Saturday, 30 November 2013

Books I've Read: Victorians, Time Travelers, and a powerful Janeite tendency (Oct - Nov 2013)

Ever since I started keeping a list of all the novels, plays, and collections of poetry I've been reading, I found that it acts as a wonderful encouragement for reading more. Perhaps it's because of my eternal need to make lists combined with my desire to make everything bigger and better, but whatever the reason it's definitely interesting to look back on. My memory often doesn't play ball so the list serves as a great quick recap.

Like many others, I love knowing what other people have been reading, partly because I'm nosy, and partly because it often gives me ideas for things I might like to read. With this in mind I thought I'd share with you the books I've explored over the last two months. I'll probably make this a recurring feature on my blog - we shall see what happens there. So without further delay...

For purposes of research I've devoured quite a few texts set around the sixteenth century. We have Sacred Treason by James Forrester, and a delightful book called The Silent Woman, written by Edward Marston. However, most of the books I've read, I must confess, have been set - though not written - during the Victorian period. Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper is a personal favourite, which mixes youth and poverty in a thrilling tale that'll surely break your heart.

In this same category there's the Philippa Pearce classic Tom's Might Garden, which is wonderful and I should confess my shame that it's taken me this long to read it. I fully intend to seek out an adaptation to watch! Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth by Chris Priestley was also a thrill, and extremely disturbing even though it's a children's book!

It's thanks to a heavy workload filled with stuffy textbooks that I thought it was best to read lighter fiction, and, as you'll already be able to tell, children's and teenage fiction. With this we also have two books by Jacqueline Wilson: Queenie and Emerald Star. Wilson is the very reason I read and write - she took me through my childhood and teenage years, something for which I will always be eternally grateful. However, around the publication of Love Lessons I stopped reading her work - I was growing up. It was to be expected.  I've made a pact with myself though to catch up with her novels, and keep up to date with her work. You can expect to see her name mentioned frequently in these blogposts!

I finally got round to reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and the Chamber of Secrets! J.K. Rowling certainly has an interesting writing style, admirable. I'll look forward to reading the other four (I've already read the seventh).

The only other general fiction I've read over the last two months is Angels of Destruction by Keith Donohue. I've otherwise  been focusing on set texts for university. Shakespeare's works include Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Twelfth Night. I've never been the biggest fan of Shakespeare and I can't say I ever will be, but some of his plays are reasonably interesting.

And, finally, it is here that I announce that I am great risk of becoming a Janeite. I've had to suppress this desire before, but now it's back and fighting hard. The delights of a new Jane Austen module at university has brought cause to read Northanger Abbey (my favourite of Austen favourites!), Sense and Sensibility (not a favourite!!), Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma. Next month I'll be rereading her other major novel, which I've previously enjoyed, so I'm looking forward to that one. My essay for the Austen assignment focused on Northanger Abbey so I've also been reading a lot of textbooks and essays about Austen. Let me tell you: this does nothing in helping me ease my desire to don Regency attire and attend great balls in Bath.

Speaking of great balls, I've, as ever, been reading lots of Byron. My current focuses just now lie around his wedding (for my dissertation) and his childhood, specifically his time spent around Mary Chaworth. Never could we have enough Byron...

The final of the books is Doctor Who: Winner Takes all by Jacqueline Raynor. I'd not read a Doctor Who novel in about four years, so this was a gripping delight, and one I' definitely recommend. Raynor really captures the essence of Eccleston's Doctor.

And there we have it! Seventeen novels over the last two months. I'll aim to beat that by the end of January, so do make sure you pop back to see if I've succeeded! For now, I'll leave you with images of some of my favourite covers from those mentioned above.

Amy x

The Silent Woman by Edward Marston
Doctor Who: Winner Takes All by Jacqueline Rayner
Emerald Star by Jacqueline Wilson
Jane Austen: The Life and Times of the World's Favourite Author by Charles Jennings

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

And so it's arrived... WhovianNet's THE DOCTOR AND I (GJBpublishing)

Right on schedule, before the 50th anniversary episode is broadcast this weekend, my copy of The Doctor and I has arrived!

The book, compiled by and published by, contains a collection of essays and stories from fans of Doctor Who from all over the world, brought together to celebrate fifty years of one of Britain's best-loved TV shows. You can read more about this in my earlier blogpost here.

The Doctor and I can be purchased online directly from GJBpublishing here. To whet your appetite I've included a few images below of the front cover and a taster of my article 'Abandoning Reality to Source the Truth'. You'll have to buy the book if you wish to read the other two pages of my contribution!

Many thanks to WhovianNet and GJBpublishing alike for making this book possible. It's a fantastic concept and really highlights the strength of the Whovian community, of which I am very proud to be a part.

Amy x

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Helena Bonham Carter as the wizard in the M&S Christmas 2013 advert?!

I can do little but express how wrong I was.

I'll admit that I wasn't overly convinced when I heard Ms Bonham Carter had been cast in this year's Marks and Spencer Christmas advert. It seemed like an odd choice, and I was concerned that she'd become too branded, too stereotyped. It doesn't need to be said that I care about her and her career too much to see this happen. Sure, being heavily associated with M&S wouldn't be too bad, but it wasn't the route down which I, as an avid supporter and admirer of her acting career, wished for her to go.

However, I'm now very, very satisfied!

She's playing the wizard in this year's advert, which is themed around Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. She may only be in it for 17 seconds (1:36-1:53) but they are such glorious seconds that there's no doubt it's worth it! The giant green head is really effective, and her appearance afterwards is stunning. The rest of the advert is, of course, also gorgeous; the Tea Party is well-displayed, and who couldn't love the giant playing cards?

You can watch the video below, on the M&S YouTube channel.

Isn't it stunning?

Amy x


Friday, 1 November 2013

THE DOCTOR & I (ed. WhovianNet) available for pre-order!

Yes, you read the title right. The Doctor & I, a creation edited by WhovianNet and written by fans of Doctor Who, is now available for pre-order.

The paperback book will be released on the 23rd November 2013 - I'm sure you'll all recognise that very special date as the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who! It consists of a fantastic 87 contributions fro all over the world as fans of the show unite to share their stories about The Doctor. It also contains a foreword by award-winning writer Richard Curtis.

The Doctor & I is a wonderful celebration of one of the world's greatest fandoms. To pre-order a copy you can do so by visiting the WhovianNet website here and selecting the relevant country. You will also find a full list of contributors and article titles there to give you a taste of what's in store. (I'm #60, with 'Abandoning Reality to Source the Truth'; I can't wait to see it in print!) It is priced at £8.99 plus regional postage.

I'm looking forward to receiving my copy of The Doctor & I, and I imagine you will be too! Keep an eye out on my YouTube channel where I will display the book upon its arrival.

And with that, let the one-month countdown to the 50th anniversary commence...

Amy x

I've been sketched! - 'Amy McLean' by Joel Hoe

I'd like to share something with you today that took my breath away...

One of my lovely Twitter followers Joel Hoe (@JoelHoe) send me a link to a photo of one of his latest portraits. With curiosity I clicked the link, and what did I find?


I'm absolutely blown away by the artist's talents. There's such an accuracy here; I'd certainly recognise myself had I not known it was me! I'll add the original image on which its based with this so you can see the comparison.

I'd like to thank the artist for this kind portrait. My great hero Lord Byron was rather particular about his portraits, wishing for them to show him in the best light, and I do expect that, if he was me, he'd fully approve of this one.

Plus, it's always worth establishing that I look better in pencil than I do in real life.

Amy x