Friday, 27 September 2013

Bath Bombs and Epic Poetry!

I've been putting off writing my book reviews in favour of getting lots of dissertation reading done, so I've been finding my brain at the moment is filled with dragons and gods and epic battles. (It's also been filled with squabbling heroes and multiple attempts at name pronunciations, but they're a bit less grand so we'll skim over them for the moment...) I've been really enjoying all of my reading, even if I am just reading multiple translations of the same thing! It's genuinely been interesting comparing each translator's take on the same material. I've been surprised at how much time I've been spending thinking about the texts; I don't seem to go a day without pondering on certain characters or events. I'm really looking forward to being back at university and kicking into full gear with it. 

Having said that, sometimes a girl needs a break! So the other day I treated myself to one of Lush's gorgeous bath bombs; the dragon's egg. I bought it on a whim because it smelled amazing and looked enticing, but it was only when I went to go run my bath I fully registered the name. Dragon's Egg. I have inadvertently managed to get a bath bomb that is somehow related to my dissertation! I'm beginning to feel like I might have a problem... (I can't remember if I've actually posted about my dissertation at all, but two of my texts are Beowulf and Volsunga Saga, both of which involve dragons) So having accepted my inevitable descent into dissertation obsession and madness, I proceeded to run my bath. And I have to say, this was one of the most elaborate bath bombs I've ever experienced in my life!

My family are big fans of lush, we used to always buy their products when we would go on holiday to Wales, so I'm pretty familiar with their older stuff. I've been treating myself to things every now and then over summer so am gradually becoming more familiar with their new products. I have to say, I am so impressed at the evolution of their products! My main memories of bath bombs were that they would be filled with little stars, or they would have a big of confetti in, or some other surprise. This bath bomb, however, was just an epic experience! There were colourful circles that dissolved into the water that reminded me of scales. Then there was different levels of colour. First it turned the bath white, setting up the canvas if you will. Then a fabulous orange developed, which transformed into a different orange that was absolutely packed with glitter. The bath bomb moved around the water and created fabulous swirls, creating the body of the dragon in the water. Little bubbles came forth and stayed in place, looking like tiny scales along the ridges of the body. It was just absolutely stunning! I was so impressed I have created this whole post dedicated to it!

I'm sure I will post more dissertation updates as it goes along, starting with an explanatory one so you guys know what I'm actually doing! More book reviews will be coming shortly, I am in a whirl of packing at the moment. Hope you are all well, let me know in the comments if any of you are working on dissertations, or equally if any Lush products have blown your mind!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Summer Reading Challenge: 1984 by George Orwell

I've been meaning to read this book for sooo many years and finally I've got around to it. And I liked it I did, but it's not my favourite dystopian read I have to admit. Please, before crucifying read the rest of this for my reasoning!

There are lots of aspects about this book that I really like and I obviously completely get why it is such a well known and referenced thing. When I was reading this there were so many aspects that I already knew about; Big Brother is watching you, Room 101, Newspeak etc. In a way, that might be why I feel like I enjoyed other dystopian books (such as Brave New World and We) because this book is so well known. I enjoyed learning more about the society but there was a lot that I already knew about it just because it is so well referenced in our society. I can understand how when it was first published it would have been amazing and mind blowing, but to me it was very expected. I wasn't particularly shocked by the society because it fulfilled my expectations. I also found the plot rather predictable, again because it is by now not so original. Guy lives in so-called 'perfect' society, guy develops doubts about society, meets a girl, becomes actively engaged in rebellion against said society, it doesn't end particularly well. Both We and Brave New World feature similar plots, but ultimately I found their worlds more engaging. 

That's not to say that I was completely familiar with everything about the book before I started. I had misinterpreted Room 101 due to the fact that my only experience of hearing about it was the TV show and a speaking and listening assignment at GCSE. I definitely cringed when reading about Winston's experiences there! Additionally, I really liked the meeting between Winston and Julia at the end. I think it showed how unconquerable their society is, in the end everyone will give in to Room 101. However, I don't feel like 1984 has that much of a plot. It's strength lies in the qualities of the ideas that it explores. My favourite moments were when Winston is reading the manifesto as I liked learning more about the history of the system. Without sounding macabre, I also really liked the parts where he is in the Ministry of Love as it was the section that was genuinely new to me. 

Ultimately, while I enjoyed this book I much prefer Brave New World. I just find the conflicting modes of viewing the world, one very scientific and one based on the morals of Shakespearean plays, very interesting. Whilst I found the world of 1984 interesting, I found that Brave New World did more with the society. I enjoyed the exploration of morality and I felt like it took the challenge to the society further than 1984. It moved past the stage of 'man is dissatisfied with society, meets woman, it goes well for a bit then ends badly'. It spend more time exploring the effect of the conflict of views which I found interesting. Whilst Brave New World is my favourite, I also find I prefer We to 1984. Firstly, I enjoy the slightly more science fictiony elements to We, as well as the storyline involving the society on the other side of the wall. I think ultimately that the thing I like about both of the other books is the way they create a counter point to the 'perfect' society as it really opens both ways of living up to debate. Whilst the society in Brave New World isn't perfect, neither is living life with only Shakespeare to influence your moral decisions. So although I like 1984, I doubt I will re-read it as it doesn't have a plot that I find particularly compelling. I know the society now, and have all the information I need from it. And yes, it is a scary society, and yes it is interesting to compare it to how we live life now. But ultimately, for me, the scariest society is the one cultivated in Brave New World. 1984 punishes those who think unapproved thoughts or read banned books, but Brave New World presents a society where people don't even want to do those things. They don't have to burn books to stop people reading them because people just aren't interested in them in the first place. In a way it is much more frightening to see a society where people just allow themselves to be ruled because they don't care, rather than one where the government is trying to oppress those who disagree. That being said, I wouldn't exactly be thrilled to find myself being led toward Room 101...

Saturday, 31 August 2013

In Memory of Seamus Heaney

I have just found out that poet Seamus Heaney passed away yesterday and am finding myself feeling genuinely sad so I thought I would just post a few words about the effect his poetry has had on me. 

I first encountered Heaney's work four years ago whilst studying for my English Literature A Level. The first poem I read by him was Mid-Term Break and I can honestly say I was blown away. I cannot read that poem without feeling very emotional. The descriptions given by the narrator seem very self contained yet the glimpses of other people's reactions reveal the rawness of emotion that lingers beneath the surface. We also focused on Punishment, another incredibly powerful poem. Just from these two poems, I thought Heaney was a brilliant poet and I was determined to read more of his work.

As often happens, I didn't get around to it until last year when I studied his translation of Beowulf. Which is incredible. Beowulf is a poem best enjoyed read aloud and I would highly recommend you take the time to listen to it. Over exam period I would listen to it whenever I was walking places and it really made me appreciate what a good translation it is. Other translations, such as Michael Alexander's, retain more of the alliterative style that is a trade mark of Old English poetry. Heaney's lacks this but does not suffer for doing so. There is something about the translation that really reminds me of what little poetry of his I have read. The poem still retains the core Old English values but almost seems a bit more modern than other translations, like Heaney has brought it up to the modern age. I enjoyed studying it so much that it is actually one of my texts I will be doing my dissertation on. After this I read a little of his collection North but had to return the book to the library as I was travelling home. Now I feel sad that I did not take the time to read more of his work while he was alive, but his poetry does still live on so generations to come can appreciate what an amazing poet he was.

I know this isn't the most in depth appreciation of his work as I have read very little, but I just wanted to get a few thoughts down as I have found myself genuinely saddened. Let me know in the comments if any of you have been particularly effected by Heaney's work. For now, I leave you with Beowulf:

Part one.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Inspiration Strikes

I'm one of those people that likes to explore lots of creative things, so I tend to go through phases of doing things. For a while it was my guitar, then with A levels I moved onto textiles, then experimented with painting for a while, sometimes having creative writing moments, and so on. I just really enjoy experimenting with creative things. With all of these things, I never completely drop them, it just ends up that for some reason or another I drift away from it onto another thing. My textiles A Level was just an amazing two years where I absolutely immersed myself into it. I would spend hours after school working on my pieces and mounting everything up in my book. Whenever I look at the things I created I can't help but feel very proud of myself for the effort I put in. (Who knows, maybe soon I will upload pictures for you guys? We shall see!) My boyfriend even bought me a sewing machine for my eighteenth birthday so I could continue it on. However, the problem with textiles is that it is a) time consuming and b) involves channelling your inner rodent and hoarding everything possible. So whilst I took my sewing machine to uni with me, it wasn't the most practical thing to do in my spare time. So I started exploring painting and got quite into that for a while and sort of left textiles for the moment. But recently, inspiration struck!

I've just returned from a long weekend staying with my friend in Cornwall, which has been absolutely lovely! We were lucky enough to have amazing weather which prompted a visit to Newquay. Cue, inspiration striking!

A brief bit of background:
One of my textile projects was based off of the idea of the seaside. So naturally I decided to make a series of decorative bras. OF COURSE. I must explain, this was completely normal in our class. Decorative corsets, vessels, fans, all of these are general things that would be made. It's just outside of my class that I always seemed to get funny looks explaining my concept (can't imagine why?) As preparation for this project I was forced to visit the seaside to take lots of photographs. I know, terribly hard work. One of the places I visited had fabulous old rusting boats, tangled seaweed, pebbles etc. It was just bursting with texture and colour and was so great that I dedicated an entire bra to it! While we were at Newquay we ended up wandering through the harbour and going along the coastal path and I found myself feeling a very strong sense of deja vu. There were so many wonderful textures and colour contrasts again, that I found myself imagining how I would recreate them with fabric. It was like I suddenly snapped into gear and was viewing the world through my textile eyes, looking out for interesting shapes and compositions that I could photograph and then experiment at recreating. So I decided, why don't I?

So I will.

Now, I don't have the greatest amount of money, and all my time at the moment seems to be going towards university work but I've decided to have the project ticking along in the background. I have some material stored in my room, so in my free time I am going to try and have a play around. Hopefully this means that soon I will be able to post up and share experiments that I've been doing. Until then, here are a couple of photos from my trip!

Gorgeous colour contrast!

In case it's not obvious I'm really interested in texture

Look at how gorgeous it is! LOOK AT IT.

To be honest with you I'm not entirely sure what this is, but it still inspires me so I guess I can forgive it for being so unclear.

For some reason the sea just makes me inexplicably happy.

And I will leave you with the most adorable part of the holiday, three chocolate labs with MATCHING NECKERCHIEFS. Try not to explode from the cuteness.

Note To Self

So I've pretty much been starting all of these posts by apologising about how long it's been (etc etc) and to be honest with you I have decided to stop doing that! At the end of the day, I started doing this for me. To get me writing regularly, to get me reading and watching interesting things, and generally to be a bit of fun. Every time I start a post apologising it just gives it the feel like this is a chore, which it definitely is not! The fact is, sometimes I am a busy bee and find it hard to update this, and other times I have all the time in the world so can fill this with stuff. Sounds very simple, but it's good to remind myself. So this is more of a post for myself than you readers, to remind me not to apologise for everything and just get on with it a bit.
That being said, I'm back from the second round of travels so will catch up with my backlog of book reviews soon. I've read some really wonderful things, so I'm very excited to get typing.
That's all for now!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Summer Reading Challenge: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

So you know how in my The Night Circus review I was all "ooooh this is my favourite book on the challenge" etc etc. Well now it has fierce competition with The Fault In Our Stars. Honestly, this book was so good. SO. VERY. GOOD.

I've been subscribed to the Vlogbrothers for quite a few years now and I've always enjoyed their videos. I've been meaning to read some of John's (can I call him John? Seems a bit personal but hey, we're going casual on this review!) work for ages but I've just never really got around to it. The Fault In Our Stars was always the one I intended to start with, although I only really knew that it had people called Augustus and Hazel in it and that it would make me cry. I think the fact that they are making a film of it was sort of a kick up the bum for me; it gave me a deadline to read it by. Seeing as my reading of Pride and Prejudice was heavily influenced by The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (A project involving Hank Green) it seemed oddly fitting that I move onto John's book next. So I did!

Totally legit adult John Green

Given that one of the only things I knew about it was that it would make me cry, naturally I decided to start it on a train surrounded by people! Of course! I started it during the epic saga that was my journey to Swindon as I finished Pride and Prejudice while on the train, so was able to start it on the coach. From the moment I started it, I just really loved it. Every time I've tried to describe the book to people they respond with "that sounds really depressing" and give me a funny look that says "why on earth would you choose to read that?" And then I have to explain to them how they don't understand, it's wonderful and funny and light-hearted and it just happens to have moments in it that will make you cry your heart out but YOU SHOULD SO TOTALLY READ IT. I don't know if it's just the way I describe it so I have borrowed this description from

"Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten."

So yeah, they have cancer. But it's not one of those books about cancer where the character is a flawless angel and they suffer through bravely and are an example to us all etc etc. It engages with it in a way that is truer to life. Yes they have cancer. And yes, they experience all the awfulness that comes along with that. But Hazel and Augustus are not perfect, patiently suffering angels. They are fully formed characters that are flawed but still interesting, likeable people. I'm not sure if I'm fully explaining myself properly and anyway, the book itself explains this much better than I can. I think I just like the fact that for once these people are just people who have cancer, rather than being used as an example about why we should feel grateful for what we have. This is their story. It's not using them as a vehicle to preach to other people and it doesn't reduce their lives to being a lesson to others.

I think the main thing about this book is that I just love the characters. I love the different sides of Augustus Waters. Augustus, the charming, epic gesture-y guy who buys cigarettes he never lights just for the metaphor they represent and Gus, the kid who is more vulnerable than he initially lets on, who misuses big words and gets so excited about flying for the first time. Hazel endeared herself to me pretty much straight away; she's just an extremely likeable character. It was small things about her that I really enjoyed though, such as how she always defends Monica and the way she isn't afraid to stand up for herself when Peter Van Houten is being an ass. As a narrator she is very entertaining and engaging.

About a week before I read this I saw the definition for the word "book hangover". I believe it was sourced from, but it goes as follows:

"When you've finished a book and you suddenly return to the real world, but the world seems incomplete or surreal because you're still living in the world of the book"

I think that's probably the most accurate way to sum up how I felt when I finished it. I read the book in less than 24 hours but I had felt so immersed in the story. I wanted to be able to talk to the characters, to ask them how they feel about certain events, just to talk to them because I felt like they were my friends. I think it is a great testament to John Green's writing that I had to remind myself that these people did not actually exist. It's been a long time since I have felt that immersed in a story that the characters just become real people. I laughed out loud reading this and I also cried, albeit in a very self-contained manner as I literally read the whole thing in the presence of people. I finished it whilst waiting for my train home and that was actually the moment where I had to contain myself the most. I just felt slightly lost knowing it was over. I didn't feel ready for the journey to end. To some of you this might sound really dramatic (if any of you are using the phrase "it's just a book" then I have no idea what you are doing on this blog) but I personally feel that these feelings are the greatest compliment I can award to the book. I eagerly encourage you to read it, and when you finish come back here and we can gush at each other in the comments. Just a tip though, try and read it in a private space!

So for those of you who are fans of John Green, any recommendations of which of his books I should read next? After I finish this reading challenge I fully intend on starting another of his books. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Summer Reading Challenge: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Plus a fair amount of LBD!)

*squeels over the loveliness of this edition*

Many years ago, I tried to read Pride and Prejudice. And I really did try. I think I got about half way through before I decided that I just wasn't interested. It was a borrowed copy anyway, and I had had it for ages, so I just decided to return it to the owner and give up on Austen altogether. With hindsight, I was too young and just did not get the appeal. So I took the view that Austen was boring and not for me.

Then I discovered the Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

For those who don't know what this is, it is an adaptation set in modern day America where Lizzie Bennett just started making video diaries for a class project. And it is brilliant. As soon as I started it I became absolutely hooked. I waited eagerly every week for the new episode, and found myself thinking it over in my head. I went from someone who thought they hated Jane Austen, to someone who was completely, 100% emotionally invested in the outcome of these character's lives. So I made a resolution; I will read Pride and Prejudice. So I did!

I ended up reading most of this in a less than ideal setting. To set the scene properly, after being back home for three days after France, I was heading to Swindon to see my friend Emma for her birthday. Now normally, this journey would be a maximum of 45 minutes. Stellar planning on Emma's side meant that I was arriving just at the time she was dropping her dad off at the station, which would have resulted in a beautifully choreographed exchange moment. What could go wrong? Apparently a fair bit. Half an hour into my journey and the train is about ten minutes from Swindon station when it stops. Cue spending a lovely amount of time just chilling out on the train while the poor train manager keeps apologising on the speakers for the delay but he has no idea what has happened.Turns out a fire on the side of the track had taken out all the signalling abilities around Swindon. Oh joys! After a while of me standing around (Not only did I not have a chair, I was right by the toilets. Woohoo! *Fake excitement*) the train then set off back to the station we had originally got on it. Then I hopped on a coach that went via another station before arriving at Swindon three hours after I was supposed to arrive. Now, this sounds like a bit of a rant and I probably seem like I'm really annoyed about it. As it turns out, I actually was not particularly bothered! Because while all of this drama was happening, I was quite happily immersed in this book. It was great! With all my travelling totalled up I actually had a good 5 or 6 hours of reading and I was loving it!

Now that I have properly set the scene I will actually get on with talking about the book. I really enjoyed it! Due to enjoying the Lizzie Bennet Diaries so much I have ended up watching quite a few adaptations of this book, so reading it was like settling down with old friends. Nothing that happened was a surprise because I knew the format like the back of my hand. What was so enjoyable was reading it in its full and complete glory. Because all of the adaptations I had experienced were primarily visual. The bonus of this is that you get to enjoy seeing the events, examine body language, notice particular expressions etc. But reading the book gives that depth that lacks from visual representation. You get glimpses into the thoughts of the characters and things that films just don't show. This probably seems like a really basic observation (yes Sophie, books show you thoughts, films show you actions. VERY WELL OBSERVED) but I just found it delightful. One particular moment that comes to mind is from quite early on when Darcy first notices Elizabeth's eyes. I like how he makes a mental caution to himself to not let himself get carried away or something like that. It was like when a friend tells you something about themselves that you never knew, and it adds a layer to how you perceive them and reveals an aspect that you hadn't fully glimpsed before. It still fits with what you know of their character, but it's a normally hidden glimpse into how their mind works. 

Now I can't lie, my reading of this was very influenced by my love of LBD. There are many positive and negative aspects to the way LBD was adapted (and there are many people on the internet who can sum these up much better than I!) but one thing I loved was how they fleshed out the characters. In the book, Lydia is very annoying. She is just intensely irritating in her lack of awareness of others. But in LBD, she is one of my favourite characters. She retains many of the traits from the books, she is a bit 'boy-crazy', excitable, and unapologetic about her behaviour. But she is also a sweet sister with many more likeable traits than the book. She shows flashes of insecurity as her side channel develops and when everything with Wickham happens, I found my heart breaking for her. (It also helps that Mary-Kate is an amazing actress and really brings the character to life) Additionally, characters such as Caroline become more than simple, petty villains. In the book, Caroline is essentially just a snobby, rude woman who isn't that complex. The Caroline of LBD is more actively manipulative (which I personally loved), but also has more justification for being so. She genuinely cares for her brother and, as shown through twitter, is actually a friend to Gigi. There were lots of small changes I liked, such as Kitty being an actual Kitten. To close my small LBD sidetrack I will just say that my favourite thing is that it is fundamentally focused on the sisters and friendships. Yes, the Lizzie/Darcy romance is a strong factor, and yes I did squeal aloud on more than one occasion  But it is episodes such as "Snickerdoodles" that are my absolute favourite. 

The whole time I was reading this I was just mentally comparing adaptations in my head. Sometimes I would find I had Keira Knightly was speaking, and at others I was comparing what was happening with how Lost In Austen decided to interpret it. Essentially, I had a great time reading this, made even better by all the fabulous adaptations that have followed it.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Childhood Heroes: Great Great Grandmother Irene

I've been a bit lax with this series for which I must apologise! I planned on posting this every second Tuesday, but let's not lie, it's been months since the last. With renewed intentions (and more free time) I'm picking the series back up again, this week with....Great Great Grandmother Irene! "Who?!" I hear you cry out, perplexed. This is not the way to pick this series back up. "We want heroes! We want warrior queens! At the very least we want tubby and slightly confused bears. But Grandmothers?" "Great Great Grandmother" I gently remind you. The greats are your hint that this is no ordinary old lady.(Not that ordinary old ladies are not wonderful, round of applause for old ladies everywhere! Hurrah! But you get my jist) 
I know, you probably have no idea who I'm talking about. Let me elucidate for you!

The film: The Princess and The Goblin (astute readers may point out that this also a book, however I have not had the pleasure of reading it so this is a film only based post)

The premise: An army of goblins are planning on attacking the kingdom (what kingdom I do not quite remember) and it's down to Princess Irene and peasant boy Curdie to save the day!

How the grandmother fits into all of this: She's magic. MAGIC GRANDMOTHER. What is not to like? Not only is she magic, but she gives great gifts. Magic ring to help you find your way in and out of the goblin kingdom? Don't mind if I do...Plus she gives her the magic thread to help her make her own magic. See, teaching your grandchildren to be active participants in their stories rather than relying on others to do it for them! (That might be a bit of a stretch but I'm taking it!)

To be completely honest though, this is one of my more superficial childhood heroes. The main reason I loved the Grandmother was because she was just so beautiful.

I mean, look at her! For someone who is a great great grandmother, she looks very well preserved! (I'm only just noticing that in the above picture, the mouth in the mirror is closed while her mouth is actually open. I know it's nothing, but now I'm imagining them as separate entities...with the magic coming through the mirror or something. Multiple science fiction-ey interpretations abound! Anyway, back on track...) I was determined as a little girl that when I was old I would have long flowing white hair like Irene. I know this is such a superficial reason for her to be a childhood hero, but she is! I just loved her. She only appears for a very short amount of time, but I think she embodied some of the traits that I wanted to achieve when I became a grandmother. (a long way off yet!) She is very kind and wise, gives Irene just enough help, but not too much, so that she learns to do things herself.

This is a very short entry I know, longer ones will follow! I'm currently trying to catch up with all the reviews I need to write but I shall try instigating this series again. Let me know, have you seen this film? Or do you have any other characters/people you like just for tiny details about them?

Monday, 29 July 2013

Recipe Time! Mickey Mouse Oreos

Hello there gentle readers, this week on Recipe Time we have Mickey Mouse Oreos. Perfect for parties or Disney themed events! There are two things you should know about these before we begin:

  1. They are delicious.
  2. They are harder than you would expect! (Or maybe they're not, maybe it's just me. Who knows!)
Now, for ingredients you will need:
  • Oreos. I used normal, but I would highly recommend going for double stuffed if you can find them.
  • Giant chocolate buttons
  • Small white chocolate buttons
  • There are two options for icing, and I actually did both. Either get some red fondant icing, or just use icing sugar with red food colouring. If you are going down the fondant route, I recommend a bit of glace icing to help it stick.
Now, for instructions!

1. You will need to line some trays, or alternative surface, with non-stick paper so the biscuits won't stick.

2. When making icing, don't be too water heavy. I used too much water for my glace icing so most of it ran off of the oreos. If you are just using glace, dip the oreos in halfway, then lay them on the greaseproof paper. While the icing is still wet, put two white chocolate buttons on.

3. For fondant icing, roll it out flat then cut out a square. This isn't very specific but you sort of need to just judge whether the square is big enough. Sorry to not be more specific! So dip your oreo into a little icing, then lay it on the square and use your fingers to mould the fondant icing together.Then push white chocolate buttons onto the icing!

4. Leave these in the fridge overnight to set

5. This is the step where having double stuffed oreos will be really useful! I recommend getting the oreos out of the fridge a little bit before as well so that they filling is soft. Get the giant chocolate buttons and push them into the top of the oreo. Below is a picture of the first one I finished!

6. Do this for all of the oreos, then they can either be eaten straight away or put back in the fridge.

And that's pretty much it! They are very easy, the only difficulty being the slightly fiddly application of the icing. There is an entire parties worth of people who can attest to these being both delicious and very cute. 

As an side note- other party food included:

Vanilla Frog Cupcakes

Chocolate Poison Apple Cupcakes

and Vodka Jelly! You need to use your imagination with this one as I couldn't find any blue jelly to fulfil my plan of it looking like the sea with starfish.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Summer Reading Challenge: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Brace yourself guys, I'm about to make a big statement. This is my favourite book I've read for this challenge. I will even go so far as to say that it is now one of my favourite books of all time. I don't want to go on, but I seriously adored every moment of reading this. I finished and wrote the review of the last book on Monday. As I write this opening introduction it is now Wednesday and I am leaving for my holiday this evening. I may have read this in a short amount of time, but I feel as if I have savoured every word, every wonderful image, and since the first page I have known that I will love this book. If I'm being honest, I should probably have started a different book on Monday. One that wouldn't consume me so much, as the thought of going away without having finished this book was unacceptable to me! It is just one of those delightful books that is filled with such wonderful ideas and such evocative imagery. It has truly been a pleasure to read! The rest of this review will be written by Future Sophie when she has returned from all her many voyages!

Well, Past Sophie was certainly very enthusiastic about this book! And rightly so. This was one of those books where you get about three pages in and a massive grin forms on your face as you realise that you are going to enjoy every second. All that is on the blurb is this:
"The circus arrives without warning.
No announcements precede it.
It is simply there, when yesterday it was not"

Suffice to say, I was intrigued. And I was not disappointed! The Night Circus is filled with wonderful imagery, an interesting plot and was a very enjoyable read. It's set around the Victorian age but the narrative isn't chronological. Instead it skips from past to future, slowly unfolding the events. I personally enjoyed this as I felt it helped build the mystery of what would happen. The two main characters, Celia and Marco, have been pitted against each other by their mentors in some kind of magical competition of which very little is known. The Night Circus is created as the setting for their game/competition/whatever it actually is and thus begins their contest. I must admit, although more detail was given about the competition as the book progressed, I still don't entirely understand it. Mostly, I don't understand how it would end. The book builds the competition up to be some grand life or death thing, but it sort of seems like they could just keep competing indefinitely. If anyone has read this, let me know what your take on it was in the comments!

I think part of the reason I loved this book so much is the amount of wonderful ideas that are in it. I have a very visual mind and this book really tapped into that, especially in the circus. Morgenstern gives such rich and enchanting descriptions of the different tents that it makes visualising them incredibly easy. Added to this is the simple yet bold colour scheme. In the circus, everything is black and white, with splashes of vivid red for the rêveurs. These are people who love the circus and follow it around the world and wear a splash of red so they can recognise one another. In a sense you as the reader becomes one of the rêveurs as well. (But only if you are actually enjoying the book I suppose!) In my review of The Stone Gods I mentioned that one of my favourite parts was when the description of other planets, just because they were such wonderful, stand alone ideas. They didn't need to have an entire book dedicated to them, they were just little jewels in the midst of the narrative. I feel like the circus fills this role as well. The nature of the competition means that there are tents that are only fleetingly mentioned and never returned to, but they still linger in your mind as a wonderful idea. I particularly liked a tent that was filled with bottles, that as you smelled them they conjured a particular memory or moment in your mind, such as a visit to a beach or a hot summer night. It was the small details like this that enchanted me.

I enjoyed exploring the relationship between Celia and Marco as it grew and changed. It really isn't a spoiler to say that a romance develops between the two, as I think it is quite apparent early on in the book. In fact, in my opinion the only other option for them would be absolute hatred. Celia and Marco's lives are built around the competition. Celia spends her time as the illusionist for the circus, and Marco spends his organising it from afar. They are constantly wrapped up in the world of the competition.  They will always be having to think about the next move they will make and trying to second guess their opponent. With so much of their time occupied by thinking about the other person, it seems impossible that they could have an entirely neutral relationship. Throughout the book there are questions raised about how the competition will be affected those involved in the circus. Whilst it may seem like a magical, enchanting place, there is a cost to it and Morgenstern makes you think about what this price might be. Yes the competition has resulted in the creation of this wonderful place, but what else? In addition to this is the question about the final outcome. The competition causes these two people's fates to become entwined, but only one of them can win. What happens to the victor at the end of it all? I won't give away any spoilers, these were just questions that I found myself wondering as I read. 

As you can tell, I really enjoyed reading this and I will definitely be on the look out for any more of Morgenstern's work. Have any of you guys read this, and if so what did you think? Are there any books you would recommend based on this one? And was there anything about this book that left you unsatisfied? Let me know!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Disney Themed 20th Birthday Party

Hello lovelies! It has definitely been a while so please accept my many apologies! You can't really be mad at me though because TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY. See, that's how dedicated I am. Writing blog posts on my birthday. Which is fitting as this post is all about my party! I do have book reviews on the way; having written about how I'm not sure I'll be able to complete the challenge I actually have four reviews that are in various stages of completion and I'm reading my fifth. So I need to hurry up! But for now, here are some photos from my lovely party.

I went as Minnie Mouse because what could be more classic Disney? To be honest with you though, I think I went through about fifty different ideas before settling on this one. I'm still slightly heartbroken that I couldn't find a box to make a wardrobe costume, but clearly it was not meant to be! Other ideas included Merryweather, Jiminy Cricket and Belle. However, ebay came to the rescue and voila! My costume was complete! I am particularly in love with the sunny yellow pumps, managed to get them in the sale from Schuch so you can probably still catch them if you're interested!

Shameless selfie moment! For any makeup gurus out there, the mascara is Benefit They're Real! and the lipstick is a Rimmel lip butter in Candy Apple.

And here is the full group! From left to right starting at the back we have The Genie, Lumiere, Peter Pan, Maleficent, Zazu, Minnie Mouse, Jasmine, Zeus, Grumpy and Hades. I'm so impressed at the quality of everyones costumes, my friends certainly know how to go all out. This has definitely been the hardest theme yet as there was just so much choice. Not only that, but characters tend to either be really simple (and we tend to like to fully embrace dressing up in my crowd!) or they are too hard (animate objects are not the easiest!)

I genuinely had the loveliest evening! We played a few drinking games, did a bit of dancing and had just a wonderful night. It's been a while since we have all met up together so it was really nice.

There's not really much more to say, it was just a really lovely evening. I'll write about the food and bunting I've made soon, I think I should finish at least one review first though!

Do any of you guys do themed parties? Or have any birthdays coming up? And if you had come to mine, what would you have been? 

Monday, 1 July 2013

Summer Reading Challenge: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

I've tried to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible so it should be safe to read!

This is one of those books where it is extremely hard to give a plot summary. As an attempt, I can say this: a man's cat goes missing. He is looking for it. This sparks off a string of events that it becomes increasingly clear are connected somehow. Kind of. I know, you're probably thinking right now "sounds thrilling..." (sarcasm of course, don't think I can't tell dear reader!) This is an incredibly simplistic summary of course, and as it turns out the novel is actually full of many different stories that interweave with one another. However, I won't lie to you, when I started this book I wasn't sold on it. I remember thinking that I would get through it, but I probably wouldn't read any of his work again. How wrong I was! I think part of what put me off was Murakami's writing style. It is that sort of detailed, I'm going to tell you everything I'm doing, way of writing. Toru Okada (our protagonist for this tale!) is narrating how he cooks his lunch (al dente spaghetti don'tcha know...) then how a strange woman phones him, then the precise way he walks to this abandoned house etc etc. At the time I wasn't hating it or anything, it just all seemed a little irrelevant. Add to this the fact that when the novel begins, it doesn't seem to have a particularly interesting plot-line and I was feeling uncertain about it. Okada is unemployed, he has nothing really to do, so he's searching for the cat. Not the most thrilling premise. I can happily say that all of these impressions were banished as the book progressed.

One aspect of this novel that I loved is the way that it built. Gradually it introduces a host of characters that were really interesting. I liked the way that details about their lives were released gradually, it kept an air of mystery to them and really aroused my curiosity. Certain characters end up being linked to other ones in ways that make you feel proud when you realise it. There generally featured a lot of moments where these characters were imparting the story of their life to Okada which I found effective. By breaking up the perspective it allowed various threads of storyline to start developing, which were then able to be woven together at various points to create little moments of revelations. These connections between characters and their stories was one of the elements that I found most interesting. I could tell I was warming up to the book as I increasingly found myself trying to puzzle out certain characters and their stories. The further I got into the book, the more I found my mind wandering to it throughout the day. I don't particularly know anything about Japanese history, so the stories told by the characters was an interesting way to learn more about certain periods.

The world of this book is not bound by our laws of reality. I'm finding it very hard to come up with a fitting phrase to describe it. I suppose you could say there are mystic elements to it (or rather that it is an example of 'magical realism'). For example, there feature various characters with forms of psychic/unexplainable powers, and dreams that are not always just figments of the imagination but have meaning to them. It encourages you to question whether truth and fact are the same thing. It raises interesting questions about the difference and relationship between fact and truth. In this novel, the two are not mutually exclusive. Questions are raised about the truth of the stories that are told within the novel. Sometimes events have been recorded or narrated by characters who could not have been present at the time. It raises questions over whether you should just accept the stories at face value, or if you could be wary of believing them. I tended to lean towards the first option as the mystical elements of the novel made me accept that they would have this knowledge. The novel contains many different ways of presenting events. There is the standard main narrative, but splitting off are letters and memories and magazine articles. This puts you, the reader, in a position of having more knowledge of certain events than the characters do. I enjoyed this as it increased my attempts to try and piece together what was happening.

Having started at a position where I was not entirely enjoying this book, by the time I was nearing the end I was sat up in bed in the early hours of the morning devouring the last few pages. I definitely ended up feeling a sense of satisfaction when it finished, but there are a few elements that were left ambiguous or not explained as fully as I would like. It does get slightly confusing at times, trying to figure out what information you can trust and puzzling out certain elements. As a result I think I developed this frantic need to finish it and get the answers I wanted. It is after spending the day mulling it over that I am finding various questions being raised in my mind. There are various 'clues' that I wish had been explained a bit more. Certain characters that I liked, I wish had been expanded more. Some just seem to disappear from the narrative without a great explanation why.  

However, I would say that my experience of reading this book was ultimately positive. By the end I was relishing all of the details that were included as they helped me try to solve the mysteries. I would read more of Marakami's work in the future and am very glad that I had this on my challenge! I have tried to not include any spoilers in this review in order to encourage those who have not read it to give it a shot. If you have already read it do leave a comment, let me know what you liked/disliked about it! And if you haven't, do you think you will?

This will be my last post for a little while as I am off for all my festival fun on Wednesday, so I wish you all a lovely two weeks or so! That's also why this review is a bit shorter than the others, I am currently packing and organising everything. I'm going to take the next book with me for travelling (although I won't take it to France, just in case!) so will hopefully be able to crack on with some of that. The books for uni are all starting to arrive in the post which is very exciting. So what I am essentially saying is that trickles of activity should continue quite nicely! Farewell for now my lovelies!

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Summer Reading Challenge Update

So, when I started this challenge I knew it was completely within my capabilities to complete this challenge in the time allowed. Just over a week for each book, what could go wrong? What I forgot about was the fact that summer is actually quite busy. For example, coming up I have:

  • A holiday! In precisely four days my holiday starts! My friends and I have managed to get tickets for Festival Beauregard in France which is very exciting. I've been abroad exactly three times in my life, so I'm quite excited to be actually leaving Britain. Of course, when you think about it I'm just going to be in a field in France so it's not exactly the most foreign experience ever,but hey! It's still exciting! After I'm staying at my friends for a bit for her birthday which should be lovely. However, it does mean that I am technically a week down on reading time. (You think I'm going to take a lovely book to suffer through rain, mud and general festival wear and tear? Think again!)
  • My birthday! More specifically, my party. Every year has a different theme and this year is Disney. Probably should have gone for something a little less broad because it's been extremely hard narrowing down an idea for a costume. I desperately wanted to be the wardrobe from Beauty and the Beast (find a big box, create little doors, have doll-sized clothing hanging inside, speak in an operatic voice all night) however the issue has been finding a box big enough! So instead I am going with Jiminy Cricket! Confession time: I invest quite a bit of time into my parties. There will be themed food, I'm going to decorate the party area, need to come up with a costume etc. From the point where I get back from staying with my friend, I have a week to get all of this sorted. Aaah! (On a side note, I will create a post after my party to show you all everyone's costumes and all of that!)
  • Dissertation. Actual university commitments! I actually find my dissertation really interesting and I want to get started as soon as possible, so I've been on Amazon ordering lots of second-hand books for it. Which then leads to the fact that I need to read all of those books, along with the books for my other modules.

What this all sums up to is that I really don't think I'm going to complete the reading challenge in the time allowed! So I will do my best, I have nearly finished the one I'm on now, and I will post up reviews whenever I do. This is just a warning so you don't feel like I'm just being lazy! I will probably post up about the course books I'm reading, as well as picking up my Childhood Heroes series that was put on hold over exams. So it's not like I'm abandoning this blog at all! I am having too much fun to do such a thing. If I can get through ten of the challenge books then I will be pleased, any more will be a bonus! Well, now I'm going to go and try to finish my current one so I can review it for you all!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Summer Reading Challenge: The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson

Let's all form a circle and feel ashamed about how long it has taken me to write this review. FAR. TOO. LONG. I swear, I finished this book on Sunday or Monday, and here I am days later and no review! I am a disgrace to the blog. However, I do promise that now everything is calming down again slightly I will become more regular again. Now the apologies are over, I shall commence with the review!

I'm a really big fan of Jeanette Winterson's work. She's one of those authors who I always know I'm going to enjoy reading. I try to space her books out a bit in my reading because it would be a shame to blitz though them all too quickly. I've always loved the way books like The Passion and Sexing The Cherry take historical moments and then incorporate elements of fairytales/magic/unexplainable things. With all the books on this challenge, I am trying to go in with as little foreknowledge as possible. I have read the blurb at some point, hence why I bought the book, but by this point in time I very rarely remember what it said! So it was with some joy and surprise that as soon as this started I realised it was more science fiction-ey than her other works. Immediate reaction- this is very exciting! I'm a big science fiction fan so was definitely interested to see how Winterson would engage with that genre. 

WARNING: You are about to enter spoiler territory. If you haven't read the book, turn back now!

Right, if you're still with me I shall assume spoilers are fine! 
So the book is split into four parts: Planet Blue, Easter Island, Post-3 War, and Wreck City. Planet Blue is set on what seems to be our future, but as is revealed later turns out to actually be in the past on planet Orbus. It becomes apparent as soon as you move from the first section to the second that whilst each section focuses on a different time, there is some form of connection between them all. To begin with, certain characters have repeatedly intertwined narratives, such as Billie (the human whose point of view is always focused on) and Spike (a robo sapian, a form of robot that can evolve). Also, lots of references to texts repeat throughout all the narratives. For instance, in Planet Blue snippets of a captain's diary are quoted, then in the Easter Island section Billy is a crew member on that captain's ship. I found that this technique really effective and interesting. There's a point in Wreck City where someone (I think Billie) uses the phrase "a repeating world" which sort of sums the concept up a bit. Planet Blue is discovered by the people on Orbus which is great for them because they've pretty much used most of the planet up and need a new one. Things don't entirely go to plan (I'm trying not to give too much away!) but the other three chapters are set on Planet Blue, which turns out to essentially be Earth. All of the various repeating aspects create this situation which questions whether the cycle of destruction will ever end. I'll talk about this in a bit more detail slightly later. I found this book reminded me a bit of Cloud Atlas, except I liked it more. I felt like Cloud Atlas tried to create this epic and intelligent story based around repeating souls, but it never really delivered. When it ended I found I still had loads of questions and didn't really feel like it had been executed as well as I had hoped. I think because of the slimmer focus of The Stone Gods and the bigger use of repeating aspects I liked it better. Whilst there are still aspects which I don't necessarily fully understand, I feel like I'm supposed to not get them, rather than in Cloud Atlas where I felt like the author just didn't entirely know what to do.

The society portrayed in Planet Blue is quite an interesting study of what our consumerist society could become. People are able to genetically 'fix' their ageing at a certain point, resulting in increasingly young looking women in opposition to older men. Bearing in mind we currently live in a society where there is great pressure on women, especially female celebrities, to keep looking youthful, this doesn't seem like too strange an idea. Men are chasing younger and younger women, treading disturbingly into paedophilia, and I couldn't help but be reminded of the way women were infantalised during periods such as the Victorian era. Another interesting element was the role of robo sapians. Humanity as a whole seems to have rendered itself slightly obsolete. They would be unable to survive on the new planet without the assistance of robots due to the general attitude that natural things are wrong. All food is artificially created, noone reads or writes any more  and robots do all construction/building work etc. Robo sapians are able to evolve which raises interesting ideas of what it means to be human. Spike describes how poetry caused her to be able to feel emotion and the characters debate about ideas of the difference between her and humanity. 

Winterson always plays with ideas of stories in her work and this book was no exception.In this case it tied in with earlier ideas of repeating worlds. Planets are stories and mistakes are repeating endlessly just like stories, constantly beginning again and again and again. My favourite little passage from the book was when Captain Handsome is describing planets his crew have encountered before, such as Echo and Medusa. I really feel like Winterson's writing shines in moments like this and they were such brilliant concepts. 

I found the Easter Island section enjoyable but it was probably my least favourite segment, but then it was much shorter than the others. Post-3 War was very interesting. It documents the descent of society from World War II into a very closely monitored community. The government distracts the population by building a 24-hour casino, with legal prostitution, they lower the age of consent and prioritise politicians and the powerful over ordinary people. I found this segment really reminded me of Brave New World. Rather than doing things like banning books and doing things that could cause protests and rebellions, they instead just make it so the population just isn't interested in those things. There's no need to ban books as people just aren't interested in reading them. Similarly, they distract the population with shiny new casinos so then they don't protest or rebel against the other changes they are making. They manage to create a society where people just don't question the situation. (Although this does only apply to those living within that society. As Wreck City shows, not everyone is satisfied and unquestioning) This society is one based on ideas of renting. Rather than being paid money you get paid credits that can be used to rent anything you want; cars, accommodation, clothes, travel, etc. In this society, art seems to lose its core life and soul. You can hire art works that are made in factories, so can rent the whole of Western culture for as long or little as you like, but it is inherently lacking. 

I found Wreck City really interesting, but I don't really know how much of the end I can actually talk about, so I will just cover some of my other thoughts instead! This section carries on from Post-3 War. Billie has been involved in building the first Robo sapian (Spike again) and talks to her about various things in an attempt to teach her. The idea is that Robo sapians will be able to impartially make the big decisions for the planet, unimpeded by emotion etc. Billie is supposed to be taking her on a walk in a garden, but ends up heading over to Wreck City. An element of this section that I found interesting was the reference to Robinson Crusoe. Billie befriends a barkeeper/Alternative member called Friday, and gives her last name as Crusoe. Now, I studied J.M. Coetzee's Foe last year, which is writing back against Robinson Crusoe, so I found that moment interesting. I've been thinking about it quite a bit, wondering if any of the characters in the previous section could be seen as Friday figures, or how Spike plays into that situation etc. I haven't really got anywhere with it yet though. I won't talk about the ending too much, as I'm still not entirely sure I understand everything yet! It does tie everything together, but it doesn't give any definitive closure really (not that I was actually expecting it to really). It just solidifies the idea of a repeating world; as one character (Spike?) observes, only the present is differentiated by the brain. So whilst I don't entirely understand all of the ending, I did really enjoy this book. It was science fiction-ey enough whilst still retaining all the elements I love about Winterson's work. I feel like she really grasps that element of sci-fi that I love, the part that makes you think about humanity and raises questions about our future and our society. I would heartily recommend this to anyone as I thoroughly enjoyed it all!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Summer Reading Challenge: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I've been slightly late getting this review up, so sorry about that! But finally it is here, even though I am over halfway through the next book already. What can I say, I have a busy, fun-filled life! Spoilers follow, but then it is 200 years old so you can't really complain! Right, Frankenstein...what can I say? This confounded my expectations. I won't lie, I had a very basic knowledge of the concept of Frankenstein going into this. All my experience comes from that one episode of Once Upon A Time and the general horror film version of the monster. You know the deal: crazy scientist is cackling madly in his lab, a shock of lightening hits some fancy equipment, cue "IT'S ALIVE!", throw in an angry mob with some pitchforks and fire chasing creator and monster, et voila you have my preconceived notions. 

Good old iconic image

Obviously, this is very far from the actual novel. To give me some credit, I was aware that it would be different which is precisely why I wanted to read this. However, I was slightly worried that it wouldn't be my cup of tea and I might have to wade through heavy Victorian prose. I was happily proved very wrong!

Firstly, I loved Shelley's writing style. I only recently learnt that she was the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft which I found interesting as I have only just read Vindication on the Rights of Woman. I took a Women's Writing and Feminist Theory module this year so obviously we did Wollstonecraft, and it was really noticeable how she wrote in such an articulate and reasonable manner. I can't say I loved reading the entire thing as it does get slightly repetitive, but when you study extracts you can really appreciate the thought that has gone into it. (Side note- I am holding back from discussing this text as I could ramble on for ages, but a key aspect is the fact that Wollstonecraft demonstrates how women are capable of reason by presenting her argument in a calm and rational manner. I tend to fan-girl a little bit over this text so I will rein myself in now!) Wollstonecraft died very shortly after Shelley was born, so obviously she wasn't an active figure in her life, but I was still interested to see how Shelley's writing style would be. I found it very readable, but also so expressive. Moments that stick in my mind are where the monster is admonishing Frankenstein, the way his rage and loneliness is articulated is just beautiful.

I must admit I don't particularly like Victor Frankenstein or Robert Walton as people. They both seem that sort of wet, flowery kind of gentleman figure that feature in novels. That's not to say I don't appreciate them as characters and I do still feel empathy for Victor throughout the text. I will admit to finding the creation of Frankenstein a slightly funny scene though. This is probably just my modern perspective but you've got to ask Frankenstein, what were you expecting to happen in this moment? To simplify the situation, you've spent months preparing to bring a creature to life (presumably from dead bodies?), then as soon as you are successful, you freak out because the creature doesn't look as pretty as you hoped? I mean, you've made him out of dead people, he's not exactly going to be rosy cheeked. Maybe I'm being too harsh! After all, I am yet to be confronted by an 8ft tall guy with yellowed skin and black lips. When I am I shall update you on my reaction.

On the subject of the monster, I did find myself sympathising with him throughout the novel. (I know this is kind of the point though!) I just found it so sad when he was describing how he kept wondering where he came from and why he was alone. It's such an inherently human tragedy; all he wants is to find some form of caring contact and all he experiences is constant rejection. I think it's partly the fact that he is so human that makes it so sad. Human society constantly rejects him because he is grotesque and repulsive, and yet he keeps trying to search for some kind of human connection. I liked how eloquent the monster is. Due to the horror films there is this image of the inarticulate, groaning monster, yet he is actually so well spoken. The ability to pick up speech and writing just by overhearing demonstrates great intelligence, as does the way he questions the world around him. He constantly echoes the way Frankenstein was ravenous for knowledge earlier in the text. It does make you question what would have happened if Victor hadn't completely abandoned him, if he had learnt to get past the appearance and if they could have made further scientific discoveries together. Maybe that's just wishful thinking on my behalf! At one point, Frankenstein warns Walton about not letting the monster's eloquent speech blind him and cause him to sympathise with him. Maybe I have just been tricked by his speech and that is why I sympathise with him! Who knows! Now the above makes the monster out to be some kind of forlorn victim in the novel, and obviously this isn't the case. He commits multiple accounts of murder, and whilst the first could be accidental, the rest certainly are not. He tries to experience love and joy but when he is denied that he decides instead to completely embrace the negative. 

Additionally, I can understand why Frankenstein decides not to fulfil the monster's request to create him a companion. It is completely true that if he creates another being, they could very well just go on a murderous rampage, or refuse to hide away from society. Do I think he could have gone about refusing in a slightly less dramatic and provoking way? Yes! Let's be honest, how hard is it to rationally explain your concerns to your monster rather than just dramatically ripping your work to shreds in front of his eyes. So many of Frankenstein's problems would be solved if he just slowed down and explained his thoughts to the monster! He's always so busy going "foul fiend of hell, damned is the day of your creation, blah blah" and then after he's provoked anger he actually explains himself. Moral of this little divergence, if I was in this book things would have ended a lot happier! 

I genuinely didn't know how this would end. I found myself wondering how it could end? The 'modern' image ends with the death of the monster by the hands of his creator, but that cannot happen. After all, Frankenstein is seriously ill even when relaying his tale, how will he even have the strength to do that? Obviously, he does not. When I told my friend about how it ended, he asked if it felt a bit anti-climactic, but I don't think it did. It seems like the only way it could end. Frankenstein is in too deep to just be able to destroy his creation then go back to normal life. Add to that the fact that he really has no life to go back to, everyone he loves (bar one very rarely mentioned brother) has died and he is just the shell of a man now. The only ending that really works for him is his death. I also think it's very fitting that he does not kill his creation. I find it hard to really specify why though. Maybe because it feels like he has been so lacking from the monster's life that he doesn't have the right to get that satisfaction. Or maybe he has to atone for what his actions have led to, or rather his lack of actions. Or maybe I'm being too harsh on a man who has had all his loved ones murdered!

The death, or rather promise of the death, of the monster is just a continuation of the bleak circumstances that have always followed him. Whilst Frankenstein has been chasing him, he's had some form of contact with humanity. It isn't the love and care that he initially desired, but it is nonetheless attention and emotion directed toward him. For once, he is enough to fill the whole focus of a person. He is no longer stood on the outside looking in at scenes of humanity. He evokes enough of a response in someone that they will follow him into the harshest of conditions and never give up. For as long as is this happening, he is acknowledged as worthy of attention. Even if the intent is murderous, he is still evoking strong emotion in another. To have it all end signals the return to that life of emptiness and non-existence. The monster's decision to end his life seems his only option. What else does he have to exist for? At the start of his life, even when foraging in forests he was still driven by the urge to know. Know who created him, why he was here, why he was alone. Now those questions are answered and his last link with humanity is severed, what is there to live for?

I feel like I might have gone off on a bit of a moment there! But that's what I enjoy about this book. It causes you to question and these questions lead to journeys of thoughts and more questions. You find yourself asking which is the true monster, Frankenstein or his creation? What constitutes being 'human'? And when does knowledge become dangerous and unhealthy?

Suffice to say that I really enjoyed this book! I've been meaning to read it for around two years now and am really glad that I finally did. Definitely would recommend you give it a go if you haven't already! If you have, do you have any thoughts on what I've written? Any disagreements? Let me know in the comments below!