Not-so-modern girl

regular book reviews and creative writing

Review: ‘Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret’ by Judy Blume

Hi there! Although I said I was planning on reviewing ‘The Remarkable Journey of Miss Tranby Quirke’ by Elizabeth Ridley next, I felt like reviewing a brilliant Judy Blume book! I loved Judy Blume through my childhood and, like with Daphne Du Maurier, this author is one that my mum introduced me to, and she also loved her writing when she was younger, with this being one of her favourite books. For those of you that don’t know her, Judy Blume writes books for young people, mainly girls, and they cover important topics and issues that are relevant to young girls, as well as being funny and interesting to read.

Most of Blume’s books are set in the 1970s and 1980s, but the things they talk about are still relatable. Even though some of the issues in this book are ‘out-dated’, such as the issue of wearing suspender belts with pads, the way Blume writes the novel still makes the issues relatable to all generations. I personally love the fact that this book is set around the time when my mum was growing up and I think the way Blume makes the issues relatable to all audiences is a great quality of her work.

‘Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret’ is about a young girl who moves to New Jersey, and the book follows her worries about fitting into her new society, on top of the other worries of a girl about to hit puberty in 1970s America. Throughout the book she has the typical anxieties of her age: When will my period start and what if I’m the last of my friends to start? When will I start growing boobs and what if I’m the last to start? What do I do with boys and what if I’m the last to have a boyfriend? Clearly, she has a lot of worries about being behind other people her age, which I can totally understand. Girls share everything and so if you’re the last in your friendship group to start your period, they will know. The fact that Blume uses a cliquey group of girls, all around the age of 12, also exaggerates the problems Margaret has and her worries concerning her growth.

But Blume shows that it really doesn’t matter who starts when and I think for a young girl reading this, it would be incredibly comforting. As an example, in the book, one of Margaret’s friends says she starts her period, and it turns out she’s lied, showing how not everything that people say is real and people will always try to be more grown-up than they actually are, which is what I found when I was growing up. This is an important issue for girls growing up today, as well as during the 1970s.

I also enjoyed the parts in the book where Margaret confronted her religious conflict, as I thought it was good how Blume showed the wide range of problems girls had to battle with. The reason for the title of the book is because Margaret questions her atheism and, coming from a Jewish dad and a Christian mum, who married despite their different religions, she often feels confusion surrounding her religious beliefs, and therefore often asks God for guidance on certain problems in her life. I thought this aspect of the book was interesting in terms of revealing the confusion of a young girl, trying to come to terms with her identity. The fact that she lives in a very religious area also reflects issues about Margaret feeling like an outsider and suggests that this novel has many coming-of-age ideas behind it.

“Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret. We’re moving today. I’m so scared, God. I’ve never lived anywhere but here. Suppose I hate my new school? Suppose everybody there hates me? Please, help me, God. Don’t let New Jersey be too horrible. Thank you.”

Although there’s not a lot of action in this book, the ideas that are expressed are so interesting and important for girls that are beginning to start puberty and the use of a group of friends who are quite competitive shows the struggles for girls around this kind of age, with characters such as Nancy in particular showing the cliquey attitude of teenage girls.

Overall I enjoyed re-reading this book recently, as I thought that the ideas it covered were important, and Blume managed to incorporate humour and serious moments, as well as discussion of personal issues, in a way that is accessible for young people from all generations. Obviously, when re-reading this I was above the age of the girls in the book, but I still found the ideas about jealousy and that worry of being left behind very pertinent for girls my own age. Judy Blume really does have a knack with writing teenage fiction that relates to the modern reader, despite some details obviously referring to the context of the 1970s.

Overall Rating: 4/5

About the author:

Blume smiling while signing a book

Judy Blume was born in New Jersey, USA, in 1938 and this is where many of her books are set. When she published her first novel in 1960 she was seen as one of the first authors to approach delicate issues and some of her novels were banned, due to their discussion of ‘taboo’ subjects. Blume has received praise for addressing the often unspoken worries of subjects such as menstruation and masturbation, as well as teen sex and birth control. She is married to the former Professor of Law, George Cooper, and has a daughter, Randy, who was born 1961. She also has a grand-son, who the cute character Fudge is based on. Fudge appears in books such as ‘Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing.’

Other books by this author:

‘Iggy’s House- a great comment on racial issues during the 1970s and 1980s.

‘Forever’- this one is more suitable for older readers and tackles the delicate issues of first love and sex in a way that is very realistic, rather than simply glossing over the details.

‘Tiger Eyes’- again, the protagonist of this one is a little older than Margaret, but the love interest aspect of the novel is great.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my review, let me know your thoughts on this author, or any of her books in the comments below!

Happy reading!

Currently reading: ‘The Moonstone’ by Wilkie Collins

Pictures c/o: imgarcade and Wikipedia respectively.

The Zombie Apocalypse Book Tag

Hi again! I hope everyone’s been having a brilliant March (which I count as Spring!) and that everyone enjoyed International Women’s Day last week. Let me know everything you got up to! And check out my feminist, belated International Women’s Day post, if you’re feeling like some strong female empowerment!

So, a while ago, avathenerd nominated me for this and it looks like so much fun, I’m so annoyed that I’ve not had time to get round to writing this post until now! This tag was created by Jill at Rant and Rave About Books, so check out her post too!

The Rules

  • Choose 5 books
  • Randomly set up your books in order.
  • Flip to a random page in the book and write the first two names you see.
  • Then, put the names in the categories listed below in the order you saw them (don’t peek!! 😉 )
  • Cry about how screwed you are!
  • Tag some more people to join in the fun!

My Books

  1. ‘Eleanor and Park’ by Rainbow Rowell
  2. ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ by John Green
  3. ‘Jamaica Inn’ by Daphne Du Maurier
  4. ‘Carry On’ by Rainbow Rowell
  5. ‘Demelza’ by Winston Graham

These are five random books from my shelves, and they’re some of my favourites, so I really hope the categories that are going to come don’t ruin this for me!! 🙂

Okay, so here we go… I think we’re imagining that we’re fighting zombies here, and this is our bookish squad….

The first person to die…

Park from ‘Eleanor and Park.’ Nooo, Park is so cute, please say he can come back alive at some point, I need him!! He also knows martial arts, so I don’t think he would be the first to die, that would probably be me… Maybe he died saving me…:(

The first person to trip you to escape the zombies…

Eleanor’s mum. I can kind of see that to be honest, she does seem to be out for herself throughout the book, so maybe she just couldn’t resist betraying me to get out of the way.

The team idiot…

Isaac from ‘The Fault in Our Stars.’ Aw, I really like Isaac, he’s funny and actually seems pretty smart, so not sure what happened there!

The brains of the group…

Hazel Grace. I think I can see that, she is pretty clever, although I would have preferred Gus, think he would really be the brains behind the operation. I’m pretty happy with Hazel though, she’s pretty clever.

The team medic…

Mary from ‘Jamaica Inn.’ I think Mary would be pretty handy with her medical skills, she’s pretty resourceful so I’d like her to be in charge of the team as a whole to be honest, she’d be a brilliant person to be with in a difficult situation.

The weapons expert…

Jem. Enough said, that would be brilliant. With him and Mary on my team, I’m definitely going to be okay, they’ll be a lot calmer when the zombies attack than I will be.

The team brawler…

Baz from ‘Carry On.’ I think I can see that, he does seem to like provoking people quite a lot. Baz would actually be such a brilliant person to be on my team, as he’s really, really smart, and he’s used to dealing with difficult situations. He’s also a vampire and magician, which can only be a positive.

The first to turn into a zombie…

Penelope. Noooo, I need Penny, she’s so fab and such a strong woman, I definitely need her on my team , not the zombies’!

The team leader…

Ross from ‘Demelza.’ I’m not sure about this one. Ross is a pretty shrewd guy, who could probably run the team well, and he’s used to leading large groups of miners, so I’m sure we would be a formidable team with Ross as it’s leader. Let’s just hope all us women don’t swoon at the sight of him, or we’ll all be dead before we know it 😉

I’ve just realised I’ve missed a question, which has probably messed everything up, but I might as well add it in now…

The first person you trip up to escape the zombies…

Francis from ‘Demelza.’ Aw, bless him. To be honest, I feel like he would be a bit rubbish in the team anyway- he’s pretty weak throughout the books- so maybe me tripping him up was to do with strategy rather than selfishness.

That was so much fun! I tag….

Bookworm701/ laurabeth/ Jess@beaucoupbooks/ Little Life Library/ Sue’s Reading Corner

For those people that I’ve tagged, please note that the last category I have included is meant to go second in the list. Check out Jill’s post @Rant and Rave About Books to get the proper set out! Thanks for the tag Ava.

Happy reading!

Currently reading: ‘The Moonstone’ by Wilkie Collins

Feminism- what’s it all about?

I am a feminist, and I am ashamed of myself that I didn’t make a feminist post on International Women’s Day, as surely this is a brilliant opportunity to celebrate women writers and what it means to be a woman. However, to make up for that, I thought I would talk a bit about feminism and what it means across the world, as well as to me.

Pondering on the idea of feminism, and my own feminist views, made me think about all the inequalities women face in today’s society, with the inequalities I may face being nothing compared to what someone living in Saudi Arabia or Nigeria, for example, might face. From this, I thought of the question: If women face so many more inequalities in non-Western countries, is it selfish that women from Western countries often fight for their problems, rather than looking at the wider world?

In my opinion, all problems are problems, and whether a woman feels discriminated against because she’s being picked on by her male boss, or because she’s not allowed to drive, surely these are both problems that should be combatted, in order to encourage equality all over the world? It’s a difficult question to examine and there are so many arguments for either side of it, which is why this is a good time to consider how we fight worldwide discrimination.

The question – what is a feminist?- is also one that can confuse and divide. Some (mainly men who do not understand) may see a feminist as a person who hates men, who burns bras and tries to force men out of power, and as much as those women deserve opinions, they’re not really what feminism is about, in terms of what it actually means, and in some ways this generalised view of feminism gives feminists a bad name. The dictionary definition of feminism is:

“the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.”

This definition shows that a feminist is anyone that believes that women and men should be equal, which I wouldn’t say is really asking that much. This definition says nothing about feminism being a women-only clique, nothing about bra burning and nothing about women trying to take things from men- just feminists who want the genders to have equality.

This question of what a feminist really is leads onto the idea of the different feminists in society. There are the ones that fight constantly, joining marches and refusing to marry because they see this as the taking away of their rights. And then there are the ‘normal’ women, the women who marry, who have children, who perhaps are a little quieter, but who still are feminist. These women, who perhaps play the role of mother and wife, are not necessarily any ‘worse’ a feminist, they are still feminists- anyone who believes in gender equality is a feminist! I think it’s hypocritical and wrong when women turn on other women, suggesting that they’re not ‘proper’ feminists for the way they live. Sometimes women can be their own worst enemy and, instead of blaming and fighting each other, we need to promote feminism and gain a new reputation across the world as women and men who want equality.

Finally, while thinking on this subject of feminism, I got riled up about the image and representation of women in the workplace. This is a key issue Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie highlights in her book and speech ‘We Should All the Feminists.’ If women are strong-willed and determined in the work place, telling people what to do and acting as a boss should, they are often called ‘bossy’ or ‘bitches’ due to this behaviour, and are greatly criticised. When a man acts in exactly the same way, however, people take this as a given, and he is seen as powerful and acting in exactly the way a boss should. Why, when a man and a woman act in exactly the same way, do women get slated but men don’t?

I think it’s due to the fact that women are still often seen as ‘maternal’ and ‘sensitive’ and so when they act in a way that breaks this stereotype, they are criticised. Personally, I think we need to break this mould, change the way women are viewed in society and particularly in the workplace, in order to encourage equality.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the joys and pitfalls of feminism- feminism is a brilliant, innovative and exciting movement that I, like Adichie, believe everyone should be part of, regardless of their age, role or gender. I hope that, in years to come, there will not even be a need for the movement, with gender equality prevailing across all seven continents, and women feeling that they can speak out when they want, about what they want, without fear of discrimination or sexism.

If you have any thoughts on this interesting, important topic, let me know them in the comments below!! 🙂

Happy reading!

Currently reading: ‘The Remarkable Journey of Miss Tranby Quirke’ by Elizabeth Ridley

The Unique Blogger Award

Hi again! I have been nominated for another blogger award, thank you so much to Nadwa@Painfully Fiction  and Book Bum for nominating me for this award, I’ve never done it before so I’m really excited to get cracking! 🙂

The rules:

  • Share a link to the blogger who nominated you.
  • Answer the questions they’ve set.
  • Nominate 8-13 (I’ve gone for 5!) people for the same award.
  • Ask them three questions, which they will answer in their award post.

Nadwa’s Questions:

1. What book or series you want everyone to read?

I would say that I’m not particularly into forcing books onto people, but there are lots of books I’d love people to read because then we could have in-depth discussions about them! I would say ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath if I had to choose. I also think that’s a really important, often over-looked text, so it would be great if more people read it!

2. Do you have any reading-related pet peeve?

Hmmm, I would say when people read classics or critically-acclaimed books and then act as though they love them, when really they just say this because it’s critically-acclaimed- just because a book is a classic doesn’t mean it can’t be over-rated and I would rather people were honest about the books they liked! I also hate it when people try to force others to read classics because they’re ‘superior’ to other books.

3. What’s a popular book you hate?

I can’t think of a popular book that I really have strong feelings about, but I wasn’t massively keen on the first ‘Hunger Games’ book, which was very popular.

Book Bum’s Questions:

1. What’s a book that made you the most emotional?

There are so many books that are emotional, I can’t pin-point just one, although I wouldn’t say I’m the kind of person that cries that much at books.

2. If your found a genie and were granted three wishes, what would they be?

That’s a good one! I would wish for a good and interesting career in the future, that combines all my interests, for my family and friends to grow old and for us to have many, many happy years and memories together. And maybe I would wish that I get a book published in the future, or that I could have access to an endless supply of books- either would be great!

3. Where is one place in the world you would love to visit?

I would love to go back to Paris- I loved that place so much- and I would also love to visit Amsterdam as it looks so pretty and lovely there.

My Questions:

1. If you could change the ending of one book, which would it be?

2. Is there a film that you would say is better than the book it’s based on? Which one?

3. What’s something about you that makes you unique? (Seeing as this is the unique blogger award 😉 )!

My Nominations:

Liesje/ Jasmine/ nevertrustabooknerd/ avathenerd/ Book Saccino

I love all these blogs! There’s no pressure to do the award- I know I’ve been nominating people for a lot of things at the moment, but it was a quick, fun post to take part in, so I hope you enjoy if you do take part! 🙂

Thanks as always for reading, liking, commenting and following 🙂

Happy reading!

Currently reading: ‘The Remarkable Journey of Miss Tranby Quirke’ by Elizabeth Ridley

Poetry: Sylvia Plath and Carol Ann Duffy

Hi again! At the moment I am really passionate about the poetry of Sylvia Plath (who I mention quite a lot ;)) and Carol Ann Duffy. I am mesmerised by the words in Plath’s writing, her poetry is just so beautiful and I cannot imagine what she would have been able to create had she not died at the age of 30.

I also recently studied some of Duffy’s poetry, and I find her poetry, although often a little too aggressive, makes me feel really strong and powerful as a woman. Plath’s poetry does the same, especially her poem ‘Lady Lazarus’ and it cannot be denied that strong women writers should be celebrated! Reading any of these poems aloud gives me a real buzz and I hope that, by reading this post and picking up a copy of Plath or Duffy’s poetry, you too will feel empowered.

I have picked out two poems from each of these brilliant authors to discuss! I thought it was a bit much to write out the whole poems (and I’m just not that committed) but I’ve included some of my favourite and, what I think are, the most empowering lines! 🙂 All these poems appear in the anthologies ‘The World’s Wife’ by Carol Ann Duffy and ‘Ariel’ by Sylvia Plath.

‘Lady Lazarus’ by Sylvia Plath

This poem is absolutely brilliant, to read it out loud gives me a real thrill and buzz. Plath’s poems are often difficult to understand and they can be interpreted in so many different ways. I would say (after asking my mum!) ‘Lady Lazarus’ is about a woman who cannot die and who is destined to come back alive again and again, like the Lazarus from the Bible, who I believe was some kind of zombie.

“And I a smiling woman/ I am only thirty. / And like the cat I have nine times to die.”

Throughout the poem, I get the impression that this poem in many ways reflects Plath’s own life, as there are continual references to death and suicide and it is a known fact that Plath was obsessed with being remembered and she often felt that the only way she could do this was to die spectacularly.

“Dying/ Is an art, like everything else./ I do it exceptionally well.”

But my favourite part of the poem, especially if you’re reading it out loud, is when it starts to get to the end. Here the words are full of power and meaning and you can imagine them being shouted and spoken with great strength and confidence. For me, the final stanzas show that, ultimately, the woman is in power and she is strong, despite people treating her like an object, taking pieces of her for themselves because she is the ‘walking miracle.’

The final stanza instils the reader with power and inspiration.

“Out of the ash/ I rise with my red hair/ And I eat men like air.”

You can check out the full amazing poem here. I really would recommend reading it out loud to yourself, raising your voice as you near the end, where I believe Plath’s strength of writing really comes out.

‘The Applicant’ by Sylvia Plath

To be honest, I’m not sure what this one is really about. I’m not the best at understanding poetry, and Plath’s poetry is as confusing as any, even if it is brilliant. But for me, I don’t really need to fully understand what is going on in the poem or behind the words, as with any good poet there is power behind the language even so. And that is the case for ‘The Applicant.’

“Willing/ To bring teacups and roll away headaches/ And do whatever you tell it./ Will you marry it?”

From lines such as these in the poem, it suggests that Plath is commenting on marriage and choosing to take a cynical view point. I love this, as it, for me, reveals some kind of understanding into Plath’s life and own views. Perhaps the attitude in the poem that a woman is just there to comfort her husband and ‘admire his achievements’ could reflect Plath’s mentality towards her and her own husband’s achievements.

“A living doll, everywhere you look./ It can sew, it can cook.’

This can be seen as a comment on women’s traditional roles and I love the way that Plath comments on these roles, which I would say makes her quite before her time. Despite the fact that she did not always come out in favour of feminist issues, Plath’s poetry, for me, seems to subtly hint at the issues with gender attitudes in society, with this quote in particular for me adding a sense of sarcasm to women’s roles.

‘Pygmalion’s Bride’ by Carol Ann Duffy

I’ve recently studied this poem and I think it’s brilliant. Pygmalion was a Greek mythological sculptor, who created a statue of a woman and thought it was so perfect that he fell in love with it. He asked Venus to bring the statue alive and this wish was granted, giving Pygmalion the ‘ideal’ wife.

However, in Duffy’s poem, she suggests that, actually, the statue is not attracted to Pygmalion and that she is not happy with the attentions he is showing her. Duffy makes out as though the bride stays as still as a statue in order to try and keep Pygmalion away from her and, when this fails, she changes and becomes much more sexual and confident in order to try and get rid of him.

“So I changed tack, grew warm, like candle wax.”

This has the desired effect and scares him right off, with Duffy suggesting that Pygmalion is threatened by such a powerful, sexually confident bride and he much preferred her when she was quiet and, seemingly, powerless to his attentions.

“And haven’t seem him since./ Simple as that.”

I really like this poem because I love the way that Duffy suggests that, right from the start, even when the bride stayed quiet, she was still in power and held power over Pygmalion, she was simply manipulating him. This is brilliant, as it gives a silent woman a voice and uses this voice to contradict gender power politics.

‘Little Red Cap’ by Carol Ann Duffy

This poem is slightly dark- like all Duffy’s poems- but I really enjoyed it’s language and the power behind the words. The poem follows a young woman, who tries to catch the eye of ‘the wolf’, who is presumably some kind of author or poet. He takes her back to his lair and believes he is in power over the young girl, with the difference in age between the two characters perhaps reflecting his feeling of power, as well as Duffy’s own affair with a man two times her age when she was 16.

“In the interval, I made quite sure he spotted me,/ sweet sixteen, never been, babe, waif, and bought me a drink,/ my first. You might ask why. Here’s why. Poetry.”

I love the language of this poem, with the use of language really projecting a strong woman, who actually seems to be in power, contrary to what the wolf may believe. The fact that Red Riding Hood kills the wolf herself at the end of the poem also contradicts the popular fairytale, where the woodcutter kills the wolf, and clearly there is a certain amount of female power that runs throughout the poem. When Red Riding Hood emerges from the wolf’s cave there is a sense of triumph for her, and there is the suggestion that, despite the feeling that the wolf was in power over this young woman, she turned the tables on him, much as in ‘Pygmalion’s Bride.’ She is powerful, despite being alone.

“I took an axe to a wolk/ as he slept, one chop, scrotum to throat, and saw the glistening, virgin white of my grandmother’s bones./ I filled his old belly with stones. I stitched him up./ Out of the forest I come with my flowers, singing, all alone.”

I would say that the symbols for sexuality and the wolf and Red Riding Hood’s relationship are also interesting, and Duffy really has a way with words when it comes to describing and representing intimacy, with her language often suggesting that women are stronger than they seem. The references to sexuality in this poem are dark, and I would say the poem on the whole is pretty dark, but overall it makes for a very powerful, interesting poem, which is a twist on the classic tale of Red Riding Hood.

“Then I slid from beneath his heavy matted paws/ and went in search of a living bird-white dove-/ which flew, straight, from my hands to his open mouth.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy and Sylvia Plath!! Let me know if you’ve read Plath or Duffy’s poetry before, or if you fancy giving it a try, in the comments below! Also, look out for my next review, on the book ‘The Remarkable Journey of Miss Tranby Quirke’ by Elizabeth Ridley as well as lots of other exciting and interesting (hopefully!) posts about everything book-ish.

Happy reading!

Currently reading: ‘The Remarkable Journey of Miss Tranby Quirke’ by Elizabeth Ridley

Worth it Wednesday #5

Hello again, this Wednesday I thought I would take part in a weekly meme hosted by Sean@Kingdom Book Blogger. I’ve said before that I’m not a massive reader of hyped books, but I find this tag fun to do, so thought I’d go for it. You can read my other Worth It Wednesdays to find out what this tag is all about!

So, this week I choose as my hyped book that deserves the hype…

‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes

Now, I’m not sure if this book is hyped as much as others that I could pick, but I remember quite a few people raving about it, and with the film coming out last year there was definitely a buzz around this book! I really enjoyed reading this touching story, told from the point of view of a protagonist that I found funny and relatable, with her clumsy, dippy and quirky moments making me laugh and reminding me in many ways of me.

The book is sad, it’s true, but it’s also inspirational in its way, as well as really funny. I wasn’t actually as keen of the film as I was of the book, but I thought Sam Claflin and Emilia Clark played their roles brilliantly. So, overall, this book is definitely deserving of all the hype it receives.

Have you read this book before? Did you enjoy it and have you seen the film as well? Let me know all this, plus any more bookish thoughts, in the comments below!

Happy reading!

Currently reading: ‘The Remarkable Journey of Miss Tranby Quirke’ by Elizabeth Ridley

Picture c/o:

Top 5 Places to Read a Good Book

Hi again! I thought I’d indulge in another listicle. I seem to have been doing lots of tags at the moment- which I have absolutely loved!- so I promise more book reviews and creative writing pieces coming soon! But until then, how about a cute listicle of the best places to read a good book (or even a bad book can be made better by a good place to read). You can read another of my listicles here. Oh, and a listicle is like an article and a list mashed together, just in case I’ve never said that before!

1. The library

Okay, so a bit of an obvious one, but the greatness of libraries can never be undervalued and I would certainly say that a library is a nice, quiet, warm place to enjoy a good book, away from the noise and distraction of the outside world. For me, stepping into a library is like stepping into a haven- absolute quiet and the chance to enjoy one of the many books on the shelves, or just read a book you’ve brought along with you. The fact that you can read in a place that is surrounded with books on every side of you seems like a heavenly idea to me.

2. The park

I love to get outside and do some reading and I think one of the best places to enjoy a good book in the summer is on the freshly cut grass, or leaning up against a tree. I love being able to smell all the spring and summer scents in the park while reading, taking in the natural world as I read my book. I feel that the surroundings while reading a good book are important, whether that is while smelling the scent of old books or the scent of the flowers around you.

3. The river

Not in the river! In my local woods there is a beautiful lake (a very small lake) and there is a bench right in front of it and this is one of my favourite places to read. I’m not saying everyone can come and sit on this bench, or that everyone can have a specific place like that, but sitting by the river is such a relaxing, calming experience. While reading by the river I have peace in terms of there is no distractions, but also as the water ripples and the grass next to me falls onto the bench I feel calm and stress free. That all sounds so hippy-ish, but trust me, reading next to water is so relaxing.

4. Under a duvet

This might sound a bit Harry Potter, but I mean more on your bed, snuggled up in a blanket or duvet to stay warm and cosy. Add a drink of tea and a piece of cake and you’ve got a perfect reading experience there! For me, there’s nothing better than waking up late in the morning, reading a novel while staying cosy under the bed covers and scoffing some sort of breakfast. I don’t actually do that as much anymore, as I’m always feeling as though I should get up and do some school work, with reading for pleasure always making me feel guilty, but I do this as much as I can and I recommend it!

5. The beach

I love, love, love the beach, and reading on the sand or even right next to the sea is enough to keep me calm and happy. While reading on a beach you can soak in all the great beach sounds and smells, as well as all that sunshine (you never know, even England gets the occasional heatwave ;)). I love to read a good book with my face turned to the sun, listening to the gentle lull of the waves and the cry of the seagulls and smelling the salty sea air. I even, when me and my family go on holiday to the North Yorkshire coast, sometimes go out later at night (in summer, while it’s still light and warm) and sit up on the pier above the waves, and while I read I can hear the waves crashing and falling below me, which always feels magical somehow and definitely enhances any book, especially if it’s a Gothic mystery, like Daphne Du Maurier.

I hope you enjoyed reading, check out some of my other listicles and try out some of these great places to relax with a good book! Where’s your favourite place to read? Do you enjoy reading different books in different places and with different foods to create the perfect reading experience? This is the idea that the milk and honey blog is based on, the idea of creating the perfect reading experience and I think it’s such a cool, interesting idea! 🙂

Happy reading!

Currently reading: ‘Carry On’ by Rainbow Rowell

The Liebster Award #2

Hi again! Can you believe it, I’ve been nominated for another blogger award!! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who reads my posts and follows my blog 🙂 🙂 I was nominated for the Liebster Award by Amy’s Book Corner! Thank you so much, go check out her amazing blog!

The Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions they wrote for you.
  3. Nominate 11 people.
  4. Give them your set of 11 questions to answer.

Amy’s Questions:

1. Favourite film based on a book?

I really like lots of different films that have been based on books, I can’t really think of one that is my favourite. ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ by John Green was one of those films that I waited for, for what seemed like ages, and I would argue that it was very good, as similar to the book as it probably could be. I can’t wait for ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath to come out in 2018, so maybe I’ll say that if that’s good!

2. The most unique character you’ve ever read about?

Hmmm, that’s a difficult one, I read mainly books with real life characters, as I think they are the most interesting, even if they’re a bit annoying because they have real life flaws!

3. Favourite Disney film?

Ariel, always! 😉

4. Do you have a go to book, when you’re in a slump or if you feel off?

‘Carry On’ by Rainbow Rowell, every time! I’m reading it now for the above reason.

5. Do you like bookish merchandise?

Some bookish stuff is really cool, and I have quite a few bookish badges and a bag with ‘Wuthering Heights’ written on it, so I would probably say yes, but I’m not obsessed with it.

6. Do you read foreign books?

Sometimes. I’m currently reading ‘No et Moi’ by Delphine De Vigan, which I’ve been reading for quite a while (seeing as I’m reading the actual French version!) and I’m studying Camus for school.

7. Favourite genre, and why?

I enjoy lots of different genres, like ‘teen fiction’ (even though there’s no such thing!!) and historical fiction. I’ll read mostly anything though, except horror and possibly sci-fi.

8. Can you think of the first book you have ever read?

No haha 🙂 But I do remember reading an awful lot of Jacqueline Wilson when I was younger, I used to get through them so fast. I also adored Enid Blyton. Don’t judge, I had no idea that they had no plot lines, I thought they were brilliant. They really helped me and my friend make up imaginary games.

9. Favourite food and why?

I like literally every food! But I would say toast and butter. Who can say no to warm, buttery toast, especially if it’s on white bread. I could live on toast.

10. If you could choose one book to take with you on holiday, which book would you chose and why?

I would go for something light and fun, like a Rainbow Rowell book, or an exciting, atmospheric one, like a Daphne Du Maurier.

11. What is your favourite animal and why?

I love cats, probably because I have one! 🙂

My Nominations:

Clemi Reads/ books to get lost in/ Breathing Through Pages/ Queen Mery/ bookreviews5blog

I’ve not nominated loads of people because I recently did this post, so I don’t want people to feel like they have to do lots of different tags! For the questions, I thought it would be a good idea to answer the questions from my first Liebster Award. That’s right, I’m lazy 😉

Thanks again for the nomination!

Happy reading!

Currently reading: ‘Carry On’ by Rainbow Rowell

Review: ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath

Hi! I promised another review, so here we go. This is for one of my all time favourite authors, if you hadn’t realised that already from my other posts 😉 Sylvia Plath wrote many incredible poems and one brilliant book, ‘The Bell Jar,’ before she unfortunately committed suicide. In fact, the anniversary of her death was only a few weeks ago, which kind of contributed towards me finally publishing this review!

‘The Bell Jar’ is about a young woman in 1950s American battling with mental health problems and depression, problems that are not helped by the society she lives in and the role she is forced to fill within that society. From the very first line of the book it is obvious that Esther Greenwood (the main character of the book) is facing some pretty strong mental issues and the reader gets to follow these as they work their way through the book. Throughout the book there are clear parallels between Esther and Plath’s life, with Esther undergoing the same treatment as Plath and having the same life experiences and quirks.

“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs.”

The book starts with Esther reflecting on her time working for a fashion magazine, something that she should enjoy as an aspiring writer. However, she soon starts to feel depressed and alone, wondering why she feels so lost and sad when she should be having ‘the time of her life’ as others are. This reflects the society of the time, with Esther feeling constrained by the role of the ‘perfect woman’ that she is forced to fill.

As the novel moves on, it is clear that Esther has many issues, especially with the roles of men and women. She has an on-and-off boyfriend, Buddy, who she sees as being the ‘perfect’ college boy, and when she finds out that he is not a virgin, and yet would expect his wife to be when he marries, she becomes hung up on the ‘purity’ and morals of men and women, which eventually leads to her wanting to lose her virginity, thinking this will give her liberation from the constraints on women in society. She also has obsessions with children and trying to fit the role of both ‘career woman’ and ‘perfect mother’, which is a problem that can still be identified in today’s society all these years later.

“I was perfectly free.”

Eventually, Esther’s problems become too much for her and she attempts suicide (this isn’t really a spoiler- if you know anything about Plath’s life you will know this happened to her also- and it happens relatively early on in the book). After her attempted suicide she is given ECT and, eventually, is admitted to a mental hospital, where the reader can see all the other women who faced problems in society and the way that appearances (of the perfect college woman, for example), do not always match reality. In fact, I would argue that this book is a key mental illness and coming of age text.

Although clearly Esther has some difficult issues to face, I thought that Plath wrote the book in a very accessible and relatable way, so that even for a woman living in the twentieth century, the constraints Esther faces are just as real and relatable. For me, the book was interesting and, although it tackled difficult and not always pleasant issues, I found it enjoyable to read. It is also one of those books that I would argue should be considered a classic, but is still really easy to read and accessible for everyone. I also think there’s something so real and raw about Plath’s writing that comes across to the reader, perhaps because the book is basically an autobiography of her life.

I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. I think that possibly it could be more relatable for women than men, as it reflects some genuine issues that women still face in society, such as balancing being the ‘perfect mother’ with the ‘perfect job’ and I’m sure that every woman can identify with the issues Plath presents. In a way, this is both positive and negative, as it shows that Plath’s writing relates to the universal woman- whereas some classics are very stuck in their times- but it also suggests that the position of women has not fully improved, as even now ideas about women are very similar to those expressed in the novel, even if Esther does take them to the extreme in some bouts of her depression.

I wrote an essay for school on this so there’s so much more I could say about the symbolism of the novel, as well as the narratological (check out the big words 😉 ) techniques used by Plath. But I don’t want to bore you with all that, if anyone has read it and wants to have a chat about the themes/ symbols/ anything else (especially feminist stuff) about the book, the comment section is always there, I would love to have a discussion about this brilliant book! Or if there’s anyone that perhaps didn’t enjoy it as much as I did, let me know why in the comments below!

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from the book, where Esther has just witnessed a woman give birth (which she views with disgust, contradicting what society deems to be ‘normal’ feminine maternal instincts) and finds out that the drug used makes a woman forget her pain, rather than take it away, so she will still have more children:

“It sounded like the sort of drug a man would invent.”

Rating: 5/5

Happy reading!

Currently reading: ‘Carry On’ by Rainbow Rowell

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