Friday, 7 December 2012

Abducted by aliens, who wouldn't let me read

So it's been ages and ages since I've posted and my main excuse is that during that time I was abducted by aliens and they wouldn't let me take any books with me or let me read any of theirs. Aside from that things around here have become awfully busy. I have started writing for the online foreign film magazine Subtitled Online and I've also started working as a teaching assistant at a secondary school in Cardiff. I thought that a daily two-hour commute would make for lots of reading time, but it turns out that the only manageable activity on a train at 7am is the one where you don't fall asleep and spill tea on other passengers. So outside of my time watching amazing films and trying not to fall over in the early hours I have managed to read only two books, but they were two really very good books. They were The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

I read The Fault in Our Stars around the time I was in a really bad reading slump and it was the perfect reminder at that time how much I need books in my life. While I didn't give Paper Towns the best review I did enjoy the style of writing and so I decided to read more books by John Green in the hopes of falling in love with one. So when I began reading A Fault in Our Stars I was not only completely drawn in by the writing, but also by the hilarious, highly relatable  and exceptionally well-drawn characters in the story. The character of Hazel is introduced at the beginning of the story as a terminally ill sixteen year old girl, who spends most of her days either attending advanced college classes at her local community college or watching America's Next Top Model at home with her diligent parents. John Green has developed a truly original character in Hazel in that she is not projected as having become a hero as the result of living with illness or as having any kind of remorseful outlook on life; she is simply a normal teenage girl and her cancer does not dominate her story. Hazel meets Augustus Waters at a support group for children with or in remission from cancer and she is immediately drawn to his good looks and surprised by the attention he seems to give her. The story develops as the relationship between Hazel and Augustus develops and while the story deals with the significant and devastating issue of the tragic consequences of illness, it more importantly identifies the value of life and the importance of time and how and who we choose to spend ours with. If you haven't read it, stop reading this and go and read it now, right now. 

The second book that I read in the last few weeks is The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. The Glass Castle is a memoir by American journalist Jeanette Walls, which documents her childhood, from the age of three when she was rushed into hospital with burns following an accident while she was cooking herself hot dogs, to the beginning of her senior year of high school when she finally moves away from her parents and on with her life. The story is far from the usual sob-story style childhood memoirs, but is instead written with the right balance of intelligence, humour and tragedy to make it an instant classic. Walls writes the accounts of her family experiences with an equal level of frustration and compassion that makes it clear to the reader that it is these experiences that define the person that she has become. While I would definitely not go as far as saying that I can completely relate to the childhood of Jeanette Walls and not at all with the more serious and disturbing experiences of her life, I can definitely relate to certain aspects of the story, in particular with having take on too much responsibility at too young an age and so for me this story was remarkably engaging.  
mini book haul
So now that I have been returned to Earth by the aliens, my posts will hopefully become much more frequent. If you get the chance do check out Subtitled Online for really great foreign film news and reviews. I'll put the link to the website below and also my author page, which has all of the articles that were written by me.

I am currently reading The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite by Beatrice Colin and I'm already completely mesmerised. Has anyone read this or any of the other books that I've mentioned? I would also love to hear what your reading this month. 

Happy reading

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Thoughts on The Perks of Being a Wallflower and reminiscing over cherry pie.

Cherry pie

I finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower over a week ago so this post is very late. I've been really busy for the past few weeks and have only now had the chance to stop and think about the book. 

The two main feelings that I have on the book are that I really (really) liked it and that I wish I had read it when I was 15.

I had wanted to read the book for a while, so when I heard that it was being made into a film directed by the author Stephen Chbosky I quickly panic bought it. The book is short (230 pages) but the story pulled me in so much from the start that it seemed much longer and I definitely wouldn't classify it as a light read. The story follows Charlie as he embarks on his first year of high school and the entire book is written from the perspective of Charlie, who tells his story through a series of letters addressed to a friend (the reader). The story has far more depth than a typical coming-of-age and further layers of the story are revealed throughout. I loved the reading and play list that was developed throughout the book and it has definitely inspired me to re-read some of the books mentioned, especially Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. While I could relate better to some of the other characters in the book, I found the central character of Charlie very  familiar and incredibly funny. I would happily recommend this book to anyone and I think that most people would be able to relate with some part of the book. Ensure that you have a pack of sticky notes at the ready for the quotes you will want to write down!

I've been thinking a lot lately about some of my favourite books that I read before I began this blog and I've decided that these books deserve some discussion. So I've decided to add little reviews on some of my favourite books in my next few blog posts. Two of my favourite books are Love in a Cold Climate and the Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith and I will be talking about one of these books in each in my next two posts. 

I am currently still reading The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls and I'm really into the story. I haven't read a non-fiction book for a while and I'm looking forward to seeing how this one pans out :) 


Saturday, 8 September 2012

Breaking my book rules

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
This week I broke the only two rules I had in terms of books at the moment. These were the rules-
1. Don't buy anymore books until the five I got from Waterstones last month have been read. 
2. Don't read two books at the same time and finish The Perks of Being a Wallflower first.

So I bought another book and I've started reading it .

The Perks of Being a Wallflower  
I do have some excuses though. I was planning on buying The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls in my next book haul, because I've read   really good things about it from other blogs. Apparently it's a regular on required reading lists in a lot of schools in the United States and I've also read that it's a favourite for many. Anyway, I found a really pretty hardback first edition at a charity shop for just one pound! So I think that's a good excuse for breaking the first rule.

My excuse for breaking the second rule is that I read the first two pages and then couldn't stop. The story so far is like nothing I've ever read and I love the style it's written in. I can't give any further insight into the book than that, as I'm only about three chapters in, but I'm guessing that my next review will be on two books. It's clear that I can't follow book rules and that now I'm going to get as confused as I always do when I'm reading two books. On the plus side I found a bag of Cadbury's Twirl Bites in my bag which I'm sure will help me cope.



Monday, 3 September 2012

Thoughts on the age of miracles and an update on things

The age of miracles and a pretty diary

I finished the age of miracles by Karen Thompson Walker about a week ago and I was surprised by how much I liked it. The idea in buying this book was to move away from my usual genres and get a bit scienced...

...I didn't get scienced.

I haven't read much from the dystopia genre before, in fact I've read two (1984 and Fahrenheit 451) and while the subject matters of those two were definitely more my cup of tea (political totalitarianism and state-sponsored censorship pretty much epitomised my degree), I actually preferred the age of miracles as a novel. Unlike the politically motivated dystopian futures of 1984 and Fahrenheit  451, the negative elements in the age of miracles are not man made and are affecting not only society, but the world as a whole. The story follows the story of Julia as she is comes to terms with becoming interested in boys, making new friends, some family drama, oh and the day becoming 48 hours long after the slowing of the world's rotation. 

It wasn't the dystopian theme that made me fall for this book, but more the coming of age elements and the development of the relationship between Julia and Seth. I could relate to the character of Julia so so much, particularly in the way she'd managed to become completely infatuated with the boy without him having any idea, too stubborn to give an inch.  

Julia understands as much about the so-called 'slowing' of the world's rotation as any eleven year would, so not much. So since the novel is written from her perspective it would be best recommended for those who are looking for an alternative coming of age, rather than a sciencey (sciencey?) obsevation of what would happen if the rotation of the world changed. So in the end I didn't get scienced, but I didn't mind. 

So now I'm reading the perks of being a wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and so far it's really funny and has referenced The Smiths twice, so I think I'm gonna like it. I need to read it in enough time to also lend it to my sister to read before the adaptation is released early next month, so I should be finished soon.

Aforementioned tiny blonde child with birthday balloons 
Aside from the reading, there's been lots going on here to keep me nice and busy. It was my nephews second birthday party (see tiny blonde child) the other day and there was a bouncy castle and beer. What else could I need? 

I've also been busy with a writing internship that I got a few weeks ago. The writing is for a 'not-for-profit' rehab organisation and I'm really loving it so far and I've also been helping to set up their newsletter (fancy Skype work meetings) and get some copy writing experience which is pretty cool. 

I will probably post again soon once I've finished the perks of being a wallflower, with good news I hope.


Saturday, 18 August 2012

Listening to Daughter and reading some books

My plan was to just write an update on a couple of books that I've read recently, but I'm going to tie it all in a bow and also talk about some books that I've bought and will be reading next.  

One of the main things that I was excited about with finishing uni was having the chance to read some non-history related books without guilt. I've managed to get through some that I was really excited about so far and I'm gonna go over the last two that I've finished.

The first one of these is the night circus by Erin Morgenstern. I don't have a picture of my copy as I've leant it to a friend, but it has definitely become a favourite of mine. I was a huge Harry Potter fan growing up and I think that the main reason that I got so into the books was the realistic world full of 'muggles', alongside the magical 'wizarding world' in which the story primarily takes place. The presence of the ordinary world in the Harry Potter series allowed me to relate better to the story and feel more involved (something that was soon ruined after my eleventh birthday came and went without any acceptance letter from Hogwarts).

 In a similar way to Harry Potter, the characters in the night circus exist in both the realistic setting of the Victorian era and their world of magic and I couldn't help getting nostalgic over the feelings of excitement and mystery of a visiting circus. The mixture of the realistic and fantastical made it unputdownable for me and I would describe it as a more literary Harry Potter (long listed for the Man Booker Prize), but with less villains.  

The second of these books is paper towns by John Green and I'm sad to say that I wouldn't recommend this book too highly. I'm disappointed because I really wanted to love it. I've heard a load of good things about John Green, especially since the release of a fault in our stars, but I'm worried that I might have chosen the wrong book to start with. The plot basically follows the story of Quentin Jacobson as he attempts to understand the 'real Margo', Margo being his mysterious and elusive next door neighbour. After she surprises him into an all night road trip around their town, Margo disappears and then the rest of the story follows Quentin's attempt to find her (no spoilers, it says basically the same thing on the back). I loved the dialogue between Quentin and his parents and friends and John Green does write very well, I just couldn't find any reason to care about who Margo was or where she was and it didn't seem like anyone else in the book other than Quentin cared either. I actually really liked parts one and three, but sadly part two took up about half the book. I am still going to give looking for Alaska and a fault in our stars a read as I've heard they are the two best, but as for paper towns I was just disappointed. 

I've got a load of books that I'm really excited to read, including the perks of being a wallflower, which I need to read before the film comes out and the first book in the Fire and Ice series, a game of thrones. At the moment I'm about a third of the way through the age of miracles by Karen Thompson Walker and I'm really loving the narration. I'll probably post about this book once I'm done. If anyone has read any of the books mentioned, or took another view on either the night circus or paper towns I would love to hear what you thought. 


P.s. I've decided that Daughter is the perfect band for me to listen to while reading-                              


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Two or three signs that I will fail in the business world

My genius business plan 

So I have decided that to make some space in my over-crowded bedroom by banishing some of my books to faraway lands across the United Kingdom. I previously sold books a few summers ago, but since I have now completed my history degree the books I have for sale are more flashy and shiny and will hopefully make more money.

Two or three things you should know about this venture-

1. It is a definite necessity, since I really am running out of space and the books are taking over.

2. The work this venture requires isn't particularly strenuous and won't be too distracting from my larger plans. 

3. I do realise that this isn't a long term solution, or a short term one for that matter.

So far I have made a total of £28.42 from five books, definitely enough to buy a house 


Saturday, 11 August 2012

Two or three things I know about her and the plan to run away

The two or three things that I know about her:

1. I will never have a separate drawer for tops and bottoms. They begin that way, but eventually a skirt and a top once worn as an outfit will sit together in a drawer and will never be worn together again.

2. I will never not finish a book. With a brand new pile of five recently purchased and recently pressed books from Waterstones, I will always persist and finish the unconvincing dusty paperback I found at the Bridgend book market. Mainly because I will feel bad for it if I don't. It was recently purchased and newly pressed once after all. 

3. I will never be content here, not ever. As far-fetched and over-romantic my family and the nice people at the Job Centre may regard it, I want nothing more than to move far far away to a bigger city, so the things I want have a better chance of becoming realised.

So for now I will be using this blog as a documentation of the progress of my plan to run away. I'm sure I can expect some big hurdles and days where I will want to run away less and days where I want to run away more. We'll see