The Reasons I read…

I was not the most academically minded at primary and secondary school, in fact I didn’t get very good grades in English for a long time. It was my weak link, and I went to extra curriculum classes in primary to catch up. I felt bad about this and as a result shied away from reading or anything really school related. I managed to get good enough results to go to college where I met Sophie who quite honestly turned my ambitions around. I then started working harder and aspired to more than before. As a result I managed to get into university and then get my degree. I have lot to thank Sophie for. I also always wanted to read thanks to my parents who have always read a little here and there.

My Dad is very much into Jack Higgins and James Patterson or any Spy Thrillers really whilst my Mum has always been more likely to read Jodi Picoult or romance although she does like the odd mystery novel. Sam, my crazy sister, likes to read almost everything but her favourite is John Green (eugh) haha. Overall my family read more than average I would say and as a result I am a keen reader.

Finally, you all know how much Sophie reads (a crazy amount) her enthusiasm has definitely worn off on me. My favourite genre would probably be Thrillers, however I do enjoy the odd Classic too such as Fitzgerald and Hemingway.

Why do I read?

  1. Getting taken to a different world and seeing things from a different person’s perspective.
  2. Expanding my knowledge
  3. Help relating to others
  4. To get better at writing
  5. To share thoughts and have discussions with people, specifically those close to me
  6. Because Books, right?

That’s just a little insight into me.

 

Danny

5 Books I am dying to Read

The top 5 Books I am most looking forward to reading this year

I have been challenged to read many books this year and I really hope to complete them all by the end of the year. But which books do I want to read the most?

  1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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This is actually one of the books I have been challenged to read this year which is really convenient. I have wanted to read a Dickens for so long and just never gotten round to it. I have already discussed my thoughts on the book but just getting my first Dickens under my belt is really exciting.

  1. The Resurrectionist by James Bradley

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I bought this book shortly after completing my dissertation on Grave-robbing Laws in England and Wales in the 19th Century. I of course am very interested in the subject, as I wouldn’t have written my 15,000-word dissertation on it. I cannot wait to pick this up and see what the idea is behind the novel.

  1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

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I actually bought this for Sophie as a Christmas Present along with the other shortlisted Man Booker Prize nominees. I read the blurb at this time and thought it was really interesting. I have also only heard good reviews on Instagram and want to see what all of the fuss is about.

  1. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

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Last year I read Hemingway’s the Old Man and the Sea. It since has become one of my favourite books I have ever read. Sophie has read a Farewell to Arms and has only good things to say. Therefore I cannot wait to read more Hemingway and this has to be the next one I pick up.

  1. The Golden Compass by Phillip Pulman

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This again is a recommendation from Sophie as are most of the books we own. Sophie loves Phillips Pulman’s work and has even been to meet him in person when he visited Durham last year. She was so excited and has wanted me to read this for so long. Also not to mentioned I have also been challenged to read this by my sister Christie. It must be good right?

Anyway I am going now so I can go and finish my current read so I can go and start on one of these.

 

Danny

March TBR

(S) I hope to read all the books in my library haul which you can find here. I also hope to finish reading the short story collection Legoland by Gerard Woodward and The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. Also, if time allows I would like to finish reading classic crime novel Greenmantle by John Buchan, I read the first novel of this series The Thirty-Nine Steps last year and I really enjoyed it, its sequel has came very highly recommended to me.

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(D)

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The Art of being Normal by Lisa Williamson

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl.

I have been challenged to read this and so far it is a quick easy read. I cannot comment too much as I am only on page 18 but I hope to complete as soon as possible.

 

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Tokyo Ghoul 3 by Sui Ishida

I have already finished books 1 and 2 in the series and would like to continue. So far the animation is brilliant and the story is captivating, it is also a nice break from the normal prose.

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I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Another one I have been challenged to read by Amy (my sister) for this years challenge. As I have previously discussed this one is very intriguing. I have already read the Book Thief and loved it, hopefully this will be as good.

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The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket

Not much needed for discussion. I have recently reviewed the first four in the series along with the new Netflix Series. I am simply eager to find out what happens next.

 

We’ll keep you posted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading Habits Tag

When is the best time to read? Is that even a question? Well I have decided to do this tag and express my reading habits. This tag was created by TheBookJazz, I am going to run through the following questions:

Reading Habits

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?
3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?
4. Do you eat or drink while reading?
5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?
6. One book at a time or several at once?
7. Reading at home or everywhere?
8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?
9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?
10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
11. Do you write in your books?

So let’s start, I find it quite ironic that I am writing about my reading habits rather than actually reading but anyway let be crazy.

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

Not really, I do enjoy waking up on a weekend and going down into my living room and reading on the far end of the sofa near our living room window. This is usually when Sophie is still asleep and therefore the whole house is silent which is my favourite situation for reading.

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

This one is a bit more complicated, I normally use whatever is going closest to me. If that happens to be a bookmark it will stay in a run of my books and will only change when I eventually finish a book and don’t immediately start another one. Currently whilst I am reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac I am using the ace of spades from a mini pack of cards that was in a Christmas Cracker.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?

I can just stop if need be but I prefer to finish the chapter. I would used to set myself a target of around 50 pages but this would depend on how the chapters ran. If it ended on 49 pages an I was running out of time to go out I wouldn’t pressure myself to continue reading as I wouldn’t be able to finish the chapter which would just annoy me.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?

Do I eat or drink, anyone knows me knows that I am always eating and drinking so the answer is Yes.

5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?

I cannot do anything whilst I am reading if I want to concentrate on the book. The only time my concentration levels are good is when I am at work. When I am at home if I want to read I don’t like any background noise and I certainly cannot watch a movie at the same time.

6. One book at a time or several at once?

I used to only read one at a time until I had finished it, however this was one of the reasons I ended up being in such a reading slump last year so I am now reading a couple at once and switching between which one suits my mood each time. I think this is going to prevent me from being in a slump in the future.

7. Reading at home or everywhere?

I normally read at home but it doesn’t mean that I can’t read anywhere but home. Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) does say “Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” I try to be as trustworthy as possible.

8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?

Silently?? This is weird question…

9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

No I don’t see the point in ruining the end of the Book. I only look ahead to see how many pages I am letting myself in for. Not that I am going to turn my nose up at a lengthy book but I like to challenge myself to read a book as quickly as I can. I will never keep up with Sophie though.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

I am not a murderer! If the spine is already broken then I will enjoy the freedom but I would never plot to break the spine. I mean this action alone would get me crucified by Sophie never mind break all my morals. I realise this answer may be a bit over the top but trust me both my Sister Sam and Sophie both think books are to be treated with respect and I completely agree. No breaking spines! 

11. Do you write in your books?

Hello…? Did you just read the answer above? The only books I have ever written in were for University and that was in order to help my understand the latin. I did not do it very often before everyone goes crazy.

So thats all folks, my reading habits. On a side note I am also a very slow reader or at least I am compared to Sophie who could read several books in a day. I did however do a competition with my sister to see who could read the most and I won by a small fraction but I think that is down to the fact I am just really competitive.

Bye for now..

 

Danny

Annual Reading Challenge meets Judge a Book by its Cover Challenge (Inception)

We did this same Challenge Last year, this challenge is between me and Amy, Sophie’s little sister. Sophie and Christie are also doing the same thing. First of all I will run through my thoughts on each book by judging the cover (I know don’t judge! get it…) I will also read the blurb and pass comment on the same. If you have ready any of these then please do not hesitate to comment you opinions below.

The 5 books Amy challenged me to read this year are:

  1. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
  2. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R.Tolkien
  3. The Art of being Normal by Lisa Williamson
  4. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  5. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

So down to my reviews

  1. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Front Cover

First of all I will say that last year I was challenged by Christie to read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and absolutely loved it. I am therefore really excited before even reading the first word on the blurb. The front cover shows a blurred yellow Taxi which kind of reminds me of New York. Other than that there is what looks like another vehicle, potentially another cab going much quicker and therefore is even more blurred. I think from just looking at the front cover all I can assume is that this novel is not set in the same era as Zusak’s other book. If I was to go literally then I would say about a man or woman (maybe a cab driver) in New York who is there to deliver a message. This is probably completely wrong but I am writing this off the cover alone.

Blurb

I am not going to write the blurb down here as I am too lazy however I am happy to say I was right with the Taxi Driver, the blurb makes the character seem younger than I was expecting though I don’t really know what I was expecting. The concept of this, sounds kind of like a vigilante revenge story until it reads “Who’s behind Ed’s Message?” This gives the implication that something either happened to Ed to make him into a good person acting for what he deems is right or on a more sinister turn that someone is forcing him to act in the way he is. Obviously either way I will not know until I read but good news is I am quite intrigued by what I have seen so far.

 

  1. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R.Tolkien

Front Cover

I have already read the Hobbit and seen all 6 movies in the Franchise, there is not much I can really say about this apart from the cover of this edition I have borrowed from Amy is pretty cool. It has the ring with elvish written around the circle and what looks like an eye of which I can only assume is Sauron. Either way I loved the Hobbit and am looking forward to reading this too.

Blurb

Again this is a bit pointless as I know what is going to happen however I am excited to see if the film missed any big parts from the book.

 

  1. The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Front Cover

The Front cover here shows a Female silhouette (toilet stickman) ripping off an ‘outsershell’ of a male silhouette (toilet stickman) and standing proud. This gives me the impression that it is about gender identity and namely the transition of a male into a female. I am guessing it is about someones sex change and the story of whether or not this is normal in society. It may be about differing opinions on the issue and other peoples definition of being normal. Either way it is an interesting concept and it is probably not something I would generally pick up myself but that is the whole point of this challenge.

Blurb

The blurb has highlighted that this book is about the struggle of a young man in school who is not gay but rather doesn’t feel as though she was born the correct gender. Obviously this is interesting, it is hard to know whether or not the story is true to real expiriences unless of course Lisa was once Liam and then it would have a different meaning completely. Again I am interested however I wouldn’t have picked this myself.

 

  1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardogo

Front Cover

This cover is very intriguing. It is is a crow mid flight over cloudy buildings and a phrase “Six Dangerous Outcasts. One Impossible Heist”. I am hopeful that this is going to be like a darker cooler Oceans Eleven. I would be likely to pick something up like this myself and therefore I am quite excited to read. I love books that are quick paced and keep you guessing I feel like this is going to be like that.

Blurb

So my idea of a darker cooler Oceans Eleven is a bit wrong as it sounds more like Lord of the Rings Meets the Italian Job. It has a lot more mythical aspects and creatures and it is more obvious that it is definitely a YA novel than just the cover alone. I am obviously not against YA as some of my favourite reads of last year were YA. I hope it lives up to expectations… I am excited for this but not as much as I am for the final choice.

 

  1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Front Cover

I know this is a classic and the Clothbound edition which I have borrowed from Amy doesn’t give much away. If I were to say what the book was about from the cover I would say it is about a chandelier salesman or maybe a chandelier hoarder. Either one does not seem likely…

Blurb

After finding the blurb online due to the lack of blurb on the Clothbound Classic I am really excited to read my first Dickens. Thank you Amy! I will be looking to review this as well. I know it is like a crazy famous classic with numerous adaptations. I cannot actually wait for this one and would probably put this at the top of my list.

 

Finally I think I will also do the Try a Chapter Challenge and try and rate the books from the first chapter of each. I will do that shortly. Anyway any questions or comments on Amy’s suggestions then let me know.

 

Danny.

Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality

This is an appreciation post as well as an honest insight into the last year of my life. 2015 was the hardest year of my life. There was nothing tragic other than the deep pit of depression I ended the year in. I might still be there if not for the people around me. I showed my depression to those I don’t live with in subtle, uncontrollable ways not wanting to burden them with my problems. I did not do this because I believed they didn’t or wouldn’t care if I told them all, I did it because they had their own worries and I had to work things out more before I spoke to them. I’d constantly let my parents know I was second-guessing my post-grad course at university in the hope of a reassuring pep talk, and while these did at first make me feel better it was the support alone that improved my mood because on a day to day basis I felt completely alone. Although I had to tell my family there were a few people I did not have to tell. My fiancé and my younger sisters, they are the reason this is as much an appreciation post as anything else. My sisters would come to our flat every Friday night and for a long time those Fridays allowed me to be a completely different person (and by that I mean I was almost the exact same person I was before not the person I had become) because there is nothing I cannot tell my sisters. They are without a doubt the greatest friends I will ever have and people I couldn’t keep anything from even if I wanted to. I truly feel for people who do not have those people they know they can trust and they know will not judge them no matter what. If you have been through similar experiences or are still currently in that pit, comment or message and I will reply. It may not help and I don’t know everything but if anything you will be listened to, you will be heard and you don’t have to hold anything back. There are no other opinions I regard as highly as these three people in my life. The other person, my fiancé and fellow blogger, he was always there. I felt like I existed when I was with him and didn’t have to put on an act to pretend to be happy. This might sound strange but I could be completely miserable around him and it helped me get through those long months.

 

The depression was a result of my post-grad course; it brought about the realisation that the career I had worked towards for four years, volunteering in a local school alongside undergrad and a language course at night and a part-time job, was not for me. My time volunteering whilst not a waste was now useless. It was my dream and it was not what I thought it would be. It wasn’t just my future it was to be ours and yet he did not think about that for a second, in his eyes it was never about him, it was only me. He wanted me to give it up and I thought he didn’t understand how big a deal that would be, how significant and circumstantial it would be to my life, but he knew much more than me. I told my parents I had decided to leave my course before the new year, doing otherwise felt like lying and although I wasn’t completely sure of the idea of dropping out I knew I would be happier in the long run. I wanted to start the New Year by starting to claw my way out the pit. I knew then as I still do, that hard times will not only belong in my past but I fully believe that my depression will. If I had different parents I would still be doing that course. They were not happy with my choice, as they knew how hard I had worked to get there and had blindly supported me along the way. Nevertheless when I explained to them how miserable I would be continuing down that road for another seven months they allowed it. I gave them a few days to take it all in as it had taken them by surprise. I had kept it from them, but there were those three people in my life who were not surprised. Of course I had asked them their thoughts, and they said they did not want to see me upset anymore. It takes bravery to take a part in the life-altering decisions of your loved ones. If I didn’t have these three people I would still be in the pit, I’d have to stay there for seven months in the hope it would get better. That is not the way for it to get better. If you need time to just be around the right people before you share anything then take that time and don’t feel guilty about it. Pressuring yourself to have all the answers will never help it will just drag you down deeper. Nobody has all the answers and intelligence is in knowing that. Tell people you can trust, whether it’s those already in your life or third party outsiders from support networks. There are ways I got through it that didn’t involve other people, read up on it, not diagnosis or symptoms just fiction that deals with relevant themes and quotes from your favourite literary greats and your idols. I turned to books as I’ve done my whole life, not for escape but for understanding. A wise man once said ‘we read to know that our longings are universal belongings, we read to know we belong.’ I also found solace in music and could often be found belting out Adele ballads with tears rolling down my face. Do what you love; my fiancé was the one who told me to pick up a book again. That side of me had been lost and he knew it would bring some part of me back and make me feel better, it made all the difference; it gave me back part of my identity.

 

We had got engaged in summer and I started my course in September, the first month went well. October followed and things changed. My course demanded all my time; it consisted of long days and longer nights. When things went badly I was inconsolable for days or weeks and when things went well and I should have been celebrating I was indifferent. The real reason I was so unhappy was because I never thought for a second that this course and career would be anything other than amazing. I had our future all planned out in my head and the thought of having it any other way was terrifying. The thought of starting from scratch and having no solid, reliable career pathway in mind was really scary. I felt pressured, alone and lived on the verge of tears and mental breakdown for a long time. When I left my professional course I was also leaving a career and with a wedding this summer I had never felt younger. The only other thing I have ever wanted to do is write. Everyone associates writing with difficult financial circumstances and it is common knowledge how difficult it is to become a successful writer. I had gone from a career that would start in September so leaving my course to tread unknown waters; I thought it was the biggest risk I could take. Although I know now that letting myself get pulled further into depression would have been much more of a risk. I will spend my life repaying the three individuals who were there when I changed my life and who helped bring me back to who I was before, although perhaps a wiser, more grateful version. And of course to my parents who decided to be disappointed with me rather than in me. I dedicate this post to my sisters Amy and Christie who prove to me each day that blood is thicker than water, who share my sorrows as much as my joys and who constantly make me proud not only of them but of myself. Last but not least to Danny who is not of my blood but my soul, thank you for being there through the good and the bad. Thank you for devoting all of your time trying to make me smile when I couldn’t possibly mean it. I hope you find happiness in the thought that although you did not always achieve this you ultimately won, and we both know how much you enjoy winning. I don’t know how I could ever make this up to you but know that I will spend my life trying. I’d also like to make an honourable mention to Sam, Danny’s sister, know that you are also my best friend and my sister. I only kept this from you as I didn’t want you to have to lie or keep things from your family. I know how hard that is and I didn’t want that for you. Nevertheless you played your part so thank you.

I am writing this from a happier place. I am living, breathing proof that things get better and one day you will look back on hard times and cry with happiness instead of sadness. Although that might just be me, I will forever be a crier. Thus I leave you on a happier note with a list Danny wrote of things that made me cry in an Internet tribute to the original ‘crying girlfriend list.’ I would like to explain these over-reactions by saying they all took place in those dark months but I don’t want to lie to you:

 

Things that made Sophie cry:

When I bought her paprika pringles that she didn’t ask for

When she watched Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and Hilary Duff was made the godmother to Norah’s baby

The Strictly come Dancing final even though she doesn’t like it and hadn’t watched that season

A Harry Potter video, fan-made

American Idol- both when people get through and when they get sent home

 

P.S make time for the small things and the big people,

 

Sophie