AM

Hey there!

It’s been a long while, and the only excuse I have is time.

I’ve read a lot since then, some terrible books and some brilliant books, most of which have not been updated on my Goodreads so I apologise for that.

I have also been listening to a lot of music recently, and have re-discovered an old favourite: AM by the Arctic Monkeys. It’s not a decade old or anything, but I fell out of love with it for a while, and now I find it makes good walking music, and thus it is my current recommendation!

– Rhi

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Headphones On, World Out: Romeo and Juliet

I’m trying out a new thing this week: Music Recommendations.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the past this week, and  my thoughts have lingered on how I first began to write my novel back in May. My writing soundtrack stayed the same for almost a month until I inevitably got fed-up with those songs. However, one song I find myself listening to over and over is First Kiss from the 2013 Romeo and Juliet film. I’ve heard the film itself is awful, but the soundtrack is so beautiful to write to; it is evocative enough to provoke inspiration but not attention-grabbing enough that it distracts me when I am in the flow of writing.

I really do recommend you listen to the entire soundtrack by Abel Korzeniowski because it truly is beautiful and highly, highly helpful for writers like me who struggle to find the perfect music to both inspire and encourage them.

– Rhan

Returning Home (to Harry Potter Studios)

Yesterday, I went on a trip with a society to Warner Bros Studios in Watford. It was my second time, and it was, excuse the word, so, so magical. I paid way too much for a Butterbeer souvenir mug, a chocolate frog (I got Godric Gryffindor) and some Honeydukes chocolate. Hey, you never know when you’re going to visit again!

Aside from making me want to watch the movies all over again, it also reminded me that, no matter how old you are, it’s okay to still love something you did when you were growing up. I loved Harry Potter then and I do now, and that’s absolutely fine, more than fine, it’s wonderful!

So go forth and enjoy the things you love,

– Rhan

What-I-Read-Wednesday: The First Book of Calamity Leek

**

I won’t lie, I was disappointed with this book. I picked it up from the library on a whim after reading the blurb and seeing the review from Mark Haddon, whose books are normally a good read.

However, from the outset the writing style seemed clunky and this made the book very difficult to get into to because of the disjointed feel. Obviously this was a deliberate character choice from the author to help develop Calamity’s narration voice, but I just found it tough to understand and felt no real urge to carry on reading from the beginning.

It probably took me over a week to finish this book because I was not enjoying it nor was I excited to see what the ending was (I did end up skipping a few pages to find out the ending and it was very…open.) The plot was interesting enough, but the writing style coupled with the nonsensical inclusion of words Calamity uses to describe things was enough to put me off giving it more than two stars.

In my opinion, concepts such as ‘demonmales’ were never really explained, and Calamity’s perspective is extremely limited on giving us the ‘proper’ backstory which is probably why I felt frustrated for the entirety of my reading experience. I understand that this is just my own view, and other readers may have loved the quirky writing style and unfolding of the story, but I just found it irritating.

The characters themselves, especially the ‘sisters’ seemed flat and wooden cardboard cutouts that didn’t have the opportunity to develop. Calamity appears to have no interest in describing the ‘nieces’ as anything beyond a sentence, which annoyed me, especially considering they were her only company aside from ‘Aunty’ and ‘Mother’ for goodness knows how many years.

Read this book if you do not mind finishing the book not really knowing what happened throughout the entire thing.

– Rhan

Reflection: The Song of Achilles

Hello!

To ease myself back into this blog, I thought I would talk about one of my all time favourite novels: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

I first read this book when I was sixteen and an ex-friend’s girlfriend told me she couldn’t get through it without crying. I read it once, thought it was sad enough and put it aside. Then I read it again, properly, and had a good old ugly-cry at several points in the book. It is now a firm favourite.

The way Miller writes is like liquid poetry. The words flow onto the page like quicksilver, languid yet urgent at the same time. The descriptions, the settings, the ending that never fails to devestate me no matter how many times I’ve read it. I could, and have, read it over and over again, sections, pages, the whole book.

I devour Miller’s characterisation, the way she makes me feel as though Patroclus and Achilles are not archaic figures but real humans, boys who fell into love and then into war together. It is a tragedy because of its love story, and I feel as though any aspiring writer, or any person who still believes Achilles and Patroclus were merely ‘close friends’ (this one goes out to all of the academic articles I’ve suffered through) should grab a copy and read it over and over, until their entire soul has been consumed by the wonder that is this book.

It has stayed with me for three years, and I doubt it will ever fade.

– Rhan

The Duchess

I recently watched the 2008 film The Duchess, because I am in love with all things that are both history-related and aesthetically pleasing.

There is something about the glamour that inspires me in everyday life, perhaps to inject a feather in my hair, or more blush upon my cheeks. I did not know much about Georgiana, although of course I’d heard of her. Like most historical movies, The Duchess gives its way over to pure unadulterated romanticism of the events that happened in Georgiana’s life, using a rose-tinted brush to gloss over the truth of the strange ménage à trois that existed between the Duke of Devonshire, Lady Elizabeth Foster and Georgiana until her death.

However, it does show a heartrendingly beautiful Georgiana, portrayed by the amazing lovely Keira Knightley. She brings a vivacity to each scene she is in, alongside an exquisite sadness to moments such as when she is reunited with her children and when she sees her husband playing with Elizabeth’s children.

Overall, I really liked the movie, and thought it was extremely compelling. One of the prettiest films I’ve ever seen, and for me, that is always a plus!

– Rhan

A Reflection on the English House

I was recently in Surrey moving my belongings into my new house where I will be living while at university. There was no wifi and no television, so I spent many an hour browsing through Simon Jenkins’ England’s Thousand Best Houses. 

My university happened to be featured, (and is also the featured image of this post) but all that reading got me thinking about the true wonder of the English house. Jenkins includes huge castles and grand baroque splendour in his picks as well as run down and crumbling ruins and seemingly ordinary houses such as those belonging to the Beatles (located in my hometown.) Yet somehow they are all equally as fascinating.

One of my favourite English stately homes used to be Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, but when I visited it for afternoon tea on my birthday this year it seemed to have lost a great deal of its charm. My favourite kind of house is when it is fully restored, and not just a building used to house a dizzying array of artefacts that belonged to the original owners.

But Founders building (see above) never loses its appeal to me. From the first time I saw it to when I climbed up a set of its stone stairs just two days ago, it still remains beautiful and unattainable, even though I have stood within its grounds many times. And isn’t that what the English stately home is truly about? We can ponder and reflect and even attempt to emulate what we see within these houses, but they remain far away, quietly reminding us that the history that lives on within their walls is not easily achieved.

– Rhan