Wrapping Up June

So. This is late. I know. But I've spent far too much time and written far too much on this to just scrap it, so we're just going to stop talking about exactly how long ago this should have gone up, and then hopefully no-one will notice.

Act natural, 'kay?

BOOKS

First off, I'm just going to apologise for the fact I have done exactly no reviews of Goodreads for any of these books. I literally only just remembered to actually log that I'd read them. So ... let's hope my memory holds out, huh?

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton 
I was so, so excited for this book. I mean, there was no way I couldn't have been - the hype was absolutely astronomical, as I'm sure you'll be aware if you haven't been living under a rock for the last century. And the first scene was amazing. And I was so blooming glad to finally read a fantasy world which wasn't generically based in Western Europe.

But then, chapter by chapter, it got less and less amazing. As Amani got more in touch with her ... er ... mysterious side (that's a terrible adjective to use but I honestly can't think of any other which doesn't spoil the heck out of the midpoint of the book), she sharpshooted (sharpshot? shot sharply?) less and less. It made me sad. She honestly just seemed less badass.

That said, she was still pretty darn badass.

Spellslinger by Sebastian de Castell ☆☆
So, there were great things in this book. Great great things. But you know what I was saying about being sick of generically Western European fantasy world? This one was supposed to be based on parts of Egyptian culture, but other than the names ... eh, I didn't really see it. Don't get me wrong, the idea itself is incredible, and again the first scene was absolutely fricking incredible (plus great characters and moral questionability and all that cool shabang) but it wasn't my favourite book this month.

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus 
OH MY BLOODY WORD this book was incredible and brilliant and GAH!

I mean, there's murder. In a school. Being solved by a bunch of high schoolers who you think are labels; only they're not. They're people. And they're awesome and GOSHDAMMIT THEY'RE SOLVING A MURDER BECAUSE THEY'RE ALL SUSPECTS.

The fact that I'm incoherent only means that it's better.

Show Stopper by Hayley Barker 
This is honestly one of the most important books I've read this year and I want to recommend it to absolutely everyone currently living on the face of this earth. The world is a scary place right now - to be frank the endless divisions between people are driving me insane - and Show Stopper was absolutely unashamed about showing that in all its terrifying truth. Along with a healthy dose of compassion and hope.

And luuuurve. In fact, I'm pretty sure the romance was the one element that was out of balance - it was in no way graphic, but ... I don't know, maybe it slightly took away the importance of platonic love towards the end?

Read this one anyway. Because I could be very wrong.

The War on Women: And The Brave Ones Who Fight Back by Sue Lloyd Roberts ★
This book ... wow. It's one of the best introductions to modern-day feminism - and the issues it's facing worldwide - that I've ever read and I honestly think that it has a lot of power to open eyes. There are parts which I guess you could consider controversial, and since it contains such a personal view on many issues I feel like I have to do more research ... but I'm really glad I read this because otherwise I would never have known to do that research.

Also, I think Sue Lloyd Roberts might be my new hero. I really wish I'd known about her work when she was alive.

THE BLOGGERSPHERE

First off, I believe I must apologise for the tiny amount of blogging I've ended up doing this month. I wish I could say that I've had exams or something else that makes up a good excuse, but honestly it's just a combination of it being the end of the Summer Term (so all my music commitments and representing-the-school gigs have gone up a notch or two) and it being the end of the Summer Term (so my traitorous brain has decided it would rather switch off and watch YouTube videos than do literally anything that vaguely resembles work).

Although - if I'm going to be even more honest - it does that all the time anyway. 

I did, however, do a guest post at the lovely Alyssa's blog a few weeks ago (although it seems like absolutely forever now. How time flies when you're procrastinating) as part of her Local Book Nook series. It's an awesome project and Alyssa still needs more contributors, so go ahead and check it out!

(Thank you so much for having me, Alyssa. I had a slightly geeky amount of fun writing that post.)

Anyway, here are some other posts that I have enjoyed this last month. I have been ghosting out on the blogging world for a bit lately ... but I have been reading things! And these are the things I have loved.

How to Feel More Included in the Blogosphere by Amber @ The Mile Long Bookshelf
Oh, my days, how I wish this post had existed when I was a baby blogger. How I wish that, when I'd published my first post expecting everyone to come say hi immediately, I'd had this to turn to. Because it would have made me feel so much better! I would have had strategies to use and online places to go and meet people, rather than just thinking it was all my fault and nobody liked me. I worked all this stuff out in time, of course, but it was a stressful few months.

And, honestly, since I've not posted for a while and therefore put myself in a kind of mini-exile ... it's nice for the current me to have these tips available too.

Meet My New Kitten by Ely @ Tea and Titles
I don't know about you, but this month's been a busy one and I definitely needed a bit more cute kitty cat in my life when I stumbled across this one.

Because CAT. Cat = relaxation. And I don't care how full the internet is with kittens, moggies and other form of feline - it can always squeeze in one more.

TBR PILE


The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
This is not my usual kind of book. Magical realism is often just too fairy-story for me? Or maybe I just can't deal with the melding of fantasy and reality because of my teeny tiny common sense brain? Anyway, I almost definitely wouldn't be picking it up if it hadn't been chosen by my online book club. The girls that run Book Box Club (which you should totally check out, by the way, because it's WONDERFUL #notspon) haven't given me something I didn't like yet, so fingers crossed!

The List by Sioban Vivian
So this book seems ... ambitious, let's put it that way. Eight POVs? Most of whom don't even know each other, so their days are full of completely different things? It sounds like a recipe for a hot head-hopping mess.

But the premise sounds incredibly interesting, so I'm willing to give it a try.

URGH LOOK AT ME BEING SO NEGATIVE! *VIOLENTLY CHANNELS INNER POSITIVITY*

*FAILS*

Girlhood by Cat Clarke
I can talk all I like about wanting to read this book because I've read one or two from the same author before, back in my hazy pre-internet days, and loved them. I can say that, although I'm not especially a Zoella fan, I'm sort of intrigued by the whole book club thing and wanted to give a few of this year's picks a go.

Honestly ... I am a transparently manipulated person and the copy they had in the bookshop was signed.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
This one comes highly recommended by my mother. I obviously have no choice but to love it.
***
In the comments: What have you guys been reading recently? Anything you think I might enjoy? And can you think of ANYTHING that's ever been later than this wrap-up?
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HELP ME! HELP ME!

Hello, my friends. Please, have a seat. I need to ask you a favour.

I study Business. Sounds niche, I know, but it's a compulsory subject at our school and actually kind of fun, so ...

Oh jeez, I'm already on a tangent and I was trying to make this short.

As part of our course, we need to complete a piece of research - and as part of that research, I need as many people as possible to fill in a survey for me. This is a targeted survey, so it's only intended for librarians, booksellers, authors or ANYONE WHO READS A LOT.

If you're reading this blog, then I'm guessing you might be the kind of person I'm looking for.

Below is the Survey Monkey I'd like you to fill in. If you have any questions, please email me on the "Contact Me!" sidebar just over on the right - and if your question is "could I please have your firstborn child", then no. I am sorry. You might be able to nab the second-born, if you hurry, but I'm afraid I've already pledged the first to a nice witch who gave me her WiFi connection.

Thank you very, very, very, very VERY much for being lovely enough to fill that in. If you have the kind of social media following who you think would be suitable respondents, would you be lovely and share?

Ta very much.
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5 OTPs To Melt Your Heart

I'm in a very squeeable mood today. I fancy melting into a small puddle of pleased goo. In order to help me achieve this slightly alarming goal, would you like to discuss some OTPs?

Good. Because I'm going to rabbit on about them regardless.

Them? I know. Technically - and I mean technically - the "O" in OTP stands for "One", meaning I should not have several. 
Well pish to that.
There is already an OTP post going on somewhere in the deep recesses of this blog's archives, but ... they're deep, as I say. It's been a while. And I wanted to come up with some kind of opportunity to make some aesthetics, since photoediting is becoming more and more like an addiction for me and I've got to let it out somehow. Please enjoy:

Abby and Will (Waking in Time by Angie Stanton)

Seriously. Couples from different centuries should get together more often. Except ... not when there isn't time travel involved? Because I think it would be creepy otherwise?
But there are so many reasons I love these guys. They are funny, caring and fiercely loyal. They make me laugh ... AND GOSHDAMMIT THEIR FIRST KISSING SCENE WAS IN THE FIFTIES. GREASE STYLE.
Excuse me if the musical nerd inside is getting a bit overwhelmed by all of this. 

Elena and Gabe (Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell)


What I love about these guys is their absolute unashamed geekiness. The fact that they meet in a line waiting to see the new Star Wars film, despite the fact that modern booking systems mean they could spend the week before its release at home instead of shivering on the pavement outside the cinema ... and still get seats at the premier screening. They wait in line out of the principle of the thing.

The fact that they then spend hours comparing favourite characters and consuming Yoda-festooned cupcakes and making emergency runs to Starbucks in order to refresh the absolutely vital face paint - because how else would everyone know what crazy fans they were?

The teasing is merciless, the debates about whether fake geeks can possibly exist are genuinely thought provoking, and I'M JUST LOVING THE WHOLE THING, OKAY?

Baz and Simon (Carry On by Rainbow Rowell)

So, yeah. You've probably not been able to tell - I am quite subtle about it, most of the time - but I love Rainbow Rowell. She sure can write a romance.

I think what I love about Simon and Baz is how obvious their love for each other is ... to everyone except themselves, that is. Often, I kind of end up hating this kind of slow-burn, tantalising romance, but this one was so well done I couldn't help but love it. There's something about two people admitting a romance to themselves at the same time they have to admit it to each other that just melts my heart.
And no, I don't ship Drarry. But since these guys are based off them, I guess I must have more sympathy towards them as a pairing than I'd thought.

Joe and Lennie (The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson)


More amazing geekery ... but of the band kind this time. I absolutely fricking loved these guys, and honestly most of it was because of the way they bonded through music. Complaining about conductors! Making eyes at each other in rehearsal!

I know. I'm a music nerd. Sue me.

But I honestly think that these guys would appeal to you whether or not you know what stave means. There are scenes in this book that I've honestly read two or three times just because the romance was so well done (and yes, because it was steamy. Despite many appearances to the contrary, I am actually human from time to time). Plus, Joe is French.

FRENCH.

Lennie never stood a chance, honestly.

Lola and Cricket (Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins)

There's no romance like the romance of childhood sweethearts, let me tell you that much. I don't want to give too much away about exactly how happy the ending was for these two, since it's quite a spoiler, but they have these moments that absolutely melted my heart, mostly because, well, Lola had a boyfriend. Which was frustrating to the point you could just hear Cricket's heart breaking.

My poor, poor baby.

But Lola too ... these guys are made for each other. I know that's as soppy as heck, but honestly I'm not sure I really care. Cricket ever the gentleman, and Lola the perfect high lady of fashion.

*happy sigh*

Molly and Reid (The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli)

Apparently a pattern is emerging and I quite enjoy geeky couples. It's not surprising, really, since geek has never failed to = awesome, but what's so great about these guys specifically is that neither one of them were exactly in their comfort zone when it came to romance, and they supported each other, rather than one person doing all the reassuring.

If that made sense.

I liked this relationship because it was a partnership of equals. And you'd be surprised how rare that is in YA, since ... you know ... YA is partly about teaching teens what healthy relationships are? And equality is a big part of that healthiness?

Not to mention serious food appreciation and a Pinterest addiction. I like.

***
In the comments: What are your OTPs? (Come on, I know for a fact I'm not the only rebel with more than one). What is it that makes them so awesome for you? If you had to describe them in three pictures (or three words), what would they be?
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The Hay Festival Not-Vlog Day 2

If you weren't here on Monday, then I wouldn't be surprised if you have absolutely no idea what's going on right now.

Ah, well. You can click here if you want to read the first part of my Hay experience (plus an explanation of why on earth the writing is so non-linear and the photographs are so terrible), which of course you should, so you know ... I'll wait.

I'm kind of reluctant to write an introduction now because - well, if you're a good little reader, you should have hopped over to the other post first and know exactly what's going on. Because what's a blog without a little unashamed blackmail, right?

Oh, fine. I'll at least tell you what the format is - since I am by no means a vlogger or even the kind of person whose face looks remotely non-alien on camera, I needed to come up with an alternate way of documenting my incredibly literary trip to the Hay Festival. This random, haphazard combination of jotted-down notes and questionable smartphone photography is it. For the sake of organic-ness, I have edited very little and only plonked in a couple of comments afterwards (in italics, for your reading convenience). 

Good luck making sense of it all.
*** 
12:47 - This is the Tata tent, which, as you may or may not be able to tell from the picture, is massive. I'd honestly call it more building than tent. Who knew that this many people would be interested in a talk about grammar?

As you can well imagine, this particular grammar nerd is overly excited about the whole thing.

12:58 - LET'S GO GRAMMAR LET'S GO!

14:16 - Well that was utterly fascinating, I must say. I'd never thought much about why we use different kinds of grammar before, and I think I'll probably be writing something on it at some point - when I can actually sit down and put my thoughts together without being in such a hurry.

14:22 - Well, if I wasn't pumped enough already for a talk by Anthony Horowitz on the new Alex Rider (what a trip down memory lane, amiright?) the stage looks a little bit like the set of Matilda the Musical.
15:38 - The talk was AMAZING, but I am now in the world's longest signing queue and I doubt I'll get to the front before our lecture on modern spying. Ah, well. I've got the book at least.

15:40 - I've also just realised I'm the only "child" in the queue above the age of 10.

15:59 - Well, as predicted, there was no time to get anywhere near the apparently very famous Horowitz (who knew?), but I'm excited about the next talk AND I got a free bookmark, so never mind.

17:16 - Well ... that turned into a tent full of people moaning about surveillance and discussed no actual methods of present-day espionage. Kind of dull, as it turns out.

We're having dinner now though, so that should be good.

18:09 - That ice-cream was so good I forgot to take a picture. Oops.
(A scoop mint choc chip and a scoop strawberries and cream, for those who were wondering what flavour I would get on Monday.)

18:49 - More grammar to come! More excitement!
20:41 - That was an absolute stonker - and to those of you unfamiliar with what is probably slang exclusive to Northern England, that means good. As the entire talk was about resisting the slow takeover of American English, I'm trying very hard not to use the word awesome right now.

Although apparently even the word reliable is an Americanism that was determinedly resisted by Victorians, so I feel I am rather unable to win.

20:53 - I appear to have accidentally bought rather a lot of books. Oops.
I'll sign off now and separate them in a vain attempt to prevent breeding, but I should probably close with some sentimental stuff about how brilliant the last two days have been.

If you're a bookworm and ever find yourself anywhere near Hay-on-Wye in May half term, then get yourself there. You'll thank me.

(Even if it's, like, mid February or something, still go. They call Hay "The Town of Books" for a reason - I think it has the highest concentration of bookshops anywhere in the world. Most of them are independent and all are FABULOUS, if a tad inaccessible. If you happen to be a wheelchair user or person who finds stairs tricky at Hay, then definitely go down to Richard Booth's - it has a lift to all three of its floors, is big enough to spend hours in, and utterly beautiful, so you still get the lovely independent bookshop feel. Also has a cafe, so ... yay.) 

***
In the comments: So, are you people enjoying the format? I know I keep asking this, but feedback is super important when trying new things, as you know. I NEED IT.
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The Hay Festival Not-Vlog Day 1

So. I'm sure it hasn't escaped your knowledge that I'm not a vlogger.

There are many reasons for this. I like writing things. I'm absolutely, utterly awkward on camera. But most importantly, vlogging is difficult. I've attempted it exactly once and it did not go anywhere near well. How on earth do you vlogging folks do it?

Today, however, I am doing something that I would have wanted to vlog, if I was a vlogger. I'm going to the Hay Festival, which is basically Disneyland for bookworms. It's absolutely fricking incredible - a ten-day long literary festival packed with the UK's most talented and brilliant authors, held in a field near a Welsh border town which has so many bookshops in it it's called "the town of books".

It literally even says so on the town sign.
Anyway, I really wanted to document this for you guys, so I've created a new kind of format. A not-vlog, if you will. Basically, everything that follows was typed on my phone at the festival, along with some brilliantly terrible smartphone photography. Which you're dying to see, I'm sure. I've inserted the odd GIF and a few interjections in italics, but other than that I haven't edited anything for the sake of organic-ness.

Good luck, my friends.
***

16:11 - WE'RE NEARLY THERE AND I AM OVERLY EXCITED.

Juno Dawson is hosting my first talk, which I'm mightily looking forward to because ... you know. Juno is queen. She's talking about Margot and Me, her latest book, which should be interesting - although I haven't technically read it yet?

Shh. Don't tell anyone. I'm sure it'll be fine.

16:33 - Made it! Popped to the bookshop (which is massive, you guys) to pick up both of Juno's new books before the talk - this is a really important tip if you want to save time at a signing, so take note - and was pleasantly surprised to see a huge display for Lisa Williamson's All About Mia.

16:38 - SERIOUSLY, LOOK HOW BIG THE BOOKSHOP IS!

(I was going to insert a nice video showing just how big this bookshop is, but it has people's faces in and apparently I was also holding my phone upside down. Oops. Just trust me - it was big.)
16:45 - The parental has found a famous backgammon player (she likes that sort of thing). Pretending I know what they're talking about is getting sort of exhausting.

17:22 - So ... apparently the Starlight Stage is called the Starlight Stage because it has stars.
This is the ceiling, BTW. Sorry if it wasn't clear.
19:57 - Okay, sorry I went dark for an hour or two there (I wasn't about to use my phone in the presence of Queen Juno, and then there was food. I got a little distracted.)

Anyway, as predicted the talk was properly fascinating - although if I'm honest I could listen to her talk about wardrobes and fangirl endlessly. And I got a chance to read the first few chapters of M&M in the line, so I was prepared. Ish.

Also (while repeating my apologies for the terrible photography) LOOK AT MY LOVELY SIGNED BOOKSIES!
At the signing, I was predictably awkward and spent my entire precious signing-time rambling about my name and how people mispronounce it constantly. Gosh dammit, Lara, you're supposed to talk about the AUTHOR in these situations!

Thank you, Juno, for being so understanding in the face of my weirditude. (SHH IT'S TOTALLY A WORD)

Anyhow, I then had to go to the toilet. Which can be a bit of a tribulation at portaloo-type situations like these, but the access was fricking incredible - they had a normal slightly larger portaloo, a nicer-looking baby change one, AND a high dependency unit. With hoist!

I'd just like to take this moment to announce how blooming awesome Hay is for access. They have carpeted walkways EVERYWHERE, so wheel to muddy field contact is zero, presenters are always conscious about reading every slide they have behind them for visually impaired folks, and it's just generally incredibly well organised.

HUZZAH.
And now - in case you were unsure about just how much I love Ms Dawson - I'm off to her Gender Games talk. Come on, I'm barely obsessed.

20:17 - ARGH! JUNO IS METRES AWAY FROM ME!

(I just realised how much I contradicted myself there. Ah, well. My life always has been a ball of juxtaposition.)

21:31 - This talk was of course equally hilarious and amazing and important so I just thought I'd give you some highlights. I'm writing this out from memory, so I might be paraphrasing unintentionally.

Things that were said:

[on Piers Morgan] "don't tweet him about this; I don't want him to know I'm giving him the oxygen"

"This was not a museli school, if you know what I mean. Pupils got stabbed ... with afro combs, so you know. That's a way to sneak a weapon into a school."

"And they knew there was a trans girl at school, but they were kind of like ... yeah, she's in Year Nine, I don't know which one she is ... and now I've been stabbed."

[on choosing her name] "but most importantly, @junodawson was available on Twitter, so ... that underscore in @james_dawson was the bane of my life, seriously."

"Have you checked your privilege today? Do it now ... mmm, tingly!"
22:07 - We're on the way home. I'm kind of tired now, so I think I'll be clocking out - I know today's been pretty Juno oriented, but I promise I'm listening to some other authors tomorrow, so you should get some variety.

Also, I think I'm getting ice cream. So stay tuned for that, obviously.

***
In the comments: Did you guys like this? Please tell me, because I might bury this method of blogging as quickly as possible after tomorrow - but if you like it, I might also do a mini version at YALC this year. Also, what flavour of ice cream do you think I got? All to be revealed!
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7 Reasons Why Comfort Reads Are So Important

Comfort Read (noun) - An old favourite book which is re-read when a person needs something familiar which makes them feel ... um, well, comforted. Known for consumption along with warm beverages while in pyjamas and possibly yelling at parents to go fetch some chocolate.


Shush - it's a technical definition, you know.

I am a huge, huge fan of comfort reading. It makes me so freaking happy - because who doesn't want to meet a bunch of old friends between the pages of a paperback while things are getting all topsy-turvey IRL? Who doesn't have those moments when you just need to step back into the lovely veneer of memories and familiar stretches of the imagination?

But - you cry - what exactly is it that makes these comfort reads so important? (And if you haven't been crying that ... again, shush. You're ruining my great introduction.) Well, allow me to enlighten you:

#1 ~ You Know You're in for a Good Read

You know the deal. The feeling. You open a book that you absolutely can't wait for - maybe you've been waiting for it for ages, maybe the blurb looks like the plot was made for you, maybe it's a book from your favourite author that you only just found out about.

And after about a chapter or two, your heart sinks. Because, sure, it's okay. But man, you wanted more.

The one type of book which doesn't have that problem is (you guessed it) a comfort read, And I suppose you could say that lack of jeopardy makes things dull, but I'm definitely not going to. I mean A GOOD READ, GUARANTEED, PEOPLE.


Huh. That kind of rhymed.

#2 ~ The Memories

MEMMMORIEEEEES! ALLLLL ALLOOONNNNE IN THE MOOOOONNNLIIGHT!

No! Er, hold on a second *turns around in a desperate effort to get musical theatre Lara inside her box*

*modulated wailing from inside the box*

Sorry about that. Anyway, yes. I was talking about memories. If you were to pick one of my comfort reads off the shelf in my bedroom, I could probably flick to a random chapter and take you back to the first time I read it. I could point to a particular food stain and tell you whether it was chocolate or chorizo or barbecue crisps. In one particular case, I can even sniff a page and explain that this is the section of the book that got vomited on.

(By the way, I still feel really, really terrible about that. I was in hospital at the time though, so ... blame the morphine.)

My point? Comfort reads are like time machines you can hold. And I just love that kind of real-life magic.

#3 ~ Sometimes it's nice to know how things end

I do not deal well with suspense. None of you have ever seen me watch a remotely scary movie, but it really isn't pretty - I jump at anything resembling a loud noise, and local dogs have been known to mistake me as one of their own thanks to the whimpering.

So sometimes it's nice not to be shredding myself apart as the book reaches a climax, is all.

#4 ~ You can skip the dull bits with no shame

It's okay, Agnes, listen! I said there was no shame!

There are some people who skip boring sections of a book the first time round with no worries whatsoever, but unfortunately I do not have the confidence or the devil-may-care attitude to do this. Which is probably why I end up reading so much more slowly than everyone else.

But what I like about a comfort read is that know it absolutely inside out. Not only could I read it literally from back to front and still know what was going on, but I can even open it to my favourite chapters without looking at page numbers. My oldest copies often just unfold themselves to the page or paragraph I've read the most.

It's a beautiful feeling to be able to find that exact part of a book that complements the emotions tumbling through your skull. Sometimes, I think it's the only thing that keeps me from becoming even more unhinged than I already am.

#5 ~ The details seem endless

So, you know when I just said that I know my comfort reads absolutely inside out?

Well, it turns out that I also discover something new each and every time I read them. Because CONTRADICTIONS, FOLKS!

I will be honest, in that I'm semi-exclusively talking about Harry Potter here; I don't think I'm ever going to get my head round the absolutely mind-boggling level of worldbuilding with a whole lifetime of re-reads, so there's no way I could have taken in even half the detail the first time.

Maybe I was lying about the exclusivity, because that kind of applies to every re-read I do. I'm always finding out new things about characters, discovering hidden corners of settings ... and guess what.

I love it.

#6 ~ No danger of getting attached to dead characters

You know the drill. A favourite character equals a dead character more often than it doesn't ... and this is ridiculously frustrating. I almost get disappointed when I identify with a character super-strongly, because I just know that means they're dead. But then - of course - there's still hope they might survive.

And this is why I get attached.

With re-reads, I know all. I'm like a psychic with a very limited crystal ball, and I use that power. It tends to go a lot like this:
Remus Lupin: Hey, so I'm an awesome father-figure character and I'm really kind and courageous and -
Me: No
Remus Lupin: ... but I refuse to marry the woman I love because I don't want to hold her back!
Me: No.
Remus Lupin: ... but I'm afraid to have a child in case I pass on my lycanthropy!
Me: You can be as sympathetic and morally perfect as you like. I'm not getting attached, okay?
Remus Lupin: *puppy dog eyes*

As you can see, this Vulcan strategy doesn't always - or indeed ever - work. But it's nice to be able to try?

#7 ~ Life Changes ... They Don't

What if I don't want to change, Mr. Obama? I mean, you're an amazing president and human being - can't you do all the changing for us?

Okay, fine. The world needs to change. We need social progress and developing opinions and debate. We need to embrace the future. But we've all experienced the not-so-great kind of change, the kind that drags us away from what we know and love in a direction that we never wanted to go. And in those times, we need a little reminder of the way things use to be, if nothing else.

That's the real key to comfort reading. The real reason it's so important.

A book that we still manage to love year after year, read after read, and page after page ... it reminds us who we are. It has been a key in our lives sometimes for decades, and that means that tiny pieces of our personality get trapped within each word, They hide between the lines waiting to be rediscovered; we take them out, treasure them and put them back into place, ever so carefully. Ever so gently, so we can have them next time.

After I finish one of my comfort reads for approximately the seventeenth time, I feel more whole. More balanced.

More me.

***
In the comments: What are your favourite comfort reads, my humans? What makes them so comforting? And why do you think they are so important?
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9 Ways to Make an Author's Day ... for Free!

So ... hello again, internet. 

I'm not dead, I swear, I just managed to seriously get out of the habit of blogging in the last couple of months. I've missed it every day, honestly, it's just that stuff got crazy and then when it finished being crazy my brain seemed to have forgotten how to open a new post without having Pinterest available on another tab for procrastination.

I AM trying to fix this. Promise. Maybe a regular posting schedule will happen again at some point.

Anyway, the post. Introductions. Geez, I'm out of practice. Today, I've decided to have a chat with you guys about authors. Because, well, we all know they are the rockstars of the bookworm universe, and since we are unable to buy concert tickets for many reasons (only one of which is their general lack of existence) I figured it might be nice to suggest some ways you can support the artists you love with no budget because you've already spent all your money on books

There are nine, but make of this what you will - you could do a week and a bit of supporting different authors in a different way every day, have a day of incredible kindness doing all nine at once, or just pick and choose as you like. Don't forget to comment or tweet me when you do stuff, either!

Recommend their work to your friends

This sounds obvious, I know. If you're reading this, you're probably a book blogger, and spend what seems like every second of every day shoving books into people's faces. But if you do that, then you know how important trusted recommendations can be to sales. If you know someone who you really think is going to like a book you love, then waste no time forcing them to devour it.

In the terrible case your friends aren't bookwormy enough to throw paperbacks at (or you've run out of people who are willing to read it), then there are other ways to drum up support. For instance ...

Write a review

It can be scary if you've never written a review before, but once you sit down to write about a book you adore it will just pour out of you - probably not coherently, but as long as people can get a general sense of how awesome it is then that's okay.

Go to your local bookshop - suggest it to people who can't decide what to buy

Yes, this sounds absolutely bonkers, but it can be brilliant fun if you're sensible about it. Don't be rude or freak anyone out - and definitely don't put yourself in a situation where you feel unsafe or uncomfortable - but even just sneakily rearranging the shelves so your favourite is facing out can encourage people to pick it up.

Failing that, you could always just go and buy more books.

Send them links to your nice reviews

Only your nice ones, mind. In the not-so-rare event that I write a review which is 100% positive (or incredibly close) then I do tweet them about it. It's up to them whether they want to read it or not, of course, but I want to make my appreciation known.

(If you're struggling to establish whether a review qualifies as "nice" or not, then I find this post from Amber @ The Mile Long Bookshelf to be very helpful.)

Cross post! Cross post it all!

As I type this right now, the next thing on my to-do list is to copy-paste a bunch of my Goodreads reviews and transfer them to Amazon. Because, do you know what? That's literally all you have to do. There's no pressure to rewrite for the different audiences or anything - and almost every author I've ever had an in-depth chat with about my reviews has asked if I could cross-post to Amazon. That's how important it is for those who are umming and erring about whether to press the buy button to see a positive opinion.

And, yes, authors aren't just in it for the money. But they still need to, you know, eat? Apparently you're not allowed to pay for food with good intentions anymore?

When you like their book, tweet them about it

No. You're not going to annoy them. You're not going to seem selfish when they just have to take a second or two out of their day to like it or even reply. Unless they're J.K. Rowling, I can absolutely assure you that they're not being sent so many tweets that it becomes a chore.

Put it this way - if you'd written a book, would you want the people who loved it to keep quiet because they fear you, or would you want to have a conversation with them? I mean ... you know how amazing it is to fangirl about other people's books with awesome folks on the internet. Can you imagine how mind-blowing it would be to fangirl about your own?

Ask them how their latest book is going

You'll probably get a lot of pterodactyl screeching and angst, but at least they'll know you care.

Request their book(s) at your local library

Or, you know, all the libraries. ALL THE LIBRARIES IN THE WORLD. 

If a book gets requested at a library and the decision-making librarian likes the sound of it, then it has to be bought (Yay royalties!), either from the publishers or library services. And THEN its presence on the library shelves encourages word of mouth (as well as allowing readers with small book budgets to experience it, which of course is wildly important).

Win win, yes?

UPDATE: The lovely Cee Arr from Diary of a Reading Addict has just informed me that, in countries with a Public Lending Right (PLR) programme (which includes the UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and Australia) authors, authors get paid a small amount for every book of theirs is borrowed from a public library.

If you're an author, you might have to get registered in order to receive these payments; check this page to see a full list of countries with a PLR, and if you're published in any of them make sure you look up what you need to do to register in that country!

Readers, you can be safe in the knowledge that you're not cheating your favourite authors when you borrow instead of buying.

Follow them on social media

This is particularly important for more up-and-coming authors, since nowadays publishing houses like to see prospective authors with big social media followings - if you love their writing and want to see more of it, then this is a great way to support them.

Support campaigns for authors' rights

Remember that thing I said before about noble intentions and devotion to your craft not being exchangeable for food and other life essentials? You know, that money is important for survival?

Yeah. That.

Authors are amazing people. They work incredibly hard at what is not only a dream job but an incredibly difficult (and important) one. It entertains us. And do you know how important entertainment - escape - is in the world we're living in right now? These people deserve proper pay and respect. Sometimes they get it ... sometimes they don't.

So please. Support authors who ask for pay to speak at conferences and fight for their right to be identified as the author of their own work. Being an artist is amazing, but it's hard work and people get taken advantage of, or even just not appreciated. They need those who love their art to have their back.
In the comments: How do you guys like to make an author's day? Have you ever used any of the techniques here? Which ones would make you smile the most?
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The Beauty & The Beast Book Tag

I'm HAPPY. You want to know why?
Well, firstly, I'm doing a tag, courtesy of the brilliant Soudha from Of Stacks and Cups, and secondly, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST!

Hey. You knew I was a musical nerd. Don't act surprised that I like Disney.


Be Our Guest

(5 characters you'd invite to your dream dinner party)
Ella from Gemina: Oh my gosh ... Ella is possibly my favourite character. Ever. She's a fifteen year old hacker who manages to hold her own in a intergalactic version of the Russian mafia (and handle a pistol suprisingly well) from a wheelchair and surrounded by a candy shell of "I'm going to protect my daughter / sister /cousin because she can't do anything for herself".

I need some advice from her on dealing with life.

Alice from Alice Jones: The Impossible Clue: So, I was considering inviting Alice's Broadway-auditioning, drama-queen twin sister Della to this dinner party, but a) I figured her histrionics might be a little irritating, and b) I'm pretty sure the Ella / Della thing might have got confusing pretty quickly.

Alice, however, is smart enough to derail business espionage in the tech sector (and dammit, we all know that's the most cutthroat sector of business espionage) using just the power of her own brain and a bicycle. She sounds like a fascinating dinner guest ... although I might have to be careful not to reveal Ella's - uh - upbringing to her. I'm not sure an investigation would set the kind of mood I'm looking for in this party.

Jo from These Shallow Graves: All I'm going to say is that being a 1920s undercover detective when you're both female and from one of the most uptight, reputation-oriented families in New York, requires an awful lot of badassery.

I can imagine it also makes you the kind of person who has a lot of anecdotes to tell at parties.

Jasmine from Something In Between: I relate to Jasmine on a level so deep that it borders on psychic connection. I mean, overachiever. Constantly tired. Pressure.

I ... I'm also kinda broken. Can you tell?

Anyway, I feel like I need to talk to Jasmine. We'd get on ... comparing revision notes, asking for tips on how to break exam stress, complaining about bad teachers. I mean, it would be utterly mind-numbing for my other guests, but they're interesting people. I'm sure they can entertain themselves.

Lucas from The First Third: Lucas is hilarious. And just because I refuse to call him Sticks doesn't mean he's going to lose his outrageous powers of humour overnight. He seems to be an expert in having CP in the modern world - I was thinking maybe we could exchange survival tips? And probably laugh while we're at it?

Belle

(A character whose dreams of adventure inspire you)
What's A Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne
So, I don't know if a quest to get into Cambridge university counts as a dream for adventure to most (read: normal) people, but it inspired me, okay? You've no idea how reassuring it is to read about a character like Lottie managing to achieve her Oxbridge dreams while actually having a life and fighting for the things she cares about.

And, of course, there's the whole "I'm going to call out anything sexist whatsoever for a whole month and do you know what I'm going to use a klaxon to do it" thing. That is an adventure, for sure - and inspiring doesn't even cover it.

The Beast / Prince

(A character who went through an unexpected transformation)
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
This was not a good character transformation.

Cath went from being a kickass, independent baker who argued with the Cheshire cat about whether tuna has any place in cake to a selfish whiner whose only motivations were to do with a love interest. And it made me so sad. I mean, I know this was an origin story for the Queen of Hearts. I knew she was going to have to become an antihero eventually. But this was not the way to do it.

On the plus side? This book wins the award for being the only one ever to make me dislike an unsympethetic character more after hearing their backstory. So ... I guess it had that going for it?

The Enchanted Rose

(A book with a terrible curse at the heart of the story)
Sorry. It appears I'm fresh out of curses? If any of you guys have any suggestions, please let me know.

Tale as Old as Time

(A classic romance story that you love)
Flambards by K.M. Peyton
It's been a long time since I read this, but it remains one of my favourite classics - because a) horses, b) very early aeroplanes, and c) actually readable prose! (I ... don't get along with Regency novel - a lot of people love them, and fair enough, but to me it just feels like reading a brick.)

What makes the romance in this one is the characters. I absolutely adore Christina, and am more than a little bit in love with Will; if you guys think being a misfit in today's era is difficult, then geez. Try it in pre-WWI Britain, when being a girl means you should fall in love with the correct guy (or else) and being a boy means that you do what your father tells you. Even if said father happens to be an alcoholic obsessed with horses, and you're terrified of them.

I ... I just love it, okay?

The Dance

(Your favourite romantic scene from any book)
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
If you've read this book, then I mean the scene. You know the one I'm talking about. There were forests and fire and kisses ... *tries and fails to remain coherent*

*swoons reluctantly*

The Last Petal

(A book character who managed to break a terrible curse)
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Oh, I absolutely adore this series. It's gorgeous. American! Protagonist! Hilariously! Attempts! To! Negotiate! British! Life! WHILE TRYING TO HUNT DOWN A SERIAL KILLER WHO IS PROBABLY A GHOST!

No, you calm down.

And - wow - if there was ever a character to break a terrible curse, it's Rory. I mean, it took her a few chapters to get her head around the fact that the British Isles and the United Kingdom aren't the same thing, and work out how she's supposed to survive a game of hockey with a bunch of public schoolgirls who've been attacking anyone who gets on the wrong side of their stick since they were five ... but she's also kind of kickass.

Beauty and the Beast

(Your bookish OTP)
Waking in Time by Angie Stanton
I think I must have a thing about couples in which one of the participants is called Will? Or couples in which that very same participant is from the early twentieth century? Honestly, though, I think it's mostly about my love of culture clash between book characters. GAH. They were both struggling to adjust to accidental time travel and making faux pas that also happened to be incredibly cute.

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Kate @ The Magic Violinist (because she's as obsessed with musicals - and Emma Watson - as I am)
Eve @ The Twist in the Taile (because she's the blogger I think of when I think "music")

Cee Arr @ Diary of a Reading Addict and Alyssa @ I Am a Writer, Hear Me Roar (for commenting on 99% of my posts lately and being EPIC cheerleaders)

If anyone else fancies stealing the tag, I'm not one to stop you. BE MY GUEST.


***
In the comments: Do you guys have any suggestions for books revolving around curses? Or some more dinner party guests? Who would you invite?
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