Modelland

So I reached the fourth book of Game of Thrones, and honestly, I am not enjoying it as much as the others, so I have decided to take a break and ease into something a bit easier and bit more ridiculous. As a result I am reading Modelland by Tyra Banks. Here is a link to the trailer (yes, the trailer), to give you a sense of how ridiculous it is.

So far I have learned that even if you say you don’t want to be a model, you want to be a model. I have to say I am enjoying the dystopian nature of the book (how can anyone not love a dystopian novel?), but it is ridiculous on so many levels. I know I have used that word twice, but it’s true. It also seems to be how Tyra Banks imagines auditioning for ANTM should be. Also, the best part? It seems it is part of a series, so there is more joy to come. I am currently 20% through though and have found some delicious quotes to share. So full review coming in the next few days – for the record, I mean review in the loosest way possible. I wouldn’t presume to be able to review books properly!

Now, back to Modelland.

 

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The Handmaids Tale

If you haven’t read the above book, I suggest you do so immediately, although unfortunately it is not available on the UK Kindle. It is in my top 50 books of all time (I love a lot of books, I can’t pick!). There was a slide show on The Guardian website today of the pictures from the new Folio Society edition of the book, the pictures are wonderful and really give a sense of the dark world Margaret Atwood creates. The most terrifying thing about the book is how easily you can imagine it coming true, which is an amazing testament to how incredible a story it is. It’s a wonderfully engrossing read. I read it while I was going through the worst of my anxiety and panic attacks and it gave me a day and a half of wonderful blessed relief where I wasn’t thinking about when my next panic attack would arrive.

Here is the link to the page:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/gallery/2012/jan/23/margaret-atwood-handmaids-tale-in-pictures

The obsession has taken hold

I had been reading Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England by Amanda Vickery (much as I am currently reading Wolf Hall (except not in about a year) and Letters Between Six Sisters (which I have read in full before but got distracted by other books), and while I am enjoying it, it isn’t the same format as an historical biography or a novel, which is making me find it hard to continue. Basically there is no overarching conclusion for me to reach, which isn’t allowing me to fight to find out the ending. I did, however, find out some bizarre things while reading it. It is definitely recommended and it is enjoyable, if only to read about how wallpaper came into vogue, the difficulties of living in a boarding house, the importance of your box, the locks available to protect your box – and home, if you were lucky enough to have one – the male and female boundaries of propriety, the different roles in the house, how important it was to have a well decorated house, how if you were fucked if a woman, not married and had no money, the life of a bachelor, the concept of taste, so on and so forth. Really quite fascinating now I think on it. I will return to it once I have done with my current obsession. Which is namely, Game of Thrones.

My friend had downloaded the TV series and offered to transfer it onto my external hard drive. I said yes, but didn’t really have any intention of watching it. I love historical/period type dramas, don’t get me wrong, but for some reason I thought this one would be dull and I would struggle to watch it and it would be one of those shows I watch just because everyone is talking about how amazing it is, and I would be all like “yea, totally amazing”, but thinking what a waste of my time. Basically, I thought it would be like the Tudors, which I tried to watch, but could never really get into. Well, I had to eat my words (thoughts?). I was bored one day and trying to think of something to watch, so just thought what the hell and put it on. I watched the whole series in about 3 days. 10 episodes of about an hour each. I couldn’t stop watching it, and nearly cried when I found out how long it was until the next series came out. (April, wooo!!)

Now, how to resolve this issue? The books, I love to read, the books will solve all my problems. Therein lay another issue, there were so many characters and so many things going on at one, I really thought I would struggle in following the twists and turns and who everyone is. I am not saying I know who every character is and sometimes I do wonder who a certain person is (I usually manage to work it out), but I cannot stop reading these books. I got the first one for Christmas. I didn’t read it straight away, I was reading another book at the time (The Thirteenth Tale, which was terrible), and then I read “The Knife of Never Letting Go”, it was 99p on my brand new amazing Kindle and it had been recommended to me on my Goodreads account, so I figured why not. Took me a day or so to read, it was enjoyable, but I still prefer The Hunger Games. Will get onto the rest of the Never Letting Go trilogy shortly I should imagine.

Anyway, I think I picked up Game of Thrones on the 27th December. I am now on the 2nd part of the third book with 15% to go – or so my Kindle tells me – and it is January 21st. These are big books and I do read quickly, but still it is something of a feat, taking into account my full time job, my active (note: not really all that active) social life, volunteer work and union activities. Even now, I am sitting here thinking, type faster, get back to the book. What happens? What happens to Arya? What happens to Jon Snow, Samwell Tarly, Daenarys? It has taken over my life, to such an extent I saw a small child in the street wearing a wolf hat that hung down her back and my first though was “The Starks of Winterfell, Winter is Coming”. I had to remind myself I was not living in the books, and to me that demonstrates how truly engrossed I am. All I do with my free time is read these books and play Fallout: New Vegas (yes, I know everyone is playing Skyrim now).

Basically, everyone must read these, and if reading isn’t your thing I demand you watch the TV show. I promise you will end up with a bit of a crush on Tyrion. Oh and there is sex and lots of breasts. Promise.

 

The Moth Man – Georgette Heyer

So I was on stumble upon and it directed me the text of the above novel. I had been wanting to read some of Georgette Heyer’s novels for a while, seeing as they were set during the Georgian Period and seem to be the kind of cliché, trashy novel that I enjoy. By the way when I say trashy, I guess I just mean more…predictable and an easy read. It isn’t meant to be in any way a derogatory term, I love these kind of novels. It is just something that I wouldn’t buy in Waterstones, it is more of an Amazon purchase, so I was over delighted when I discovered I could read it online for free. I e-mailed the link to my work address and read it in between calls.

 
When I started reading it, I was, to be honest, a bit bored. Also the prologue completely confused me. Not sure there was any need for it to be honest – I even read it after I had finished the book, and while it made a bit more sense it was still unnecessary – but it was her first novel, and you know, I couldn’t write one. Carrying on…I found myself getting pulled more and more into it, was really enjoying it, was raging every time a call came through, then, this happened.
 
““I–once—” heavens, how hard it was to say! “I once . . . cheated . . . at cards.” It was out. Now she would turn from him in disgust. He shut his eyes in anticipation of her scorn, his head turned away.”
 
Not entirely sure why I was surprised as this was pretty much the premise for a lot of the novel. I am aware it seems ridiculous, but in context it does make logical sense (to an extent) – as it was set the 18th century, when people loved to gamble (lets be fair, there wasn’t much else to do if you are upper class in 18th century Britain) and he got busted cheating at cards for money. Which to most people is pretty big, but more “You are never playing cards with us again” as opposed to fleeing the country, returning and becoming a highway man and then telling the bird you fancy that you can’t get with her, well, because once you cheated at cards….FOR MONEY… and now your are a social outcast who cannot ever again be accepted into polite society. I am not sure how realistic this was even for the period, but Heyer was considered one of the experts in this field and few people knew as much as she about the linguistic structure of the language at this time as she. So, it is probably relatively accurate even though the novel probably takes several liberties along the same vein as Pride & Prejudice (marrying for love and upwards in the social strata etc).
 
I also noticed an excessive use of the word “monstrous”, not a particularly common word, but I am assuming it was common in the lexicon of the time, along with “la” and some other words which I appear to have forgotten. There was also quite a lot of French (note: about 4 uses), which I do not understand, so I just made up translations. Still couldn’t work out what “miladi était ravissante! mais ravissante” and I tried to use an online translator, but it came out as gibberish which made no sense even in context, so I just pretended it wasn’t important. I also learned some new words, which was over exciting. Words like “Tippit”, which is an animal fur neck and a tasty sounding drink called “Negus”, which is a drink made of wine, most commonly port, mixed with hot water, spiced and sugared. I will probably attempt to make this one night while drunk. Or you know, just drink Mulled Wine since it is almost certainly the same thing.
 
The historical references were really good, she made a delightful reference to Madame Pompadour and then also a reference to an actual society wedding, which allows you to place the novel in the exact year in which the events are taking place. I really did enjoy how specific the novel was in its timeframe and also the descriptions of the fashions at the time. I personally prefer a slightly later period to that in which this was set so found the styles quite old fashioned, but appropriate to the period. There were several other references, but alas, something else I have forgotten. I need to take better notes.
 

All in all, I really enjoyed it, and would recommend as a light read if you don’t want anything too taxing. I for one, will be downloading some of her other novels once I get my Kindle!

I recently fini…

I recently finished reading “Atlas Cloud” by David Mitchell. Previously this author was recommended to me by a colleague at work as they know the kind of literature – and questionable literature – I enjoy. To be honest, I wasn’t going to buy any of his books – for some reason I take umbrage at people recommending things to me. Well, not all people, just…some people. However, they are now making a film of the book with Halle Berry, part of which was filmed in Glasgow. So obviously it piqued my interest, but in trying to maintain my cool veneer I bought it on Amazon, instead of being that twat that goes into Waterstones and only buys a book because they are making a film of it in Glasgow.
 
I had bought a number of books on Amazon, (also having bought a copy of World War Z for the same reason as above), and it took me a while to get round to it. I left it until last as this was the one I was most excited about reading. I would get history, modern day and dystopia all in one novel, which would have made me squeal in excitement, if I were a squealing sort of girl. In addition to which, we had a day of downtime in work which meant I would just get to read all day with minimal interruption and get paid for it. So in the morning I finished reading “I Capture the Castle”, and the moved onto Atlas Cloud.
 
I am thinking perhaps my expectations were too high as I fully expected to be immediately engrossed in this novel and in my opinion, it fell a bit flat. I read about 50 pages and was struggling to force myself to read more. In the end I think I read about 50/75 pages and then stopped and just mucked about online for the rest of the day. That night I was going to a friend’s house, so in the morning while they were doing some work I read a bit more, and this time I found myself becoming a bit more engrossed as I got onto the second person’s story, but still, it wasn’t quite the oomph that I expected on reading it.
 
Individually, all the stories were good, interesting, engrossing to a point, but I felt that the interconnectivity between them was forced, and to be honest, a bit uninteresting. It didn’t feel as though there was any overarching story arc which connected all the characters together – there is a reason, but I won’t elaborate in case you haven’t read it, and wish to do so. To be honest, it seemed a bit weak. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it, I really did, particularly one of the dystopian stories.
 
It isn’t an easy read – it does require concentration! While enjoyable, it didn’t pull me in, I wasn’t constantly clamouring for the next moment in which I could read more. I was a bit disappointed to be honest, but this was partially because of my high expectations. Also, the one odd thing about it? His frequent use of the work cuckold. It is one of my top 50 words, but it is quite unusual to find it in modern literature. The first time I came across it was while reading about Emma Hamilton, in dicussing her marriage to William Hamilton while she was shagging Horatio Nelson – in which all parties were aware of the arrangement. Some similarity to the events revealed in “Lady Worselys Whim”.
 
Basically, the upper classes during the Georgian Period were all about the extra marital affairs – which were not always conducted discretely. So there would have been many a cuckolded man – see Gilray’s satirical prints from this time for further amusement.
 
Anyway, back to the book, enjoyable, but did not live up to expectations. Would still recommend as an interesting read though, and I am intrigued as to how it will be portrayed on film.

First Post on Brand New Blog Platform

Decided I will approach this from another angle. I should probably have something in mind to write about to help me focus and actually stick at this for a while. I need to get back into the habit of writing. The first 6 chapters of a shortish/mid-length story I have been working on are terrible and I seem to have hit some kind of massive snag. Perhaps I should leave it and try some short stories again for a while to get into it. However, my lack of confidence in my skills leaves (a lot) to be desired.

So I will focus on books, as I love to read and have now had to resort to setting myself a monthly book allowance.

I thought perhaps first of all, some quick background here. I am currently volunteering in Govan at the Fairfield Shipyard, where they are renovating (for lack of a better word) the previously abandoned head office. Which is beautiful inside, I would love to just have a wee nosy by myself, but pretty sure for H & S reasons, this would not be allowed. Part of the downstairs area is being turned into a museum about the history of the shipyard and the rest of downstairs and all of upstairs is being turned into offices for lease.

Recently we got a very large donation of books about the history of ships and shipbuilding etc. We were split into 2 groups, one would go through the books and decide which ones would be used for research, which ones were maybe and which ones would be for donation. The other group (me), would go through the inventory given to us along with the books and mark them off the list and make a separate pile of ones which were not on the list. Make any sense?

This pretty much gave me the freedom to peruse the books and geek out over the particularly awesome ones – although the group sorting the books were doing the exact same thing. Which is one of the many highlights of this volunteering, we geek out over awesome old books, artefacts and gush about history, and although I love my friends, they just don’t get it, just as I don’t get some of their weird obsessions. At the moment I am currently annoyed as I have been unable to help them inventory an old cupboard full of artefacts which they have only recently been able to get open. I wish I could curse my social life, but it is due to work.

So back to the point I was making. Some of these books were unintentionally hilarious. Also, some people have far too much time on their hands and some very strange interests. For example, there are specialist books, just for people with an interests on a range of questionable topics. I just can’t quite comprehend that these books actually existed. There were multiple books on lighthouses and rescue boats. Rescue boats? Really? How does that thought process go?

“I was once rescued by a rescue boat and now I would like to fill my head with pages of information from at least a dozen books on the topic.”

Honestly, a dozen of these types of books existed. At least. These aren’t books for specialists in the field, these books were specifically aimed at people with an interest in life boats. Is it really so much different though to peoples interest in say…trains? I really shouldn’t judge.

Although, some of the titles were so good, I had to write them down and share them. My favourite was “A Glossary of Shakespeare’s Sea and Naval Terms”. The best part? It came with examples of the contexts they were used in. Who sat down one day and thought to themselves. “I need to write a book, once which no one has written before on a completely new topic. Now what should it be? That’s it!! A glossary of Shakespeare’s Sea and Naval Terms. Who wouldn’t find that useful?”

This I imagine is when I discover that in fact it is an area of academic research, in which case I apologise, as it would be very useful. Which does seem plausible now I think about it, as it is pretty incredible how many words Shakespeare actually invented.

Anyway, other books I looked at. There were two entirely separate unrelated books both called “World’s Tankers”. I mean both on the same topic, but entirely different authors, publishing houses. So, there seems to be a need for many different books on a Tankers. Another favourite was “Warship Design: What is so different?” Really? You need a book to explain the difference between a cruise ship and a warship? That might be a sign you shouldn’t be building any kind of ship. Then I thought that perhaps I was being too judgemental so I looked inside. It was literally gibberish. Just tables, graphs and diagrams and the occasional word I understood.

Ok, so this is the last one, not because I exaggerated the number of hilariously titled books, (there were dozens, we had about 30/40 boxes of books, at least) but because this was the point where everyone else started looking at me for chuckling away to myself and then turning on my phone and wondering what the hell I was doing. I clearly wasn’t texting because apparently in abandoned head offices with minimal heating in Autumn in Scotland, you don’t get mobile phone signal. So I had to stop.

Anyway, this is the last one I took a note of, it is not the funniest one -I maintain the Shakespeare one is – but this final one was called “Diesel: The Man and the Engine”. I don’t even know what that book could be about. Maybe if the title was “Diesel and the Engine”, yea, I could get that, but why does Man have to come into it? Surely it would just be a cause of putting Diesel into an engine? Surely a chapter would suffice? Nope, no idea. Didn’t even look in this one.

Then I moved onto big voluminous tomes about shipping laws, which all appeared to have been written by one man. At which point I put my head on the desk and cried (not really).

The volunteering project is awesome though, I am so lucky and grateful I came across it and hopefully will keep updating on it.

I plan on trying to do one of these silly reviews for most books that I read and they will be stupid and not make much sense but I need to get back into writing. I read a lot, so that shouldn’t be the issue, it will probably be making myself write. So I will aim for at least once a week!

Thanks