Reader vs Book: The Very Hard Book™

 

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Like with ‘If on a Winter’s Night’, I’ll always come crawling back to this little blog. Eventually. 

If you’re a big reader, like me, then you’ll know this feeling. You pick up the book, only to put it down unfinished after a few chapters. You pick it up again a while later, determined to finish this time…only to put it down yet again. A third time, this time you’ll do it. Then you remember why you put it down twice before.

That book for me is Italo Calvino’s ‘If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller’. I like metafiction. I like the concept, and the plot. Much of the book has me reading along happily, but I am still finding it a challenge to get through. It could be me, it could be Calvino – or maybe it’s a bit of both.

Personally, I don’t have much time for reading; I try to do it on my lunch breaks, but I am exhausted lately so that doesn’t happen as frequently as I’d like. As for Calvino, he’s a man of many words. Many, many, many words. He could be describing putting his socks on and make it last 6 pages. His prose is good, don’t get me wrong, but the superfluous rambling narrative voice isn’t the most engaging while you’re just trying to eat your sandwich and have some time away from screens.

This book is a big challenge. I have an English degree and review books on here for fun (admittedly very erratically!) and it’s a challenge, but I will finish it. I am coming for you and your needlessly long prose, Calvino! Look out for the review – even if it takes 6000 years.

See you soon,

Ro x

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Supermassive Book Haul!

You know the feeling. You’re on Amazon and put a book in your basket. Just one. Your recommendations show another one that sounds interesting… plus one you’ve been meaning to read for ages is on sale, and….the next day a large box turns up at your door bursting at the seams with new reads.

So this isn’t really supermassive, I just liked the word play. I got 9 books recently; a few at a charity shop, and the rest on Amazon (I’m not wading in on that debate, of course I support indies but I don’t have any independent bookshops near me. It would be the dream to open one, though). I got some that I know will be absolutely brilliant, and some I’ve never heard of; some classics and some contemporary. I think I got a pretty good mix and I’m excited to get to reading!

So far I’ve only read one of them. Seeing them all in front of me made it so hard to choose which one to read first, so I did the only logical thing… numbered them all and used a random number generator to make the choice for me.

That choice was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. You have no idea how many people have nagged me to read this. Published in 2003, I’ve been told to read this since about 2006. I spotted this in a charity shop and knew I had to finally pick it up. I’ll review it at a later date, but I certainly don’t regret reading it.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

My current read is the first in Maya Angelou’s autobiographical series. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings depicts Angelou’s early years in 1930s/40s Arkansas. I’m about half way through and am really enjoying learning about such a remarkable, strong woman. Again, I don’t want to review it right now (especially as I haven’t finished it) but it’s a winner so far.

Several books I bought are classics. They’re books I’ve meant to read and should have read before but haven’t. If you’re looking to get into some classics I would recommend looking on Amazon around now; they seem to be selling them cheap around this time, presumably for students. Be warned that your recs will include GCSE/A level study books for the popular ones, though!

Mrs Dalloway

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I’ve been told to read Virginia Woolf for years. Several people have been surprised that I’ve never read any of her work, so when I found this gorgeous copy of Mrs Dalloway in Oxfam I knew I had to pick it up.

The Great Gatsby

Okay, confession time. I did start to read it as a teenager, but I didn’t really engage with it. We’d watched a film adaptation in my GCSE English class but didn’t actually study it. When I say we watched the film adaptation, not that anyone at that age paid a whole lot of attention. I had very little idea of what it was /actually/ about, so when I tried reading it I got distracted easily and I don’t think I actually finished. That is to say, I don’t actually remember. I know how important the book is though, and adult me is ready to give it a second chance. I’m also loving retro fashion at the moment so some 20s vibes would be cool.

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men

I feel like this and Gatsby are both texts everyone in the country seems to have studied at school…except me. I don’t really know what this is about but I know that I’m bored of getting funny looks for being the English grad who’s never read Steinbeck!

Nineteen Eighty-Four

One classic (or, modern classic at least) I have read is Animal Farm. I’ve wanted to read Nineteen Eighty-Four for a long time and so seeing it on my recommendations and on sale felt like a bit of a sign.

Now, The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t exactly a classic yet, but I have a feeling that’s where it’s heading. Another I’ve been nagged and nagged to read, this was another on sale that I had to get. I can’t wait to read it (then binge the TV show). I loved Atwood’s narrative voice in The Blind Assassin and it’s almost certain I’ll love The Handmaid’s Tale, perhaps even more.

The last two books I got recently are ones I’d not actually heard of.

The Blue Manuscript is a book surrounding an Islamic treasure of the same name, a fictionalised version of the Blue Qu’ran – an ancient text from the 9th/10th century, likely created in North Africa. As we all know, I’m a bit of a history buff, but I don’t know much about Islamic history. This is fiction, but I’m excited to learn about the truth behind the novel as much as I am about reading the novel itself.

The Blue Manuscript.jpg

The Lost Dog is a novel set in both present-day Australia and mid-20C India. The protagonist Tom Loxley is writing a book on Henry James (AKA my first Victorian Literature love) when his dog goes missing. Historical setting, Henry James AND dogs? It’s like this book was made for me.

That’s my haul, y’all! What’s on your TBR? Done any big book buys lately? Any recommendations for the next time I go on a binge?

See you soon,

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Last Post: Dilemma of the ‘Did Not Finish’ | Book Blogger Problems!

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Dilemma of the ‘Did Not Finish’ | Book Blogger Problems!

So lately I’ve not been having the best luck with books.  Over the last few weeks I have picked up two books that I’ve not been able to get into, which poses somewhat of a problem for me. The first book was an ARC, requested via NetGalley. I haven’t reviewed this for one simple reason – I haven’t finished it.

The plot sounded brilliant, right up my street – a museum setting, a powerful female protagonist, a mystery to be solved. On trying to read the book, however, I just couldn’t get into it. The writing was difficult to engage with and the characters just turned out to be annoying. I put it down and instead picked up Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad; at 110 pages long I figured I could finish it in a few days and try again with the other book. Here I am two weeks later still struggling with it. (I must admit that I did put it down to read How to Stop Time before publication day.) It’s an important classic and shows imperialist British views wonderfully, but Christ is the protagonist boring. He drones on and on and on about nothing, with some racism thrown in for good measure, in long rambling paragraphs leading nowhere. Now I’m a lover and writer of literary realism, so long rambling paragraphs leading nowhere are kind of my thing, but must be engaging. I find myself opening the book and being unsure if I’m on the right page because it feels like I’ve read it all already.

As a reviewer, I feel like I have a duty to finish these books even though I’m not enjoying them. I can’t only post good reviews to have a well-rounded blog. As a writer, I feel as though it is insulting to accept an ARC from a writer who has clearly worked so hard on their book only to not even finish it, even if my review wouldn’t be great. As a person who unfortunately doesn’t get paid to read books all day (the dream!), though, I don’t feel like have enough time to put energy into books I’m not getting on with. So the question is:

Do I stay or do I go now?

What do you think – do I have a duty as a reviewer to stick it out and finish these books, or should I just move on to the next one on the pile? Help!

See you soon,

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Last Post: Review (not) Wednesday | ARC Review – How to Stop Time

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Super Quick Life Update!

Hey you!

It’s been a while since I posted a non-review post (shockingly long actually and I can only apologise), so I thought I’d just write a quick update to prove I’m still here and haven’t abandoned the blog.

It’s been kind of crazy over the last month at work. I’m a temp at a bank and my first contract ended at the end of May. I went for a permanent position that had opened up doing that role but wasn’t successful which was a little bit embarrassing considering I’d been doing the job, BUT I did change to a different contract within the bank which I’m really enjoying.

My new role is basically to prove that our customers aren’t linked to any crimes mentioned in the media, and to refer any that are & could pose a risk to the bank. A system goes through all of our customers and scans the internet to see if anything mentioning criminal offences, disqualifications, sanctions etc. matches our customers’ names. It’s then my job to take the articles/pages that are flagged up and prove that it’s not our customer based on the information I have for them and any I can find about the subject of the article. It’s interesting but it can be a bit same-y if the batch has a lot of people with the same name on – if you get an article on John Smith you’re going to get a lot of customers with the same article having to be worked! It’s a research job really, so I’m using my degree, and everyone seems nice so I’m quite happy. I’m getting good feedback which is always nice, too!

I’ve been listening to Welcome to Night Vale a LOT at work and I’m now caught up… so I have nothing to listen to – please send podcast recommendations my way! I like the Night Vale format because it’s not so intrusive that I’m distracted but I can pay attention to it while I work.

Still learning to drive, I’m getting there! My test is SOON so I’m working really hard to get it to all sink in properly! I’ve booked a few days off so I can cram extra lessons in and try to perfect everything as best I can. I really want to pass & get out and about in my little red Up – I still don’t have a name for her though so any suggestions are welcome!

I completely cleared my room out recently which was really therapeutic, and I’ve bought some wall storage and new boxes from Ikea that I’m far too excited about. Expect a room tour soon!

I’ve been writing bits and bobs but nothing big – a few poems, not much prose. It’s surprising really, considering I’ve always been a prose writer I’ve been writing more poetry lately. I’ve written a couple of poems that I’d love to turn into a series/collection but I don’t have any more ideas for them lately. They work best with a visual (see the first here) so translating that to here is something I’m trying to work out.

That’s about it for me really. Still reading, still writing, still looking for a creative job, still being a super cheapskate and saving all my money. Time for you to update me now – what’s been going on with you? Anything exciting in the works?

See you soon,
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A Bookshelf For… A Year Later

A few days ago Always in the Write turned one and yes, I’m still celebrating. I’m truly amazed that I haven’t quit yet if I’m honest – I don’t like being a quitter but I know what I’m like and didn’t have high expectations of myself! What better way to celebrate than the first in that one series I mentioned ages ago and haven’t touched since my A Bookshelf For…series! Here are my top books I’ve reviewed for each month, along with links to the full reviews if you’re interested. It’s been quite the year, with some damn good books taking centre stage.

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Always in the Write | Why I Chose My Blog Name

I’ve had a lot of compliments on my blog name, and being honest I’m actually quite proud of it – I think it might be the highest quality thing to come out of the cloud of dissertation preparation that was November 2015!  At the time I was thinking about what the hell I was going to do come graduation (tip: don’t take 8 months to figure this out and still not come up with anything!!), and decided that a blog would at the very least keep me writing, even if I wasn’t in a relevant job. A stroke of genius while trying to think of decent literary puns led to me saving Always in the Write on WordPress. I left it to be picked up when I had more time. I didn’t have more time until May, but I did pick it up – which if I’m being honest was a bit of a miracle. Looking back I probably should’ve planned ahead and written at least some ideas down in the months between coming up with the name and actually going live, but I’m not that clever. At least I went and did it, and I haven’t given up yet.

 

 

 

Here we are, still. I’m not in a relevant job yet, but the blog still motivates me to write. I’m invested in this now – this isn’t just a way to hone skills or something that looks good on a CV, this is something I truly care about and want to do well.

That’s great Ro, but why did you choose the damn name?

On to the name itself, there are several reasons I chose it –

  1. As I said before, I love a good pun.
  2. I AM always in the right. Ask anyone.
  3. I wanted this to be about my writing. I didn’t want to lose my love of writing (and reading) and I thought that if I had it in my blog name I’d be more inclined to, y’know, write. I committed to going into a writing job after initially planning on going in to teaching – keeping writing as a focus in my life and blog is a way to ensure I don’t lose focus or touch with my goals.
  4. Hello, it’s genius. I’m a genius. Perfect match.
  5. As cheesy as it sounds, it felt right. I’m a big believer in my own intuition and I had a good feeling about this name – perhaps like wands the blog name chooses the blogger…or I’m just a genius (see point 4)

I really like my blog name. I think it’s cute, clever and sums up what I want the blog to reflect – good quality, interesting writing and lots of books! I did think of it while the goal was to have a more creative writing focused blog, but I still think it fits me and my written voice well.

That’s my opinion, what’s yours? How did you choose your blog name and what do you think of it now?

See you soon,

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Charlie Sunny

I’ve been binging It’s Always Sunny again.


Always in the Write | I’m Back, Baby!

Hello, hello, hello!

Willam Hello.gif

Look at me, actually publishing things – how swish! I’m so glad to be back, I’ve truly missed posting and sharing my thoughts with you guys. I’m back and ready to share what I’ve been working on over the past few weeks with you. I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped, I’ll admit, but taking the pressure of having to post off has helped a lot. I’ve had the time to re-evaluate what I’m doing, work out what isn’t working and how to fix it.

Good for you Ro, but why should we care?

Well, I’ll hopefully be posting more regularly and with higher quality content. I’ve been thinking about how to achieve this, knowing how damn lazy I am and what little time I have. I’m struggling to find a perfect solution, but I think cutting down how often I post, just for now, is a good idea. I rarely managed to post on ‘Fandom Friday’ anyway. So here’s what’s going to happen:

  • I’m keeping Review Wednesday as is. It’s the one day I manage to keep up with, and doing a weekly review is good for me.
  • I’m not posting on Monday and Friday any more. Instead, I’m doing Saturdays, at least right now. Maybe I’ll go back to Monday-Wednesday-Friday again soon but for now I need to know my limits and work around my schedule better.

What will the result be?

Well, I’m hoping to produce better quality, longer posts that are closer to what I want to be putting out into the world. I have some strong opinions (I am a strong woman, after all – comes with the territory) and there are things I’m always saying ‘I could write an essay on this’; so why don’t I? I want to have less posts that I see as ‘filler’ compared to what I want to put out. Look forward to seeing more creative pieces, more think pieces, and of course more reviews.

Okay, what else?

I want to be around more. I feel like I’ve been a terrible Teacup lately, abandoning my beloved chat just as Mama Teacup has FINALLY come back to blogging (catch Breanna over at Too Cute For Life). I want to engage with the blogging community more, especially my favourite bloggers, & I hope that in getting more organised I’ll have more time to get on to twitter chats, meetings etc. and read more blogs. Once I have a better schedule properly in place I might put one night aside a week specifically to get reading & commenting on more blogs. You can’t expect people to like you if you don’t give anything back, right?

One last little thing. I think I’m gonna be more relaxed about taking breaks – taking two weeks to plan and knock a few posts out has been really good for me & hopefully the blog. I’m not going to be scared any more about stopping if I need to – in blogging what I’ve learnt is that quantity is good but quality is better.

Anyway, that’s the plan. I’m getting my butt into gear and working it out – I hope you’re as excited about it as I am.

See you soon.

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Rarry Hug

Man I’m glad I’m back.

 


Always in the Write | Seven Month Itch?

One of the big pieces of advice bloggers give about blogging is to plan. Create posts in advance if possible, write down ideas, take photos, etc. They especially say this if, like many of us, you work full time. Going into this job I figured I wouldn’t need to worry, so naturally things are going, for wont of a better phrase, tits-up. This probably seems weird considering my last post was introducing a new blog series, but it’s time for a break.

I think I’m in a bit of a rut – a seven-month itch, if you will. I’m finding it difficult to motivate myself because I know I’m not happy with what I’m producing and it’s just creating a vicious cycle. I’m not in love with what I write, and that’s reflecting in the quality and quantity of my posts. I have good ideas, but I don’t have the time to work on them. I end up either posting something nowhere near as good as I know it could’ve been, or not posting it at all and having to move on to something else that won’t take as much time.

I’ve been trying to get the review for this beautiful book done for so long now.

I will not quit. I’m not a quitter – the sheer amount of sugar I eat proves that – and I don’t want to start now. I’ve been putting off admitting it, but the fact is I need to stop posting – just for a little while. It’s very late, but here’s the plan;
I’m taking two more weeks, maximum, of no posting. It’ll give me time to write and actually finalise a fair few posts. I’ll be able to break out of the pattern of trying to write and edit an entire post in an evening, while hopefully actually getting more written. This isn’t a break, it’s a crash course in reorganising and getting my shit together.

You won’t be getting rid of me that easily, though. I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to hear I’ll still be on social media and in a fortnight it’ll be business as usual.

As always,
See you soon.

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525,600 – A Year in the Life

These things are sent to try us.

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What a year. A lot of people are saying that 2016 has been the worst, and just needs to die already. In some ways I agree, but this simply isn’t accurate for how my year has actually been.

Truth is, the year started out better than I could ever have imagined. The first six months were amazing. I spent them in my home, my Aberystwyth, surrounded by wonderful people and made some wonderful memories. My last year in Aberystwyth couldn’t have been better, and it was those 6 months that made it – I have so many people to thank for that. I appreciate you all so much and can’t quite believe that such amazing people spent time with a slightly drunk loser like myself.

It wasn’t until I graduated in July that things took a turn for the worst for me personally. Leaving Aberystwyth was, and still is, an incredibly difficult experience. In the last 5 months I think all of my worst fears have been realised (except dying or being forced onto a rollercoaster), and yet if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from it all it’s this…

I’m still here.

We’re still here.

We are currently surviving, even if it feels like the world is falling apart. A massive bag of racist satsumas stuffed into a suit is about to become the most powerful man in the world and make our already fragile political situation a million times worse, and we don’t even have Princess Leia around to fix it; but humans are tough as hell. We might not always thrive in the face of adversity, but we muddle on. We survive.

I know myself a little better. I know that I am freaking strong, man. I’m not scared any more. Careful but not scared. I can survive, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to take silly risks. I think that would be good advice for politicians, if I do say so myself.

3 Things I Learnt This Year:

-Vote. First Brexit, then Trump occurred because no one thought they would. No one bothered voting, or protest voted for options they didn’t want, and the world is far worse off as a result.

– Think. Stay Grounded. Don’t lose sight of who you are. No matter what happens, you can’t go wrong if you’re true to yourself.

– Work hard, but don’t be afraid to quit. In the last few months, I’ve moved from a job I could do but hated to a job I can do and love. I feel incredibly lucky to have found something that I truly enjoy, even if it’s only temporary; this never would’ve happened if I hadn’t have left my last job. I don’t like quitting; but this was the best thing I could’ve done.

Let’s bookend this post with musical quotes, shall we? 2016, because I knew you, I have been changed for good.

Bring on 2017.

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rent

Count the musical references in this post.