Wednesday, 6 June 2018

My tribute to Scott Hutchison and Frightened Rabbit

Over the past few weeks since the world lost Scott Hutchison, I have struggled to come to terms with the news and what it meant to me. You feel like a fraud when mourning someone you never knew personally. Unlike a family member or a friend, it's not a physical loss to you. Knowing that it had affected me deeply but unable to articulate to myself why, I just forced it from my mind. Unable to listen to the music I had taken solitude in, almost daily, since my teens.

I tried to deny myself the painful thought that this isn't completely unexpected. His music over the years has been littered with foreshadowing. 'I think I'll save suicide for another day.' are contemplations offered so plainly in the melancholia song, Floating on the Forth. And in light of what has happened, this throws the song into a completely different, solemn perspective.
In a society that forces men to keep their feelings to themselves, he was somehow able to embody what it is to suffer from Depression through music.
As a creator who has also suffered from Depression, I live by the Carrie Fisher quote; 'Take your broken heart, make it into art.' He had done just this by channelling the pain into music. There is not a doubt in my mind that this helped so many going through similar struggles.

The outpouring of love towards Scott, Frightened Rabbit and family, was nothing less than staggering. It became clear that what I was feeling, was universal. Scott's contribution to this world was music filled with a brutally honest understanding of how difficult it is to exist. I think so many sought refuge in those lyrics because they articulated the existential dread we are too scared to face ourselves. Yet somehow, their music doesn't fall into pure doom and gloom. There is feelings of hope, and optimism alongside the realism of the words that convey; 'It's awful, but we're all still here, so let's make the most of it.'

Only months ago, I saw them perform live in their 10 year anniversary tour of the album that kicked off their success, Midnight Organ Fight. I remember looking at the crowd and feeling the love for Frightened Rabbit that filled the room. Halfway through the show, Scott performed the sad love song, Poke, a solo performance filled with raw passion that soaked into the completely silent, attentive audience. The second Scott hit the last note of the song, the room erupted. He looked visibly moved by such a show of love. It is something I'll never forget.

Moving on from here, we should remember the song Heads Roll Off, there is the lyric that goes 'While I'm alive, I'll make tiny changes to Earth.' This sentiment is something we should all be living by. I take hope in the fact that he did just this, and so much more.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Review: The Book of Lost Things

Title: The Book of Lost Things
Author: John Connolly 
Published: 2006
Pages: 336
My Rating: 4.5/5

High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own -- populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.

This was another book whose cover I only vaguely recognised when I bought it cheap from a discount bookshop. However, I would have got my money's worth four times over at full price.

The Book of Lost Things is set in WW2 and follows a young boy, named David, whose loss of his mother leads him into a dark fantasy world, one of which you have to speculate whether what he is experiencing is real or something conjured up by his troubled mind. 

The story introduces David through his obsessive rituals(what we call Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This label however, is never mentioned, making it easier to relate to him without assumptions) he does to save his mother once she becomes ill, and the author is able to articulate the thought processes of this illness better than most who suffer from it for years. I found this such an interesting and relate-able part of his character, but was a little disappointed that his rituals are basically forgotten about throughout the course of the book.

The world itself is not so much a dark fantasy world, but more of an anti-fantasy world. It mirrored a lot of traditional fairytale stories in the gruesome ways that are often hidden from children. Some of the situations and people David comes across are downright gruesome, and although David is twelve himself, I wouldn't recommend it to someone of that age. The story also addresses many adult issues not commonly found in traditional tales such as this, making it feel fresh for the type of story it is and appropriate for the time we're living in. 

The main antagonist of the book is a creature called The Crooked Man, a character loosely connected to Rumpelstiltskin. I found his manner disturbing and his abrupt appearances frightening, this making him a wonderful character who suited the tone of the book perfectly.

The story is emotional and covers big issues such as death, sexual orientation, power and betrayal. It is a fairytale story that transcends modern day issues making it both current and classic. It excels in being dark, disturbing, exceptionally interesting, emotional and ultimately hopeful. I would recommend it to anyone wanting something different.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Why I haven't been around lately

So I know that my blog has been very slow lately, and that I haven't actually posted anything in a WEEK! But I have some reasonable excuses (honest!)

First of all, I've come to the end of my college course. And with the end of year show, I've been there non stop getting ready for it. And on top of that, I've had a 6-10 work shift every weeknight after college. Sometimes I'd come back from college as late as 5pm and then be off to work in half an hour. The final show was yesterday, and last week has been stressfully busy, and I've had no time to read - let alone blog!

Another thing is that I've been reading a few classics lately, and even though there's no rule, I like to keep the theme of YA on this blog. Which is why I haven't posted any reviews since last week.

But alas, college is pretty much over. And even though I'm still working, I'll have the daytime free to catch up on my reading/blogging.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Review: City of Ashes

Title: City of Ashes
Author: Cassandra Clare
Published: 2008
Pages: 464
My Rating: 4/5

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go -- especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother....
I read City of Bones back in February, and I enjoyed and understood why it was so popular. But I wasn't as invested into it as most other people were with the series. I'm more of just a casual fan. As it had been so long since I read the first book, my memory of the story and the characters was a little faded. I know I should of probably recapped myself before going back into the series, but I just wanted to get started on it straight away.

As a whole, I enjoyed the book. The second half a lot more than the first. I really felt like they spent the whole first half of the book just talking. Talking and explaining. As I'm not that invested in the series, and am not really that interested in all the little details of the plot, I found this very boring. And I ended up reading it just to get through it, rather than finding it entertaining. But alas it picked up a lot in the second half and I found myself zooming through it eagerly. There were lots of twists and turns and action packed scenes. There was also one particular plot twist that I thought was brilliant and really loved.

One thing I love about Clare's writing, is that she paints such a perfect picture in your head of what's going on.  The way she writes her dialog is so real and believable, and also very funny at times. There's nothing stilted in the conversations the characters have. Their conversations bounce off each other so well. And their relationships are so relatable (save perhaps Jace's and Clary's, haha).

Of the characters in the book, I loved Simon the most. He started off as the usual geeky best-friend, but he's developed so much since then, and the things that happen to him in this book are both scary but great. Another character who's grown on me a lot is Jace. In the first book, I wasn't too keen on him because he just seemed like the typical mysterious guy love interest. But in this book, you can see how the events in the last have really taken their toll on him. He seems so conflicted, and doesn't seem to know what to think any more. And in showing this human side, I've began to love him some more.

So overall, I did quite enjoy this book. I'm in know rush to read the next one, but I definitely will sometime. I very much see why everyone loves this series so much, and I definitely recommend it if you're into Fantasy and Urban Fantasy.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Follow Friday/ Book Blogger Hop (16)

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee!

Q. The magic book fairy pops out of your cereal box and says "you and your favorite character (from a book of course) can switch places!" Who are you going to switch with?

Oh wow, I'm going to be exceptionally boring again and go with Hermione. She's not my favorite character, but I would love to switch places with her and live in the Wizarding World, go to Hogwarts and be mates with Harry and Ron. 

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books!


Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Review: Warm Bodies

Title: Warm Bodies
Author: Isaac Marion
Published: 2011
Pages: 226
My Rating: 3/5

R is a young man with an existential crisis--he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.
After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and strangely sweet relationship with the victim's human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.

I was interested in this book a long time before I actually got it. I love zombie books and have read many different kinds of zombie books. But this one had the most interesting premise by far. Mainly because not only is it a zombie romance but it is in the point of view of......a zombie.

First off, I was quite shocked to see how short this book was. At just over 200 pages, I expected to get through it quickly. This was not the case however. The book started off with our lead zombie, R, telling us, with surprising intelligence and innocence, about his extremely simple day-to-day life as a zombie. Which was hilarious. It's written so well with R just casually explaining in brilliant detail these absurd things that zombies do in their everyday life. We also find out that zombies can actually speak, to a degree, and form (exceptionally simple) relationships. They have no knowledge of who they were but do have a vague understanding of how the human race used to live. 

Later on in the book we meet Julie. And R starts to feel alien affections for her after devouring her boyfriend's brain (which can give zombies a glimpse of the persons life). Throughout the book, we have chapters with 'clips' of his life through R's eyes. All the way from his childhood to when he met Julie. This starts to give R extra knowledge and make him different from the rest of the zombies. 

Julie was an interesting character and I really liked her. She was rebellious and quirky, but also very intelligent. One problem I found with her though, was how easily she accepted R. One of the mindless monsters that the Living have feared and fought off her entire life, and after the initial shock at seeing her boyfriend and team eaten alive while she is taken back to their home, she seems completely cool about it. I don't know if this is just part of her character, but I found it quite strange. 

Another part of the book I found odd, was how human R was. I know that he was supposed to be different than the rest after what he experienced, but I personally found him too real and human. He just seemed to forget he was a zombie and that his soul purpose was to eat people. And with that, I started to lose interest in the book. I found it interesting and funny at the beginning, but it became quite slow-moving, and I couldn't really figure out where it was going, causing me to take a while to read it.

But in the end, it picked up and I got into it again. The ending was quite epic and hollywood in a good way, and I thought that it ended well. Other than it being a bit slow-moving and hard to believe (even though it's a zombie book, I know), I did quite enjoy it. It was really interesting and I recommend it if you're a zombie lover (no pun intended).

Review: The Perks of being a Wallflower

Title: The Perks of being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Published: 1999
Pages: 214
My Rating: 4.5/5

Standing on the fringes of life... offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as 
growing up.

I've been sitting here for the past ten minutes, really trying to decide what to write about this book. First of all, I have to say that it was fantastic, and I absolutely loved it. It reminded me of other books that I've read and loved like Looking for Alaska. But I'm really struggling with how to structure this review, so just bare with me on this one. 

This book is written through anonymous letters to a stranger by a high-school boy called Charlie. It's clear very soon that this isn't just your run of the mill 'awkward-guy-likes-girl-in-high-school'. It's obvious that Charlie has inner demons and looks at the world in a very unique way. The writing, for one, shows all his thoughts about people, situations and events in his special way. It's written in very short, simple and to-the-point sentences, and this is what makes it shine. Even with the short to-the-point sentences, there is just enough detail, and brilliantly worded out descriptions to make you truly get what Charlie is telling you.  

Charlie's narration is very blunt, but innocent at the same time. He is incredibly selfless in the way he writes. He's always thinking and worrying about other people, even while he is suffering himself. There are different aspects about him that everyone in some way will find relatable. You also can't help but love him. He is so innocent and loving, and hardly any of the characters even come off that badly because he doesn't think of them in too hateful ways. It's almost like he can't because the biggest enemy he has is his-self.

As for the other characters, what makes them so believable is that they are all very real. None of them are described in tiny detail, even some of the main characters. That is left for our imagination and how we choose to see them. Also, none of the characters are at all cliche and none of them are black-and-white bad or good. They all have their downsides and their upsides.

Overall, this book was just brilliant. It's possibly one of the most perfectly written coming-of-age books. It has all the themes and grounds covered really well. Made perfect from Charlie's lovable perspective. I certainly recommend it if you're into John Green books like Looking for Alaska, as I mentioned earlier. It should be essential to all people, old and young.