Non Fic November

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Cookery books. Memoirs. Text books. True crime. Investigative journalism. Biographies. Manuals. Reference books. Travel guides. Magazine articles. Book reviews. Self-help books. Atlases. Encyclopaedia. Blog posts. What do all these things have in common?

They are all forms of non-fiction.

Now, as you’ll all know by now, I love reading. But as you’ll also have noticed, I read almost exclusively novels, despite having many many works of non-fiction on my bookshelves. It seems from my twitter/blogging chats that a lot of you are in the same boat – we want to read all of the factual stuff that fascinates it, but just never get round to it.

So what I’m proposing is this, a month-long ‘ode to non-fiction’. There are a number of ways you can take part, depending on how much time you want to dedicate to it. You could contribute a post or two to the event, you could try to read  few extra pieces of non-fiction over the course of the month, or maybe just join in our #nonficnovember Twitter chats. It’s completely up to you.

If you like the idea of writing a Non Fic November post then fill in the form below so that I can keep you in the loop. It will also help me create a schedule of posts, so that I can direct readers to all your great writing (and of course come and check them out myself!). You can sign up until October 21st. Feel free to grab this button if you’d like to join in:

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Stuck for ideas? Here are a few suggestions of things you could do…

      • Review a piece of non-fiction
      • Compare a fictional and non-fictional account of a time/person/place/event
      • Convince us why we should try out your fave kind of non-fiction
      • Tell us why you hate non-fiction
      • Top 10 cook books, autobiographies, articles, manuals
      • Direct us to some of your own non-fictional blog posts (or those written by your blogging friends)
      • Talk about your favourite films based on non-fiction
      • Describe your favourite non-fictional TV shows

If you want to decide on your topic at a later date that’s fine, just let me know that you want to take part. If you could also let me know possible dates that you’d like to post that would be a big help.

Can’t wait to hear from you!

D x

A Quirky Binder

Ever since I started secondary school, I’ve had a little tradition in the days before the Autumn term starts up again… I decorate my folder. I’ve always been a fan of having ‘one of a kind’ things, and it seems that one of the only ways to do this nowadays is to make or customise things yourself…

So for all those quirky stationery lovers out there, I thought I’d share a tutorial on how I made this:

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These are the supplies you’ll need…

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A ringbinder * A pair of scissors * Scraps of paper – I used a selection of book pages, leftover wrapping paper, painted card and a few other miscellaneous scraps I’d scrounged from under my desk * Some kind of wet glue (I use inexpensive PVA) * An old gift card or similar for spreading * A selection of stickers and decorative tapes.

First of all, start rifling through the papers you’ve collected, and pull out some pieces you like then cut them down to size. You have a couple of options here, you cut a lot of identical shapes or do what I did and cut random-sized, random-shaped pieces. Open out your folder and start playing with the composition of your collage pieces:

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Once you like what you see, start gluing down the bits. To avoid bubbles in your paper, squirt a drop of glue straight onto the binder and scrape across with your gift card. Stick down the piece of paper, then run the card over it again to squeeze out any air. Keep going until everything is in place – if you stick anything over the joints of the folder, wiggle the covers a few times while the glue is still wet, and press out any bubbles. If you don’t do this then the paper will tear whenever you try to open your binder.

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Start adding your second layer – I used a selection of decorative tapes, some previously doodled on tissue paper and a few stickers. I also added a digital stamp – Pumpkin Bird from Bugaboo, coloured with Prismacolor pencils.

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At this point you could add a few doodles if you wanted to, just make sure you use pens that won’t smear (stick to biros, gel-pens and permanent markers). I decided to leave mine as it is for now (I might change my mind as the year goes on!). Once you’re happy with how it all looks, go over the whole thing with a generous layer of PVA, and give it a few hours to dry completely.

I had so much fun making this, I might have to give out a few as Christmas presents!

D x

P.S. The latest Quirky Crafts challenge is now live! This time the theme is ‘Pumpkin Time’ (hence the Pumpkin Bird), to link up, or see the rest of the fab Design Team examples, check out the original challenge post.

On Banned Books

No doubt you’ll be hearing a lot about banned books this week as this is (officially) the week for it. When I saw that banned books were the theme for this week’s Book Chat, I didn’t think I’d have anything to say as I’ve never read any… but then I found out that, actually, I have. Surprisingly enough, some of my favourite books were banned at one time:

Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell – For blatant racism and the immoral behaviour of the heroine

James and the Giant Peach – Roald Dahl – For containing magical elements and references to drugs and alcohol

The Witches – Roald Dahl – For stating ‘witches can only be women’

The Harry Potter Series – JK Rowling – For promoting witchcraft [let’s face it, this is probably accurate… who didn’t pray for a letter from Hogwarts?!]

Jane Eyre  – Charlotte Bronte – Because the lead characters ‘live in sin’ 

Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald – For repeated references to sex

As well as Candide, Macbeth, The Awakening, Heart of Darkness, Madame Bovary, The Diary of Anne Frank, Dubliners, Dracula, Germinal and Wuthering Heights – all books I’ve had to study at some point!

I also found a few banned books on my ‘to be read’ shelf:

The Color Purple – Alice Walker – For (and I quote) ‘troubling ideas of race relations’

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain – For being right wing, for being left wing and for using the ‘N’ word (despite the anti-racist stance of the author…)

Dr Zhivago – Boris Pasternak – For the underlying criticism of the Bolsheviks

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood – For being anti-Christian and pornographic

Carrie – Stephen King – Where do I start? Underage sex, violence, anti-religious and… swearing

Twelfth Night – William Shakespeare – For showing a representation of an ‘alternative’ lifestyle

Lady Chatterley’s Lover – DH Lawrence – Not sure if it’s for all the sex, or all the cross-class sex…

Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell – those damned communists…

I can’t help but laugh at some of the reasons for banning! Thank God censorship is so much more relaxed in the UK nowadays, I’d have nothing to read!

So how about you? Have you read any banned books you didn’t know about?

D x

Semi-Charmed Autumn Book Challenge

 

I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be taking part in Megan from Semi-Charmed Kind of Life’s Autumn reading challenge. I’ve been in a bit of a reading lull ever since I moved (partly because I’ve lost my Kindle and partly because my bus journeys are way shorter so I have much less reading time!), so I need something to give me a bit of a push.

I really wanted to take part in her Summer reading challenge, but I didn’t find out about it until quite late on, so I wouldn’t have had time to complete it… but this time there are no excuses!

So without further ado… the rules!

  • The challenge will run from October 1, 2013, to December 31, 2013.
  • Up to three of your book choices can be rereads, but no more than that!
  • All books much be 200 pages long.
  • Each book can only be counted in one category.
  • Each book you read is worth a certain amount of points, with 200 as the highest possible total. The first five people who finish the challenge will win a featured/guest post on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life and be invited to contribute a category for the winter challenge. Good luck!

And these are the categories:

5 pts: Read a book that does not have “the,” “a” or “an” in the title.
10 pts: Read a book that has been featured in Oprah’s Book Club. This list includes all the books up until 2010. (Submitted by SCSBC13 winner Erin.)
10 pts: Read a book that takes place in the state where you currently live. If you do not live in the U.S., read a book that takes place in the country where you live. (Submitted by SCSBC13 winner Megan.)
15 pts: Read an epistolary novel, which is a book written in letters, emails, diary entries or other documents.
15 pts: Read a book first published in 2013.
15 pts: Read a book with something spooky in the title. (Submitted by SCSBC13 winner Bev.)
20 pts: Read a book with “air,” “water,” “earth” or “fire” in the title. (Submitted by SCSBC13 winnerGypsi.)
20 pts: Read a book on which a television series has been based.
25 pts: Read a fiction book that has someone’s first and last name in the title.
30 pts: Read two books by the same author. They can be in the same series, but do not have to be. Co-authors do not count.
35 pts: Read a fiction and nonfiction book about the same topic.

Megan will also be publishing monthly ‘check in’ posts, so make sure to follow her! So, anyone interested in playing along? Even if you’re not, feel free to help me come up with some ideas!

D x

P.S. I’ll be posting a preliminary reading list next week so stay tuned!

Lady Macbeth: On the Couch

A pseudo-psychological analysis of the infamous Lady Macbeth shown through her early experiences as well as the main plot features of the Shakespearean tragedy we all know and love (or at least had to study at some point!).

I requested this from NetGalley a while ago as it ticked a lot of my boxes… it’s historical, it’s inspired by Shakespeare and it has a heavy psychological influence, so a big thank you to Bancroft Press for providing me with an Advance Reading Copy! I originally thought it was going to be a work of non-fiction, but as it turns out it’s a novel.

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  • It was set in 12th century Scotland, a historical period I know next to nothing about.
  • The cover is a nice green colour… I also really like the font ‘Lady Macbeth’ is written in.
  • It offered insight into one of my favourite femme fatales of all time.

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  • Lady Macbeth’s psychological portrait was weak. The attempted self-analysis seemed as though it was written by someone who just watches too much Jeremy Kyle.
  • The writing was pretty repetitious, there were quite a few phrases that kept being used over and over (one of my pet hates!)
  • She tried to make Lady Macbeth into a poor, misunderstood waif. Disappointing. The charms of Lady Macbeth is that she is totally diabolical and almost wholly responsible for her husband’s downfall. I didn’t want to keep hearing the she ‘hadn’t been a bad person’.
  • The narrative voice was really unconvincing. The novel was written in first person, narrated by Lady Macbeth herself, and yet used phrases such as ‘as was the custom in Ancient Scotland’ – if I was telling the story of my life I wouldn’t talk about things back in the 21st century…

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You’re not a book snob, or if you like the stories of Shakespeare but not the way he writes.

I was really quite disappointed with this book… I’m not sure if it’s because I was expecting something epic, or if it was really as bad as I’m making it sound. Maybe you should read it and let me know?

D x

P.S. I’m playing around with a new format for my reviews, thoughts?

Small Town Girl

It’s wartime America and a girl living in a small but eccentric community watches her sister marry the man she loves, before being thrown into the path of the ‘bad boy’ best man.

I have a slight crush on anything set in the 1940’s, so that was my sole motivation for picking this one. It’s marketed as Christian fiction, which would normally put me off, but in this case the religious aspects were just subtle enough for me to enjoy it.

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I loved the random patchwork quilt of family that surrounded Kate… it seemed like one of those houses that just adopts all the unloved strays, which often makes for the best cast of characters.

The story was pure fluff and very predictable, but sometimes you don’t want to be challenged… you just want to enjoy some gentle guilty pleasure reading. I wasn’t gripped, but it was alright.

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It was a little bit repetitive at times, particularly in the areas when Jay was contemplating his faith, and for me that stopped it from being entirely convincing.

I also think the narrative could have done with a little bit more ‘grit’, I wanted it to tug at my heart-strings more than it did!

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You enjoyed the prequel, Angel Sister, or feel like reading a way less intense version of The Notebook.

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Revell for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

D x

Whimsical Reading – Geological Formation

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I have a confession to make… over the past few months I’ve been neglecting my whimsical reading challenge. Good job there’s no time limit, eh? To celebrate my renewed efforts I’ve made a button (above), so if you’re playing along feel free to grab it!

Today I wanted to share a few more whimsical reading suggestions, this time for the category of ‘geological formation’. If you’ve already picked your book for this category, or just have an idea that would work, leave me a comment below… but here are mine:

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

I’ve got almost a full set of Alexandre Dumas novels sitting between my shelf and my Kindle library and I’ve never read a single one! I’ve adored all of the film adaptations though, so I’ve promised myself I’ll start reading them soon.

Island beneath the Sea – Isabel Allende

This is probably my favourite of all the books I’ve read this year, and by a new-to-me author too… I’m now in the throes of collecting all her other books!

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon – Grace Lin

Another book on my ‘to be read’ pile, described on GoodReads as ‘fantasy crossed with Chinese folklore’ it sounds like a nice light-hearted treat.

Island of the Sequined Love Nun – Christopher Moore

The premise of this book is utterly ridiculous but so much fun, if nothing else it has the best title ever!

Remember to leave me a link to any whimsical reading challenge posts and I’ll come check them out!

D x