A Book A Day Tag! Recent Reads.

Hey pals,

I came across this instagram/twitter challenge too late but I wanted to use the prompts to turn into a blog post and talk a little about some books I may not have thought to share.

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1) The book I turn to for Comfort: Georgia Nicolson Series, or Heartstopper.

2) The Book that makes me Cry: Hunger Games (book 1) Anything about district 11 makes me cry. Loveboat Taipei had some moments that made me blubber.

3) the book I’m finally planning on reading during Lockdown: I started The Hunger Games on a whim, but I guess I’ll say Alice Oseman’s novels coz I’d never read any of them before reading heartstopper. So far have read Radio Silence, started Solitaire and think I’ll pick up the ebook of I Was Born For This too coz they were all 99p. Generally, I’ve just been reading more.

4) The book that makes me laugh out loud: The Princess Diaries (book 1) was pretty hysterical and much more appreciated as a 25 year old vs. if I was a teen. (I mean, the line about her mum being depressed after finding out her boyfriend was a Republican wouldn’t have made sense to me as a teenager, but now I feel that in my soul), but also Loveboat Taipei was pretty hilarious.

5) My favourite book cover: Wranglestone or the second If Only.

6) My favourite audiobook to listen to: I don’t really listen to audiobooks, I struggle to actually listen if I end up doing stuff.

7) My favourite line from a book: “Maybe part of fighting unhappiness in this world is to seize happiness when we can.” – Loveboat, Taipei

8) The holiday read I never got to take: I mean, I’m still reading the books! But I feel like If Only has a holiday book feel.

9) My favourite indie bookshop: I’m gonna be unoriginal by saying Gays The Word. It’s standing history.

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10) My favourite book from childhood: I didn’t read as a child, I was read to and i can’t remember many, just the faraway tree? and Harry Potter.

11) The book character I most want to be: Apparently every male love interest I like.

12) My favourite meal from Literature: I don’t really care about food in books, I cannot lie.

13) My favourite recent book discovery: I’ve enjoyed a lot of my ebook reads recently which include, the Hunger Games, Alice Oseman’s Radio silence, Melanie Murphy’s If Only, and Loveboat Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen was a really great book I picked up as an ebook for 99p.

14) Number of books on my TBR: Many. It keeps growing now I use the kindle app… Roughly 20 physical books right now, but I have a lot of books I want to re-read and more books I’ve not read yet.

15) The book that reminds me of someone I love: Anne of Green Gables, even though I haven’t read it yet. My mum brought me up on the 80’s films.

I have been doing so much reading that I ended up updating my GoodReads goal for the year from 12 books (1 book a month on average was the goal) to 50 books and I am already on 29, if I keep going at this speed I might be updating it again and maybe again. Lockdown doesn’t look like it will end soon or if it does it’ll just come back down on us. Please stay home and wear a mask!

I hope you enjoyed a little book blog post, I thought it would be fun and a nice way to talk about a lot of the books i’ve read recently without actually reviewing them individually. I’m creating another ‘I watched the film then read the book’ for the Princess Diaries, and I’m going to be making a video about reading the Hunger Games for the first time, and all the 99p ebooks I’ve bought and tried to read (not all successfully) so if you like book content, keep an eye out! I do have loads of book videos going up too or already gone up so check out the playlist!

Tell me about a book you love and why you think I should read it!

~ Artie

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This is the original post I saw and the original creator, in case anyone wants to know or look for them.

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Check out this article from Book Riot on 12 LGBT+ Witchy books!

I wanted to add a little question and answer section at the end here to let you get to know me at the end of a short book post.
  1. a film you’ll never get tired of: I have a weird soft spot for She’s The Man. I have a crush on Amanda both as herself and as a man. Princess Diaries as well, Anne Hathaway is beautiful. Mulan is an all time favourite.
  2. what’s your favourite album: I feel like we don’t really listen to albums anymore, but I would say probably a Halsey album. I’ve not listened to Manic a lot, but I do really like it.
  3. how do you feel about piercings: I have a few, and I think they’re cool. My Libra is too indecisive to get anymore. There are loads I would like but also now I have a lot of health issues, I’m always in an MRI machine and I have to take all my piercings out and I don’t think my sanity could take it.
  4. favourite sweet: I love sweet things generally and I prefer chocolates (especially now I can’t eat most of them) but I’ve also been enjoying jelly sweets you get in pick and mix. Fizzy cola bottles or fizzy cherries.
  5. your idea of a perfect date night: None. Leave me alone.
  6. favourite game: Video game? I love Life is Strange, but also Detroit: Become Human is a beautiful game. Board games, I love Cluedo. I love solving crimes! I remember being good at this game as a kid, both figuring out who did it and hiding that it was me.
  7. how do you feel about religion: You do you, just stop using it as an excuse to be an oppressive arse. I am personally spiritual and practice alone.
  8. do you have any nicknames: no.
  9. what’s something that keeps you going: myself. my mum. my dog.
  10. favourite animal: Dogs and Wolves. I love animals generally so so much but these are my favourites always. I am on the hunt for the perfect wolf t-shirt.
  11. favourite scent: I have this one scent from Lush I really like but I don’t remember what it is… I also like vanilla and lavender.
  12. are you introverted or extroverted: An Introvert for sure but I can be extroverted. I need a lot of alone time. even one on one time with people drains my energy. I’m chronically ill so I think that’s a huge part of it.
  13. favourite drink: I love iced coffee and fruit juices. Also peach tea.
  14. are there any tattoo’s you’d like to have: I want to try to find my birth year in my great grandparents’ handwriting to get tattooed. I also like the idea of a monstera leaf. Maybe something like ‘I tried’ or ‘i’m trying’. I’m also thinking of a woodpecker or Peter rabbit, a swallow on my hand one day or maybe inner wrist. I’m toying with a tattoo that says ‘pulseless’ for the limbs that barely have a pulse. Am not dead, just pulseless.
  15. something you like about yourself: I like a lot about myself. My creativity, the way I think, my compassion, my sense of fairness and justice.
  16. how do you feel about fast food: I love fast food and wish more of it was vegan or lacto free. I miss my pad Thai, it’s been a long time.
  17. what kind of person are you attracted to: red flags.
  18. who inspires you: myself. but also just lots of people. I’m a Libra don’t make me choose.
  19. how do you feel about marriage: You do you again, I’m not sure I’ll ever want to get married myself. I feel like it might have been something society told me I wanted. I’m not sure I’m built for a singular partner, I get bored easily or too attached and spending the time I have single, I also just really like being left alone. I’ve grown an independance I didn’t have coz I was always told my worth is linked to having romantic partners and being seen as attractive.

My Favourite Books Shelf!

Hey pals,

 

I’ve been going on an organising and purging spree recently now that we are all FORCED to be inside. I’ve cleansed my bookshelves and given my favourite books their own shelf, I just wanted to talk through it with you and give you a peek into who I am as a human.

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This is the shelf! It is one of the minimal shelves designated to books in my bedroom, most of my book reside in the spare room where I have enough shelf space to call it a small library. This shelf also has my Uni Society Award (middle), a graduation plaque present (right) and a cool thrifted glass/crystal holder where I keep some pens I really like. On the far left of the books are my own work! X Marks The Spot is the first anthology I was published in that I was paid for. A personal essay and a poem live in there written by moi! Then the little blue leaflet sized ones were the third year uni open mic booklet with a small snippet of my Grenfell Tower Fire piece that I performed at my last uni open mic before I graduated.

 

Moving onto the books, We have a selection of mental health focused books that I fell in love with. First, Carrie Fisher’s Postcards From The Edge, I had no idea how iconic Carrie Fisher was until after her death unfortunately but this book was a very interesting dual POV book that also changed in how it was written with each section. It was mildly challenging just because of the experimental the writing style, but it is heavily derived from her real life experience of drug abuse and rehab and working in the industry. Then is the iconic The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, basically autobiographical. An interesting look into mental health care during a different period of time, similar to Girl, Interrupted, I love the film a lot so it was only a stretch that lead me to actually reading the memoir, this one was particularly interesting for me as I have the same diagnosis as Susanna Kaysen, who seemed to recover and even though the memoir is quite dark it did give me hope when I was in the midst of suffering from BPD. Then a book I have never heard anyone talk about online, Lovesick by Coburn. This is about a man who is hired to keep tabs on a rich man’s daughter at college who has an eating disorder. He was meant to get a full scholarship but had a car crash and injured himself before he started and was lost, so this man offered to pay his tuition etc. to go to uni with his daughter and make sure she wasn’t going to hurt herself, etc. He falls in love with her but I think it ends quite sadly and she finds out he was hired by her father. This is based off a real event, I think this was put together by a reporter. Last in this list is Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. About two friends who have eating disorders and live pretty recklessly, it’s been a while since I’ve read it so I can’t remember everything exactly but one of them dies, and the protagonist has some kind if psychosis where she keeps seeing and hearing her and keeps getting sicker. This is a very triggering book with lots of explicit details to do with self harm and eating disorder behaviour so I do not recommend this to anyone easily triggered.

 

The next section are my queer books! Starting with Wranglestone by Darren Charlton, this is a zombie apocalypse adventure story with some mystery elements and our main character is gay. This is the first book I’ve read that isn’t about being gay, it has plot outside of that and it was a great read, you should check out my more detailed review here. Next is Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, this may have been my first queer book read. Multi-POV book showing us a selection of different queer boys and narrated by the gay men of previous generations who had died and did not get to live their full life because of AIDs and the laws we had in place in the Western World. It’s a lovely book with a sad overtone because of the narration but something I really enjoyed and have re-read a few times. I’ll roll these next two into one point, Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda and Leah on the Off Beat. Love Simon was quite an iconic turning point for gay film media production, it felt like one of the first fluffy rom-coms we got to have that didn’t end or involve any tragedy or death. The book is very similar but has quite a different plot so I do recommend reading it if you enjoyed the film. Then Leah on the off Beat is the wlw, bisexual icon version of Love, Simon. Leah felt she couldn’t come out to friends about her bisexuality and then falls in love with a girl who is also bisexual, the representation in this book is impeccable and made my younger self feel seen (even though I read this at age 24). Next, Beautiful Music For Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills is the first book I’ve read with a trans main character. His name is Gabe and he wants to be a radio DJ and works on a community radio in the dead of night. I do feel like it’s sad and unfortunate that we know Gabe’s dead name in this (because we all know this leads to people dead naming the character rather than forcing them to use the correct name) and there is transphobic related violence later in the book, besides that I enjoyed the book a lot. The last stop on the train is the first female lead queer book I read (but also one of the first queer books I ever read) Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz. Our Bi icon Etta is a badass ballet dancer whose whole friendship group are lesbian women who constantly invalidate Etta’s sexuality, a side of the coin that isn’t often talked about. She also has an eating disorder and is in recovery and trying to find herself and what she wants, she makes new friends who love her for her and not what they think she is. She has a romance with a boy through the book but has visibly had relationships and sex with a mixture of genders and the book does not end with a happily ever after which I appreciated a lot.

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We are in the last section now which is mostly to do with book height! We have the Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman, a beautiful graphic novel about Charlie and Nick falling in love and having that fluffy rom-com episodic story. See my other posts about these books here and here. Then Melanie Murphy’s first book, Fully Functioning Human (Almost), I relate to a lot of the struggles Melanie has gone through and been open about online: bisexuality, eating disorders, health, anxiety and depression, toxic relationships, etc. This book gave me the strength to break it off with my last relationship I was in and I have to put that book on this shelf for that alone. And finally, Hungry by Crystal Renn is another memoir about having an eating disorder as a model and throwing it round and becoming a plus size model instead.

 

A lot of these books entered my life during a time I needed them. They helped me feel like I wasn’t doing this or going through this alone, and that it’s possible to come out the other end (minus a few that ended quite terribly) and generally I have come out the other end. Now I’m just looking for a book about a young person going through a chronic illness and battling all these other things too.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post and having a little look into who I am and why these books matter to me. Let me know some of your favourite books!

 

~ Artie

 

Watch my recent book unhaul on youtube and keep an eye on my depop as I may sell some books there.

Book Review: WRANGLESTONE by Darren Charlton

wranglestone zombie book YA

Hey pals,

I got the chance to read this amazing book before Christmas and I get to be part of the blog tour! It was described as a Zombie Apocalypse adventure book for

Wranglestone CoverYA with some elements of mystery and… A GAY PROTAGONIST!

I honestly had no idea I wanted or needed this book until I read the description. The writing is focused on the plot, not the character’s queerness, doing well to fill in the gaps in dystopian YA. The cover is so gorgeous as well and really fits the brief.

Here’s a short snippet from the novel:

A canoe hung on the dark water as silently as a wolf in the woods. Peter stumbled back. “Dad!”

“Aw hell,” came a voice. “I didn’t mean to startle ya.” A forest of tangled blond hair swished forward followed by a bloodied face.

Peter let out a deep sigh. “Cooper?”

Cooper tucked a strand of hair back behind his ears and shrugged. “I was just checking you was doin’ OK is all.” 

“Were,” said Peter.

Cooper cocked his head to one side like a confused dog. “Huh?”

“Were OK. Was is the wrong grammatical construction.”

Cooper looked away and seemed to rummage around in his head for the right thing to say. And it should’ve felt good watching him struggle for a change. After all, it wasn’t often that a chipmunk could outsmart a bobcat. Except it didn’t feel good at all. It would’ve been easier to live with the fact that the only other boy around Peter’s age happened to be the best Zee-wrangler the lake had ever seen if he was as mean as a westerly wind. But he wasn’t. From the little Peter knew from watching Cooper out on the lake all these years, patrolling it or ferrying people back home late at night when they’d had too much to drink over at one of the neighbour’s, he was more than useful. He was well liked.

It also didn’t help that he had the bluest eyes either. Even now, with his face half caked in dried blood and dirt, like he’d just crawled out of some stinking geyser, they still blazed like the blue of a flame. Peter pulled down on his sweater and looked away. All he had were his dumb words. Cooper had everything.

“I should’ve come and found you to say thank you,” said Peter at last. “Sorry.”

Cooper scratched under his armpit and shrugged. “I din’t come to chase you for no thank yous.”

“Well, I should’ve.”

There was another awkward silence so Peter filled it. “Did you bury the old man and that thing?”

“Yeah. Good and proper, out in the woods.”

Peter turned to leave. “Well, that must’ve been hard work, so thank you.”

“You going to First Fall soon?”

“I s’pose.”

Cooper leaned forward and for some reason looked hopeful. “Me too.”

“OK. Well, maybe see you there.”

Wanna lift?”

“What? No. I’m going with my dad.”

“Oh, I know. But if you wanted to hitch a ride or

somethin?”

“No, it’s OK.”

Cooper dipped his paddle in the water and brought the canoe a little closer to the shore. “It’s just that I sluiced out a bunch a deer guts from earlier and laid down a new hide on the seats and everything, so she’s good to go if you wanted. If you wanted to travel with me, I mean.”

Peter looked at Cooper’s shirt. It was so bloodied you couldn’t even make out the black and red plaid beneath it any more. Cooper must’ve noticed his hesitation and quickly glanced down to check himself.

“Oh,” he said, wiping his muddy palms across his thighs. “I honk. Do I honk? I’ve not washed the guts off yet, but I got a clean tee back home. Well, kinda clean.”

Peter narrowed his eyes. “I can make it across the lake without being killed most of the time, you know.”

“Course. I din’t mean that. I just wondered if you wanted to come with me is all. But it don’t matter.”

Doesn’t matter, thought Peter. “Besides, I don’t even know if I’m going to go yet.”

Cooper furrowed his brow. “How come?”

“Well, your dad’s gonna make sure Henry gets me out on the mainland for one thing.”

Cooper looked out toward those dark places where only the pine trees dared stand still.

“They’ll get off your back just as soon as you’ve killed one of the Dead,” he said. “I can show you how things work. If you wanted, I mean. Besides, it ain’t so bad out there.”

“I don’t see how it can be anything but.”

“Well, I ain’t saying it’s not crazier than a dog chasing its own tail, but you can’t see nothin’ all cooped up on these islands.”

“I can see plenty.”

“No,” said Cooper, “you can’t. The view from where you’re standing ain’t wilderness, it’s scenery.”

Peter followed Cooper’s line of sight, but he could only make out the black tips of the pines against the starry night. “Why, what can you see?”

Cooper struck the paddle down in the water like a post and rested his chin on the tip. “Oh, everythin’. The mountains, meadows, rivers roarin’. The way the stars aren’t like a flat ceiling overhead at all, but a universe that wraps all the way around us deep beneath the planet.”

Peter gazed up at the flat roof of stars you could see above the trees around the lake. He didn’t even know what Cooper was talking about.

“There’s something about open places that makes a man consider himself,” said Cooper, as if his soul somehow belonged out there.

Peter watched Cooper’s Adam’s apple rise and fall in his throat when he couldn’t even see his own in the mirror and marvelled at the ease he had in considering himself a man.

“Open places make you consider yourself?”

“Yeah,” said Cooper. “Like the plains.”

“And the stars?”

“Uh-huh. And the sea and the desert too, Pa says. But I dunno why that is.”

Peter shrugged. “Perhaps it’s because they make us feel small.”

“No. They make me feel bigger, Peter.”

Cooper sliced the paddle through the water and turned the canoe to leave.

“Well,” he sighed, “as long as you’s doing OK. I guess I’ll see you around.”

Peter felt a sudden tug in his stomach he didn’t recognize. He took a step forward and went to delay him. But he stopped himself and a moment later the canoe slipped inside the darkness and Cooper was gone. Peter ran his fingers across his throat to feel for his Adam’s apple and gazed up at the starry night. The tree house door creaked open behind him and light struck the shore.

“He carried you all the way up the steps to Darlene’s from the canoe,” called his dad. “Wouldn’t a hurt you to say yes.”

Peter felt the sharp tug in his tummy again. “Say yes to what?”

“Come on, Pete. Come inside, it’s getting cold.”

Peter held back, scanning the darkness for the canoe. But after a moment or two, the sound of the paddle cutting through the water had all but gone so he headed back toward the tree house. 

 

It’s amazing, I read the whole thing in one day which I haven’t done in ages! I couldn’t put it down. The queer rep is great, Peter and his dad have a moment near the beginning where it was made clear his dad knew and accepted him.

The world building and description was wonderful, it reminded me of the game Firewatch (I’ve never been anywhere near a real American nature reserve so that’s the best I got!) and the map at the beginning does help in placing where everything happens. The idea of living in a tree house over a lake sounds clever, I’ve never read or watched a zombie piece where they actually lived on a lake or in tree houses. It gave me some Walking Dead video game aesthetics as the lake froze over.

I think Darren Charlton approached the more sexual content well and perfectly hinted at it without writing an entire sex scene. I always applaud a writer who does this well as I don’t think it should be entirely omitted in YA but should be handled with care.

I love that there was a little bit of disability rep too! Often people with disabilities in a zombie book/film/show die because of it, so that gave a nice change too. I’d like to see more media that approached disabilities and chronic illness in dystopian futures. Disabled people are creative, ask anyone!

I cried several times, my heart was broken then sewed back together, and the number of TWISTS? Astonishing. Honestly hadn’t a clue who was behind it all until it was unveiled. Such a great mystery plot and not very traditional zombie world either.

As an adult reading this YA novel, I can say it suits the audience well but is written in such an enjoyable way that I got lost in it as well, so the age-range is much broader.

This is a great adventure book that ‘just so happens’ to centre a gay character. I could go on but I won’t coz it’ll just become spoilers and I’d rather let everyone have a chance to read themselves! It’s a great book for anyone who loves zombies.

Comes out 6th Feb

Check out the other stops on the blog tour!

Goodreads // Amazon

~Artie

My other posts on this book: instagram / Goodreads / 2019 Reading Wrap Up

I also mention it in this post.

Collective Second Hand Book Haul

book pile tbr book haul

Hey pals,

Leading up to Christmas, I was finding quite a few decent books in charity shops and at the doctors/hospital book donation shelves and I thought I would share what I found and if they’re gifts for people or not (I’m not spoiling anything because these where all Christmas presents so they’ve all had them!!) I would read all of these books so I’m telling everyone to give it back when they’re done so I can read it too!

 

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Gift to my mum. The title was an inside joke but also had a funny sounding plot. Paid 20-30p donation.

 

Another gift, couldn’t decide who to. I talked about this book in another post.

 

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I picked this up at one of the hospital book donation shelves. I plan on reading The Great Gatsby this year and have heard a lot about the Beautiful and Damned, and I can’t stop myself with a two for one deal! Think I paid 20-30p donation. 

I’ve read some Zadie Smith before and just thought I’d pick it up and see if I enjoyed it. I’ve not read a whole novel of hers, just bits and pieces. Part of a 3 for £1 deal.

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We all love Killing Eve in my house, this book looks pretty small so I expect it to be a fast read and I think I’ll give it to my mum when I’m done coz she really liked the show too. Part of a three for £1 deal in a charity shop.

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The potion Diaries just seemed like an easy to read YA fantasy involving magic. A bit more on the hetero/girly side for me, but I decided to give it a chance. £2 in a charity shop.

 

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We are big Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French fans, so the first is for my mum and second for my gran and then I’ll be stealing them back. I am always deeply fascinated by the lives of famous people and how they got to where they are. This was in our book self at the doctor’s surgery and I’m pretty sure I used pocket change to pay for these so can’t remember exactly how much. 

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Just as a side note: for the few books I’ve picked up at donation shelves and paid relatively low for, my family often donate books to these shelves, we often have brought bags of books as we like to help support our NHS staff and services. The books we pick up will likely be returned once we have read them, plus more. I encourage others to do this rather than donate to charity shops as they can be picked up for any amount of donation which makes reading more accessible. Plus, I am sure patients stuck in there for long periods can use these, hospital stays can be really dull and a choice in books to read can help patients feel more positive.

 

I’ll let you know what I (and my family members) think of these books when we get round to reading them!

 

~ Artie