HAPPY GALENTINE’S DAY <3: On Fictional Female Friendship

By Michelle Nathan

Hi all! So, in honour of my third favourite holiday of the year, Galentine’s Day (Christmas and Halloween come in 1st and 2nd, in case you were wondering) I have decided to write about 5 books that depict female friendship, in all it’s glorious complexity. Galentine’s Day is celebrated on February 13th, and is an (un)official national holiday created by fictional character Leslie Knope in my favourite TV show, Parks and Recreation. To quote Leslie, it’s about “ladies celebrating ladies,” a Valentine’s Day for your platonic loved ones.

But I have to admit, I really had to rack my brain to think of even 5 books that have female friendship at the centre of the storyline, or even fictional female friendships that really stood out in my mind as being iconic. I have a list as long as my arm for the same criteria in TV and film, but I clearly need to up my reading game to include more stories that depict memorable, complex, honest, interesting female friends, as I’m sure they do exist, I’m just not looking in the right places. Anyway, let’s get to the good stuff – the books!

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Mini Reviews: January 2017

by Kate

I read twelve books in January, which is a personal best, with an average rating of 4.5 stars – so it was an extremely good reading month for me. Below are mini reviews for each book (excluding book club picks and ones with longer reviews to come).

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Rip Van Winkle and Other Stories by Washington Irving

This is a collection of short stories, each of which is supposedly based on an element of Dutch-American folklore. My least favourite story was actually the title one, I felt it was quite anecdotal and a little bit misogynist – we’re supposed to feel sorry for Rip because his wife is always mad at him, but if he could be bothered to help around the house she wouldn’t be! I enjoyed ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ the most as this was the story that felt most true to the folkloric nature of the stories, whilst also providing a ‘rational’ explanation. The folklore aspect was definitely my favourite part as I haven’t read many American legends before.

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LITERARY LISTOGRAPHY 1: Cities and Countries I have travelled to via literature (that I would like to visit IRL)

By Michelle Nathan

Hello friends! This month I’m writing the first post of a new series that I am embarking upon called Literary Listography, named after a book that my friend bought me for my birthday last year. This book is jam packed with countless list topics that are left blank for you to fill out, so that you can finally definitively decide who your favourite authors are, which books you think should remain better left unread and characters that you’d love to go on a date with (if only they weren’t fictional, *sigh* :P) The result? Hours of organised, literary-based fun!

The first list that I have spent many hours pondering over is ‘Cities and Countries that I have travelled to via literature.’ The below book choices have taken me across the globe without me ever having to move from my cosy reading spot, and have inspired me to hopefully travel there in real life one day. While these books may not always being the best representation of the places they are set in, they’ve opened my eyes to new cities, cultures and experiences that I wouldn’t have otherwise known existed, and encouraged me to educate myself about these real places that I first discovered through fictional stories.

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Review: The Essex Serpent

I’m a sucker for a book award. I don’t always agree with the verdict, but slap a ‘Winner’ sticker on any novel and it will rocket to the top of my reading list. Call it curiosity, call it elitism, call it argumentative, call it whatever; if a book has been called ‘the best’, I want to find out why.

Hence my reading for this month: Waterstones’ Book of the Year 2016, Sarah Perry’s second novel The Essex Serpent.

Spoilers under the cut!

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BOOK CLUB: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

Happy New Year everybody! So December’s Book Club post is a few days (ahem, a week) late, but as one bud was out of the country over the holiday period and the others were passed out on their sofas after consuming insane amounts of Christmas food, we’ll let it slide this once…! This month we took on C.S Lewis’ classic high-fantasy tale, where four children climb through a wardrobe into the magical world of Narnia, filled with witches, talking lions, thinly veiled Christian mythology and Turkish Delight. Let’s get right to it!

 

SPOILER WARNING: The following post contains major spoilers for the plot of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

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REVIEW: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I feel like it’s a lot harder to read a book you think you should like more that you do than a bad book you went into with low expectations. The Night Circus is definitely a book I went into hoping I would love, and unfortunately one I came out of a lot more disappointed than if I hadn’t had those expectations to begin with because I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it and I felt it had decent potential, but at the same time I also saw some pretty crucial flaws in it and I think its popularity exacerbated those flaws and made them all the more irritating to me. After all this was a hugely popular book, and not just with the kind of audience that I might expect to love books that maybe aren’t quite my thing (*cough* every YA bestseller *cough*). Nope this book was lauded by people whose opinions I thought generally matched my own so I went in with the impression that The Night Circus was supposed to be a Great Book. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it to be one, and as I was reading it I became more and more baffled as to why everyone who given it glowing reviews couldn’t see the problems I saw in it. As a result those problems because more and more irritating and obvious, because I wasn’t expecting them to be there.

The Night Circus ostensibly revolves around two characters, Marco and Celia, who both exhibit some kind of magical powers and have both been prepared from childhood for a ‘game’ in which they must use this magic in competition with an opponent. Eventually the two meet through their shared connection to Le Cirque du Rêves, a black and white circus that only opens in the dark and then the game begins…

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BOOK CLUB: Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

We’re one bud down for this month’s slightly delayed book club in which we look at Helen Fielding’s third book in the Bridget Jones series Mad About the Boy. Fielding’s iconic heroine is now a single mother in her fifties and just stepping back into the dating game in the internet age.

SPOILER WARNING: The following post contains major spoilers for the plot of Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy.

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