Laughter and books make life a little easier

Posts tagged “reading

Books read in September and October

Hey guys, so we’re doing things a little differently today. You may remember that I took an unexpected blog hiatus when my almost-five-year-old laptop’s hard drive failed. Last when I posted my laptop was still in for repairs and I didn’t know how much data I was going to lose. (more…)


Quote Saturday: The best part about reading

Best reading moments

Books and ebooks: a chart


I thought a chart of all the arguments surrounding the books vs ebooks debate might come in handy.


Banned books week 2014

Banned books week 2014

So last week I started talking about book banning. This week is the yearly Banned Books Week when book lovers from all over the world celebrate free speech. Far too many books are still banned and/or challenged worldwide every year. If you believe in free speech you cannot believe in book banning as well. But why does it still happen? (more…)

I read banned books, apparently.

Banned books1

As you may know, next week is Banned Books Week. I want to do a post about this, so I’ve been working through the various lists of banned and/or challenged books available on the internet. (more…)

Books read in August


Well, would you look at that, August is gone as well. Someone has definitely activated a magical science-y time-speed affecting device of some sort in my life. I’m mentally still stuck in July. Anyway, at least I still had time to read three books.


What are you reading?

So you can apparently tell a lot about a person from the kind of books they like to read. According to studies, people who like biographies are different – personality-wise – from people who like fantasy and people who like historical fiction are different from people who enjoy romance. I wouldn’t know if that is actually true, but I do know you can tell my mood and state of mind from what I like to read at a specific moment in time.




Reading surprises

Sometimes, reviewing your old reading habits can surprise you. Sometimes you’ve forgotten about books you used to love, or sometimes you come across a book again and you can’t believe that you used to love it.

Or then, sometimes, just your actual reading statistics can surprise you.

In the beginning of the year, I was looking at my “year in books” on Goodreads. It was pretty normal stuff… number of books read: close on 60… I knew I hadn’t entered every single book I read during the year (especially not those I reread for the fifth time), but it’s a fairly accurate statistic. I take my Goodreads very seriously.

Then I clicked on “number of pages read” and things changed… (more…)

So this is the promised status update

I’m home now. Back from holiday, perhaps a little more cynical (just like I always feel after a holiday) and hopefully a little more rested. I hope that I will be able to say that I am also now a little more psychologically stable. But let me start at the beginning. I’ve been very quiet for a while, so I feel that I owe this blog a proper update.

To break up this extremely text-heavy post, I will add some of my photos. Not all of them recent, but all of them mine. 🙂


Book review: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Several posts ago (I’m not going to go look for the one in question now) I stated my intention to pick a random book to read during Easter Break. I was feeling bored with everything I was reading and I thought that it would be a good way to break out of this reading lethargy. You know, I stick to my accustomed-to shelves pretty religiously. Fantasy, sci-fi to a lesser extent, some historical novels that preferably do not consist only of smut, YA occasionally and all of the millions of classical and renaissance works that I have to read for class. So I was going to ignore those shelves when looking for something new to read and look for something outside of my comfort zone. And boy, am I glad I did.


Book review: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Here is my review of A Game of Thrones. Last week I asked if you would like me to review American Gods, AGoT or something else. Beth said she would like to read this one, so here goes.

Click to view on Goodreads.

A Game of Thrones is a huge novel and the first part of an even larger series (A Song of Ice and Fire). The HBO show is Game of Thrones, but I haven’t watched that yet, so I can’t say anything about it, except that what I’ve seen on Tumblr looks great. If you’ve read my blog during December and January, you probably already know that I loved this novel. So if that’s no secret, let’s get right down to the composition of this book. I tried to make this a proper review with headings and neat little paragraphs. I’ve got a reputation as a real English student to uphold these days, after all… 😉


A long note and a short essay

Hi. I have been absent from the blog again. I had so been hoping to post regularly again, but the mundane had other plans. Simply put, my internet died. This time it was not me hitting the data cap, or some inexplicable internet silence that lasts some hours. It died, well and properly. It did not go down like a hero, fighting until the last, but I can only hope that it will have some characteristics of the archetypal, ever-renewed hero who will rise again when need is greatest. Now I can only wonder how long still before my need is greatest… It’s been a whole week. I am growing more and more bored and frustrated. Yes, I know I am addicted to the internet to a certain degree. I also know that I can live without it, but that I don’t want to. I am alone most of the time and though I am happy to be that way, the internet has taught me what community is and to have that torn away from you… (more…)

How to hit yourself through the face with your own hair

Dear me, things have been way too serious around here of late. Just look at all the serious topics we’ve dealt with: from job interviews to the future of little children to Hobbit movies… Something needs to be done. We need something a little more light-hearted, what do you say?

Cover (more…)

On Writing – Stephen King (book review)

Click to view on Goodreads

I can hardly call myself a fan of Stephen King. I read one of his books once and I wasn’t mightily impressed. I’m sure he’s a good writer, but his chosen genre just isn’t for me. If anyone call tell me which of his books aren’t gory or horror-y, I’d like to try them out. Anyway, I spotted this book on my uni library’s new books exhibition. I think it was mostly the cover that drew my attention (and the urge to procrastinate some research I had to do). So I started flipping through it and it looked really interesting. It is called a “memoir”, but King not only talks about his life, but also about writing. He talks about how he started writing, how he writes now and he gives some tips to write well.

I decided I really wanted to read this book, but I couldn’t have it because it was still on the library’s exhibition and they get a bit miffed if you want to decrease the amount of books they can display. So, I waited. And waited. And waited some more until the library finally stopped showing it off and put it one the normal shelves. I read it in three days during odd moments. It was that captivating.

In the first part of this book, King talks about his own life. He starts at his childhood (And what a crazy childhood! Seriously, if you want to read about insane childhoods, read this!) and works his way all the way up to the present. He also writes about how he wrote his first short story, about all the rejection slips he got and how he finally got published in a magazine.

In second part, he gives out some writing tips. He shows why he hates adverbs and proceeds to give some examples of other authors’ work that he finds good. He also shows copies of some of his own first drafts, with all the changes and crossings out, so that you can get some idea of how much gets changed in the revision process.

I think this is a great book, because King speaks about his life and writing so naturally (argh, an adverb!). He does use profanity, he is scatological, but it comes across so natural – it is so clearly just the way he talks normally – that it doesn’t distract. I consider myself pretty unshockable on the language front – I’m a language student after all, so I’ve seen it used in all extreme forms – but the all I have seen is often done so incompetently by authors who seem to be trying too hard to sound bad-ass. It is not so with King: he is in his natural environment.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m always interested in reading about an author’s journey to being published. Perhaps it is because I hope it will give me some clue as to what the heck I should do.

So, in terms of giving me what it promised (interesting biography, interesting commenting on writing, and useful tips) this book succeeded completely. I hereby rate it:

I recommend it to anyone who likes autobiographies or writing. Especially recommended if you like both!

I know that I picked up a few tips for my writing during NaNoWriMo (Yes, I have made my decision. I’m doing it this year. More below.), the most valuable of which was probably the question “Who do you write for?” Who is your ideal reader? You know this person well, right? So, write what you know they’ll love. You know what will make them laugh and what will make them continue reading. Put all these things in and then you will have their perfect book. When it’s of acceptable quality, show it to them. By their reaction, you will know what is good and what you need to change. In them, you will have the perfect soundboard and fan.
For King, this ideal reader is his wife, Tabitha. Well, I know who my ideal reader is. I think I’ve always known…

On Writing by Stephen King is a wonderful book and I wish I had a copy of my own.


So… about NaNoWriMo… After much, much agonising I decided to participate. What am I writing?

I know I’ll regret it if I don’t participate. But the thing is, I don’t compete if I can’t win. (In it to win it! as we always say) I’m not going to enter knowing that I won’t finish anyway. I will finish it. I don’t give in. I did it under the same circumstances last year. But you see, last year I went into it blind. I made a split second decision just days before it started. Before I could second-guess myself, the madness had already started. Now, I know exactly what I am getting myself in for. I know the mental pain that NaNo causes. I know how bad week 3 is going to be (for most people week 2 is apparently the worst, but week 3 is my death). I know how hard it is going to be to study for final exams while writing 1667 words in an hour every day. I write exams right until the very end of November this year, so there is no reprieve for me.

On the other hand, I have some advantages that not all NaNo-ers have. I am extremely writing fit – I’ve written 750 words every day for more than 600 days in a row now. I can do those 750 words easily in 15 minutes – I can do it in 10 if I have to, but that means no capitalisation and lots of typos. I am also a language student, which not only means that I have the world’s finest literature in my mind, ready to draw upon for inspiration, but that I have developed awesome (not really) note-taking skills over three years of English and also basically my own shorthand. Those lecturers don’t hang around for you to figure out how to spell Houyhnhnm (hate that word).
Well, actually I just meant to say I can write very fast. 😛

So, there are my advantages to NaNoWriMo. But I haven’t mentioned the most important one yet: if it wasn’t for NaNo pushing me, I would never have had 1 and a half novels to my name. I need this extra motivation to start writing again… So, who’s joining me for this ultimate challenge?

Random vlog

In which I talk for 7 and a half minutes about nerdy obsessions, hobbits, NaNoWriMo, get distracted by absolutely everything flying past and look everywhere except at the camera.

I know I sound weird to most of the world. Sorry if it’s annoying! Also, I seemed to have developed an allergy to breathing lately, so my nose is all stuffy and… yeah.

Why does my voice sound so weird?

I look like a school kid doing a speech.

Just look at the camera, will you?

Bad quality, ergh. Glare. Ergh. Why does it lag there. Hate lag…

Why am I doing this?

Why am I such a boring conversationalist?! I only ever use one tone of voice!


Doubts and random pointless videos aside, there’ll be a new cartoon on Monday!

Day 30 – Your favourite book of all time


This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

* This post contains some spoilers! And I’m not whiting them out again, or I’ll have to do it to whole paragraphs.
You have been warned! 😉 *

This post is way too long – my apologies! Also, sorry it is so late. I left it without queuing it up so I could post it manually (and savour its writing longer) and then obviously I only got to it now. You’ll have to get used to this again! 😛

Did all you guess yet what I am going to write about today? Yes? No? Wasn’t it that obvious? Did I gush about too many different things? Or did you always know where all of this was leading up to? Here we go… the last day of the challenge.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

I am certain that this is my favourite book of all time… most of the time. Sometimes, then I start to wonder of this is really the book that I love most of all. However, this is never for long. I always return to Tolkien. It doesn’t take much. A quote… a picture… I’ve shown you before some of the Lord of the Rings graphics that I make. It’s one of my favourite things to do and it always gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Sometimes I just decorate quotes, but more often I focus on a single subject, character or scene. I’m working on a collection of graphics – one for each one of the Fellowship. I usually take different scenes from the movies and then merge then together for a single graphic, add texture and a quote or two. It’s probably not the best graphics, but I love making them. Then, sometimes the unexpected happens…

Recently I was going through screencaps of The Return of the King movie. I was looking for the scene where Merry and Pippin are separated because I wanted to make a graphic detailing that scene. I couldn’t find it because I wasn’t sure how far into the movie it was. I was jumping around; looking for any scenes close to it that could give me a clue. Finally, I got closer and started going page for page. Eventually, I was a bit annoyed because the characters didn’t want to stop talking and just get on the horse and I didn’t dare skip a page of screenies in case I missed it. Suddenly, it hit me: it was as if the full pain of Merry and Pippin’s separation just hit me full in the face. Watching it happen frame by frame brought the truth home to me. It was not an aspect of the book or movies that I had ever paid much attention to (well, in the book it’s hardly there), but I finally understood how painful this was for both of them, but especially to Pippin, who’ve always had Merry to look out for him and now he was suddenly a child, alone in a strange country. Suddenly I couldn’t even imagine losing my best friend whom I’ve been friends with since we were little kids, much like Merry and Pippin, and especially not like this: not knowing if you’d ever see them again and not even if they are alive or dead. I started to tear up – and this is not a scene where I’ve ever been sad before. At the Grey Havens scene yes (I just can’t stand Sam’s face without tearing up) and sometimes at the scene when the Black Gate opens, I get such an icy thrill. But I’ve never cried with Merry and Pippin before.

And that is what I love about Lord of the Rings. There is always a new discovery, a new truth brought home to me, a new connection spotted. I know I analyse lots of LotR in terms of Christian allegory and no-one else has to see it that way if they don’t want to, but to me, The Lord of the Rings is a story of endurance when all hope seems gone (but it never truly is), which is especially precious to someone like me who sometimes still struggles with the darkness inside me, and the receiving of grace when you don’t deserve it at all. There was redemption even for Gollum in the end and so we learned that the pity of Bilbo indeed ruled the fate of many.

Also… oh Frodo… he never deserved any of the horrible things that happened to him. Seriously, he lost everything: his home, most of his friends, his dreams, his health and the Shire that he loved so much. Eventually, in Mordor he also lost hope, but he still found a way of going on. Mostly, this way was Sam, of course. Frodo certainly wouldn’t have got far without Sam and that is probably why some people say that Sam is the real hero of LotR, not Frodo. I think they are both heroes. Both did incredible deeds bigger than them. It wasn’t one or the other, but together they pushed on to hope’s ending and heart’s breaking.

Then Frodo failed. He failed the Quest, he failed his duty and broke under the influence of the Eye. Yet, he still received grace. He was not too far gone, because you never are. You cannot be. He may have lost everything in Middle-earth, but he gained Valinor and that is truly something to look up to.

I’ve heard many people say that there are so many books these days with plots similar to Lord of the Rings. I totally agree with that. What I do not agree with is when people say that LotR may have been the first, or one of the first fantasies of its type, but there are now so many others resembling it that LotR is not interesting anymore and has no distinguishing features to make it better than the others. There I disagree. It has distinguishing features: how many other fantasies of its type have you read where the author eventually has the hero fail in his epic quest? How many others have you seen where the saviour (unintentional maybe) is Gollum, not Frodo? Not many, if any, would be my guess. Beyond  that, it is the sheer scale of Lord of the Rings that makes it the best, to me. Beyond this one stories, we also have an entire legendarium and more, for the great tales never end. Also, Tolkien was a master of the English language and he has a way of putting things and describing things that is so wonderful and unique…

Because of the epic size of this story, I also have to admit that I have read LotR cover to cover only once. It’s simply too big for regular rereads. It has 1,030 pages plus the appendices in my edition (The one pictured up there. It’s the 50th anniversary edition!). There are some chapters that I have read several times. I regularly pick it up and just read some part. I often catch myself just reading and reading when I was really only scanning for a quote to use in a graphic. On top of LotR, I of course also love The Hobbit and I am super excited for the upcoming movie. I also own The Children of Húrin, but I never quite seem to get to reading it. Anyway, I think I should probably read The Silmarillion first, before attempting that one. I’ve read parts of The Silmarillion before, but not all. It’s not an easy read for me because I always get confused with the names of all the Elves, because they sound so similar to me and then I have to page backwards and forwards to remember who’s who. However, I’ve read the part about the forging of the Silmarils and I’ve read about the Valar and the creation of Middle-earth. I’ve also read about the first murder and the Curse of Galadriel, but there is still much to go. I think this would be my next step into the Tolkien legendarium.


And with a complete change of topic I would declare that I love hobbits. Hobbits never fail to make me smile. I think if you just saw my graphics folder you would be able to deduce that already from the amount of graphics featuring hobbits that I make, compared to graphics featuring any of the other characters or races. It used to the be the Elves that I loved that much… and while I still love them and all the descriptions of their homes, lately I have come to realise the attraction of the hobbits’ simple lives… and the great deeds done by small hands to save Middle-earth.

And my OTP (one true pairing) also comes from LotR. I don’t know why it matters, because I don’t even write fanfiction. Not really, anyway. *cough* Definitely not romantic fanfiction, though! 😉


And here at last, dear friends, we come to the end of our journey through the 30 Day Book Challenge! *

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

  • 35 posts (counting the introductory one),
  • About 40 books,
  • Some 26,000 words (that’s over half a NaNoWriMo-novel, eep!)

And hereby, by the power vested in me (because I hold the password to the blog), I declare this challenge over! Normal “Cartoons & Creative Writing” posting will resume in a few days!



*With apologies to Professor Tolkien for mangling his quote.

Day 29 – A book that everyone hated but you loved


This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

I will try to shape my thoughts about this, though I don’t have any well-ordered arguments or strong points. However, I will try to explain what I think. Everyone else is probably right and I’m being a fool. Well, here goes…


The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss

I see a lot of hate going for this book these days. (Just click on the image and read some reviews on Goodreads. You’ll see several opinions going that way.) People tell you how they threw it away after reading only part of it. People tell you how this book is the epitome of everything that they hate. People tell you that it is racist, Eurocentric and offensive.

And you know what? I know it is, but I still like it.

Let me explain… or try to, at least. I’m the last person to condone racism or Eurocentricism. In this case they are basically the same thing, so I will simply refer to racism. I hate it, it irritates me and I hate it. Though I was raised in an environment where racism was definitely not absent, I hate tried my utmost best to kill this method of thought in myself. I hope that I have succeeded. Anyway, how come I liked The Swiss Family Robinson?

It is the perfect example of colonial literature. It is absolutely a product of its times and a perfect example of the thought patterns of the colonial period. You can’t pin an accusation of racism on a book written during a period when racism was normal and common practice. Also, I don’t know how you can accuse the author of being a racist if you have not extensively done research about his work and life. You definitely can’t claim this after having read only a few of his pages. In the case of this book, I would find it difficult to venture any opinion about the author even after reading the entire book, because throughout it is written in first person – in diary form. Therefore it would be hard to tell if anything said in the book is simply the bias written into typical, colonial-stereotype characters, or if it is the author’s own opinion.


The Swiss Family Robinson is a book about a family surviving on a deserted island after having been shipwrecked. I’ve written before that I loved this kind of stories when I was younger. Perhaps this has clouded my perception of this book. I don’t know. However, I was taught to always read a book inside the context that it was written, and this book was written in a context where Europeans belittling other races was perfectly normal and happened every day. This was the colonial period. That was what happened. The book is innocent because it didn’t know of any better, right?

No? I told you that I’m trying to shape what I think, but I don’t think I’m doing very well so far. I’m not explaining well, am I? If you read classic books, you will find these kind of offensive overtones mentioned previously in many, many books. You will find them in the works of Dickens and the work of Conan Doyle. You will find them in the works of Jules Verne and Agatha Christie. These are all works that represent the thought of their time, and I cannot take offense at that, because I know that this is the way that people thought in the past. I know that this is not the way that people think now. Well, most people, anyway. Many at least.


Am I arguing about nothing here? Do you think this book is offensive? Is it simply oversensitive to say that The Swiss Family Robinson is racist? After all, there are many that say Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is racist (an argument which I think is ridiculous) and some that say J.R.R. Tolkien’s works are racist, which I can honestly not see. I think it’s a bit unrealistic to pin racism on works that take place in a completely different world with completely different peoples. Anyway, I’m digressing.

To conclude, even though I can see a way of thought that will be considered offensive these days in The Swiss Family Robinson, I cannot take offense at it or dislike the book for it. It is colonialist literature of a bygone period, from which you cannot expect a different, modern kind of thought, and that is what it represents to me. It doesn’t mean I have to condone it.


Tomorrow brings the last post featuring my favourite book of all time!


Day 28 – Favourite title


This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.


I was wondering what is meant by “favourite title”. It can’t mean the same as “favourite book” because that post is still coming, so what then? I thought it could mean a title that sounds snappy. So I tried to think of some, but all that came to mind were band names, I’m afraid. I decided there probably weren’t any snappy titles that I could write about. So I thought maybe I could write about a title that I like the look or sound of. All that came to mind was The Horse and His Boy from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Just… because. I like the way it sounds. 🙂 And I like the book too.

But it still didn’t help me, because The Horse and His Boy just didn’t seem right for this honour of favourite title. Then I thought some more and finally decided that if a favourite title is not the same thing as favourite book, then a favourite title must be something that evokes good memories… something that I associate with the mention of a title. Finally, I was getting somewhere!

The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. Yeah I know it’s a children’s book. So what? 😛

I was enchanted by this book as a kid. I read it to pieces. Not really, but it would have been in pieces had it been any less sturdy. I had the illustrated hardcover edition that is pictured up there and every single illustration simply added to the magic of this book. I once spilled water on it and I had hardly been as upset in my short life as that day. The good news is that the book survived through a lot of attention from my mother, though some of its pages remain crinkled to this day.

Actually this is the second book in The Faraway Tree-trilogy. Though I do tend to think of the trilogy as one glorious book, this second one is my favourite. It’s the first one of the three that I read and it’s the one that stuck with me, aided of course by the wonderful illustrations. As I said in Day 21’s post, Enid Blyton’s books are all sunshine and rainbows and that I believe that it is good for children to believe in this world before real life steps in. Her books were my companions in the years before everything started going wrong. They were my protectors during the time that everything had already gone wrong. Other people in the same situation had the world of Harry Potter to escape into to forget the pain, but I had Enid Blyton. Though I am not someone given to nostalgia, the way that I feel about her books, especially the wonderful Faraway Tree, comes close.


Would I read this book again, if I went and dug it out of the box where it lives these days? No, I wouldn’t. I don’t want to spoil the memories that I have of it. I want to remember it in the way that I still think of it now. I want to keep the story alive the way that I remember it – I don’t want to defile it with grown-up cynicisms.

This is why The Magic Faraway Tree is my favourite title. The mere mention of the title is enough for me to recall the happiness that I felt when reading these books. The title is enough – it is like a magic word, because at the mention of it, I can recall the story so well. Not everything maybe, but enough to have it relive. The Magic Faraway Tree may not be my favourite book anymore, but that doesn’t mean I’ll ever forget it and everything that it meant to me. At the mention of the title, the magic will relive. 😀


We’re in the home stretch now! Tomorrow’s post is about a book that everyone hated, but I loved.


Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending


This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.


I was considering writing about one or more of Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries for today’s post, but then I decided that a plot twist at the end of one of those books is not surprising, it is expected. Basically, when you pick one of those up, you are saying “Go on. Surprise me,” because plot twists are, after all, Dame Christie’s speciality.


So then I decided to write about The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is one of the four Sherlock Holmes novels written by him, and quite different in the sense that Holmes is only present for a small part of the story (similar to A Study in Scarlet). For the rest of the story, we are transported into the past and a continent away from Holmes and Watson’s quarters in Baker Street. We travel to America, to the fictional Vermissa Valley (a.k.a. the valley of fear) where coal and iron is mined, where we follow the story of young John McMurdo, who seems to be a nice guy. He is a newcomer to the valley and soon hears out that the entire valley is caught in the dictatorship of a group of men reminiscent of the Klu Klux Klan. They are the Scowrers and their word is law. At first McMurdo laughs off these dark rumours, but it is not long before he is swept up, drawn in and becomes as bad as the rest of these men who are red to the elbows with murder.

I’ll leave you to find out the fate of these men for yourself, but I can tell you that the plot twist at the end of their story had me gaping at the masterly subterfuge. Personally, I think it is the best of the four Holmes novels and it is also the one all the stories that stand out the most to me, even with the absence of Holmes and Watson. Although I am also fond of The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot, The Greek Interpreter and The Five Orange Pips none of them have a plot twist like this at the end.


On a slightly related note, has anyone else experienced that they get too good at predicting the plot of a normal book? The more I read, the more I find plots that repeated. That is what I like about Agatha Christie’s oeuvre: just when I think I know who the murderer is, taking into account her method of flitting between the most likely and least likely person, then she turns the tables on me again so that I am wrong yet again. Actually, I have only once been “right” about the ending and then just as I was congratulating myself, Monsieur Poirot said “Wait a minute,” and pulled yet another rabbit from the hat. That book has two endings: it makes you think that it is ending and then it simply picks up the mystery again and goes on. It is her first book: The Mysterious Affair at Styles.


I could name other mysteries with plot twists, but what would be the point? You already know that I love murder mysteries (I’m gruesome like that) and why else do I read them except for the plot twists? I’ll stop now before I spoil the plot of one of these mysteries. I hate it when people do that to me, so I shouldn’t be a hypocrite. 😉


Tomorrow’s post is about my favourite title.


Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something


This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

I do hope today’s post doesn’t shock anyone who knows me in real life too much! 😆

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was prescribed to me in high school. I didn’t like it. Not only was it confusing and the class discussions pretty useless, it was a matter of principle. Isn’t it that way with most people who had English in high school? You hate the prescribed works simply because they are prescribed and you have to read them, rather than for a specific thing that bothers you. Anyway, looking back now, I think I only took one thing away from this book: a changed opinion. But first, I need to tell you a little anecdote.

Four years ago, almost to the day, I joined a website called wikiHow. As the name suggests, it is a wiki (a website that anyone can edit) of how-to articles. As I learned the policies of this site, I learned that its community employs a policy of “assuming good faith”. Someone made a bad-faith edit? Assume it was a mistake. Correct it and show them the correct way. Do not flame them. Do not get angry. If you want to read the whole policy, you can do so here. It was here that I learned not to judge people.
You do not know what another person is going through. You do not know the situation. You have absolutely no right to judge someone for their actions (especially not through the internet). Anyway, what is it that makes you so much better that you can go around judging everyone else?
That’s my opinion. 😛 What a coincidence that this lesson on wikiHow coincided with the time that I had to read The Great Gatsby.

The narrator of Gatsby is Nick Carraway, a man whom others tend to trust and tell things because he always reserves judgement. It makes them feel more secure, because they know that he will not express any judgement that will make them feel bad about themselves. Along with Nick, I learned how little we actually know about what motivates others. Along with him I learned how presumptuous it is to assume that you know about people. I learned to assume good faith – it is kind to yourself and others.

This seems to be the only thing that stuck with me from The Great Gatsby. I changed my opinion about people. Like most teenagers, I used to be very judgemental about others and their actions. My lessons from wikiHow and Gatsby taught me to change my ways. Since those days, I’ve tried very hard to reserve judgement and assume good faith everywhere I go.

For example, not long ago, as we drove into a petrol station, my mother and I saw a policeman sitting on a bench, eating an ice cream. Immediately, my mother was dealing out judgement, going off about how he was slacking and should be doing his job, yet here he’s sitting eating an ice cream. All I could say was “How do you know he is on duty at the moment? Maybe his shift’s over?” I didn’t say anything about judgement, because that would only lead to a fight. People don’t take that kindly and anyway, it’s more important for me to still assume good faith.

A last word about The Great Gatsby… however much I hated it in school, I think if I got it as a prescribed book now, after 2 and a half years of English at university, I would like it much more. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was my first foray into Modernism. I didn’t know what the characteristics of a Modernistic novel are, or that it is completely different from a storybook. If you want to read it as a storybook… it doesn’t work. If I knew about literature then what I know now, I think it would have made all the difference, but we weren’t taught that in high school. High school is just very good at equipping you to hate English, not understand it. 😉

Enough of this. Tomorrow’s post is about the book that has the most surprising plot twist or ending. 🙂


Day 25 – A character whom you can relate to the most


This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

Tiffany Aching, the main character of one of the subseries inside Discworld.

Tiffany Aching is nine years old at the start of the first book about her and she has decided that she wants to be a witch when she grows up. Tiffany has the abilities First Sight and Second Thoughts. First Sight, unlike second sight, is quite rare and allows one to see what is really there, not what your mind tells you ought to be there. Second Thoughts are thoughts about your first thoughts. Later in the novel, Tiffany finds out that she also has Third Thoughts (thoughts that watches the way that she thinks about thinking) and possibly even more Thoughts.


Tiffany is the kind of person who reads a fairy-tale and then starts to question the motives of the characters. She wonders whether the handsome prince was really that handsome, or if the people simply described him that way because he was a prince. She wonders about the princess who was the described to be “as beautiful as the day”, because winter days aren’t very pretty and rather drab, compared to, say, a spring day when all the plants are renewed and blossoming.

“The stories never said why she was wicked. It was enough to be an old woman, enough to be all alone, enough to look strange because you have no teeth. It was enough to be called a witch. If it came to that, the book never gave you the evidence of anything. It talked about “a handsome prince”… was he really, or was it just because he was a prince that people called handsome? As for “a girl who was as beautiful as the day was long”… well, which day? In midwinter it hardly ever got light! The stories don’t want you to think, they just wanted you to believe what you were told…”

– The Wee Free Men, Terry Pratchett

Tiffany is the kind of person who goes and looks up words that she does not know in the dictionary.

Tiffany is described as (I’m paraphrasing here) “the person at the party who sits in the corner with a very small drink, unable to join in the party spirit, because she has a little piece inside of her that will not melt and flow with the rest”.

That last paragraph… that is basically how I spend my life. I can’t join in. There is a part of me that thinks too much and questions everything and that part will not let me abandon myself and join in whatever is going on.


It is the same part of me that struggles to really care about people and feel for people. In the last few years, I seem to have ended up at quite a few funerals. I don’t know why there are so many funerals in the family. Anyway, at all of the funerals, I have ended up simply standing there. I couldn’t join in. Everyone was crying and hugging each other and getting on with the normal business of a funeral, but something was stopping me from doing the same. I go completely numb inside and all that I can do is stand there, watching myself think. The same happens at parties, which is why I avoid the things. It’s anyway just a nuisance to me, so why should I go?


In The Wee Free Men, one of the things that Tiffany is accused of is that she didn’t cry when her grandmother died. It bothers her and she wonders why she couldn’t cry. I didn’t cry when my grandmother died either. I couldn’t: something was stopping me. My mother had dropped me off at extra lessons and when I came out of the school and walked to the car, the call had just come through. All I could do was awkwardly stand there… I didn’t know what to say or do. There was nothing that seemed natural to me to do in such a situation: not cry or say something sympathetic, which is not something that I am good at anyhow. I may have been a lot older than Tiffany when it happened to her (she was seven and I was only just seventeen), but I still identified with the way that she felt.


Like Tiffany, I tend to question everything. I’ve always wondered about the useless princesses in the fairy-tales. I’ve always wondered about the sweeping statements that they tend to make. I don’t like them and I don’t like stories that want to prevent people thinking for themselves, which is also something that Tiffany objects to. It may be unusual, but it is just the way that my mind works.

“Yes! I’m me! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don’t understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That’s the kind of person I am!”

– Tiffany, The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett.

Tiffany is actually the character that I mentioned when I was writing about my favourite female character (the one that I said I would write about later). I love how self-assertive she is. I love how much she thinks. I love how she is armed only with a frying pan and Diseases of the Sheep (a book that belonged to her grandmother). It came quite slowly, how I realised how much I identify with her, but once I realised it, the connection was clear and she promptly became my favourite female Discworld character.


“Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. “All the monsters are coming back.”

“Why?” said Tiffany.

“There’s no one to stop them.”

There was silence for a moment.

Then Tiffany said, “There’s me.”


Tomorrow’s post is about a book that changed my opinion about something.


Day 24 – A book you wish more people would’ve read


This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

I read Anne of Green Gables years and years ago. It could be as much as ten years ago. To make a long story short, I loved it. But it seems to me as though people don’t read these kinds of book anymore. Everybody I ask invariably replies the same: they’ve heard of it, perhaps seen it on TV, but they haven’t read it and that makes me sad.

I loved the Anne-series and I tried to read as many of the books as I could find. I also really enjoyed Anne of Avonlea and some of the others, but when Anne started having her own home and family, she grew beyond a world that I knew and could identify with and I lost interest in the books.

I read Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island. The first two I enjoyed, but Anne of the Island was already passing beyond my frame of reference. Anne of Windy Poplars I never could find. Anne’s House of Dreams I read, but I didn’t like it all that much (I was a young teenager, remember? It’s not really a book that I could identify with. Perhaps I would feel differently if I read it now.) I made an attempt to read Anne of Ingleside, but it didn’t really work. I know my mother then borrowed it and read it and she loved it. But I can’t really say anything about it. Then I tried to read Rainbow Valley and Rilla of Ingleside, but I had missed too much out of the series by now and the books simply confused me. Anyway, I wanted to read about Anne, not about her children and her life as mother. I also read both Chronicles of Avonlea books and liked them, though not nearly as much as Anne of Green Gables.


That doesn’t really matter, you know. It is Anne of Green Gables that matters. I wish that more people would have read this book, because I want to talk about it, but I can’t find anyone who has read it. Though, come to think of it, I would probably have to do a reread as well if I want to talk about it. 😉

What is it that makes Anne Shirley such a beloved character? Is it her spunky (ah, how wonderful to be able to use that word again) nature and her simple determination to make the best of every situation? I don’t really know, because it is so hard to define. However, I do think that it is Anne’s courage to carry that made me love her character so much. Also, I never really realised how much a part of me she became until I recently saw a light flash through my window at night. I immediately thought of how Anne and Diana signalled to each other using pieces of cardboard and candles. Also, when I first used dye in my hair, I was thinking, “I just hope it doesn’t turn out green, like Anne’s hair did.” Remember that moment when Anne had to emerge with her green hair? I think that picture has been imprinted on my mind forever!

I just love suddenly remembering scenes from books like this. It can always remind me how much a character has become a part of me. I have a way of always remembering Anne’s disaster with the cordial at odd moments and it never fails to make me smile.

Therefore, it is moments like this that makes Anne of Green Gables my book that I wish more people would have read. I wish that more people could share in moments like this.


I see that several of the Anne-books are available as free eBooks. Do me a favour and make my wish come true by downloading and trying it for yourself. Why don’t you? It’s a lovely book. 🙂

Tomorrow I write about the character that I can identify with the most.


Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t


This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

* This post may have some hints of spoilers, but nothing that isn’t floating about in the Potterverse every day. *

Well, it’s time to confess. Imagine me, squaring up to finally proclaim this publicly.

I still haven’t read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I know there are people who will hate me for this. There are those who think you can’t love Harry Potter if you haven’t read all the books. There are those who think you can’t be a “true” fan if you haven’t read all the books. I hate all these arguments. These are the reasons why, most of the time, I dislike the Harry Potter-fandom. However, I find myself drawn to it, time and again. It is fascinating and repelling at the same time.

I love Harry Potter. But I have reasons why I haven’t read it. Unlike many other people whom I’ve interacted with on the internet, I hold no fear that HP will “end” if I read the last book. Books don’t just “end”. My reasons are much simpler than that.You see, at the time it came out, I had been dealing with a lot of loss and death. I couldn’t stand, on top of all this, the death (or even just the possible death) of some of my favourite characters. My mother bought me the book when it came out, but it just sat on my shelf, gathering dust. It’s still there. I saw both the Deathly Hallows movies. People have told me about the plot so many times that I even know the differences between the book and the movies. But I haven’t actually read it.

I also have a second reason for this. After reading the sixth book when it came out – much too fast, because I didn’t actually have time for this and I was simply racing to be done – I kind of turned against Harry Potter. As I closed Half Blood Prince for the last time (I’ve only read it once) I ended up crying and being furious at Snape. From the first book, I thought he was Dumbledore’s man. Not necessarily a good man, but only in the Death Eater circle as a spy. As the sixth book ended, for the first time I was unsure. I didn’t like it, and I was starting to think this series was a mess. It was getting dragged on too long now. You see (here comes another revelation), I didn’t like the fifth book much either. Because *gasp* I never liked Sirius much. He grated across my nerves from the beginning, and between him and Harry, the fifth book was driving me against the walls. I wasn’t even sad when it happened. I was a bit sorry for Harry of course, but mostly I was just relieved.

I didn’t really want to read the seventh book anymore.

Then the Deathly Hallows Part 1 movie came out and I knew it was finally time to face this story. When I watched it, I found I could face it. I found that I have now grown stronger than the death that last time threatened to overwhelm me and keep me down. Then Part 2 came out and brought me right back home to being a Harry Potter fan. For the book, the timing was just wrong for me. For the movie, it was exactly right. I want to read the book now. But…

I don’t think I could get maximum enjoyment out of it now. I have read the first five books so many times I can recite them. I read the sixth book so fast I can only remember about four scenes from it and that’s all. I don’t think I’d understand everything and have it draw to a close if I read Deathly Hallows now. Which is what makes me want to reread the entire series. I want to start at the beginning again and read everything. Until I reach the seventh book, whereupon I will finally open it, read it, and finish it. But do you think I have time to do any of this? No, I don’t.

One day I will read this magnificent series and finally finish it. I will make one day happen. Until then, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Luna, Neville and Ginny will have to remain unfinished characters.


Tomorrow’s post is about a book I wish more people would’ve read.


Day 22 – Favourite book you own


This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

I’m not quite sure what I am supposed to write for this post.  I’ve written about this favourite and that favourite and I’m still busy with the build-up to the final post: my favourite book of all time. So what makes this post different from any of those I just mentioned? I own most of the books that I have written about in the past three weeks. That’s simply the way that I worked, not having access to a library for a long time, so I had to beg for, buy or borrow all the books that I read during that time. Now I don’t know what to write about that has not already been written about, or is still to be written about. All that I can think of to talk about is book in my collection that has a special significance for some reason or other. They may not all be favourites, but they do have something that makes them special…

The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer is the only book that I own that is autographed. I have no idea why it is autographed – I have never gone to a book signing before. I bought it that way, actually. It was at school and there was a book sale in the school library (where I worked, of course). A book store came and set up shop in the library. When I picked up this book, I saw that it was autographed on the first page: clearly it said Nancy Farmer. Well, I don’t know if its fellows were also signed. Perhaps they were. Perhaps these were pre-signed books that were then sent to be sold because no other use could be found for them. Or perhaps my copy being in this heap was just a mistake and should never have been sold in an ordinary school library. I just don’t know, but it’s mine now and I like it. I really like it, actually. For many years, I’ve had an interest in mythology and this book deals rather heavily with Norse Mythology and the writing of the Epic of Beowulf. It’s very good.

The Prisoner of Zenda is the oldest book in my collection, to the best of my belief. I had seen the animated movie and liked it, so then I picked up the book second-hand because I thought I would like it as well. Unfortunately I am now also compelled to say that I haven’t read it. I tried. I really tried, but it was so dry, so boring that I simply could not read it. Perhaps I should try again, but when I bought it I couldn’t manage it. I should go check again sometime exactly how old this book is… it’s completely falling apart and smelling very strongly of dust and something else.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone… because this is where it all began. Actually I own three copies of this book (it’s a long story). If people ask me if I’d give any of those away to people who don’t have books, I say “Sure!” and then I can’t pick which one to give away. Should I give away that very first copy? Or should I give away one of the others, each of which also has a special significance? Until I can choose, I think all three books will remain in my possession. One day, maybe I will be able to let some of them go, but for now, I would like to remember my childhood, reading Harry Potter.

And then… The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne. I absolutely loved this book when I read it as a kid. When I wrote about Treasure Island, I said that I had a thing for “deserted-on-an-island” kind of stories. I got it from the library and it was one of those copies that the library redressed when the old cover got too worn. So it had a plain green, hardback cover with the title in tiny golden letters on the spine. It was therefore not very noticeable or memorable. Well, I gave the book back to the library after I read it. Not long afterwards, the entire library was demolished to make place for a shopping centre (it was then moved lower down the street). At the same time, the library took the opportunity to redecorate and move all the books about. When I came to the new library again, several years later, everything was moved and I had no idea where to find that book again. I could remember the plot pretty well, but I had no idea who the author was or what the title was. I’m in that situation for several more books from that library actually, but don’t worry, at least this one story has a happy ending. One day last year, when I was walking the 821-shelves in my university library, a book caught my eye. It was this Puffin Classics edition of The Coral Island and as you can see up there, it is quite bright blue. When I went closer, the name sounded familiar. When I picked it up and read on the back, I knew immediately that I had found my lost book of years ago. When I found and bought this book in a second-hand bookstore, I was so happy that I now finally owned a copy of this childhood favourite. Now I can only laugh at the roundabout way that I had to find it again – first the cover, then the title and author, before I could finally search for it again.

Tomorrow I reveal a book that I have wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t.