Tag Archives: Random Savidgeness

Why I Still Turn to Fairytales…

Some might say it is a little bit queer (rolls eyes at self) that a thirty three year old man would be desperate to see Cinderella as his 33rd birthday treat, yet this was my story just a few weeks ago. Since I can remember when I have loved a good fairytale. This I blame on my family frankly.

Firstly my highly over imaginative grandfather who made me believe that the tower at the top of our hill (actually part of The Heights of Abraham) was where Rapunzel lived (who I named my pet duck after) and who also wrote me magical tales with me in them when I was three upwards. Secondly my pair of wicked ugly aunties (only joking Caz and Alice, honest, gulp) who told me tales of witches who lived on the hill, which I think they made up. Thirdly my mother who would read and reread (and reread and reread and reread) the wonderful Ladybird Well Loved Tales to me as a child. Fourthly my Gran who also read me those and would watch the Slipper and the Rose (one of the best versions of the Cinderella story, end of) at least four or five times, with a break in between for The Wizard of Oz or the odd Doris Day movie, when I would stay in the school holidays. I know, this explains so much right there doesn’t it?

My old family home, surrounded by forest – Sleeping Beauty much?

So I guess fairy tales were a safe haven when I was growing up and indeed have been my turn to books whenever I am feeling a little off kilter, ill, out of sorts or have the dreaded readers block. There are the odd exceptions but Into the Woods was a film not a book and probably shouldn’t be mentioned ever again. Oddly enough once I realised how much darker they were than sanitised Ladybird or Disney incarnations I loved them all the more, though still haven’t read all the ‘fairy tales uncut’ as it were. That was why there was really no other first tattoo option for me; I am planning a ‘woodland fairytale scene’ on my other arm as we speak. Seeing Cinderella, which was extremely good indeed thank you for asking, and having the new routine of watching an episode of Once Upon a Time with my breakfast and coffee and sometimes my lunch – the urge for me to read the originals and the new homage’s and the like has come back really strong.

I thought instead of me just asking you for advice on which ones I should look out for, though you all know I am going to ask that later let’s not pretend, I decided I would share with you some fairy tales and fairy tale themed books I have loved and some I have been buying and hoarding and planning to read at some point.

Just a selection from my shelves...

Just a selection from my shelves…

First up are some books that I would really, really recommend and indeed have reviewed. There are of course the originals but you all know about all of them. There have been some wonderful authors who have taken on the fairytales and given them their spin. Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber is one fine example, as is Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales (which do what they say on the tin) and I would highly recommend Sarah Pinborough’s trilogy of Poison, Charm (which I have read but yet to review) and Beauty (which I have yet to read) which give the tales of three princesses a much darker and saucier feel, and cleverly interweaves them all.

If you fancy some new fairytales then you can’t go wrong with the fantastically gothic graphic novel collection of both Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods and Isabel Greenberg’s An Encyclopedia of Early Earth one which will give you the horrors, the other which looks at myths, fairytales and legends and their creation. Then there is the wonderful collection by Viktor and Rolf, which safe to celebrates the campiness of the fairytale, disco hedgehog anyone? Oh and how could I forget the sublime, sublime, sublime Diving Belles by Lucy Wood which is one of my favourite short story collections every and will have you seeing magic, mermaids and witches everywhere when you leave the house.

There is one standout though that both reinvents and invents. With Bitter Greens I think Kate Forsyth, who is actually a Doctor of Fairytales yet who we shall just call Queen of the Fairy Tales for now, has done something incredible that any fairy tale or story lover of any type should read. In it we meet three women all isolated from society for various different reasons, a storyteller locked in a nunnery, a woman locked into getting revenge and a young girl locked in a tower. These women’s tales come together to create a wonderful novel about storytelling, history, and fairytales and of course my favourite tale of all the story tales… Rapunzel. Just read it. I need to read The Wild Girl which I believe looks at the Brothers Grimm themselves and nicely links in to some books I haven’t read yet but have bought.

So what of the books to read?  I didn’t realise this until recently, and now it seems so obvious, but Kate Hamer’s debut about a child abducted The Girl in the Red Coat is one I am itching to read, as is Kirsty Logan’s collection of modern fairytales The Rental Heart. Then there is the series that I have seen lots and lots and lots of people going crazy over, the dystopic Lunar Chronicles which sees Cinderella as a cyborg, Little Red Riding Hood turn detective/street crime fighter and Rapunzel a computer hacker. I. CANNOT. WAIT!

Oh and then there are two nonfiction books I should mention. Once Upon a Time which is Marina Warner’s short history of the fairytale (apparently she is an expert so I might end up wanting her entire backlist) and I am also desperate to read, Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland which comes with the subtitle the tangled roots of our forests and fairytales which I have had on the shelves for far too long and needs to be read.

Phew I think that is enough! As you can see this list is not exhaustive and I am sure there are many, many recommendations you would love to pass onto me. Hint, hint. Has Margaret Atwood not done some fairytales, it will be a crime if not. If you would like to hear Kate Forsyth and I talking fairytales, you can do so here, oh and if anyone would like to be a secret benefactor and send me to Australia to do a doctorate of fairytales and follow in Kate’s footsteps do let me know. Right over to you; which of the above have you read and what would you recommend?

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Being Bookish Full Time Once More…

So yesterday was my last day working the office 9 to 5 (well in my case 8 until 4) and today is the first day of me working for myself again and hopefully on some really exciting booky projects, which April seems to be brimming with. First up is the reading for Fiction Uncovered for the next few months. I have already started on the submissions, which I have to say have been varied and all brilliant so far making my job all the more enjoyable and tough at once, now I am going into a phase of reading full time as there are so many to get through.

My lovely friend Sarah bought me a special bookmark for my birthday to make sure that anyone and everyone understands that when I am head in a book I mean serious business, please excuse the profanities, it made me laugh for about twenty minutes and I still chuckle every time I see it…

Funny... And True!

Funny… And True!

Tomorrow I have to deliver a bookish business plan and pitch that could end up starting the job of my bookish dreams, so no pressure, if you could all have everything crossed for me around 1400hrs GMT for an hour or so that would be bloody marvellous. Then, fingers crossed, I will be ‘blogger in residence’ over London Book and Film Festival in two weeks time ending in the UK Blog Awards where I am hoping Kimbofo or I win the Arts and Culture Award. All in all it’s books, books, books, books, books – which is just how I like it!

If this wasn’t enough I am planning on getting the blog back in full swing, it’s been patchy of late, and giving it a bit of an update. Let me know what you would like to see more and less of, feedback is always very helpful. Ta muchly!

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A Bloomin’ Brilliant Birthday

Thank you for all your lovely birthday wishes. I had an absolute blast and managed to turn a day into a week and a half thanks to a weekend in Newcastle with my Mum, a trip to London for my birthday and a few days after and then my birthday party proper this weekend. I was quite pleased with it all and thought, as this blog is about books and more, I would share some of the lovely times I had over the week.

First up was the weekend that I had in Newcastle with my mother which was just lovely. I might report on it in the next few weeks but in the meantime, and in case I decide not to or my Mum doesn’t want me to, we had a marvellous time visiting the old haunts we lived in and visited, eating marvellous food, drinking wonderful cocktails, shopping and seeing Still Alice. Note – Still Alice is just wonderful (I haven’t read the book and feel like I now might need to, should I?) I cried from about twenty minutes in until the end. Julianne Moore is sublime, see it.

This is not me and Julianne Moore, it's me and my Mum outside the old flat we lived in 30 years ago!

This is not me and Julianne Moore, it’s me and my Mum outside the old flat we lived in 30 years ago!

Next up, after a brief day back in the office, I headed off to London on my birthday morning (after opening a large array of wonderful presents from my wonderful loved ones) and to the first meeting of the Fiction Uncovered 2015 judges. It was only at the bloody Groucho Club – I couldn’t take pictures, not of the amazing macaroni on a bed of grilled mushrooms which won everything nor the cake and Happy Birthday they wrote around the bowl, it was lovely though. We all had a marvellous time and are now fully ready and prepared for the mammoth yet marvellous task ahead of us. I then spent a few hours with Catherine Hall and Kerry Hudson with far too many sweet things and bubbles before meeting Polly and going to Ebury’s Fiction Party where I had a good old natter and catch up with many lovely folk and met some wonderful authors

Wednesday was meetings and then it was my London party night, woohoo. I was joined at dinner by the aforementioned Polly and Catherine and also Kate and Rob of Adventures with Words, who are also my cohosts on Hear Read This, as well as the lovely Leng Monty – who is one of the Independent’s Rainbow List Ones to Watch, so watch out.

Polly, Rob, Kate, me, Leng and Catherine - post food and cocktails!

Polly, Rob, Kate, me, Leng and Catherine – post food and cocktails!

Things carried on in a more messy vain as Polly, Catherine, Leng and I headed to my favourite beardy bar in London, The Duke of Welly, and were joined by my mates Uli of Gays The Word, Eric of Lonesome Reader (a blog which makes me sick with jealousy because his reviews are sooooo good) and that Kerry Hudson…

Uli (not impressed at having a selfie), me, Catherine, Kerry and Leng - living it up in the Welly

Uli (not impressed at having a selfie), me, Catherine, Kerry and Leng – living it up in the Welly

It all ended in many giggles on a nightbus as all the best nights do.

You can't take them anywhere!

You can’t take them anywhere!

After another day in London and a day in the office, Saturday was birthday party part two. I had my lovely friends Kate, Barb, Sarah, Sue and Rachael (or my harem as now I refer to them) for some wonderful (rather amazing to be honest) grub and lots and lots of drinking and laughing…

The Lovely Liverpool Ladies and I...

The Lovely Liverpool Ladies and I…

It has, all in all, been a ruddy marvellous week. I think 33 is going to be a really, really, really good year – I just feel it in my bones. Finger crossed eh? What have you all been up to?

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Savidge Reads 3.3

Today is my birthday and I turn 33! I will have woken up with some presents and cards and now be whizzing down on the train to London, or in London where I will be having a wonderfully booky day. First up the judges for Fiction Uncovered 2015 will be meeting for the first time over lunch (there is possibly going to be cake) and discussing what we want from winning books and indeed some of the books we have been sent. As you know I love this prize so much so meeting today seems doubly apt. After that I will be meeting two of my fav writer chums (and also fav writers) Catherine Hall and Kerry Hudson, or the other way round, before meeting Polly, formerly of Novel Insights for a night at a publishing party, I am then staying for another two days of fun and booky nonsense, a big night out on Wednesday, all in all a mini birthday break.

I don’t know if I have mentioned before but I celebrate my birthday for as long as I can. My mother and I had a weekend in Newcastle which was a late Mother’s Day and early birthday celebration with much cocktails, yesterday at work we celebrated with these…

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Yes those are cupcakes with books on that The Beard baked for me. Seriously, aren’t they amazing. If you don’t believe me and think they are from a stockphoto, here is me about to eat one in the office yesterday…

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Then Friday is my birthday part two, where I might go and see Cinderella *coughs*, and then my birthday (dinner) party is on Saturday night. Exciting times! Oh and if that wasn’t enough… My book buying ban is officially over, watch out London bookshops, I am coming! Oh and now I am 33 I am thinking it is time for for a 3.3 upgrade of the blog – maybe not in look but certainly in feel.

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I’m Off Away For The Weekend…

By the time this goes live I will be off on my travels to meet my mum, or just on my way, or even sat with her in a cocktail bar. We are going to be spending the weekend visiting going back down memory lane to the city that we lived in for about 5 or 6 years from when I was about three years old…

No we didn’t live in Sydney, we I have always thought this looks like, we lived in the wonderful city of Newcastle up in the north of England. The weekend looks like there will be lots of nostalgia as we visit the old houses we lived in plus places like Jesmond Dene (and the awesome ‘Pets Corner’), the Hancock Museum, Tynemouth Beach and more that we used to visit. There will also probably be plenty of food, cocktails and talk of books. Oh and of course reading, though not when we are together I mean on the never ending journey to and from, I have two Fiction Uncovered submissions packed at the ready.

I will report back on me and my mums adventures in due course. In the meantime what will you be doing this weekend and, of course, what will you be reading?

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And So Uncovering Fiction Starts…

So a while back I told you of my recent exciting news, fingers crossed I will have even more coming in the next few weeks and months. While I have been busy getting lots of reading done before I dive into the submissions, I have also been thinking about what I will do with the blog over the forthcoming books. I am not sure how much I will talk about my reading habits and adventures over the next few months. I was told that I could review the books that came in for the Fiction Uncovered, just not say they were for the prize, yet I know what cunning clever kinds of folk you lot are and I think you would guess. However fret not I am not about to go silent on you all for a few months, honest…

I have got a backlog of a whopping, yes I counted them, twenty three books that I have yet to read – well twenty four once I have finished Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven which I am reading before I interview her next Friday for the first episode of You Wrote The Book when it returns for the new series in July. With a some posts on non booky outings, other bits and bobs and booky thoughts in general which the Fiction Uncovered submissions might inspire as the reading gets under way. I can safely say it has now indeed getting under way as the first batch (there will be a few) of submissions have arrived…

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Obviously I can’t tell you what is in the box, I can tease you all and say that there were some I had heard of, and indeed had hoped might be in the mix, there are also loads of books filled with promise which I hadn’t heard of so I am really excited and ready to get reading which is what this weekend will entail. Bring on the reading adventures ahead! There may be some phases of silence, do bear with me though – and think of all the reviews (almost a hundred) I will have afterwards and all the wonderful book to tell you about.

Now unlike me, with my now firmly sealed lips, you can tell me what you are reading at the moment and how you are getting on with it? You can also tell me what you will be doing this weekend, so I can live vicariously through my books and through you!

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Whoops!

I’ve been a little more silent on the blog the last few weeks with fewer reviews. I have been busy doing this…

Yep. Reading like a loon making sure I have got all my last Hear Read This, You Wrote The Book and book group reads before I have a break from them over the summer, plus some other books for various events I have. All this BEFORE I start the serious reading task of the Fiction Uncovered submissions, some of which have arrived already and I am really excited to read.

The picture above was taken by The Beard as I read my choice for book group. Seems I’m having a reading binge before the reading binge I can’t talk about. Means I have plenty of reviews lined up while I am hidden away judging though. Now best start Susan Hill’s I’m the King of the Castle so back to more reading!

What are you reading at the mo?

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