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Calling all language geeks!

If you are a fan of the English language, interested in the history of words or just plain geeky, you may be excited to hear the The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language by Mark Forsyth is currently 99p on Kindle.

I know I did a little leap of joy inside...
QUICK! it's a one day only deal!

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The Radleys - Post Two

It really tells you something about a book when the enjoyment of reading it comes from locating the title of the chapters within the following body of text. At first, I thought it was a gimmick, but as I trawled through The Radleys by Matt Haig I discovered it was a necessity in order to retain some sort of "discovery" within the novel.

Because let's face it, The Radleys is nothing short of predictable. It's an episode of Eastenders, with bloodsuckers, complete with "You're not my mother." "Yes I am!" allusions.

Previously on the blog, Yasmine wrote a guest review of The Radleys. I have to say I agree with pretty much everything she said. The Vampire genre has morphed into something. It's changed and now seems stagnated. The vampire genre, currently, seems run into the ground. Tired. Old.

The initial premise of the Radleys offered something seemingly new: Let's not tell our kids they're Vampires. How does this affect their day to day teenage lives? But this rapidly gives way to an admission of truth that is not the denoument, but revealed much too early in the book to obtain any sense of excitement.

At that point, the story is no longer about the kids, but about a love affair their mum and "uncle" had sixteen years ago in Paris. If I wanted a book about forbidden love, believe me, I would have picked an altogether different vampire book. What is it with the onslaught of lying blurbs these days?

I stuggled to pick this book up to continue reading. In fact, I started and finished five other books while in the process of reading The Radleys. It didn't capture my imagination. I had no empathy for the characters (with the exception of Peter who, as it turns out, is little more than a bit part.) Most of all, the narrative is slow paced, predictable, and not what the book promised to begin with.

Yasmine's review will take you deeper into the world of The Radleys. Please give it a read!
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Rediscovering notebooks


When I was in school and college, I would ALWAYS have a notebook with me. In fact, I kept two; one for spur of the moment thoughts, ideas and ramblings, and another (kept at home) for laying everything out in. Feelings, quick stories, poems, lists, you name it, they all went into the notebook and I loved it. I still look back over them now and find things I can use that are relevant to today. Last November I took part in NANOWRIMO, and a lot of my starting material each day was pulled from notebooks I kept when I was at school.

They weren't really diaries. Day to day accounts of my humdrum life never felt worth the effort. Instead, they were often an account of dreams. Not literal ones all of the time, but sometimes they were. At times they were messed up (mostly between the ages of 12 and 16 where goodness knows what I was going through but it got dark) - and sometimes I look back on a page and barely recognise it as my own. There was a time that I was scary, but there were more times where I was bored and searching for meaning. More often than not, the entries were senseless, out of context; a grouping of words I liked the sound of when they were together. A sentence I found beautful. Things I wish I could have said "at the time" but never had the courage. There's no structure, the entries just happened in their purest form. I felt the word "anger" so I wrote it. BIG.

Nowadays, I'm not so into the furied release of teenage emotional confusion, but I still like to keep a notebook. That wasn't always the case - I didn't for a long time actually. When I got a job after college, I found I had a lot more to worry about than simply the way I was feeling. Suddenly assonance, and noting it down, wasn't the centre of my universe (and I'll be damned if I ever even noticed it any more!) and when I moved out of my parents house, time was just something I didn't seem to have. The stories stopped, but only physically - they still ran amok in my mind. The poems ceased, but not if I gave them just five minutes to live.

The fact is I became ignorant to everything in life I used to find small and beautiful and exciting. When I broke out of that "teenage bubble", I thought it was even immature to have used notebooks in such a way. It was a way of dealing with emotions I simply no longer felt in such extremes. Who needed to write stuff like that down?! Not me...

But I did. I missed it. You can have the closest relationships with your family and friends, but still there are just some things you share with yourself, and yourself only. They are the things that make you unique. The fact is, that to me, notebooks have become the essence of celebrating what makes me individual. I spend hours of my week in an office being "an employee" and even more hours being "a daughter", "a girlfriend" and "a friend" - all of which I love to do. But while we all subscribe to the conventions of being family, coworkers and social groups, who else will love the phrase "stand still like a humming bird in flight" as much as me? Who will have even thought about it?

There is a line in Donnie Darko, "This famous linguist once said that of all the phrases in the English language, of all the endless combinations of words in all of history, that Cellar Door is the most beautiful." - and you know what? I disagree. And if I look through my notebooks, I'm sure I will find a collection more perfect. And who will care? Me. Because I will have enjoyed finding it. And because I will have found it. And of the whole universe, I doubt anyone else will come up with the same result.

So after 4 years notebook free, I again relinquished myself to the pages of a notebook. Consequently, I felt more creative. It actually helped me with my job, and eased the worries and stress I felt. Writing, sketching and purely playing in my notebook for 20 minutes a day gives me some space in this crazy world. And do you know what the best part is? When I look back on them now, I see the PROOF of how much I've changed and how far I've come. I see that I made it out from that dark period between 12 and 16 and I became something more. Hopefully something better. And aiming to be something I'm very proud of. It's a source of encouragement, and, in another 10 years, I hope to see even more of a departure from that first teenage scrawl.

I guess that at the end of the day, a notebook helps me be grateful for the small things, and that's no bad thing. In the same way that space makes me feel insignificant, studying the small building blocks of life in a notebook that attribute to the happiness I feel makes me feel whole.
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