Review: Alice

Hello everyone😊

Hope you’re all having a fab day!

I recently read Alice by Christina Henry and I loved it! I really enjoyed the way in which Henry distorts the story and the characters I grew up reading. The plot we’re accustomed to reading becomes sinister and the story itself takes on a much darker tone, while all the while being imbued with the magical elements that captivated us as children. Our beloved characters are re-imagined and Alice is no longer the wonderous child-like protagonist we know and love. Instead she follows a much darker path.

Henry’s adult interpretation of Carrol’s beloved characters allowed me as a reader and a lover of classical literature, to envision a whole new world for Alice. A world that isn’t fairytale like, but gritty and real. I connected with Alice’s struggle in this novel – her quest to find answers, her need to know more, to find her place – and Henry’s writing ensures the story is easy to follow, the characters relatable and this new world that we find Alice, in fascinating. Henry has appealed to the masses with adding a dystopian spin to the plot (Hunger Games, Maze Runner etc etc), but what sets this apart is the incorporation of well known characters.

One of my issues with the story was the lack of character development for Alice herself. I really would’ve loved to have seen her come into her own and become the rebel with a no-care attitude. At times her character development felt rushed or stilted, but this is a trilogy and I can’t wait to read the next instalment to see where the story and character development goes!

“Beware the claws that catch…”

xo

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Waiting for my Heathcliffe

Hello!

I hope you’re all having a lovely day!

I have had the best day today😁 I travelled along to Haworth in West Yorkshire to visit the Brontë Parsonage to have a wander and a gander.

It’s so beautiful😍❤

I am a Jane Austen girl at heart, but the depth of characters and raw emotion you feel when reading Brontë novels is inspiring. It’s no wonder that Austen and the Brontë sisters are constantly compared – on the surface they’re similar, women writers talking about love and romance – but once you get into the stories they differ wildly.

It’s no secret that that Brontë sisters, especially Charlotte, disliked Austen and her literature. They felt she didn’t write about real women, real passion, or anything of real, solid substance. I disagree, but when you read them side by side it’s not hard to see the differences. The Brontë sisters romantic plots are darker and their men wilder – Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre are perfect examples, while Austen focuses more on satire, social realism and class through romance. Could you imagine Mr Darcy roaming Derbyshire stricken with grief like Heathcliffe does on the Yorkshire moors?

Jane Eyre takes a lot from Charlotte Brontë’s own life – the death of her sisters, her schooling and her anguish at these. They say write what you know, and Charlotte certainly does this. The theme of wanting to belong runs throughout the novel and we see Jane try and find her place and her worth from the classes of Lowood to the halls of Thornfield. She must find herself without jeopardising who she is and what she stands for. Rochester is not her happy ending nor the man who saves her. He is the man she chooses, and who is her equal.

I hate that people say you’re either a Brontë fan or an Austen fan, they offer very different things through their literature. So just because you favour one over the other doesn’t mean you can’t still love and enjoy the other. I know I’m still waiting on my version of Heathcliffe/Darcy😊

xo

I have no idea what I’m doing.

Hey guys😊

Hope you’re all having a glorious Saturday.

Combined with the below image, the quote “not all those who wander are lost,” has been playing on my mind a lot recently. A cliche quote it’s become I know, but that is what makes a cliche – relevancy to many and overuse.

Manchester wall art

I took this image over a year ago, whilst wandering the streets of Manchester, and the simple message has really hit home recently. I have no clue what I’m doing in life😅, but does anyone? We all give the impression of having our lives together and maintaining control, but how much control do we actually have over the events in out lives? To a degree yes of course we do, but there is so much uncertainty and things out of our control that can influence the decisions we undertake. Saying “I have no idea what I’m doing” isn’t a bad thing, though the connotations people take from it are negative. It is okay to take a step back from, whatever and where ever you find yourself in life, and to just take a moment to breathe.

As Tolkein says, just because I’m wandering without a clear purpose with what I want from life right now does not mean that I am lost. If there is one thing I’ve realised, it’s that it’s okay to not know what you’re doing or where your life is taking you right now. Not every single aspect of life has to be though out or planned. Where would be the fun in that?

Literature has become a massive source of comfort and escapism for me over these past couple of weeks, really helping to ground and re-focus on what I know I want to achieve in the future and how I can attain it. So yes, I don’t know what I’m doing right now, or even how I’m going to get to where I want to be, but focussing on myself and taking the time to figure out is going to worth it in the long run.

Enjoy the unknown. It might take you somewhere you never would have gone.

xo

HAM-IL-TON

Hello everyone😊

I went to see the child birthed and concocted from Lin Manuel’s amazing and genius brain and it was UH-MAZING!

Hamilton!

For those who don’t know the story about Alexander Hamilton or the musical (where have you been?!) you can check out Ron Chernow’s book that inspired Lin Manuel to write a play about one of America’s founding fathers, turning it into a cultural phenomenon. If that’s not your thing, Hamilton follows the dramatic life of America’s first Treasury Secretary from the his childood, the American Civil War, to his marriage, his rise to political power, all leading to his untimely death, all set to the rhythm and beat of hip-hop.

Hamilton was everything that I knew it would be and so much more. From the staging to the casting to the lyrics and music, everything about the show was sublime. For a musical set in 1700’s and early 1800’s, the themes that run throughout – from immigrants to politics to family – still resonate deeply within the society that we live in especially in the current political climate.

Having the play set against the backdrop of vibrant and relatable music provides an originality that is spawning hundreds of imitations. It is not just a story about one man’s rise and fall, it’s more than that. It represents that this man, Alexander Hamilton, and everyone in his story can and could be anyone, which is seen through the casting choices. Born a bastard and being an immigrant, Hamilton refused to let this hinder the route he was adamant to taking in life. His ambition was ultimately his downfall, but his passion and hunger is something we should all embody.

Our stories and routes in life are not limited to race and creed. This can be any person’s story if we’re willing to put in the hard work and go the extra mile we can achieve the world.

If you can manage to grab tickets make sure you go and watch it. If not, download the soundtrack. I promise you, it will change you.

“My name is Alexander Hamilton and there’s a million things I havent done, but just you wait.”

xo

Paris = amazing pastries + books!

Hello 😊

I recently had a lovely mini break in Paris which was amazing – full of gorgeous architecture, yummy pastries and patisseries and divine food.

But one of the most exciting parts of the trip for me was going to Shakespeare and Company. Urgh. It was so beautiful and stacked floor to ceiling with books😍

Shakespeare and Company bookshop – Paris (taken from Google images)

Anyone who loves books, will love this bookshop! It has such a rich and diverse history having had some of the greatest literary minds wander the shelves, from James Joyce to Ernest Hemmingway to Ezra Pound, becoming a cultural hubbub of inspiration and passion. Fun fact! The shop actually houses aspiring writers and artists in exchange for helping out around the store, and the shop’s motto is actually “be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be Angels in disguise.”

I made sure to treat myself to a book (obv) which you can get stamped whilst you’re there, and a lovely tote bag. Who doesn’t love a good tote? I aptly picked Murder on the Eiffel Tower by Claude Izner purely because I was in Paris and thought why not pick a book based here? Also, I don’t read enough murder mysteries and thought it’d be a nice switch up from my usual reads.

Murder mysteries are always so conflicting for me as a reader. I’ve never been completely shocked or thrown off the scent – I’ve read some really bad mystery books (both in terms of plot and writing style) which could be why that genre is not my go to. Does anyone have any good recommendations?

If you’re thinking of paying a trip while you’re there, be prepared for a wait. It can get very busy and they only allow a certain number of people in at a time. But once you’re in you’re in to spend as long as you like perusing the shelve and all the hidden nooks and crannies. There’s an upstairs as well so make sure you don’t miss that! Its right in front of the Notre Dame so you’ll be able to admire the beauty of the cathedral. Also, its not too far of a walk from the Jardine de Luxemburg if you fancy a stroll around the gardens.

I’d highly recommend Paris and I can’t wait to head back some day.

xo

International Women’s Day 2018!

Hi!

Happy International Women’s Day to all! ❤

Today is a day for all women to come together and celebrate the strides we’ve made, but to also look at how far we still need to go. It’s also a day for some men to moan about “why isn’t there a International Men’s Day?” (November 19th btw). What makes this IWD so special is that 2018 marks 100 years since some women (and all men) were able to vote in the UK (#100yearsofsuffrage whoop!)

To commemorate IWD and 100 years of suffrage, I really wanted to talk about a woman who I only recently found out about, but have been obsessively researching and reading about.

I was listening to the Suffragette Centenary Special with Guardian Live – part 1, which you can listen to on any podcast app (I use CastBox) or you can also listen on YouTube, when a member of the panel, Anita Anand, mentioned Princess Sophia Duleep Singh. To be honest every time I hear an ethnic sounding name I instantly sit up straighter and commit the name to my memory so I can go on a Wikipedia binge. It’s still so rare to hear them that I’ve almost trained my brain to seek them out.

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh was a fascinating woman. She was the daughter of the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire (who gifted the Kohinoor diamond to Queen Victoria), the god daughter of Queen Victoria, became involved in, and an active member, of the Suffrage movement, then became President of the Suffragette Fellowship Commitee after Emmeline Pankhurts death in 1928, and rubbed King George V and Winston Churchill up the wrong way with her activism and refusal to pay taxes.

There’s a story that Anita told on the panel about Princess Sophia and it’s stuck with me and really just embodies what International Women’s Day is all about, and what we should strive for. During the Black Friday incident of 1910 many women were severely assaulted physically and sexually by police after marching on the House of Commons to protest the stopping of extending the right to vote. Now, Sophia was one of the women who led the march, alongside Emmeline Pankhurst and Louisa Garrett Anderson and was severely manhandled by police, but what really got her blood boiling was she she saw a fellow suffragette be thrown repeatedly on the floor by a policeman and she demanded recompense. She put herself between the two of them, pushing him off the woman, and then followed after him. After getting his police number she wrote numerous complaints to the police force about the way the women were treated. Her complaints were so numerous and vast, and she so famous, that they made their way from police to the government, all the way to the Home Secretary at that time – Winston Churchill – who scored the words “send her no more replies” deep at the end of her last complaint.

God, I love that so much. She never backed down from a fight and dedicated her life to attaining what was right and true for all women. She didn’t have to. As a woman of status and wealth and who had the favour of Queen Victoria, she could have led a simple and easy life. But she saw that her privilege and her status could be put to better use. To make a real difference and change in this world regardless of how much money she did or didn’t have. She fought for every woman and not just herself.

We as women should work together, building each other up rather than tearing each other apart. Division will not make us stronger, and if we are divided what will we accomplish? I feel so blessed, proud and insanely lucky to have so many strong, independent, fierce, beautiful women in my life who will always have my back. Who will forever see the best in me and raise me up when I am at my lowest. And to the random women who’ve helped me when I’ve fallen (I’m very clumsy!), those who’ve helped console me after public racial discrimination and abuse, the women who’ve complimented me on the streets, and the women who’ve liked, read and shared my blogs in the past, it means so much. Because this is what IWD is – coming together, working together, fighting for each other whoever we are and where ever we may be in the world to achieve equality.

You can get Anita Anand’s book about Princess Sophia here Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary, and I would highly recommend it.

xo

Tbr: January

Hello 😊

So many books, so little time!

I’ve splurged on quite a few books over the past few months but haven’t read any of them (yet!) So I should probably get a move on, read them, and then buy more 😁

So here’s my tbr for the month, hopefully I get through them all! (I’ve linked them all if anyone would like to buy 😊)

  1. Swing Time – Zadie Smith
  2. A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J. Maas
  3. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
  4. Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
  5. So Happy it Hurts – Anneliese Macintosh

I’m currently reading 3 of these at the same time because I just couldn’t pick one to start and I’m already halfway through How to be Happy so we’ll see how it ends. At the moment the story itself isn’t really gripping or keeping me interested (I started it in November…) But it is a light read, so I’m easing myself into the year with a nice and gentle story😊

I also want to re-read a few if I get the chance.

(I may have put in another book order after writing this…)

xo

New year, new…?

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Ah 2017. What a year.

I’ve decided that heading into 2018 I’m not going to go with the‘new year, new me’ mantra. It’s far too much effort for one, and secondly, i’m kinda happy with who I am right now, so why change myself completely right? Instead this year i’m going to build on who I am and what I want out of my life, personally and career wise. Not that 2017 was a terrible year for me, but it could have been so much more. There were low points and hardships as always, but there was so much to be grateful for and happy about.

This poem from Milk and Honey really enforces and encapsulates what 2017 was all about, for me anyway. In 2017 we saw the power of the people✊ From women’s rights to LGBTQ rights, to speaking out against sexual harassment and assault to the BLM movement, 2017 was all about the power of saying no. No more to staying quiet. No more to being walked all over. No more to hiding in the shadows. Refusing to quench the fire of injustice and sitting idly by. I would like to thank Donald Trump in that respect. His outright and blatant racism, homophobia, sexism and general idiocy has brought about an outpouring of defiance from us as a society, as communities and as human beings.

Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur

We’re tired of all the bullshit that’s been fed to us over decades. Our opinions do matter no matter what anyone else tells us otherwise. Do our opinions make us less beautiful? Hell no. It’s our opinions that make us who we are.

So I’m going to carry the momentum and mantra of 2017 into 2018, I refuse to let the fire burn out. I’m going to build on it, re-enforce it and use it. Use it to take risks and not allow people to put me in a box.

xo

One of my favourite quotes!

Ah quotes, quotes, quotes. All the quotes. Quotes for daaaaays.

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.” – William Shakespeare [A Midsummers Nights Dream]

This is one of my all time favourite quotes and one of the things I live by and try to embody. In fact, before I knew of this quote I introduced myself at university as “small yet mighty.

For me, this quote shows that there is nothing to be afraid of from being labelled as ‘fierce’. I may be little in height (or perceived as’smaller’ as a woc, poc, or just because I’m a woman), but those insignificant details won’t stop me from being fierce. It won’t stop me from standing up for what is fair, what is right and what is just.

It’s also (for me) a nod to all the women in the world, who’ve come before me and paved the way for the world we now live in. Things aren’t perfect, we can definitely attest to that, but we’re on the way to making the world a more inclusive place. There’s just a few blocks ahead of us.

I may be little, but oh man can I roar.

xo

Introduction to me?

Hello everyone! Hope you’re all well😊

I was recently told by a friend of mine that my blogs aren’t personable enough. So while I develop my writing style, I thought why not do a #meetthebookstgrammer blog with some added q’s ( I probably should’ve started with this one tbh).

So here goes!

  • Where are you from?

Manchester, England.

  • When did you start blogging?

March 2017.

  • Would you rather be an author or publisher?

Publisher. But I’d love to have the confidence to dabble in serious writing.

  • Do you prefer standalone books or series?

Series usually, but there are great standalones that I adore. Can I say both???

  • Authors who inspire you?

Urgh. So many. But J.K Rowling and Jane Austen always aaaand Toni Morrison and Khaled Hosseni.

  • Where in the world do you want to travel to the most?

New York. But I want to see the World tbh, just need the time and the money.

  • Favourite book to film adaptation?

Not a film, but Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. The show sticks closely to the novels and the writing/plots that makes them great, but they also change things up still keeping in line with the characters and stories. I just feel like books to film adaptations are pretty much always a let down because there’s so much to cram into a short space of time.

**EDIT**

Gone Girl! Man that was a great book to film adaptation. They did slightly downplay the psychotic nature of the main female protagonist I felt, but kudos on capturing the destructive nature of the book on screen.

  • Least favourite book to movie adaptation?

Ooh there’s a few🙃. Eragon. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. The Hobbit. The Golden Compass (Northern Lights). I could name so many more.

As much as I adore the books, the HP films were a little let down compared to the amazing writing of Rowling. Although I have to say Prisoner of Azkaban (for me) is the best HP book to film adaptation. It stuck to the magic of Rowling’s writing and really brought to life the story. Alfonso why you no do all 8🙁

Having said that about the series as a whole, they can stand alone from the books which I do think is a great thing. They allow more people to come into the Potterverse even if they’re not the biggest readers.

  • Cats or dogs?

Cats, but I do love dogs too.

  • If you were stuck on a desert island, which 3 books would you take with you?

Urm…err…hmm…well maybe…ahh…the…gah…help!

  • Favourite quote?

Most of you probably have the same problem as I do, in that I can’t pick just one! But one that’s stuck with me over the years is:

“Though she be but little, she is fierce” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare.

Good ol’ Wills!

So that’s me pretty much! I’d love to see your answers to these questions or just the general #meetthebookstagrammer q’s😊

xo