Read To Kill a Mockingbird for the 2015 Classics Challenge!

To Kill a Mockingbird

If you’ve not yet decided which classic to read for the 2015 Classics Challenge in June (or July, if you’re a quick reader!), join me in reading Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird!

I first read To Kill a Mockingbird in August 2010, so I’m looking forward to coming back to it nearly five years later. It was one of the few classics I had read at that point (although I was doing well that summer, having also just read A Clockwork Orange and The Great Gatsby). I’ll also finally be watching the adaptation starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and Mary Badham as Scout.

5 Reasons to Read To Kill a Mockingbird

1. Read it ahead of Go Set a Watchman, the newly discovered novel also written by Harper Lee, due to be published 14th July 2015. It’s set 20 years after the events in To Kill a Mockingbird even though it was written in the mid-1950s, before the first book. Go Set a Watchman is a novel that everyone will be talking about this summer, so join in!

2. Read it for Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, the incredible narrator of To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout retells the events as an adult, reflecting upon them as experienced as a young child, between the ages of 6 and 8. “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing”.

3. Read it because racism and class prejudice still occur today, so the messages in To Kill a Mockingbird are as pertinent as ever.

4. Read it for a classic coming-of-age story as Scout, her older brother Jem and friend Dill discover more about the people and the world around them.

5. Read it because it’s Taylor Swift’s favourite book (okay, maybe this one’s just for me!).

(If want to start the book straight away, PRH is currently running an ‘official’ To Kill a Mockingbird re-read here).

Will you be re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird or reading it for the first time?

2015 Classics Challenge

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Top Ten / Books I Read at University (While I Was Supposed to Be Writing Essays)

Top Ten / Books I Read at University (While I Was Supposed to Be Writing Essays)
It’s a Top Ten Tuesday ‘freebie’ week and I thought I’d talk about the books I read at university. I don’t mean for university, but the books I read while I was meant to be writing my university essays. I have shelves on Goodreads dedicated to what I read at certain points in my life. Here’s ten books from my ‘read in university’ shelf.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is one of my absolute favourite novels. I read it during the summer break between my first and second year of university. I was a member of a few online communities and it kept popping up as a ‘must read’. I borrowed it from the library and read it in one sitting.

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld was discovered in a secondhand bookshop for only 20p. I read it before I started enjoy young adult contemporary fiction, so I’m looking forward to seeing what I think of it now!

The Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson was raced through during my second year at university. I read the second book on the way to the university library and I didn’t stop reading when I got there – I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next in Lisbeth Salander’s story!

Watching the English by Kate Fox was read during my second year at university as part of my ‘Sociology of Everyday Life’ course, an anthropological analysis of English behaviour, like an early Very British Problems!

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult was purchased from Waterstones, a rare occurrence because I hadn’t yet developed an affinity for bookshops, so only bought books online, and it quickly became my favourite Picoult novel. It’s one of the many books I want to read as part of the Re-Read Challenge!

Yes Man by Danny Wallace was bought because I loved the idea of saying ‘yes’ more. I was excited about starting my first internship at the publisher, after my second year at university, because I also enjoyed two of his other books, Friends Like These and Join Me.

The Missing by Jane Casey was acquired at the aforementioned publisher during my internship. It wasn’t until my third year at university, when I was really sick, that I started it. I felt guilty because I wasn’t doing my work but instead was reading a gripping mystery – about two children who go missing sixteen years apart – in less than two days.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was one of the first classics I had read since school. I read it on a train, on the way home during a freezing February afternoon, surprised at how engaging, colourful and readable it was.

A Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey Archer is a crime thriller borrowed from my mum. I read it shortly after I had left university, loving the fact that I could curl up with an exciting book whenever I wanted to!

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby was read a month before I graduated. Between the ages of 15 and 21, I loved music even more than I loved books. Here’s an exclusive snippet from an old High Fidelity review: “It’s interesting to read about people who understand the importance of music; those who relate it to every aspect of their lives, search for old demos or new acoustics, constantly recommend people music, and shake their heads at people who just don’t get it.”

(I noticed there are only two young adult novels and no children’s novels in this list. Oh how my reading has changed!).


Have you read any of these?

Behold the Pretty Books! / April Book Haul

Behold the Pretty Books! / April Book Haul

Here’s the lovely new books that I acquired in April!

I won a few books this month! I participated in a children’s books pub quiz and was put on a Dream Team with other lovely folk from the book industry – and we won! I won The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone (a charming and fantastical middle grade adventure) because my guess as to how many words make up The Lord of the Rings series was the closest (I think I was only 1000 out!). I also won The Rain, Dog Ears and Seed.

I went to a Literary Bingo event with my friend Kara, who won and kindly picked out Six Against the Yard (six 1930s murder mysteries) for me! I couldn’t resist buying All the Light We Cannot See when I saw a pile of them in Waterstones Piccadilly, especially as it’s just won the Pulitzer Prize! And Jim loaned me We All Looked Up as it’s our book club choice for May.

I received The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness for review from Walker Books (and some American treats). I’ve been avoiding reading anything about it so when I do read it, it’ll be a complete surprise – I can’t wait! I also downloaded Extraordinary Means for review and received The Versions of Us from Orion.

Behold the Pretty Books! / April Book Haul

I attended a blogger brunch with the lovely Ryan Graudin and heard all about her upcoming book Wolf By Wolf, which sounds utterly brilliant. She also signed a copy of The Walled City for me! I also attended the Hot Key Books & Piccadilly Press blogger brunch. I’m particularly excited about reading How to Be Bad (as I’ve read We Were Liars) and Julie Mayhew’s The Big Lie, which is set during contemporary Britain, but as if the German’s had won World War Two. We were also given Paperweight, Almost Grace, Lorali and Birdy. They all sound fab! Check out Andrew at The Pewter Wolf’s full write-up.

Have you read any of these?

Behold the Pretty Books! / April Book Haul

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Book Review: Remix by Non Pratt

Book Review: Remix by Non Pratt

Shelved: Young adult fiction (contemporary)
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

As many of you know (because I don’t stop talking about it), Non Pratt’s Trouble is one of my favourite UKYA books. I praised it for being “brilliantly written” and “wonderfully authentic and realistic”. You’ll be happy to hear that Remix is no less so. Kaz and Ruby are two best mates who have stood by each other through some tough times, so when they’re given two tickets to the hottest festival of the summer, they know they’re about to have fun they deserve. But add alcohol, ex-boyfriends and a whole bunch of lies into the mix and you get the messy world of teenage friendships.

As expected from a novel by Non Pratt, Remix gives us two witty and relatable female characters. I’ve mentioned before how frustrating it is when you’re unable to distinguish between characters when reading novels with multiple perspectives. In Remix, both personalities shine through so much that you see how the two friends change over the course of the manic festival weekend. Kaz and Ruby are two very different but equally as colourful and vivid characters, and through Non Pratt’s signature short-style chapters, we’re able to see how these two best friends feel about each other, even if they are sometimes unable to show it to each other.

It would shock many of my school friends to hear that I now rarely listen to music. Unless it’s Taylor Swift, I just do not connect. Music used to be what I would turn to in every situation and even now, when I listen to bands and artists that appeared on my playlists 10 years ago, so many memories come back to me. But I’ve never been to a proper festival, so I loved Remix for taking me there. It’s a stunning setting, one with so much energy that you fly though the story in a flurry of emotions, and not just surrounding our two lead characters. Remix introduces us to a brilliant line-up of supporting artists, from new boys and new friends to rocky ex-boyfriends and misunderstood siblings. It shows us that there’s no right way to grow up. Remix is about making mistakes (and maybe telling lies) while learning to forgive both ourselves and those we love.

Remix is another brilliant young adult novel that withholds judgement on even the trickiest situations that our young teenage protagonists find themselves in. It’ll having you opening up Spotify and looking for a new band to jump around to in no time!

Published: 4th June 2015
Publisher: Walker Books (UK) Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (US)
Pages: 304
Source: Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review!

The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Classic #4)

The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman  (Classic #4)

Shelved: Classic (short story)
Published: 1892 by The New England Magazine
Rating: ★★★★
Challenge: Classics Challenge – #4
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

Here’s my fourth post for the 2015 Classics Challenge!  It’s not too late to join me (and 170+ other people) in reading one classic per month.

‘The color is hideous enough, and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the pattern is torturing.’

Written with barely controlled fury after she was confined to her room for ‘nerves’ and forbidden to write, Gilman’s pioneering feminist horror story scandalized nineteenth-century readers with its portrayal of a woman who loses her mind because she has literally nothing to do.

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I discovered it while browsing Penguin’s Little Black Classics. I’ve always been interested in mental illness and discussions about mental illness – including taking two ‘Madness and Society’ courses at university – and so it seemed like a great one to try out. I bought it alongside The Old Nurse’s Story.

WHY I Chose to Read It
I wanted to read an ‘old’ classic in April and because I’ve been quite a slow reader this year compared to normal, I also wanted something short and swift – it was the perfect choice!

WHAT Makes It A Classic
I hadn’t heard of The Yellow Wall-Paper before picking it up, so I wasn’t aware it was a classic. I can see now that it was ahead of its time; it was seen as ‘horrifying’ and ‘chilling’ when it was first published. I think it has become a classic because it tackles something incredibly serious, but it a way that’s powerful, vivid and concise, and still resonates with people today – we continue to discuss the stigmatisation of people with mental illness over 120 years later.

WHAT I Thought of This Classic
The Yellow Wall-Paper is a story, like many classics, that becomes more enjoyable the more you think about it. I finished it quickly and I wasn’t sure what to think. Did I enjoy it? Did I get it? But I did a little research on Charlotte Perkins Gilman and why it was written. I discovered that it was based on personal experience and that Charlotte was a feminist writer who, at the time, had a radical view on gender roles. I thought about what the story represented and in doing so, I got so much more out of it. I realised that I was guilty of taking the female narrator at face value, when in fact she’s unreliable. The Yellow Wall-Paper has a different meaning once you already know how it ends and once you read it for the second time, and so it can be looked at as both a Gothic horror story and a feminist stance on women, mental illness and gender inequality. I also enjoyed reading the other two short stories included in this edition: The Rocking-Chair and Old Water.

WILL It Stay A Classic
Many people have told me they had the opportunity to study The Yellow-Wall Paper. It’s been a really popular one on Twitter and Goodreads, with many people telling me what they thought of it when they first read it. As long as academia continues to turn to it as a fascinating snapshot into how both women and mental illness were regarded in the late nineteenth century, it won’t be forgotten.

WHO I’d Recommend It To
People who want to read a classic short story, especially a feminist classic. People who are interested in mental health and the issues surrounding the treatment and stigmatisation of people with mental illness. People who want to try out one of the Little Black Classics!

Have you signed up to the 2015 Classics Challenge?

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (Classic #3)

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (Classic #3)

Shelved: Classic (science fiction, post-apocalyptic)
Published: 1955 by Michael Joseph
Rating: ★★★
Challenge: Classics Challenge – #3
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

Here’s my third post for the 2015 Classics Challenge!  It’s not too late to join me (and 160+ other people) in reading one classic per month.

David Storm’s father doesn’t approve of Angus Morton’s unusually large horses, calling them blasphemies against nature. Little does he realise that his own son, and his son’s cousin Rosalind and their friends, have their own secret aberration which would label them as mutants. But as David and Rosalind grow older it becomes more difficult to conceal their differences from the village elders. Soon they face a choice: wait for eventual discovery, or flee to the terrifying and mutable Badlands…..

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I bought The Chrysalids and The Day of the Triffids in 2013 when I visited Daunt Books, Marylebone, one of my favourite bookshops in London. I knew that his books were science fiction modern classics and that the two I picked were his most well-known novels.

WHY I Chose to Read It
It had been a while since I read my first John Wyndham novel. I read The Day of the Triffids in April 2013 and haven’t picked up a John Wyndham novel since, even though I own five now! I read an older classic in January and a children’s classic in February, so it was time to read a modern classic in March.

WHAT Makes It A Classic
All of John Wyndham’s novels are said to be modern classics because they were published during the era of great science fiction. One of the things I noticed while reading both The Chrysalids and The Day of the Triffids was how fresh and timeless they feel – they could have been published today. The Chrysalids also tackles religious fundamentalism and eugenics, issues that are still relevant today. David lives in a world where there are ‘offences’ (unusual plants and animals) and ‘blasphemies’ (humans with something unusual about them). If something is seen as being out of the ordinary – whether it’s a horse that’s a little too large or human with an extra toe – it is banished from society or destroyed, and it was easy to see that this kind of thinking is still prevalent today. It’s why I think science fiction – whether classic or contemporary – is such an exciting genre; it makes you think.

WHAT I Thought of This Classic
I loved The Day of the Triffids when I read it and I hoped that I’d enjoy The Chrysalids just as much, but unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I still enjoyed it, especially as it has a few unexpected twists and turns that make it exciting at times, but sometimes I found the religious aspect of the story to be a little too simple. It’s perhaps because the concept no longer feels that new. I loved the adult and child protagonists; they really brought the story to life. I read an article that said The Chrysalids was also a coming-of-age story, and that encapsulates it very well. Although it’s a post-apocalyptic story about living in a society where those who are seen as ‘different’ are eradicated, it’s also about young people growing up and questioning everything they’ve been told. In The Chrysalids, our young protagonists are much more open-minded than their adult counterparts; they’re curious, inquisitive and open to re-evaluating the morality they’ve been taught.

WILL It Stay A Classic
If you love post-apocalyptic fiction, there’s so many novels to choose from, so will The Chrysalids stand out another 50 years from now? It’s difficult to say because it seems like we’re in a time where science fiction isn’t just read by people who would browse the science fiction section of bookshelves, but perhaps people will continue to keep coming back to John Wyndham.

WHO I’d Recommend It To
People who love science fiction and want to delve into some of the top science fiction novels from the 1930s-1950s. People who adore young adult science fiction novels like The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. People who want a quick classic to read (this one is only 200 pages).

Have you signed up to the 2015 Classics Challenge?

Books On My TBR

Books On My TBR
Here’s some of the books that are on my current TBR!

I like to keep books that are at the very top of my TBR (‘to be read’ list) on my desk. This was made easier when I was given these lovely bookends that say ‘SO MANY BOOKS. SO LITTLE TIME’ for my birthday. On my desk at the moment, I have a few that I’ve borrowed from friends: We All Looked Up, My Heart and Other Black Holes, Friends With Boys and Cowgirl. I’ll be reading Friends With Boys first because I’m in the mood for a quick read. I borrowed this contemporary YA graphic novel from Debbie a few months ago! I’ll also pick up We All Looked Up, as it’s our next book club book.

I aimed to read only adult books in March, but I didn’t get to read as many as I hoped, so I’ve still got Life After Life and The Miniaturist left. I also bought All the Light We Cannot See this week. I want to get to this soon because I’ve been looking for it for a while, but I couldn’t find the edition I wanted – it’s just been published in the usual paperback size, so I snapped it up. I also bought Only Ever Yours because it recently won the YA Book Prize and it was one of the few books I didn’t already own!

I was also sent Patrick Ness’ new book, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, and so of course it went straight on the ‘to read soon’ pile. And lastly, I’ll be reading The Yellow-Wall Paper for the 2015 Classics Challenge. It’s my April classic and so I’m a little behind, but I’ll catch up!

Books On My TBR

I’ve also tried to make sure I don’t forget about the books sitting on my Kindle! I’ve picked out a bunch of books that I acquired from NetGalley that I want to read and review soon, so I can work on being a Good Blogger. I’m so excited to read all of the books I’ve chosen, so I’m not too sure which one I’m going to read next. The Girl on the Train was one of the adult books I was going to read in March and I’m desperate to see how it’s sold two million copies around the world already.

I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the high standard of YA published this year, particularly Simons vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, The Last Leaves Falling, All the Bright Places and The Accident Season. I downloaded The DUFF because it’s recently been adapted and I really, really must read Half Bad so I can see what everyone’s been talking about!

Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought! Which books should I read first?

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#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA

12th April is UKYA Day! Hurrah! It’s hosted by the lovely Lucy @ Queen of Contemporary and she is encouraging bloggers and vloggers to celebrate with her. If it’s not obvious, UKYA is young adult literature written by authors who are from or currently live in the UK. To celebrate, I thought I’d pair UKYA books with songs from Taylor Swift’s 1989. I cannot take credit for this idea, unfortunately, as it’s been done by a few people including the amazing Elena @ Novel Sounds, but I haven’t seen anyone do it just for UKYA – do let me know if you have!

taylorukya10

WELCOME TO NEW YORK / JESSIE HEARTS NYC by Keris Stainton

It’s a new soundtrack
I could dance to this beat, forevermore.
The lights are so bright
But they never blind me.
Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA

BLANK SPACE / HEART-SHAPED BRUISE by Tanya Byrne

“They’ll tell you I’m insane
But I got a blank space baby
And I’ll write your name.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA

STYLE / FLIRTY DANCING by Jenny McLachlan

“You got that long hair, slicked back, white t-shirt
And I got that good girl faith and a tight little skirt
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time.
Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA

ALL YOU HAD TO DO WAS STAY / APPLE AND RAIN by Sarah Crossan

“Calling me up, but I don’t know what to say
I’ve been picking up the pieces of the mess you made.
People like you always want back the love they pushed aside
But people like me are gone forever
When you say goodbye.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA

SHAKE IT OFF / GEEK GIRL by Holly Smale

“And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate
Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake
Shake it off, shake it off.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA

I WISH YOU WOULD / KETCHUP CLOUDS by Annabel Pitcher

“I wish you we could go back
And remember what we were fighting for
I wish you know that I miss you too much to be mad any more
Wish you were right here, right now, it’s all good, I wish you would.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA
BAD BLOOD / SEVEN DAYS by Eve Ainsworth

“Did you think we’d be fine?
Still got scars on my back from your knife
So don’t think it’s in the past
These kind of wounds they last and they last.
Now did you think it all through?
All these things will catch up to you
And time can heal but this won’t
So if you come in my way, just don’t.”

 

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA

WILDEST DREAMS / TROUBLE by Non Pratt

“I said “No one has to know what we do,”
His hands are in my hair, his clothes are in my room
And his voice is a familiar sound, nothing lasts forever.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA

HOW YOU GET THE GIRL / LOBSTERS by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison

“Tell her how you must’ve lost your mind
When you left her all alone
And never told her why.
And that’s how it works
That’s how you lost the girl.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA

THIS LOVE / HOW I LIVE NOW by Meg Rosoff

“In silent screams,
In wildest dreams
I never dreamed of this.

This love is good, this love is bad
This love is alive back from the dead
These hands had to let it go free
And this love came back to me.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA

I KNOW PLACES / THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO by Patrick Ness

“They got their cages, they got their boxes, and guns
They are the hunters, we are the foxes and we run.
I know places we won’t be found and they’ll be chasing their tails trying to track us down

Cause I know places we can hide.”

#UKYADay: Taylor Swift Meets UKYA

NEW ROMANTICS / CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein

“Cause baby I could build a castle
Out of all the bricks they threw at me
And every day it’s like battle
But every night with us is like a dream.”

Do you have any great UKYA + Taylor Swift suggestions? There must be books that match perfectly with Wonderland & Clean out there! Find out more about UKYADay here.

UKYA Day