Tragic: Deidra Del Angel

There is a different angle given to reading when the author is a friend. When you read, it’s like you can hear their voice and then there are times when you can read parts of their presentation and know that they are actually putting themselves on to paper. I’m in no doubt that this book is very close to Deidra.

The book is a synopsis of a young girl, growing up and going through things that most of us would never dream of. Sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse and it seems to be an introduction, leading to further books that Deidra has in the pipeline and in her mind. I’m definitely proud of my friend and I know that this first step of being published has taken so much more than time, pen and paper. I’m looking forward to seeing her grow as an author, as she grows as a person.

I’d like to see Deidra supported plenty. You can find her book on Amazon HERE

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Howl’s Moving Castle: Diana Wynne Jones

I asked my girlfriend what her favourite film was ages ago and she told me about Howl’s Moving Castle, a Studio Ghibli/Disney presentation. We watched it together and I really enjoyed it! The way that anime and fantasy combine intrigues me, along with it’s animation and very interesting story lines. Howl’s Moving Castle, of the Ghibli releases comes a very close third, behind The Wind Rises and Spirited Away. When I realised it was a book. I had to read it!

The book lacks the traditional Ghibli approach of combining time periods and fantastic flying machines but that isn’t a bad thing. What I did love was how the oldest of time periods merged with modern day Wales. I was pretty gobsmacked when Sophie ventured through the castle door, black blob facing down and found herself in modern day Wales! I loved how she was mortified by the noisy, horseless carts (Cars) and fascinated by the picture frames of moving pictures, connected to the wall by a white, flexible cord (TV)!

Reading the book took a little getting used to at first, as I had just finished Romeo & Juliet, with it’s totally different focus on audience and, obviously, totally different style of writing. Howl’s Moving Castle is a children’s fantasy book so the language was much less complex and the sentence structure very punctual. Even so, though, it was very easy to be whisked off into the worlds she was describing.

It’s actually difficult to explain what the book is about without giving the plot away, because of the interconnecting worlds, time periods and characters so here is the blurb from the book itself:

“Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl – and herself – than first meets the eye.”

I highly recommend this read!

Romeo & Juliet: William Shakespeare

It’s been great to take on reading again, now that I’m getting the train to and from work. I started this reading challenge to get me going. My first book was Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding and today I completed the infamous Romeo & Juliet by… Do I even need to name William Shakespeare?!

Two things struck me as I read the play. The first was that I never knew Shakespeare actually re-told a previous story by a writer named Arthur Brookes and secondly I realized the drastic difference in reading this story again, now aged 37.

When I read Romeo & Juliet, going through school, I was learning. I had exams to take. Romeo & Juliet was part of a stepping stone in life. This time around, things were slightly different. I saw things that I’d never seen before. I understood the relationships between people better and it was easier for me to understand the position the characters played against the backdrop of their 1500s Verona setting.

Understanding the relationships between the characters on a level I can now relate to gave me a primary standpoint. Or, at least a question anyway. Would the story have been complete had Juliet shared a closer relationship with her parents?

As was custom of the class and period, Juliet was raised by a nurse. She was 14 and had been raised by someone who tested her social boundaries as well as her employers, with her dry wit. She also would have been focused on her job security. Between this and the aristocratic carry-on of her parents, Juliet was a product of convenience, necessity and arrangement. When she woke up from her induced sleep, in her family tomb, Romeo was the only real love she knew. To stab yourself takes a real dark place and real desperation. As the only love she knew lay dead, I can only imagine the emptiness she felt, understanding that we all crave genuine Love.

My key thought, having read Romeo & Juliet at this point in life, is on the education system.

Books, unlike TV screens, encourage thought. Reading through this play, I had to use my imagination to picture physical settings, personal attire, voice tones, physical appearance. Secondarily, I could also imagine the disparity of the audience. Where they would sit and how they would react to different scenes and characters. I pictured the masses under a cool 1500s London sky. I feel that I was able to take so much more from this book because of my life experience.

Books like Peter & Jane have their place and one must learn to read but how much knowledge is left untapped in the human mind because we force kids through school and homework from a young age, with the consequence of an incomplete life should they adhere to the set-up? I feel that kids should be allowed to be kids and enter into education later in life, when they are past that stage of kicking their legs under the table, labelled with ADD, etc.

I feel that we are so shaped, during our lives, to benefit the system, that we have become mere minions and totally miss the beauty and poignancy of books like Romeo & Juliet.

Chad Harbach: The Art of Fielding

“Each of us, deep down, believes that the whole world issues from his own precious body, like images projected from a tiny slide on to an earth-sized screen. Andthen, deeper down, each of us knows he’s wrong.” – 467

The Art of Fielding was an interesting read and it took me ages to finish it, primarily because time wasn’t available, but I’m taking the train into work now so I have about an hour a day where I can zone out of the human rush-hour traffic and immerse myself into someone else’s world!

For the first few chapters, I honestly thought I’d be reading a book about the rise to fame of an unassuming boy to a Major League baseball player. As I continued to read, though, I was thrown somewhat of a curve ball (see what I did there?!), as one of the key characters, Henry Skrimshander, makes his way to college, with a baseball scholarship. He navigates his way through relationships, a new, and sometimes strange, way of life and the pressure of expectation, as he rises towards stardom he doesn’t understand. Throw in a love (Lust?) triangle, a gay student/teacher relationship and other life-changing occurrences and you have yourself a good read!

What I enjoyed most, having not read a book this long for a good period of time, was how I could see parts of myself in most of the characters, allowing me to look at myself and also relate, as the book is written from each of their own perspectives at different points throughout the novel. Approaches to relationships, approaches to physical training and dealing with pressure, as well as uncertainty. Those with high levels of empathy will definitely enjoy this book and its parallel running alongside Herman Melville and Moby Dick.

The Art of Fielding brings an interesting perspective to life. What is the art of life? The truth is, there isn’t one. As individuals, ‘life’ will mean something different to each of us. It’ll be something different to each of us and, as such, how we venture from leaving the dugout to sliding through home base, if we make it to home base, is also different. The only commonality is the field we share.

Interestingly, we share this competitive field but what makes this game what it is, is that everyone understands the next. There is this love and mutual respect that not everyone taps into but, as The Art of Fielding shows, when we do tap into it, there is a smoothness and each person can experience their own positive outcome.

@geminidimension