March Reads | 2016

Here’s what I read in March:

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: And Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Maggs

I consider myself a geek. I love playing video games, I read graphic novels, I’m that strange person who needs to collect all the POP! figures just like Pokemon…And I’m on a committee to help run a pop culture convention. THIS was the book for me. It gave me recommendations, now I really want to see Hero and Haywire. It gave me tips for cosplaying – something I’ve wanted to do for ages. And it was hilarious and helpful when it came to trolls and how to deal with them. Highly recommended for anyone who is a geek.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I adored The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte and loved Jane Eyre by Charlotte. Wuthering Heights? Ehh. I appreciated the writing and the complexities of the characters, however it was so starkly depressing that I found it hard to enjoy the novel. The characters are downright cruel and selfish and tragedy after tragedy occurs. At least the novel ends on a tone of hope.

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

After Wuthering Heights I felt like I needed something light and fun. Rebel of the Sands definitely begins like that, it starts off with the a gunslinger competition of all things! A blend of the Western genre and a world inspired by Middle Eastern mythology – it was an interesting premise that I had to read. However much to my disappointment, this Young Adult fantasy quickly turned very generic in regards to its plot and characters. I felt like I had passed down a path I had trodden multiple times and couldn’t wait to finish it.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

And then along came Ancillary Justice. I had tried to read it the year before but couldn’t get into it, however this time I just adored the world and its myriad of interesting characters. Ancillary Justice is about an Ancillary (sort of an AI who can inhabit so many different bodies and has so for thousands of years) who now only inhabits one body and is out for revenge.It was hard getting into the novel at first, gender is described differently – everyone is referenced as a “she” even if they are male, but you slowly ease into it and the story becomes a trip. This is vastly different Sci-Fi to what I have experienced before but that is what makes the novel unique and interesting.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3) by J.K Rowling

Can I just say I wish I had re-read the Harry Potter books multiple times? It has been such a treat to reread them for the first time and I’m picking up tidbits I hadn’t realized before. Also it’s nice to read Prisoner of Azkaban as an adult now as I no longer get too scared to read further. Plus the novel only affirms my love for Professor Remus Lupin.

The Pillars of the World (Tir Alainn #1) by Anne Bishop

I read this for the Vaginal Fantasy bookclub and I’m so glad I did after loathing Anne Bishop’s other book Written in Red from her Others series. Pillars of the World brought back elements I have been missing from my reading life: fantasy romance and a bit of darkness. This is a novel full of magic, terror, fae people and witches. It was such a lovely escape that I devoured its contents over a very small span of time and I had so much fun that I’m looking eagerly to reading the rest of the series.

The Rebirth of Rapunzel: A Mythic Biography of the Maiden in the Tower by Kate Forsyth

Kate Forsyth is the bomb – to say it in a not so articulate manner. I adore her novels: Bitter Greens, The Wild Girl, The Beast’s Garden and I intend to read her Witches of Eileanan series. And it seemed a logical step to read her exigesis on the evolution of the Rapunzel fairytale. It was a very enlightening piece that helped me understand the themes of the Rapunzel tale and why it has continued to play a large part in our fairytale history, its feminist retellings and also Forsyth’s research process. This was fun read to linger over the Easter weekend and I adored every second of it.

The Flowers of War by Geling Yan

As you will come to learn, I love historical novels and one of the periods of history that I have always enjoyed and will continue to read about is 20th century China. The Flowers of War is about the sacking of Nanking by the Japanese and an American church in the middle of it as a refuge for the priests, schoolgirls, prostitutes and Chinese soldiers. This was an interesting take on the affects of war and how people will hurt and belittle each other to survive. It isn’t my favorite novel about this time period but it ends on a fascinating tone that I cannot help but think of it.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

I know I said I would read 1984 first but I was scrolling through my Kindle for something short and stumbled upon this gem of a novel. Animal Farm was…not as cheesy as I thought it was going to be, it is a fascinating mirror (albeit about a farm in England) to the Russian revolution, the aftermath and the leaders Lenin and Stalin. Although you don’t need to know anything about the revolution to enjoy the novel, I felt having some knowledge really increased my enjoyment and appreciation of the novel’s themes. And it was hilarious reading about pigs getting drunk – need I say more?

Favorite book of the month: The Pillars of the World by Anne Bishop

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Image for header taken from oldfirestation.org.uk

 

 

 

Cosy Novels for the Cooler Months

The weather has became noticeably chilly here in Australia. I’ve started arming myself with my favorite jacket and green scarf, around the house my feet are no longer bare but fitted with cute mismatching socks and tea is all the rage.

And I feel like reading novels that warm my heart and soul.

So today I have a few recommendations; a wonderful graphic novel full of charm, a cosy mystery novel and a novel that encourages a wistfulness for travel.

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Castle Waiting Vol. 1 by Linda Medley

This is one of my favorite graphic novels of all time, a novel about a crumbling castle and its eccentric fairy tale creatures. Bearded nuns, a talking horse, a pregnant lady on the run, a green baby – a cast of characters you’ll adore. I loved the collection of stories about each of the characters histories and their lives within the castle. A charming novel that will only make your heart a little bit warmer.

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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley

What would a cosy reads recommendations post be without a mystery? The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a quirky novel about a young aspiring chemist with a passion for poison and solving crimes. A little bit predictable but still held some pretty cool surprises, but it’ll be hard to not have your socks charmed off by Flavia de Luce, the little protagonist. And guess what?! It’s apart of a long series. Enjoy!

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A Natural History of Dragons (Lady Trent #1) by Marie Brennan

I’ve talked about this series a few times on this blog – but if you are looking for smart, brave lady protagonist, this is a great series to dip your toe in. It’s a series about a woman and her travels abroad studying dragons in an inspired Victorian world. I adore, adore, adore this series and cannot wait for the 4th installment, In the Labyrinth of Drakes comes out in April.


So which cosy books would you recommend for a heat-starved little person in the chilly months of the year?

Women in Film | TBW + Poll!

Greetings all! I thought I might add a tiny post to the run up this week, a project I’m really excited about!

International Geek Girl Pen Pals is hosting a Women in Film Challenge to celebrate Women’s History Month, a challenge I will happily accept.  The challenge: watch 15 films about women, created by women or the themes are about women. You can get on the action too, use #iggleswatch on social media to connect with others who are participating!

Here’s a handy chart:

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To complete this challenge I’m going to give myself a month to watch all the films and at least review most of them on this blog. I also made sure all films on the TBW were films I had never seen before.

Here are the list of films on my TBW list, read on to decide which film you want me to review first:

  1. My Brilliant Career (1979)
    • The heroine, Sybylla, a headstrong girl growing up in early 20th century Australia, has the opportunity of marriage to a wealthy young man whom she loves, but rejects it in order to maintain her independence, preferring to take a job as governess/housekeeper to the family of an illiterate neighbor to whom her father owes money.

  2. Ghost World (2001)
    • With only the plan of moving in together after high school, two unusually devious friends seek direction in life. As a mere gag, they respond to a man’s newspaper ad for a date, only to find it will greatly complicate their lives.

  3. Ida (2013)
    • Anna, a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland, is on the verge of taking her vows when she discovers a dark family secret dating back to the years of the Nazi occupation.

  4. The Dressmaker (2015)
    • A glamorous woman returns to her small town in rural Australia. With her sewing machine and haute couture style, she transforms the women and exacts sweet revenge on those who did her wrong.

  5. Kumiko, the Treasure Finder (2014)
    • A jaded Japanese woman discovers a hidden copy of Fargo (1996) on VHS, believing it to be a treasure map indicating the location of a large case of money.

  6. Clueless (1995)
    • A rich high school student tries to boost a new pupil’s popularity, but reckons without affairs of the heart getting in the way.

  7. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)
    • Adele’s life is changed when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair, who will allow her to discover desire, to assert herself as a woman and as an adult. In front of others, Adele grows, seeks herself, loses herself and ultimately finds herself through love and loss.

  8. Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky (2009)
    • Is about a rumoured affair between Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky in Paris in 1920, the year that Chanel No. 5 was created.

  9. Advantageous (2015)
    • In a near-future city where soaring opulence overshadows economic hardship, Gwen and her daughter Jules do all they can to hold on to their joy together, despite the instability surfacing in their world.

  10. It’s a Girl (2012)
    • Every year in India and China, millions of babies are killed, neglected or abandoned simply because they are girls.

  11. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)
    • A headstrong young teacher in a private school in 1930s Edinburgh ignores the curriculum and influences her impressionable 12 year old charges with her over-romanticized world view.

  12. The Intern (2015)
    • 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin.

  13. Misery (1990)
    • After a famous author is rescued from a car crash by a fan of his novels, he comes to realize that the care he is receiving is only the beginning of a nightmare of captivity and abuse.

  14. Pariah (2011)
    • A Brooklyn teenager juggles conflicting identities and risks friendship, heartbreak, and family in a desperate search for sexual expression.

  15. The Joy Luck Club (1993)
    • The life histories of four Asian women and their daughters reflect and guide each other.

So that’s my TBW, any films you really want me to review that are on this list? Either comment below or vote in the poll.

Choose wisely my padawans.

Oh Juliet Marillier!

It was pretty exciting to look at the 2015 Aurealis Awards shortlist and see Sevenwaters as a potential winner for the Sara Douglass Book Series Award. And that Tower of Thorns is a nominee for the best fantasy novel. For those who do not know, the Aurealis Awards are the awards for Australian speculative/YA & children’s fiction. So if you’re ever interested in reading Australian fantasy, sci fi and horror – this is a great stepping stone. It will be interesting to see who wins when the winners are announced the 25th of this month.

You can see the 2015 shortlist here: https://aurealisawards.org/2016/02/17/announcement-2015-aurealis-awards-shortlists/

I’m considering reading all the fantasy short fiction – so that might  pop up here on this blog!

But without further ado – let me discuss why Juliet Marillier, author of the Sevenwaters series and Tower of Thorns, is one of my favorite authors of all time.

A few key words: Historical Fiction. Fairytale Retellings. Romance. Adventure. Magic.

I love Juliet Marillier – her prose is beautiful and easy to read, her characters are complex and endearing, and the romance – oh! It’s very easy to fall down the rabbit hole with her stories, most have kept me up till the early hours in the morning. Her novels have literally made me weep, swoon, angry (in a good way!), happy, scared – sometimes all the emotions/all together!

*I’m going to hop on the gif wagon for once.
Too much?

And I have read all her novels too, bar one because I accidentally skipped the second book in a series (eventually I will rectify that)! All have been quite good too, never has one left a bad taste in my mouth.

I have been reading her novels since my early teen years when my aunty lent me a rather used and loved version of Daughter of the Forest, a historical novel based on the Six Swans fairytale set in Ireland and England. And you will notice that most of her novels are based on the British Isles. Although there are exceptions, I love the novels set in Transylvania and Turkey and there is a Viking inspired series as well.

Things you might find her stories: Strong female characters, romance, druids, magic, changelings, sorceresses, selkies, sea monsters, little Fae folk, battles, vampires, pagan rituals, seers and many more.

Now, let’s talk about her books and where you can start:

If you want to try a standalone.

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Most of her books belong to a series, Heart’s Blood being the exception. Heart’s Blood is a Beauty and the Beast retelling set during medieval Ireland. It really plays with the fairytale, the Beast is not exactly a beast, the Beauty is a scribe and orphan and the castle is full of ghosts. This is my favorite B & B retelling of all time and I’ll heartily recommend it.

If you are a YA geek.

The Wildwood series (Wildwood Dancing and Cybele’s Secret) is based off the Twelve Dancing Princesses and Frog Prince fairy tales. Each are full of adventure, romance, sorrow and fantastical creatures. The first novel is set in Transylvania about a group of sisters who find a portal to the magical world where they can dance for one night every full moon. The second book follows one of the sisters and her adventures in Istanbul. If you are looking for a good YA series – this is a wonderful pick.

If you are looking for a long, awesome series.

I had started with the Sevenwaters series first and I don’t regret it – although there are favorites (Daughter of the Forest, Son of the Shadows and Heir to Sevenwaters) each novel is full of heart and you will easily read at least one over a weekend. The first novel is about Sorcha and is based off the Six Swans fairytale, the others follow stories about her descendants. So consider this a family saga if you will. But I think I will be re-reading this series until my dying days – it’s so good!

Other books by Juliet Marillier:

  • The Bridei Chronicles – based on King Bridei I of the Picts.
  • Shadowfell – A YA fantasy series about a girl who communicate with the fairy folk and the rebellion that unfolds.
  • The Light Isles – A Viking duology.
  • Blackthorn & Grimm – a medieval mystery series.
  • Prickle Moon – a collection of short stories.

 

Have you read the Juliet Marillier novels, did you enjoy them? And who is your favorite author of all time and why?

 

 

So Not Bookish: Firewatch, History Buffs and More.

Here comes a new series! So Not Bookish is a monthly post about all the things I’ve enjoyed that are not book related.

Movies

Deadpool

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Deadpool was easily my favorite movie of the month – it knew exactly what it was and was incredibly hilarious and fun to watch. Most of the time superhero films tend to be quite droll and uninspired, I can only really say the most recent X-Men film and Captain America: Winter Soldier are movies in this genre that I really enjoyed. So let’s add Deadpool to that already short list.


TV Shows

Broadchurch

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Broadchurch Season Two finally came to Netflix Australia, hooray! I loved this season despite the naysayers – it was broody, intense and depressing at times. The court scenes. The new mystery centralized around two young murdered girls. And of course the dynamic between Hardy and Miller – fantastic! If you are a sucker for crime dramas, particularly in small coastal towns – this is definitely the show for you.


Video Games

Firewatch

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This is a wonderful little narrative focused video game that moved me to tears. Here you play Henry, a fire lookout in the wildness of Wyoming, who during the course of the game uncovers clues about mysterious occurrences in the vicinity. His/Your only communication – a woman called Delilah based in another watch tower. I loved interacting with Delilah, the voice acting was spot on and the game looks so beautiful. If you are looking for a narrative based game, or want to try gaming for the first time I would really recommend Firewatch.


Youtube

History Buffs

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Thanks to the power of Reddit I’ve found a new favorite Youtube channel. History Buffs is essentially about dissecting historical films and whether the history presented in the film is up to scratch. These are incredibly high produced videos with awesome intros and that are funny, easy to watch and full of interesting facts about history. Now I really need to watch Waterloo!


So what were your favorite non-bookish favorites in February?