July Upsum


Another month of the year over and done with and it has been another pretty good reading month overall.  I made July a re-read month, so most of the books I read I have already read before and loved before.  I read twelve books this month, which is good considering it took me almost a week to read Les Misérables since it’s so damned long.

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July Re-Read 6: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin


If you had asked me to write about The Left Hand of Darkness when I was 18, I could have discussed it in great depth.  I could have told you about the characters, their motivations, the plot etc…, but now, 14 years later, it feels as if I am reading the book again for the very first time.

I have forgotten most of what happens in the book, apart from the names of the characters and the general world.  I could remember that the plot was about an envoy visiting a distant planet in order to encourage a trade deal with a people vastly different from his own.  I could remember there was a lot of political intriguing and miscommunication between characters that made them question who was loyal and who was betrayer but that was all.  Thankfully, I have enjoyed the re-read just as much as the first time I read it.

The plot is simple: Genly (of Genry as the Gethens cannot pronounce the ‘l’) Ai is a Terran (Earth) envoy sent by the Hainish Ekumenical Council to the planet of Gethen to establish contact.  The people of Gethen are similar to humans but, whereas humans on Earth have a fixed gender and sexual identity (in the novel anyways), Gethens are completely ambi-sexual.  They are asexual and bisexual (I mean bisexual in a literal way, they take either a male or female role during procreation and it’s not fixed).  They are androgynous for most of their lunar month and only take on a gender role during Kemmer, where they procreate.  This lack of gender is what causes most of the problems in the book because Genly cannot put aside his prejudices about what is masculine or feminine, something which just doesn’t exist on Gethen.

The thing that I like most about The Left Hand of Darkness is that it was and is so unlike anything else I have read.  I like its exploration of gender, even though that was not a thread that I paid so much attention to when I was writing my A Level coursework on the novel, I concentrated more on the theme of loyalty and betrayal.  In this time, though, when gender identity is something that is being discussed a lot, The Left Hand of Darkness takes on a fresh meaning and it still feels extremely relevant almost fifty years after it was published.

Plus, there’s a lot of political intrigue and you know I loves me some intrigue.

July Re-Read 5: Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult


When I was at university, I had quite the love of Jodi Picoult books.  That seems a little bit strange seeing as I have always veered more towards fantasy than contemporary novels but there was just something about them that I loved.  I first heard of her novels when My Sister’s Keeper was chosen for the Richard and Judy book club and Jodi Picoult was being interviewed on their programme (remember when Richard and Judy had a show on channel 4, am I showing my age here?).  I thought the books sounded interesting so I headed off to Waterstone’s in Durham to buy it.

I loved it

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Classic Books I DNF’d


Are you even allowed to say that you gave up reading a classic?  I just have images of book snobs bearing down, telling someone they aren’t a real reader if they didn’t love every classic ever written.  There always seems to be a certain kind of untouchable aura around classics so that even if you didn’t like something, you’re not allowed to say it without being told you’re wrong  There are, however, some classics that I just couldn’t finish for one reason or another.  Mostly because they bored me, and I am not ashamed to say that so here is a list of classic novels I hated so much I didn’t finish them, so let’s get our negative Nancy hats on and have a little bit of a whinge.

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Five Bookish Things I Don’t Get On With


You can’t like everything.  No matter how positive a person you are, there is always something that will get on your nerves and, as the negative person that I generally am, that can be quite a long list for me.  Here is a list of some bookish type things that I do not get on with, so let’s all get our negative Nancy hats on and have a good whinge about something that isn’t really important.

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July Re-read 3: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Je suis tombé par terre
C’est la faute à Voltaire
Le nez dans le ruisseau
C’est la faute à Rousseau


Les Misérables is a damned big book.  Seriously, it’s too big for my tiny childlike hands to keep a hold of.  It is epic and meandering and it would probably never get published today but I absolutely love it.

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Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman


Neal Shusterman

Arc of a Scythe #1



All our times have come
Here but now they’re gone
Seasons don’t fear the reaper
Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain. We can be like they are
Come on baby, don’t fear the reaper

Don’t Fear the Reaper, Blue Oyster Cult

I am not much of a reader of YA fiction. I’ll be the first one to admit that. I’m not a connoisseur of the genre but every recent YA book I have read (or attempted to read) has been a massive let down for me. They promise so much and fail every time. They say “epic fantasy” or “dystopia” and the blurbs sound so interesting that I get my hopes up and every time my hopes are seriously dashed. What I get, instead, is a wet blanket female protagonist who the author tries to convince the reader is a “strong female” but quickly gives up that pretence once the male love interest is introduced and an absolute arsehole for a male main character who acts like a tough guy but is, in reality, just a massive prick. It’s like a cookie cutter mould and it is not something I really like at all.

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The Free Books on iBooks: Her Defiant Heart by Monica Murphy

Her Defiant Heart

Monica Murphy

Damaged Hearts #1


Tales of revenge can be very interesting.  You can delve deep into the mindset of a character and get into their heads.  It is intriguing finding out what drives them and makes them desire revenge so much and a well written revenge story makes you sympathise with the protagonist and you actively want them to succeed in their revenge.


Her Defiant Heart is not a good revenge story.

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