‘Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter’ by Simone de Beauvoir.

One of my favourite reads of 2016 came just before it ended and by golly I think it might possibly be one of my favourite reads of all time. I fell in love with this autobiography’s witty style and lovable voice and when I wondered what to post this week I knew it just had to be this.img_9188

Simone de Beauvoir is often considered as one of the main voices for Second Wave Feminism and, if you’re a literary student like me you are probably all too aware of the hunk of text that is her The Second Sex. Had this not been a piece of compulsory reading for my Gender in Contemporary European Culture module, I don’t think I would have ever read this autobiography and that, quite honestly, would have been a shame. If the word Feminism is a) scaring you, or, b) making you wrinkle your nose, let me assure you, firstly it shouldn’t, and secondly, you do not need to identify or even really be bothered with Feminism to get the most out of this text. I mean it helps and you definitely get more out of it but  it isn’t essential. Beauvoir’s witty and enjoyable tone makes this such a lovely read and it is more about experiences growing up than necessarily pushing an agenda.

Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter tells the stories and moments from Simone de Beauvoir’s childhood up until she is about 21. What I think I particularly love about this text is the tone in which Beauvoir recounts her childhood memories because it is just so hilarious and self-deprecating. I love that it doesn’t necessarily paint a pretty picture of her but is much more like ‘let’s all appreciate how much of a horror and an embarrassment I was’.

 

One memory that particularly sticks out to me is a moment when she couldn’t have been much more than about 10 and her family went to stay with her cousins. Her mother warned her that her cousins didn’t say their prayers before bed and that they might tease her for saying hers, and young Simone is instantly filled with ideas of grandeur and importance. Beauvoir finishes the story by stating “I was sadly disappointed, for no one tried to martyr me.” These moments where she – for lack of a better term, absolutely rips herself to shreds – makes the autobiography so inviting. You can’t help but connect to the people she introduces you to nor help but share in the heartbreak in moment of despair and romantic reunion.

Overall, this autobiography has to be one of my favourites because I think it is such a special little book and I just connect to the young Simone so much. Definitely check it out, even if you’re a bit on the fence about it, because, honestly, I think you might fall in love instantly.

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‘Trapped in Silver’ extracts review!

Trapped in Silver by Emily Sowden is a book I have been anticipating for a long time. It comes out on the 7th Feb 2017 so it isn’t quite in my page devouring hands but Oftomes (the publishers) have released the first four chapters on Wattpad and, on seeing this, I just had to check them out. And boy oh boy. If I wasn’t already staring at the countdown for when it will be released, I certainly am now.

30294279The novel follows Ava, a seventeen year old farmer’s daughter, caught in an unsettled world. She faces dangers from every corner – wild woodcats, hungry stragglers, and simple-minded town folk – but she also carries a strange silver necklace with abnormal powers. Ava is thrown into a world of uncertainty and danger when she encounters Ethan, an unusual  stranger, and when her missing brother surfaces, she become entangled in the centuries-long war and discovers truths of a violent history of love, loss, and betrayal.

As, like I say, this book isn’t out yet, my description is based wholly on the synopsis given on Amazon so don’t shoot me that it isn’t amazingly in-depth, but I would surprised if it doesn’t pull you in even a little bit. I have to say, it has one of the greatest teasers ever, I think, on Amazon:”Courage comes from a shadowed place in our hearts; a blurred line that straddles love and sheer stupidity.” I mean if that doesn’t make you want to at least consider this read I don’t know what will?

When I saw on twitter that the first four chapters had been released earlier, like I say, I just had to check it out. And what a delight.

I have to say, and I know it is only four chapters, but the writing absolutely pulled me in. As a whole, the writing was action packed and fast paced and worked brilliantly. There’s little worse than a narrative that … moves…so..slowly, so slow you spend most of your time just thinking, ‘hurry up and get to the point!’ Well, not with this. I love that the first chapter starts in the dead of night as it really builds up the drama and the mystery. As Ava is introduced through the first person narrative, nameless for quite a few paragraphs, you instantly feel yourself being drawn in and hooked – it soon becomes impossible to stop reading.

Leading on from this, the setting is also really interesting and dramatic. Ava and her family own a farm belonging to a town with a people who are definitely characterised as less than pleasant. Ava literally has to dress up and pose as her brother to ‘protect’ herself and there is this mysterious ‘Matching’ where parents sell off their daughters to any man with money, it is suggested anyway. This hostile and backward background really makes you root for Ava and makes the characters you encounter seem so much more vulnerable in a world of thugs. I felt an instant connection to Ava because of the troubles she is surrounded by and I can’t imagine you not being.

My only critique is that, in those four chapters, there seemed to be a lot of mystery but I wouldn’t say I necessarily know what is going to happen yet. It might be that in the next couple of chapters some huuuge hook will happen and we will be thrown into the massive adventure hinted at in the synopsis but at the moment it seems like a lot of introduction and mystery but nothing massive has happened …. yet!

On the whole, I am still absolutely buzzing for this book and I really recommend checking out the chapters released on Wattpad (linked in the first paragraph) if for nothing else but simply to dip your toes into it. Happy Reading!

 

2017 Resolutions …

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So 2016 is finally over. Hooray?! Actually, while 2016 was significantly horrible, the year actually had quite a few positives for me: I started writing more; I worked on my mental health; I found some new bookish favourites. But, rather than dwell on the year that has passed, I’m ready to start plowing forward with the new one so I figured what better way to get started than to set myself some goals?

While I’m not a big believer in resolutions as I think it is so easy to get hung up if you don’t achieve them, I do always like pushing myself and choose to set ‘goals’ rather than steadfast resolutions. This year I’ve set myself 5 lifestyle goals and 5 bookish goals, all new challenges I want to start or continuing challenges I set myself last year, so here we go!

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Lifestyle:

1: Do something active each day – As a Literature student and general coach potato, I spend a lot of my time sat down with my nose in a book. I did start being more active in 2016, picking up jogging and joining the gym, things I’m definitely planning on continue, but I am only able to do those at most 3 times a week. The rest of the time, I am sat down with said nose in said book. But no more (I hope). This year I want to do something each day, even if that is only going for a walk, maybe with my camera as an excuse to take pretty pictures. At the very least, this will get me out of the house and help with some of the stress that always accompanies life. I hope anyway.

2: Finish my Manuscript – In 2016, I started writing a story I wanted to finish that year. 12 months later, I’m still only halfway through. In 2017, I want to finish writing it and definitely have a first draft by December. Ideally, I would like to have a draft that is close to being able to be sent off but I don’t want to put too much pressure on it because I know I will just abandon it and never pick it up again.

3: Write something each month that isn’t my manuscript – One of my big fears is that I will just put down my manuscript and not pick it up again. I’ve done it in the past and I want to do everything I can not to do it again. To prevent this, I want to challenge myself and write something different each month, hopefully improving my writing skills AND (fingers crossed) stopping me getting too familiar with my story and/or putting it down and abandoning it.

4: Publish each week – I really am enjoying blogging (even though I have only just started) so I want to push myself and publish one blog post at least a week. Hopefully. Potentially. I really want to keep this one.

5: Learn a Language – I am always really jealous of people who can speak a different language so, this year, I would really like to learn a new language. I haven’t decided which but I would like to try. Or maybe just encounter a language each month to learn a few words. I don’t know. In my mind, this time next year I will be able to read any book in any language but I know that’s not true. But you know. Dream on.

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Bookish

1: Finish a Classic a month – If you saw my lastpost you will know that I recently bought a hell of a lot of Classics. I definitely have enough to last me all year so I would like to check out a new Classic a month to a) help me finish that TBR and b) will help me broaden my horizons which is a big theme this year.

2: Read more Diversely – This is a goal I’ve meant to set myself each year but never do and that is to read more diversely. What I mean by this is both need more diversely when it comes to writers but also to read more diversely when it comes to plots and characters.

3: Listen to one audiobook a month – I don’t really listen to many audiobooks which means a lot of book pass me by and that makes me really upset. Therefore this year I want to set myself the challenge of listening to one audiobook a month, hopefully letting me fall in love with a new style of reading and fall in love with more books.

4: Check out a new series each month – There have been so many series recently that I’ve added to my TBR but just haven’t checked out so this year I want to check out one series each month. I’m not necessarily planning on finishing whole series each month as I’m sure there will be some I just can’t be bothered to finish, but at least if I check them out I can always return to them.

5: And, finally, read more blogs – I’m fairly new to this old blogging malarkey and, while I love booktube, I would really like to check out more blogs this year both for inspiration but also just because who doesn’t love reading about books?

And there they are – my 2017 goals. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and hopefully it’s given you some inspirations if you were stuck. What are your goals for this year?

 

 

Christmas Haulin’

As January begins to creep closer and closer towards us, I thought I would take this time to share with you the books I got for Christmas and during the Sales. I was very lucky this year and got so many lovely books that it seemed almost a cruelty not to share them with you.

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First, I was very lucky while I was bargain hunting and came across these Wordsworth Classics for only £1.99 each. £1.99! It was just too good to miss. While I pride myself, as many Literature students  do, that I have an obligatory love for Classics, I must admit my ‘love’ is more just isolated to a few (mainly Austen novels) that I just keep re-reading. So, when I spotted this deal I thought I would indulge in some classics, firstly because they were so cheap and it meant I can be a couple of books closer to recreating the library in Beauty and the Beast, and secondly because it gives me an excuse to try some new classics that I either just nod about because I’ve heard their names mentioned by hipsters in coffee shops or that lecturer that just won’t shut up, or have only watched the film adaptations of. Some of them are huuuuge beasts (look at ‘War and Peace’) so I doubt reading them all in 2017 is a likely New Year’s Resolution (not if I want to stay sane anyway) but it is at least a step in the right direction. I got these from Amazon (which I don’t like to do that much simply because I’d prefer to support small little book shops – and my mum is always reminding me that they are a bit selective when it comes to paying tax!) but I must admit I just couldn’t ignore the discount. I mean, come on, £1.99 for a book, especially books the size of ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ which needs two hands to hold? Who could ignore it?

 

The next is a bit of a jokey present but I absolutely love it and it is this adorable adaptation of Charles Dickens’ ‘Oliver Twist’ – starring Guinea Pigs! Now I, like my entire family, am a huuuuugggee animal lover, and that definitely applies to Guinea Pigs. We’ve had them for years now – the two we have at the moment are little terrors but I love them – and they are just … so… darn…cute. I mean, look at their little mouths! Last year, I received the ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Guinea Pig version and it has sat on my bookcase centre stage all year so I was over the moon to open this on Christmas day. I really hope this becomes a tradition because I bloody love it! I don’t know how much I will be reading this but you can definitely be sure I will be continually opening them and cooing over the photos.

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Next are more little bargains I found on Amazon during the sales. Last Summer (I believe) I picked up Kate Williams ‘England’s Mistress’ and I adored it. I’m not usually one to read historical biographies, always turning to historical fiction instead, but I was really surprised just how much I loved it, and loved everything about it, from the actually events described to the way they were delivered. I am now insanely protective of Emma Hamilton and always trying to push this book on anyone who might possibly read it (hence why it’s in this picture!) So while I was perusing the internet I noticed that the Amazon Outlet (which sells second-hand books) had two of her books for little more than a £1 each so grabbed them while I could. The first, ‘Becoming Queen’, is a historical biography on Queen Victoria and, having loved the Jenna Coleman series Victoria over the autumn and rekindled my love for the Victorians, I thought I would just have to get it. The truth is, apart from the fairy tale romance story that is Victoria and Albert, I don’t actually know much about her life so I’m looking  forward to finding out more. The other, ‘The Pleasures of Men’, is a fiction written by Williams and, as I’ve said, I’m a sucker for a historical fiction.

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For Christmas I was lucky enough to receive three hardbacks, which … I mean I could have got them out of the bookcase but I had just fought to put them in there and it was really difficult and I had just got all those Classics out and … well… I was too lazy, so I’ve just drowned them in fairy lights. That’s good enough, right? I have been wanting the gorgeous Montefiore’s ‘The Romanovs’ for so long and I am so happy that I was given it this Christmas. It’s a little bigger than I thought it would be (not that I’m complaining!) and is so much more beautiful in person – for real, this picture doesn’t do it justice. I mean it  doesn’t do any of them justice but … ok, I’m lazy. I fell in love with the scandals surrounding the Romanovs during my time studying them at school, but that was always mainly around their hideous murders and the end of a dynasty. I’m looking forward to learning more about them and leaning a little further into their history. Plus, it’s really pretty! I also received Anna Kendrick’s ‘Scrappy Little Nobody’ which I’ve heard nothing but good things from so I can’t wait to start that. My parents also gave me ‘The Victoria Letters’ which was a real surprise but is another read I can’t wait to delve into.

 

So, yes, those are the gifts I received this Christmas, both from others and those I treated myself to. How about you? Are there any presents you’re particularly chuffed about?

A Very Studenty Christmas…

I will quite happily admit that I am a Christmas-a-holic. I love everything about the festive season and this year I have caught the bug badly. I think it’s because Christmas to me is such a family time and, as I have been feeling quite homesick at the moment, I think I have been overcompensating when it comes to decorations and other festive fun times!

Having Christmas at Uni is a little challenging. Everyone is on a budget and everyone has little groups of friends which makes it difficult to organise something with everyone. Normally, we do a big meal somewhere exotic like a good Wetherspoons (exciting I know) and then move to a pub for a few drink but not this year!

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My ‘group’ of friends has got a little smaller this year with people disappearing after the end of their degrees and only a few of us doing Masters, but I also think it has made us so much closer. There are six of us in total so we thought why not have a family Christmas with a proper sit down meal and pyjamas and board games and Christmas films and I have to say it was absolutely lovely. The only obstacle that we had to hurdle was, of course, the budget. Christmas, while lovely, is always quite pricey and so I was worried about how to make a ‘budget’ friendly Christmas, especially if we were doing a proper meal with all the trimmings etc. In the end we didn’t do to badly, with it costing just under £9 each which I really don’t think is that bad, so I thought it might be quite nice to share with you what I bought and cooked etc in case you want to throw your own little shindig. That, and it gave me an excuse to take lots of festive photos.

I did plan to organise a big food delivery so that I didn’t have to shop in an actual store as I knew I would go crazy and was worried I would ruin the budget. This was the plan but, like with every plan I ever make, it soon went out of the window. Now, I would have to say I think this is the first time in my life I’ve ever had sleepless nights over a Turkey but, you know, there always has to be a first! During one of these sleepless nights, I thought I would wander into town and buy a turkey crown, with the idea that I would then just take it off the Online Food Shop and wander home to try and sleep. Well… half an hour later and a quick trolley change I came to the conclusion I might as well just buy the food now and cancel the Online order. Thank goodness one of my friends has just as much trouble getting to sleep as me and, more importantly, had a car and came and rescued me otherwise I don’t know how I would have got home with that many bags!

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We all had such a lovely day and it was just brilliantly. Plus, I cooked a whole bloody Christmas dinner – do I get a medal?

So yes, that was my little Christmas and it put such a smile across my face.

Nanowrimo 2016 wrap up!

So November has drawn to a close and with it so has a month of hectic writing. While I didn’t actually win either fo my goals (reaching 50,000 or 30,000 words) I am super proud of myself for reaching 29,000 words. While I have come to adore Nano (with the grand total of two that I have completed that is) I do find with the fixed “50,000 words” goal, it is so easy to sell yourself short if you don’t reach it. BUt whatever number you’ve reached, that’s still an improvement and you get to be ruddy well proud of yourself.

Even though I actually wrote less than last year I think I actually got the most out of it. I suffered from writer’s block super early on but kept going though until I crushed it. I also tried scenarios and perspectives I don’t think I would have dared to if it wasn’t Nano so I am very happy with my self.

I did vlog my updates to Nanowrimo, so if you are interested you can check that out here

So what next? Last year, December become a ‘what novel?’ month as my manuscript grew cobwebs ain my laptop’s hard drive. But not this year! I’m already writing down my writing goals for this month and I thought what better way to ensure I fulfil them than making myself accountable on the internet! So here they are (fingers crossed I finish them):

  1. Reach 15,000 words. WHile this might not seem like a lot after the enormity of Nano, I am hoping it is a realistic goal. Assignment season is coming soon so, while I don’t want to abandon my novel I can’t necessarily put it first.
  2. Finish Two Chapters. Nano taught me that my chapters are far too long and while this can be fixed in editing, I want to try to make my chapters more fast paced and action packed.
  3. Edit Four Chapters. As I know I won’t be able to all that much writing over the next month, I don’t want to just abandon my novel. Therefore I want to begin editing some of the novel, which is definitely going to be a mammoth task. It has also been so long since I actually started the novel and the story and characters have developed so much, I want to make sure that the characters that start the novel and the same ones that finish it (if that makes sense).

But yes, those are my plans. I hope you had a lovely Nano if you took part and are having a lovely december regardless. x

Fight or Flight

So I have this friend… well, techincally she’s my housemate. Don’t get me wrong, I love her to pieces, but that isn’t to say she isn’t challenging. The trouble with living with people, and particularly living with people whilst you study (which I can only imagine adds to the never ending list of stresses), is that you are very quick to get under each other’s feet. Everyone has their own particular ways of doing things and you won’t agree on the same things.

Ok, so this maybe where it gets a little moany but I promise I have a point.

This housemate – lovely as she is – has her own ways of doing things. Some make perfect sense, such as wrapping things up in tin foil in the fridge (ok, some sense), while others seem a little out there, such as making us wipe down the shower after each use with a windscreen wiper. While I wouldn’t naturally do all these little quirks, I understand that I’m living with other people and I have to respect what they would like and so happily oblidge. And, so, a brief peace is established.

The difference is, while I’m willing to listen to her demands, the same respect isn’t always paid back to me. (Ok, so maybe it’s a little more than a bit moany, but I promise there is a point). Now, I don’t have many demands and I pride myself on being pretty flexible, but it’s more if she doesn’t completely get her own way all hell springs forth. I’ve had stuff dumped outside of my room, snide comments made, and more than one patronising dig sent my way . And it isn’t just me noticing it – mutual friends who are outside of the situation have commented on it. I know it sounds like I’m being mean but, here comes my point.

Sometimes, life at home in Swansea is a nightmare when this housemate is in one of her moods. I feel like I don’t have a say in my own home and that I can’t actually call it my safe place. In moments like this, I have two options it seems: Fight and scream and yell and rant and let all my frustrations out; or Flight, either never come home apart from when I have to or cower in the corner and let her have her say.  I have had friends suggest and give their arguments for both of these but neither are desirable. So instead, I choose something a little in the middle. It would be easy to scream and shout and moan and I imagine that for a short moment I would even feel a little better but it will only doubtless cause more problems than it would solve. If I feel that she is being slightly aggressive in the way she talks why should I think it is ok to do the same? When has fighting fire with fire ever actually worked? But, at the same time, if I simply cower in the corner and not do anything how can I expect her to know that I am unhappy? So instead I tackle things with a smile, as one of my friends describe it.

When you live with someone, or spend a lot of time with someone, you have to treat each moment carefully. Like I say, this girl isn’t just my housemate. She is my friend, it is just that we live together and that comes with it its own set of problems. I thought this would be a good blog post for now because I know when I first started University and living with people, it was at this point I felt really claustrophobic and homesick. So I though this would be a good opportunity to share some of my tips and tricks for living with people:

  1. Say No To Bullies: there will be those with bigger personalities than you and you might find that there people who are perhaps crushed by your personality. I suppose the trick is trying to find a balance and it’s not some much something you can learn to do but rather something you just have to learn through mistakes. There will be arguments and temper tantrums and this is fine. Just never be shy to offer an apology (even if you don’t necessarily believe you should).
  2. Lock in: My house at the moment has an open door policy, that is that if my door is open it is an invitation to come in and chat. At the same time, a closed door was meant to mean ‘I want to be on my own for a bit’. I say meant because it doesn’t always work like that which is why I have come to love my door lock. You might think it’s a little sad, but you just need to shut yourself away. Now this housemate doesn’t like this but it’s something I put my foot down to. You need space, especially sometimes just to let off a little steam before you encounter the world again. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for wanting to spend time by yourself.
  3. Have an Outlet: Living with people, especially people you might not know, is stresful and you will get wound up. If you don’t have an outlet, that is a group of people outside of the house, you will explode and it will be horrible. As much as you need your own space, you also need someone you can rant to. Sometimes it helps if this someone is outside of your friendship group if you live with friends, but absolutely make sure it is someone you trust.

So I hope this hasn’t been too moany. I just had a lot of thoughts that I needed to get off my chest and I think it should be helpful. I don’t know. I’ll guess I’ll just blame it all on Nano madness.

Nanowrimo Plans

So it’s coming round to that time of the year again when we all chain ourselves to our laptops and spire to write a ridiculous amount of words in a ridiculous short amount of time. As of such, I figured now would be a good time to talk about my plans and goals for the month.

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The work I want to continue (and attempt to finish) during Nanowrimo is one that I have been slowly working through all year. I don’t want to give too much away because it is very much a work in progress but I have to say i am growing very attach to it. It’s a YA fantasy about witches and destiny and battles and zombies – let’s just say it has a lot going on! I’m currently about halfway through and want to use Nanowrimo as an excuse to getting a little closer to finishing my manuscript. ALthough I hope to finish the 50,000 words, I am under no delusions considering I still have never reached a Nano goal. Therefore, I want to at least hit 30,000 words as I fee like that might be a little more achievable.

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But what about you? If you’re taking part, is this your first year or are a Nano connoisseur?

Good luck and see you soon !

Just a Passing Wave,

How to start? I’m never very good at that, starting I mean. I always like to imagine myself in the middle of something – far away from an awkward beginning and with a sorrowful ending far away in the distance.

So here we are – halfway through an introduction. What to say? What to say? Well, my name is Bronwen, I’m 21, currently studying for my Masters in English Literature, and I love books. For the last 2 years I have had a booktube channel and have spent my time ranting and raving about the books I devoured. But now, as I prepare to enter the real world, I realise I can’t post as much as I like, both because of time but also because of my big bad adult job. Next September I will be standing in a classroom but this time I will be at the front, leading the lesson. Because of this, I don’t necessarily feel comfortable plastering my face all over Youtube, especially as I will be teaching in a secondary school, but that doesn’t mean I ready to stop ranting. Therefore, I thought ‘why not just blog?’ I’ve had blogs before and I thought it was about time to get out the rusty keyboard and start typing.

So there it is, an awkward hello. I hope you enjoy my little corner of the internet!