Monday, 26 September 2016

An Honest Post

Hey everyone,

A while ago I stopped doing what I really enjoyed, which was of course writing. I don't really know how or why this phenomena of lackluster depression began, but I've been feeling like it's affected all of my creativity.

I can't remember the last time I read more than four books in a month.

I can't remember the last time I had a winning streak on Duolingo, where I practice my Spanish.

I can't remember the last time I went shopping for books in London and JUST for books.

I can't remember the last time I wrote 'Death Day'  a novel I've been working on for quite a while now.

I can't remember the last time I loved to write a blog post.

I can't remember the last time I had a spark of creativity.

So today is the day I want to change all of that.

 I've been stuck in a horrible rut since January, and whilst things have improved in other areas, I need to start getting myself out of the creativity jam. I need to start evaluating what is important to me, and how I am going to use my creativity to better myself as a person. And I need to finding time to start blogging, because it really helps me creatively!

Have any of you been feeling this way? What have you done to change it all?

I'm also currently working on my blog, so please stick with me!


Gracie xo

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

'High Rise' by J.G Ballard | Gracie Reads

Hey guys,

So today I want to share my thoughts on the novel 'High Rise' by J.G Ballard which I've recently just finished reading. I so want to read more of Ballard's work as it is a fantastic, and essential part to any Sci-Fi collection. It would be amazing to add more of his work. This review will contain some spoilers so please be warned!

I also had no idea that this film was released as a major movie, until I saw the sticker on the front of the book (The biggest annoyance ever). However, I went in reading this book with fresh eyes, I didn't even read the blurb. Someone I knew once told me to NEVER read the back. Whilst I've found this advice hard to take on I decided I wanted to do it with this book.

'High Rise' by J.G Ballard leads an exciting narrative that flits between three different people; following their lives in the High Rise. The High Rise itself contains all the necessities needed to live and function. These include, a shopping complex, a swimming pool, a roof garden, and so forth. Ballard makes clear from the start the divide between the rich and the poor, the higher you are the richer you are. Through this Ballard is directly relating this to a real life society, often the higher you are in society the richer you are. As the novel moves forward, things steadily get worse for the residents in the High Rise.

One of the pivotal changes within the novel is when a wealthy jeweller jumps, committing suicide. The brutal decline soon begins. Yet, the reader should take this as no surprise as already small incidents occur before the High Rise really begins to deteriorate. In the first reading, the reader may see these things as nothing unusual, rubbish slowly piling up, lights faltering. It's nothing that sights any immediate problem that can not be resolve. This is what Ballard remains finest at doing, subtly. Nothing the reader that the reader would allude to as being wrong in any regard.

  Yet, as things turn sour in the High Rise, Ballard remains un-afraid to strip bare the decline of the residents. The residents end up dehumanising themselves, turning back into ape like creatures. the Morlocks of H.G Wells 'The Time Machine'. It's both poignant and sharp, rape, murder, suicide are all but some of the occurrences that begin to take place. It's horrifying, grotesque even but once again Ballard is brazen with these issues. His work 'Crash' written two years early illustrates Ballard's nature. to not hold censored information back. The events within the novel deteriorate further. the residents begin to loose language, disregard bodily functions and eventually become cavemen and women. The end is both poignant and tragic, these residents are but comfortable, symbiotic with each others actions, it's harrowing to the reader. I wanted to scream at these residents, to wake them up from this dystopia nightmare.

I think I enjoyed 'High Rise' as much as I did due to this; rather than accepting modern society as a perfect, cohesive, working system, Ballard rips this less than perfect fa├žade in two. However, saying this I felt it was done almost too well, and I somehow wish that some things had begun to make only a slight resolve. For at least one resident to protest, to fight back at the system, all the protagonists within this novel accept their fate. Yet again, maybe this is Ballard's way of saying that sheep come in a flock, their are no black sheep within the High Rise. Everyone accepts the way things are. Things are as they should be.

To conclude, 'High Rise' is not only a sci-fi novel but a novel that makes you proceed with caution into your everyday life. It screams for you to open your eyes, to become aware of your surroundings and who are YOU out of the High Rise bubble. I wish that this was a book studied at University, because it teaches so much.

Recommendations if you enjoyed this novel:
'Make Room! Make Room!' - Harry Harrison
'The Bridge' - Iain Banks

Both these novels deal with impending societal crises and they are two books I thoroughly enjoyed!


Gracie xx

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

'Lord of the Flies' by William Golding | Book Review

Hey guys,

Today I wanted to talk about 'Lord of the Flies'  by William Golding.  Written in 1954, this is seen as Golding's iconic novel, studied often at GCSE level in schools. Over time, it has become an iconic British quintessential novel. Golding as a person often reminds me of some wizardly magician when looking at photos of him, he has this enchanting look about him. Much like 'Lord of the Flies', there is something enchanting about a group of school boys ending up on a beach in the middle of nowhere.

I unfortunately never got to read 'Lord of the Flies' at school, instead I had to study 'Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck. Whilst I did enjoy Steinbeck's novel, reading Golding's novel made me partly wish that I had studied  something as challenging as 'Lord of the Flies' is instead. I say it is challenging on numerous levels, there is a lot of ambiguity with the language, a conch shell becomes a metaphor for the group situation, boys become monsters, and so forth. It is an allegorically challenging novel, the reader must subvert their eyes to the deeper themes of the book. The main theme that Golding tries to convey, is the challenging notion of trying to govern your own society, the impact of human relationships and finally, the abuse of power.   To study this at a GCSE level (15-16) I would say is highly brave!

To try and dissect this novel would be a huge undertaking; I'm going to only give my personal opinions towards the book. So if you are looking for a highly analytical overview there  are scholars who can give a better study of the novel. This will be a simple, straight forward review of how I personally found the novel.

Reading the novel for the first time at twenty one seemed more challenging than I thought it would have been, what I thought would have a straightforward novel, opened up to be more complex, more challenging as noted above. The whole time I felt the novel to chug forward, in a wash of description and a complex narrative. It was a novel I liked, but not necessarily loved. There are some parts which become very complex, and require a lot of thought to pick apart to understand the meaning.

From the beginning I immediately felt a sense of apathy for the character Piggy, Piggy is easily seen as the weak link within the group. The characters of Jack and Ralph are central leaders to the group, they are the joint leaders; there is also the characters of Roger and Simon. Altogether these are the main characters of the book, other than the collective "littuns".  I enjoyed the intimacy of having so few characters within the book, allowing the sole focus to go on these characters, rather than having flimsy two dimensional characters.

As mentioned before, the amount of imagery within the novel is outstanding. Everything from the detail of the jungle, and the mood of the characters goes into descriptive detail. It's an incredible talent that Golding has, he manages to cast a spell over the book,and drawing the reader into this mystic world. In short, the imagery is the biggest reason to read the book in all honesty! Yes, the characters are well constructed, and the story does detail the events well. Golding's real strength though lies in this fantastic scope of description. At some points I had to really pick out what Golding was trying to convey, and it only makes you appreciate it more. I would suggest you submerse yourself in it as much as possible!

Overall, it was a book I enjoyed for the richness of imagery and for the narrative which directed me along the arch of the story. However, I'd suggest advance at this with caution, because of it's complex metaphors! Please let me know what you think down below!


Gracie xxx

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas- Hunter S.Thompson | Book Review

Hey everybody,

So today I want to review 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'  by Hunter S.Thompson.

I want to begin with a simple overview of the plot and the overarching themes of this novel. It would be simple to just say that it is a chaotic, unfurling mess with drugs and other such dominating the plot. No, that would underestimate the genius that Hunter S.Thompson is. He carefully uses some of his real life experiences against a fictional backdrop to create this surreal trip. Controversially I prefer the film with Johnny Depp over the novel. I'll get into this later.

So the narrative focuses on Raoul Duke and his attorney, Dr Gonzo. Duke has been sent out to write an article on the Mint 400 motorcycle race. However, this simple goal of the protagonist soon descends into a spiral of drugs and bizarre hallucinations, where the reader soon begins to find it hard to decipher between real and drug fuelled. There are some moments I really enjoyed with this narrative, particularity the vivid descriptions and wild imagery that is reflected throughout. This is all mastered by the quirky illustrations that are littered throughout the novel, illustrated by Ralph Steadman. You don't quite expect them, so when you turn a page to find one there it comes as a surprise.

Indeed, this is novel that soon became known to define 'Gonzo Journalism', a surreal style where the true and fictitious are blended together to create such work. Thompson utilizes this to the extreme, as mentioned the novel encompasses this. I'm not sure if this sort of style of writing is really to my taste, If I were to strongly critique this novel, it would be in the style,I  found it too brash, too loud, too chaotic to really picture myself with this characters. I like to be grounded in the story, to feel the lives of the characters- I'm sure there are others like me.  Please be others like me or I will loose my sanity.

The novel is quite short, only at 204 pages, so you could most likely read it in an afternoon. It's not an easy read though and you do need to pay attention, or you'll find yourself lost within Thompson's complex narrative. Reading this novel is like turning up the television screen to full contrast, everything is bright and illuminated, but it can also be a bit of a headache. That's why when it comes to reading this, I would say stretch it over a few days to really get the full experience Thompson is aiming to give his readers.

Now as promised, on to the film. I saw the film first over the book, which is something I normally scald against. In all honesty, I had no idea that this was even a book until I saw it in passing at HMV. So after watching the visually stunning film, I wanted to read the book to find out the raw source, and what made the film so memorable. That was back in ... 2013? Oops! The reason I started reading the book two years later, was simply because I just didn't have any interest in reading it.

  I think that's the thing about reading, a painter will find it hard to leave a piece of work that has just been started. Yet, a reader will often flit between several different books, which is my case is what happened with 'Fear and Loathing' . Even though I saw the film a while ago now, it has remained in my memory, these bright, stark images with washes of colour and that accent of Depp's all adds to the conclusive result. The book however, left me washed out more than anything. The film left me hanging on to something, some sort of legacy almost, but the book just didn't scar anything on my brain. If I go back and watch the film I might feel different. So my opinion may be slightly bias, I will update this post though if I do watch the film again!

I think with 'Fear and Loathing'  the best thing to do is read the book first, and then watch the film to gain a true understanding of Thompson's vision. Please let me know if you have had the same experience as me!


Gracie xxx