My Monday Message

Welcome to another of my Monday Message posts! Our quote for this week comes from a book that I am currently reading: Some Trick by Helen DeWitt.

What was remarkable was Mlle Matsumoto’s ability to realize the impossible, to transform a percussive instrument into one which had the fluidity of voice.

My Monday Message 3

Some Trick is a curious collection of short stories that reveal various and brutal insights into the publishing industry. It’s an interesting read, if a little difficult to understand at times, and provides us with some really fantastic quotes. In this case, DeWitt is talking about music, and supposing that the pianist, Mlle Matsumoto, creates a music so fluid that it becomes comparable to the human voice.

I really like this quote for quite a few reasons; for one, it suggests that we should not rely on our words; there are many different ways to communicate with each other, and writing or speaking aloud is only one. At the same time, though, this quote demonstrates how it is impossible to break conventions and, in a sense, create something new in an art form that has existed for thousands of years. As the narrator notes, she has “realize[d] the impossible”, which is a really inspiring message, because it goes to show that, no matter how many times something has been done before, it can still be improved. So, that’s my message for the week: don’t give up on something just because you’re worried it’s not original. Look at it from a fresh perspective and you will be able to create something truly beautiful.

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My Week in Review

In case you’ve missed any of my blog posts this week, or would like to know what I’ve been up to since last Sunday, here’s a brief overview:

My Week in Review.png

My Blog Posts This Week:

What I’ve Been Reading:

  • She by H. Rider Haggard (I have been slowly working my way through this classic and managed to finish it on Thursday).
  • Some Trick by Helen DeWitt (This collection of short stories is a part of my required reading for university. I started reading it on Friday).
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (I am revisiting a chapter of the Harry Potter books every Saturday for my “revisited” posts).

Well, that’s what I’ve been up to this week! Thank you for reading. Have you been up to anything out of the ordinary? Let me know!

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Harry Potter Revisited: “The Forbidden Forest”

I am taking part in a Harry Potter reading project, where, each Saturday, I talk a little about each chapter of the Harry Potter books. You can view a full list of these chapter rereads here.


This week, I am reading chapter fifteen of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, “The Forbidden Forest”! (Sorry it’s a little late – I had a really busy day yesterday and just didn’t have time for any rereads!)

Chapter Summary

At the end of the last chapter, Harry and Hermione were caught delivering Norbert, Hagrid’s pet dragon, to some friends of Ron’s brother. Out of bed at one o’clock in the morning, the two friends are in serious trouble, but this does not make them feel half as bad as the realisation that Neville has followed them out of bed. He had been trying to warn them that Malfoy was trying to set them up and catch them, but, in the process, he had run into Professor McGonagall. The three friends are given detentions and one-hundred and fifty points are taken from Gryffindor.

1 - audioHarry has gone from one of the most popular boys in school to one of the least popular, and he hates it. He tries to keep his head down, focussing on his work, but this is made difficult when he overhears Quirrell, who, from the sounds of it, has finally given into Snape, and will have told him how to get past his defences and take the Philosopher’s Stone for himself. Nevertheless, Harry doesn’t have the time – or the House Points – to do anything about it.

He is distracted from his work, however, when it is time for his detention. He, Hermione, Neville and Malfoy (who was also given a detention for sneaking around the castle at night) are led towards the Forbidden Forest by Argus Fitch. He hands them over to Hagrid, who tells them that they are going to be following an injured unicorn. Something has caused it to bleed quite severely and Hagrid needs to investigate it. So, Hagrid, Harry and Hermione head off in one direction and Malfoy, Neville and Fang head off in the other. They have strict instructions to use their wants to shoot red sparks if they are in danger.

As Hagrid, Harry and Hermione walk, Hagrid suddenly tells the pair to hide behind a tree. They hear a strange, slithering sound that Hagrid doesn’t recognise, and Harry suddenly realises how much danger they are in. They continue walking, but then are interrupted by Ronan, a centaur. Hagrid tries to ask Ronan, and then another centaur, Bane, whether they know anything about the unicorn, but he can’t get a straight answer from them – centaurs are devout stargazers and don’t seem to think about anything, as Hagrid says, “closer than the moon”. Just then, Hermione notices red sparks in the distance, and Hagrid races off, worried that something has hurt Malfoy and Neville.

A few moments later, however, he has returned with the others. Malfoy had sneaked up on Neville for a prank and, terrified, Neville had made the red sparks. Exasperated, Hagrid tells Harry to accompany Malfoy so that Neville can stay with him; he thinks that Malfoy will have a harder time scaring Harry. Yet Harry, Malfoy and Fang have not been walking for long when they find the unicorn – clearly dead. They stand staring at it for a minute, before something else appears in the clearing – a black, hooded figure that goes right up to the unicorn and begins to drink its blood. Malfoy and Fang flee, but Harry is transfixed, and the figure turns slowly towards him, beginning to creep forwards. Before it can reach him, however, a centaur charges out of the trees and knocks the figure away. It tells Harry to climb onto its back, and then it runs.

The centaur – Firenze – defies his own kind by allowing Harry to ride on his back. On the journey back to Hagrid, he talks to Harry about the cloaked figure and, after some vigorous hints from Firenze, where he tells Harry that unicorn blood can, in a way, prolong a person’s life, Harry makes a revelation. Snape does not want the Philosopher’s Stone for himself – he wants it to bring Lord Voldemort back to power.

The Scariest Moment

This chapter used to terrify me when I was younger. There is something really sinister about the cloaked figure slipping through the trees, and I honestly still consider it the scariest moment in the entire series. The language is simply chilling!

The Funniest Moment

After Harry finds himself responsible for losing so many House Points, he makes a promise to himself: never again will he go meddling in things that do not concern him. This is rather funny when you think about the ending of this book, as well as the future books in the series. After all, Harry would have had very few adventures if he had spent all his time minding his own business.

Some Further Thoughts

  • It does seem a very dangerous idea for a detention, sending a group of eleven-year-olds into a highly dangerous forest. Hagrid even acknowledges that it is dangerous and, as is revealed throughout the series, it most certainly is. He argues that detentions at Hogwarts aren’t just “writing lines” – they are more useful, but this really isn’t true of the rest of the series.
  • So, as far as Harry is aware, he has come into contact with Lord Voldemort for the first time, whom he believes is hiding out in the Forbidden Forest. If this were true, then how on earth would it be possible to evade him by hiding behind a tree? As we will discover towards the end of this book, Lord Voldemort has a way of sensing the truth, and it feels highly plausible that, regardless of his position, he would have known that two students, along with a half-giant (it must have been a big tree) were hiding from him.

A Quote

“Mars is bright tonight.”

“Yeah,” said Hagrid, glancing up, too. “Listen, I’m glad we’ve run into yeh Ronan, ’cause there’s a unicorn bin hurt – you seen anything?”

Ronan didn’t answer immediately. He stared unblinkingly upward, and then sighed again.

“Always the innocent are the first victims,” he said. “So it has been for ages past, and so it is now.”

“Yeah,” said Hagrid, “but have yeh seen anythin’, Ronan? Anythin’ unusual?”

“Mars is bright tonight,” Ronan repeated, while Hagrid watched him impatiently. “Unusually bright.”

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The Friday 56: Beowulf

The Friday 56 is a blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Each week, you choose a book quote (preferably from page 56) to talk about! So, here goes:

Friday 56


  1. Grab a book, any book.
  2. Turn to page 56 (or 56% in an eReader).
  3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil anything) that pulls your attention.
  4. Post it!

I absolutely love the idea behind this challenge because I love quotes!

This week’s book is…


Written in verse, Beowulf is a tricky book to read, even in translation. Nevertheless, it’s a fantastic story, particularly if you like tales about kings, dragons and demons. If you don’t know much about this ancient story, it’s definitely worth checking out!


[O]ne began to dominate the dark, a dragon on the prowl from the steep vaults of a stone-roofed barrow where he guarded a hoard.

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“A Torch Against the Night”: Book Review

Towards the end of August, I posted a review for An Ember in the Ashes, the first book in a YA fantasy series written by Sabaa Tahir. I listened to the audiobook of this title and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so, eager to continue with the series, I quickly purchased the second book, A Torch Against the Night.

A Torch Against the Night.jpgPlot Overview

TitleA Torch Against the Night.
Author: Sabaa Tahir.
Publication: 2016, Razorbill.
My Edition: 2016, Audible.
Length: 14 hours, 17 minutes / 452 pages.
Genre(s): Fantasy, YA, Dystopian, Romance.
My Rating: 4/5.

Like An Ember in the AshesA Torch Against the Night is written as a split-narrative novel, except this time, instead of just two narrators, there are three: Laia, a member of the Scholars (a slave race), Elias, a banished soldier, and Elias’ once best friend, Helene. Some of you may remember that, in my review for An Ember in the Ashes, I mentioned that I had wanted to hear more of Helene’s perspective. Well, I swear I didn’t know, but she seems to have been given a much greater role in the later books in the series.

At the end of the first book, Laia and Elias had escaped Blackcliff as fugitives. This is still the case in A Torch Against the Night, and this unlikely couple are constantly evading capture as they make their way towards Laia’s brother, whom she is still desperate to rescue. Meanwhile, Helene has been tasked with hunting Elias, and there is something of a chase while we explore the beautiful fantasy world that surrounds these characters.

The night only brings more horrors.

There are many new characters to meet, lots of new twists, and so much emotion in A Torch Against the Night. We follow both Laia and Elias as they encounter Scholar suffering, supernatural creatures and the barbarity of the prison system. Yet, as in the first book, we are also shown the other side of the story, following Helene and her family as we experience the many trials of being a Blood Shrike.

My Review

This book has a very different feel to An Ember in the Ashes, but it is nevertheless just as successful. It took me a little longer to read it than the first book, and I would say that I didn’t enjoy it as much, but that would only be true of the first half of the book. Towards the end, I was completely gripped. The emotion really hit home and I can genuinely admit that this book brought me to tears.

What I Loved:

Other than the extraordinary emotion evoked by this wonderful story, there was a lot to love about it. As the characters had already been introduced, the story was able to get going quite quickly, and I adored their interactions with each other. For quite a while, Laia and Elias join with others to join a small group of friends, and I loved the sense of companionship that this brought with it.

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa TahirI also enjoyed how, in this book, everything seems so big. Whilst the settings were arguably better presented in An Ember in the Ashes, this sequel takes us out of Blackcliff and unleashes us into an entire world. Constant suggestions are made towards mass war and revolution, and the scale of this was really engaging.

Overall, the characters were well presented. Laia has become a much more likeable character, even if there did seem to be a little less depth to both her and Elias. Out of all the characters, however, Helene was developed the most successfully. In this novel, we really come to know Helene Aquilla, coming into contact with not only her family, but also her most private thoughts. In An Ember in the Ashes, I had supposed that she would be a fascinating character, and I was certainly right!

Without giving too much away, I will also say that there is a truly fantastic twist in this book that really impressed me. I certainly hadn’t seen it coming, and it left me in awe for a long time after I had finished reading.

What I Didn’t Like:

Although I did love the lore introduced in this book, I will admit that this fantasy element did at times seem a little forced. This was particularly true of the beginning of the book during the introduction of the Soul Catcher. Honestly, I just didn’t see the purpose of this character until later on in the story, so I found this whole scene really confusing.

I mentioned earlier that I thought Laia and Elias were lacking in a depth that was fully provided by An Ember in the Ashes. This is a very minor point, as they are still very strong characters, but a part of my problem lies in their inconsistency. For quite a long time, there is barely any mention of Laia’s brother. This just seemed a little odd, because she spoke (and thought) of almost nothing else for the whole of the first book. This issue is, of course, clearly resolved by the end of the novel.


I honestly cannot find another way to fault this book. As you can probably tell from this review, I adored the ending, even if the beginning was a little frustrating. Most of my issues, such as poorly developed settings and character inconsistency, are overshadowed by the size of this story. It doesn’t matter that we don’t know every detail, because there is so much that is happening! Almost from the first sentence, we are provided with an action-packed story that is simply bursting with magic.

fully enjoyed this book, and would have given it a rating of 5/5 if it hadn’t been for its beginning. I could not be more pleased with this series and cannot wait to find out what happens in the third book, and recent release, A Reaper at the Gates.

Thank you for reading this review. I am really keen to continue with this excellent series, but I also want to finish my project of reading the entire collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. My next audiobook read is therefore going to be The Hound of the Baskervilles, after which I will be moving onto A Reaper at the Gates.

You can click here to check out an A-Z list of all of my reviews (so far)!

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Autumn 2018 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a challenge hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl that’s all about books! Each week, we are asked to list ten bookish recommendations that can be based on anything from fictional worlds and characters, to colours on book covers.

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This Week’s Prompt: 10 Books on my Autumn 2018 TBR

For the past few weeks, I have found that none of the Top Ten Tuesday prompts have particularly grabbed my attention, but I’m really excited for this week’s theme. I’m starting back at university around the end of this month, so I’m obviously going to be reading a few more classics over Autumn, but there are also a few pleasure reads that I am really excited about. So, here we go with 10 books I’m keen to read in Autumn 2018:

#1 – The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker.

I am so excited to start reading this book. I received a free review copy a couple of weeks ago but haven’t got around to reading it yet. It’s another mythological retelling, this one based on Homer’s The Iliad, and sounds fantastic! I have read Pat Barker’s Regeneration before, and she is a fantastic writer, so there’s no real reason why The Silence of the Girls shouldn’t be one of my favourite reads in 2018.

#2 – The Pharmacist’s Wife by Vanessa Tait.

I feel as if I have been talking about this book for an exceptionally long time, but I still haven’t gotten around to reading it. Set in the Victorian period, this novel really appeals to me, and it’s frustrating that I’ve been putting it off for so long. I’ve also received quite a few recommendations for it, so I’m really keen to find out what all the fuss is about!

#3 – Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs.

Here’s another book that I’ve had sitting on my shelves for a little while now. I picked it up when I was searching through a second-hand bookshop. I’ve read a few of Kathy Reichs YA books in the past and really loved them, but that was quite a few years ago, so it’s going to be interesting to see whether her writing still pulls me in.




#4 – We That Are Young by Preti Taneja.

This book is one that I’m going to be studying this term, but it sounds super interesting. It’s described as “a modern-day King Lear” set in India, so it’s all about family feuds and the young vs. the old, and as King Lear is possibly my favourite of all of Shakespeare’s plays, I’m really interested to see how this story goes.

#5 – The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza.

This book has one of the most unusual premises that I have ever heard. It’s a complex narrative that, on the surface, is a horror one. Yet this book also promises to be about confused gender roles and the human body. It’s certainly unusual, and I’ve heard that the way that it’s written is truly mesmerising, so I’m excited to start reading it this Autumn.

#6 – Iraq +100: Stories from a Century after the Invasion by Hassan Blasim (editor).

Here’s another book that I’m going to be studying. It’s an anthology of ten short stories from Iraqi writers who consider what their country may be like in 2103, one hundred years after the British/American invasion of 2003. It looks like it’s going to be a real mix of genres, from science fiction to magic realism, and sounds quite fascinating.




#7 – A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir.

I’m bending the rules of the challenge here a little, because I’ve actually already finished reading A Torch Against the Night. I finished it last weekend, but I’m pretty sure that this counts as Autumn already; it’s certainly cold enough to be! (If you’re wondering, I absolutely loved reading this book!)

#8 – A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir.

Following on from A Torch Against the Night, I’m looking forward to reading the third book in the An Ember in the Ashes series, A Reaper at the Gates. This recent release has been all over my social media for the past few weeks, and I’m really eager to see whether it will live up to the rest of the series or not. From what I’ve heard, it certainly will!

#9 – The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Over the past couple of months, I have been attempting to read the entire collection of Sherlock Holmes stories, and I hope to be soon moving onto the third full-length novel in the series, The Hound of the Baskervilles. This is probably the Sherlock Holmes story that I am the most excited to read, as, from what I’ve heard, it’s excellent.

#10 – The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

I’m not sure whether I will be able to start this book in Autumn, but I would love it if I could. After I have finished reading The Hound of the Baskervilles, I plan on moving onto the third short story collection in the series. After that, I will have very nearly finished all of the Sherlock Holmes books, which I think is going to feel like a real achievement.




Well, that’s it! Thanks for stopping by to read this Top Ten Tuesday post! By this time next week, I should have another book list posted. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts for me, please do leave a comment below. I’d love to know which books you are planning on reading in Autumn this year!

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My Monday Message

Welcome to another of my Monday Message posts! Our quote for this week comes from a book that I am currently reading: She by H. Rider Haggard.

Thinking can only serve to measure out the helplessness of thought.

My Monday Message 3She is a classic adventure novel that really makes you think. A lot of its content is really quite mind-boggling, and that includes my chosen quote for this week. In this line, Rider is suggesting that, by thinking, we are able to realise the futility of thought. After all, we’re not going to change the world by thinking about it; to change the world, you need to act.

My message for this week is based on this very idea: don’t overthink things. You can spend your days fretting about the future, or you can just get on with it. She tells us that, as nice as our thoughts may be, and as sophisticated and exciting as they may seem, they won’t actually get us anywhere. Thoughts are important, but so are actions, and when we overthink, we’re essentially wasting our time.

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