War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy

So, I did it.

I read War & Peace.

My copy is as battered as my soul after this marathon of names I didn’t even try pronouncing out loud and war strategies which I’m still a little befuddled over.

Apart from that, and I never thought I’d be saying this about a 1253 page book, I would read it all over again. This is the book I take on a desert island. Long enough that you’d only have read it three times over before you’re rescued. If anyone wanted to read a big book ever in their life, this is the one. War & Peace is by far one of my favourite ( if not the best ever) books I’ve read this year. There’s just so much I want to talk about!

Let’s start with Tolstoy.

I went into W&P with a sense that Tolstoy was the Russian equivalent of Dickens and so, as you can imagine, I had a sense of weariness about me before I even began. But I was pleasantly surprised as I got about 50 pages in and his style was fluent and easy to follow (something I can’t say about Dickens-sorry Charlie!). I’m not sure whether this was down to my copy’s translation or Tolstoy himself, either way, kudos to them. I was just completely absorbed the entire book! I couldn’t have read it fast enough! It took me a good 25 days to push through and I don’t think I’ll ever regret my decision to start reading it.

Having never read any Russian literature and as someone who knows practically nothing about Russia nor its population apart from their preference for vodka and short sentences, its safe to say this book was an enlightening experience. It seems with W&P there is a before and an after. Before I was very acceptant of the stereotype we give Russia especially in the age of Putin. After, I’m open to ideas. I can’t get over the atmosphere this novel created of Russia and its vastness and how different everything is. I think with stereotypes we dehumanize people so that we can have a better idea of their identity. In reality, I’ve come to realize stereotypes are more damaging than helpful.

Russia has been transformed for me. I have this interest to just know more about this country and read books cataloguing its history and I want to visit St Petersburg in winter and immerse myself in a place so vast. I’ve got a crush on Russia and it’s all Tolstoy’s fault.

War & Peace is full of such poignant characters. In all the books I’ve read I’ve never come across a more human author and characters to fill his books. This book isn’t just a work of fiction, it’s a guidebook to morality and finding your identity and accepting your faults and weaknesses and being human. Pierre has become my favorite character for character development. That’s the beauty of all these characters, they develop as humans would and its beautiful to witness.

I loved, hated, forgave, cried, wished, dreamt and laughed with, over and for Natasha Rostov. Tolstoy never labelled his characters, he merely stated their feelings and their own analysis and left the rest to the reader who in turn looked at themselves. There is just so much you can learn from War & Peace and so much from it to live by.

I want to talk about the tragedy of Prince Andrei Bolkonsky. Damn. I really connected with this man. I just wanted to hug him and bring him back from his own thoughts into happiness. There’s a part in the book which I don’t think I’ll ever forget and its remained on the surface of my mind since I read it.

And a tormenting fear seizes him. And this fear is the fear of death: it is standing behind the door. But as he is crawling strengthlessly and awkwardly towards the door, this terrible something is already pushing against it from the other side, forcing it. Something inhuman- death- is forcing the door, and he has to hold it shut. He lays hold of the door, strains in a last effort- to lock it is already impossible- just to hold it shut; but his attempts are weak, clumsy, and, pushed by the terrible thing, the door keeps opening and shutting again.

Once more it pushes from the other side. His last supernatural efforts are in vain, and the two halves open noiselessly. It comes in, and it is death. And Prince Andrei died.

But in the same instant that he died, Prince Andrei remembered that he was asleep, and in the same instant that he died, he made an effort with himself and woke up.

“Yes, that was death. I died- I woke up. Yes, death is an awakening.” Clarity suddenly came to his soul, and the curtain that until then had concealed the unknown was raised before his inner gaze. He felt the release of a force that perviously had been as if bound in him and that strange lightness which from then on did not leave him.

Maybe its just me and my morbid soul but this, this gives me a sense of peace. Because don’t we all wonder whats on the other side of that door and isn’t it just a terrible fear of the unknown. Reading this, truly eased my heart and I know its “fiction” but just because it didn’t happen doesn’t mean its not real. At the end of the day we’re all going to be stood against that door on our last days waiting for it to open and just the notion of possible peace on the other side, well, it makes life easier to live rather than circling yourself with ideas of purgatory and hell and nothingness. Death is an awakening.

EN EE WAY.

I just loved War & Peace and there’s so much to talk about and I don’t think I’ll ever have enough time to pick apart every single part I loved, hated and adored. But I cried at least 3 times throughout this one. And laughed even more.

As I make my way through the classics, I do want to share my favourites and this is definitely one of them.

Just going to leave some of my favorite quotes and passages from this book down here to entice any of you who haven’t read it. Really read it. Clear your calendars and wrap yourself in a duvet and maybe get a pillow for your arm when you’re holding the book.

It’s so worth it.

“Love? What is love?” he thought. “Love hinders death. Love is life. Everything, everything I understand, I understand only because I love.”

“You see, friend,” he said “we’re asleep until we love. We’re children of dust… but fall in love- and you’re God, you’re pure as on the first day of creation…”

Science, that is, an imaginary knowledge of the perfect truth.

An Englishman is self-assured on the grounds that he is a citizen of the best organized state in the world, and therefore, as an Englishman, he always knows what he must do, and knows that everything he does as an Englishman is unquestionably good.

“If I were not I, but the handsomest, brightest, and best man in the world, and I was free, I would go on my hands and knees this minute and ask for your hand and for your love.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Level Hiatus and how I haven’t stopped reading

Over the past 8 months I have been absent, and I promised I wouldn’t be absent, but I was so there it is. My first A- level year was officially a success, and from it I’ve been predicted solid A’s and possible A*’s in all of my subjects. All I can say was that it was hard work and intense dedication and that I’m only halfway there. Let’s hope I can reproduce the results for next year. Fingers and toes and any other body part crossed please!

Although I have been absent from book-blogging shenanigans, I have never read more than what I have this past year. It has been such a liberating and mind opening experience to read so many books and really feel like I’ve come a long way. My book-ban-challenge shelf, as it is so named on my Goodreads account, has been hovering around the 100 book-mark for what feels like eternity and is currently at 106 books unread. I put myself on a book buying ban around Christmas last year and it hasn’t worked so I’ve essentially given up on resisting my urges. I’m an addict but hey, at least its not cocaine,right?

Anyway, to the books!

I’ve read some pretty amazing books these past months, ranging over some diverse genres and have touched on so many influential themes. From the last embers of my YA fiction days to 5th century BC war strategies; from Hogwarts, down the River Nile and into the West of England, I’ve done a lot of traveling. Ironically, I’ve been to all of these places physically this year! I’ve been a Southern Belle with Scarlett O’Hara, shared a life boat with a tiger and Pi, and walked the streets of London with Ben Judah.

In my next posts I’ll be sharing some of my favorite books I’ve read throughout this hiatus, along with how I’m saying farewell to YA fiction, the books I recommend to anyone venturing into medical school as well as feminist novels and memoirs which have empowered me tenfold. As part of my English A Level Coursework I’d like to share some of the required texts and my thoughts on travel writing as well as plays and books which share parallels with Wide Sargasso Sea, Twelfth Night and A Streetcar Named Desire.

xxx

 

February Book Haul (send help please…)

I treated myself this month to a raid on charity shops. I’ve been doing quite well at college and I thought “treat yo self”. So I did.

Safe to say, me and my bank account are ignoring each other. Ignorance is bliss.

I also received my first Willoughby Book Club subscription this week! As if I wasn’t spoiled enough! I truly love how my surprise book arrived!

Books in the haul of February… ta daaa (someone has to confiscate my bank card please I beg you.)

Riding the Iron Rooster by Paul Theroux (Now this I bought purely because we study an extract from this travelogue in English Language and Literature A Level. Safe to say the title ‘Riding the Iron Rooster’ would not spark my interest under any other circumstances)

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (I REMEMBER WATCHING THE FILM OF THIS ON  V I D E O!!)

Structural Inorganic Chemistry by Wells (says what it does on the tin.)

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (this copy was BEGGING to be bought. Its currently living on my windowsill being pretty and old. I imagine Will Herondale reading this addition, woo-ing Tessa and the rest of the fandom into oblivion. If you know you know.)

Starter for Ten by David Nicholls

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald (gotta love a bit of Fitz.)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré (MY GRANDAD LIKES THIS BOOKS SO I’LL GIVE IT A GO.)

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen (I have no idea why I picked this up. Honest. I’ll let you know how it goes.)

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding (my nan told me to read it.)

Americana by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (I really wanted to read this as I have recently been admiring the author on her stance on feminism.)

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (why not? Daniel Radcliffe is on the cover.)

Blood Brothers by Willy Russell (I’m taking one of my best friends to go and see this for her birthday next month!)

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson (I spied this on my Auntie’s bookshelf and couldn’t help myself when I saw it today!)

The Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett (This is going to sound really weird by I am a huge fan of Bennett without reading a scratch of his work. He’s like a Northerner Grandad Teddy Bear. I watched the film of this on Christmas Eve and loved it as an English student. It left my dad a tad baffled though. Plus we’re studying an extract from his diaries in English as well.)

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (I’ve heard so much about this!)

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (The cover is pretty)

Room by Emma Donoghue (My best friend read this recommending it to me as it is a really interesting concept for a novel.)

The Lightning Tree by Emily Woof (This was my Willoughby Book Club book! I’m so excited!)

 

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I want to talk about this little book. This little 52 page book I bought off Amazon for £3. This little book has summed up all my feelings, issues and rants about the big things wrong with the world at the moment. 

We Should All Be Feminists is a personal, honest and clarifying essay which may be read and appreciated regardless of your education or social class. We Should All Be Feminists acts within any box you could be put into socially or economically, whatever your culture or religion. And that’s the beauty of it. It is a call for equality where no one can hide from it. 

The big issues which really stood out for me was the question of defining feminism. The stereotypes and baggage that title claims is rooted to the soul reason why we need it. 

Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. 

“A Nigerian acquaintance once asked me if I was worried that men would be intimidated by me.

I was not worried at all- it had not even occurred to me to be worried, because a man who would be intimidated by me is exactly the kind of man I would have no interest in.”

I believe this book should be promoted in schools across the nation. Actually, to hell with the nation: across the world. 52 pages which could open the eyes of anyone asking the question of “what does being a feminist mean?” 

Even more so, teach it! This book originates from the TEDtalks organisation. The talk is 3 0 M I N U T E S   L O N G. That gives time for discussion after the lesson! A good 30 minutes more of hearing what people think and feel about a concept which is so greatly shaping our growing culture. Let’s have a debate. Let’s discuss other feminist talks, literature. Start asking questions! Are there any male feminist writers? Research them. Let’s learn about some cultural catalysts which are right under our noses. Share. Encourage young people to offer up ways in which they may relate to the issues raised in the talk. Spark confidence in those who never knew they had it.

From the moment I finished this book, essay, thing I’ve told my best friend. My aunt. I posted a quote on Snapchat and a vague distant friend sent me a message saying “WHAT BOOK IS THIS? I NEED IT!”  I watched the TEDtalk and loved it even more. So please go and watch it. Be enlightened. Enjoy having your mind blown a little. The link is below as well as my favourite extracts. 
“I was once talking about gender and a man said to me, ‘Why does it have to be you as a woman? Why not you as a human being?’ This type of question is a way of silencing a person’s specific experiences. Of course I am a human being, but there are particular things that happen to me in the world because I am a woman.”



“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognising how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.”


We Should All Be Feminists- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie TEDTALKS 

So… It’s been a while (Oopsies…)

Its been a while. I’ve been neglecting. I’ve been feeling guilty for ages. Update on the whole A Level situation; A grades do not achieve themselves. It’s got to the point I start quoting chemical formulas and equilibrium equations whilst eating my dinner. Good news is that it hasn’t been for nothing! Predicted A’s! You’ll find me dancing in the corner where the food is.

BUT. I do love blogging and I’ve been procrastinating recently about study so I thought I might as well do it properly and blog about it. I have been reading non stop also! As you can see. These are the books I’ve read but just not blabbered about. I’ve probably missed out a few but hey ho.

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A lot of Harry Potter went on… J.K is forever a Queen.

A bit of Percy Jackson (I DON’T KNOW WHY I’M READING THIS I’M NOT THE BIGGEST FAN BUT I’VE STARTED IT NOW SO I’VE GOT TO FINISH IT AAHH)

Finished His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. Now I’ve got to dedicate this to my lovely Uncle who handed me a beat up copy of Northern Lights when I was about 9. Almost 10 years later I finish the series. Subtle Knife was AMAZEBALLS. Amber Spyglass a bit blah.

Elizabeth Is Missing, I thought was really sweet. The use of perspective in this novel was very clever and a thoroughly enjoyable read. Stephen King’s Revival was actually very very good, slow starting but very much worth the wait because wow. Jessica’s Ghost I bought and enjoyed purely for the title. It was mandatory. But it was a really sweet Tweeny story. Tad on the morbid side like The Last Leaves Falling which I shamelessly sobbed over in my blanket fort. Tiger Lily… Hmmm. I honestly bought and read the book for a flowery, airy fairy romance. But DAMN.WAS I WRONG. I really rated this for Girl Power. I loved it. Just read it. Completing my Dan Brown collection was satisfying with Deception Point which I was engrossed in. Thrillers are rarely my thing and most of the time I get a bit bored them because I figure out whodunit before the protagonist does. But Dan Brown always keeps me reading because WHO KNOWS WHATS GOING TO HAPPEN. However finding out that he’s got a new book coming out in a few days Origin made me sigh heavily because now I’ve got to buy books when I’m on a book ban at the moment. On the other hand, I read the much reviewed and raved about The Girl On The Train. It was alright. The entire book kinda gave me anxiety because train delays. God. Should’ve been called the Southeastern Experience. The story was alright, but a tad overrated.

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins took me weeks to read. It was very good and the scientist in me was boggling and lost in the theory. I loved it and was immersed in it. but it’s heavy reading. Tales of Adventure and Medical Life by none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was probably one of my favourite books I’ve read recently. I laughed, teared up a bit, was lost in it. Love good doctoring.

My Classics Catch Up has been going well. Can we please appreciate Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire? I mean dear Baby Jesus is that even legal?

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I adored to my core The Colour Purple and searching frantically for the film in charity shops! God damn empowering that! Maya Angelou… well. We’re studying a passage from Mom & Me & Mom in A Level English so I thought it would be nice to read a little more about her. This woman was amazing and I want everything she has ever written.

I read the Great Gatsby! Yay! It was quite a lovely moment actually. I remember trying to read it a few years back and just couldn’t understand what was going on! Now I read it and thoroughly enjoyed it! Growth that! Beautifully written and now I want to see the film. On The Road I thought was beautifully written, real talent. But I hated the characters. I couldn’t stand the pretentious “Oh yeah I drink and smoke and have sex a lot and I’m deep and all because I’m hitchhiking and yeah America”. I really am sorry but ugh. Gulliver’s Travels was okay… dragged a little. Anthony and Cleopatra I kinda got but fell asleep about three times on the sofa whilst in the middle of reading it…Take from that what you will.

I educated myself a bit on Gandhi. Closely followed my I Am Malala by complete fluke. MALALA GIRL YOU ARE AMAZING. Your story honestly opened my eyes. An inspiration. If you’re going to read anything this year, read that.

I recently read The Penguin Lessons by tom Mitchell. I don’t think I can express my love for this little book. Spoiler alert it involves a penguin. If you’re not sold at that you need to sort your priorities out because PENGUINS ARE CUTE.

2016 admittedly was quite shite. I mean what was that? Bowie, Prince, Rickman AND Carrie Fisher? PRINCESS FRICKEN LEIA? I think the most 2016-ish thing to happen was George Michael going ON CHRISTMAS DAY. I guess you could say it was his Last Christmas…

I’m sorry.

Not to mention Brexit (yay) Trump (I MEAN… THERE ARE NO WORDS) As well as many other quite shitty thing to happen.

2017…please be good to me. Cherry on top.

It is my New Year’s Resolution to keep up the blog, its very very therapeutic. I’LL DO IT. I really will… honest.

Promise.

xxx

 

A Liebster Award Nomination! For Me?!

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I was nominated for the Liebster Award by the lovely, hilarious Brontë’s Page Turners who is actually a star. Love you loads.

I’m quite new to this awarding business, but I’ve googled it thoroughly since my nomination and I think I can rock it.

So, there are rules to this. Oooh riskaay…

  • Acknowledge the person who nominated you and display the award.
  • Answer the questions that the blogger gives you.
  • Give eleven random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 11 blogs who you think deserve it.
  • Let the bloggers know you’ve nominated them.
  • Give your eleven questions to the nominees.

The rules are normally subject to change and twists but you follow.

So I’ll get onto answering the questions! (This is exciting isn’t it?)

1.What made you start blogging?

Well… I’m still a bit of a blogging baby, having only started my blog back in June. I started on a whim, having just finished a set of exams and reading a huge pile of books I had accumulated over the academic year which had been neglected by exam season. After reading a load of them, I realized I wanted to talk about them and get out all the heartbreak, frustrations and thoughts on these books. I turned to blogging to vent about books. That’s the reason and my motive actually lies with my Liebster nominator whose book blog got me reading (and giggling) and offered the real inspiration for the book blogging scene. You da bomb.

2.I have to purchase every book I read. Do you?

YES. I completely do this. I buy books whenever and wherever I go adding them quite happily to my to be read shelves. Even if I read a book online electronically (a rare occasion but has happened in desperate times) and enjoy it just moderately its being bought. Standard. I have this theory that all the books you read are a part of growing; the books I love and the books I hate have all had an impact on who I am. That’s why the first thing I look at in someones house is their bookcase; you expect the good and the bad.

3. I have a spreadsheet of all of my books to guard against theft (aka borrowers not returning items) and other calamities. Do you?

Um… I find this fact impressive. I can’t say I spreadsheet my books, but keep a very VERY  mental note of where my books are and with which people. For example I know a book series is being borrowed by a friend (has been for the entire summer) and yeah… I’m waiting patiently. I do have this habit of piling up all my to be read books on their particular shelf (classic/biography; science/general reading; series [which then graduates to the series bookshelf; yeah this is a serious business])  with there pages facing out and their covers facing down so I have no idea what I pick up next to read, only the possible genre. Its like a mystery read every time, and I’m always satisfied. I also have a method. I read a classic, and then as classics are usually quite hard reading or heavy ideas and so on, I give myself a breather by graduating down to general reading. I then move up (ooh shake up) to a pile of books that are related to my a level courses and can range from Shakespeare to Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene. I then move down to series (I read too many series for my own good). And then the process begins again.

4. I run yearly maintenance on my books, giving them a good airing and checking for damp. What lengths do you go to to care for your books?

I don’t do this, but its a great idea! I’m quite hesitant towards lending out books to people if I know a page is slightly lose in the book, or the glue of the spine is crackly or its really old. Just… no. I do this because I remember once I was reading a book borrowed from a friend and was reading whilst eating dinner at the table. My mother got quite annoyed by this and snatched the book out of my hands, ripping half of one of the pages. I felt absolutely horrible. It wasn’t my book! I think I bought her a new copy but it still isn’t the same. That guilt has never left me and yeah, I’m just quite sad when it comes to books. To be fair I’m actually quite bad; I write my name in my books and break the spines at crucial points in the story. They are loved that way!!!!

5. To paraphrase the poet Barry Manilow…Questions 2-4 show How Deep Is My Love for books. Can you tell me something that demonstrates How Deep Is Your Love for books?

Quite deep. I love books. Always have, always will. When I was learning to read I remember reading Little Red Riding Hood as a bedtime story. Being a little rebel who didn’t believe in bedtime, once my parents would leave the room, light off and all I would pick up Little Red and lean quite close to the window so I could read in the dim light. I remember one night there was no light and I was turning the pages the pitch black, but had memorized each word of each page. And so I can read in the dark.

6. Do you have a favourite song based on a book?

I can’t say I listen to much music based on books. Maybe I have without knowing. But in my angsty teen days (slowly fading) I remember listening to Youtubers who had composed songs based on  (QUEEN) Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices. Fantasy, teenage forbidden love, the author of The Mortal Instruments (I will definitely be dedicating an entire blog to this lady soon). I’ve read the series so many times. But yes, angsty songs were made and when I’m in the car with headphones in and its raining the songs come out. Fire and Ice was fab.

Getting onto some fantastic facts about Jess.

  • I am left-handed! #LeftiesUnite
  • My favourite color is green although you’d hardly find me wearing it.
  • I can speak German and Arabic  (rusty) along with English my mother tongue.
  • I make a banging cup of tea.
  • I grew up in Hurghada, Egypt. Google it, its really beaut.
  • I want to visit the Marshall Islands before they disappear.
  • I once bumped into Albus Dumbledore at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. I kid you not. He was having a fag.

 

And so my tantalizing questions!

  1. Which book has made the greatest impact on you?
  2. If you could meet two authors dead/alive who would you choose?
  3. Are there any other books you’ve got your eye on reading next? Which and why?
  4. Which book do you feel is entirely underrated?
  5. What is your favorite quote (doesn’t necessary have to be book related)?
  6. What was your favorite childhood game?
  7. If you could change one thing about the world what would you change?
  8. Do you have a special place where you read? If so, where?
  9. What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
  10. What’s the best part of your day?
  11. What would be the first thing you did if you won the lottery?

 

 

 

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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I’ve had this book for a few years now and it’s been sitting quite patiently in my TBR pile waiting for me to pick it up, muttering “to hell with it”, and get on reading. The fact that I’ve got books dating back to Christmas 2013 in the TBR pile is a fact I haven’t really accepted as wrong yet. I’ve got this theory that some books you’re just not ready for. Canterbury Tales? Not there yet. War & Peace? My stamina is not yet that advanced. Count of Monte Cristo? Auntie DeeDee: I will read it.

I’ll get there; I am still a young Padawan.

Anywhoo.

So Eleanor & Park has been quite patient with me and I final read it. My reluctance came from trying to juggle my study schedule, and then going through a phase of feeling I was too grown and stuck up to read such mere teen novels, then my best friend read it and hated it and so its been neglected. Apologies Rainbow. Also I read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, which everyone seemed to love and constantly rave about, but I just didn’t think it was all that, so I worried that Eleanor & Park, which is always raved about, wouldn’t live up to its ravings. Add some more reluctance into the equation.

BUT I READ IT.

It was so so good.

After reading Gulliver’s Travels, this was a breath of fresh air to relax the mind and just get lost in a swirly curly romance. Now I know I’m only 18 and probably haven’t got a clue what I’m saying most of the time but this one reminded me what is was like to be young and in luuuuurve. (I can hear you adults yelling from the distance “You are still young!” Away wit ye; I am being an angsty teen.) But the simple bursting with excitement because ohmygod-he’s-holding-my-hand, and the absolute amazement of how such a simple gesture could be transformed into something magical by that special person was just fantastic to remember. It was so innocent and new and nostalgic back to the love-of-my-teen-life and it was gooey and fluttery and something to relax the mind.

“I just want to break that song into pieces, and love them all to death.”

It also brought to light all the social issues we realize as teens from our body image to racism to tackling stereotypes and abuse. I’m thanking Rowell for this little gem where I felt she was actually writing about real people, not superficial characters which happen just by chance to be petite and perfectly built. It was nice for a curvy girl who doesn’t fit in and a boy who wears makeup to be our protagonists and for both of them to not pretend they’re normal. They aren’t; they’re cool with it and so is the reader.

There is so much discovery explored in this book, which essentially defines our actions as teenagers finding out who we are and want to be.

“She never looked nice, she looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

Rowell, I’ll give you this one.

“…and his eyes were so green they could turn carbon dioxide into oxygen.”

I have no idea why I love this quote!

Me Before You & After You by Jojo Moyes: This Ain’t A Love Song

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Since these books have been in the spotlight for the last few months, what with the motion picture for Me Before You releasing in June; I wanted to talk about this book for a little bit; everyone else seems to be.

My interest in Me Before You started off through the film when I was scrolling through YouTube one night and had somehow ventured over to the trailers of films yet to be released. As a Khaleesi and Finnick fan (if you know, you know), I couldn’t resist peeking at the trailer. I was in tears at around:

“You can’t change who people are.”

“Then what can you do?”

“You love them.”

I bought the book off Amazon not long after.

But I’m not writing this post to gush about how hard it made me cry and how I fell in love with the characters (I did cry absolutely disgustingly, though) as there’s more to this story than what meets the mainstream media eye, so I wanted to share my take on what these books were trying to say and what the film didn’t.

Louisa Clark is portrayed to be quite the nobody, this is the role we as the reader are encouraged to see her. She gets a job (because she just needs the money; not in a selfish way, but because her family is dependent on her) working as a carer and companion for Will Traynor, a 30-something gorgeous lad who was tragically hit by a motorcycle and left a quadriplegic. Before his accident, Will was an adrenaline junkie; the type of guy who jumped off cliffs and all sorts. As the story comes along we learn that Will is a bit of an arse, quite snobbish and angry, and Lou is the one to bring him down off his high horse, with what can only be judged as her “commonness” and simplistic ideals. Will is astounded that she has never watched a film with subtitles and starts on the road to making her more cultured, in his words; “You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”

In the midst of all that; Louisa is trying to make his life a bit happier as we discover he is depressed and has attempted to commit suicide in the past. Will is trying to teach this girl about all the living she could do. We find out that Will has been in contact with Dignitas, the assisted suicide establishment in Switzerland, and that he wants to end his own life. Full stop. From here, Louisa sets into action a plan to show him all the best parts of living and fun things to do, to change his mind.

Now, in the film, that is essential the plot of the story and the heartbreaking event is that they fall in love along the way. But the book, I feel, tells an entirely different story. Whilst I was reading I was overwhelmed by the idea that, contrary to popular belief; this was not a love story. Films and books nowadays have the very untidy habit of categorizing too easily as either Romance or Not Romance, as if thats all the matters in the world and there are no other important story arcs to be explored.

I feel this book tells a story of awareness more than it does of romance.

Whilst on her mission, Louisa takes them horse-racing through which they struggle to find parking; and when they do there is little access, not a place to eat almost privately as Will can not feed himself, as well as the general treatment of the disabled.

When it comes to the British, we seem to find it difficult to get over our bewildered embarrassment of not knowing how to act, what to talk about and how to conduct oneself around disability not to mention how to deal with the challenges that the disabled community are faced with. In Me Before You, we are enlightened on the struggles of everyday life; wheelchair access being an everyday task; the lack of support through activities and social life, leading to a very lonely existence; like Will. I’m not saying this is the case for every member of the disabled community, but simply that it does happen and surely we’re a bunch of clever enough people to do something about it, right?

For myself, that increasing awareness has opened my mind that little bit more to a society within our own,  pushed into the corner of the room like a broken toy we don’t know how to fix and so is forgotten.

I feel that this message was lost in the film portrayal; the idea of fluffy romance masking a much more thoughtful perspective. However, the case of disability awareness was not the only lost cause in the film and frankly. I feel this one was blocked out intentionally. Putting it lightly, I’m not a happy bunny at all (pokes tongue out with a frown).

Probably the most heart wrenching part in Me Before You is when we find out, on one of their adventures that takes them to the maze by the castle nearby, that a younger, live-life-to-the-full Louisa was raped by a boy. This traumatic experience made Louisa lose confidence in herself; she no longer wants to go off into the world, but would rather stay at home to what she knows. Our initial interpretation of Louisa being a simple girl: obliterated. No woman who has been violated to that extent could be thought as straightforward.

Simple. As. That.

I think that really hits home with the whole life lesson of:”don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.” In this case, a woman.

Now in the film; not a blip of this was mentioned. This made me quite annoyed at how we as the audience were now being suggested to view the duo. Tragic Will, who lived so much, explored and conquered the world; never again. Sweet, simple Louisa, who liked crazy clothes and makes a banging cup of tea, enchanted by our much lived and cultured Will. Nothing about how Louisa had all means of exploring the world, nor how safety and security was taken away from her in her own skin. Why wasn’t this message screamed loud and clear?

We live in a generation where we are standing up as individuals for our voices to be heard and because we believe that it will make a difference. We’ve seen it happen; gay marriage being legalized in the United States, and we’re seeing it now through #BlackLivesMatter which is taking social media by storm.

I just felt like we were being coaxed into this adoration of Will and that Lou, and whichever achievements she conquered herself, could never compare to Will, that this idea of worship and oggling of him is encouraged.

A slap in the face for equality. *Bravo*

Rant over.

 

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

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“I’m starting to think you like prisons,” he says, idling knocking his knuckles against the wall. “And that you have the worst taste in men.”

I’ve been really excited about talking about this one!

SPOILERS AHEAD.

Back in June, I read the first installation to this series Red Queen, following my intense AS level exams which I proceeded to fail. Nevertheless, really enjoyed this book and said I would definitely be reading the second installment, also stating I was poor and couldn’t afford to buy books.

Well, I bought the book and still poor.

And Glass Sword… woah.

Prior to reading this I skimmed through some goodreads reviews and upon meeting numerous negative takes, was preparing for an O K A Y read.

Well, I loved it.

It was different and everything I wanted from the series (if not enough when it came to the finale WHAT THE HELL GUYS HOW COULD YOU DO THAT VICKY?), was fluffy and nerve wracking and overtime they went into a city my fingers were gripping the pages praying that nobody died.

Mare’s character has really come along way since when we met her at the beginning of Red Queen, a focus which grows through the book as we watch Mare, frankly get darker and darker until we don’t trust her.

I don’t trust her.

I was a tad disappointed with the simple lack of attention to poor Kilorn and I’m sure he feels the same.

The “romance” if you can even call it that, between Cal and Mare was frustrating. Mostly because its difficult to see a future for them where they are set on equal ground. I love Cal, probably my favorite character of the whole series and I just felt so so so sorry for him this entire book.

Damn, if Mare doesn’t want him; I’ll happily relieve that burden from her shoulders.

Hated Maven, but that’s standard.

CAN NOT BELIEVE SHE KILLED SHADE.

HOW DARE SHE.

MY JAW HIT THE BLOODY BASEMENT FLOOR. (not that I have a basement)

And Farley is defo preggo right guys?

Need the next book now.

No joke.

I am going to end up homeless on the street living in a book igloo.

“Every single thing I did, you stood behind me,” I say. “If I’m turning into a monster, then so are you.”
“Love blinds.”

 

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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“Ah! this morning! You have lived since then.”

First of all, loving the cover of this one!

I really did enjoy reading this book; some extremely heavy moral lessons to be taught as well as interesting symbols which hit hard.

But honestly; #UnpopularOpinion : I really simply do not like Oscar Wilde.

All of these characters; I hated.

I hated quotes such as this

“My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.”

Yeah, Lord Henry Wotton can go do one.

I hated the whole idea, vanity and selfishness and heartlessness and ugh.

I simply wanted to punch Dorian Gray in the face, Hermione-style.

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I think because I just hated everything about this book made me really love it. Its intense; its not pretty, Wilde had the ability to project his thoughts so beautifully and poetically, a story was being shared so visually.

But c’mon guys, why were you surprised he turned out to be gay?

–Love?
-An Illusion.
–Religion?
-The fashionable substitute for Belief.
–You are a sceptic.
-Never! Scepticism is the beginning of Faith.
–What are you?
-To define is to limit.”

I enjoyed it but I enjoyed disliking every character strongly.

“Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.”

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie: Going back to Neverland

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“So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!”

I read this little gem a few weeks back on my way to Brighton for the day, if you’re Instagrammers you would have seen a few posts of the last sunny day in Britain to be fair.

Would like to say, this was my first time ever reading Peter Pan.

Now that I’m saying it, although I’m typing, out loud it really does sound like the title Bookworm doesn’t even belong to me.

I’ll try and justify myself then.

“She asked where he lived.

Second to the right,’ said Peter, ‘and then straight on till morning.”

When I was little I was a huge fan of the Disney movie of course, because what 5 year old wasn’t? Also, I grew up with Hook starring the late great Robin Williams on V I D E O, as well as having a crush on the new (?) adaptation of Peter Pan, Jeremy Sumpter back in 2003. Yeah. That was 13 years ago.

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I’ll let that sink in.

Also, as a kid I think my mum got me the V I D E O of Finding Neverland with Johnny Depp, which admittedly I didn’t enjoy as much at the age of six and, to be fair mum; what were you thinking? Most depressing film in the world. For a six year old. Who thought she was about to watch Peter Pan; with an actual Peter Pan in it.

I digress.

As you may have been able to tell, my experience of Peter Pan up until now had been largely visual, so the point I’m trying to get at is that it was quite interesting reliving the story through the pages of a book this time. I loved reading the words and seeing the scene so clearly laid out behind my eyes. Also, very impressed with the screenwriters for the 2003 adaptation; parts and extracts from the book were so accurate; making it all the more enjoyable experience.

It was nice to go back to Neverland again with older eyes, as I’ve grown up, Peter would have hated it.

“To live will be an awfully big adventure.”