DISCUSSION: Can Fiction Change a Person's Life?

I am, unashamedly, a word lover. I love etymology and linguistics, I love the scratch of pen against paper and the steady ticks of my typewriter, I just love everything about words. And so perhaps it's no surprise that I romanticise the power of words and the effect they can have.

Naturally, I'm a strong believer that fiction can change a person's life. And I don't just mean the words or the ideas within the book, but also physical books can change somebody's life. E.g. The idea that somebody could miss their bus stop because they're too busy reading and then get off at the wrong stop which actually turns out to be the right stop in terms of where it then steers their life… you get what I mean, right?

Although I wouldn't personally apply this scenario to myself, escapism is another way fiction could change a person's life. Perhaps they're going through a rough time, or they don't quite know what they're doing with their life, and small things like pulling out their battered copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone give them comfort.

And, yet, I haven't even got to the ideas side of the argument. Books are full of ideas; books are ideas. And if ideas don't change lives than what do?

I mean: words, ink, characters, creativity, well-loved paperbacks, thoughts… aren't these wonders of the life-changing variation? I can't be the only one who thinks so.

I know the majority of my blog readers will agree with me here, but – as I wrote this – I tried to aim it at an audience who, perhaps, don't read as much. I mean, to me, it's weird to imagine NOT being able to see how utterly life-changing fiction is…

QUICK QUESTION: Which books have changed your life?

DISCUSSION: Dreams About Books

I have very vivid dreams and I tend to have a very good recollection of them the next morning. I'm also prone to lucid dreaming and, rather oddly, dreams about books. At first, I thought this rather normal; the last thing I do before going to sleep is read, so, it's not odd that I have dreams about books so often, right? And yet, I've rarely heard any of the readers I know mention such dreams, let alone mention them as regularly as I have them. So, I thought, why not share a couple of the bookish dreams I've had recently?

Harry Potter – Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes
The dream: This is perhaps the best dream I've ever had – and I'm so glad I remember it so coherently! To cut it short, for some unexplainable reason, Fred and George were giving me a tour around Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. The entire dream was so intense whilst the shop itself felt so authentic. At this moment in time, I was blissfully unaware I was dreaming.

How it ended: My dream became a lucid dream. At this point, I became light-headed and weak & I distinctly remember falling backwards. In true Weasley style I knocked into a display of 'Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder' and all light was gone: it was moments before I woke up.

And Then There Were None – Last One Left

The dream: In complete contrast, this is one of the most terrifying dreams I've had (so, technically a nightmare) – and this is coming from someone who is rarely scared by anything. If you haven't read And Then There Were None, the basic premise is this: ten people are invited to island where they are gradually killed off one-by-one. The twist? Nobody else is on the island: the murderer must be one of them. So, in my dream, I was the last victim, wandering around the empty house. As far as I remember, there was no sound at this point. Yet I also distinctly remember the feeling of being watched, of being followed. 

How it ended? In all honesty I don't entirely remember. I backed into a room, accidentally switching on the gramophone – which, in the book, plays a recording of murders the ten invitees were accused of committing. It began to get increasingly louder and louder until I was curled up in a ball, covering my ears. And, amongst the confusion, I must have woken up.

Anna Karenina – Wandering Through the Scenery
The dream: Despite only having read the book, this dream seemed more similar to the Anna Karenina (2012) film. As I've heard, each scene of the film is set out like a stage with scenery like that depicted in the photo above. In my dream, I was wandering throughout this scenery – yet there was nobody else there. I then spotted a note pinned to a candelabra which notified me of an event which was about to take place…

How it ended? This is a huge spoiler, but, if you the know the book and what happens to Anna, this was the event in question. I remember feeling this urge to go prevent this happening but, alas, I woke up. That said, it was a strangely beautiful dream – the setting uncanny to the book's descriptions.

Other Books I've Had Dreams About Before

Have you ever had dreams about books? Please tell me I'm not alone in this!

REVIEW: Burial Rites

Set against the bleak backdrop of Northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes' story begins – and what a remarkable story it is. Hannah Kent's meticulously researched debut delves into the past, unearthing a bitter tale of heartbreak, beauty and one extraordinary woman.

Author: Hannah Kent | Publisher: Little, Brown & Company | Pages: 314 | Source: Bought |

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, Burial Rites evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

MY THOUGHTS: Burial Rites is a tale of such divine beauty – unforgettable in all aspects – to the point it's difficult to talk about Agnes' story without including this quotation from the book itself: It’s written so deeply upon my mind I can almost taste the ink.” Kent's writing is evocative, leaving an indelible mark upon its readers: Burial Rites can't and won't be easily forgotten.

“To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.”

Yet Burial Rites is not a new tale; Agnes is not a character from Kent's mind but rather a figure from years upon years before. It takes an extraordinary being to revive a tale in such a way – to breathe life into men and women long forgotten. And Hannah Kent is such a being: Burial Rites marks the arrival of a new author to watch. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this debut is just that: it's a debut. One can't help but ask: what else has this author got planned?

The genius of Burial Rites lies within the complexity of the characters: first and foremost, we have Agnes' narrative, her voice a haunting whisper laced with lyrical language; then comes Tóti, his mission with absolving Agnes, both fascinating and powerful; and last, we have the family tasked with looking after Agnes, their chapters becoming increasingly more gripping as the novel progresses. The dynamic relationships between these characters are well-crafted and, if you're interested in looking further into the character's pasts, Hannah Kent's "Discovering Agnes" (which comes after the epilogue) is a must-read.

Whilst, to begin with, Burial Rites is slow-paced, the second half is beyond gripping. I can't remember the last time I read a novel which so carefully combines sophisticated prose with exhilarating twists and turns. One of the best Scandinavian crime novels I've ever read.

Favourite Quotation:    
“They will see the whore, the madwoman, the murderess, the female dripping blood into the grass and laughing with her mouth choked with dirt. They will say “Agnes” and see the spider, the witch caught in the webbing of her own fateful weaving. They might see the lamb circled by ravens, bleating for a lost mother. But they will not see me. I will not be there.”

In One Word?
Within Burial Rites Hannah Kent has crafted an evocative tale that enthrals the reader to no end. You will be completely and utterly gripped by Agnes' tale. Believe me when I say it's strangely powerful.

2 Years On! | 10 Reasons I Love Blogging

I've now been blogging for two years… which is only kinda INSANE. And I thought about what I wanted to do to celebrate this, and I eventually decided to just write a post about why I love blogging so much. So, here are ten reasons I love blogging:

1) I've met so many amazing bookish people
Bookish people are awesome, it's official. I'm not going to list everyone (that would take forever!) but if you're a bookish person who I talk to loads, chances are you fall under this point!

2) Blogging has improved my writing
Compare my old posts from back in 2012 to my current ones and you'll notice the change in writing is dramatic (although, please don't read my old posts because, in retrospect, weren't great!). Blogging has helped me develop a writing style and I've found writing posts has became natural to me. Even now, as I'm writing this, I don't have to think about what comes next! For me, this is perhaps the most valuable asset I've gained from blogging.

3) I've read books I previously wouldn't have heard about
Blogging has introduced me to so many new books that, if I was not a blogger, I 100% wouldn't have known about. Perhaps that's just because blogging has encouraged me to read more reviews, but, I also hear from publishers about new releases and my Twitter feed is FULL of upcoming YA and adult novels.

4) There are ACTUAL people who read my ramblings 
It feels very odd to type this, but I have hundreds of followers, thousands of comments and hundreds of thousands of page views. Woah. Of course I'd still love blogging without all these stats, BUT, it is cool to know that there are ACTUAL people reading my reviews and random ramblings. I mean, given the amount of time I spend on this blog, it definitely makes everything seem worthwhile.

5) Blogging Inspires Creativity
I'm a creative person (as I hope I've demonstrated through some of my posts) and blogging is the perfect outlet for this creativity. I'm constantly striving towards creating original content and towards making each post more interesting that the last!

6) I've Created Content I'm Proud OF
A couple of posts I'm incredibly proud of writing are: My Daughter of Smoke and Bone reviews (#1, #2, #3), If Books Were Cupcakes, Which Classic [Graphic], YA Dystopias [infographic], Harry Potter Name Etymology & Why I Read Fantasy.

7) Blogging Introduced Me to Graphic Design
I'm by no means a pro graphic designer (far from!) but I really enjoy messing around with my blog design and graphics. One of the best parts of settling down to write a blog post is designing the graphics for it. And, given the fact that before blogging I was pretty much incapable of designing any image, this is one of the aspects of blogging I love the most!

8) I Get To RAMBLE About BOOKS
Books, just books. Books, books, books. I start this blog so I could talk non-stop about books and that's pretty much what I've achieved. BOOKS.

9) Blogging is fun. 
Just everything about it makes me smile. There's just something within the combination of chatting to bookish people and chatting about books that makes everything so FUN. I really enjoy blogging and – obviously – that's one of the reasons I love it.

10) Blogging Has Made Me Love Reading EVEN MORE
I wouldn't be blogging if I didn't love reading, but I can't blogging has made me love reading even more than I thought humanly possible. And I think this is because, whilst I'm reading a book, I know that once I'm finished I'll be able to ramble non-stop about the said book.

So that's it! There are ten reasons I love blogging! Do you blog? Why do you love it? If you don't blog, why on earth not?! And also, if you're reading this post, thank you for popping by my blogging across these past two years (even if this is the first time you've been on it!).

WRAP UP: August 2014

August was a great month – mainly because I spent the majority of it in Italy! I also discovered nutella ice cream is a thing (!), read a ton of books (a ridiculous amount) and had a small break from blogging (because I'd scheduled posts for while I was away). Here's my wrap up:

Books I Read This Month
  1. Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernières
  2. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  3. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
  4. The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
  5. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
  6. The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry
  7. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  8. Deathless by Cathrynne M. Valente
  9. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
  10. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
  11. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
  12. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
  13. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  14. Frog Music by Emma Donoghue
  15. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
As you can see, I read a LOAD of books this month. This is why it should be holidays all year round. Plus, all of the books I read were brilliant (mostly because I was saving all the books I was really anticipating for my holidays).

Summer Bookish Bingo Final Update

(Hover over for original). I think I did pretty well – I only missed off three!

Blog Posts Written This Month

1. Putting Together My Holiday TBR
2. DISCUSSION: I Am a Mood Reader
3. REVIEW: We Were Liars
4. 10 Reasons to Read Mistborn
5. BOOK COVER LOVE: All-Time Favourites
6. MINI REVIEWS: August 2014
7. BOOK HAUL: August 2014
8. DISCUSSION: The Value of Creativity
9. REVIEW: Deathless

For the most part, I'm happy with the quality of the posts I wrote this month. My favourites of which being my discussion about 'The Value of Creativity' and '10 Reasons to Read Mistborn'. Although, the majority of posts I wrote this month were ones scheduled for September…

Blog Posts I Loved From Other Blogs
Hawwa posted her review of Code Name Verity
Lucy sorted characters into Hogwarts houses
Kelley posted about writing in margins
Mel listed her top ten books she's not sure she wants to read
Georgia shared some books she picked up this month
Sandra discussed illustrations in books
Stacey showed us the books she has picked up recently

How was your August? I have to say, in terms of reading/blogging, mine was pretty amazing.