Posted in Book Club

June Book Chat

The History of Bees- Maja Lunde

Image result for the history of bees bookI really liked the three characters; Tao, William and George. I loved the different perspectives on parenthood and relationships through the time periods portrayed in the book. It was interesting to see the male side of parenthood because mostly I’ve come across portrayals of mother/child relationships. William and his son, and George and his son were some of the most interesting stories that threaded their way through the book. I also LOVED Tao and her search for her son, and the relationship between William and his daughter Charlotte. I saw that one coming a mile off, so it was quite sad to watch him putting his son up on a pedestal and never realising that Charlotte was right there. It’s actually an understated book in terms of feminism. I know, I know, I’m always going on about feminism, but it’s interesting anyway. The women are the driving force behind this book, they keep all of the men moving forward. Charlotte gently persuades her father to keep working on his life’s passion, George’s wife is the calming factor in George’s struggles to understand his son and to keep the peace between the two of them. Tao, in the search for meaning after her son is taken and she begins to lose hope of ever finding him, instead finds the key to saving humanity. It’s

I like the themes in the book, and they’re pretty typical of things that I like to read, so it Image result for the history of bees bookwas probably always a book that I was going to like if I’m honest. Bees dying out because of humans spraying pesticides, and colony collapse. How that looked in the past, present and how it might look in the future is something that is close to my heart. I love bees, I would love to be a beekeeper, and I think it is important that humanity starts looking after bees (and all the other animals) that also live on this planet. We have a fairly robust ecosystem, but it’s under threat from humans, and consumerism, and this is basically the premise of the book. It’s not as political or preachy as I’ve just made it sound; it lets you draw your own conclusions about those topics. Rather, it looks at the hypothetical future of what could happen if bees completely died out and how the world would change. From financial loss on the part of George and other farmers, to the development of a pollination industry in which Tao and her entire village work.

I really liked this book and I think that most other people would like it too. There’s no superfluous description, there’s fantastically complex characters that have complex lives and relationships, and there are bees. Bees.

Themes of: Ecology, Parenthood, Politics, Failure, Legacy, Nature, Future.

Norwegian Wood- Haruki Murakami

NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED.

Image result for norwegian wood bookIt has taken me so long to get around to this book. My mum passed it on to me after she didn’t really like it too much, but I loved it. It’s beautifully written. I love how realistic each character is, and it’s just stunning. The sense of early 20s ennui is palpable. Losing friends to suicide, Naoko’s illness, developing into adulthood. It’s one of the most realistic and sensitive portrayals of mental illness that I have ever come across. It’s sublime, it’s slow and beautiful. It follows him through his life and sees how he changes as he grows up, and how he changes as he deals with the death of his friend and how to move on with his life. The writing is impeccable. I’m not sure why the Goodreads reviews are so bad, but the suggestion is that it’s not the best Murakami novel, which means that it can only get better for me! I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of his work. Leave me recommendations!

Themes of: Depression, Suicide, Mental Illness, University, Life, Love.

Ghachar Ghochar- Vivek Shanbhag

I still don’t really know what this book was about. In fact, as I write this it’s a little whileImage result for Ghachar Ghochar book after I finished it and although I wrote notes while I was reading, I don’t really remember much about it. In my notes I wrote that I really liked it and that the writing was really good. The characters were something that I wrote that I liked too and that I found the story interesting. I did also write that it seems like a book that I have to read multiple times over to really appreciate, and I think that probably still stands true!!

Themes of: IDK?

 

The Inner Life of Animals: Suprising Observations of a Hidden World- Peter Wohlleben

Image result for The inner life of animals book coverI’m loving all of these natural science books at the moment. The obvious passion that Wohlleben has for animals and the natural world is resplendent, and unabashedly so. It has all the hallmarks of a book that I will love: passion, curiosity, scientific observations mixed with personal anecdotes, and of course; animals. I’m definitely going to get myself his other book about trees. I’m looking forward to it.

Themes of: Nature, Animals, Beauty,

 

 

Wide Sargasso Sea- Jean Rhys

Image result for Wide Sargasso Sea book coverThis one. This one. I’m not sure. I don’t even know if I like it. I thought that the actual storyline was fantastic. Of course I did. Jean Rhys is telling the story of the ‘mad wife in the attic’ from Jane Eyre. Bertha Rochester was not always called Bertha, she only has that name because Her colonialist husband forced it onto her. This is the story of her life and how she came to be the ‘mad wife in the attic’.

When I read Jane Eyre I was never wholly comfortable with the story of Bertha. Both she and Rochester are products of Colonialism, and both are damaged by it. As was Antoinette’s (Bertha’s) mother, and eventually Jane. I thought that the end was far too rushed, which left it feeling quite unsatisfying. Rochester is not developed enough as a character and I was bored through his sections of narration. I understand that there was an element of that which was intentional; Rochester was supposed to be stifled and uptight in comparison to Antoinette, but he just didn’t seem like a real person and I felt that it didn’t explore how he was damaged by colonialism enough. It tried to, but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me, and I think that was because the novel was really more sympathetic towards Antoinette. (Which of course I would have been anyway, but it felt like I was being shoved down that path by the narrative, which I typically don’t respond well to) Antoinette was far more interesting and I thought that if the novel had been told solely from her perspective it would have been much more effective. It reminded me a lot of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, and if you’ve read both I think that the comparison is obvious. Rochester drives Antoinette crazy, he drives her to the point of not knowing who she is, where she is or even whether she is right or wrong. We have a word for it now; gaslighting. It’s horrific, and it’s what the husband did to the wife in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ aswell. One aspect that I really liked was that Rochester is never named in this novel. His name is taken from him, the same way that he stole Antoinette’s name, her identity, her sanity and her love.

Themes of: Feminism, Insanity, Mental Illness, Colonialism, Racism.

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul- Deborah Rodriguez

This book was not what I thought that it would be. I probably didn’t read the blurb properly because this was another of my mum’s books, but I thought that it would be a gritty but uplifting story of a group of women that were surviving and thriving in a war zone. And whilst that is what I got, I didn’t expect it to be so westernised. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I also wouldn’t want a Western author to write the stories of women in Kabul and pretend that they know what they go through, but for some reason I had been expecting more of that. (I also knew nothing about the author, not even her name before I began reading)

With that being said, I enjoyed this book. It was well-written and had interesting storylines that intersected seamlessly, and with such a large cast of characters, that was an impressive feat of writing. I could have done without Candace though, or at least with better development of her. For most of the novel I was irritated by her, but understood that the idea was that it takes all kinds, but she only really had any development at the end of the novel, and it just didn’t seem realistic that the other characters would have been friends with her.

Image result for The little coffee shop of kabul book cover

Another aspect of it is that Sunny was one of the least interesting characters and she is the way in to this story for the reader. Which isn’t ideal. In my opinion, Yasmina, Halajan, Ahmet and Jack are the most interesting characters and I found myself getting frustrated over and over again with their lack of prominence. Isobel was interesting, but it was jarring when she was ‘being English’ because that’s just not how we use the word bloody!

I thought that it was good. It wasn’t what I was expecting it to be, but it was a good version of what it actually was. It wasn’t as satisfying as I was expecting because I had been expecting something completely different, so that’s that. I’m not sure that I can really review it properly because had I known what it actually was, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to read it- but that doesn’t mean that it was bad! I did like the woman power though!

Themes of: Sisterhood, War, Racism, Religious persecution.

Labyrinth- Kate Mosse

This is the first book this year that I’ve actually read before, but it was a fair few years ago now, and I had very little memory of it when I started reading this time. It’s so much better than I remember! I loved Alaïs, but was less keen on Alice. I think that Mosse has more passion about her historical characters and settings and that does show in her writing. I did still like Alice though, perhaps it was the world building in the modern world that just didn’t sparkle as much as her historical world. Guilhem and Baillard were my favourites, aside from Alaïs, but I actually pretty much liked every character, they’re written so well. There’s absolutely not a fault to be found in Mosse’s characterisation. There are so many threads of story running simultaneously and they’re executed masterfully, and tied in an absolutely gorgeous bow at the end of the novel. The history of L’angue D’oc is fascinating, and it’s clear that Mosse has done her legwork, researching so much of the history in such amazing depth. I learned that Mosse lives in Carcassonne so that may explain why she has such an affinity with the place and its history. I’m looking forward to reading ‘Sepulchre’ next!

Themes of: Religious persecution, Rebirth, The Grail, Secret Societies.

What have you been reading this month? Let me know what you’ve been reading lately and what you think of it. Maybe you’ll see it on next month’s list!

Happy reading everyone!

 

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Posted in Musings

Afternoon Tea (June)

I went to York again this month. For a bit longer this time, and it was lovely. It always is. I love going there and visiting everyone and the pups and bun. I didn’t get to see Fen this time, but I will next time because I miss them! We’re going to do crafty things surrounded by pups. It’s a thing and we will be doing it.

I’ve been sorting out the house a bit too, there’s a lot to do because we’ve lived here for nineteen years and there’s a bit of an accumulation of crap. It happens in every house, but my parents have been living alone here for the last little while, and there hasn’t been much time for them to sort anything out. So I’ve been trying to do it. I’m making some progress but it gets boring! Maybe I should be some kind of organisation person, because I always want to organise other people’s stuff, but of course not my own! Maybe that’s just because I’m super nosy…

I’ve been reading loads aswell, getting through that TBR pile at a fair old whack now. It’s good because I had a few books that I hadn’t got around to reading, so I’ve made my way through those and now I’m onto the goodies that I found in my mum’s bookcases! One of the books that I read recently that I want to mention in Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami. I really thought it was good. I don’t know if ‘enjoyed’ is the right word, considering the subject matter, but I actually found it a very soothing book. It deals with mental illness and suicidal themes, but it’s almost comforting to know that I’m not alone, and that although you’re hurt, sometimes it’s okay that you’re moving on. A word of warning though, it is VERY sad and raw at times, so if you’re feeling sad and raw it may not be so soothing, read with caution. It’s written beautifully though, so it’s well worth a read if you think you’re up to it.

At the start of the month I began a yoga challenge to fundraise for the M.E Association. They’re my charity this year, so I’m planning on doing quite a few fundraising events over the rest of the year. So the current one is this yoga challenge, which is for me to do thirty minutes of yoga every single day for three months. It got a bit easier when I got a new yoga mat that wasn’t just a cheap eBay one! It’s purple too, which is cool because not only is it my favourite colour, it is also the colour of the M.E. Association! If you’re interested in learning more about M.E, and the Association and what they do to help people click here to follow the link to my fundraising page where I’ve collected some useful information for you.

Continue reading “Afternoon Tea (June)”

Posted in Book Club, Book Reviews

May Book Chat

I read a lot this month, I think it would be safe to say that I got over that reading slump from April! Read on to find out what I read this month, what I liked and what I didn’t. There’s quite a few good recommendations this time round!

The Handmaid’s Tale- Margaret Atwood

I didn’t get on with this as well as I thought that I would. I think that I’m just not a huge fan of Atwood’s writing style, and I thought that the book didn’t go into enough detail as I would have liked. I think I am perhaps older than the intended audience and I definitely felt that when I was reading. I wrote this in my notes as I had just finished it: “I read it all the way through, so it can’t have been that bad, but I’m aware of how unglowing that recommendation is” Which pretty much sums up my thoughts on it.

Image result for the handmaid's tale book

I wasn’t a huge fan of the use of present tense in this book, although I have liked it in others, so I can’t put it all down to that. The world building was good, and I liked the themes and the character development. There were too many adjectives at times, but I suppose that’s a personal preference thing, and the pacing was very good. I think that it could have been considered as quite slowly paced, but I think that worked in its favour and matched the premise of the book, which I also really liked. I am actually quite surprised and slightly disappointed that I didn’t like it more than I did because it just seems like something that I should like. I think that it didn’t quite delve deep enough into the themes and the premise itself, and perhaps that is because it is aimed at younger people than me, I probably would have loved this book if I had read it when I was younger, and if I imagine my thirteen year old self reading this I can easily imagine that it would have been something that would have had a great impact on my reading life, and my life in general, but it just doesn’t have that same effect at twenty four. I didn’t like the epilogue, I thought that it was clumsy, even though I liked the idea behind it. Perhaps if it was paired with an introduction aswell, stating the ‘found’ element of the narrative it would have sat better with me.

Themes of: Feminism, Sexism, Patriarchal societies, Religion, Motherhood.

A Skinful of Shadows- Frances Hardinge

I really liked this one. It’s a very original idea and not something that I’ve come across before. The idea that ghosts can possess people is nothing new, but the way in which they do in this book is very interesting, and the way that Hardinge uses possession and combines it with ideas of patriarchy and inheritance. It’s very interesting. I was

Image result for a skinful of shadows book

extremely happy to get to the end of the book without there being any romance for the main character. I always appreciate a book that puts the onus on the action and the actual story, than on a romantic relationship that is ill-developed and uninteresting. The thing that I love the most about this book is that the characters are pretty much all flawed. None of them are perfect, which leaves room to develop over the course of the book. They’re interesting, they change and grow and there is room for them to allow them to make mistakes and learn from them. This is what YA should be; well-written and complex, and able to be enjoyed by adults!

My favourite character is Bear. Of course.

Themes of: Witchcraft, Feminism, Magic, possession, Ghosts, Legacy.

A Secret History of Witches- Louisa Morgan

The timeline was super interesting. The story is told over the course of generations of the same family, which I really liked. The novel follows the family from France to England as they are chased away for being Romani witches. They settle on a farm and never forget that they had to bury their matriarch at the side of a road. They conduct their religious

Image result for a secret history of witches

practices in secret in a cave near their home, keeping their husbands out of it and ensuring that they keep their heritage alive and hidden- keeping them safe. As it follows the subsequent generations, it covers various time periods, in which it’s not typical to have a witch story; for example, the second world war. I have never read about witches during the world wars before and I thought that was an interesting idea.

I really liked that each of the witches that we followed was a distinct person and was completely different from her relatives. There were good women and bad women and there was every shade of grey in between, it was wonderful to see such a variety in the characters and that the author didn’t shy away from having characters that were simply bad people, especially women. I think it’s understatedly feminist in that way, it simply shows women as people, with their own identities. Not one of the women needed men in their lives, although some of them chose to have relationships with men, and that was something that was almost revolutionary. It was nice to see that every single one of the women was strong and capable and knew what they wanted.

Themes of: Witchcraft, Feminism, Religious persecution, Racial persecution.

The Silent Companions- Laura Purcell

Apparently I keep picking books about witches! I didn’t do it on purpose, but I’m loving it.

It’s very creepy and very effective. If you were afraid of the weeping angels from Doctor Who, then you’ll definitely be creeped out by this one. I very rarely get scared when reading books, whether they’re suspense or horror, but this one was very well paced to creep me out!

Continue reading “May Book Chat”

Posted in Musings

Afternoon Tea (May)

Since I last wrote, it was my birthday and I had a lovely day with my mum when she visited me, and then the day after I saw Ash and she got me my birthday cake, (which I ended up eating the whole thing myself because she didn’t stay for a slice haha!) It was a nice birthday. I’ve had a bit of a reading slump lately, which is a bit irritating, but I know that I’ll get back to it. I have a pile of books that I want to get to soon and they’re staring at me from my shelves so I shall just have to get over that slump and get to reading them soon!

I went to visit Alex in York for three days and it was lovely. He gets three days off a week and so I visited him then and it was lovely. We saw Fen, and met Keelan and Matt for drinks. It was really nice. I got lots of puppy cuddles and a few bunny snuggles and it was so so nice. Fen is a little rainbow of kindness and I love them so much, and it was so nice to have a drink with Keelan and Matt and actually talk instead of getting rat-arsed and dancing in Warehouse! It was a really lovely three days and I can’t wait to go back again and see Alex. (and my friends!)

Pretty much right after I got back from York it was time to move back home to my hometown. I’m done with uni now and so I’m back home, and trying to figure out what that means for a lot of aspects of life. It’s weird, and it’s an adjustment, but I’m getting there. My routine is completely disrupted and that’s not a great thing for my mental health, so that’s hard, but I’ll get it back on track. It can be tough, which actually isn’t something that gets talked about a lot. What happens when you come back from uni without a degree and no job prospects? You move back in with your parents and have to adjust to a different routine and a completely different lifestyle. I don’t nip to the shops to buy bagels at nine at night anymore, and I don’t cook at eleven, I have no room to do yoga, (which I will when I tidy enough room in the back room…) even my supermarket is different here. I can’t just message Ash and plan an impromptu trip to town for a walk and some lunch (we still didn’t get cake) because she lives nearly two hours away and definitely out of budget. It can be lonely. But. I have my little bread loaf of a rabbit here, and he’s cuddlier than he’s ever been. I have my bedroom that I love, and there’s a pool here that I can go to. So it’s not all doom and gloom! And I’ll be back in Preston in a few days to see Naomi for her book reading in the Waterstones there. I’ll be writing more about that after it happens, so I won’t go on about it too much! And I’ll be back in York soon too. I have things to look forward to, and that is always a good thing!

Right, I’m off for some bunny cuddles. (and maybe to tidy some yoga space, but really, reading and bunny cuddles!)

 

Posted in Book Club, Musings

Diversity on your Bookshelf.

Recently I have been thinking and I’ve found that people don’t seem to have a lot of diversity on the bookshelves, including myself. Is it that there aren’t enough books out there that portray LGBTQ+ characters, or POC characters? Probably not. There may well be less of them though, and for some reason they’re just not making their way into our homes. We could blame the advertising and marketing teams for these books, but I don’t know about you but I don’t really rely on advertising to find books that I want to read.

So where do we find books that we want to read? And how do we make sure that we’re not just living in an echo chamber when it comes to the books that we pick up?

By the time that we’re adults, we know what kind of books we like and tend to gravitate towards the things that we have always liked before. That means, judging books by the typical covers that get used in our choice of genre, going to a specific area/ shelf in the library or bookshop, making friends with people who have read the same books as us so that we can talk about them. But doesn’t that mean that we’re only ever seeing books that we know that we will like? At first glance that may seem like the ideal situation. Why would we want to see books that we won’t like? There are so many books in the bookshop, we don’t want to look at each and every one of them just to find one that we like. However, if we’re only ever looking at the books that we know we’ll like, or are the same type of book we’ve read before, then we’re not going to see all the wonderful things that are out there.

Continue reading “Diversity on your Bookshelf.”

Posted in Book Club, Book Reviews

April Book Chat

The Golem and The Djinni- Helene Wecker

I really really liked this book. I wasn’t too sure whether I would or not because it was a little strange to read a book on the kindle and not be able to read the blurb right before I read the actual book. I think it’s more that I have that habit and was a little discombobulated by that disruption of that routine. But whether it was that or something else I’m not sure. Either way, I really liked it. I’ve been reading a few debut novels recently and this is up there in the top few, it’s very good. I have read some very bad first books, but trust me, this is a very good first novel.

Image result for the golem and the djinniThe premise of the book is that a Golem and a Djinni end up in New York after very different journeys and beginnings. I don’t want to spoil the story, so I’m not going to say much more than I already have. The premise reminds me very much of ‘American Gods’, these gods that have travelled to America with those that believe in them, although that’s not what this book is about. It was just a little reminiscent of it- I’d say that if you enjoy Gaiman’s work then you would enjoy this.

It’s quite a slow paced read, but that was quite nice because I was having a bit of a reading slump and it was nice to just have a slow read to be able to relax back into reading. That said, there is a lot going on in this book, almost too much at some points, so it doesn’t feel like a slowly moving boring thing. There are multiple narrators, which I very much appreciated, and it doesn’t just focus on the characters of the Golem and the Djinni; it’s also about the impact that they have on the people and the communities that they encounter.

As for those characters, I love them. They are ALL complex and nuanced and flawed and human (even the non-human ones). They were all bound by something, whether it be something in their nature, or simply by society. It’s interesting how that dynamic pans out, how we learn all the stories of the different characters and how their individual lives fluctuate between free and restricted in different ways. To me it seemed like it was a comment on how you can’t compare your problems to someone else’s because everything is relative.

The ending did seem a little rushed to me, and was a little unsatisfying, but perhaps that was just because I didn’t want it to end! Throughout the book though, the suspense was deliciously paced.

Themes of: free will vs. slavery, right vs. wrong, humanity, religion, mythology.

Woman on the Edge of Time- Marge Piercy

I loved this. There’s so much going on here, SO much. I think it will be one that I will definitely be reading time and time again and finding something new each time. I had never heard of it before, but it was cheap (or free, perhaps) on kindle so I thought that I Image result for woman on the edge of timewould give it a go. So anyway, I loved it. I thought that it exlpored the themes (see below) very well and I barely know how Piercy managed that in such a short book. It feels like it should be much much longer in order to deal with all of those big ideas, but it’s done well and thoroughly. And with style. The unreliable narrator obviously has you questioning the truth all the way through the book, and after you’ve finished it, but you still love Connie as you read. You’re routing for her, even when you know that she has done violent things; she’s trapped, inside her own mind, inside her womanhood, inside her mental illness and inside her own shame. But her trips/hallucinations of the future mean that she is able to become more herself once more. She gets her spirit back and she attempts to break free of all the things that are trapping her. It’s fantastic and while it’s cheap on Kindle you should all get in there and give it a go!

Themes of: Feminism, social constructs, mental illness, racism, motherhood, time.

Nervous Conditions- Tsitsi Dangarembga

Another wonderful book that I had never heard of before. I think there is a dearth of non-white authors on my bookshelf and I am working on remedying that. So, Nervous Conditions finally made it to the top of my tbr pile and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a wonderful coming of age story that deals with real things. It doesn’t idealise anything Image result for nervous conditions tsitsi dangarembgaand it’s not all about boys! Which is a lovely breath of fresh air from a coming of age story with a female protagonist. Tambudzai is mostly concerned with getting a good education, despite her family’s poverty and the prevailing attitude of patriarchy in their society. She wants to get a good education so that she can get a good job and make money to help her mother and her sisters. She is concerned about her aunts and her cousin Nyasha, who had lived in England for a few years and lost so much of her African culture and become an unhappy hybrid of the two cultures that she had been raised in. Tambudzai is a lovely girl and very motivated to always do the right thing, but as she grows up she begins to see the things in her life that she doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with. She isn’t happy about how everyone venerates her well-off uncle as the one that has ‘saved’ them, even when he only does things that she believes he should want to do out of loyalty and love for his family. She isn’t happy about how the women in her family are treated and she isn’t happy about how her cousin Nyasha is never listened to when she has problems and becomes ill. It’s a very interesting read, and the author’s interview in the back of my copy was even more interesting because Dangarembga explains how life is in Zimbabwe and how the problems there impacted her own coming of age story and influenced her creation of Tambudzai’s.

Themes of: Feminism, society, culture, mental illness, racism, the loss of culture during apartheid.

So I had a bit of a reading slump this month, but what I did read was really good, so that’s not a shame really! And I’m back on it now, so hopefully I will have more to say in my May Book Chat!

 

Posted in Musings

73 Questions

We’ve had a few new people follow the blog recently, so I thought I would do the 73 Questions tag so that you could get to know me a bit better! I stole the idea from Sophie so please do head over to her blog and see how she answered these questions!

What’s the best thing that happened to you this month? I started to get my health in order.

What is something you’re tired of? Being tired.

What is something that recently moved you? Season 2 Episode 15 How to Get Away with Murder.

If you could teach one subject in school what would it be? Sex ed. It’s too important to keep fucking up like they do at the moment. (I’d obviously have to learn more first of course)

What’s your favourite beverage? Tea, obviously!

What’s your favourite cocktail? Long Island Ice Tea

What is your favourite birthday cake? My mum’s chocolate mudcake, but only if it’s slightly undercooked and sunken in the middle. 

What is one thing you still have from your childhood? I’ve had my Teddy since I was born. My brother picked him out for me.

What is your favourite movie? I have no idea. My favourite TV show at the moment is ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ though.

What is something you can’t do? Cuddle my bunny right now. He’s back at my parents house and I wish he was here for snuggles and so that I could annoy him by nomming his ears.

What is one habit you wish you could break? Picking my skin. I’m not as bad as I used to be, but I’d like to stop altogther if I can. 

What makes you laugh no matter what? The IT Crowd. (Obviously the english one; it does not translate well to america in the slightest)

What does creativity mean to you? Finding some way to express yourself. Whether that be knitting a blanket in your favourite colours, writing a story, growing plants, playing with makeup, whatever.

Continue reading “73 Questions”

Posted in Assorted Beverages With Alys, Musings

Afternoon Tea (April)

Since I wrote last month I actually used up the ink in a few pens. Woo! Enthralling stuff. Such a life I lead. Is it just me that loves stationery? It’s always a nice feeling using a fresh notebook or a nice new pen. I know that it’s not just me, I know it, but it does still make me feel a bit weird when I actually get a little teensy thrill out of new stationery. Chalk it up to being a bit of a word nerd.

One thing that I’ve been enjoying more lately is spending more time with Ash. She often turns up in these blog posts, she’s great. It’s nice to have a friend that I can spend a lot of time with and not get too tired. We go for coffee and just have a chat which is nice. I can have coffee now. With the medication that I’m on I don’t get the caffeine jitters after only one cup of coffee, so that’s a positive thing.

I always seem to write about what I’ve been watching on Netflix in these, so I’m just going to roll with it and make it a thing. This month I have been watching Riverdale. I know that I’m a bit late on that one, but I was a bit concerned that it would just be one of those annoying teen shows. I actually thought it was pretty good, the first season is better than the second one so far, but season two hasn’t finished yet so I can’t judge it too harshly till it’s over. I like it though, some of the characters that we’re supposed to like are a bit stupid *cough-Archie-cough* but a lot of that is that the characters are teenagers, they’re allowed to be stupid and flawed, most teenagers can be stupid at times. It’s good characterisation regardless of whether the character is annoying to me personally or not. Jughead and Betty are my favourites though, I like that they

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Posted in Book Club, Book Reviews

March Book Chat

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix- J.K. Rowling

Image result for order of the phoenixI like the turn to the darker side in this book. The audience and the characters are growing up. They can’t avoid the danger that Voldemort poses. There’s a lot of good stuff in this book. Some darkness and death, some more complex issues. We learn about Neville’s parents and see how Voldemort and the Death Eaters can do things that are worse than killing. We learn about the prophecy and how Voldemort has signed his own death certificate, and all of this is balanced beautifully with the issues that every school child experiences.

 

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince- J.K. Rowling

Harry just annoyed me in this one. I make no secret of the fact that I don’t much like Image result for harry potter and the half blood prince bookHarry. He’s arrogant, and doesn’t develop much as a character throughout the books. I know that this is because we need a way in to the story as a reader, but it’s a bit annoying when we can see the characters all around him growing up and learning from the events in each book. Harry is still resolutely arrogant, treats his friends badly and doesn’t learn from any of it. He’s so irritating! What makes it worse is that in this book he turns out to be right! (about Malfoy) It’s infuriating! Harry did ruin it a bit for me in this book, but obviously he’s not the only thing about the book, thankfully, and I still enjoyed it overall.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- J.K. Rowling

Image result for harry potter and the deathly hallows bookI think I’ve only read this book once before. My mum gave all of our original copies to our cousins once we’d read them all, but that just means that I got to read it without fully knowing everything that happens in this book. Obviously I’ve seen the films, but the little details that don’t make it into the film were all new to me again.

 

 

On the Other Side- Carrie Hope Fletcher

This was our March book club pick so if you want to read about my thoughts on it in more detail click here.

I will leave the blurb here:Image result for on the other side carrie hope fletcher

Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep. It’s the way most people wish to leave the world, but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she’s become her twenty-seven-year-old self and the door won’t open.

Evie’s soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making it heavy. For Evie, this means unburdening herself of the three secrets which have weighed her down for over fifty years before it’s too late. As Evie begins the journey of a lifetime, she learns more about life and love than she ever thought possible, and somehow, some way, she may also find her way back to the only man she ever truly loved…

Homo Deus- Yuval Noah Harari

Image result for homo deus

I liked this book. I read the first that he wrote, ‘Sapiens’, a couple of years ago and really liked it. I’m not very scientifically minded, so these books are the perfect level of explanation- they are comprehensive and well structured and help novices like me to understand the scientific theories that Harari is explaining. There is a bit of repetition from the first book, but that was actually quite nice because it eased me into the book with information that I already knew and reminded me of those things. I like that it is structured in parts, and then chapters, and then sections. As it’s non-fiction I preferred to read it over a longer period of time as to make it easier to digest the new information. The sections make it easier to do this because I could put it down and pick it up without losing my place, which made it more comfortable to cram in a bit of reading/learning every day. It’s interesting, and I will definitely re-read it again and recommend it to everyone I know.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine- Gail Honeyman

I thought that this was going to be chick lit, but it’s completely not. Not that there’s anything wrong with chick lit, it’s just not my cup of tea, but this is SO MUCH BETTER than chick lit. This is wonderful. Eleanor Oliphant is a bit odd, she lives alone and has no friends. At work she is the butt of the office jokes and is completely oblivious. Every Wednesday she gets a call from her mother and we realise that they have a very complicated relationship that began in Eleanor’s childhood. As the novel progresses we see Eleanor develop feelings for a musician and begin to change her life in order to attract him. This is her project that frames the book, but along the way life keeps getting Image result for eleanor oliphant is completely fine paperbackin the way. She meets Raymond at work and he is persistent about being friendly and nice to her. It’s weird and irritating for Eleanor, but when they are walking home one day they see a man fall and become hurt. One thing leads to another and Eleanor gains a whole bunch of new friends.

I liked the abrupt writing style, it melded very well with Eleanor’s characterisation. Side note: the characterisation is impeccable. Honeyman is a fantastic writer. The use of humour to get us to like Eleanor, even though at the start of the novel she is rather irritating and hard to relate to. There is an absolutely brilliant use of withheld information along with the unreliable narrator that just makes things very interesting and keeps the reader on their toes. Her stalking and fantasies feel super uncomfortable, in the vein of Lolita, and it’s just so good. It’s about how life happens when you’re busy doing other things, and it’s genuinely brilliant. One thing that I really appreciated about it is that there was a friendship between a man and a woman that didn’t become anything else. It had the potential to, but I loved that it just didn’t. It’s genuinely a fantastic book and you should probably all read it.

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