaviour of Bob Ewell, Tom is still found guilty because of the colour of his skin. He gets his just desserts in the end after trying to commit the murder of two young children, one of which narrates the story. The evil of that crime in itself is enough to put him on this list.

7. General Woundwort from 'Watership Down'; Richard Adams

A bad tempered bunny rabbit? Not your average 'villain'. The rabbits that the story focuses on face many trials and nasties throughout the book. Men are ever present and many dangerous animals are after them for food. But a warren that they encounter on there journey, Efrafa, proves to be their biggest challenge. At it's head is our villain, General Woundwort. He rules with an iron fist, dictating each rabbit's rank, when they eat and where they sleep. He has guards everywhere and is generally a pretty scary creature to be around. His tragic back story too got him on the list, as I always look for motive in a villain and motive is definitely what we have here.

8. Henry Bowers from 'It'; Stephen King

Now anyone who has read my review of 'It' knows I am not overly impressed with the book itself. But this guy was very messed up and very scary. The local bully, he leads an ever-present, terrifying gang of followers who answer his every beck and call. As the book progresses, his actions become more and more psychotic and honestly? He was scarier than the monster. Much scarier. He wanted to kill every one of those children and he didn't care how. At one point he tries to carve his initial on a boys stomach, I mean come on, you can't say that that doesn't deserve a place here on this list.

9. Jude McGregor from the 'Noughts & Crosses' series; Malorie Blackman

From the moment I started reading this, I knew that Jude's character dynamic was going to change. And it certainly did. He turned over the four books from being an extremist (that you almost supported because he was rebelling against the ongoing racism) to a monster. I found him fascinating because the never-ending tragedy in his life is the root cause of it. He has a right to be as angry as he is. But he goes too far. He is tipped over the edge, to the point where he is prepared to train his young niece (the daughter of his deceased brother, wrongly accused of rape and hung) to become a suicide bomber and die for the 'good of the cause'. I do understand his actions but I don't agree with him, and to me, he is one of the best and most complicated villains I have ever read and deserves to be on this list.

10. Big Brother from '1984'; George Orwell

This one definitely gets a place on the list. Big Brother covers more than one person, it covers the entire Government that set out the regulations of the Dystopian Future that Orwell creates. The 'Thought Police', O'Brien, The Inner Party, they are each horrible and create a horrible image of what the world could (and hopefully won't) become. In essence, they are a dictatorship. They create a world in which people are spied on constantly, and thoughts are monitored heavily. Any signs of thinking differently or rebelling/criticising the political party are punishable by death. A dangerous, scary enemy that needed to be on the list.

I had great fun writing this list, and I am so looking forward to seeing what topics other participants pick, and what books that they choose! 

Monday 24 February 2014

Daily Shenanigans, 24/02/2014: Ridiculously tired.

I had a grand total of two hours sleep last night. Don't ask me why, I just found it really hard to and had to get up at 6 in the morning. So this blog post is a bit early so that I can go to bed early tonight. First, I drove to Uni. No problems with Phoebe the Fiat today, so that pulled my mood in a more positive direction. 

When I got to Uni, I began working a little more on my Multimedia piece. My arty friend who is helping out sent me another cheeky picture, a rough draft of one of my introduction scenes. I am literally so excited about this project, and it's looking like she may be down this weekend, so hopefully I'll meet with her and will have more to report then! As well as this, I managed to get my background music sorted today. Another friend of mine and Mat's studies composition and agreed to knock up a few ambient tracks that can loop while my piece is being performed. I'm very happy with my progress today!

We had a momentary power cut today at work, which was a bit scary! It took out the shop lights over the road completely (luckily not ours) and quite a few of the traffic lights in the surrounding area (which I discovered while driving home). When I got home, my other two books that I ordered from The Works had arrived; 'Stealing Phoenix' by Joss Stirling, 'The Law Of Angels: An Abbess Of Meaux Mystery' by Cassandra Clark. I probably won't get to read them for a while, particularly as I will need to read the first books in both series first (Kindle here I come). Tonight, I plan to get a lot more reading done. With any luck, I will finish 'Pure' within the next couple of days because I really need to read 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower' too! Eek!

Sunday 23 February 2014

Daily Shenanigans, 23/02/2014: Day of Rest?

Well it's Sunday, but contrary to most of the population I have not been resting. I have been blogging my little heart out! First, I completed my Liebster Blog Award post, which is up for everyone to have a read of. It was a fun little challenge to take part in, I'm so glad I got to do it! It took me a while to think up the facts and the questions, and in the end, it turned out I counted wrong so I had to go back and re-edit. Oops! Next I posted my first weekly wishlist! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and can't wait to do next weeks! Again, that took me a couple of hours to get the pictures in the right place and everything looking neat, so it was a lot of hard work.

As well as blogging, I've done a lot today. I woke up to find I had won yet another book (via Goodreads). This is getting to be a habit, but a good one! This one is super exciting because I am absolutely desperate to read this series, I've seen it around so much! It is 'Days Of Blood & starlight' by Laini Taylor, the second book in the 'Daughter Of Smoke & Bone' series. This series has been on my to read list for weeks and it was even going to be on today's wishlist! But now the second one is on its way, which brings me to my next news. I've been naughty again. Winning that book sent me straight to Amazon to buy the first. And while I was there...I may have bought a few more books. A list of today's purchases:
  • 'Daughter Of Smoke & Bone' by Laini Taylor
  • 'Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale' by Holly Black
  • 'A Certain Slant Of Light' by Laura Whitcomb
  • 'Poison Study' by Maria V. Snyder
In all fairness, all those books were going to be purchased at a later date if not now.  need some of them to complete various challenges and I just want them so much that I can't have my bookshelves without them. It was always going to be a matter of 'when' I bought them, rather than 'if'.

In other news, I watched 'The Last Stand' with my Dad, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. To be honest, I wasn't that bothered until I saw Jaimie Alexander was in it, then I had to watch it! She's a fantastic actress! It was actually a very good movie, I enjoyed it a lot. That is saying something because I don't really like action films at all. Also, I re-read Susan Hill's 'The Woman In Black' with Bev this evening and it gave me chills. Again. It's a horror story, for those that don't know and if you've seen the movie then be prepared still for a shock. The two endings are completely different.

My only regrets about today are that I didn't get to do any reading and the end of February is drawing ever closer  so I need to get a move on with 'Pure' and 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower'! Also, a note for when I next have some free time: I must sort my Kindle out! It is such a mess and I want to start using it properly rather than continually clogging up my barely tidied room with books!

Weekly Wishlist #1

Well here it is! My very first 'Top Picks' of the week. My favourite thing to do is to go browsing on the internet, and along the way I often find a variety of books, films, clothes and items that I would love to get my hands on, whether they're available now or for pre-order! This is just a way for me to share those things with you, maybe it will give you a few gift ideas for people that you know! Click on the pictures to get to their sellers.

1) 'A Song Of Ice And Fire' Series, George R.R. Martin. I have never actually read these books and I really, really want to. This box set looks ideal and includes every one of the series so far! Yes please! This set can be found in most book stores but I've linked to Amazon via the picture!

2) 'My Neighbour Totoro' Grey Leggings. Anyone who knows me knows that I love 'Studio Ghibli films. These leggings are just awesome! They aren't too OTT but are clearly related to the film in question and I love them! This is found on Etsy and is being sold by zelas on Etsy. I love Etsy (as you will discover as this weekly wishlist goes on) and I always go there when I'm looking for something a bit unique!
3)'Thor: The Dark World' DVD. I watched this film at the cinema. Twice. I loved it so much! I'm a bit of a Marvel Movie addict and they just keep getting better and better! The DVD is released in the UK on February 28th and I am so damned excited! Bring on the Marvel Marathons! Again, available pretty much everywhere but the picture links to Amazon as it's where I do most of my browsing!

4) All That Glitters Gold Owl Necklace. This one is from Ji Ji Kiki, one of my favourite jewelry stores! Everything they sell there is so cute, and the prices aren't too bad either! A definite one I would recommend if you have to buy for someone, they do a lot of varied designs! This particular one is one of my favourites that they are selling right now, I'm a bit of a wildlife fan!

5) It Started With A Kiss Lip Tint. Lush Cosmetics are literally my favourite brand for skincare and body products. They are not tested on animals, use natural ingredients and Vegan friendly so they appeal to a lot of people. I'm a bit of a sucker for Lip Tints, I normally use the Vaseline ones but I would love to give this one a try!

And there we have it, my first weekly wishlist! I hope you all enjoyed! I want to keep doing these so expect another one next Sunday!

The Liebster Blog Award!

As I mentioned yesterday, my sister Bev at Tutus and Ballet Shoes nominated me for a Liebster Blog Award. It is designed to be a bit of fun so that smaller blogs get a bit of recognition and an opportunity to talk about themselves a little more. So without further ado, here are the rules:
  • List 11 Facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions put forward by whoever nominated you.
  • Ask 11 new questions to 9 bloggers. They must have less than 200 followers on Bloglovin' (or there preferred method). You cannot re-nominate the blog that nominated you.
  • Go to their blog and inform them that they have been nominated!
Here we go!

11 Facts About Me:

1) I am a student, currently studying Performing Arts at University, though I have come to realise that I want to be a writer.
2) I am a self-confessed chocoholic. Honestly it's an addiction.
3) I am a massive fan of reading books. Fantasy is my favourite, but I read and enjoy a lot of genres.
4) My favourite colour is green. I don't know why, I just love it.
5) As well as books, I love films and the theatre.
6) My favourite band is Florence & The Machine but I have a varied and ever-changing taste in music.My favourite thing to listen to are film scores and soundtracks. Whenever I watch a film, I always find myself checking out the background score too!
7) I am a Disney freak! Old or new, I think the films are great and I am constantly singing all the songs!
8) I am also an avid gamer. I have always wanted to set up my own Youtube gaming channel but I simply don't have the time or money to do it!
9) I have a lovely boyfriend, Mat, who means the world to me and I've been with him for over four years now.
10) I currently live with my Mum, Dad and sister, but it's looking more and more like I'll be moving out this Summer to London! Exciting stuff!
11) This last fact was added in way after I wrote the post because it seems I can't count. Whoops!

11 Questions From Bev

1) Where Were You Born? 
I was born in Ashford, Kent (UK) at the William Harvey Hospital. Ashford is where I live now!
2) What song do you listen to to cheer yourself up? 
Oh now that's difficult. 'Rusted Root - Send Me On My Way' always makes me smile because it reminds me of the film 'Matilda', which is very close to my heart.
3) Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Still blogging hopefully! But more importantly, I see myself living elsewhere (with Mat) and writing (hopefully successful) plays and books.
4) Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging as an attempt to give myself a good kick up the arse. To practice writing, the thing I love doing most of all! I haven't looked back since, keeping it up is my proudest achievement.
5) If you were a biscuit, what biscuit would you be?
My instant thought was a bourbon but that's probably because it's my favourite. But thinking on it, I'll go for a Rich Tea. British, a bit plain looking, and loves a good cup of tea!
6) Name one thing that puts a smile on your face.
So many things do! Book shopping is the one I'll say here, but honestly I'm a pretty smiley person most of the time!
7) Name the worst book you've ever read.
Oh goodness I know exactly what I'm going to put here. This might cause controversy, but I cannot stand the 'Twilight Series'. Specifically? The final book. It was the most ridiculous, terribly planned, time wasting series conclusion I've ever read. I felt like Meyer rushed it.
8) What's your favourite flavour ice cream?
Oh now I would have to say Chocolate Fudge Brownie! Particularly Ben and Jerry's. I could literally live on the stuff.
9) If you had enough money, what would you buy right now?
So many options! Either a library because I desperately need shelf space, a super computer that I could play some good games on and actually start up the previously mentioned Youtube channel or a house. A big one. If only!
10) Do you have any role models? If so, who?
My celebrity idols are mainly actors. Tom Hiddleston, Ewan McGregor, Maggie Smith, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart to name but a few. I'm a big fan of actors that have theatre roots. I also love Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Watson, I just think they're great!
11) When was the last time you cried?
Oh goodness, it doesn't take much to make me cry I'm afraid! Probably a few days ago but I can't remember why! Something silly I'm sure!

11 Proposed Questions:

1) If you could be a book character, who would you be?
2) Which country would you most like to visit?
3) What is your favourite food to eat?
4) What about blogging do you find the most challenging?
5) Who is your favourite author?
6) What is your proudest achievement?
7) Do you have any pets? If not, would you ever want one?
8) What do you do in your spare time other than blogging?
9) What sort of films, if any, do you enjoy?
10) When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone?
11) What is your current occupation?

9 Nominated Blogs


Saturday 22 February 2014

Daily Shenanigans, 22/02/2014: My head is pounding!

This is going to be a short one because I've got a splitting headache! I woke up this morning, checked my emails and found that I'd won my third Goodreads 'First Reads' book, 'The Telling Error' by Sophie Hannah. It looks like a really good one, and I'm super excited about getting to read it! As well as that, I was nominated by my lovely sister at Tutus And Ballet Shoes for a Liebster Blog Award, so I'll be posting about that tomorrow and nominating a few blogs I follow in the process! It's just a bit of fun that gets smaller blogs some recognition and you get to find out a bit more about the people behind them in the process! Tomorrow, I'll also be posting my first 'Weekly Wishlist' to get the process, going out. That's something else I've been planning today.

Other than that, the rest of my day was very Mat filled! He had work this morning, but rolled up at my house about 4ish with a present! The game every Pokémon fan already has and we are way behind on! Pokémon X and Y for the 3DS. Needless to say, we spent our evening playing on that! Also this evening, after Mat had gone, I have been watching Markiplier's Charity Livestream. It's on for another good five or six hours if you're interested. Markiplier is a pretty well known Youtube gamer, whose videos I love watching and he does a lot of things for charity! Check him out if you're into that!

I really hope this headache is gone by tomorrow morning, I have a lot to do!

Friday 21 February 2014

Daily Shenanigans, 21/02/2014: Spring Cleaning Part II.

I really went to town on my room this morning folks! I realise that cleaning may not be the most interesting of topics to blog about, but if you could have seen my room before today, you would know that this is a momentous occasion for me. The task is by no means finished, but it's well on its way. I managed to put away the huge pile of books by my bed. They now live in my newly sorted bookshelf (and already fill it up! Oops!), I've got rid of the various bags that littered my carpet. You can actually see the carpet now! I've hoovered and finally put away about three weeks worth of freshly cleaned clothes. Goodness, just typing about this is depressing because I'm quickly realising how much of a slob I am! What's left to do? Dusting, clearing my desk, clearing my bedside table, organising my paperwork, a lot basically. But I'm very proud of my progress!

Right now let's talk about something more interesting. I saw Mat again today and I got home from his about an hour ago. I've been seeing him a lot recently (he's coming over again after he's worked tomorrow) but it is so nice to be able to spend this much time with him and to be honest, I'm making the most of it before he goes back to Uni. We generally messed around on games, which we do a lot. It was a bit sunnier today, and we toyed with the idea of going out somewhere but it is still very cold and it's a good thing we didn't because it did actually rain later anyway. I tried not to be on my blog too much because I feel like I'm messing around on it a lot while I'm around him, it was nice to do a few more things together today!

On another note, four of my six books that I ordered from The Works arrived today! I reckon the other two will arrive tomorrow, and then I probably won't get to do much in the way of book shopping for a while because I have so many to read! I'm considering doing a book haul at the end of each month perhaps to show you all what's been added to my bookshelf each month. Obviously if I do, February's would be pretty big as I have a lot of books that I bought/borrowed/won this month! Also, I found this pretty neat idea online and was considering buying a subscription. Book Riot offer a lovely quarterly package (so every three months) for a $50 subscription fee (about £30). I thought the idea was sweet and found a monthly one at The Willoughby Book Club for £39.99 (I love the idea, they offer lots of different subscription types but I would go for the Bespoke Subscription as it's a mixed bag rather than genre specific). It would help to keep my bookshelves fresh but the price is just keeping me from committing at the moment. I think they would make a really cool gift idea though!

Other than that I haven't much else to talk about. There hasn't been time for me today to sort out anything blog related or go challenge hunting like I said I would yesterday, but that's okay. I think also that I'm going to start an end of week 'Wishlist' for cool gift ideas that I see while I'm browsing the internet (I see so many things and I really need to share them, sorry)! They won't just be book related but will probably include books that I'm pretty desperate to read along with a few other, probably quite geeky random things that caught my eye. The first of those should be up this Sunday.

Thursday 20 February 2014

Daily Shenanigans, 20/02/2014: Spring Cleaning.

Well supposedly Spring is almost upon us (it still feels like Winter to me) and so it's the time of year to have a good sort out. My parents have been nagging on at me for a while about tidying my room (it is a mess) and so I made a start today. Currently, I have piles of books on the floor. Why? Because I have nowhere to put them. Or should I say, I had nowhere to put them. I managed today to clear away and bag up all the books I plan to sell, most of them being Uni books I simply don't need anymore. I now have lots of shelf space for the multitude of books that I buy! Yay!

After doing that job, I went to Mat's house for the day. We played games, like we usually do (both of us are a bit addicted to it) and caught up on some TV. Three cheers for 'The Big Fat Quiz Of The Year' and 'Top Gear'! I did also nap a lot today, my body clock is going stupidly out of sync. I keep going to bed late, waking up early and then sleeping some more in the afternoon. This must stop because I'm waking up in the nights too. Despite a fairly relaxed day, I found time to sort out the other book reviews to a layout that I want (finally!) and make a good start on Simon Ings' 'Wolves' which I'll read alongside Andrew Miller's 'Pure' so lookout for those two reviews in the near future!

Tomorrow I plan to do a bit more tidying in the morning before Mat comes to get me. Blog-wise I need to do a bit of planning and challenge hunting, and I need to update my Goodreads too. The lecture I would normally have is no longer happening, instead I'll have tutorials (but I won't have one tomorrow). I don't have work either, so a fairly free day for me! 

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Daily Shenanigans, 19/02/2014: Train Troubles.

I swear I have the worst luck when it comes to modes of transport. Seriously, something just always seems to go wrong! I hopped on the train this morning and settled down to read a bit of 'Pure' on my way to my lecture. About two minutes after we set off, we stopped. Apparently, the railway lines on the journey were flooded, meaning a slow journey to where I needed to be. Slow indeed, I arrived at my lecture an hour late! This wasn't too much of a problem, it was a free slot to practice rather than an actual lecture. However, the journey home was just a nightmare! My friend kindly gave me a lift to the station so that I could catch the half past seven train, which was lovely of her! The problem was, there was no half past seven train. Instead there was a replacement bus service. Apparently, that track flooding hadn't gone away and it was worse on the line home. So about ten minutes later the bus set off! Ten minutes after broke down. I was hoping to be home by a bit before eight o'clock tonight, but I finally got into my house about quarter past nine. I was not a happy bunny.

Other than minor travel nuisances, my day has been rather good! Uni was actually relaxing today, in a sense. Work too was pretty good, busy, but good. I had to run from work back to Uni to watch a Show Preview (which I actually ended up missing anyway) but that went well and I had a productive meeting afterwards with the Stage Manager of that show. Lovely. I will also just say,  because this is the most exciting part of my day, that my first 'Goodreads Giveaway' win has arrived! 'Wolves' by Simon Ings has now been added onto my currently reading list, as I plan to get a review of it posted ASAP. The front cover looks great, and the blurb is promising so I can't wait to get a review of this one up for you guys! Tomorrow I am spending the day with Mat, who has a lot of work to do so that means more reading time for me! I can't wait!

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Daily Shenanigans, 18/02/2014: 'Cuban Fury'

What a day I've had! It has been so productive and I can't help but feel proud of my achievements. Firstly, blogging. This is my third post today! The first was a review of Italo Calvino's 'If On A Winter's Night A Traveller', which I have linked to the appropriate book challenges that I have entered. As well as that, today was 'Top Ten Tuesday'! The theme this week was things that I love about Blogging/Reading and I found it much easier to come up with answers this week (a bit of pre-planning goes a long way). I've made a hefty start on sorting out my previous book reviews and hopefully I'll have done the rest by the end of tomorrow.

Mat came over today and to be honest (I feel terrible) I ended up ignoring him for most of the morning in the name of productivity! In my defense, he had a lot of reading to do too, it is his Reading Week after all! So I helped him to be productive too, in a sense. After a couple of hours we played some Pokemon and decided what we were going to do that afternoon. We did think about going for a drive (Wahoo! Adventure!) but it looked chilly outside, despite he fact that the rain has finally stopped! 

We went to the Cinema this evening and watched 'Cuban Fury'. The film is so funny! It stars Nick Frost who in his childhood was a Salsa star, but an encounter with a gang of bullies saw him ditch the sequinned tops and give it up. Twenty five years later, a beautiful new boss inspires him to try again in an attempt to win her love. It was a wonderful, heart-warming comedy with some great punch-lines in it and fantastic characters. I don't think I have ever hated Chris Dowd so much (not him of course, the arrogant arsehole he was playing). Olivia Colman too was wonderful, and of course the dancing in it is fantastic! I'm not used to seeing a film that has Nick Frost in it, without Simon Pegg. But watch closely, you might find that the other half of the duo isn't so absent after all!

All in all, a great day but rather tiring. I'm catching the train again tomorrow, so back to reading 'Pure' for me! I have a lecture in the morning, followed by work and a Show Preview in the evening so I will be home quite late. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons That I Love Blogging/Reading

This Top Ten Tuesday is a bit different to the others! Instead of a list of ten books, it's a list of ten reasons that I love them (or blogging about them). I've been a bit more organised and have already planned this post, so I've managed ten this time (five for each) instead of the pitiful seven that I came up with last time! Without further ado, my top ten:

Why I Love Blogging

1. Writing is and always has been something that I enjoy. Ever since I was young, I used to love completing the little writing tasks that school would set us, and I would make up stories a lot in my head, grabbing the nearest piece of paper to write them down on. Looking back on them now, they wouldn't make a lot of sense but it is a skill that I have developed and enjoyed over the years. Blogging allows me to do it every day and get lots of practice in!

2. Blogging makes me feel productive. I am definitely a procrastinator at heart. I have always required a lot of self-motivation to perform even the simplest of tasks and it's a trait about myself that often depresses me. But since I started this blog up nearly a month ago, I have felt much better about myself as a person and I've had much clearer focus. I've been able to say 'If I can make time to write at least one post a day, perhaps I can finish this essay along with it'. These last three weeks have probably been the most productive of my life and I plan for it to continue.

3. I love taking part in challenges. It was one of the reasons I set up this blog, the challenges always look so fun! I started on some as soon as I felt comfortable and haven't looked back. I'll probably enter many, many more as the year goes on. It's that focus thing again, it keeps me being productive and enjoying the prospect of writing blog posts (like this one) for each challenge!

4. Blogging cheers me up. Even when I have had a truly awful day, I find that blogging about it and venting my frustrations helps me put things in perspective. I often remember that good things have happened as well as the bad, something that can often be forgotten when you feel like the world is set against you. Blogging provides my 'silver lining' if you will and helps me let go of all those horrible, negative feelings by typing them away. Strange but true!

5. Following other blogs. Now this isn't technically a 'what I enjoy about blogging' but it is what I enjoy about the blog community. The prospect of reading words from like-minded people who enjoy the same things that I do. And boy does it feel good when someone follows me! It's nice to give that feeling back to someone by giving them a follow, so that they know you care about what they painstakingly write!

Why I Love Reading

1. Being engrossed in a good book. Writing isn't my only passion. Reading is something that I have loved for years and years, and until recently, I almost gave it up completely because I felt I had no time. But since this blog I have rediscovered that feeling, how much I enjoy just taking an afternoon to sit with a good book and get lost in it.

2. Shopping for books. I think that this is one of my most favourite activities. Shopping generally bores me, unless it's for books. The quietness of bookshops makes me happy, and I love the smell of them. Scanning the shelves for a cover or title that catches your attention. Just the feeling of knowing that all of these books could be yours, that you are one step away from owning any of them that you choose is thrilling to me. I love it.

3. Relating/Escaping. I always find that the best books are either those that allow you to escape from your own world into a completely different person's, or those that allow you to relate to a character's situation and remember that you aren't alone. That any author has the power at their fingertips to give you that feeling, to touch you emotionally, is an extraordinary thing and one that I find quite freeing.

4. Learning. I don't just enjoy reading Fiction. I have found that I enjoy learning about topics that interest me via books, rather than just looking them up on the internet. Non-fiction books fascinate me in so many ways, the amount of research and dedication that has gone into them is amazing.

5. Being inspired. Books with great story-lines, captivating characters and penned in a wonderful style are often very inspiring to me. If I ever face writer's block, sometimes just reading a good story is enough to dig me back out of it again!

There we have it. My top ten reasons for enjoying blogging and reading. Next week's topic is an interesting one, 'Top Ten Rewind'. I can go back and pick from any previous Top Ten subjects that I didn't get to do (there is a list). I cannot wait. I have so many ideas for this next post that here's hoping a week goes quickly! 

Book Review: If On A Winter's Night A Traveller; Italo Calvino

Before I start with the review, I am using it as an entry for a couple of different challenges that I am taking part in. Firstly, the book is 260 pages long and so qualifies as a 'Quick Fix'. Secondly, one of my 2014 Key Words for February was 'Night' and so here we are, this month's entry for that challenge! Buttons for both of those challenges are at the bottom of this post!

SOURCE: Borrowed
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: If On A Winter's Night A Traveller
AUTHOR: Italo Calvino
PUBLISHER: Vintage Classics
PAGES: 260
GENRE: Classics, Literary Fiction, European Literature

RATING: 2.5/5 Stars

You go into a bookshop and buy If on a Winter's Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino. You like it. But there is a printer's error in your copy. You take it back to the shop and get a replacement. But the replacement seems to be a totally different story. You try to track down the original book you were reading but end up with a different narrative. This remarkable novel leads you through many different books including a detective adventure, a romance, a satire, an erotic story, a diary and a quest. But the hero of them all is you, the reader.

What I Liked:
  • I loved the beginning.  Unique in that it was in second person, and instantly gripping as 'you' settle down to read the first novel of many. The plot-line looked so promising! Stories within a story, each different and giving me the frustrated feeling that my character felt at not being able to finish it. I really did begin enthralled and desperate to read more as I reached each page.
  • Each 'story' was well-written. As I progressed through the book as a whole, the short beginnings of novels that I was exposed to were captivating in their own right. There wasn't a distinct style. It really felt like each 'book' was written by a different author, and was not Calvino trying his hand at a few different genres as he goes along. In that respect, hats off to him. 
  • I loved the use of second person! It is so rarely found in narratives but here, it fitted in perfectly with what I felt Calvino was trying to achieve with the book as a whole. Switching to first person for the individual novels also meant that it was easier to distinguish between 'stories'. 
What I Disliked:
  • The lack of endings for each book was frustrating. Now this I suppose didn't cause me too much of a problem. It was, I believe, the point of the book to empathise with your character in their desire to finish each and every book they started. It did get to a point though, as the book went on, where I wondered 'what is the point of reading these?' Yes they were well-written, but they were only beginnings. I was never going to get the end and so it all got a bit repetitive and pointless in that respect.
  • The ending for the second-person narrative just got ridiculous. I started off loving the story that ran alongside each excerpt from the novels that you read, as I have previously mentioned. But there came a point, where it just became ridiculous. One minute, you are complaining to the bookstore, visiting the publishing firm for answers and even building up a romantic relationship with a fellow frustrated reader on the side. This was all believable. But then suddenly, from nowhere, you're part of some international book plot, arrested and hired by the 'book police' and the whole confusion seems to be some big plot thought up by a jealous ex-boyfriend of your new lover. I just didn't get it
  • I didn't like the characters. Now this was a big problem for me. I liked your character, 'the reader' a lot. And the other reader that you meet, Ludmilla, is supposed to be likeable I suppose. She is after all, your romantic interest. The problem is, I couldn't stand her. Her opinions annoyed me, the fact that every male character in the book seemed to be after her annoyed me, everything about her annoyed me. The developing relationship between the two didn't even feel like it was there because she spent most of it being arrogant and bossy and playing hard to get, before suddenly jumping into bed with your character. Her arguments with her equally as annoying sister just wound me up, and in the end I just tried to blank the both of them out of my mind to keep going (very hard to do, considering that everyone just seems so fixated on her).
  • I didn't understand the message that Calvino was trying to get across. Was he even trying to put one forward? It felt like he was trying to make a point but the problem is I didn't understand what that was. Whether that was purposeful or not I don't know, but it left me confused and irritated.
Overall Conclusion:
I am divided over this book. I loved the beginning, hated the end. I want to frame it and hang it on my wall, yet I want to erase it from my memory too. I don't think I have ever had such a change of opinion as I have read a book before. My opinion normally remains fairly consistent from beginning to end. One part of me feels like Calvino has done something really clever that I haven't quite figured out yet. But the other half of me reckons that he got a spot of writer's block, kept starting stories and not finishing them, then suddenly decided to just paste them together one day and make a book out of them. My theory is that this is one of those books that some will find inspirational and fall in love with. But it didn't do it for me, sorry.