Tuesday, September 9, 2014

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday

Hello! Apologises for 1. not been around lately 2. If you can't see everything on my blog, I'm having technical issues at the moment!

This week's 'First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday' (hosted by 'Bibliophile by The Sea') is from a book I want to read, 'Oliver Twist' by Charles Dickens. I have read this, but many years ago and I'm also in the mood to read some Dickens:

'Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born: on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, in this stage of the business at all events: the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.'

'Oliver Twist'- Charles Dickens

Would you read on?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Writing and Family

Writing is something that I've loved doing since I was basically able to, but it's something that I feel quite private about. This sounds ludicrous because, after all, writing a novel is meant to be shared with others, but I much prefer to share my writing with people I don't know, rather than those I know the best.

I suppose writing is something that comes from the very depth of myself. So have I have a problem with sharing this with others around me and risk showing what's really going on inside. Does this sound weird? I know that I'm going to have to get over this fear, because if I want to make anything with my writing, I will have to expose this part of who I am.

Do any writers out there feel the same? Do you share your work with family members? Are they supportive or disregard what you do?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

'Cloud Atlas'- David Mitchell

This is a novel which I've put off reviewing. Due to the magnitude of the novel, I wasn't sure if I could do this justice. I'm going to try. THIS MAY CONTAIN SLIGHT SPOILERS!!

'Cloud Atlas' is actually 6 stories in one. They span countries and varying points in time, some in the present, in the past and way into the future. At first they seem unrelated but as you read on, all becomes clear.

Firstly, what is amazing is David Mitchell's ability to deal with genre. I must admit that I enjoyed some of the stories more than others, but I felt like each separate story was authentically written and equally dealt with. I do prefer when he writes in first person though because for me, the stories written in this way were the most vivid. I also thought it was extremely clever, how each story ties in with everything else.

The thing that overall impressed me with this novel, is the fact that as a reader, I felt challenged. The first story stops mid-sentence. At first, this threw me, but the fun of this novel is to try and work out what is happening. It does become apparent, so it's not a totally confusing novel, but by not simply being given a linear plot and all of the information on a plate, I thought that this was an interesting novel to read.

I also thought that the different issues being raised during this book were extremely interesting. There are many ways you can interpret this novel and for me, that could mean that every time you read this, you could take something different from it. If you read a book and you could easily re-read it, this shows the sign
of a great novel.

Lately, I have read many books which entertained me, but left nothing to 'chew on' mentally. 'Cloud Atlas' for me, made a refreshing change. I seriously recommend this book.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday

This week's 'First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday' hosted by 'Bibliophile by the Sea', is from my new favourite writer, David Mitchell:

'Miss Kawasemi?' Orito kneels on a stale and sticky futon. 'Can you hear me?'
In the rice paddy beyond the garden, a cacophony of frogs detonates.
Orito dabs the concubine's sweat-drenched face with a damp cloth. 'She's barely spoken,' the maid holds the lamp, 'for hours and hours...'
'Miss Kawasemi, my name's Aibagawa. I'm a midwife. I want to help.'
Kawasemi's eyes flicker open. She manages a frail sigh. Her eyes shut. She is too exhausted, Orito thinks, even to fear dying tonight.'

'The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet' by David Mitchell.

Would you read on?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday

Last week saw the end of year art exhibition for my art classes. When I first began the classes many years ago, I was nervous about exhibiting my work. However, I've come to really look forward to this event, as it gives me the opportunity to see the varying art works not just from my class, but the other classes that take place each year.

As you can see, there were an array of fantastic art works on display:

This was my contribution, a drawing of an owl which now belongs to my mum:

I actually completed this last year, but it missed the deadline for the exhibition. So, as I have still not completed my drawing of New York this year, I decided to show this drawing.

Many people arrived for the opening night, including the town's mayor and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Sadly my classes finished today for the summer, but I'm already thinking about what I'm going to create in October!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday

I can't believe it's Tuesday already! That must mean another 'First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday' hosted by 'Bibliophile by the Sea'.

This week's first paragraph is from 'Never Let Me Go' by Kazuo Ishiguro. Having never seen the film, I only know very little about the plot of this novel but from what I do know, it sounds very interesting.

 Here is the first paragraph:

England, late 1990's

'My name is Kathy H. I'm thirty-one years old, and I've been a carer now for over eleven years. That sounds long enough, I know, but actually they want me to go on for another eight months, until the end of this year. That'll make it almost exactly twelve years. Now I know my being a carer so long isn't necessarily because they think I'm fantastic at what I do. There are some really good carers who've been told to stop after just two or three years. And I can think of one carer at least who went on for all of fourteen years despite being a complete waste of space. So I'm not trying to boast. But then I do know for a fact they've been pleased with my work, and by and large, I have too. My donors have always tended to do much better than expected. Their recovery times have been impressive, and hardly any of them have been classified as 'agitated', even before fourth donation. Okay, maybe I am boasting now. But it means a lot to me, being able to do my work well, especially that bit about my donors staying 'calm'. I've developed a kind of instinct around donors. I know when to hang around and comfort them, when to leave them to themselves; when to listen to everything they have to say, and when just to shrug and tell them to snap out of it.'

Would you continue reading this?

Monday, March 3, 2014

'Finn Family Moomin Troll'- Tove Jansson

When my friend gave me this book for my birthday (we had a random conversation about 'The Moonmins', as you do, and having watched the tv show as a child, I hadn't realised that this was originally a series of books), I was skeptical that as an adult, I wouldn't enjoy this. However, I think this book is suitable for older children or adults.

The idyllic settings and gentle story are a refreshing change from adult fiction and I found this a pleasure to read. Even though this is aimed as children, the writing was poetic and challenging. I actually think that this book is suited to be read a loud, rather than just reading to yourself, so it would be a good bedtime book for children. This book is pure escapism and I love the quirky plot, each chapter can be read as a separate story, as well as a continuing plot. The only criticism would be that the end was a little far fetched and even though this is fantasy, the ending pushed it a little.

At 33, I may be a little old to read 'The Moonmin' novels, but the first novel in the series was a pleasure to read.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Look Who it is!'- Alan Carr

Being a fan of the British comedian Alan Carr, I thought I was going to enjoy this book. I found it readable, but disappointing. Some of the anecdotes during this book were amusing, but I found the almost underlining bitterness and spite Alan Carr felt, was really off putting. During the last half of the book, I almost felt like he was sneering people who have helped his career and his bragging to be very unpleasant. I even found some of the jokes he made about certain members of society to be offensive, whereas in general, I find his humour funny.

Usually when I read a book about the life of someone I admire, I end up feeling more admiration but with this book, I'm starting to dislike Alan Carr.

Do you read autobiographies? Have you changed your opinion (both good and bad) on a well known person, after reading their autobiography?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday

Every Tuesday (or as many Tuesday's as I can) I participate in First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, hosted by 'Bibliophile By The Sea' . This is where I share the first paragraph of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon.

This week I thought I would post the first paragraph of 'The Moment' by Douglas Kennedy. This book was given to me by a friend, as she thought I would enjoy it:

 'I was served with divorce papers this morning. I've had better starts to the day. And though I knew they were coming, the actual moment when they landed in my hand still threw me. Because their arrival announced: This is the beginning of the end.'

Would you read on?

Monday, February 24, 2014

'The Kite Runner'- Khaled Hosseini

This was actually my first completed book of 2014 (techinically last book of 2013 too) and it wasn't a disappointment. I won't go into the story, because knowing me I will give away something vital about the plot, but this is a powerful story of friendship and war in Afganistan.

The writing is beautiful, the descriptions of the Afganistan landscape were the thing that moved me most and I liked the pace of the book.

I must admit that I disliked the main character Amir intensely and I also was tempted at one point, to stop reading this novel because of that fact. However, I realise now that this was deliberate on the writer's part, because all of the characters, make realistic progressions throughout the novel, including Amir.

The only slight criticism I have with this novel is that I found the ending to be a bit predictable. I worked out what was going to happen a while before the main character.

However, this is one of the most powerful books illustrating the horror and suffering which has gone on in Afganistan I have ever read. In some ways, it mades more impact than any news report about the war does.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

On Chesil Beach'- Ian McEwan

After hearing very positive comments about this book, I had high expectations about it. To be honest, I can't really make my mind up about whether I enjoyed this or not.

The story centres around Edward and Florence, two people who are on their honeymoon. In anticipation for their wedding night, the story focuses on their worries and anticipation for their first sexual encounter. The story also weaves the story of their lives, how they meet and how thy use each other to enter adulthood.

On the one hand, this book is beautifully written. It really focuses on the emotions going through their minds about love and sexuality. However in some ways, the sparseness of the novel left me feeling a little flat.I don't think that this is a novel which is plot driven, I think it's more an examination of the human mind, which is very interesting.

I didn't really like any of the characters and found them quite confusing. I couldn't really pin down exactly who they were and what I should feel about them. You could say then, that was a good thing on the author's part, because the main characters were confused also.

The ending of the story was an anticlimax and at the end of the novel I thought 'Was that it?' I'm glad I read this, because the descriptions and writing in general were brilliant, but I'm not sure I enjoyed it. Sorry for the mixed review, but my feelings towards this novel are just that.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday

Hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea, every Tuesday I post the first paragraph of an novel I am reading or want to read. This week's paragraph is from 'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett, a novel I have wanted to read for a while, but only just acquired it:

' Mae Mobley was born on an early Sunday morning in August, 1960. A church baby we like to call it. Taking care a white babies, that's what I do, along with all the cooking and the cleaning. I done raising seventeen kids in my lifetime. I know how to get them babies to sleep, stop crying, and go to the toilet bowl before their mamas even get out a bed in the morning.'

'The Help'- Kathryn Stockett

Would you continue reading?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year all! I know it isn't 'Wordless Wednesday' (in fact, it takes me a while to work out what day it is at all at the moment!), but I thought that I would post this photo of my first completed project for 2014. I was bought a kit to make this tea cosy for Christmas. It has a few mistakes, but I'm quite pleased with it: