Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern Review

“It was like the world stopped turning in that instant. Like everyone around us had disappeared. Like everything at home was forgotten about. It was as if those few minutes on this world were created just for us and all we could do was look at each other. It was like he was seeing my face for the first time. He looked confused but kind of amused. Exactly how I felt. Because I was sitting on the grass with my best friend Alex, and that was my best friend Alex’s face and nose and eyes and lips, but they seemed different. So I kissed him. I seized the moment and I kissed him.”

– Cecelia Ahern, Love, Rosie

Love, Rosie, originally titled Where Rainbows End is an epistolary romantic novel by Cecelia Ahern that follows the friendship/relationship of Rosie and Alex, and all of their many missed attempts to forge a relationship together. Whilst he takes on a successful career as a heart surgeon in Boston, she remains trapped in the same small Irish town, as a single teenage mother.

Relatable and easy to read despite the length, the novel spans all the way from childhood to middle age, and, through a selection of letters, emails, and instant messages, details the intricacies of Rosie and Alex’s relationship, and the drastically different directions that their lives take.

Rating: 3/5

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Winter Reads ❄️

Although it physically pains me that Autumn is over, it is now time for a winter reading list. Hopefully these recommendations will jingle your literary bells over this festive season. Please feel free to leave any of your favourites in the comments!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief is my favourite book of all time, so any excuse to read it is fine by me. Whilst it’s not exclusively set in winter, some of the most poignant moments appear at this time, and particularly over the Christmas period in Munich, Germany.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Unsurprisingly, there is a Christmas book on this list; Victorian literature, I feel, is particularly apt at communicating the feeling of winter, and the contrast between being cold outside and warm inside. Also, I know I’m an adult now, but the Muppets Christmas Carol is still the best adaptation there is and will ever be.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

An obvious read for the season is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which is follows a group of siblings that are evacuated to the countryside during the war, and stumble upon the magical, snowy land of Narnia, which is eternally winter, but never Christmas.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott’s acclaimed Little Women is set at Christmastime during the American civil war. This novel famously features the four March sisters; Amy, Beth, Jo, and Meg and their transition from childhood to womanhood, along with the change in their relationships and lives over time.

The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen

For anybody with children in their family, The Little Match Girl is a wonderland bedtime story for the Christmas period, and I vividly remember reading this during winter as a child.

Mortal Kiss by Alice Moss

This isn’t the kind of book that I’d reach for now, but this was such a shout when I was in middle school. YA fiction at its best, Mortal Kiss is set in a town in the US that is suffering from a heavy winter, and some new arrivals to their tight-knit community.

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Ghost stories are, and will forever be, appropriate for the wintertime, and short story by Edgar Allan Poe is one of my favourites. The Raven is based around the ghostly goings on of one dark, December’s night, whilst the narrator is plagued by thoughts of his dead wife, Lenore.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road is definitely a bleaker novel than some of the others on this list, but reading this when you don’t have to go out into the cold is a next level of coziness.

The Shining by Stephen King

Much like The Road, The Shining by Stephen King is a good choice of literature if you want something a bit less merry to read over the festive season. Cabin fever is a major theme of this book and, if you’re ever snowed in, this one will give you plenty to think about.

The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater

Like Mortal Kiss, The Wolves of Mercy Falls series is young adult in genre, and has no shortage of werewolves and romance. There are four books in total, Shiver, Linger, Forever, and Sinner.

‼️ URGENT: HELP NEEDED ‼️

Hi guys!

As you may know, I’m hoping to study for a degree in English Literature, or ideally English Literature with Creative Writing, in 2019, and the UCAS deadline is fast approaching. I know you guys are readers and writers, and so hopefully there are a few of you that have done a similar course/know somebody who has. If any of you have any course recommendations or advice at all, they would be gratefully received, because I’m currently struggling to navigate my way through all of the English Literature courses. Thanks so much,

Hebe x

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Review

“I feel like cotton candy: sugar and air. Squeeze me and I’d turn into a small sickly damp wad of weeping pinky-red.”

– Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale is Margaret Atwood’s most famous work to date, and has since inspired a successful HBO series of the same name. The Handmaid’s Tale depicts a futuristic, theocratic form of America, named Gilead, where women are stripped of their fundamental human rights and, due to environmental damage and the rapidly decreasing birth rates, are forced to carry babies for powerful men and their sterile wives.

Written in first person, the narration often feels self-indulgent, and the issues that our narrator, Offred, faces appear to be superficial in comparison to the major issues within that society as a whole. The Gileadean regime oftentimes fits the mould of a dystopian society a little too well, and whether this is done satirically or distastefully is debatable. Throughout the novel, Atwood’s intentions are unclear, and it’s difficult to distinguish what exactly it is, within the myriad of issues raised, that she’s trying to comment on.

Rating: 3/5

What I’m Thankful For

Although I’m English, and maybe because I’ve been overexposed to Friends from a young age, I’ve always liked the idea of Thanksgiving. I think being consciously grateful is so important, especially on the internet, which is filled with What I Got for Christmas and What I Got for my Birthday posts. I strongly believe that we should start celebrating, not what we’ve been wanting, but what we’re already content with. So here, in no particular order, are some things that I’m thankful for in November 2018.

I’m thankful for family

I’ll kick things off with the obvious ones; I’m thankful for my family. Having a family is something that, unfortunately, not everybody can say, and I’m lucky enough to say that I have the coolest one. I may be slightly biased, but they are ultimate squad goals, and I am genuinely grateful to have them in my life.

I’m thankful for friends

Making friends has never been my forte, especially throughout sixth form. I’m so lucky that I’ve actually got a solid group of friends now that make a concerted effort to be in my life (and don’t forget my birthday). Making good friends is a bit of a ‘right place at the right time’ thing, and it’s not something I take for granted.

I’m thankful for Bryn (my rabbit)

Although I am slightly allergic to him, I’m thankful for my rabbit, Bryn (named after Uncle Bryn from Gavin and Stacey, if you were wondering). Not only is he a fluffy ball of love, but having animals in your life is actually proven to make you happier and lower your stress levels, and Lord knows I’ve needed it over the past few years.

I’m thankful for literature

Literature is genuinely something I love so much. Ever since I was little, all I’ve wanted to do is read and write and read and write some more, and now that I have some more time for myself, this is something I’m really appreciating more than ever. I heard someone say the other day that, to work out what you should do with the rest of your life, you should reflect on what it was that brought you joy as a child, and for me that was, and has forever been, literature.

I’m thankful for where I live

This is something that I think a lot of people take for granted, but I’m extremely thankful to live in England in the 21st century. There’s so much that I just get, that other people haven’t had the luxury of. I get free healthcare, democracy, human rights, the list goes on. People spend a lot of time getting angry about current politics and everything that they don’t have, but it’s also important to remember how privileged we truly are.

I’m thankful for entertainment

This one is pretty broad, but I’m just really grateful for entertainment at the moment. I’m currently watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and it’s one of the best shows I’ve watched in a long time. I focus on reading a lot, but I think I often forget how inspiring other forms of entertainment can be.

I’m thankful for university

Deciding whether or not to go to university or just take a year off was a difficult one for me, but this summer really wasn’t the best time for me, and being able to take the course I did and make the friends that I have was really the best thing I could’ve done, and I’m in a much better place now because of it.

I’m thankful for Thanksgiving 

I’m glad that there is a holiday dedicated specifically to being grateful. We’re in a particularly materialistic moment in human history, and it’s important to take a step back from what we want, and focus and reflect on what we already have. There’s a saying that goes, “It’s not about having what you want, it’s about wanting what you have,” and I think that’s very true.

I’m thankful for Christmas

I’m just really excited for Christmas, what can I say. The decorations are up, the markets are fully stocked, everything smells like cinnamon and figs and happiness. As they say, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

I’m thankful for myself

Yes, I went there. I’m thankful for myself. I’m thankful for how hard I work and the things that I’ve done to better myself and reach my goals. Without getting too Eat, Pray, Love – life is a marathon, not a sprint, and I should appreciate what I’ve done and what I’m doing more.

 

Women in Love by DH Lawrence Review

“She thought she loved, she thought she was full of love.”

– DH Lawrence, Women in Love

Women in Love is a fictional social commentary of twentieth century living. The book follows two sisters, Gundrun and Ursula Brangwen, and the relationships they form with Gerald Crich and Rupert Birkin. Lawrence picks up on subtle aspects of everyday life, from nature and politics to class and gender.

Whilst the writing is fluid and poetic, there were several points in the novel where there was no clear direction and Lawrence was just wavering through a cloud of different ideas and themes. If you’re new to reading classics, Women in Love is a good place to start as it is one of the more modern texts. However, whilst the language itself is easy to comprehend, more concentration is needed for some of the heavier topics discussed.

Rating: 2.5/5

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick Review

“By sorting out her wardrobe it felt as if he was saying goodbye to her all over again. He was clearing her out of his life.”

– Phaedra Patrick, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is an adventure story about how the seemingly dull life of an English widower is shaped by the discovery of a charm bracelet belonging to his wife. Our protagonist is Arthur Pepper, an elderly widower; Phaedra Patrick becomes the voice of this minority without begging for sympathy or dramatising the unnecessary.

Curious Charms can fall into clichéd scenarios/character traits but I think that that is true of most adventure stories and some of these clichés do aid character development. Overall, this was an uplifting, thought-provoking novel, which gives a voice to a section of society that are oftentimes overlooked.

Rating: 4/5