#5 The Gracekeepers | A good book a cup of tea

Quietly magical but too subdued in parts. 3.5 stars.

As a work of fantasy this is beautiful, Kirsty Logan creates a world spilt into two clans: Damplings who live and work on the sea and Landlockers who are fiercely protective of the small patches of earth they own. The Gracekeepers follows the lives and troubles of North; a Dampling circus performer – a ‘bear girl’ who is to be wed by the ringmaster’s son Anisel and a gracekeeper who lays those killed by the sea to rest called Callanish. Both women have secrets and that is what will eventually bring them closer together. It’s a story that draws on rivalry, rumours, death and motherhood and is worth reading just for how beautifully told it is. However the actual plot does have some niggly aspects that make it feel unfinished which is a shame.

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Pros:

The subtle affinities between North and Callanish is beautiful. You really feel for both women and the loss they have experienced because of their estranged families and the demands of the weight of their secrets.

The locations, outfits, makeup; all the visual aspects of this novel, are breathtaking – you can’t help imagine the Excalibur sailing pass you as you read it.

Cons:

This is one of those books that starts off booming; tragedy is splashed across the first chapter with North’s parents being mauled by their performing bear. What annoyed me was that this, the most upsetting element of the plot for me, is never discussed by North. She never talks about missing her parents or laments their death – it’s a missed opportunity that really irks me.

The wondrous descriptions can drag down the pace of the book and this one took me a while to get through as a result and stopped me developing a sustained fondness for all the characters.

The Gracekeepers was a real marmite read for me; I started off engrossed in it, and loved how it was written but it did feel a bit unfinished in terms of character development and pace. What did you guys think?

 

Fi X

#4 Saga| A good book and a nice cup of tea

Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples is a graphic novel that packs heaps of sexy, subversive, omg-what-is-happening-where-is-that-blood-coming-from?! punch. 5 stars all the way.

Not one for the easily freaked-out this graphic novella tells the plight of two future humanoids Alana, a prison guard, from planet Landfall (modern day earth) and her husband Marko, a foot solider from Wreath (otherwise known as the moon). We soon learn that their love in forbidden – the two planets are at war that spans the cosmos and their relationship threatens their baby’s life from birth.

OH MY GOODNESS. The comic bursts into life in hilarious action-packed fashion with Alana giving birth to the story’s narrator Hazel. In this scene Alana gets weirdly turned on by childbirth and Marko cuts his daugher’s umbilical cord with his teeth rather than use his sword which he now sees as a symbol of the war he hopes his family will eventually escape from. The wacky first chapter sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the action.

As the family search for solace at the mystical Rocketship Woods a sub-plot of the royals, assassins, and a woman who resembles a headteacher with a unicorn horn who are all out to get the young couple is revealed. And the young couple’s odds aren’t looking great.

 

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The story isn’t all sex and violence though. The fantasy is injected with amazing comic relief through the electric, unconventional love story between its protagonists: liberal husband and wife, Marko and Alana. The sassy sarcasm of the fiercely protective Alana pitted against the  quietly pragmatic persona of horned reformed-warrior Marko is magic. Both characters are given just the right human touch without detracting from any of the kick-ass awesomeness of the plot.

This is the first graphic novel I have read in a year or so and honestly its made me want to order the next volumes pronto. In fact they’re already in my Amazon basket. Read it now!

 

 

August: Monthly Goals

Hello again everyone! So I’m back again and I’m proud to say I’m now a graduate. Sleeping at my university library and holding down four jobs is why I have not been around much this year and I have an agreement with myself to blog twice a week. Wednesdays and Sundays are the days to look out for my posts. But if you do not hear much from me at first bear with me – furious typing will ensue once I recover from post-degree laziness.

To kick start August (how on earth is it August it was Christmas 2.1 seconds ago?!), I have decided to summarise my goals for the month ahead on my blog to get my thoughts in order.

  1. Blog more – Blogging makes me happy. More than that, it fills me a heck of a lot of zen and as someone who worries about 158161 things all the time this is important. I really want to make the commitment to myself and you guys to write all the posts and not be too harsh on myself if they’re not perfect.
  2. Love more – I won’t go to deep into love life chats but I want to spend more time with those I love my friends, boyfriend, mum, sister and everyone in between. Even if its just chilling out watching a movie.
  3. Polish my illustrating skills – I don’t think I’ve mentioned this here. Fun fact about Fi: she loves a bit of art. I’m not particularly gifted at drawing but I think I’m learning again, and I love it! Now I have more free time I really want to brush up on my skills. I make such horrendous jokes.
  4. Pursue a job I truly love – Due to an exciting phone call I received I will be writing a blog post on my search for a graduate job and all the things I have useful and detrimental to my applications. It’s a tough journey but it’s worth sticking at.
  5. Find a flat fit for a grown up – I may be 22, with a sweet degree and a massive fro but I still don’t eat my crusts and I will ask you to get rid of a spider. Finding a flat with my best friend is the next step in being a proper adult, and I can’t wait to go to viewings next week!

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Fi xx

Catching up with Fi| A cheesy Valentine’s, feeling 22 and exciting opportunities

Hi everyone!

I haven’t been around these here parts for a long time and mostly that’s because this has been my first real day off since Christmas. I love working on my degree (most of the time) and my jobs but I have been missing the world of blogging, so here’s a run down of some of the snazzy stuff I’ve been up to between lectures, teaching, and having my nose stuck firmly between the pages of a book (mostly  Valentine’s hoorahs with a fella I like a lot and my other love…pizza).

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A lot has happened in the last few months including me turning 22 (how, what, when?!) despite feeling 12, bagging a very exciting internship, reading all the books, starting the swotting process for driving lessons and being on the road to graduating this Summer. It’s all a bit overwhelming so blogging has taken a bit of a back seat. I hope this chance to have a nosey at my life sort of makes up for my appalling absence a tiny bit. I hope you’ve all been well *prances off to check my dashboard for all of your latest posts*.  Thank you so much for baring with me and happy scr0lling!

 

P.s. please feel free to comment any posts you’d like to see below feeling a bit stuck so ideas lately but more book, lifestyle and natural hair tip posts are in the works!

Fi xxx

Fi’s Happy days | Little ways to love your day

Sometimes I find that, like most people, I have a completely rotten day and every thing in that day is doomed to be equally as god-awful. But over the years I have found so small nuggets of happy that can make even the worst days feel a tiny bit happier and I thought I’d share them with you lovely shiny people! 🙂

  1. Get out of bed. Sometimes your bad day carries over from the day before; someone said something, or you did something you regret, or nothing went to plan and staying in bed feels safer some how. I know that feeling too well and the best thing to do when you feel sad? Get up and step into the world and LET IT SURPRISE YOU
  2. Eat something yummy but GOOD. Take the time to put care into preparing a nice meal
  3. Find your happy place and rest a while
  4. Read something that could change your life. Honestly books are the only miracle I believe in
  5. Wear your favourite item of clothing
  6. Experience nostalgia – scrapbook old memories, or call an old friend up for a chat
  7. Watch The Office (US), or your programme of choice (but honestly The Office is hysterical)
  8. Pamper yourself, even if it is just painting your nails with Gogglebox on in the background
  9. Accomplish something small but mighty. This can be ANYTHING like checking your emails that you’ve been putting off, or doing some laundry, or starting that bit of coursework. There’s a joy and a relief in just starting something
  10. Seek companionship and big laughs. There is no better cure for sadness or boredom than belly laughs
  11. Tidy your room, or wreck it, focus on making the immediate space around you exactly as you want it. Put some pictures up of you and your pals, hoover, or stick on a candle
  12. Speak to a perfect stranger, just to be nice
  13. Compliment yourself – don’t wait for someone else to do it for you
  14. Blankets: blankets are always good – wear them as capes, snuggle in them, build a fort

From Fi x

#3 A good book and a nice cup of tea | The Woman Who went to Bed for a Year

Sue Townsend’s final book is a testament to her literary life – recommeded for fans of Jodi Picoult and JoJo Moyes.

Sue Townsend sadly passed away last year and this is my review of her final novel The Woman Who went to Bed for a Year.

I will start as, I wish I could start every endeavour, with a Harry Potter quote.

‘It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live’ are words spoken by Dumbledore and seem universally true. However the inverse is also pretty accurate too, life sometimes isn’t all it’s cracked up to be especially when you ditch your dreams, and Townsend translates this aphorism through Eva. Eva her whole life has been ordinary; a house wife with a beautiful chair covered in soup because her family didn’t value her art. A beautiful woman underappreciated by her frankly bland husband. A mother who had not a damn clue who her children really are.

It’s easy, whether you’re middle-aged Eva or you reading this, to forget that you have dreams when you’re so swept up in doing the laundry and making dinner and doing your taxes and going to work and buying cat food. Townsend’s story is how an ordinary woman enchants a nation by going to bed and obstinately staying there for a year. It will make you laugh until you cry and cry until you laugh.

Eva has won a place as one of my literary heroes simply because she tells the world, you know what? **** you, I’m going to bed. As someone who is terrible at saying no she’s an  inspiration for giving yourself the time you deserve to just take stock of life.

The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year? 4.5 stars and a hobnob (my new fave complement to a brew).

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What’s in My Uni Bag?

Answer: Everything. EVERYTHING.

I will admit I am one of those people who carry the whole world around with them in their handbag. Maybe I liked to be prepared for anything but also I’m lazy…and I like stuff. Stuff is comforting.

So why not share my hoard? I know this is a very common tag in the fashion vlogger/blogger world so I thought I’d have a nosey in my bag and try and take an picture or two for your viewing pleasure. What’s in your bag? Let me in know in the comments.

My bag is from Topshop!
My bag is from Topshop!

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Life with Fi: O Brave New World, Bill Bailey & a Jamaican Feast.

 A post for people as nosey as me! 

I like to know the person behind the blog whenever I’m having a read so here’s a pictorial run-down of what I’ve been up to lately so you can learn a bit about me. I have been a bit elusive dealing with the less fun aspects of uni life lately so here’s hoping I can make up for it and you’ll all forgive me.

I will also be doing a very magical tag and a What’s in My Bag (yay for unintentional rhyme) very soon, as well as a book review so look at for those. Please let me know if are any posts you would really like to see!

The following pictures feature: a very ginger cat, a vicious game of scramble, a TOBLERONE cocktail (seriously can you imagine anything else so joyous?) , lots of tasty food, one laugh-out-loud comic and the first signs of autumn(!!).

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#2 A good book and a nice cup of tea | The Humans

I will start by saying I read The Humans at a time I wasn’t feeling very human at all. 

The Humans by Matt Haig took me by surprise; it grabbed me with the salient rhetoric of the alien protagonist and forced me to reevaluate some of the core beliefs underpinning my own human nature. This happens on occasion with novels, and I find it always occurs when you most need it, for this alone I had to give this beauty of a kick-ass- sci- fi- adventure- come- guide- to- life a review.

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Haig’s novel is a tale of a nameless martian who takes the place of Martin, a Cambridge Mathematics professor who finds the key to the universe in a Maths algorithm; a key, it is decided by his higher-ups, humans are just too dimwitted to possess. From that brief summary you’d think that The Humans would read like Alien or perhaps is a reworked pastiche to Douglas Adam’s riotous (yet let’s be honest, whimsically bizarre) Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; and at first I wondered the same. Haig’s alien narrator, is very alien; he picks up earth lingo from a quick glance at Cosmopolitan magazine, loves walking around naked and doesn’t get love – wait a minute perhaps he is quite human after all?

However, with a little patience it becomes evident there  more meat to Haig’s work than staunch adherence to the conventions of his genre. For lovers of Alien et al, beware; there is a death ray gun at one point but a disappointing lack of tentacles.

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The first few chapters read as you would expect of a body-snatcher tale, but there is a refreshing rawness in Haig’s writing too. He critiques the human race in a way that made me feel exposed in a good way, for instance why exactly are many people convinced humans are the most intelligent race in the world or the universe? Perhaps we are indeed rather ‘average’ and ‘delusional’ as the speaker suggests. Perhaps, indeed, averageness is better than a synthetic, coercive superiority?

It is as the plot begins to culminate and the protagonist’s discovers: peanut butter, music, familial love; all those little things that you don’t sit and take stock of enough that make being human pretty nifty, that Haig’s novel comes into itself. The protagonist’s journey to understanding mankind is uplifting and downright funny in parts but more than that it is important. Haig has the ability to highlight morality and mortality without judgement, and the end result is inspiring. I found myself nodding sagely in agreement and laughing out loud and also thinking ‘wow, I’d never thought of it like that’ many a time and in the end I felt as if I understood myself a tiny bit more, which really for 294 page novel is quite something. I will leave you to log in to Amazon and purchase The Humans in a fit of glee but first Haig’s alien tells us why we adore art, music and the act of creation:

‘They are bridges back to themselves, back to who they are’

because you see art like love

‘ was a way to live forever in a single moment.’

The Humans? 5 Stars & two of my finest bourbon biscuits.