Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Page Turners: The Awakening

Yep I'm still reading The History Keepers and right now I do not care about what happens to anyone. Except maybe the parrot...there's also a dog called Felson but I keep thinking it's called Fenton. So, let's talk about a another oldie but goodie.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
I read this book as a part of my A levels, so I was about seventeen, and I loved it from the moment we started. I also remember the only boy in the class (there were only four of us including myself) being amused by the fact that you could see Edna's boob on the cover. He was the same boy who didn't understand what 'spooning' meant when we read The Go-between (another great book). 

Anyway, The Awakening is awesome and you should read it because it shocked readers at the turn of the century. It was about a strong woman deciding that she wants to have an affair, that she's tired of being a wife and mother, that she wants to her a place of her own and that society is all together far too complicated and restricting. Edna doesn't understand the other women around her and how they are okay with being baby machines. She doesn't understand why she needs to have a husband. She's deeply unhappy and wants to escape. The book was so shocking because it also contains sex and suicide. Kate Chopin also never condemned her heroines actions which annoyed a great many people. 

This is a book the power of delusional, sensual love and about the crushing unhappiness and suffocation of middle and upper class society. It is very much a precursor for feminist writings, and the impressionistic and mood-driven novels that we know today by authors such as Virginia Woolf. The Awakening was neglected for several decades but is now a classic and I absolutely adore it. 

I know that it's not to everyone's taste and some people may find Edna to be selfish or indulgent (she does abandon her children which gets a lot of people's backs up) but I do wonder if they miss the point or don't full understand the time period. You couldn't simply say you didn't want to get married, it wasn't that easy. 

Women didn't have many rights, the book was published in 1899 to give you some idea of the time period. Women could not vote in the majority of the states. You could not own property. You did now even own the clothes on your back or the items in your house, your husband or your father did. Your children were not yours, they were your husbands. You did not even own your body, if you husband wanted to have sex and your refused then he could beat you into submission or simply force you to.

So, get the idea? Edna may have had a rich life, family, friends and nice possessions but none of it was really hers. Can you imagine how suffocating that life would have been for any woman, let alone one who begins to question it? Womens' Rights movements were around at the time and gaining some ground but they had a very, very long way to go. For example marital rape wasn't outlawed in the US for a long time, it happened slowly state by state between 1975 and 1993. Talk about taking your time.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Listen To This: Jet Set Radio Future

I have never actually played Jet Set Radio Future myself but I've watched my boyfriend play it many times and I love the style and the soundtrack. The soundtrack is a part of the playlist for one of my novels and I generally like listening to it because it's good motivational music if I have to do work that I don't really want to do. 


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Sunday Catch Up

This week I sent my manuscript out to some agents! So hopefully in two months time I can update with something more interesting if I hear back from anyone. Friday I also managed to visit my local post office three times because first I needed tape and envelopes, then I needed another kind of envelope and printer paper and finally I went into actually send some things. They seemed amused and at least I'm supporting them! They're also the only place I know that sells environmentally friendly printer paper. If I'm going to destroy a small forest while printing off reams of writing then I would like new trees to be planted and the paper making process to be less scarring for the planet.

In other news I've not done much else. 

Image from: Weheartit.com
The other night I dreamt that I had a labrador...I don't even like labradors. The night before I dreamt we had loads of kittens everywhere in the house and they were adroable. Last night I dreamt I had two pet fat-tailed geckos and they kept escaping, I kept catching them but was scared I might squish them. What does this mean!?

I am still reading The History Keepers and although mostly it's not bad I find that the few flaws that do annoy me, annoy me a lot. Also why must the bad guy be 1. scarred and 2. German?

Skins started on Monday which was wonderful but the time jump did throw me a bit. I hope they're going to go back over things through flashbacks or something because I want to know how they found each other, how they got home etc. I want to re-watch the original series again some time. Though I don't know if I can handle that Chris episode again, even if it has been about three years since I watched it. I'm also still watching New Girl and Friday's episode was probably the funniest so far.

As you can probably tell, I don't have much to say really. So here is a cute picture of a cute puppy:
I want it.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Something For The Weekend

Something to read:

Bored of your room? Take some inspiration from these amazing dorm rooms.

Image from: weheartit.com
My guess is that a fair few people who read this blog are aspiring writers longing to be pulished, so what five attitudes towards publishing should you avoid? Also, what are the seven stupidest things that people are proud of?

Something to drink and something to eat:
Image from: Like A Vegan
A grown-up twist on pink lemonade.

Have you ever read a book and thought "I wish I could eat that" well, Fictional Food do just that. You can find everything from Honeyduke's Chocolate Frogs 
and all sort of other goodies in-between. Find delicious things to eat from books, comics, films, games and TV shows!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Feature Friday: Cats

A good friend of mine suggested that this week I feature cats. 

So here are some of my favourite pictures featuring those fluffy felines that hold a special place in our hearts. All of these pictures can be found at weheartit.com

I don't have any pictures of my parents cat or of my old cats that I can show you. Midge, who lives at my parents house, is a tortoise shell girl and very fluffy. She's a bit haughty sometimes and doesn't appreciate you fussing her without her permission, but if she is in the mood for cuddles be prepared for her to drool on you. She's special like that. 

Before Midge I had a little black cat called Merlin. My sister bought him for me and he had cat flu as a baby. He never grew very big and was always a little strange. We think he had a fit, a lady thought she hit him with her car but there wasn't a scratch on him.

As well as Merlin we had a ginger boy called Harry who was a rescue cat. He had hardly any teeth and was generally a bit ratty. He had to be put to sleep in the end.

I had a kitten for a while when we lived in The Philippines but I can't remember what we called her in the end. She was pretty feral. Someone has found her and burnt her whiskers so she always looked kind of funny because they were so short. I just remember her being really scrawny and you couldn't really pet her very much. In the end I gave her to our nextdoor neighbours driver because his family owned paddy fields and wanted a good rat catcher. Apparently she was fantastic and got more friendly over time but was very much a wild cat.

Before we moved abroad we had a cat called Dotty who was a silver tabby. We ended up having to give her to the local at home because we were moving and couldn't find anyone to take her in. I think she got a home very quickly. She was a gorgeous little girl, very sweet and loved sleeping in the airing cupboard. She had a sister called Daisy who was a tortoiseshell, she died a little while before we moved. I don't think my parents ever found her body but she just disappeared one day as cats do sometimes when they're old.

At the same time my sister owned a lot of different cats who would sometimes live with us for a while. I remember her owning two black and white cats called Bill and Ted who ended up wandering off and living down the road. She had Zebedee and Dougal who were tabbies, who wandered off as well I think. Dylan who also wandered off after a while. My sisters cats tend to decide to live with her neighbours after a while for some reason. I have no idea why because she's nothing but nice to them. She also owned a black cat called Salem who looked like a big version of Merlin. I think he also wandered off one day. I also remember her having a big fat white cat called Zaccy who was gorgeous. I loved him. He never left, I don't think he could be bothered really. It was easier to stay where the food was. My sister currently owns a cat called Poppy who still lives with them.

My parents owned several cats before I was born, but I don't know much about them. I know they owned a white cat that was deaf at one point.

Anyway, on to the pictures!

I love cats. 
White cats

and black cats

Little cats

and big cats

I would like to own two cats

or maybe even more cats.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Thursday Thought: Where I Get Ideas From

Image from: Saricientta

I thought I would talk about about where I get ideas from, because it's something that people always seem to be interested in.

It's hard to pinpoint where you get ideas from so I had a look around me and thought about what I do each day. Essentially I surround myself with creative things and spend a lot of time absorbed in stories. I probably watch about two or three films a week. I watch a fair bit of TV. I read three of four books a month. I read webcomics everyday. I read print comics every month or so. I love to spend time online looking at art and photography, I also save a lot of pictures if I find them particularly interesting. I play video games quite a lot too. My point is, most of my interests and the things I spend my time doing involve stories in one way or another and thus can be inspiring. I love watching Skins, which isn't for everyone but it's good to see how stories develop, how characters interact, to see a plot unfold, to see something that is different to your own work. It can still be influential in ways you wouldn't think.

Ghost in the Shell pushed me to take one of my stories in a different direction and the game Jet Set Radio Future inspired other aspects of it. A nature programme about a man who had an incredibly close relationship with wild bears inspired another of my stories as did the snow during the winter of 2010.

I know people who's stories were inspired by a photograph. People who were inspired by their own experiences or by the stories of people they've met. People who were inspired by other books that they thought were awful so decided to show that they could write something better. People who are inspired by their favourite authors because they want to be just as good as them. People who are inspired by music. All sorts of things can inspire and influence you. 

Image from: Adihrespati
Ideas are everywhere.

I get my ideas from all over the place. So this post has probably been entirely unhelpful. I think that ideas are easy, it's everything else involved in writing that is hard. Creating a believable world inhabited by believable characters is incredibly hard. Creating a story that works, makes sense and is interesting is incredibly hard. The ideas are not so hard. You get ideas by daydreaming. By experiencing other stories both real and made-up. Most of my stories start out as "what if" wonderings.

I think it's incredibly important that as a creative person you have time and space to just think about things. To daydream. To stare out of the window uninterrupted and mull things over. I think it's important to surround yourself with creative and inspiring things and people. Don't let the real world drag you down. Don't let yourself become boring and mundane. Stay creative. Otherwise how can an idea grow into something wonderful if you're not taking proper care of your headspace? Also, write them down even if you think they're stupid or of no use to you now. They might be later on.

So, where do I get my ideas? As Neil Gaiman said "I make them up. Out of my head."

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Coveted Cover: The Hobbit

This cover of The Hobbit is my absolute favourite. I have another two copies with different covers and I have two copies of The Lord of the Rings as well, one set that is the trilogy as three separate books and one that is them all together with Gandalf striding across the front. I also have a copy of The Silmarillion somewhere.

Anyway! This copy was given to me by my Dad, so it's special for that reason, but it's also my favourite depiction of Smaug who was the dragon that made me love the great winged beasts and I also love that this book is one year older than me. It is a 4th edition, was printed in 1987 and celebrates The Hobbits 50th anniversary. With the film coming out at some point I felt I should share one of my favourite covers from one of my favourite books.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Page Turners: Norwegian Wood

I am still reading The History Keepers and I haven't got very far because it's a big, thick book. So far it's been pretty good although the writing style irks me at times and I'm already sick of people having amazingly coloured eyes brimming with intelligence and smouldering attitude. So, I will be recommending an old favourite.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
So, as I mentioned with Goodbye Tsugumi I really like Japanese novels. Norwegian Wood is one of my absolute favourite books and I've read it many times. Every time I re-read it I fall in love with it all over again. It is self-indulgent but I quite like that. At times characters can seem a little shallow, but I wonder if some of it gets lost in translation. I love the descriptions, I love that it's about a place I've never been to but most of all I love the feeling of it. I can't really describe it but it's a book that leaves me feeling happy but also melancholy and I tend to feel at a loss of what to do with myself for a while afterwards.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Listen To This: Billy Idol

I've had this in my head all week. I'm pretty sure it's been used in a film I like but I can't for the life of me remember which one. Either way it's an awesome song and people need to listen to it more. Especially since Glee did a cover and that tends to make people forget about the original version by Generation X and all the other great covers. I love the Billy Idol cover personally.

Chinese New Year!

Image by Yuumei

It's Chinese New Year today and it is year of the water dragon!
The dragon is like the king of the zodiac (and I am an earth dragon by the way) and so apparently this year should bring lots of possibilities of good fortune and growth. Most of the world is covered in water and it is water that helps most things to grow. The water dragon also personifies creativity at it's best!
The water dragon occurs every 60 years, so we won't be seeing another one for quite a while!

I'm not Chinese but obviously a lot of people are so Happy New Year or 新年快乐 if you speak Mandarin or 恭喜发财 if you speak Cantonese or  新年如意 if you speak Teochew/Hokkien or 新年快乐 to everyone else and if you are Tibetan!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sunday Catch Up

So as I mentioned yesterday we had cream teas for breakfast twice this week! It's been really grey and rainy all week so it was something fun to do on an otherwise boring day. The cat teapot is from The Tea Emporium in Bath, my boyfriend bought it for me a few years ago. I was sitting on the left in the top photo, I don't drink Earl Grey with milk but the boy does because he is a heathen. Also check out our stylish milk bottle, we don't own a jug. I want one shaped like a cat, if that exists?

I also discovered Pinterest this week and have whiled away many an hours looking at pretty things and food. The thing I love so much is how easy it is to find recipes. I judge food by how yummy it looks so I like browsing through pictures until something catches my eye. We also need to decorate our house at some point so it's cool to see different ideas and what other people have done in their homes.

Image from here
I made mexican lasagna for dinner last night and the boy loved it, he's requested that I make it again at some point which is always a good sign. He doesn't eat a lot of vegetables, which is weird when you consider he's a vegetarian, so I've decided that I'll just have to cook him yummy veggie based dinners and find out which ones are his favourites. Plus vegetables are so cheap anyway and good for you. But then I've always been a bit of a vegetable and fruit freak. He also doesn't eat fruit...yeah I don't know how he's still slim and healthy.

We walked to the big park near us, King George VI Park. It's just a big patch of green with a kids play area, a shop that I imagine is open in the summer and trees. It's about 20-30 minutes walk from our house and it's on top of the cliffs so it's a pretty stunning walk there and back. You can also see my boyfriend's Dad's theatre/cinema from the entrance which is cool. While there we saw a dog that looked like a bear:

Japanese Spitz aka Bear Dog
and a little Shetland Sheepdog that the boy said reminded him of an overexcited child in a fur coat. On the way home we saw Ring-necked Parakeets:
Photo by Mark Kilner at King George VI Park, Ramsgate
We didn't go around all the park, so I'm sure we also missed seeing some other cool stuff. There's some weird building in it that we want to check out next time we go.

Last night's dinner was this:
From The Vegan Stoner
Not sure what I'll be making today though.

Aside from walking around and eating I've been working, as usual, and playing lots of Skyrim, as usual.

I also received a really lovely email from Julia, a reader of this blog, which totally made my week! Julia is going to also be reviewing for Mostly Reading YA soon and has a great little blog called Wright Reading that you should check out. It's not been going long but already has some great content. So don't hesitate to email me or leave comments if you have any questions or just want to be friendly!

That's all for this week!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Something For The Weekend

Something to eat:

Cream teas
Have cream teas for breakfast! My boyfriend and I have done this twice this week because we are greedy piggies. It's been really grey and miserable here but cream teas are a sure fire way to brighten your morning! Plus they don't have to be as crazy fattening as you might think, or you can look at it the way my boyfriend does "you're supposed to have a big breakfast!", your choice. If you can't eat cream for one reason or another you can get dairy free options and there's a few recipes about online you can try out! My boyfriend took the photo by the way, and yes I do own an awesome cat teapot.

Mexican Lasagna
Okay so I sort of mixed together two recipes I found online and also altered them. The two recipes are from here and here

But what I used in my version was: Tortillas, black beans, sweetcorn, chopped tomatoes, ketchup, Tabasco, chopped onion, chopped green pepper, grated cheddar cheese and chopped jalapeños. I did it all in the over too because I'm lazy and we don't have a cooker upstairs just a little counter top cooker and I didn't want to go downstairs to fry things. 

I mixed together the chopped tomatoes, ketchup, Tabasco, and jalapeños. Then I mixed the black beans and sweetcorn together in a separate bowl. Cooked the onions and peppers in the oven until soft, then mixed them with the sauce together. 

Covered the bottom of a cake tin with some salsa, layered some tortillas on top that I ripped into four pieces. Then a layer of sweetcorn and black beans, then the sauce, then cheese. Tortillas, sweetcorn and black beans, sauce, tortillas, cheese and finished.

I only cook for two people so feel free to keep layering as much as you like depending on how many people are eating it! My boyfriend was very impressed and requested that I make it again so that's always a good sign! Plus everything in it is pretty cheap to buy and you could easily swap the cheese for faux-cheese if you are vegan or allergic to dairy.

Image from Pinterest
This is really easy to make. Get some strawberries, pop them into an ice tray, fill with melted chocolate, freeze and voila!

Something to make:

Image from here
I don't know about you but I always seem to have tons of piles of paper around and I spend far too much time rummaging through them searching for that elusive piece that I need but can never find. I also tend to have lots of cereal boxes around because we recycle our cardboard and sometimes it piles up. So, why not put them to some use? You might want to reinforce the 'shelf' first but that's easily done and it save buying one of those racks that are so often plastic and ugly.

Something to style:

This ones more for the girls, or from some daring guys with amazing long hair.

Image from here
Image from here
Whether you are bored at home or going out here's some cute hairstyle that might be fun to try out.

That's all that I have to share with you today, let me know if you try out any of these and what you think! Especially if you're not a UK person as I know that cream teas are really hard to come by abroad.

Review: Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

Read the full review of Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan at Mostly Reading YA

My rating: 4/5
I have a soft spot for fantasy-adventure books and Ranger’s Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan did not disappoint me. Fantasy-adventure books are always popular, especially with 9-12 year olds, and the premise might not be completely original as a young, orphan boy becomes the apprentice to a grimfaced, stoic professional and must prove his worth but there is something special about this book.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Feature Friday: Pinterest

I discovered Pinterest this week and I just have to share it with everyone. I love spending time online finding recipies, awesome pictures, hairstyles to try out and so on and Pinterest is a great place to do just that. It works like a virtual pinboard where you "pin" things that interest you so you don't lose track of them. 

For example here is what a couple of my boards looks like:


Yummy Things!

My Style

I love that it helps me to organise my thoughts a bit and it means I don't have to save files to my computer or bookmark a million things, plus you can easily share with other people which is always nice. You can add a little button to your browser so you can "pin" things you see around the web that you like, and when something is pinned it links to the original place that item came from so you won't end up pinning a cute picture for a tutorial and lose track the tutorial itself.

If you find yourself loving it and you are lucky enough to have an iPhone then you can also get an app too.

Check it out and see if you get as addicted as me!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Thursday Thought: Passion

William Wordsworth (image by Beverly Ealdama)
Why bother writing at all if you don't care about what you are writing about? Writing is never easy, but it's certainly a lot more enjoyable if you genuinely love your subject matter. If you are not passionate about it then it's that much harder to stick around when things get tough, and they will because it's never easy. Passion is the only thing that keeps you going sometimes so you need to love what you're writing. 

Even if at times you want to throw your computer at the wall.
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