Saturday, 17 June 2017

Reading Classics


Before starting my Arts degree, the only ‘classic’ book I’d read was probably Pride and Prejudice (after seeing the brilliant 2005 adaption). I’d always felt a bit apprehensive about reading older books, assuming they would be too difficult to understand or incredibility boring, perhaps both.
However, studying English literature somewhat forces you to read older literature and, thankfully for an English major like myself, I discovered it’s not as difficult or as boring as I feared. In fact, older literature can be just as entertaining, moving and interesting as contemporary fiction.

Classics and other older books that have survived long enough that you can still borrow them from a normal library have done so for a reason, because they’re actually quite good. The novel has gone through various incarnations, but at a fundamental level, it’s stayed the same for hundreds of years. Realism is still the gold standard, as my lecturer put it, and Victorian (and I’d argue earlier) realism is actually quite similar to the current realist genre (normally just called ‘fiction’). Different eras preferenced different subgenres and styles, some of which can be confusing (post-modernism, for example), however that can also be part of the fun as it allows you to see what people enjoyed reading.

Reading older books can also be a great way to get a sense of how people lived and thought at a particular time and, especially with realism, an authentic view of the world as a particular writer saw it. Books are such a marvellous way of getting to understand a different way of seeing or thinking about the world and that’s what makes reading books of every and any age, but especially classics, so interesting.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

The Language of Books

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern // Burial Rites by Hannah Kent // Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf


There are many different ways a book shows you that it is well written, the construction of plot, witty dialogue, the way it makes you completely invested in the characters, the list goes on.
But there are some books that make their craft visible in the very language of the text, the way things are described. They’re beautifully descriptive, often with surprising imagery that also feels incredibly accurate. These three books have brilliant stories and characters as well, but they are examples of books whose language is so finely and intricately woven that the pleasure is as much in the fine language as the compelling story.

The Night Circus 

Morgenstern’s prose is laden with descriptive detail, which, rather than making the book heavy and slow, makes it rich and enthralling. The Night Circus is one of my favourite books because of its beautiful story and the way the prose creates a world both like and unlike our own. The enjoyment of reading the novel is almost as much in the detail threaded through every chapter as in the story itself.

Burial Rites 

Burial Rites is a wonderfully evocative tale of the last woman to be executed in Iceland. The way Kent tells the story through jumps back and forth in time is clever and compelling. The harsh, beautiful Icelandic landscape is described in believable and captivating detail, creating an otherworldly atmosphere that transports you to that place and time. It’s not a happy tale, but the way Kent creates such a captivating, convincing atmosphere is skilful and absorbing.

Mrs Dalloway 

My first experience with modernism, I approached Mrs Dalloway with apprehension, but Woolf’s language and style is not as difficult as it first appears. Woolf allows you into the heads of characters to see how their thoughts shift from musings to memory to what is happening around them, all in a seamless fashion. The thoughts of the characters are convincingly realistic and provide moments of both profound and relatable thoughts. While there isn’t much plot and it’s a bit sad, that’s not really the point. The point is to explore how people experienced life at that period of history.

 And those are three of my favourites for their descriptive detail, I encourage you to read them all!

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Quote | Worrying means you suffer twice


Currently in the black hole of final assignments, I’m hanging out til Wednesday when two out of three will be done. For now I’m just popping up to share one of my favourite quotes/life mottos, it can be hard to follow but it does help my anxious, worrying mind to remember this piece of advice.

Now, back to those essays…

Monday, 29 May 2017

Bits and Bobs #4

READ | I finished all my semester one reading a few weeks ago and am currently making snail-paced progress on the first of my semester two books, The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle (because I’m busy with study not because it’s a terrible book, because it isn’t). I’m hoping to get a couple of non-study books read in the next month or so, that’s be so nice.

WRITE | essays, essays, essays. The pointy end of the semester is here and I’ve got two major essays to write, both due in about a week. After that I’ve got a luxurious two weeks for next and final essay of the semester. I like doing essays, but it’s pretty stressful at the moment.

WATCH | EUROVISION!! Eurovision 2017 was amazing. The hosts were a bit awkward (three white guys was an interesting choice when your motto is ‘celebrate diversity’), but I kind of grew to love them. Bulgaria and the UK were my favourites, but I’m so happy a lovely, non-English language song won. Yay for Portugal!

Also, watching the current season of Doctor Who and it’s amazing! So sad Twelve and Bill are only going to be together for one season because I think this is Twelve’s best and one of my favourite seasons ever, actually. It just feels like the old, fun Doctor Who before it started getting a bit too ploty.


GO | Finally went on a pub crawl and it was actually a lot of fun, much to my surprise! I’m now a proper college kid, haha.

While I have not really been going anywhere, my brother’s went to Japan for a month and brought me back some lovely things. It’s so much fun when family goes away and you can follow along on their adventures! You can check their trip out here & here.

And now my lil sis is over in Europe now! Follow her adventures here (she’s a pretty great photographer).

 ETC. | Despite feeling like it’s all been study, study, study lately, I’ve actually had a number of lovely weekends this past month – home alone with just my lil sis and pooch one weekend, a shopping weekend with my Dad and lil sis, Mother’s day weekend with Eurovision, baking and helping around the house/business.

So, really it’s been a lovely little while. Can’t wait til these two essays are done and handed up, though. xo

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Quote | I don’t obsess. I think…intensely


With most of my minor assignments done (and all the presenting ones, yay!), I can start working on my major assignments, which is good because they should be interesting but scary because they’re worth so much.

Such a busy time for study and I’m currently getting over a cold, but it all pales into comparison with Eurovision to look forward to this weekend!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Adelaide Writers’ Week 2017

Adelaide Writers’ Week is one of my favourite times of the year. Hearing authors talk under the shade of the Pioneer Women’s Garden’s trees is entertaining, insightful, and fun. The weather is often lovely and cool or quite hot. This year was somewhere in between.
I spent the whole first day (and a session on day two) listening to this year’s authors, avoiding study and learning a thing or two.

I saw Marsden talk at the Salisbury Writers’ Festival a few years ago and he was as full of amusing stories in this session as he was then. While I did find his view on the market and the idea of writing for a market a bit cynical for my liking, he gave a number of interesting tips. Particularly interesting was his explanation of the difference between first and third person point of view, first person is about finding voice, third person is about finding tone.

Both Ladd and Fine’s talks were interesting. I half listened to Ladd while I scribbled in my bullet journal. He said poets are always inventing new metaphors to ‘guard against dead languages’.
Fine’s whole talk was fascinating and I really need to read her books. She talked about the myths surrounding gender and the different notions that influence our, often incorrect, perceptions, even affecting how science perceives gender.

This talk on writing about big ideas and topics for children was really fascinating. Bell talked about her book, The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade, which tells the story of an introverted little boy that doesn’t end up breaking out of his ‘shell’ and going to the parade but is rather allowed to be who he is. Bell explained that as an introverted kid she thought she was wrong for being as she was because we live in a world that encourages you to push to be extroverted, but that’s not always the right thing to do. And as I was quite an introverted kid (still am), this really spoke to me and made a lot of sense. 
A few other things: 
- A great book should be provocative
- Kid’s books should be bold, entertaining and comforting 
- When you’re writing from outside your experience, you should consult people who have that experience
- The message in a children’s book needs to be light and speak to children’s experience 
- Language in the children’s literature can (and should) delight both adult and children readers 

Being a great fan of Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites, I had to come in on Sunday to hear her speak. It was an entertaining and interesting panel from Macae Burnet and Kent. 
Lots of interesting things to think on:
- Kent saturates herself with the history she’s writing before she begins to write (she spent 18 months researching The Good People before writing)  
- Kent spent time in Ireland to create sensory memory of the place for her writing 
- A novel becomes more complex the more ambiguous it becomes 
- Create a sense of empathy rather than sympathy, empathy draws in the reader, sympathy distances them 
- Writers’ are attached to the gaps in history 

You can listen to these and all of the talks at Writers’ Week 2017 here. I still want to listen to a few I couldn’t make it to because of uni, especially Magical Places (Hannah Kent and Sara Taylor)

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Adele | live in Concert

Seeing Adele live in concert was as amazing as you’d imagine. My sisters, mum and I went to see Adele when she came to Adelaide, back in March. The atmosphere that welled up in the cavernous space of the Adelaide Oval was really something, especially when Adele begun singing the first notes of Hello, still veiled behind the giant curtain, and the audience went crazy.

It always takes a few songs for my ears to adjust to the vibrating loudness of concerts, but even with that the first song of the concert was spine-tingling. Hello is one of my favourite songs and was a perfect opening. Other highlights were hearing Water Under The Bridge and Set Fire To The Rain, both sounded incredible live.
And then there was perhaps my favourite part of concerts, the banter. Adele is hilarious. I’d have happily just listened to her stories all night, but then again you wouldn’t want to miss hearing her vocals in that atmosphere. In any atmosphere, really. She’s also so warm and down to earth. I’m even more of a fan after seeing her live than I was before.

It was such a great night out, singing along, laughing and dancing with the girls. I love that it’s a side effect of going to concerts that afterward, when you listen to the CD, the memories of that live rendition and that night echo in your head and make the music that bit more special.

(And yes, I collected the confetti!)

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Bits and Bobs #3

READ | My uni reading list is almost done! Currently reading The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, with The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad to go!

WRITE | Planning to revise some stories to start submitting to various places, plus looking at getting back into my novel planning.

WATCH/GO | Been going to the cinema a lot lately, which is quite unusual but extremely enjoyable! Saw Logan and Ghost in the Shell with the buds, both were enjoyable enough but had odd plot structures.
Also, watched Rouge One last night. There were some weird things but I really enjoyed it.

GET | I’ve acquired a delightful number of books recently. The Good People by Hannah Kent at Writers Week (which she signed), The Song of Lunch by Christopher Reid (a gift from a friend) and Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (won in a giveaway).

ETC. | The last week I’ve been back at home because of the uni break. Unfortunately, I’ve also been a bit sick but getting better with awhile left to enjoy home. My brother set up a makeshift desk for me to study at and I’m working hard to set myself up well for the next term!

Also, Happy Easter! Here’s to a glorious, chocolate-filled long weekend.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Book Series | The Extraordinaires

Kingsley Ward’s wolfishness was a problem. If it weren’t the howling, it was the occasional desire to bite boorish people, which was rarely acceptable, no matter how boorish the boor. If 1908 were going to be a good year, however, he would have to maintain his control when it was his turn to walk onto the stage of the Alexandra Theatre. 

The Extraordinaires series is a favourite of mine. Written by one of my favourite authors, Michael Pryor, it’s full of fun, adventure, witty dialogue and great characters all nicely packaged in two well written novels.
What can I say about this series without sounding like a crazy fangirl? Probably nothing, I’ll continue nevertheless. The series follows the adventures of Kingsley, an aspiring escapologist. He was raised by wolves and is extremely loveable. Kingsley is aided by the fabulous Evadne, who’s sassy, clever, layered and interesting while avoiding becoming one of those all capable, completely flawless ‘strong’ female characters. The adventures these two get up to are exciting, unexpected and rollicking good fun.

Book one, The Extinction Gambit, sees Kingsley getting caught up in a plot for world domination, immortal sorcerers, Neanderthals, underground worlds and magic.
Book two, The Subterranean Stratagem, continues the adventures but becomes more personal, focusing more on Kingsley’s quest to uncover his mysterious past. The twists and turns are plentiful and satisfying and it’s funny, the entrance of the character Finny is one of my favourite moments of the novel.

Both books have great pace, stories and an array of interesting characters that keep you entertained and interested. The second book is my favourite by a smidgeon, but both are amazing self-contained stories.
One of the things that I love about these books is how Pryor handles multiple points of view to give the reader more access to what’s happening in the story, creating tension by letting the reader know more than any single character. What makes this even more special and delightful is how each different point of view it written differently to make you feel like you are in the minds of these characters.

In a lot of ways the series is similar to Pryor’s outstandingly amazing The Laws of Magic series, yet equally it’s quite different. It’s similar in that it’s set in an early 20th century Britain with magic, has a sassy female character and an extremely likeable male protagonist. But it is different in how it sets up magic, the dynamic between the two leads, its use of multiple points of view and the overall feel of the world and story.
If you loved Pryor’s Laws of Magic series (and why wouldn't you?), I think you’ll love this.

I’m incredibly sad there is currently no third novel coming in the foreseeable future, but at least I am able to reread the glorious two that are available to me!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Quote | Nothing is the New Black

Currently very much looking forward to the uni break coming up. However, I won’t be lounging around, doing nothing (well, not all of the time), rather I’ll be trying to get ahead on all the essays due in the last half of semester and get all my English reading more or less done.

The amount of assignments I have after the break is daunting but I’m looking forward to expanding on various ideas and thinking about texts critically.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

For the Love of the Con

To drown my sorrows of not going to Comic Con this year, I thought I’d take a trip down the memory lane of conventions past…

It all started in 2015 with a tumblr gif set announcing Billie Piper (!!) was coming to Adelaide for Comic Con and my discovering it wouldn’t leave me completely broke to go to see her. It was actually during a really stressful period of study, so it was perfect timing for an escape. Amy, James and I waited in line two and a half hours for BP’s autograph, which (at the risk of sounding like a complete fangirl, which really I am) was totally, unquestionably worth it. During the brief signing and lightning fast photo session, she really made you feel like she was happy to be there and she took the time for everyone. It’s such a lovely feeling to meet someone you’re a fan of and have them be so sweet in real life.
We also got to meet and greet the one and only Michael Shanks (aka Daniel Jackson) and listen to various actors talk on panels (Billy Boyd was a highlight). The array of stalls filled with geeky stuff, good food, nice guests and fun panels made the experience one the three of us were super keen to repeat.
And so begun my love of conventions.

The following year, Amy and I cosplayed as Hufflepuff students, as you do, and met Xena, also known as Lucy Lawless. We had a lot of lovely compliments on our cosplay, which delighted and surprised both of us. Karl Urban and John Rhys-Davies were panel highlights.

Then in November (too warm for cosplay), we attended Supanova for the first time. It was much bigger than I expected. While there were aspects that made me feel that Comic Con is the better of the cons, Supanova was a lot of fun.
As big Charmed fans, it was a thrill for Amy and I to see Holly Marie Combs but the highlight of the con was meeting and listening to Nathan Fillion. His panel was one of the best of all the cons and he was just really lovely, one of those people that you feel more of a fan of after meeting than you were before.
And now I’ll go back to counting down the days til Supanova…
Three things we learnt at the first con that we’ve been paying heed to ever since…

1. Don’t give up perfectly good seats hoping to get better, it’s not worth it & could backfire (Let’s not talk about the Billie Piper panel).
2. It is worth spending more on autographs/photos, rather than worrying about having enough for cool fan stuff. The experience is worth more than the items.
3. Getting there an hour before it opens is worth it (especially if you haven’t pre-ordered tokens).

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Book Series | Cardcaptor Sakura

Cardcaptor Sakura is one of my favourite manga and anime series. Cardcaptors, as I knew it originally, follows the story of Sakura after she accidently breaks the seal on The Clow, releasing a set of magical cards that all wreak chaos on the world until she can recapture them. Sakura is helped by Kero, the guardian of the Clow who give loves eating and making sassy remarks, her friend Tomoyo, who provides the appropriate costumes and moviemaking services and rival Syaoran, who arrives to take on the task of recapturing the cards himself.

The series is a lot of fun. I loved watching and reading it as a kid and still love it as much today! It’s a fun, magical girl adventure. It’s humorous, light and cute. I love Sakura as a character because she’s always so optimistic and tries her hardest no matter what. There are two arcs to Sakura’s story, the first is the best but the second definitely doesn’t disappoint.
And there is a third arc on the way, which I’m quite excited about, hopefully it’s as good as the other two!

But in the meantime, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle features an alternative world Sakura and Syaoran and is also amazing.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Quote | I'm already wise enough


Hahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahhahahahah…
....maybe not quite.
Uni started this week and I’m slowly (but surely) remembering how to do things.

Also, Adelaide Writers’ Week started yesterday! Ugh, so happy! I wish I could spend all week sitting in the shade listening to authors talk but, alas, uni calls.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Craft | summer holidays edition

This summer holidays I managed to successfully mix things I “had” to do in order to be organised and ready for uni and fun things that I hadn’t had a chance to do because of uni, and that meant making some serious time for crafting. I started a number of projects and even finished some! This year I hope to do a lot more making.

 

Skirt

Sewing is something I love to do, even though it’s so hard. I was determined to get something sewn during the holidays. With my Mum’s help, I made up this skirt in time to celebrate Christmas on Boxing Day with my Babcia.

I love the fabric because it looks very Polish to me. I’m planning a simple shirt out of the leftovers.

Pompom Garland // Pillow 

To help brighten up my college room, I spent many-a-nights making pompoms to turn into a garland for the wall (they are attached to a crocheted rope Mum made) and it turned out so cute.
And this little pillow was something I had made during the winter holidays, all it needed was to add some cool trimming. Something about the colours of this trim reminds me of my childhood. I love it.

Works in Progress 

I started a couple of other projects that I didn’t quite managed to finish before I had to actually start packing.
This simple floral shirt is something I’d half sewn at some time or another. I tried to get it done but it still needs a hem, sleeves and some buttons.
And then, inspired by this Oh Joy tutorial that actually features the exact throw I have, I started to decorate my bed throw with some fun colour.

Also, not pictured, I finally started my Messy Book by completing three pages (a 2016 overview and the title page). It’s really so much fun and much easier than traditional scrapbooking.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The English Review Vol. 3 | Film Studies

I actually studied Film Studies for my Art History minor, but it is an English course technically. I really enjoyed my film tutorials and learning a little about a lot of different things you need to know for film studies, such as film history and filmic techniques (a little bit I already knew from photography and my previous Art history course).

In Bruges (Dir. Martin McDonagh, 2008) & The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (Dir. Robert Wiene, 1920) 

In Bruges was an odd, funny film. Unnecessarily gruesome in unexpected places, it was also silly and funny.

I would never have gotten through The Cabinet of Dr Caligari if Mum hadn’t volunteered to watch it with me. A slow film with an odd story, making for a slightly bizarre introduction to silent film.

 

The Third Man (Dir. Carol Reed, 1949) & Chicago (Dir. Rob Marshall, 2002) 

One of my two favourite films of the course. I really appreciated the complex female character of Ana in The Third Man. She wasn’t a simple love interest that fell for the main character. The whole film was good. It had a fun plot, great writing and an unusual soundtrack.

Chicago was an entertaining musical that cleverly weaved the musical numbers within the story. It really got going half way through.

The Intouchables (Dir. Olivier Nakache & Éric Toledano, 2011) & Rear Window (Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) 

Lighthearted, The Intouchables was an enjoyable French film. It was interesting to look at how the cinematography reflected the characters’ emotions.

I really liked Rear Window. It was an entertaining movie with a vibe in similar to Agatha Christie adaptions, which I love. It was nice to see active female characters, even if they were motivated by the male protagonist.

Chinatown (Dir. Roman Polanski, 1974) & Once Were Warriors (Dir. Lee Tamahori, 1994)

Chinatown was a good film. It looked good, had an interesting plot, a touch of humour and a dramatic end.

 I’m not sure how I feel about Once Were Warriors. It’s quite a violent film and some scenes were hallowing. The dialogue was often a bit clunky and you could tell it was made in the 90’s. But it was a good film to address and think about Postcolonial theory.

Thelma and Louise (Dir. Ridley Scott, 1991) 

My other favourite film of the course, Thelma and Louise wasn’t the happy-go-lucky roadtrip movie I was expecting, but it was as good as I hoped. Thelma and Louise is known as a feminist film and it doesn’t disappoint in that sense. The central relationship in the film is the female leads’ friendship, which is refreshing, and the film plays with female and male stereotypes.
Unfortunately, despite what some feared and some hoped, Thelma and Louise didn’t quite revolutionise film, there is still plenty of inequality. However, it is an inspiring, iconic film.
 
Honourable mention to Battleship Potemkin, which screened as an extracurricular activity. It was a much easier silent film to watch than The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and was my first experience with soviet montage.


And that was Film Studies, a really fun course!

Friday, 10 February 2017

Bits and Bobs #2

ORGANISE | my greatest accomplishment of the summer holidays was to go through my room, sorting all the papers and odds and ends that have been cramming all available space in my room for, no joke, years. I love to be organised but am also hopelessly sentimental, so it was a difficult but super rewarding process. Now I know everything I have and it’s all neatly stored. I’m still kind of amazed I’ve finally done it!

WRITE | other than drafting a lot of blog posts (yay!), I actually wrote two short stories! Currently polishing one up for a competition. Feels good to be complete a writing project.

READ | reading Jane Eyre and loving it as much as I hoped. Also, really looking forward to sneaking in another Series of Unfortunate Events before I continue uni reading. After the fourth book I’ll have finished my reread and be on to the books I never got to.

WATCH | we started making our way through old Jackie Chan movies (Police Story, Project A, etc.) on New Year’s Eve and I’m loving them, so much fun. Also just finished the Great British Bake Off and currently, shamelessly, watching MKR.

GET | an accidental (but glorious) Sailor Moor theme in this category. Adam (my Secret Santa) got me this super cute Sailor Moon figure for Christmas and I bought myself a Luna backpack/handbag.

CRAFT | current project is finishing a floral shirt that I’d half sewn. I’d completely forgotten about it until mum found it with other half-done projects. Aiming to get it done before the holidays end. I’ve also been making lots of pompoms and have made a garland that shall adorn my dorm room.

ETC. | current focus is doing lots of bits and bobs to prepare for moving back to the city and starting uni again. Thankfully, I’ve managed to be quite productive this week, getting jobs done that I’ve been avoiding.
Next week is packing!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Book Review | The Red Queen By Isobelle Carmody

The Red Queen {Book 7} 

It’s rather bittersweet finishing a series you’ve been reading for ten-odd years. Surreal to finally know everything, sad to have no more pages of the characters and world you love to discover and satisfying to have finished such a mammoth book. I loved the conclusion to the Obernewtyn Chronicles, there’s a few things I’d like to discuss, but first…

SPOILER ALERT: It’s rather hard to write a review for a finale book without giving a bit away. While I won’t be talking in any great detail at all, if you’re like me, you won’t want to know ANYTHING, so please be warned from here on in

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Film | May & June, 2016

Last year I decided to get back into film photography and bought a three pack of film. I shot one on one of my brother’s thrifted camera (which, confusingly, doesn’t show the focus) and the other two on the old family EOS.

My photography is a little rusty, especially on film, so the results were hit and miss, but I love shooting with film. The practice of taking that extra time to compose and then the excitement of receiving your printed film, it’s just that little bit more magic than snapping away with a digital camera. I finished them all before the end of semester one and have since bought more film, but I’m still on my first roll this time round…

Here are a few of my favourite shots!

On Instagram

© Kathryn Explains It All. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs. Book image within header by James Simons.