Some more of my ‘art’ part 3

My first time painting Hogwarts as part of my sister’s Christmas present. I find buildings quite hard to paint because of all the greys, but it was still fun to try. I also gave up with the mountain haha, so I used fake gold leaf and goblet of fire pages to make a wee collage (this part looks better in real life).

This is based on a famous painting I saw in Glasgow by an artist called Scarlett Raven. Hers is obviously much more detailed and beautiful, but as I don’t have £10,000, I tried my best to make my own version!

This is the closest I’ll get to drawing a person because faces are too hard! I love Medusa and patterns so decided to combine them which I think worked fairly well for this one. The first Medusa painting I ever tried genuinely looks like Gladys from friends hahaha.

Earlier in the year I enjoyed using acrylic pens to make wee patterns on some old records.

This one was hard again because of the greys- I’ll have to eventually buy decent acrylics or oils if I’d like to try painting properly- but here is a wee version of the Sagrada Familia to remind me of the fun times where travel was a safe thing to do. Hopefully those times will return! 🙂

Lastly, a quick little pen and ink bright pattern which kept me busy for a wee while during isolation (yesterday was my freedom day, wooo! Feeling very lucky to have only had minor symptoms thanks to having both vaccines).

I love painting using bright colours, please recommend any artists who use bright colours or detailed patterns! If you draw or paint, please link your blog or insta, I always love to get inspiration and see other’s work 🙂

Books I read in October & November 2021

I have covid, woo! So I’m using this time to write a wee summary of October and November books, because whilst I was too lazy to write them as a went along, I’m also too fussy to not write anything because it will annoy me not having a post for each book of the year haha. So please feel free to read this strange mini thing, and I promise to write proper full posts again next year for the 3 people who want them haha. Please let me know what you’ve been reading, and if you have any recommendations going into 2022! I always like to try and start off the New Year with some good books.

Duck feet by Ely Percy (new read, physical book)

My favourite of the two months, I loved this book so much. It’s set in a town not too far from where I grew up, a few years before I went to high school, and it honestly brought back so much nostalgia- in the best and worst ways haha! I loved it! I’ll talk more about this in yearly favourites, but if anyone reading is Scottish, was your school also obsessed with the idea of being a VL?

The Norse Myths by Carolyne Larrington (new read, physical book)

I still know very little about Norse mythology, so I enjoyed this book! It was fairly easy to follow and it’s interesting, so I would recommend it for the genre (also got me excited about rereading A Song of Ice and Fire at some point. BTW, analysed Daenerys’s whole story and wrote about 12,000 words for a blog post which got deleted and can’t get back- still too sad to talk about it more haha!) I still think it’s going to take me a long time to properly familiarise myself with these stories, primarily because I sadly only speak English, and I struggle with a lot of the pronunciation of the names and places. I love the monsters and creatures in these myths!

Antigone Rising by Helen Morales (new read, physical book)

This book was an interesting non-fiction analysis of mythology and modern feminism. I naturally ended up comparing it to Pandora’s Jar which I did find more interesting, mainly because of the choice of topics, I think. I found the latter chapters and topics far more interesting than the first. I’d be interested in reading more books like this, I think I’d like any I read now to be written by more people of colour to allow me to gauge a wider perspective and learn more, particularly important when reading about feminism.

No one is talking about this by Patricia Lockwood (new read, physical book)

This was such an unusual book and for that reason I can’t decide how I feel, however, it was very moving. I would recommend reading the themes and warnings before deciding whether to read, as I think this is a very unique experience so I wouldn’t like to say too much, but I would like anyone reading to feel prepared.

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (new read, eBook)

I really didn’t know how to feel about this, it was a short book and gave the Halloween vibes I was looking for, however, probably due to the period it was written in, it had some very old fashioned or unusual metaphors and imagery, particularly surrounding homophobia. I can’t decide if this was a commentary on the time and purposefully written, or the authors own views. Either way, I always try and fail to find new Halloween books I like, so I think I’ll just enjoy binging the Vampire Diaries tv show every October.

The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson (reread, physical book)

Back on my Jacqueline rereads, this is another great one- for slightly older readers, but saying that, I was probably about 7 haha, I think younger kids just tune out what they don’t understand yet. This one focuses on themes on mental illness in the family and the reversed parent/child roles.

Kiss by Jacqueline Wilson (reread, physical book)

Another of hers for older readers, this was always has a different feel for me but that’s maybe because it’s one of the last new books that I read by her, maybe aged 11. This one focuses on sexuality and puberty.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (reread, eBook)

Not going to give it more time, I had a low week and wanted a Halloween vibe hahaha.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (reread, physical book)

For this book, I want to talk a bit about the idea of separating the art from the artist. My views on this- which I’m not saying are right, and I sometimes waver on myself- are that I will reread but not continue to buy. Once I know that an author has done something wrong, I will never support their work again by buying future books etc. I will never buy another Harry Potter book or merch that will help she who must not be named to profit. However, I have loved Harry Potter since I was a wee girl and it holds so many special memories for me. These books remind me of my childhood and of my dad who use to read them with me. He bought me the first 5 and I can remember the excitement of holding one of these books new in my hands. I have always felt so nostalgic and at peace when I read this series, especially leading up to Christmas. So, I think that in a case like this, only where the book is incredibly nostalgic and one which I read in childhood, I will separate the art and continue to reread the books. However, I will reiterate that I do not condone the words of the author and will never buy from them again.

Books I read in May 2021

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint (physical book, new read)

‘Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up greeting the dawn from her beautiful dancing floor and listening to her nursemaid’s stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echo the ever-present hoofbeats of her brother, the Minotaur, a monster who demands blood sacrifice. When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne sees in his green eyes not a threat but an escape. Defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. But will Ariadne’s decision ensure her happy ending? And what of Phaedra, the beloved younger sister she leaves behind?’ (Ariadne synopsis)

Firstly, both cover versions of this book are so beautiful! This book has very willingly spiralled me back into a Greek mythology retelling binge. I enjoyed this book and loved getting to learn more about Ariadne as there are still so many stories, I’m not very familiar with (I somehow always got mixed up with Medea and Ariadne, so I finally know the very different differences haha). Unfortunately, I didn’t love this book. Madeline Miller’s retellings were the first myth retellings I read and I love them so incredibly much that I end up comparing all others to them. Whilst Ariadne is good, I didn’t feel very strongly towards it. Sometimes I feel like myth retellings can feel slightly stretched or ‘bitty’ since they are coming out of such short original material and I did feel this way towards Ariadne. That’s not to say I wouldn’t recommend it, if you’re able to read myths without comparing each to your favourite books I think you’d love it! 😊  Also, this book discusses constellations often, I’m interested to learn more about constellations in relation to myths, please let me know of any good books or websites!

After Dark by Haruki Murakami (physical book, new read)

‘The midnight hour approaches in an almost-empty diner. Mari sips her coffee and reads a book, but soon her solitude is disturbed: a girl has been beaten up at the Alphaville hotel, and needs Mari’s help. Meanwhile Mari’s beautiful sister Eri lies in a deep, heavy sleep that is ‘too perfect, too pure’ to be normal; it has lasted for two months. But tonight as the digital clock displays 00:00, a hint of life flickers across the television screen in her room, even though it’s plug has been pulled out.’ (After Dark synopsis)

I don’t even know what to say about Murakami anymore, he’s slightly insane and full of genius. I think this would be such a good book of his to start with! It’s short, with lots of his common themes and favourite tropes and a lil bit of the surreal but little enough that it’s very readable. It takes place in one night and I read it in one evening which made it so much more interesting. I feel like Murakami’s books suck me in, there is something just so interesting and otherworldly about them. I definitely recommend this if you’d like to start some of his books and want to test out whether the unique style works for you.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (physical book, reread)

Clare and Henry have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was 36. They were married when Clare was 23 and Henry was 31. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing. (The Time Traveler’s Wife synopsis)

I don’t really ‘review’ any book to be honest, but I’ve decided not to review this book at all. This is one of my forever favourite books and I’ve read it possibly 5 times now. I think writing about books, analysing them or even reading reviews has made me slightly more critical in my reading judgements- I’m not sure this is a bad thing, it lets me think more about social justice and I’m a far better judge now of books that I’ll find interesting. For this reason, I want to leave this book as a favourite without reflecting too deeply, because some of the themes and phrases have not aged well, and I am not recommending it. Instead, I’ll write about how this book makes me feel; for some reason, certain books feel so real to me and resonate with me so strongly, usually books that centre families and grief. It almost pulls at my soul, as silly as those sounds. I just feel comforted as well as paradoxically extremely emotional every time I read this book and I’m truly glad I found it- when I was 15ish I think? If you’ve read this, I’d love to know what you thought of it (also, it’s better than the film haha). 😊

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by she who must not be named (physical book, reread)

‘Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!’ (Harry Potter synopsis)

So. Here we are. These books have created a struggle for me, because I’ve always been one to separate art from the artist- usually because I’m lazy haha and sometimes because I prefer to think of books as their own worlds which I feel in a way can be a wee bit diminished by knowing too much about an author? I can’t explain this, I sound silly and unfair to the authors haha. Anyway, above I mentioned how much I love and feel comforted by my favourites like the Time Travellers Wife. Harry Potter has always been the same for me, it reminds me of my childhood and my dad and lots of brings me lots of comfort if I’m sad. For this reason, I will keep reading these books- albeit they are a bit tainted- and continue to ignore the existence of she who must not be named. I will not, however, buy any products or new books that bring money to the author.

I reread this book because my P5 class asked to read the illustrated version (which I already owned before she who must not be named became nameless), and as 99% of them dislike reading (which makes me sad), I was very eager to agree. I think these are funny, magical books which will become classics for children, and I think this can only be a good thing, as long as we are separating and educating.

I started off strong this month and then got really stressed at work and read nothing haha, but overall, it was a really good month, I didn’t dislike anything! Please let me know what you’ve been reading or what your thoughts are on these books 😊

Five favourite books of 2020- so far

I always find it so hard to narrow things like this down haha. I reread lots of books and over the past couple of years I’ve actively been trying to read more new books- as of the end of June I have read 49 new books and 11 rereads, I’m improving! 😊 Since I only reread books that I love (or terrible yet nostalgic books ie. Twilight), I don’t count them in my midyear and yearly favourites. I don’t really have a particular order, but my five favourite new reads of 2020 so far are:

The Crimson Petal and the White- Michel Faber

Welcome to Victorian London as you’ve never seen it before. Amongst an unforgettable cast of low-lifes, physicians, businessmen and prostitutes, meet our heroine Sugar, a young woman trying to drag herself up from the gutter any way she can. Be prepared for a mesmerising tale of passion, intrigue, ambition and revenge.’ (The Crimson Petal and the White synopsis)

I read this in January and writing about it brings me back to a Wintery Christmassy feel with blustery, rainy nights- the perfect setting to read a about a Victorian time period (I’m so excited for Winter, I love it!). This is a long, long book with such intricate detail. Whilst they take a lot longer to read, I can’t resist long, character driven stories that really take the time to set the scene and envelop you in the world. Due to the subject matter, this is also quite a dark gothic novel that can be difficult to read at times. I heard about this book when both Jen Campbell and The Personal Philosophy Project talked about it on youtube- I love getting book recommendations on booktube, please recommend some of your favourite channels that discuss books! I often enjoy books that they recommend, and I was very interested in hearing that this book is loosely based on Jane Eyre. They also mentioned an abrupt ending that leaves you wanting more and I’m always very intrigued by endings like this. Jane Eyre references/parallels are apparent throughout, however, this does not ruin the story or make it easy to guess what’s going to happen, and the story and characters were very original- I loved the balance. There are characters that are definitely not likeable, and characters that I loved, particularly Sugar and Agnes. I love reading from the perspectives of the morally ambiguous characters and I found them all very interesting (although at times during the Rackham chapters I was excited to get back to other’s stories, which I think was intentional in the writing). I’d really recommend this book, although I wouldn’t recommend going into it if you are in a negative mental state, and I’d beware of themes of abuse. The narration within this story is also incredibly interesting as Faber breaks the fourth wall to talk to the reader- almost as though we are watching a Victorian play (the narration and themes remind me a little of Moulin Rouge, one of my favourite films). Whilst writing this I’ve been swept back into such a Wintery mood and it’s really made me remember how much I loved this book! I’ll definitely look into reading more of Faber’s books if they are written as intricately and beautifully as this one! (I’ve just paused writing this to buy another of his books, oh dear haha)

Girl, Woman, Other- Bernardine Evaristo

‘Teeming with life and crackling with energy — a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood. Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.’ (Girl, Woman, Other synopsis)

Apart from The Crimson Petal and the White I think my four favourites have been lockdown reads! This means that I’ve already written about them in some detail in blog posts, so I’ll try not to repeat myself. I don’t always like books that follow lots of perspectives (apart from ASOIAF) so it’s a credit to Bernardine’s writing and the vivid, engaging characters that I loved every chapter and perspective- I do feel that Amma and Yazz were maybe my favourites. I loved the opportunity to read about discussions of social justice issues from different perspectives and engage in very deep moral and philosophical thinking whilst reading, the relationships and integration of social justice issues in this book are so interesting! Like Faber, I’ve never read any of Evaristo’s other books so this is something that I’ll definitely try to do in the future (writing this blog post was a mistake hahaha, I’m going to end up buying even more books now).

Song of Sacrifice- Janell Rhiannon

The heart of the Trojan War belongs to the women. Mothers and daughters; wives and war prizes all whisper to us across time.. praying they be remembered alongside the mighty men of myth. As the Age of Heroes wanes, the gods gamble more fiercely with mortals lives than ever before. Women must rely on the inner strength and cunning if they’re going to survive the wars men wage for gold and glory. They struggle for control on their own lives. Rise from the ashes of brutal assaults. Fight to survive.. by any means necessary. In a world where love leads to war and duty leads to destruction, it is the iron hearts of these heroines that will conquer all’. (Song of Sacrifice synopsis)

I knew some mythology would end up being in this list somewhere haha, I just love it. Rhiannon is relatively unknown which is such a shame as this book was an incredible depiction of the events leading up to the Trojan War, with numerous interesting perspectives of the characters who aren’t often given a voice (all three books I’ve mentioned so far cover multiple perspectives, I must have been wrong in thinking that I don’t like these sorts of books haha). I would recommend this book if you’re interested in learning more about the Trojan War or reading from multiple perspectives, particularly the women involved- this is a long book, however, it is very easy to read and I was interested throughout. I wish this series was more widely known, and I hope that Rhiannon’s books will become more popular with time, I love her Greek mythology retellings and think they stand up to many that I’ve read- for example, I’m sure this is an unpopular opinion, but I don’t really like Natalie Haynes writing style, I feel like the characters lack something and I far preferred a Song of Sacrifice (although my favourite mythology author is still Madeline Miller).  

Percy Jackson- Rick Riordan

‘Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood. I never asked to be the son of a Greek God. I was just a normal kid, going to school, playing basketball, skateboarding. The usual. Until I accidentally vaporized my maths teacher. Now I spend my time battling monsters and generally trying to stay alive. This is the one where Zeus, God of the Sky, thinks I’ve stolen his lightning bolt – and making Zeus angry is a very bad idea.’ (Lightning thief synopsis)

As of the end of June, I had read three of the five books in the Percy Jackson series and it’s hard to pick a favourite- maybe the second as I loved the storyline- so I’m going for the series as a whole. These books are so full of humour, sarcasm and light-hearted fun and friendship, whilst discussing heavy important topics and tackling deep issues. I love the bond between Percy, Annabeth and Grover, the portrayals of family and identity and I love Grover’s interest in the environment. The depiction of the Gods and Goddess’s are so funny, and I love all the characters. I’m very fussy with children’s books I read as an adult (I’m reading potential books for my class just now and they are not always the best haha) but this series really works for all ages 😊. As I mentioned before, the three friends remind me of the Harry Potter golden trio and I love that Percy is a normal sarcastic, friendly, sassy young person like lil Harry- although, sadly the Harry Potter series has been tainted now. I’m excited to see what happens next. 😊

Queenie- Candice Carty-Williams

‘Meet Queenie. She just can’t cut a break. Well, apart from one from her long term boyfriend, Tom. That’s just a break though. Definitely not a break up. Stuck between a boss who doesn’t seem to see her, a family who don’t seem to listen (if it’s not Jesus or water rates, they’re not interested), and trying to fit in two worlds that don’t really understand her, it’s no wonder she’s struggling.’ (Queenie synopsis)

I read this in May so it was very recent and I loved it! I love when an author can cover heavy themes and create realistic dimensional characters that you are connected to within a funny book that’s quick and easy to read, I think I read Queenie within a day! She’s such an amazing character and I felt connected to her throughout the story. I loved learning more about Jamaican culture through the perspective of someone who is from London and cannot necessarily relate to her family’s perspective. This book is primarily about family and friends, relationships, identity, and mental illness, all of which are themes that I love to read about and are frequently found in my favourite books. Trigger warning for abuse, gaslighting and mental illness although they are handled in a very mature and positive way. I have so much more to say about this book but I don’t want to repeat myself from previous blog posts in case you’ve read them (thank you if you have and you’re still here! 😊) so I’ll let it at this but I cannot recommend this book enough!

It has been such a fun experience looking back at the year so far and remembering how much I loved these books- it makes it worth it when you read a few books in a row that weren’t for you. I think they are all quite different, however they are all character driven with similar themes that I am often drawn to. For this reason, I’m not sure if I’d recommend them all to everyone, but hopefully you’ll find something that you like 😊 I’m so interested in learning about other’s favourites, please let me know you’re favourites of 2020 so far! Also, despite really not needing any more books I’m always looking haha, so please let me know if you’ve read other books by these authors and if you’d recommend them 😊 (especially Faber, I’m intrigued to know if all of his books are so amazingly written). I hope you’re well, thank you for reading!

Weekly books (May 15th to May 21st)

Convenience Store Woman- Sayaka Murata (audiobook, new read)

‘Keiko is 36 years old. She’s never had a boyfriend, and she’s been working in the same supermarket for eighteen years. Keiko’s family wishes she’d get a proper job. Her friends wonder why she won’t get married.
But Keiko knows what makes her happy, and she’s not going to let anyone come between her and her convenience store…’
(convenience Store Woman synopsis)

This is one of those books that I have no idea how I found haha, I just remember reading about it somehow and I listened to the audiobook straight away. I like to read translated books every so often to learn about different environments and cultures. The main character Keiko is by self-definition- or rather by definition of those around her- unusual and does not conform to the norms of societies. The plot covers Keiko’s time working in the store; however, this book is a social commentary on the pressures of society and expectations based on factors including age and gender. Keiko is a very interesting character; she absolutely does her own thing despite a lot of pressure to conform. She is very black and white, literal and at times appears to lack empathy with a preference for logic. The plot itself is not necessarily very interesting but I loved the unusual presence and interesting discussions. I love books that focus on elements of diversity and discrimination of difference, and I think everybody universally has at some point felt pressure to ‘fit into society’ or feel some sort of time constraint. I turned 24 at January and I have to remind myself how young I am because I instantly felt extreme pressure from friends and family (extended family, my close family are amazing), social media and society in general to ‘get my life together’. I am already constantly asked why I’m single or feel in some ways ‘odd’ for enjoying being single, and this pressure definitely comes from the expectations of society. I think it can be difficult (and these are first world problems, I am very privileged compared to some people) not to compare yourself to others, not to think about age and time and ‘what you’re doing with your life’, but it’s important to remember that our life is our own and there are so many people who feel the way we do.

I loved reading about the relationship between Keiko and her sister, it cleverly addresses that way that even those closest to us feel the need to understand us or ‘fix’ things that we are not doing right according to their own value of a meaningful life. This may be explicit as is the case in this book or can be an unconscious desire or pressure that we place on those around us. If we do not think about these expectations, it is likely that we are deciding what makes someone happy and therefore assuming that they must be mistaken if their ideas do not align with our own.

“She’s far happier thinking her sister is normal, even if she has a lot of problems, than she is having an abnormal sister for whom everything is fine.”

Feminism is also a theme throughout this story, addressing negative gender stereotypes; specifically, that men and women should get married and have children, men should have high earning jobs and women should support their husbands as a homeowner. This is not to say that choosing to marry, have children and take on these roles as a couple are in anyway wrong, but it is wrong and shocking that these are still the expectations and often deemed the only ‘acceptable’ way to life your life. Interestingly, a male character in this story acts as though he is countering such stereotypes, however, he is doing this in an attempt to manipulate Keiko into becoming a woman who can ‘serve’ him in a way that he deems to be appropriate. I think this book raises some very interesting points and whilst it is a short book with a basic plot, I will definitely be thinking about the social justice issues in Convenience Store Woman for a long time. This would be such a fun book to analyse in depth, but I think I’d need to spend more time thinking about it to do this. I strongly believe that if an individual has free will to make their own choices and is not hurting anyone, they are doing absolutely nothing wrong. The world is incredibly judgemental, and we spend so much time comparing ourselves that we cannot truly focus on being happy.

I suppose the message to end with is do what you want to do and remember no matter how different you feel, someone else is feeling this way. 😊

Favourite/meaningful quotes:

You eliminate the parts of your life that others find strange–maybe that’s what everyone means when they say they want to ‘cure” me.”

This society hasn’t changed one bit. People who don’t fit into the village are expelled: men who don’t hunt, women who don’t give birth to children. For all we talk about modern society and individualism, anyone who doesn’t try to fit in can expect to be meddled with, coerced, and ultimately banished from the village.”

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan (physical book, new read)

‘Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood. I never asked to be the son of a Greek God.

I was just a normal kid, going to school, playing basketball, skateboarding. The usual. Until I accidentally vaporized my maths teacher. Now I spend my time battling monsters and generally trying to stay alive. This is the one where Zeus, God of the Sky, thinks I’ve stolen his lightning bolt – and making Zeus angry is a very bad idea.’ (Lightning thief synopsis)

I never read this series as a child so I wasn’t sure how I’d feel reading them now as they are middle grade, but decided to give them ago for the mythology (and I know that those who’ve read the books hate the film so I thought it’d be an injustice to never give the books a try haha). I loved this! I needed something quick and cheerful after Mockingjay and this was really entertaining and funny. The characters reminded me of the golden trio in Harry Potter– in a very positive way, they still felt original, and I loved the nostalgic feeling that only middle grade Harry Potter style books bring. I forgot how much I love reading characters who are slightly younger than the typical 16-year-old YA protagonist, Percy is funny, cheeky and sarcastic and reminded me of how much I love sassy young Harry. I also loved the innocent friendship dynamic between the three characters (although I assume something will happen between Percy and Annabeth at some point). The three are very strong characters, I love Annabeth’s kindness and wisdom that never borders on arrogance. I also loved the depiction of a satyr, Grover’s hippy nature and the environmental elements were one of my favourite parts, I’d love to see more of them throughout the books. Riordan is very good at simple messages such as kindness to animals, acceptance of difference, environmental issues, and I really liked the way he touches on ADHD and dyslexia, I think children experiencing either of these will relate to these characters,

I also felt that the myths fit into the story naturally and didn’t feel forced or too ‘educational’. I enjoyed the balance of traditional Greek tragedy and comedy, and Percy’s complete confusion at all times in the world that the other half bloods accept as normal (again reminds me of my favourite lil Harry, they’re very similar in the best way). Before reading I was worried that I wouldn’t enjoy the story, however, the humour and elements of pop culture (such as Grover playing Hilary Duff which is even now slightly outdated but funny) make these stories fun to read for children and adults. This joke gives a good example of the humour:

The surfer screamed something about bad mushrooms and paddled away from us as fast as he could.’

I complained that I didn’t like the cheesy representation of the Gods in Lovely War, however, I enjoyed their ‘human’ portrayals in this book because this was a funny light-hearted representation. I feel that Lovely War tried to portray cheesy characters within a serious book which didn’t work for me. Overall, I’d really recommend this book for people of all ages! 😊

Favourite/meaningful quote:

Once I got over the fact that my Latin teacher was a horse, we had a nice tour, though I was careful not to walk behind him. I’d done pooper-scooper patrol in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade a few times, and, I’m sorry, I did not trust Chiron’s back the way I trusted his front. ”

“Percy, meet Gladiola. Gladiola, Percy.”
I stared at Annabeth, figuring she’d crack up at this practical joke they were playing on me, but she looked deadly serious.
“I’m not saying hello to a pink poodle,” I said. “Forget it.”
“Percy,” Annabeth said. “I said hello to the poodle. You say hello to the poodle.” The poodle growled.
“I said hello to the poodle.”

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters- Rick Riordan (physical book, new read)

‘You can’t tell by looking at me that my dad is Poseidon, God of the Sea.

It’s not easy being a half-blood these days. Even a simple game of dodgeball becomes a death match against an ugly gang of cannibal giants – and that was only the beginning. Now Camp Half-Blood is under attack, and unless I can get my hands on the Golden Fleece, the whole camp will be invaded by monsters. Big ones..’ (Sea of Monsters synopsis)

Again, this was a great book! I did start to think about Percy and Annabeth halfway through though. Initially I worried that they are cousins (because I’m sure something will end up happening between them) but after looking it up (I’m still bad at remembering lots about the titans haha) I learned that Athena is Poseidon’s niece therefore Percy and Annabeth are removed cousins or something? So I guess it’s fine but I wonder if they’ll address that at some point (unless they do just remain friends or one of them dies, it’s a miracle that I’ve lived my life having none of this spoiled haha). Anyway, I found the story is this book really interesting as they kind of replicated Odysseus’ journey in a way and I love parts of that story, particularly meeting Circe and the sirens. I’m honestly like a child reading these, I was so excited to figure out who Medusa, Chiron, Dionysus and Circe were before being told hahaha. I love that Percy is not the original Perseus and that the characters are able to use the myths and his namesake to inform their quests and get out of danger, I think it makes the story more interesting and gives Percy his own personality (kind of sounds like a pun). I also enjoyed learning more about Jason and the golden fleece because this is a myth I am less familiar with; I’d say I now have a good knowledge of the trojan war, Odysseys and Circe but my memory is still not great with a lot of the Gods and stories prior to the War, which is something I aim to change in the next year or so. I also liked the introduction of Tyson and discussions surrounding difference and discrimination.

I would say I liked the first book more in the sense that everything was new, and I liked being introduced to the half blood camp and reading about the Underworld, but I enjoyed elements of this story more. I will say though, I’ve mentioned before that I’m very lazy when it comes to action scenes in books and I really can’t be bothered with Luke haha. I like the mini plots and encounters with monsters, but I’d be happy if Luke would just disappear hahaha. I know this is just my own strange problem though, and a book series does need to have an overarching plot. I’ll definitely keep reading this series (I will have a break to read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes whenever it comes).

Favourite/meaningful quote:

“You weren’t able to talk sense into him?”
Well, we kind of tried to kill each other in a duel to the death.”
I see. You tried the diplomatic approach.”

Mockingjay- Suzanne Collins (physical book, reread)

I’ve written a whole rambling blog post about this series, I love this book. 😊

Amazon 100 books to read in a lifetime (part one)

I’m always interested in lists like this and the extent to which they impact what I decide to read. I have a very bad habit of constantly rereading my favourite books meaning there are lots of amazing books that I’ve yet to read. I’m intrigued to look at this list and see what it includes. 😊 I’m going to highlight the books I’ve read and write a lil bit/ramble about them.  

  1. 1984- George Orwell

I definitely started this book a good few years ago, I’m unsure why I forgot to finish it but I’ll try it again at some point! (Maybe soon,because strangely lockdown has put me in a dystopian mood)

2. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius- Dave Eggers

3. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier- Ishmael Beah

4. The Bad Beginning- Lemony Snicket

I love A Series of Unfortunate Events, such childhood favourites. I remember my uncle bought one for me and my sister, but accidentally got us the 3rd and 5th in the series. I read these and loved them before eventually reading the series from the start. The Bad Beginning isn’t my favourite but I’d definitely give these series a try. 😊 These books are also good for children as they include lots of vocab, grammar, latin and general life lessons in an interesting way (although maybe a little pretentious at times haha). I love the quirky writing style of this series.

5. A Wrinkle in Time- Madeline L’Engle

6. Selected Stories, 1968-1994- Alice Munro

7. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass- Lewis Carroll

I’m unsure why I felt this way because I love absurd, dreamy almost psychedelic stories, but I didn’t like Alice in Wonderland very much when I read it. It almost felt a little bit annoying at the time. However, it maybe just wasn’t what I was expecting at the time, so I’d like to reread these books in the future to see if my opinion changes.

8. All the President’s Men- Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein

9. Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir- Frank McCourt

10. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret- Judy Blume

11. Bel Canto- Ann Pratchett

12. Beloved- Toni Morrison

13. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Ever Seen- Christopher McDougall

14. Breath, Eyes, Memory- Edwidge Danticat

15. Catch-22- Joseph Heller

This is another book I started, but this is a book I definitely have to be in the right frame of mind to read.

16. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory- Roald Dahl

I love Roald Dahl, his stories are interesting, imaginative, full of dark sarcastic humour and feel very original. I also love the sense of justice and meaning these stories create for children in an adult dominated world where children are often seen as passive beings. I’d recommend Roald Dahl if you haven’t read any of his books before. 😊

17. Charlotte’s Web- E.B. White

I definitely read this book when I was wee, although the cartoon film sticks in my mind more (probably because I made my poor Gran watch it with me at least once a week haha). From what I remember, this is a powerful story with themes of friendship and loss (and I might now have to rewatch it for nostalgia’s sake).

18. Cutting for Stone- Abraham Verghese

19. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead- Brene Brown

20. Diary of a Wimpy Kid- Jeff Kinney

21. Dune- Frank Herbert

22. Fahrenheit 451- Ray Bradbury

23. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream- Hunter S. Thompson

24. Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn

This was a book that I was definitely influenced to read by all of the reviews, discussions and advertising surrounding it. Mystery/crime/thrillers aren’t my favourite genre but I loved this book! It’s very easy to read, engaging, has good twists and I’ve reread it a couple of times. This book would also be a thought-provoking one to think about from a feminist perspective, and the dynamics between the characters are very interesting.

25. Goodnight Moon- Margaret Wise Brown

26. Great Expectations- Charles Dickens

27. Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies- Jared Diamon, Ph.D.

28. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone- J.K Rowling

One of my favourite books of all time, this is just so nostalgic, funny, touching and really does feel like coming home (cheesy stereotype but it’s true). I appreciate Harry Potter and its incredible impact so much and I reread this series every single year. There’s not much to say about Harry Potter because I’m yet to find someone who hasn’t read it (or at least seen the films).

29. In Cold Blood- Truman Capote

30. Interpreter of Maladies- Jhumpa Lahiri

31. Invisible Man- Ralph Ellison

32. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth- Chris Ware

33. A Brief History of Time- Stephen Hawking (this is actually number 2, I mixed up the list haha)

So far I’ve read 6 out of 33 haha, oh dear. I can never decide if not reading popular books and classics means I’m missing out and uncultured, or if it’s a good thing in that I’m not really influenced to read books unless I feel like it. Either way, there are some I’ve never heard of on this list, some that don’t appeal to me, and some I would like to try in the future. Have you read any that you would recommend? 😊

Weekly books (April 22- April 30th)

Song of sacrifice- Janell Rhiannon (e-book, new read)

The heart of the Trojan War belongs to the women. Mothers and daughters; wives and war prizes all whisper to us across time… praying they be remembered alongside the mighty men of myth.
As the Age of Heroes wanes, the gods gamble more fiercely with mortals’ lives than ever before. Women must rely on their inner strength and cunning if they’re going to survive the wars men wage for gold and glory. They struggle for control of their own lives. Rise from the ashes of brutal assaults. Fight to survive… by any means necessary. In a world where love leads to war and duty leads to destruction, it is the iron hearts of these heroines that will conquer all
.’ (Song of Sacrifice synopsis).

I hadn’t heard of this book until I listened to Rhiannon’s podcast on spotify Greek Mythology Retold (which I recently found and love). This is a retelling of the events leading up to the Trojan War based upon the Iliad, with an emphasis on the different perspectives and experiences of the main characters throughout. This is a long book, but I really enjoyed it and the detail allowed the author time to think about how each character would have felt and dealt with their different fates throughout- in her podcast, Rhiannon emphasises her interest in the perspective of the women in the war and the relationship between humans, fate and the Gods. This book is easy to read with interesting characters and I’d recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read the Iliad but would like to learn more about the Trojan War- I’ve read the Iliad but I built my way up by reading about 20 myth retellings first and without doing this I would have no clue what was happening hahaha. I think mythology is one of those things where it will always take a long time to get to grips with what’s going on, but I do think this could be an interesting starting point (with the help of Google or a map of the million characters haha). 😊 I think the author is planning for this to be a series known as the Homeric Chronicles with around four books, there are currently two out just now.

Favourite/meaningful quote:

‘While you live, hope exists. It’s only hidden beneath your pain.’

‘The gods love to cut us with their truths. We, busy with suffering, bleed for their amusement.’

Dreamless- Josephine Angelina (physical book, reread)

A story of love, destiny and feuding families with extraordinary powers, descended from the heroes of ancient Greece, Dreamless is the second book in the heartstopping Starcrossed series by Josephine Angelini.’ (Dreamless synopsis)

This is the second book of the Starcrossed trilogy from my nostalgic binge. I still found this book interesting and fast paced, but I don’t like this as much as the first book for three main reasons: this was somehow even more cheesy and the characters became progressively angsty, characters were texting and the text language used was SO BAD hahaha, and this book decided to follow the apparently necessary trope of young adult fiction by developing a love triangle. I enjoyed the setting of the book and introduction of the character Orion (based on Aeneas) and depiction of Morpheus, however, I didn’t really like the interactions between Hades, Ares and Persephone, I’d rather that they weren’t in the book. Overall, if you’ve read Starcrossed I think this is an interesting sequel although it’s quite cheesy with the addition of overdone tropes. I tried to read the last book in the trilogy (can’t remember it’s name at this point) but stopped after 30 pages because it got too annoying, sadly I think this series went downhill (but I’d still consider it far better than Twilight).

Favourite/meaningful quote:

Remember there’s always a grain of truth in the prophecies, no matter how much poetry has been frosted on top.’

The Switch- Beth O’Leary (audiobook, new read)

Ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, Leena escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Newly single and about to turn eighty, Eileen would like a second chance at love. But her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen… So Leena proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love, and L Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire.

But with a rabble of unruly OAPs to contend with, as well as the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – local schoolteacher, Leena learns that switching lives isn’t straightforward. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, and with the online dating scene. But is her perfect match nearer to home than she first thought?

For someone who claims not to like cheesy books (and I don’t hahaha) I end up reading at least one contemporary romance a month. I end up rolling my eyes at quite a lot of them, but Beth O’Leary is probably my favourite author of this genre. 😊 I like the subplots and characters in her books (I’ve read The Switch and The Flatshare) are quite interesting, adding more to the story than the romance element (that I would say is secondary to the plot in this book). I really liked the character Eileen and found the story interesting and I guess endearing would be the word? I liked Leena less, but her chapters were still enjoyable to read. I listened to the audiobook which I tend to do for this genre- I liked the narrators in this story and I love Yorkshire accents, so It was quite relaxing to listen to on my bike rides. I would say this plot was predictable but enjoyable. 😊

I think my favourite book this week was Song of Sacrifice. Please let me know what your favourite book you read in April was, I love talking about books. 🙂 Also, thank you so much everyone who’s been reading my ramblings and commenting, I honestly thought nobody would read this blog haha so thank you! I hope May’s a good month for you all. 🙂 Also, I’m sorry if the fact that this ‘weekly book’ thing being over a week annoys anyone else haha.

Weekly books (April 1st-7th)

I’ve got a bit of catching up to do haha, but I thought I’d write about books weekly instead of monthly because one benefit of lock down is getting time to read lots 😊

The Man who Saw Everything- Deborah Levy (physical book/new read)

‘It’s like this, Saul Adler.’

‘No, it’s like this, Jennifer Moreau.’

In 1988, Saul Adler is hit by a car on the Abbey Road. Apparently fine, he gets up and poses for a photograph taken by his girlfriend, Jennifer Moreau. He carries this photo with him to East Berlin: a fragment of the present, an anchor to the West. But in the GDR he finds himself troubled by time – stalked by the spectres of history, slipping in and out of a future that does not yet exist. Until, in 2016, Saul attempts to cross the Abbey Road again..’

I was initially interested in reading this book because I heard that it’s quite surreal, and because it starts at Abbey Road- I love the Beatles and I’m intrigued by most things Beatles related. I really didn’t know very much about this going into it and I don’t know very much about the Berlin wall- I need to learn more about history- but this book provided a good opportunity to learn a bit more about this time. I enjoyed the tone of this book and the surreal, experimental elements of it; I read the book very quickly over two sittings and I found the tone very easy to read. This is a book with characters who aren’t necessarily likeable but I’m not put off by books like this unless they are written in a way where we are supposed to empathise with them- I feel like you are supposed to make up your own mind about how to feel about Saul in different situations (and make up your own mind about what’s going on in many elements of this dreamlike book). I’ve never studied literature and I’m not very eloquent with my opinions or analysis of books, but I found this interesting and I’d like to read more by Deborah Levy to delve into this writing style. P.s this is pretty irrelevant but I really don’t like the cover, I don’t like covers with people and the front and in my opinion it doesn’t match the story somehow. Also is it just me or does the guy on the cover look like Hozier haha?

Favourite/meaningful quote:

 ‘It was true that I had no idea how to endure being alive and everything that comes with it.’

Euripides’ Alcestis: In a Version- Ted Hughes (physical book/new read)

Alcestis is the story of a king, Admetus, who is able to escape death because his wife, Alcestis, has volunteered to die in his place. Ted Hughes’s version goes beyond translation to an inspired rethinking of the story in terms of his own vision of human suffering.’

This benefit of having a sister studying English literature is being able to borrow/steal her uni books when I feel like reading something a lil bit fancy. I don’t typically like plays, but I can’t resist anything Greek mythology related so I gave it a go (I had Twilight on in the background to balance out the fanciness haha). One of the things I love about mythology is finally getting grips with it a little bit- I vaguely remembered the story of Alcestis and Admetus from Mythology by Edith Hamilton and it’s one that I find really interesting. I also enjoyed learning more about Heracles through this story as, for some reason, I always find it difficult to remember his story and the labours- I’ll try watching the Disney film to see if that helps. I would recommend reading about this myth if you’re interested in Greek mythology, although I do prefer retellings to a play format 🙂

Favourite/meaningful quote:

‘Heracles:

But any one of us can be killed tomorrow.

We don’t ruin today with worrying about it.

Death can come in a twinkling, any second.

Up to that second, every second is precious,

Precious, precious life.

Death has to be ignored.

Then when it comes- mourn. Acknowledge it,

But not before it comes.’

The Tales of Beedle the Bard- J. K. Rowling (audiobook, new read)

‘An exciting addition to the canon of Harry Potter, the tales reveal the wonderful versatility of the author, as she tackles with relish the structure and varying tones of a classic fairy tale. There are five tales: ‘The Tale of the Three Brothers’, recounted in Deathly Hallows, plus ‘The Fountain of Fair Fortune’, ‘The Warlock’s Hairy Heart’, ‘The Wizard and the Hopping Pot’, and ‘Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump’. Each has its own magical character and will bring delight, laughter and the thrill of mortal peril. Translated from the original runes by Hermione Granger, the tales are introduced and illustrated by J. K. Rowling. Also included are notes by Professor Albus Dumbledore, which appear by kind permission of the Hogwarts Headmasters’ Archive. Lumos is a charity founded by J. K. Rowling which aims to make life better for disadvantaged children. Registered Charity Number: 1112575.’

Harry Potter is one of my favourite things, the books are so magical, nostalgic and beautiful. I don’t normally read anything out with the books (I don’t really like fantastic beasts and I REFUSE to read the Cursed Child or acknowledge its existence hahaha) because I think it’s better to stick to the original magic. However, I did decide to listen to this audiobook because I like the actors accents and it feels a bit more magical to connect their voices with the films- Evanna Lynch and Jude Law in particular have amazing voices for audiobooks. I also don’t usually like short stories but I think they worked well in this format, my favourite was probably The Fountain of Fair Fortune. I don’t think I’d read this again but I did enjoy listening to it 😊

Favourite/meaningful quote:

‘The kindest interpretation would be: hope springs eternal’.

My favourite this week was probably The Man who Saw Everything- it’s faded from my mind a bit now, but I really enjoyed it when I read it. Thank you for reading, I hope you’re well and please let me know it you’ve read any of these 😊

Pretty places in Scotland

I love nature and the outdoors so I thought I’d share some pictures of Scotland which will hopefully be calming in these times. I feel lucky to live in such a beautiful country. There are many places I’d love to see in the future and many that aren’t pictured here as sadly I only have photos from some places but I’d recommend a visit to Scotland if you’ve never been 🙂

Glenfinnan viaduct and Culloden Battlefield

I was so excited to drive to Glenfinnan Viaduct as a stereotypical lover of Harry Potter. Harry Potter feels like childhood and Glenfinnan Viaduct is beautiful (I played the theme tune as I walked up the hill hahaha). The drive alone is worth it (although it took about 3.5 hours from my house) as Glencoe is extremely picturesque. The Culloden Battlefield is just on the other side of the Viaduct, which would be of interest to those who love history (or if you like Outlander, although I’m not sure how historically accurate Outlander is).

Glencoe

Sadly a lot of these pictures are taken on my old phone which got a bit scraped, so the camera is not the best. However, on the drive through Glencoe there are beautiful hills and mountains all around (I’m yet to climb one, I’d love to travel around Scotland in a campervan. I have to do the North coast 500 at some point, and I’d love to walk the West Highland way.

My local lochs and drives

This is the loch next to my house, it’s absolutely beautiful especially on (rare) sunny days. My favourite part of the loch is this forest trail and I’ve really enjoyed being able to go on bike rides (that kill my legs) especially at sunset when I tend not to see anybody and the deer start to come out (I’m still trying to get them to stop running away from me). I honestly feel like I’m in the hunger games or twilight. I also enjoy seeing the pretty swans swimming around, but I do not recommend getting close to them as they can only be defined as evil.

I love when Scotland snows (although I think this is an unpopular opinion) and it begins to feel all Wintery like Narnia.

These are again pictures near my house 😊 I live just outside Glasgow. I also enjoy seeing the occasional highland cow and the many hills.

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

Three lochs forest drive:

I recently went here whilst social distancing before the lockdown and it was a nice balance of driving and walks that are good for the unfit like me. I never get sick of forests; something feels magical about them and I love the sound of the birds singing (I sound like a Disney film). I took Norse Mythology here to read which added to the magical element.

Dumyat Hill:

Over the past year or so I’ve enjoyed hill walking, usually in the Stirling area. This picture is from Dumyat which is a good hill to start on, but my favourite I’ve climbed so far has been Ben A’an. I’m hoping to work up to higher hills in the future, one positive from these crazy times is making the most of nature and the outdoors again 😊 I sometimes like to focus on the environmental benefits around the world to bring some positivity to such a horrible situation.

Stirling Uni:

For some reason I didn’t really like Stirling Uni when I was there, but it has an amazing setting! Stirling is beautiful and has always reminded me of a little Edinburgh.

Glasgow

I’m biased because I live closer, but I’ve always been a Glasgow person more than Edinburgh. I would definitely recommend visiting Glasgow if you haven’t before, it has a great balance of nightlife, music, museums, parks and shops as well as theatres (and Glasgow uni/Hogwarts). I also think that the people are really friendly and helpful (the one’s who aren’t trying to stab you) and it has a positive atmosphere.

Botanic Gardens:

I would class the West end as the fancy part of Glasgow haha, it has pretty vintage shops, bars and the amazing (and free, woohoo) Botanic Gardens. Kelvingrove art gallery is also nearby 😊

Edinburgh

Whilst I love Glasgow, Edinburgh is still a fantastic place. I love the fact that you can visit a castle, shops and the theatre, go on a Harry Potter tour and walk up a dormant volcano in the same day. I now associate Edinburgh with 6.30am uni trains haha, but it’s always an exciting and patriotic place to see. These pictures were taken on Arthurs seat.

Culross

Again good for Outlander fans, parts were filmed here 😊 There is a little (usually freezing beach) and a number of brightly coloured houses to be seen as well as a beautiful old fashioned church. I don’t know how much there is to see round about as I’m never really explored, but it makes for a pretty day trip and is fairly close to Burnt Island.

Finnich Glen/Devil’s Pulpit

I have apparently become Outlander woman at this point, another filming location. I’ll have to go back here on a future sunny day because the pictures don’t do it justice, but this is a mystical and almost haunting place. I will say though, be careful on the way down because the staircase has eroded (thank you german man who stopped me plummeting to my death hahaha), but it’s fun to walk in the waterfall and look at all of the colours. I also enjoyed the eery witchy tales associated with the devil’s pulpit. P.s the live action Pokémon film also has a scene filmed here (did not like that film haha) and recently the tv programme The Nest.

Ayr

I’ve never managed to get a sunny day here, but there are lots of beaches to be seen!

Anstruther

Famous chippy, cute independent shops and beaches. Anstruther is very close to St Andrews, another picturesque place for a day trip. Last year after coming back from holiday I drove to St Andrews beach on a whim to pretend I was still in Greece (didn’t work haha) so I now have nice associations of St Andrews and Song of Achilles- I love this book.

Aviemore

We drove here on a Wintery day through beautiful snowy mountains to visit the reindeer (it doesn’t look real in this picture, but it was!) I haven’t spent a lot of time here, but I know that there are tourist attractions that make it a popular place to visit.

I hope you get the chance to visit anywhere that interests you, please let me know where you’re from 🙂

Welcome to the rambling

Thank you to whoever is reading this, I hope you’re doing okay in these crazy times. During lock down I feel thankful that my family, friends and I are healthy and safe- as safe as anybody can be- and are able to stay inside. I’m not someone who naturally likes to stay in, I love going out and staying busy although I am naturally shy and introverted. I’ve been trying different things to keep myself entertained (whilst feeling guilty that I’m struggling to find a way to be helpful during this pandemic) including painting, cooking (mixed results), and reading lots as usual.

I like writing (just for fun) and love reading, so I think this will be a good place to talk about books and the emotions that I experienced whilst reading them. I tend to read fiction- some literary, some fantasy and I love retellings of mythology, particularly Greek, however, this blog will not be at all professional or offer indepth literary analysis; I read purely for fun and love Harry Potter, ASOIAF (and I will admit that in times of stress I enjoy the comfort and ability to rant that rereading a book like twilight brings). I’m always looking for recommendations and love to talk about books with people, so please talk to me whenever you feel like it (I say this, this blog will probably get 2 views a year hahaha)!