Thursday, 19 June 2014

Beautiful People Linkup

Well hello followers mine. Today is the 19th of June, which means that Camp NaNo starts in twelve days ... if I participate. I started my current WIP in July last year, writing the first 20 000 words for Camp NaNo, but since then I've experienced prolonged periods of not writing at all. Like, months at a time. Now I'm back on it but I'm handwriting .... so I'm not sure if want to switch to word processing for Camp. We shall see.

Anyway, the point is, though I've been writing this novel for a year now I've told you guys nothing about it, and for this reason, and also to get to know my characters better, and because fun questions are fun, I'm participating in Beautiful People this month!

Can we have a round of applause please?
As you can see, this meme is hosted by The Notebook Sisters and Further up and Further In. Check them out!

This month I'm going to be answering questions about my MC, Corrie. But before we go any further, who'd like a little insight into Emily's Untitled Novel?

I knew you'd say yes.

Every seven years in the country of Ivaria, a process known as the Gleaning takes place. Basically it's a jumped-up talent show for thirteen to eighteen year olds, and three from each village are Selected to be taken to the capital city of Teyvanidan, where they are trained and educated to become members of the royal court. My character, Corrie, is a writer (and totally not a self-insert), and .... I am sure you can guess what happens to her. So she toddles of to Teyvanidan and, um, exciting things happen. I hope. We'll see ....

Basically I'm rubbish at synopsises (is that even a word?) Sorry about that. 

But anyway, question time!

1. What is their full name and is there a story behind why they got it? 
Her full name is Corisande Thrace (not sure about a middle name), but for obvious reasons she calls herself Corrie. The beauty of writing fantasy is that you can call your characters names you know you can't give to your real-life children .... but even I'm not going to make her go around bearing Corisande. I mean I love it. But really.

As for a story ... no, there isn't. I just like the name!

2. How old are they, and when were they born? 
She is fifteen when the book begins and she was born .... fifteen years before the story was set, I guess. I've not really thought about dates. It's a fantasy world. I'll cross that bridge if and when I come to it.

3. Describe their physical appearance. (Bonus questions: 1. What is their race/nationality/ethnicity? 2. Do you have a picture of them? If so, include it!) 
Though I still hold to it that Corrie is totally not a self-insert .... she looks a lot like me. Quite short, longish brown hair. Her eyes are green-grey though (unlike mine). Her race is Ivarian, I suppose - which means she is white. And speaks with an English accent (except, in the story it would of course be considered an Ivarian accent). I do not have a picture of her!

4. Describe your character's personality first in one word, and then elaborate with a few sentences. 
This is a veeery hard question ... I don't really think I can, because she's so multi-dimensional in my hard I can't really reduce her to a one word blurb. I am now trying to think of a group of words, but all that comes to mind is shy, introverted, self-conscious, awkward ... but I know she's a lot more than that. 

5. What theme song(s) fit their personality and story arc?
This I really have no idea about!

6. Which one of the seven deadly sins describes your character? 
Great question. I'd say definitely envy. Corrie has two older sisters (that is, one older sister and an older stepsister) who, direct quote from le novel, "were always better friends with each other than they were with me". She's never been her mother's favourite, and growing up has always felt alone and as if everyone is comparing her to them. 

Fun fact: her older sister Varissa is actually named after one of them seven deadly sins: her name is 'avarice' with the first syllable taken off and put on the end!

The stepsister, Aurelle, would also be best described by avarice. She is quite materialistic, but she also desires status and popularity (which she has, hence Corrie's envy).

7. If they were an element (fire, water, earth, air), which one would they be? 
I'm not really sure what the connotations of each of the elements are meant to be .... fire is obviously someone who's hot-headed and high-tempered, but what's water meant to be?? Corrie's often away in her own world (of course she is, she's a writer!) so maybe air, but I also feel like she could be earth.

8. What is their favourite word? 
Ooh I'm not sure. Long words. Clandestine. Magniloquent. Ambiguous. Iridescent. Obsolete.

9. Who’s one person they really miss? (It could be someone who’s passed away, or someone they’re not close to anymore, or someone who’s moved away.) 
Corrie's father died when she was four, but she doesn't really remember him at all. When she comes to Teyvanidan, though, she does miss her stepfather George, who she respects a lot and who is the only member of her family who understands her at home. She also misses Varissa (her sister), because though she was often not nice to Corrie and went off with Aurelle, underneath she is a damaged person who lives tortured by jealousy for the stepsister who her own mother seems to prefer over her. Also, she was seven when their father died, so she remembers him more than Corrie does. Corrie does love Varissa, despite the way they've treated each other. 

10. What sights, sounds, and smells remind them of that person?
Corrie's fountain pen reminds her of George because it was a present from him ... so do her books and her general writing. Her father was a writer himself before he died, but it is George who has been there throughout Corrie's life to quietly encourage her.

And that, my friends, is a bit of a look into the life of Corrie Thrace. If any of you have participated in this meme, let me know!

Emily x

Monday, 16 June 2014

September - May: A Bookish Tour (Part 2)

Hello there. Do you guys remember when I used to post every day?


Not any more, my friends. My pitiful excuse reason this time is just general STUFF, you know, homework, tests, and most of all making a twelve-page book of Harry Potter quotes (with pictures) for my friend's sixteenth. You know, just a normal present. The good news: it forced me to learn how to draw people in profile. Woohoo! The bad news: it took frikking ages, which is why I've not posted and also why I may have left multiple comments on several of your posts this evening, because I've been doing a big read of my posts backlog. I'm still doing it in fact. There will be comments yet this night, my friends!

What else is new in the life of Emily? Well, now that summer has finally arrived here in Scotland ... my hayfever is here. With a vengeance. As in, I got through a whole pack of tissues at school today in a series of disgusting and loud nose-blowing. As in, the skin under my nose is red and raw from sneezing so much, and my throat is a fiery ball of pain that Paracetamol is not helping

So that's fun.

But anyway, onwards and upwards! Do you remember last month when I posted the first part of my list of books I'd read during my hiatus? Well, here is part 2! Link to the first part is here.

Just after Christmas, when I'd finished A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth after spending several months reading it (which isn't to put you off, IT'S AMAZING YOU SHOULD ALL READ IT REVIEW HERE), I did the Harry Potter re-read I'd been promising myself for so long. And to tell truth: my obsession is only growing with age. The first time I read them I was ten so I was like "whoa magic whoa plot twists THIS IS SO EXCITING" but now that I read them again I am, of course, still saying "whoa magic whoa plot twist" (even though I know what the plot twists are, I still get very excited), but I'm also saying "whoa first love whoa friendships whoa relationship dynamics". I think I just generally understand/relate to lots of aspects more now that I'm a teenager.

Anyway, friends, the point is that whilst I don't have favourite books because there are so many amazing, wonderful, beautiful, INCREDIBLE books in this world ..... these are my favourite books. And if you've not read them it's really time to re-evaluate your life. So go. Go now. The library is that why. Please just leave, IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is a beautiful, moving frightening dystopian novel written in the 1930s. In a society where shallow pleasure is the ultimate goal and babies are created in test tubes, there is no concept of love, marriage or family - and no one questions it. But somewhere, outside, there are communities of 'savages' - people with religion and marriage, children and parents, and so much else that 'civil' society rejects.

I would definitely recommend this book - it is so thought-provoking and well-written, and unlike any dystopian novel I've ever read. And there's lots of Shakespeare references. A plus. Oh, and also it is short - which can be a refreshing change, am I right? 

Below Stairs is the memoir of an early Edwardian period kitchen maid. It was a really interesting read, which I would recommend for any fans of historical-y type stuff. I mean, it wasn't the best-written, and hardly life-changing, but did enjoy it. It only took me a few days, which was a plus - I find that, the longer a book takes me, the less patience I have with it and the better it has to be for me to like it. If it's going to take three months - like A Suitable Boy did - it's got be frikking good. Which A Suitable Boy was. But the book I'm reading at the moment - Dune by Frank Herbert - has already take me, like, three weeks and I'm not done and I'm annoyed :/ 

Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss: a history of rudeness by the acclaimed author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves. I found this in my house and thought: this looks funny. It was. It made me laugh out loud a few times ..... but only a few times. And for a satirical book, it really wasn't that funny. Nor did it make any insights about rudeness - it just kinda stated lots that we all already know. Don't get me wrong, I mean I did quite enjoy this book, but really, friends, life is short, and you should be spending that precious time reading books like A Suitable Boy (seriously have I raved about it enough in this post??) and Harry Potter. If you've not read HP but you ignored my sending you to the library and have read to the end of this post, you really need to get your priorities sorted. It's not hard. Just pick up Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and go from there. I'm not joking. It will bring so much joy to your life. That is not sarcastic.

And now I'm off, because HOW THE HECK is it already ten past nine, I have long hair to wash and a novel  to write! Internet you suck my life away!

(Virtually) see you all at some point in the future,

Emily x

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

September to May: Top 25

Hi everyone! First up, I'd like to draw the attention of you all to The Blog Hermit, where I have my very first guest post! Exciting, yes? Yes.

Anyway. ~spurs on imaginary horse~ Onwards!

If you've been a follower here for any length of time you'll probably have noticed that once a month I do a haul post. As you can imagine, during my hiatus (September to May) I acquired quite a lot of stuff, and today I'm going to share a few things with you because frankly, books are awesome. Clothes are awesome. Exciting presents are awesome. IT'S ALL AWESOME! To stop us all from dying of boredom I've compiled a shortlist (well not that short, but shorter) of my favourite things from since September, so without ado: my top 25 hiatus haul!

(Oh, but it's not in order to my most favourite. Because decisions like that = far too stressful. It's just in chronological order - starting with some birthday presents from October!)

1. Paperchase notebooks! These were birthday presents: the left is a lined journal from my friend Catriona (who, incidentally, turned sixteen today - shout out to her!) and the right is a blank journal from my mum.
I love pretty notebooks.
Like, a lot.
2. Another present from the unceaseingling awesome Catriona. 

Same as Harry's :')

LOOK IT AT! She made, it box and everything!

(Oh, and if you don't know what this is, you're not welcome here you should go and read Harry Potter. Like seriously. Like, why are you still here?)

3. A present from my other equally awesome friend Rose. Pretty!
And she put my very favourite Elbow lyrics inside it! 'At the top is stopping by your place of work and acting like I haven't dreamed of you and I and marriage in an orange grove / You are the only thing in any room you're ever in; I'm stubborn, selfish and too old.'
Click here to listen to the song, Starlings. It's such a beautiful song.

4. Very very old copy of Adam Bede (like, very old, c. 1900) from my brother. 
A very pretty old copy ^_^
Read my review here.

 5. My leather Fat Face satchel, from my mother. I honestly love this bag so much, I have used it almost literally non-stop since October!

6. From my aunt who works in a bookshop. I've not read this yet but I like JD Salinger (that is to say, I liked the one short story I've read by him) so I'm excited to give it a go!

7. Also from my aunt. I am excited for this too. Even more than for Franny and Zooey.

8. OK, I'm going to say something radical: these shoes are possibly the best thing I bought in the whole of 2013. They are so beautiful, and they go with ALL my winter clothes (almost), AND I got them for only £5.99 in the charity shop! Brilliant, right?! Right!

9. Also from the charity shop. It has long been my ambition to own a red coat, and I realised this ambition in the autumn. ^_^

10. OK, now it's into December - Christmas time! This is the best jumper of ever, from New Look. :D :D :D
11. A Christmas dress, also from New Look. 
I love lace.

12. THIS was one of my two most exciting Christmas presents, from my sister. I love jigsaws a lot. I love historical maps a lot. This is amazing. I've not made it yet, but when I do it will be a happy time indeed.

13. My other most exciting Christmas present! I love Lego. Like, a lot. I'm going to take this on holiday with me in the summer and make it there :D :D

14. I got this in January from New Look, snapped up in the sales for only a tenner - reduced from £25! 

15. Bought in February. New Look shoes are the best, and these just go with everything. The only downfall is they're very uncomfortable and not at all easy to walk in .... but still. Beauty is pain etc. 

16. Also from New Look. I love wedges. 

17. Now we're into the realms of the charity shop book finds! I bought this a few months ago, and I've still not read it - but I am very, very excited. If you know anything about me you'll know that I absolutely love a) historical novels and b) fantasy, and the more dragons, swordfighting, back-stabbing, love, murder, intrigue, royalty and war, the better. I am a pre-emptive fan of Game of Thrones, if you get me. I just know I'll love it.

18. One of my favourite books of ever, which I bought in Oxfam because it is important to own copies of your favourites. This will serve well for re-reading purposes :)

19. My two new Vikram Seth novels, both picked up in Oxfam. I've read neither of them yet, but the time is coming. I bought them because A Suitable Boy is a stunning novel which is one of my favourites (and y'all should read it). Read my review of it here

20. Also bought in Oxfam. I bought this, knowing nothing about it, because I vaguely recognised the title and thought maybe I'd seen it reviewed and that it was somewhere on my TBR list. In fact, when I got home, it wasn't - but yay for accidentally bought books, am I right?! It looks v. good.

21. Bought from New Look. I love this dress, it is great for summer casual. 

22. And finally, my four most exciting recent purchases - the books I bought for Prizegiving! At my school, there are 'subject prizes'; if you are top in something you get £15 (in book tokens), second gets £12 and third gets £9. I won £66, and so, for the one time in the year, I was able to walk proudly into Waterstones and buy some beautiful, extremely expensive new books! This is a gorgeous clothbound edition of The Once and Future King, which if you don't know is a retelling of the Arthurian legend and, according to the blurb, "the fantasy epic by which all fantasy is judged". Like Game of Thrones, I am a pre-emptive fan because: kings? War? Love? Loss? Death? Murder? Dragons? Over 800 pages long? COUNT ME IN. 

23. Not a pretty hardback (or a pretty anything, I hate this cover -_- ), but never mind because yes, I've finally got my hands on Rose Under Fire! At last! VERY excited to read this one. 
24. Gorgeous hardback. Yet again, historical fantasy - so you can be sure I'm there!

25. And finally, this, a collection of war poetry. As I mentioned in this post, I absolutely love Disabled by Wilfred Owen, as well as his other First World War poems, and I think this will be a really interesting and poignant book.
Hope you enjoyed this little glance into the life of Emily over the past six months! I should be restarting The Best and the Rest at the end of June ... I think. We'll see.

Have a great Tuesday!

Emily x

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

May Reads

As you (should) know it is the 4th of June. This means four things:

1. I went back to school on Monday. We have started our Higher timetable (which means that, now that exams are over, we no longer do the subjects we have dropped but instead begin with the timetable we will be using when we come back after summer for Fifth Year). This means four Art, History and Latin periods a week - whoop whoop! - but also four periods of Maths. Hard maths. Maths that many of my friends have dropped now that it is no longer compulsory. Maths that is not going to get any easier ..... ~runs into corner and cries~
School is its usual joyous self. Yesterday a third year (that is, Year 9, or I *think* ninth grade in America (I'm not sure), basically a fourteen-year-old) asked me if I was a second year. I said no. She asked me if I was in first year. I killed her curtly told her that I was in fact the year above her. Then I went home and cried ... not really. But seriously do I look like an eleven year old?? D: D:

2. Piece of trivia for you all: today is my doll's birthday, as assigned by me when I got aged five or six. So technically she should now be thirteen or fourteen ..... but logic and dolls don't tend to mix.

3. It is supposedly now summer. Although, looking out of the window now at the light drizzle (UPDATE: since I wrote that it is now pouring it down) that drenches this Scottish scenery, I am frankly not so sure.

4. May just finished .... which means that, as is the New Thing on Emily Etc., I will be reviewing the books I have read this month! I used to do quite a lot of book review posts but I don't think you guys were that into them (be honest) so now we shall have only one a month.

And so ... the books!

1. Adam Bede by George Eliot 

A tale of a quiet country village called Hayslope somewhere in the Home Counties, where the eponymous character Adam lives with his brother and parents. The story begins as a young woman named Dinah arrives in the village. 

... I am aware that this may not sound very exciting, so I've taken a bit off Goodreads: "While Adam Bede represents a timeless story of seduction and betrayal, it is also a deeper, impassioned meditation on the irrevocable consequences of human actions and on moral growth and redemption through suffering."

Yup. You said it, Goodreads. 

I absolutely loved this book. It was so well-written and beautiful, and such a great plot! It starts a little slowly - I must admit that in the first chapter or so I was like "what is this weird old book my brother has sent me??" - and initially I found the fact that most of the characters speak in dialect quite annoying. HOWEVER it gets very exciting quickly, and soon you are completely lost in the story. I would 100% recommend this for anyone ... if you think Jane Austen is too tame, try this book. If you think Charlotte Bronte is too gothic, try this book. It is kind of halfway between the two .... basically, you should read it!
Here are some quotations for you:

It was a still afternoon - the golden light was lingering languidly among the upper boughs, only glancing down here and there on the purple pathway and its edge of faintly sprinkled moss; an afternoon in which destiny disguises her cold awful face behind a hazy radiant veil, encloses us in warm downy wings, and poisons us with violet-scented breath.

But the first glad moment in our first love is a vision which returns to us to the last, and brings with it a thrill of feeling intense and special as the recurrent sensation of a sweet odour breathed in a far off hour of happiness. It is a memory that gives a more exquisite touch to tenderness, that feeds the madness of jealousy, and adds the last keenness to the agony of despair.

There are faces which charges with a meaning and pathos not belonging to the single human soul that flutters beneath them, but speaking the joys and sorrows of foregone generations -- eyes that tell of deep love which doubtless has been and is somewhere, but not paired with these eyes -- perhaps paired with pale eyes that can say nothing; just as a national language may be instinct with poetry unfelt by the lips that use it.

a terrible scorching light showed him the hidden letters that changed the meaning of the past.

She had no tears this morning. She had wept them all away last night, and now she felt that dry-eyed morning misery, which is worse than the first shock, because it has the future in it as well as the present. Every morning to come, as far as her imagination could stretch, she would have to get up and feel that the day would have no joy for her. For there is no despair so absolute as that which comes with the first moments of our first great sorrow, when we have not yet known what it is to have suffered and be healed, to have despaired and to have recovered hope.

THE WRITING. Just read the book.

2. The Miracle of Miss Willie by Alma J Yates

Daniel, BB and Jefferson are the most notorious teenage troublemakers in their little town of Snowflake, Alabama - but when Miss Willie, a charming young English teacher, arrives in Snowflake the three of them are instantly taken by her and they undergo what could be called ... a miracle. (See what I did there?)

I have Bella Rose from To Say Nothing of Reality to thank for pointing this book my way - I impulsively bought it off on Amazon after reading this review of hers. You should check it, not least for some awesome fan art drawn by Treskie
Now I say: thank you Bella! I'm not sure if this book is even still in print but I'm so glad I bought it because it was a simple, heartwarming story of love and friendship, of the transition from childhood to adulthood. Miss Willie is just the best, and I absolutely loved the other three main characters. The Miracle of Miss Willie is an extremely powerful book and I would definitely recommend it!

3. Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams

The fifth and final book of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book (unless you count And Another Thing by Eoin Colfer. Which I don't. Not that I have anything against Eoin Colfer. But since the book is by Eoin Colfer and not Douglas Adams, I really can't count it as part of the series). 

I don't think I'm the only Guide fan who feels that, after the absolute total and utter side-splittingly brilliantly funny genius of the first book ..... the series went a little bit downhill. Don't get me wrong. I still love them, and they do remain funny (if not as funny as the first laugh-at-loud installment), but the plot reaches a farcical pitch that I'm not quite sure about.

HOWEVER. I love Arthur and always will. He is just the epitome of Britishness. I shall quote now a conversation between him and Trillian:

" 'Well, you look well on it.'
'I feel well. You look well.'
'I'm well. I'm very well.'
'Well, that's good.'
'Nice of you to drop in.'
'Well,' said Arthur, casting around himself. Astounding how hard it was to think of anything to say to someone after all this time. "

This is just perfect. SO TRUE.

Aside from that. The ending ... it was ... well. It just goes to show, just because a book is generally light-hearted in tone doesn't mean it can't rip you to shreds at the last second!

Overall, this is definitely not at the shining pinnacle of glory of Hitchhiker's Guided to the Galaxy, but I would advise sticking the series out.

Hope you enjoyed these little reviews, and I wish you a happy reading month of June! Another end-of-the-month style post is coming soon.

Emily x