5 great books, each for £1 or less (Kindle reads)

In case you haven’t already noticed, I’m not a big fan of spending money. (Quelle surprise) But in tangent to that I’m also a bit of an online shopaholic. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to balance the two. I’m also fairly certain that I’m not the only person who feels this way; at the moment I’ve not quite broken the bank. I’m still able to pay my rent and enjoy the things I like (books mostly) by using a few basic tricks to help avoid the purchase of expensive hardback books the second they come out. Aside from secondhand purchases, advanced reading copies and borrowing from friends or the library there is one other way in which I save my pennies: the e-book. I’ve ranted and raved about the merits of the Kindle before (most notably it’s convenience for travellers) but another major advantage is the reduced price of some big name books. I mean you have to pick and choose to find the good deals but they are out there. Thankfully, this time, I’ve done the searching for you (it’s tragic that I genuinely enjoy finding this stuff). Here are my favourite Kindle bargains for this week.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Did I tell you about this book already? Well, for £0.99 I can afford to tell you again. Caraval is a magical festival full of confusion and fabulousness and is the wicked brain child of Stephanie Garber. Caraval debuted just this year and tells the tale of Scarlett and Donnatella Dragna and their escape to Caraval and out of the clutches of their abusive father. You can find my full review here.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott


FREE/or £0.75
Kindle perk 5: Books that are out of copyright can be found for free! Little Women is just one such example and whilst the cover being sold on Amazon.co.uk is more aesthetic for just £0.75, you’re never going to see it. Kindle’s collection of free classics is one of my favourite things about it and if you have one it’s definitely a perk you should take advantage of.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I was surprised to find a Neil Gaiman book for £0.99. I used to think that the big names were always expensive enough that I’d have to pick and choose them. Thankfully on this, and a fair few other things, I was wrong. I’m 100% ready to get into Gaiman books now starting with this marvellous bargain and following on with my hard copy of The Ocean at The End of the Lane. Have you read any of his stuff? Let me know in the comments – I’d love some spoiler few reviews!

Angelfall by Susan EE


The trouble sometime is that the kind of books you really want to buy for the cover are just so much more affordable on Kindle. Take for instance, Angelfall at £0.99. I use a Kindle Paperwhite  so I don’t get colour covers (I’m not sure any kindle does?) but when a book is relatively inexpensive I can calm down my inner aesthetic loving psychopath and just enjoy the words. My friend and fellow blogger over at J4rming uses a Standard Kindle E-reader which is more affordable again and has buttons rather than a touch screen which she much prefers.

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton


Another cover favourite for #bookstagram lovers is Rebel of the Sands. I’ve not read this one yet but for £0.99 I’m definitely going to give it a go. It’s the first book in a trilogy so if I end up liking it i’ll be stuck in a new fandom for all eternity. Woohoo for living in book nooks!



That’s all for now! What are your favourite e-book bargains? or do you hate the e-reader on premise? Let me know your thoughts.


 – Cat –


*DISCLAIMER: All prices and details correct at time of publication. This site features affiliate linking*

Books with Maps

As a kid I didn’t really acknowledge the usefulness of maps provided in the front of books; these maps were designed to help navigate innovative new worlds but I was sure I’d never need them. I was confident in my own skills of imagination and wanted the world to be as much my own as it was the author’s. However, over the last 6 months or so of reading I’ve come to really appreciate them – structuring a character’s literal journey has become a much bigger deal for me. I don’t know if that’s because I’m writing now and am giving the smaller details a bigger importance or if it’s something else entirely. Either way I’m sure I can’t be the only one. Cue: Map appreciation Post.

Here are some of my favourite literary maps.

Magyk

Image result for magyk map

Whilst fragments of the story still flit around in my bookish box of memories, it has been many, many years since I read the Septimus Heap books. I remember my siblings and I all got rather caught up in the series over a few months and it was one of the few children’s books in which I actually referred to the map. The hero was travelling through some marshes and I had no recollection whatsoever of the journey he’d taken to get there. Instead of backtracking and re-reading I flicked back to the map quickly to refresh my memory – it was BEYOND useful.

The book itself has had a mayor cover overhaul since I read it and all I can really remember is that I found it intensely funny at the time. I picked up a copy in a thrift store recently and am well overdue for  a re-read. I got as far as Queste before the dramas of school discos and friendship groups got me all distracted – but I’ve totally just got myself all excited to read this series as an adult!

Has anybody else read this series? I feel like it’s one I’ve fangirled over all by myself (in internet terms). I read it before I knew of the bookish internet *shudders* – it was dark times I tell you.

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Image result for acotar map

Whether you love her or hate her, if you read YA Fantasy you will have heard of Sarah J. Maas. If not for the ACOTAR series (how have you not heard of this yet???) then you’ll undoubtedly have heard of Throne of Glass (this series also features a map I believe but I haven’t read it yet. Sorry, not sorry.)

A Court of Thorns and Roses tells the story of a typical underdog character, Feyre, and her ‘Beauty-and-the-beast-esque’ abduction into the faerie realm. A realm which, conveniently enough, comes kitted out with a pretty handy map for our convenience. Does anyone else think that left part looks a lot like the UK? Just me? Alright-y then.

I love this series and the second book is probably one of my favourites ever. As with a lot of ACOTAR fans, the Night Court/ Court of Dreams is currently my favourite (though that could change with upcoming books!) You can get a feel of the court by checking out my Get the Aesthetic post from a few weeks ago, my Spoiler filled discussion post or by checking out my respective reviews here, here and here.

Lord of the Rings

Image result for lord of the rings map in book 1
Source: Middle Earth Blog 

I refuse to believe there is a reader alive today who hasn’t heard of this series. Like, it’s just not possible for Tolkien to not have even crossed your radar. You must at the very least have come across a ‘one does not simply..’ meme back in the day? No? I still don’t believe you.

There are other maps in additional books from the series too and it’s incredible the depth and vastness Tolkein was able to generate. He created not only an enormous new world but also a whole new language to boot! (Elvish)  *phew* #ThingsThatTerrifyNewWriters

Caraval

Image result for caraval map
Source: Life Stained Pages Blog

Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems…”

Caraval was released earlier this year and is Stephanie Garber’s stunning debut about a carnaval-esque island with mysterious goings on. You can find my full review here.

The map above shows a good chunk of what we could see if we somehow scored an invite to the fabulous Caraval. We follow the story of one sister trying to find another in this emotional tale and are left questioning the truth of everything that happens. Well worth a read.

Also, did I mention that it’s only £0.99 on Kindle at the moment? [03/07/17] (Click the book image if you don’t believe me.)

The Chronicles of Narnia

Image result for the chronicles of narnia map

The world of Narnia was one I was completely convinced by growing up. I would regularly find myself trying not to think about it with a flicker of hope that I might find it the next time I opened a wardrobe or hopped on a train. Alas, thus far, no such luck.

Narnia was a world that grew as the story did and I never had any idea where anywhere was supposed to be (told you I ignored the maps!) – even lost I was completely entranced by the idea of the place and its a map I definitely need to go back to. Or, maybe, I’ll just wait till I find the right door and figure it out myself…

Game of Thrones

Image result for game of thrones map book 1

I’m a bit hesitant to include this one on my list as it’s a series I’ve *wanted* to read for a few years now. Despite this, I’ve yet to make it more than half-way through the first book! However it’s one of the most detailed and useful maps I think I’ve ever encountered. With the series for a sort of frame of reference it’s easy to find yourself swept up in the drama and ferocity of life in Westeros.

Even the non-readers out there who just adore the tv series can benefit from the map illustrating R.R. Martin’s complicated and political landscape – it’s a valuable addition to the text as well, which sometimes takes a lot of concentration to keep up with.

Winnie The Pooh

Image result for winnie the pooh map book

The map of 100 acre wood is one I saw for the first time ever just yesterday. Isn’t it the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen in your life? It’s proof that maps can feature in any genre and still ooze character and information. Perhaps we can find a way to use them in new and innovative ways. The next book on the list certainly attempts to do so.

Illuminae

Image result for illuminae map

This book is packed full of diagrams, notes, maps, report files and everything in-between and definitely deserves a mention on a list such as this. Kaufman and Kristoff really play with the structure of the novel insofar as making it not wholly about just the words.  They map stars, spacecraft and events in a sophisticated and artistic way that really adds to the story they tell. It’s completely addictive and I can’t wait for the release of the 3rd book in the series.

I mean just LOOK at those covers. Each book is presented as a ‘dossier’ of sorts telling the story of a space war like no other. Sci-fi and maps collide in this series and if you’re looking to try something new and different I’d highly recommend it. Particularly to YA readers. You can find my review for Illuminae and Gemina by clicking on their names. 


I really, really wanted to list Harry Potter’s Marauders Map in this list but I think it’s only printed in the illustrated edition? Potter heads please correct me if I’m wrong! There’s only so many times I can google ‘marauder’s map printed in book’ before the pinterest results start to consume me. There’s a risk of me drowning in fanart for the rest of my natural life and whilst I’m all about that life, I’ve got bills to pay and things to do (Hahaha, I’m so unproductive it hurts).

ANYWAY, that’s the list, many of which are firm favourites of mine. It’s by no means complete and I will no doubt add more as time goes on (I’m already debating adding StardustThrone of Glass and Eragon!)  Let me know if you think of any more and we can add those in too. Happy reading!


   – Cat –

Happy Birthday Canada! 28 Books and their Canadian Authors

Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR CANADA!!! Happy Birthday to you!

(You don’t know how tempting it was to put “Happy Birthday Mr President” there instead, for some reason my brain was all about that reference today. Weird.)

Anyhow, the beautiful country I currently call home is turning 150 years old in less than a week and, in tribute (and alongside the gorgeous red t-shirts my workplace has us wearing this week), here’s a list of some Canadian authors for you to try as well as some of their most popular works. All these lovely wordsmiths have one key thing in common: they are all Canadian born! So, without further ado, here they are:


Margaret Atwood

This one seems like a very obvious choice but honestly, what list of Canadian authors would be complete without her?

 

Yann Martel 

This wonderful author is likely another you’ll have heard of, or perhaps you saw the movie Life of Pi, an epic thing that was based of Martel’s book of the same name.

Heather O’Neill

Lullabies for Little Criminals has been floating around on my TBR since before I can remember and it’s only now I realise that she is in fact Canadian born! (Whoops!)

Emma Donoghue

Fans of Donoghue’s bestseller Room will be pleased to see this name on my little list here. The Irish-Canadian author’s 2010 novel won Commonwealth Writers’ Prize regional prize (Caribbean and Canada) in 2011 as well as accumulating a whole host of other accolades and nominations.

L. M. Montgomery

With the new film hitting screens this year it’s hard not to include the author of the well-loved classic Anne of Green Gables. Montgomery published her first works during the 1900s and her classic tale of one of our favourite fictional orphans, the stubborn but lovable Anne Shirley.

Alice Munro

If you’re a fan of the short-story form this talented Lady is someone you’ll want to add to your “I want to read everything they have ever written in the history of ever” list. Having also achieved the 2013 Nobel Prize in literature Munro is a widely respected and talented artist. Runaway, her Giller prize-winning collection of short stories is a great place to start.

Alwyn Hamilton

For you Young-Adult readers this is likely a name you will have come across in your reading. Rebel in the Sands was Hamilton’s popular debut and dominated #bookstagram last year (2016). The third in her trilogy is expected to be released at some time next year (2018).


Perhaps there’s someone here that you’ve not heard of before, or even a book cover that strikes your fancy? I’m reading one from this list in honour of #CanadaDay, let me know if you’re thinking of doing the same!


  – Cat –

“Who is Holly Golightly?” Breakfast at Tiffany’s

It’s been 56 years since Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) first graced our screens and it was undoubtedly different from the 1958 novella upon which it is based. Both the Hollywood audience as well as dominant sociological ideals (critically the assumptions made about gender and sexuality) contributed to the changes made during the adaptation process. “A film adaptation creates a new story; it is not the same as the original, nor should it be considered as such” and I will NOT be comparing these two in a “which one is better” way but more hope to examine the differences in an effort to celebrate both. 

I have such a big love for this story in every way it is told – not out of any high-brow literary significance (though arguably both have their places in history) but out of pure, unmarred, enjoyment. Audrey was such a beautiful and talented woman and, frankly, I enjoy every film I’ve ever seen her in and Capote is a particular favourite author of mine too so it’s no surprise I’m a fan of both editions. Here’s a quick summary of some differences between the two.

VS.

Key differences

Book (1958 – Truman Capote) Film (1961)
The songs Moon River
Joe Bell Who?
The War Removed by context
Open Ended (Gritty) Romantic Ending
Setting (40s) Setting (60s)
Sexuality boldly explored Sexuality significantly muted

Though some of these differences can be explained easily by way of context it’s important to remember they affect the overall  message of each story; giving them both very different overall meanings. (Though both are kinda perfect anyway, in their own way. ) Some more noticeable differences can be seen between individual character traits and changes to these are what really makes all the difference.

Image result for holly golightlyHolly

Everything about the on-screen Holly is iconic and she’s got quite a classy image these days, but she wasn’t always perceived that way. Though both versions are beguiling and a little quirky, one is certainly more raw and rough cut than the other sparkling Tiffany diamond.

Holly’s character in the book was a lot more risque than the Spirited lady we see climbing down the fire escape in the film. Capote’s original choice for Holly (Marilyn Monroe) allegedly turned down the role after concerns were raised that it would damage her image (although other sources argue Hepburn was just a better fit for the role). What riled people at the time was Holly’s clear bi-sexuality and the liberated nature in which she behaved. In the re-writing it seems all and any homosexuality was completely off limits – it’s crazy to think how far we’ve come in such a short time. In the book Holly tells us “people couldn’t help but think I must be a bit of a dyke myself. And of course I am.Everyone is: a bit. So what? That never discouraged a man yet, in fact it seems to goad them on”, a comment I found both surprising and unwittingly refreshing to read. It really is a pity this version of Holly wasn’t fully realised on screen. (Not that I don’t love Hepburn’s style.)

Despite the reductions made to some of her character traits she still maintains a unique perspective on the world with much of her trademark sass. In a nice tribute to Capote’s Holly, little aspects like her french phrases and wit carry flawlessly from page to screen.

She also doesn’t come across as completely helpless despite the romantic ending, she continues to assert “I’m not gonna let anyone put me in a cage” leaving the narrator seeming (at least a little bit) vulnerable before the closing scenes. There still lingers a note of female freedom but it’s much less overt than it’s first incarnation.

‘Fred’/ Paul/ The Narrator

Image result for breakfast at tiffanys man

In the book this complex character is not a sex worker (though he is presented this way in the film.) In fact, the whole ‘ this is my decorator, I’m definitely not sleeping with her for her money (except I totally am)’ debacle seems to spring completely out of nowhere, the female character ‘2E’, who supports Paul’s writing career, doesn’t exist at all in Capote’s novella.

That aside our narrator character on-screen still features a few more notably different characteristics to his counterpart between the pages. Like Holly, his sexuality is clearly closeted and his on-screen version is presented in a hetero-normative way, even going so far as to make him the main love interest of the story itself despite previously having been more of a spectator. On paper his love for her is not defined in a sexual way and it reads as if he was more in awe of her than anything else. He always insinuated that her life was so different from his own.

SEXUALITY

So we have established that our main characters had a few things in common in the novella, most notably their sexual liberation and independence.

George Axelrod allegedly said of his screenwriting adaptation process  “what we had to do was devise a story, get a central romantic relationship, and make the hero a red-blooded heterosexual” and so he did. Film is a huge industry and everyone surely knows that ‘sex sells’ but of course only heavily censored heterosexual love is acceptable enough to please us all; at least, that’s how it was back then. Censors played a huge part on the narrative and working around them was a difficult task. The casting of innocent and fabulous Hepburn helped to deflect attention away from her character’s occupation and her eventual submission to the security of a heterosexual relationship worked to “redeem” her for it later on.

I mean, Hollywood in the 1960s doesn’t need a huge introduction. It was the dominant ‘it’ thing – it was the be-all and end-all of entertain

Image result for breakfast at tiffanys kiss

ment in the US and, like many beings with extraordinary powers, they didn’t always use them for good. Or perhaps, what we perceive to be ‘good’ now. The film was very much a product of its time and the prescriptive nature of Hollywood culture over this period of second wave feminism means that some things were lost in the translation from page to screen. The subtle intertwining of power and vulnerability Capote gives Holly in the novel is somewhat stifled by the movie’s hollywood ending; it is an ending in which the wretched street girl is saved by the man – typical Hollywood –  and in fact, the narrator actually says “you belong to me.” It’s still a very sweet story and definitely one I’ll continue to enjoy but (In light of Capote’s novella) it’s clear the film missed an opportunity to be both progressive and poignant for its time. 

Everything Else

As vague a sub heading as that is I do feel that sexuality (and the dynamic between Holly and ‘Fred’) are the most distinctive changes to have occurred over the adaptation process and are the main reason for such varied texts. All that leaves are the smaller, albeit just as important, details.

chow-ss-slide-G7KR-superJumboFor instance the character of I.Y. Yunioshi is one that really needs some comment. The racial implications in both texts are pretty fiery but with the book being set in the 40s some slurs can be (at the very least) understood in context. The much later film with the almost cartoonish behaviour from Mickey Rooney is pretty cringe-worthy under today’s standards. The blatant whitewashing had since been acknowledged by the team behind it as a toxic caricature and hopefully is something we won’t see again. Aside from that, Mag Wildwood features much less in the film than in the book and seems a little marginalised. Though not imperative to the story it does affect how audiences perceive the relationship  between the two of them. Another character we don’t really see is Joe Bell, the bartender with whom our narrator reminisces about Holly. The storyteller style is lost a bit because of his absence but in some ways he was more of a frame for Holly’s story – the film puts all of its focus on her.

The New Holly

Image result for pixie lott as holly golightlyBorne of an iconic image Holly is constantly re-imagined. Both Anna Friel and Emila Clarke have taken to the stage to embody Miss Golightly but the most recent attempt (or attempt I’ve seen) was in 2016 by Richard Greenberg with Pixie Lott as Holly. It was great to see the version of events from the book played out in front of me and whilst, for me, Lott didn’t capture everything it meant to be the Holly Golightly (Hepburn’s shoes are rightly very difficult to fill) it seems right that Holly should be a character who is re-painted over and over again. It’s a tapestry that develops over time with different subtleties of character put forward by each attempt. I think a lot of Capote’s message lingers in that notion, that a little bit of a ‘wild thing’ exists in each of us, one way or another.

Do you prefer one over the other? Or have anything to add to the comparison? Let me know in the comments below.


  – Catherine Moore, Travelling –