I've signed up for Dewey's Read-a-Thon at the last minute mostly so I can mainline the last 100 pages of "Fire" by Kristen Cashore and then read "Bitterblue".

I re-read "Graceling" in about two days recently so I could finally push on through the trilogy and ugh, everyone, I should have done this so much sooner. If you are a lady trying to work out how to live life your way and you need a little boost get to these books quickly. If you want modern books based on old school feminist ideas, books that look at some big crossroads of female life and says 'traditional living is kind of lazily messed up sometimes if you look at it closely' this is your trilogy. Complexity - there's a lot of it to be found here.

What are you planning to read if you're joining Read-a-Thon this time around?
As I am doing some work development stuff right now there will be no more work chat here for a while (still terrible though). I'm actually wondering whether to go back and friends lock past posts about this job but then I think this place is so small and mostly disassociated from my real name it is hard to find. Idk, opinions?

This year has been a huge bust for media totals so far. I have read seven books, including one super fast to read comic book collection and one graphic novel. I have obsessively listened to one album ("Bad Blood") for two months, ignoring several other tasty new treats. And I haven't made any progress on my SFF classics film watch. TV - if it's not on live I'm not making much progress even though I really want to mainline episodes of POI. I just need a few more hours!

When I have been getting round to new media I've mostly been sticking with comfort watching and reading. I watched "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" which I thought was adorable - cartoon "Jurassic Park" with puns. It's a full on kids film instead of a "there's something for everyone" animation, which made a change. I saw standard but cool SFF dystopia "Divergent" which was rocking in some places but also had a very generic male lead (and didn't punch me in the heart nearly as hard as "The Hunger Games"). I still think the actor playing Eric should be the love interest *pouts*. "The Grand Budapest Hotel" was charming and pretty, despite being full of odd artistic decisions regarding women. "The Book Thief" just wasn't as interesting in film format even though I so wanted it to be.

Books: I'm currently reading the new John Le Carre novel, because when in doubt I tend to hit up experimental female novelists who glory in prose or old school male novelists whose rapid prose sweeps you along. This book is silly and dramatic and focused on the small details - all the things I liked about Le Carre's Smiley novels in a modern setting.

And I'm watching a mixed bag on TV. "The Musketeers" is over and this is a constant source of distress to me. How did this happen when I hated it to start? "Mr Selfridge" is over and my favourite pairing came off against all odds. "The Mentalist" is weird now, but hurray no one important is dead and Cho is in the FBI! I've been introduced to "Rev" which is kind of charming. The first episode of "Crimson Fields", the big WWI drama from female perspectives was OK and maybe it will get even better as the women get to know each other? Suranne Jones is in it so I have high hopes. And I'm sort of watching the last series of "How I Met Your Mother" if I happen to catch the episodes on repeat.

So, yes, that's what I've been spending my time on. April is a little dull - less social things to go to. But lots of plans are getting made for later in the year which is exciting. Roll on Easter and two days free holiday I say!
1.) I loved answering questions everyone who came to play - it was so much fun :) Thanks for dropping by and getting me thinking.

2.) I just read Rachel's On Negativity, about her recent experience with nasty commentors:

Sadly, of late, the numbers of nasty comments I receive from ‘readers’ has been increasing. I am often called ignorant or stupid. Occasionally, I am, apparently, narrow minded. Also, naive and uneducated. I don’t understand the meaning of the word ‘review’. I don’t write what people want to read. And I write too much, anyway. Plus, I am too dense to understand what some writers were trying to achieve and need to re-educate myself on how writers work. If that wasn’t bad enough, I am a horrible person for writing bad reviews of books. I am wrong, always. I miss the point, frequently, because I am, again, stupid.


Sometimes people are terrible. This is pretty much why I can't get excited about going out into the wider internet world and why, when I fall on someone lovely by accident, I just cling to them.

3.) In more positive internet news, work has been terrible and I just want to thank everyone who came out on Twitter and by e-mail to say 'It's not you, we definitely think it sounds like the company's problem'. You support last week was invaluable. I was very down, in fact I still kind of am. There has been pretty much a daily cry since Tues, so everyone's comments were really helpful.

4.) Which makes me even more sorry I haven't been around a lot of your blogs lately. I don't want to make excuses, but I wish there were some way of spending more time with everyone. I miss a lot of people.

5.) I'm off to see "Bringing Up the Bodies" in a little while today. I enjoyed the stage production of "Wolf Hall", although not as much the novel. I actually think I might enjoy the upcoming TV series more, depending on the format and length. There's quite a lot to get in to just "Wolf Hall" and not sure a play quite has the capacity to take it all (read Thomas' daughter's death gets a super fast treatment in the play and I was sad about it). I haven't read the book before the show this time so perhaps I will feel differently about the second play. Loving the actor playing Thomas though, which is a surprise because I wasn't so excited about the casting when it was announced (I mean apart from the fact that I like the actors playing Henry and Thomas a lot in other things). And I'm just kind of generally excited about recent books being adapted. Even though sometimes I cringe at the idea of an adaptation (what if they make it terrible) I usually come around enough to see them. And I just think the idea of new creation, expanded worlds, new versions is always exciting.

6.) In other news I have been hitting all the things I said I was excited about this month. Harry Potter tour - GREAT! "Veronica Mars" film - OMFG, WONDERFUL! And I've been giving myself time to revisit things for once ("Bletchley Circle" S2 just had to be done again), while also getting into my new comfort shows "Person of Interest". What I haven't been doing much of is reading (again this is sad) but I did just finish "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" which I really enjoyed.

Speak soon :)
The last question for this month is from chaila who wants to know, What do you think draws you to book blogging and reviewing?

If we’re talking basics, I like books and I like talking about them but I don’t have many chances to do that offline. I have offline friends who are into the same TV as me, but not many who regularly read the stuff I like. Searching for community was definitely why I started my blog. And, being “the reader” in my main group of friends, I find talking about books fraught – got to be careful how much I expand on my opinion sometimes or I end up making people feel crappy about their reading choices. So, it’s nice to have an online space where I can go and chat about books with people who’ve read them or want to read them, and where there isn’t quite so much baggage for me to dodge around. The one lesson I would urge on teens is to be nice to your friends about their media choices; otherwise, later in life you’re going to feel like a total heel.

Also, now that I’m out of university, life doesn’t much call on me to construct complex written thoughts. I actually spend a lot of time writing for work and sometimes I have to make joined up e-mail arguments, or write a very clear report but Marketing generally calls for simple structures. While trying to write short Marketing missives is its own enjoyable, riddlesome challenge (kind of like writing fifty word reviews as if your whole life depends on it) it’s not my favourite kind of challenge. Plus, trying to create punchy, attractive simplicity in a loud, busy office environment is not all that much fun. I personally prefer the challenges of long form writing (ha, who’d have guessed?) and the space it gives me to explore. Although I don’t miss working for marks, or three day stints of sitting in my pyjamas writing on a set essay topic, I do kind of miss having to make time in my day to sit and play with words, arrange concepts and work my way through all the spirals of long form arguments. Blogging and reviewing gives me a reason to exercise those long form muscles again.

Long form reviewing pushes me to shape my thoughts into a coherent narrative, which is kind of like playing through a complex puzzle. Where does this bit fit? Do I need to get out the hammer? I love crafting writing that I’m proud of; bending words a bit like metal until it has a satisfying shape and ring to it (never look back though – looking back is horrifying). I think sometimes people forget that critical non-fiction has similar narrative bones to fiction.

I often use writing to make sense of things. It doesn’t always work, but it’s interesting to try. I hash out my thoughts and see what’s on the page at the end of it – sometimes I draw stuff out by writing that just wasn’t as fully developed in my head and I start to see how much more interesting a work is than I first thought. I’ve said this before, but for me reviewing is kind of like taking the back off a clockwork watch and looking at how all the cogs fit together. I just think it’s fascinating to see (or to try and see) how things work. If everything clicks together in a book or a piece of media then great – examining how those pieces slot in to produce a particular effect is like watching magic. And even if the bits don’t quite all work in harmony I still gain a greater understanding of art from looking closely at what media is made up of.

I mean, I’ve absolutely had those moments when looking in more depth at something I love has shattered the surface illusion of its perfection, and felt a little bit sad, but… it was an illusion. Isn’t the reality so much more interesting and toothy? Close analysis breeds love for the oddest of subjects – ask any scientist.

And if you’re wondering why I stick with non-fiction if I like dragging understanding out of narrative so much, well, that’s just about fear. Expanding into fiction is terrifying for me and loaded down with “stuff” I’ve mostly been able to work through in regards to non-fiction. I probably promise not to bombard you with (any more) screechy e-mails about rarewomen >.>

On a personal level, reviewing also gives me a place to sort through all my thoughts and take a good hard look at them. I still think it is fascinating what you can learn about yourself from the simple act of reviewing a book. It’s not always comfortable, but reviewing requires you to think about your own prejudices and backgrounds, much like studying History sharpens your eye for other people’s biases writ large (ex-History student here).
the literary omnivore wanted to know about my songs of the moment.

First an apology – I was convinced this was for 24th not 21st! Sorry it’s late!

You’ve caught me at a good time for musical obsession because I am currently tied up in a few songs. Can’t promise quality, but I like them (I’m pretty well known for my love of mainstream pop-folk):

"Daniel in the Den" – Bastille



I am in love with this whole messy album (how many folk trends you gonna put in one project, son?).

"A Certain Romance" – The Arctic Monkeys



I’m kind of collecting critiques of British small town living done by insiders.

"Candy" – Robbie Williams



In my head this plays alongside a vid detailing Caroline Forbes’ character evolution.

"Riverside" – Agenes Obel



Still stuck on this – it’s been about a year now. There's just so much delicacy in here, but it's matched with firm chords that give it a real spine.

"Hey Brother" – Aviccii



Someone could use this to make a really great Firefly fanvid…

"Counting Stars" – One Republic



And to finish, an adorable of the moment pop-folk deal which reminds me of a million YA books.
Reading the End wanted to hear me talk about lady pirates.

Jenny, I feel like I am going to disappoint you because while I love stories about lady pirates I know very little about these real life women. This is one of the many (many, many, many) areas of non-fiction that I would like to explore in more detail if only I were better at reading non-fiction for pleasure. I have a long list of books about pirates and female pirates that I want to get to one day – quite a lot of them are already in my house.

What I do know about female pirates I mostly learned from Diana Norman (probably better known now as Anita Franklin) and the internet. Diana Norman wrote these amazing historical novels about women who don’t feature heavily in historical fiction. When I was a teen, my library had several of her novels and I devoured them. I think she was to me kind of what Jeanne Plaidy was to other teen girls - a glorious, female focused author. It seems strange to say that now when so much historical fiction is about women, but I very much grew up with kings and knights and men adventuringon the high seas. If you haven’t read Diana Norman’s book I strongly recommend trying to find them, especially "Blood Royal" which is about a resourceful but desperate character who becomes a highway woman.

Anyway, the last book my library had was "Pirate Queen", which is a fictional version of the life of an Irish pirate called Grace O’Malley. I was a little bit in love with this story and its flame haired pirate captain.

I also read a book called "The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle" by Avi around the same time. This book isn’t about pirates, instead it’s about a girl who ends up travelling on a ship with a nightmare captain but it was definitely instrumental in shaping my love of all things sea adventure. There seriously aren’t enough stories about women sea adventuring and generally the sub-genre gets given a pass because sea occupations are traditionally seen as the domain of men.

Except, this is kind of like the lama situation that Kameron Hurley describes in "We Have Always Fought". There are lots of interesting female pirate characters in history: Anne Bonny, Grace O’Malley, Mary Read and the other day I learned about a French pirate Jeanne de Clisson who sounds excellent. And there are more. Hundreds of stories have been written about one or two kings so I find the idea that there simply aren’t enough historical female pirates to justify more stories. I bet if I looked around I'd find other examples of female seafarers too. Make with the stories, world.

Oh well, at least Maggie Q is going to kill it in "Red Flag". Until that starts I’ll just be over here looking at Hook genderswap gifs. Unless anyone wants to throw female pirate recs at me? *hopeful face*
Nymeth said: ‘Tell us about something you're super into right now! It can be a song, a sport, a TV series, a website, you name it. Just something you really like and why it's important to you.’

OMG LET’S TALK ABOUT PEAKY BLINDERS!

This is Peaky Blinders:



So now you’re like well how is this program different from any other historical gangster program full of white dudes?

This program is set in Birmingham. Almost no one sets TV dramas in the West Midlands.

Five things I love about it:

1.) Peaky Blinders is set just after WWII and it’s very frank about the psychological damage done to men by war. Tommy Selby, the leader of the Peaky Blinders gang, uses opium to block out memories of his time in the mining crews; his big brother Arthur has regular bouts of depression and in the first episode Tommy’s friend Danny ‘Whizzbang’ displays serious shell shock. This may be a common theme in WWI and WWII programs but this particular program is special to me because it’s about West Midlands men. Our region’s history is pretty absent from mainstream media.

2.) While full of social history, Peaky Blinders is also a solid crime drama. It’s plots are constructed around a "Hustle" style format – the plot sends you one way and everything looks bleak, but there’s a reveal which changes everything. Some critics felt that the constructed drama of these plots are a detriment to the show and that it would have been better if it were solely a social piece. I disagree. Peaky Blinders kind of amazes me because it combines a number of genres into a wholely satisfying piece – it’s running a little technical challenge inside itself. Can it be a crime thriller, a social history piece, a quirky artistic project and a family drama all at the same time without collapsing under these competing elements?

Programs don’t have to be the same as "The Village" or Call the Midwife in order to be a successful piece of historical drama is what I’m saying. There are other ways.

3.) A small thing, but there’s this scene where a character is trying to bring music back to the local pub (there hasn’t been music since the war because Tommy doesn’t want any) and she sing “The Boy I Love is Up in the Gallery” to this pub full of burly West Midlands men. And at the chorus they all sing along. It’s this lovely soft moment that shows how much they’ve missed music and the way they look at Grace is all tenderness as if her voice makes her an angel.

One of the things I like about this program is how much compassion there is mixed in with the violence. It takes the time to show people being human and loyal even as they struggle to maintain dominance and control.

4.) Grace is fantastic and I can’t say more without spoiling, but take it from me she is a surprise package. Her romantic story is reasonably easy to predict, but that doesn’t make it any less electric.

5.) You know I have a thing for people inhabiting their characters and turning out these physical performances. So many people are killing that in this program. Cillian Murphy, who plays Tommy Shelby, is especially impressive (even if his accent is variable) and you get this real sense of menace coming off him every time her enters a room. Even when he’s being gentle he’s a bomb waiting to go off. The actors playing his brothers and his Aunt Pol also have that whole ‘caged lions’ vibe running through them.

The first series of Peaky Blinders just finished, but I’m excited for the second especially because it’s been announced that Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley will be joining the cast! Hopefully the ending of series one will turn out to have a massive trick-reveal behind it and the internet will explode all over this show.
theliteraryomnivore asked: ’Tell me about the first book. You know what I'm talking about. The first book that made you realize that books could blow your mind.’

I always see people talking about their ‘book of all books’ – the one that turned them on to reading and made them realise the power of stories. I can’t identify one book that did that for me, which I think that makes me a bit of an oddball in the bookish community. Sometimes I wonder if I just didn’t do childhood reading right.

I grew up encouraged to see reading like breathing – a thing you always did because it felt kind of ridiculous to contemplate not doing it. I imagine kid me being quietly flabbergasted by the idea of not reading. Teenage me may not have been that subtle about how odd she found it when people didn’t read for pleasure – she was terrible. My mum is a big reader, my dad took me to the library a lot and both my parents read to me when I was very little. One of my grandparents used to take me to Beatties book store which was a treat equivalent to the zoo to tiny me (and wow, do I still love the zoo). I was very lucky – books never had to be rationed and one thing our area does had back then was a wide range of accessible libraries.

So I don’t think I ever had that eureka moment about books. They were there and I liked stories, why wouldn’t I read all of them? I read my way through volumes and volumes of series like "The Saddle Club", "The Silver Brumby", "The Midnight Stallion", "Redwall", "The Worst Witch", "My Teacher is an Alien" and "SVU". I think I’m an example of how quantity and access can make kids into readers almost unthinkingly.

There have absolutely been books from my early and teen years which shaped me into the kind of reader I am today. I think we can solidly trace my love of fantasy back to early encounters with "Harry Potter" (published when I was exactly its target audience), "Northern Lights" and "Small Gods". Both "The Virgin Suicides" and "Broke Heart Blues" stunned me into realising that you could find intricacy and powerful emotion in lit-fic. Stephen King’s work taught me that I wanted character work and carefully detailed descriptions of ordinary town life even when said town was under siege from vampires. Books of Greek myths and Arthurian legends set me off on a life time obsession. "Dinotopia" made me wish more people would build their world in images and words. And "The Exiles" made me laugh.

That’s probably one of my strongest memories of reading actually – on my tenth re-read of McKay’s story giggling uncontrollably. Perhaps that is what made me realise that books could be pure joy.
When I put out a call for people to ask me questions in March chaila said:

‘I am curious about your online/fannish history, if you want to talk about it. How did you end up at LB and/or on Dreamwidth? Have you been part of other fannish/media online communities?’

Looking back, I’ve been online for a looong time. I mean, I remember dial up.

The first place I spent a lot of time was message boards – I was on this one called “Smile and Act Nice” for a few years, and I met a few nice people (although I was, as teenagers often are on the internet, a bit of a loser – may have deliberately started a flame war with another board) but I didn’t really find my people if you know what I mean. As message boards started to dwindle in popularity, “Smile and Act Nice” introduced dedicated boards which were kind of like your own journal. I kept one of those for a while before I started looking around for other journal services and found Livejournal. The opening of “The Social Network” is such a trip for me – it feels like five minutes since LJ was huge.

Livejournal was a very similar experience to message boards for me – met a few cool people but didn’t really find my clan. I was running a personal day to day LJ while I was in college, then I added a book blog for a bit when I was at uni. That led me to look into the wider book blogging community which mostly seemed to be happening on Blogger or Wordpress back then (or at least a lot of the people I wanted to talk to were on those platforms). I remember it being very difficult to get people from other platforms to come over to Livejournal and to be honest it felt like being on LJ instead of the other platforms kind of wasn’t “done” if you wanted to be a serious book blogger. So, I moved platforms again – this time to Blogger.

I met a lot of interesting people through that blog and I started feeling part of an online community rather than just like the girl looking in. People could find me somewhere, so they’d engage in conversation with me and I could easily drop by their places all the time. I enjoyed hanging out in the book blogging world so much because it felt inviting and easy to connect with (it was a lot smaller then, especially the British section). Again, looking back that probably had a lot to do with the people I surrounded myself with. They really made everything feel so easy. I now know there are some established book blogging faces that would have made me feel less like part of the community if they’d been the first people I’d encountered. Instead I found this fab bunch of ladies to talk to.

At first I was more involved with the lit-fic/general fiction scene and then my interests (and my confidence) expanded, which is mostly thanks to a whole load of YA bloggers, but particularly my two partners at Lady Business.

I met Ana through her blog after I’d been lurking for probably a couple of years. In the end I just left her a lot of comments because I was pretty desperate to be friends with her. Her style of blogging and her thoughtfulness was something I wanted so badly to bring to my own writing. I’ve always been a fantasy girl and we also had enough similar taste in media that when she rec’d things totally outside my usual zone I felt comfortable giving them a go. I found lots of new things through her posts: YA – Ana was the one who brought me to that whole wonderful side of literature. I always say that if I want to be friends with someone I’m not classy about it – I just chuck myself at them and hope I stick. That’s pretty much how it went down.

I can’t totally remember how I found Renay’s blog initially – I think it was probably through a link to Nerds Heart YA. Anyway, I really liked that project and I loved reading Renay’s posts no matter what she talked about. Renay has this really energetic style that is kind of irresistible and she puts so much passion into everything she talks about. In my head I was just like – let’s hang out. But while I said above that I kind of threw myself at Ana I think I was more reserved when trying to connect with Renay because I was in a place then where rejection was starting to feel like the inevitable result of trying to make friends too enthusiastically. Saying that, I probably did still talk to her a lot because I can’t really help myself.

Renay is the one who encouraged me to move to Dreamwidth. Blogger was going through a Google buy out and it felt like the right time to be moving platforms again. I’d used Wordpress elsewhere and knew it just wasn’t the tool for me (it seems to have a lot of formatting kinks, especially around line breaks and I can’t be bothered with that). Dreamwidth reminded me a lot of the ease of LJ – if you know a few bits of simple code you can get by. So, I let Renay talk me around quite easily and I shifted everything across (which is why my older posts have some images issues). I think it surprised her how fast I moved! I haven’t really looked back since, even if it was initially hard to get none DW people to come say ‘Hi!’ at my new place.

The way that I ended up on Lady Business – I think it was kind of through a mis-understanding initially? Feel free to correct me ladies, but I seem to remember Renay proposed a co-blog after an initial idea of an SFF recs mailing list fell through. She thought I was really tight with Ana and Ana thought I was really close with Renay when really I was just starting to become friends with both of them through comment chat. All of a sudden there’s the potential for us to run a co-blog together. Rlly, is the girl who jumps on friends going to turn down that kind of offer from two of her favourite bloggers? Oh no, I was on that.

As for other media and fannish communities I’m afraid book blogging was my first. I do sometimes feel like such a newbie even though I’ve been book blogging for something like six years and obviously I was around on the internet before then. It always seems like everyone else was searching out their fandom corners way before me. Now, I’m a little bit afraid of other media fandom communities tbh (music circles especially). They just seem so serious and a little bit terrifying, although I’m sure that’s more to do with being an outsider than their actual composition. I suspect once you find your people in a section of media fandom everything seems less strict and you start to develop your own rules no matter what the wider community tries to enforce. I should probably dip my toe in other circles because I’m sure there are lots of exciting discoveries I could make, but as book bloggers have started to diversify and talk about other interests and I’ve found some random connections in different fandoms just by link hopping I just haven’t found the motivation to go and scope out whole new areas.
Stealing this from spindizzy because I like questions and if you have time I would love to hear from you :)

The Meme:

Pick a date between 9th and 31st March. Pick a topic. Drop both in the comments. On the date you choose I will post something about that topic. Pretty much anything you've ever seen me post about unlocked, or comment on in other venues, is fair game. If a topic is uncomfortable for me (too personal or potentially identifying) or simply something I know very little about (unfamiliar canon, say), I may ask you to make a second choice. If you want to request more than one topic, pick a different day for each.
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