Saturday, June 30

June Book Reviews


I was originally a book blogger. Back in the day, when the grass was greener, and the days longer, when I created my first ever blog post, I declared that I would write about books! So although both my blog and I have gone through some mega changes, we agreed we still like talking about books.

My Old Blog ^ first post I ever wrote ( did not look like this back then )
And seeing as it has been a century since I last wrote a book review I shall give you a few of them in one post.

Alas, because time has an annoying effect on memory, there are some books I read and just cannot for the life of me remember what they were about, or if I liked them all that much... oh well.

Wonder

I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse. August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.


I was expecting a children’s book, a story far too immature to keep me engaged, a light-hearted tale, a book I would fling to the side not long after finishing. But I was wrong. In reality this is a book for any person, young and old. A story that is very real and will touch many people. A tale with a heavy topic but conjures hope and love from the reader. A book I still love many months after reading it. 

Wonder is about a boy who looks different to everyone else and how he copes with starting school for the first time at the age of 10. Told from various characters’ perspectives, you get to see the bigger picture and the different sides to the story. It is both heart warming and heart wrenching and I recommend this book highly.

Almost Love

When Sarah falls for Matthew, she falls hard.

So it doesn't matter that he's twenty years older. That he sees her only in secret. That, slowly but surely, she's sacrificing everything else in her life to be with him.

Sarah's friends are worried. Her father can't understand how she could allow herself to be used like this. And she's on the verge of losing her job.

But Sarah can't help it. She is addicted to being desired by Matthew.

And love is supposed to hurt.

Isn't it?

I am a big fan of Louise O'Neill's books ( and her articles in the Saturday paper ) and I have become accustomed to her horrifically negative endings that leave me distraught for weeks. With this expectation in mind, I was ready for the tears of rage, the oppression of women and the deafening silence of the last page.

I'm not going to turn around and tell you that I received the exact opposite. There are no happily ever afters in Louise O'Neills book. However I actually found the story rather uplifting in parts. Now the character is quite difficult to like - almost damn impossible - but I couldn't help feel like I was looking in the mirror. I saw aspects of myself in her. Things I did not like but accepted that I also acted that way from time to time. I was appalled that this character that I didn't like had such similarities with myself, but I think we can all see parts of ourself in this book. It's so real and familiar.

Changing perspectives from "now" to "then" and vice versa was confusing at first and it was hard to keep track of all those names but once I got into it, Almost Love was hard to put down. A fascinating read about the self-destruction from obsessive love and how perspective on a situation means everything, as I shouted from the sidelines at Sarah to see what was blatantly obvious to me but clearly blind-sighted by her.

To All The Boys I've Loved Before

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

Jenny Han was one of my favourite authors growing up. Her trilogy “The Summer I turned Pretty” had me madly in love with Jeremiah, Conrad and of course, Belly. As a teenager these books were definitely in my top 10 for many years. So of course when I came across this book by the same author, the nostalgia hit me and I couldn’t help but pick it up. I knew I was going to be well past the age for this story but I had seen a lot of hype from some bloggers I follow and decided it could be well worth it.

Unfortunately I didn’t get hooked. Within two days I finished the novel but that is solely because it was an easy read. The characters were lacking something and the plot line was predictable. I knew the ending just from the first chapter. I think if I was 5 years younger I would absolutely be head over heals for this book. But at 22, teen romance can make me cringe.

I also want to mention that this is actually being made into a film by Netflix. You can watch the trailer here, and although the book was a bit disappointing for me, I am looking forward to watching this. I have a bit of a guilty pleasure for sappy teen romance movies.

This book is part of a trilogy and would be more suited towards teenagers and possibly some young adults.

Farenheit 451

Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.

The classic novel of a post-literate future, ‘Fahrenheit 451’ stands alongside Orwell’s ‘1984’ and Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ as a prophetic account of Western civilization’s enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity.

Bradbury’s powerful and poetic prose combines with uncanny insight into the potential of technology to create a novel which over fifty years from first publication, still has the power to dazzle and shock.

This is one of those books that should be on everyones to-be-read list since the dawn of time. It is a classic and I would be very surprised if you have never heard of it. Fahrenheit 451 is grouped with Orwell’s 1984 and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale because of the timelessness dystopian that has uncanny similarities with the world today.

The thought of books being illegal and actively sought out to be burned is a very intriguing ( and repelling ) idea to a reader. Mesmarised by the world Bradbury had built in the story, I could't help but recognise aspects in our own world - particularly with notion of our reduced attention spans, how we want things faster and faster with technology. I was blown away by the book and cannot get over that it was written in 1953!




Have you read any of these? What are you currently reading?


Always, M

Monday, May 21

The Eighth Amendment : To Repeal Or Not To Repeal

In every town, at every corner, on every street - Propaganda posters are telling you to Vote Yes or Vote No. There is no getting away from the 8th Amendment. It has haunted this country for 35 years and on Friday May 25th, the citizens of Ireland will vote to repeal it or keep the 8th amendment in the Irish Constitution. This is a revolutionary referendum that could change Ireland forever and will no doubt be a significant part of history to come. It is crucial that every person educate themselves on this topic. I cannot stress enough the importance of your vote. Whatever your opinion is, ignorance will not be tolerated.

But what is the Eighth? I wrote a similar blog post almost two years ago, discussing it: HERE. In brief, the 8th refers to the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution which guarantees the equal right to life of the unborn and the mother. This law that was brought in in 1983 means that abortion is illegal in Ireland except if there is a substantial risk to the life of the mother. This forces women to travel abroad usually to the UK for abortion which is physically and emotionally traumatic and stressful, and often isn’t even an option because of the cost.

The Present Article 40.3.3 The Proposed Article 40.3.3
The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right. This subsection shall not limit freedom to travel between the State and another state. This subsection shall not limit freedom to obtain or make available, in the State, subject to such conditions as may be laid down by law, information relating to services lawfully available in another state. Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.


To Repeal or Not To Repeal?


I cannot do an unbiased blog post on this topic. I tried. But I feel much too strongly about this referendum and I shake with anger every time I see a No Poster (Especially when that No Poster is telling blatant lies and forcing crude imagery on my eyes). Trying to argue with a no voter makes my blood boil. They cannot take a step back and see things from my point of view and it is impossible to have any civil discussion. I have tried to understand why people want to keep the 8th Amendment. I can see their valid reasoning but I can also see that it is forcing one person’s opinion on everyone else. Choosing to vote yes means I can keep my opinion without forcing it on anyone. I am pro-choice.

Why am I in favour of repealing the 8th?


After following this matter very closely over the last two years, by hearing women's own stories of how the 8th has affected them, I am in doubt that we need to repeal. There have been women in the past and there will continue to be women who need this amendment abolished. Hell - we all dereve a say in our own bodies. Just because you personally would not choose to have an abortion does not mean that everyone else should be denied that choice. If the 8th is repealed, no one is changing what you must do with your body. In fact it is opening up options for women who have had no options before.


In 1983, Shelia Hodgers was diagnosed with cancer when she became pregnant. Shelia was refused treatment because the drugs may harm the foetus. She delivered her premature baby at 7 months. The baby died and two days later, Shelia passed away in agony. Her husband had begged for mercy but the law stood.  Love Both you say? Well the 8th Amendment killed both. 

Anonymous women have come out and told their stories after suffering in silence. To read many of them you can follow In Her Shoes on twitter and facebook to see how the 8th has affected them. Many are too graphic and harrowing to share here but I implore you to read some and hear their side of the story.
Hear how women face 14 years in jail for having an abortion. That's more than someone can get for rape. Or hear the women who wear forced to remain pregnant even after rape. Or what about the woman who wanted her baby but was diagnosed with fatal foetal abnormality and still had to remain pregnant even when she knew she waiting to deliver a baby with a death sentence. Even worse are the people congratulating her and asking about the baby as there is no way of hiding a pregnancy once the mother begins to show.

The Catholic Church has taken the no side ( no shit Sherlock ) in this campaign. I almost roll my eyes at this because I have no tolerance for the Church after its despicable history. Don't get me wrong, I have utmost respect for religion, but the church is an organisation that have committed revolting crimes and support archaic views here in Ireland. In the past, the Church has opposed Tampons ( because it may arouse women), Mother and Child scheme, Married women in Civil Service, Contraception, Divorce, Civil Partnerships, Gay Marriage and now Abortion. And don't get me started on the tuam babies and magdalene laundries. You say love both, but where was the love when you forced women into the laundries and took their babies away from them and sold them to America or the rest that that you buried in sewers?! Where were your love both signs then, huh?!! So apologies, Father Buckley, but your sermon at mass on Sunday was disgusting and I did everything in my power not to scream at you as you called us murderers from the alter.



I hope you join me in saying Yes on May 25th.

Always, M

Tuesday, January 16

Mix Tapes

Even though CDs are going out of fashion and it's becoming increasingly hard to find a suitable player for them, I still love to make my own mix tapes. The first one I ever made was back in 2007, just over 10 years ago! It featured some terrible club songs and everything was a remix. To be honest, I didn't even know what music I liked back then. I was a product of society and only liking these songs because that's what was popular. Today, mostly everyone uses Spotify, Soundcloud or another digital form of listening to music. I myself, listen to most of my music in the car. Volume up, singing wrong lyrics and forgetting about whatever problems are havocking my mind. I have 5 different mix tapes I have compiled into different genres/occasions. And for each, I made cover artworks. Now they're not going to win any prizes or ever be thought of as impressive but making them was something I had a lot of fun doing and I just wanted to write a post about them.

Golden Oldies

Most of these I would classify as fairly old songs but are still brilliant none the less. Age is just a number baby.
YouTube Playlist here
1. Pumped Up Kicks
2. Stacy's Mom
3. I'm Coming Out
4. Hey there Delilah
5. Come on Eileen
6. Year 3000
7. Here comes the Sun
8. Iris
9. Home Again
10. Good Riddance
11. Folsom Prison Blues
12. Fits (Too Drunk to Drive)
13. Grace Kelly
14. Little Talks
15. It Ain't Me Babe
16. Love Today
17. Me and Julio
18. Hey Baby
19. You Can Call Me Al
20. Valley Where The River Runs

Disney

Disney music is timeless and perfect for any time of day. There are so many amazing songs that it was difficult to choose which were worthy of a place on this CD. (And they're technically not *all* Disney but shur what harm...)
YouTube Playlist Here
1. Belle - Beauty and the Beast
2. Reflection - Mulan
3. For the First Time in Forever
4. How Far I'll Go
5. A Whole New World
6. Colors of the Wind
7. When Will My Life Begin
8. Strangers Like Me
9. Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride
10. I Just Can't Wait To Be King
11. You're Welcome
12. I'll Make A Man Out of You
13. You've Got A Friend in Me
14. When She Loved Me
15. That's How You Know
16. Learn To Do It
17. Under The Sea
18. Tale As Old As Time

That's All Folks

I tried to make this CD all folk songs, with a mix of Indie and Rock. But I have no idea what to classify it as anymore. They are just songs I really like, a lot of Irish Artists on here!
YouTube Playlist Here
1. Falling
2. Little Lion Man
3. Battles - Hudson Taylor
4. Take All The Time You Need
5. Forget Me Knots
6. Send Me On My Way
7. The Wire
8. She's so Lovely
9. Little Talks
10. Fake - the Frays
11. Jackie and Wilson
12. San  Diego Song
13. Remember When
14. Hoppipolla
15. Holly
16. Heroes or Ghosts
17. Heart of Nowhere
18. Lifetime
19. Cups
20. I want the Sky

You Are A Masterpiece All By Yourself

Music can have a huge impact on your mood and a few months ago, when I was feeling down and quite insecure, I decided I needed something to help, to improve my attitude. So I compiled a list of songs that are kick-ass, feel good, empowering, inspiring and promote independence. I wouldn't typically listen to many of these artists and sometimes I cringe at how much I enjoy these but they have helped me cope during tough times.
YouTube Playlist Here
1. True Colours - Tom Odell
2. Fight Song - Rachel Platten
3. Love Myself - Hailee Steinfield
4. Brave
5. Just Like Fire
6. Stronger
7. Who Says
8. F**kin Perfect
9. Cool Kids
10. Stronger
11. Loser Like Me
12. Flashlight
13. Best Day of My Life
14. Lean On Me

Dawn till Dusk | Dusk till Dawn

This is the CD I would play driving through town with my best friends, in the middle of the night, volume up so high that you can't here anything else. The name of this CD is inspired my incredible friend Dawn. Most of the songs on here were introduced to me by her. But I dedicate it to my closest friends as I have such good memories sparked from this.
YouTube Playlist Here!
1. Feel It Still - Portugal. The Man
2. Tease - Ralph
3. Smooth Criminal - Glee
4. Help Me Lose My Mind - Disclosure
5. Jungle - Tash Sultana
6. Big Jet Plane - Angus and Julia Stone
7. Breezeblocks - Alt J
8. Alaska - Maggie Rogers
9. Classic Man - Jidenna
10. Health - Blue Monday
11. Faded - ZHU
12. Left Hand Free - Alt J
13. Lose Yourself - Eminem
14. Jolene - Miley Cyrus
15. My Song 5 - HAIM
16. My Silver Lining - First Aid Kit

What are some of your favourite songs?

Always, M