The Taylor Swift Book Tag

The Taylor Swift Book Tag

Recently, I’ve been listening to a LOT of Taylor Swift, a singer I’ve been an on/off fan of since being a young teen. Yet for some reason, I’ve been listening to lots of her songs, so this Tag Tuesday, the Taylor Swift Book Tag seemed like an obvious choice. Let’s answer some Qs with some As then!

1. We Are Never Ever Getting Backing Together: Pick book you were sure you were in love with, but then wanted to break up with

I really liked the Twilight series as a young teen – I read them all in less than a week. In hindsight, I’m not sure they were the best books ever written. Plus, the franchise on a whole gets a lot of criticism, so it can be a bit embarrassing to admit that I liked them. (So I’m combating this by telling 300+ people that I liked the Twilight books… sure)

2. Red: Pick a book with a red cover

I’d have to choose my beautiful edition of And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie (1939), which features the characters as portrayed in the 2015 BBC adaptation. If you haven’t read the book, you need to! If you haven’t watched the TV series, you need to! They’re both brilliantly made and very enjoyable.

3. The Best Day: Pick a book that makes you feel nostalgic

This question reminds me of my My Life In Books Challenge, where I talked about different books I read and loved as a child. I would probably have to say The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911) because I loved it as a little girl, and I feel like I can connect to the book’s characters and events, given its Yorkshire backdrop.

4. Love Story: Pick a book with forbidden love

I really don’t read many love stories, and none with a sense of “forbidden” love. I’d probably have to choose the classic, Romeo and Juliet (1597) – which is also referenced in Taylor’s song!

5. I Knew You Were Trouble: Pick a book with a bad character you couldn’t help but love

There are so many! I love a good villain. I’d definitely say Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights (1847). I’d also say Count Olaf, from the Series of Unfortunate Events books, O’Brien from 1984 (1949) or Camille’s mother from Sharp Objects (2006). Then there’s always Macbeth and Lady Macbeth too…

6. Innocent: Pick a book that someone ruined the ending for

I’m notorious for avoiding spoilers at all costs (unless I accidentally find out something myself). My brother ruined a lot of books and films for me as a child, although no specific memories spring to mind. He probably told me a lot of the Harry Potter storylines before I’d been able to read them for myself…

7. Everything Has Changed: Pick a book character who goes through extensive character development

My knee-jerk reaction is Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice (1813). At the start of the book, Elizabeth is headstrong, but shows she can be sassy, judgmental and prejudiced (all three of which towards Darcy). In the same way, Darcy is proud, arrogant and reluctant to show his true feelings. Both characters learn to open up to each other, as well as other people, and they round out as characters towards the end of the book.

8. You Belong With Me: Pick your most anticipated book release

At the minute, I’ve heard Crystin Goodwin is working on a fourth book in her Blessings of Myrillia series. I’ve read all three and reviewed them (UnBlessed, Fire Blessed, Ice Blessed) and I really like the fantasy / young adult path Goodwin has taken the books down, and I can’t wait to read the next one!

9. Forever and Always: Pick your favourite book couple

I would either say Mr and Mrs Bennett from Pride and Prejudice (1813) because they’re such hilarious characters, or Henry and Clare from The Time Traveller’s Wife (2003) because they have such a wonderful, loving relationship.

10. Teardrops On My Guitar: Pick a book that made you cry

I don’t cry at books! I don’t cry at films either. I guess I’m just a cold-hearted, meanie of a blogger…

Those are my answers! Would you have picked different books?

That’s all for now!

– Judith

The Halloween Book Tag

The Halloween Book Tag

Happy Halloween!

Okay, so it might not be Halloween just yet, but there’s no reason we can’t get into the spirit of things. I found this tag on candidcover.net and I thought it was just perfect for the occasion.

1. Pumpkin Carving: Which book would you carve up and light on fire?

Hmm, a book I really dislike… I would have to say The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (2003). I’ve already discussed my strong dislike to The Kite Runner already on ReadandReview2016, and the idea of seeing it on fire is somewhat amusing, if not a little Hitler-ish…

*Honourable Mention: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925). Another book I’d love to take apart.

2. Trick or Treat: What character is a trick? What character is a treat?

In terms of a ‘treat’, I would pick a really lovely, heartfelt character. My natural instinct is to say someone like Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series, or Jane from Pride and Prejudice (1813), both of whom are brilliant women that have lots of admirable qualities.

As for a ‘trick’ character, I want to talk about someone who is misleading, evil and duplicitous. I want to say Macbeth, from Macbeth (1611) but other villains such as Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights and Professor Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes series also spring to mind.

3. Candyfloss: Which book is always sweet?

I’m tempted to say Candyfloss by Jacqueline Wilson (2006) for fun! I think I’ll pick Anne of Green Gables though, by L.M. Montgomery (1908).

4. Ghosts: Which character would you love to have visit you as a ghost?

I’d be intrigued by any character that decided to bridge the gap between fiction and reality, as well as the gap between life and death! I like the idea of chatting with The Ghost of Christmas Past from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843).

5. Fancy Dress: Which character would you want to be for the day?

A really evil, sassy woman; I think they are so well-portrayed in literature. I think I would choose Bellatrix Lestrange from the Harry Potter series. Then again, I also really liked the characterisation of Amy in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012) and I liked her sinister plotting and cleverness.

*Honourable Mention: The Evil Queen from Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm (1812).

6. Witches and Wizards: What is your favourite Harry Potter moment?

How am I supposed to choose?! I really like Harry Potter and rhe Deathly Hallows (2007) – particularly the scenes in Malfoy Manor and Hermione’s interrogation and torture. Grim, I know, but it was gripping.

7. Blood and Gore: Which book was so creepy that you had to take a break from it for a while?

The goriest book I’ve ever read so far is ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King (1975), but I didn’t have to ‘take a break’ at any point. In fact, I was captivated by King’s work and could hardly put it down!

Those are my answers! Would you choose different books? I tag anyone who wants to do this tag (and I’d love to see some of your responses in the comments).

That’s all for now!

– Judith

My Life In Books Challenge Day #5

My Life In Books Challenge Day #5

It’s the final day of the My Life In Books Challenge. Yesterday I went through my top 5 texts I studied at AS Level as a Teenager. Today is Part 2, if you will, as I’m going through my top 5 texts that I studied at A Level!

In 5th place is: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Unlike my AS Level year, I actually enjoyed the majority of texts I studied, and so ranking them in order of preference was quite a difficult decision-making process.

Wuthering Heights is about two passionate lovers separated by the cruel expectations of Victorian society, forcing them into prosperous marriages and suffering eternally.

Or, Wuthering Heights is about a darkly mysterious child who is treated like a monster and grows up to fulfil this expectation, pitiless revenge on all those who ever wronged him and perpetuating misery.

Personally, I favour the latter interpretation.

I’ve read Wuthering Heights quite a few times, and I even referenced it during my 3 Day Quote Challenge. I like the story, although it does get very confusing with the various characters and children who all have annoyingly similar names and spend their time travelling to and from Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. It’s a Gothic text, but at the same time, it is so unconventionally Victorian – curse words, references to the Devil and the Supernatural, and the clever, vengeful actions of Heathcliff. The reason I ranked it in 5th place is because I simply do not enjoy the lengthy outpourings of emotions and the awkward love triangle between Cathy, Heathcliff and Edgar.

My Photo [My Life In Books 21]


In 4th place is: The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

Feminism!

I’m really not a fan of feminist literature, especially anything written around the time of second-wave (man-hating) feminism. Everything in every story can be blamed on the patriarchy. Because reasons.

The Bloody Chamber is a collection of mostly Gothic short stories – I’ve mentioned the book before, as one of its stories, The Snow Child, inspired me to write my own short story based on a fairytale. You can read it here: https://readandreview2016.wordpress.com/2016/04/14/short-story-white-winter-mist/

All of the stories are filled with violence or explicit sex references – in a similar way to The Monk by Matthew Lewis (another book I’ve reviewed!), although Carter describes it in a much more modern way (naturally). However, despite these negatives, I enjoyed how Carter subverted conventional fairytales and make them seem twisted or scary, or just skilfully adapted them for a more adult audience.

My Photo [My Life In Books 22]


In 3rd place is: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Feminism! (again!)

The Handmaid’s Tale is a feminist dystopian novel about Offred, a woman living her life in the new society of Gilead, part of America which is now ruled by a totalitarian state. Gilead’s rule is based on a twisted form of Christianity, but it also has some parallels with Nazism.

I really enjoyed reading The Handmaid’s Tale – I thought the feminist overtones were really laboured though (we get it Offred, you are literally trapped in subservience to man, you don’t have to tell us every 5 minutes). However, I liked Atwood’s interpretation of a subverted Christianity – the place names, the sayings, the focus on reproduction – there were so many intertextual references; she’d obviously done her homework. The use of religion reminded me of some paranormal horror films and novels, which experiment with just how extreme and dangerous religious fanaticism can get.

I am critical of the ending however – it doesn’t tie up the loose ends nicely, which I prefer, but it didn’t really leave enough of a cliff-hanger for me. It seemed an almost lazy way of finishing the plot, under the guise of creating “suspense”.

Wikipedia Image [My Life In Books 23]


In 2nd place is: Macbeth by William Shakespeare

I’ve talked about Macbeth before on my blog – I listed my 10 favourite quotes from Macbeth, my favourite play, in recognition of Shakespeare Day. Call me old-fashioned, but I passionately believe we should still study Shakespeare.

Macbeth is a tale of ambition, witchcraft and tyranny. It’s bloody and creepy and I like it. It makes you feel things. I feel anger towards Macbeth’s actions, I feel no sympathy for Lady Macbeth and think she is a wretched woman, I feel as if I gravitate towards Banquo and his concerns about God and morality. I feel satisfaction as the play draws to a close, as Shakespeare fulfils the traditional tragic structure

My A Level exam was closed-book as well, which means I could not take my texts into the exam and so I had to remember quotes by heart. For me, Macbeth was the easiest to learn. I’ve read and studied it before, and the quotes are easy to remember thanks to the rhythm and rhyme of each line.

My Photo [My Life In Books 24]


In 1st place is: 1984 by George Orwell

Similarly to The Handmaid’s Tale, 1984 is a Dystopian novel set in a totalitarian state, following ordinary citizen Winston who secretly opposes Big Brother, a not-so well-hidden depiction of Stalin and his communist regime.

I really loved this book. Politics isn’t really my thing, but the representations of infamous political regimes, like Stalin’s communism or Hitler’s Nazism, included in dystopian novels is fascinating! I really wanted Winston to succeed in his secret plans to bring down the regime, and I felt genuine shock at the plot twists that Orwell included, and where he placed them. However, I found the extracts of the fictional book, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, boring to read because it was written in a non-fiction style of the era Orwell was writing in, and I couldn’t get my head around most of it.

If I had to pin down a specific element of the book I enjoyed the most, I would have to say the motif of the popular nursery rhyme, Oranges and Lemons, to create a build-up and suspense for Winston’s imminent discovery and capture.

My Photo [My Life In Books 25]


And there we have it! I really enjoyed creating this series; it was a great chance to look back on books I haven’t read for quite a while and recollect my opinions about them.

Have you read the books on my list? What was your favourite? Share your thoughts below!

Until next time!

– Judith

3 Day Quote Challenge Day #1

3 Day Quote Challenge Day #1

I was nominated by Vicki, who has her own blog called The Page Turner.

I am a huge fan of Gothic literature – I reviewed The Monk by Matthew Lewis, not too long ago and released my own Gothic short story, White Winter Mist, so I think it’s only fitting that Day #1 of the Day Quote Challenge is a Gothic one:

‘I wish I could hold you,’ she continued, bitterly, ’till we were both dead!

Spoken by Cathy, Wuthering Heights, Volume 1 Chapter 15

I’ve read Bronte’s Wuthering Heights a good few times and I find this quote particularly poignant.

Not only does it symbolise the juxtaposition between the loving and destructive nature of Cathy and Heathcliff’s relationship, but it has echoes of something equally melancholic and beautiful – making it a very memorable quote for me.

The 3 blogs I nominate are:

  1. Rachel @ rachelnhawkins.wordpress.com
  2. Carla @ wordsmalarkey.wordpress.com
  3. Lucy & Sarah @ hardbookhabit.com

– Judith

Read and Review: Trainspotting

Read and Review: Trainspotting
  • Title: Trainspotting
  • Author: Irvine Welsh
  • First Published: 1993

Trainspotting is a novel about a group of friends who are addicted to drugs, alcohol or have a tendency to indulge in criminal activity. The book is set in poverty-stricken Scotland in the late 1980s.

Unfortunately, Trainspotting wasn’t my cup of tea. Structurally, the point of narration shifts from a third person narrator to a first person narrator, to a different first person narrator and so on. It became incredibly difficult, incredibly quickly, to follow the plot and learn about the characters.

I also didn’t like Welsh’s use of explicit sexual language and swearing.

The Scottish dialect in the narration and dialogue was somewhat confusing too, albeit interesting. Regional accents and dialects are important in conveying realism, which is necessary for a book which places itself in the social realist genre.

I am sure other readers have had similar reactions to books with a regional basis, such as Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte, 1847) or The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911) which are set in the depths of Yorkshire and the dialogue reflects this. Being a ‘Yorkshire lass’ myself, this form of dialect doesn’t bother me. I suppose Trainspotting is Welsh’s modern take on this.

However, despite not enjoying the book, Trainspotting was still fascinating, from an analytical perspective. The characters exist, rather than live. There is a focus on survival, rather than quality of life. The stagnation of action is reflective of their stagnant drug and alcohol addictions, and this is quite sad.

Although this kind of modern social realism wasn’t for me, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy Trainspotting for yourself.

-Judith