August 1st, 2013

Lady OracleLady Oracle by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my first foray into Atwood and I really enjoyed it. I was drawn into Joan’s life and into her Gothic Romance which runs through Atwood’s narrative.

However I was expecting a little more drama and suspense. The blurb on my edition made it sound as if Joan had many parallel lives where she was enacting scandalous lives of excitement a la The Talented Mr Ripley. This is not the case, she merely changes names a few times and the big ‘fake death’ plot is really a frame for the narrative of Joan’s life rather than the main plot of the story, it takes up a few chapters and that’s it. Her other ‘lives’ ie her fat young self and the more confident grown up others are a bit obvious and, really, don’t we all have skeleton’s in our closets like a ‘fat’ period, an ‘ugly’ period etc in our adolescence? I sympathised with her at these points, but I wasn’t shocked by her ‘secret life’.

There is also a point about midway through the narrative where either Atwood, Joan or myself becomes very confused about what timeline they’re in. Contact with Arthur is made but I wasn’t sure when or where until I’d finished the chapter. While this could be a modern twist it appears in an otherwise easy to follow narrative and seems out of place.

As Joan writes her Gothic Romance she mentions that the new popular trend is to add images of the occult. Naturally Atwood then herself begins to slip the occult into Joan’s real life and these images are eerie but, I think, mostly unnecessary unless Joan is supposed to be sliding into some sort of hysterical breakdown: in which case it is unsustained and erratic. I felt Atwood was aiming for Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’ atmosphere but was falling short into Joan’s own romances.

Yet I was still involved in Joan’s life, her problems with her mother and her lack of ability to really connect with the men in her life. This was the plot I enjoyed as the fake death plot didn’t really grip me and I thought Arthur’s activism was as weak Joan did.

After reading some of the negative reviews on here suggesting this is a weak novel compared to others I am excited to read more of Atwood’s work, I enjoyed this book despite the minor lapse and my own expectations so I’m sure I’ll love her other novels!

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July 29th, 2013
joedoes:

At Chapters. Good to see all my favourites on there.

joedoes:

At Chapters. Good to see all my favourites on there.

(via ipreferbooks)

July 27th, 2013

(Source: icanread)

How to Be a WomanHow to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’d have liked to give Moran’s ‘How to be a Woman’ another star because there was a large majority of it that I LOVED. However, it is also problematic and, after reading other people’s reviews, I completely understand because some of the ‘deeper’ feminist issues (pornography, strip clubs and the big questions ‘but what have women actually done?!’) are tackled in a way that I perhaps don’t 100% agree with.

It would be better titled ‘How to be a White Middle Class Woman’, not catchy so I see why they went with just woman. As a white working class feminist who has worked her way up to middle class, like Moran, I naturally identify with a lot of the ‘real life issues’ she deals with: waxing, fashion, children vs work. And at this point in my life I need a grown up to be honest with me about this kind of thing. But I can appreciate that this leaves out a HUGE portion of the feminist world. So if you’re not a white middle class woman or you’re not trying to identify with one then this is probably not for you and hopefully one day I’ll read something to recommend to you because there’s obviously a gap in that market.

Moran’s writing style is chatty, friendly and painfully candid. She discusses her abortion, marriage, childbirth and childhood in a way akin to the drunk and honest conversations I have with my girlfriends (and I’m sure it’s not just Moran and myself who talk like this!)

In terms of the wider feminist issues lots of people have already quoted the dodgy issues. ‘What have women done for the last 100,000 years’ well a shit tonne of stuff, actually, but we never hear about it because history is written by winners and, as Moran points out, winners are men for pretty much 100,000 years. But I don’t think this means we just sat around with cystitis like Moran suggests. Sure the female population dealt with it but they also cured diseases, wrote novels and pamphlets, invented and experimented. But patriarchal societies ignore this stuff, doesn’t it! So that was an issue for me, as was her dismissal of exotic dancers as letting the side down. If you want to dance for money and it’s your choice then that’s up to you. If you’re forced by society, economy etc then that’s bad. But I’d never blame the victim of these situations and I was shocked Moran did.

But I don’t think you ever 100% agree with another person on ALL the world’s problems, so these are things you as a reader can hash out yourself and I wouldn’t dismiss the book as a whole for these potholes.

Overall I really enjoyed it, I looked over the aforementioned issues for the reasons above and I would highly recommend it to any woman in my situation. Fresh and new from Uni’ a bit lost, a bit confused and totally shocked about the realities of being an adult woman.

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July 23rd, 2013

bThe YardThe Yard by Alex Grecian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really didn’t expect this to be as fun as it was, just a bit of gore to satisfy my literary blood lust after finishing Game of Thrones, and yet I was hooked!
Though the spoken language often comes off a little stilted the actual plot line is gripping, engaging and unpredictable. Revealing the murderer in the first few chapters is a bold move by Grecian but I felt it paid of as I rooted for Inspector Day and his team to steer clear of the cop killer!

There are several other story lines about other murderers and kidnappers than entwined themselves with the main idea of ‘find Inspector Little’s killer’ and I thought they fit well, keeping up the pace when clues were slow to be found.

The writing isn’t perfect but first his first foray into novel writing it’s a pretty good start and I’d love to read move about 1880s Scotland Yard from his authorial perspective.

If you liked Ripper Street (BBC) and can’t wait for the next series then this is a good stand in!

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July 22nd, 2013

inmyprivateuniverse:

my mum is sat in the same room pls don’t post porn!

i see you victoria and you’d better not!

July 4th, 2013

inmyprivateuniverse:

Neighbours dog made a break for it and my neighbour is like psyching him out by pretending he doesn’t care but the dog doesn’t care even more and is just wandering around the street looking really pleased

Now they’re having a stand off

July 3rd, 2013
wordpainting:

Books & Coffee

wordpainting:

Books & Coffee

(via ipreferbooks)

Review: Thirty Seconds to Midnight by Helen J Beal

reThirty Seconds Before MidnightThirty Seconds Before Midnight by Helen J. Beal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First off I want to say thanks to Helen J Beal who gave me this book in a Giveaway :)

It’s hard to really review this story as it doesn’t feel like just one book, but two, neither of which had time to blossom but were interesting in their own right.

I’ll tackle what I consider is the ‘first’ story…first…
The blurb introduces this novel as a push/pull argument between the old and the new, the haves and the have nots. Not something I’d normally read but the idea of the menagerie and, particularly the narrator, intrigued me. I was drawn into the love affairs and the felt strongly about the closing of the menagerie. The narrator, Herbert the tortoise, was a bold and brilliant choice. I did wonder how he was going to be able to notice all the minor details but with his friend Digby the parakeet he manages very well. The other amusing animals, my favourite being Colin the grass snake, were endearing and amusing and I could have read about 300 pages about the little zoo. Sadly this story line was short lived and underdeveloped.

That’s what brings me to the ‘second’ story.
In the second part a major character becomes unwell and this part is told through letters. While I liked this use of the epistolary style as well it didn’t feel like a plot twist it felt abrupt and, if I’m honest, lazy. The romantic subplot at this point isn’t well built on, perhaps because Herbert can’t see EVERYTHING, but also perhaps because Beal was hurrying the narration.

After this point the plot speeds up and pretty much nothing is resolved apart from Herbert’s desire for adventure. The blurb is very misleading as almost none of the narrative is about the redesigning of the land and the closing of the menagerie. It flits about wildly and, had there been more development of these plots, would have made an excellent, though much longer, novel. Which saddens me as I’m sure I would have really enjoyed it.

The blurb also makes reference to Orpheus and Eurydice (trying not to spoiler: Greek god who’s good at music loves a woman and then things go badly wrong). While I don’t want to belittle Beal’s re-imagining of this story it feels like it’s a shoehorned in reference. The bulk of the narrative has nothing to do with this story apart from a pretty weird ‘hippy-dippy’ moment in a hospital and that there is a love story involving a musician. As the denouement approaches Beal gets the tortoise to muse on Greek myth and the whole believability falls apart for me. I could no longer suspend my disbelief and was disappointed with her need to force in a completely unnecessary reference. There’s nothing new under the sun, but you don’t have to reference every influence. It was a clever narrative without that and, frankly, only took away from the experience.

I know this review sounds like I’m blasting this book. But I did enjoy it. I would recommend it. I would just not recommend reading the blurb first!!!

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