Love in the Time of Cholera – A Review

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

I worked a lot during February, I was even working on Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind work at all, I happen to really love my job, nor did I mind working on Valentine’s Day. I’ve always been a firm believer that it’s just another day and if you love someone that much you shouldn’t need that one day to validate it or say it. Anyway, I digress, I went to Waterstone’s (other book shops available) a few days before and saw that they was doing a “Blind Date with a Book” and I figured as I’d be working and alone that I should play along.

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All the books were packaged in red paper and tied with brown string, a slight synopsis of the book inside, written elegantly on a brown tag with the price. I spent lots of time mulling over the choices but picked one out that I kept going back to. When I got home, I put it to one side and promised that after my 16 hour day in studio I’d open it up. Sure enough Tuesday 14th February arrived, the penultimate day of filming, it had been a long week, but I was trying to stay positive, just a few more days and then I had some time off to catch up on sleep and let my hair down. As luck would have it, it ended up being a really great day…I spent most of the day laughing, largely down to the company I was in that day. I went home feeling good, a smile on my face and after taking a quick shower I pulled the book onto my lap and tore the paper off. It was like Christmas, only with a gift I’d bought myself. And there it was. A book I had picked up MANY times previously but never bought, I smiled again.

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I have mentioned previously how passion is important, passion ignites the soul, makes your eyes shine brighter, and puts a fire in your belly. I ended up having a conversation with an amazing person about books in April and they mentioned this one specifically. Their passion came across to me so clearly that it was tangible, even though the conversation took place via WhatsApp. I swore to myself that when I got home that evening I would start reading the book, and that’s exactly what I did.

The style of writing was so accessible and beautiful that it was hard not to fall in love with it very early on, with Marquez using language so perfectly that was easy to envisage the people, the surroundings, the feelings. I felt myself following Florentino and urging him on, holding my breath and feeling his anguish as he waited for Fermina to reply. I melted at the romance, the declarations of love making me sigh and press my head against the tram window on my commute to work. The book spoke to my hopelessly, romantic soul and I was hooked.

My heart broke when Fermina returned and rejected Florentino and yet I remained hopeful that all would be okay, it had to be okay. Learning how the two lived over the years, separately yet still tied to one another, Florentino in his promise to never let go of his love for Fermina, Fermina with the ghosts of memories of Florentino sat in the park. Gabriel Garcia Marquez penned something so honest about the anguish of unrequited love, but also about the power of the human spirit, to withstand pain and heartbreak and still remain so vehemently hopeful. He writes of the passion of life and love and loss and does it so lyrically that there were times I forgot to breathe.

Even the more sensual aspects of the book, where Florentino takes various lovers, were written with an understanding that most modern writers tend to lack. I am a stupid, hopeless romantic and this book touched me. Entirely quotable passages that made me dog ear pages so that I could re-read them, tracing my fingers over the page to make sure I hadn’t dreamed them. This book is more than about love, it’s about the power of love, passion, the power of the human spirit, the courage to keep on going and to always keep hope. It’s made me crave for a simpler time, for more open communication and for less negative stigma attached to matters of the heart. Love is frowned upon and given negative connotations, like the advancement of technology, the world has become cold and demanding. Everything has to be instant. But sincerely why isn’t it ok to pen a love letter and post it? The excitement of receiving something you wasn’t expecting, a letter written in ink by the very hand you long to hold. I’ve never personally received a love letter, but the idea is so romantic to me.

This book awoken my soul and stoked the fire in my heart. A truly beautiful novel that will make you realise the importance of happiness and taking chances.

Star Rating out of 5: 5

“Sometimes their letters were soaked by rain, soiled by mud, torn by adversity, and some were lost for a variety of reasons, but they always found a way to be in touch with each other again.”

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Happy reading.

G.
x

 

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Passion…It lies in all of us..

During difficult times its basic human nature to seek solace. Our own little thing that gives momentary relief from the pain or distress we may be suffering. For some it’s carnal pleasure, others a large glass of wine or a double whiskey. For me it’s the written word.

It’s always been the way for me. As a child I dealt with being bullied by my peers by escaping and seeking comfort in between the pages of a book. Fictional characters from fictional worlds giving me the strength to believe I could and would be okay, that it was more important to be a good person as opposed to being pretty and popular (though you can find some lucky people who embody all these traits) I have spoken previously on my blog, albeit very briefly, that I lost my way with reading for a couple of years, then when my dad passed away I threw myself back into it, seeking comfort in The Deathly Hallows the evening before the funeral (I spent the whole night reading it as I couldn’t sleep and still feel it’s responsible for giving me the strength for one of the hardest days of my adult life)

I haven’t read much since November when my life took something of a turn and it’s taken me a while to get my head around things. Although I am reading more now than I was, I still have bouts of time where I just feel my head feels too fuzzy for anything to sink in properly. But one thing that helps is passion. This weekend my friend Fiona came to visit and I passed her a few books to try out (Fangasm, Fangirl and The Great Gatsby) and there was a moment where I got so excited gushing about what I loved about each of the books that it made me want to re-read them all right there and then. It gave me that fire, that passion that ignites in me whenever I discuss one of my nerdy loves (Buffy…Supernatural…books…to name but a few) and it made me realise that this is perhaps what I should do when I find myself losing my way. I should talk about the book with someone or re-read a book that set a fire in my soul.

I find comfort in the written word so much, and right now I need it so much. I need that escape to ease my mind and quieten down the chaos going on in there…So perhaps I’ll blog more when I’m feeling lost, about the books that mean a lot to me.

Watch this space and happy reading.

G.

x

 

Fangasm:Supernatural Fangirls – A Review

Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls by Katherine Larsen and Lynn S. Zubernis.

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Ok, so at this point I think some of you must be rolling your eyes and saying “Another Supernatural book…Get a grip woman!” but honestly I’m enjoying the fandom and any fangirl out there knows when you fall for a fandom you fall hard. You want to be consumed in it, learn all about it, all the things related to it. So this book was perfect for me.

The book documents what happened when “two responsible college professors, Lynn the psychologist and Kathy the literary scholar, fell in love with the television show Supernatural.”  but what it really does is peels back the layers and asks lots of important questions about fandom, the rules of fandom, the dos and don’ts at conventions but above all it looks more specifically at females within a fandom and the way they are perceived by, not only the general public, but the stars of the show itself, their families and friends.

I knew as I soon as I started reading that this was going to be I need my sticky post its and my pencil handy. Lynn and Kathy start off by researching the psychology of fandom, why are we drawn to it.

“..watching or just thinking or talking about our favourite show can create an experience of belonging that makes us feel less lonely and buffers us against feelings of rejection.”  – Researchers at the University of Buffalo’s Center for Addictions.

Lynn and Kathy found that by retreating to a fictional world it helps people relieve stress and “shores up self-control” something I can completely relate to. After many a stressful day, my head loud with anxiety and exhausted, I’ve gone home put on my pajamas, tied my hair up in a messy bun, turned off all the lights and binge watched at least 4 episodes of Supernatural before retreating to bed.

Earlier on in the book they reference the incident involving the image of “Twilight Moms” that received online ridicule, the women receiving comments like “creepy” “unnattractive” and accusing them of being horrible parents. Thus showing already how “wrong” it is viewed for women to gush or objectify men in any fandom. The ladies look into this a bit more as the book progresses, they touch on the “flying fangirl” incident at the first Asylum convention in the UK, that saw Jensen Ackles being jumped on by a fan who proceeded to cling to him.

“Fanboys are no strangers to fan shame. But while male media fans fear being perceived as not sexual enough (the stereotypical fanboy virgin living in his mother’s basement) female fans seem fearful that being a fan makes them too sexual.”

As Lynn and Kathy say fangirls are viewed by the media/general public as crazy stalkers who can’t see the line between fantasy and reality. They propose that fan shame for females is linked to shame about sexuality. And I have to say I kind of agree with them. I’ve been around plenty of guys growing up (I have an older brother) and I’ve made friends with male colleagues over the years. I’ve been privy to plenty of conversations where a female celebrity has been the topic of discussion and I’ve heard plenty of explicit comments made about said celebrity, however the few times me and other women have discussed male celebrities in front of men and been nowhere near as explicit I have had men roll their eyes and actually look shocked and been like “Alright ladies, calm down!” I’ve even heard the phrase “pack of animals” used.  It’s a shame to say that in 2017 this is still the case. Women are objectified continuously by men and advertising companies, but goodness forbid that a man be objectified or woman objectify a man verbally. *rolls eyes* Anyway before I digress and pull out my soapbox, I will move on…

The ladies look at the role of fanfiction within the Supernatural fandom and the various types and what it means to the people who write it. Surprisingly, and again something I can relate to, they found that people who started reading fanfic and then writing it, made them feel more liberated and in touch with their desires and needs. It opened them up more sexually and made them realise that some of the kinks, they perhaps, hadn’t vocalised before, weren’t as strange as they thought because there were others out there with the same kink. When they asked various cast members about their opinion on the fanfiction the reaction was mixed, but generally it was something no one wanted their Mum or Grandmother to find.

Throughout the rest of the book, the ladies look at different things such as what happens when a fan “breaks the rules” or what happens when other fans become jealous of BNF (Big Name Fans) they look at the relationship between the powers that be and the people actually producing/writing the show and the fans. How, often, TPTB don’t seem to know or understand what the fans actually want or how to necessarily market a show or engage with the audience the right way. The ladies often found the answers to these questions through first hand experience, flying to conventions and meeting the cast and crew, even giving us an insight into how their experience of being fangirls impacted on their personal lives and the consequences of allowing themselves to indulge in their love of the show.

Needless to say I delved into this book thinking it was going to be one thing and then found it to be a variation of a lot of things. But I devoured it in no time, it’s provocative and insightful and whilst, for me anyway, it didn’t fully answer some of the questions, it certainly made me think about things differently and come to some realisations.

Star Rating out of 5: 4

“I felt like myself for the first time.”

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I’m actually attending my first con this year, and honestly I am already having low-key anxiety about it. I tend to dry up when I meet someone I admire and say nothing at all, wish me luck, although knowing the SPN Family, they’ve got my back! ❤

Happy reading.

G.

x

The Luckiest Girl Alive – A Review

The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.

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As some of you know who follow my blog, I run a monthly Book Club and it’s been a good four months since we had something (in my opinion) that has captured my interest and kept me turning pages. So I was pleasantly surprised with this month’s selection and even more surprised when I started reading it and didn’t roll my eyes or give up twenty pages in.

This book first came onto my radar through Instagram last year believe it or not when Sarah Michelle Gellar (I’m a Buffy fangirl so of course I follow her) and Reese Witherspoon couldn’t stop gushing about it. I kept meaning to pick it up but just never got round to it, so it seemed that serendipity played a hand somewhere.

It follows the story of  Ani FaNelli a stylish and sophisticated woman who seems to have the perfect life. An amazing career, respect from her peers, a handsome fiance and a glamorous wedding to look forward to. But beneath the shimmery surface is a darkness. A past that Ani has tried to distance herself from through years of practice, but as the date fast approaches to participate in a documentary about that very past, Ani begins to fray at the edges.

I’ll admit Jessica’s writing of Ani certainly kept me intrigued and guessing, she was always teetering on the edge. On the edge of what I couldn’t tell you, but the book seemed to be building to a pivotal moment. Fortunately there were quite a few moments like this in the book. *SPOILER ALERT* Perhaps it’s because I’m a woman but when it reached the part in the story when Ani recalls the rape at the hands of three boys, I wasn’t surprised, because I could see it building up to that, I could sense the uncomfortableness and danger. It was dealt with well by the author, it reminded me of reading Louise O’Neill’s 2015 novel ‘Asking for It’ I don’t think I’ve read anything so powerful, emotive and raw that deals with rape and life after that and it’s effect on the victim. Things like this are important for a YA audience and beyond, so I’m glad the author acknowledged them here too.

What did come as a surprise was the way Ani dealt with it, and the way she continued to try and ingratiate herself to her attackers. Later on in the book one of the boys tries to attack her again only this time it seems like she will no longer be part of the clique. She confides in her friend Arthur who seems to be her only protector at the school. But as I mentioned previously this book has plenty of shock moments *SPOILER ALERT* So I was not expecting the gun shooting at the school, it completely knocked me sideways. The aftermath of that event and the way Ani dealt with it, made the rest of the book and her actions make much more sense, however it was after this point that the book started to grow quite convoluted, something I was hoping wouldn’t happen after being so strong.

However it was page turner for the majority of the time and there were plenty of moments that made me audibly gasp, I feel that there are things Jessica could have done to make it more interesting for the character and I think it could have ended better, but all in all not a bad read.

Star Rating out of 5: 3.5

Happy reading.

G.

x

Heart of the Dragon – Supernatural Book #4 – A Review

Supernatural Book #4 – Heart of the Dragon by Keith R.A. DeCandido.

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The fourth book is set during the fifth season of Supernatural and crosses generations. And honestly that’s one of the things I loved the most about this book. It opens in 1859 and shows the betrayal and death of a much respected Samurai at the hands of a demon. Moving forward to 2009 it shows the boys being alerted by Castiel (forever known as Cas by the fandom even though they will insist it’s spelt Cass) to the return of the Heart of the Dragon, the spirit of the samurai warrior from the beginning of the book. With the war between heaven and hell raging it’s important for the boys to stop the spirit before it can be controlled or manipulated by any demons.

When doing the research it seems that the Heart of the Dragon has been on their families hunting radar since 1969 when their Grandfather Samuel and their mother Mary hunted it. Through the use of flashbacks we see the dynamics between Mary and her father, the hunting dynasty and gain a better understanding of Mary (which is always nice considering her minimal yet present impact in the show) unfortunately the Campbells are unsuccessful in stopping the Heart of the Dragon completely and only end up banishing the thing for 20 seasons.

Which brings in John Winchester confronting the spirit, leaving both Dean and Sam with Bobby Singer whilst he does so. Again we’re offered more of an insight into the kind of man John Winchester was, the relationship between John and Bobby and a look at the boys as children separated from their father whilst he was off hunting. Now in 2009 the boys are faced with doing something their ancestors haven’t seemed capable of and as the body counts rise, it’s a race against time.

Although the ending was slightly anticlimactic and all seemed a bit too easy, I did really enjoy the flashbacks to Samuel and Mary, and John and Bobby’s strained relationship in regards to the boys. There’s not a WHOLE lot of the boys in this book, but it makes up for by giving us more insight into some of the key people from their past.

Star Rating out of 5: 4

Happy reading y’all.

G.

x

 

Bone Key – Supernatural Book #3 – A Review

Supernatural Book #3 – Bone Key by Keith R.A. DeCandido

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I’ve fallen for this show pretty damn hard, and like most things you fall in love with you want to learn more about it, absorb yourself in it, learn more about it. So it made perfect sense to start buying all the tie-in books. I used to do the same with Buffy the Vampire Slayer when that was on, I have quite an extensive collection and still continue to buy titles to this day. Indulging my inner nerd, a guaranteed way to make me feel better when everything else seems to be going so wrong…Anyway, as per usual, I digress and find myself falling into some weird hole where I gush like a fangirl (which I am and proud) anyway moving onto the book.

Bone Key takes place a week after A Very Supernatural Christmas and sees the boys heading for Key West, Florida where ghostly activity seems to be rife. At this point in the TV show Dean’s time is running out before his soul is claimed by the Hellhounds, so there are some great moments of angst between the brothers, and of course humorous bravado from Dean. It also features their father figure Bobby Singer, which made me squee because I love the relationship he has with the boys.

The boys go around the place investigating, getting themselves into the usual interesting situations as they begin to realise the thing they face is hundreds of years old and will mean working alongside a demon to defend it.

Needless to say this is a great tie in and I really enjoyed the way the characters were written because they felt authentic, whereas I didn’t feel they were in book 2 (Witch’s Canyon) so Keith R.A. DeCandido did another great job.

Star Rating out of 5: 4.5

Happy reading.

G.

A Fangirl on Fangirl – A Review.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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The first book I read of Rainbow Rowell’s was Eleanor & Park (review can be found here) and I loved it, loved it, loved it. So many times whilst I have been waiting for the train I have perused the bookshelves of WHSmith’s (other book shops available) and so many times I picked up Fangirl, read the blurb, stroked the cover, smelt the pages (do not judge me) and put it back, until one day I just bought it.

This year I was fortunate enough to get a week’s holiday in Cornwall (which is probably one of the most beautiful places in the UK) and I decided to read Fangirl whilst there, on the beach and just see how much I could relate to it. You see, you may not think it to look at me, and it’s not something that I tend to publicise but for once I am going to have the strength to admit that I am a FANGIRL. Not a fangirl that just buys the merch or never misses an episode/book/film but an actual fangirl that writes…you know…fanfiction! Yes, that’s me!

I post my stories under a pseudonym in a secret place away from prying eyes of the general public and by general public I mean family/friends/work colleagues. Writing fic gives me so much life, it helps me breathe and deal with the trickier aspects of my anxiety. Being able to escape into a world of much beloved characters and manipulate them to act out my stories, my thoughts, my ideas just makes me breathe in a way I can’t even describe. So I could REALLY relate to Cath and this book, like in ridiculous way. I gushed about it so much to poor Rainbow Rowell on twitter that I’m surprised she didn’t block me!

Anyway I digress, back to the book. Fangirl follows the story of twins Cath and Wren who are heading off to college, but Wren surprises Cath by saying she want’s do her own thing, something Cath can’t quite wrap her head around considering they’re usually pretty inseparable. Throw into the mix Cath’s worries about her father being alone, Cath’s anxieties about having to live with a stranger and the general day to day worries that going to college throws up and you have one hell of a story.

The moments in the book that really stuck out for me, were how easy and attached Cath felt to her writing (have I mentioned how easy I could relate) the moments where she felt hurt and conflicted by Wren’s behaviour and I just LOVED Levi (like seriously I think he’s the first literary fiction character in a LONG time that I have fallen in love) **SPOILER ALERT HERE** The way Rainbow Rowell wrote the first kiss between Cath and Levi made me melt into a puddle, it was just so…perfect and honest.

I did adore this book, truly. It highlighted the internal dialogue anxiety sufferers have, the things we do to avoid certain situations. It highlighted a love and respect for fanfiction which, I feel, tends to get laughed at and criticised by most people, which is another reason I could relate to Cath being reluctant to be open about writing it. The relationships were sincere and believable and some of themes like parental abandonment were dealt with perfectly. Sometimes, just sometimes a book comes along that speaks to you on a whole new level, and for me, this was that book.

Thank Rainbow, I found my passion for fic writing came back after reading this.

Star Rating out of 5: 5

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“There are other people on the Internet. It’s awesome. You get all the benefits of ‘other people’ without the body odor and the eye contact.” 

Happy reading!

Georgina

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