Sunday, 30 April 2017

The Reading Habits Tag

...This appears to be the only resolution I'm keeping.
The Reading Habits tag was originally created by The Book Jazz.

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

When I'm at home, I like to read stretched out on the sofa. I also tend to read on the bus. Up here at uni, I don't really have a specific place. I read curled up on my bed. I read in the second floor common room of the English building that nobody else seems to realise exists. I read in the library. I read at the back of lecture halls. I read anywhere and everywhere that I can because my reading list is taller than most mountains and I'm scared it'll fall and crush me.

Where do you like to read?

Any spot the sun is shining on.

(You do realise that that makes you a cat?)

You do realise that that is one of the greatest compliments you could give me?


Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Folding the corner over. Bwa ha ha ha ha!

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/certain amount of pages?

Must. Finish. Chapter.

Do you eat or drink while reading?

That depends. Is there chocolate?

(She used to eat whilst she ate her tea, but then she read Blasted and almost lost her tea.)

Music or TV while reading?

Eh. If the book's good, I'll tune it out. If the book's not, I'll get distracted.

One book at a time or several at once?

I can read several books at once, but there's something satisfying about spending the day with just the one and finishing it in one sitting.

Reading at home or everywhere?

Everywhere. I would read on Neptune.

(You would die on Neptune.)

Not the point.
Reading aloud or silently in your head?
In my head, but, if the coursebook is particuarly bad, reading aloud can help me concentrate.

Do you read ahead or skip pages? 

...I have been known to read ahead at times, but I always come back to where I was.

(Not the point.)

Oh, shut up!  

Break the spine or keep it like new?


Do you write in your books?

Do I look like an animal?

(You fold corners and snap spines.)

Not. The. Point.

Who do you tag?

I don't really have anyone to tag.

(Not the -)

Jesus! Did you ever meet a joke you didn't run into the ground?

As I was saying, I've seen this on several of the blogs that I follow already, and I don't want to be a pain and tag anyone who's already done it. Still, you're welcome to steal it if you want.

Where do you like to read?

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Why, Despite All Appearances, Kaz Brekker is NOT a Byronic Hero

(Warning: SERIOUS spoilers for Six of Crows. Including the ending.)

If you don't know what a byronic hero is, click here

It's an old post -

(And it isn't particuarly brilliant either)

- but it should do the job.

Leigh Bardugo's Kaz Brekker is an interesting hero mainly because he isn't. He's not fussed about saving princesses and worlds. He's essentially a hero in name only. Hell, if it wasn't for the fact that he essentially participates in a rescue mission, he'd be nothing more than a villain playing protagonist. All Kaz wants is money (or so he says). In Six of Crows, a good argument can be found for Kaz being a byronic hero, but, the more I think about it, the more issues I find with attaching that label to his character.

Byronic heroes are typically characterised as being "mad, bad, and dangerous". Kaz is certainly bad and dangerous. He's not even twenty, and he's a powerful gang member. He's killed, he's stolen, he's done two stints in prison. They don't call him "the bastard of the barrel" for nothing. Mad though? No. Kaz is downright rational. He has a plan. And a back-up plan. And probably a third plan after that, if he so needs it. He knows who he can use, and how. When he's calm - and there are only three things that have upset him so far - every move he makes is calculated. Controlled. 

Still, two out of three isn't bad. Let's move onto his motives. 

The Byronic Hero is motivated entirely by self-interest. Look at Victor Frankenstein from Frankenstein. He could have saved Justine, but he didn't because that would mean admitting his own crimes. On the surface, this seems to hold true for Kaz. He claims to be entirely motivated by money throughout the first book. Kaz chose all six of the crows for their skills rather than their company. At one point, he even describes Inej, arguably the person closest to him, as an "investment". He might've gotten Inej out of the Menagerie because he thought she could be useful to him, but he's clearly attached to her. When she's injured, his own point of view chapter tells us that "everything inside him felt frayed and raw". Sure, he doesn't want to lose his wraith, but if there was no personal attachment he wouldn't feel like he was fraying at the edges. At the end, he lets the villain (if that's what you call it in a book where everyone is a villain in one way or another) get away because Inej would die if they shot them down. This puts him at a huge disadvantage. It certainly was not in his own self-interest, especially when you consider that Inej had just rejected him - "I will have you without armour Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all." Kaz knows that Inej plans to leave, and he still chooses her safety over an action that would benefit him. Compare Kaz's actions to those of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. He wants Catherine, and he won't let her go even after she's dead. He digs her up, for crying out loud! Kaz outright said that he "want[ed]" Inej, but he'd rather she live and leave than let her die to further his own agenda. By the end of the book, it's clear that Inej's safety is more important to him than money.

To sum up, Kaz presents himself as a byronic hero. He's definitely dangerous, and there's no denying that he's a bad guy, but he's only playing at not caring. Putting on a show. He doesn't fit the mould well enough to count. On the inside, he's not a Victor Frankenstein or a Heathcliff. When it comes down to it, he's not going to sacrifice the people he loves to further his own ends.
No mourners. No funerals.
Throw some opinions at me. What type of hero do you think Kaz Brekker is?

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Easter Book Haul (Sunday Post #8)

I just got back from Edinburgh (society trip - another reason why you should definitely join a society) where I somehow managed to buy four books. It's been a while since I joined the Sunday Post link-up at The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, so here's a round-up of my physical TBR.

Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan - I bought this in January, but I'm definitely not going to get to it until the summer holidays. On the bright side, that means I'll only have to endure the usual Riordan cliffhanger for a couple of months.

Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter - I've heard bad things, but from people who've found the previous two books to be average. I LOVE this series, and I'm excited!

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo - Do I have time to read it right now? No. Should I really be spending £10 on a book? Also no. But I just finished Six of Crows and I want back into the world that Leigh Bardugo has created. I can't believe this is the last book with these characters!

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas - Did anyone else watch the BBC adaption? It was amazing! Of course, it's either going to ruin the source material or the source material is going to ruin it. Place your bets.

The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson - It's not my usual thing, but I saw this ages ago and thought that it sounded interesting. I saw it again in a secondhand bookshop in Edinburgh and snapped it up at once!

The Child by Sebastian Fitzek - What can I say? I was curious.

Malkonar by Alex Jackson - Technically, I'm reading this now. I say "technically" because I have coursebooks.

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg - I need this for Tuesday. It's...not going well. It's just so hard to get into. I'm planning to force my way through the rest of it tomorrow - hopefully, it'll get better.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - This is the coursebook I'm most looking forward to on the module! 

What does your physical TBR look like right now? 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

And Now For Some ACTUAL Criminals (Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo)

'"What's the easiest way to steal a man's wallet?"
"Knife to the throat?" asked Inej.
"Gun to the back?" said Jesper.
"Poison in his cup?" suggested Nina.
"You're all horrible," said Matthias.'
- Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows

I originally gave this four stars, but I have little to no impulse control and ended up pushing it up to five because Kaz. And Wylan. And Jesper. And Nina and Matthias. And, okay, maybe Inej too. 

Honestly, the characters make this book.

  • Kaz is the most cut-throat criminal in the barrel. He doesn't care about anything but money. He certainly doesn't care about Inej. Nope. Not at all. She's just an investment. It's not like he'd be lost without her or anything. Saints, would you get off his case? Honestly, I love Kaz. He supresses his feelings, internalises everything, and ends up coming off as awkward.
  • Inej is the wraith, which is basically a cool way of saying that you will never hear her coming. She knows everything - everything - because she's queen of the eavesdroppers. I didn't dislike Inej, I just liked her the least of the main cast. She's hard to connect with, but her relationship with Kaz is interesting, and she has strong friendships with Jesper and Nina.
  • Jesper shoots guns and gambles away his money. He seems like a pretty open guy, but bear in mind that all six of the crows have secrets.
  • Wylan is new to the Barrel, clueless, and generally adorable. He annoys the hell out of Jesper so, of course, he ends up spending all his time with him. I loved watching them move from "Kaz says I have to work with you, so here I am" stage to the "I haven't seen you in a couple of days, I feel ditched" stage. 
  • Nina. Saints, I love Nina. She's a heart-render who loves food (same, Nina, same) and has a highly complicated relationship with...
  • Matthias. Who was essentially raised in an arctic version of Nazi Germany. He's a mess of conflicted loyalties and overcomes a lot of prejudices over the course of the book.
They might be a team for the purposes of the heist, but all six of them have their own agendas and those agendas don't necessarily match up to each other or the plan. Most of the plot is dictated by the choices that the characters make. They're all criminals. Don't expect them to take the moral high road just because it's there.

It does have romance, but those romances are so well-written and not what I would call typical. Kaz doesn't like touching people, so that complicates whatever's going on with him and Inej, and Nina and Matthias...well, let's just say that they have some unresolved issues.

Six of Crows is a long book. The plot twists and turns, jumping from character to character, and backstory is massively important. Honestly, at times when it jumped into a character's backstory, I was irritated - I wanted to get to the heist! - but there is nothing in this novel that isn't there for a reason.

It's set in the same world as The Grisha Trilogy, but I haven't read that and I managed fine. 

Have you read Six of Crows?