Cover Design: Ring of Bright Water

Another thing I realised when coming back to this poor neglected website-o-mine is that in a wild fit of enthusiasm, I had designed quite a few extra book covers last year, which I never posted.

One of them is this one, for Ring of Bright Waterby Gavin Maxwell.Ring of bright water

Ring of Bright Water is a beautiful book written by a man who lived on a secluded island near Skye, with an otter for a companion.

I took this photo when I was on holiday in Skye a few years ago. I did actually see Gavin Maxwell’s island, but unfortunately they’ve build a big bridge from the mainland to Skye, which has a pillar right on his island, so it wouldn’t quite have captured the seclusion. The bottom is slightly blurred because I took it on a bus!

XoxoxOXX

A Dance with Dragons – George R R Martin

After a lengthy hiatus I have decided to return to muse upon some bookish things.

Currently Reading: A Dance with Dragons Part 2: After the Feast

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This is (currently) the final instalment of George R. R. Martin’s epic series, A Song Of Ice and Fire, which I have been reading for a very long time.  I did a mini review of the third book in my summer reading mini reviews post , which I seemed to really enjoy. I think for me, the key to reading this series is only committing when I have lots of time for reading. In a holiday, I can devour these books pretty quickly, and enjoy them a lot.  When I try to read them during the term though, I end up in a bit of a deadly cycle. Each time I pick up the book I seem to have forgotten entirely what’s going on, which is made only worse by the fact that each character only pops up every 7 chapters or so. I am lost in a sea of confusion, which only makes me less likely to pick up the book. The marvellous plot is almost entirely lost on me, and I can never remember who’s doing what.

I’ve also been borrowing the e-book from the library so it seems to have expired every time I feel like reading it. Ah well, my gritty determination to finish will (hopefully) see me through.

I’ve also just finished watching the series with some friends, which in some ways has made it easier to follow the plot, although sometimes just leads to more confusion, when I can’t remember which things happened in the book, and which in the series.

Enough Game of Thrones rambling. I’m going to be jolly glad when I can get onto something else.

Book (so far) – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️4/5

My Commitment – 0/5

xoxoXOOxx

Cover Design: Lady Chatterly’s Lover

Aha, I haven’t done one of these for a while, have I!?  Never fear, my inspired book covers have not dried up entirely! No indeed.

Lady Chatterly’s Lover, by D. H. Lawrence, is a book about a bored aristocratic lady, who has a torrid affair with one of the gamekeepers on her estate.

Lady Chatterly .jpg

I had a massive shock when I read it, because I mistakenly believed it to be a cutesy historical novel, à la Jane Austen, when in fact what I was met with, after a couple of token scene setting chapters, was a series of graphic sex scenes, which basically made up the whole of the book. It was extremely shocking when it first came out, because nobody wrote that kind of thing in those days, and it contains lots of naughty four letter words.

This photo is of a man gardening, as viewed from a distance. Kind of as if the reader is Lady Chatterly, watching him from afar. With lustful gaze. Sorry.

XoxoxX

Behind the Beautiful Forevers – Katherine Boo

This is a book I’ve had on my To-Read list for ages, since I first found out about it from John Green’s book recommendations video. I randomly spotted it in the college library and thought I’d give it a go (so begins many of my reading stories).

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This was such an interesting book. I was slightly put off by the title, which I thought sounded quite soppy and sentimental, but this was absolutely not the case. The book was written by an American journalist, who decided to spend 3 years living in a slum in Mumbai. The title actually arises from some adverts for tiles that is on the wall between the slum and the airport. The adverts promise that the tiles will be “Beautiful Forever”, and so the slum itself is “Behind the Beautiful Forevers”.

Anyway, the book follows various inhabitants of the slum, what they do in their day-to-day lives, their aspirations, successes, and failures. Katherine Boo herself is not a character, and it is just told in the third person as if life were going on as normal.

I thought this book offered amazing insight into the lives of people in slums. It was very interesting, and taught me a lot I didn’t know about their struggles, and especially the extraordinary amounts of corruption that they face from all authorities. It raised quite a lot of issues for me about the effectiveness of charities, and how difficult it is to help people in need when they are surrounded by a cage of corrupt authorities.

I thought the topic was dealt with a great deal of humanity, but without being sentimental, or patronising to the characters. I would recommend this to everyone really – I think it’s one of those books that’s “important” to read, in order to understand the problems that other people face.

Incidentally, anyone who’s read this book and worries (as I did) about how helpful the money they donate to charity actually is, I’d recommend you check out Giving What We Can. It’s an organisation that investigates charities, and comes up with a list of the most “effective” ones – i.e. the ones that allow your money to have the most impact. Many of the charitable organisations mentioned in this book are having their money siphoned off by corrupt authorities at a higher level, and it never actually reaches the people it was intended for. I believe GWWC investigates charities very carefully, to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️5/5 stars

XooxoXXOO

Summer Reading – Mini Reviews

SUMMER reading.png

Hello, it’s been a while as I’ve been enjoying the summer and haven’t had any university work to procrastinate from. But of course that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading, so I thought I’d kick off again with a wrap up of all the books I read while on holiday with my parents. (Sorry, there are loads).

image1. 13 Minutes – Sarah Pinborough

So the first book I read on holiday was 13 Minutes, by Sarah Pinborough, which was an ARC from NetGalley. It’s a gripping thriller about a teenager who has an accident, resulting in her being dead for 13 minutes, but can’t remember what happened. With some fairly sickening twists and turns, I thought this was fantastic, and you can read my full review here.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️4/5

2. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Dìaz

This one was slightly strange. I can’t remember where I heard about this – probably just2629628booktube videos over the years. I didn’t really know anything about it, but spotted it at the college library and decided to give it a go. It’s about a boy called Oscar, who has moved to the USA from the Dominican Republic. The story follows him and his family growing up and the things that happen to them. It also had a lot of interesting bits about the political history of the Dominican Republic. It was quite good, but not amazing in my opinion. I think this was partly due to all the Spanish words that I had to look up, which made it quite a clunky reading experience.

⭐️⭐️⭐️3/5


3. City of Ashes and City of Glass – Cassandra Clare

1582996.jpgI am quite late to jump on this whole Cassandra Clare bandwagon, but since the ebooks are free on my local library’s reading app, I thought I’d give them a go. I’d read the last one the previous summer, and all the other books I wanted to read were on loan. So why not. I’m reviewing these together because I can’t really remember which things happened in which. This series is quite silly, but a fun and light read. There’s an interesting magic system, entwined with the occult, angels, demons, and various other mythological creatures, all with a ridiculous angsty teenage twist. I can see where a lot of the criticism comes from, as some of the main characters are incredibly immature and annoying, but I think you just have to accept that this is not ever going to be a fantastic piece of literature and enjoy it for what it is.

⭐️⭐️⭐️3/5

4. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler 22817474.jpg

This is one of those books that’s slightly tricky to review without spoilers, but I highly highly recommend it. The narrator is a girl called Rosemary, who is looking back at her childhood, in particular her sister Fern, who went missing under suspicious circumstances. I found this book quite upsetting, but in a good, thought-provoking way. It asks some important questions about the way our society works.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️5/5


5. One Hundred Years of Marriage – Louise Farmer Smith

29524815.jpgThis is another one from NetGalley. The book is split up into sections, each following a different marriage in an American family, going right back to the pioneers. It was an interesting idea, but I’d say the execution was fairly ‘meh’. It did make me want to find out more about my family history though, and there was some interesting demonstrations about how quickly stories are forgotten and changed, as they are misrepresented by continuous tellings.

⭐️⭐️2/5

6. Surviving the Angel of Death – Eva Mosez Kor18898968.jpg

This is another NetGalley one (last one I promise!). I’m not really sure why this one was on there, as it seems to have been published in 2009, but anyway, it is certainly well worth a read. The book is a true story, written by a person who not only survived Auschwitz, but also was one of the twins experimented on by the Nazi ‘doctor’/evil scientist Joseph Mengele. This is one of those stories that is just too horrible to believe, and how awful humans can be.  It’s also a story of resilience, and the end was strangely uplifting, especially since Eva Mosez Kor has gone on to do lots of amazing things for other people after her escape. It’s impossible to say this kind of book is an ‘enjoyable’ read, but I think books like this are very important. If you are interested in this kind of thing, I would also recommend “A Detail of History” by Arek Hersch, who came to do a talk at my school.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️4/5

7. A Storm of Swords – George R. R. Martin

62291.jpgAnother instalment in the fantastic Song of Ice and Fire series, and definitely the best book so far. I’m currently watching the TV series with a friend, and desperately trying to stay ahead with the books (as far as possible). These books are so long that it’s often daunting to start them, but I always end up absolutely glued to them. The chapter structure (which alternates POV chapters from several characters) can get frustrating, because some characters are way more interesting than others, and lots of chapters end on cliff hangers, but ultimately this is quite an effective way of spurring you on through the book. Lots of shocking deaths (obviously) and dastardly schemes and plotting (obviously). I’m told the next one is quite boring though 😞

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️5/5

8. Behind the Beautiful Forevers – Katherine Boo11869272

This is an amazing book about the lives of some people who live in a slum next to Mumbai airport. I tried to write a brief review for this post, but it ended up getting ridiculously long, but I still wanted to say all the things, so I’ve decided to make it into a separate post!

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Right, that’s about it I reckon! I hope you all read some interesting books on your holidays too. Has anyone read any of these?

XoXOOXO

June Book Haul – 2016

Here’s a look at the books that made their way into my possession during the month of June! Most of these ones come from libraries this month, because I bought quite a lot of books in May

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  1. Heffer’s

This is the Cambridge branch of Blackwell’s books, est. 1876. It has a really cool multi-layer layout, with multiple concentric balconies going all the way round. I went their with my friend last week, and picked up…

The Lies We Tell OurselvesRobin Talley22710376.jpg

I definitely heard about this on Booktube, although I can’t remember whose video it was. It’s set in 1959 Virginia, in a school that has just started allowing black students to attend. Both a civil rights and LGBT book, and it’s had fab reviews.

  1. City Library

Went and picked up a couple more books from here. I’m loving using this library, although unlike my college library it charges for fines for late books, so I’d better be careful…

23592235Am I Normal yet? – Holly Bourne

I’ve already read and reviewed this, and absolutely loved it. It follows a teenager with OCD, through her life and relationships, and includes some awesome feminist stuff too.

We were liars – E. Lockhart16143347.jpg

This is an old booktube fave that I’m sure pretty much everyone has read. I’ve heard it’s best to go into it blind, so I don’t really know much about it.

  1. College Library

My college library has mostly academic books, but there’s this wonderful magical room called the light reading section, where you can just borrow as many books as you like. It’s based on trust, so there’s no official deadline/stress for giving them back. I picked up 4 books from here.

884424.jpgThe Almost Moon Alice Sebold

I’ve read 2 books by Alice Sebold in the past, The Lovely Bones, which was absolutely amazing, and Lucky, which was OK. I saw this one, which I hadn’t head of, and thought I’d give it a try, in the hope it lives up to The Lovely Bones. Not really sure what it’s about, but it had something about a girl killing her mother on the back…

Behind the Beautiful Forevers – Katherine Boo11869272.jpg

I heard about this one from one of John Green’s book recommendation videos, where it was recommended for people interested in decreasing “world-suck” (bad things like poverty/suffering/disease/inequality). I believe it is set in a slum in India.

2629628.jpgThe Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Díaz

Again, not completely sure what this is about, other than a person called Oscar Wao, set somewhere in America. Has had great reviews though.

I Was Told There’d Be Cake ­– Sloane Crosley2195289.jpg

Probably the most random choice on this list, this is a set of essays by someone I’d never heard of. I was drawn to it by the interesting title, nice spine, and held onto it for its funny blurb. I hope this will be entertaining. We’ll see.

***

So that’s it for the books I’ve got in June! I’ve also started reading some things on NetGalley, one of which I’ve got rather stuck on, but feel the need to soldier on so I can review it… Oh well. I hope you have all had marvellous Junes.

XoxoxxOX

 

May Book Haul – 2016

Hello, I’m here today to tell you about the books I have obtained in May!

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It’s been a fairly hectic month because of exams, but obviously as soon as I finished, I went out on a celebratory book buying expedition. I’ve split the haul into categories based on the place I got the books from.

(Click on the images to take you to the Goodreads pages!)

  1. Library

I literally walked straight out of my last exam and straight to the city library to borrow some books. It’s actually the first time I’ve borrowed physical books from this library – in the past I’ve used their eBook services, and borrowed physical books from my College library, but there’s a lot more choice here. 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green and David Levithan17208924._UY200_.jpg

I’ve been meaning to read this for a while – it’s the last John Green book I hadn’t read. I’ve actually already read this one, and you can read my review here.

These Shallow Graves – Jennifer Donelly 29908288.jpg

This is a new historical thriller set in 1890s New York. I’ve seen it around a bit on bookish social media, and it caught my eye from the shelf.

 

  1. Penguin

Chasing the Stars – Malorie Blackman28693621.jpg

This is another new release, and it’s a Sci-Fi retelling of Othello, set in space.
I was actually sent this book as an ARC by Penguin. Not for professional book-bloggery reasons – I’m a member of a website called Bookmarks, and I earned a free book by filling in so many surveys! I was mildly sceptical at first, but I’m currently about 100 pages in, and really enjoying it.

  1. Waterstones

The Outsiders – S. E. Hinton32946.jpg

Described as “the original teenage rebel story”, and complete with some moody-looking boys on the front. I feel this is something of a modern classic.

 

  1. Oxfam Books

I love buying books from Oxfam – they’re so cheap, and since the money goes to charity, I seem to be able to justify buying way too many. Every time you go in there’s a different selection of books, and you never know what you’re going to find!

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe37781.jpg

This one is on so many “must read” lists. It’s about the colonisation of Nigeria, written by a Nigerian author. I think this is quite an important book. Particularly relevant at the moment, with all the “de-colonisation” movements in student politics.

The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver5220.jpg

Carrying on in the colonial vein, this one’s about a family of missionaries who travel to the Belgian Congo in 1959. I’m not sure where exactly I’ve heard of this before, but it sounds familiar somehow. Very interesting blurb anyway.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More – Roald Dahl2016767.jpg

Ah, Roald Dahl, one of my favourite childhood authors. I’ve long been meaning to pick up some of his adult fiction, which I’ve heard is utterly bizarre.

Howard’s End – E.M. Forster3102.jpg

This one was recommended to me by one of my best friends, who read it last summer. It’s about life on a Hertfordshire estate at the turn of the century. I’ve read three other books by E.M. Forster, which I have enjoyed by varying amounts. So we’ll see about this one!

The Viceroy of Ouidah – Bruce Chatwin79913.jpg

This is a title I recognised from my Massive Book List. The Massive Book List is a huge list of “good books” given to us in Year 9 at school, which was basically translated in my head as Massive Reading Challenge. I’ve been working my way through them gradually since then. Maybe I’ll do a future post on the Massive Book List.

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So that’s all folks! Let me know if you’ve read any of these books, and what you thought, or if there are any you plan on reading!

XXoOXOOO

Cover design: Lolita

Hello! You may be pleased to hear (or may not be), that I haven’t completely abandoned my new blog, but I do have finals starting in two days, so writing book reviews hasn’t exactly been top priority 🙁

For the time being I’ve got another book cover design – I got really enthusiastic and made a few a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t want everyone to get sick of them if I posted them all in quick succession.

Anyway, this one is for the modern classic Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, which as most probably know, is about a middle aged man who falls in love and fantasises over a teenager (called Lolita).

Lolita

I chose the childish underwear to emphasise Lolita’s young age, but also show her sexualisation by the author. The black tiles and the printed letters look a bit like a blackboard too, again pointing to her youth.

I know my past few posts have all been cover designs, but I’m planning to do more texty posts after exams finish. This blog is supposed to be about entire books, not just the covers!

XoxoxxX

Cover design: Gormenghast

The next book cover design I’ve done is for the classic fantasy book Gormenghast.

It’s part of a trilogy following the Royal family of an enormous castle called Gormenghast, which has existed for thousands of years, and is full of strange rites and rituals. It’s an intriguing series, which I’ll probably do a proper review of once I’ve finished the third book (which I’m partway through).

Gormenghast

The black bird (which fortuitously landed on my windowsill!) reminded me of the Countess Groan, who has a great affinity for birds, and has flocks of them following her around all the time. The bricks in the background represent the constant presence of the castle walls, which nobody ever leaves, and the dark lower half of the image suits the book’s sinister themes.

XooXXXoO