Why I Struggle with Larger Books

With the Priory hype and hearing my friend slog through the last Throne of Glass novel I’m starting to realise I have no interest in massive books. This seems cruel, to right off a novel I haven’t even started just because of page number but honestly the size really puts me off.

Firstly you have to consider the practicalities. Big books are a pain to cart around, they weigh down my little bag and hurt my weak shoulders which lack any sort of muscle due to my phobia of exercise. I have so many pages to rifle through to find which bit I last read and it’ll inevitable fall on the floor, making a big noise and denting the cover. Or possibly the floor. And then I have to get a new floor and will probably have that horrible buzzing in my ears from the bang.

I’d have to put it lower down on my bookshelf so it doesn’t fall on anyone, and now I’ve got to reorder my entire shelf. The whole bookcase vibe would be off so I’d shuffle the series around to be together and then I have to reorder everything because I’ve started now. And then it comes to Bookstagram. I can’t hold it up due to the aforementioned lack of exercise so I have to place the thing on the floor where is casts awkward shadows and inevitably looks oddly rectangular on camera, jumping out as larger than the other books in the shot. I could put it spine up but the spine is so big it dominates the shot. Although it would be great to lean other books on knowing they wouldn’t topple next to that mass.

But I digress. And as you can see from a purely practical point of view, big books are a pain. But from a reading pont of view, I’m also not so keen on them.

You can be in one fictional world for too long

Even Hogwarts has it limit. Yes I said it, even the fantastical world of Harry Potter which, let’s face it, every kid dreams about, would get boring if I were sucked in for 900 odd pages. I’m not saying any of the Harry Potters were too long, they really weren’t, I’m just saying as a reader I want to explore a wealth of worlds and not be stuck reading one for a few months. Actually, maybe Harry Potter is a bad example since I did actually read them back to back… Sometimes I like to visit Victorian London, sometimes that clichΓ© magical world full of mahogany dressers, strewn with castles and medieval peasantry, and sometimes I crave the traffic filled streets of modern New York, full of tattered jeans and bright city lights.

It’s not just the setting that gets tired. Most massive books visit a handful of locations along the way to try keep it interesting, but the writing style gets stale, the characters get old, the dialogue gets repetitive. Basically all the unique aspects that conjure together to build a novel become stale. The plot starts to drag as you forget what happened two hundred pages ago, the pacing is obviously off if the author felt they needed this many pages to write it, and honestly I’d just want to read something else.

Then there would be the inevitable complexity that comes with such a large book. I’d be doing a constant brain work out to try and remember who X was when they appeared five hundred pages ago but I remember nothing of them since. Multiple plots wold drag over hundreds of pages all with their own complexities and nuances, and I struggled to keep up with Biff and Chip and their magic key so a more complex story would be quite taxing. Basically it would exercise my brain too much, and we all remember how I feel about exercise.

The final reason I’m put off massive books is hype.

I’m not talking about the hype for that particular novel but for other ones. I’m a greedy reader with a worrying social media addiction, if a book pops up on Bookstagram a lot, is featured all over book Twitter or a friend goes on and on about it I’ll want to read it. Neigh I will need to read it. And I’m just going to resent that massive read I’m stuck with for the next fortnight. And we all know if I put it aside to read something else I’m never going back. What if there’s a sequel released for a book I loved?! What if there’s a sequel released for a book I haven’t read yet but everyone is talking about it? These things are unpredictable and I just can’t commit to a massive book while there’s still so much potential for other more pressing reads.

Overall I’m not a fan of these massive fantasy books. I’m not saying don’t write them, go for it, I’m just saying I probably won’t read them. Even with the growing trend to finish a book series with an epic I’m still deterred. I’ll just Wikipedia the ending.

What do you think? What’s the biggest book you’ve read? Do you enjoy bigger reads? Let me know in the comments!

Why ‘No Post on Sunday’

If you’ve ever seen Harry Potter you’ll remember well the scene where Mr Dursley sits back smugly with a cup of tea, indulging in the fact that there’s no post on a Sunday. Obviously you’ll then remember that he does, in fact, recive some post. Quite a lot of it.

But without magic letters delivered by magical owls down quite ordinary chimneys, the rest of us are at the mercy of Royal Mail who do, in fact, not deliver any post on Sunday. No squeaky hinged letter box opening and slamming shut as hoards of junk mail and the occasional council tax bill flop to the floor of our tiled entryway. We just wait until Monday to recive that Chinese menu and local flyer.

Now obviously, being a book blog, this post is not about the postal system. Despite it’s opening it’s actually an emerging but not often noticed theme on my pocket of the internet: I never post on a Sunday.

I can’t remember when I made this rule so if you delve into the murky realms of my blog’s conception you may find the odd post thrown up on a late Sunday night or early Sunday morning, potentially back when I was stumbling into my student house after a late night trip to McDonalds for a share box of chicken nuggets and a handful of laughs with my friends. Regardless, certainly in the last few months I’ve been firm to not post on a Sunday.

It’s not just posting I don’t do. I don’t blog hop, I don’t reply to comments and I don’t, and this one is the hardest of all, check social media. No squeezed in scroll of Bookstagram while waiting for the pasta to boil, no far too long read of Twitter in bed, that was only meant to be five minutes but is now pushing an hour. Even, despite it not being anything to do with my blog, no peak at Facebook to see the people I only vaguely once knew on holiday with other people I don’t know at all, coupled with memes that stopped being funny the first time they appeared on everyone’s feed.

Not posting, or blogging, on Sunday doesn’t mean I don’t read. I still have an audiobook on while I mop the floor, stretch out in a warm bath clutching my latest loan from the library, squeezing the pages extra tight so the book doesn’t land in the soapy scented water. But it takes the pressure of it, not thinking about which reviews I need to write up next. I often stall over the app screen on my phone when I have some down time, landing on Duolingo or the Tetris app than my go to social medias and WordPress.

I enforce no social media Sundays to give me a guaranteed moment of quiet in the week. A day where there’s no work deadlines crammed in and no niggling pressure to compare my life with others through an unhealthy screen addiction. Blogging isn’t my day job and I do it for fun, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a lot of work.

I never had the luxury of balance at university: hitting drawn out long periods with no deadlines and suddenly the frenzy when they all come at once. Getting in late from the library only to set my alarm for 8am, laptop an arms reach from my bed to start ASAP the next morning. My friend and I would meet outside her house, sit together in the library crawling over our notes, tapping away at our assignments, allowing ourselves one quick soggy sandwich break outside before starting it all back up again. Then we’d have dinner as a group, some budget meal like curry or our speciality: chicken nugget pizza, before saying we’d do it all again tomorrow. I’d often start my laptop back up again that night, if we didn’t all take a late night trip for ice cream or chicken nuggets.

Leaving university I was craving the balance a 9-5 job gives you. Not squinting at a computer screen after dinner, trying to polish an assignment of before bed, and going on actual proper day trips with my boyfriend, rather than quick afternoon trips down to the beach where we’d skim stones and eat ice cream, finishing up with piping hot chips on the seaside and the promise to not think about work for those few hours.

Having no social media Sunday is not exactly easy. I find myself using it just a little bit more Saturday, before I go to sleep, knowing I’ll miss it Sunday morning. It is definitely, and strangely, addictive. I’ve heard the Instagram algorithm punishes you for such inactivity and I find myself behind on blog comments at the beginning of the week. I don’t allow myself to take photos for my Bookstagram on Sundays, because it’s a no blogging day, and that often means I’m behind and don’t have the light to take good ones midweek.

I wouldn’t say I feel incredibly relaxed for this detox and, only being one day, it’s not a massive deal. I’ve not given it up for good or for a few months, like some of my friends have. I also don’t think I’m massively addicted. I know it’s what everyone says but I do have quite a good balance generally: I’m not glued to my phone over dinner, I don’t login to my socials on my work laptop and my Saturdays are often spent in remote countryside castles where lack of signal reverts my smart phone to a slightly rubbish selfie camera.

However, I still am sucked into the murky realms of social media, time flying away from me too fast, all too often and I have felt the pressure to be more on top of my blogging to do lists. I think it’s important to spend a day away from a demanding hobby like blogging, to keep it fun and just to put it in perspective. Because, at the end of the day, nothing bad is going to happen if I don’t reply to the odd comment on a post or ignore a Twitter chat for a while. It helps me step back and I think I’m a better blogger, and more chill person, because of it.

What about you? Do you spend any days away from your social media, or do you have other way of balancing your life? What are your other hobbies, besides blogging? Would love to hear from you in the comments!

Characters who would have Driven my Boarding Mistress Mad

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about characters we’d be friends with. Which got me thinking about friends. Which got me thinking about school. Which got me totally off topic and, long story short, here we are.

I went to all girls Catholic boarding school. This included the joys of form prayers after lunch, many masses and warm croissants every morning, the messy haired bad boys that made up teenage YA being how I envisioned the entire male population. Teenage me was the definition of sheltered.

But how would some of our favourite fictional characters do being couped up there… Here’s a list of 10 fictional females that would have caused a pretty big stir at all girls school. And I’d have wanted to befriend all of them.


The Raven Boys

1 I can just imagine the boarding mistress having a great time insisting Blue take the bottle tops of her pleated school-issued tartan skirt every morning.


The Exact Opposite of Okay

2 Funny, feminist and full of sass, snarky Izzy would have been brilliant in my school. And she’d ask some fabulously awkward questions in our Catholic led sex ed lessons.


To Kill a Kingdom

3 I’m pretty sure stealing hearts would be frowned upon. And she may have to be banned from singing at mass because of the whole siren thing… Don’t want any deadly renditions of Amazing Grace or anything.


A Curse so Dark and Lonely

4 She can impersonate queen, weild a crowbar and throw daggers but can she iron the pleats into her skirt?


Percy Jackson

5 Can you imagine Thalia’s dry wit, quick humour and insistence she carries her bow to lessons? At least they can trust her not to sneak any men into the dorms being a hunter of Artemis and all.


Into the Crooked Places

6 I’m currently reading the arc I won of Alexandra Christo’s upcoming release and absoloutely love Tavia. She’s all burnt magic and morals in the gritty streets she’s forced to live in. While her hearts in the right place it’s possible my teachers wouldn’t enjoy her snark. Or tendency for the illegal.


Rebel of the Sands

7 Not only is she great with those twin swords but will most definitely help you overthrow any malicous sultans. I just don’t see her sitting still during prep though…



8 Wild, unruly and full of fight Tella would be such a laugh in class and definitely be best dressed at summer mass.

Lila Bard

A Darker Shade of Magic

9 The boarding mistress would most definitely have her hands full with Lila, her knife game is on point. Pun fully intended.


Strange the Dreamer

X We weren’t allowed out after six but nobody said we couldn’t throw up moths and unleash them on the city after six…

So there you have it! Ten characters I think would have been great at all girls Catholic boarding school. Any you’d like to add to the list? Have a list of your own, that might actually be on topic? Chuck it in the comments section, I’d love to hear from you.

Also, for accountability, stay tuned tomorrow because I will be posting my review of The Handmaid’s Tale Audiobook and a rundown of my YALC book haul on Friday.

YALC Wrap Up

Every year for the last five years I’ve attended YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention, in London. Circled my calendar, pooled over the schedule and, with pages curling in the 38 degree heat of last Thursday, stuffed my rucksack full of books. After a brief debate if I’d really need a hairbrush for the one night I’d be staying at my friends in London I was set and ready to go. And for those wondering, I decided I did not need the hairbrush, and I’m sporting a frizzy birds nest by day two just to prove it.

On the train up I was casually pondering if I’d forgotten my toothbrush when my friend, book blogger inspiration and bookish partner in crime, Jo rung me to gush that she was ready, about to stumble to the convention three hours early and would I please hurry up. My apologies on the railways behalf, because what does signalling problems even mean, and my assurances that I’d be there before 10:30 quickly turned to fangirl babble as we compared books and planned our day.

The convention centre felt suspiciously cool when we arrived, usually a sweltering hall crammed with book lovers in the thirty degree heat of July. Suspicious but relieved, we grabbed a few signing tickets before heading over to the agents arena because Jo wanted querying tips for the book she’s just written.

On unforgiving plastic chairs that creaked everytime I shifted slightly, which of course I couldn’t stop doing all of a sudden, I vaguely listened to the agent explain query letters while Jo dutifully took notes. There may have been some scrolling on my part. And I may have thrust my Twitter in front of Jo a handful of times because cute puppy or exciting read. Basically if Jo struggles to query her book it’s all Twitter’s fault.

Leaving the talk we assured each other we’d take it slow. Split the stands up so we wouldn’t be bored, as our first signing wasn’t until frustratingly late in the afternoon. So obviously, with the best of intentions, we started weaving our way greedily through the stands, ogling at the glistening covers and snatching cute badges in a giddy and excited rush. We’d done them all pretty much by lunchtime.

Although not as paced as we may have planned we did secure some afternoon entertainment in the form of hunting for rubber bats as we tried to win a proof of Alexandra Christo’s Into the Crooked Places. I managed to snag one off the big Y in YALC and Jo and I are now the proud shared owners of this glittery purple proof. I get it first since I spotted the bat.

The day ended with me deliberating far too much over the book swap, babbling incoherently at Derek Landy as he signed off my book with a skull before meeting our friends for dinner in the evening. In just a slight summer drizzle and a sticky humid evening our tired feet made it back to Jo’s London flat where we compared our purchases and admired our Fairy Loot prints.

On Saturday our friend Hannah joined us. You might think this narrative is going get confusing with two Hannah’s on the scene but lucky for you I’ve told it in first person. You see, I think about my readers.

On a rainy Saturday morning we grabbed our bags, mine now significantly lighter after we’d swung by my office Friday night, and rushed to the convention centre. We knew VE Schwab would be popular and wanted to get low numbered queue tickets but we were nearly 300th in the queue when we stumbled to the ticket stand a mere half hour after it opened. The calmness of yesterday had given way to the weekend that dragged an uncomfortably warm, heaving room full book lovers with it, presenting us with a much more exhausting first few hours.

Slightly dejected we consoled ourselves with our low numbered Malorie Blackman and Karen McManus tickets. Hannah was keen to go round the stalls and it didn’t take much convincing for either us to join her, my formally empty tote now restuffed with more books and a very pretty hardback I won of Fairy Loot.

The afternoon was filled with exciting bookish promise. With clammy hands clutching treasured books we queued in the greenhouse that is the signings area, Jo having traded her 281 for a 39 VE Schwab signing ticket. We were only allowed to get three books signed and one dedicated and Jo swapped out one of hers for my new copy of Vicious. Being the incredible human being she is when we were asked which one we wanted dedicating she got my book dedicated to me! Makes me feel bad for stealing all the cookie dough when we get Ben and Jerry’s.

After absolutely melting in front of VE Schwab, both from heat and from love, we located our trusty plug socket we’d unearthed in previous years and dumped our hauls for a moment of chill. With a brief interlude where we played hunt the bat again in the hope of not having to argue over our pretty purple proof we spent most of the afternoon sitting and admiring a nearby dog. If you’re wondering we are now doomed to forever fight over the possession of that proof. I did manage to win a proof of Thorn of Swans by posting an impressive bird impression on Twitter and got Jo and I chocolate cupcakes from the Fairy Loot stand when they unveiled yet more copies of Caravel are being made. It wasn’t all a loss.

Our final signing was with Malorie Blackman at the end of day. We were both beginning to get slightly steamed and a tad icky by that point, as we flopped down on beanbags next to a nearly cleared out stand. The hour wait was not without it’s perks: we got a sweaty snap with Alwyn Hamilton when she finished signing and, because she is a lovely human, she remembered us from the last three years she’d been to the convention. Possibly our giggles and squeeles are very memorable.

The day, and the whole event, ended with a giddy meeting with Malorie Blackman, who is just too lovely, a quick sugar crash and a sleepy trip home. Now for 364 days of recuperating before we do it all again.

Hannah, Jo and I on Saturday

Series on my TBR with 2019 Releases

Technically today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is books being released in the second half of 2019, but as theres only a couple I really want to read I’m going to be doing a slightly different topic: Series on my TBR with 2019 Releases. Some of them are the first in the series and others are the actual release (on the rare occasion that I’m actually caught up!)

1. Finale

If you follow me on any social media, you’ll know how excited I am to read this novel. I just can’t wait to see how it all ends!

2. Enchantee

This 2019 release just sounds amazing. I’ve heard nothing but praise and hope I can hop on the bandwagon soon!

3. Descendants of the Crane

Again, I’ve heard nothing but good things about this novel. And from the blurb it sounds amazing!

4. Children of Vengeance and Virtue

I’ve heard the release date has been moved back for this, but it’s still in 2019 and I’m so excited to see what happens next to Zelie and the gang.

5. The Cruel Prince

The Wicked King came out earlier this year (if you use book Twitter or Bookstagram this will not have escaped your notice) and I’m desperate to catch up and find out what the hype is all about!

6. Romanov

This book looks so pretty on Bookstagram and I’ve read some really positive reviews! Hopefully soon 🀞

7. A Curse so Dark and Lonely

I just got this January release out the library! Can’t wait to start.

8. King of Fools

After the ending of Ace of Shades I am so excited for this 😱😍

9. Stalking Jack the Ripper

This book is everywhere on Bookstagram, and with the fourth one being released this year hopefully I’ll actually start the first one πŸ€žπŸ˜‚

10. We Hunt the Flame

Honestly I know nothing about this book, other than it has some hard core Twitter fans, who have convinced me I want to read it for no good reason πŸ˜‚

Lets Compare Notes

There you have it! Series with 2019 releases I’m excited to read! Which ones are you looking forward to? Have you read any of mine? Did you write a Top Ten Tuesday? Leave a link or opinion in the comments section!

Are Our Ships Empowering Readers

Before you ask, despite the picture, I am not talking about boats. I’m talking about the characters we’re pairing together, and whether they’re portraying healthy relationships, or whether romance in literature could leave readers feeling inadequate about themselves or their relationships.

I started thinking about this back in university when my housemate and I rewatched Friends. Friends is the TV hit show phenomenon that crowns sitcoms glory days. It was big and, being 90s show, had a ridiculous amount of problems. Crowning these off was the focus on the toxic relationship that formed the heart of the show: Ross and Rachel. We see petty jealousy, manipulation and outright lies all thrown in the comedic light and portrayed as appropriate. But, I hear your cry, that was the 90s. We’ve learnt since then.

But I’d argue that young people are still growing up under the influence of unrealistic and toxic relationships, especially those in YA. And here are a few red flags I’ve seen almost celebrated in YA literature.

The first issue that comes to mind is the superficial, attractive hero trope. He fancies the heroine, sure, but his dry wit, degoatory humour, unrealistic looks and desperate need for character development hardly make him an great person. And fair enough, he often gets that character growth but he’s not the ideal boyfriend before that and shouldn’t be portrayed as such. And, while we’re on the topic, we can’t hold up the ‘not that pretty’ but strong and smart heroine, emphasising that her character is what matters most while making all the men attractive. Because men’s personalities matter too here and women are not that superficial. The brooding, over attractive hero who can’t show emotions and rather takes them out using his dry wit and crazy fight skills isn’t going to empower many male readers.

YA is ripe with love stories. We’ve read it all- the slow burn romance, the friends forever but start to see something new lovers, the enemies that change for each other, even the instantly hitting it off pairings. But have we really seen a break up? Have we seen a character get over someone and find someone new? Because, news flash, you’re first date at 17 is unlikely to be the groom at your wedding several years down the line. I’m not saying it’s impossible, I know real life childhood sweethearts and people who seem pretty happy with their first pancake, but for me and many of my friends that was definitely not the case, and it’s not projected nearly enough in literature. This unhealthy stereotype can lead readers to struggle with breakups, feel inadequate if their first relationship didn’t work out or idealise something that was never there, hardly empowering.

The lack of comfortably single heroines would be my next gripe. How often have we screamed at our protagonist that she has bigger problems than the midly attractive men chasing after her? I like romance as much as the next reader, but so often it just feels forced into a plot where the characters were platonic at best. Unnecessary romances aside, I just don’t think every protagonist, side character and remotely in the novel woman needs pairing off. The portrayals of an unrealistic need for romance and relationships that each character has could lead readers to feel inadequate or unhappy with being single, which is, of course, never the case. There is no need to fixate on relationships so much in novels or in real life: readers and characters need to feel comfortable being single.

The final toxic relationship habit that receives far too much page time that I’m going to discuss is looking around. Zuzana’s remarks about Akiva in Daughter of Smoke and Bone? Scarlett saying she’ll check out the Count while still with Julian in Legendary? That’s just cruel. A relationship shouldn’t ever make you feel second best, or a settle for. Lovers should build each other up and be clear with their feelings, not just date someone in the interim while waiting for Prince Charming, which those crude remarks can leave people feeling. Normalising partners, particularly women, looking around and commenting on attractive male characters with disregard for their partners feelings can encourage readers to disregard others feelings.

There are other, less common, relationship problems splashed across the page throughout YA: Sky being forced to date someone she doesn’t like because she and Zed are Soul Mates in Finding Sky, Agnieszka dating a man literally 100 years older than her or Clary dating her best friend Simon despite having no feelings what so ever in City of Bones. Having only discussed a few issues in this post, I conclude the portrayal of romance in literature should be reassessed, but what do you think? Do you agree? Feel free to drop an opinion in the comments section!

My Unpopular Bookish Opinions

Oh gosh this Top Ten Tuesday topic. I hope I won’t loose too many friends over it but it was so fun to write πŸ˜‚πŸ˜³

1. Dog Earing Pages is Fine

That little crease in the top corner of a page that some bookworms flinch at? Yep that’s fine. I mean if you bend them back the other way you can’t even tell so what’s the big deal, anyway?

2. Cracked Spines are Good

I actively encourage cracked Spines in my bookcase. My books look loved and read, not like a bookshop!

3. Love Triangles Suck

I’m sorry popular ya published when I was fifteen but the love triangles were so over done. And not even that great a trope to begin with…

4. Not All Heroes Need Love

I love my ships, I really do, but do all protagonists and side characters have to pair off? Can they be single and happy about it?

5. Love Shouldn’t Last Forever

Again I love my ships, but occasionally I think they should well… Um… Sink? Just a couple. I mean come on, who here is still with their first boyfriend/girlfriend from 17?!

6. Negative Reviews Rule

Not everyone is going to like every book, so authors shouldn’t be offended to receive negative reviews. Also, as a reader I check reviews to see if I will like a book and I appreciate a reviewers honesty.

7. Review what you DNF

Again, I don’t want to waste my time reading a book I don’t like, so appreciate when bloggers straight up tell me why they didn’t like it.

8. Movies Don’t Always have to Follow the Books

I know, I know, readers are always going to prefer the book. It’s what we do. But I get some things won’t work on the big screen given time, budget or plot purposes and I’m ok with them missing out the odd plot point or character development. I’m just happy they made the movie.

9. Throne of Glass was ClichΓ©

An unpopular opinion in and of itself, but this book is so popular I feel bad not liking it. It even has the ‘let go of a breath I didn’t know I was holding’ line, I’m sorry SJM fans but I am not in your ranks.

10. Soul Mates? Nah

And we’re back to love again. A lot of bookworms eat up this trope, which is fine and I don’t judge, but really it’s not for me.

11. I don’t like Swearing in Books

And a cheeky 11 because I’m just that unpopular. I know some writes think it’s the only way they can express themselves but to some readers it’s just offensive, and you don’t know who’s going to pick up your book. Also it takes me out the story completely, I don’t know why.

Lets Compare Note

There you have it! 11 unpopular bookish opinions. What’s your most unpopular opinion? Do you share any of mine? Do you have a list of your own? Would love to hear from you in the comments!

May Wrap Up

And there goes May. Which means it’s officially summer! And officially time for shorts, BBQs, cold drinks and picnics! Anyway here’s my May wrap up, would love to hear what you did/read/wrote in the comments section πŸ™‚

What I Read

πŸ“š A Conjuring of Light – started the month of a high note, finishing this amazing series. Lila, Rhy and Kell, you will be missed 😭

πŸ“š Asking for It – a powerful read, I finished of this book suitably angry and very sad

🎢 Becoming – see the little emoji change? That’s because it’s an Audiobook 😎 loved hearing about Michelle Obama’s time in the White House from the woman herself!

What I Wrote

πŸ§€ STEM Representation in Literature – I wrote all about the characters that inspired me and why books should make women in STEM more of a social norm!

πŸ§€ 30 Words You Didn’t Know You Knew – I got to share more words with people! Yay! 30 more words I’ve recently learnt from books

πŸ§€ To All the Books I’ve Loved Before – a post all about the books that have changed my story as much as I’ve read theirs! Prepare for all the πŸ§€

πŸ§€ Bookish Characters every Reader can Relate to – 10 fictional book worms all readers can see themselves in!

What I Did

πŸš‚ Visited Harry Potter Studios- it was a late Christmas present and exceptionally cool!

πŸš‚ Visited a castle in Wales – my boyfriend and I are keeping up our monthly castle quota and visited another one, this time in the exotic country of Wales

πŸš‚ My friends Visited – two friends who I’ve known since school finally stopped by! We went for a lovely windmill based walk and chatted heaps

πŸš‚ Had Afternoon Tea at a fancy country house – for our three year anniversary my boyfriend and I had a very nice afternoon tea where I ate all the dainty food and cake

What I Read Online

🧑 What Makes a Great Book – not only does this blogger have fabulous taste in books *cough* giving Strange the Dreamer five ⭐s *cough* but I loved reading her take on this topic!

🧑 My Recent Five Star Crisis – a post all about how reading tastes change and how much harsher readers get the more they blog!

🧑 Does the Order we Read Books in Effect our Ratings – as a mood reader I definitely related to this post!

🧑 Top Ten Tuesday 212 – my friend made a list of all the books she’s convinced me to read and honestly I’m just surprised she kept it at 10! Also this post proved she has introduced me to basically all my favourite reads, so yes, good book worm friend.

Books that should be a Movie… Pretty Please?

Books into films is always a precarious one. Will it be Harry Potter, where we’ll flock in our masses to the studio tour, rewatch the films at any given opportunity and laugh rather than cringe at the slight book to film inaccuracies? Or will we get that adaptation that doesn’t even resemble the books, where the characters aren’t recognisable and all the joy has been bleached out for dramatic effect? *cough* Percy *cough cough* Jackson.

All I’m saying is film adaptations are a tight rope, a balancing act. And if some massive producer gets hold of this Top Ten Tuesday list full of books we want to see as movies, I am not responsible for any plot changing, character looking completely different films that may follow. That said, if we get a sensational hit then I’ll take nothing less than 50%.

1. A Darker Shade of Magic

Honestly most of this is just me wanting to see Kells cloak. And the red Thames. A Red Thames people 😍

2. To Kill a Kingdom

Pirates? Syrens? Princes? What more can you want. And that final battle with the sea queen would just work perfectly on the big screen.

3. Children of Blood and Bone

I’m sort of imaging Ice Age meets Lord of The Rings with this one. Lots of unusual fluffy creatures but also some deadly questing thrown in there.

4. Asking for It

Genuinely serious one here. I just finished this novel and the message is just too important to not hit the big screen.

5. Caravel

Ok, I might not be able to visit Caravel or sample the amazing cider but surely seeing all the glamour unfold in a cinema is somewhat close? And Scarlets dress would be amazing on a film.

6. The Night Circus

We can all buy stripy scarfs to match the film! It can have a proper following like the circus did! I’m imagining this people and it’ll be amazing.

7. Circe

Not only is this an excellent book with a fab plot, but I bet it would be a low budget film. You’d only need a handful of actors and just one set really. I’m envisioning this as one of those films with a narrator at the beginning of scenes, but possibly that’s because I read the Audiobook πŸ€”

8. Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Just those vivid descriptions of Prague and the mysterious undertones, ah what a fan film this would be. The book is so enchanting.

9. The Raven Boys

Oh come on, this would make an excellent film. You could use one of those fancy country house schools as the set and have actors that look about 25 pretend to be 16 which will of course make the youth of today feel they look too immature. See, I know what they do.

10. Skulduggery Pleasant

I haven’t yet worked out the best way to bring to life a talking skeleton, but I’m thinking with a lot of CGI this could work. If they did the Lion King they can definitely manage Skulduggery.

Let’s Compare Notes

So there you have it! A list of books that would make exceptional films. And, bizarrely, this topic couldn’t be more topical because I’m going to the Harry Potter studios this weekend with my boyfriend! A very generous Christmas gift 🎁

But back to this list. Anyone else agree? Disagree? Have a list yourself? Would love to hear from you in the comments section!

STEM Representation in Literature

Media is full of negative conations about women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)- they can only do biology, men are better, the STEM character is the least attractive and clearly undatable. I struggle to find female STEM role models in media, and finding positive female STEM role models? Yeah, nearly impossible.

For my A Level years I went to a single sex school. It was the first year my school ran computing A Level and I was the only pupil doing it. I was super worried I’d be the first and last to do the subject, that there’d be no interest once I left. I ran coding classes for different levels: two in the senior school, one in the junior school, slowly and surely getting more girls into the computing room at lunch. You wouldn’t believe my joy when a girl in a younger year at school messaged me on Facebook a few years ago saying she’d taken computer science at the same university I had. That there’d been three doing computing A Level in her year. I couldn’t believe I’d actually made a difference.

But can the literature change the gender imbalance in computing? I’d say yes, it definitely did for me. My first real role model was probably Violet Baudelaire. Orphan, inventer and heroine of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Before I could even tie my shoelaces I was trying to tie my bob haircut up with string, to no avail, like her. In my eyes she was the epitome of cool: she used wacky inventions to save the day, she was the one her brother turned to when they were in a tight spot, she was everything ten year old me wanted to be.

Wanting to be an inventor like Violet changed my career path. I got an old excise book and drew pictures of inventions I planned to make one day. I tried to become a computer guru and became semi established with this title in year seven. I remember one particularly taxing ask by my aging English teacher: to get a digital version of a picture a girl had printed out for homework up on the projector. Sadly my ICT skills didn’t stretch to plucking search terms out of students’ heads and I failed to produce the image, a few Google Image searches later. Nevertheless, it will be no surprise to any of my teachers that I became a computer scientist. It always appeared to be on the cards.

Until it didn’t. At fourteen I went to a new school and suddenly computing wasn’t a subject. We learnt about Word and PowerPoint and ‘cool’ subjects became Art and History. It wasn’t just school that changed for me- it was media too. Violet was stuck in my past and my role models became Katniss and Tris. Computer science was restricted to The Big Bang Theory where it was ridiculed, because what kid wants to grow up to be like Leonard, at best? It didn’t look like the future, or the way to solve problems, it became another reason to laugh at the sad nerd in the corner.

I still had a love of engineering, a gutteral sense that it was for me, but I’ve no doubt I wouldn’t have questioned my decision, my place and right to take the subject, if I’d still been reading about Violet, kicking Olaf’s butt and saving her siblings with her mad inventions. And I wouldn’t have even consider computing if it wasn’t for characters like her. The interest she drummed in me meant my dad offered to teach me how to write my first computer program when he saw me reading a massive copy of “Programming for Dummies” that I’d gotten out the library.

Katniss and Tris, they taught a teenage me that women can do anything. But does literature tell kids that they can be anything?

Literature definitely has before. Take Hermione from Harry Potter. How many girls grew up under her fantastic influence, showing young women that brains is a form of strength. Characters that confront rather than conform to negative stereotypes can make a big difference. Or at least, they did for me.

I know not every novel can be about a female engineer, and wouldn’t want them all to be. If a debut is about a lawyer, or a warrior, or a writer or even a frog, then that’s fine. But there could be some small changes. A character gets advice from a wizened old professor at one point? Why can’t they be a woman. There’s a side character who happens to be in STEM? Make them strong. Attractive. Not that nerd with glasses and low self esteem. And there should never be demeaning and derogatory jokes about women in STEM (and yes, I have genuinely seen this in modern literature). Five minutes of laughter isn’t worth the terrible stereotype being instilled in young audiences.

I don’t have any statistics on whether media makes a difference to young people’s career paths. I don’t know how to magically change the public’s perception of women in STEM, I don’t even know if it’ll ever be a social norm for women to take STEM subjects. But I can’t help that think that maybe, just maybe, making it a fictional social norm could be a good place to start?