Claire x Nikki Review November 2015

BitchinRundownClaire x Nikki Mash Ups

Claire’s 5-Cents: Woah! We did so well!
Nikki: *high five!* teamwork!



November! AAAH! What a crazy month! Right? Amirite? Yes, I’m right. Dang! BUT I tabled at my first convention EVER!!! Which was super fun :)
So here’s a picture of that:

Thought Bubble 2015

But mostly, HOW is this year almost gone already?? Aaaah!!! Even as a kid I always remarked at how quickly time went. I remember people in high school counting down the ‘never-ending’ days and thinking to myself “this is going to be done with so quickly; what even is your perception of time!?”. I wish I could feel now like they did then, like time is going sooo slowly. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s going at just the right pace. I don’t know. THESE ARE THE THINGS I THINK ABOUT AS THE END OF THE YEAR DRAWS NIGH!


Review :: Invisible Monsters
Underappreciated Books

I dun bad with bloggin’ this month!

Books Read (let me know if you want a review of any of these!)

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Jay Fowler
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

And I only read 2 books this month? Haaaaa :’D

Book of the Month

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Miscellaneous Favourites:

YouTube: OK I’m aware this may seem boring, but I’ve been trying to declutter my life a bit and have been watching a lot of Coco’s videos and reading minimalism blogs and have even started a LIGHT pinterest board dedicated to paring things down a bit. I don’t actually have much to begin with but I manage to collect and keep things like paper (greetings cards, doodles, notes, postcards, old train tickets, coupons, used envelopes/packaging, etc) or keep random things ‘just in case’.

Overall I find Coco quite pleasant, but there tends to be a (very slight) current in minimalism in general which is a bit ‘holier-than-thou’ and neglects what a(n ironic) luxury it is to be able to indulge in a minimalist lifestyle. You have to have a certain amount of privilege to be able to throw things away without batting an eye because, if it turns out you actually need that thing, you can just buy a new one! I don’t want to be a Debby Downer, but that’s (one of the many things) I like to be cognisant about when going down this path. I don’t plan on getting rid of everything I own and only wearing black (that’s a misunderstanding about minimalism). I just want to not accumulate things so freely or hold on to things for sentimental reasons if I can’t do anything with it and it’s just cluttering up my life.
BIG REMINDER: Minimalism is not about having as little as possible (at least not for me) or about only wearing black, white and grey. It’s just about cutting excess and annoying distractions that take away more energy than they’re worth.

organised files

And look how organised my digital files are now! I wish I’d taken a ‘before’ picture so you could see what a wonderful improvement this is over the mess I had to wade through before.



Oh wow where do I begin? November has been awesome! It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, of ups and downs but everything has been overwhelmingly good. In October’s review I mentioned that I started a new job that I was excited to get on with and one month in I can say that I really do like it. I’m happy. I’ll never be one of those people who get up at the crack of dawn and say YAY, WORK! But I don’t dread it and I genuinely enjoy the time when I am working. I dislike my commute but that’s what happens when you live in south London. Also, I made a friend at work and she loves books too! YAY!

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A shot from my view at work (anyone from London will recognise this hopefully) and new and old books in my stack. This is effectively part of my huge TBR!


Books Read

  • Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, #1) by Anne Rice
  • The Swarm by Frank Schätzing
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • The Bone People by Keri Hulme
  • Possession by A. S. Byatt

Book of the Month



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Anyone who knows me knows that while I like Christmas, I hate the cold with fiery, burning passion. So I’ve been loading up on winter hot chocolate from Costa and Toffee Nut Latte’s at Starbucks. In addition I found this mug at work, isn’t it cute!?


IMG_20151114_203110 IMG_20151115_203034

I am officially super obsessed with Attack on Titan. I’ve watched the films and the anime and trying to get my hands on the manga. It’s amaaaazing oh my goodness. I’ve also been binge watching the heck out of Lord of the Rings for some reason. Just can’t get enough of it.


I watched The Last Witch Hunter this month and I really did enjoy it. I don’t care what the reviews say, I really do like this movie! I also loved the song for the official soundtrack. I’m not a Ciara fan but I really like this son.


How was your November?

The December Bitchin’ Book Club pick is from Nikki and she chose:


Posted in Bitchin' Rundown | Leave a comment

Bitches Book Club Review: The Bone People

The Book Club:

“At the end of May I was feeling sort of “meh” about the Goodreads book clubs I’m part of. No offence meant to them at all! I like them. But they’re just so BIG that the books I’m particularly interested in don’t often (read: ever?) get picked and there doesn’t feel like there’s enough incentive to take part sometimes. I wanted something that was smaller so, even if I’m not super jazzed about every single book, I feel motivated to read each one because I knew the other member(s) of the book club are reading too and because of the discussion that will ensue.

SO, of course, I voice messaged Claire about it and we decided on a book within the hour!

How it works is that one of us will pick the book one month and the other will pick the book for the next month.”

This month was Claire’s choice: The Bone People by Keri Hulme


yes please

Book: The Bone People by Keri Hulme
Publisher: Penguin Books, 1986
Genre: Pacific/ New Zealand/ Literature/ Magic Realism

Summary: In a tower on the New Zealand sea lives Kerewin Holmes, part Maori, part European, an artist estranged from her art, a woman in exile from her family. One night her solitude is disrupted by a visitor—a speechless, mercurial boy named Simon, who tries to steal from her and then repays her with his most precious possession. As Kerewin succumbs to Simon’s feral charm, she also falls under the spell of his Maori foster father Joe, who rescued the boy from a shipwreck and now treats him with an unsettling mixture of tenderness and brutality. Out of this unorthodox trinity Keri Hulme has created what is at once a mystery, a love story, and an ambitious exploration of the zone where Maori and European New Zealand meet, clash, and sometimes merge.Winner of both a Booker Prize and Pegasus Prize for Literature, The Bone People is a work of unfettered wordplay and mesmerizing emotional complexity
More Information: GoodReads

Claire’s Thoughts & Rating:

Well I’ll be frank: this book was a tough one for me. I know that Nikki struggled through it but I managed to finish it but with a bit of cheating. What do I mean by cheating? I basically skipped all of the stream of consciousness bits, the over thinking bits and the diary entry parts. I know this doesn’t count as my having actually read the book but I had a few issues with the book. I will say that I do think Hulme writes well and I do think it’s a good book but just not one that I particularly enjoyed.


I just couldn’t find it very engaging. I did like it at first but then the conflict and the book sort of plateaued and everything was slow moving and building. It was immensely difficult to get sucked in (especially, I think, for my commuter lifestyle where the majority of my time is spent squished onto a tiny train for large lengths, as such, it’s hard to find it interesting when you’re reading with one hand and trying not to fall onto the poor old woman in front of you) and keep that engagement up. Even when I read it at home I found it utterly dis-interesting.


I did enjoy the characters however. Simon was a bit exasperating, I have little patience for rudeness and random acts of violence but what I did enjoy was that Hulme built all of the goodness and badness of each character into a reason or point: Yes, Simon was infuriating but it’s part of his back story, who he is. He isn’t annoying for the sake of conflict, it has a point. I particularly enjoyed Kerewin’s character and always sought out her chapters, her point of view.


This was my biggest beef. It took me a while to figure out her style of writing, the narrative and the difference between being said aloud and being said in someone’s head. I am not one for alternative points of view, I can’t stand it. I’ve written about it before but it will make or break a book for me: I want one narrator, one point of view. This is limiting yes but it’s just a personal preference. For others, I can see how this alternative perspective would be richness untapped and utterly fascinating. I was just a bit slow on the uptake and it took me a while to figure out if something was being said to someone or to just themselves.


I enjoyed the pockets of culture, the bits written in Maori. Nothing felt contrived, it all flowed naturally in both an elegant and rough and abrasive way.

In general, I would recommend this book to someone but it would the type of recommendation that you think both long and hard about. I didn’t know what to expect when I picked this up and isn’t that the point of this book club and reading? To challenge yourself? It was a challenge for me and Nikki but I don’t regret reading it.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Claire’s Favorite Line:

“You want to know about anybody? See what books they read, and how they’ve been read…”


Nikki’s Thoughts & Rating:

Clarie was so super understanding about my not getting through this one. I just had a lot of trouble with it. I think what was really hard for me was the fact that I didn’t actually dislike the book. That’s not what kept me from going on, so I don’t have any negative critique. I didn’t think it was too slow necessarily or uninteresting. It just didn’t do anything for me. On page 73 (the last page I was on before putting it down), I liked reading from Simon’s perspective after having read about his encounter with Kerewin from her perspective. I’m not generally a bit fan of flowery writing and that’s not quite how I’d describe Hulme’s writing here…more like poetic. But it didn’t make it any easier for me to immerse into the story. I am positive this will be different for other people and some will adore her style I’m sure.

I liked the idea of all the characters…the story seemed nebulous to me, like plucking at straws. It was the meeting of an almost fantasy world of stone towers and swarthy sea dogs and a ‘slice of life’ ordinary tale? It didn’t work for me and I found it pretty flat… But again I chalk that up to taste. I don’t feel like I’ve read enough to have anything more of interest to say, but even if I had, I feel this is the kind of story whose secrets may well have remained out of my reach. I don’t think this story was meant for me, sadly. I completely feel what Claire said: “I do think Hulme writes well and I do think it’s a good book but just not one that I particularly enjoyed.” But I’m glad Claire chose it and I feel really bad I wasn’t able to stick it out until the end. I looked desperately for an audiobook version because I know I would have been able to soldier through that way (like I did with Lirael!) even if the narrator was awful because it would only have been a day or two of listening at work. Alas, I could only find an audiobook copy available on cassette tapes and, as I have no way of playing a cassette (and it would have taken a while to get it delivered from New Zealand!) I gave up on that.

In short: I’m sorry, The Bone People. It’s not you, it’s me.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Nikki’s favourite line(s):

To care for anything deeply is to invite disaster.


Have you read this book yet?

If you have, what did you think? If you haven’t, do you want to?

December’s Book Club choice is Nikki’s and she chose…

Feel free to read along with us! :)

We’ll be reading this throughout December and will blog about it last week of December/ first week January- if you have any thoughts you can always email so we can add them!

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Underappreciated Books

Every so often I see people talk about books they think are under-appreciated! I realised after I made this list that many people base that on “less than 1,000/5,000” ratings on Goodreads, but I thought it was less than 500… SO I guess these ones are really underappreciated! hahah Maybe you’ll find some unknown gems? :)


Harry’s Last Stand

HARRYS LAST STAND-B-HB.inddThis book really should have so many more ratings. Harry Leslie Smith—British Great Depression survivor, WW2 veteran, cool old person who uses the internet so well and tweets better/more regularly than my boyfriend who is decades (a half century!) younger than him—has been through so much and has every reason to be angry and filled with hate…But instead he is fired up and filled with hope! He tells a brief summary of his life and in this slim volume he goes through so, so much. It’s very sad at times to read about what someone so young had to go through and the struggles he continues to go through (often because he repeatedly greeted the world with love and an open-mind than with selfishness and malice). My blatherings really do the book no justice.
There is a lot in here about British politics (as it is aimed at the British voting public in particular), but none of it is difficult to comprehend. Smith’s writing is lovely and lyrical, but also honest and direct. I wish more people knew his story and understood the importance of the things Harry is standing for. Highly recommended.

Number of ratings: 290
Average rating: 4.21 stars
My rating: 4/5 stars


Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen

6353906This is one of my favourites and is pretty wacky. Very sexual in parts, but there is a lot of commentary on the immigrant experience; confusion about viewing oneself and one’s ‘people’, who/what you actually represent as an individual, who/what you are responsible for… But it makes all these comments in a cheeky, irreverent and simultaneously poetic way. Not for everyone (is my constant disclaimer with this book), but worth checking out.

Number of ratings: 329
Average rating: 3.45 stars
My rating: 5/5 stars

A Beginner’s Guide to Reality

265347Now, getting back to reality (eh? eh? ha. I’m good), this book explores what is really meant by the concept of ‘reality’! I love thinking about this kind of thing and I found this book so interesting. It explores reality first in societal terms: the societal constructs to which we all conform. How and why is this ‘real’? What is meant by that kind of reality? Baggott asks specifically, how is the social construct of money real? I think, with current gender discussions in society today we could ask the same of gender: how is that social construct real? How far does it go? Next Baggott tackles reality in sensory terms: we perceive the world completely based on our senses since how else could we test what is real and what isn’t…but our senses can be fooled. How do I know if you and I are seeing the world in the same way? How do I know if we think of the same colour when I talk about the colour “red”? And finally (the chapter I have been struggling with for a while because it loses me a little in its technicality through no fault of the author’s), we get past senses and ask what is really there? What is objectively real regardless of what we are capable of perceiving and how we perceive it!?? Fascinating!
I hope I haven’t made it seem inaccessible because this “Beginner’s Guide” really is just that and I feel that, without any condescension, Baggott has done a good job at making this kind of discussion very accessible. Also, he really likes movie references (especially The Matrix—can you tell from the cover?? haha)

Number of ratings: 143
Average rating: 3.58 stars
My rating: 5/5 stars


None of the Above

Let’s get political! Ooooh! Well, if you live in the UK and are a little lost in the politics arena, I would suggest you read this book. I quite like politics (though I am no politics buff!) so I was already familiar with a lot of the subjects touched on here, but there were some details here and there I didn’t actually know about and whole sections of politics I haven’t given much thought at all. This is, though, a very introductory overview. I think it’s written sort of for young people in their late teens/early twenties—which isn’t to say you can’t read it when you’re older (I did) so much as to warn you that there will be a few things/some general knowledge that you’ll have picked up from just living in the world longer than a teen. But the book doesn’t assume anything about your knowledge. I found Edwards’ writing style fun, humorous and conversational. I didn’t find him patronising at all, but I did think he was almost frustratingly even-handed/diplomatic/unbiased when talking about parties I would say were created and championed by bigots and/or ignorant folks with no minority friends. An impressive skill. So if you want a good, layman’s terms introduction to British politics, even though the political scene has changed quite a lot in the past few months, I still think this is a great place to start!

Number of ratings: 105
Average rating: 4.02 stars
My rating: 4/5 stars

Posted in Book Reviews, Lists | 1 Comment

How Do You Treat Your Books? Does It Matter?


I’ve been thinking for a while about the way books and reading are fetishised. I have a lot of thoughts about it that range from the harmless appreciation of a pretty and/or meaningful thing to an unnecessary obsession on a specific physical representation/format of a story. I’ll just say, I’m not precious about my books. Yes, I’d usually prefer them to be in good condition, but I don’t sweat it if they’re not. I don’t write in my books, but more because I find it inefficient and tedious to squash my opinions between margins that because I can’t bring myself to sully the ‘sacred’ pages. For me, books are just the way to disseminate stories or information so the packaging of that story doesn’t really matter. And, actually, films and books aren’t really different to me which is maybe why I took to audiobooks so well? I don’t know…

I’m actually a sentimental person and there are books that are difficult for me to part with. But when I’m being brutally honest with myself about the fact that I’m not a re-reader* and will probably never come back to them, it makes it easier to empty my personal library into the charity shop, even if it’s still a struggle to let go of some books. I think this makes me a great friend if you like books though! I’m happy to give away books I’ve read even if were bought new at regular retail price. (I don’t even have a copy of my favourite book anymore because I gave it away to my dad because I thought he would enjoy it.) I’m not likely to read them again so, regardless of the money spent, it’s wasted just looking pretty and taking up space on my shelf. I just think of that money as the cost of that one time experience—for better or worse (though if it’s the latter, there’s the battle of “should I sell it to make the money back?” and the ‘responsibility’ I feel of warning people not to waste their time with it! haha).

I can’t really imagine many scenarios where I would buy a book I’ve already read for free from the library or borrowed from a friend. Even if I loved it, there has to be at least a plan to use it. And as someone who isn’t a re-reader*…I can’t really guarantee that to myself. On top of all that, in the past decade I haven’t been in the same house for more than 2 years (sometimes less) so I can’t be lugging around dead weight. And recently, I’ve been courting minimalist ideas (which is more about having just what you need (including hobby/fun/etc items), not having as few things as possible) so books I’ll never go back to feel like baggage.

*Not really intentionally. I just never seem to feel like it/don’t get around to it/prioritise new stories.

….But that’s all besides the point! The actual books I have, I don’t understand treating them like they are holy tomes. They’re physical items; earthly possessions. Despite what Marie Kondo says, I am not an animist(?) and I don’t believe books and other inanimate objects have souls and/or feelings. Yes, they can bring joy butI feel like the crazy reverence kind of takes away from what a book is really about (it’s story!) and focusses on its vessel. For me, that kind of ‘book love’ is superficial and hollow and largely just for show. I’m not hating on anyone who goes down that route, but I just can’t understand it (though I find it interesting). I feel like a dissertation could be written about this where the meaning of the book has been skewed away from its true meaning to a shallower one that is only about its representation. We want to focus on what the book is suppose to mean to us rather than what it actually means to us. It’s all about the idea of the hobby rather than the thing itself? That all sounds way more cynical and judgemental than I mean it to…I just lack the right words! But I am fascinated…probably because I can’t relate. What do you think??


I might be guilty of what Nikki notes as fetishizing books. What I will say is that I am very much precious about my books but I will also note that I don’t limit this attitudes to books in general. For me, everything I own is precious and I contribute that attitude to having to move around a lot when I was a child and having to constantly get rid of or give away much of what I owned. So now, if I own something, it’s very precious and I’d like to keep it.

For me, books have always been my friend and I like to keep them. I don’t stress if they go brown or dusty, that’s called Age. I don’t like cracked spines though, I will scream if I lend someone a book and the spine is cracked. Actually, now that I think about it I’ve seen two levels of preciousness:

  • New: I tend to hold these in the highest esteem and I think that’s because of the money I spent on them. I am less likely to lend out new books and certainly less likely to give them away or sell them if I ever get tired. Maybe it’s because I have a pretty rigorous purchase policy (policy is: read first via library or borrowed from a friend, if I like it then buy it), so every book I own is a carefully curated/selected book for my library (which is a mountain of boxes, I own no bookshelves). I do get distressed if pages are torn and I hate to see torn covers.
  • Preowned: I am less precious about these. I keep them but if I were to say nah to one of these books, I feel no pressure in keeping it. I will give it away or sell it if needs be. I lend these out quite often.

However my obsession with books has a line: I don’t spend hours organizing them, I’m pretty random about it. I also don’t care if it’s neatly ordered or chaotically stacked. I don’t need cute bookends or little figurines on my shelf (I don’t think i’m much of a decorator actually, it’s about utility!). I love to see people put that effort into their bookish surroundings but I can’t.

Referring to format: Hardback is desired but costly. Actually, owning a physical book is a bit like showing off for me. I have tons on my kindle but you don’t know what I’m reading. So, when I buy a book- in addition to it being a curated thing- it’s a testament to my interests as well as my personality. You’ll never seem me with multiple editions however, unless it’s Harry Potter, then all rules go out the window.



Posted in Discussions, Uncategorized | 10 Comments

4 Favourite Books Written by South Asian Authors

I’ve been thinking about the type of blog entries that I enjoy reading. Posts that stand out the most to me are entries featuring some sort of list or the potential for discovering amazing new books and fascinating reads. I quite enjoy it when Nikki does it as well.

As such I’m going to attempt to share some of my regional or plain ol’ quirky favourites that I enjoyed reading and maybe a few that I would like for read myself! Each book will be led by a small review or personal reflection.

4 Favourite Books Written by South Asian authors

I haven’t written about or reviewed any books by South Asian authors but I’ve had to read quite a few for literature classes or just for plain fun. Now just to be clear I’m noting South Asian as books by authors from or have books set in the following countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. I didn’t do this with the Caribbean and I think going forth I might explain my regional stuff a bit more? I don’t want to insult anyone but if I do, please school me so I can learn and correct myself.

The God of Small Things

This book is one of the most painful and rich books I’ve ever read. Written by Arunduhti Roy, I had to read this for IB English for its World Literature requirements. I’m lucky that I had an excellent teacher who encouraged and prodded us to continue despite our initial confusion. As 18 year olds we didn’t always want to finish this book but believe me, it was well worth it. Set in Kerala, this book was my first introduction to literature set in India. Roy writes with magic and such depth and detail, it’s hard for you to not feel like you’re there seeing things through the narrators eyes.

It won the Booker Prize in 1997. One of my favourite quotes are: “Little events, ordinary things, smashed and reconstituted. Suddenly, they become the bleached bones of a story.” 

Blurb:“They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved and how. And how much.”

The year is 1969. In the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India, fraternal twins Esthappen and Rahel fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family. Their lonely, lovely mother, Ammu, (who loves by night the man her children love by day), fled an abusive marriage to live with their blind grandmother, Mammachi (who plays Handel on her violin), their beloved uncle Chacko (Rhodes scholar, pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher), and their enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun and incumbent grandaunt). When Chacko’s English ex-wife brings their daughter for a Christmas visit, the twins learn that things can change in a day, that lives can twist into new, ugly shapes, even cease forever, beside their river..

Funny Boy

Another IB English World Literature read! Written by Syam Salvadurai, I don’t know if I’d call this book YA but it’s got a light tone to it that makes it a very readable and interesting book.

I read this after the God of Small Things by Roy and enjoyed the very different narrative styles and tones in the two books. As a young woman coming to accept my sexuality, this book made me confront things I wasn’t willing to at the time. Additionally, it’s one of the only books I’ve read that highlight what it is to be queer in a non-European/Western/American setting. It’s an excellent coming of age novel that you’ll be able to read quickly and with great interest. I don’t know why it hasn’t gotten more press, it’s absolutely brilliant to be honest.

The NY Times did a really good review of the book that I’d encourage you to read as well!

Blurb: Funny Boy is a coming-of-age novel by Canadian author Shyam Selvadurai. First published by McClelland and Stewart in September 1994, the novel won the Lambda Literary Award for gay male fiction and the Books in Canada First Novel Award.

Set in Sri Lanka where Selvadurai grew up, Funny Boy is constructed in the form of six poignant stories about a boy coming to age within a wealthy Tamil family in Colombo. Between the ages of seven and fourteen, he explores his sexual identity, and encounters the Sinhala-Tamil tensions leading up to the 1983 riots.

The Sari Shop

Written by Rupa Bajwa, this was an interesting read for me. It’s written with a melancholy that I found quite thick and enveloping. To be clear: this isn’t the type of book that has a traditional styled happy ending. Rather it’s an exploration of how poverty and culture can intertwine, with cruelty almost being commonplace.

From an anthropological/material culture perspective, Bajwa drops little nuggets of brilliance in a way that I really enjoyed: the difference between silk and cotton saris and the hopes that are woven into simple fabric because of it. I loved that! How something so material could be so representative of your aspirations and hopes.

Publisher Weekly did an interesting review that might be worth reading as well.

Blurb: Ramchand, a tired shop assistant in Sevak Sari House in Amritsar, spends his days patiently showing yards of fabric to the women of “status families” and to the giggling girls who dream of dressing up in silk but can only afford cotton. When Ramchand is sent to show his wares to a wealthy family preparing for their daughter’s wedding, he is jolted out of the rhythm of his narrow daily life. His glimpse into a different world gives him an urgent sense of possibility. And so he attempts to recapture the hope that his childhood had promised, arming himself with two battered English grammar books, a fresh pair of socks, and a bar of Lifebuoy soap. But soon these efforts turn his life upside down, bringing him face to face with the cruelties on which his very existence depends. Reading group guide included.

The Kite Runner

I feel like everyone knows about this. The Kite Runner has been on a number of best seller lists for sometime and is synonymous with excellent literature.

I won’t go too much into this but briefly: beyond being well written the author, Khaled Hosseini, writes about culture and home in both a tender and harsh way. I read this as a teen and found it quite fascinating. Even Nikki’s enjoyed this and I believe that she’d recommend it!

Blurb: “It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.” Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

Want To Read: The Bookseller of Kabul

So not a fiction. Written by Åsne Seierstad and Ingrid Christopherson, The Bookseller of Kabul is part travelogue, ethnography and memoir/journal. It’s set in Kabul and though not written by a South Asian writer, might be an interesting outsider-looking-in perspective of a nation (taken with a grain of salt of course).

Blurb: In spring 2002, following the fall of the Taliban, Asne Seierstad spent four months living with a bookseller and his family in Kabul.
For more than twenty years Sultan Khan defied the authorities – be they communist or Taliban – to supply books to the people of Kabul. He was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned by the communists, and watched illiterate Taliban soldiers burn piles of his books in the street. He even resorted to hiding most of his stock – almost ten thousand books – in attics all over Kabul.

But while Khan is passionate in his love of books and his hatred of censorship, he also has strict views on family life and the role of women. As an outsider, Asne Seierstad found herself in a unique position, able to move freely between the private, restricted sphere of the women – including Khan’s two wives – and the freer, more public lives of the men.

Have you read any of these? Or will you go read one?


Posted in International, Lists | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review :: Invisible Monsters

A review of Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters


Invisible Monsters“The book is invested with a cinematic sweep, from the opening set piece, which takes off like a house afire (literally), to a host of filmic tics sprayed throughout the text: Flash, Jump back, Jump way ahead, Flash, Flash, Flash. You get the idea

• • •

It sounds vague like you’re going in knowing nothing…and that’s true, but that’s how I experienced it and that’s how I’d recommend you experience it.

I’ve never been particularly bothered about reading Chuck Palahniuk, but had a feeling I’d eventually get around to it. And when that day came, I knew I didn’t want my first Palahniuk to be Fight Club*. Invisible Monsters was my library’s most recent Palahniuk audiobook acquisition, so I picked it up.
*I enjoyed the film Fight Club…though it always makes me think “OK, so money is terrible and acquiring things is terrible and capitalism is terrible…but…you’re not giving your book/film/merchandise away for free…, man.” I feel similarly about a lot of things (some of which I enjoy regardless, some of which I don’t and the irony/hypocrisy just becomes the cherry on top). And, truth be told, I’m not sure that even matters.

Anyway, having seen Fight Club, there are a lot of things I already expected from Palahniuk’s stories and writing style, and Invisible Monsters delivered just that–nothing more, nothing less. I enjoyed this story and I would recommend it. I can see why people like his writing and consume his stories although I think it might all grate on me after a while if I read lots at once. I couldn’t help but feel it was often intentionally ‘shocking’ without actually feeling shocking…to me…(or maybe that just reveals how desensitised blahblahblah). But I appreciated the humour interspersed with the grotesque. It all feels very American (in that clever* kind of way that you often forget Americans can be…haa**).
*I’m not sure this is the word I mean exactly.
**Forgive me, American friends! I jest! I jest!

Anna Fields does a fantastic job narrating this audiobook. It took a little getting used to her pace. Although I think she completely does the book justice and delivers it perfectly, it sometimes feels like everything’s happening too quickly to process Palahniuk’s easily flowing quips.

There should probably be a warning for those easily shocked by gross stuff, adult content, violence (I guess?…but not really) and so on. This is story feels like it could be made into a film too. I wonder if all of his books feel like that; almost conscious of their ‘filmability’…

rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5 stars)
genre: mystery, dark humour, social commentary
publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
source: library
date read: 27 October 2015
recommend for: fans of Fight Club
pros: fun, weird, fast-paced, like a film in your head
cons: fast-paced, very punchy/dramatic/intentionally ‘shocking’


Posted in Book Reviews, Literature, Thriller | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Harry Potter Book Tag

The Harry Potter book tag is a rabbit trail of confusion as to it’s origins, but I’ve taken this from All Things Wordy who took it from Musings From Neville’s Navel who took it from The Ultimate Fangirl. Right, I think I’ve given as many people as possible the right credit. This post is solely Claire because Nikki, while a HP fan, lacks the manic obsession I have with it. Don’t be surprised if she gets sarcastic on me in the comments.


But what? How am I to choose a single tome from this magnificent series to be classified as my favourite? I like the Philosopher’s Stone because it first introduced me to magic, the Prisoner of Azkaban because it expands on the magical curriculum and Goblet of Fire because it introduces me to cultural/international witches and wizards. How am I to choose? Oh hot damn… Goblet of Fire then. As well as Philosopher’s Stone. You need to give me those two!


I’m actually able to determine this one a bit better I think: OK, so, I’m going to go with Goblet of Fire and Half-Blood Prince. Yes. Don’t ask me why, that’s a post unto itself.


 Chamber of Secrets hands down. All Things Wordy and I both agree on this one.


Oh god, the sullen Harry/Daniel one, Order of the Phoenix as well as Chamber of Secrets.


Oh all of the deaths. The first time I cried was when I read about Cedric dying then I cried when Sirius died, and I pretty much sobbed for hours when Dumbledore died. Like hardcore crying, crawled into my parents bed and said WHY DID HE HAVE TO DIE? They were massively confused and unimpressed. My last set of tears were for Hedwig, Fred, Lupin and Tonks. I was gutted especially about Fred and Lupin.

In the film? Dumbledore, Fred. When I saw his body, even thinking about I can feel my throat get lumpy.


Hermoine- let’s make this happen shall we? Or a 30-year-old McGonagall .


Hermoine-Luna-McGonagall and, for the men I’m much stricter: Ron and Lupin.


Lockhart was annoying but not to be hated.

Hmmm… like hated? I am not a fan of Greyback at all, the Death Eaters in general- to cause such pain to your fellow humans just because they don’t hold up to your idea of perfection, it baffles and hurts me. I can’t stand Lucius and you know what, I HATE DRACO. Obviously Voldemort is stuck on that list.


“Not my daughter your bitch!”- my main G- Molly Weasley


Uh… none?


The classic OST, the introductions really, that’s my ringtone. I really do love the set when Harry and Dumbledore go off to find the island, it starts off haunting and then the choir starts belting it out. It’s called Journey to the Cave.


A honey badger but let be known that I’m not a Hufflepuff, that’s just what it is. I am sure of this. Don’t question me.


Not the Resurrection Stone unless it could bring me back. Dammit I’d like to say the Invisibility Cloak or the Elder Wand but power lies within and not with your tools, so I’ll say Invisibility Cloak.


I’d be a hatstall between Ravenclaw and Slytherin. I’d like to say it would put me in Ravenclaw but in reality I think I’d get put with Slytherin. Pottermore seems to think so, I’ve gotten it like 6 times. Actually ALL TIMES, even when I try to trick the damn thing. The house merch I own is Ravenclaw though.


The cast? Evanna Lynch.


I wouldn’t be on the Quidditch team, you couldn’t get me on the damn broom without kicking and screaming.


Nope, nope, nope, NOPE.


His world and not just him, it means life for me when I was down. It means friendship when I was alone. It means survival. The whole series for me, is about my survival and I go to it for comfort whenever I need a reminder to do so.



So, how do you disagree or agree with me? Are you ready to spill your Harry Potter secrets?


Posted in Harry Potter, Lists | Tagged | 2 Comments

(5) Book Blog Exploration

So what is Book Blog Exploration? Every now and then I will share 5 new blogs or oldies that I found/discovered/really appreciate. It’s all about sharing the book blogging love (despite the fact that I am a horrible commenter).

My kuddoes to them for their hard work. If you’re not on the list it doesn’t mean I don’t love you but maybe that I haven’t discovered you’re awesomeness yet! If you have a book blog and want to be added to the list, just drop a comment, and I’ll add you!


(5) Book Blog Exploration

Pages & Pineapples

Why do I love them? This book blog has a great layout but in addition to it, the content is great and fun. Paloma has branded her blog as a lifestyle/book blog and it has a great fun vibe where you can read about the books she loves as well as a few other gems.

Favourite Post/Series? Her Unpopular Opinions post was hilarious and there was a part near the end where my jaw hit the floor. She’s so funny!

Marvel At Words

Why do I love them? I’ve recently stumbled onto Wendle’s blog and I’m very glad I did. She’s an engaged writer so while I’m a bad commenter, I always find myself responding to her posts in my head.

Favourite Post/Series? She takes part in the Top Ten Tuesday meme and I always look forward to the list she’s cobbled together in response.

All Things Wordy

Why do I love them? She’s a fellow UK blogger and she always writes such thought provoking posts! I just like her content to be honest, we don’t necessarily read the same books but there is always something for me to click onto when I’m browsing.

Favourite Post/Series? THE HARRY POTTER TAG. GO READ IT. Caps off, OK.

The Orang-Utan Librarian

Why do I love them? I’m a big fan of lists or discussion posts, I do read reviews but at the end of the day I know they’re just the person’s opinions. But this blog has a healthy mix of everything and the list or tag posts are great for exploring new books!

Favourite Post/Series? Overhyped Books list- I disagreed with half of it but I loved their explanations for everything. Just look at the comments, it’s so lively!

The Lunch Time Librarian

Why do I love them? Oh I just love the vibe of this blog! It’s got a good geeky fun feel to it, plus it’s massively engaging. She’s also a ridiculously prodigious writer, how does she find the time to blog so much?!

Favourite Post/Series? I think NaNoWriMo people would enjoy her Nuts for NaNo posts!

Visit the other Book Blog Exploration posts: 1, 2, 3, and 4!


Posted in Lists | 8 Comments