Posted in book reviews, books, reviews

Book Review: England, England by Julian Barnes

This was a roller coaster of a novel, and not just because it’s about a theme park *bad dum tish*.

This book was one that I wouldn’t have picked up on my own accord but seeing as we had to read it for my Literature course I had no choice. And for the most part it was quite a pleasant read, albeit one rather odd and disturbing scene.

The novel explores what we view as nationalism/ patriotism and how this affects our outlook. It delves into the idea of authenticity and replications- taking a few Platonic terms here and there with a modernised version of “The Cave” allegory in Plato’s Republic. 

To summarise, the novel is essentially from the perspective of a character called Martha. In the beginning we are introduced to her life and see her growing up. The story focuses on her relationships with her father as well as men in general and we get to see inside the inner workings of her love life and thoughts. This however is just one facet of the story. She goes to work for a man called Jack who plans to buy the Isle of Wight and turn it into an amusement park based off of all the better things about being English. The park then becomes so popular that it quickly steals all of the real England’s tourism custom and leaves it in disrepair. In this way the book introduces ideas about what are real vs. the expectations we place on things. And whether our nationhood is justly founded and where and why it originates.

I liked the books way of picking up on the ironies of patriotism and how it often overlooks key factors. In particular, the fact that it highlighted the ignorance that people can assume without actually understanding all the factors and details of the very thing that they are defending deeply resonated with me. Although this book was written in the context of the Scottish Devolution Referendum in 1997 I also feel that it is relevant today what with Brexit. I liked how it emphasised the need to be educated on a certain issue and how little we are told or care to know when we are force fed propaganda by the media.

Anyway I rate this book 7/10 – It was something that I felt I benefited from reading, but not something I would necessary pick up to read for fun or re-read.

Thanks for reading,

-E xxx

Posted in life update, Student Story Time, TBR

Daily Update: Fire Alarms, Ant Infestations & TBR Lists

Hey again,

Interesting title for this one, eh? And yet it adequately sums up my day.

I awoke this morning after sleeping through three alarms and Kumar’s loud knocking on my door (I asked him to be my alarm clock) and got up at the undignified hour of 11:30.

This is what happens when I have days off…

I then proceeded to sit in bed and create yet another new blog and wrote the first part of a short story on said new blog.

Then at about 12 ish I decided it was time to get a shower, you know, because that’s what normal functioning people tend to do (except usually a lot earlier).

I was finally ready by about 1pm. Now, reader you may be wondering how on earth it teddy dancetook a gal like me roughly an hour to get ready. I could lie and say it was my hair – but I have a pixie cut so that would fail.

The reality was this. I decided to dance around my room listening to my epic “Happy Jammys” playlist on spotify singing into my hairbrush.

I will admit I have now got a bruise on my right arm from struggling to both sing along and put on my shirt. Because multi-tasking isn’t my forte and I clearly put singing along to Runaway by Del Shannon above my own safety.

Moving swiftly on from my lack of adulthood capabilities… I walked into the kitchen to grab some shopping bags only to be met with the sight of a billion *exaggeration* evil ants running along our counter.

Aaaaaaaghhh!

Admittedly, I did rage out a bit and started smacking them all with a piece of kitchen towel and a lone glass that some drunkard had left in our flat eons ago.

I then went and did my food shop at Lidl and then came back to see them pretty much gone. Until like five seconds ago, when they came back again. But it’s cool I have let Tom the security guard know and he’s going to get the exterminators in.

mahThen the fire alarm went off and I swear to gawd the world just doesn’t want me to revise today…

I did get some reading done today which leads me onto the next point of business. My TBR list.

I finished both England, England by Julian Barnes and Crossing the River this month. And I am planning to have read A Clockwork Orange and Much Ado About Nothing as well.

Well, there’s not really anything else of interest to write right now and I guess I should actually do some more work…. Uuuuuugh.

Chat soon!

 

-E xxx

 

Posted in book reviews, books, reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Another book review, good progress right on this TBR list?

So this is the second time I am reviewing this book. That’s how much I love it, that I wanted to put it on this blog as well as for the university magazine. howl and sophoe

I found this book very nostalgic and a lovely break from the ever-so-hardcore university reading that I am subjected too. It certainly gave me flash-backs to summer holiday reading as a child and I loved the feel of the book!

Sophie Hatter is living her normal, boring life as the unlucky oldest child in Market Chipping. She doesn’t feel exceptional in any way whatsoever and her luck gets even worst when she happens to catch the eye of the Witch of the Waste. And then she gets turned into an old lady.

Yep, ladies and gents- but please don’t worry so much because as abnormal as she is she actually doesn’t mind being an old lady! In fact she uses it as a way of getting away from  her old life and thus starts the beginning of her journey with Howl.

So if you likold lady sophiee talking fire demons chilling in fireplaces, egotistical wizards with dating problems and life lessons in the means of self-discovery then this is the book for you.
Oh yeah, and you may have noticed that Ghibli adapted the book into a movie, which is actually how I first found out about it despite the original novel having been published since 1986.

I know this is a story that I’ll be revisiting and hopefully passing down throughout the years- that’s how good a book it is.

Also, you will totally fall in love with Howl’s character ( I know I said he was egotistical but he’s actually a good guy).

Five stars rating *****

Speak soon and stay awesome ;P

-E xxx

Posted in book reviews, books, reviews, TBR

Book Review: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

This is something that I’ve been meaning to do properly on this blog for  very very long time. And so here it is, finally!  *Warning slight spoilers*

I’m going to start my book review segment with a classic, Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. This was an especially interesting read because it aptly shows Woolf playing around with writing styles and form.

In her diaries she mentions literally basing the entire novel around a shape similar to that of the letter “H” and even argues that in the most literal sense it is incorrect to call the book a novel seeing as it contradicts everything we associate with one.

I had to read this book for my university course here at UON and honestly found that other people had very mixed reactions to it.

Personally, I loved it. Yes, it was difficult at times but that was part of its charm- the fact that you sometimes did get lost with who was narrating the story, what exactly had happened and the fact that Woolf chooses to emphasise stream of consciousness over other seemingly big plot points.

I especially liked the character of Lilly Briscoe and the entire psychology of her character. She is someone who in other novels would probably be more in the background, not entirely someone key to the progress of the novel- because it is after all focused around her development in particular and the finished piece of art and her analysis of the characters around her. Lilly is obsessed with her painting and the ideas that others put in her head of her never being an artist, because women aren’t good at art. At the end of the novel, she appears to battle through her own insecurities and finishes the painting stating, as she does, “I have had my vision.”

Other than that, as you read the book there are recurring references to the lighthouse in everyday objects, this is apparent as at times the description mimics it – “abstract arabesques” are described centring around pillars as well as other curves and shapes.

This obsession with a final destination, the idea that everything will be better once they reach it and the disappointment that James feels when his dad continuously dashes his hopes of going. In my eyes I saw it as a representation of the things we want but never get the chance to pursue. The focus on characters going to the window, the stability and reliability of it always being there even through the war and storms when some of the characters do not. It comments on mortality and how the characters view themselves and their roles within society.

I feel as though no two people get the same thing from the story and that it’s ambiguity leaves it open to interpretation. For these reasons some people don’t like Woolf’s writing but for someone like me who very much enjoys long musing ramblings from someone else’s internal thoughts- I found this book amazing.

I have Orlando on my shelf at the moment as well as some of her essays that I hope to get round to reading at some point.

Overall, if you’re interested in something a little different and unique to read then I highly recommend this novel. If you’ve read modernist work before then this is a great addition to make, and if not this is a very good example of the form.

5 stars *****

Chat soon!

E xxx

Posted in books, reviews, TBR

TBR List – March

Hi guys,

This is just a cheeky post before I head off to uni for a lecture. I thought I would just update you on what I have been reading and what I have read this month. So here goes nothing!

  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf- Status: Read.

This was a really interesting read and apart of my university course, the style was  very unique and it was the first Woolf novel I had ever read. I think I plan to do a full review on it soon so stay tuned.

  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones- Status: Read.

I stayed up till 1 am last night trying to finish this book and OMG it is amazing. If you are a fan of the Ghibli movie then I recommend you read where it originated from. I plan again to do another review on this one both on this blog and for the uni magazine.

  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes- Status: 180 pages into.

I started this one a while ago when my friend Holly got it for my birthday because I am such a huge fan of the movie with Emilia Clarke. It was just that with uni reading and everything it kind of got put aside. But I am glad to say that I am picking it back up to finish because I have been asked to review it’s sequel Me After You.

  • Me After You by Jojo Moyes- Status: Unread.

Well this one is kinda self explanatory after what I just said above, and yes I am doing a review on this for the university magazine. I actually think my deadline was this week but there’s no way I am going to get that done in time. Whoops, I hope they don’t mind too much!

  • Crossing the River by Caryl Phillips- Status: Unread.

I have ordered this off of World of Books and am desperately waiting for it to get here in time because it’s the novel I am meant to read for my literature seminar this week. I have heard good things about this book and apparently it’s a quick read which is nice.

Anyway, that’s everything I have planned to read this month and I shall keep you updated. I realise that I haven’t really touched upon many book reviews on this blog despite meaning too. Hopefully that’ll change, starting this month!

See you tomorrow,

E xxx

Posted in Diary Entry, life update

Life Update: Men Kicking Pigeons and Sneaking Into Chemistry Lectures

I am writing this in the past, so technically this in regards to yesterday. This is a rather impromptu post and as I type I am listening to Kelly Clarkson and my drunk flatmates partying in the kitchen.chem

So here’s the rundown…

In the morning I had a lecture and then nothing till 4pm after that. Me and Freya met up with the Science Guys (Ian, Molly and Ralph) for a little chit chat. Everyone was going to leave for there lectures/ seminars and I had nothing to do.

So I ended up tagging along to a Chemistry lecture and writing a billion and one notes on things that honestly make no sense.

Spectroscopy.

A word that despite being able to spell I am still unable to say out loud much to the amusement of my friends.

I have to say it was a very interesting and boring experience. But I was still an eager beaver about the entire thing. I bumped into another guy from our halls, Ben, in the lecture who looked bewildered to see me and then asked me why I had willingly chosen to go when he didn’t even want to turn up – and this was his course.

I think I drew attention to myself in the fact that as an English student I am used to taking a lot of notes. Barely anyone else in the lecture theatre touched their pens.

And at one point I was terrified because the lecturer woman started throwing out loads of mathematical/ scientific questions and walked right up the row beside me. I wanted to sink into the ground and kept my head down for fear of being called upon.

I don’t really know what I would have done. Probably panic and tell her random facts about Chaucer’s life. And then run away in true Esther fashion hehe.

Ralph and Ian kept looking at me to check that I was okay,  but for the most part I was having a wale of a time!

After that, we discovered that our seminar had been cancelled and therefore I had nothing to do for the rest of the day. I walked home with a spring in my step and went into the post office to grab some cards with the uni and Wollaton Hall on to send to my friends and family and then got some stamps.

fab pidgPlease don’t judge because it’s honestly a problem at this point…. I bought more books too. One on tarot readings, one on all the kings and queens of England and a Bowie biography. My beautiful Thin White Duke!

I popped home for some lunch and tidied my room (no silver fish today phewwww) and then me and Mols went and grabbed some flowers from town. It was on this outing that a very bizarre event occurred. A random man decided to boot a pigeon AT Molly. Yes, talk about animal abuse and just plain rudeness. He literally kicked the poor thing at her.

Why is my life so weird?

Bye for now,

E xxx

Posted in books, tags

The Bookaholics Anonymous Tag

Hi guys, so I just saw this on Payton’s Book Thoughts’ blog and thought I would have a crack at it too for some Christmas fun. If you want to check out her post here’s the link:

https://paytonsbookthoughts.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/bookaholics-anonymous-book-tag/

So anyway, let’s crack on with the challenge!

1.What do you like about buying new books?

I think the main thing for me is the thrill of finding a book that I genuinely want to read. As well as I love that smell, be it an old second hand book that smells musty (but in a good way) or a brand new book that’s crisp and fresh. Wow, that makes me sound weird- but someone out there must know what I’m on about, eh?matild.gif

2. How often do you buy new books?

Too often would be the obvious answer. I’m a student in Nottingham (shout out to Robin Hood) and the place is littered with second hand and bargain book shops.

3.Do you have  favourite bookshop?

Hmmmm, not really. There’s a really great Oxfam bookshop down the road to me that has some good finds and also a shop called Fop at Broadmarsh centre in Notts city. The latter of which you can get any three books for a fiver – no matter how big or the price. I know right it’s too good to me and my addiction hehe. 😉

4.Bookstore or online shopping- which do you prefer?

boos.gifThat’s tricky, I like bookstore’s because you physically get to look around for what you want and might even find something that you didn’t even know you wanted to read. But then online shopping tends to be so much cheaper these days and just convenient. I’d say it would depend what I was shopping for- entertainment or uni.

5. Do you pre-order books?

Never in my entire life. The books I like tend to be obscure or classics…. they’ve been out for a while!

6. Do you have a monthly book buying limit?

Nope, but I really should!

7. Book buying bans- are they something you do?

When you spend more on books than on food as a student you know you have to draw the line somewhere. So yes, unless I need them immediately for my course I have taken to trying to read all the books I have lying around before buying anymore. keira-bae

8. How big is your wishlist?

I would like to say not that big because I don’t really write all the books down that I want but rather say them in the moment.

9. Which three books from your wishlist do you wish to own now?

Hmmmmm….

  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • Dr Faustus by Christopher Marlowe.
  • Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

10. Tagging?

Anyone who wants to have a stab at this challenge! 🙂

 

-E

xxx