Sunday 27 July 2014

Naples, Pompeii and Herculaneum

So the weekend has arrived and that means FREE TIME! For 48 hours I won't be inhaling bone dust and trying and failing to distinguish between toe and finger bones! It's fair to say I am exhausted, a mixture of earlier than usual starts and hot weather has really tired me out! 

So on Saturday we made our way to Naples, the founding place of the Pizza. I played the role of tourist and made my way through plenty of pizza. All in all it was a brilliant day! 
We had a look at a couple of churches and then went to the Archaeological museum which holds artefacts like the Alexander mosaic from the House of the Faun in Pompeii. 

On Sunday we travelled over to Herculaneum which was so well preserved by the eruption of 79AD. We saw things like original sliding wooden doors which was absolutely amazing! I visited Herculaneum in February but it was brilliant to get a second look.

We then went onto Pompeii, by then I was melting under the sun but we carried on regardless! 
Outside of Amphitheatre 
Inside of Amphitheatre
Stairs in a house (proof of a second floor!)
Large theatre 
Failed attempt at a panorama of the large theatre 
If you look closely you can see a bit of gladiatorial graffiti! 
View down one of the streets 
Piece of original lead piping 
The House of the Faun 

That was just a select few of the photos I took, I may do a longer and more detailed post when I get home to my laptop and good wifi! 

I have one more week in Italy and then I am heading back to England for a week of camping and then a couple of days in Paris! I hope you are having a brilliant summer! 


Wednesday 16 July 2014

Looking for Alaska: John Green

Well I am sure that you will have heard of John Green, its hard to escape him when The Fault in our Stars seems to be dominating both the book and film world. I fell head over heels in love with TFIOS, I love a book that can make you cry and with this offering I shed bucketfuls! I was a bit sceptical starting Looking For Alaska because I just couldn't imagine how it could live up to my high expectations. Sadly it didn't, it's not that it wasn't good, I really did enjoy it, I just felt that there were moments where it didn't quite reach my high expectations for a John Green book. I felt that characters were alright but not amazing and for me the story line just fell a bit flat.

The book follows the life of Miles aka Pudge who dreams of living the adventurous life of a boarding school pupil. He befriends Chip (The Colonel) and Alaska and they embark on a life of pulling pranks, smoking cigarettes *insert John Green metaphor*, and drinking cheap alcohol whilst trying to avoid the wrath of their headmaster. I really enjoyed the first half of the book as Pudge found his feet and finally found the friends he had dreamt of. I found that as teens the characters were realistic and I found them fascinating and annoying in equal measure. Where I found it fell short of my expectation was the second half of the book, for me it didn't quite hit the mark and when I finished it I felt as though I had been robbed of a good ending. I would just like to add here that I know so many people who preferred Looking For Alaska to TFIOS and this is just my own opinion and I am sure that many people will read it and find it to be absolute John Green perfection.

What I find amazing about John Green is that he writes teen fiction so well that I almost forget that he is a middle aged man with two kids and a wife. To me John Green is the perfect example that you don't have to be a teen to be able to write or appreciate young adult fiction. Looking for Alaska was beautifully written, the compulsory John Green metaphors and good humour dominated the book, making serious situations understandable and relatable.

I can't criticize the writing style as John Green got that absolutely right, for me the story line just wasn't strong enough.

Let me know in a comment what you thought of Looking For Alaska if you have read it!


Tuesday 8 July 2014

It's not me, it's you: Jon Richardson

It goes without saying that Jon Richardson is my all time favourite comedian, he never fails to make me laugh and I have been lucky enough to see him perform live twice. I was even able to meet him *eeeek* which is up there in my top 10 moments ever. Of course, with any comedian, when the going gets good the tour DVDs and autobiography's start appearing and the appearances on panel shows increase. This all happened to Jon Richardson, he went from being just a stand up comedian to being team leader on 8 out of 10 cats, then came the book and then the DVD. You can imagine my joy at being able to see my favourite comedian be embraced by the public and I was straight out there buying his book when it was released.

Where Jon Richardson differs is that his book isn't an autobiography as such. It doesn't go into his childhood or teenage years, instead it is advertised as some warped guide to relationships- I use the term guide loosely because in reality it is just 294 pages of Jon Richardson telling us about how all relationships are doomed and in his true self deprecating style we learn about his years of living alone, where a Saturday night activity was cleaning the skirting boards and drinking alone.

It is a quick, lighthearted read and one of my favourite offerings from the stand up comedy world. At the age of 30ish I think it would have been useless for him to go down the autobiographical route. Can you really have lived enough to write a whole book on it?

So, would I recommend it? Yes of course, I mean, its Jon Richardson, duh!


Wednesday 2 July 2014

Childhood favourites

The books that I read as a child seem to have been the books that stuck with me through my teen years and into adulthood. They are always my go to books when I am feeling down and they are always the books I recommend to others regardless of age- I actually think that kids and young adult books deal with very serious issues in a more sensitive and understandable way. Anyway, I am about to go into my third and final year at university, which means *drum-roll please* DISSERTATION. I can't quite believe how quickly it has all come around. So a couple of months ago I made the decision to do my dissertation on the influence of classical mythology on modern childrens literature- i'm thinking Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Percy Jackson etc. But it also got me thinking about the books that really made up my childhood, so here goes.
Elsewhere Gabrielle Zevin
Right, so I bang on about this book a bit too much, but I genuinely love it. If you want to see what I have to say about it you can see here and here. To sum it up, as someone who rarely reads books twice, I have read this over and over again which I feel shows just how much I enjoyed it! Elsewhere is an interesting take on an afterlife where the main character Liz finds herself journeying over to this afterlife named Elsewhere and we as the reader get to see how she copes with coming to terms with the end of her life and the afterlife she is now faced with.

Star Girl Jerry Spinelli
This is pretty much a book about non-conformity, as an almost teen when I read it, I felt like I could relate to it on a personal level. We all go through that stage where we feel the pressure to conform, I used to wear wacky clothes- bright colours, clashing prints etc and the only thing that got me through those awkward years was the fact that I didn't care what people thought. Star Girl is a beautiful character and she is a part of a beautiful story.

Chinese Cinderella Adeline Yen Mah
Around the age of ten I went through a bit of an oriental phase, the Chinese Cinderella books really opened the world to me and they encouraged me to expand my knowledge and go on and read the likes of Wild Swans by Jung Chang. Chinese Cinderella is an autobiographical account of Adeline's childhood, she covers what it was like to feel unwanted and her fight to prove herself. It is moving and touching and definitely worth a read. 

Journey to the River Sea Eva Ibbotson
This is another book that I have read over and over again, it shows the exotic Amazon through the eyes of a girl, Maia, who has never seen anything quite like it. Her excitement is contagious and I remember reading it in awe as the most exotic place I had ever been to was Scotland. It is beautifully written and I would recommend any Eva Ibbotson book.

Harry Potter JK Rowling
I'm pretty sure that it is impossible to write a childhood favourites list without including Harry Potter, they pretty much dominated my childhood. I remember the excitement of them being released and how my dad and I would race to see who could finish it first. I miss having the sort of excitement that is on par with christmas eve and I have never found a book that has got me quite so excited. 

The Lottie Project Jacqueline Wilson
When I was in brownies I did a collectors badge, whilst everyone else brought in beanie babies or other soft toys, I lugged in my ever growing collection of Jacqueline Wilson books. I was addicted, in fact my mum eventually had to intervene because when I was supposed to be moving on to more young adult/adult books, I was still tearing my way through Jacqueline Wilson. Whilst most of my childhood books have been passed on to cousins, the Jacquiline Wilson books have stayed with me. I particularly loved The Lottie Project as I went through a stage where every book I read had to be set in the Victorian times. Favourites also include Double Act, the Illustrated Mum and Lola Rose. Wilson deals with very serious and upsetting issues in such a way that makes it easy for children to understand.

A Series of Unfortunate Events Lemony Snicket
My dad used to bring these back from America for me before they were released in the UK. They follow the unpredictable adventures of three orphans and their attempts to escape Count Olaf. The first three are amazing, after that I found they became a bit unpredictable but I loved The Ersatz Elevator and The Austere Academy too. 

Daisy Chain...Joan O'Neill
My favourite Joan O'Neill book is actually Daisy Chain War but my room is currently a mess of towering piles of books and for the life of me I couldn't find it. This was a favourite during my WW2 phase.

Back Home/ A Little Love Song Michelle Magorian
Michelle Magorian really fuelled my love for WW2 fiction, my favourites were actually Back Home and A Little Love Song, but I think they have been swallowed up by my room.

Noughts and Crosses Malorie Blackman
I find it really hard to put into words how I feel about this book, if offers a view into a world where racism is at the forefront, in a Romeo and Juliet style, cross Sephy falls in love with nought Callum. Dear me did I cry at the end of this, it will leave you feeling numb. There are three other books that follow in the series as well as a short story so if you love it then the story continues.

Let me know what your favourite books were when you were younger!