The Bard Turns 450!

Today marks Shakespeare’s supposed 450th birthday (“supposed” because there are no records of his actual birth date, though all sorts of fancy schmancy scholars and historians have basically agreed that he was born three days prior to his baptism on 26 April 1564). As a teeny sapling of 25, I am quite overwhelmed by Shakespeare’s (literary) longevity—he’s exactly 18 times older than I am!

ShakesFestivalTo commemorate this momentous day, I decided to put together a list of my three favourite Shakespeare plays—for now. And, since I’m a teeny sapling Shakespeare scholar, I’m even going to try to explain why I love these plays so much (but do prepare yourself for what will essentially be a super gushfest).

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Bibliophilic swappity swapsies

A few weeks ago, after the twentieth trip to pick up goodies from the post office, I started to realise that my book-buying habits were starting to get a little out of hand… But my to-read mountain was diminishing at an alarming rate, and when the number of new titles had descended to 70, I decided something had to be done. If only I could get more books without having to fork out moolah; if only I could swap the books in my collection I no longer wanted for new and exciting titles…

Oh wait, there’s an idea!

And so I organised my very first book swap event and invited anyone in Sydney who might’ve possibly have an interest in books, or in getting some new reading material, then asked them to spread the word about the free-for-all shiny bibliophilic extravaganza. Despite the rain, we had a small and cosy turnout, and many books were swapped. Our wet weather plan also worked beautifully! (The instruction was: “Bring an umbrella.”)


Bookswap02As for my haul? Six new titles to provide hours of fun!


Yes, cookbooks will indeed provide hours of (edible) fun!

I certainly had a great time at the book swap, and I plan on organising a sequel in around two months. It’ll once again be an open event, so everyone is more than welcome to join the fun. Feel free to follow me on Facebook and Twitter to get updates and whatnot!

Reviews: 9 books from March! (Gabaldon, Kafka, Leroux, Gregory, James, etc)

Another batch of “reviews”! (I will always refer to these as “reviews” because I feel they more closely resemble ramblings.) I read 9 books in March, and, once again, they’re from a range of different genres, eras, and countries. Here’s the list:

14. Anne Maria Nicholson – Weeping Waters (1 Mar)
15. Diana Gabaldon – Outlander (3 Mar)
16. Diana Wynne Jones – Fire and Hemlock (6 Mar)
17. Franz Kafka – Metamorphosis and Other Stories (Penguin Modern Classics, trans. Michael Hoffman) (10 Mar)
18. Gaston Leroux – The Phantom of the Opera (Dover, trans. Alexander Teixeira de Mattos) (13 Mar)
19. Philippa Gregory – The Other Boleyn Girl (13 Mar)
20. David Gaider – Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne (17 Mar)
21. Kate Quinn – Mistress of Rome (22 Mar)
22. Henry James – The Golden Bowl (26 Mar)
23. Janet Fitch – White Oleander (31 Mar)

And now, the “reviews”:

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Reviews: 13 books from Jan/Feb! (Heyer, Zusak, Dickens, Nietzsche, McEwan, Rushdie, Tolkien, Austen, etc)

I started my little bookfest in late January, and didn’t think it would go far—until, a week and five books later, I realised that hey, I can read books for funfunfun! In an attempt to have some sort of structure in these reviews, I’ll be organising my thoughts about fiction into four categories, which is essentially adapted from Aristotle’s take on tragedy in his Poetics (yes, I’m boring and completely unoriginal—thank goodness for the basics!).

So, here’s a list of the books I read in Jan/Feb (with finishing dates):

1. Georgette Heyer – Arabella (30 Jan)
2. Julian Short – An Intelligent Life (1 Feb)
3. Georgette Heyer – Cotillion (2 Feb)
4. Markus Zusak – The Book Thief (3 Feb)
5. Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities (Penguin Classics, ed. Richard Maxwell) (7 Feb)
6. Mark Haddon – A Spot of Bother (10 Feb)
7. Friedrich Nietzsche – Ecce Homo (Penguin Classics, trans. R. J. Hollingdale) (11 Feb)
8. Ian McEwan – Solar (13 Feb)
9. Sarah Rees Brennan – Unspoken (14 Feb)
10. J. D. Salinger – The Catcher in the Rye (21 Feb)
11. Salman Rushdie – Midnight’s Children (24 Feb)
12. J. R. R. Tolkien – The Hobbit (24 Feb)
13. Jane Austen – Persuasion (Penguin Classics, ed. Gillian Beer) (27 Feb)

And, my thoughts on them (with the cover images corresponding to those of my copies):

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2014 Reading Extravaganza and Challenges

Due to a change in life circumstances, I’m now able to tackle my massive mountain of fun books, aka non-academic related shinies. In the last two months, I’ve read 22 fun books—twenty-two! This is super exciting because ever since I decided to get serious about English literature, I never got to actually enjoy English literature as a reader, and not as an academic or researcher or someone-with-their-brain-perpetually-turned-on-while-words-are-present.

I’ve been keeping track of these books along with my general thoughts on them, and instead of hogging all the ranting and the gushing, I’m going to share them with the big, bad, scary Intermenet. And, seeing as I’m doing all this reading anyway, I thought it’d be fun to sign up to two rather funky challenges—so here we are!

The Colour Coded Challenge (hosted by My Reader’s Block)

1. A book with “Blue” or any shade of Blue (Turquoise, Aquamarine, Navy, etc) in the title.
2. A book with “Red” or any shade of Red (Scarlet, Crimson, Burgandy, etc) in the title.
3. A book with “Yellow” or any shade of Yellow (Gold, Lemon, Maize, etc.) in the title.
4. A book with “Green” or any shade of Green (Emerald, Lime, Jade, etc) in the title.
5. A book with “Brown” or any shade of Brown (Tan, Chocolate, Beige, etc) in the title.
6. A book with “Black” or any shade of Black (Jet, Ebony, Charcoal, etc) in the title.
7. A book with “White” or any shade of White (Ivory, Eggshell, Cream, etc) in the title.
8. A book with any other color in the title (Purple, Orange, Silver, Pink, Magneta, etc.).
9. A book with a word that implies color (Rainbow, Polka-dot, Plaid, Paisley, Stripe, etc.).

1: “Blue”: Midnight’s Children by Salmon Rushdie
3: “Yellow”: The Golden Bowl by Henry James
7: “White”: White Oleander by Janet Fitch

The Alphabet Soup Challenge (hosted by Escape With Dollycas Into a Good Book)

A: Arabella by Georgette Heyer
B: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
C: Cotillion by Georgette Heyer
D: Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne by David Gaider
E: Ecce Homo by Friedrich Nietzsche
F: Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
G: The Golden Bowl by Henry James
H: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
I: An Intelligent Life by Julian Short
M: Midnight’s Children by Salmon Rushdie
O: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
P: Persuasion by Jane Austen
S: A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
T: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
U: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
W: Weeping Waters by Anne Maria Nicholson

I’ll keep this list updated as I devour the books, and will also post my reviews/thoughts/analyses/ramblings related to the pleasures of reading funfunfun books!

[Inner Senshi Book Club] Round 4: Flowers From the Storm

(Again, sorry about the late post—I need to stop making mid-month travel plans!)

The “Inner Senshi Book Club” is an online book club where five book lovers of different backgrounds and tastes across the world take turns at selecting and hosting a book each month. Individually, we are (in alphabetical order): Aimee, Angel, Meghan, Samantha L, and Samantha R. Together, we present you a whole range of books, complete with our responses to a rotating list of set questions. For more information about us, check out this introductory post.

A new book is selected on the 15th of each month, and our thoughts are posted roughly four to five weeks later. We hope you can join us in our reading shenanigans! (The book club derives its name from the five soldiers of love and justice from the Japanese manga and anime series, Sailormoon. We are just as kickass, and if all goes to plan, twice as well-read.)

This month, our book choice is: Laura Kinsale – Flowers From the Storm (as chosen by Angel)

I want you to consider:
Which person–real or fictional–do you think will consider this book one of their favourites? Why do you think this is?

Samantha R is interested in knowing:
Did you have a favourite character in the book? If so, what was it about this character that drew you to them? Or in reverse, were there any characters that you particularly disliked, and why?

Meghan is wondering:
If you could rewrite any part of the book, what would you change?

Angel would like you to think about:
Was it easy or difficult to identify with the narrator and why?

Aimee’s question for you is:
How believable were the character relationships in the book?

This month’s host, Angel, has two bonus questions from which to choose:
- Flowers from the Storm isn’t the quintessential romance novel, what with its focus on disabilities, religion and tolerance. What do you think the romance genre added to the discussion of these issues as Kinsale wrote them?
- One major theme in this story is the loss of control and agency, e.g. Jervaulx’s stroke rendering him unable to think and speak properly and Maddy’s role as a woman in the Quaker church preventing her from making certain important decisions. How well does the novel deal with the hurdles both characters face and (if you think the problems have been solved) does it make for a satisfying conclusion?

Our book club will begin reading Flowers From the Storm until 15 September. Stay tuned to our reviews and discussions for last month’s book, Cat’s Eye.

Aimee @ Penmanship Smitten | Angel @ Mermaid Vision Books | Meghan @ Coffee and Wizards | Samantha R @ As Read By An Aspiring Receptionist

[Inner Senshi Book Club] Round 2 Review: Melinda Marchetta – Looking for Alibrandi

True to my Inner Senshi persona of Sailormoon (known to be notoriously late and unreliable), I am more than fortnight late in posting my response to last month’s Inner Senshi Book Club title, Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi. (This tardiness is primarily due to my frantic churning of a Masters dissertation as well as moving from England to Ireland, but I still like the Usagi/Sailormoon reason better.)

Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi is a coming-of-age story set in Sydney, centred on Josephine Alibrandi, an Italian Australian in her final year of high school. I’m going to jump straight into the discussion questions, so here we go!

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