Book Review: James Rice – Alice & the Fly

I read this book for the Waterstone’s book club. It was not a book that I would normally pick up, but I’m glad I did.

Overview:

“This is a book about phobias and obsessions, isolation and dark corners. It’s about families, friendships, and carefully preserved secrets. But above everything else it’s about love. Finding love – in any of its forms – and nurturing it.”

This is a book about a young man called Greg. He is afraid of them and has panic attacks whenever he seems them. He doesn’t fit in at school. On the outside his has the perfect suburban family. Dad is a plastic surgeon, mum does hairdressing on the side but mainly stays at home to look after the family and his sister is obsessed with dancing.

Greg is different to his family. He enjoys classic movies, he seals every crack in his room to prevent them from getting in. Greg falls in love with a girl at school. He wants to run away with her and look after her. Protect her. Unfortunately, love never works out that way.

I am now going to answer the discussion questions that were included at the end of the book.

  1. The Social disparity between Skipdale and The Pitts sets the scene for the novel. Why do you think this is important?

I think this is important because it shows how people on both ends of the spectrum live. I think it’s important to show the environment Greg was raised in comparison to Alice so that we can see just how different their lives are and how the only reason they met is because of school.

2.  What motivates Greg to tell his story?

I think Greg wanted everyone to understand how he felt about Alice and the fact that to him it was real. He did have feelings for Alice even though he didn’t display them in the conventional way.

3. Did this novel contribute to your understanding of phobias?

Yes definitely. It made me realise that my phobias are just the tip of the iceberg in comparison to what some people suffer with. It made me understand just how horrible a phobia can be and how awkward it can make your everyday life.

4. Greg’s parents are fixated on projecting a perfect image. How does this contrast to the reality of their situation?

Greg’s dad is a plastic surgeon and his mum spends her time perfecting each room of the house so that she can impress the right people. I think they do as a coping mechanism. They know Greg has a mental illness and that Sarah (Greg’s sister) has an eating disorder, but they want the outside world to think they have the perfect family life. In order to do this, they try and socialise with all the right people and create the appearance of a perfect family life.

5. Can we see Greg’s obsession with classic Hollywood films influencing his own outlook on life and on romance in particular?

Yes. I think Greg thinks that romance and being in love should be dramatic with a happy ending where the couple run off together. I think he expects relationships to be like those in the films and doesn’t realise that in the real world, relationships are a lot more complicated then that.

6. Do you feel sympathy for Greg’s mother?

Honestly? No. I feel like she hasn’t done enough to support Greg. I understand that she had to put Sarah first after the incident but I feel like Greg was just an inconvenience sometimes and she didn’t know what to do or how to help him. She was too busy trying to show everyone how perfect her life was that she forgot about her son.

7. How far do you think the author has used Greg’s social alienation to expose intricate truths about our modern lives?

I think James has shown how easy it is to become alienated and live in a fantasy world. It so easy for someone to go days or weeks without talking to another person. To build up a fantasy of how they would like things to be until eventually you start to believe more in the fantasy world then you do in reality.

8. Sarah accuses her mother of being repressed. What part does repression play in the novel as a whole and how does it manifest?

I think repression is an important feature of the novel. The Hall family repress their feelings, they brush things under the carpet and carry on acting like they have the perfect little family until eventually everything reaches boiling point. You see this when Greg’s mother orders the perfect settee for the living room so that when their friends came round for dinner they would be impressed and see how beautiful the house is. You see it when Sarah practises non stop for her dance show. She’s doing so that she doesn’t have to focus on the other issues within the family.

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Last night was the midnight release of the 8th Harry Potter book; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the midnight release at my local Waterstone’s. When the last Harry Potter book came out I was only 15 so wasn’t allowed to attend the midnight release, so you can’t begin to imagine how excited I was to attend this!

I may have got a bit carried away with my fancy dress;

I was lucky enough to win two prizes in pass the parcel at the midnight release as well! Got myself a Hedwig finger puppet and a travelling Harry Potter colouring kit – I love colouring!

The countdown to midnight seemed to go on forever, it felt like we had been waiting for hours and the time had just stopped! Finally though, midnight came;

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As soon as I got my book, my boyfriend met me in town and walked me home. It was a case of getting home, getting my Harry Potter Pyjamas on (obviously) and a glass of wine and time to start reading.

I finished the play at 3.30am this morning. Knackered doesn’t even begin to describe how I was, but it was worth it.  I don’t think I can even begin to describe how good it was to be in the Wizarding world again. As if it’s been 9 years since the last book! I didn’t know what to expect with this book but it definitely surpassed anything I could have imagined!

I could carry on writing about the play for hours, but there is people who still haven’t read it so I will be nice and keep quiet for the time being!

For all those people who haven’t got their copy yet, what are you waiting for? It’s been a long 9 years and it’s time to get lost in the world of Harry Potter again.

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Liebster Award Nomination.

Thank you very much to Jody for nominating me! Here’s her blog;

http://jodysscribbles.wordpress.com/

You should all go check it out!

I’d not actually heard of this until the other day when Jody nominated me, so it was a bit of a shock really!

These are the rules for accepting this award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)

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3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.

4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.

5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 2000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)

6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:

8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!

So  let’s get started! 

Here are the 11 random facts about me; 

1) I’m naturally blonde but have been dying my hair since I was 13 really. Although it wasn’t until I was about 17 that I started dying it block colours. I’ve not really since my natural hair colour in about two years – unless you count roots!

2) I own over 300 books. My boyfriend says that’s excessive. I don’t agree.

3) I dislike my job but can’t post about it because it’s a really well known company and I will get into trouble if I mention it’s name.

4) I’m trying to save for a Masters. And this is the only reason I get out of bed in a morning to go to work.

5) I’ve been with my boyfriend/fiance for seven years. So since we were 15. A long time, I know, but it works and he is pretty much my best friend.

6) I can’t swim but I wish I could!

7) I have two cats and a dog. All of which are crazy. I’m starting to think it’s my family that drive them crazy – I swear every pet we’ve had has gone strange living with us!

8) My parents are divorced and that pretty much sucks. One of the reasons why I dislike birthdays and Christmases.

9) I will happily play Taylor Swift all day long. She is one of my many guilty pleasures.

10) I’ve met Jimmy Carr. He’s pretty awesome.

11) There’s not a day that goes past that I don’t think about my grandparents and how much I miss them.

Questions;

1) Why did you start your blog? Because I love to write and I find it easier to have strangers read my writing than people I know.

2) When did you start writing and why? I’ve been writing since I was young. It was an outlet for me.

3) What country would you most love to visit? Where to start! Austria, Russia, America and so on.

4) If you could change anything about your life, what would it be? I wouldn’t have left Chester.

5) Would you ever write professionally (if you don’t already) I would love to but don’t think I’m good enough

6) What is your dream? To do my Masters.

7) Tell us your most memorable childhood experience. Going to Great Yarmouth when I was seven and getting really upset that I couldn’t build a sandcastle, so my Dad built me ten on a wall 🙂

8) What, in your opinion, is life all about? Pursuing the things you’re passionate about.

9) What is your favorite way of spending a summer afternoon? Reading in the garden, or spending it with Dale.

10) Where do you want to be in five years’ time? I want to have done my Masters. Maybe be married.

My Nominees; 

1) http://rabirius.wordpress.com/

2) http://johndwmacdonald.com/

3) http://likewishingforrain.wordpress.com/

4) http://leanneslittleworld.wordpress.com/

5) http://teelahart.com/

My Questions;

1) What’s your favourite book?

2) If you could recreate one memory, what would it be?

3) If you could be any historical person for a day, who would you choose?

4) What do you like about writing?

5) If you could change anything about the world, what would it be?

6) What’s your favourite piece of clothing?

7) Are you a dog or a cat person?

8) Are you a city or country person?

9) Who is your favourite author?

10) What do you want out of life?

 

 

12 Years A Slave (Book): A Review.

I saw this film back in January and it wasn’t until afterwards that I realised it was based on a book. I bought and read the book in February and, I’ve been meaning to write this ever since really.  This will be a short one, but here goes.

What I loved was the fact there was virtually no difference between the book and the film. It’s very rare for writers and producers to stay so close to the original book, but in this case I don’t think I could have counted more than a handful of differences, if that. And, even with those changes, I completely understood why they made them and, they didn’t take anything away from the story.

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It’s different to read it than it is to view it. In some ways I felt like I could take myself away from the book more than I could the film. With a book you can put it down, but with a film, you’ve seen it. I know that sounds weird. What I really mean is with a book it’s your imagination in play so you decide how to interpret it, whereas with a film that was the directors choice and, you can’t ignore the brutality of it.

12 Years A Slave is a book that I will keep forever and, when I have a bad day or I’m feeling particularly selfish, I will get this book and remind myself to be grateful for what I have. Because it could be a lot worse.

One thing about the book that I did appreciate was the information about some of the captors who sold Solomon into slavery. In the film we don’t know much, but the book clarifies a lot and we learn just how unjust so many things were back then.

For once, I’m going to say that if you don’t read the book then please watch the film. And watch it again. And again. Until everyone understands the horror and brutality that some people were put through.

Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher

First of all, congratulations on the birth of Buzz!!

Having been a fan of McFly for years, it goes without saying that you like their partners too. So when I heard Giovanna Fletcher had written a book I knew I would read it at some point. What I didn’t know was that I would genuinely love it. It takes a great writer to get me to enjoy chick literature, which to me, was essentially what the book is.

Here’s a brief overview. Sophie suffered a great loss when she was younger and she and her mother struggled to recover. She takes a job at a local coffee shop (it’s so much more than that though) and the owner, Molly, helps to bring her out of her shell. This is where she meets Billy. Long story short, they fall in love, hit a through bumps along the way, but true love always finds a way.

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Now normally this type of book wouldn’t do much for me. I’ve read similar ones in the past and I’ve always been able to guess the ending. For example, my friend told me I had to read One Day by David Nicholls and that I would cry my eyes out. Well I didn’t. I knew halfway through what to expect.

Furthermore, I don’t normally read first person narratives. I tend to stick to the third person style. I think it’s because that way it’s easier to sort of separate yourself from the character and it stops you from really empathising with them. But in this case, I really enjoyed the fact that it was first person and, I think it wouldn’t have worked any other way.

I thought I knew that with Billy and Me. I was wrong. I don’t want to spoil it but it has been out nearly a year so you should have read it by now! Now for Sophie and Billy, the end was always going to be those two. What surprised me was Molly. What she goes through made me ball my eyes out. I could relate to it so well. I’ve been in Sophie’s position and, I have to say, for me, this is the first time an author has captured that emotion. Giovanna knew how to explain those feelings whilst keeping it simple.

For me this book started out as just another read. In the end though, it became so much more. It’s made me want to go and seek out more books like this. Normally I stick to history books or male authors. From now on, I’m probably going to favour the women. Well for a while at least anyway.

So thank you Giovanna for getting me into chick literature again and I CAN NOT wait to read your next novel in May.

xxx

Left Handedness.

Just a quick note really. I just saw this post on the BBC website; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-26612938#TWEET1074466

All I can say is; ABOUT BLOODY TIME!! In case you can’t tell, I’m left handed, as is my Mum and her mother – But when my Nana was growing up she would get the ruler to her hand and, told to use the right hand. Just talking to my Mum, we have dozens of horror stories about being left handed. It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Why is it so difficult to accommodate a few people? But it is.

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My Mum uses her right for nearly everything. We both struggle to use normal scissors for pretty much anything. But when we were at school – thirty years apart from each other – we were both told to make do and use your right hand.

When I was in Year Two, about six, maybe seven, years old, my teacher ripped up a colouring I did because it was messy. Rather than help me with being left handed or try and find another way of approaching the matter, she just ripped up and told me I wasn’t good enough. I was nearly in tears and I felt so awful, I didn’t tell my parents. I genuinely thought I had done wrong and it was my fault.

I know now it wasn’t. But I held that memory with me for the rest of my school days. I was too afraid to do anything in case it was wrong. I didn’t want any extra attention – I didn’t want to feel like that again.

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Now if I felt like that and didn’t tell my parents, how many more children are doing the same? How many children are made to feel different and awkward just because they use their left hand and not their right hand? It does make a difference to a child’s learning and can end up leaving children behind.

The thing that really annoys me though, is the fact that it has taken this long to be addressed. I am a third generation left handed person and I still didn’t get the care I needed. In years to come, will my future children finally be treated as equal? I hope so.

It sounds so daft saying treat them equally, but it’s true. What hand you write with is probably one of the few discriminatory factors that has not been addressed. Majority of adults don’t think of it as anything, but school children do. They shouldn’t but they do because see certain children struggling and want to know why. They then find out it’s because they use a different hand to write with and for the next ten years you have children asking other children what hand they write with – like it makes a difference!

 

Reading.

This may be a bit long winded, but bare with me, I do have a point to this.

First of all Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Glad I’m Irish, even if it’s only a quarter Irish! 🙂

Secondly, I’ve been ill with scarlet fever recently. Hence my silence and my not drinking tonight – stupid antibiotics!

As I’ve been ill, my diet has sort of been ignored. Obviously you lose weight when you’re ill anyway, but you always gain some of that back. As I still get tired really easily at the moment, I’ve been struggling to exercise like I would normally. So today I decided to try my exercise bike again.

Now my brother moved out about a month ago so his room has now turned into my second room. It has one of my bookcases in, my bike and, other things we needed to make room for.

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When I was on my bike, I was looking through all my books and I was just amazed by how many memories are on that bookcase. Every book I looked at reminded me of a different time of my life. For example, when I saw The Drinker by Hans Fallada, it instantly took me back to the day it was bought, my mood when I read it, what I was going through at that time. The same can be said for The Great Gatsby or for To Kill A Mockingbird.

I guess what I’m trying to say is I’ll always prefer a book to a Kindle because every book I own has a memory and every time I look at it, it reminds me of who I was when I first read it, my mood at the time, what I was doing and so on. You will never get that with a Kindle. I pick my Kindle up and it reminds me of when my boyfriend, now fiancé, bought it me and, then it makes me want Frankie & Benny’s, but that’s it. Don’t get me wrong, when I think about it, I can associate other memories with it, but it’s not as effortless as just looking at a bookcase.