New Read: The “Poor Me” Manual

The Poor Me Manual

One of my continuing aims in 2014 is to continue to read more non-fiction. Sadly even though I enjoyed many memoirs in 2013 it took me many months to pick up Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson. I enjoyed my foray back into reading memoirs so much I immediately started The “Poor Me” Manual by Hunter Lewis.

The “Poor Me” Manual is the fictional recollections of author Hunter Lewis on the different and numerous phases he went through on his journey to perfecting self-pity. Yes you heard me right his journey to perfecting self-pity, yes he went through numerous phases and yes this is in fact a fictional memoir. When reading The “Poor Me” Manual I couldn’t believe that one individual could go through so many phases! But of course Lewis’ uses this many phases to get his point across.  I don’t really want to say more because I think the phases and how Lewis progresses to each is the real interest of this memoir. To tell you more would take away some of the surprise and enigma of this memoir. I went into reading this pretty much knowing nothing about what it was truly about.

I found myself asking if I liked Lewis and the answer was no, not really but I can’t deny I found him and his journey fascinating. Lewis is a changeable person and not only goes through many changes in self-pitying behaviour but also jobs, location, mind-set and relationships. I also found myself wondering if I really felt like I knew Lewis and again I think the answer was no, not really. There is so much emphasis on the self-pitying element of his personality there was hardly any room left to discuss other elements which my mind tells me there must be. Of course this being a fictional memoir meant Lewis’ intention was for the reader to only focus on the self-pity elements but reading this has emphasised for me I like getting to know different elements of people.

The “Poor Me” Manual is the first book I have read by Hunter Lewis. As I said above I didn’t truly know what this book was about when I started reading it. Not knowing the author or subject meant choosing to read this was quite a stab in the dark. This could account for why this book languished a little on my to-be-read after I received a copy. I also presumed from the title this would be a depressing read which was not to be true. Negative and depressing things do occur in this however the quirky feel of Lewis’ life and phases took the sting off anything that happened for me. I am glad I was brave enough to pick this up as I thought The “Poor Me” Manual was well written in a surprisingly down-to-earth style and coupled with the fact the chapters were short and sweet meant I just flew through this memoir.

The “Poor Me” Manual is an interesting and quirky memoir on how a man perfected self-pity through the phases of his life. I recommend to those looking for something a bit different.

Thank you to Axios Press for providing a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read Lewis? Any recommendations for other quirky memoirs?

Monthly Reflection: March 2014

March 2014

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are happy and well? March has been another busy month for me with college work, college placement, agency work, drama workshops, belly dancing classes and pantomime performances. My reading was equal to February though, here is what I managed to finish:

Fiction: 2          Non-Fiction: 3          Poetry: 0

I started March off with the Queen of Hearts (volume 1) by Colleen Oakes an interesting and detailed reimagining of Lewis Carroll’s history and land of ‘Wonderland’. I really enjoyed this new read however with my work load I next reached for a familiar comfort read. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare is the fourth instalment in Clare’s urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments. I thought it was another fun adventure which was perfect for the mood I was in and the Once Upon a Time VIII event. And that’s all for fiction in March!

During March I appear to have been in a much more non-fiction mood as in this month I finished three non-fiction books. Excellent progress towards my continuing aim to read more non-fiction. First I finished History of the Christian Church in the First Century by Edward Burton a book with the blend of my two favourite non-fiction genres; faith and history. After that I finished off another faith non-fiction Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful by Laurie Wallin and a memoir The “Poor Me” Manual by Hunter Lewis. Thoughts on which are still to be posted.

Pick of the Month: Queen of Hearts

And those are just the books I finished in March. I won’t bore you with all the text books, articles and reports I’ve been reading for my course but needless to say there has been a lot. I have been dipping in and out of the epic collection Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales. I also started reading The Beautiful and Damned by F Scott Fitzgerald and 101 More Improv Games for Children and Adults by Bob Bedore.

What did you read in March?

New Read: City of Fallen Angels

City of Fallen Angels

March has seen me as busy as ever with college, my work placement, agency work, pantomime performance, puppets, dancing and drama workshops! In which case I reached again for the next instalment of The Mortal Instruments the City of Fallen Angels as an easy and comfort read.

City of Fallen Angels is the fourth instalment of The Mortal Instruments series. This post may contain spoilers for the previous instalments.

City of Fallen Angels continues to follow Clarissa Fray better known as Clary to her friends and family. Clary is beginning to come to terms with her powers as a shadowhunter after she helped secure victory in Alicante. On returning to New York Clary begins her shadowhunter training, looks forward to a settled relationship with Jace and preparations for her mother’s wedding. A life as a Shadow Hunter in the world of vampires, demons, fairies and werewolves could be okay. Then dead shadowhunters from Valentine’s circle start turning up in the different Down Worlder territories, Clary’s best friend Simon is being hunted by mysterious hooded figures and Jace is plagued by horrifying nightmares. Something is brewing in New York which will mean Shadow Hunters and Down Worlders joining forces again.

Clary the main protagonist of this series is a shy, petite, artistic and awkward teenager. This hasn’t changed much with the discovery that she is a powerful shadowhunter. Clary through out this book is continuing to try to come to terms with her power, the lifestyle that comes with it, her relationship with Jace and the danger that surrounds them. There a few more new character additions in City of Fallen Angels including fairies, vampires, werewolves and demons. Clary is however still joined by her friends Simon (vampire), Jace, Isabelle and Alec (shadowhunters), Luke and Maia (werewolves) and Magnus Bane (warlock) on this new dangerous adventure.

Cassandra Clare was a new author for me in 2013 City of Fallen Angels is now the fourth book of Clare’s I have read. Unlike my brother who has devoured both of Clare’s series The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices. Like the previous instalment City of Glass I found City of Fallen Angels to be well written, fast paced, and a real page turner once I got into the main action of the book.  I am pleased to say the changes and growth in the characters that turned them from two-dimensional characters to one’s I really like and believe in continues in this book. For these reasons I think I am continuing to enjoy this series more each book I read.

City of Fallen Angels is a fun and easy to read urban fantasy adventure. I recommend if you are a fan of young adult novels. I have City of Lost Souls the next instalment of The Mortal Instruments waiting for me on my bookshelf. I am looking forward to starting it.

Are you reading this series? Are you a fan of urban fantasy?

I’m counting City of Fallen Angels as Urban Fantasy for the Once Upon a Time VIII event hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings.

Previous instalments of The Mortal Instruments series:
1. City of Bones
2. City of Ashes
3. City of Glass

New Books: March 2014

New Books

The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts

The Tenant of Wildfel Hall by Anne Bronte

Villette by Charlotte Bronte

Three new fiction reads for me. The Tenant of Wildfel Hall and Villette by the Bronte sisters are both English classics which are both on my Classics Club list. While The Medea Complex is a historical/psychological thriller which I accepted a review copy from the author.

101 More Improv Games for Children and Adults by Bob Bedore

The “Poor Me” Manual by Hunter Lewis

The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport

Three new non-fiction reads from three new authors for me here and all three were received through NetGalley.

What new books are you excited about?

Monthly Reflection: February 2014

February 2014

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are happy and well? February was another busy month for me with college work, college placement, agency work, drama workshops, belly dancing classes and pantomime rehearsals. My reading was up on January though, here is what I managed to finish:

Fiction: 3          Non-Fiction: 2          Poetry: 0

I started February off with a comforting re-read of The Last Battle by C S Lewis the seventh and final instalment of The Chronicles of Narnia. Bringing my re-read of the complete series sadly to an end. Next I delved into the historic The Forbidden Queen by Anne O’Brien. A beautiful and sad tale of Katherine of Valois. Then my result from the fifth Classics Club spin was Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. I had neither been dreading or excited to read Around the World in Eighty Days but I’m pleased I read it as I thought it was a fun adventure.

During February I also managed to finish two non-fiction books. Good progress towards my continuing aim to read more non-fiction. First I finished God Knows My Name by Beth Redman an inspirational piece of Christian non-fiction. Next I picked up Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson. A beautifully written, humorous and tragic memoir of Winterson’s childhood. My thoughts on this are still to be posted.

Pick of the Month: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal

And those I just the books I finished in February. I won’t bore you with all the text books, articles and reports I’ve been reading for my course but needless to say there has been a lot. I have been dipping in and out of the epic collection Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales.  I also started reading Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes and History of the Christian Church in the First Century by Edward Burton.

What did you read in February?

New Read: The Forbidden Queen

The Forbidden Queen

February here in the UK has continued to be wet and windy. I have also continued to be busy with work and college so when I have had a free moment all I’ve wanted to do is curl up in bed with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book. I picked up The Forbidden Queen by Anne O’Brien hoping to escape and find some comfort in a historical tale.

The Forbidden Queen follows the life of the beautiful Katherine of Valois. Katherine is the daughter of Charles VI of France, becomes the wife of Henry V of England, mother of Henry VI of England and grandmother of Henry VII of England. A glorious lineage and heritage but at heart Katherine only really wishes for love. Katherine has a lonely up-bringing in her aunt’s abbey from which marriage was the only means of escape. Henry hero of Agincourt and the king of England sweeps into Katherine’s life offering not only to make her his wife but the queen of England. By Henry’s side Katherine begins a life of splendour and glory yet while she provides him with the longed for son and heir Henry does not love her. Their marriage is to be short-lived with the death of Henry fighting in France leaving Katherine a young and highly desirable widow. I found myself really rooting for Katherine to find love and while Henry’s death leaves her free to marry again I just knew it couldn’t be that easy! Katherine has a political mine field to work her way through.

The Forbidden Queen centres mainly around Katherine and the men in her life. Katherine grows up isolated from the world inevitably leaving her naïve to the facts of life. Katherine is naïve, young, loving and hopeful as she sets out on her married life and I couldn’t help but like her even though my more practical mind told me she was heading for disappointment. After the death of Henry I found Katherine went through quite a transformation she is still loving and hopeful but she does find a new found bravery which made me like her even more. There are two main love interests for Katherine after she is widowed one is a flamboyant and ambitious man while the other is a stable and strong man both are equally controversial choices for Katherine though. I thought that both love affairs help to develop and mould Katherine further in a positive way regardless of their differing outcomes.

The Forbidden Queen is the first novel I have read by the author Anne O’Brien but I had heard good things about this novel from other bloggers. I thought O’Brien’s style was descriptive and elegant. I felt like a really did get into the mind of this medieval princess and got to experience her world through O’Brien’s detailed narrative from Katherine’s perspective. The Forbidden Queen was a slow burner for me. At first I found myself just reading one chapter a day as I felt the emotions I got from Katherine were pretty powerful and sad. I needed time to reflect on this. Once we got into the chapters following Henry’s death though I found myself hooked. I preferred Katherine as a character after this point and I just couldn’t wait to find out what she would do next! The pace of the story also seemed to speed up for me too. Leading to me polishing off the second half of the book pretty much in one evening when I had tucked myself into bed early.

The Forbidden Queen is a moving and inspiring fictionalised tale of a medieval princess, daughter, queen, wife and mother. I recommend to those who enjoy historical fiction. I would be interested in reading more by the author Anne O’Brien.

I received an ARC of The Forbidden Queen via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read any of Anne O’Brien’s novels? Any recommendations?

New Books: February 2014

New Books

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

May Bride by Suzannah Dunn

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes (The Crown #1)

Three new fiction reads from three new authors for me here and all three were received through NetGalley.

The 7-Day Prayer Warrior Experience by Stormie Omartian

Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful by Laurie Wallin

Two new non-fiction for me here both on faith. Laurie Wallin is a new author but earlier this year I read my first book by Stormie Omartian and I am looking forward to reading more.

What new books are you excited about?

Re-Read: The Last Battle

The Last Battle

One of my goals for 2013 was to make more time for re-reads of my beloved favourites, in which case I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to rediscover the wonderful ‘Land of Narnia’. I felt I was very successful in this goal making time for seven re-reads over the year six of which were from The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis. Leaving only the final instalment The Last Battle to read in 2014.

The Last Battle is the seventh instalment of The Chronicles of Narnia series. This post may contain spoilers for previous instalments.

The Last Battle follows the adventures and battles of King Tirian and his best friend Jewel the Unicorn during the last days of Narnia. Tirian and Jewel have heard terrible rumours that Aslan has returned to Narnia and has begun ordering Narnians to work like slaves for the cruel Calormenes. Fearing that this ‘Aslan’ is a fake Tirian sets off with Jewel into the Lantern Forest to find out what is happening. Tirian and Jewel are captured by a Calormene army who have slipped into Narnia disguised as merchants. With all hope lost for himself and his fellow Narnians Tirian calls out to the real Aslan and the Kings and Queens of old. Tirian’s prayers are answered when Eustace Scrubb and his school friend Jill Pole arrive to release him and aid him in an adventure which will take them all the way to Aslan’s country.

The main protagonists of The Last Battle Tirian, Jewel, Eustace and Jill are an interesting mixture. We already know Eustace and Jill from when they rescued Prince Rilian in The Silver Chair but many, many years of have passed in Narnia since then. Tirian is now king and while he is a good and fair king he has lost influence over the Narnians since the arrival of this supposed ‘Aslan’. I liked Tirian and Jewel the Unicorn. I liked having two protagonists in the mix who were both adults which then made another interesting dynamic with Eustace and Jill (who have only aged by about a year since their last adventure). Of course these are not the only old faces to be seen. Later in The Last Battle we get to see the return of Peter, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie along with many of their Narnian friends from their previous adventures.

I am no stranger to Lewis’s work. I think his writing style in The Chronicles of Narnia is simple and fun which works well for adults and children alike. Lewis has been criticised for his use of archaic language especially when it is used by his young characters, however I find the language rather charming and I feel it adds to the magically atmosphere of the book. When I first read The Chronicles of Narnia I read the books in publication order because I think for your first time nothing beats encountering ‘Narnia’ first through the most famous book The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. For my re-read I purposefully decided to read the series in chronological order so I could get a full idea of the detail and history Lewis put into ‘Narnia’ and the characters that inhabit it. It was really lovely to work my way up through all the other books to this final instalment. I felt like I had truly got to know Narnia and its inhabitants which made the end even more poignant.

The Last Battle is an utterly charming children’s tale of magic, friendship, family, death and adventure. A wonderfully comforting read. I’m just sad that there aren’t anymore to look forward to.

Have you read this? Have you read The Chronicles of Narnia?

Previous instalments of The Chronicles of Narnia series:

1. The Magician’s Nephew
2. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
3. A Horse and His Boy
4. Prince Caspian
5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
6. The Silver Chair

Monthly Reflection: January

January 2014

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are happy and well? January has been a super busy month for me. With my college work, college placement, agency work, drama workshops, puppet performances, belly dancing classes and celebrating my birthday. I am surprised I finished any books but here is what I did manage to read:

Fiction: 2          Non-Fiction: 2          Poetry: 0

I started January off in the warm and historic The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley. I have been eager to read more of Kearsley’s books and I wasn’t to be disappointed. The Splendour Falls was a beautiful and comforting escape from all the rainy weather we’ve been having here in the UK. Next I reached for City of Glass by Cassandra Clare the third instalment of urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments. A very different read to the previous but still an easy and comforting read.

During January I also managed to finish two non-fiction books an excellent start to my continuing aim to read more non-fiction in 2014. First I finished The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian an interesting look into the powerful role prayer can play in a woman’s life. Next I again went for something completely different A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley. A very amusing look at the British macabre obsession with ‘who-dunnits’. My thoughts on this are still to be posted.

Pick of the Month: A Very British Murder

And those I just the books I finished in January. I won’t bore you with all the text books, articles and reports I’ve been reading for my course but needless to say there has been a lot. I have been dipping in and out of the epic collection Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales. I also started reading God Knows My Name by Beth Redman and The Forbidden Queen by Anne O’Brien.

What did you read in January?

New Read: City of Glass

City of Glass

January 2014 still sees me a very busy bee juggling my college work, work placement, first aid course, puppets, dancing, drama and my birthday! Phew with all that I reached for the next instalment of The Mortal Instruments the City of Glass as an easy and comfort read.

City of Glass is the third instalment of The Mortal Instruments series. This post may contain spoilers for the previous instalments.

City of Glass continues to follow Clarissa Fray better known as Clary to her friends and family. Clary’s world has been turned upside down not only has she had to come to terms with the fact that werewolves, vampires, fairies and demons are real and the fact she is a powerful Shadowhunter but now she needs to get them all to work together. Valentine has stolen two of the powerful mortal instruments and only needs one more to summon Raziel the Angel who created Shadowhunters. The Clave (Shadowhunter council) to counter this threat has called all Shadowhunter back to Alicante the glass capital city of Idris. This is the first time Clary has ever seen her homeland but it isn’t to be a peaceful visit as she not only has to face Valentine but seek a cure for her mother too.

Clary the main protagonist of this series is a shy, petite, artistic and awkward teenager. This hasn’t changed much with the discovery that she is a powerful Shadowhunter. Clary through out this book is trying to come to terms with her power, the lifestyle that comes with it and the danger that now surrounds her. There are many new character additions in City of Glass mainly Shadowhunters Clary meets in Alicante. She is however still joined by her friends Simon (vampire), Jace, Isabelle and Alec (shadowhunters), Luke and Maia (werewolves) and Magnus Bane (warlock) on this new dangerous adventure.

Cassandra Clare was a new author for me in 2013 City of Glass is the third book of Clare’s I have read. Unlike my brother who has devoured both of Clare’s series The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices. Like the previous instalment I found City of Glass to be well written, fast paced, and a real page turner once you got into the main action of the book.  I am pleased to say the changes and growth in the characters that turned them from two-dimensional characters to one’s I really like and believe in continues in this book. For that reason I enjoyed City of Glass.

City of Glass is a fun and easy to read urban fantasy adventure. I recommend if you are a fan of young adult novels. I have City of Fallen Angels the next instalment of The Mortal Instruments waiting for me on my bookshelf. I am looking forward to starting it.

Are you reading this series? Are you a fan of urban fantasy?

Previous instalments of The Mortal Instruments series:
1. City of Bones
2. City of Ashes