Book Bingo 2018

This is my third year doing a book bingo challenge and despite the fact I often forget I’ve decided to do it, I enjoy it a lot. With 2018 underway it is another year and another chance to achieve bingo glory. As I stated in my Bingo 2017 wrap up post I’m keeping last year’s bingo card instead of making up a new one. I enjoyed the categories too much to not have another go at them this year. I am looking to get a full card this year as well. These are the kind of idealistic goals I have in January before the reality of life kicks in.

My second idealistic goal is actually doing updates through the year, unlike last year where I forgot entirely and basically posted my first post and then the final post. The third goal is to review them, but that is somewhat successful, but maybe more successful this year is also a goal.

Are you going to participate in a Book Bingo this year? As in previous years, you are more than welcome to borrow my card for your own Book Bingo, just remember to link to my page and attribute me properly.

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Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party

Today is Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday and to celebrate I am sharing one of my favourite web series: Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Invite Only Casual Dinner Party/Gala For Friends Potluck or more simply, Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party.

Edgar Allan Poe has invited some of the world’s most renowned authors from Dostoyevsky to Mary Shelley, George Eliot to Ernest Hemingway and gathered them in his home where he and the ghost of Lenore are planning a murder mystery dinner party. Things immediately start to go wrong when actual murder is committed, and now the guests must find who the murderer is or risk being killed themselves.

The series was originally funded through a Kickstarter in 2016, and was created by Sinead and Sean Persaud of Shipwrecked Comedy (and who also play Lenore and Edgar). They bring humour, drama, snark and wit to a dinner party and make murder fun. The writing is wonderful as each character uses their own literary styles and works to make references and adds style and drama to the night, or just general frustrations to other dinner guests.

There is so much I love about this series. Seeing George Eliot try to hide the fact that she’s a woman is wonderful, plus Edgar’s frustrations that his dinner party isn’t going as planned, not to mention the continual sarcastic contributions of Lenore or Oscar Wilde’s entire existence.

It includes actors many actors who were in award-winning The Lizzie Bennet Diaries including Ashley Clements and Mary Kate Wiles who played Lizzie and Lydia respectively. It also features Lauren Lopez who you may recognise as Malfoy from A Very Potter Musical among other things, as well as Blake Silver, Jim O’Heir, Ryan Garcia, and a host of other brilliant actors.

The series is made up of 11 episodes, all around ten minutes each. There are also multiple additional videos including prologues, bloopers, and behind the scene videos which are just as fun to watch. You also get to see the planning stages as they hunt for costumes, practise lines, and set up for filming.

The entire series can be found on the Shipwrecked YouTube channel along with all the bonus features. The Kickstarter page, while ended, also has a lot of great information about the cast as well as some great art. You can watch the trailer here and I hope you will fall in love with it instantly. I love this series so much and I think everyone needs to watch it, if not for me, do it for Mr Poe on his birthday.

Winnie the Pooh Day

While I missed Winnie the Pooh Day last year, I made up for it by devoting October to looking at all the grand things about the silly old bear and celebrate his 90th birthday. I covered everything from the books, Milne himself, Shephard’s illustrations, and a range of other wonderful Pooh related things. If you would like to revisit all of these posts you can do so here.

Though this day has often been a recognition of the bear himself, Winnie the Pooh Day is such because it is author A. A. Milne’s birthday. Last year I made a brief post about Milne, his life is one of surprise when you realise just how small a role Winnie the Pooh really played. He wrote so many other wonderful things it’s sad his other works are not more widely recognised.

One of the things he wrote was his autobiography. Published in 1939 by Methuen, it stayed in print for 8 years. Now, 70 years later, it is being republished. The autobiography is called It’s Too Late Now: The Autobiography of a Writer and was republished in September last year by Bello. It covers numerous stages of his life, from his childhood, growing up, and his numerous careers including his time as a freelancer, a soldier, and an author. This of course also ties into the new film about Milne and his son, Goodbye, Christopher Robin which was recently released.

There is a wonderful article in The Guardian about Milne and his autobiography that may interest you, I would also certainly suggest seeing the film, or better yet reading the book Goodbye, Christopher Robin by Ann Thwaite which tells the true story that inspired the film. Ann Thwaite is also the author of an acclaimed biography of Milne titled, A. A. Milne: His Life where much of the story is drawn from.

The story of the two Milne’s is interesting but often sad, neither father nor son seemed joyous about their success and association with Winnie the Pooh, and it is a sad fact to know because of how much joy it brings me personally and millions of others. Of course, the Bear of the books is not the Bear of the Disney films, but there is still an essence of that original idea from Milne about a boy and his bear that is everlasting. It’s wonderful to be reminded each Winnie the Pooh Day how Milne’s work has not been forgotten, even if it has been altered over time. There is still so much joy to be had from those original stories and many lessons which can be learnt.

If you are up for an adventure, one way to celebrate Winnie the Pooh Day if you are in the East Sussex area is head over to Pooh Corner in Hartfield. You can play a game of Pooh Sticks, see the infamous bridge where Christopher Robin and Pooh play, have tea and snacks in Piglet’s tearoom, or go on a grand adventure as you follow the character’s footsteps through the woods. Or, for those of us who are less adventurous, curl up with a good book, may it be a biography, poetry, or story, and discover the wonder of Milne’s words and wisdom, and rediscover the magic of that silly old bear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Name of the Star (#1) by Maureen Johnson

Published: 29th September 2011
Goodreads badgePublisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 372
Format: Book
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Jack the Ripper is back, and he’s coming for Rory next….

Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him – the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target…unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables.

Upon finishing this book I was experiencing a myriad of emotions and feelings that the first draft of this review was, for the majority, unhelpful gushing and exuberant praise. I was on a high of delight and amazement at what I had just read. Nothing wrong with that, but rather unhelpful for a review.

I cannot ignore though that a full 330 words were devoted entirely to going on about just how wonderful this book was. I experienced so many feelings and emotions throughout this book, especially during the final chapters, that I was on the edge of my seat and unsure where it could possibly lead, excited and impatient and nervous of what was going to happen.

I have been a long time fan of Johnson through her guest vlogging, her books, and following her hilarity on Twitter, but only recently have I been able to snag a copy of her Shades of London series which I have been dying to read for years. And can I just say I am so glad I finally got to read this because it is the greatest book ever! It is such a Maureen Johnson book as well. Her personality and own quirkiness shine off the pages and through her characters.

I strongly recommend you read this book, it really is all kinds of amazing. It’s a Jack the Ripper story like no other and it sucks you in and holds you while it simultaneously messes with your mind and makes you amazed and wide-eyed at the cleverness of it all.

The story follows Rory, a girl from southern USA who is sent to boarding school in London. She soon becomes embroiled in a series of murders eerily similar to that of Jack the Ripper. From there it becomes a story about murder and mystery, with a unique and clever paranormal element as well. Johnson’s writing is light and funny but also manages to be delightfully creepy in all the best ways.

The characters are unique and have their own stories to tell. I liked Rory’s charm in that she was a bit odd but she was who she was and wasn’t ashamed. I loved the differences between the UK and the US and the cultural clashes that are evident. I also loved that the story was slowly revealed. I revelled in the shocks, the surprises, and the delights. I made so many gasps and various other noises while I read this I’m sure people nearby were looking at me weird.

Other characters like Jerome and Stephen are wonderful. Jerome, in particular, is all kinds of adorable and while it took some time to warm to Rory, I loved Jerome immediately. I liked each character’s quirky nature and that they brought their own strengths to any situation. There is a wonderful sense of UK boarding school culture as well as a nice look at the streets of London through the eyes of a newcomer as well as its citizens. You get a taste of the culture and the mystery the old city has to offer and it is easy to fall under the spell through Rory and her own fascination.

When you read this book I suggest you keep the second in the series nearby because the moment you finish that last page you will want to dive into the next book right away. It is a wonderful story and it is a ghost story like no other.

You can purchase The Name of the Star via the following

Wordery | Book Depository | Fishpond

Dymocks | Amazon USA | Author Website

Barnes and Noble | Readings | Amazon Aust

The Diary of A Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Published: 1st April 2007 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Puffin
Pages: 217
Format: Paperback
Genre:
 Junior Fiction
★  – 1 Star

It’s a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you’re ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary.

In book one of this debut series, Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s newfound popularity to his own advantage, kicking off a chain of events that will test their friendship in hilarious fashion.

As I was reading it I thought Greg was a horrible friend and mean, at first I told myself it was just typical young boy “I’m always wronged and my brother is a pain” kind of stuff, a young boy who is a bit self-centred, a bit stupid at times, but not too terrible. But the further I went the worse it became. Greg is a horrible kid, like a proper terrible friend and person.

I have ZERO sympathy for him, I thought this book was about a poor kid who was as it says, wimpy, and who had a hard life trying to fit in or whatever. Turns out he’s a terrible friend, a bully, a liar, and an all round selfish unrepentant bad person.

Through the course of this book Greg does one terrible thing after the other, and even when (and if) he is punished he doesn’t learn.  I cannot believe people love this book. Greg has no conscience, no remorse. He is rude, selfish and a jerk to everyone. He is manipulative and a liar and never once redeems himself even the one time he thinks he does, and all of this is under the guise of it being “funny”. There really isn’t even any humour to fall back on. Is the humour Greg being mean to his supposed best friend? For being relieved some other kid is being bullied and not him (though it was essentially his fault)?

I can’t believe people praise this book. For what? For teaching kids about throwing things at girls with no real consequence? Being mean to your friend because he succeeds when you don’t? This entire book is filled with Greg never once learning his lesson. Maybe, MAYBE if he had been a bully and then learnt some remorse or lesson or learnt SOMETHING then you could make an argument, but there is nothing to be gained from this book except a diary of a kid with no empathy or morals.

I get it, books don’t need morals to make book enjoyable, but this is truly sending the worst message to kids about how to behave and what is acceptable. There are much better books and series out there that are ten times as enjoyable and worthy of being read. I was going to keep reading this series but after finishing it I won’t be rushing out anytime soon.

You can purchase Diary of a Wimpy Kid via the following

Fishpond | Dymocks | BookDepository

 A&R BookWorld | Booktopia

Wordery | Amazon Aust | Amazon

 

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