Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Book Review: The Baby Animal Book by Jennifer Cossins

Title: The Baby Animal Book
Author: Jennifer Cossins
Publication Date: August 8th 2017

Synopsis: "What do you call a baby penguin? Or a baby owl? Or a baby platypus?

Come along on an illustrated journey through the animal kingdom with Tasmanian artist Jennifer Cossins and find out!"

My thoughts: Not too long ago, I reviewed one of Jennifer Cossins' other books, A - Z of Endangered Animals, which I really liked. The Baby Animal Book has Cossins' beautiful style of artwork, and basically does what it says on the front. It is hard to really say much more about it than that. Some of the baby animal names I definitely didn't know, and I loved reading that. 

This is a sweet little book, perfect for little people who love animals, particularly baby ones!

[I received a review copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!]

A favourite line from the book: 'A baby peacock is called a peachick.'

You would like this book if: BABY ANIMALS, GUYS.

Rating:  10/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Book Review: Tin Man by Sarah Winman

Title: Tin Man
Author: Sarah Winman
Publication Date: August 2017

Synopsis: "It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things.

And then there are two boys, Ellis and Michael, who are inseparable. And the boys become men, and then Annie walks into their lives, and it changes nothing and everything.

Tin Man sees Sarah Winman follow the acclaimed success of When God Was a Rabbit and A Year of Marvellous Ways with a love letter to human kindness and friendship, loss and living."

My thoughts: The main thing I noticed while reading this is the underlying sense of pain. Everything is slightly painful, but also hopeful. It is a tragic, yet wonderful, hope, and you can't help but feel wrecked by it by the end of this short book.

The book consists of what I can only describe as extended snapshots - times that are 'now', and times from the past. Much of it is Ellis, looking back on times with his mother, with Michael, with Annie, with his father. I find myself not wanting to give very much away about this book - the blurb has given you a bit of an idea, anyway - because I went in not knowing a lot, and I think that works really well for this book. You aren't sure what to expect, aside from feeling some things, and so you go in and meet this characters and feel for and with them.

Ultimately, I think this book looks at the pain and joy of living and loving others, and it does it really, really, really well.

[I received a review copy of this from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!]

A favourite line from the book: 'It would be as if the sun itself rose every morning on that wall, showering the silence of their mealtimes with the shifting emotion of light.'

You would like this book if: you enjoy gentle tales that very slowly destroy you, and make you confront deep-held fears.

Tea to drink while reading this book: Doesn't matter. Perhaps your tears will change the flavour. Perhaps spike your tea with some whisky?

Rating:  9/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Goals // August

July Goal Summary:

  • Get back to my own editing - HAHAHAHA. Okay. Well. I managed the tiniest bit, but mostly this is a nope for the last couple of weeks. I have been busy with other things, and honestly I think I needed a break from my own work. I may add this to my goals for this month, too, but ultimately I do intend on getting back to this. It's all sitting there ready to go, and I have gotten through about six chapters of editing, so that isn't too shabby.
  • Start looking for places to enter my work for publication - I did so much research for this, guys. I now have a notebook dedicated to places looking for short stories for collections, or competitions for poetry or prose entries, and I have started writing and brainstorming for a couple of things. I didn't contact three places about publication, but I did contact two. One was just a little email about writing short stories for a website, and the other was sending a collection of poetry off to a small publishing press for consideration. SCARY.
  • Get back to Tabata - this kind of happened but not really. The fact is that I am going through a rough patch at the moment with my health, and doing tabata all the time would probably just exacerbate my symptoms. So this one is just a bit of a weird neutral not-win/not-lose thing.
  • Quit sugar! - I am calling this one a win! I was almost sugar free for the entire month, aside from within the last week of July where Xin and I got this awful virus and had ridiculous sore throats and... we had many icecream. It had to happen. Anyway, I am back on the wagon now, and am going well. YES.
  • More time outside  - also done. I did a few times of being out in the garden, either just admiring plants, or doing some weeding. I went for walks with Xin, and I spent time in my parent's garden, too. I still think I could spend even more time in nature, but this is a good move.

August Goals
  • Meditate every day in August - I started the year off meditating every day during January and February, and then slowly started to tail off during March and April. By May and June I was pretty much not meditating at all, bar the occasional night when I remembered. Towards the end of July I picked it back up again and am so far doing quite well, but I would really like to get back into a daily practise properly.
  • Try to do the exercise thing every day - I don't really mind what this looks like, whether it's going for a (short) run or a long walk with Xin, or if it's just a short yoga routine at home in front of the television because I haven't been able to move much all day, I'd just like to get my body moving a little more.
  • Put up a Booktube video every week in August - This is mostly just to see if I can come up with ideas and keep sitting down in front of that camera. Didn't know I'm back on Booktube? Find my channel here - and hopefully you will see videos every week from me! :D

And that's me for this month! I realised last month's stuff was kind of forceful and pretty darn ambitious, so I am easing off a little here, leaving things a bit more open-ended. Particularly when it comes to exercise. Do you have any goals for this month? Or any recommendations for Booktube videos? Let me know!

Love to all who read.

P.S. Apologies for the lack of photos this week! I will try and spruce up my goals posts in the future - I've just got a new laptop and am still getting used to it, so I ought to be back on track soon. ^_^

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Good Reading (and Watching) // For When You're Not Okay

I have been dealing with a lot of my stuff coming up this week. Old problems, old pains. Some new ones in the mix, just to spice things up. Old traumas, too. I have felt like my existence is wrong, and that I am letting everyone down because I am not "better". I have felt lost, confused, and so so angry about things.

I have had good moments. They have been there. But at the moment, because I am feeling vulnerable and sad, and a whole mess of other stuff, I can mostly only remember the bad stuff of the week, and the stuff that is to come.

So, even though I just posted yesterday with some links that may interest you, I wanted to do one with links that I turn to sometimes when I am feeling awful, and downright not-okay. Here are a few. I hope they help you, wherever you're at.


A dear online friend of mine, perhaps the first online friend I ever made back when I was in... middle school I think?, shared this link with me when I said I liked the sound of rain, but didn't have the money to invest in one of those sound-makey things. I have since found other ones, but I can't help coming back to this one. It calms me down to hear the rain, and sometimes I put on the cafe sounds, too, if I need to feel safe with other people that aren't going to ask me what's going on. Thanks, Moochi. I love you so much.


This one pairs so well with the rainy noises. I look at it for an instant feeling of coziness and calm. Extra Ordinary comics does a lot of amazing stuff that makes me giggle and smile, which is something that cannot be overlooked at times like this.


An old blog post from Myth & Moor that I return to whenever chronic illness recurrence is getting me down. I believe this was shared with me about a year ago by a spoonie friend, and I have saved it for times when I just feel so beaten down and frustrated that chronic illness is still a thing that I have. This is helpful.

I am going to leave it there, and go find some faerie books to lose myself in. I may do another post like this if it proves helpful for others.

Good Reading (and Watching) // July 2017

Hi guys!

Just a few links I've rounded up of stuff I have been liking lately. Enjoy!!

Is diversity to blame for Marvel's sales slump - or just lack of imagination?

Jackie French: 'To be a woman in power now, you need to be better than men'.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Reading // July 2017

books read:
~ A Table in the Orchard by Michelle Crawford (re-read)
~ Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (review)
~ A Year in Paris by Janice MacLeod (review)
~ Corpselight (Verity Fassbinder #2) by Angela Slatter (review)
~ Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
~ The Just City (Thessaly #1) by Jo Walton
~ The Philosopher Kings (Thessaly #2) by Jo Walton
~ Tinman by Sarah Winman (review)
~ The Magician's Nephew (Narnia #1/#6 depending on who you talk to) by C. S. Lewis (co-read with Xin)
~ Lady Midnight (Dark Artifices #1) by Cassandra Clare
~ Eat Sweat Play: How Sport Can Change Our Lives by Anna Kessel

currently reading:
~ The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (buddy read)
~ My Family and Other Animals by Gerard Durrell
~ Necessity (Thessaly #3) by Jo Walton

This month was actually pretty good for reading (*is surprised*). I have been feeling like I was heading into a slump basically all month, so to see everything written out in black and white is actually really interesting. Wow.

I needed comfort reading this month, so I was re-reading A Table in the Orchard for probably the fifth time. So lovely. Dreams.

Many review books followed this! If you want to read the reviews, I will link the ones that are up at the moment, but some are still coming.

The Thessaly books were a surprise which just kind of jumped in and took over my brain for a few days. I am working my way through the third book now, and I can honestly say that these books are fantastic. I wouldn't mind owning them (I've been reading copies from the library).

Lady Midnight was a foray back into the world of the shadowhunters and honestly, I am... still a little confused as to whether I really enjoyed this or not. I mean, I did, but also... such drama, such pain, such OW.  

And finally, Eat Sweat Play  made me really think, made me want to get back into sport (a feat in itself), and made me a little angry but also hopeful. Highly recommend.

Sorry for the short sentences, guys, I am preeettyy exhausted at the time of writing. Just a note - I have brought back my booktube channel! It's still at Butterfly Elephant Books on YouTube, so feel free to head on over and check it out, and maybe leave a comment!

What are you reading at the moment? Anything wonderful?

Love to all who read.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Author Interview: Angela Slatter

Following the release of Corpselight, the second book in the Verity Fassbinder trilogy, I got some time to send Angela Slatter a few questions about the book, and about writing and reading. Below are her answers! I'd like to thank Angela again for taking time out to answer my questions, and also Jessica Skipper for facilitating the interview. Enjoy!

Congratulations on the release of Corpselight! And thank you for taking some time to answer my questions!

Thank you so much, Bethwyn, and you’re more than welcome!

You’ve mentioned in other interviews that the Verity Fassbinder books started out as a short story, “Brisneyland by Night” – did Verity keep asking for more of her story to be told, or was it fans of the short story asking for more? Verity strikes me as someone who would be trying to nudge you to write more about her.

Haha! Several people kept at me about how it would make a good novel, and it didn’t take long for me to realise Verity’s voice was still in my head. That if I paid attention to her, she’d tell me more stories. Vigil actually started as a mix of short stories and three novellas! Not a process I’d recommend for anyone undertaking their first novel … or indeed any novel!

I have read that you like to plot your books, but also like to see where things go: have the characters in the Fassbinder books taken you in new directions that you didn’t expect?

Yes! I’m kind of partway between plotter and pantser – I work out a rough structure and know what my high points are going to be, where the story needs to turn. But that also gives me leeway; and I’m not averse to writing out of order. There’s a lot in Corpselight about Verity’s family that I did not expect at all!

I’m currently finishing off Restoration, the last Verity book, and the same sort of thing is happening, characters showing up and saying “Hey, more of my story, please! I’m really interesting.”

Verity often refers to books and libraries for information, and has had ‘itchy fingers’ to borrow books from others before: is this a reflection of you, too? (I love Verity’s library setup, by the way!)

Short answer: Yes!
Long answer: Yes, yes, yes!!!

You have really made your mark as someone very good at writing within short story and novella formats. How is it going writing novel-length work, not to mention a trilogy of them?

Challenging! It’s a different set of skills – and after I’d finished Vigil I felt as if I’d forgotten how to write a short story! But it’s just a matter of going back to first principles, reminding yourself of the shape of the different forms. I found it much easier after Corpselight to return to the short form because I think I’d been through the process before.

One of the reasons I do the plotting structure thing is to help me keep on track with the longer pieces. It’s like the Pirates’ Code, good guidelines.

Community and family come across as being incredibly important, particularly with the extra information we get about V’s family in Corpselight. It seems as if V has created her own family and community: was this something that was important to you in writing, or came about naturally?

I’ve always been fascinated by how we create our own families – not just the people we share blood with, but the friends we gather around ourselves. I’m fascinated by devotion between people, not necessarily the romantic kind, but the supportive friendship kind. How people find each other, gather, and take care of each other, especially in a time when so-called “traditional” family structures seem to breaking down, we’re taking the chance to make something different for ourselves. If there’s a vacuum, we try to fill it.

You have mentioned in another interview about maybe needing a Weyrd Bestiary to keep things straight – do you keep notes for this? (I imagine I would get them a bit confused!) Any plans to put something like this out as a companion book to the series?

Ha! No, not yet. If the series were to continue then I think I’d need a bestiary and a database to keep track of people and their powers! But, yes, it would be a cool little artefact!

What kind of reader are you? Serial reader (many at once), or one at a time? And do you mix up your fiction and nonfiction?

I’m the most appalling serial reader. I have about five or six books on the go at once. My nonfiction reading tends to be mostly for research for stories, though, so I’m not an habitual reader of non-fic!

And finally, some quick questions!
What are your current favourites?
... reading? 
Re-reading John Connolly’s A Game of Ghosts – he’s the author whose work I wait for every year. I say I’m going to pace myself, but I never do.
Black coffee for day-to-day, with intermittent peppermint tea to make sure I don’t start seeing through time and space.

Out and about: Whiskey, neat, single malt.
Pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, or my housemate’s chicken coleslaw, or my Mum’s lemon meringue pie.
...loving about the current season?
That I’m not melting in summer!
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