‘We lose ourselves in books. We find ourselves too.’

Right.

I know we are a bit into January for this blog but here it goes anyway.

You know when people talk about putting on weight when they start a relationship. Its spoken about as if its a cute amount, a happy amount.

Well…….

I may have taken that to an extreme.

Two and a half stone later I’ve decided that enough is enough.

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All January I have been exercising more and eating a bit less. For me I want to get back to what I was before.

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This is probably the best picture which shows the shape and physical fitness I want to get back to.

Sadly, this is what I have become.

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So I will update the progress.

As well as my weight I have let my love of reading go undernourished. I have two promises to myself this year. I have already spoken about one but my other is to make time to read. Now I don’t live in London I don’t have my commuting time to read.

I promise myself a comfy chair, a good light and time to read again. I always feel more fulfilled and accomplished when I am reading. TV series and movies are great but there is nothing like the landscapes and drama that can be created in your mind from a few words. I always believe that novels and stories allow more space for imagination and the expansion of the world in which you are submerged.

I want to feel that sense of when you can’t remember if it was a book or a show you have watched because what you have created in your mind is so much more vivid.

I want that feeling that you are so engaged with a character because you are hearing their thought processes.

I suppose the most obvious examples of this are Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, although there are hundreds.

So here’s to a healthier and more imaginative year!

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Harry: So are you ready?

My first thought when the play was released was ‘how can this work?!’

I did a lot of research. A lot.

Too much.

I just could not get my head around a two part play. I argued with myself. ‘Well Shakespeare did it’ ‘HOW DOES IT WORK WHEN SHAKESPEARE DOES IT?!’

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It made me reconsider a lot of things in my life. I thought, how does it work about people buying tickets? So you have to buy two? Do you HAVE to see both parts?

One of the begrudging thoughts I have with this is that going to the theatre (for me) is a treat and an expense. I don’t often go, but I do know that I am lucky that I can go as often as I do, which is a couple of times a year. To me this felt like a cheap, money making move. I have just looked at the website and I mean it kind of is and isn’t. Tickets start at £15 per part (so you pay £30 for both parts) Which I suppose isn’t tooooo bad for two shows. Also there is a schedule. Days with two shows, matinee is part one and evening is part two. Thursday/ Friday is part one and two respectively. When  you book your tickets it automatically gives you the same seat for both shows.

So I suppose, not as complicated as I may have made it out to be in my mind. I haven’t gone. I don’t know if I ever will.

I did however read the script.

As it is a script it’s not what a lot of people wanted. Stage directions are not the same as a full blown description and speech is not Harry’s inner monologue. As I have studied a fair few plays in my time for my degree, it didn’t bother me too much. Also I went in skeptical. I am a huge Harry Potter freak and when I saw the script was out I read it more out of interest rather than desperately wanting to read it. It was more to see what they had done.

Disappointment isn’t the right word to describe how I feel about it. Maybe just more indifference. It was ok. The story is a bit all over the place, the first act being heavily the act of setting up the mundanity of ‘normal’ life and the angst of teenage life. Difficult relationships, work, father/ son relationships, friendships all have to be set up before we can even get to the meat of the story. Hence the second half which is actually ok. An interesting look at how changing certain events in the Triwizard Tournament and how that affects the rest of the plot of the original stories.

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The one thing I do like is that I think they have managed to claw back the essence of Ron. I enjoy the films but I hate what they did to Ron. They made him stupid and selfish, which in reality he wasn’t. In the books he is intelligent, loyal, brave and funny. He is hilarious, probably the result of being the youngest brother in such a huge family. The play will remind audiences and readers of that fact.

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I imagine it is a real spectacle and if anyone has seen the play I would be interested to hear how it was. Maybe it is why I feel quite indifferent about it. Plays on page rather than the stage are quite hard to relate to, which is why when I tutored Shakespeare, I would encourage students to find a good film version as well. It brings the text to life and makes it much more exciting.

So as ‘The eighth story nineteen years later’ I’m sure on stage when you are distracted by the set and the acting and the special effects, I’m sure its enjoyable and entertaining. However, Voldermorts daughter is a bit of a stretch for me I’m afraid.

‘Tell me how you want your story to go, he says, and we’ll write it straight across the sand.’

When I go on holiday I always like to treat myself with a couple of new books, and let’s be honest, after trying to organise yourself with packing and spending money a couple of books is low on the list. So, I’m standing in the bookshop in the airport and feeling the pressure to find the last of my offer books.

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So I grab Rebel of theSands as it looked ok. I read the back of the book and the first page and just decided it would do, its the offer book so even if its no good, no harm no foul.

Oh how wrong I was.

I struggled through the book that I thought would be good. Once I’d finished that and gave it away for someone else to read,  I started on the debut novel from Alwyn Hamilton.

I was gripped instantaneously, which does not happen very often. Books have a tendency to be slow burners, setting the scene and then BAHM, they’ve got you.

However this one, I couldn’t put it down. The need to know what was going to happen next was too strong. I think one of the main reasons is the genius which is the narrative voice of Armani, our young main character. She is a girl in a mans world, so much so that for most of the book she is dressed as a boy so she can travel and be taken seriously. Armani is witty, brave and engaging. She is blunt about the horrors of living in the world that she lives in, but hopeful enough of a better life that it is easy to relate to her.

When I did pick this book up I thought it would be an exotic romance. And of course there is the ‘will they won’t they’ of Armani and Jin which is wonderfully done. However, the book is more about the land and about magic and justice. It is so descriptively wonderful that while reading it I felt like I was in the oppressive desert. (but maybe being on holiday helped that one) As well as having a complex and imaginative fantasy world, the reality of living in an occupied land is also explored. Rape and violence is openly and bluntly talked about as a matter of everyday life. Armani is very aware and fearful of what could happen to her as a woman. This fear and other fears drive her need for a better life and keeps the pace of the narrative going.

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I love the slow growing romance of Jin and Armani and they’re witty conversations are a joy to read. This whole book is powerful and engaging, with just the right amount of magic and reality. A real coming of age and finding your place in the world, I am desperate for the next book to come out.

Happy reading!

 

Close Call: Tunisia

Close Call

I was in Tunisia when many innocent holiday makers lost their lives.

I remember it clearly. I had just got out of the pool and glanced at my phone.  Nothing was going to be there, I didn’t have very close friendships or a boyfriend at the time and so wasn’t expecting anything.

However, I had 10 missed calls and texts ranging from friends, family and my new employer. They were asking if I was ok, what was going on and where exactly in Tunisia I was.

I had no clue what was going on. And then one of my friends starting sending screenshots of the news. Panic started rising from my stomach in icy waves and despite the heat I felt cold.

We would later find out, after the panic, that a man had gone to the beach of holiday resort  an hour away from where we were staying and murdered British holiday makers. It was unreal. Like a nightmare.

We could have gone home but we decided to stay. It felt like losing to go home. We were part of the few to stay. I didn’t blame those for leaving. A holiday does not normally involve sun loungers, cocktails and a heavily armed police presence.

There was a memorial. We put down flowers and stood with the Tunisian Staff and the kids played in the sea for the first time on the holiday.

Thankfully we were about an hour from the resort which was attacked but we were still lucky.

Reader’s Block

Reader’s Block

The longest I have ever gone without reading was after I finished University.

I had studied English Literature and after being forced to read a huge amount of books per week, many of which were in Medieval English, I couldn’t cope.

I have often written about my love of trashy novels and I think the book that got me back on track was Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher. I found my love again. It was like slipping into a swimming pool and remembering that you didn’t have to think about what to do. It was instinctive.

From there I am back to my old self. Book after book, to the despair of my bank account. The only good thing about the fact that I am now commuting again means that I have some space to read again, although what with the Southern Rail service it isn’t always possible.

But that escape as you zoom to work is the best.

So there it is. Redear’s block from too much reading…. Ironic isn’t it.

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. -Winston Churchill

Change is coming, and it is scary.

A few months ago, my boyfriend got offered a job. I couldn’t have been prouder. Until he told me where it is.

The job that he had worked so hard to get, been so stressed about is in a place three hours away from where I live. Now, we’ve done long distance for a year and I know that some people don’t mind. That is not something that I wanted. And so I had to come to a difficult decision. Leave my boyfriend or move.

I am struggling to start long series. I don’t know whether its because most of my books are in boxes in storage or not. All I know is that this big change and my feelings are the same as when I am about to start a book series which is really long. You know there’s going to be a big expense and will take a lot of your time. Do you commit to a series that is ten books plus? Discworld, Game of Thrones, The Belagariad and Mallorean. A few examples of some of the series which I have committed to in the past.

The only one out of this group that I never fully committed fully to was Game of Thrones. I read the first two in full and gave up half way through the third. I am an avid watcher of the TV series and I just couldn’t handle both at the same time. Also I find that I am much more emotionally connected to books than I am a TV Series. This probably is because Game of Thrones is first person. Actually hearing someones thoughts as the action plays on can be quite distressing, especially in this series.

Maybe I’ll try again in a few years once the series has finished and my heart has healed. But my point is that committing to a long series, whether it is the length of the book, the fact it is still being released or the length of the series it is a big deal.

And so is change and I am moving.

I’m really excited but it is also scary. There has been a lot of organising to do so that is why I have not been that active. I’m hoping that this will change now.

Happy reading!

 

‘He insisted that stars were people so well loved they would be traced in constellations to live forever.’

I watched My Sisters Keeper years ago on TV and didn’t really pay attention. I didn’t really think it was very good.

Recently I came across the book by Jodi Picoult on my amazon store and I thought, ‘why not, I’ve always heard the book is better.’

And believe me, never before has the name of my blog been more true.

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I won’t say that this book is perfect. It isn’t the best book I have ever read. There are large chunks of the book that I am no
t interested in, namely being the Campbel/ Julia thread. I don’t really see the point, I don’t really care, so what I am going to focus on is the family dynamic and the portrayal of grief.

This is a book about grief. It is about living with a death before it has happened. There are loads of books about death that make lasting and deep comments. But grief, that is a whole different ball game. In the epilogue Kate’s first words in the whole book as narrator are ‘There should be a statute of limitation on grief.’ She goes on to describe quotas. It is interesting because the first time we hear the voice of Kate as narrator is when she is discussing something that she never thought that SHEwould experience. The book beforehand is a mixture of anger, pain and a strong sense of waiting for loss and when this does happen it doesn’t happen. The family have been preparing themselves to lose Kate. This shows the brilliance of tne writing. This is a book about grief, not of death. We are not in Anna’s narrative when the car crash that takes her life happens, and we do  not hear the story from Kate until she is no longer the one people are grieving over, not until she is the one who feels the pain.

This is one of the many reasons that the book is so much better than the movie. Forget how they aged all of the characters down apart from Kate so that Hollywood can still have its teenage sexual encounter moment. Forget that they make the family richer, that they have more family and therefore more support, or the fact that Jesse is a functioning part of the family. No the worst crime the movie makers made was killing Kate instead of Anna. This is a crime because it takes away a great twist, a horrifying moment which is in reality why many of us read and watch films. But also because it just makes the film boring, which in any creative writing class I have taken, is the worst sin. Killing Anna shows the true injustice of the world which most of the characters in the book, especially Sara, think is Kate being ill. Angry cat about adaptation

This book to movie translation also suffers from the way the narrative is expressed. The movie does try to copy but reading someones thoughts is very different to them being portrayed by the occasional voice over. I imagine that it is the interview they are giving afterward, when they are forced to explain themselves. On stage I would imagine a chair and the character, alone, pleading almost to be understood. The ongoing question of the book always being what would YOU do.

And this book shows truly how far people can go to protecting the ones they love. This is shown especially through Sara who is far harsher in the book. I remembered reading the line ‘I wonder if it hurts as much as having your six year old stare you in the eye and say she hates you.’ This summaries what Sara will do for Kate. She will risk the relationship she has with Anna, cementing the idea that Anna is no more than body parts. I think in the film Sara comes across as quite reasonable however in the book it is simply not the case. In the film the slap she gives Anna is light, barely makes a sound. In the book, it is described as leaving  finger prints on her face. The true level of inequality between Sara’s children is finally revealed.

I read this book in pretty much a weekend and I thought the portrayal of a family who are stretched in grief is perfect. I love Brian, I think Jesse is a little extreme but compliments the situations perfectly. I love Anna. I read this book knowing the twist. Knowing that Kate wanted to die and wanted Anna to refuse to be a donor. I love that you can feel through the very words that Anna is in conflict to her very core. I think this book is extremely clever and would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind a good cry over a book every now and then.

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(My brothers, I don’t have a sister so those two will have to do!)