February 11, 2020

Wrap-Up | Nov 2019

Hello. It's February and I'm sat in the library using the wifi.
I've missed blogging. I've missed writing my thoughts, writing reviews, taking part in the overall bookish discussions. Not having consistent wifi is proving a challenge; it takes a lot of motivation, as well as finding a specific time for me to set myself up somewhere to work on editing a draft to post. Usually, I write early hours in the morning when the house is quiet, and I feel like I'm on my own.
I'm rambling, but there was a purpose to this: 2020 is the year where I'm really focused on my goals. I want to put the time in once a week to come to the library, write, edit and post, as well as limit spending on books so that I can tick off all the books that I own, and that are unread.
Now, let's go back in time a little bit. What did I read, watch and do in the month of November?

Juno Dawson

My Thoughts:
First of all, I fell like I should mention that content warnings for this book consist of drug addiction and drug abuse. However, to list all warnings would mean that you would be reading this post all day. Please do additional research if you think that this might contain something triggering to you.

Clean was an unexpected read in the month of November, but it's one I'm glad that I did. I don't think the reality of drug addiction and recognizing what it means to be an addict isn't really covered in YA, or done in a manner that is an easily digestible read. Juno Dawson tackles this heavy topic with heart and respect. What an important book! 

The Missing Girl
Shirley Jackson

My Thoughts:
For me, the horror genre is split in two. You have horror and then terror; one is visual, the other is phycological. For me Shirley Jackson is one of the best of the latter - I love her short story The Lottery and the way it unravels. This just didn't cut it for me and was overall rather forgettable. 

The Yearbook Committee
Sarah Ayoub

My Thoughts:
I shouldn't have read this so close in succession to Clean, as they both used drugs to some effect, but The Yearbook Committee felt underdeveloped and juvenile.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers #1)
Brigid Kemerer

My Thoughts: 
I always think I'm done with Beauty and the Beast retellings and then one comes along and bites my ankles. This was fresh and didn't fall into the trap of Stockholm Syndrome and instalove that often personifies in YA retellings.  

Fortunately, The Milk
Written by Neil Gaiman; Illustrated by Chris Riddell

My Thoughts:
I have a faint recollection of reading this one afternoon in my then, local  library, many moons ago. However, I had completely forgotten the existance of it until my little brother came home from school one night and proceeded to read it in one sitting... and then I did too. 
It's a sweet story! One I definitely recommend to read to a kid - although, please don't randomly sit down next to one and start reading. Make sure you know them first!

The Nightjar
Deborah Hewitt

My Thoughts:
This was sent to me by the lovely team at PanMac, after I had read the synopsis and the pitch. Unfortunately this one just fell completely flat on it's face and every time I thought it was picking up and moving in a direction I liked, the protagonist seemed to make illogical and ill-informed choices that left me wanting to shake her shoulder and tell her to get a bloody grip!

Temeraire (Temeraire #1)
Naomi Novik

My Thoughts:
I've been planning on doing a reread of Temeraire for ages, but just never got round to doing it. 
I'm really pleased  did though, even though I didn't feel like it was quite a favourite anymore, I still really love the relationship between Temeraire and his rider, Lawerence.

The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2)
Philip Pullman

My Thoughts:
I'm really loving my decision to reread Pullman's His Dark Materials at the moment, even though I have been holding off fro read The Amber Spyglass for months because I don't want to get to the end. (To be fair, I do own La Belle Sauvage if I ever feel inclined to return.) 
I've said this before when I wrote about reading Northern Lights, but there is something wonderful about having left it so long that I don't remember a lot of the plot points and being able to put new meaning to the context of the world building and character relationships that I didn't quite understand as a young child. Much like Serafina and Lee Scorsby, which by the end of this book made me soft at how the lengths they will go for Lyra. 

The Graveyard Book
Neil Gaiman

My Thoughts:
I have some recollection of this story, but never of reading it. I'm pretty sure they were adapting this to a movie and tv show, with a cast and everything, because I remember it being featured on Blue Peter when I was growing up.
That being said, is there a Neil Gaiman book that I will give anything less than four stars to? I loved how this didn't feel like one story, but an anthology of snippets of Bod's life growing up in this graveyard and how he developed in adulthood. 

All the Bad Apples
Moira Fowley-Doyle

My Thoughts:
My GOD! When I bought this last year, I had heard some fantastic things that made it sound like I was going to be a new favourite book; and it did not disappoint. 

His Dark Materials
Adapted by Jack Thorne

This is the adaptation that we all deserved! The cast was electric and magnificent, projecting us into the polar fantasy landscape that I have wanted to see visually since I first read the books... and then was left with a sour note after the 2007 adaptation. 
My only gripe was the handling of daemons. They were completely put in post-production which limited the interaction between humans and daemons. It wasn't apparent in the first couple of episodes but there's a scene in the book that is rather integral to understanding the bond that felt like it was downplayed by the alteration Jack Thorne made. (Can you tell I am TRYING REALLY HARD to not spoil anything?) And how Lyra's first instincts just felt like it missed the mark. Hopefully, this is something that get's taken on board as they go on to develop the final series.
However, I am really glad I had decided to reread The Subtle Knife when I did because... spoilers.

Carnaval Row
Created by René Echevarria and Travis Beachum
I was hesitant about going into this. I'm not fond of either Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne and as the leading roles I was pretty 'eh'; its PR and Marketing were intense and were being hailed as "the next Game of Thrones" (see why I was terrified?). But, that being said, I think this was the best performance I have ever seen from Bloom and Delevingne. Along with the supporting cast such as Tamsin Merchant, Andrew Gower, Indira Verma, and Jared Harris: it was spectacular! 
If you love gritty detective noir and steampunk narratives, I think this one is definitely one to give a go.

As I briefly mentioned at the start of this blog post, I haven't had constant internet for the past several months. This is why in 2020 I have had to make the elective decision to spend more time at the library then I wish to.
Hello. How are we all?

Not much else happened in November.
I attended my first launch event as a work event rather than something to do in the evening. That was terrifying and I am pretty sure I looked just like the fool as I felt. Get me in a room talking books, I'm good. Handbags? Useless.
At this point, life was getting a little too much for me. I was not going out, I wasn't reaching out to friends as much as I should and was keeping some stuff close to my chest. I'm not going to go into that here, either, it wouldn't be fair as it involves family members. Nor is it for me to talk about with a bunch of strangers on the internet.

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