Prince’s Trust: Day 33 (Wednesday 17th May 2017)

Hey everybody!

Another short blog post from me today.

I finished the database I started yesterday as promised.

Shuaib joined me here at the publishing house and we had a chat. Low and behold about 10 minutes later we were joined by our (Team Leader) Mel. We had a general catch-up and unsurprisingly Shuaib nearly made her cry with all the good stuff he’s been doing. His supervisor has been surprised by how well he’s coped and the different things he’s done to help out others. Much like all the rest of the group, Shuaib can do anything he puts his mind to.

As I write this at the end of another long day, I’ve no idea what tomorrow has in store for me. But I’m ready for whatever task Ash and Lianne or Andre give me tomorrow.

I can go home feeling happy and fulfilled about what I’ve done today. I’ve taken regular breaks and even fitted in some writing into my lunch break (it was only 250-odd words but every little helps right). As soon as I’m home I’ll be writing more of my novel. These days I wake up feeling awake and ready to smash my target word counts. The Prince’s Trust has changed me more than I thought, and, come to think of it when I wasn’t even aware of it.

Speak soon,

 

LexC

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Book Review: Go Set A Watchman By Harper Lee

Hi everyone!

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You might have heard that this book has been rather divisive. To be honest I can see why. When I read To Kill A Mockingbird I thought if there was to be a sequel to it, it would be quite hard to top. The sequel came out and with it news of Harper Lee’s passing and the fact that she had written Go Set A Watchman before her Pulitzer prize winner, unfortunately and most surprisingly I was on the disappointed side.

However there are positives and negatives to this book. There is the main character ‘Scout’ who remains as relevant today since To Kill A Mockingbird was first published. She has a lot in common with the great majority of us around the world, in that, she hates racism and can’t believe that it still exists. In some respects, we have made progress to stomp racism out but we haven’t achieved it yet – there is still hope that we can make it. Firstly, the act of Scout bringing the civil rights movement from New York to her hometown has its own benefits and repercussions. Of course it’s brilliant that she has brought the movement to her hometown, but playing the blame game hardly does anything for those living there or those returning. Things only change when we see a problem and decide to fix it. How we make the most change is how we choose to respect one another.

Shouldn’t we leave racism in the past where it belongs – in the 20th century? It just reeks of history repeating itself and to be honest it’s dull and dangerous. I’m not a hippy preaching peace and love. I’m a borderline-normal human-being who just wants to see and experience acceptance rather than hatred and division.  I’m glad that Scout is willing to stick up for herself and doesn’t believe that she is going mad. She is proud to be “colour-blind” in that she doesn’t want to have prejudice against those of a different background to her. White priviledge has never got us anywhere, it just breeds more hatred on top of what is already there.

Atticus and Jack Finch have attitudes which are of their own era (our grandparents’ age). It’s backward-looking but accurate and makes the foundation of acceptance and equality shown in To Kill A Mockingbird redundant. There is particular unsatisfaction with Henry’s attitude which is just too wrong and that he has spent too much time under the guidance of Atticus. No wonder the civil right’s movement took off because of people with his attitude.

Buy a copy for yourself and let me know what you think.

Don’t forget to like, comment, share.

Happy reading!

LexC

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Update & Book Review: I Am Pilgrim – Terry Hayes

Hi there!

Apologies for being away for so long, my summer has been somewhat eventful but I’m back now; ready and raring to go.

There is some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that you’ll have to wait a little longer to read the book reviews of the books I had to study at uni. The good news is I have three other book reviews all ready and waiting to be typed up. You didn’t think that just because I had an eventful summer that reading wasn’t going to be a part of it. Oh no, dear reader, you’re much mistaken. Books are my life and I can’t not read irrespective of whether I am busy or not.

First up is I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. It is a delightful book but one filled with metaphorical cheese – I have to be honest and say the cheesy parts aren’t my cup of tea, they are chapters which are just waffle. No not the edible waffle, the verbal waffle – the stuff that the writer has put in there to fill space and ultimately slow down the pace of the story. Perhaps if there was more showing than telling in these parts, the slowed pace would have still been achieved and most likely become an even better story. .

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Technically speaking I didn’t choose to read this book, it was recommended to me by a good friend of mine from uni after she asked me what sort of genre I liked.

“You’ll love it!” she said. “A bit gory mind, but once you get past that it’s great!”

Gore, I thought, can’t say I’ve ever been fine around it either in literature or in real life.

I was about 15 and just returned from the orthodentist who took my braces out. Out on the  tables in a biology lab was a lamb heart which we were tasked in dissecting. My legs went wobbly and I fainted by one of the sinks. A chundery feeling rising up my stomach, my hand went to my mouth, I scrambled to my feet and out of the exit door. I proceeded to decorate the concrete path outside. Never been near anything like it since. To be absolutely honest with you, I can’t even watch a horror movie without experiencing nightmares and sleepless nights for at least a fortnight afterwards. So yeah, gore and I have never really got on.

You can imagine my reaction to an equivalent in a book although not quite so extreme in reaction. I had to put it down a few times and close my head and turn away for a few seconds, before summoning up the courage to plough through the pages as quickly as possible. I’ve never been a fast reader.

That being said there are brilliant aspects to the book.

Take for example, the short chapters make the whole book much more exciting and more than happy to plough through it to avoid putting it down because “it’s just getting to the good bit!”. The shorter the chapters are the more likely the book is to hold my attention. If this is the kind of book any budding authors of this genre is attempting to procreate this is a good technique to use.

The characters in the story were also brilliant. It does sound bland and rather obvious but they are the most human and ordinary of characters. A bit like you and me. We’re not all good and we’re not all bad. We make decisions and enforce reactions and changes because the timing is right and sometimes tread the fine line between right and wrong. Ultimately it may result in smashing success, and likewise in other situations it may go arse over ***. It’s much the same with these characters although there are a few which you get the feeling are slightly more dodgy than the writer portrays.

Buy yourself a copy and let me know what you think!

Happy reading.

LexC

Book Review: The Woman In Black – By Susan Hill

The blurb:

“Proud and solitary, Eel Marsh House surveys the windswept reaches of the salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway. Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral of the house’s sole inhabitant, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows. It is not until he glimpses an emaciated young woman, dressed all in black, that a creeping sense of unease begins to take hold, a feeling deepened by the reluctance of the locals to talk of the woman in black and her terrible purpose.”

What do I think of this book?

Firstly, I studied this back in first year in my very first term and I had seen the play version of this a couple of years previously. If we compare the book to the play, I’d argue that the play is far more gothic, horrific and terrifying than the book and thus a disappointing read. Perhaps it was because I had already seen it live, probably meant that I had set high standards for what I was about to read and so was disappointed when I had read it.  Unfortunately, I cannot speak for the film as I have not seen it. It has been said that it is as divisive as Marmite, you either love it or hate it.

Secondly, I’ve found that whenever I read a gothic horror, it takes me ages to get into it and/or to read, but this took me a day or two. The time limit greatly surprised me considering the amount of gothic content in the book.

Thirdly, I can still hear that rocking chair and see the woman in black’s face when I, like the rest of the audience in that theatre glimpsed it for no more than 3 seconds. It gave me the worst nightmares for at least a while afterwards.

 

Upcoming Book Reviews

I thought it might be fun to see what I studied at university. Here are all the books I’ve read during the three years that I was there: 

  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • The Monk by Matthew Lewis
  • The Woman In Black by Susan Hill
  • The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter
  • Affinity by Sarah Waters
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • The Lover by Marguerite Duras
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (Wordsworth Classics)
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (Wordsworth Classics)
  • Division Street by Helen Mort
  • Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (Wordsworth Classics)
  • Florence and Giles by John Harding
  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (Wordsworth Classics)
  • Richard III by William Shakespeare (Wordsworth Classics)
  • A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney
  • Skating to Antarctica by Jenny Diski
  • Love On The Dole by Walter Greenwood
  • Union Street by Pat Barker
  • Lost in Translation by Eva Hoffman
  • The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell (Wordsworth Classics)
  • A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  • Moments of Being by Virginia Woolf
  • Between The Acts by Virginia Woolf (Wordsworth Classics)
  • To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (Wordsworth Classics)
  • The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James (Oxford Classics)
  • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (Penguin Classics)
  • Voyage In The Dark by Jean Rhys (Penguin Classics)
  • This Slavery by Ethel Carnie Holdsworth
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Vintage Classics)
  • The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (Wordsworth Classics)
  • The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

There might be books here which you have never heard of which is absolutely fine. There might also be books which you have heard and possibly read, this is fine too. It’s an eclectic mix. 

I can’t wait to start posting my reviews of these, although it may require me to re-read  some of them so please bare with me. 

Feel free to read along with me and be sure to use the comments if you feel you have anything to add/discuss/argue. 

Happy Reading!

Book Review: To Kill A Mockingbird – By Harper Lee

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The blurb:

“The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of confidence that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird  became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into ten languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.”

Why did I choose to read this book?

Firstly, my mates kept banging on and on and on about it. They said it was their favourite book they had ever read and that it made them cry tears by the bucket-load. I’m so glad they did tell me about it because now it is one of my all-time favourite books (this is coming from someone who comes from a family where favouritism is banned).

Secondly, after her death nearly a week ago, what better way to celebrate Harper Lee’s life than to carry on the conversation her book started.

What do I think about this book?

The message is simple. It is a love story. It is also a book on how to be a good human being through the eyes of a mature 5 to 8 year old girl. This book’s relevance is just as clear today as it was in 1960 when it was first published. It can happen anywhere and not just about the civil rights movement. These days you could see it as a book about any form of rights’ movement taking place anywhere and everywhere all over the globe.

My favourite bit in the book if I had to pick one is in Chapter 3 (p.39), and believe it or not has become the number one rule I’ve chosen to live by for the rest of my life:

“‘First of all’ he said, ‘if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along better with all kinds of folks. You’ll never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view-‘

‘Sir?’

‘-until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.'”

Cheers Ms Lee, for showing millions how to be better humans through the medium of literature.

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