Happy Birthday to M.E

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/happybirthdaytome

This year I am asking for donations to the ME Association instead of birthday gifts. I’m only posting it here in the event that any of you are interested, but if you’re not, or you have no money to spare right now, you can safely ignore this. I won’t be mentioning it too much about it on here!

Have a nice day.

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Posted in Book Club, Book Reviews

March Book Club- On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher

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Okay, I really wanted to like this. I have a lot of respect for Carrie Hope Fletcher. I think she’s a lovely person, and I like her a lot. However, I’m sad to say that she is not a good author, it’s just one thing that she’s not amazing at- unlike singing and being a good role model. If I’m honest, by the time that I was a third of the way through I knew that I didn’t want to read the rest, but I did because I’d already picked it for the book club. It’s really not good.  I don’t like to write bad reviews, I don’t like to write such negative stuff without finding something positive about it, but really; this book is just bad.

Firstly I know that I don’t read a lot of Romance novels, in fact, pretty much the only Romance I’ve read is Austen, which is obviously going to be a lot different from a modern Romance novel. For the first few chapters I thought that any of my objections about this book were due to that. Modern Romance novels are just not really my cup of tea, they’re stories that I’m just not that interested in, and I’m not a fan of the cliché’s and contrivances of the genre. However, the more that I read, the further I got through it, the less that I could make excuses for it.

It’s heavily written. There are too many adjectives in each and every sentence and to be honest it’s written like someone trying too hard to impress their GCSE teacher. I remember writing like this when I was that age, and it’s good, but it’s heavy. It’s good for a sixteen year old that still has a long way to improve their craft. It’s worth mentioning here that this is Fletcher’s first novel, so there is room and time for improvement. I have more to say on that later, but I want to talk about the writing for just a moment longer.

Continue reading “March Book Club- On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher”

Posted in Musings

Afternoon Tea (March)

A lot happened in the last month. Or rather, not a lot, but some big stuff I suppose. Alex visited for a week, my mum came up for a day, I left university and I got some medication for my anxiety and depression. So that’s some pretty big stuff. Today’s tea is caffeine free Yorkshire tea. It’s the best in the afternoon and the evening because it stops me from staying up all night.

After struggling with my mental health for, pretty much my entire life, it was really starting to mess with my life. It’s pretty much the only reason that I’ve left university, but, that was the right decision because now I can concentrate on getting better and not putting a time limit on that. It sucks, because now I’m in a lot of debt and I have a four year gap on my CV without any degree to show for it, but I’ve learned a lot anyway, and it’s always been more important to look after myself. Education is important, but it’s a bit useless if you can’t even leave the house, so ultimately, my health is more important. Alex visited for a week last month and that was lovely. It was a bit rocky at the start of the week, but then he helped me get to the doctor and I was prescribed some medication that has helped so much. My anxiety has abated so much, and I think the depression is a bit better. It’s nice. It’s nice to not have to worry so much, it’s quieter inside my head now, and it’s good.

Continue reading “Afternoon Tea (March)”

March Book Club Pick

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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…

Posted in Book Club

February Book Chat

Cloud Atlas- David Mitchell

I found it quite difficult to get into at first, and I think that I stand by that. The first few sections weren’t necessarily my sort of thing, but I powered through on the basis that the characters were interesting and the writing good. My notes say that at first I thought that it was difficult to find a conclusive meaning in each section, which I actually now think was the point. You had to read the entire novel in order to glean the message, which may still be a difficult to establish. I think it’s one of those books that you have to think about for a little while after finishing it.

Cloud Atlas (Paperback)There’s a lot going on in this novel. Almost too much to wrap my head around, and almost too much to comprehend all of the things that I thought about when I was reading it and writing my notes. I liked how it explores the line between fiction and reality. We’re told a thing, only to find out later that it is just a mystery novel for example. It asks us to look at history and who it is told by- I think. There is a discussion about the nature of humanity and how it is inevitable that some of us, most of us, will be a bit shit. It covers things like slavery, censorship, consumerism, cloning, genetic mods, religion and free will. Humanity, it seems, will always exploit those it sees as weak/different/less intelligent, and has always done so. The journal of Ewing shows us the history of colonialism, and the exploitation of native Polynesian people, and then the interview with Sonmi-451 shows us how when it was no longer socially acceptable to exploit people; they just created a new lower-class to exploit.

There was the element of the Comet shaped birthmark, which seemed a like a slightly clumsy attempt to draw a narrative between the multiple characters throughout the novel and time. It didn’t seem to make much sense and I’m not sure why it was there. Maybe there’s a significance to it that I’m missing, but it seems to just be a little clumsy to me.

My favourite parts were An Orison of Sonmi~451 and Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After. I liked the way that they were integrated very well with each other and how you could see how Sonmi influenced the future. It showed the cyclic nature of life and how the word will keep repeating these patterns of destruction and creation.

Overall I liked it a lot, but it might take a second reading to really wrap my head around all of the elements and figure it all out.

Side note: I liked the element of rebirth and Buddhism. I liked that it fed into the religion in Sloosha and how the religion itself evolved over time in the heads of people who gathered and took different things from the original religion and made it into something new.

The Power- Naomi Alderman

This is our February book club pick, so there was a lengthier post about it yesterday. (click here)

I will leave the blurb here:

The Power (Paperback)

She throws her head back and pushes her chest forward and lets go a huge blast right into the centre of his body. The rivulets and streams of red scarring run across his chest and up around his throat. She’d put her hand on his heart and stopped him dead.

It starts with a tingling in the fingers, a feeling of focus, of a change in the rhythm of the world, a pricking of the thumbs.

Power is everywhere, it is under our feet, it circles around the cities and towns we have made our homes. We gather it and order it and make it flow from the centre outwards in a network like veins, pulsing with an electric heartbeat that keeps things functioning just as they always have. Yet power transfers and the time is coming for it to change hands.

What if the power to hurt were in women’s hands?

Exploring the concepts of gender, hierarchy and power, The Power is an ingenious and masterfully crafted piece of feminist science fiction as well as a searing indictment of our contemporary world.

Lost at Sea- Bryan Lee O’Malley

I thought that this was good. As I said last month, I’m not a huge reader of graphic novels and so I’m still not sure what I’m talking about when I talk about them, but I will still talk Lost At Sea (Paperback)about my thoughts and opinions on them. I liked the story, and very much appreciated what it was trying to do, but it does have an anti-climactic end. I think that’s the point. It’s not supposed to be satisfying or uplifting, it’s supposed to be truthful and subtle. It is subtle, and good, but I do feel as though it was lacking something. As I say, I’m not a good critic here, I can’t say what it is that’s missing, but I just feel like there was. In contrast to Snotgirl, I don’t think that this is one that I will want to buy. It seems to me that it feels a little juvenile, trying too hard to be meaningful, when it’s message is that nothing is meaningful. Maybe I’m missing something amazing about this, but I just don’t think that this one is for me.

A note on the art style: I liked it. I think that I wouldn’t have picked it up if I didn’t like the art style. Whilst the story is important and the main part of whether I find a graphic novel satisfying or not, the art is the main reason that I pick them up. If I don’t like the art style, I don’t really see the point in reading it as the art is half of the enjoyment of graphic novels. I liked that it was simplistic and clean, which matched the story style too.

Clicky click. I talk about Harry Potter!

Posted in Book Club, Book Reviews

February Book Club- The Power by Naomi Alderman

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This month’s book was ‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman and I thought that it was pretty good. I think that there was a lot of hype over it when it was first published, and I avoided everything about it because I didn’t want to ruin it for myself. Waiting was apparently the right thing, as I really liked this one. I’ve waited a little while to write this post so that I didn’t just gush over it and could get some distance from the first reading, but I apologise if I gush anyway because  it was pretty good. I wrote a lot of notes about this one, so hopefully it won’t get too garbled, there might be quite a long editing process.

I like the presentation that women have always been violent, they just lacked the power and opportunity. Whilst the premise of this book it feels like empowerment and poetic justice to a female reader, it also doesn’t portray these women as being flawless. They are just as violent as the men that rule our world today, and just as humanly flawed. It almost feels to big to talk about because there’s such a lot of commentary on the real world and it’s very interesting, as well as the story arc being interesting itself.  I quite liked the power dynamics in the world that Alderman has created. Obviously power is an important theme of the book, but it’s not just about the new power that girls are having awakened in them. There are some power dynamics and politics in the book that were very well written and actually rather nice to read. The sense of ‘entitlement’ that the power gave to women mirrors that power that men seem to have in our world. Is it a sense of entitlement, or is it just confidence? I think entitlement, but maybe I would as a woman!

‘It doesn’t matter that she shouldn’t, that she never would. What matters is that she could, if she wanted. The power to hurt is a kind of wealth.’

As a woman living in the real world there were definite moments of vindication, but I don’t feel that it really did push any kind of agenda too hard. It would be easy to assume that the book is militantly feminist, which of course it has aspects of, but it is simply describing a world that has the premise of a shift in power dynamics- women becoming more physically strong than men, and what happens in that world after the shift. As I mentioned earlier, these women are flawed, they are human. The world that they live in is not better than ours, Alderman is not saying that women would run the world better than men, she’s saying that we’re equally as flawed and equally as corruptible as men. I like that narrative. I think it’s important in science fiction that authors make their worlds and their characters as realistic as possible. Sure there might be a pink moon and purple soil, and the people might be hippo-like creatures that breather through their feet, but for that story to appeal to a reader there has to be something that they recognise and relate to. Alderman has done that, and I’m in love with that aspect of the book, especially as a science-fiction book became very popular, and it was a good one! A lot of the time, science fiction that becomes popular outside of its usual audience is not the best example of science-fiction writing, and it makes me happy that this was so popular and represents genre writing in a more positive way.

But wait, there’s more!

Posted in Musings

Afternoon Tea. (February)

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Today the tea that I am drinking is ‘Cherry Rum’ from the Mystery Teahouse in Preston. If anyone’s nearby, I definitely recommend this magical place. I’ve loved it for a few years, but haven’t been for a long while. Ash and I met up the other day and went for lunch because we hadn’t been and because it’s amazing. They do SO many teas, they have an entire wall of them and you can of course drink them in the shop, and also buy them to take home. And so, alongside my vegan wrap with side salad, I had cherry rum tea and just had to buy some for my flat. Anyway, it was lovely meeting up with Ash and doing something calm and good that involved food. Especially as we both love the tea house so much and hadn’t been in so long. I think we’ll do it more. (We didn’t get cake while we were there, so we HAVE to go back…)

I’ve been meditating more lately, I’ve found that it’s helpful for my insomnia. I have an app called Stop, Breathe, and Think which I’ve been using. It has a few great guided meditations, and then you can buy a few more if you want (although you’re not prompted too) I like it, and it’s become a part of my bedtime routine. I want to meditate more in the mornings too, so maybe if I get on with that, maybe I’ll let you know how that goes in my next Afternoon Tea post. It’s part of my whole thing that I’ve been doing lately where I’ve been concentrating on being healthy. I’ve been doing one thing every day that is good for my mental health- sometimes they’re quite challenging, and sometimes more relaxing- and I’ve been doing exercises *most* days because I’ve been feeling very lethargic and wanting to get fit. It’s making me feel more positive too, I can feel myself getting stronger, and of course the happy hormones can’t hurt. It’s nice to be working on myself in a positive way, rather than doing it because of negativity.

Continue reading “Afternoon Tea. (February)”

Posted in Book Club, Book Reviews

January Book Chat

Fahrenheit 451- Ray Bradbury

I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was well written and well plotted. I really liked how Bradbury questioned the worth of technological advancements and how governments use them to essentially brainwash the public. They didn’t want people to be educated and empathetic towards other people, so they discouraged reading to such a point that it became illegal. I write notes as I read these books, to give me something to look back on when I’m writing these posts, and this one got a lot of notes. Governments Image result for fahrenheit 451will never need to burn books so long as people continue to stop reading and being critical. We have a consumerist society and all of our media is getting shorter and becoming a constant bombardment. But there will always be those loyal readers, who think critically about what they are reading. This is what launches Guy Montag into the world on the other side of his fire thrower. After meeting Clarisse he begins to question things and remember things that he had not thought of in-depth before. It is as if he is dormant, waiting to be activated. Once he is we see a change in him, instead of being latent and without agency he becomes someone who makes his own decisions and takes risks. He begins to ask questions and deviate from the norm. One thing that I thought there needed to be more of was Beatty. Guy’s boss at the firehouse is clearly well-read himself, and yet he still condemns Guy for taking and reading books. In my copy of the book Bradbury has written an introduction, in which he explains that Beatty originally had more of a role in the book, but he cut those bits out during the editing process. He also mentioned that Clarisse should have come back at the end of the book, out in the wild, well and good. He wrote that he had considered revising the book after publication, but that he had too much respect for his younger self to change his work. It was reflective of who he was when he wrote it, which was actually one of the main points of the novel itself.

Slaughterhouse 5- Kurt Vonnegut

Image result for slaughterhouse five bookI found it really difficult to read this book for extended periods of time. Each time I put it down, I struggled to pick it up again. I’m not sure where I stand on this book, I think it was so not what I was expecting, to the point of meaning that I don’t know whether I like it or not. I did enjoy reading it, even if I found it difficult to keep picking it up. I liked that there is a question all the way through the novel about whether there is actual time travelling, or whether he is just remembering or dreaming, or ill, following the trauma of the war, or the head injury that he suffered.

I don’t really know what I think of it. I think I will have to read it again to figure out what I think about it and whether I like it or not. I don’t think that it’s actually science-fiction, I think that it’s a novel about PTSD and the after-effects of the war. But what I will say is that I don’t research these books before reading them, or writing about them because I don’t want that to influence what I think or feel about them, including spoilers! So I have no idea if I’m right about that or not. So it goes.

Let me know if you’ve read it and what you thought about it, I’d be interested in hearing what you thought it was about.

Stoner- John Williams

This was January’s book club pick, so there was a post last week that went into more detail about what I thought, but I will say right now that I liked it. I thought that it was beautiful and sad. And that I will love it forever. Image result for stoner book cover

I will leave the blurb here:

William Stoner enters the University of Missouri at nineteen to study agriculture. Later, he becomes a teacher. He marries the wrong woman. His life is quiet, and after his death his colleagues remember him rarely. Yet with truthfulness, compassion and intense power, this novel uncovers a story of universal value. Stoner tells of the conflicts, defeats and victories of the human race that pass unrecorded by history, and reclaims the significance of an individual life. A reading experience like no other, itself a paean to the power of literature, it is a novel to be savoured.

Click here to go to the book club post.

Snotgirl vol. 1- Bryan Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung

I know that this received mixed reviews from people who read graphic novels more than I do, and I feel weird saying that I liked it when other people who know more than I do didn’t like it, but I say that I like what I like. And I liked this. I borrowed this off my friend Image result for snotgirl vol 1 coverTim who loves Bryan Lee O’Malley and I have to say that I liked it a lot. I liked that it took the piss out of its own vapid central character, and I actually quite liked that it has a bit of a slow burn for the story arc. I will say that I can imagine that if I had read it in its original five installments it may have been more frustrating, however, I read it as a volume and I didn’t think it frustrating at all. I thought that the mystery about what is happening to Lottie and what’s going on with this experimental medication was intriguing and I can’t wait to read the second volume later this year.

I also loved Leslie Hung’s art style. I loved the colours! It’s just gorgeous, and I can’t wait for more! (I’m definitely not an art critic, I don’t even know the right words to describe the aspects of it that I liked)

I also got most of the way through Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and I’m looking forward to finishing that and letting you all know what I thought of it at the end of next month. Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of all the books that I read this month!

Happy reading!

February Book Club Pick

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The Power- Naomi Alderman

‘She throws her head back and pushes her chest forward and lets go a huge blast right into the centre of his body. The rivulets and streams of red scarring run across his chest and up around his throat. She’d put her hand on his heart and stopped him dead.’

Suddenly – tomorrow or the day after – girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman’s extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed, and we look at the world in an entirely new light.

What if the power to hurt were in women’s hands?

Posted in Book Club

January Book Club- Stoner by John Williams

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Stoner, by John Williams, is one of the best books that I’ve read this year. I know that’s not saying very much as we’re only just at the end of January, but bear with me as I tell you all about it!

William Stoner enters university to study Agriculture and ends up falling in love with Literature. It turns out to be a lifelong love, more long-lasting than any other love in his life. He becomes a teacher, marries the wrong woman, has a daughter that he loves but is distant from, and eventually dies.

I really enjoyed the writing style and thought that flowed effortlessly through the events of Stoner’s life. One part that I particularly liked was the depiction of the decline of his marriage. I thought that it was very realistic. Stoner was the sort of man that allowed life to happen to him. The only decision that he ever seemed to make for himself was when he changed his course of study. Which, turned out to change the course of his life. His marriage wasn’t something that he particularly wanted, and it was clear to the reader from the start that it would turn sour, or at least be unsatisfying for both parties as neither of them ever bothered to get to know their spouse.

but wait, there’s more!