Rereading List: June 2014

Two days off work have been absolute bliss. I had so many plans: I was going to plod on with my stuck-in-a-corner editing, turn the house from the Pit of Hell into – well, the Pit of Purgatory, perhaps – and I was going to actually leave the house and be sociable. Ha. None of that happened beyond a brief sojourn into the kitchen to tackle Mount Dishes.

Instead, I’ve been collapsed alternately on the bed and the recliner, with my Kindle in one hand and the laptop in the other, with the TV blaring endless boxsets.

I didn’t even have the energy to read anything new. I’ve gone back to my standard comfort-reads, books which make me happy and I can read over and over again. Here’s what I’ve been occupied with for the past two days.

Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

Pretty much a given, but I’m determined to reread the whole series – again – before I get married in August. You know, goodbye to childhood and all that. Why yes, I should have said goodbye to childhood approximately seven years ago when I actually left home, but shh. I’m such a Potter fangirl, I have the Deathly Hallows symbol tattooed on my leg and I’m pondering more Potter-related tattoos as I write. For the wedding, we’re making confetti out of old Potter books from charity shops, and it made me feel so physically sick to chop them up that Kev’s got to finish it.

If I go into the full reasoning and explanation of my Potter-love, I’ll be here all week, so I’ll just leave it as that for now.

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

This is probably my favourite of all the books I’ve downloaded since I got my precious Kindle eighteen months ago. I’d never heard of this author before, and I was sucked in immediately when I saw its protagonist is obsessed with fanfiction. I’ve had my moments in the world of fanfiction, and I was interested to see it portrayed as something beyond ‘freakdom’ – which, in my experience, the rest of the world has firmly decided it to be.

The book is about a teenager called Cath, who along with her twin sister is just starting college. While her sister, Wren, throws herself into college life, Cath prefers to hide in her room writing epic Simon Snow fanfiction. To keep it short, it’s the story of how Cath branches out and gets a life, while remaining true to herself and her real interests.

I really identify with this story, only I wasn’t as strong as Cath. I tried to change everything about myself as soon as I went to university, wanting to fit in and be liked. I tried to suppress my nerdiness, and tried really hard to like pop music and manicures and girly things. I had a lot of fantastic experiences, but ultimately I ended up depressed.

Anyway, that’s another story. There’s something about Rainbow Rowell’s writing that’s made me read this book again and again without getting bored, it’s like there’s always something new to notice, either in the main story or in the Simon Snow extracts (very much inspired by Harry Potter, obviously). It really is the kind of book you can just sink into and get lost, and then suddenly three hours later hear the front door go and your fiancé’s home from work and you haven’t done any of the washing you’d promised.

Incidentally, the author is touring in the UK next month, which I only realised a couple of days ago. Very annoyed I missed out on tickets for her Liverpool event, which is the closest to me, but there are still tickets for other cities if anyone else wants to go!

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The Wedding Diaries/The Baby Diaries – Sam Binnie

Now we move to a little set of books that I’ve been rereading almost maniacally of late. You might be able to tell why, looking at the titles. I’m getting married in two months. TWO MONTHS. We’ve not got a massive budget – considering the national average cost for a wedding is something like £20k, we have NO budget – and I can’t stand reading books about huge white weddings more or less falling into the heroine’s hands. They’re just so… fake.

However, ‘The Wedding Diaries’, the diary of Kiki Carlow as she prepares for her marriage, comes across as no-nonsense and totally realistic. It explores a solid relationship, with a great family in the background too, muddling towards their wedding while realising that all the princessy over-the-top dreams can’t come true.

‘The Baby Diaries’, as you can probably predict, follows the same couple as Kiki gets pregnant and has a baby (I don’t think that can count as a spoiler considering the title of the book). Anyone who knows me at the moment can tell from a mile away that I’m the world’s most broody person: it feels like someone is physically tugging at my uterus when I see a baby in my shop, especially the tiny newborns that some people insist on toting around the Trafford Centre.

Throwing my uber-broodiness into the mix, I’ve read this book more than once lately. The story might be a formulaic ‘pregnancy and beyond’ story, but it works, and the characters are some of the most real I’ve encountered. Even though I’m still some way from motherhood myself, I identify with Kiki in so many ways; just off the top of my head, her horror at cutesy names for unborn children (Buglet?!) is right up there with my way of thinking (if I see one more person on Facebook referring to their bump as ‘Bubs’ I might scream).

Above all, it made me think about aspects of my own future that I’d not really considered before. Thanks to research for my own books (too much damn research) I know a lot about pregnancy and childbirth already, but I’d not massively considered the actual parenting choices. I’d definitely not considered attitudes towards my own potential parenting: there’s a scene in this book where Kiki gets more or less shamed off a bus because her baby is crying, and it made me think how I would deal with situations like that myself. More to the point, it reminded me not to be quite so judgy, myself. I’m probably guilty of quite a lot of bus-related tutting.

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Sorry, I do find it hard to be particularly succinct when it comes to reviewing books – I just want to bellow “I LIKE IT IT’S GOOD LISTEN TO ME READ THIS”. To be honest, that’s pretty much what happens when I’m in the kitchen at work trying to persuade someone to read something. The point is, I’ve enjoyed these few books to the point of rereading again and again: why not give them a try and see if you feel the same?

A Bit About Me

It seems to be traditional that every time you start a new blog, you have a little chat about who you are, where you come from, all that kind of babbling. Like you’re being auditioned for some kind of really in-depth dating website, which requires the equivalent of an Oscars speech before you can talk to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you’ve done it 92 times before because you’ve started 92 blogs before (39 of which were linked to on the same Twitter you’re using now), but there you go.

This is me.

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Rather obviously me, as this picture is probably currently both in my sidebar and on my Twitter profile.

I’m Jess, and I’m 24. I grew up in Guernsey, in the Channel Islands, with my mum. I now live in Manchester with my lovely fiancé, Kev, and our somewhat dimwitted cat, Sandor Clegane. I went to university in Durham and just about scraped a degree in Modern Languages. By day, I’m a barista in a coffee/sandwich shop, but I call myself a writer. My first novel will be coming out with December House whenever I get round to finishing it, and I’ve got some flash fiction in a collection on Amazon.

That’s the facts, when it’s all laid out in bare-bones form.

If you want to know the real me – well, I suppose that’s a bit more difficult to put down on paper. I’m a metalhead, having once been a bit of a metal groupie, and I love bands like Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, Within Temptation, Amoral and Amaranthe – but I also obsess about the Eurovision Song Contest every year and I can often be found dancing like a maniac to Lady Gaga in Poptastic. I freely call myself a literary nerd, and I’m still obsessed with Harry Potter: to the point that I have a Deathly Hallows tattoo and the words “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home” can still bring me to tears. The ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series, and of course the Game of Thrones TV series, are currently taking over a lot of my life. I play a lot of The Sims 3, probably more than is healthy.

I consider myself an ardent feminist, to the point I regularly have to be dragged out of the kitchen at work where I’ve been ranting to my coworkers about something I’ve read. I still quite happily call myself a feminist even though my dream in life is to sit on my arse all day, writing books and occasionally popping out children. I’m counting down the days until me and Kev’s wedding (August 10th!) and I’m broody to the point of eyeing up prams when they’re pushed into my shop and wondering where I could get one.

Me and Kev, HP Studios

Me and Kev, indulging my Harry Potter obsession

I suffer from misophonia and a ridiculous phobia of balloons, and couldn’t live without ASMR videos. If you were to cut me open, I’d probably bleed espresso – and if you pronounce it eXpresso, I’m likely to knee you in the privates. I will pounce on a rogue apostrophe like my cat on a loose piece of wallpaper, something my fiancé and I delight in having in common (the grammar-fiendism, not the wallpaper-attacking).

Sandor climbing

Sandor Clegane the cat, demonstrating his wallpaper-attacking skill while trying to reach the ceiling.

That’s me in a nutshell, and in this blog you’ll probably find me rattling on about all of the above at some point. I like to think I’m not quite as rambly and disjointed as I used to be last time I was a ‘blogger’, but we’ll probably find it’s the exact opposite.