Reflection: October 2018

As soon as October rolls around and a lot of students start going back to school/university, blogs tend to fill up with reading wrap-ups that are full of obscure sounding texts that most of us haven’t ever heard of. I have to confess that this post is no different – and that I had never heard of most of these books before this month. I also have to confess that I love these sorts of posts, because for whatever reason I’m always fascinated to hear about what is on other people’s reading lists. This month, I managed to read three books, all of which were for my medieval literature module, so there’s something of a running theme that’s going to emerge in this post. I also re-watched some previously beloved films, which gave me a chance to look at them anew…

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BOOKS READ

The Lais of Marie de France by Marie de France

This book is a collection of twelve short stories (lais) written by Marie de France in the late twelfth-century, and I would honestly recommend it to anyone with an interest in either fantasy or fairy tale literature. It has everything: gallant knights, bewitching fairy queens, werewolf statesmen, enchanted ships… Honestly, this is one of the few medieval texts that I’ve studied that I think could be appreciated in the mainstream of literature if it was given a bit more promotion, rather than as an academic-but-not-necessarily-riveting read. Although this is in translation, so I can’t speak for the original, the language is incredibly accessible and most of these tales are wild. I genuinely found myself wanting more, because to me they really captured the quintessential feel of what you’d imagine a medieval adventure to be. Continue reading “Reflection: October 2018”

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What I’m Up To | Uni, Reading, & Projects

The vast majority of the things that I like to write about over here tend to (obviously) concern books, but also usually are quite structured and not too personal. For so long now the ‘About’ page of my blog has languished derelict in the corner because I still haven’t quite figured out how to summarise myself in just a few paragraphs. Either way, I thought it might be nice, as I sit here in bed on a cold October morning, to just write a bit about what I’m up to at the moment, what I’m reading, and what I’m working on!

| UNI |

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Continue reading “What I’m Up To | Uni, Reading, & Projects”

Reflection: September 2018

After a few weeks of drafting and re-drafting this post without any of it seeming to come together at all, I feel as though I am – finally – ready to share all of the books that I read and the films that I watched in September. It was such a good month for reading! I managed to get through four books, and three out of four of them were very highly rated ones for me. I also revisited a couple of beloved series, which reminded me why they’re favourites of mine.

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BOOKS READ

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon (1992)

I’m fairly sure that I’ve mentioned Outlander before as a long-haul series for me – it is going to take me several years to get through it. Each book is so long and so dense that I can’t read them back-to-back but love them when I read them individually. In 2016, I labelled Outlander as my favourite book of the year, which definitely put a lot of pressure on Dragonfly in Amber to live up to my expectations. Thankfully it did! Continue reading “Reflection: September 2018”

Searching for Inspiration?

Inspiration always seems to be one of those things that ebbs and flows. When you don’t have it, sitting down to write even fifty words suddenly seems like an impossible task. When you do have it though… what a feeling it is. You feel as though you just have so much that needs to be said, and for me, it’s as though I can’t get it all out of my head quickly enough and transform into something tangible and real.

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Starting this new year at university (my second year) has brought with it a mixture of emotion in terms of inspiration. I am simultaneously met with the trepidation that comes with having taken a break from reading academic texts and knowing that soon enough I’m going to have to string my understanding of them together into something coherent, and feeling as though I’m ready to throw myself into really building a solid creative foundation for myself. I’ve decided that I am going to run for a role on the student newspaper, and writing it here means that I have committed and I can’t let the opportunity pass by. I’m holding myself accountable to this blog to make sure that I actually do it. I’m also becoming increasingly focused on thinking about the direction that my blog is going to go in in the foreseeable future, and the changes that I am planning on making. So, while I feel as though I have so many projects and ideas bouncing around at the moment, I also feel deeply inspired just to write and wanted to write it here while it still causes me to feel genuine excitement to open up a document and let the words run.

For this post, I wanted to share some of the places that I get inspiration from, and some of the tasks that I set myself to ensure that even if I’m in the middle of a creative slump, I know where I can pick back up again from. Continue reading “Searching for Inspiration?”

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner: A Review

I feel like it takes a particularly talented sort of writer to set their story in a small town; you begin to realise very quickly that the characters are going to run out of things to do. That means that your story requires characters who need only exist to keep you captivated… and that is exactly what Jeff Zentner has in The Serpent King.

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“Dill is a misfit in his small, religious Tennessee town. His dad is in prison for a shocking crime, and his mom is struggling to make ends meet. The only things getting Dill through senior year are his guitar and his fellow outcasts, Travis and Lydia.

Travis is an oddball who finds comfort from his violent home life in an epic fantasy book series. And Lydia is like no one else: fast-talking, creative and fiercely protective. Dill fears his heart will break when she escapes to a better life elsewhere. What Dill needs now is some bravery to tell Lydia how he feels, to go somewhere with his music – and to face the hardest test of all when tragedy strikes.”

Genre: Contemporary YA

Year of Publication: 2016

Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd

Page Count: 372

Spoiler-Free Review: Yes


Before I started reading The Serpent King, I’d heard people saying that this was a heavily character-driven novel – but this is never off-putting to me. Taking this further, though, Zentner does the one thing which I always feel is risky in contemporaries but usually seems to work in fantasy: he flicks between three perspectives. It always seems like a risk because you have to contend with the possibility that one character is almost inevitably going to be more interesting than another. With Dill, Lydia, and Travis… this just wasn’t the case. Each character had such a distinct personality that still blended perfectly with the others and made me pleased to see that their perspective was back on the page.

Continue reading “The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner: A Review”

Reflection: August 2018

Here we are, over halfway through the year and past the month that traditionally constitutes a lot of reading for me. BookTubeAThon ran into August so several of these books I’ve mentioned a fair bit already, but I did manage to finish another couple on top of the ones I read for the readathon!

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BOOKS READ

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (1937)

I decided to read this book as my BookTubeAThon choice for a book with green on the cover, and I’m so glad that I did. I didn’t have much luck with my first book of the readathon, so it was definitely a good idea to pick up something that I already knew I loved just to make sure that I didn’t lose my motivation or momentum. It’s been a couple of years since I last read The Hobbit but I often rewatch the films, so I was excited to remind myself of how much of it correlated to events that take place in the films and how much differs (hello Legolas.) I feel like I constantly go on endlessly about my love for Tolkien’s writing, so just know that The Hobbit, as always, didn’t disappoint!

My rating: 5/5 stars Continue reading “Reflection: August 2018”

Strange Secrets by Mike Russell: A Review

Mike Russell gets his message right when he labels everything as “strange.” It’s definitely the best way of describing this collection of short stories…

“Discover the mystery of the two-headed rose and many more Strange Secrets in this new collection of extraordinary stories by Mike Russell. ‘It can’t be real.’ ‘But it is.’ Strange Secrets invites you to discover the magical and the marvellous. Startlingly inventive and constantly entertaining, these unique, vital and vividly realised stories will take you to places you have never been before.”


Genre: Surreal fiction (is that a genre?!)

Year of Publication: 2018

Publisher: Strange Books

Page Count: 156

Spoiler-Free Review: Yes

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The premise of Strange Secrets is that we are presented with a series of eight short stories, each of which doesn’t directly relate to one another but ties in with the common theme of strangeness. We never know quite what is real and what is not, and Mike Russell takes us on a journey through situations where we are left questioning everything. Continue reading “Strange Secrets by Mike Russell: A Review”