Saturday, December 29, 2012

Something Smells...

I would make a terrible anti-peer pressure motivational speaker, because I am living proof that it works.

Have you read Perfume? Are my apprehensions unfounded? Is it about time I forked out and got a decent video editing program and camera bundle? (I think we all know there is only one correct answer to that, and it is not 'No, it's fine!')


x N

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Carol - The Wrap Up

Above: a representation of the giant hug I want to give this book.

Wow. I knew this was a short read, but what a whirlwind Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol has been.

From the first page, I was swept up with pure love for Dickens, his writing and his tale. Almost straight away, he was treating me to simile-based giggles and fantastically witty, delightfully familiar lines. I was instantly hooked, devouring the whole thing in a little over three hours (with tea breaks, naturally).

It was like meeting a person you have heard about your whole life, and discovering that they are just as wonderful as everybody had told you they were. It was full of quotes that I already knew by heart, thanks to countless viewings of The Muppets Christmas Carol, and from reading picture book adaptations at the local library. It was a story I had loved, but until I immersed myself in the words of its true author, I had only been experiencing half of its magnificence.

The words floated around me like a delicate perfume, the style full of cheer and cheek. I was surprised by how remarkably chatty Dickens was in his narration, leaving me feeling like I was part of an enthralled audience at one of the live readings he became famous for in his later years. There were a few brilliant zingers ("There's more gravy than a grave about you!") and a few occasions where Ol' Charlie had a go at cracking on to some of his female characters (which was a little bit creepy, but I still chuckled).

While A Christmas Carol is mostly jolly in its tone, it also has its more sinister moments, a number of which don't quite make it into more modern adaptations. "Yeah, the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come is pretty scary, " I can hear you say, at which point I'll just laugh in your face and show you the scene with Ignorance and Want at the end of the Ghost of Christmas Present's haunting, followed by the bit where the ghost of Jacob Marley pulls off his freaking jaw. This ain't no Christmas Eve bedtime story for the kiddies, that's for sure. That said, despite the demonic children of Man and jaw-less spooks, the balance of light and dark is just right for this kind of redemption story.

Having finally taken on the challenge of reading the original tale, it's easy to see why A Christmas Carol has become such a staple of the Western Christmas experience. It is warm-hearted, cheeky, witty and a little bit scary, written by a man who knew exactly how to get mixture of emotions just right. It was everything I expected, and more.

There are a few more titles by Charles Dickens on my Penguins list, and now that I have consumed one, I can't wait to get stuck into whichever one comes next.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Jingle Bells, Noni Smells

It is really late/early, so I am posting this as fast as I can and then going to bed. 


Merry Christmas, Penguin Pals.

x N

Tales of the Unexpected - The Wrap Up

When I set out to read Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected, I was excited. As I noted in my introductory video, Dahl was probably my favourite author for most of my childhood, and I was really looking forward to see what his amazing brain had conjured up for adults.

Keen as a bean, I jumped in pretty quickly, devouring the first few stories within a couple of sittings, but was immediately hit with a sense of disappointment. From the first story, it all felt kind of pulpy, like it was written to be devoured and discarded. There were characters I simply couldn't latch on to, and a couple of less than exciting stories right at the front of the collection. I was beginning to wonder what sort of mess I had gotten myself into.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stories of SURPRISE!

Finally, a new post! I'm really not very good at this. Can you imagine what I would be like if I had a blog project where I had to work to deadlines?

You know, like that Cheaper Than Rubies thing?

Oh, right. And I have one due on Tuesday that I haven't finished yet. Balls.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Damaged Penguins

This is GREAT. But sad...

Source is HERE! (Because the only thing worse than damaged Penguins is plagiarism.)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Of Mice and Men - A (Spoilery) Response

You think you know sadness. Every time something jumps up from the shadows and stabs you in the guts with grief and woe, you can't help thinking it. "Oh god! This is pain! It can't get worse than this, surely! There is no feeling as bad as this!" And you do whatever you can to shake it out. You scream and weep and pull at your hair and gnash your teeth, thinking that maybe if you try them all, you'll stumble across the right anesthetic to cure this feeling cutting through your chest.

But sometimes the sadness just leaves you in silent stillness. All you can do is sit and let it resonate through your limbs like a sound only you can hear. You can't share it, so it just sits in your head like a soft hum.

If you have any kind of soul, Of Mice and Men will leave you with a sound sadness, and if you have ever lost a friend, it will make your heart ache like a phantom limb.

Tiny Mammals and Male Humans

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you what is possibly one of the worst videos I have ever made. There is some terrible double chin work, my new fringe is all over the place, and I'm pretty sure I had something stuck in my teeth. Enjoy!

Feel free to pander to my ego in the comments. x

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Discussion Time: A Spy in the House of Love

So it seems I was right about one thing in my review of Anais Nin's A Spy in the House of Love... As evidenced by the following Facebook conversation with one of my awesome pals, Miss Aby...

And so she did! You can read it here.

But was I impressed? Well, here's what I posted next:

I wrote these reflections as I read through it... So don't expect them to be particularly articulate. (Ha! What am I saying? You read my blog. You know I just write fractured crazy talk!)


Oh wow... I'm not even halfway through the first page and I want to scream at the author - "Motherhood comes to encompass the whole of a woman’s life, leading her to expect that she has no creative possibilities". I know so many women who would debate this statement with their own life experience! Is Hemmati implying that being a mother means a woman can't have sexual and creative freedom? The two don't *have* to be mutually exclusive. (Maybe I'm getting it all wrong already. But ARGH, feminists talking down motherhood as an entirely repressive thing anger me as much as misogynists dissing women for not having children! RAGE!)

I can see what the author's saying about the giving and receiving of energy, and how that's relevant to the novella - Sabina and her lovers (perhaps with the exception of Alan) are almost always depicted as equals, which is cool for a book of its time, but I'd disagree that she's celebrating her sexuality at any point outside the act itself. It felt to me that rather than trying to connect with her lovers, she was using them as a way to disconnect from the world. (Perhaps that's the point of the paper? Maybe that's meant to be a good thing? I don't know.) To me, it felt like more of a denial of reality rather than challenging and changing it.

The spiritual parallels are fascinating, it can't be denied, but the ending of the book made me think that maybe it had all been a false pilgrimage for Sabina - she doesn't come out a better person at the end of it all. If anything, she seems small and broken.

Hmm... I agree with the conclusion, about balancing the different masculine and feminine elements of the self and how Sabina fails to do that. I don't think it's really changed my opinion of the book though. The story still doesn't feel like the adventure I was expecting it to be, rather more of a flustered flailing through human relationships that just damages the people involved. It's not inspired me or made me feel empowered as a woman in any way; if anything, "A Spy in the House of Love" has just demonstrated all the failures that terrify me about human relationships.

So, I guess further reading on my part didn't make me like the book any more, but please, if you find something written about any book I've read as part of this project, flick it through!

And as always, please leave your two (or two thousand!) cents in the comments! Let's talk, me lovelies!

xxoo ND

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Spy in the House of Love - The Wrap Up

Here be spoilers...

I have literally just finished A Spy in the House of Love, and I'm in a bit of a state of confusion and bewilderment. Perhaps I should give myself time to think about it, but I really feel that I should take Sabina's* attitude to life and just run with it, and see what comes out.

It took me three goes to really get into this book. Initially, I found it hard to get into the swing of the elaborate, poetic rhythm of the prose. It is so full of description and metaphor that it almost felt too flowery. I was immediately scared that I wasn't going to be able to follow it, but after a few false starts, I finally started to get it.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Have You Seen This Book?


Yes, I regret to inform you, dear reader, that I have misplaced my copy of A Spy In The House Of Love, because I am the queen of losing things. I'm pretty bummed about it, because I was already a quarter of the way through it, and there's nothing quite as nice as sitting in The Phoenix, cradling a beer as I read a good book. (And this week I have needed that even more than usual. This is not a good time to deprive me of my little pleasures.)

But it's okay. I'm working to remedy this. I've already put in an order with Borders, and should have my new copy here soon. (If the email I wrote in a panic post-ordering about my change of address went through okay.)**

So yes, let's just take a moment to reflect on how spectacularly I'm failing at being a reasonable adult.

**EDIT: Yep, I put the wrong address on the order. No, it's not going to come to me, because I made such spectacular epic fail of putting in my address that I put the house my parents have recently moved out of. It will probably get to me eventually, but not for a week or so. But props to Borders for getting back to me so quick to let me know that I am a complete and utter moron.

Urgh. This is why I like bookshops.

If you have ever lost a book, let us collectively mourn them in the comment section.


UPDATE! 12/5/12! - I found it! I found it!!

It was in my room all along, under a pile of stuff.

I am so freaking stupid.

- N

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Spying On Your Heart

So, it's time for another book, and another video. I recorded this on Tuesday, uploaded on Wednesday, blogged on Thursday. I'm doing okay.

*insert all the usual questions here about the book for you to answer*


Monday, April 30, 2012

The Consolations of Philosophy - The Wrap Up

 The Beauty of Despair #2
Artist: Kemba Opio

You may have been able to tell from my lack of postings, but I haven't been feeling particularly great lately. My epilepsy has been playing up, Lucille has been getting rowdy, I've been feeling isolated from friends and family, and my mood and work rate (both paid and not) has suffered. I'm not in the best place for maintaining a blog, that is certainly true.

And while it hasn't completely lifted my cloud, Alain De Botton's The Consolations of Philosophy has undeniably been a salve for my wounds.

You may recall that I mentioned how daunted I was by this book. I wasn't kidding - philosophy can be a big, scary word when you feel like you don't get it. It feels like some kind of exclusive sport that only really clever people are able to play and participate in. I was completely convinced I simply wouldn't get it. My current emotional funk sure didn't help my confidence in this respect, but I had committed to it. I had to read it. Nevertheless, I was sure I was going to fail and walk away from the book feeling even stupider than I did when I first picked it up.

I was certain I wasn't good enough to read this book.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sorry, Sorry, Sorry! (Have some philosophy...)

I know, I know. I've been REALLY bad at this whole "regular blogging" thing. Can't we just kiss and make up? LOOK, I've got a new video for you!

Have you read anything by Alain De Botton? How did I do with my reading of difficult names? What books have you been terrified of reading? Tell me things! This is why they invented comment boxes!

See, I still love you. I hope you reciprocate! (And I'll be back REAL soon. Pinky swear!)

x ND

Monday, February 13, 2012

Love, Love, Love

Hoping you have a lovely Tuesday (which also is apparently some kind of romantic celebration or something).

Much love, and thanks for joining me on the journey.

There'll be a new video soon. I just have to get the energy up to re-film it because my computer decided not to save any of the footage I recorded.

<3 Noni

Monday, January 30, 2012

Dracula - The Wrap Up

Christopher Lee, Gary Oldman, and an altered artwork of Vlad the Impaler - three very different versions of Bram Stoker's great vampire...
(Click image for original source)

Like the process of reading the book, writing this review took a lot longer than it should have. What you are currently reading is the fourth attempt to sum up my feelings about Dracula. I’m sick of sitting on it, wondering what to write. I have other books to read, dammit! And that’s why I’m up at 11.30pm on a Monday night doing my best to hammer this out as quickly as possible. It’s time to move on, people!

**The following contains SIGNIFICANT SPOILERS!**

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Online Reads - '30 Books Everyone Should Read Before Their 30th Birthday'

So, this article was posted by Penguin Books on Twitter, and it's a pretty interesting list of '30 Books Everyone Should Read Before Their 30th Birthday'.

But you know what's embarrassing?

I'm 22 years old and I've NOT READ A SINGLE ONE OF THEM.

Never fear! Most of them are on the Popular Penguins list, so I'll get round to them sooner rather than later.

Take a look at the list. Are there any that you haven't read that you feel like you should have? Can you think of any titles that didn't make the cut that didn't? What books got you through your teens and twenties? TELL ME STUFF, I WANT TO GET TO KNOW YOU BETTER. x

- N