Guilt Free Book Haul (In Which My Relatives Feed Me Pretty Books)

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There’s a lot of things I like about Christmas – the food, spending time with family, chilling out and watching lots of movies, but I have to say one of the biggest perks of all is being able to add a few more unexpected books to my shelves. And better yet – I don’t have to feel guilty about buying books when I have so many unread ones because other people have done it for me. Double win! I always tend to have a book wish list on the go so that if any of my relatives are stuck for present ideas, they can randomly pick something off it. This way, it’s always a surprise and I never have any clue which books I’m going to get. And I have to say, this year I was ecstatic with some of their choices! So, without further ado, allow me to present you with lots of bookish pictures and nerdy goodness, mwuhuhuuuu. 🙂 Continue reading

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking Review

Overall Impression: An accessible look at introversion – its strengths and its weaknesses.

To make this review a little more fun and interesting, it’s going to be a bit different from Quiet by Susan Cainnormal! Don’t worry, I’ll still going into the basics of writing style etc. (let’s not get crazy here) but I feel like this will be more interesting if I also share with you some interesting facts I learnt from reading Quiet. 🙂 So let’s start off with a little story: Once upon a time there was a young girl with blonde hair. She loved to learn, to follow the rules and do the best she could at school but every time parent teacher night came around or reports were drawn up she would come across the same critique again and again – ‘Student is kind and conscientious, she works hard and always helps others but she needs to speak up and participate more in class.’ This cropped up again and again and the girl soon learnt it was considered a bad thing to be quiet, that it was a fundamentally negative trait that needed to be fixed. It would put her at a disadvantage in the work place, in relationships and in life. But no matter how much she tried, she couldn’t change her nature.
That young girl was yours truly.
And a lot of the ideas expressed above are what introverts are taught to believe when living in a world that has an extrovert ideal. This is one of the many topics that Cain tackles in her non-fiction personality psychology book, Quiet. Continue reading

The Books That Have Shaped Me Into The Reader I Am Today.

My Top 10 Most Influential Books
Every so often in life you come across one of those special books, a book that has a revolutionary effect leaving you permanently marked for the better. One that resonates with you, forces you to challenge your own thinking or opens up a new world you were unaware existed. I am sure every reader has come across at least one of these books, whether it was the first they ever picked up, or a story that was there for them exactly when they needed it. As an enthusiastic bookworm and student, I like to think every book I pick up has influenced me in some way, however, there are certainly some that have had a bigger effect than others!

I was super excited when I saw  Continue reading

A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen Review 4/5

Overall Impression: An endearing and uplifting tale about two underdogs surviving on London’s streets.
A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

This is my third non-fiction book this year, I better be careful, I might hurt myself! I never thought I would delve into the world of non-fiction, it always fit snugly under the boring category in my mind. If someone had told me a year ago I would be reading some AND enjoying it I would have laughed. How quickly things change.
I originally bought the autobiography A Street Cat Named Bob for a family member who loved her furry friends. I had seen James Bowen being interviewed on the BBC news and the story caught my attention. After all, I am a soppy cat lover. After the family member had read it she leant it back to me, knowing all too well my love of books and I’m glad she did, because Bowen’s story was well worth reading!

When James Bowen found an injured, ginger street cat curled up in the hallway of his sheltered accommodation, he had no idea how much his life was about to change. James was living hand to mouth on the streets of London and the last thing he needed was a pet.
Yet James couldn’t resist helping the strikingly intelligent tom cat, whom he quickly christened Bob. He slowly nursed Bob back to health and then sent the cat on his way, imagining he would never see him again. But Bob had other ideas.
Soon the two were inseparable and their diverse, comic and occasionally dangerous adventures would transform both their lives, slowly healing the scars of each other’s troubled pasts.

A Street Cat Named Bob is written by James Bowen, a failed musician turned busker in London who was approached by a journalist. For obvious reason this means that it is not the finest prose you will encounter, but you know what? I liked that about it. This book was rough around the edges, a lot like James and Bob.  Continue reading

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories by Washington Irving Review 2/5

Overall Impression: Some great atmospheric short stories hidden within a cascade of irrelevant non-fiction.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories
Phew, I am so glad to have finished this book! What a slow journey, at times I didn’t think I was ever going to finish it. I should mention however, that the reason for my negative rating is to do with this specific edition of the book by Collins Classic. The short stories – my original reason for purchasing, were entertaining and historically interesting. I set out only to buy the famous short story Sleepy Hollow but discovered this edition was cheaper. Getting more pages for a better price seemed like a win win at the time. Hm, turns out not so much… the title is clever, it tends to suggest the book will be full of chilling stories when in fact, there are only three (73 pages worth). The rest of the 332 pages are non-fiction, not quite what I had in mind!

Featuring ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ and ‘Rip Van Winkle’, this collection of inspired essays, stories and sketches established Washington Irving’s reputation as one of America’s foremost authors. Irving’s timeless characters, including Ichabod Crane, Rip Van Winkle and the headless Hessian trooper, jostle for space 31 equally atmospheric and lyrical works in this haunting anthology from one of America’s most distinctive literary voices.

Learning about the author himself was actually one of the most interesting parts of this book! Before I began I had no idea how crucial Washington Irving’s work was to literature, he apparently was one of the first to successfully bridge the gap between America and Europe. He is named as one of the first authors to bring up the idea of copyright to protect author’s work from being plagiarised and was great at using marketing to his advantage. He created the pseudonym Knickerbocker and put up missing person posters suggesting the author had mysteriously disappeared to help gain a buzz of interest around his work. He also created the Christopher Columbus myth Continue reading

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King Review 5/5

Overall Impression: Mind implosion? Quite possibly! *Runs out to buy all Stephen King’s books*. I can’t express in words the epic nature of this book!

This was once again recommended to me by my Creative Writing class. In their words: ‘It is not required reading, but it is highly encouraged’. I had already heard of the boOn Writing A Memoir of the Craftok’s reputation so I decided to purchase a copy straight away, and boy am I glad I did! I have never marked so many pages or felt so energised and inspired to write as I did each time I read some of On Writing. I felt like an excited child and that Stephen King was giving me the secret code for how to become a grown up. In attempt to share some of the awesomeness I even got my mum to read a passage, I was sure it was genius incorporated. She read confused wondering what I was going on about. That’s the thing, when you take sections out of context this book might not necessarily seem all that different from any other writing book, but dare to venture inside and you will find all sorts of hidden treasure!

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s class, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 – and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.

I think this blurb focuses entirely on the wrong aspects of the book. Yes, it does include details of Stephen King’s life but it is not a book about self reflection and each anecdote makes a relevant point on writing. The book is split into four sections. Continue reading

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White Review 3/5

Overall Impression: This is a tiny little book with a lot of information, but does anyone actually TRY and make these writing books interestingThe Elements of Style by William Strunk JR. and E.B. White as well as informative? Zzz.

This was a book set to me as recommended reading for my minor in creative writing at university. Being a good little student I decided to play along. It’s geared towards both creative and formal essay writing.
Of my own free will I never would have picked up any kind of grammar book even if you paid me. Maybe it’s because I hate the idea of writing as a formula, or perhaps it’s because the idea of writing being filled with rules is horrifying to me as it immediately makes it feel less fun. But I suppose…. *sigh* that it is kind of necessary. Maybe……
Possibly…
I’m also using this as part of the Eclectic Reader Challenge, partly because I need a non-fiction book and partly because it was a reason to push myself to actually read it all, lol. Yep that’s correct, I read the whole yawnsome thing from cover to cover! -_-
I’ve never reviewed anything non-fiction before, but I shall do my best. Wish me luck!

Blurb from Goodreads (as mine doesn’t have a blurb at all):
You know the authors’ names. You recognize the title. You’ve probably used this book yourself. This is The Elements of Style, the classic style manual, now in a fourth edition. A new Foreword by Roger Angell reminds readers that the advice of Strunk & White is as valuable today as when it was first offered.This book’s unique tone, wit and charm have conveyed the principles of English style to millions of readers. Use the fourth edition of “the little book” to make a big impact with writing.

According to the introduction this book was originally printed by William Strunk Jr. as a little 43 page guide to help his students. E.B White just so happened to be one of those students, and many years later he was asked to revise it. As a big practitioner of the book he accepted, updating it as well as adding a few extra pearls of wisdom and so TA DA, we have The Elements of Style 4th edition. Continue reading