A Book Lover’s Tag

 

Diana Peach from Myths of the Mirror tagged all her followers (of which I am one!) in this exciting tag all about books! I don’t usually participate in tags (mostly because I am lazy and like to generate content the minute my fingers touch the keyboard with no prior thinking, planning or organising), but I could not pass this one up.

If you would like to take part, feel free to accept this tag!

 

Questions:

1. Do you have a specific place for reading?

I would usually say my go-to place is my bed, now that I don’t live at my family home anymore, where I would have to hunt all over the house for a quiet spot to read. My bed is comfortable and allows for any reading position, be in lying down, upside down or sitting up. I usually take a book with me wherever I go, two if I can squeeze them into my handbag, just ‘in case’.

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Both! During my childhood years I was a serial dog-earer but since becoming an adult recently I discovered that dog-earing was a treacherous habit and must be nipped in the bud immediately. So I use old receipts and train tickets… anything I can find in my handbag, really!

3. Do you eat or drink whilst reading?

I do, it’s antisocial I’m told, but I do. My whole family does, which is why some of our more loved books are a little sticky.

4. Music or TV whilst reading.

Neither, I can’t really focus with personal background noise, although I don’t mind it if I am in a public space – it’s psychological, somehow. If it isn’t my music it doesn’t bother me.

5. One book at a time or several?

Oh, several. I am very motivated by mood. I take two books with me when I go out, one serious, heavy one and one lighthearted or ‘much-read’ one in case I can’t mentally handle the more serious one. An example of this contrast would be Vanity Fair and What Katy Did – one is severely depressing while the other is more up-beat and hopeful.

6. Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

I love to read at home, although I have enjoyed many a book on the bus or train during my countless long commutes. Nothing, however, beats reading at home by the soft, warm light of a bedside lamp, whilst being wrapped snugly in a comfortable blanket. Nothing.

7. Read out loud or silently?

Silently! Reading out loud would slow me down! Having said that, my husband who is dyslexic and despises reading, does read out loud, and I feel for the poor fellow because it does make for clunky reading. Sometimes I read for him, but it gets tiring for sure! It takes a great deal of patience to read aloud to someone. I also find that the act of reading aloud distracts me from the content that I am reading! I don’t take it in, and have to read it again to absorb it.

8. Do you read ahead or skip pages?

I have a terrible habit of being impatient whilst reading and reading ahead – I never skip pages, of course, that would be an absolute disgrace. Sometimes I spoil books on myself by reading the end. I always tell myself off about it but still carry on doing it, my curiosity is too strong. Sometimes I do it while telling myself that I won’t read far enough to actually ruin anything but it is a poor self-convincing tool, because what else can I expect from reading ahead!? It is a rude habit and must be stopped immediately – I need somebody to slap me on the wrist every time I do!

9. Break the spine or keep it like new.

Well, I like to keep my books as pristine as possible, lined up in my bookshelf in height order (I did this so well as a child, but now my husband does it for me because he thinks I am too messy – it is very surreal), so I like to keep the spine like new but when you read a book so many times, the spine is bound to break at some point. I am wonderful at mending and patching broken spines and ripped covers – I had to do it so much as a child, coming from a big family of book lovers and book-rippers. When I was smaller, I liked to think of myself as Mo from Inkheart, mending books and fixing spines.

10. Do you write in books?

Yes, sometimes. I don’t like to tarnish another work with my ‘lowly’ opinions, but I love reading comments other people leave in books! I always thought that it took a very confident, self assured and intellectual kind of personality to write in a book. My father, a collector of books, writes little notes in them. I revere my father; I think he is vastly intelligent and wonderfully talented; his work is on par with none I have ever seen before, and his meticulous skill is one which I can only dream of achieving, so maybe that is why I am loathe to think I have thoughts worthy enough to grace the pages of a printed book!

11. What books are you reading now? 

Currently I am reading The Handmaid’s Tale for the first time, a book which I discovered whilst listening to Jenni Murray’s ‘A History of Britain in 21 Women’. I don’t have much time for reading anymore, unfortunately, so it is taking me quite a while to get through it, usually on my lunch break. It has ensnared my curiosity, that’s for sure! I am also reading  Perfume Island by fellow blogger Curtis Bausse – I am halfway through it and thoroughly enjoying it. Curtis has a writing style which is reminiscent, to me, of that of William Golding – he has the marvellous ability to use few words to create crisp images and emotion even though the reader has never experienced these feelings themselves.

12. What is your childhood favourite book?

I really can’t choose, there were so many, and all dependant on my mood at the time! I will go by the most read book in my childhood.. or three books.. it was the Anne of Green Gables series, book 1 through to 3. I can still recite entire passages from Anne’s life, and her experiences and thoughts influenced much of my hopes, dreams, aspirations, language, preferences and thoughts even today. What sticks with me the most is her enchanting combination of the beauty in nature with a magical fairyland. She made it all so real – a tree wasn’t a tree but the home of a beautiful dryad, a lake wasn’t a lake but a bowl of glittering diamonds – and Paul Irving’s famous thought, ‘Do you know what I think about the new moon, teacher? I think it is a little golden boat full of dreams. And I think the violets are little snips of the sky that fell down when the angels cut out holes for the stars to shine through. And the buttercups are made out of old sunshine; and I think the sweet peas will be butterflies when they go to heaven.’

Living in the desert like I did, I was starving for this kind of beauty. How can words create images of lands so real, yet so intangible? It’s a stunning phenomenon.

13. What is your all-time favorite book?

I really, really cannot say. I love so many. So, so many. They are like my precious children, and to favour one over the other is to maim a heart or slight a soul. High up on the list are the Anne series, Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings, all books by the wonderful James Herriot, Alcott, the What Katy Dids, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre et cetera. Don’t well-loved books make you feel like you have been given a literary hug?

 

What’s your favourite book? And why do you love it?

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Goosey Goosey Gander

I think I have hit a creative slump. I don’t know if its because I am exhausted from working, and travelling to work, and travelling home, and cleaning up, and making tea, and reading books, and trying to be social by calling my friends so they don’t think I have abandoned them..

I don’t know. I don’t know.

Third week at work this week, and I spent the day working on a few editing assignments, reading up on my training program, and when I had completed that, I had nothing to do… So I planned my blog.

I never really had a plan for this blog, you see. I decided to write one day, at the end of 2013, never thinking this would last because none of my other blogs lasted. Last it did, however, and I am proud to say I have been blogging for nigh on four years!

In light of that, I have decided to no longer blog when the whim takes me, but to adhere to a somewhat lose schedule, which will enforce my creative processes and demand some content out of my fingers.

I figure I ought to be resourceful, and all that, and just because I now have a job, doesn’t mean I ought to let my own goals and aspirations fall into the ditches.

Real grimy those ditches are, I’ll tell you that. I had an old gentleman wade out the other day, positively shaken. He’d been accidentally thrown in there by the lady next door, she had no use for him. She claimed he wouldn’t say his prayers, and he told me the most harrowing story of how she grabbed him by the left leg, threw him down the stairs and then rolled him into a ditch! That was no accident, I assure you. The poor old fellow was convinced it was, however, so I gave him a goose to calm his ruffled feathers and sent him on his way.

I digress.

The plan for this blog is to blog the things I usually blog, but with a little more structure and, well, consistency, I suppose. So everyday for a fortnight I will blog (except for weekends, of course, weekends are for family and books and gardening and delicious homemade things made by my younger brother and my younger sister-in-law – last weekend it was apple crumble made by the brother and caramel brownies made by the sister-in-law – yum!), and each blogging day will cover certain themes and topics. For example, Wednesdays are supposed to be ‘flash fiction’ days, but because my creativity is hanging out to dry, I have decided to turn it into a ‘wherever-the-whim-takes-me’ day.

Charles Dickens was said to be paid by the word, but I am not. However, I pay the word with my eyesight, and use it I shall. Did you know my poor eyesight, according to my mother, is because of hours of reading in the dark after she turned off the lights? Streetlamps outside the window are certainly enough light when you need to know if Mr Rochester really is a cockroach or not.

How are you doing this week? Do you have a blogging schedule, or do you blog as and when the whim takes you? Also, why do you blog?

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Girls is an Abhorrent TV Show

Girls is a TV show which debuted in April 2012, and became critically acclaimed for its raw nature, ‘refreshing tone’ and original, if dry humour, as it explored a group of young girls in their twenties, trying to make something of their lives in New York city and making a tremendous amount of mistakes along the way.

I came across the show in 2015 and honestly, I was shocked into watching it. It was different from other TV shows, it was addicting in a way for me because it not only explored experiences but delved into the raw feelings and emotions people work so hard to keep hidden, but which add dimension to motives. I didn’t find the jokes humorous at all, but I generally don’t find mirth in dark comedy. The first two seasons expressed this very well. There were some genuinely excellent plot points, and the characters, although abhorrent, had redeeming ‘human’ qualities.

Well, once I’d watched the first season I was hooked of course, so I carried on watching all the way through to season 6. It was like watching a train wreck. I finished each episode feeling more and more depressed as the seasons progressed. The show, which started off as a mocking satire, became downright meaningless. I was watching for the sake of watching, not caring if these self-sabotaging characters sabotaged their way to hell.

I really don’t see how this show is innovative, sure, it challenges the norms of TV and our expectations from the programs we watch, but the only way it does this is by grossly exaggerating the deepest, sickest human notions ever. Everybody is disgusting. People rape each other. Best friends sleep with each others’ lovers, and they do it the in the dingiest, darkest settings imaginable, and it almost ALWAYS boils down to sex. It is as if to say that the most nefarious of human intentions is always, inherently sexual.

I feel like the show reeks of STDs and unwashed humans. A lot of characters are just so explicit about matters regular people would just keep to themselves to create even a semblance of dignity. The small, supposedly humorous mentions of the creepy openness between Elijah (Hannah’s ex-boyfriend and gay roommate) and Hannah is not funny, it is disgusting. Why does a show have to be so sexually explicit and feature nude women and men to be appealing? Why does it have to make its characters make the same old mistakes at every turn, and never learn anything from them, except perhaps to be even more disgusting and revolting and self absorbed? Are people in the real world really like this? Or is this show an exposé on the darkest aspects of daily humanity just bled out in the open for the world to see? This show strips characters of all dignity they might have, whilst allowing them to think they still maintain it. It’s like a dirty form of dramatic irony. I don’t want to see people having sex, thinking they are doing it in private. People having sex is ugly, and I don’t think it’s something others need to watch. I don’t want to see people masturbating. If you wanna do that, do it in private. It literally adds NOTHING to the plot, and if a point needs to be made, surely there are a billion more creative ways to do so?

I just think the creators of the show had nothing to offer except shock factor.

I don’t know why I carried on watching. I felt honestly like I had to flush my soul to get rid of all the black filth my eyes were seared with. I don’t think this show is innovative, I think the writer of the show took some of her own life experiences, dramatised them with some shocking nudity, sex scenes and ‘raw’ revelations about characters suggesting outlandish and ALWAYS sexually deviant things to other characters, whilst disguising this laziness under the pretext of feminism and freedom of expression. I admired the way the writers flouted their flaws, but each of the four main characters gave up on every endeavour they attempted.

The cinematography of the show is mediocre at best. None of the characters are redeemable, nor am I able to empathise with them because they all just seem to be little devils biting at one another and trying their best to hurt each other.

An example of how ridiculously this ‘feminism’ and sexual harassment is portrayed can be seen in one of the episodes in season 6, when Hannah visits a writer she wrote a bad review about. The writer invites her into his room, she lies down on his bed, and he pulls his penis out. Just flops it out like nobody’s business.

I am sure this has happened to people in the past. But I honestly felt like Hannah put herself in a dodgy situation where this, clearly, to anybody, could be a likely outcome. Why would a woman lie down on a strange man’s bed without even knowing the man? I’m sorry, but any sane woman not intoxicated would not do that – everybody knows you shouldn’t lie down on strange mens’ beds if you don’t want to be sexually harassed. And for all the people saying ‘a woman should be able to lie on a man’s bed without being harassed’ – YEAH, IN AN IDEAL WORLD SHE SHOULD. But this is the REAL world, and people rape each other, so in the name of self preservation one would avoid situations where such attacks will be likely! It is unrealistic.

Hannah is a blob of body she takes pleasure in exposing, and whenever I look at her I think she is riddled with unhealthy ailments. What was the point of showing her naked with her legs spread basking in the sunshine? Literally, how did that add anything to the plot? She is completely self absorbed and selfish and her parents are a goddamn mess. In fact, all their parents are goddamn messes. I don’t think in real life that ALL PARENTS are messes. She gives up on everything she ever tries to do and blames everybody else for her failures, disguising it as concern for her friends; which, coincidentally, is what all the others characters do as well.

If this were a story about people navigating their twenties, it would be less about the sex and more about the character development. We all know people have sex, we don’t need it shoved in our faces every other scene. I don’t even know how these people make money, how do they pay the extortionate NY rent rates, when all they do is backstab one another and sit around with their legs wide open (literally). All their conversations are melodramatic and self absorbed, and they always find a way to revert the conversations back to themselves. I really don’t see how that is innovative in any way. Each season follows the same format and eventually it just became a string of sex scenes and selfish actions which none of the characters ever learnt anything from because they were all just too busy attacking each other and being absorbed within their own depressing selves.

The show only serves to show young people that it is okay to accept the lowest forms of achievement and to not have any passion for anything. To wallow, to flop around like a fish and to have no human dignity or self respect. The characters deserved to be slapped silly.

Bill Persky of Time magazine makes a refreshing point when he says “You would think that a young female talent like Lena Dunham would be showing her generation a way up, rather than reinforcing the idea that it’s cool to be down.” (Time, 2013).

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The Age of Miracles

This is a review.

The Age of Miracles is a coming of age debut novel by Karen Thompson Walker.

As debut novels go, this one was outstanding. Walker did not waste a single moment getting to the point, which I found refreshing and mesmerising.

The tale followed the story of an eleven year old girl ascending slowly and painfully into adolescence, chronicling all the awkwardness of the age, in an apocalyptic time when the earth begins to slow, rendering the days longer. With each cycle around the sun, more minutes are added to the day, and this phenomenon is called the ‘Slowing’.

It was a new idea, and what made it plausible was that it was backed by scientific theory – which gave life to the events unfolding.

I loved how Walker combined the coming of age with this almost sic-fi plot line, and wove them together seamlessly. This was a girl, growing up, going to school, experiencing what we have all experienced with friends and parents and troubles that might seem insignificant to an adult but could make or break a child struggling to make sense of their rapidly changing world – and to have that world very literally change around her too, is remarkable.

Walker, I felt, took a great idea and delivered it excellently. I did not feel as though I was reading words. I felt submerged in the tale and when I was jerked out of it at one point because it had got so dark out that I literally could not see the words on the page anymore, I felt as though I had resurfaced from another world.

It takes a great deal of skill in writing to make you feel like that, and I think Walker has delivered this very well. I would say it was the defining factor of this book. It is a beautiful tale, tragic and extraordinary. I had me thinking about it days after I had turned the last page, and I found myself wanting a bit more.

I would give this book five stars out of five, and would love to read more from Karen Walker.

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Under the Never Sky – A Pretentious Review

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Warning to all humans.

This review is packed with spoilers. Completely littered.

Under the Never Sky was a book that I put off reading for as long as I could. I had it on my phone, and as a result, it lacked a blurb. So obviously I was going to have to plunge into this completely blindfolded (this is why I prefer real books).

The first chapter started off in an artful manner. Veronica Rossi (who I kept confusing with Veronica Roth, but I am now pretty sure they are not the same human) dropped us right in the middle of an action about to surge with tragedy. You knew it hung with doom because she opened with it. There was no escaping what the humans were about to do, because they were all so terrified. This in itself was premise enough for me to carry on reading.

The majority of humans who wrote reviews on this book complained that it was too slow and took ages to get into. I didn’t find that this was the case, although I can see how people would think it was, because the constant switch between the perspectives of the two main characters made the general plot seem slowed down, although the switches carried on with the plot more than anything!

The world Rossi has created is a mixture of sci-fi and fantasy, and manages to escape the boring monotonous passages of description, whilst keeping just enough imagery in there to create vivid pictures of what her wonderful world looks like. She has the uncanny ability of folding in her portrayal of the world Aria and Perry live in, with her plotline. It really felt as though I was there, looking at all the scenery flashing before me, as the plot thickened.

Rossi’s style was average, if anything. It will not do to compare her style with other writers, namely because each writer has their own unique style, but I did feel as though her writing wasn’t captivating enough, as the story went on, for me to give it five stars. I rated it 3 stars because it was quite a unique story, and unlike most fantasy/sci-fi these days, it was not predictable. I did feel as though lots of things were fobbed off, however.

SPOILER ALERT.

What bothered me about the book was the lack of actual answers. Rossi didn’t expand on anything she said, for example she described the Aether (brilliant invention, by the way), but she never went into full depth about what exactly the aether was and how it came about, and whether or not it was always there. The concept that it might have been a phenomenon brought about by the latest changes in human living standards seems to be very plausible given that the aether intensifies when it comes near to things made by the Dwellers, such as the suit Aria wore when she was dumped in the Death Shop. Another example is the history of how these ‘Dwellings’ in ‘Pods’ came about. There is frequent talk of a ‘unity’ but nothing else, and it is all very confusing. However there are two other sequels to this story so perhaps this is something Rossi plans on explaining further. At least, this is what I am hoping!

I did like how the lack of answers did not make the book particularly hard to read. I feel as though this was because the plot was closely related to the personal struggles of the characters, and this relates into my previous point. Given that the story is told from the perspectives of two very different people, it would stand to reason that they wouldn’t go into depth about the whole history of their world. It makes sense that they wouldn’t understand much about what had happened to years before to separate their worlds. They were two outcasts, from entirely different lives, cast together and it made sense that their alliance would give them more difficult, first hand problems to deal with, such as their immediate survival, and their adaptations to each other’s very different personalities and ways of thought. I think Rossi did a great job analysing these differences.

Her characters were delightfully well-rounded, which is something that can only be said about a very small number of sci-fi/fantasy novels out there. Most of them focus too deeply on world/plot building and leave out the important characterisation that is vital for bringing about a compelling novel.

SPOILER ALERT.

Despite this, however, I did feel as though there was something severely lacking in the story, to make it less than the wonder it could have been. After pondering on this a while, it came to me. Lots of things were just so unrealistic! For example when the wolves attacked, there just miraculously happened to be a tree house in front of Aria and Perry, which just miraculously happened to be empty, and just magically happened to appear just as Aria’s magically heightened sense of hearing heard the pattering of wolf paws behind them. And they just miraculously managed to get up in time, and then, to make it all seem like a ruse for setting, they just decided to have sex up in a tree despite just having been chased down by a pack of salivating, howling, snapping wolves who were supposed to be waiting at the foot of the tree, but who somehow decided to slink away because Aria howled at them.

The whole situation fell a little thin. It was too good to be true. Lots of these narrow-escapes-from-death littered the novel, making it seem just a little bit like the author lent her hand in far too much. Like how the boy comes and saves them from the cannibals at the last instant. It’s predictable, and banishes all sense of plausibility. This is what prevented me from enjoying the novel as much as I could have.

I did warn y’all about the spoilers.

After reading lots of reviews, I noticed a pattern in people’s reactions to the romance in this book, in that it wasn’t instant and unrealistic, as is so much of the romance in so many dystopian novels. People found this realistic and relatable.

SPOILER ALERT.

The romance between Perry and Aria blossoms naturally. There are the initial feelings of mistrust, anger and fear towards each other, as is natural given that they both come from such different worlds, and are almost completely alien to each other. However I personally that it was slightly overdone, and rather unnecessary. Lots of people commented on how much they enjoyed the fact that the romance did not interfere with the plotline much, and I found that this was true. It was refreshing to be able to focus on an interesting plot without the frequent romantic episodes that scatter most dystopian novels.

There is so much more I want to know about this never sky, and the history of the people in the land, and what happens to them all, so despite the criticism, I will say that I did enjoy reading this book, and cannot wait to read Through the Ever Night.

Bloggery.

Well it appears I have created yet another blog. This one was actually created, not because I am on the threshold of what they call the grasp of the interwebs, but because I came across a delightfully long and remarkably enjoyable review of a book called Shatter Me, by a lady named Tahereh Mafi.

Now after reading this book I suffered an inexplicable tumult of pure agony as I tried to describe to my very patient cousin the exact thoughts which I accommodated whilst reading that particular novel. It would be an understatement to say that I felt frustrated. Mafi seemed to me like an excellent writer with talent for far far better than the impoverished ruin that was Shatter Me.

I felt as though whatever talent she did have was blocked behind a huge boulder that was, I have to say, her own ego. I felt as though her own valuation of her work was setting her back by leagues and leagues and I don’t know how to put it any other way, being terribly limited by way of relevant vocabulary, but I found her to be obnoxiously mundane in her attempts at brilliant writing.

However what I really wanted to say was that I was induced to join this bloggery because a member of this honourable site had taken up her (or his) time to write a magnificent review which mirrored ALL the things I thought about Shatter Me so precisely, that frankly I could not have said them better had my mind been able to speak the things it had thought!

It was somebody called ‘dilatory bibliophile‘ or something on those lines, and let me just say, folks, as how I was completely enthralled by her (or his) review and frankly, I can not wait to read more of those!

So, just to ensure that I would get access to such delightfully satisfying composition, I decided that I would make an account on here and follow the person in question, and then through him (or her), I could possibly find more delumptious literature written by both celebrated authors as well as members of the internet community with ‘diamonds at their fingertips’, as it were.

And so, here I am.