Wednesday, 15 March 2017

My Grandma and Me

I've debated about writing something about my grandma's Alzheimer’s and myself for a while. Writing is a release for me and right now I need one. I hope you read this and thank you if you do. 

I remember doing a presentation on Alzheimer’s in college and the other students in my class saying how it was the worst thing they could possibly imagine happen to their loved ones. I remember listening to them and wanting to cry.
At this time, she hadn’t forgotten who I was but the combination of college work and knowing each day that how she was today would be the best she’d ever be again caused me to be very depressed. Being the shy person that I was, I contemplated speaking to someone about it, but never did. I should have. I ask myself why I didn’t quite often.

I don’t like to see my grandma. I admit I will avoid going to see her. It’s the most selfish thing I’ve ever thought, but I can’t help it. I hope you don’t judge me for it. I love my grandma. But it takes such an emotional toll on me after every visit that every time it takes me longer to pull myself back together.

Today, we put my grandma into a home. Nearly five years after we first suspected something was wrong, the time came that she could no longer stay at home. Her Alzheimer’s has progressed enough that she needs 24/7 care. Something that my elderly grandfather can’t provide.

This afternoon, I went with my mam to my grandparents’ house to pick my grandma up. Seeing the garden that was her pride and joy so overgrown and neglected made me want to start crying before we’d even got there.
I played with their dog while my mam packed her clothes into a suitcase. As my grandad explained which pills she should take and when, I could hear my grandma in another part of the house talking to herself. She often talks to herself in mirrors or reflective surfaces because she doesn’t know her own face.
With the car packed with her clothes and box of adult nappies, it was time to go. My grandad started to cry. While we put her coat on, he told her he’d see her soon and she gave him a confused look. He kissed her on the cheek. She turned to me and began to cry. “You’re making me cry. That was lovely. Thank you,” she told him.
“You can come with us you know,” my mam said to my grandad.
“No,” he answered.

In the car, she turned and smiled to me in the back. That look is what breaks my heart each time. It’s the empty smile you give a stranger. A polite one.
At the top of their drive, there’s a gap between the bushes that lets you see down to the kitchen window. Every time I have visited my grandparents’ house in the 20 years I've been alive, I have stopped to wave at them. They'd always be leaning on the counter waiting to wave back. We stopped at the spot, my mam and I waved, and my grandma watched us while we did it. I wanted to tell her to remember to wave, but she wouldn’t know what I was talking about.

At the nursing home, we walked her slowly inside as she can’t walk very long distances any more. As I helped, she patted my cheek and said, “You’re lovely.” I smiled back.
We sat her down and one of the nurses gave her a cup of tea. After taking a sip she told us how lovely it was, how much better it was than what she used to get at the last place. Her house for the last 30 years was now ‘that place’. She didn’t understand that she was now in a nursing home.
We labelled all her clothes with her name and put them in her drawers and cupboard. One the nurses came to ask us some questions about her. Does she eat? Yes. Does she take from other people’s plates? Yes. We explained that she was doubly incontinent. The nurse reassured us that they had seen it all. Nothing could surprise them. She told us not to worry. I wanted to thank her over and over for the work she does. Throughout my grandma sat, quietly watching, completely unaware that we were talking about her.

My grandma’s room is opposite a women she used to live two doors down from for 25 years. “It’s Rita, grandma,” I told her. “Oh,” she said.
My mam went to say hello and chat to Rita for a few minutes and it was quiet between me and my grandma. Years ago, I used to tell her everything, visiting her after school to chat. Now she can’t hold a conversation, she just can't follow it along. My mam and Rita laughed about something across the hall. “Someone’s happy over there,” she said to me. I nodded back. ‘That’s your daughter!’ I wanted to say. Instead I smiled and made comments about the room, about her tea that had now gone cold. She explained to me how she’d gotten the tea, as if I hadn’t been there. I acted like I didn’t know what she was telling me.

When we were leaving, she sat, oblivious of being in a strange room with strange people. My mam kissed her on the cheek. She laughed and made a surprised face at me. I kissed her on the cheek too. “I’m getting so many kisses,” she said. “Thank you.” She started to cry.

Driving away my mam said to me, “If I ever end up like that, please hit me over the head with a frying pan. I don’t want to go into a home.”
“Do you know who else always said that?” I asked her.


Thursday, 9 March 2017

The Song Rising Locations In Edinburgh

On Tuesday 7th March I was lucky enough to be able to attend the launch party for The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon. Samantha does an amazing job of bringing the city to life in the book, so while I was there, I thought I'd take some pictures of the locations featured in the book!

Locations from Chapter 15: The Grand Smoke

'Mist laced around the old stone buildings...Edinburgh was sometimes called the Grand Smoke, and now I knew why: there were chimneys everywhere,' (p.214)

You can also see the hills where Paige and Warden hike in the background.

'On the ledge of volcanic rock, a decaying fortress knelt on the skyline of the citadel.' (p.214
(The castle is looking pretty damn good for its age, so you just have to imagine the decay and crumbliness)

(I actually forgot to take a pic of the castle, and the one I took last time is pretty dark so I stole the one above from Google so you can see it better)

'The safe house was in an alleyway halfway up..."Anchor Close? Is this a joke?"' (p.215)

Chapter 16: The Vaults

'I could appreciate the beauty of the Old Town, It's buildings were beautiful and motley, with spires and rooftops that clambered skyward' (p.224)

'The steps led us up to the Grand Mile...Beneath our feet were broad, piebald cobblestones,' (p.225)
The Grand Mile is actually called the Royal Mile in real life. But in the world of The Bone Season, there isn't a monarchy anymore, so it was probably renamed by Scion. 

(also stolen from google)

'"The South Bridge Vaults," he said. "Sometimes known as the Edinburgh Vaults."' (p.226)

The Song Rising launch was actually hosted in some of the vaults. It was such an atmospheric space. However, I don't think i'd like to be alone in there...Edinburgh has mannnnyyy ghost stories. 

I found this picture of what the vaults look like under the South Bridge.

If you visit Edinburgh, you can take a tour of the Vaults. Auld Reekie Tours uses this picture on their website.

Chapter 18- Vigil

'We were making for the hills behind Haliruid House- once a royal palace,' (p.252)

Haliruid House is names Holyrood House in real life and is a place the Queen stays when she visits Scotland. Many Kings and Queens have stayed in the palace including Bonnie Prince Charlie and Mary Queen of Scots. 

'The park and grounds of Haliruid House was thick with pine trees. We hiked around them and up the rough-hewn hills, belted by a bitter wind.' (p.252)

The hills around Holyrood House are called the Salisbury Crags.

'We made camp below an overhang.' (p.252) 

Chapter 19- Offering

'At the edge of the park, I skidded to a stop, unable to believe what I was seeing. A multitude of people had amassed before the gates of Haliruid House- hundreds of them, gathered around a fountain on the enormous driveway,' (p.264)

You can see Holyrood behind me here (The big grey building) 

'Others were climbing on to the Gothic monument on the street to get out of the crush,' (p.267)


I hope you enjoyed this post! 
Have you been to Edinburgh? Did you think The Song Rising captured it well? Has TSR made you want to visit (without the threat of Scion)?

Bonus picture of me just pretending I was the badass that is Paige Mahoney. ;) 

Monday, 27 February 2017

The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London's criminal population. 

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilising the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging. 

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it…

Oh man, you are not ready for this book.  
The world is not prepared for this book.

I bet that if you have finished The Mime Order that you will be desperate for this book. Well, I can confirm it is worth the wait.

The Song Rising has a different feel to it than the first two. Now we really feel the storyline settling into place and so the stakes are upped and tension rises. Here the story really shows that it is a dystopian.
Paige leaves London in this novel, travelling to Manchester and Edinburgh. Just like London in the first two books,  Shannon's descriptions of these cities are absolutely spot on, especially Edinburgh. If you've been, its so easy to picture the places and imagine yourself there. If you haven't, let the words take you there. 

As usual, Shannon's writing is beautiful. The complex relationships between the characters are enthralling and the twists and turns of The Song Rising will leave you breathless. 

Paige is most definitely one of my favourite protagonists. She's so strong and smart and flawed and basically everything you want in a protagonist. I'm behind her all the way, cheering her on and shouting 'NO' at the book pretty often.

Warden fans wont be disappointed, prepare to become more obsessed. I'm looking forward to learning more about this still quite enigmatic character. 

Shannon takes risks in this book, and they will leave you reeling. The Song Rising includes something I've seen happen to a character in a book and I think about that part often. It's such a bold thing to include and I love it ( or rather, I love to hate it - its a wild ride).

I'm so glad that this book is going to be 7 books long. It's so exciting knowing that the story wont be rushed to an ending and that there's so much room to expand. So much to look forward too! It's going to be epic. 
Now to wait to book 4....
5 Stars!

Remember Bloomsbury has an ongoing preorder offer!
You could get your hands on some tattoos and badges!
Simply preorder and fill in your details here:

Monday, 13 February 2017

GIVEAWAY! The Bone Season By Samantha Shannon

I'm giving away a two copies of the new edition of The Bone Season By Samantha Shannon on my Twitter! (@Assassingrisha)

All you have to do is Follow me and Retweet the giveaway tweet! Easy!

Now is the perfect time to start reading The Bone Season series as the third book (The Song Rising) comes out in March.

I cannot sing the praises of this series enough. It's truly, truly spectacular.

If you've already read the series, the competition is a chance for you to get your hands on one of the new covers ( which are gorgeous- see the gif below). Also, the book contains a prequel novella, The Pale Dreamer!! How amazing?!

Best of luck!!
The competition is open from 13/02 to 22/02 for UK readers!!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

My January Reads!

I got quite a bit of reading done this month, in between writing and university work, which is awesome.

This month consisted of reading books i'd gotten for Christmas, so most didn't actually come out this month. Also, for some reason they're mostly adult novels. But anyway, here they are:

Image result for all the light we cannot see

First of all, I read All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This WWII novel is Pulitzer Prize winner, as well as many other awards so I was excited to see what made it so award-worthy.

What I found so amazing about reading this is that one of the main characters, Marie-Laure, is blind and Doerr managed to describe the way she interacts and sees the world so perfectly. It might sound silly, but as I was reading from her point of view I could really imagine how being blind would be. It was a strange sensation to jolt out from when the chapter changed.

I totally think this book should be classed as a Young Adult novel. The book follows the two main characters from childhood into their teen years!

Image result for wayfarer brackenNext, I read Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken.

I think I need to reread Passenger and Wayfarer because I adore Bracken's other series (The Darkest Minds) but this one has never really grabbed me in the same way. Maybe I was in a funny mood when reading it. I did enjoy the books and I love her writing but for me it didn't stand out.

(That cover is still stunning though, right?)

Image result for essex serpentThen I read The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry.

This was the Waterstones Book of the Year 2016, so I had to check it out!

The Essex Serpent is a really uniquely told story, Perry's writing is phenomenal.
The book is a book about friendship. Building them, breaking them, how hard you have to work to keep them, how easy some can seem...

It really deserves its award and I would recommend this to anyone who loves a good Victorian read.

Image result for little life hanya coverThe second to last book I I read was the longest and hardest to read. I don't mean hard in the sense that it was boring or dense. I mean emotionally hard to read. That book was A Little Life by Hanya Yanigihara.

This book.
This book will stay with me forever. For the first time ever reading a book, I thought 'I love this book so much but I will never read it again'. That was when I was in the middle of a tough part. Usually I want to reread books I love.

A Little Life is a hugely emotionally draining book. I have read many, many books. I have cried at many, many books. But none have made me feel so completely sad. You might ask why the hell I kept on reading and this review from the San Francisco Chronicle explains is perfectly:
'How often is a novel so deeply disturbing that you might find yourself weeping, and yet so revelatory about human kindness that you might also feel touched by grace?'
Image result for wires and nerve
The last book I read I wasn't expecting to finish this month but I flew through it in about an hour.

Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer (Art by Doug Holgate) is a graphic novel set in the Lunar Chronicles universe. It felt so great to have more new things from the characters, I really hope Meyer keeps giving us little extras so we never have to say a final farewell to those awesome characters.

 Even though the way the characters are drawn isn't how I imagined them, I still loved the art style!
This is totally a must-read for any Lunar Chronicles fan!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

January Releases I CANNOT wait for!

IT'S 2017!!!!! *blows little party trumpet*

I still have no idea where 2016 went, I swear its only been two minutes since we were saying bye to 2015.

But I am glad it is January because some awesomeeeee books are being released this month, and I can't wait for to see them in all their finished glory!

Those books are:
Image result for caravel garber
Caraval by Stephanie Garber

This book man. This book. If you like:
1) Delicious descriptions.
2) Mysterious hosts
3) Great female leads.
4) Sister relationships.
5) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
6) Losing your mind because you cannot figure out the mystery. You think you have it and then OH! No you don't!
7) Food
8) Gorgeous covers. (because you're a sucker for a pretty cover like me)

Basically, you need this book in your life. You do.

Released: January 27th

Image result for dark days pactThe Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman

This is the second book in the series, the first being The Dark Days Club.

I don't have enough good words to say about this series. It is superb. It's everything you want in a series, a brilliantly researched regency setting, a gripping storyline, a great cast of secondary characters, a wonderful heroine, a handsome hero and a slow burn romance between them.

They changed the covers for the series to have a model on them, which I should be angry about, but I love to series too much to complain!

Image result for windwitch dennard
Windwitch by Susan Dennard

The second book in the Witchlands series is out now!
After the head spinning events of Truthwitch (the first book!) we're back with Safi, Iseult, Merik and Aeduan. You slip right back into this world and are immediately whisked away on one of Merik's winds.

Also: loooook, another pretty coverrrr.

Image result for wayfarer brackenWayfarer by Alexandra Bracken


That's all that really needs to be said. Has that convinced you to read it?

Again, this is a second book, but therefore last book in a duology.

This books are especially exciting because they don't just visit one time period in their adventures. No, they transport you all over time, WWII London, the Russian Revolution, even into an alternate timeline...

Wayfarer is out now!
Image result for dawn study maria v snyder
Dawn Study by Maria V Snyder

Dawn Study is the last book in Snyder's trilogy, which completes a trilogy of trilogies set in this world. Does that make sense? It's complicated.

If you've never heard of Maria V Snyder since she's a lesser known author, I highly recommend you look her up. Start with Poison Study or Touch of Power.

If you like fantasy, super-duper awesome female leads and series that have a spin off series featuring characters from the original series that soothe the ache of missing them, then you'll love the study series!

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Heartless By Marissa Meyer

Heartless is the tale of how the Queen of Hearts came to be the way she is in Alice and Wonderland.
The Goodreads description is: 
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.
Image result for heartless meyer
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.
Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

If you've read the Lunar Chronicles, you'll know that Marissa is the QUEEN of fairytale retellings. Heartless shows she's not just the queen of fairytale retellings but all retellings. 
You 100% need to read Heartless. 

I've never been a big fan of Alice in Wonderland - the reason I picked up Heartless because I've loved Marissa's previous novels and I'm so SOO glad I did. Even if you hate Alice and Wonderland, you can still fall in love with Heartless. You don't need a huge amount of knowledge about Lewis Carroll's works to understand and enjoy the novel.

Starting Heartless, the same thing that happened when I started Cinder happened again. When I started Cinder, I was a little wary because the world was so different and I didn't know whether Marissa would be able to make it all work and pull me in. Both times I ended up asking myself 'WHY ON EARTH DID YOU EVER THINK THAT?! THIS IS AMAZING.' 

We've all heard of the Queen of Hearts, so a novel about her teenage years is probably not going to end well. BUT WE CAN ALL DREAM. 

Image result for heartless meyer uk
Marissa is so brilliant at taking an already established story or a world and making it her own. She gives it her own touches, her own twists and it becomes hers. We've all seen loads of interpretations of the Mad Hatter and Hatter in Heartless is by far my favourite.

The main character, Catherine will have you cheering her on and wanting to be best friends with her (even if its just so she can make you delicious treats).
Jest will make you swoon and fall in love with someone who wear one of those strange jester hats. Never thought I'd have such strong feelings for a jester.

Heartless is full of wonder and delight but it's also dark  and creepy in places. It makes it a wholly unique experience to read.

I will reread this one forever.

4.5 stars!!

I was lucky enough to receive an arc of Heartless from Macmillan for review, so thank you Macmillan!