Saturday, November 24, 2012

My American holiday reading pile!

I have finally decided on what books to take with me on my travels to North America!
I had chosen well over a dozen to begin with but then I did the math, and I doubted I would be able to finish that many in 2 months, even if I wasn't doing exciting things in amazing places. 
But then again, with travel comes a lot of waiting and sitting in airports. So maybe I would do more reading then if I'm at home? 

Anyway here's a little video showing you what I chose.

1. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
2. Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty
3. Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
4. Trying War by S.D. Gentill
5. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
6. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
7. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
8. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
9. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
10. Lonesome Traveller by Jack Kerouac
11. In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje

In the mix I chose titles from a whole range of genres I love reading - chick lit, YA, Greek mythology, dystopian, classics - and even some travel themed books too! 

By the way, I can afford to bring this many books because I'll leave them with my parents (who live in Houston) when I come home (so I have room in my luggage for all my shopping!) and they'll bring them back for me when they come home at the end of 2013. :) 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

story time: Biscuit Man

You've heard me rattle on and on about how this semester I took an English unit on creative writing. 
So I'm going to share with you the story I wrote for my end of semester folio which was worth 40% of my final grade. We had our final exam a few days ago and it was a lot of fun (I talked about one of my favourite novels Never Let Me Go and then wrote a poem about music).

Bear in mind, I spent a maximum of three days on this story and it technically failed the required word count (it was 1100 words when the allowed range for a short story was 1200-1800). 
I was given well over 10 weeks to write my story.
It came in a spur of the moment type of situation. (Well, to be honest it came from me sitting at the Reid café a day before I had to submit it to my class, writing down whatever words came into my head).
I'm not going to post the score I received for my story but if you ask me personally I'll tell you. As in via twitter, fb, email, or in person. 


It's called:

Biscuit Man

A man sat down on a bench at an empty park. He carried with him a large metal lunchbox which he perched on the seat beside him. The man looked up ahead of him at nothing in particular. Without glancing down or making a sound, he opened the lunchbox and began his routine.
Perhaps this is the day. He nibbled on a biscuit that he held in his left hand. No crumbs fell to the ground.
It was peculiar how the man breathed without making the slightest noise, yet he noticed every now and then the tiny clinking of his eyelashes blinking. That is, when they did happen to blink.
The man had neither a name nor memory of his life or identity. He arrived every morning at the very same park bench. His routine was all he knew. Nobody ever talked to him, approached him, or even noticed him.


Emeline was sitting at a table outside the café across from the park. She hadn’t been to The Sleepless Café in a while and was there to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi to finish her assignment.
Looking up from her laptop, Emeline spotted a mysterious man sitting on the park bench, eating biscuits. Peculiar, she thought. The man continued on slowly, unaware of his onlooker, and never ceasing his biscuit nibbling except when reaching for another.
He wore a grey hat – one of those fedoras men in the film noirs of the fifties always wore. The man sat stationary on the park bench with his arms positioned oddly on his lap – his left arm transported the biscuits to his mouth and his right hand lay palm-up on his knee.
As she sat, sipping her coffee on the terrace of The Sleepless Café, Emeline’s eyes were fixed on the biscuit man. She looked right past the woman in the navy velour tracksuit walking her dog. Emeline barely even registered the elderly couple strolling by hand in hand, or any of the other pedestrians passing her by on the street path alongside the park. None of whom ever lifted their eyes or acknowledged the man on the bench several feet away.
Emeline ordinarily would never have taken much notice of him sitting there alone, but even from the distance across the street she could see the strange, dazed look he wore on his face. She was intrigued.


The man in the park donned a mustard yellow scarf that swished to and fro with the slight breeze. The biscuit crumbs fell onto his scarf, and like a child on a playground slide, slid down and onto his lap.
“Hello?” he offered to the air in front of him. The man’s voice seemed timid but he spoke articulately.
“Who are you?” he asked, more hesitantly this time.
His only reply manifested from a strange and preternatural mixture of an exhale of breath and a sigh that seemed to sing.
 “That is the wrong question.” The answer blew gently onto his face. It came from before him, like a shifting of breeze or a whisper of wind.
This was what he was waiting for. He had a feeling today might have been the day. The day he would be heard and answered, the day he might understand for the first time.
The whisper was his only companion, but today was the first day it gave him words audible enough to comprehend. Before, he had only ever received incomplete blurs of sounds – the breaths and breezes of the whisper. At other times he could sense some incomprehensible sentiment attached to them.
The whisper, or ghost of a whisper, held his gaze somehow, and the man continued nibbling on his biscuit. His eyes never wavered, and his heart beat steadily as he reached into the lunchbox beside him to pull out another one.
“Who am I?” tried the man.
He sat even stiller on his perch, stopped nibbling and waited for a response.
No answer came.
He decided to try something different. “What am I doing? Why am I here?”
Still nothing.
“Where am I going?”
The whisper breathed again, this time from directly behind him.
The focus of the man’s gaze did not falter, but his face transformed to a look of vague confusion. Dissatisfied and too listless to implore for more information, he reached for another biscuit.


Emeline watched as the man on the bench paused snacking for a moment and say something aloud. Was he talking to himself? He looks so odd! How many biscuits has he eaten now? He must be crazy, she thought.
Then suddenly the man’s facial expression changed. She noticed his eyes open wider. But the change was fleeting and the man promptly resumed eating his biscuits, as if nothing at all had occurred.
Bored of observing the stranger in the empty park, Emeline gulped down the last dregs of her coffee which she’d long let grow cold, and turned her attention back to her laptop. She had only a few hours left before her assignment was due for submission.


As the man picked up his eleventh biscuit, he felt a sudden tingling sensation slowly crescendo within his ankles. He dropped the biscuit and wondered if the whisper would restart their conversation. The half-eaten biscuit landed on the ground beneath the bench.
He felt the tingling more intensely as it travelled along his calves and up to his knees before returning down to his feet and toes. From there it exited his body.
The man wiggled his toes in response and then sneezed.


The noise startled Emeline into looking up just in time to see the biscuit man’s body convulse from a sneeze. It was so loud and extreme he almost toppled off the bench.
This was the most exciting thing that he had done today, and yet it was the first normal thing he had done.
But not before long it became the second most exciting thing he did. As soon as the man recovered from his sneeze, he resumed his natural composure once again and promptly vanished.
Emeline stared.
The man had disappeared like a grubby mark on a window being wiped away in one swift motion.
Still gaping at the now empty park bench before her eyes, Emeline failed to notice the silent appearance of a biscuit inside her empty coffee mug.

Monday, November 19, 2012

film chat : the perks of being a wallflower

Finally this long awaited movie has arrived in Australian cinemas! 
If you follow this blog you might know that I read Perks not too long ago and posted some thoughts about the novel here. I was astounded by Stephen Chbosky's amazing writing talent and how invested I became in the characters of this YA coming of age story. 

I'm not going to do an in depth review on the movie or anything, there won't be any spoilers I don't think, just general things I observed. 
This adaptation was flawless! It was so well done; as a fan of the book I thought it was perfect and stunning and so beautifully and tastefully brought to cinema. If you didn't know, Stephen Chbosky himself directed and produced the film. 
Little secret: I was welling up during the opening credits! (and I cried, oh I cried - way more than I thought I would or should)

The casting was excellent, like seriously one of the best casts in my eyes. Paul Rudd as the English teacher was wonderful, Ezra Miller as Patrick was just 110% perfect, Emma Watson was a brilliant Sam (she exceeded my expectations - and I loved her a lot to begin with, so go figure), Charlie's parents were just right, and last but not in the slightest bit least, Logan Lerman. Oh, Logan. After the Three Musketeers, I was doubting him as an actor but OH MY GOD OH MY GOD he is the PERFECT Charlie. He is just so right for Charlie. And he did some darn good acting in this movie, let me tell you. I was stunned at how perfect for Charlie he is. 

I can't wait to get my hands on the DVD so I can see the deleted scene with Candace at the clinic. 
Oh, one scene I was looking forward to seeing was with the English teacher (Bill) when he invites Charlie to his house and Charlie meets his wife and Bill tells Charlie he's one of the most gifted people he had ever met. But that didn't happen in the movie. 

Perks was so brilliant.
It made me feel all the things I felt when reading the book. I really think that's the sign of a good film adaptation.
It also makes me want mixed tapes to be a thing again. 
Which reminds me, I need to buy the soundtrack stat!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

the fault in our stars by john green!


by John Green
published in 2012 by Dutton Books

I have to firstly start off this post by saying that I almost decided not to write my thoughts on The Fault in Our Stars. The book is just so affecting, and one of the most not only intense - but important - books I have read in a long, long time. I almost chose not to write about it because there are a million things I could say and they still would not cover an inch of its worth. 
So just be wary, whilst reading this post, of my lack of eloquence in describing the vastness of this book's true quality, importance and worth.

All any appreciator of The Fault In Our Stars can do is simply thank John Green for creating it, and thank God for creating John Green.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

new on my bookshelf

For this post I was simply too lazy to take photos and do the whole shebang with the writing up and everything, and I thought a video would let you see the books better than in pictures so here we go! 

Sorry for my talking and just terrible explaining skills, I think I might have made it seem like I don't know how to count. 
I suppose some writing will be necessary in this post anyway, so you don't get confused. 
The first three I showed you were given to me by the amazing Jess from The Tales Compendium.

And the last one I bought online. I failed to tell you that.

I'm most excited about Uglies! I've heard countless people rave on and on about it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

the invention of hugo cabret by brian selznick!

The Invention of Hugo Cabret 
by Brian Selznick
published by Scholastic Press, 2007

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a touching story filled to the brim with history, passion, magic, and most importantly - dreams.
There's also a lot of clockwork and thievery too. The story comes to life through the words and pictures, but let me tell you - there is so much more to it than that.
Nowadays, everywhere we look we see books turning into movies, but The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a film in the form of a book. You get the whole experience. Kind of.
I don't mean this in the sense that it was a film to begin with then someone turned it into a book (because that isn't the case), I'm saying that the story is sort of presented as a film but in the format of a book. It's really hard to explain but if you've read this book you probably know what I'm talking about.
e.g. the curtain opens and closes, and in between part 1 and part 2 it feels like an intermission.

Here's a video of me briefly flicking through the pages of Hugo

Normally I think of film as the ultimate medium of storytelling and communication, but after reading this book, it is obvious that words are just as powerful and capable - or even more so - than film.

I loved this book a lot - Selznick's simplistic writing style, the goregous, stunning images - I will never sell or give this book away because I'll be wanting to read this to my future children at bedtime one day.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

a midsummer tights dream by louise rennison!

by louise rennison
published 2012 by HarperCollins
(sequel to withering tights)

wowzies this was such a fun read! i think a midsummer tights dream was even better than withering tights
llulah is back at dother hall with her knobbly knees, her crazy tree sisters and her spectacular spontaneous irish dancing. much larks for tallulah casey in this hilariously written sequel of her misadventures.
in this book llulah's having a bit of trouble in the love department of life - she's been snogged and rejected by a really good-looking, good-snogging guy; her dream boy Alex the Good is away at theatre college or something; and a dark brooding crow named Cain Hinchcliff has just beaten her in a staring competition by licking a hailstone off her face. 

anyway, i loved this book, i love Louise Rennison, i love tallulah and her pals, the woolfe boys and especially cain. Cain is the modern-day Byronic hero of a midsummer tights dream. he seems to always lurk in the shadows and pops out whenever llulah thinks she's alone and acts silly, e.g. happy irish dancing alone in a barn or hanging upside down on a tree branch.

if you fancy a light read that will make you laugh out loud, look no further.
it really left me nothing to be desired especially with the glorious references to the bronte sisters, jane eyre and wuthering heights. i am certainly looking forward to february next year when the third book comes out!
cain is dreamyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

books on my bedside table!

I thought it might be interesting to let you know what's been sitting on my bedside table these past weeks! 
Calm down, I can see the strange look on your face. Don't worry, I do not read four books at once.
I have four there because sometimes I feel like I'm in a certain mood to read a certain kind of book, I start it, then I just leave it there and don't really get to reading the rest of it. 
Then they just accumulate.
That's mainly the case for A Midsummer Tights Dream & Mockingjay.
I'm actually a good way in to A Game of Thrones, and Hugo Cabret is quite an easy read so I'm sure I'll finish that soon. 
And I will get to Mockingjay soon enough (I well know it's been a long time coming).

But I thought I'd just give you a little insight into my sporadic reading habits of late.
It's not really too commendable, but there you go. Those are the books on my bedside table!

What books are currently resting by your bed?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Errr, hello.

If you read the title of this post, imagine me saying it in a very hesitant, timid voice - a tone that breeds the notion of guilt and maybe some remorse.

It's been a while since I posted last. I apologise.
The only reason I can think of is that I've been oddly inspired to focus more of my time and energy on my other blogs (Bloggy Balog + Pen&PepperDreams), and uninspired to post on this one.

I said I'd have a reviewy type post for The Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'engle. 
It's not coming, I'm afraid. 
I didn't end up feeling like writing a reviewy type post for it, and so I didn't.

If you'd like to keep track of my whereabouts and such, Bloggy Balog - or even better, Twitter - is where I'll be updating stuff. All. The. Time. 
I keep my Goodreads up to date too. But I actually haven't been reading leisurely all that much. 
It's a sad condition I'm in on that front.

Not sure when I'll see you next, hopefully sooner, not later! 


Friday, September 28, 2012

My Wuthering Heights Journey #3

Arielle's Wuthering Heights Journey, Part 3 of 3.

Look! It's Cathy and Heathcliff!

I finished Wuthering Heights last night! Hurrah!
I quite liked the ending.
It turns out, a good majority of the novel is about the younger Cathy - Catherine Earnshaw's daughter, whose name is also Catherine.
The book is definitely Gothic - loads of dreams, talk of ghosts, and a fair bit of violence too.
I made the mistake of watching the 2011 film adaptation by Andrea Arnold. It's not in theatres in Australia yet (it'll be released in October I think). They had younger versions and older versions of Cathy and Heathcliff, which I thought was unnecessary. Highly unnecessary. They were the only two characters who had different actors play a three year older version of themselves. And they didn't even look remotely similar.
Oh, and the film had loads of animal cruelty. It was quite disturbing.
And it didn't have enough dialogue. Which was definitely to its detriment. You can't convey the authenticity of Bronte's characters with the amount of dialogue Arnold's adaptation had. It was a poorly written film. Albeit, I didn't watch the last 20 mins. I assume a lot more happens in those last 20 mins, because the first three quarters of the film were drawn out way too long and tediously.
The cinematography was wonderful though.

Anyway back to the book. Like I was telling you last time, I was basically just waiting for the rest of the characters to die. Hindley Earnshaw, then Edgar Linton, then Linton Heathcliff, and lastly Heathcliff himself died. I feel like all the women die from the ordeal of childbirth  and all the male characters die from a cold/flu (I don't know what the different between a cold and a flu is). Oh, except Isabella, who died of some boring sickness like all the men.
I didn't really tell you much about the new Cathy. She was the only character that I remotely liked. She loved her papa (Edgar Linton) very dearly, and fell in love her with cousin Linton (Heathcliff's son by Isabella), who turned out to be a jerk and a coward, and then he died and Cathy fell in love with her other cousin Hareton Earnshaw (her mother's brother's son, whom Heathcliff sort of raised as his son and he regarded Heathcliff as his father - weird).
I totally shipped Cathy and Hareton, they're cute together.

Heathcliff kind of got his revenge; he wasn't completely satisfied because Cathy and Hareton started enjoying their lives after becoming friends (Heathcliff's whole aim was to torture the lives of Hindley Earnshaw and Edgar Linton until they and their children died - I think). Then Heathcliff thought, 'What is the point of destroying these two kids?' and must have figured it wouldn't give him joy to kill them; his life had no more purpose and he committed suicide by starving himself and letting his body grow cold and sick. Oh well!
Cathy and Hareton live happily ever after at Wuthering Heights, with Nelly as their housekeeper.

Nelly didn't turn out to be as bad as I thought.

new on my bookshelf: madeleine l'engle!

I don't quite remember exactly what it was that made me want to buy the rest of the Time Quintet by Madeleine L'Engle. I think it was a blog post by another book blogger.
Anyway, I read the first book of this series - A Wrinkle in Time, last year I think it was, and loved it, but didn't really have any inclination to go out and get the rest.
But I have them now!

A Wind in the Door came in the mail a couple days before the rest, and I immediately jumped straight into it.  Poor Charles Wallace is ill!

After my current Wuthering Heights Journey series is over (which will be soon), the next post will probably be a "my thoughts on.." for A Wind in the Door.

You can find my (gushing) review of A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet, #1) here

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Wuthering Heights Journey #2

Arielle's Wuthering Heights Journey Part 2 of ?

More rambling ensues! 
Read on for more nonsensical, scattered thoughts about my journey reading Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Here's the first leg. And once again, beware: there are a lot of spoilers in this post.

If I was confused in my last post, I am a thousand times more confused now. I'm currently reading Chapter 17 (there are 34 chapters in total, by the way), and a lot has happened since the last time we spoke. But before I tell you some of the weird things that have happened, you should know something about the characters of this book.
Everyone is crazy.
Literally everyone! Hindley's become this crabby old hermit abiding in Wuthering Heights. Nelly doesn't seem to have any redeemable traits in her character and lacks compassion altogether. It's a shame she's the one telling most of the story. In the last post we've already discovered how crazy Cathy and Heathcliff were. But now I definitely know that Edgar and Isabella Linton are crazy too. And don't even get me started on the servant, Joseph. I can't understand what he says. Let me demonstrate a snippet of his dialogue. 
"Aw sud more likker look for th' horse... Bud, aw can look for norther horse, nur man uf a neeght loike this - as black as t'chimbley! und Hathecliff's noan t' chap tuh coom ut maw whistle..."
Unfortunately he's not as minor a character as I hoped. So there's quite a bit of this gibberish to sift through. To be honest, I can't even muster up the effort to understand what Joseph (or Hareton, who talks similarly) says. I just skim through to the next bit that's written in actual English.
Despite the unattractiveness of almost every character in Wuthering Heights and the fact that their ghastly dispositions don't exactly make for a joyous read, I don't care little enough about them to be compeltely uninterested in their story. Or maybe I'm only interested because they're all mad, and the chaos of their insanity breeds incessant entertainment. Yep, that's probably why.

I have to mention this whole thing with Isabella Linton. She was quite a dull person in the beginning, but she's getting a bit more lively now! She is a complete idiot though. One of the stupidest characters I've come across in all of literature. 
So after Cathy and Edgar are married, they live together at the Linton's which is the Grange. Isabella lives there with them too because it's her home. Then after three years, Heathcliff has come back (he lives at Wuthering Heights again) and visits Cathy regularly. Suddenly Isabella is in love with Heathcliff! They don't even speak to each other. Heathcliff tells Cathy he thinks Isabella's a twit, and will never marry her. 
Well, guess what. Isabella Linton and Heathcliff run away and get married.
But the main point of relaying all of this is to outline the infuriating foolishness of Isabella. On the night they run away together, Heathcliff takes Isabella's dog and hangs him on a tree. Isabella obviously wasn't the most impressed at that point, but no alarm bells seemed to go off in her head that she might be marrying a MAD person. It's quite laughable because Cathy warned her exactly of Heathcliff's poisonous character. 

This is getting long so I'm going to end this. There are some suss things happening between Hindley and Heathcliff, and then there's the whole secret of how Heathcliff spent those three years away and how he became wealthy. Cathy's dead now; the drama has somewhat calmed down a little, so those two things are what I'm looking forward to finding out, while I wait for more characters to die off.
Here's a nice photo to ease your eyes after reading all of my nonsense! 
See you again in a day or two. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cathy and Heathcliff, you crazy kids! (My Wuthering Heights Journey #1)

Arielle's Wuthering Heights Journey, Part 1 of ?


This week is my study week, and I'm taking this time to read Wuthering Heights and to re-read Frankenstein for class. I'm approximately one third of the way through Wuthering Heights at this very moment. I decided to write this post in order to document my thought process through my reading journey of Wuthering Heights. So at the outset I must warn you that things might get strange. Also, because I haven't finished reading the book, I definitely do not pretend to have full understanding of the characters, events, or generally anything that's happening so far. But hopefully this might be interesting enough to either a) entice those who haven't thought of reading Wuthering Heights to give it a go; or b) entertain those who've read it already if only in the slightest degree (maybe they had thought these same things too!). Note: there will be spoilers.


Here's my copy of Wuthering Heights.

I bought it about 3 years ago but never mustered up enough determination to read it. Other than that one time back then when I failed dismally (i.e., in the first few pages). I started reading it again yesterday; this time finding it much easier to digest. I actually woke up this morning eager to read more of it. 
My edition by Cameron House publishing has got this really helpful list of characters at the front of the book. And it's illustrated!! Reading the little bios of each character helped me get into the story A LOT. 


OK, so currently I'm in Chapter 10 or thereabouts, and I need to comment on some really weird things that have happened so far in the story. From the word go, I found Heathcliff, as a fictional character who is also a human being, to be rather dubious. Dodgy, to say the least. He sort of just enters the story from nowhere. For someone who passionately loves (Catherine, that is), his heart seems quite demonstratively hard. Or broken. Sometimes even non-existent. I'm yet to form a solid opinion about him. But for now all I can say is he is super dubious. On the other hand, if I was in love with as mental a person as Catherine Earnshaw, I would be quite messed up in the head too.
One thing I don't understand yet is why Heathcliff ran away (literally) for three whole years after he heard Cathy say that she can't marry him? Grow a pair of balls, gypsy boy. And on top of that, he only heard that because he was eavesdropping on a private conversation and what he heard was out of context. The main thing I don't understand about it is why he didn't bother to win Catherine back and stop her from marrying LOSER LINTON. But no. He left, and his absence only made it easier for Cathy to marry the wrong person. 

Next thing I want to address is the Crazy Cathy ordeal in Chapter 8. This is what happens, more or less.
Cathy invites Edgar Linton over to her house to hang out or something.
Nelly, the housekeeper, is not allowed to leave Cathy alone when meeting with visitors (as per Hindley's instruction). 
So Nelly is cleaning and shizz, being nice and subtle about staying in the room with Cathy when Edgar Linton enters. 
Cathy tries to get Nelly to leave, but she makes up excuses not to. 
Cathy gets really angry, and PINCHES Nelly on the arm, really painfully.
Nelly cries out, saying Cathy has no right to treat her that way.
Cathy immediately denies pinching Nelly.
A row between them is going on now, and Cathy ends up slapping Nelly across the face.
Edgar stands there, watching the whole thing play out.
The baby who was sitting in the corner of the room starts crying because Nelly is crying. 
Cathy goes over to the baby, grabs his shoulders and shakes him.
Edgar decides it's time to do something and goes over to Cathy...
Cathy slaps him across the face too. 
He tries to leave but Cathy starts weeping and begs him to stay. 
Linton stays.
Then he proposes.

Yes. You  read correctly. Let's just mull that one over for a little while. 

My next post in the JOURNEY will probably be up in a day or two.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

new on my bookshelf

image source: making magique

New books! 
Some of them I ordered online, some of them were sent to me, and some of them are new library books!
Apologies though, because this little book haul is coming to you a few weeks late. :( On the plus side, I can give a bit more feedback!

My cello is in the background, hahaha!

1. Best Russian Short Stories (compiled by Thomas Seltzer)
I borrowed this book from the library and returned it a few days ago, but good thing I took photos of the inside otherwise I'd have forgotten what to say about it! These are short stories from popular Russian writers including Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gorky and quite a few others. I didn't read all of them, because some of them were quite long and I like short stories to be short - really short. My favourites were One Autumn Night by Maxim Gorky and The Christmas Tree and the Wedding by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Monday, September 3, 2012

my thoughts on: the perks of being a wallflower by stephen chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
published 1999, goodreads page.

I don't know how to begin talking about this book. 
I think I'll start off this post in dot points. 
  • I loved it from beginning to end.
  • The writing is incredible. I was blown away by how compelling it is. 
  • The book is written in epistolary form - the main character, Charlie, writing letter after letter to this person he doesn't know and has never met, yet addresses as "Friend". 
  • Charlie is like no other character I have ever had the pleasure of being introduced to. 
  • The story is beautiful in a way one rarely can find in contemporary literature. So beautiful.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower makes me exceedingly proud to say that I'm a fan of YA. 

For me, it was kinda like the book took a hold of me, like it reached out and grabbed onto my heart with a steel grip. Then you get to all those moments with Charlie, I don't know how to describe them other than by saying "those moments", and then I felt like my heart was just been SQUEEZED, or like it was digging its fingers in. Coz it kinda hurt really bad sometimes. Or a lot of times. But it was a gentle, beautiful sort of pain. I really felt for Charlie is what I think I'm trying to say. 
This was a really sad story. But funny. And hopeful. And when joy came, it came with full, unyielding force. 
It was really something to behold.

I can't remember if I mentioned this to you before, but when I read a book that I own and come across something that strikes me as poignant, something I want to remember, something I want to return to - I'll dog-ear the page, no questions asked.
For The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I couldn't do that. 
Can you guess why?

I couldn't do that because then every single page in the novel would be dog-eared.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

my thoughts on: The Beauties by Anton Chekhov

The Beauties by Anton Chekhov
published 1888

I first heard of Chekhov's The Beauties last semester in one of my English lectures. The lecture was on the literary form of the short story. 
The Beauties is said to be one of the most important short stories of all time.
It is a wonderful example of how a short story does not at all depend on plot. In The Beauties, nothing happens - twice.
It's beautiful, it's emphatic, it just is what it is. And it needs nothing more. 
It left nothing to be desired. 

The story is one boy's experiences beholding exquisite human beauty.
It is his contrast in reactions and feelings to these beauties, his starkly different responses to them, his analysis of what beauty is, and how others might perceive them. 

The Beauties, I think, has helped me realise how unimportant plot can be in fiction. Watching my lecture online yesterday (for my creative writing unit), Brenda (Walker - author and unit coordinator) focused on the importance of character (as opposed to plot) in fiction. The Beauties is a brilliant example of that - of how little I need worry about plot when I go to write my story. It's one thing to hear advice, and another to see it in action. That's what I'm hoping The Beauties is for me. 
The fuel for my creative fire.

Friday, August 17, 2012

musings on the concept of "story"

I don't normally do these kind of posts on this blog - the sort of posts where I just ramble and rant on about something. I don't even really do these on my personal blog anymore either. But today I feel like this has been a recurring thought on my mind, one that might interest you, so I'm sharing it. 

It's just about 10pm on the dot right now, so if I can get this out of my system and onto the screen by 10.15pm so I have time to hop on the treadmill (I call it the dreadmill) and do a spot of creative writing before bedtime that would be awesome. 

The thing I wanted to talk about is stories. The concept or idea of the story. What a story is. The shapes and forms we find stories in on a daily basis.
Yesterday in my tutorial class for the creative writing English unit I'm doing, the topic of "story vs narrative" was discussed. Our tutor was trying to explain the definitions of 'story' and 'narrative' and their relationship with one another. It's still a little hazy in my head, even though I wrote notes down. But anyway, what I got from that discussion was that a story can have narrative but not every narrative is a story. It's one of those confusing things. 
And this afternoon as I was watching the latest episode of So You Think You Can Dance, Nigel (producer/judge) was saying how amazing it was that Mia Michaels (choreographer) could create a story in only a minute and a half. Which is so true, and made me realise you don't need a plot to tell a story, and there's no need for any arc or methodical structure when it comes to story and storytelling. I believe it's the 'telling' part that makes it a story. You can put a couple people up on a stage and turn on some music and suddenly you're watching a story unfold before your eyes. Or you can sit down on your living room sofa, open up a book and there's a story sitting there patiently on your lap. It could be a montage, a sequence of images, a movie. Or a TV ad, or one sentence.

I've been finding it really, really difficult to start on my creative writing process. For this unit I'm doing we have to submit a folio later in the semester, featuring a few poems or a short story within a word limit. I want to tell a story. And I'm starting to figure out just how ambiguous my task really is, and how percolated the concept of stories is. There's a struggle within me - one voice is yelling at me saying that is exactly what makes telling a story easy, and another voice telling me that it's for this reason that I'm finding it so hard.
I don't know. I'm going to try my best to get this concept of story rooted in my mind and rooting for me to just go for it, jump in, and tell a story. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

my thoughts on: never let me go by kazuo ishiguro

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
published 2005. read synopsis.

First I watched the film and ever since, this story had been deeply embedded inside my mind. 
And then I read the novel. 
Before I begin talking about the book, I just want to quickly say that I think the movie was excellent and did a fantastic job capturing the world inside Never Let Me Go. Yes, some things weren't exactly represented accurately from book to film, and I might think differently about this when I watch the movie over again. But for right now, I love the film. I truly, truly believe that Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield were brilliantly cast in their roles. 

Ok, now the book. 

I am dumbfounded by Kazuo Ishiguro's writing. Never Let Me Go is one of the best written pieces of literature I have ever read in my lifetime. The way the story was written, the way the author wielded his words, and the way the language spoke in a voice so distinct that I couldn't hear the author at all, but only and solely Kathy's voice - these are all reasons why this book is one of the best written books I've read. The story is told in way that greatly warrants the book to be read aloud. I was trying to hear the words as spoken by Carey Mulligan (her voiceovers in the movie were so excellent and I love her voice in general) and I was tempted to buy an audio book version of the novel online. Kathy H, the narrator, told the story as if she and I were having tea together one afternoon. I can't even articulate properly how much I love the way this story is written. I would buy the book for this factor alone. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Uni's back - these are the books I need!

So I'm back at uni again for the second semester of the year starting this week, so I thought I'd use this post to show you some of the books I'll be needing for my studies this sem!

First off, these are the four units I'm doing: 

1. Reading Creatively/Writing Creatively 
2. Greek 2 (I did 'Greek 1' last semester)
3. Meaning and the Moving Image
4. Romanticism and Change in the Long Nineteenth Century

And these are the books I'll be needing!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

new on my bookshelf

A Midsummer Tights Dream by Louise Rennison

The sequel to Withering Tights, this is the second book Rennison's newest tween series about Tallulah Casey, Georgia Nicolson's younger cousin. Yay! I love the bright stripey cover with the shiny blue bits and the huge pop of colour! 

Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Shakespeare

I chose this Folger Shakespeare Library version to buy because I wanted to read the sonnets but I needed help understanding them. Shakespeare can really confuse me sometimes! OK, let's face it - all of the time. This version has detailed notes etcetera so hopefully they'll help break it down for me!

Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

I love the Gallagher Girls series a lot. I can't believe it has taken me this long to get my hands on the fifth instalment! Excited to get into Cammie's spy life again. Ally Carter is AWESOME.

More photos:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

my thoughts on: mini shopaholic by sophie kinsella

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
published 2010, read synopsis.

It's a wonderful feeling, reading a book for the first time, reading the last page of a story and finishing it for the first time. Nothing compares. 
That is why I'm sitting on my bed at 2am, wide awake and scribbling in a notebook, trying to somehow articulate all of what I'm feeling right now. 

For the most part, Mini Shopaholic was not like Sophie Kinsella's other novels, or even like the other Shopaholic books either. Sophie Kinsella fooled me for the first two thirds of the book - she made me think Mini Shopaholic would be a big disappointment (and in a tiny way it was a bit of a disappointment). Becky was up to her usual antics - deceiving everyone, keeping secrets, telling fibs left, right and center and satiating her hunger to shop. I was halfway through the book and felt disappointed that her character was still the same as ever, disappointed that Becky hadn't grown or matured since the first book. She had though, it was just difficult for me to see that at first. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

the tippy top of my reading pile/TBR list

This is just a quick little update-y type of post telling you the books that are at the very top of my to-be-read pile that I want/need to read (or finish reading) ASAP! 
There really should be more on here such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Fault in Our Stars, but anyway, here is the list (for now):

(pretty much in order of urgency)

Rhubarb by Craig Silvey
Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Cassandra by Kerry Greenwood
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Trying War by S.D. Gentill
Pan's Whisper by Sue Lawson
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

what I got from the library..

It's the mid-semester break right now, so I still have a few more weeks until uni restarts and while I was running a few errands yesterday at uni I had some time to spare so I popped into the library for a look-see.
These are what I borrowed! 

Cassandra by Kerry Greenwood
published 1995. goodreads synopsis

Cassandra caught my eye not only because it looked Greek myth-y but also because of the title. After reading On the Seas to Troy by Caroline B Cooney, Cassandra became one of my favourite characters of Ancient Greek mythology, so I'm excited to see how this book tells her story. The author is from Melbourne I think!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

new on my bookshelf: selznick + gentill

(published 2007; read synopsis)

I first heard of this book after watching the film Hugo, which I quickly became a huge fan of. I didn't realise it was a book to film adaptation until I saw the special features on the DVD. I loved the movie so much that I quickly ordered it online. The book looks huge, but it is jam-packed with beautiful illustrations and pictures galore, as well as words of course.
Below are photos of the hardcover's jacket and the book without the jacket. And I also took a short little video of me flipping through the book quickly, so you can get an idea of what it's really like (awesome is what it's really like!). 

Monday, July 9, 2012

my thoughts on: INSURGENT by Veronica Roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
published 2012, Harper Collins

This sequel to Divergent did not disappoint... but I can't say it was equal to or better than its predecessor, either.
To its credit, the ending of this Roth novel once again had me gripping my seat with nervous, inexplicable anticipation. It was action-packed, intense, and OH-MY-GOSH the very last page literally made me gasp, my mouth went into a O-shape and my hand slammed over it.
Anyway, let's talk about the other parts of the book.

The Divergent Tag! {video!}

On the weekend I filmed the Divergent Tag with my sister!!! 


1)Which faction would you most likely choose to be in?

2)Which faction would you least likely choose to be in?

3)Which character did you most like/identify with the most?

4)Which character did you like the least?

5)What was your favourite moment?

6)What was your least favourite moment?

7)If you had the power to cast one character, which character would you cast and who would you choose to play that role?

8)Do you think Summit can pull it off?

9)What are your top predictions for the next book Insurgent?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

my thoughts on: the lover's dictionary by david levithan

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
published 2011, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

This is a novel written in the format of a dictionary. Dictionary entries for words, listed in alphabetical order and pertaining to the romantic relationship between two people. The concept of writing a story in the style of a dictionary is really unique. I can appreciate the difficulty one would be faced with having to create a narrative within the restrictions of a certain format. David Levithan did it superbly. Superbly.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Book Blog Do's/Don'ts : Formatting (my preferences)

These are just a few things I look for on the home page when I'm visiting a book blog for the first time and I want to gauge whether or not I should bother following. 
(NB: this post is similar to the post I did last December entitled Book Blog Pet Peeves. It covers different things though.)

1. CONDENSE THE HOME PAGE: Please don't make me scroll down the page for yonks and yonks in order to look for certain info/widgets. This probably means the size (or quantity) of your posts need to be reduced. Use jump breaks so I don't have to scroll through long posts, or limit the number of posts that show on the home page to about a dozen. Otherwise it's just way too much content for a first-time visitor like myself to look through.

2. ARCHIVES: Have them somewhere I can find them easily! I want to know what kind of posts you put out - some book bloggers do a crapload of reviews, some only post about books they are pining for, some tend to mainly post about books they have bought, and some bloggers post a lot about the publishing world. The easiest way for me to see what sort of stuff you like to write about is to have an archives widget that allows me to see post titles, not just dates. 

3. I LIKE PRETTY THINGS: But don't over do it. I respond well to things that entice me visually. However, too much of anything is a bad thing, so if you want a fancy background, don't use lots of bright colours or too many graphics. It's possible to have funky or ornate backgrounds but you can mute the tones so the focus is still on the content. Also, when I see an awesome header I'm more likely to follow the blog. Possibly shallow of me, but nevertheless true.

4. DON'T OVER BUTTON IT: Too many banners and buttons will give me a headache! Promoting friends/challenges/contests is A-okay with me, but don't sacrifice the integrity of your blog for any reason - whether it's for showing everyone how active you are or for getting a couple extra entries in a giveaway. All I'm saying is, as long as it's important to you and aligns with the purpose of your blog, it's alright. But if you really must have a lot of buttons down your sidebars, think about the placement of them.

5. BLOGROLLS: I like to see your blogroll. Especially if you're an Aussie blogger - there are less of us, so it's interesting to see which other Aussie bloggers you like.

Well that's about it for this round of Arielle-whining-on-about-book-blog-stuff-as-if-it-would-actually-help-someone-ha-ha-but-really-it-makes-her-sound-so-critical-who-is-she-anyway?

image source: cherryblossomgirl