October 2016 WRAPUP

It’s the time of the month for a wrapup! YAYYY!

I read SEVENTEEN books this month. A change from the six of last month, if I can just say! Without further ado, I’ll jump right into it!

Books I read this month

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Books I read that I own

 

The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd (Agatha Christie) – 4/5

Pandemonium (Lauren Oliver) – 2/5

Requiem (Lauren Oliver) – 2/5

reread – Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (J.K. Rowling) – 5/5

Eleanor and Park (Rainbow Rowell) – 4/5

reread – Coral Island  (R.M. Ballantyne) – 5/5

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Books from my first library visit

Vanishing Girls (Lauren Oliver) – 1/5

Always Emily (Michaela MacColl) – 3/5

A Summer Secret (Kathleen Fuller) – 2/5

reread – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J.K. Rowling) – 5/5

reread – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling) – 5/5

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Books from my second library visit

The Jewel (Amy Ewing) – 1/5

Four (Veronica Roth) – 1/5

Raven Boys (Maggie Stiefvater) – 4/5

Geek Girl (Holly Smale) – 3/5

Six of Crows (Leigh Bardugo) – 2/5

She is Not Invisible (Marcus Sedgwick) -4/5

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So those are the books I read this month! If you have any questions about my ratings do let me know. I was quite happy with seventeen books, but not necessarily the ones I picked. I feel like lots of them were let downs.

Standouts were … She Is Not Invisible and Raven Boys. She Is Not Invisible was a gorgeous book about a blind girl and it was positively delicious. Raven Boys was much better than I expected and wonderfully written. Highly recommend both these.

NaNoWriMo starts today!

Am I prepared? No.

Am I going to fail epically? Probably.

But I am determined to have fun, and I think that that’s the point, isn’t it.

That’s all I have for now! Keep smiling, and until next time, humans!

–Emmeline 🙂

Mao’s Last Dancer: Li Cunxin

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Ballet has been a part of my life for eleven years now. Whilst this is the first year when I have stopped classes, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a good dance.* So this book – the autobiography of Li Cunxin’s journey through ballet from a young age – resonated strongly with me. As in it brought me to tears. Several times.

The haunting tale of Cunxin’s life, of growing up in communist China and being classically trained in a brutal way, is one that will stay with me for years. I learned in several schools myself, and met with diverse ways of teaching that often seemed harsh to me. But after reading this book, I realised that no matter now crazy/grumpy/stressed my teacher seemed on the dress rehearsal, that was nothing. And I should really stop complaining.

This book was gorgeous. I read it in one sitting – I actually did not move for the three hours it took to finish, and I came away a wreck. This is what happens, every day. The beautiful art form of Ballet is put down to a form of torture in the minds of poor children, every day.

And I’m not just talking about Communist China. Ballet teachers are stereo-typically known to be harsh (and they have to be – how else are they going to get eleven year olds to get up and practice that tendu until it is perfection?? Most eleven year olds aren’t that motivated!). But there are some worse than others.

I am thankful that I live in a country where the type of teaching that Li experienced is (technically) illegal. I never faced this sort of thing. I never faced anything remotely close to what he experienced. (Okay, there was that creepy jazz teacher – but he was fired after a week by the school and we were all apologised to. So there’s that.)

I read this book way back in April or something, and I still remember thickly every detail and how real this book is. It’s not just a story; it actually happened. I guess it’s a heavy reminder of how careful we have to be.

Ballet is not a torture regime. It’s hard. It takes dedication. But it should not be taught to kids in this way.

*I still watch ballet videos occasionally. And obsess over random ballerina pics on instagram. SSHHHHH.

I FEEL LIKE I’M JUST REPEATING MYSELF NOW SO I’LL STOP. BUT SERIOUSLY. THIS BOOK MADE ME REALLY PASSIONATE.

5/5 stars.

The 2009 film is good, but the book is better (as in most cases). I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK. If only to learn what China was like at that time.

War and Peace: Leo Tolstoy

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first read 16th January to 23rd March 2016.   5 // 5   stars.

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This book took me two months to finish, and that’s with ongoing nonstop a-chapter-every-day reading. AND IT WAS WORTH IT.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. A suspenseful story of Russia and Moscow and Napoleon. I laughed, I squealed (lots of squeals)(yes it is possible to fangirl over War and Peace), I rolled my eyes (some characters were Mr Collins equivalent), I sighed (oh the state of sin in this world), and I cried (some deaths seemed to be there only to wrench your heart out)(I don’t often cry in books but hey, it was sad).

There were a few things I didn’t like about this otherwise fantastic work, however. I KNOW, I actually have the audacity to question the morals of the great WAR AND PEACE! However, just because a book is old and famous doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be questioned. Books are all the greater for some deep thoughts.

The main fault: the way the book dealt with Christianity. The main character, Pierre, goes through a time of depression and searching. At last he finds peace in freemasonry. In the end, however, he realises that it’s nothing but shallow ideas that are great in principle, but unrealistic in practice. So he keeps searching, and every time he came up in the book I couldn’t help but want to enter the world and have a cup of tea with him, chatting with the sombre character about God and the fact that science doesn’t really disprove the ‘man in the sky’.

That’s just a minor example, but my point is that all of the Christian characters in this book were either of the female sex and therefore treated as weak-willed and sissies and who always lost their beliefs in the end because they didn’t ‘hold up’, or else they were male, which made them shy and retiring and eccentric, and treated as ‘rather odd and best left alone’. Which, of course, is not much of a good opportunity for evangelising.

This was a large idea in the Victorian era – that ‘religion’ was best left to the women and their babies, while the men lived in the real world and knew, of course, that God was only a fairy tale because how on earth could there be anything in this world bigger than themselves. Of course there are exceptions, but it was a major idea of the time, whether they realised it or not. And it is certainly lurking in War and Peace.

True, saving forgiveness found in Jesus is not just for the ‘weak’ women or the ‘rather odd’ men. It is for everyone. And for me, that’s where the great WAR AND PEACE lost a little of its otherwise perfect reputation in my mind palace. It’s not that it treats women as weak-willed and with no opinions worth hearing – that was, after all, a crowning idea of the time and of course it’s going to pop up in a book of its period; I would be annoyed if it didn’t, because then that would be historically inaccurate. It’s just that it treats Christianity as if it were nothing of importance and that even when a few characters did turn to God, they eventually left because they supposedly saw the ‘flaw’ in the Christian Faith.

It makes you ponder on how little the human race has really changed, if we still seek inner peace in flighty things of this world that will not last.

Apart from that, though, this was a brilliant work with excellent writing and word pictures. Just because this is an old book does not mean that the characters are not relatable; indeed, they are terrifyingly so. It was a wonderful book, and I stayed up late to finish it, and I loved it.

Highly recommend that you read this book, with an educated mind.

NaNoWriMo UPDATE BECAUSE I CAN’T MAKE UP MY MIND CAN I + reading updates

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I was so sure of what I was doing for NaNo. In fact, I was so sure that I didn’t even bother to plan it in the slightest – I know what I’m doing, thought I.

Ha.

I was so sure of what I was doing, my brain just had to change its mind, didn’t it.

What I’m Doing For NaNoWriMo (take two)

I first wrote this story … two years ago methinks? It was a while back, anyway. I picked it up again the other day and knew that I could do something with it, so I decided to do it for NaNoWriMo.

It’s set in the land of Samaa (sam-uu) (pronunciation is important) which is a land which my sister and I made up around ten years ago. Since then a heap of world building has taken place, and I thought it was about time that I set a story in it!

So I did/will. It’s a children/fantasy/fiction/everything really sort of story, about a girl and her family. I’m working on the planning of it at the moment, so that I’m not completely pantsing NaNo when it begins. (which, subsequently, is in one week. Eeek.)

I will provide more updates shortly, but in the meantime, I wish everyone good luck and many well wishes on their writing journey!

Let’s have some reading updates…

What I’ve Read Recently

from 19th October to 24th October 2016

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Agatha Christie) – 4/5

This book excited me, bringing with it both Agatha’s wonderful talent and some unexpected twists. And the ending! Brilliance. While some of this book was a tad dull, I was never bored. I pronounce this a good book that you should READ, humans.

The Jewel: The Lone City, #1 (Amy Ewing) – 1/5

I really do not like giving books one star. I really don’t. But this one… it didn’t have much going for it. At all. For example… Mary Sues galore, weak writing, unrealistic decisions made by aforementioned Mary Sues, depressingly ridiculous romances (with some parts that made me cringe and want to stop reading), me wanting to laugh in all the wrong places… oh dear. This wasn’t for me.

Four (Veronica Roth) – 1/5

I was looking for a good book to cheer me up after the disappointment of the above book. I didn’t find it in Four. The writing was weak and I found the protagonist rather Mary Sue-ish. The only reason I could see someone enjoying it was if they were part of the fandom … as I am not, I can safely say that this book, which I had anticipated reading for years, was nothing short of a depressing disappointment.

The Raven Boys: The Raven Cycle #2 (Maggie Stiefvater) – 4/5

I needed something to cheer me up after those last two reads of mine, and I found it in this book. It was so good! It relieved me, it was fresh, it made me stay up late to finish it, it made me laugh, and it made me cry. The only thing I wasn’t a big fan of was the magic in this one. It was real; it wasn’t fantasy magic, and this makes me uncomfortable – I can deal with bits, but the whole plot centres around it. It is because of this that I am hesitant of reading the sequels, even though I want to. I’ll have to wait and see. But I really loved it, and the writing was wonderful – such a change from all the prosey prose that I’ve been reading lately.

Well, that’s all from me. Keep smiling, and until next time, humans!

–Emmeline 🙂

The Railway Children: Edith Nesbit

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Today for ThankYouThursday I picked The Railway Children, by Edith Nesbit.

This is (quite honestly) one of the sweetest and touching books that I own.

Three siblings – Bobbie, Phyllis, and Peter – and their mother go to live in the country, without being told why, or why their father must stay back. (it ain’t a World War tale either.) They soon occupy themselves with the railway, and become fascinated with the trains that pass, and the people who work there.

It sounds like a regular children’s book – but trust me, it’s not.

It’s sweet and endearing and it’s hard to tell of the lessons learned without spoilers. But I’ll give it a shot.

Why you should read this book.

  1. It’s good.
  2. It’s sweet.
  3. It has a happy ending (I promise)
  4. The characters are hilarious and the sibling banter is gold, I tell you. Gold.
  5. If you are the youngest, or the middle child, or the oldest, or one of many siblings, then you will most definitely relate to a character.
  6. For the first time ever, I present to you … A REALISTIC OLDER SISTER
  7. Bobby is me. Literally.
  8. Bobby is the one in number six.
  9. Peter is taught to be a gentleman by the doctor, and then suitably twists that venerable man’s words (as would any child in Peter’s situation).

Goodreads makes me laugh sometimes

As a short exercise (and I do this occasionally for laughs and anger inducement), I looked up low reviews of this gorgeous book on Goodreads.

Quite a few centred around the fact that this was (a) a predictable book, and that the children were both (b) cheeky and (c) greedy.

(a) – let me present to you, ladies and gentlemen, and Children’s Book. That’s right. *gasp* And on top of that, it was also written way back in 1906.
Seriously though, I didn’t find it predictable at all 🙂 If you did, that’s fine though. Sometimes the most predictable books are the best!

(b) – Please show me this child who has never been cheeky in their life, I would to meet them!

(c) – See above. And also they were just trying to help out their mother … ?

In all seriousness … Some bad things about this book.

*racks brain*

*still thinking*

Okay, I guess (if you really wanted to) you could say that the constant bickering of the siblings is bad for children to read, as it sets a bad example. This is actually a valid point, and one that I think needs to be addressed.

The siblings do bicker a lot in this book, and I mean a lot. However, it’s not “I hate you and I’m never going to talk to you again” *angry teen storms off* sort of bickering. It’s more the banter that generally goes on between siblings.

You know – you’re talking and you get into a disagreement, disagree, maybe insult each other, and five minutes later you’re fine and on a completely different topic. The sort of banter that people just ignore as it’s so common. In fact, if it happens between siblings in a group setting it can often be quite amusing 🙂 I know I find it so.

That does not make it right, however. It’s not right. We’re meant to love and honour our siblings, just like our parents. But I know that everyone who has a younger brother will agree with me that it’s impossible it ain’t always easy.

I think the thing that this book does a good job of is its realism. Edith could have written about siblings who argue all the time, and then someone gets ill, nearly die, and then suddenly get better – after which everyone’s sweet and loving and considerate.

But even if siblings do break their arms, that doesn’t mean that we’re going to stop bickering with them for the rest of time!

Reading about siblings bickering in a realistic way (which isn’t, as aforesaid, overdone or overdramatic) is quite refreshing. It’s realistic.

And also – they do apologise to each other. They do swallow their pride. And it’s in a delightfully realistic way 🙂

The curtain’s closing, hurry up!

↓ My Goodreads review below ↓

This book is absolutely adorable. On the outside it is but fluff, but on the inside it is a heartwarming tale of a family who has lost their father. The writing is so warm and heartfelt, the characters are splendid, the story is delightful – in truth there is nothing bad to say about this story! It is a true delight to read. And it is just adorable.

Which pretty much sums it all up for me.

Well, that’s all from me. Keep smiling, and until next time, humans!

–Emmeline 🙂

This book can be found on Book Depository and Amazon. Oh, and the 1970 movie is brilliant – the most true-to-book adaption that I’ve ever seen. Highly recommend.

NaNoWriMo and EXCITING NEWS + Libraries

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Lots of things to talk about today! Let’s start right off with …

// NaNoWriMo and My Failed Attempt //

National Novel Writing Month is coming up soon, and I am pumped. I’ve done the camp in July but I’ve never done the actual thing, and I’m so ready!

My experience in July was – ahem – interesting. You see, ten thousand words away from my goal of forty thousand words, and just over halfway into the month, I decided to change stories. It was most definitely the right choice but it did cost me my official win.

I ended up writing – I think – twenty thousand of the other story (I’ve written more now, though). So I won technically, but it wasn’t registered on the site … and I wasn’t going to cheat by saying I had written more on that story than I had!

So in the end I had written twenty thousand. And I was a little disappointed in myself, because I had really gone it hard. But I’m so pumped for this time round, now that it’s the proper thing. I’m gonna do it this time!

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the beginnings of planning my NaNo story

// My Actual Story That I’ll Be Working On // *

I started this story two years ago, and it was the first one I ever wrote since my debut book of The Dancing Chickens, years and years ago. (Which I barely count as a book … my illustrations are terrible.)

I won’t say much about it, other than that it’s technically a kids book, but I am aiming for Harry Potter style – fun and thought provoking for all ages. It’ll probably be in more than one book, but as I’m still in the planning stage I’m not sure yet.

I am NOT pantsing it. I AM PLANNING IT. ** This story is going to be so well planned that I will not have even a second of wondering, “What comes next?” or alternatively, “What the heck am I doing?”

My username is Emmeline Annie on there, and you’re welcome to stalk me 🙂 I made a new account because I despised my username, and I’m hoping to keep this account for many years to come!

*if I don’t change my mind before the start of November, or in the middle like last time
** future me laughs nervously in the distance

// Big Wonderful EXCITING NEWS //

I started a Youtube Channel!!! I am honestly so, so excited – and nervous – for this. Talking is not something that comes naturally to me but I find talking to myself relatively easy … is that weird? I don’t know.

Link to my first video HERE!!!

I didn’t even mention this on my instagram because I was so nervous. Seriously, two minutes after I had uploaded it I was regretting EVERYTHING and wishing I could CHANGE EVERYTHING.

But I have swallowed the little self-esteem I have left and am now telling the internet. If anyone’s reading this. Otherwise I’m just telling future me who is probably rolling her eyes at me … *waves and swallows nervously*

But seriously, I would love it if you could show me some support. Even if it’s just watching it, or spending two seconds of your time to add a comment to the video, I would appreciate it beyond all anythings.

Thanks so much, humans 🙂

 

// Reading Update //

I have read four books this month so far, am halfway through three more, and am in the first pages of two. This is what happens when you go to the library and get a pile that is SURELY HEAVIER THAN YOU.

But it’s definitely an improvement from last month! I’m hoping to keep it up 🙂

Well, that’s all from me. Keep smiling, and until next time, humans!

— Emmeline 🙂

September WRAPUP

Hello humans/future me!

Today I’d like to write about … My September And What Happened In This Whirl Wind Of A Month, As Well As The Books I Read.

Well, a lot of things happened actually. The first being we moved the house around and it took AGES. But it’s done now and my piano has a lovely new spot – I won’t show you a picture because it’s covered in music books and flighty pieces of paper that-I-need-several-folders-for … so let’s just imagine that this is my piano.

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Because it’s my dream piano.

*ahem* moving on. I ordered my five YA books off Book Depository (seriously I can’t get over how cool BD is, I mean free worldwide shipping. Seriously?!? Epic!), and adore the covers, though I can’t say as much for the actual stories.

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I mean, the covers are gorgeous (particularly Eleanor and Park) but I’m not sure that the glimpses of the writing that I got when I flicked-through-the-book are particularly good. I suppose I’ll find out when I actually read all of them (I’ve only read one so far).

I read a not-so-grand total of six books this month.

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Yeah, I’m not happy. This year has been nothing but a reading slump. I may not even get to my Goodreads goal of a measly 35 books. Eeek. I’m working on it – slowly. Next year I’m going to aim for eighty books, if not more, and see if that pushes me along a little. Goodness knows I used to read at least eighty books a year … *cries*

BOOKS I READ THIS MONTH

Anne of Green Gables // L.M. Montgomery – 5/5

Because I can’t bear to give Anne anything less. I just imagine her looking me in the eye and I’m gone. Sorry.

Anne of Avonlea // L.M. Montgomery – 5/5

Once again, it’s Anne. Enough said.

Black Forest Summer // Mabel Esther Allen – 2/5

Find my full review here, which pretty much explains everything. Eeeek, I did NOT enjoy this one. I suppose it goes to show that as you grow older, your tastes change. And you realise that sometimes vintage novels aren’t great. Just like some YA books I could mention … *ahem*

Crusoe of Lonesome Lake // Leland Stowe – 3/5

This was an interesting book, and the first non-fiction book I’ve read in a while. I certainly enjoyed it, that’s for sure.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas // John Boyne – 4/5

I am a big, big fan of WWII stuff. This is definitely one of my faves. It’s so simple, and it’s just done so well. I anticipated the ending but still wasn’t ready for it. BE STILL MY HEART.

Delirium // Lauren Oliver – 3/5

I absolutely LOVE the concept of this book. I also love her prose. It just seems to go so well with the genre – though you wouldn’t think that it would. However, it fell for me in some points – specifically the inconsistencies and the idiocies of the main character.

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WRITING UPDATE

Well, if you’ve read my bio you’ll know I like writing. Recently, however, I stopped. I think it had something to do with the fact that I got sick of both of the stories I was working on … and then just didn’t start a new one. Or picked up any of my numerous one-maybe-two-chapters-in stories.

BUT I’ve been working on a story that has been in the back of my head for AGES! I don’t really want to say too much about it except that it is mainly about libraries. And writing. Wow, that’s not characteristic at all *rolls eyes at myself*

But seriously, when I’m rich-and-famous and my book is published-and-has-its-own-franchise-and-tv-show*, I’ll be able to say that this book is based on a dream. That I had. At night. Because it is. And that makes me happy 🙂

*ahem. Yeah this will never happen. But you can’t stop me dreaming, reality!

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OTHER BIG THINGS THAT HAPPENED THIS MONTH

Well (let’s start with the obvious one, shall we) … I started this blog! As well as joined the bookstagram community! And rediscovered my love of writing! Woop woop!

Well, this blog is (at the moment) (right now) a place for me to keep track of things. Of myself. Because otherwise I get confused and give up. I actually do.

But I’m happy with that 🙂 It’s a fun place for me to let go and express myself IN CAPITALS OCCASIONALLY and sometimes in italics.

And I’m happy! Are you? Keep existing humans, because who knows what the world will be without you? You’re not just a number. You’re a human. A human bean, as the BFG would say.* And all human beans are important, and beautifully and wonderfully made. So keep on going.

And that’s all from me 🙂 Keep smiling, and until next time, humans!

–Emmeline 🙂

*Has anyone seen that movie? I must see it! If they change too much, though, I will sue them I swear, because the BFG was my favourite book for at least a month as a kid. It was on my FAVES list for one point in time, okay!