Wednesday 28 March 2012

Welcome to spring! Here's an update.

I have been seriously useless at blogging this month, haven't I?! Apologies for not being around a lot lately, everyone. I'm definitely not giving up on my blog, I've just been beyond busy with university work and seeing to a poorly guinea pig. I also have an exam at the end of April, so it's likely that for the next month you won't see a lot of me here. After that, though, I don't have another course starting until the end of September, so look for a massive boost this summer!

Meanwhile, I hope everyone in the northern hemisphere is enjoying spring! It's been beautiful here the past few days, so I'm gonna go write and research my essay in the garden.

Back soon!

Sunday 18 March 2012

Review: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page. It is also the tale of a long weekend road trip that has gone down in the annals of American pop culture as one of the strangest journeys ever undertaken. (via Goodreads)

What is it with me and reading these days? I guess you could say that I'm probably going through a bit of a lull right now, seeing as it took me nearly three weeks to read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. You could also suppose that, because it took me so long, I didn't enjoy this book. Well, both of these assumptions are correct.

I absolutely loved Thompson's novel, The Rum Diary (review here), so I really wanted to enjoy Fear and Loathing too. But unlike The Rum Diary, there are no surprisingly elegant descriptions. I also didn't connect at all with the characters, and their drugged-up antics became tedious by the end of the book (though they were amusing during the first fifty pages).

I was very dissapointed. I know Fear and Loathing is Thompson's most celebrated novel, but I fail to see why. The Rum Diary, for a reader like me, just has so much more substance (no pun intended!) Perhaps it's the sheer, unbelieable obsurdity of Fear and Loathing that reels people in: its Gonzo style. Obviously, I just didn't get it.

Rating: 2 / 5

Have you read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? What were your thoughts?

Sunday 11 March 2012

Catch-up: websites, t-shirts, viral videos, and Peyton Manning

My apologies for not being on the blog for a while! I haven't been feeling myself the past couple of weeks so I've neglected reading, writing and even studying to the point where I have nearly a whole text book to read in just over a week! Yikes. But I'm jumping back on the wagon and powering through.

In this post, I just wanted to mention a few random tidbits to get me back in the flow. It's gonna be super random, but here we go! In no particular order...

Buy bookish items and support literacy
I was contacted this week by Brad, who asked me to mention his new philanthropic company, Gone Reading International. By visiting their website and buying from a range of reader-oriented products, you can help improve literacy around the world. Check it out shipping within the US is free with orders over $25, and worldwide shipping is also available at very reasonable prices. I especially love these cute bookmarks... perhaps I will be purchasing one soon!
To learn more about Gone Reading International's mission, click here.

Kony goes viral
I'm pretty sure you all would've heard about the Stop Kony campaign of 2012, but incase you haven't, please watch this video. The children of Uganda need our help!

I won Paulo Coelho! Well, sort of...
Straying away from saving-the-world antics, here's some perfectly useless but entirely interesting information: I won a Paulo Coelho t-shirt on Twitter the other day! Woohoo! HarperCollins UK were giving them away this week to promote the release of Coelho's latest novel, Aleph, to paperback, and a re-issue of The Alchemist. So be sure to check those out next time you're in Waterstones!

Indianapolis Colts - Peyton Manning = one sad fan
Sigh. I have to mention this because it's what has been on my mind most of the week. I'm a massive fan of professional American football (NFL), the Indianapolis Colts, and most of all Peyton Manning. If you watch it, or even if you don't and just live in the US (the guy must be everywhere right now!), then you probably know he was released by the Colts this week after missing the entire 2011 season due to a neck injury. And, to be completely dramatic, my heart is broken. He has been the Colts quarterback for 'fourteen wonderful years' (as he said in the press conference... and they have been much more than wonderful), and because of these completely unforeseen circumstances, he has left to find a new team. I'm devastated that he's not going to be playing for my Colts anymore, but I'll definitely be following him and cheering him on wherever he goes. He's a legendary player and an even better person! I'll miss seeing him in a Colts uniform like a mad person, but at least he'll be back on the field doing what he loves. To the team who gets him: be prepared to kick some serious behind next season because he's gonna definitely take you on an amazing ride! We'll loan him to you for now ;P ...

Crafty Jackie's being crafty!
Back to plugging websites! This time, I want to tell you about my good friend Jackie's new craft website, Crafty Jackie. Here she sells a lot of awesome homemade items such as bags, soft toys, key rings, and so on. You can even send her requests for items, and she'll make them especially for you. So if you're looking for a gift for a friend, perhaps something for Mother's Day, or just want to treat yourself, you might be able to find it there.


Okay. So I think I'm done being random for now! Hope you found it a little interesting, haha. I'll be back soon with a review of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (nearly finished!)

What's been on your mind?

Friday 2 March 2012

Miss Austen revisits the Bodleian for World Book Day

It's probably a little late to be posting this now, seeing as World Book Day was yesterday, but it's pretty interesting news.

From the BBC website:
A recently-discovered portrait believed to be of Jane Austen (pictured left) is to go on display at Oxford's Bodleian Library to celebrate World Book Day.

The portrait will be displayed on 1 March alongside an example of the Pride and Prejudice author's needlework.

The fragile needlework sampler, made by Austen aged 12, is part of a private collection in Gloucestershire.

The free one-day exhibition will also include manuscripts from the Bodleian Library's collection.

Visitors will be able to view a newly-acquired handwritten manuscript of her unfinished novel, The Watsons.

The manuscript shows extensive revisions and corrections and is described by Oxford University as "a testimony of Jane Austen's efforts to give shape to the earliest ideas as they pour on to paper, as she reviews, revises, deletes and underscores".

Also included in the display will be Volume the First, a manuscript of Austen's juvenilia.

There are currently just two recognised portraits of Austen.

Only one portrait of the author has never been contested, the portrait sketched by Austen's sister Cassandra in 1810.

The portrait which will be displayed at the Bodleian was unearthed by British author Dr Paula Byrne.

She was given it by her husband and said she recognised the long, straight "Austen nose".

The pencil drawing on vellum is inscribed "Miss Jane Austin" on the back. Dr Byrne said that "apart from the striking family resemblance", this was the first clue as to the identity of the sitter.

It's a shame I missed this! I did get to see the Volume the First and The Watsons manuscripts during the Treasures of the Bodleian exhibition last year, but it would have been fantastic to see some of her needlework this time around. As for the portrait, well, personally, I don't think it looks much like any of the other portraits of her that I've seen (like the one on the right which was sketched by her sister, Cassandra). Could it be Jane? What do you think of it?