Wednesday, 17 August 2016

On Being a Bad Book Lover

The Impossible Reading List

In my previous post, I confessed all about my nasty habits when it comes to hoarding books and not reading them. This post is even worse. Because it's been a particularly crazy year, I've started doing something I've never allowed myself to do before - I've started reading several books at the same time. Gasp. If that is something you do anyway, then this post probably won't even phase you, but if you're one of those readers who diligently finishes a book before starting the next one then I'm sure you'll relate to my tidings of woe. In order of when I started them, here is a list of the five books that I have on the go at the moment:

  1. Cassandra Clare - Clockwork Prince coverClockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2) - Cassandra Clare - I was quite enjoying both this and Clare's The Mortal Instruments series and was reading them in order of publication. And then something quite untoward happened... I started to get sick of reading the same thing over and over again. And if you do read both series (and watch the Shadowhunters TV show) that's exactly what it is.
    The Infernal Devices is the prequel to The Mortal Instruments but you already know what's going to happen a lot of the time because it is already history and fact in The Infernal Devices. And Tessa Gray is perhaps the least fun I've had with a protagonist in a long time. The problem is, I'm too invested in the series to not finish this, and so it remains on my "currently reading" list.
  2. Jemma Wayne - Chains of Sand coverChains of Sand - Jemma Wayne - I started reading this ages ago and even featured an exclusive excerpt of it back in May. The book is set in Israel and London and I was a little unsure whether I would like it but I loved Jemma Wayne’s writing and her valiant effort to remain objective in a very heated topic.
    It is so good and I'm enjoying it so much that I recommended it to my book club for our July read. Despite the pressure to actually finish a book I recommended, I still haven't finished it. And it's good. And I have no excuse.
  3. Sunjeev Sahota - The Year of the Runaways coverThe Year of the Runaways - Sunjeev Sahota - not content with being a bad book reader, I decided to go out and find something I was worse at - going to gym. I downloaded The Year of the Runaways from Audible when it was a daily deal with the aim of listening to it at gym.
    Despite having done so several months ago, I am still only 3 hours into the book. I truly am a terrible gym member.Nevertheless, the book is brilliant and the narration even more so and I'm determined to finish it.
  4. Margaret Atwood - The Blind Assassin - coverThe Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood - at the end of June, the lovely Carolann from Finding Ithaka mentioned that she had read my very favourite Margaret Atwood book Surfacing. I was a massive Margaret Atwood fan in my 20s and read all of her books up to Alias Grace in 1998. And then the unthinkable happened - I bought The Blind Assassin and could not get into it. Time and time again in the past 15 years, I have tried and failed to read this book and because I am as pernickety as the day is long, that means that I haven't read her Oryx and Crake trilogy or anything else that came out since 2000. Inspired by Carolann's love of a book that I had loved so much, I decided to try again and am pleased to say that I am loving The Blind Assassin this time around. I just haven't finished it yet.
  5. Here I Stand AmnestyHere I Stand: Stories that Speak for Freedom - Amnesty International UK - this is by far the best of the books I'm reading and most of the books on this list are superior reads. This is a collection of short stories from the likes of Matt Haig, Neil Gaiman and John Boyne about some of the most serious issues facing children today: trafficking, poverty, gender identity, racism and bullying. It is my sincere hope that this will be the first of the books I finish so that I can tell readers all about it!

      This was my sorry tale about being a bad book lover and a not-very-loyal one at that. I can only hope that by opening up, I am able to stage a one person intervention and bring my reading practices back under control.

      Are you a one book person or do you keep many books on the go? What are you currently reading?


    Monday, 15 August 2016

    When Your To-Read List Goes Rogue

    The Never Ending To Read List

    I have a bit of a problem and it is one that I've had in one form or another for many years. Back in the era of bookshops and actual paper books, I used to run wild in the local Exclusive Books on a Saturday afternoon and stumble out with armloads of books which would then sit prettily on my bookshelf and totally impress visitors. Or at least, I hope they impressed visitors because they weren't doing anything else. Many of those books that I so lovingly selected and revered are still sitting there, years later, unread.

    Things improved somewhat around the time I moved to the UK in 2007. Starry-eyed and fresh from having completed the Harry Potter series, I no longer had money to buy books (emigrating is a very expensive undertaking) and I began diligently borrowing new series from the library and discovered Philip Pullman, Garth Nix, Anthony Horowitz, Stephenie Meyer, Richelle Mead, Charlaine Harris and Cassandra Clare. Fabulous authors with fantastic series and I ploughed through all of them.

    And then I began reviewing books on this blog and was contacted by PR companies and suddenly I was discovering the very best in paranormal YA authors: Gena Showalter, Maria V. Snyder, Julie Kagawa, Rachel Vincent. It was a glorious time and I was reading scores of books and finally managed to read 50 books in a year for the first time.

    I'm not too sure where it all went downhill. Over a year ago, I decided that I'd rather read for fun than what I was being sent to review. The reason for this was that I was starting to see a startling similarity in the Young Adult market - whether dystopian or paranormal, we were seeing the same stories, same characters and same clich├ęs to the extent that Twitter accounts have been created about them!

    Looking for inspiration on my own meant that I began to lean heavily on Goodreads to find and discover books and that process has been very good but also very ugly. On the extremely good side, I've discovered the Mock Printz and Beyond Words: A Bloggers' Book Club book groups who aim to only read Very Good Books Indeed (my emphasis). This means that I've been treated to many excellent books this year, so much so that I was considering changing my star ratings to accurately reflect the superiority of these absolute works of written art.

    And then there is the bad side. The to-read list. And boy, does Goodreads make it easy to add books to read. I call my immediate to-read list On My Bedside Table and this list only includes books that I have bought and downloaded to my Kindle or physically have in my possession. And because I am a literary magpie who likes to grab shiny little books and whisk them away to my nest, I went a bit crazy with the On My Bedside Table list and had to force myself (force myself, I tell you) to restrict the reading list to 50 books. Who in their right mind has 50 books piled around them all waiting to be read? Oh, that's right. A magpie. Me.

    Storm Glass
    Grim Tuesday
    A Confusion of Princes
    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
    Taste of Darkness
    Demon Thief
    Dead Reckoning
    When the Sea Is Rising Red
    Zoo City
    Sipping from the Nile
    The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
    Shadow Bound
    The Knife of Never Letting Go
    A Tale for the Time Being
    The Lowland
    The Kite Runner

    But let's get back to that magical number: 50. Why did I restrict my On My Bedside Table list to 50 books? well, that was approximately what I was reading in a year so it seemed reasonable. That is until March happened. (Cue dramatic music). In March, I moved house (into a lovely new house which has an entire room dedicated to my music, CD, DVD, LP and book collection but that is beside the point). I only moved a mile up the road but I also changed job and start work half an hour later. The result? I now wake up approximately 3 hours later than when I used to work in London and that means I have 3 more hours a day to read, right? Wrong. I don't know what happened. Not only do I have a to-read list that is simmering and bubbling over like a pot of porridge but I've also practically stopped reading altogether and it's not good. Not good at all.

    So this is me admitting that my to-read list has gone rogue and I don't know what to do about it. In my next post, I'll tell you all about something even more shameful - the books that I'm actually reading right now and haven't finished. I hope that I can shame myself enough into actually getting back to reading again but I'm not holding my breath.

    Does any of this sound familiar? Are you a book hoarder, literary magpie, serial book starter? Confess all below.


    Saturday, 13 August 2016

    Identicals: Review and DVD Giveaway

    Nora-Jane Noone is Nadia in Identicals

    Let me introduce you to a Brand New-U, an organisation that identifies Identicals. People who walk like you, talk like you, but who have better, more interesting lives. Want a life upgrade? No problem, Brand New-U will eliminate the better life donor and give you that life. Think you’ve got it all? Think again. Brand New-U might need you for one of their scenarios which they will make happen for paying customers.

    Slater (Lachlan Nieboer) had it all. An interesting job, trendy apartment and a beautiful girlfriend Nadia (Nora-Jane Noone). One evening, Nadia is kidnapped in a terrifying sequence of events and Slater is immediately offered a chance at a better life. It’s either that or deal with the corpse that has been left in Nadia’s place and blamed on him.

    Lachlan Nieboer in Identicals

    He finds himself at Brand New-U where he is profiled and profiled again until he meets his true personal profile. He is given a new life. A nameless, faceless drone in a futuristic metropolis. The only rule is that he cannot take anything from his old life. Not one thing.

    As Slater moves through a series of identical lives he becomes obsessed with finding Nadia but soon realises that he must first find himself. His predicament has a Kafkaesque feel to it as he hurtles towards the terrifying and ultimately inevitable conclusion of the film. There is quite a twist in the final scene but once it is over the viewer realises that there could never have been another outcome.

    Written and directed by Simon Pummell (Bodysong, Shock Head Soul) Identicals is a tense futuristic sci-fi drama set in the technological utopias of the near future. It is a beautiful film set entirely in buildings of chrome and glass, often at night, with lots of play on light and darkness. Against this backdrop, one thing is constant: Slater and his struggle to maintain his humanity and sense of self.

    Lachlan Nieboer is Slater in Identicals

    Lachlan Nieboer (Into the White) is fantastic as Slater, an increasingly horrified and frustrated lone figure in a world that is completely beyond his control. I could not help but notice his striking similarity to Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles and like Jensen, he plays a natural and impressive anti-hero.

    Identicals DVD packshotIdenticals is available on Digital/VoD 15 August & DVD 22 August.

    To celebrate the release of Identicals on Digital, VoD and DVD, I’m giving away two copies of the film on DVD.

    Simply enter using the Gleam widget below and look out for the YouTube trailer too!

    Entry is open to residents of the United Kingdom only.

    The Identicals (2015) DVD Giveaway

    Be sure to subscribe to Addicted to Media by Email for more competitions plus film, TV, music and books news and reviews.

    More competitions at ThePrizeFinder


    Friday, 12 August 2016

    Must See: The Rolling Stones Exhibitionism at the Saatchi Gallery

    Like many of the bands my parents listened to, I can't recall the first time I heard the Rolling Stones. I do know that by the time I was 14, I was pretty obsessed with them and my favourite tracks remain "Paint It Black", "Gimme Shelter" and "Ruby Tuesday". (That was a much longer list before I forced myself to narrow it down to three!). Fast forward twenty years or so and I found myself in Dartford, the home town of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It seemed somewhat fitting that I should make this place my home. Needless to say, when we heard about the Rolling Stones Exhibitionism at the Saatchi Gallery, we knew we had to go.

    The Rolling Stones Exhibitionism

    The exhibition stretches out over the whole of the Saatchi Gallery so it is important to note that if you want to visit this summer, you won't get in without an Exhibitionism ticket. The good news is that there are still tickets available.

    The exhibition begins with an audio-visual display of the rise to superstardom of the Rolling Stones and how they broke the United States. It is a big display that curves around the wall on multiple screen and is a lot to take in but it gives you an idea of how talented the band were. And how bloody naughty they were too. The exhibition then begins in earnest and you see Mick Jagger and Keith Richards meeting on Dartford Station (no doubt they were both late if the trains were as reliable as they are today).

    You then walk through a recreation of the flat in Edith Grove that the band members shared and learn that boys will be boys because the flat was a complete tip with three men sharing one bedroom, another bed in the lounge and a grime-encrusted kitchen.

    This is what I love most about exhibitions like this – the glimpse into the real world behind the artist - but surprisingly enough, this was the most personal look you get into the lives of the band members. The exhibition moves on to their numerous guitars, amps and musical instruments, through to another recreation of how their studio would have looked, but nothing is as personal as this flat. Even the handwritten lyrics weren't backed with the kind of detail that we saw at the David Bowie Is... exhibition where we learned why he wrote what he wrote and where he was, physically and psychologically, when he wrote them. Nevertheless, the actual instruments will thrill many fans and are displayed according to the tours and dates that the instruments were used on.


    The second floor of the exhibition definitely began to deliver more that I was interested in. I loved the Film & Video section where we learned about the various Rolling Stones films through an interview with Martin Scorsese who directed the 2008 rockumetary Shine a Light. This was really interesting and made me want to watch every single one of the previous films! Next was Art & Design where you got to see all of the artwork for album covers, including those that were rejected, banned and censored. There were also concert posters from across the decades and a walk through of how the famous lip logo was developed. In the next room were tiny little models of some of the Stones' most impressive sets including the incredible Voodoo Lounge tour with the giant viper.


    My favourite of all the sections was the Style & Costumes section which featured original outfits from every era of the band's existence including several that Mick Jagger has worn while performing "Sympathy for the Devil". It is hard to believe that they wore such heavy, textured and ornate costumes on stage and I can only imagine how they suffered for their art!

    Style & Costumes Exhibitionism

    The penultimate section was the Rare & Unseen section. This section was a complete miss for me. I was getting a bit tired by then and I felt again that too little personal information was provided about the band members to truly connect with these exhibits.

    I thought that the final section, a 3D performance of a Stones' concert, was going to be a miss too but I was totally wrong. As we stared in wonder at the incredible set, the massive crowd, the chemistry of the band members and the sheer wonder of it all, I realised that I really do need to get to a live Rolling Stones concert one day! I believe this concert was their concert in Hyde Park in July 2013 but am not certain.

    My only complaint about the exhibition (and it is a big one) is that we were not allowed to take photos. This was the same as the David Bowie exhibition and it is a rubbish rule. I've decided that I will no longer be paying £22 to get into exhibitions if I don't have the privilege of taking photos. Other people might feel differently but I like to share and document my adventures and will stick to those where I can.

    Outside The Rolling Stones Exhibitionism

    The Rolling Stones Exhibitionism is running until 4 September 2016 and there are still tickets available to buy online or in person. They have several late sessions on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays so be sure to check those out. The exhibition will then move to New York City's West Village location at Industria in November 2016 and you can sign up for priority access to those tickets ahead of the September release.

    © 2005 - Mandy Southgate | Addicted to Media

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