Read 100 Books in 2017 - AUGUST

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New Personal Best: 28 frickin' books in August! I'm now on on a grand total of 73... Helped enormously by a week away in France where I basically ate cheese, drank wine, sat in the sun and read. I'm also taking part in the Writers' HQ #sarahreads challenge in which I'm forcing my WHQ co-director Sarah conquer 10 classics she's never read. I'm only slightly better - I've only read 5 of 'em and a long time ago in my English Lit A-level days, so I'm reading along with her. We're currently 2 in and will be updating with (ever so slightly drunk) vlogs about our progress, like this somewhat scathing review of Gatsby - check out the list below if you wanna join in.

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Right, back to my August reads. 

Favourite: Gnnnaaaauughh don't make me choose. So many good ones this month. In non-fiction I absolutely LOVED Cleopatra by Stacey Schiff, closely followed by the puntastic Away With Words (Joe Berkowitz), the whistle stop tour of A Million years in a Day (Greg Jenner), and the dramatic philosophy of Impro (Keith Johnstone). In fiction, I'd highly recommend The History of Love (Nicole Krauss) and The Coward's Tale (Vanessa Gebbie) if you want to cry over beautiful words and uplifting-yet-tragic stories. It was also veerrrrry interesting (and also depressing and infuriating) to read The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas), The Color Purple (Alice Walker), and To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) back to back, which demonstrated that racial issues in America are still (obviously) very much fucking shit. 

Least Favourite: I gotta say I had very little time for The North Water, even though it was sort of a warm up for attempting yet again to read Moby Dick. I'm on a bit of a roll with not enjoying Man Booker longlisters and this did not buck the trend. See also The Many, on the nautical theme. Both books were very well written - amazing imagery and wonderful words, but I just couldn't ENGAGE and was left feeling kinda mehh. Oh, I also fucking hate The Great Gatsby (see video link above) but that's nothing new. 

Also Worth Mentioning: In desperate anticipation for Patrick Rothfuss' next instalment of the Kingkiller series, I ripped through The Slow Regard of Silent Things which made me uncommonly emotional about inanimate objects.

Next up: For the #sarahreads challenge, Frankenstein, and for my own pleasure, Brutus and Other Heroines by Harriet Walter.

Join the #Read100Booksin2017 Facebook group here, check out our Writers' HQ video updates here, and stalk me on Goodreads here.  

Posted on September 1, 2017 and filed under Projects, Reading, Writers' HQ.

Read 100 Books in 2017 - JULY

  • The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
  • If We Were Villains by M L Rio
  • Immortal by Gene Doucette

THREE? Is that all? Yeah, I've been busy. I'm also 3 behind schedule (even though my grand total is a pretty smug 54). But in my defence I have 15,000 words of Shakespearean dissertation to write in the next two months and one of the books I did read was a brick.

Favourite: If We Were Villains - what's not to love? A murder mystery involving a bunch of beautifully pretentious Shakespeare college students/wannabe actors. 

Least Favourite: Immortal - I mean, I still enjoyed it, but out of the three it came last. Sorry. Interesting premise (immortal guy dealing with 21st century technology as someone tries to track him down) but I kinda... drifted occasionally. 

Middle favourite: The Shadow Rising  - since there are only three, thought I'd say something about this one. So my dad bequeathed his fantasy book collection on me when he moved (and switched exclusively over to Kindle) so I've been working through these mothersuckas. I love this world, but the cover art is horrendous, which makes them a bit embarrassing to read in public. And they're all about 3 times as long as a 'normal' novel so do NOT help with the trying to read 100 books in a year thang. Ho hum.

Next up: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss - another on-the-shelf-forever book that deserves some love, and highly recommended by several trusted friends/family members. 

Join the #Read100Booksin2017 Facebook group here, check out our Writers' HQ video updates here, and stalk me on Goodreads here.  

Read 100 Books in 2017 - JUNE

  • Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig
  • King Lear by William Shakespeare
  • Wise Fools in Shakespeare by R H Goldsmith
  • The Lear World by John Reibentanz
  • The Fools of Shakespeare by Frederick Warde
  • Shakespeare's Motley by Leslie Hotson
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman (re-read)
  • Fool by Christopher Moore
  • Ms Marvel Vol 1 by Willow G Wilson (re-read)
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Favourite: Everything I Never Told You - there was full on crying when I finished this one, and I tore through it in about a day and a half. Closely followed by Ms Marvel - a re-read with my 9-year-old son who has now declared her his favourite super hero EVER). Oh and The Princess Bride for the most meta fairy story ever to exist.

Least Favourite: Hey, guess what my dissertation's about. I actually enjoyed all my research reading, though Frederick Warde is talking out of his ass. I also felt a bit disappointed by Aftermath, despite loving both Chuck Wendig and the Star Wars EU. It read too much like a screenplay and had waaaaay too many minor/incidental characters to allow me to actually give a shit about the main ones. Kinda like Rogue One (sorry).

Next up: If We Were Villains by M L Rio - and probably not much else because now I have to stop reading and actually WRITE my frickin' thesis. 

Join the #Read100Booksin2017 Facebook group here, check out our Writers' HQ video updates here, and stalk me on Goodreads here.  

Read 100 Books in 2017 - MAY

  • Saga Volume 7 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  • The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett (re-read)
  • Rawblood by Catriona Ward
  • The Bone Readers by Jacob Ross
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J K Rowling (re-read)
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (re-read)
  • The Good Immigrant (ed) by Nikesh Shukla
  • Shakespeare's Clown by David Wiles
  • Performing Shakespeare's Tragedies Today (ed) by Michael Dobson
  • Praise of Folly by Erasmus
  • The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Favourite: Don't make me choose - so many good books this month. Favourites-plural were The Good Immigrant, Rawblood, and on a dissertation-nerdy level, Erasmus is my dude (no, seriously). Also enjoyed Long Way... Planet and Knife of Never Letting Go and Bone Readers for totally different reasons (a romp of a space opera; high-stress close POV sci fi; Caribbean murder mystery). There were ALSO a coupla re-reads on there, which are always fun. All in all a very enjoyable reading month.

Least Favourite: Honestly, I didn't not-enjoy any of them. 

Next up: More Shakespeare, and Chuck Wendig's Star Wars: Aftermath.

Join the #Read100Booksin2017 Facebook group here, check out our Writers' HQ video updates here, and stalk me on Goodreads here.  

Posted on May 31, 2017 and filed under Life, Projects, Reading.

She Drew the Gun - Poem

I honestly don't have any words for all the shit that's happening in the world at the moment but this song/poem by She Drew the Gun sums it up pretty fucking well.

Listen/read and please please VOTE on the 8th of June. 

Poem - She Drew the Gun

Can't believe what I'm reading when I open these sheets
They've got police gettin' busy and cleaning up the streets
'Cause that's what we need now to make the place neat
Take the homeless man's rags, no sleeping bags, no place to sleep
Because we're far too civilised around here to see
An unkempt human being, a broken human being
Open up your eyes are you seeing what I'm seeing?
Yeah a misplaced made to feel disgraced human being
Well it's not enough to just pretend that you don't see him
You can't stand the sight so you've got to disappear him
Well I hope you feel more comfortable doing your sight-seeing
Taking pictures, buying fucking Union Jack magnets and key rings

Life give me something to believe in
No lies, just something to believe in
Am I the only one that's grieving?
These things that belong to you and me that they are thieving

And how long until they build a wall and call it a private city?
They got walls made out of laws to exclude you and me
And now they take away our right, to fight those laws for free
No legal aid, no more justice, only for the wealthy
Oh but they're trying to build a more healthy society
So that everybody knows you don't get nothin' for free
No scroungers, no living room loungers, living off me

Can I suggest you're seeing exactly what they want you to see?
A monster, a cancer, threat to your liberty
How 'bout a scapegoat for their crimes, a victim of the times
Everything that you're not meant to be
How 'bout a badly prepared, scared human being?
How about a necessary cog in their economic machines?
'Cause if there was no unemployment tell me how would things be
Would you still feel lucky to be working 40 hours a week?

We're like a caged bird and they got us by the beak
Give us enough to eat, enough to sleep, enough to tweet
But there's not enough space between the ground and our feet
We're singing songs of freedom but we're not flying free so

Life give me something to believe in
No lies, just something to believe in
Am I the only one that's grieving?
These things that belong to you and me that they are thieving

And this whole world's got me hurting
Got me feeling undeserving
Got me questioning my worth in this sad system that we're serving
Found no place in this twisted race for property
Is making profit the sole aim of humanity?
Protect the banks, bring out the tanks if they disagree
While we're at it let's invest some more in military
All our friends have shares so why shouldn't we?

And now the markets are demanding that we give away for free
Everything that our grandparents fought for to some company
It's called wealth creation, yeah, it's more efficient you see
Well sorry I forgot the free market would set us free
I forgot to only think about I am and me
While brothers and sisters have nothing to eat
Brothers and sisters, at home and overseas
So I can't lie down and I wont let it be
While we are working for a market that doesn't work for we

These things that they're thieving, they're yours and mine
You know that they're still stealing, but there's still time
If you feel this way too

Posted on May 23, 2017 .