Hanging In There

I am overwhelmed with books right now! I’m not stranger to reading several books at once–I’m usually reading about 5 at any given time–but at the moment I’m reading ten and it’s starting to feel a little oppressive. But I don’t feel like I can or want to necessarily give any of them up. These books include gifts I got for my birthday, the book club book, a book a friend lent me, books I started years ago and am still soldiering through (not unhappily), books I’m reading for personal goals (that I’m really enjoying), and many others. I’m starting to feel just as guilty when I’m reading (paying attention to one book and not all the others??) as when I’m not reading… But I think I’d feel worse to let them go even if I promised myself it would be just a temporary parting (because my “temporary” can tend to stretch on for years).

But what’s my point? Hmm… I guess all this has been interesting, making me think about the books I choose to stick with to the end no matter what.

When/why do you choose to give up on a book?

Posted in Discussions, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

2016 Quarterly Check-In #3

I know we (every post-high-school human being) always say this, but the year sure does zoom by! I think it’s especially so when you make goals for yourself. I think school is filled with such an abundance of little goals–every day there are several class deadlines–but the older you get, the more those deadlines become much more important and much more anticlimactic and somehow that equates (for me) to a year that whizzes by. Anyway, on to the check-in (my last of this year before my yearly review)!

Goodreads challenge: 75 books

I’m slightly (2 books) ahead of my goal at 57 books, but I’ve already decided I’m not doing this goal again next year. My highest book goal in future is going to be 50 books. I like having a goal that challenges me, but I’m not going to pretend that my own arbitrary book goal isn’t making me constantly feel like I should always be consuming more knowledge hahaha

My resolutions:

  1. Read at least 75 books on track
  2. Read at least 15 books from my TBR on track
  3. Read at least 50% women authors on track
  4. Read at least 35% authors of colour on track
  5. Read at least 25% translated works on track
  6. Read at least 15 non-fiction works 8/15
  7. Read at least 1 book by a South American author [done: The Alchemist]
    • ADDENDUM: 15 books from around the world [done: 15/15]
  8. Read at least 3 books by or about someone with a difference (physical or mental) !?!
    • I guess I actually have actually completed this if you include boosk like The Vegetarian, We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House whose protagonists have all been mentally unstable, but I want to be even stricter with myself in this area…(possibly leaning towards non-fiction more? We’ll see…)
  9. Read at least 3 books by or about someone who identifies as LGBTQ+ [done: 4/3]
  10. Finish a series for the first time ever in my life!!! (What will it be? Harry Potter? Lord of the Rings? The Raven Cycle? A Series of Unfortunate Events??) [done: Harry Potter & Miss Pas Touche (en français!)]
  11. Read at least 1 book over 500 pages???? (maybe?) ! I’ve started East of Eden (203/714 pages in)

• • •


I’ve read 58% female authors with 35% male and 7% “other” (either both male and female creators or unknown, but authors who identify as neither would fit in this category too). This has, disappointingly, taken a big down turn (from 71% at halfway through the year), but, without any difficulty or feeling of restrictiveness at all, this is still higher than I would have expected it’d be when I first set this goal. I have read 40% authors of colour which is still above my goal of 35%. I’m hoping to at least keep it there, if not get that even higher by the end of the year.

25% of my reading has been translated works. I generally don’t make any effort in this area, but I like to keep track of it anyway. If my reading starts getting kind of stale, it sometimes coincides with the number of translated works stagnating. It can be really refreshing and captivating to read some non-anglophone perspectives.
*An interesting situation was presented to me when I started trying to read books in French as well. They’re not translated because I’m reading them in their original French, but I kind of want to keep track of the books I read in the original language too. Maybe next year I will include a category for that.

The amount of books I read from my TBR makes up 35% of my reading so far or 15 books. My goal for the year is to read 15 books from my TBR so I guess I’m doing well, but so few of them have been books from my physical shelf so I might make an attempt to start prioritising those.

54% of my reading (31 books) has been free either from the library (primarily) or friends or eARCs.

• • •

I actually quite liked the “10-10-10-10” challenge I did last year, but have just pulled these two sections from it. I like taking note of where I’m reading from and noting my non-fiction reads just remind me to plumb some books for facts instead of just organisations’ websites and random articles.

FIFTEEN Works of Fiction from Around the World*:

  1. The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly: A Novel by Sun-mi Hwang [South Korea]
  2. Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor [Nigeria]
  3. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor [Nigeria]
  4. The Moomins and the Great Flood(The Moomins, #1) by Tove Jansson [Finland]
  5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho [Brazil]
  6. The Fat Years by Chan Koonchung [China]
  7. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto [Japan]
  8. At the Bottom of the River by Jamaica Kincaid [Antigua]
  9. The Art of War by Sun Tzu [China]
  10. The Vegetarian by Han Kang [South Korea]
  11. What Is Obscenity? By Rokudenashiko [Japan]
  12. Miss Pas Touche (tome 1-4) by Hubert & Kerascoët [France]
  13. The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami [Japan]
  14. Bonsai by Alejandro Zambra [Chile]
  15. Hug Me by Simona Ciraolo [Italy]

*Excludes: UK & Republic of Ireland, North America (unless Native), Australia & New Zealand (unless Native), as well as ancient Greece and Rome…you get the picture.

FIFTEEN Non-Fiction Books:

  1. Take It as a Compliment by Maria Stoian
  2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou’s Autobiography, #1) by Maya Angelou
  3. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  4. Suffragette: My Own Story by Emmeline Pankhurst
  5. How We Weep and Laugh at the Same Thing (Little Black Classics, #29) by Michel de Montaigne
  6. What is Obscenity?: The Story of a Good For Nothing Artist and her Pussy by Rokudenashiko
  7. Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings by Linda McRobbie Rodriguez
  8. Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Béa Johnson

Not doing terribly well with my non-fiction reading this year…Maybe it’ll pick up in the last quarter? hah We’ll see..!

• • •

My favourite books this quarter have been…

Have you made any reading goals (casual or official)?

What have been your bookish highlights so far?

Posted in Bitchin' Rundown, Reading Challenges, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Ebook Inventory

After watching Jean’s video about the books on her Kindle, I thought it might be fun to explore what ebooks I have on the various ebook apps on my phone (not including previews). Let’s just jump right in!

(Apps listed in alphabetical order)



  • Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia




Currently Reading

  • Le Horla / The Horla by Guy de Maupassant


  • Candide, ou l’Optimisme by Voltaire
  • Heart of Darkness (audiobook) by Joseph Conrad




Currently Reading

  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

TBR (…several of these may just be deleted without getting read)

  • Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
  • Bacchae by Euripides
  • The Imaginary Invalid by Molière
  • Tartuffe by Molière
  • Quicksand (and Passing) by Nella Larsen
  • Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare
  • Utopia by Thomas More
  • The Dead by James Joyce
  • The Prince by Nicolo Machiavelli
  • Chrome Yellow by Aldous Huxley
  • The Lifted Veil by George Eliot
  • Aeropagitica by John Milton




So, years ago when I still used Amazon, I accumulated a few ebooks on the free Kindle app. While most of the books I got were free, I did buy one or two of them (though likely nothing over 99p). Because there are still books on there, I do still have the Kindle app and, ideally, I’d like to finish them all… But, I must confess, I haven’t used this app for years (the most recent of these books was acquired for free almost 3 years ago)… I guess I don’t want to read any of them that badly. ^^;;

‘Currently’ Reading

  • Furies by Eve Lacey

TBR (…several of these may just be deleted without getting read)

  • The Life of Buddha and Its Lessons by Henry Steel Olcott
  • Japanese Fairy Tales by Yei Theodora Ozaki
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton (with bonus material from The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper)
  • The Vampyre; a Tale by John WIlliam Polidori
  • Dracula’s Guest by Bram Stoker
  • Arsene Lupin by Maurice Leblanc
  • The Hollow Needle: Further Adventures of Arsene Lupin by Maurice Leblanc
  • Myths of the Norsemen: From the Edda and Sagas by Hélène A Guerber
  • Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race by Thomas William Roileston
  • Viking Tales by Jennie Hall
  • The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle



Nook (now Sainsbury’s Entertainment)

Currently Reading (or trying…it seems there’s been a massive screw up with the company transferring books so who knows…)

TBR (I’m making plans to drop this unstable platform, so only one for the TBR)




This is mainly used to borrow digital library books (I don’t have any borrowed at the moment, but I did once buy an audiobook from Waterstones and used Overdrive to listen to it. And what was that audiobook?

  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor



Kobo, Kindle and Nook are/were my most used eReader apps but now, all things considered, I think my favourite is probably Kobo! It would be great to have all my ebooks in one place, but I don’t. Maybe I will slowly whittle down the books across all my apps and just use Kobo for new acquisitions. I’m not sure. (I don’t think I’m anal enough to actually follow through on that, but we’ll see.)

What books do you have on your eReader(s)/apps?

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Review :: Princesses Behaving Badly

A review of Linda McRobbie Rodriguez’s Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings


You think you know her story. You’ve read the Brothers Grimm, you’ve watched the Disney cartoons, you cheered as these virtuous women lived happily ever after. But the lives of real princesses couldn’t be more different. Sure, many were graceful and benevolent leaders—but just as many were ruthless in their quest for power, and all of them had skeletons rattling in their royal closets. Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe was a Nazi spy. Empress Elizabeth of the Austro-Hungarian empire slept wearing a mask of raw veal. Princess Olga of Kiev murdered thousands of men, and Princess Rani Lakshmibai waged war on the battlefield, charging into combat with her toddler son strapped to her back. Princesses Behaving Badly offers minibiographies of all these princesses and dozens more. It’s a fascinating listen for history buffs, feminists, and anyone seeking a different kind of bedtime story.

• • •

Let me start by saying, this turned out to be much better than I expected and I would definitely recommend it.

This is another book I picked up from my library’s audiobook collection pretty much at random. I thought it might be just a bit silly with a stupid title like that, but I was pleasantly surprised. (It’s always nice to be wrong in situations like that.) And, really, it’s frustrating that the idea of a book about princesses seems, on the surface of it, so…frivolous, isn’t it?

This is a great introduction to some very interesting women throughout history who, through knowing about their lives, really add dimension to the “princess” label. While each princess definitely gets more than a cursory look (some going much further in depth than others), it’s more of a detailed overview than an in-depth princess encyclopaedia. They don’t all get a happy ending (very few do actually), but they are far from all being victims. Most are feisty and rebellious and unconventional. And, being human, all are flawed (some far more than others) despite what high society might have the public believe. Some are arrogant and selfish, some are gross, some are clinically insane, some are tragic, some were pirates for a time, some renounced the crown, some were controlled by relatives, some spent few nights alone or even with the same lover.

It was also great to have a few contemporary ones that can now be put into context in my mind. (It would probably be even better for people who are likely to have actually heard of them before whereas my general princess knowledge is sorely lacking.) I will say, though, I actually liked that she avoided mentioning certain of the most famous contemporary princesses who might come to mind when we hear the term “real life princess”. Though they are mentioned in passing in the intro/foreword, Princess Diana and Kate Middleton are nowhere to be found in the book. And, although her sister Margaret is mentioned, Queen Elizabeth II’s time as a princess is not cited here either.

This book shows a bit of the very real lives lived behind those gilded doors and tries to break the label free of the silly, Disney image of lace and frills and talking animals surrounding a beautiful, delicate, pale woman with no agency who is to be seen but not heard.

Cassandra Campbell did a fantastic job narrating, but I wonder if it might work best as coffee table book to dip into every so often rather than just a block of stories from history because I just listened to the whole thing as a stream of stories and, while I enjoyed it and learned a lot, I feel like it would be nice to be able to more easily flip through the princesses and re-read certain ones on a whim. (Which is not to say that’s not at all possible with the audiobook as it is very well marked in terms of chapters, but it would be so much easier with a hard copy.)
3.5 stars plus half a star for the desire it elicits in my to revisit some of the stories in future.

rating: ★★★★☆
genre: non-fiction, (women’s) history
publisher: Random House Audio
source: library
date read: 16 August 2016
recommend for: fairy tale fans, history buffs
pros: Lots of information about real princesses (and fakers) from different cultures all over the world
cons: A bit of information overload to tackle all at once as it flits from one princess’s story to the next


Posted in Audiobook, Book Reviews, NonFiction, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Review :: The Art of War

A review of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War

As requested😉

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 12.23.57


Conflict is an inevitable part of life, according to this ancient Chinese classic of strategy, but everything necessary to deal with conflict wisely, honourably, victoriously, is already present within us. Compiled more than two thousand years ago by a mysterious warrior-philosopher, The Art of War is still perhaps the most prestigious and influential book of strategy in the world, as eagerly studied in Asia by modern politicians and executives as it has been by military leaders since ancient times. As a study of the anatomy of organisations in conflict, The Art of War applies to competition and conflict in general, on every level from the interpersonal to the international. Its aim is invincibility, victory without battle, and unassailable strength through understanding the physics, politics, and psychology of conflict.

(Original publication date was circa 500 BCE.)

• • •

I want to preface this by saying this is a super accessible book and absolutely no prior knowledge of war or history or strategy is needed to read, understand and get something out of this book. That said, I actually find this little book very difficult to review in any depth partly because it is so sort and it is so plain in its voice. Though it includes the (very) occasional historical anecdote to visualise its point, there’s not a lot of digging the reader has to do to work anything out when taking everything in its original intention: a guide to war.

However, when we try to apply the book to contemporary living, things get a little bit more interesting as we begin to create layers of metaphor that can perhaps help us in our daily lives…possibly. Now, much of it just common sense (especially when taken literally), but understandably all stuff one can imagine being forgotten in the heat of battle. But I thought I’d highlight a few points here and there to show the plain “how to” nature of the book and how I might interpret a modern day reading of the advice.

When speaking of generals/leaders, Sun Tzu (who, by the way, is a bit of a Homer in that we do not know who he was or if “he” was many people or if “he” was no one at all) says:

Your plans will fail if you are inflexible and don’t know how to use your resources:

5 Dangerous Faults:

  • Recklessness which leads to destruction
  • Cowardice which leads to capture
  • A hasty temper which can be provoked by insults
  • A delicacy of honour which is sensitive to shame
  • Over-concern for his men which exposes him to worry or trouble

How can we apply this to a leadership role today?

  • Everyone drops the ball sometimes, but consistent recklessness/carelessness probably isn’t great general practice…especially not if you’re making more mistakes than the office intern.
  • However, cowardice, or not owning up to your mistakes, will get found out eventually and how embarrassed will you be when everyone finds out you’ve been skipping doing vital jobs because you’re not sure how to do them and now there’s a massive backlog of work for everyone to do just to clean up after you!?
  • A hasty temper isn’t great for a few reasons. You may think you’re giving tough love or keeping slackers in line, but your whole team thinks you’re just a bit of an asshole who can’t take a joke when they start nicknaming you The Dictator and they definitely don’t respect you.
  • “A delicacy of honour” is a nice way of saying that you’re way too prideful. You never say sorry when you’re in the wrong and you’re way too hard on yourself thinking you’ve botched up your whole life just because you forgot to refill the communal coffee machine and now you’re paranoid everyone thinks you’re a jerk when really you spend way more time sweating the small stuff than looking at the bigger picture.
  • Micro-managing is probably what Sun Tzu was getting at when he talked about “over-concern” for your team. But it’s more than that too, while you’re stressing out over your very capable team of grown-ass adults, you’re probably not focussing on your own jobs and a distracted leader is a compromised team.

Those are all very basic, “first thing in my head” daily office life expansions on Sun Tzu’s 5 dangerous faults for generals, but you get the picture. There are a lot of other ways this could be expanded and applied to other situations too.

Other advice like studying moods, retaining self-possession, conserving strength and studying circumstances are applicable to so many different things: office life, social situations, relationships, hiking, whatever!

Here are a few “battle” tactics:

  • Do not swallow bait offered by the enemy
  • Do not interfere with an army returning home. “A man whose heart is set on home will fight to the death against any attempt to bar his way.”
  • When you surround an enemy, leave an outlet free and do not press an enemy too hard. “The object is to make him believe there is a road to safety and thus prevent his fighting with the courage of despair. After that, you may crush him.”

Perfect for any modern day argument if you ask me. The first point is basically “Don’t feed the trolls”!

There is a point in the book where two dudes are battling and the one who lost is like “But I read the art of war! I did *cites precept*” and the second one is like “Well I guess you didn’t study it well enough, because if you had, surely you wouldn’t not have forgotten *cites precept*” #sass! But I found this a bit of a sticking point since the first guy did follow the book… Like, he did what he was supposed to do. I’m not sure what he could have done differently in his situation just short of being psychic or a god, so I found little contradictory bits like that a little cheeky… But maybe I haven’t studied it well enough either yet😛 haha

The last part of the book is about spies and I found this part particularly interesting. And, although I think the use of spies is a little more underhanded-feeling than I’d like to apply to my life, I’m sure some things could be used less crookedly. Maybe the take-home of the spies section is just to keep your eyes and ears open, and know that not everyone has your best interests in mind…

“An army without spies is like a man without ears and eyes. They are the way to know the enemy.”

Spies come in lots of different types: gossips, backstabbers, quiet observers, ambitious Machiavellian plotters and more. But Sun Tzu splits them into 5 basic categories.

  1. LOCAL: People of the district (that you have entered/invaded)
  2. INWARD: Officials of the enemy. These are “worthy men who have been degraded of office, criminals who have undergone punishment, favoured concubines greedy for gold, men aggrieved at being in subordinate position or passed over for a post and fickle officials”.
  3. CONVERTED: Converted enemy spies via heavy bribes and liberal promises
  4. DOOMED: Your own spies who know and report to the enemy the things that you have purposefully done openly for them to see without them realising this.
  5. SURVIVING: Those who bring back word from the enemy camp. This is “a man of keen intelligence, but outwardly a fool of shabby exterior with iron will, physical strength and courage.” They are able to put up with shame and ignominy.

*Your enemy’s converted spies should be your doomed spies.

It is important to note that Sun Tzu says the best case situations in all conflict is not to have to go to war at all. If there is any way to avoid it, that is preferable to fighting. In fact, not fighting, winning and taking the enemy’s resources is ideal (and this can be done often through reconnaissance/intelligence, deals and/or intimidation I suppose). But in case you do get into a tight spot where there are no non-conflict options, Sun Tzu has some advice that you can apply to your situation.

Like I said before, much of it is stuff we’ve heard before (like don’t attack the higher ground or a fortress if at all possible because that is literally an uphill battle) or things that just make sense (like, if you see an enemy crossing a river, don’t meet him in the river to do battle, wait until his army is halfway out of the river and ambush them then so you’ll have the upper hand). And I’ve tried to explain how some of it could still be applied even today with some creativity.

I have actually listened to this audiobook twice now because it’s so short (only about 2 hours long I think). The second time I made some notes so I could write up some of the points in this review here, so I hope it gives you a peek at what this tiny war manual is like. (Sun Tzu is very fond of lists.) I can see how it could be nice to re-read as a way of giving a person some reassurance and stability. There are some people (I’m not one of them) who tend to see life as a bit of a battle and that’s really encouraging and empowering for them to think that if they gather up their strength and push through hardship or demotivation, they can get to the other side of the day/week/month/year and be victorious over that annoying situation! Almost like a sort of meditation for people who need to be pumped up to tackle life rather than calmed down. And I think this can do that…but in a very measured and calming way. It’s like the middle ground I guess? haha

It was a fun little read and I’d recommend it if you’re interested because it’s so short, but by no means a “must-read” for everyone in my opinion just because so many of the precepts are already floating around in the global cultural subconscious. I guess it’s interesting to see where these ideas came from though. And I’m definitely glad I read it.

° ° °

rating: ★★★☆☆
genre: non-fiction, philosophy, leadership, management
publisher: Tantor Media (audiobook)
source: library
date read: 31 May 2016
recommend for: philosophy fans, leadership self help
pros: accessible, short and direct
cons: unspecific, sometimes seemingly contradictory


Posted in Audiobook, Book Reviews, NonFiction, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

Bitches Book Club Review :: What Is Obscenity?

The Book Club:

“At the end of May [2015] 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 summer’s book was: What Is Obscenity? The Story of a Good For Nothing Artist and Her Pussy by Rokudenashiko



Book: What Is Obscenity? The Story of a Good For Nothing Artist and her Pussy by Rokudenashiko
Publisher: Koyama Press 2016
Genre: Graphic Novel/manga/comic, non-fiction, humour, memoir, feminist, politics

Summary: A graphic memoir of a good-for-nothing Japanese artist who has been jailed twice for so-called acts of obscenity and the distribution of pornographic materials yet continues to champion the art of pussy. In a society where one can be censored, pixelated, and punished, Rokudenashiko asks what makes pussy so problematic? Rokudenashiko (“good-for-nothing girl”) is a Japanese artist. She is known for her series of decorated vulva moulds, or “Decoman,” a portmanteau of decorated and manko, slang for vagina. Distributing a 3D scan of her genitalia to crowdfunding supporters led to her arrest for alleged violation of Japanese obscenity laws.
More Information: GoodReads

Nikki’s Thoughts & Rating:

I am so glad we went with this one for the summer! It was a super fast but also really informative and entertaining read. It was actually Claire who introduced me to manga all those years ago in high school! (We were but wee babes of about 12 years old…) But once I started reading I was like “this woman is so like Claire sometimes!” It’s the way she handles the situations she gets into and the first things that run through her mind when faced with dilemmas. Genuine and (sometimes unintentionally) funny and very likeable…and often a little oblivious until the last moment ;P haha

The main focus was more what she went through than her art itself though later in the book she does explain how she got to be making “manko art” (and comics in general!) and we do get to see Manko-chan’s comic adventures too which is fun (see excerpt below). There are photos and screenshots and so on to help build up a fuller visual context too. (Usually photo inserts in books like this would annoy me, but it actually worked really well here.)

I thought there would be a little bit more in-depth discussion about her feminist rational, but instead, she speaks very simply about her intentions. There are no over-complicated theses. It is what it is. And, as it turns out, that was just as fulfilling to see. It could probably all be boiled down to “vaginas are just body parts like an arm or a foot so let’s normalise and accept them and not just sexualise/fetishise them”. Simple! And very much inoffensive. But that landed her in jail.

I hadn’t realised there would be so much information on the Japanese justice system or the complications of a trial of this nature in Japanese society. It made me think about how foreigners in Japan often say how kind and helpful the police are, but I think every Japanese novel I’ve ever read has only ever referenced the police in a negative way; either negligent or abrasive (and that hasn’t just been in crime novels!). It makes me wonder if the system is two-faced, smiling at foreigners while keeping Japanese citizens (or, I guess, those who look asian) “in check”. It certainly seems that way, but I don’t know enough to say for certain.

We get a lot of cultural insight into Japan despite the book tackling a very niche issue which is also really interesting, but it’s all still really engaging. Rokudenashiko is a great example of someone taking their work seriously, but not taking themselves too seriously, and advocating body positivity and feminism through her art in a society where concepts like that are strongly resisted.

The book is not at all academic or explicit or preachy. It’s just a fun story about how the exploration of an idea (body positivity and the de-sexualisation of a body part) led one small time artist to big trouble (and some silver lining stuff too). I would recommend this book to: anyone wanting a fun manga that gives some insight on Japanese culture; anyone interested in body positivity or feminism; and anyone in possession of or who, in some way, appreciates the humble vagina.

I also feel this idea of body policing is particularly pertinent in the current France Burkini Ban climate…

Rating: ★★★★★

Nikki’s favourite line(s):

So many great quotes/parts, but this is Manko(/Pussy)’s realisation just after she gets a PhD and is trying to spread the world of social reform, equality, feminism, etc.
(NB: manga is read from RIGHT panel to LEFT…(but this panel kind of works either way so don’t worry if you didn’t read it the right way the first time)):



Claire’s Thoughts & Rating:

I knew I was going to like this from the moment Nikki suggested it for our summer read. We opted to do one book over summer, partly because I think we were a bit fatigued, and partly because it’s summer, if there is a time to take a break- it’s then! We quickly decided on a feminist summer pick and we both pitched around 5 books that we liked, but of course in my eternal casualness I basically defined all my picks as good. Nikki however, oh man I wish I still had that darn text, wrote essays for each of her picks. True passionate essays! So of course we were going to choose one of hers🙂 This attracted my eye because it was manga, relatively cheap to buy online and wouldn’t be too long to read.

I’ve always been a fan of manga and when Nikki explained that this was about manko art, vagina art, I was pretty set.

So what was the good, the bad & the ugly?

It’s Really Smart: I think what I like about this manga is its sheer bluntness and honesty. It’s completely refreshing! It’s also wicked smart as she points out cultural biases in a frank way, it makes the whole aspect of genitals less scientific but also less moral. That’s what I like, it’s her opinion but it’s not meant to make anyone uncomfortable in anyway. I think anyone with an interest in feminism should give this book a try. And if you’re not interested in feminism, I still think it’s worth a read. I like what I call “bad ass women” things, which I know is complicated in itself, but to me badass is essentially that it is unapologetic and honest, and our dear Rokudenashiko and her manko art, is so badass.

It’s Funny as Heck: She’s also really funny! I laughed so much reading this manga. Which also makes it smart, she’s making you laugh at her reactions, her situations but then you remember that this stuff actually happened to her. That’s really scary! She found herself in some seriously scary legal situations and to approach it with such humor and self-reflection, I think it’s quite admirable? She’s terribly over the top and I suspect, just suspect, that is why Nikki thinks I’m so much like her (to give some context, when I was reading this all Nikki kept telling me is how much I’m like Rokudenashiko. I take that as a compliment and wear it as a badge of honor!).


Ultimately, I like that she approaches a serious topic in such an irreverent way. I do remember, however, reflecting on her actual manko art (see little cure creature above) that it reflected a wide variety of vaginas, as all of hers have the same shape and are of similar pinkish hues (unless you get the gold one, I really want the gold one!) ;)). So I guess I wish there was more manko art, with manko friends and so on but that’s a note on her art and not the actual manga. I digress.

Claire’s Favorite Line:

I really like this page because everything that she did or said, is basically, all I’d ever do if I was in that situation- I’d just lose my head and go full into panic mode.


Rating: ★★★★★


Have you read this book yet?

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

September’s Book Club pick is…

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism

Feel free to read along with us!🙂


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Claire x Nikki Review August 2016

BitchinRundownClaire x Nikki Mash Ups

Claire x Nikki Review July 2016



I was so bad at posting this month it was ridiculous! But it was both mine and Claire’s birthday month and I had a lot else going on besides (as always??). After my mum went back home at the beginning of the month, the fella and I went down to London mid-month (and saw Claire again!! YAY!) but that whole trip was super busy (and I didn’t get to see Claire as much as I’d have liked to… Booo!). Here’s a quick peak at where we went.

Unfortunately I didn’t think to do a compilation video until the last day when we just quickly visited the Tate Modern so although it wasn’t my favourite part of the trip, it is the one with the most footage haha


I’m trying a thing…

:’D …aaaahahah oh dear… I read a lot though!

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

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson ★★★☆☆
The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami ★★★☆☆
Du sang sur les mains (Miss Pas Touche, #2) by Hubert (writer) & Kerascoët (illustrators) ★★★★★
Shelter by Jung Yun ★★☆☆☆
Bonsai by Alejandro Zambra ★★★☆☆
Bloodchild by Octavia E Butler ★★★☆☆
Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie ★★★★☆
Hug Me by Simona Ciraolo ★★☆☆☆
Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett (writer) & Christian Robinson (illustrator) ★★★★☆
Le Prince charmant (Miss Pas Touche, #3) by Hubert (writer) & Kerascoët (illustrators) ★★★★★

Book of the Month:


Miscellaneous Favourites:

Macbeth at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre:

Seeing this play was something I’d planned from about March. The setting really added to the atmosphere and it was interesting how the costumes were a hodgepodge of eras. Crowns, medieval dresses and leather jackets co-existed naturally in this world which added a sort of dynamism as though the tale could take place in any time period. The casting was refreshingly diverse (I hadn’t expected that) and the acting was brilliant. I’d definitely recommend going to see it if you get the chance.

Architecture & Ideology:


The Barbican

It’s my boyfriend who is particularly interested in brutalist architecture, but when I set foot in the Barbican, I couldn’t not love it. The juxtaposition of the imposing, unapologetic manmade structure sitting comfortably with the ‘river’ and plants everywhere was intriguing. The faith of an era in this socialist utopian dream that still functions today and is the largest art centre of its kind in all of Europe was inspiring. I’d like to do more research into it.



August was my birthday month! And I have to say, my 27th Birthday was one of the best I’ve ever had🙂 I spent the day in Cambridge exploring by myself and I absolutely loved the entire experience. It was such a treat to see a different city, get out of London for a bit and finally be able to compare that age old rivalry, Oxford vs. Cambridge (in my biased opinion, Ox rules, Cam drools).

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I also went on a Sherlock hunt with a few friends, that was the best ever! It was so much fun to pretend to be detectives and run around Baker Street trying to figure out Who Did It, Why and With What! Unfortunately the week after I got massively, disgustingly sick with some serious asthma issues (yay, hospital) but I managed to get over it pretty OK. I’ve struggled with asthma ever since I was 5 and it’s weird, I expected it to get better with age like everyone told me it would but its only gotten worse with time. Does anyone else have an experience with this? It’s just so frustrating, being unable to do something as basic as breathe.

I also went to the HP Studios this past weekend, but I will dedicate a special post to it because it was so magical, really and truly! If you’re ever in the UK or near London, I’d highly recommend a visit. Stay tuned for that special post🙂

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Review: Sabriel (Abhorsen #1) Audiobook
A Well-Read Jaunt: Harry Potter & The Cursed Child Midnight Release
The Review: The Butterfly Garden

Books Read

The Woodcutter by Kate Danley ★★★★☆
The Tiger and the Wolf (Echoes of the Fall, #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky ★★★★☆
The House at Seas End (Ruth Galloway, #3) by Elly Griffiths ★★★☆☆
A Room Full of Bones (Ruth Galloway, #4) by Elly Griffiths ★★★☆☆
Audiobook: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)  by J.K. Rowling ★★★★★
Skin by Ilka Tampke ★★★★☆
Audiobook: Sabriel (Abhorsen, #1) by Garth Nix

Book of the Month


While this book lagged in the middle in my opinion, I will say I love the world this is set in, the entire world-building, it’s just magical and amazing. I’d recommend this series to anyone interested in fantasy!


Films Watched

Suicide Squad ★★★☆☆

Has anyone else seen this? While interesting, it felt very meh. Soundtrack was bangin’ tho’.

Library Books Borrowed

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Perfume: A Century of Scents by Lizzie Ostrom
Maestra by LS Hilton
The Children’s Book by AS Byatt
The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Youtube Adventures


How was your August?

The Bitchin’ Book Club pick for September is….

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism

Feel free to read along with us!


Posted in Bitchin' Rundown | Leave a comment

I’m trying a thing…

I decided to mess around with video editing a little bit by making a booktube video.

It’s fun, but there’s definitely a lot of work involved! Although there are things I’d change if I were to do this again, I’m still pretty proud. I’m not sure how much I’ll continue messing around with it, but for now I like it. :)

Posted in Fun, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments