Book Review – Out of Orange

Cover ImageTitle: Out of Orange: A Memoir

Author: Cleary Wolters

Publisher: Harper One

Date: June 2015

Format: Hardback (305 pages)

Synopsis: The real-life Alex Vause from the critically acclaimed, top-rated Netflix show Orange Is the New Black tells her story in her own words for the first time–a powerful, surprising memoir about crime and punishment, friendship and marriage, and a life caught in the ruinous drug trade and beyond.

An insightful, frustrating, heartbreaking, and uplifting analysis of crime and punishment in our times, Out of Orange is an intimate look at international drug crime–a seemingly glamorous lifestyle that dazzles unsuspecting young women and eventually leads them to the seedy world of prison.

Filled with colourful characters, fascinating tales, painful sobering lessons, and hard-earned wisdom, Out of Orange is provocative, entertaining, and ultimately inspiring.

Many of you will be familiar with the hugely popular Netflix series Orange is the New Black. A while back I reviewed the book of the same name that the show is based on. Out of Orange was written after the series began by the woman who inspired the show’s character of Alex Vause. She had no idea that her life and that of her ex-girlfriend Piper Kerman (author of the original book) had been turned into a TV show until she saw a commercial for it. Can you imagine that? One minute you’re about to head to bed and turn off the TV, the next you’re stopped cold by a trailer for a show about a past you thought you had left behind.

Cleary describes her reaction with the kind of emotional honesty that she exhibits throughout the book: “I dropped the remote … I realized that what I was looking at was a fucking trailer for my life – and I don’t mean the show being promoted was something I could relate to – I mean, literally, my fucking life. Piper is my ex-lover and I used to be the drug-smuggling lesbian they were talking about.”

I really enjoyed the book Orange is the New Black, and I LOVE the show, but this book was even better than Kerman’s and was almost as addictive as the show itself. Wolters’ style of writing combines humour, engaging narrative and brutal honesty to give a fascinating – and frightening – insight into the world of drug smuggling and the conflicted mindset of someone caught up in it.

At times, it was like reading an exciting adventure story full of interesting characters, suspense and daring evasions of the law. It was easy to forget that this was actually an account of a very real and very dangerous life. Every so often, Wolters would provide a splash of cold water to remind the reader about the harsh reality of the events she was describing. Alongside the money, adrenaline and the chance to travel the world, there was the constant threat of punishment from the drug lords or the authorities if they put even one foot wrong. I really like the way Wolters describes the feeling she has on the morning of a drug run through customs when she has to acknowledge the fear that comes along with her otherwise exciting life:

“My heart palpitated and my stomach flipped when it really sank in, exactly, what day it was. Since I left Chicago, whenever I woke, reality was like a great, but complicated, book I had put down the night before; I had to remember where in the story I was before I could get going again from where I had left off. On a day like this one, it was tempting to leave the book unopened and go back to sleep.”

In the end, of course, Wolters has to pay the price for the life she entered into, and makes no excuses for her choices or attempts to blame anyone else for the consequences. When she first saw the representation of herself on screen in the character of Alex Vause, she worried that this seemingly unrepentant, blasé and lascivious woman really was her. The realisation she eventually comes to is a central theme of the book and forms one of my favourite quotes:

“I cried, banged my hands on the steering wheel, laughed, and drove until I got my answer: no. That wasn’t me. Aside from being tall and gorgeous, Alex didn’t have a sister and was missing some vital ingredients: regret, contrition, faith, and hope.”

This is one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read and I would highly recommend it.

Overall Rating: Book Rating Picture  Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture My bookworm rating system is explained here.

Other Works by this Author: This is Cleary Wolters’ first book.

Book Review – The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales

9781907773754frcvr.inddTitle: The Rental Heart and Other Faiytales

Author: Kirsty Logan

Publisher: Salt Publishing

Date: March 2014

Format: Paperback (143 pages)

Synopsis: Twenty tales of lust and loss. These stories feature clockwork hearts, lascivious queens, paper men, island circuses, and a flooded world.

On the island of Skye, an antlered girl and a tiger-tailed boy resolve never to be friends – but can they resist their unique connection? In an alternative 19th-century Paris, a love triangle emerges between a man, a woman, and a coin-operated boy. A teenager deals with his sister’s death by escaping from their tiny Scottish island – but will she let him leave? In 1920s New Orleans, a young girl comes of age in her mother’s brothel.

Some of these stories are radical retellings of classic tales, some are modern-day fables, but all explore substitutions for love.

I’ve had this little volume sitting on my shelf for a few months now since I bought it at the Borders Book Festival in June. I went to a talk by Kirsty about her novel The Gracekeepers, which I thoroughly enjoyed, so I decided to see what her short story collection was like.

I don’t often read short stories because I prefer to spend a lot of time with characters (this is also the reason I prefer TV series over films), but these stories were written so skilfully that I was drawn in straight away and felt like I understood the feelings and motivations of the characters even after only a few pages with them. Each story was unique and so well developed that it was like taking a short stroll through 20 different worlds, each of which could easily be developed into a full length novel.

These stories are odd, moving, uncomfortable, erotic, and, above all, imaginative. Kirsty is a very talented writer. Her imagination clearly knows no bounds and it seems that she can draw together any number of random elements and weave them into an interesting story. Her words are so descriptive and vivid and I really like that she doesn’t shy away from phrases that might make some people uncomfortable, like this passage from the story ‘Underskirts’:

‘Oh, how I have loved. My nights are viscous, lucid, spilling over. My finger pads hum … the meat of my eyes is speckled with gold; gold dust blows across my cheeks. The girls, the girls and their love. No need for sleep when their saliva is sustenance. Their sweet country cunts and their kiss.’*

*I know that some bloggers would have given forewarning of the use of potentially offensive language here, but since Kirsty embraces it and it’s important to the story, I decided not to.

Some of the stories were creative interpretations of familiar fairy tales, like ‘Tiger Palace’, where the beast of Beauty and the Beast is recast as a woman desperate to gain her freedom from a curse, only to find happiness with the unlikeliest of companions. Others were very unusual tales, like ‘The Light Eater’ which features a woman who consumes light bulbs that she later spits out to form a path for her lover to find her again. There were a few that seemed quite ordinary at first, but had unexpected elements, like ‘Una and Coll are not Friends’, a seemingly ordinary tale of adolescent conflict and supressed desire between a boy with a tiger’s tale and a girl with antlers on her head.

This book has everything you could want from a short story collection: creativity, imagination, beautifully descriptive phrasing, honest exploration of a variety of themes, and time in the company of a multitude of intriguing and well-crafted characters. I would highly recommend it.

Overall Rating: Book Rating Picture  Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture My bookworm rating system is explained here.

Other Works by this Author: Kirsty has also written The Gracekeepers, a novel which further explores the world we briefly visit in one of The Rental Heart stories, (‘The Gracekeeper’), and another short story collection called A Portable Shelter. I haven’t read that one yet, but I would highly recommend The Gracekeepers.

8 Ways Reading Can Help With Depression and Anxiety

Me glaring at monsterWe all perceive depression and anxiety in different ways. Maybe for you they are dark clouds obscuring the sun; maybe they are demons who follow you in your dreams and promise to haunt you for the rest of your life; maybe they are monsters who pop up everywhere and look like they were drawn by a 10-year-old, like the one that I made for this post (I apologise for my mediocre artistic skills, words are more my game).

Whatever they feel like to you, it can be difficult to find anything that offers some relief and breaks the cycle of negative thoughts. Since this blog is mostly about books, I wanted to write a post about how reading helps me on the difficult days, and how I hope it might help you.

1) A rapid heartrate and racing thoughts are common effects of anxiety. Reading can help slow these down. Well written prose and poetry have a natural rhythm that can lull your thoughts and breathing into slowing down without you even noticing.

2) An interesting story will pull you in and help you to push your difficult thoughts and feelings aside. Even a short break from them can be mentally and emotionally rejuvenating and give you much needed strength to get through the day.

3) Books contain some seriously awesome weird and wonderful things dreamed up by the impressive imaginations of their writers – hidden magical worlds, futuristic realities, fascinating fictional cultures and characters. The human mind is a powerful thing; powerful enough to fight back against depression and anxiety.

My bookworm is not afraid of the monster.

My bookworm is not afraid of the monster.

4) Depression and anxiety can make you feel very alone and like no one understands you. Given the wealth of characters found in books, you’re bound to find some who are just like you who you can relate to. Reading about their struggles can help you better understand your own and give you ideas about how to cope.

5) Can’t find the words to explain your feelings to others? Find a book with a character who is going through the same thing and ask your friends or family to read it, or just pick out some quotes which speak to your feelings. I would recommend It’s Kind of a Funny Story (fiction) by Ned Vizzini and Reasons to Stay Alive (non-fiction) by Matt Haig. There are loads of others out there and you can find great lists on sites like Goodreads.

6) Books can be a great way of connecting with other people, whether online or in person. Depression and anxiety can make it very difficult to talk to others, but discussing a book you both enjoyed can provide a safe and interesting conversation topic.

7) Reading can inspire you to write yourself, which can be very therapeutic. You don’t have to let anyone else read it, but letting your thoughts flow from your mind into the outside world can really help to put them into perspective.

And finally …

8) Reading connects you to the world beyond the confines of your own mind. That’s where the hope is. Books can beat monsters (and squash their cardboard representations).

Monster squashed in book

Borders Book Festival Part 2 – Matt Haig

Festival Sign 2

This is the second post I’m writing about the Borders Book Festival which took place last weekend (11th – 14th June) in Melrose, Scotland. You can find my first post about the talk I attended by author Kirsty Logan here.

On Sunday night I attended a talk by Matt Haig about his latest book Reasons to Stay Alive. This post took me longer to write than I thought it would – partly because I haven’t had a lot of time this week and partly because the subject of the talk is difficult for me to discuss.

Reasons to Stay Alive is a candid and emotional account of Matt Haig’s struggle with the ‘black dog’ of depression and anxiety. If you’ve read one of my previous blog posts, you’ll know I’ve struggled with this myself and would likely not be here today if it hadn’t been for a particularly serendipitous moment 12 years ago involving Star Trek: Voyager and the wonderful Kate Mulgrew. Over the years I have found ways of reading and talking about depression without having it trigger a response within myself (I have plenty of other triggers to make up for those), but somehow listening to Matt talk about his experiences in person made me feel … something. It’s difficult to articulate exactly what that something was.

Matt Haig Talk

Firstly, the setting, though very nice, threw me off and felt incongruous with the nature of the event. All the round tables with red velvet chairs, white table cloths and flower centre pieces made me feel like I was at a formal dinner rather than a book festival event (the set up for Kirsty’s event was completely different).

But then, why shouldn’t depression be discussed in an open, bright, well decorated public forum? Keeping it hidden away only serves to fuel the stigma and feed into the idea that depression is the unique affliction of those with so-called ‘troubled pasts’ and ‘hard lives’. The truth is depression can hit anyone, at any time, for no discernible reason. Of course, sometimes the reasons are painfully obvious, as they were with me, but like any illness depression doesn’t necessarily need a reason to strike – it can just appear one day and change your life without your permission.

While I was listening to Matt speak very honestly and bravely about his own experiences, I found myself analysing the way he was talking and the reactions of the other audience members. This, of course, being easier than analysing my own reactions and the subsequent avoidance easily justified by the fact that I knew I would be writing about the event for this blog.

I noticed two main things: Matt talks very fast when he’s discussing depression, and he skilfully uses humour to get his point across.

I certainly didn’t have trouble following what he was saying, and it didn’t look like anyone else was either, so it wasn’t a problem, just something I noticed. Matt talked about how his depression, coupled with anxiety, made his thoughts race and everything feel like it was moving very fast. In his own words:

‘It’s like a fast-forward depression — you’re having a lot of racing thoughts. It was never boring, it was horrendous but it wasn’t that slow, flat plane which you think of as the archetypal case of depression.’ (I couldn’t remember his exact words from the event, so I found this quote in an interview he did here).

I found myself wondering if he talked so fast in order to try and keep up with the pace of his thoughts. I often wonder that about myself, too, especially when I’m walking anywhere. I have no concept of a leisurely stroll and, as I have been told countless times by friends and family who try in vain to catch my attention when they pass me in the street (this even happened once today), I’m always ‘charging off’ somewhere like I’m on a mission and seem to be completely in my own head.

They’re absolutely right. I rarely ever notice what’s going on around me when I’m out running errands, heading to an appointment, etc. I notice enough not to bump into things or get run over by a car, but that’s about it. My thoughts never stop and the anxiety that I still struggle with on a daily basis is always lingering in the side lines even when I am not consciously aware of having anything to actually be anxious about. I think maybe my feet move so fast because I’m trying to keep up with my own thoughts. Sometimes I can’t stand to be still, and being on the move helps me feel better, like pacing when I’m feeling particularly anxious. Seriously, my footprints should be visible in my carpet by now.

I’m rambling now. Back to Matt.

The second thing I noticed was his use of humour, both in the talk and in the book itself. He got a lot of laughs from the audience and therefore made depression feel like a more approachable and less intimidating subject for people either not familiar with it or not sure how to engage with the topic. My favourite part was when he described himself as an ‘agoraphobic, neurotic weirdo’, which he said isn’t great for many professions but could sit right at the top of a CV (resumé) for a writer! Good thing he’s a fantastic writer then!

After the event I went to get my book signed. While I was walking towards the signing tent (okay, striding, my thoughts were hurrying my feet along pretty fast by this point), I was thinking that I would mention to Matt about my own depression and near suicide attempt, about how I wrote myself out of my depression and how inspirational I thought he was. But when I got to the signing tent all those thoughts coalesced into … not a lot. He asked for my name and I made some comment about how I don’t like my full name (I’m Jo, not Joanne, dammit!) and he mentioned that he’s not too fond of Matthew either. I thanked him for signing my book and wandered away, instantly feeling annoyed with myself for missing an opportunity.

Reasons to Stay Alive - signed

Had there not been other people in line behind me (or if I hadn’t been very aware of a former school classmate’s mother standing nearby), things might have been different. Or not. I don’t know, but maybe this explains why I’ve turned what was supposed to be a write up of the event into a post that probably would have been better off in my journal rather than here. Oh well.

Depression should be spoken about – it needs to be – and for that reason I’m going to ignore the part of my brain that’s telling me to delete this post and start over, and hit the publish button instead.

‘Be brave. Be strong. Breathe, and keep going. You will thank yourself later.’ – Reasons to Stay Alive

Thank you to Matt for writing this book, and thank you to everyone who has read this post.

Borders Book Festival Part 1 – Kirsty Logan

Festival Sign 2

This is the first of a two-part post I’ll be writing about the Borders Book Festival currently going on in my hometown of Melrose, Scotland. I feel very lucky to have a book festival only 5 minutes from my parents’ house which attracts some brilliant authors and provides a great atmosphere for booklovers. It’s held in the Harmony Garden and the plants and flowers everywhere (which have also made their way onto the stages) help to give a relaxed and contemplative atmosphere (I’m sure the beer and wine tents help with that too!).

Last night I went to a talk by Kirsty Logan, author of The Gracekeepers, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The book itself is wonderful and I would highly recommend it.

The talk began with Kirsty reading from chapter one of The Gracekeepers. She has a lovely speaking voice and I enjoyed listening to her. You can read the prologue and part of chapter one here. Things then moved on to a general discussion about the book. I have always been very interested to learn about where authors get their ideas from and how they develop them into a novel, so I was glad that Kirsty talked about that. The Gracekeepers Cover

Kirsty found herself struggling to process her grief when her father died suddenly when she was 27. She talked about how religions offer rituals and guidance for the grieving process, but not being religious herself meant that she didn’t have that kind of guidance to look to. While she was out on a boat she happened to see a buoy with a light in it, which to her resembled a bird cage. This spawned the idea for the graces which appear in the novel. In a world which is mostly covered by water, most people live on boats and cannot be buried on land, so their bodies are sunk in the sea by gracekeepers and attached to cages holding birds (graces) which float on the surface. The mourning periods for the deceased last only as long as the graces remain alive, which offers the mourners a prescribed period of time to grieve before they move on with their lives. To me this represents a beautiful example of how an author’s personal experience can influence their writing, and hearing Kirsty talk about this made me appreciate the novel even more.

The discussion moved on to fairy tales and how the more modern versions – especially those depicted in Disney films – are far less violent and bloody than the original versions (Cinderella is a classic example and you can read the very non-Disney version by the brothers Grimm here). There is definitely a fairy tale feel about the novel, and Kirsty mentioned that she had read a review of her book which said that she had clearly been influenced by certain fairy tales, which, as it turned out, Kirsty had never even heard of!

I’ve always found it fascinating how readers will often interpret an author’s work in ways they could not have expected. Once they release their stories and characters into the world they no longer have control over how they are perceived – they essentially take on a life of their own. Kirsty also spoke about the timeless nature of fairy tales and how they depict human emotions that we have always felt and always will feel, meaning that readers can identify with them no matter how long ago they were written.

At the end of the talk there was an opportunity for the audience to ask questions. I asked one on behalf of my good friend Stefani (you can find her awesome blog over at Caught Read Handed). Stefani wanted to know if Kirsty had been influenced by any particular fairy tales, and I elaborated on that by mentioning the reference to the Selkies in the novel – creatures found in Scottish, Irish and Icelandic folklore depicted as seals who can shed their skins and take on human form. Kirsty said that she liked the legend of the Selkies because these creatures have a dual nature and can exist on both the land and the sea. This influence is apparent in one of her novel’s main characters, Callanish, who appears human but has webbed hands and feet. Kirsty also mentioned her fondness for the fairy tale of Kate Crackernuts, a version of which you can find here. I hadn’t heard of that particular tale before so I had fun looking it up and reading a few versions of it.

Someone else asked Kirsty to talk about the interesting names she chose to give her characters. She told us that some of them are actually named after places in the UK. For example, Callanish is a village on the Scottish Isle of Lewis and Veryan is a village in Cornwall, England. In the book characters are given these names by their parents as a way of remembering places which have long since been lost below the sea. I really liked Kirsty’s explanation of why she gave North, the other central character, her name. North is somewhere you can never actually reach, but rather a direction in which you travel in search of a destination. North lives her life on a boat which is constantly travelling, and she herself is in search of a place she can truly belong, so her name gives us a sense of movement and travel. Kirsty also mentioned the nods she gave to the legend of King Arthur when she named the circus boat Excalibur (which interestingly was also the name of the primary school she attended!) and the circus master’s wife Avalon (after the legendary island where the sword Excalibur was forged).

After the talk itself Kirsty kindly signed copies of her novel for Stefani and I and chatted with me for a few minutes. She is a lovely person and I hope that I get to meet her again in the future.

The Gracekeepers - signed

Isn’t the little boat drawing so cute?!

I haven’t had time to write a review of The Gracekeepers myself but you can find Stefani’s here. She loved it as much as I did!

On Sunday I’ll be heading back to the book festival for a talk by Matt Haig, author of Reasons to Stay Alive. I’ll post a write-up of that afterwards.

Bookish Memories for World Book Day!

World Book Day

Today is World Book Day and to celebrate I thought I would share some of my fondest memories related to books. In the UK we had World Book Day on March 5th, but I’m greedy and want to celebrate twice!

  • When I was about 8 my mum accidentally gave away my favourite book, The Moondreamers (I think it was this one) to a charity sale. I was so upset that she went down to the sale and bought it back for me. It made me so happy!
  • As a kid I used to cut up sheets of white paper, staple them together and write and illustrate (badly!) short stories about animals, particularly robins and pigs.
  • The first bedtime story I remember being read to me was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I’m pretty sure it inspired my love of reading before bed.
  • I loved audio books as a kid and once a week my mum would take me to our local library (where she used to work) and I would choose a new one to listen to at night. My favourites were Super Gran, Krindlekrax and Girls in Love.
  • The first poem I ever learned to recite was called ‘The Unwise Owl’ which was published in a Rainbow annual. It became a bit of a party act because I had a cute lisp back then which, coupled with my enthusiastic inflections, made for a pretty funny recitation! I’ve kept that poem for over 20 years and I still smile whenever I see it.
  • When I was younger and wanted some time to myself or a quiet place to think I would sit in front of the big bookcase in the spare room and imagine all the different worlds the books contained. When I got older I started reading them and found some of my favourite books there.
  • This isn’t something I actually remember, but my parents have told me that when I was a toddler, all they had to do was put a book in front of me and I would sit quietly for hours. Apparently, even the Yellow Pages provided me with entertainment!
  • During school holidays on sunny days I would make a fort out of a pop-up tent and blankets and sit in there all day with books and snacks until I was called in for dinner. The ones I read in my little fort the most were Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five and The Secret Seven series. I think there might have been some Nancy Drew in there too.
  • I used to go to car boot sales with my grandparents and while they were looking for antiques I was hunting for books. The best find I ever had was a book I had been searching for for ages (this was before online ordering was an option) and I was delighted when I found it. It was Star Trek: Voyager – Pathways by Jeri Taylor. I still have it and still love it (along with everything else Star Trek related!)

How are you celebrating World Book Day? Do you have any bookish memories you want to share? Let me know in the comments! I’m off to read now. 🙂

Emotions of a Bibliophile – in GIFs (Part 2)

I really enjoyed doing yesterday’s GIF post about bookish situations so I decided to do another one! My dear friend Clara made some suggestions and I’ve also been talking to the lovely Stefani over at Caught Read Handed who gave me some more ideas. I had a great time finding GIFs to match their suggestions and I hope you like them!

You can find the first post here.

Clara’s suggestions:

When you keep being interrupted while you’re engrossed in a great book:

When you’re reading in public and the book makes you have a visible emotional reaction:

When you’re reading a book that you’re absolutely loving and then something happens which completely ruins the plot:

Stefani’s suggestions:

When an author kills off your favorite character:

What you really mean when you say “I have plans”:

When you fall for a character in a book and have to deal with the fact that they’re not real:

When someone says “It’s just a book”:

How it feels when you meet an author you love:

A few extra ones from me:

When someone has checked out a book you really want to read from the library and kept it past the return date:

When Kanye West said this: “Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed. I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book’s autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books.”:

When your friend buys you a book that you can’t get in your own country (Stefani and I just did this for each other and it’s awesome!):

And one more, because I am a MASSIVE Star Trek fan and we just lost a legend:

The Emotions of a Bibliophile – in GIFs

I love books, but I also love GIFs. Sometimes, you just hit on the right one that perfectly encapsulates the way you feel about something. The following GIFs match exactly how I feel about various bookish situations. It was really fun to put together and I hope you’ll all be able to relate to it.

When the release date of a book you have been waiting AGES for is delayed (this just happened to me and I am NOT pleased!):

When you finally get your hands on it:

When an unexpected plot twist really shocks you:

When you walk into a bookstore:

When you’re trying to decide which of your many books to read next:

When you feel like you’re drowning in your TBR list:

When you find it completely impossible to put your book down because it’s THAT good:

When you just can’t handle everything a book is making you feel:

When someone borrows your book and damages it:

When you try to sneak in some reading time when you should be doing something else:

When you get to the end of one book in a series and realize you have to wait over a YEAR for the sequel:

When someone says they don’t read books:

When the movie adaptation completely screws up the whole point of the book:

When you just HAVE to tell other people about the amazing book you just read:

When non-bibliophiles tell you that you “need to get out more”:

When a book has a really satisfying ending:

I hope this post made you smile! Are there any bookish situations I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments!


I’ve been nominated for my fourth Liebster Blog Award by the lovely nostalgic musings, thank you! I did one of Award Imagethese earlier this week and I know a lot of you are familiar with the rules, so this time I’m just going to answer the questions nostalgic musings gave me.

Here we go!

1) Favourite food?

My mum’s roast beef dinner, with all the trimmings. Nobody does it better!

2) Books or movies?

BOOKS!! I like movies well enough, but I would much rather let my imagination play out a story in my mind than have it laid out for me on screen.

3) Music or writing?

Both at the same time! I have several playlists I like to have on in the background while I’m writing.

4) Favourite singer?

That’s tricky. I think I would have to say Darren Hayes, the former lead singer of Savage Garden who went on to become a pretty awesome solo artist.

5) Dream vacation destination?

The Fjords in Norway. They have spectacular scenery there and some of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls, which I love. It would definitely be a dream vacation for me.

6) Favourite colour?

I would have to say blue.

7) Favourite song?

The cover version of Phil Collins’ ‘In the Air Tonight’ by Full Blown Rose. The band never released it as a single and all the versions I could find on YouTube cut off the first 20 seconds of the piano sequence, which sucks, but here it is anyway.

8) Who is your celebrity crush?

I was asked this by Hideaway Girl and I said David Boreanaz. I’m trying to think of who else to say, but I’ve had a crush on David for 12 years so I think he eclipses everyone else, haha!

9) Are you a nerd or popular?

I’m a nerd and proud, but I don’t think you have to be one or the other. I always had my nose in a book or a homework assignment in high school and at university but I still made great friends and had a lot of fun. There are plenty of popular nerds out there and it’s not something you should ever be ashamed of. Real friends will love you for who are and that’s all that matters.

10) Do you like blogging?

Of course, otherwise I wouldn’t do it!

Thanks again for the nomination, nostalgic musings!

The Liebster Blog Award (3)

I’ve been nominated for my third Liebster Award by the lovely Hideaway Girl. Thank you! Award Image

Many of you will be familiar with this award and since there are different variations of the rules I won’t list them here. The rules often ask for 11 facts about the blogger, but since this is the third time I’ve done this I’m afraid I’ve run out of interesting facts! If you’re curious, you can find 11 general facts about me from the first award here and 11 book related facts from the second award post here.

I’m happy to answer Hideaway Girl’s questions for me though, so here we go!

1) Why do you blog?

I started blogging originally as a way to enhance my CV (résumé) because I wanted to work in the publishing industry (which I now do – yay!) and because I wanted to connect with other book lovers. I enjoy having my own little space online where my ideas can live.

2) Who inspired you?

Since I was a little girl I have been inspired by my favourite actress Kate Mulgrew. I was lucky enough to meet her a few years ago and it was as amazing as I thought it would be. Her memoir comes out in April and I’m SO excited!

3) If you could have any pet, what would it be?

I’ve grown up with dogs all my life (we used to breed them) and my parents currently have two. Eventually I want to have one of my own, preferably a black Labrador.

4) Would you rather travel to the past or the future?

I would prefer to keep the future a mystery because if you know the path your life will take then there’s no fun in it, so I would say the past. I would love to spend some time with my Grampa who died a few years ago. He was a wonderful man and we were very close.

5) What do you regret doing the most?

I don’t like to dwell on regrets, and I’ve found that when I look back at things that I regretted or found difficult at the time, that I’m actually glad things turned out the way they did. Sometimes when you feel like you’ve taken a wrong turn in life it turns out to have been a great step forward.

6) Who is your celebrity crush?

David Boreanaz, a.k.a. Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Special Agent Seeley Booth from Bones. Such a handsome man!

7) Favourite book?

I don’t have a single favourite book but rather favourites from different genres. My favourite from the last 12 months is a tossup between The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and When She Woke by Hillary Jordan. Clicking on the links will take you through to my reviews of these books.

8) English or art?

Definitely English. I loved it in high school and even more so when I studied literature at university.

9) Lipstick or lipgloss?

I can wear either, although I don’t very much. I’m not much of a make-up fan!

10) What is your favourite quote and why?

That’s a tough one because I LOVE collecting quotes, but this is the one which came to mind when I first read this question:

“She was there, in the full vigour of her personality, battered but not diminished” – Willa Cather, from her novel My Ántonia.

When I read it I’m reminded that, even after we’ve been through difficult times and find ourselves with scars (both physical and emotional), we can still come out on the other side with the strength of our personalities intact.

I enjoyed answering those questions!

I don’t like limiting who I nominate, so if you’re reading this and you’ve never been nominated for a Liebster Award before, please consider this your nomination!

I’m a bit short on time at the moment so I’m going to use the same questions I did from my first award post. Here they are:

1) What do you enjoy most about blogging?

2) What’s the most unusual book you’ve ever read? (could be theme, format, writing style etc)

3) Was there a book series you started reading but gave up on because you lost interest?

4) What’s the worst book you’ve ever read? Why did you dislike it?

5) What’s your favourite bookshop? (could be a chain or an indie)

6) Has there ever been a book character which turned out exactly the way you imagined they would when you saw them in the film adaptation?

7) Have you ever visited a location just because it was featured in a book?

8) Do you have a particular bookmark you always use, or do you just use whatever is lying around?

9) Do you mind if the spines or pages of your paperbacks get creased, or is it important to you to keep them looking like new?

10) What’s the best library you’ve ever visited?

11) If you could spend a day in the shoes of any literary character, who would it be?

Thanks again, Hideaway Girl!