Women You Should Know

A side step from the wedding stuff for a moment, and a look into some info on women we should know but most likely don’t. It’s International Women’s Day today and a chance to celebrate being a woman, acknowledge how far women and feminism has come, and to research all those women – who should be famous, but because they are women from history, we just don’t know about them. Or enough about them.

Yes, we know Alexander Graham Bell, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud and Galileo – and the list goes on. In fact, I just googled ‘100 Scientists to Shape the World’ and there was one woman who I had heard of. ONE! Marie Curie. Well, we need to get to know the other women who did amazing things. This is in no disrespect to the¬†fantastic things the above men did. It isn’t to compete. It isn’t to show women are better. It is to uncover history. It did happen. Men did amazing things, yet so did women. We should know about both.

So, without further ado – and with thanks to the Women’s Rights Page that I follow, let me introduce you:

WOMEN

  • Maris Mitchell was an astronomer in the 19th Century and discovered a comet. I never knew this. The comet was named after her as ‘Miss Mitchell’s Comet.’ I find this interesting that it needed the title ‘Miss’ – anything named after a man doesn’t tend to need the title ‘Mr’, but maybe I’m reading too much into it ūüėČ

  • Emmy Noether was an influential mathematician – again in the 19th Century, who was known for her contribution to algebra and theoretical physics. Go her!

  • Jocelyn Bell Burnell was an astrophysicist and discovered the first radio pulsars. I don’t know what these are, but she sounds clever ūüėČ

  • Valentina Tereshkova – still alive today – was the first woman in space,¬†(the fifth Russian cosmonaut)to go into the Earth’s orbit when her spaceship Vostok VI was launched¬†from Moscow.

  • Cecelia Payne-Gaposchkin was a British-American astronomer and astrophysicist, who proposed in her Ph.D. thesis an explanation for the composition of stars in terms of the relative abundances of hydrogen and helium. Wow!

  • Lise Meitner was a physicist who worked on nuclear physics and radioactivity.

  • Caroline Hershel¬† – an amazing astronomer, who worked alongside her brother Sir William Hershel for both of their careers. High five for also managing a working sibling relationship!

  • Rita Levi-Montalcini:¬†A neurologist¬† who was a Nobel prizewinning Jewish scientist. She carried out her cell growth research while hiding from the fascists during the second world war.

You see, with my background, I have always been fascinated with women like Jane Austen, The Brontes, George Elliot (Mary Ann Evans) who were trying to write in a male dominated world – writing with pseudonyms in some cases to just get noticed. But, I haven’t considered the Science field before. The above women have all succeeded in Science (arguably an even more male-dominated field).

Their history is there in black and white: we just need to read it and share it ūüôā

Happy International Women’s Day!

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Seeing Shakespeare

Yesterday was a first for me. I finally¬†got to see Shakespeare! My boyfriend said that I can’t actually see him -but why not? I saw people dressed as him and also his grave… good enough.

Yes, Stratford was a lovely day out and the perfect place for the complete Shakespearian geek like me. I let my inner geek out first thing in the morning as I took out my William Shakespeare bag out¬† – basically a small shopping bag with his head on. Haha. And I got out my Shakespeare trivia cards for the journey ; -) Luckily, my boyfriend’s Mum, my sister and good friend, weren’t put off and we all had a lovely day.

We saw¬†four main places…. either walking or hopping on our¬†partly open-top bus:

Shakespeare's birth place
Shakespeare’s birth place
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DSCF4584 Ann Hathaway’s pretty cottage – the place that she grew up in and where she and Will ‘courted’ as a young couple.
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Nash’s house. The house Shakespeare is believed to have spent his last days – belonging to his granddaughter and her husband. This is the beautiful garden outside the house.
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… And finally his grave in the Church of Holy Trinity.

It was all very historical and interesting.¬†It was fascinating to see¬†inside the houses and get an idea of what life was like then, in addition to just admiring the beauty of the outside. You could imagine Shakespeare¬†walking up to Ann Hathaway’s cottage (which is actually a massive farm house and has fondly been referred to as a cottage¬†because of idyllic appearance) to ‘court’ her. Would he have been nervous to¬†see her family? And tipped his hat off to her father out of respect? We even saw the bed that Will may have had-a-way with our Hathaway ūüėČ The ‘cottage’ was so lovely, that I would have happily moved in (add some heating, electricity and take away the millions of nosy tourists of course ūüėČ ).

A personal highlight for me was the character room at Nash’s house. Naturally, a purpose built room for tourism – but it was great to see displays of the ‘top ten characters’ and you could add your own favourite Shakesspearian character to a board too.There was a quiz on the wall too!¬†I felt like I was at some sort of Shakespeare convention – not a ‘Trekkie’ but a ‘Shakey’ if you will ūüėČ I added ‘Othello’ to the favourite character board. That is my favourite play and I love that Othello himself is a little different to other charcters. He is black, yet in an important position and very well-respected for the time period. He is a calm, collected and gentle character, yet jealousy results him in him murdering his own wife. I love the dramatic change in him throughout the play and shows, perhaps, that jealousy (or another strong emotion) can drive any of us¬†to murder. Sadly Othello didn’t make their top-ten though:

Top Ten Characters

  1. Juliet (Romeo and Juliet)
  2. Hamlet (Hamlet)
  3. Bottom (A Midsummer’s Night Dream)
  4. Beatrice (Twelfth Night)
  5. Mercutio (Twelfth Night)
  6. Romeo (Romeo and Juliet)
  7. Falstaff (Henry IV part 1 and 2 and Merry Wives of Windsor)
  8. Macbeth (Macbeth)
  9. Henry V (Henry V)
  10. Cleopatra (Anthony and Cleopatra)

 

The hop-on, hop-off tour bus gave us much entertainment. One reason being, we went on the open-top section and it was freezing and blowy! We also kept having to duck when we passed trees (which was a lot), which was scary but also extremely funny! The tour guide on our bus (when we wimped out and sat inside the bus) was very informative and entertaining. She told us a few facts about general Tudor life:

  • As we drove past a road, she told us it used to be a popular highway. In wet conditions, it became very soft and poor people would come and ‘cup’ mud in their hand in order to make pots. This left many holes in the road… and you’ve guessed it, that’s where the term ‘pot-holes’ comes from!
  • Tudors used to use frog salvia to aid their sore-throats. Scientists have since found that there is infact an enzyme in frog saliva that has antisceptic in it. So they weren’t (too) crazy… and that is where the term ‘a frog in your throat’ comes from.
  • Four-poster beds became popular in Tudor times. I thought it was a warmth related reason. It comes from the fact they had hatched roofs though. There wasn’t any ceilings in bedrooms, so rubbish and bugs would fall from the hatching onto people in bed. Someone ( a man apparently -I’m not convinced!) invented the canopy like part in order to catch the bugs and rubbish. Clever! It then became a fashion statement too.
  • My favourite fact also links to the thatched roofing. When Tudors realised that thatching was a fire hazard, they all had to change to tiling. A team from the town committee went to¬†an inn¬†to tell the keeper that he had to change his roof to tiles. He gave them so much free ale that they forgot to ask him! So it is still thatched today:
Old Thatch Tavern
Old Thatch Tavern

 

So I had a very Shakespeare-y day and I loved every second! The nearby buildings were all named after Shakespeare quotes or plays or characters. I even had a milkshake called Much A Do About Oreo!

I fully recommend a day at Stratford to anyone who is interested in Shakespeare – even if you are not there is still so much to do. We paid ¬£25 and this included the bus (which you can get on and off as much as you wish) and also the entry to 3 houses. There are still 2 main other houses to see and a boat trip that we didn’t do – so there is just so much! And I’ll be definitely going back….. no ‘to go or not to go’ question ūüėČ

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For a recent post about Shakespeare’s birthday, take a look at this:

https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/celebrate-this-23rd-april/

Moral to the story

There is a moral to every story, they say. I believe this and that a part of life is learning from things. From childhood, we learn in fairy tales that the baddies don’t come off good and that everything will be alright in the end. (We also may learn that this a bit unrealistic too ūüėČ ) The point is, we learn that what goes around comes around and that their are consequences to actions.

I mentioned a while ago that I have a Nook. I acted even more like a crazy book lady the other night and downloaded a load of ‘classic’ reads. Amongst them was Aesop’s Fables. I remember reading some of them as a child, having a beautiful coloured version littered with pictures. But I didn’t realise until adulthood, that Aesop was a slave believed to have lived in ancient Greece. Amazing, that they are still so well-known and relevant today. I’m sure, we have all heard of The Boy who cried Wolf and The Tortoise and the Hare? Well, there are loads more and I want to share with you, a less well-known one (well at least to me) with you today:

The Fox and The Stork
A fox one day invited a stork to dine with him and, wishing to be amused at his expense, put the soup which he had for dinner in a large flat dish, so that, while he himself could lap it up easily, the stork could only dip in the tips of his long bill. Stork, bearing his treatment in mind, invited the fox to take dinner with him. He, in his turn, put some minced meat in a long and narrow-necked vessel, into which he could easily put his bill, whilst Master Fox was forced to be content with licking what ran down the sides of the vessel. The fox then remembered his old trick, and could not but only admit that the stork had well paid him out.

The moral at the end of this one says: ‘A joke is often returned with interest.’ I think it can signify others though, like; ‘What goes around, comes around.’ Or ‘treat people as you are treated’… or we could argue that the stork was wrong to act like that as ‘two wrongs don’t make a right.’ Alternatively, we can think about the actual moral and link it to the simplicity of the story and think it how it reflects life. People play jokes; they take the ‘piss’. People then return this and ‘get their own back’. That’s life. I’m sure ,we have all been the fox at some point and also the stork ūüėČ

I’ll keep reading the fables… I love thinking about them on a simple and then a deeper level. Fun, childhood bedtime stories, yet also so much more ūüôā

fox and stork

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Ironic Writing Block

Regular readers among you will realise that I haven’t been posting as much recently. I could claim that it’s lack of time; I should say it’s because I’m busy writing a great novel; I would say both of these. But it’s not true – and I like to be honest in my blog if nothing else. I’ve had writer’s block and a lack of inspiration.

My GBF text me today and said he had listened to a debate on Radio 4 about writer’s block. I am not sure what what was said in detail – but it would be great to hear your theories and what you do when you have it? Like an illness in the writing world really! Stopping us doing what we need to do…

So, this inspired me to write a block and naturally, I picked up on the fact that a subject of writer’s block had helped to cure mine. This also led me onto the other topic of this post: Irony. I love irony, and I think it is a great tool that helps us laugh at the world and life when things go wrong.

When kids at school ask me what irony is, I rarely try to explain it without referring to Alanis Morrisette’s titled song Ironic I think it sums it up perfectly… one of my favourite lines being;
‘10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife…’

Love it! And with other lines like ‘It’s like rain on your wedding day…’ (but I don’t think this can be classed as ironic in the UK – since it rains most blooming days!) …. ‘It’s like meeting the man of your dreams then meeting his beautiful wife!’ Fantasic lyrics and so true that the one thing you don’t want to happen, or don’t need or you don’t think will happen – does.

The actual dictionary definition of something being ‘ironic’ is as follows:
‘Happening in the opposite way to what is expected, thus typically causing wry amusement.

So go on and spot the irony in your life. It helps to make the hard times a little more bearable, if not slightly funny. And yes, I love how the first thought of writer’s block (thanks to my GBF) gave me an idea for this today….. love the irony!

P.S if you do have writer’s block, just tell people. I have had a million ideas thrown at me now (thanks to another good friend!) so my writing mind has become unblocked ūüėÄ

Spot the irony in the apple!
Spot the irony in the apple!

Celebrate this 23rd April!

Today is a day of celebration. It is:

St. George’s Day

William Shakespeare’s Birthday

World Book Night

And I think they all tie in nicely with us here in the UK. St. George’s Day means we should generally feel proud to be British today. Yes, people complain that there aren’t as many celebrations for that, as there are St. Patrick’s Day for example – well to those people I say, ‘Don’t complain – Do!’ Arrange something to celebrate if you feel you should. Me? I’ve just read a good work of fiction, in the British summer time, drinking a glass of Pimms and lemonade – very English and also ties in with World Book Night too ūüėČ

So, that’s St. George’s Day taken care of. And I think you all know how I feel about books and I celebrate them very regularly anyway. (Take a look at A Book Lover’s Post in my ‘Love of Books’ section at the top, if you need reminding). That leaves Mr William Shakespeare to discuss. I am sitting here writing this drinking tea out of my Shakespeare quote mug, bought for me, funnily enough, by my friend from France. It has many quotes from his works that are well-known phrases today. It is amazing really, how much he has influenced our language. I know it is argued that many others helped him write his plays, so it is uncertain how much of the words are his own – but there is enough evidence to show he had a brilliant way with words, I think ūüôā

Before I share with you some Shakespearian words of wisdom¬† – straight from my tea mug (nobody can say I don’t plan for these blog posts ūüėČ – I just want to exclaim my fascination with his actual birth date. Even though, his birth date is actually unknown – it is estimated that he was born on the 23rd since his baptism was the 26th April and this normally occurred 3 days after the birth. He then died on the 23rd April too. ¬†¬†I¬†love how he died on his birthday, therefore. I just¬† think it made his life completely rounded off , complete, like one of his plays ūüôā

Today he would have been¬†449¬†. Amazing really that we still study work of someone who was born centuries ago.¬†¬†It is also the 397th anniversary of his death, as he died at the age of 52. They say his greatest achievement¬† was surviving his first year in the harsh, cruel Tudor period – where many new borns didn’t survive. I think some of his great words can challenge this achievement:

‘A fool’s paradise’¬†‘Rhyme nor reason’ ‘A dish fit for the gods’ ‘The Queen’s English’ ‘It’s all Greek to me’ ‘in stitches’ ‘heart upon my sleeve’ ‘a green eyed monster’ ‘star crossed lovers’ ‘wild goose chase’ ‘all that glitters is not gold’ ‘fair play’ ‘make your hair stand on end’ ‘vanish into thin air’ ‘fancy free’ ‘love is blind’ ‘lie low’ ‘for ever and a day’ ‘in a pickle’

and my personal favourite, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

‘The course of true love did never run smooth’

Too true Bill!

The kids at school complain; ‘Why do we have to learn this old language?!’ I tell them, that to understand it (and they don’t need to understand it all), they need good analytical and communication skills. It is also interesting, yet they may not think that until years later. You must admit that you use a lot of¬†the above¬†phrases, or at least have heard of them.¬† Meaning, his words are still relevant today in their modern context.

Here’s to William Shakespeare, much-loved¬†Bard and playwright ¬†– then, now and forever ūüôā

p.s – I guiltily¬†admit that I have never been to Shakespeare’s birth place, but I am going in a few weeks and I’m very excited ūüėÄ

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Miserable Cinderellas

‘There is a castle on a cloud,
I like to go there in my sleep,
Aren’t any floors for me to sweep,
Not in my castle on a cloud.’

I saw two productions over half term. The Burton Operatic Society did a production of Cinderella at a local school. (I have discussed a production in a previous blog: https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/good-vs-evil/) I also saw Les Miserables (finally!) at  the cinema. Both productions were fantastic but naturally they are every different in terms of context and plot. But in this case, they are both musicals and me being me, I wanted to draw some comparisons from the characters. (Call me lazy if you like for not writing two separate reviews!)

I must confess that I didn’t really know the story of Les Mis. before I went. I know, I know, English graduate who has not read it or seen a version of it. Reasons, or excuses being, well for starters the book is reallllly long! I have since downloaded it to my Nook and it is a worryingly long 4000 pages! (You may not see so many blogs lately ūüėČ ) Also, I just never saw a production through reasons such as money, opportunity and I never particularly studied it. It was worth the wait though!

I loved the film of Les Mis. and recommend anyone who has not seen it, to go. Or wait for the DVD ūüėČ It was a brilliant portrayal of Paris after the French Revolution. It focuses on the poor – or asles miserables’ can be translated as ‘the poor ones,’ ‘the miserables,’ or ‘the victims.’ Then there is the juicy part of the plot of the June Rebellion also known as The Paris Uprising of 1832. This was good viewing and really gave a depiction of this battle between the rich and the poor man. I don’t want to go too much into the story because that isn’t the purpose of this blog. But just a few more thoughts of mine about the latest film version: the singing was good overall. I was well aware it was a musical and was fine with the characters singing when there was a vital part to the plot, when they had to sing their own thoughts or sing as a group¬† – fine. I wasn’t so sure about them ‘singing’ conversations to each other. That was a bit odd! I know that that is the case with all productions of Les Miserables but it just seemed a little odd to me. Russel Crowe singing seriously was even odder – he was the only one that I cringed in my seat a little when he let the notes escape his mouth. My other main point that comes to mind, is the children. They were fantastic little actors and really did the characters justice. Brilliant.

Cinderella I would think we all know a little about. It was a great production by Burton Operatics and an old story with a new twist, yet it still kept the original magic. I laughed out loud when the mice came out though Рas they were played by children, they were nearly as big as Cinders herself! The actress playing Cinderella was amazing and had that inner happiness to her that only resurfaced when she was with the mice, or day dreaming or when she meets the prince. She played the miserable and slave side to the character equally as well. (The other actors and everyone involved did a fantastic job too Рto risk a shout out!)

I started to¬†see the¬†old fairy tale in¬†a new light though last week. Possible because it was the first time I had seen it as an adult. It really is about a poor orphan girl, treated badly because of the times and bad luck of being left with an awful family. We are talking 17th century when this first was written, reflecting the role of women at the time. If women had no family or husband then they were worth nothing really. It isn’t until she meets her Prince Charming that her life becomes livable. The feminist in me, sobs at this.

This is what got me thinking when I saw Les Mis. Cosette is a lot like Cinderella. Think about it. They are both;

  • orphans and are left in terrible circumstances because of this.
  • slave like characters who like to dream and hope. The song at the top is from Les Mis. and sung by Cosette but it also reminded me of Cinderella.
  • young and beautiful
  • women in society who are not able to help themselves
  • (in the end) married to their heart’s desire who happen to rescue them from their misfortune. (I will admit Cosette¬†was already saved early on by Jean Valjean – but again saved by a man)

So whether fairy tales or historical dramas, women were still depicted and were indeed treated in the same, awful way years ago. In terms of fairy tales, I do sometimes think why didn’t Cinderella (or Snow White, or any other) put the broom down, go out get a job, fend for herself and forget about men? But as Les Mis. shows, it wasn’t as simple as that indeed in France or England or anywhere. I was horrified by Cosette’s¬†Mum in the film (played by Ann Hathaway) and how she had to have her head shaved to sell her hair and have her teeth pulled out for money. Definitely¬†showing the hardships of the time. Poor women then had to resort to prostitution if they weren’t lucky to get rescued by the Jean Valjeans¬†or the Prince Charmings of the world.

I suppose, though, the Valjean¬†character does show us just how hard it was for men too. He wouldn’t have been able to turn his life around (well firstly if he didn’t steal a lot of silver!) if he hadn’t the run and under cover, carving and scraping a life for himself along the way. But being a hero of a story, he still managed to save Cosette on the way also. Like fairy tales, there is some sort of happy ending.

So how many Miserable Cinderellas¬†are out there today? Women that have nowhere to turn or are so desperate that they turn to a horrible way of life. Because, unlike fairy takes, there isn’t always a happy ending in life. ūüė¶

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Numbers

I have never had a head for numbers. You may have realised that I am more of a words kind of girl. ūüėČ That doesn’t mean that I am not fascinated by numbers though – even if I can’t always add them together very well ūüėČ For this reason, I would like to say that is why I was drawn to reading the book Numbers by Rachel Ward. But I was bought it randomly by my sister and her boyfriend for Christmas – random, just as numbers can be.

Numbers is a trilogy¬† – Numbers 2 Chaos and Numbers 3 Infinity completing the trio. So far, I have read the first two. And they are fantastic. Full of drama and twists and turns. And, I know we shouldn’t judge a book by the cover and all – but they are pretty ace too. Numbers also litter the pages and I swear I could see numbers along the closed pages when the book is shut – but I wasn’t sure if I was going a little crazy like the characters and thinking I could see numbers ūüėČ

The first in the fantastic series….

But I haven’t told you enough to make you want to pick up a copy yet. In the first book, Jem is a troubled teenage girl and she can see numbers. In people’s eyes. It is a date. Of when they are going to die. As soon as I read that on the blurb, I was intrigued. I like psychological plots and I knew this would be one. Like, would she ever tell someone their number? Could she save lives? Will she find out her own number? It is compelling stuff because if you think about it, we all have a number. A death number. Without being too morbid, we are all going to die some day. But we don’t think about it because there is no point. We don’t know when it will be. Even if¬†we have¬†a terminal illness, we don’t know the exact day. Would you want to know? I sure as hell wouldn’t. I would be terrified of that day getting nearer. We all like to believe that we have a long stretch of life in front of us and maybe that’s what gets us from day-to-day.

But Jem does know. She sees a number each time she looks at someone, meaning that a lot of the time she doesn’t want to look people in the eye. She is a typical teenage girl in that she avoids eye contact and is awkward in social situations. She is not so typical for the reasons though: She not only sees the date that will end a person’s existence but she has lost her mum to drug addiction, she has no other family and gets shoved from foster home to foster home and she has no friend in the world. Depressing yes¬†– so maybe not get it your teenager to help cheer them up ūüėČ

It is however action packed and this begins when she meets Spider. Jem is a small, delicate, white girl. Spider in strong contrast is a tall, black, gangly bloke. They are opposites, yet find that one thing in common. They are both outcasts and both lonely.

The plot thickens when Jem and Spider are out for the day. Hanging out in London like teenagers do, they want to go on the London Eye but realise it’s too expensive. Jem quickly realises this is meant to be, as all the people around them, have the same death number. The date of that day. She manages to convince Spider, without telling him why, that they need to go. Minutes later, the London Eye explodes. Taking lives and reinforcing the fact that the numbers must be true! But they are seen running from the London Eye just before the explosion and the police think they are responsible for it. So they go on the run.

I won’t give more away but it all gets very intense as these two naive teenagers go on the run. Spider steals cars yet he has never driven one before. The whole country knows their faces so they have to keep hidden. And remember, as soon as Jem looked Spider in the eye, she knew his number. And she knows his fateful day is going to be soon. So it’s all about can she change his number? Can they stay hidden from the police and the press? Or is she going to have to come clean about her number visions?

It really is an amazing story and they are believable characters. Spider’s gran adds a lot of humour and wackiness¬†to the story, whereas Karen, Jem’s foster Mum brings in the realistic and sensible elements – and tries to bring in some stability for Jem.

I’ll discuss the second book in a separate post – but if you like drama, action and romance, then this book is a great combination of all three! ūüôā

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A Book Lover’s Post

I think it is safe to say that everyone¬†who writes, loves to read. Yet, ¬†I am not sure if this is the same vice versa. My collection of books keeps growing and growing and I have just noticed that my new Xmas reads will not fit on the book shelves. My boyfriend has tried to aid this problem by buying me a Nook this year. I love it and it is a modern gadget that can make searching for books and reading them exciting. It is also just plain easier at times as you can hold it with one hand… it holds hundreds of books so you don’t have to carry them. However, I have told him, and I will tell you that¬†I will not stop buying real books by my favourite authors. I love to look at them on the shelf and love the process of selecting one to read. Buying books is¬†also a hobby, as I love to search old book shops and charity shops for books I have not heard of or ones I have not read by favourite authors.¬†I love the smells of old books (and new books), the different covers (I have 4 different versions of Pride and Prejudice) and I just feel my house is not a home without a multitude of bookshelves… even though, I am not sure my boyfriend agrees with this!

I have a book diary. As I mentioned yesterday (https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/scared-of-a-word), I love notebooks and writing thoughts in them. Well, I also like diaries. As a teenager, I used to write in a diary on a daily basis with all my thoughts and observations of the day. (See my post: https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/to-my-14-year-old-self/). As, you have gathered, I also love books. So to have a diary to record my thoughts about books is just genius. My friend bought it for me a couple of years ago and I love it! I record various lists of books I have read in my life so far, that year, need to read, want to read and books I should read before I die. Only a true book lover will understand the use of the verb should. How can you call yourself a book lover if you haven’t read the works of Austen, Shakespeare or Dickens? Some may disagree and think that reading should be about what you want to read. I agree in a way and I do, mostly. But there are these works of fiction that I just feel I need to have an opinion on¬† – can’t believe I’m about to mention this in the same paragraph as Dickens and co, but that is why I read 50 Shades. I wanted to know what all the hype was. So, some of these famous (or infamous) books may be on my ‘to read list’ for many years to come (for example War and Peace –¬† I mean, it’s just so long isn’t it?!) But hopefully I will get there one day.

This is the copy I own… a beautiful way to record your passion for reading….

I definitely recommend a book diary. You can also record notes about the books you have read, who recommended it to you and who you then recommended it to. You can note down good book sites, shops and reading groups. In mine there is an A-Z of books you have read so you can add to it from year to year. It is also full of quotes about reading and books and I read them again and again whenever I come to use it.

Here is one of my favourite quotes from The Book Lover’s Diary:

‘There are 10,000 books in my library, and it will keep on growing until I die. This has exasperated my daughters, amused my friends and baffled my accountant. If I had not picked up this habit in the library long ago, I would have much more money in the bank today; but I would not be richer.’

(Pete Hamill, D’artagnan on Ninth Street: A Brooklyn boy at the library.)

This is me… or it will be one day! Long live books in all forms! Happy reading… and recording!

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My Final 50 Shades of Freed Opinion

Well guys, I have read the third and final book in the 50 Shades trilogy. 50 Shades Freed, I enjoyed. I am trying to work out if it was a good book, though, or if I¬†really enjoyed it because it was the first book I read on my Nook (I’m loving how Nook rhymes with book by the way!) I think it is part novelty factor that I was excited to read it each time. I kept joking that ‘I was going to bed with my Nook!’ You can’t deny it doesn’t automatically remind you of nooky! Haha.

Anyway, to the book itself… in its fine ebook¬†form. I enjoyed the story of this one, as predictable as it was. It had a happy ending, which i do admit, for the characters in it I wasn’t expecting but it is a generic ending overall. There was some twists and turns, which I admit did keep me page turning (with a flick of the finger on my Nook) and yearning to read on.

I hate to say this though… I got bored with¬†the sex! For starters, they do it far too often. How often can it be physically possible?! And one point they do it again 5 minutes¬†after… I mean I know Mr. Grey is young but he isn’t 18 anymore! And as for Ana, surely she would get sore, thrush or something with the amount of times they do it?! You never hear the words ‘sorry love, I’m not in the mood/I have a headache/let’s just cuddle.’ Ana says at times when they have had arguments that they need to have sex because ‘it is what they do.’ It is almost like sex is a barometer in their relationship and tells them that all is okay. When you think of it like that then maybe all our relationships are like that. So, yes I felt myself skimming across the sex scenes¬†because¬†I felt there could be no news way for them to do it and the author was certainly not going to bust out that thesaurus to write it in different ways (I discovered this after book 1).

But, as ever, I did enjoy the depths of Christian and finding out why he is¬†the way¬†he is. I really liked him as a character in the end and in this book it was Ana I was more frequently annoyed with. Sunbathing topless, driving a jet ski, going out drinking without calling him when her husband is so needy, clingy¬†and paranoid. It was like she was deliberately trying to piss him off. At least we understand why he is like that. I enjoyed finding out more about his past and I also thought it was a nice touch how the book started and ended with Christian’s perspective (rather than Ana’s like the rest of the book) as it showed both sides to the two characters we had come to know.

So if you have read the first two books, then this is worth a read to complete your sexy trilogy. If you enjoy the sex parts then definitely¬†read this one as it has a lot of raunchy bits – much more then the second book. It isn’t amazing writing; it isn’t portrayed to be. But a holiday read, a sunday afternoon read or a new Nook read.. Yes.

Now which book to read on my Nook…. I must remember that you do actually buy¬†the books. It is easy to forget when a book is on your screen ready to read¬†within seconds of a few touches and clicks.

XSXS

Goldilocks and the Three Pigs

Sunday afternoon should be story time…. I hope to read a little more of some books on my new Nook later. In the meanwhile, I thought I would share with you a story I have started to write. My boyfriend’s sister is always talking about fan fiction on the internet and how it mixes two well known stories or characters together. She likes reading about Harry Potter mixed with the world of Percy Jackson. I decided to mix two well known¬†children’s stories together. I became fascinted by this at Uni actually when we studied Angela Carter and she created more adult versions of certain fairy tales. I haven’t decided how sinister mine is going to get yet. See what you think… any suggestions welcome:

Goldilocks and the Three Pigs

With her blonde, curly hair blowing in the breeze, Goldilocks strolled down the lane leading from the bottom of her garden. She was finally allowed out again. She had been grounded since the bear incident. She was a curious, inquisitive girl and it always got her into trouble. She had only wanted to see the three bears’ house and exploring their various chairs and beds had been fun! The porridge had been disgusting though!  Yes, her parents hadn’t been happy with her and she hadn’t been allowed to leave the house on her own, until that moment.

She had permission to walk into town and buy some sweets from the local, traditional sweet shop. All children saved their pocket money in order to buy a small bag of sweets from there at the weekend. They tasted great and were brilliant value for money. Goldilocks had been warned, though, to steer clear of the local wolf. The wolf was a nasty creature, who came after animals and humans. Under no circumstances should Goldilocks talk to the wolf, her parents ordered. The wolf tended to focus on certain groups or families at a time and make their lives a misery. A while ago it had been a local family who had a daughter with a red cape. That hadn’t ended well. Goldilocks wasn’t scared though and the town was busy so surely nothing could happen?

As she came close to the main high street, she realised she had forgotten her pocket money! How could she buy sweets without any money? She felt very upset and froze on the spot and started to cry a little. She also felt annoyed at herself and very sad that she couldn’t get her sweets. Then, she saw a flash of dark, grey fur out of the corner of her left eye. It was the wolf! He had crept around the corner and was now stood next to her on the pavement. Goldilocks quickly hit her running tears away  with the back of her hand and obediently turned away as not to speak to the wolf.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄėLittle girl, stay and listen to me,‚Äô the wolf purred.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄėI have to go. I have no money and my Mum and Dad said I can‚Äôt talk to you‚Äô, Goldilocks babbled.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄėWell, I don‚Äôt know your parents and I don‚Äôt think they know me, so it seems a little unfair for them to say that, don‚Äôt you think?‚Äô he said in a sickly, sweet voice.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄėThat is true‚Äô, Goldilocks agreed ‚Äėbut I don‚Äôt know you either and I shouldn‚Äôt speak to people I don‚Äôt know.‚Äô

This girl was cleverer than the wolf has anticipated. He would have to be extra sneaky to gain her trust and win her over.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄėShame about your money,‚Äô he said, changing the subject. ‚ÄėThe sweets are amazing from that shop at the end of the road.‚Äô

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄėYes, that‚Äôs what I was meant to be getting,‚Äô Goldilocks said glumly.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄėWell, what would you say if I bought you all the sweets you could eat? If you do a little job for me?‚Äô the wolf was almost whispering by this point.

The little girl’s face had lit up when he said this but by the end of his suggestion, her expression was just full of confusion.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄėLet me explain,‚Äô he spoke calmly, ‚Äėthere are three pigs, who have been spreading rumours about me. They are three brothers and the rumours are probably the reason your parents warned you against me. The Hamsons, they are called. I want to teach them a lesson but they always keep a good look out for me. They would never suspect you. The youngest brother, Porky, has just made himself a house of straw. I want to destroy it.‚Äô

The curly haired girl trembled and fear came into her eyes. ‚ÄėI can‚Äôt do anything bad, I‚Äôll get into trouble.‚Äô She mumbled.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄėYour parents would never know and neither would anyone else.‚Äô The wolf soothed.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄėThen why don‚Äôt you do it if no one will know? You just said, they won‚Äôt recognise me so you must be thinking they will see me!‚Äô Exclaimed the fearful girl, who wished she had ran home for her money the moment she had realised. At the exact same moment, the wolf was feeling rather irritated at the girl‚Äôs intelligence and wished that he had approached someone a little more naive like the Jones‚Äô girl who lives near the woods. Another girl in a red hood, like the one he had captured last month, would have been ideal too.

‚ÄėWell they would know it was you about the house, but they wouldn‚Äôt know you had done anything wrong. I can‚Äôt even go near their houses without them calling the town police.‚Äô He said as calmly as ever.

‚ÄėOh right,‚Äô she said, still seeming a little unsure. ‚ÄėWhat would I have to do?‚Äô She looked very nervous that the wolf would have felt sympathy, if he was capable of that feeling that is. ‚ÄėWould I have to set the house on fire?‚Äô She asked. The wolf‚Äôs eyes lit up as the fire would. He hadn‚Äôt even thought of that!

‚ÄėWell yes, I think that would be the best way. I would try and blow it over but I‚Äôm getting old now and don‚Äôt have a lot of puff.‚Äô

 

….. that is as far as I have got. It is written in child-like form really. I may make it more adult like and think of a sinister ending. Any thoughts?

XSXS

This is interesting and ties in nicely with my post on another horror of Jekyll and Hyde in https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/good-vs-evil/ ūüôā

the.soft.anonymous

When it comes to horror stories, Frankenstein is probably the most famous of them all. Mary Shelley’s gothic masterpiece has sent shivers of fear through generations of readers, inspired countless adaptations, and become the gold standard for tales of terror and suspense. It’s a story that becomes even more unsettling, though, when you realise it was inspired by twitching corpses, violent volcanoes and disturbing nightmares…

Mary Shelley‚Äôs famous novel barely needs an introduction. Its protagonist, Dr Victor Frankenstein, is fiction‚Äôs original ‚Äėmad‚Äô scientist, dedicating himself to chemistry at university so that he can learn how to create life out of inanimate matter. The being he cooks up, however, is repulsive:

“His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black and flowing; his teeth of pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, ……

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Good Vs Evil

Last night, I went to see Jekyll and Hyde, a production put on by the Burton Operatic Society, and it was fantastic! This is not really a review but I will encourage any of you that live in¬†the midlands to go and see it. The leads were amazing with very strong singing voices and the portrayal of the story was brilliant. All the cast, band and people backstage did a wonderful job. I always enjoy these shows¬†and it is great to see one of my good friends come alive on stage… not that she doesn’t seem alive the rest of the time, but you know what I mean ūüėČ

I loved the depiction of good and evil within the production like where Dr. Jekyll’s fianc√©e was up high getting ready for bed in her angel like nightie and in contrast at the same time, Lucy was down below being amorous with a man…very devil like. And Jekyll himself, at the end, was torn between his two selves and kept rapidly turning his head from ‘Jekyll’ to ‘Hyde’ and this was shown by his change of hair (half up for Jekyll and down for Hyde, which I thought was very clever!) and the colours of light blue/red. The language too… when Jekyll says to his fianc√©e ‘Night, my angel.’ and she replies ‘Night, my devil,’ very good hint at the future!

The production got me thinking about the idea of there being Good and Bad within all of us. Do we agree with this? Nobody is perfect so we all have good points and faults. But would we go as far to say that there is evil within us? If the evil within you became a person in their own right then would they be as sinister as Mr Hyde in the story? Would they go around killing people? It is an interesting thought that there are two sides to us. But I am not sure it as simple as that because like we are all different then surely we have different amounts of good and bad too.

Do we get murderers, rapists and paedophiles because they have more evil in them than good? I think probably so. I think it is a battle between the angel and devil we always see on TV but not literally. We have these two urges in our mind that represent good and evil and one will win. This explains why bad things get done and whilst some people are mostly ‘good’ but have their moments of nastiness…. human nature I guess. To back up with a little solid psychology theory: Freud’s structural model of the psyche can help us a little here. He believes that there are three parts to our brain to make up our personality structure; the Id, the Ego and the Super-Ego. The Id is what controls our instant gratification driven by what Freud calls the ‘Pleasure principal’. So when you just ‘need’ that chocolate bar then it is your Id that is winning the battle there….. I wish mine was a little more strong-willed! The Ego is based in reality (Reality Principle) and what should happen according to the situation but still getting what you want in the end. The Super-Ego is related to our morals, fighting the Id and acting on what is right for what we believe in. That is very simple summarising of it and I’m sure there is more to it. But if we take this and think of a situation where we¬†really dislike someone and want to shove the ice-cream they are eating into their face… the Id will be all for this and doing it there and then, the Ego would want to punish the woman but maybe through another way? Or nick her ice-cream when she goes to the loo? The Super-Ego would then rationalise it all and think there could be a better way to deal with it as shoving food in her face would be wrong. So imagine these three battling it out and depending on who we are, how we have been brought up and¬†what morals we have then who knows who will win? Someone with a bigger Id could be more evil maybe, every nasty, negative thought is acted on impulsively. This is just a thought of mine anyway, it could explain a lot.

I also think, that as humans, we are all capable of killing someone. This thought first came to me years ago when¬†I studied Shakespeare’s Othello and Othello is a calm, gentle man and is driven to kill his own wife because doubts and rumours are planted his mind by the villain Iago that his wife has been unfaithful. Can we all be driven to killing someone? I’m not saying that if our mates tell us our partners are cheating when we will go and murder them but this example made me think about it and how a calm, gentle man was pushed to the limit. If we had family members who were killed, would we not want to kill the killer? We could all be in a situation where we want revenge and could be pushed and driven to acting in this evil way.

And yes we all have some good in us too… as hard as it to believe with some people as they keep it very well hidden! Tell their Id to go away ūüėČ

A nice topic that ties in nicely with Halloween! Happy Halloween everyone… hope you get treated and not tricked this evening!

XSXS

Time to Write

I actually felt really excited to write tonight. That is the reason for writing a blog, I realised. The want to write. That yearning to get your ideas out there. I mentioned a few days ago that I had been thinking about rejigging¬†my blog or starting a new one. I am not going to do anything just yet as I am going to follow some advice that¬†I¬†read in a fellow blogger’s post. It is important to read blogs as much as write them. The advice that I read in Christian Mihai’s¬†post ‘The 7 Golden Rules of Blogging,’ that said no matter what you write or how often, you should stick it out for a year. So that is what I plan to do and then decided on an extra blog or whatever. I will reblog his post actually after this as there are some great tips for bloggers in it.

The reason that I get excited about, well words really, at this time of year is because the clocks change. Time changes. It reminds me of one of my favourite lines from a poem. Carol Ann Duffy’s poem Mean Time:

‘The clocks slid back an hour

and stole light from my life’

I love this and it shows how that one hour can make such a difference. Every year when we put the clocks back I look at this poem. I go into my study and¬†dig out my poetry collection also named Mean Time. I studied it at¬†A level¬†and it is a great collection of poetry. I sometimes get it out when the clocks go forward to and remember¬†the reverse of how we gain light. I always remember which way round with the old saying ‘Spring forward, Fall back.’ Using the Americanised¬†word for Autumn of ‘Fall’ helps me to remember that along with the leaves falling off the trees, the clocks fall back an hour. Yes, they slide back as Duffy so brilliantly puts it. They steal light from our life. The nights get darker. Funnily enough, the Britons always think of the positive in this case of ‘oooh¬†we get an extra hour in bed!’ The bright side of a situation?! Mmmm very unlike us!

Duffy’s poem is quite depressing really but has some very interesting ideas about life and time. She says ‘these are the shortened days’ meaning that in general life is short and her references to death; ‘we will be as dead, as we know’ and ‘endless nights’ tell us that death is forever. It is life that has the time limit. Very depressing thought in one way but makes sure we make the most of life, I guess. She also talks¬†about if the sky could lift one hour away from her life then that hour could have been full of angry words to her lover and that could have been the hour that was taken away; ‘If the darkening sky could lift/ more than one from this day/there are words¬†I¬†would never have said.’ It would be great if we could choose which hour of life got taken away… or which hour we gained. At A level we looked at the different¬†meanings of ‘mean time’. Like it can mean ‘mean’ as in average. Average time. Life is just average. Or it can mean ‘mean’ as in cruel and that life is cruel to us. Very interesting poem and I recommend you take a look.

But in the mean time, what will you do with your extra hour?

XSXS

50 Darker Shades of Opinion (by Miss Gray)

Evening guys, thought I would finally share with you my thoughts on the second book in this famous trilogy. I summed up the first one as ‘bad writing, good sex.’ If I have to sum this one up in the same way, I will say, ‘Less sex, more plot.’ I preferred this one a lot more. I suppose people will be drawn in to read the trilogy by the sex and by the second book they are engrossed and want to know what happens¬†in the actual story.

I still stand by my first review as I am trying to look at them as separate books. The writing is similar but I can happily get used to that. The characters do seem a bit more developed and I start to find them believable in this book. In fact, I like them quite a lot. Ana seems to come to terms with who Christian is and takes on, not only her first ever relationship, but a very complicated and high maintenance one. She starts to accept him for who he is, which brings out favourable qualities in her. She seems to be tipped over the edge a bit too often for my liking though and I don’t get the fact that she can handle his screwed up past but can’t handle him giving his mentally disturbed ex-submissive a bath? Guess she has a lot to deal with though…. Christian, we found out a lot more about and it becomes very interesting why he is like how he¬†is. Power, control are the only things he has ever understood and the only way he has learnt how to be. As Ana learns to deal with more about this for their relationship, he also learns the other side; ‘hearts and flowers’. There is more romance in this book to balance out with the sex.

One theme that I have discovered runs through the book is ‘hunger’. That’s what I would write about if I wrote an essay about it. Yes, I think about that sometimes being the English writing geek that I am! Christian¬†spent his childhood being ‘hungry’ for food, which is why we discover he is obsessed with Ana eating regular meals so that she is not hungry. Ana is always ‘hungry’ for information. Constantly asking him about his past, the Room of Pain, ‘Mrs Robinson’, his ex submissives, his real mother etc etc¬†etc. She is like an inquisitive child, pushing her luck really with someone who doesn’t really like being open and talking. And of course they are both, quite frequently, ‘hungry’ for each other. For sex. Ana often responds to the, ‘Are you hungry?’ question with the response, ‘Yes, but not for food..’ Ooooh how saucy.

‘Mrs Robinson’ features in this book. Obviously I give her name in quotation marks, as that is not her real name. For some reason, I picture her to be that actress who plays Stifler’s Mum in American Pie. I think it’s because she, too, goes for the younger man and the song Mrs. Robinson plays in the first American Pie film when Finch first sleeps with her. I think the character in 50 Shades is meant to be more sophisticated and more beautiful (no offense to the actress!) but that is how I picture her at the minute. So, yes we neet her and that definitely adds some action to the plot. As does, his ex-submissive Leila and¬†Anna’s boss, Jack. We are talking, thrown drinks, arguments, sexual assault, guns and break-ins. But I won’t give anything away ūüėČ

When we read we like to escape don’t we? Escape our reality and to know that anything could happen. This is why I quite enjoy the whole ‘rich lifestyle’ of it all. Ana gets to fly in helicopters, visit fancy restaurants, view mansion style houses that are then bought, sail on amazing boats and drink expensive¬†white wine and Champagne¬†all the time! Jealous, much?! The thing I am jealous the most of all is that Christian has his¬†own library in his own flat. He must be the person who has a Red Room of Pain full of whips, nipple clamps and handcuffs and also a room full of shelves of great literature. Of course, the most endearing thing about it all is that Ana isn’t impressed by money. She enjoys all he has to offer yes but that isn’t why she is involved. I guess it helps though! It’s almost like she has to ‘learn’ to be rich¬†and get used to having whatever she wants. Mmm… hard life. ¬†I found the part when she bid on the auction at the masked ball hilarious. Not very often I laugh at books but that was funny, as she had no such money but got swept along with the moment.

So yes, I enjoyed the second book and it has a great cliff hanger at the end too ūüėČ The question now bugging me is – ‘Who is going to play Ana and Christian in the film?!?!’ Everyone seems to have views. Will Ana be beautiful? It seems to say she is nothing special, physically. But we have to remember that it is from her perspective and she doesn’t have a lot of confidence in herself. So, will she be more beautiful that she lets on?? Christian, naturally, has to be a god in human form. Brilliant opportunity for some actor out there, they are going to be loved by all women! I imagine him as Neil Patrick Harris in his role as Barney Stinson from How I met you Mother. But a bit more rugged and less cheesy. Maybe no man exists? Truth is, whoever is chosen, someone is going to be disappointed because we all have our own visions of who the dark, handsome millionaire will be. I look forward to finding out….

So, on to the third book…..

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

Romeo, Romeo, you are a stud!

Evening guys, just a quick post tonight because I have had a pounding headache all day!!! Those damn kids… it has been my first full day today so that must have something to do with it!

We are studying Romeo and Juliet and an interesting point arose today in the lesson. It fits in very nicely with my post from a few weeks ago actually, Adding Fuel to the Feminist Fire. We were talking about how things were sexist in Shakespeare times and how, in some ways, they still are today. The pupils had to write down things they associated with the word ‘Romeo’, like if a man is a ‘bit of a Romeo.’ They came up with words like ‘romantic’ ‘a flirt’ ‘a ladies’¬†man’ ‘charming’ etc. We then got a dictionary definition and Romeo means ‘any man who is preoccupied with or has a reputation for amatory success with women.’ Mmmm¬†interesting…. The teacher (a male teacher if you were wondering ūüėČ )¬†then made the point of, what do we call a woman in the with the same definition? A Juliet? No sadly, that doesn’t exist. It will be one of the derogatory terms like slag, slut or whore. I had never thought of this before but I have thought about how men get to be called ‘studs’ when they pull lots of women, whereas women get called the above.¬† Like when men get to be called ‘bachelors’ when single yet we get the oh so lovely term of ‘spinster’.

So that’s¬†a thought to leave with you with today… and watch out for Romeos ūüėČ

See you tomorrow – hopefully headache free!

XSXS

50 Shades of Opinion… by Miss Gray

Hi guys, Iim back! Had a lovely holiday but thought my first post back would be a review of 50 Shades of Grey since I know you’re all dying to know what I thought…..

My first thought, funnily enough, was finding it odd to see ‘Grey’ with an ‘e’ written as a name and the colour written ‘gray’ with an ‘a’. I know, with all the sex.. why is this my first thought?! Well it’s annoying since I spend most of my life telling people that my name is Gray with an ‘a’. Damn Americans confusing things!

Before I read the book I was told it was badly written… do¬†I agree with this? Yes I do. Thank god I do really. I would have been a bit concerned if¬†I couldn’t tell¬†the bad writing what with me having an English¬†degree and all. It was readable yes and no worse than your average chick lit but the things that annoyed me the most: the repetition of phrases… I lost count of how many times Grey had a ‘ghost of a smile’ or the ‘trace of a smile’ and whenever Ana had an orgasm… ‘I shattered into a thousand/million pieces.’ E L James… heard of a thesaurus?? Get it out and vary¬†how you write! There were also a few sentences that didn’t make sense and had poor expression. The characters were poorly developed too. I know Grey is meant to have so many levels and have ’50 shades’ but a lot of the time his moods just didn’t seem believable and I doubt anyone would be quite that changeable unless they had bi-polar disorder.

Ana also annoyed me because she seemed to confident within herself and her studies. She was a university student who seemed quite ‘normal’ and hung around with popular, outgoing people, yet she had never touched alcohol or had sex. I know, I know, it could be true but in the way she told the story it just wasn’t convincing. She was willing to drive a long distance to a town and interview a complete stranger yet became a blubbering wreck when she see’s him. Then all of a sudden he likes her ‘fast mouth’ but she blushes all the time and before we know it she is sex-mad minx who is willing to try bondage. I just didn’t really get who she was really meant to be. She was oh so confident to write to him on email and as I said, used fast comebacks in person but she couldn’t voice her concerns to him at any given point. She had been studying English and was going into publishing, so shouldn’t she be verbal and articulate? Yet, she can’t seem to tell him that she is not sure if she wants to be hit indeed for pleasure or pain. Weird.

It is the fastest selling paperback of all time. I find this depressing. I can see why people want to read it, yes. But is this what people seem to look for and need from a good book; good sex and bad writing? It’s such a shame because it could have been so much better. Will I be reading the next one? Sadly, yes I will. I want to see how it turns out. I don’t think the same reasons keep me turning the page though as they did for most people. People seem obsessed with the sex in it. It is very descriptive, if not too repetitve¬†at times, interesting and shocking. But to be honest, sex takes up about a half of the book and after the first five or so times, I’m a bit like ‘Oh here we go again.’ Even with his ‘Room of Pain’ I don’t think there are enough different ways to talk about sex as it is mentioned. I was more interested in seeing how their relationship developed and I kept turning those pages to discover more about Christian Grey, who we discover had a lot of pain and lack of love in his life. So, it’s the psychological side I’m the most interested in… yeh yeh¬†the sex is good too but like I say there is just too much of it…. I like them to talk so we can discover more about the characters and I was secretly hoping that they developed further…. I’m still waiting.

I also liked Kate and Elliot. They seem to be a constant¬†contrast of what a ‘normal’ relationship is like and makes us think of Grey and Ana; ‘god their relationship is messed up!’ The parents of Ana and Christian are all interesting characters but we don’t really see them enough for them to fully develop. I think there was one part where Ana phoned her Mum and we got a little history about her and then before we know it, she is phoning her Step-Dad and we hear about him… and I’m thinking Sloowww down, I was just digesting the new information about the mother.

It is worth a read yes but if you take away the sex then you are left with a boy meets girl, boy doesn’t want to commit scenario and let’s face it, that’s been done 50 million times before. But if you are like me, you will want your own opinion on the fast ever selling paperback. And I’ll keep you posted when I have read the other two books ūüėČ

Hope you all had a good week and let me know if you have been reading or have read the 50 Shades books too!

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

Off with your Head!

Hey people…

Since my day so far has been pretty boring and I just feel I am waiting to go on holiday now… I thought I would share with you one of my interests. I am a little bit obsessed by Henry VIII and his six wives… no it’s not boring! I, for one, hated¬†history at school. But now that I have matured (a little!) and the learning of the subject is not forced upon me, I actually¬†quite like certain eras quite a lot. It fits it quite nicely with English and Literature you see… and the Tudor¬†period is the same time as Shakespeare. But that isn’t why I am fascinated by good old Hezza… it’s the fact that he seemed to be so attractively challenged yet managed to get six women to marry him. Six!

I started thinking about the old womaniser last night when the Olympic ¬†closing ceremony¬†was on. Not because he was such a budding athlete… even though I do believe he was pretty good at jousting and hunting and even tennis…. it was because they called our current Prince Harry, Henry. The Facebook¬†updates were quite funny as they cried out that the BBC had made such a mistake and called our young prince by the wrong name! It’s like everyone was looking for something to go wrong or be said wrong! It is of course, his actual¬†name. It then made me think of the Tudor king because people often referred to him as ‘Harry’ in his younger years at least. And I started thinking why? Why are Henrys¬†called Harry and vice versa? There must be an actual reason out there, which I’ve not bothered to go out and research just yet… I’ll save it for a quiet evening when I have nothing better to do. It doesn’t make sense though does it? The name doesn’t even shorten by doing that? Hezza¬†is much better… haha even though that doesn’t shorten either to be fair.. but definitely a more modern name for our current prince.

Back to Henry the VIII…. I was thinking that if he was a man living in today’s society then he would surely be on Jeremy Kyle. I can see the headline of the show now; ‘Man married six women… killed two, ditched two and one died having his baby!’ (His current beau.. good old Katherine Parr would be a guest on the show also!) I guess we have a lot to thank Henry for. There would be no D.I.V.O.R.CE song, would there? Would are population be dire? Think about it… if people were stuck with one person and never there was an option to get divorced then maybe they wouldn’t want to procreate? Then again there is always affairs… and that’s something else we learned from the saucy Tudors!

Who could resist that??

¬†My main fascination with his wives, lies with Anne Boleyn. She seemed such a rebel for the time and is painted in such a horrible light. Beheaded for many reasons.. one being incest… but what’s a bit of brotherly and sisterly love between family? I guess that’s the point! But the thing is, women were under so much pressure in those times to marry someone in order to support their family.. especially if they were poor. She¬†was told to ‘seduce’ lucky Henry by her father and uncle and would have had no choice in the matter. Women were pawns in the market of marriage and wealth. She then had to produce a son to keep Henry’s love and interest. So even if she did succumb to her brother then it would have been to double her chances of falling pregnant and with a son. Very weird and slightly disgusting but if it is true then it shows how desperate she felt. Witch craft was another apparent offence…. because she had some miscarriages and they thought she was cursed. I tell ya, us women need to breathe sighs of relief that we don’t live in that era. She was also accused of having affairs.. yet Henry had them openly. Men were allowed to though *sarcastic eyebrow raised look*. It seemed six women in a lifetime wasn’t enough.

The six lucky ladies….

¬†I won’t go into all the wives but what I find so amusing about the whole story…. is that Henry’s¬†one goal in life (apart from abolishing the catholic church)seemed to be to obtain a son to take over the throne. Yet who reigned for 45 years after his death? Elizabeth. A woman. His daughter.¬†And Anne Boleyn’s daughter at that. His son? Edward VI managed a sickly six years. I’m not on my feminist high horse or anything here… poor Eddy can’t help the fact that he died so soon but I’m just saying that Henry had nothing to worry about because the one thing he wanted he didn’t need. A queen filled that gap just fine.

The much wanted son  

(Not bad for the daughter of an ‘incestuous witch’ eh??)

Anyway, I want to share a poem with you that I have written….see what you think…

Another One

Spain in my bed every night,

Such passion, such morals,

Loved by all.

But no boy. No boy. No son.

Out with the old, in with Boleyn,

Dangerous, excitable,

Hated by all.

And no boy, no boy, so no head.

See more, I need a new love,

A not so plain Jane,

Gentle, kind and loving,

And a boy! A boy!

But exchanged for death.

Tears make a river to the next,

Yet I like her not! I like her not!

Picture tells a different tale,

I judge the book by the cover.

Don’t read the full story.

 

How… I move for….ward,

Light and easy.  Young.

Unlike me.

Lots of boys.

But in her bed.

So off with her head!

Finally, last chance at love.

As I near the end.

Someone to care,

Like a daughter.

I can die now, it’s done.

I have a son.

(I did have this in six separate stanzas but couldn’t get it to stay like that on the post.. I was also wondering if it worked better like¬†this though,¬†as in, it doesnt stop; like Henry’s search for a wife doesn’t stop. What do you think?)

So remember ladies…. make sure you get knickerless or you could end up headless ūüėČ

If any of you are interested in reading about the Tudor period; Alison Weir’s Six Wives is a good read. Also for you fiction lovers… Phillipa Gregory’s The Constant Princess, The Other Boleyn Girl and ¬†The Boleyn Inheritance are a good historical-fiction¬†trilogy.

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

A Hole lot of Digging!

Afternoon folks, To link to my post from last Saturday, Adding Fuel to the Feminist Fire…which seems to have provoked quite a debate so check it out… I have been doing what some would call ‘manly’ chores/jobs/roles or whatever you want to call it. If you see the comments on that previous post, I think the conclusion seemed to be that there are no rules for what jobs people do in a household… but it comes down to the individual and what their skills are. Well I am not brilliantly able at gardening, physical lifting or anything manual to be honest but I had a go! Today, I was sawing branches off trees (I got a bit saw happy actually!), digging roots up and lifting huge slabs and any other junk that seem to be left by the previous owners…

I turned into a teenage boy for an hour actually… No my voice didn’t get hoarse and deep and I didn’t suddenly develop certain male parts or the urge to look at women in bikinis (I could have just put Club land on if that was the case!)‚Ķ I just quite enjoyed digging holes! I told myself I needed to get the roots up from the plant we have taken up and that I needed the turn the earth over and also check what was under there (still no dead bodies!) BUT really I was just enjoying seeing how far I could dig down. The memories of making mud pies as a small child returned to me. I have never understood why I ever chose to make mud pies. In most ways I am such an indoor girl and always have been. I loved Barbies, reading, dressing-up and all of that but it seems there is this grubby, outdoorsy type in me that resurfaces every so often!

I think, today, I was also influenced by my current read. Remember how I said on Wednesday (in my post That Stinging Feeling) that everyday things can remind of¬†us of ¬†literature?¬† Well, currently I am reading Holes by Louis Sachar. The pupils in year 8 at school study it and I haven’t read it yet so thought I would over summer. Yes, I’m lucky that as a teaching assistant that is as far as my summer work and preparation goes really! In the book, which I am very much enjoying, a group of teenage boys are at a juvenile detention camp and have to dig holes everyday, five foot deep and five foot wide. So I am not sure if me digging today was influenced by me reading the book or by doing that it made me think of the book! Such a circle of life and literature isn’t it??

The kids in the book have to get up at 4.30 am everyday and once they start digging their hole, they don’t stop – only for a quick lunch break and for drinks – it is¬†in a desert setting and the sooner they finish their hole, the sooner they can get out of the blazing orange rays.¬† The book has a lot more to it than that with themes of teenage rebellion, families, racism, religion so do take a look! I haven’t finished it yet… I was hoping to today but the garden has made a bigger hole in my day than planned ūüėČ

Anyway, as I was doing the garden, I pictured these fictional teenage boys and how they had to keep going in sandy, dry, boiling, strict and thirst desperation conditions and it helped me to keep going! My small garden of a semi-detached property had no comparison to the setting of the book but still… I thought if they can manage that for a full day everyday then I can clear this corner of the garden! And I did it! Yay! It’s looking more like an actual garden¬†each day!

Digging ‘holes’ also got me thinking about when we say it to people or we say it ourselves. The metaphor we use for basically saying things we shouldn’t!! Haha. We end up digging further than planned or we have to talk the talk and butter people up by digging ourselves out of the hole! I had to do that last night. I told you, I went to see the friend who got engaged. She loved my post about it (Two hearts, Two rings) but we were afraid that her fianc√© wouldn’t approve of me writing about it. Last night, I decided to apologise to him for the post and explain. Turns out he didn’t know about it anyway.. as my friend so subtlety told me as I started talking…. TOO late. I was in a hole. I then had to explain about my blog and the fact I had written the post. Then I said how I agreed with her choice on it –¬†then I thought; ‘Dammit, he will think I was insulting him if I was on her side!’ So I ended up digging a little further!¬† To dig¬†myself¬† out of that one. I had to say that I also used lots of examples and I looked at the male opinion and everything. Argh. To climb out of the hole completely… I even offered to delete the post… and stop writing my blog and keep my pen and typing fingers prisoner forever more (Ok that last bit was an exaggeration!) he said he was ¬†fine about it.. But I don’t think he has read it yet! Eek… and now I’ve told you all this, I may have more holes to dig out of tomorrow haha!

So people, be careful what you say and if you need to take out your frustration… then dig a real hole (it also comes in handy for hiding in!)

If I have offended anyone then please comment at the end and I’ll happily ‘dig’ myself out of it!

See you tomorrow (I hope!)

P.S – you’ll be glad to know that I have stood up to the cats. I have taking back my butt (of the water kind ūüėČ ) and I scared away the horrible hisser cat.. with some of the advice from yesterday, so thank you!

XSXS

Hungry for a good read?

Happy Sunday everyone…. I thought that every so often I would write a book review (in my own fashion.. as it may be more of a persuasive ploy rather than giving too much away)¬†as part of my blog….obviously this depends on how quickly I read books. I very often have my nose in one but sometimes it takes me a while to finish them, especially when I’m back at school (I am on book overload then with students and the last thing I want to do when I get home is read!)

But you know when you’ve read a fantastic book and all you want to do after you’ve finished read it is to recommend¬†it to someone?… or tell a non-reader (yes, sadly they aren’t¬†extinct yet)¬†all about it in hope that it will encourage¬†them to appreciate the written word? (rather than watch the blasted film!… which I do want to see but I always read the book first!) It’s like you peel your eyes away from last paragraph and look up and the world is still moving, people are doing day-to-day stuff and have no idea that you have just been to a world of literacy genius.. and they must understand this, they must!! I have this little fantasy that I walk up to friend straight away, hand them the book and simply say, ‘You have to read this!’ Sorry, I can’t do that on here…. and I have to know you really well to lend you my books… they are like my babies ūüėČ

The Hunger Games, for those who don’t know, is a trilogy and has been made into a recent film (which as I said above, I haven’t seen yet but am looking forward to seeing it portrayed¬†on the screen when it is out¬†on DVD in¬†September). If you think to yourself ‘Nah, not my kind of thing,’ please don’t stop reading because I thought the exact same thing. It is not normally my kind of read as it is quite action based (I normally¬†prefer romantic/relationships/everyday life kind of stories) but it is truly fantastic. I whizzed through the three books very quickly (for me) and the first one (which in my opinion¬†is the best..but the other two are also vital thirds to the exciting plot) I started about a month ago whilst we were at school still. I took it with me to work¬†as I neared the end and read it at break and lunch (noooo¬†not in lessons as I am, of¬†course, a professional ūüėČ ) I just couldn’t wait to find out what happened at the end of that first volume.

As I said I normally prefer books that are based on reality but every now and then I love it when an author creates a whole new world that is so believable that you want to find out more and more about it…like Harry Potter for example. I am so jealous of J.K Rowling for creating that whole world that circles around Hogwarts and the new language that she created and renaming us as ‘Muggles’… fantastic. I may have to kidnap her and pick her brains or put a spell on her or something.

Hunger Games isn’t as punctuated with¬†happiness (in between¬†all the Voldermort visits I mean) as Harry Potter.¬† Suzanne Collins has created a dystopian¬†society called Panem¬†which consists of twelve (or does it??) districts and the Capitol. Why did I choose to read this book? Well besides me thinking it was food related¬†(haha only kidding) I was fascinated by the fact that all these people get put into an arena for¬†‘The Hunger Games’ and only one can survive. I am not best interested in blood gore or fighting (which there is plenty of for you violence and guts lovers out there) but I am intrigued by human behaviour¬†and relationships and thought ‘how can they kill each other?’ And the blurb¬†already tells us that Katniss¬†Everdeen, the main character, sacrifices herself to take part in the Games in order to save her sister. I thought she obviously cares a lot about her family and I also knew there was a love interest (from seeing the film trailer, I must admit!) and I was intrigued to see if they would be in the Games too and how would you choose between yourself and killing a loved one? It is gripping stuff.

Katniss, is the kind of character I normally detest. She is stubborn, impatient, rebellious and has two guys fighting for her affection (we all hate girls like that right?). She is also athletic, brave, gutsy and extremely logically clever… which are all things I am not… so I found it very difficult to identify and empathise¬†with her to begin with. But Collins does such a superb job of letting Katniss tell this story that we are instantly on her side; we have her back…. even if other characters (who¬†she thinks she can trust) don’t.

We know that Katniss survives the¬†Hunger Games in the first book of the same title… mainly¬†because she in mentioned in the¬†blurb of the second book (so I’m sorry if that’s something you try to avoid to do…but I haven’t really given anything away here).¬†When I started reading the second book, Catching Fire I was a little dubious and thought ‘Well she has survived the Games…now what?’ Well there is a huge twist in this¬†book and the action is even thicker. The third book, The Mocking¬†Jay¬†then concludes with a war between the rebels and the Capitol….. has all this been the cause of Katniss’ actions? Who will survive? Time will tell….but life for Katniss will never be the same again… god I sound like the Games announcer.

You meet many amazing characters… Peeta¬†(who I imagine to be an absolute God.. so I hope the screen version doesn’t disappoint!), Gale (who I imagine to look the rough and ready type), Haymitch¬†who spends his whole time in the three novels drunk (my kind of character!), the stylist team who are very visually interesting and¬†you need to take with a pinch of¬†salt,¬†President Snow (bit of a Snape, you’ll see), Prim (the sister, who comes across as a girl who seems far too nice to have even survived in this society at all) and many more… but these are the ones who stood out the most for me.

The plot is so juicy with many turns and twists… there are birds that repeat your every sound, lethal monkeys, bloody rain¬†(as in red droplets not ‘oh rain again!’), deathly fog, lightning… oh and a great shortage of food and water (oh that may explain the title a little ;-)) so it isn’t¬†just each other that they need to watch out for!

Katniss¬†and Peeta keep asking….¬† Real or not Real? You may want to ask yourself this as you read….

One more thing… if you need another reason to read… is the love story… who will Katniss¬†end up with; Peeta¬†or Gale? If any? This is one of the main themes I was always enthralled by… and it definitely does get resolved and it is very worth the wait!

Action, love, hunger… what more could you want?

Rememebr……..’If We Burn, You Burn With Us!’

Happy.. or not so happy… reading!

I’ll be moving onto 50 Shades of Grey next.. (well after I read a couple of books for school)…. I’ve waited for some of the hype to die down and listened¬†to all the¬†¬†and opinions and now I want my own. It’s the fastest selling paperback¬†of all time.. so yes I definitely want to form my opinion on it and yes don’t worry¬†I will share!

See you tomorrow,

XSXS