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The Humans - review

“Laughter, along with madness, seemed to be the only way out, the emergency exit for humans.”

“Advice for a human - 86. To like something is to insult it. Love it or hate it. Be passionate. As civilisation advances, so does indifference. It is a disease. Immunize yourself with art. And love.” 

Title: The Humans
Author: Matt Haig

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Source: Review copy via Netgalley
Buy it: Here


Synopsis

A Vonnedorian is sent to earth to possess a recently abducted Cambridge University maths professor's body, and destroy evidence of his most recent mathematical discovery by any means necessary; proof of a theory that will give humans an advancement in technology they are not evolved enough to acquire. However, the outsider doesn't expect the "violent" humans to have such an affect on his mathematical logic.

Review

When I read Matt Haig's last book, The Radleys, I wasn't overwhelmed by it - and I think much of that was the press surrounding it. I just felt the entire premise of vampire novels at the time was overdone and quite predictable. In The Humans, Haig takes on aliens, and I am so happy to say that it is the polar opposite of The Radleys! It was unexpected, original, relate-able(!) and genuinely humourous (in a satirical kind of way).

I loved the view of human life from an outside perspective. Matt Haig manages to write a character in "Andrew" that feels believably omnipotent and superior in ways we could never know, and yet have him almost childlike in his innocence of the world. I found the concept of mathematics being the route to all scientific discovery to be unique and even sensible! I especially liked reading Andrew's cynical impressions of the Human species and found his journey towards empathy both warming and inspiring - especially when I, myself, can feel hopeless about the world, I found that Andrew's outlook could encourage me to see the light!

The human characters in the book were privileged but "damaged" lives that represented a spectrum of human psyche. The presence of emotion in the book, especially love in all its forms, was beautifully written on these characters - bouncing from the innocence of Andrew to the weariness of Isobel and the fragility of Gulliver. Even the dog, Newton, gets a dose of humanity in the form of empathy.

To say this book is quotable would be an understatement. There are gems of brilliance littered throughout (I couldn't help but sneak two quotes in at the top of this review!) and I can really imagine there will be tshirts made of Andrew's final advice to Gulliver! I found myself nodding along so much my neck started to ache haha!

I found a special treat in The Humans within the setting; the book is set in Cambridge! I lived there for 23 years before moving to Bristol and reading about the universities and the parks gave me a small taste of home!

Overall

I hugely enjoyed reading this "outside looking in" perspective of human being. It's philosophical, uplifting, honest, heartbreaking and humourous. After The Radleys I wasn't expecting something as touching or as unique as The humans, but I stand happily proven wrong!

Score 
★★★
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Catching Fire || FILM

Last night, I watched The Hunger Games part 2: Catching Fire. I was so excited, and couldn't wait for another dose of Jennifer Lawrence amazing-ness (who doesn't love her?!) However, I wasn't sure what to expect from the film itself. If I'm honest - The Hunger Games left me wanting. It wasn't the film I thought it would be... I thought it lacked threat, missed some very important plot points, and failed to explain with any satisfaction the motives and reasons for the Capitol.

I am so happy to say Catching Fire is everything The Hunger Games wasn't - and more! It was brilliant! I was on the edge of my seat for most of the film (despite obviously knowing what happens!) and really felt that this time, President Snow and the Capitol posed palpable evil deadliness.


J-Law was once again the perfect Katniss. I'm sure there will be gifs aplenty of "the lift scene" face! She provided a lot of emotion and a lot of strength in the role once more, and by the end had transformed completely into the symbol of the revolution. Equally brilliant was Jena Malone as the feisty Johanna - my favourite character in Catching Fire. There just isn't enough of her!

The supporting "games" team; Effie, Haymitch and Cinna are on top form. The only criticism I have of Catching Fire is that Cinna didn't get enough of a build-up before his departure... It didn't have that striking blow that I felt it had in the book, which his such a shame.


The experience of watching the film was a visual treat. The arena was perfect - exactly how I'd imagined it when reading - and the effects were seamless (I loved the haunting movement of the poisonous gas). The fashion - oh! The fashion! - it was like a special part of fashion week reserved for Capitol Dramatic! I wanted all of Katniss' dresses!

Overall the film felt darker, more tense, more brutal and above all "mounting". The end shot is excellent. I am already in the queue for Mockingjay part 1 ;)

Have you seen Catching Fire? What did you think?!
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The Language of Dying - review

Forty next birthday and I’m looking out of the window for something that may be imaginary, that I haven’t seen in fifteen years, if ever I saw it at all.
But it’s one of those nights, isn’t it, Dad? A special, terrible night. A full night. And that’s always when it comes.
If it comes at all.”

Title: The Language of Dying
Author: Sarah Pinborough

Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Source: ARC via Jo Fletcher Books
Buy it:December 5th 2013


Synopsis

In the house she grew up in, full of dark and varied memories, a woman sits at the bedside of her dying father, awaiting the arrival of her siblings to make their final goodbyes. As she recounts the times shared, she is haunted by the recollection of a terrifying and wondrous vision she has seen twice before... and tonight she feels she may see it once more.

Review

First of all, I have to mention that the cover of The Language of Dying is one of the most beautiful on my bookshelf. When I got it, I couldn't help but touch it and admire the intricacy - it's so lovely. Secondly, I was surprised to see how short The Language of Dying is. It's definitely a quick read, but not, as you may assume, an easy one.

The writing in this novel(la) is absolutely gorgeous. Simple yet poetic, the words are considered, measured and perfect. The narrative deals with hard and uncomfortable themes of death, terminal illness, sibling resentment, alcohol abuse, domestic abuse and depression and yet they are delivered in such a way as to float into you, leave their mark and disintegrate into the all-encompassing "alltime" that is the present in this book.

I truly felt like I experienced something with the characters of The Language of Dying. Each of the siblings arrive at the house carrying their own burdens and dysfunction - and each of them are allowed to crumble or strengthen when their concoction of experience is entangled with death. I was reminded a lot of the character dynamics in books such as The Secret History and The House At Midnight, and the atmosphere was taught and oppressive, which will feel similar to anyone who has read the other novels.

The fantasy element of the book was stunning. I won't spoil the book, but will say the climatic ending gave me goosebumps.

Overall

Everything about the experience of reading this book was wholly enjoyable. It felt innocent despite the despair and I only wish it could have been longer!

Score 
★★★


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The Bookish Gift Guide 2013

There's no escaping it - "That time of year" is just around the corner! If you are looking for the perfect gift for a book lover, I have plenty of bookish themed ideas that would make the perfect present for your favourite bookworm. Make someone's year with one of these brilliant gift options:

(You can also keep up to date with my gift-y finds on Pinterest!)







Do you make anything that would be the perfect bookish gift? Let me know and I'll add you to the list!

What will you be buying your bookish friends and family this year?
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Revisited || The Book Thief

When I heard there was going to be a film made of The Book Thief, I knew I had to read it again before it came out...


The First Time

I first read The Book Thief long before I had started this blog, so there is no review to link you back to... however, I remember loving the altered perspective of reading from Death's POV, I remember loving Liesel and Hans and seeing every character and scene so very clearly. I enjoy novels that document events in WW2 and this book was possibly one of the first I read on the subject. It showed German life under Hitler's rule very honestly - even innocently.
I remember wanting to illustrate the side-notes and anecdotes. I think I might have done, with a couple...!
Most of all, I remember the shattering finale; sobbing heavily into the pages and walking around in a bit of a daze once the novel had been closed.
Despite this, I didn't find the book to be gripping. I easily dipped in and out of it, enjoying it when I was in it, but not longing for the next free minute to delve in again.



The Second Time

Having read a number of WW2 fiction since The Book Thief, I wondered whether it would have the same emotional effect the second time round. Then, I realised Death tells you what is going to happen very early on in the book anyway - was I forewarned as much before?
Once again I found myself instantly warming to Liesel and Hans - their relationship is just beautiful. However, this time I found I had more of an understanding for Rosa, Liesel's foster mother. I think I saw more of the subtleties in her moods, and began to empathise with her character better than before.
Death was a surprise for me. I had such memories of Death's observations - of his gift for describing colour so uniquely and for his attention to small things. I remembered his way of describing souls as tangible senses. On the second reading, I actually found Death to be a bit... pretentious! Some of his phrases sounded cliche more than profound. Perhaps this is due to "copy cat" novels having come afterwards, but I was not expecting such a reversal in my opinion of a character.
Emotionally, I found I was tearing up at points I didn't before. New characters and situations were stirring me. The ending still had me going, but it wasn't a gasping-for-breath cry that I remember!
Similarly to the first time, I still found I could easily stop reading at the end of chapters. However, this time I think I understood why. Death tells you what's coming. All the time! There is no mystery to keep you gripped, only the enjoyment of the experience of knowing these wonderful characters.

Will there be a Third Time?

I don't doubt that there will be. Perhaps a few years down the line, once I have watched the film and have been either horrified or elated at it's adaptation! I actually look forward to the third reading, to see how far my reactions and opinions will have changed once again!

Overall

I was not expecting such a difference in my reading experience of The Book Thief, but I enjoyed it just as much the second time around, if for different reasons!
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50 Facts Tag


Eeep! I've been tagged! Zoe tagged me in her 50 Facts post and now I have finally gotten round to pulling together a few facts (ok a lot, phew!) about me. If you're interested, enjoy, if not - I'll see you next post ;)

I'm tagging back Orisi at Orisi's Blah Blah, Christina at Allodoxophobia, Kelly at DorristheLoris, Ellie at Crafty Cowgirl and Claire at Claireabellmakes! (Sorry if you've been tagged before/couldn't give a monkeys!)

So, here you have it: 50 Facts of Mab

YAY - 50!
1. My colleagues created Mab - as a way of merging my surname with my first name to differentiate between too many Emmas in the office!
2. I chose to embrace it because Mab's also an awesome character in the King Arthur legend...
3. ... and mentioned as a freaky-assed Fairy Queen in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
4. I used to live in Cambridge.
5. I didn't go to Cambridge University...
6. ... although a subversive "Cambridge educated" may appear on one or two previous personal statements ;)
7. I didn't go to Uni.
8. I struggled with that for a long time.
9. Now I'm 100% OK with it.
10. I studied English Language and English Literature as separate A Levels. That was 8 hours of English a week. Tell me that's not winning?!
11. I got 90/90 on my Shakespeare paper (Yes, bragging, but if you did you should shout about it too)
12. I started blogging because I missed writing essays about my reading. Call me weird.
13. I had NO IDEA how to blog when I started blogging.
14. Three years later, I'm still learning.
15. When I'm not blogging, I'm a designer.
16. I also make jewellery from my illustrations.
17. I read a lot too (revelation of the century!)
18. My favourite kind of story is a ghost story.
19. My favourite book is a sequel.
20. The Subtle Knife, specifically.
21. I have lost count of how many times I have re-read the Harry Potter series.
22. The line "Have a biscuit, Harry" has me in fits of giggles. Every time. It's just so... random!
23. I got so nostalgic at the Harry Potter Studio Tour I almost wept.
24. Sometimes I can be an emotional moron.
25. I am happy to be at the half way point!
26. I used to read tonnes of vampire novels when none of my friends were into reading.
27. Then Twilight came along, and all my friends read them, and I didn't. (Honestly, couldn't. I tried!)
28. Fate is cruel.
29. I'm an unashamed Buffy geek.
30. I'm usually "the quiet one".
31. It's the "quiet ones" you have to look out for ;)
32. I like music.
33. I like my music loud.
34. And sometimes scream-y.
35. I'm currently ambling my way through my 3rd NANOWRIMO attempt.
36. It's the same book I've been trying to write for the past two years.
37. Sometimes I think I'll never finish it.
38. Actually, I did finish it once...
39. But it was written in teenage poetry.
40. I'm a little bit emo.
41. I love Berlin.
42. I'm not a fan of Paris.
43. I like to snack on pickles.
44. I can't stand goats cheese.
45. I want a cat
46. My boyfriend and I have already named it "Von Hohenheim"
47. Because we fangirl over Full Metal Alchemist.
48. It is my mission to persuade our landlord that little Vonnie won't be a mistake to allow!
49. I am now struggling for facts.
50!!! I'm so happy this is done and I can stop worrying about how boring I am!

That was HARD! So, over to you, dear tagged friends! (If you want to... ha!)

Orisi B
Christina at Allodoxophobia
Kelly at DorristheLoris
Ellie at Wellies, Crochet and Cows
Claire at Claireabellemakes
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NANOWRIMO 2013

First of all:

GOOD LUCK! to all of those participating in the madness this year!

I know a lot of my blogger friends are doing NANOWRIMO this year and they have some great ideas. Wishing you all the best!

***

If you don't know what NANOWRIMO is, it is National Novel Writing Month. That means the mission, for those that accept it, is to write a 50,000 word target, in the 30 days of November - eek!

I have participated for two years previously, and let me tell you, IT IS HARD. Writing itself is wonderful, but finding the time to write so committedly for a whole month is a bit of a struggle, especially for me working a 9-5 with freelance on top. Not to mention the blog! My best final count to date is just over 36,000. The revered 50,000 has alluded me so far!

However, I shall once again be attempting NANOWRIMO with all the previous gusto of before. I'm very unprepared, and I think that this month I have even less time than usual owing to a few travel plans - but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try, right?!

I have the idea. (It's the same idea as last year - I aim to this time give it a middle and an end! ha!) And I'm going to "just write". Whoever invented "just write", I love you.

SO! Wish me luck everyone. I might update you on the 30th if I have anything half decent to show for it ;)


PS. Not so keen on the official graphics this year... what's everyone else think?!
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