Friday, 27 February 2015

Mini-Reviews For Books I Can't Really Remember Anymore, Vol 1

So remember in October when my life exploded and I started a Masters in Shakespeare (of course you do, it's all I ever talk about here anymore) and I threatened to keep posting shit but never really did? And remember in January when my life imploded and I became incapable of doing things that I didn't absolutely HAVE to do? Well, in that time, I actually have (believe it or not) read some books that aren't Shakespeare, and also before that time I read a couple of books that I never fully reviewed. Here are some tiny things I have to say about them, in the spirit of getting shit up to date and actually writing about books again (I KNOW. Crazy.)

A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

I've been trying to read more graphic novels, because I think they're awesome, they're totally fast to read, and if I get them out of the library, I don't feel guilty about having library books out, because, you know, they won't take long to read! A Drifting Life, however, is a brick. It's the memoir of a graphic novelist, which I thought I would love because remember how good non fiction graphic novels are (See: Persepolis, Fun Home, Maus...)?

However. Tatsumi is a graphic novelist who has basically always been a graphic novelist. What this means, in practical terms, is that this book is over 800 pages of personal history, and of the history of manga in Japan in the mid 20th Century. Whilst I'm sure this would have been awesome for a lot of people, I grew ever so slightly more bored with it until I had to force myself to pick it up again because I wanted to add its pages to my page count for the year (I know, I know).

So. Unless you're crazy interested in the history of manga, this might not be your cup of tea, either. But then again, it does have its moments of almost too true and too relevant reality...

I Murdered My Library by Linda Grant
Fun fact: Linda Grant is totally the name of one of my seminar leaders at uni. This is not the same person. I Murdered My Library is a Kindle Single that I believe I paid 99p for, and it's almost like a long essay where the author talks about her lifelong addiction to owning and acquiring books, and what happened when she downsized and got rid of most of her books and OH THE HUMANITY. I don' t remember much about it (this is going to be a common theme in this post...) but I have general good feelings about it like I do books that talk about books by people who just fucking love books.

Side note: I said to my uni friend the other day that basically all I want in the world is to touch a First Folio in my lifetime, and she didn't really get the book fetish thing. I KNOW, RIGHT?!

Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham
I had actually half started a post about this book, but, let's face it, I'm never going to finish it so I'll just give you a mini-summary. I am kind of obsessed with Lena Dunham, so even though I had much Shakespeare-ing to do (I believe it was The Merchant of Venice week) I bought this, sat down with it on a Saturday afternoon and read for about 3 hours. It's pretty good! Some of the essays I related to way more than others, and of course this kind of thing is always hit and miss, but for me there were way more hits than misses and also I love that it is dedicated in part to Nora Ephron because now that we don't have her, we might need Lena, and many many other women to write funny and insightful and interesting essays, sometimes all at once. 

Did I just do a really good job of hiding the fact that I can basically remember the topics of about two essays? I think so!

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I'm really struggling with Americanah because I literally don't remember how it ends. I remember how I wanted it to end, and I remember some themes and stuff, but I really don't remember how it ends. Regardless, it's a really good book- it took me about 10,000 years to finish because Shakespeare (this is how I justify all things, these days) but it had some really interesting things to say about racial politics, and women, and Nigeria and America AND all of these things were said in the context of a story that I cared about, and wanted to finish, and wanted to FUCKING REMEMBER HOW IT ENDED. But I'm sure it was good. All I know is that I can wholeheartedly recommend it, two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

I Am Not Dead: A Bumper Update Edition

I know, I know. It's been about 10,000 years (actual time: a whole calendar month, which is totally accidental!) and ohhhh my god, what a month. Let's see if I can even formulate any kind of coherent narrative for my life in all that time.

So. Since January 25th...

  • I've kind of been in a grief haze, which has meant I can carry on with life and stuff, but mostly I haven't really cared to. What it has essentially meant is that I can do all the things I NEED to do, but nothing more than that. I'm getting better now, which is kind of why this post even exists.
  • Shakespeare has happened! Obviously... I did another presentation and only have one to go (Thank. God.) and I'm actually starting to care about what I'm reading again, which I'm really grateful for because, come on: I'm only going to be doing a Masters in Shakespeare once in my life, you know? It doesn't hurt that I'm right in the middle of the juicy juicy plays (Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello) and it's difficult not to care about those.
  • My nan had a funeral and it was the saddest, except (EXCEPT) when we were leaving the church, my dad's trousers fell down TO THE ANKLES and it was THE most spectacular moment, possibly of my whole life. I felt kind of terrible for laughing as much as I did, but then everyone kept saying how much both of my dad's parents would have laughed at it (A LOT) and really that just made me feel super close to them, which was nice.
  • The day after my nan had a funeral, I went to London to hang out with Frances, which involved missing uni (whoops) but was, I think, exactly what I needed most in the world on that day. Best friends are pretty important, you guys. 
  • Two days after my nan had a funeral, my dad went into hospital again. He's out now. That's pretty much all I have on that, other than to say that it was a super tiring week and I'm pretty glad it's over.
  • Last week was reading week, which meant that out of a full 9 days, I had 6 off. This was unbelievably gratifying, and I managed to finish my first non-Shakespeare book of the year (a Stephen King book, natch) and made some good headway on a couple of others. I also read Macbeth ready for this week, and then somehow did no other work at all. Whoops?! (I may not fully have my Shakespeare motivation back...) 
  • I have watched more Gilmore Girls than you would necessarily think sensible for a person who has a Masters to complete vaguely well. Whoops? 
That's just a little taste of the insanity of my life at the moment, and why I haven't been around at all for a month. I have been reading blogs but super rarely commenting, but know that I still love you all and your posts brighten up train journeys and times when I've collapsed on the sofa and can't quite do the stairs to go to bed. My return right now has been motivated by two things: the fact that my sister actually sort of reminded me I even had a blog last night (I know. I suck.) AND the fact that Alice's Villette readalong is a thing that is happening starting next week and I really really want to be a part of it because BEST READALONG GROUP EVER. So that'll be a thing (we can but hope).

So. Blow the horns, sound out the bells, I am back and will be haphazardly and sporadically (Clueless) posting about stuff sometimes and not other times and GOD this was fun to write and OK I'm done now. How are you all? 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Sunday Sundries: Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Oh, you guys.

I wrote my blog birthday post last Friday evening because I wanted to spend the weekend vaguely relaxing and maybe reading some Shakespeare because that's what I have to do. It started alright, I had some breakfast, was watching Gilmore Girls in bed and steeling myself to go for a run when my sister called me to tell me my nan had died.

My nan. Who wasn't ill. Who I hadn't seen for a few weeks and who I loved beyond all measure.
To call it a shock doesn't really begin to cover it, and I can't even begin to tell you how sad I am. Except that I kind of already did this, last year, and if there's just one thing more shocking to me than losing this nanny this way, it's having lost both of mine in just over a year. There are no words to tell you how unfair this seems to me, but I guess there is no good time frame within which to lose the people you love.

So, that's what happened in my week. Every day since Saturday has been a case of going about my normal everyday business but not really being there, staring into space a lot, and trying in vain to read Shakespeare (dude is HARD to read when you have no motivation and the sads). I'm hanging in there and being a trooper and all those other things one does, and it is the hardest thing ever. I'm trying to have these kind of feelings:
But mostly I'm feeling a lot more bitter than that. Lucky is so not how I'm feeling right now, but hopefully I'll get there in the end.

Life is pretty hard, you guys.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Devouring Texts is FOUR!

I realise this should be a Sunday Sundries post, but this isn't a sundry topic, it's kind of an everything topic, for today is this tiny little blog's fourth birthday!
Appropriately bookish.

I've just read through the last three years of blog birthday posts, and what strikes me the most is how different each year has been. Which is something that I say every year, of course (and bear with me, for there will be more repetition during this post, I'm sure!) but it's still true that doing this, and taking stock of where I'm at on one day each year, that isn't Christmas or my Birthday (which, although they come a year apart, are also weirdly suspended in time so they're almost the SAME day every year) is very clarifying, and also, you know, weird and scary.

So. Where I'm at. I'm busier and more tired than I've been possibly in my whole life (and definitely since I started writing here) and obviously this has been reflected in the amount I blog. Last year was so weird, and so sad, but so character building and life changing in a lot of ways, and it's just been a whole lot. There were times where I wanted everything to slow down, but, apart from a few impossible things, I didn't really want it to go back to the way it was, because the way it was kind of sucked a lot of the time. 

Even though I've posted so very sporadically here since starting my MA in October, I also feel like I kind of carry this blog, and you lovely people with me wherever I go with it because, if I hadn't had this one place to discuss books and constantly remember how much I just fucking love reading, I probably wouldn't have thought to go back to education at all. Even though I sometimes keep myself awake wondering what I'm actually going to do with a Masters in Shakespeare, I always just end up telling myself, well, even if I do nothing with it, I'll still have had the experience of doing it, and of reading some of the best stuff ever, and you know what, education is never a waste, you guys!

Just another thing I get to carry with me all the time. 

But YOU GUYS. You guys are the best. What would even be the point of (very occasionally) writing things and working through thoughts in the comments if you weren't there too? It's still so ridiculous to me that I have a whole network of people to talk to about almost anything, like asking Kayleigh about her thoughts on postgraduate study, or exchanging emails with Alley about Mad Men, or mass facebooking the only people I know will care about a feminist retelling of Harry Potter as much as I do. We've gone so far beyond the limits of our own blogs (quite literally, in the cases of Ellie, Hanna, Charlotte and especially Bex, whose house I have even been to!!!) I truly believe I have hunted down the best people that the world of book blogs has to offer, and so all of those sparkly YA blogs I had to sift through to find you people has been completely and utterly worth it. Good job being so excellent and making me spend all my money on books you say are awesome. You BEASTS.

The oven in my house is broken (don't even talk to me about it, I can't) so the tradition of baked goods for my blog birthday has been broken for another year, since last year I was too sad to bake. Which, considering that makes two and two, it isn't even a tradition anymore so much as that thing I did twice when I was 1) unemployed, and then 2) very underemployed. Having said that...

How does one end a post when it's on a topic that isn't finished? I'll be writing here, however sporadically (and it will be SO sporadically, at least till after March) for the forseeable future, and I'll be clinging onto you lot for as long as you'll let me. There are so many ways in which the internet and social media are unsatisfying and damaging and all that other stuff, but I can't ever really think that with a straight face because without it I wouldn't have you guys in my life, practically on a daily basis. I say it every year, and all the time, but I didn't expect to get actual friends from this whole blogging thing, but now I just think it's the whole point. Nothing else would have been as good, and this is really good. 

Let's see, how to finish this post...
No, wait. Less sarcasm, more genuine emotion...
I really do.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

2014 End of Year Book Survey (Almost in 2014 and Everything... Wow.)

It is ridiculous to me that it's even 2015 already, but the calendar I got today (which is amazing in itself! I normally get a calendar in, like, February) and all the shitty go-on-a-diet-and-exercise-or-you-should-just-crawl-into-a-hole-and-die adverts on TV suggest that it may, in fact, be a brand new year. Which is cool and all, but I just have these essays to write (obviously, why else would I be writing a blog post?) and THEN I can accept that a new year has begun. I'm in limbo until the 12th January basically, guys.

I want to say something here about how ridiculous 2014 was as a year, but I've probably made that pretty clear over the last 12 months anyway. It started terribly and ended somewhat disappointingly, but all the stuff in between was very... stuff-like, and overwhelming, and exciting, and horrible and there was just a lot, a LOT of stuff. I am not the best with change, so, had I anticipated most of the things that happened I would have been like 'NOOOOOO', but mostly it all happened around me and I just kind of worked with it and around it and I'm pretty ok, I guess.

Apart from those essays. Should probably do something about those.

Anyway. This survey is, as always, hosted by The Perpetual Page Turner, and I am grateful she does this and I don't have to think up my own categories and stuff for a yearly wrap up. Having said that, if I don't like any of the questions, I'm totally not answering them. And I'm adding in my own stuff. So there.

2014 Reading Stats

Number of books I read: 60
Number of re-reads: 8 (huh, I assumed I'd have re-read more because Shakespeare)
Male/Female: 33/27 (I was doing so welllll reading women!)
Fiction/Non-Fiction: 45/15 (This is probably invalid considering all the academic essays I read)
Books In Translation Read: 10 (mainly because of that Japanese phase I had in the summer)
White/Non-White Authors Read: 49/11 (ooooof)
Total Pages Read: 18,117 (again, a total lie because of all the essays and shit)

So, my stats suck, and I mostly blame Shakespeare apart from the lack of diversity thing, because that was pretty much all me. But look at all my non-fiction and translated books! I try to do stuff, man.

Best in Books

1. Best book you read in 2014?
Hmmm... This is a very very difficult task when you've been reading Shakespeare for three months and can't really remember other books. Ok, ignoring Shakespeare (I know, right?) I'm going to give a shout-out to NOS4R2 by Joe Hill (really good work baby King) but probably choose World War Z, because that book is properly excellent.

2.  Book you were excited about and wanted to love more?
I'm going to say We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson. LOVED The Haunting of Hill House, this... less so. Also kind of lame? The Keep by Jennifer Egan. PLEASE WRITE MORE GOON SQUAD CALIBRE STUFF, J!

3. Most Surprising (in a good OR bad way) book you read in 2014?
Oooh, yes, I've got this- I really really enjoyed Franny and Zooey which is ridiculous because I hate Salinger. Or, ok, I hate The Catcher in the Rye. But this was all good.

4. Book you pushed the most people to read in 2014?
I don't know, but I think it's important you know that I'm the worst pusher of books to my housemate and I don't think he's finished any of them yet. Also he returned Twin Peaks without watching it, so I worry about him, really.

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best sequel of 2014? Best series ender of 2014?
Um... are we onto films now? I don't know, leave me alone. Harry Potter is the answer.

6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2014?
Ooooh... I should probably say Yoko Ogawa cause I read TWO of her books! In the same year! But actually I'm going to say Joan Didion because she broke my heart and I need to read all her books ever.

7. Best book from a genre out of your comfort zone?
Well the two best books about running (totally a genre, right?) I read were Running Like A Girl and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Also, the only books I've ever read about running. Like, ever.

8. Most action packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Um... ok, yes, The Silkworm was really pretty good. The fact that I HAD to read it to take it back to the library didn't mean that it was any less difficult to put down.

9. Book you read in 2014 you're most likely to re-read in 2015?
Possibly either of the running books, but more likely probably many of the Shakespeares, depending on what I write my dissertation on (NO IDEA). To be fair, I've already re-read King Lear this year, and I'm going to have to re-read at least parts of As You Like It... Ah, life.

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2014?
Oh my god, I have no fucking idea. Hang on...
The Landline cover is pretty great. RAINBOW ROWELL SHOUT OUT.

11. Most memorable character of 2014?
It disgusts me that I'm going to say King Lear. But, you study a guy for 10 weeks, stuff starts to happen... Especially when you're in the middle of writing an essay about him and all...

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
Come on, this isn't fair- I can't answer Shakespeare for everything but the bastard can write. OK, putting HIM aside for a minute, Let's say Stoner. Damn, that was a good book.

13. The most thought-provoking/life changing book of 2014?
Because of how I felt at the start of the year, everything felt life changing and thought provoking. I was a mess, but I was totally evolving or something. It was weird. But, in a more practical sense, I say the two running books (see above) as well as The First Twenty Minutes. Exercise is cool, yo.

14. Book you can't believe you waited till 2014 to FINALLY read?
Hmm. I didn't really read any books this year that I've been holding onto for years and years, but I can't believe I finally read my first (full) Dickens last year in the Bleak House Readalong. Also that the Bleak House redialing was only last year, didn't we do that about 4 years ago?

15. Favourite Passage/Quote from a book you read in 2014?
Seriously? I don't have a fucking clue. I'm sure I read some great stuff. Let's go with "though she be but little, she is fierce" from A Midsummer Night's Dream, because how is that not great?

16. Shortest and Longest book you read in 2014?
Shortest was I Murdered My Library by Linda Grant (Hmm... Should probably write something about that...) and longest was Bleak House by Dickens. Because that was clearly 10,000 pages long.

17. Book that shocked you the most?
Ok, I thought this was going to be difficult, but actually the book that has most made me feel like I'm going to throw up (like, I don't think any book has ever made me feel like that before) is In The Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami. I feel like I only didn't throw up because I was on the Tube and would have been totally embarrassed. DAMMIT MURAKAMI, YOU'RE GROSS!

18. Redacted because it's annoying.

19. Favourite non-romantic relationship of the year?
Um, the one with my mum? I don't fucking know, all the women in The Women's Room? Yes, that.

20. Favourite book you read in 2014 from an author you've read previously?
The Goldfinch? The Goldfinch. Also there are quite a lot, so.

21. Best book read in 2014 solely because of a recommendation?
Probably World War Z, which I basically read because Alley doesn't shut up about it. Thanks, Alley!

22. Redacted for annoyance.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?
LOL I think the only debut I read this year was (wait for it) The Comedy of Errors which is widely believed to be Shakespeare's first play, I think (but don't quote me on that).

24. Best world building/most vivid setting you read this year?
I'm going to go with Coraline, that shit was well set up and also terrifying.

25. Redacted because I don't read fun books.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2014?
Um. I was very emotional at the start of the year. But The Year of Magical Thinking made me cry in Public. As did Running Like a Girl. It's been a weird year.

27. (seriously, is this still going on?) Hidden gem of the year?
Um um um I kind of want to say The Women's Room because I don't think enough people know about it, but at the same time I don't really know how I felt about it. So let's just say The Housekeeper and the Professor.

28. Book that crushed your soul.
King Lear has killed me. In a bad way. And Endgame killed me in a the world is dead kind of way. I am supposed to be writing an essay about both of these things at this very second.

29. Most unique book you read in 2014?
I'm going to say Life After Life because daaaamn that was an interesting concept and I've never really read anything quite like it before. I didn't necessarily LOVE it (after I'd finished it, anyway) but it really was very unique.

30. (is this the promised end?) Book that made you the most mad?
See above re: all the mentions of King Lear. I will hate it until the essay is done, then I will remember it fondly. Basically.

God, that was longer than I remember it being. Don't ask me anything about books again for, like a whole year. Please. Also links to basically all these reviews are going to be in the book tab at the top. I am definitely too lazy to do them myself. PEACE OUT KIDS.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Christmas Loot!

It's just occurred to me that it's Sunday (even though, as I think we all know, the days between Christmas and New Year don't even count really) so this is kiiiind of a Sunday Sundries post except not because I'm basically going to show you the books I got for Christmas and not even show you what people from the internet got me because that stuff is back at my actual residence and I am at my parents' still and also I suuuuuck.
I know, Skarsgard. I know.
But that's ok! It's all good! I can show you all my other books! Now, the deal with this Christmas was this. I am a very poor person, so I had to do things like make my parents buy me a TV as my Christmas present way back in September so I could watch TV with my housemates, you know, ever, which was actually a dumb thing to do because I now never watch it because Shakespeare has enveloped my whole life. Nonetheless, that was my Christmas present from them (mainly...) and then things happened like I wore a hole in the bottom of my favourite converse (dark blue low tops) and saw a unicorn jumper online that was very expensive but which I neeeeeded (and which I am now wearing. Because life is good.) 

There is totally a point to all this aside from my desperate need for STUFF, SO MUCH STUFF; and that is this: I didn't really ask for that many books for Christmas. To be even more specific, I actually did ask for quite a few books for Christmas, but ten of them were fully Shakespeare plays that I actually need for the new term and so weren't massively fun presents at all. What do 10 Shakespeare plays look like all stacked on top of each other (asked no one ever)? Sort of like this:
Try to contain your excitement, people.

Anyway. So like I say, I didn't ask for all that many other books, but fortunately for me, my mum got a mini-ipad this year and discovered Amazon wishlists, so she got me a couple of books that I didn't even ask for, and my sister got me about three that she chose herself, so it ended up being pretty decent for books. Take a peek: 
So here's what was on my list and I very luckily got: The Clothbound Madame Bovary (sooooo pretty), Yes Please by Amy Poehler (aka one of the greatest people in the world), Life, Art, Words, which is a biography of Tove Jansson (aka the lady who drew the Moomins aka those guys I go on about all the time), and Homemade Decadence, Joy the Baker's second recipe book. ALL VERY EXCITING!

Here are the books I wasn't expecting: I got a Nutella recipe book SHAPED LIKE A JAR OF NUTELLA from my sister who I don't think knows how many times I looked at that book and wanted to buy it but didn't because I'm poor... But she did a good job anyway!
Side Nutella story- I told my mum that Selfridges were selling personalised Nutella jars (you queue up and tell them what to put on the jar and they print you a label and whatnot) and that I wanted one so she got me a jar of Nutella for my Christmas stocking and stuck my name on it with little letter stickers. Not in a straight line. Not exactly what I wanted, but cheers, mum!
Back to the books.... My sister also got me two Breaking Bad book because the girl knows what I want from life- one is called Breaking Down Breaking Bad, which looks like a kind of exploration of different themey things from the show, and the other (SO EXCITED) is Breaking Bad and Philosophy, which is SO my thing, was in fact on my Amazon wishlist but she didn't know it, and OH MY GOD. How would I not want to morally philosophise about basically the greatest TV show ever? Exactly. 

My Auntie got me a sewing book which is totally Relevant To My Interests, even if I don't have a whole load of time to sew at the moment *looks longingly at the end of March* and will totally be useful for things like making a baby bib from a bandanna (Yessssssss!) My mum's wishlist wanderings hit total paydirt- She got me a Murakami (A Wild Sheep Chase) AND a Tove Jansson book for grown up people, A Winter Book, which feels seasonally appropriate. Aaaaand basically yes, I am pretty spoilt. Is that a problem? (Not yet).


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

RIP IX BOOK 4: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

I'm not sure how ridiculous it is to post an RIP review two months after the event ended, nor am I sure how wise it is to try and remember what actually happened in the book three months after I read it, but nonetheless, let's have a go. Almost immediately after reading Gone Girl, I ordered a three book bundle thing of Gillian Flynn's for basically a fiver, which included Gone Girl but £2.50 is still a pretty good price for a book so I got it anyway. I say immediately after because, the more I think about Gone Girl, the less I think I actually liked it so much as I thought it was immensely readable (which isn't a bad thing, at all) but still, I was left with these Gillian Flynn books.

So, I read Sharp Objects. And it is better than Gone Girl. See: finishing it 3 months ago and still thinking it was pretty great. The story is based around Camille Preaker, a journalist who is asked to return to her hometown to cover the murders of a couple of girls, and really it's about her fucked up family, and her fucked up self. I think Flynn is really good at writing characters who aren't really likeable- there are points where you do feel for Camille, but there's just enough cutthroat ambition and general nastiness about her that it's impossible to really like her.

But she's just the start of it. There's also her weirdly smothering and then pushing away mother, her half-sister who is out of control but also extremely childlike in front of their mother, and a motley assortment of townspeople who don't really like or trust Camille. Everyone is kind of exceptionally nasty, and it's difficult to know who the murderer is because everyone seems like they could probably be capable of it.

So, yeah. This is a crime thriller as well as a fucked up family saga, and whilst I am of course not going to tell you who the murderer is (duh), I am going to moan about Flynn's writing style. So, I feel like there is a point at which the plot is pushed a certain way, and there isn't really any wiggle room within that interpretation for believing anyone else is the killer. This is fine, and it generally makes you feel really smart that you've figured it out, but then Flynn will put in a twist that means everything you've been told before is invalidated, and it's just like 'SURPRISE! This happened!' without any real basis for it. To me, this just feels like sloppy writing practice. Of course it's going to be surprising, because there is nothing else anywhere to have really made it likely, so instead of being shocking, it just kind of makes me roll my eyes and sigh a little bit because what was the point of all that, then?

This is kind of how I felt about Gone Girl too, in the end, but the reason it doesn't make me hate Sharp Objects beyond all else is because I think there is enough else here to make it an actually decent book. The creepy family ties, the fucked up protagonist, and I haven't even mentioned the attractive cop and the drugs and the reason the book is even called Sharp Objects... There's quite a lot going on here, is what I'm saying. It hasn't made me jump up and down and want to marry Flynn or anything, but there is some very good stuff here, plus it has made me want to read Dark Places, so good work, Gillian. Good work.