Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Unfinished Books of 2014

Hi everyone!

As I've mentioned previously I've been in a terrible reading slump since August and in that time I tried and failed to read so many books. Some of them were good and I wanted to read them but I just wasn't in the right mindset and so I put them on the back burner. Others however were just awful and I'm glad that I put them down. I generally don't feel too bad about abandoning a book although there are a few on this list that I am quite ashamed to admit I didn't finish.  Here's a list of all of the books I tried to read this year in no particular order:

Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor
At the start of the year I read another of Joseph O'Conner's books called Ghost Light which was an unexpected but fantastic read that I absolutely loved. I decided that I needed to read more of his books and so I picked this book up. It is his most noted book so I was obviously expecting it to be good and continue on with the good vibes from the previous book of his I'd read. This was not the case however and I really didn't enjoy it. The book is set on a famine ship travelling from Ireland to America during the Great Famine in Ireland. I usually love historical fiction, particularly if it's about Ireland but I found this really difficult to get into so I put it down after about 50 pages. It is a book that I'd like to pick up again so all is not lost but I think it'll be a while before this will be in my hands again.

Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera
This is one of those books that I can't for the life of me remember why I bought it. I think it had something to do with trying to read books about more diverse characters or something along those lines. It follows a young Pakistani boy living in England, who while on holiday in Pakistan visiting his family is captured by the US government and brought to Guantanamo Bay. I think I got to the second chapter of this and decided it wasn't for me. I'm not great with YA novels at best and I just couldn't put up with this for long. I won't be picking it back up again, it's new home will be the charity shop in town.

We Were Liars by E.Lockhart
This summer seemed to have been dominated by this book on Youtube. Every video I watched seemed to mention it. I wasn't going to give into the hype but I really wanted to know what all the fuss was about and so I caved. I bought it as an e-book for the Kindle app on my phone and read it when I was bored. It didn't do much for me at all and I really can't understand why everyone liked it so much. It's about a rich girl who spends her summers on her family's island and after an accident one summer, she loses her memory and has to find out what happened. I didn't get very far into the book after the accident happened because I found the main character to be insufferably whiny. The big mystery just wasn't that appealing to me and so I gave up on it. I doubt that I'll ever start reading it again.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
This one I'm a little bit embarrassed about since it is so popular. I only recently decided to put it down and try other books after months of picking it up and eventually putting it down again. I think I got about 100 pages in. It's not that I didn't like it, it's just that it was very slow and tedious to get through. The chapters are very long, there are a lot of characters and I just wasn't feeling it. I definitely want to pick it up again in the not too far off future and come back to it, refreshed and ready for a New Zealand adventure.

Chocolat by Joanne Harris
This is one of the books on my 100 Books To Read Before I Die list and so I really wanted to finish it but it was so ridiculously boring. It's about a chocolatier who moves to a small quiet town in provincial France which is ruled by the local Catholic priest who disapproves of the chocolate shop because he feels it will tempt the townspeople. Very little happens throughout the book and it was quite a disappointment. I got to about page 200 possibly and just couldn't go on.

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
I bought this book in a charity shop and was quite excited about it at the time since it is quite famous. It's a memoir of Frank McCourt's childhood growing up in poverty in Ireland. I knew it was going to be sad before I bought it but I was still willing to give it a go. Nothing could have prepared me for just how depressing it was and I only the first few pages. It was awful and I never want to open it ever again, it will most definitely be returning to the charity shop I bought it from.

There aren't as many books as I thought there'd be although maybe I'm missing a few. How many books did you leave unfinished this year and how did you feel about letting them go?

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Monday, 15 December 2014

5 TV Shows I've Been Loving This Year

Hi everyone!
This year I've been binging on a lot of TV shows and I wanted to share some of my favourites with you so that you can join me in my obsessions! Four out of five of these shows are available on Netflix if you're interested in watching them.

1. Misfits

Many of you may not be familiar with this gem of a show which is a travesty in my opinion. It first aired on E4 in 2008, with its fifth and final season airing in 2013. I wasn't able to watch this when it was first shown on TV but heard all about it from my friends so when I saw that it was available on Netflix, I jumped on it and am now on season four (I started it last week oops!). It follows the exploits of five young offenders on community service who during a freak lightening storm get given special powers that change their lives. It is hilariously funny and completely wacky which is why I love it. My favourite character by far is Nathan played by the one and only Robert Sheehan (an Irish lad of course). He is the funniest character and the show just wasn't the same when he left at the end of season two. The whole show sort of went downhill after that particularly after season three when the rest of the original cast was replaced. It is most definitely still worth a watch though!

2. Vikings

This is the only show on this list that isn't available to watch on Netflix unfortunately although I'm sure it is available elsewhere on the Internet, I watched it as it aired on TV. As you can probably guess this show documents the lives of the Vikings during their raids in England however they are far from the monsters that history depicts them as. They are much more human and have families to worry about. It's a great show that is really historically accurate. It is currently on it's second season with the third season airing next year. What I really love about this show is that all of the beautiful scenery you see is entirely shot in Ireland which is really great. I really hope you check this one out!

3.Orange is the New Black

If you haven't heard of this show, you must be living under a rock. This year it seems to have blown up and everyone was talking about since the second season was released earlier in the year. Orange is the New Black follows rich-girl, Piper Chapman who is landed in a women's prison after being convicted for drug trafficking when she was younger. Although it seems like a very heavy topic, which it is, seeing Piper try and fit in with the women in the prison is hilarious. It's not just about Piper though, we also get the back stories of each of the women in the prison which is both heartbreaking at times and also heartwarming. Unfortunately there's no release date for season three so we'll just have to wait. If you haven't seen it already, please, please do, you won't regret it!

4.The Office US

I binge watched all nine seasons of this during the summer and I don't regret a minute of it. I think that it is an absolutely genius show that everyone should watch. All of the characters and their stories are brilliant. My favourite was definitely Dwight who was just so weird and also wonderful. I'm really sad that this is over, I miss it so much, I might start watching it again!

5.Parks and Recreation

I only recently started watching this but I'm already loving it. I had seen the gifs of this show all over Tumblr which I really liked so I decided to give it a go. I haven't been racing through it like I have done previously with other shows which is better I think, I have to chance to savour it!

What shows have you been watching this year and do you have any suggestions?

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Friday, 12 December 2014

Reigniting my passion for blogging

Hi everyone!

I doubt I have any regular readers of this blog left because I've neglected blogging so much this past year but kudos to anyone who has stuck around! I really hate that I go for months on end without saying a word and then every few months I get a spurt of energy and inspiration to start blogging again. I make promises that I'll never leave again and that this time it'll be different but it never lasts. I always end up being away for months and breaking my promises. It's not because I don't like blogging or I don't like this blog, it's because I'm too damn lazy to maintain it. I suppose it doesn't help that I had a bit of an identity crisis where I wasn't sure what I wanted to blog about but I think I've fixed that now. Freckles and Curls is most definitely a book blog now with a dash of lifestyle on the side. I've done away with the fashion side although there still may be some DIY mixed in if I ever get around to sewing again that is. 

I'm also making a blogging schedule that should hopefully (fingers crossed!) keep me on track. I don't want blogging to become a chore though, I want it to be fun and easy like it used to be when I first started back in 2011 (if you count the blog before this one). I still can't believe that Freckles and Curls will be 3 years old in March. It blows my mind that I've been doing this for that long although I haven't really done anything with it for the past year. I was going back over some old posts that I'd written in 2012 and I had completely forgotten how much I used to love blogging, it was so much fun and it introduced me to a whole new online world. I honestly think that if I hadn't had my blog I wouldn't have discovered the world of Youtube which I absolutely love now. I enjoy making videos so much and seeing all of the wonderful comments from people who choose to follow me really makes me happy. I want to be as happy with this blog as I am with my Youtube channel and so I am dusting off the cobwebs and limbering up my typing fingers for a year full of blogging in 2015, for real this time, no more empty promises.

So what can you expect?

Well, like I said earlier this is primarily going to be a book blog. I already have a few book reviews posted and some other book related posts so expect more of those. I'm also going to be posting some more stuff about me and what I'm doing. I want to get into photography a bit more so I'll be posting some pictures from the places I go. I'm going to post 3 times a week so every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If I can stretch to 5 days a week that will be great but for now I'm sticking to 3 while I get back into the swing of things. For my Youtube channel I'll post a minimum of one video a week which will be on a Wednesday but there may be two videos or more if you're lucky!
So that's my plan for this blog, I hope you'll stick around!

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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Book Review: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Publisher: Serpent's Tail
Format: Paperback
Page count: 308 
Synopsis: Meet the Cooke family. Our narrator is Rosemary Cooke. As a child, she never stopped talking; as a young woman, she has wrapped herself in silence: the silence of intentional forgetting, of protective cover. Something happened, something so awful she has buried it in the recesses of her mind.

Now her adored older brother is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. And her once lively mother is a shell of her former self, her clever and imperious father now a distant, brooding man.

And Fern, Rosemary’s beloved sister, her accomplice in all their childhood mischief? Fern’s is a fate the family, in all their innocence, could never have imagined. (via Goodreads)

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My thoughts: I had been in a terrible reading slump before I picked up this book. I had started so many books but none of them held my interest enough to finish them. I picked this book up by chance because it was half price in my local bookshop and I was so glad that I did. It took me a matter of days to read, I was so enthralled by it. It takes a special kind of book to get me out of the depths of a reading slump as bad as the one I was in, let me tell you that much.
What made this book for me was the mystery of Fern. What happened to her? Why did she leave? Why are the parents so heartless towards her? For a character that we never meet, she sure did occupy most of the book and rightly so, her departure had a devastating effect on her family.  When I got to the twist about Fern which was actually quite early on in the book, it really messed me up. I didn't know what to think and from there on I couldn't put it down, I was hooked.
It brought up some really important issues for me. One being the deception of your memory. We all remember events differently and our perspectives on events change as we age. This played a massive role in the book when Rosemary was trying to uncover the truth about Fern. She was only 5 when Fern left and as we all know when you're that age, your memory is anything but reliable. The fact that it was non-linear really highlighted this.
Another thing that really impacted on my reading experience were the sibling relationships and also the family dynamic. Rosemary has a tumultuous relationship with her brother. The reason that this stood out for me was because I'm the youngest child of four so I am well used to fighting with my brothers and sisters and although we fought a lot, I also idolised them. Rosemary had the same feelings toward her older brother and it really resonated with me as it brought me back to my childhood. Family is at the heart of this book, I loved reading about the Cooke family as strange and mysterious as they were.
I would definitely recommend you read this book, it is probably one of my favourites of this year. If you would like to watch my review for this book, it is available to watch here.
The post, Book Review: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, first appeared on Freckles and Curls blog.
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