Reading & Reviewing

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I love reading – I always have done! I’ve mentioned it many times before, I’m sure! When I was younger, I’d sit in the playground, upon the wall with my nose stuck in a book. Usually it was a Harry Potter book, however I would also occasionally venture out into the realms of Enid Blyton, Roald  Dahl and  Jill Murphy.

After I finished my A-Levels, I took a gap year during which I spent my time to volunteering at a Holiday Center in Sheffield. It was amazing – really, the best year of my life! However, my time was taken. I read a few books here and there, I covered a couple of songs for YouTube, I did a small amount of knitting  – but in the grand scheme of things, most of my hobbies dwindled away. The terrible thing was, I didn’t even realise that it was happening!

At the beginning of this year (yes, more than a year after my gap year ended!) I resolved to read more, and more importantly – to actually critique what I was reading. And that’s exactly what I have been doing!

I plan to start writing book reviews on this blog. I haven’t written many reviews in my lifetime – a few obligatory ones for my year 8 English class – so forgive me if I am a little rusty!

So for now, I shall bid you goodnight – but hopefully I will return sooner (rather than later) with some posts about books!

Time, please slow down!

blog, nablopomo, nanopomo, nanowrimo, writing

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This morning it hit me. It is November. It is the fourth day of the eleventh month! I can hardly believe how fast the time has flown, how quickly this year has tiptoed past me, without even catching my notice. It’s kind of scary, really. It feels like only yesterday that fifteen year old me was sat in a classroom, bored out of my mind and just wanting to grow up! To finish my GCSE’s, leave school, get a job – to get away from the bore of classes that weren’t art or music or drama. I thought that my maths homework was the hardest thing in the world and that school would never end. But it did.

I took a Gap Year which flew by – too fast. It was probably the best year of my life. I worked at the Oakes in Sheffield; we ran activity camps for 8-18 year olds and it was wonderful! I met some of the best people that I know that year, and even though I’m personally particularly terrible at staying in touch, I know that whenever I go to talk to any of them, it is as if no time has passed at all. Last week Jemma, my old roommate posted a photo of us with two other girls, commenting that it was a two year old photo! I just don’t know where the time has gone. I guess something good came out of my gap year ending – I met my boyfriend!

I went to University for three months after my gap year to study music. I soon realised that University was not for me; I mean I was bad enough at school, I don’t know why I thought that going back was going to be of any use! I’m glad I went. I know that if I hadn’t, I would have spent the rest of my life wondering. It was an experience if nothing else – it gave me a taste of independence, leaving a good flavour in my mouth (much to the despair of my parents…) Whilst I was there, David practically lived with me. He travelled down on a Tuesday evening after college, and then travelled back again on a Sunday night – I’d go to the station with him, and then drop in at church on the way back. It was wonderful. I was with the man I love.

I also got a job at the bar that was located right below my lectures. When I was working I’d be able to hear the concert band practicing, students learning their recitals and impromtu choir practices. Every face was friendly and familiar, I got to know third year music students, one even asking me to sing with her in her end of year recital! It was such a great job and I loved it. It might sound crazy, but working is one thing I’ve always enjoyed. Earning my own money and saving up for a nice ukulele or microphone, being able to buy my own sheet music, books and stationary! It’s something I excelled in. So I left.

Now, life is whizzing by and I can’t stop it. I know that I’m only 20 and I’ve got my whole life ahead of me – I get told that all the time. I just can’t help but feel that if I relax, if I start getting complacent about my life, I will just miss it. I won’t even realise it, and it’ll be gone. I want to write a sucessful book, find my dream job, perform in a professional musical performance, travel, get married, have children and then bring them up right…I guess I just want to make something of my life, and after realising how fast these past eleven months and four days have passed, I’m afraid. I’m afraid that my life will have been for nothing. That when it inevitably ends, all memory of me will die too. I’ll just be another soul that had the great privelage of walking the Earth.

Time, please slow down! You don’t need to fly so fast. Just float…

Where Can I Find The Time??

blog, nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month, reading

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I am ashamed of myself. Last Christmas my wonderful boyfriend bought me six books. They were “Bridget Jones’ Diary” by Helen Fielding, “The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul” by Deborah Rodriguez, “Grimm Tales” by Philip Pullman, “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte, “Dracula” by Bram Stoker and “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien. I have read the grand total of one. One book. “Bridget Jones’ Diary” is the only book that I have managed to complete, and that took ten months! If you read my previous post, you’ll know that when I was younger I read an awful lot of books! Every spare minute was spent reading, but for some reason I just haven’t found the time over the past year to sit down and read. I’ve started books, but just not finished them – and not for lack of interest, either!

I have several hobbies. You might already know that I am a bit of a knitting obsessive; if I am watching the telly, or a film, or if I’m skyping David I’ll have a pair of needles in hand and I will probably be working on my most recent project. So long as the pattern isn’t too complicated, I don’t even need to look at my knitting and so multi-tasking is easy!

I also love art; for Valentine’s Day, David bought me a scrapbook which is something I like to work on when I get a bit of time. I’m filling it with photos, and movie tickets, and campsite reciepts – memories of our life together. I have so far filled the scrapbook up to…Valentine’s Day! I have a bit of a way to go..!

Music is life. I love to record covers for my YouTube channel, and I will occasionally make a bit more of an effort with editing – it can sometimes take up a whole afternoon! Sometimes I’ll create simple audio recordings and upload them to my Soundcloud instead.

And now I am working on my novel – I don’t really have any control when it comes to picking a time or a place with my writing. If I feel inspired or have an idea, I just have to write it down! The other night, I was drifting off to sleep and *BAM* – I had a thought! I had to search for my glasses, and then my notebook and with the aid of my phone’s light, scribble a couple of sentences down. Then came the task of falling asleep, ideas whizzing around my brain yet knowing that I had to be up at 6 the next morning!

So where does reading fit in? My working hours are 7.30-4.00 plus overtime, and I occasionally take a book into work with me to read, but that doesn’t always work out. Do I wake up earlier and have an early morning read? Or sleep later and run the risk of being tired at work? Do I cut my Skype calls short, or spend less time knitting? I really want to complete a couple more of my Christmas books before the next batch arrive next month! I know I’ll have to make small sacrifices somewhere in my life and I’ll have to make them soon.

Do any of you have this issue? How do you counter it? I’d really love to know!

Aimless Autumn thoughts…

aimless thoughts, poetry

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Autumn.

There’s a slight chill in the air. It feels like Autumn is finally arriving – at last! I do love the Summer, but it can start to become stifling. The heat overwhelms, barbecues lose their novelty – with the Great British Weather! – and, well…my body is less fit for a bikini than mosts…

Autumn. The season for dresses and tights, leggings and boots – to start wrapping up warm. The time for romantic walks in the woodland, the leaves falling like a kaleidoscope of oranges, yellows and reds swirling all around. A season when dinner turns from fish and vege, to pie and casserole! The days where the chill in the air gives me the perfect excuse to be curling up in front of the fire, hot chocolate in hand…and knitting scarves, and hats, and gloves doesn’t seem as silly as it did back under the summers sun. A sun I can see, but not quite feel.

Autumn.

Hermione Granger

Harry Potter, Independence, Inspirational Women in Literature, Novels, Women

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I’ve never been particularly bothered about celebrities. I didn’t know who half of the actors that my school mates spoke about were. I have only ever seen Gareth Gates, Busted and McFly in concert – and a couple of Classical Spectaculars. I have no desire to know the ins and outs of Kim Kardashian and co.’s lives. However, I am obsessed with books and the world they bring to life.

From the age of about 9, I have loved the Harry Potter books. I would sit in the playground, on the wall alone, reading. Page after page, chapter after chapter, book after book. I immersed myself in the wonderful world of Harry, Ron and Hermione. I identified with the characters, I identified with those who were perhaps bullied a little, who didn’t have any friends, who the teachers seemed to hate. You see, my parents evenings always went a bit like this…

“Your daughter is…well…a bit of a loner. She doesn’t make any effort to make friends.”
“She always has her nose stuck in a book. She doesn’t join in with the other kids.”
“I think sometimes that she just doesn’t really care…”

My parents told me that they were “worried” about me. They thought I believed in magic. They thought that I believed that the magical world of Harry Potter was real. I might have been young, but I wasn’t stupid.

At the age of 10, I befriended another Harry Potter fanatic. I had a friend! We would play Harry Potter in the wooded area of the car park in the playground. We always fought over who would be Hermione, of course.

Hermione Granger. A girl who, like Harry, knew nothing of her magical powers up until her 11th Birthday. A girl who had come from the Muggle world, into a completely new and strange dimension. A girl who was considered unattractive – with her bushy brown hair and big front teeth. A girl who was named know-it-all and bossy, because she liked reading and learning and school.

Hermione Granger. A girl who, despite her late introduction to magic, was considered the “greatest witch of her age”. A girl who despite her bad first impression, made some of the best friends she ever could have made. A girl who blossomed. A girl who’s knowledge was her power and strength.

Jo Rowling created a girl who was a couple of years older than me. I looked up to Hermione. I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to be smart, I wanted to have friends. I wanted to be beautiful. I watched Hermione grow up, from everything that I felt I was – lost, alone, unattractive, nerd – into everything I wanted to be – strong, independent, popular and beautiful. Jo Rowling made everything seem possible for me.

What was I? A 9 year old, chubby girl, unpopular and friendless. I was lonely, clutching Harry Potter to my chest every lunch time. Sat alone on the wall, immersed in my magical world, inspired by these fictional characters and role models. Now what am I? A 20 year old girl, not unattractive, surrounded by friends. I have a very strong sense of what is right and what is wrong. I am a little bit stubborn. I am not unintelligent. I have good morals.

Hermione helped me to become who I am today – she showed me that women are just as capable as men. She showed me that having opinions didn’t make me bossy. That showing emotions didn’t mean that I was a hysterical woman. That getting upset when boys (or anyone) let you down, is actually okay. She showed me that not having nine boyfriends before I turned 15 was absolutely fine. Jo gave me a role model, someone to aspire to be just like.

You might tell me that she’s just a fictional character, nothing more. Just words on a page – but she is more than that. Hermione is a part of my childhood. Children have the ability to imagine fiction as their small reality. I was lucky enough to have the Potter universe as my small reality.