Cloud Atlas

This is a slightly odd book. And that is a slight understatement. Basically it contains six different stories that are linked by the reincarnation of the same soul. I think.

I found the first five chapters excruciating! They only tell half of each story, and all end on a huge cliff hanger… and then I had to wait what felt like forever to find out what happens.

Each individual story is really really good, and full of very original twists. And Mitchell changes his narrative tone to suit each story, which I think is great… it sort of adds an extra layer of authenticity. He has created a pool of rich, layered characters that you can’t help but empathise with (no matter how insipid you’d find them in real life…)

Out of the six stories I would describe two as phenomenal, two as great and two as reasonably good, but this is purely based on my generic preferences (I just personally enjoy crime drama and sci-fi to social realism and tribal tales).
If you like a challenge, I’d definitely recommend this book to you. If you don’t, I’d probably tell you to shut up and read it anyway! One thing is certain; I can’t wait unti the film comes out!

D x

Reading Challenge 2012, the final count

So now that Christmas is over I’ve started to think about New Years (which means resolutions), I think I’ll have a few for 2013! This year, I only had one… to read one book for fun each month. This resolution then morphed into me reading 31-40 books in the year, and then later 41-50. It’s the first time I’ve ever kept to a resolution, much less surpassed one! Seeing as you’ve been along for the ride with me for the past few months, I thought I’d share my grand total [insert drumroll] 45! Here’s the final list:

The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon
Juliet by Anne Fortier
One Day by David Nicholls
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
The Heroines by Eileen Favorite
Doghouse Roses by Steve Earle
A Daughter of the Sioux by Charles King
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday
Echoes by Maeve Binchy
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The Adventures of Maya the Bee by Waldemar Bonsels
Diary by Chuck Palahnuik
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel
Dubliners by James Joyce
The Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas de Quincey
The Sandman by ETA Hoffman
A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, an African Prince, as Related by Himself.
The Beach of Falesa by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Liar by Stephen Fry
Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott
The Intimate Confessions of a London Call Girl by Belle de Jour
Fall Love by Anne Whitehouse
Dial M for Monkey by Adam Maxwell
50 Shades of Grey/50 Shades Darker/50 Shades Freed by EL James
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The Abortionist’s Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneger
Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
The L-Shaped Room by Lynee Reid Banks
206 Bones by Kathy Reichs
Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Don’t Blink by James Patterson
Frank Sinatra has a cold and other stories by Guy Talese

I managed to triple the amount of books I read in 2011, so I’m pretty chuffed with myself! I’ve decided to host my very own reading challenge starting in January, so make sure you come back and check it out!

Enjoy the rest of your holidays,
D x

Art Journal Every Day – The Masks We Create

The other day I decided to have a mindless play around in my ‘Inspired by Teesha‘ journal. This is the page I ended up with:

I seem to say this a lot recently, but it was so much fun just messing about and being whimsical. I love the slightly creepy character I’ve created out of fashion models and doodles! I’ve developed a serious addiction to using correction fluid in my art journal… this border might be my favourite part of the page!

I’m really enjoying experimenting with different ‘fonts’ in my journal- I’ve never been particularly good at lettering so I definitely need the practise! The quote (‘Nothing is more real than the masks we make to show each other who we are’ – Sam Shepard) is one that caught my eye a while ago… I’ve had it on a post-it stuck to my computer monitor, and I’m glad I’ve finally found a place to use it! The scrawly text on her cape is (I’m so ashamed to admit it) some some of the lyrics to ‘Bye! Bye! Bye!’ by N*Sync. I will not be surprised if some of you decide to unfollow me after this revelation.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!
D x

Festive Inspiration – Handmade Wrapping Paper

So it’s that time of year when everything seems to go a bit crazy… there’s gifts to buy and meals to plan and colds to cope with (and in my case assignments to tackle) so it can be a bit tricky finding time to be creative. One really quick and easy way to add a bit of your arty personality to Christmas is designing your own wrapping paper. As I’m quite behind, I haven’t even thought about wrapping my own prezzies, but here are three cool ‘personalized gift wrap’ tutorials that I’ve found online (click on the image to see the actual post):

Other ideas for making your own wrapping paper:
– Cut a holly leaf out of a washing up sponge and stamp paint over a large sheet of craft paper.
– Using permanent marker, scrawl the words to your favourite Christmas song over a sheet of brown paper. Add doodles with a correction pen for contrast.
– Cut a christmas shape out of card (stars, trees, a reindeer… whatever you fancy) and then use as a ‘mask’ to spray paint over.
– Wrap your gifts in plain paper and then stick sequins and glitter all over the top.
– If you’re a hoarder like me, cut images and words from the Christmas paper you kept from last year, and paste onto a large piece of paper.

Hope you’re all looking forward to the most wonderful day of the year as much as I am!

D x

Fall Fearless and Fly – Challenge 6

Time for Fall Fearless and Fly’s challenge number 6:
Headline Prompt: Divided by God: What does “God” mean to you? How do you access”God” or the divine or the sacred in your life?
Color Prompt: Metallics – gold, silver, copper, bronze, or all of them!
Quote Prompt: “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart, is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” The Dalai Lama

For this challenge I created another page in my Teesha inspired journal. I’m really enjoying experimenting with a new style (even if the end result may not be amazing!):

My favourite part is the border- I loved letting my mind wander while doodling with Tipex…
Hope you’re all having a nice relaxing week in the run up to Christmas!
D x

TMA 2 – A sneeze of relief

I think we all remember my excitement at the prospect of doing this assignment; Dombey and Son was great fun to read and the essay question had so much potential… but therein lay my problems:

1. Dombey and Son was great fun to read…

So I wanted to cram in as much as humanly possible. It was horrible having to cut out some of my favourite parts of the novel that were just not relevant to the question. Also, because I tried to squeeze so much analysis in I didn’t really include enough quotes from the book (this undoubtedly affected my mark).


2. The essay question had so much potential…

Essentially I was drowning in material. I collected about seven pages of notes from the text book, the critical reader, the novel and the depths of my brain and I don’t doubt that reducing to fit the 1500 word limit led to a less than coherent essay.

As soon as I clicked on the ‘submit your assignment’ button, the panic started to set in. But, because my tutor is epic, I didn’t have to wait long to get my mark. Less than 48 hours after the deadline and it has already been marked. Now I’m just filled with relief: relief that it’s over, relief that I didn’t fail and relief that I can consume this lemsip at a leisurely pace… before I embark on TMA 3 of course!

The next question does seem like the kind of thing to strike fear in the hearts of the villagers, but I’m hoping the Saturday tutorial will shed some light.

D x

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Breakfast at Tiffany's

I’ve never seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote, but I’ve heard people rave about it. I always imagined some sort of glamorous romance, but maybe that’s just what I associate with Audrey Hepburn?

Obviously I came crashing back down to Earth as I read the damn book…  I rarely say this about any work of literature but I genuinely think it was a waste of paper. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the story, it’s that there was no story. Essentially, a group of insipid characters spend too much money, avoid having real jobs and lie to each other about everything. If that’s what I wanted to experience I’d be watching The Real Housewives of New York (because at least they are moderately entertaining).

The one positive thing I could say is that it’s a very short book, so I wasn’t torturing myself for too long. But it was a waste of an afternoon.

Sorry. Obviously I’m in a bit of a cantankerous mood… I’m just dying for a really gripping book. I have so little time to actually read that it just drives me crazy when I waste that time on total rubbish!

So who wants to be controversial? Do any of you love Breakfast at Tiffany’s and want to prove me wrong?


Fall Fearless and Fly – Challenge 5

Check out the latest Fall Fearless and Fly prompts:

Headline Prompt:  Lifelong Fan:  What or who have you consistently valued or looked up to in your life?  What lessons have you learned from people you admire?
Colour Prompt:  Your favorite colour now or from childhood or both!
Quote Prompt: “Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator; but among those whom I love, I can:  all of them make me laugh.”  W.H.Auden

This time I chose to use two of the prompts, the headline and the colour.

Colour: My favourite colour as a child was purple. Every time we moved house, or I moved bedroom, I wanted a purple bedroom but my mum always said know. She kept telling me that I’d grow out of liking purple in a couple of months, but she was wrong! That battle went on for seven years…

Headline: Now, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve looked up to my Auntie more than anybody else. She just seemed to ‘get me’ more than anyone else in my family. I have learnt so, so much from her over the years (from how to paint your nails properly to the most divine cheesecake recipe), but the three things she taught me that I absolutely live by are – 1) Live life with whimsy. Who cares what anyone else says, just allow yourself to play and be silly. 2) Learn how to laugh at yourself, because otherwise it’ll hurt when other people do. Plus, it’s the first step to being completely carefree. 3) This is the biggie- let people know you. Being on guard 24/7 is only going to stop people seeing how amazing you are, so stop it!

aj page

This page was also inspired by Teesha Moore, check out the first in her art journal video series here. It was so much fun just playing around and creating something whimsical… the best part is I can take it anywhere as I didn’t need any ‘messy’ materials. As much fun as they are, they’re not practical for train journeys or office desks… My plan is to fill a whole journal with Teesha inspired pages, but we’ll see how that goes!

D x


Reading Update: November

This month I have not been so prolific with my reading habits, blame it on assignments and a lot of early mornings… I haven’t managed to read any more set books but I did manage to stick to my ‘reading for fun’ resolution with:

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

(A very bizarre hybrid of historical fiction, crime drama, sci-fi and philosophy… the literary equivalent of Dr Who one might say…)

Don’t Blink by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

(Another novel from the king of crime fiction but with a slight twist in narrative style)

I’ll be posting reviews of both of these in the upcoming weeks, as well as trying to speed read a few more books… I’m hoping to at least get through Germinal, as I’ll be studying it in a couple of weeks. Hopefully I’ll manage something a bit more fun too! My TBR target for 2012 was 41-50 and these two bring my total up to 38. Only 3 more to go! But will I manage to get it done over the crazy Christmas period? What do you think?

I promise to sit down and write a longer post at some point soon, but you know how it is at this time of year… assignments to do and presents to buy!

D x

The Help

I’d heard great things about The Help (by Kathryn Stockett) before I read it, which usually sets of alarm bells (because nothing ever seems to live up to the hype), but now that I’ve read it I’d like to say great things about it too.

In summary, I think this is one cracking book.

Set in 1960’s Mississippi, The Help gives a snapshot of the lives of a young white writer and two black maids. All three are given their own, very distinct, voice. They narrate their own stories in such a frank way that you can’t help but fall in love with them.

You could say that the plot itself, if removed from the context of an outrageously racist setting, is a little on the mundane side, but the vivid characters bring everyday events onto a whole other plain. I found the social environment in which it is set to be completely fascinating… Obviously I was somewhat aware of racial attitudes back then, but I never really considered how these attitudes affected entire communities. I thought it was very interesting to see the extremes of emotion provoked by the black maids within white households; there were instances of sheer hatred and others of profound love and loyalty.

I just love, love, loved it; it’s probably the best book I’ve read all year, and I would recommend it in a heartbeat! Not only is The Help a wonderfully written heart-warming and breaking novel, it is also educational (especially considering it’s pure fiction). If nothing else it has piqued my interest in a period of history I really know nothing about. If anyone has any recommendations of books on a similar topic, please let me know and I’ll devour them!

D x