WWW Wednesday, 5/12-18, Some Christmas reading?

And so it is time for Christmas music, lanterns and candles, and the annual return of the Grinch pyjama trousers!
This WWW Wednesday isn’t all that Christmassy, except from one book, just because I’m really bad at reading Christmas books! This time of year I always want to be like Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail, where she says she reads Pride and Prejudice every Christmas, but I guess I still just haven’t found my Christmas book yet. (Okay, this is a lot of Christmas)

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However, I’ve been reading other things these past few weeks.
WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words, and anyone can join the fun! All you have to do is answer three simple questions (“The three Ws”):

-What are you currently reading?
-What did you just finish reading?
-What are you planning on reading next?

I am currently reading
Snøsøsteren by Maja Lunde and Lisa Aisatio

This book is something different. It’s a story that makes you feel all the big things, by showing you the small, if that makes sense? It’s about a boy who’s lost his sister and is worried that Christmas will forever be cancelled now, but then he meets a new friend who apparently will show him that grief and mourning and rejoicing over things like Christmas candles and hot chocolate with whipped cream isn’t mutually exclusive.

I haven’t gotten very far into it, because it’s like an advent calendar in a book; 24 small chapters, “a Christmas story in 24 parts that creates the magic Christmas feeling so familiar from the works of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and H.C. Andersen’s works.” 24 parts that will make up one wonderful story just in time for Christmas Eve. Also, the illustrations are gorgeous and done by one of my favourite illustrators, Lisa Aisato. You should definitely check out her work!

Blurb (translated):
Christmas Eve is coming up, a day that’s also Julian’s birthday. Usually, this is the best day of the year, when the Christmas tree is decorated and the candles lit, the air filled with the scent of clementines and gingerbread, and the fire in the fireplace is crackling contentedly. But this year, nothing is as it should be. Julian and his family are carrying a sorrow in their hearts after their sister Juni died, and Julian can’t help but think that Christmas is cancelled.
Then one day, Julian meets Hedvig, who reminds him how lovely Christmas can be, and Julian starts wondering if maybe it can be Christmas after all?

Just finished
Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Oh, this book’s got me in a mood! I really wanted to love it, but it felt like it was just trying to do too much, and I struggled to get to the end. It’s supposed to be a sci-fi “space opera” sort of love story, but the fantasy elements are so well-written in it that the sci-fi feels a little bit out of place. The characters, the dialogue and the setting all feel like epic fairytale settings and I kind of wished that the author would have stuck with that. It also felt like it ended quite abruptly, while the start dragged on for a while.
Still, it is a really good book. The story is interesting, the world-building intense and so detailed, and the idea of someone acting as a body double to the monarch, and what playing the role as someone’s duplicate might do to a person, is really interesting. The relationships between the characters are also well-written, I loved the shifts in the dialogue between Maram and Amani, and the moments between Amani and Idris.

Blurb: 
The crown of Dhiya had been stripped from me, my face changed, my body broken. But I was not a slave and I was not a spare. I was my mother’s daughter, and I would survive and endure. I would find my way back home.

Next, I’ll be reading:
The name of the wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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Giving this another go!
I got this book for Christmas in 2016, and so many people have told me it’s their favourite book ever. I’ve started it a couple times, but something’s always gotten in the way of getting further in than a chapter or two, but not this time!

Blurb:
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to Gods, loved women and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me.

Do you have any books you have to read the second December starts? Any Christmassy reading traditions or recommendations? Please drop me a comment!

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

Journal #14, a little life update

Hey, you!

I’ve missed posting bits and bobs on this blog lately and really hope to get back into it again, soon! Uni’s taken over my life a little bit at the moment, but the last month or so has been a really good one. Crazy busy, but good.

The last few weeks I have been lucky enough to:

find the world’s smallest cinema screen with a good buddy
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visit too many Christmas markets for it to still be the first week of December


do some translation and interpretation jobs
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enjoy some very light snow img_7762

have some late nights fighting off a cold
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study for multiple exams (currently done with 1 of 4)
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do a lot of stand work with a charity I care about
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make a makeshift Christmas tree out of a tiny plastic palm tree
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have some really good cake
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try and fail to make a gingerbread house with some wonderful peopleimg_7934

and have a lot of tea
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I haven’t managed to get in as much reading time as I was hoping, but still, I’ve got what I needed done. Plus, I’ve found a new flat from January on, and managed to decide on where to do work experience and where to study abroad next year! Back to England, I go, to work hopefully in Sheffield and to study in York.

I really want to make some more Christmassy posts throughout December! Both because I’m really excited for Christmas, and also to think about stuff that aren’t my exams.

I hope you’re having a wonderful day,
-Andrea

55 of my Favourite Things

~ my tiny house in this new city ~ my finished degree ~ the degree I’m working on at the moment ~ learning languages ~ postcards ~ holding hands ~ anything blue ~ wordless books ~ old notebooks ~ the little curiosity robot on March ~ scented candles ~ tiny ear piercings ~ orange leaves ~ home cooked meals ~ the Hamilton Soundtrack ~ planning trips and journeys ~ successful study groups ~ facetiming the people I miss ~ feeling acquaintances become friends ~ big chunky “disappear into the world of this story for the next four hours” books ~ books in general ~ jazz music ~ big blankets ~ fresh bed sheets ~ milk chocolate ~ the smell of laundry detergent ~ daisies ~ strawberry tea ~ Christmas lights ~ Christmas markets ~ theatre tickets ~ the sound of the orchestra tuning their instruments before a concert ~ cinema dates ~ the smell of ground coffee beans ~ lazy mornings ~ rain ~ bagels for breakfast ~ spaghetti carbonara ~ the plants I got for this house and have managed to keep alive for the better part of three months ~ stationery ~ whipped cream ~ coffee dates ~ when a film plot really surprises me ~ sleeping with the window open ~ crocheting ~ cuddles ~ quiet playlist ~ spontaneous dancing on the kitchen floor ~ fairy lights ~ people smiling ~ musical theatre ~ spoken word poetry ~ learning new things ~

-Andrea

WWW Wednesday 14/11-18, Poetry and Quiet Nostalgia

I’ve been really getting back into poetry lately; I love the little breathing space it provides in an exam-centric week. I’ve got my first of five exams this semester in about two weeks, and the nerves are starting to properly set in! To combat the stress, however, I’m trying to schedule one hour of reading time every day, either in the morning before uni or at night before I go to bed. So far it’s been working, and it’s provided me with a couple of books to talk about in this week’s WWW Wednesday post!

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words, and anyone can join the fun! All you have to do is answer three simple questions (“The three Ws”):

-What are you currently reading?
-What did you just finish reading?
-What are you planning on reading next?

I am currently reading
Date & Time by Phil Kaye

I started following Phil Kay’s poetry in 2014 but have only now managed to get my hands on the physical copies of his books. I love the cover on this one, and in it is written so many of my favourite poems of his. It’s a quiet collection, yet incredibly inventive and strong. It “explodes with imaginative scope, intelligence and feeling” and is one of those collections that you want to read slowly so it never has to end.

Blurb:
Date&Time is a vulnerable exploration of the distance between memory and lived experience, between the speaker and the reader, between how we see ourselves and how we see our lovers, our friends, and family. Through poems that are as wry as they are heart-breaking, Phil Kaye’s work is unflinchingly honest as he considers the chronology, or rather achronology, of love and loss.
“Phil Kaye does not simply walk us through the door of the past, he asks the reader to assist him in taking the door of its hinges. I am so thankful for this collection. It gives us all a new vocabulary with which to consider who we have been and who we are becoming.” -Clint Smith

I just finished reading
A Light Bulb Symphony, Poems by Phil Kaye

A mesmerizing choice of words, sentences that sing themselves off of the pages, emotions too big to fit the 10p font. This is Phil Kaye’s first poetry collection, and it’s just as strong as his later works. His writing is elegant and sincere, as he writes about his memories and his life, family and loved ones, the small things and the big things and all the things that make up a life well lived.

Blurb:
The book doesn’t have one, but I want to show you some excerpts from one of the poems in it:

“Ayekaye – For Aurora”
It’s days like this I wonder what I’m doing
3,000 miles away from the only person
whose skipping stone heart
leaves ripples that sounds just like mine
when they lap against the shore.

[…]

I keep all your cards
like Magic Marker prayers.
I hang them up around my days
like Post-It notes that read, “Live.”
Because you made me believe in ice cream for dinner
and Disneyland on a school day.

[…]

So the nights I need you the most
I take a pocket full of skipping stones
And off the New York coast
I listen to you breathe.

Next, I’ll be reading
the five people you meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Ever since 2013, every year when November comes around I have to pick this book up. It’s been read and thumbed through, thrown in my bag and forgotten on the bus multiple times, dropped in the bath and accidentally splattered with tea more times than I can count. There is something in this story that I always gravitate back towards, something quiet and intimate, something kind and forgiving. A book about how everything we do affect something or someone somehow, how our actions can change someone’s life without us even knowing it, and how small acts of a stranger can have a massive impact on our own lives. It’s a celebration of the goodness in people, something I think we all need to be reminded of from time to time, and therefore I make sure to read it once a year, at the time when the days are darkest and the weather the most dreary. A book I really, really recommend.

Blurb:
All endings are also beginnings, we just don’t know it at the time… An enchanting, beautifully crafted novel that explores a mystery only heaven can unfold.

So a week heavy with poetry and nostalgia; it’s wonderful all the stuff books can make you feel.
Have you read any of these? Or any of Mitch Albom’s other books?
If you’ve written a WWW Wednesday post today, please leave it in the comments, I’d love to have a read! Or if you just want to chat books, I’m always here for that, too!

Have a wonderful day, until next time,
-Andrea

WWW Wednesday October 3rd

Let’s talk some more about books!

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words, and anyone can join the fun! All you have to do is answer three simple questions (“The three Ws”):

-What are you currently reading?
-What did you just finish reading?
-What are you planning on reading next?

What are you currently reading?
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher


This is an intriguing book. So far I’ve really enjoyed it, and with every page I get more and more sure that Carrie Fisher was both one of the most wonderful and bizarre women to ever walk this earth. I’m not as well-versed in the Star Wars films, franchise and universe as I wish I was, but I’ve seen enough of them to get the picture. I’m finding the 2016 memoir parts a little more gripping than the journal/diary pages, but I guess that’s natural, considering the memoirs are built on a life long lived and everything that’s been picked up along the way. Really good book, 10/10 would read again (or at least finish quickly so I can pass it on and make other people read it).

Blurb:
When Carrie Fisher discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved – plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naïveté, and a vulnerability that she hardly recognized.
Including excerpts from these handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time – and what developed behind the scenes. Fisher also ponders the joy and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty.


What did you just finish?
Flight by Vanessa Harbour

I really liked this! I wrote about it in the last WWW Wednesday post, so if you want to read that you can click here. It felt strange reading the published works of someone who’s read and marked and critiqued so much of your own writing, and I must admit that it put my mind straight back into workshop mode. Nothing to critique, though, just a really good book!

Blurb:

Blurb:
If Jakob sneezed, he could die.
Austria 1945. After losing his family, Jakob shelters with Herr Engel in a rural stables, where they hide the precious Lipizzaner stallions they know Hitler wants to steal. When a German officer comes looking for Jakob and finds the horses, Jakob and his guardian know they just get the stallions to safety, but the only way is straight through Nazi territory.
Joined by Kizzy, an orphan Roma girl, the three must guide the horses across the perilous Austrian mountains. Will they reach safety? What will be waiting for them on the other side?

What are you planning on reading next?
Steam, Smoke & Mirrors by Colin Edmonds

I know nothing of this book, but I loved the cover and really want to get into reading more steampunk! I’m sure we’ve talked about this before, but steampunk is like my ultimate aesthetic when it comes to anything. I’m always looking for books and films to fit the theme, and wish that one day I’ll be brave enough to actually wear my steampunk on my sleeves, to incorporate the look into my style. Not yet, though, for now I’m good with the books.
And a lot of the steampunk novels I’ve come across are self published e-book ones, so it allows me to support writers just starting out their career, too!

Blurb:
When a music hall hypnotist escapes from the London County Asylum she leaves a single word on the wall of her cell – scrawled in blood: “MAGISTER”.
Terror then stalks the capital’s streets as the killing spree begins. But why does Superintendent William Melville of the Special Branch call upon the skills of brilliant stage magician Michael Magister and his glamorous assistant Phoebe Le Breton to help capture the murderer?
From the recently discovered journals of Professor Artemus More, secrets are laid bare, mysteries revealed, illusions exposed and conspiracies uncovered, all in a steampunk vision of Victorian Britain. But is anything truly what it seems? Or is it all just Steam, Smoke and Mirrors?

I’m really excited about the books this week, and can’t wait to get through them. Uni’s properly picking up now with lots of assignments and soon-to-come exams, so I get most of my reading done on the bus and in the evenings, and it’s a nice break from the academic work.

What’re you reading this week?
Have you read any of these?
Are you doing a WWW Wednesday post? Pop a link in the comments, I’d love to read it!

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

Swimming at the deep end of an adverbial phrase and the challenges of learning something new

When was the last time you learned something new? Jumped in at the deep end, went in completely blind, arms open, eyes wide, to learn something you had no earlier knowledge or skills in?

I’m doing a new ba now, and I’m struggling. Not to the point of wanting to stop or give up, just to the point where I have to work harder than I have in years. It feels like I’m back in school, learning definitions by heart and practicing phrases and rules again.

This got me thinking about how I haven’t actually learned something completely new in a very long time. My last BA was definitely challenging, and I certainly got to develop new sides of myself and my “craft”. However, those sides were to some extent already there; they just needed honing, practice, to be cared for, seen and worked on. Now I’m studying grammar and politics and intercultural communication. Every day I’m learning new phrases, new words, new concepts and ideas that I’ve never heard of before. That is exciting! It’s difficult and frustrating but also so so interesting.

As kids we learned something new everyday. Even better, when we were kids, we were great at learning. We hadn’t yet gotten into the arms race that are having better marks than everyone else, we had no concept of always needing to be the best, there was so much less fear of failure. A scraped knee from learning to ride a bike only hurt until mum put a plaster on it and kissed it better. A glossary test gone wrong only meant going back over the words and nailing it next time. But as we grow older a lot of us lose the ability to look at learning as a process, we want to be the best at everything the first time we ever try. There is this notion of being a natural, we want to be great without needing practice, because practice is difficult and more so, practice makes you look bad, like you don’t know. This is of course not right at all. Practice doesn’t make you look stupid, it makes you look determined. And no one can know anything, unless they’re taught. If we were only ever supposed to do what we learnt as kids, so we never had to practice and “look stupid” as adults, we’d have a very small array of skills and experiences to pick from in our lives, and that, in turn, wouldn’t make us very well-rounded and happy people, would it.

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Yesterday I spent five hours at my dining table, pencil in hand and notebook in front of me, trying to make sense of in-depth sentence structure again. Subjects, adverbial phrases, demonstrative determiners, I know I’ve got it somewhere in my brain. I know a teacher from maybe eight or so years ago managed to lock it somewhere safe in my head, but it takes so much coaxing to get it out, to get those words back down on paper. Some of what I read was also completely new to me, linguistics on university level isn’t something I’ve got a lot of experience with. It took time, a lot of reciting out loud to myself, and a lot of tea.

But the feeling when I got it right! When I could highlight my answers, recite the rule and reason, and tell myself that I properly understood it; that was such a good feeling.

It’s a feeling I haven’t felt in years before this BA, but that I’ve been experiencing a lot these past couple of weeks. The feeling of being able to swim when you jump in the deep end, of keeping your balance when you go in blind, of seeing all the wonderful things the world throws at your open arms if you only widen them a little bit.
(Yes, I know I’m only talking about grammar right now, but the feeling still applies, haha)

I hope you learn something cool today!

-Andrea

WWW Wednesday September 5th

And it’s a Wednesday!
Throughout June and July I did a WWW Wednesday post every week, but I haven’t done one for about a month, now. However, as I’m finally getting properly settled into this new little house of mine, I’ve also finally gotten into the headspace for reading again, and figured I’d get back into posting WWWs again too!

As you can see from the background of these photos, all my reading (that’s not uni course related) is happening in one place. I’ve made myself a cosy, little reading nook. It’s a small-esque chair, nestled under the stairs. It’s got a lamp and a bookshelf right next to it, and my favourite Harry Potter-blanket, the only thing I brought with me from my flat in Winchester to this new uni home. I figured I’d put in a picture of my cosy nook at the end, but before that; let’s look at some books!

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words, and anyone can join. All you have to do is answer three simple questions (“The three Ws”):
-What are you currently reading?
-What did you just finish reading?
-What are you planning on reading next?

I am currently reading:
Flight by Vanessa Harbour

I’ve been so excited for this book for so long! It’s written by Vanessa Harbour, a writer of wonderful children’s fiction and a “master storyteller”, as the praise on the back of the book says. All three years of my Creative writing BA, I was lucky enough to have her as my lecturer and in my third year, she helped me immensely (and was awfully patient with me and my rising stress levels) as my dissertation tutor. Vanessa always stressed how writers have to ask questions, and she sometimes used her own process of working on this book to set examples for us students. This helped us a lot, both as what she talked about and taught us was very helpful, but also because it felt like she was taking us seriously, as students, as writers and as people. Flight popped down in my mailbox today, and I absolutely cannot wait to read it.

Blurb:
If Jakob sneezed, he could die.
Austria 1945. After losing his family, Jakob shelters with Herr Engel in a rural stables, where they hide the precious Lipizzaner stallions they know Hitler wants to steal. When a German officer comes looking for Jakob and finds the horses, Jakob and his guardian know they just get the stallions to safety, but the only way is straight through Nazi territory.
Joined by Kizzy, an orphan Roma girl, the three must guide the horses across the perilous Austrian mountains. Will they reach safety? What will be waiting for them on the other side?

What did you just finish reading?
Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton

I know I was gushing about this book in my last WWW post, and I really wanted to like it. I loved the concept of women having developed magic to deal with systematic oppression, and how that magic again was mistaken for a dangerous force that needed to be quenched, when in fact it is even more powerful when used for good. I also really enjoyed the world building, the maps and the different cities, all the talk of languages and the nuances in the different languages. However, I feel like this book could have benefited from a bit more editing. Some of the sentences were awkwardly worded and a lot of the world building came through in huge info dumps and unnatural pieces of conversation. The back describes it as a feminist fairytale, and though the inclusivity is wonderful (yay LGBT characters, strong female characters, disabled characters and people of colour in heroic roles), it also sometimes felt awfully forced. This is still a good book, though, and like I said, I loved the concept enough to want to read it again at some point.

Blurb:
Mia took the knife and held it high, silver moonlight glinting off the blade. She stared at herself in the reflection. A demon in oyster silk stared back. And yet, in spite of everything – even as she stood amidst the charred cinders of her life – she felt freer than she had in ages. Powerful.
Run, little rose. Run fast and free. 

What are you planning on reading next?
The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White

I don’t have any clever reasoning for wanting to read this book; I used to love the Disney adaption of it when I was a child, and I saw this in Waterstones, months ago, and just fell in love with the colours on the cover. Now I’m excited to see what the original story is actually like!

Blurb:
When Merlyn the magician comes to tutor Sir Ector’s sons, Kay and the Wart, schoolwork suddenly becomes much more fun. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy being turned into a fish, a badger, or a snake?
But Wart is destined for great things, and Merlyn’s magical teachings are only the beginning of his amazing future.

Okay, that was fun! Like I said; I’ve settled in now, which means more energy for reading, which means that hopefully, it won’t be a month until the next WWW Wednesday post! If you’ve done a WWW post this week, please leave it in the comments, I’d love to check it out! What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these books?

As usual, have an absolutely brilliant day,
-Andrea