Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Happy Mondays (on a Tuesday...) #10


Happy...Tuesday (that feels like a Monday)! I've had a weird week, good weird, where I feel like LOADS has happened, but actually not that much has. Easter weekend represented both the end of term and the start of a well needed pre-revision break. Initial plans to head down to the New Forest were sadly hindered by snotty, ill boyfriends - but that's the great thing about a long weekend - you can spend a couple of days in bed and still have a whole weekend left. So that's what we did.

The things that have made me happy this week...

1. Last lecture ever!
Last Thursday I had my last ever lecture and it felt like a really momentous occasion. I went into it with slightly mixed feelings, you know, end of an era and all that, but I left it with a huge feeling of relief. Relieved that I never have to sit in a lecture theatre where the desks are too tall for me and give me backache when I type; relieved that there's not going to be any more content to squeeze into my brain to learn for exams; relieved that it's almost over. When I think of all the lectures I've been to in the last 3 years, and all the things I must have learnt which now feels like a big confusing muddle of knowledge in my brain, I feel like I should miss it and miss learning. But then I remember all the hours I've spent sitting and listening, and wishing I was doing. So here's to a new era - of not just thinking, but doing.

2. Easter in Wiltshire 
Distraught, and grieving our weekend away with Adventure Team in the New Forest, as soon as Simon was feeling marginally better - at least better enough to drag himself away from Top Gear and oodles of honey & lemon - we journeyed to Wiltshire for a couple of days. Bank holiday weekends always go too quickly, but at least you feel like you've had a proper break and done something with it if you go away. It was lovely to get away into the countryside, have Simon's parents look after us and feed us up, and catch up with some friends in Bath. We've both come back still sleepy, still snotty and manically popping pills to try and feel better before we head to Copenhagen on Friday, but it was a nice, chilled weekend of road trips, storms and sun.

3. Gavin & Stacey
I forgot how excellent Gavin & Stacey was until this weekend when we basically watched 2 series in 2 afternoons. It is perfect no concentration required TV, and I'm a sucker for a Sunday night love story/new born baby/Welsh hilarity. After hearing rumours (which I've only just found out are untrue *sobs*) that there was going to be a new series ft. Gavin and Stacey's baby, I was eager to get back on board and relive the magic. It is going to take a whole lot of willpower not to spend the entirety of today watching the rest of it. Wish me luck.

4. Pimpin' new rides
I don't like driving. Well, I don't mind pottering, driving around roads I'm familiar with, popping to the shops etc. But I hate motorway driving, and I hate long journeys. I don't know whether it's because I have very little confidence in my own ability to not do something stupid, and kill myself and someone else; or whether it's the extensive concentration which freaks me out and makes me super tired; or the feeling I get when I'm in stop-start traffic, where I feel like I'm still moving when I've stopped, and forever fear rolling back into the car behind me. Whatever it is, I don't like it. So imagine my utter elation when Simon buys himself a car, and I decide that I'll probably never drive again (lol, independent woman). I will navigate, I will feed said driver snacks, I will make sure the car stays at an optimum temperature, I'll be in charge of the playlist, hell, I'll even pay for the petrol...as long as I don't have to drive. Yay for the new car: Little Chugger.
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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Recent Reads #8

http://philippajrice.com/

I've almost forgotten about all the hours spent on trains in the last couple of weeks thanks to a few really great, interesting and novel reads. The perfect escape from academic papers and end of term deadlines. Check them out: 


Are You My Mother? - Louise Voss
After having read, and really enjoyed, Games People Play, I was keen to read something else by Louise Voss. Are You My Mother follows the story of adopted sisters, Emma and Stella, and Emma's quest to find her biological mother. What begins as a story about the importance of parents and knowing where you came from, turns into a realisation of the value of the family we make for ourselves: our siblings (biological or otherwise), our friends, and our partners. Emma is a down-to-earth, really likeable narrator, with whom you relate to, sympathise with and trust throughout. She is the person I felt like I would be, had I experienced her upbringing. As we move through the story with her, experiencing loss, grief, disappointment, loneliness and 'fear of missing out', we see how deserving she is of a happy ending - though perhaps not the one she wants, or you might expect. It's an action-packed warming tale of love and loss - and I would definitely recommend. 
4 / 5

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark - Anna North
Sometimes you finish a book, and you can't stop thinking about it, and that's supposed to be a mark of a good book. That's kind of how I feel about this one, but my confusion is about how I felt about it...and I still don't know. A recommendation in Emma's Duvet Day reads, and a Kindle offer, made me pick up this book in the first place and, all things considered, I'm glad I did. Sophie Stark is a film maker, and the story follows her journey from high school amateur to well respected artist. Sophie Stark is also one of the most unusual, and almost chilling, fictional characters I've ever met; I wanted to give her a hug, offer her some help, and watch her films, but I also wanted to give her a slap...and then run away. The narrative is told by the people closest to her - her girlfriend, her husband, her brother, her school crush - and that, I loved. The reader got to know Sophie from so many different perspectives, whilst still feeling entirely detached from her, and feeling like they never really knew her as she knew herself. The plot was fine, a bit disconnected but that was to be expected from the multiple narrative, and the ending both enchanting and disturbing. So yes, I'm confused. I didn't love it, I didn't hate it but I'm interested in it. I think it was cleverly written, and very different from lots of other contemporary fiction...but I just can't understand why Sophie was so powerful and so captivating to the reader, or the people she consistently hurt. I couldn't really love it. But, it's a book to talk about, definitely. Read it, and tell me what you thought! 
3.5 / 5

The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd 
This book reminded me of The Help, inviting themes of segregation, the Civil Rights Movement and the beautiful, forbidden relationships created between black and white women. I was pretty gripped from start to finish, meeting Lily and accompanying her on her journey away from an oppressive, 'white' world to a 'black' one where she is more free and loved than she has ever been before. What I anticipated to be a story of abuse and repression turned into one about the quest for freedom, for Lily and a whole society of African Americans, for personal, positive freedom and self-belief. Much like Are You My Mother?, this is a story about the family we make for ourselves, and the people that love us despite challenging circumstances of racism, tangled up with escape, fears of 'reality' and forbidden romances. It's a really calm novel, and left me feeling warm and fuzzy, doused in honey, as Lily becomes. It made me want to run away and keep bees and join August's loving family. A really wonderful book, would absolutely recommend. 
5 / 5
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Monday, 21 March 2016

Happy Mondays #9

This week has been a largely excellent week. This is why...

1. I finished & handed in my dissertation
I am so happy right now. This time last year I was preparing my dissertation proposal, and last Friday I handed in the finished product - and I'm actually really proud of it. What felt like a totally insurmountable task a year ago, and like it would never come together a couple of months ago, is finally a completely printed, bound and handed in project that I never have to edit or proof read ever again. I was really worried about handing it in, and it took me 4 days after I'd actually finished it to submit it, because I knew that I'd worked so hard on it and wanted to make sure it was 100% error free and there was nothing else I could possibly ever add. But as soon as I handed it over on Friday afternoon, my god, I felt so liberated. The niggling nausea I'd felt all week was suddenly gone, and I was just so relieved. The rest of the afternoon was spent watching others hand theirs in, helping my best gal Holly sort out all the fiddly bits, and hand it in with 2 minutes to spare (well, still 3 days early) and it was great. I feel like reaching these milestones, and being able to do it with the people you've experienced your whole university journey with, is what these last couple of months of uni are all about. 

2. Miss Tapas
There's tapas, and then there's tapas. This is definitely tapas - the best Spanish food I've ever had inside or outside of Spain, or any other country for that matter. Undoubtedly the best restaurant in Peckham, Miss Tapas has kind of become our local and we endeavour to go once a month. Last week we went to celebrate the handing in of my dissertation and, as always, it was incredible and made me wish I could eat there every day. We ordered some beers, pushed the boat out and selected 7 dishes (it was too much), and polished it all off with a glass of sherry. The food is insane, the service is great and the staff are wonderful. It's not a budget meal, but it's not extortionate and, more importantly, is worth every penny. I already can't wait to go back. South Londoners/anyone willing to travel for incredible Spanish food, check it out: http://www.misstapas.com/. P.S. Get the pork! 

3. Adventure Team weekend part. 1
It has been a painfully long time since we've had some proper hang time with these guys and this weekend marked part 1 of upcoming adventures (part 2 is next weekend). An uncomfortably early start was instantly made better by seeing Fred from First Dates at the bakery, and followed into a perfect afternoon of goat feeding, cow stroking, lamb watching, GIANT BULL discovering and Wall-E watching, before a chilled evening of Indian/Chinese takeaway fusion, beers and board games. Literally what more could you want. Oh yeah, smoked salmon for breakfast and staycation planning. IT WAS SO FUN. I am super pumped for Easter weekend in the New Forest and summer Highland holidays with the most wonderful, hilarious, adventuring team!

4. The perfect Sunday afternoon
My ambitious working weekend didn't happen. It didn't happen when I woke up on Saturday morning before an afternoon of fun, and it didn't happen again on Sunday afternoon post-weekend of fun. And I am fine about that. Yesterday afternoon was hot showers, comfy clothes, a roast dinner, Superbad and an early night. It was everything I have ever wanted and needed. Yes please Sunday. 
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Friday, 18 March 2016

Dissertation Hand-in


I started writing this blog as a way to document my life, and as a space to talk about the things I thought needed talking about. It became a place where I wrote about the places I've been, the books I've read, the shows I've seen - and one which I hope was interesting to read, was relatable and made people want to think and talk about things. If you've been following my Happy Mondays posts, or you're a fellow student crawling towards the end of their final year, you'll know that the last couples of days, weeks, months have been a dissertation-fuelled-sometimes-enjoyable-sometimes-frustrating-mess. Even though I've actually really enjoyed researching and writing my dissertation, and it's definitely been my favourite module at university, it has also been the most stressful. I've semi-documented its progression on my blog, reached out to other bloggers to help me with the research, and today I thought I'd document its ending. It's like saying goodbye to a tiny stressful, 90 page baby who I kind of want to keep but I also can't wait not to have to read again for a while. 

So here it is, dissertation complete. 1 year, 12,000 words, 100 questionnaires, 25 interviews, weeks spent transcribing and coding 'til I couldn't see any more, and then cutting 5,000 words to finally have the finished product. At times it felt like it would never end. At other times I didn't understand what I was writing about, or why, and wished I'd just gone to look at some rocks. But there were just about no tears, no tantrums and I've given it in a couple of days early without humongous amounts of stress. Thank you to everyone that helped me out. You are all fabulous, generous people. The only thing left to do now is celebratory beers and tapas. 



HAPPY DISSERTATION DAY! 
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Monday, 14 March 2016

Happy Mondays #8


It's on a Monday morning that I'm really glad I don't have a job. A second sleep, a lazy breakfast, and staring at my dissertation still in pyjamas with the sun beaming through the blinds - is that the student dream? Time finally feels like it's slowing down, and last Monday seems like forever ago, and man am I glad about it. It's been a pretty long week of uni work, and it's going to be another long couple of weeks, but they're my last proper weeks of uni and I've got plenty to be getting on with, so I'm trying not to wish them away too quickly. Having said that, I've got lots of fun things to look forward to on the other side which I'm pretty excited about. 

Today I'm happy because...


1. The 1975
I went to see The 1975 at Brixton Academy last week, and it blew my mind. I've always liked the band, but after Tuesday...and the subsequent addiction to their 2016 album, they're one of my favourites. Everything about the gig was so impressive, better than I ever could have imagined it would be, and I'm desperate to see them again. You can read a full review of the gig in yesterday's post: http://bit.ly/1pgFQm2 - and, if you haven't listened to their album I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of it go and do it now. It's perfect combination of chill and poptastic fun for Monday morning listening. 

2. Belated Mother's Day with my top ladiez 
We didn't quite get round to Mother's Day last weekend, deciding to celebrate it 6 days late...? My mum, nan and I went for a lovely meal at C├┤te Brasserie, and just had really chilled evening and a nice catch up. I can't remember the last time we did anything or went anywhere, just the three of us, so it was really nice to spend an evening together. I am also super impressed with the beautiful Mother's Day bouquet I bought from my mum (pictured above), which I did actually order in time for Mother's Day, and still looks amazing a week later. They're so pretty, smell amazing and came with a free vase! Good job Tesco. 

3. Spring
It's so sunny, right? It's awesome, and I feel like Spring is almost here. It's the first week in memory that every single walk to and from the station to uni has been done in the sun, and I haven't reached uni damp or blown about by huge gusts of wind. On Friday afternoon I even took off my coat. Mental. I can't wait for the days I can leave the house without gloves (my hands get really cold) and go out tights-less and bring my summer wardrobe down from the attic. Thanks Spring, keep it up, I need your warmth and your sun right now - and you're reminding me that summer is getting closer every single day! 

4. So many books 
Given the amount of uni work I have, and the endless list of readings I should be doing for my lectures, seminars, modules, essays, dissertation, I'm on a bit of a reading ban at home. The time I've allocated to reading fiction, and reading for pleasure, is on the train - and, since I spent at least an hour and a half on the train 6 days last week, I'm actually reading a lot and making my way through lots of books...a lot of really good books. I'm about half way through The Secret Life of Bees at the moment, which I'm loving, so expect a new Recent Reads post soon!

Happy Monday!
Enjoy this super Spring-like, sunny Monday. X
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Sunday, 13 March 2016

The 1975: O2 Academy Brixton


A flippant decision last Friday afternoon to book tickets to see The 1975 turned out to be an excellent one. I'd loved their first album, but not really listened to their second, released only a couple of weeks ago, when I said "yeah, sure" to Simon, as he asked if I'd like to go. It slipped my mind until the morning of the gig that I should probably actually listen to some of these songs beforehand, because I hate going to gigs and not being able to sing along...even if I only know the chorus. 

The set list was great - an awesome mix of songs, old and new - kicking off with Love Me before mellowing in the middle, and ending with their most popular, well-known songs. They brought back some tunes from their first album, like Sex, Chocolate and finished off the gig with Girls. They're songs I thought I'd forgotten, but instantly remembered the words - and was taken back to my first year of uni, and the train journeys and evenings spent getting ready in my room listening to them. Blast from the past...kind of. The new album is killer - every single song is good, there's no filler, and the performances were awesome. There were some clear audience favourites, with everyone singing and dancing along to The Sound, Somebody Else and She's American. It was a pretty long set at almost 2 hours long, but my god was it good. They sung everything you possibly could have wanted them to, and kept up such good momentum that each song eased into the next and you were carried along with them, wanting more. 

Lead singer, Matthew Healy, is known for his distinctive voice and ability to reach those high notes most of us can only dream about - and I was slightly worried about how it would sound live. But there was absolutely nothing to be concerned about: he sounded just as great as when recorded, if not better aided by the enthusiasm and poptastic atmosphere created by having them right in front of you. The sax solos, featuring intermittently throughout the evening, were a really cool addition, furthering the sense of the band as a really genuinely talented group of musicians as well as performers. 

So you've got this amazing group of performers, singing incredible songs with great lyrics and they're really talented musicians. The only thing left was the performance itself, which felt like it flowed very naturally, with climaxes and chill in exactly the right places, all brought together by this totally mind blowing light show. I love a good light show - especially when you're standing as far back as we were and the band are tiny men that you can only see as long as they don't go too near the front of the stage. We went from cityscapes to neon to tv static to reflections...and a lot of strobe, those guys love a bit of strobe. It all just looked so clean and sharp and fitted perfectly with the sound and the songs and the performers. 

The only moan I have, which has nothing to do with the band, is what is the deal with people coming to gigs and talking the entire way through it? There are plenty of pubs in Brixton where you can chat to your mates, where the beer's cheaper and where you don't have to pay £30 to get in - so go there, and stop mugging everyone else off. 

I think it was the best gig I've ever been to, and I've spent every day since listening to their album I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It (bit of a mouthful), and looking at where else I could possibly justify travelling to so I can see them again. If you get a chance, definitely go and see them. If you're not that fussed about them, still go and see them, because I promise it'll change your mind. If nothing else, give their new album a listen and tell me you don't find yourself singing The Sound in the shower. 

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Monday, 7 March 2016

Happy Mondays #7



It's Monday, it's really sunny, it's basically Spring, and I am in an excellent mood. Then I just realised that it's already gone midday and the only things I've achieved this morning are starting a new book and breakfast. With 3 weeks to go until the end of term, and deadlines everywhere I need all the positivity I can get...and all the productive mornings, made up of more than Shreddies and my Kindle. I had a really good week last week, full of all the fun and friends and sharks, and so...

The things that have made me happy this week:

1. Swimming with sharks
Starting the list of with a epic one - go big or go home, right? Thanks to some lovely friends at London Aquarium, we had the chance to go swimming with sharks last Friday afternoon and it was SO COOL. All ready to go in our wetsuits and matching booties, we climbed into a kind of cage, with a perspex floor and mesh sides, where we could snorkel and see all the sharks swimming round us. Beforehand I was feeling this mixture of excitement and apprehension, but as soon as we were in there, it didn't feel like there was anything to be worried about at all. None of the sharks nor fish took any notice of us, and it actually felt really peaceful, just watching them swim about. Graham threw some food into the tank at one point, just in front of where we were snorkelling, so we could see all the fish rush to get it, no more than an arm's reach in front of us. It was awesome. 

2. Charlie's surprise birthday
Man I love a surprise, and what is better than a birthday surprise full of jerk chicken, rum cocktails and excellent people? Saturday evening was spent surprising Charlie at Rudie's in Dalston, and it was one of the best evenings out I've had in ages! You know when you see friends that you haven't seen for ages, and you have loads to catch up on, but it also feels like it couldn't possibly have been that long ago since you last saw them because everything slots back into place so well? That. It was also really lovely to meet some new people, people I felt like I already knew because I'd seen them on Instagram... It was also my first experience of Jamaican food, and it was tasty. I'm almost a rum convert and a big cassava fan. HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHARLIE! 

3. Feeling like the end is in sight...and reach
This is both a terrifying and a comforting feeling. It's wholly distressing every time I remember all the things I have to do in the next weeks and months, but it's an amazing mix of excitement and relief to know that it will, then, all be over. I can't wait to get the next few weeks of dissertation and essays out the way, but I also need all the time I can get. I want time to hurry and slow down all at the same time. I know I'll get everything I need to do done, but it all feels a bit overwhelming and scary and confusing at the moment. Here's to a slow and uber productive week...fingers crossed. 

4. The new series of House of Cards
When a situation where the President of the USA is battling a divorce and some very unexpected problems (trying to avoid spoilers...!) is infinitely better than today's state of US Politics, you know something's wrong. I really enjoyed the first few series of House of Cards, and was really excited to spend Saturday morning starting the new series and, so far, I've not been disappointed. It's more tense than the last series, and there's even more underhand action and backstabbing than ever before - and that's what makes it so good. It's that kind of tension, combined with the complexity of American politics, however which means that it isn't a good programme to binge watch. It's dry, but in a chilling sort of way, and sometimes you just need a bit of recovery time before you carry on. If you've not seen it, I'd definitely recommend - it takes a couple of episodes to get into, but then it's killer. 

Happy Monday! x
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Sunday, 6 March 2016

MY MUM

People say that being a mum is one of the most important, incredible things in the world.
I think having a mum is. 


When you think about where you'd be today, or the person you'd be today, without your mum it's hard to imagine. It's even harder to imagine when your mum has had to be your mum and your dad; when there's only been one constant person, and one that you've always been able to turn to. 

I feel like I'm reaching that point in my life where I'm starting to realise that I am becoming my mother, that we have lots of the same mannerisms, attitudes, values and it's both a comforting and distressing thought. I hope that I'll always be a bit more huggy than my mum, more of a drama queen, and I'll always let my future kids have a pet. Always.  But, in many other ways, I could not be prouder to be a woman like my mother, because she is one of the most driven, strong and supportive mum's you could ever wish for.

I was chatting to a friend this week who was annoyed that our university graduation was on a Monday, and that her mum might not be able to come, because she doesn't want to have to take the day off work. And I was shocked. Because I can't imagine my mum ever having said "oh great, so I'll have to take a day off work" at the prospect of my graduation, and that's how it's always been. I was never the kid that had to spend hours in the library after school, doing their homework, until their parents could pick them up. I was never shifted between friends houses or childminders during school holidays. At every competition, event, play, show, performance, options evening, school presentation...my mum was there - even if it mean shooting off from work and driving across the county, just to hear me do a speech for the Rotary Club, she never would have missed it. 

It wasn't just the token proud parent moments she's been there for. I wasn't the easiest child or teenager, and I'm not proving to be the easiest adult. Not because I'm too cool for my mum, and super rebellious, but because I seem to end up with all the bizarre health problems, to be a bit too intense and to get really stressed slightly too easily. But she has always been the one that's been there to sort me out. Whether that meant quitting her job to stay home for an entire year to look after me when I was too ill to go to school; buying me a giant bell that I could ring if I needed to in the night - when I woke up feeling unwell and panicked and felt like I couldn't breathe; or taking me to Boots to buy every pillow spray, form of Rescue Remedy and herbal pill on the market to help me sleep. She was the one that believed me, and knew me, when no one else did, and fought her way through GPs and paediatricians for me - and to get the best help for me. 

And she's fought my corner in every other walk of life. I remember her arranging a meeting with my head of year aged 12 or 13 to discuss why they thought I was getting progressively less intelligent, and why they were encouraging me towards school subjects that I didn't like, I wasn't interested in and I wasn't good at, simply because it benefited their funding. She's given me the opportunity to go to some amazing schools, where I met the best friends and had the happiest years of my life (so far!) - and supported me all the way through it. When I wanted to go to gymnastics, Brownies, ballet, tap, modern, swimming and be in the school play - that was fine, and she'd spend her evenings and weekends chauffeuring my brother and I between every extra-curricular activity imaginable. She's always been of the mentality that she wanted Matt and I to have every opportunity imaginable, and to do the things she hadn't been able to do when she was our age, and has done everything in her power to support that. 

And that's why my mum is awesome - and why I'm glad she's mine. Sure, we fight (I've definitely got my fiery and opinionated side from her); her taste in men destroys my soul every single day; and she gave me my thighs (eugh). But she also gave me my ambition, my confidence, my love of books and theatre, and she would do anything for me - from fighting landlords to making me dairy-free crumble - and I wouldn't swap this lady for the world. Happy Mother's Day. 
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Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Recent Reads #7

I used to think that the worst thing about reading a really good book was the feeling you got when it ended: the paradoxical uncertainty of joy and spirit and mourning. Now I'm not so sure. I began the month reading a beautiful novel, such that the ones I read subsequently just didn't match up to and I was left feeling, first, frustrated, then disappointed, and then just sad. It wasn't that the books I'd read were completely dire, but neither were anything special, only worsened by the fact they lay in the shadows of February, and maybe 2016's, favourite book. 

The Two of Us - Andy Jones
I'm hesitant about a book recommendation: I love getting new ideas and suggestions, but I also worry that other people just like rubbish books...and I do not want to be sucked into that. Thankfully, Olivia is a trusted books recommender - after seeing her rave about The Two of Us on her blog, I decided that if anyone liked a book that much, I'd better read it. I was so glad I did. Witty, emotional, irresistible: I was gripped from start to finish, resentful when my trained pulled into London Victoria and I had to put it down for a couple of hours to go to a lecture. Despite the unrealistically hipster names, Fisher and Ivy are some of the most well developed and honest characters I've ever met, to the point where I struggled to remember that they're not real people. It's no easy ride for either of them: lust and a sticky situation rapidly obligates commitment, maturity and love. They find themselves in one of those situations which brings a lump to your throat, because you have absolutely no idea what you'd do if you were them - when both reasonable options are so hard. Compelling love story aside, the book has an excellent sub-plot. Fisher's best friend has Huntington's, and we follow his challenging relationship with Ivy alongside his unconditional friendship with El and the distress of seeing your best friend gradually deteriorate into a body you barely recognise. I adored this book. Every tear was followed by a giggle, and the other way round. Prepare yourself for an emotional rollercoaster, and avoid reading on the commuter train, or you'll end up a snotty emotional mess, as I was, next to the glamorous Italian lady who slowly moves her sushi away from your mascara drenched tissue. Enjoy - I know you will. 
5 / 5

The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen
Token free Kindle book alert! This one's a bit of a cheat actually, because I never finished it. First, I didn't finish it because the Kindle version was corrupt and, as I made my way through the book, started replacing pages with big blurs of unreadable text. Second, I could have got in touch with Amazon, requesting a refund/a hard copy/a fixed e-book but I just didn't because I wasn't fussed about reading the rest of it. The weird thing about a Kindle book is that you don't really get a sense of how long it is - sure, they tell you roughly how long it should take to read it, but that changes as it adjusts to how quickly/slowly you read. This book must be a monster because after so many train journeys spent reading it, I still hadn't exceed the 20% of the way through the book mark. So, from what I do know about the book, is that it begins with a couple who we assume are quite elderly, and I imagined as hoarders and loners. We follow their journey to visit their son, a a college professor, and the rest of what I read was about his life: his unstable jobs, his relationships with students and his uncertain place within his family, his romances and his city. The thing was, none of the characters were likeable; they were odd, but not in an intriguing way, just an unrelatable one. The plot was slow and I just constantly felt miles away from any sort of story development, let alone a climax. I'd be really interested to hear from anyone who has actually finished this book - let me know if it's worth pursuing! 
1 / 5

The Last Girl - Joe Hart
I finished this book with mixed feelings. It was a really good idea executed somewhat strangely, I felt, and I'm not sure whether or not it worked. I was attracted to it because of its Margaret Atwood-esque plotline: genetic mutation which stops baby girls being born, the last remaining girls live in an institution totally separate from the rest of the world, and are used for experimentation. Sounds a bit like The Handmaid's Tale, right? So it was a cool idea - and I was interested to see where the author took it. I wasn't totally impressed: I felt like some of the twists weren't really twists and you saw them coming anyway; the protagonist was a bit undeveloped at the beginning and her inclinations and capabilities weren't really explained. The transgression seemed to happen, initially, a bit too easily. The next section d r a g g e d, I thought, and I was just waiting for there to be some sort of ending or solution. It came, and it was alright, but all just very cliche - and then I was annoyed with the ending. As I understand, it's a trilogy and I'm yet undecided whether I'll read the next book. It was one of those novels that isn't bad enough to categorically stop reading and swear you'll never touch again, but if I'd not been reading it on the train, with very little else to do, I know know whether I'd have continued with it. Good in theory, questionable in practice. 
2.5 / 5
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