Monday, 24 November 2014

Holiday Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I kind of cheated on this one and finished it at home. This is the third and final book from my holiday to read list, I think this was perfect as my last choice as it was a nice and easy read which relaxed me and left me with a bit of holiday even in chilly England.

That is not to say it was not emotional and didn't have me thinking every time I put it down. Though I do have to admit that not a single tear was shed, this was not a light topic. The story shows Mia, the protagonist, get into a car crash with her parents, from which she is left in a coma. She can see and hear everything around her, even walk around if she wants to, but ultimately this is to make one decision: should she stay? Obviously the plot is a lot more complicated than that but with the film and the book out I don't want to spoil it for you!

Unfortunately, I didn't love it as much as I thought I was going to. The book seemed to drag on a bit, in hindsight it didn't cover that much in quite a long space of time. This is an engaging idea, but I think it could have been a lot more effective as a short story. I am looking forward to watching the film to compare it, I can't really see how they will show her out of body narration but I am curious to find out.

So generally, I think this is a good read and if you get the chance to read it then do... But I wouldn't recommend it to everyone I know, although it could be appreciated by anyone because of the wide scope of ages and genders. Give the trailer a watch and decide whether it is for you! You might find it reaches you on a different level than it did me!

If you have read this/seen the film, leave a comment with your opinion. I would love to know what everyone else thinks about it! 

Also, there is a sequel called 'Where She Went', I kind of want to read it to see where the story leads but if you've read it tell me if it's worth my time.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Viola's Christmas Blogger Gift Swap!

I am very excited to be taking part 'A Piece of Viola' (@violahelen_ )'s Christmas Gift Swap! This is my first christmas here on What Does Mel Think and I thought it would be a really lovely way to meet more of the community.

We want as many people to get involved as possible, unfortunately it's only in the UK because of cost and postage but you could always start one in your own country! You will be paired up with another blogger and agree on a price if that's what you're worried about, then send eachother a present of your choice and make a new blogger friend!

You can get involved by checking out Viola's post here to read through all the details, then fill out the google form and you're in! It's going to be really fun for the community as we will be interacting using the hashtag #apovgiftswap and posting updates on what we have received :)

The deadlines are coming up so get in there quick!

November 28th: Deadline for submission form.

December 1st: Find out blogger friend.
By December 17th: Send off your gift.

Thanks to Viola for organizing this, I think it's such a lovely idea! I'll be checking up on all the posts and looking forward to seeing what everyone got! 

Now I'm 10 times more excited for Christmas :D

Monday, 17 November 2014

Holiday Review: Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

This was the second book I read on holiday and I finished it within 3 days! So already you're seeing where this is going, it's now sitting proudly next to my most loved books. It was one of those books that from the first page you are just hooked.

This book is historical fiction set in a little town in Japan called Kyoto, and follows the life of Chiyo, who is also known as Sayuri (when she becomes a geisha). The story is told from an older wiser perspective and we are able to travel along her journey from a young innocent girl from a fishing village, to one of the most successful Geisha. There are so many different elements to this book, love, tragedy, humour, drama and of course an insight into the very foreign Geisha culture.

I am not an expert in Japanese culture so I cannot say how accurate this was, however it has made me very curious and willing to learn more about it. I find it fascinating that they dedicate their whole lives to perfecting their craft, it is a path that is chosen for them and they follow it through for the rest of their lives.

Also, what I love most is the charming way it is written. Sayuri is the most wise, intelligent narrator, she uses many metaphors that you would never even think of such as: “Hopes are like hair ornaments. Girls want to wear too many of them. When they become old women they look silly wearing even one.”. Does that not just give you such beautiful imagery? These kind of comparisons happen all over the book and it's just a pleasure to read.

Again I have to say, as I did last week, the ending wasn't what I'd hoped for. It ended with the resolution she wanted but I really had hoped for a skip back to the present and a page or so about her life now. There was a part when she was living away because of the war as well that I didn't really enjoy as much as, although it was relevant to hear about, went on for a bit too long. It was the only part of the whole book when I felt a bit bored.

Other than that I would say it is one of the best books I've read. I think an age limit is needed because it can get very graphic and deep so probably 16+. However, it should definitely be on everyone's list to read because I feel it's so important to take an interest in these different cultures but also it's just a really really good book.

Leave a comment below if you've read the book or want to read it. Also, if you've watched the film, what did you think of it? I think I'm going to watch it soon so I want to see if it's worth my time!

Check out my last Holiday Review here.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Holiday Book Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazou Ishiguro

This was the first book I set myself to read on my holiday. It was recommended to me by my English teacher a while ago and I was eager to watch the film so, being me, I had to read the book first.

Kathy is the story's protagonist,  we follow her through her whole childhood and occasionally catch snippets of her in present life as a carer. We do not find out why she is a carer and what for until much later on in the book, I am not going to spoil that one for you! Her two best friends Tommy and Ruth also play a very central role and we get the pleasure of watching them grow up as well. It is really surprising how big of a time-scale this book manages to cover in only 288 pages. Kathy and her friends attend a boarding school called Hailsham and she begins probably in the middle of what in England we would call primary school and follows until she is well into adulthood.

What I found enchanting about this book is just how relate-able the characters are. Some of the arguments and teasing that goes on whilst they are at Hailsham really takes you right back to being that age. I could remember having fights as they did about such feeble things as someone having a nicer pencil case than you that at the time feels like the most horrible thing anybody could ever do but you look back on it and laugh. Also the awe and respect you have for you teachers, thinking they are the most intelligent and incredible people in the world, but also the worst ones of whom you refer to with cruel nicknames behind their back.

The only negative thing I can think to say is that the ending wasn't quite what I wanted it to be, I won't say why because I don't want to spoil it but it just really wasn't the resolution I wanted for the characters and it left the door open for you to wonder which in some ways I like, but in others it drives me absolutely crazy.

Generally this was just a really enjoyable book to read and not too demanding, which was exactly what I wanted for my holiday. I would recommend this to anyone probably over the age of 15 in order to be able to look back at primary school in this way and not still be living through it. Also towards the end things get a bit deep and sinister with some inappropriate parts, so just to be safe this is what I would suggest.

If you have read this book or would like to read it leave me a comment and let me know. When I have just read a book I love talking it over with someone because people read books in such different ways and end up with a completely different interpretation, so let me know yours! 


Monday, 3 November 2014

'All About That Bass' and 'Anaconda' Negativity

Recently in the media, people have begun to embrace plus sized women. I think this is such a good thing because it relieves the stress brought on  by the size zero models of the past in magazines and on the catwalk. However, some people have taken it too far in the other direction.
I would consider myself someone who is slightly underweight, not out of choice but just because my metabolism is basically Usain Bolt. I would like to be a little heavier and in the past I have tried putting on weight by changing my diet but it just doesn't work. I know this is how many people feel on the other end of the scale, but my point is that being underweight can make someone feel insecure too.

This is not helped by people referring to underweight people as 'skinny'. In Nicki Minaj's song 'Anaconda', she sends out a rather explicit but still valid point that women should embrace their 'buns', basically if ya got it, flaunt it. But then she suddenly turns on 'skinny b*tches' even saying if you are skinny then get out of the club. I am not taking this song seriously, but for something that is supposed to empower women, it sends the opposite message that being curvier is now the ideal, and if you're naturally slim then that is not what anybody idolises.

Then in Megan Trainor's song 'All About That Bass' she calls slimmer people 'stick figure silicone Barbie doll(s)', and also uses the word skinny. I really like both these songs in that they are really catchy and meant with good intentions, but if you need to bully one group to make another group feel better does that really make you any better of a person than the likes of Vogue who present overly slim people as the ideal?

Skinny by definition means 'unattractively thin.'. Why is this word thrown around so casually? I have been called skinny more times than I can remember, it is never said as a compliment. How can someone say this and not be called up on it but the minute someone uses the word 'fat' all hell breaks loose? If you think about it they are each others' antithesis and are the two extents of the scale.

I think the problems lies in society, People don't understand that being underweight can make people feel insecure too, once when I said to a friend that I wished I could be a bit bigger she genuinely said 'Oh poor you, it must be so difficult being the ideal weight'. Just because that is what society likes doesn't mean it's what makes me feel confident.

So this is me getting on my soapbox and saying embrace yourself whatever weight you are, but don't victimize a certain group in order to gain more power in your message. Also, never ever laugh at or belittle someone's insecurities, whatever seems to be your ideal could be something that tortures them everyday. Just be nice and treat people with the respect you expect from them, please?

Please leave a comment with your thoughts on this discussion, I think this is something that needs to be talked about more and I would love to hear what you all think.
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