How The Past Few Months Have Been

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Hey!

Long time no see! I apologise for being so unactive here, it certainly was never my intention. However, as per usual, life got in the way and I decided to plop it all into a blog post just to get it entirely off my chest! This is essentially just a summary of what has been going on so I hope it explains some things!

 

University

So I finished up my first year at the University of Edinburgh where I study French and Scandinavian Studies (specialising in Swedish)! It has been an odd year for numerous reasons, and a pretty isolating year as well. Content wise, my degree courses have been wonderful and I could have not asked for a more wonderful Swedish tutor! She always looked out for me and took such good care of me and I cannot express how much I appreciated it. My exams went okay, my outside subject (Scandinavian Civilisation) went horrifically. It was just bad luck, only one topic I studied came up (you need to write 2 essays) so I am most likely going to have to resit in August. I was angry at the time but honestly, it was just a bad paper and as long as I pass the resit, it’s all good!

I only really started to fully enjoy my classes right at the end of the semester which was unfortunate because my university participated in the strikes and so most of my classes were cancelled anyway. Regardless of this, I had a pretty good academic year overall and I have learned so much! And so and I am incredibly excited to get stuck in again in September!

One other thing I am looking forward to is the fact that I won’t be in student accommodation anymore next semester. Finding a flat was an incredible struggle, especially in somewhere like Edinburgh. However, after months my boyfriend and I found a fairly decent property not too far from university and I am super excited to move in! Living with strangers who I didn’t know very well just made my anxiety so much worse and having to stay in my room all the time was even worse. So having an entire flat (with 2 bedrooms and 2 floors may I add!) will hopefully relieve all that stress! So all in all, I am looking forward to a much more productive second year!

 

Mental Health

University did not exactly help my mental health in the slightest. It was an incredibly rough experience and I can’t look back at my first semester without getting upset about it. A combination of being isolated and a very bad start to my relationship really fuelled my ill health and I got sick very frequently during that time. In addition to this, there are large chunks of the year which I can’t even remember because my mental health was so awful. After completely messing up one of my oral exams due to this, I finally received a little bit of help from the glorious Scandinavian department and was given many pep talks. So I am hoping next year will be much better as I know exactly who I can speak to about such things!

So my mental health and bad relationship essential ruined the first year for me which is unfortunate but I think after summer I will be in a much better place and things shall hopefully improve!

 

I hope you are all doing well and I am sending lots of love your way x

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The End of My First Semester at University

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Hello! I decided to write a post regarding my experience at my new university as I have mentioned uni constantly on all of my social medias.

I wrote a post about why I decided to change university, so if you are interested in that, you can read it here!

To make it pretty simple, I’m going to pop them in two categories: the good and the bad. Although I have generally been happy at university, it has been fairly rough for numerous reasons but that does not mean that my university is bad or that university will be the same for you! This is simply my experience and how I felt about it!

In case you are unaware, I am studying French and Scandinavian Studies (in which I study Swedish) at the University of Edinburgh, if you’d like more information you can read about my exact degree combination here.

The Good

  • Finally discovering what I love! I was accepted to study French and Portuguese, knowing that Portuguese already wasn’t the language for me. I wanted to apply for French and Scandinavian Studies (with Danish), but I was too afraid to apply and I am so glad I was! As I opted to replace Portuguese with Swedish rather then Danish and it was the best decision I have ever made. I absolutely adore my Swedish class and my tutor has been so incredibly supportive of my anxiety and she tries to hard to help me and it means the world.

 

  • Getting to move to my favourite city in the world, Edinburgh! I’ve lived just outside Glasgow beforehand but I’ve always preferred Edinburgh over Glasgow, for obvious reasons, so getting to live here has been wonderful. I am from a fairly large town near Glasgow however there isn’t particularly much to do, so living near the centre of the capital was always going to be a good change!

 

  • Swedish deserves a special mention because choosing to study it was definitely the best thing I have decided to do at university. As I mentioned, my class is wonderful and we have the most incredible tutor. On Fridays after class, a few of us always go for coffee together and chat and it’s just a lovely way to end the week and motivate me to go to class!

 

  • Getting to live “alone” has been really lovely despite the isolation. Being able to cook whatever and whenever I want is definitely my favourite thing. Also even being able to just do my washing whenever is really lovely (and it’s therapeutic).

 

  • Despite not meeting or making many new friends, I did meet my current boyfriend who I thought was worth a mention as I end up spending a lot of my time with him (and he does Swedish too, another reason to love the class)! And honestly this has meant a lot to me due to how terrible my self esteem has been due to not being brave enough to socialise properly.

 

The Bad

  •  I have been incredibly isolated since I came to university as things just haven’t seemed to go my way. First of all my flat doesn’t speak, everyone else I know did things with their flat during freshers which is how they met their current friends. However my flat has barely even socialised, so I was too afraid to attend any freshers events alone and I really wish that had been different. In addition to this, my French classes are very quiet and no one chats to one another so it is practically impossible to make friends. Hopefully this will change in second semester but this has definitely been the toughest aspect for me. Also I have missed my family so so much.

 

  • The workload has been intense for my French course as the course is very much wanting you to teach yourself. We have no grammar or language classes, we are just pretty much expected to know anything which is awful and I don’t think I have really learned anything so far which is a shame. However since French is the love of my life, I have to stick with it and just keep trying.

 

  • My anxiety has been pretty bad since I got here and I’ve only recently become a bit more comfortable even in my own flat, so I am hoping that next semester shall be easier!

 

Babble

So those are my general thoughts about my university experience so far! I think I’ll do updates per semester (2 per academic year), just to see if my thoughts change any! Also, if you’re interested, I’ll explain my degree a little more.

At Scottish universities you are required to take 3 subjects (with the exception of certain degrees). As I am doing a joint honours degree, I already have to take French and Swedish. For French I get to study numerous aspects of literature as I am not a beginner, whereas in Swedish we will be starting with an short text from a children’s novel next semester as we are all still very much beginners! I do this alongside language classes, for French I have an oral tutorial, language tutorial (however we do barely anything), literature tutorial and a literature lecture. For Swedish I have one oral tutorial and 3 seminars.

So my third subject is Scandinavian Civilisation, which I am not required to do despite being a Scandinavian Studies student. I’m finding it really interesting and I think my exam last week went fairly well so I am looking forward to next semester! This semester we studied from the Viking Era up until the 1800s, so it’s nice to have a general overview of the history of Scandinavia. Also, as much as I love languages, it’s nice to have an escape from grammar and vocabulary!

 

 

So that was my first semester of university! I hope you have all survived the semester and good luck to anyone who has recently sent off an application!

 

Much love x

September/October Wrap-Up 2017

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Long time no see! I’ve decided to merge two months into one wrap-up because I have simply been so busy that I forgot I owned a blog. As most of you know, I started at a new university in September so I’ve had a lot of work to do and I have only just figured out a balance to allow me some reading time. However I read a ridiculous amount before my studies started so here are most of them! I’ll only be doing short reviews for 2 books because I cannot remember my exact thoughts on the rest because I am always too lazy to make notes, oops.

The Little Book of Lykke : The Danish Search for the World’s Happiest People – Meik Wiking – 4/5 stars Goodreads

I was very lucky to be sent a copy in advance of the 7th of September release date after my sister asked the publisher if they could send an extra copy for me, I’m so surprised that they did it was so kind of them! I did really enjoy this book, it explored the reasons why certain countries are happier than others and that wealth does not equal happiness. The reason for 4/5 stars is that it included case studies which seemed very irrelevant and despite them being short, I got nothing from them and felt they were unnecessary. That being said, the book did in fact cheer me up as I was going through a rough patch and just all the little tips about how to make yourself happy really did make a difference.

 

The History and Topography of Ireland – Gerald of Wales – 3/5 stars Goodreads

I decided to read this hoping that there would be quite an emphasis on the topography area, unfortunately not. This is an account of Ireland during the Middle Ages through the eyes of an invader and reformer. Thus it was very interesting to see how the Irish were portrayed, the answer is very badly. It’s no secret that the English and Welsh have had an extreme disliking towards the Irish who they regarded and proposed as utter savages, despite not being so different at all. Alas, it was an interesting read but the format was very difficult to get through as it was simply just a bunch of information shoved together.

Why Did You Lie – Yrsa Sigurðardóttir – 5/5 stars Goodreads

Snowblind – Ragnar Jónasson – 3/5 stars – Goodreads

Nightblind – Ragnar Jónasson – 3/5 stars – Goodreads

Blackout – Ragnar Jónasson – 3/5 stars – Goodreads

The Nightmare – Lars Kepler – 4/5 stars – Goodreads

Translation : A Very Short Introduction – Matthew Reynolds – 4/5 stars – Goodreads

Blood on Snow – Jo Nesbø – 3.5/5 stars – Goodreads

Last Rituals – Yrsa Sigurðardóttir – 4/5 stars – Goodreads

So I’ve read a bunch of Nordic Noir during the past two months and I have absolutely no intention of stopping soon (My current read is another Nesbø novel)! I hope you’ve all had a lovely two months and are managing your time better than I am!

My Top 5 Favourite Novels

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It just occurred to me that somehow I have never made a blog post about this or even mentioned it on any of my social media. So today I’m going to share with you my top five favourite novels of all time! These won’t be in any particular order, apart from number one which is my absolute favourite. It was horrifically difficult to just choose 5 novels, so I’ve included some honourable mentions at the end if you are interested in checking those out! So, let’s begin!

Monkey – Wu Chêng-ên

Probably the most popular book in the history of the Far East, this classic combination of picaresque novel and folk epic mixes satire, allegory, and history into a rollicking tale. It is the story of the rougish Monkey and his encounters with major and minor spirits, gods, demigods, demons, ogres, monsters, and fairies. – Goodreads

I cannot even describe how utterly glorious this novel is. It can be relatively confusing at times as everything is so carefully detailed but it’s a wonderful translation which flows beautifully. This is in fact the abridged version of Journey To The West, one of the Four Great Classic Novels of Chinese Literature. It took me a while to read this particular novel as there was simply just to much to take in, I needed some time to process it all. I don’t think I even need to beg you to buy this book, the synopsis should tell you all you need to know! Buy it here!

The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads-driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity.

A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America. Goodreads

I randomly picked up this novel after enjoying Of Mice and Men by the same author, and it was reduced on Amazon so I just had to. This is a book that I need to reread at some point because I don’t think I fully understood or processed how utterly tragic this novel is. I won’t say what happens on the very last page, but I still think about it and it was simply just so powerful but awful. I’ve read very few novels as powerful as this one and I think it is essential reading if you are interested in American classics. Buy it here!

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. Goodreads

But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be! I cannot express how much I adored this novel despite the fact that it literally ripped me apart. I’ve been meaning to reread it but I don’t think I can put myself through that again just yet. If you have in interest in Greek mythology but would like an easy read, I’d highly recommend this! Not sure how much you’d love it if you want a very accurate take on ancient Greek mythology (I can’t tell you if it is or not since I’m not exactly a classicist), perhaps an actual Greek classic would be more your thing. Buy it here!

Uprooted – Naomi Novik

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, ambitious wizard, known only as the Dragon, to keep the wood’s powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman must be handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as being lost to the wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows – everyone knows – that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia – all the things Agnieszka isn’t – and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But no one can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him. Goodreads

This is one of the books that I actually use to decide if I trust someone’s reviews. I’ve seen a lot of people give this a lower rating because it’s slow, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that! As you can see from the synopsis, this book is simply just magical. The magic system is utterly fascinating and I was absolutely hooked. Also, the ending was exactly what I wanted to when I closed the book, I just felt content and satisfied which barely ever happens when I read. Just an absolutely wonderful book if you are interested in fantasy novels. (Although be aware there are NO DRAGONS IN THIS BOOK. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve seen people on booktube mention it has dragons before they read it? I can understand that but yeah, don’t expect any dragons!) Buy it here!

The Lais of Marie de France

Contes d’aventures et d’amour, les Lais, composés à la fin du XIIe siècle par une mystérieuse Marie, sont d’abord, comme le revendique leur auteur, des contes populaires situés dans une Bretagne ancienne et mythique. Les fées y viennent à la rencontre du mortel dont elles sont éprises ; un chevalier peut se révéler loup-garou ou revêtir l’apparence d’un oiseau pour voler jusqu’à la fenêtre de sa bien-aimée. Mais la thématique universelle du folklore est ici intégrée à un univers poétique à nul autre pareil, qui intériorise le merveilleux des contes de fées pour en faire l’émanation de l’amour. Goodreads

I must apologise for the French synopsis but I couldn’t find an English one that didn’t just specify that it was a prose translation. So I’d recommend you pop it into Google Translate because it’s a really good summary. What more could a someone want, medieval French literature with werewolves, knights and fairies?? This is the book that really opened up my interest in medieval literature and I am so grateful for it. If you read this, Bisclavret is my favourite, would highly recommend it if you don’t want to read the whole thing! Buy the English translation here!

Some Honourable Mentions

I do absolutely love these books but I didn’t want this post to take 400 years to write so I’ve provided links to them if you want to read about them yourself!

  1. The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition – Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri (Trans. Elias Muhanna) – Goodreads

  2. The Family of Pascual Duarte – Camilo José Cela – Goodreads
  3. The Lady of the Camellias – Alexandre Dumas fils – Goodreads

 

I hope you enjoyed and have found something new to pop on your TBR!

August Wrap-Up 2017/Bookish Chat

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So, in August I read a grand total of one book. One. It’s not been a good month reading wise for numerous reasons, the most important one being that I simply just had no energy to do pretty much anything. Also, I mention this constantly, but I just don’t have the funds to be buying books at this time.

Wrap-Up

Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb – 3/5 stars Goodreads

I must admit I was a little disappointed with this read simply because it was just a bit boring, in my opinion. I very rarely read trilogies/series but this first book did not grab my attention at all and I simply just don’t care about any of the characters or what will happen to them, so unfortunately I shall not be continuing the series. However I will be picking up Hobb’s other books in the future as her prose is simply beautiful, it was just a shame that I did not enjoy the plot. However one thing I did LOVE in this book was the importance of dogs, I’m serious. It saved the book for me!

 

Wee Bookish Chat

As you can see, this month was a reading disaster. Definitely my worst wrap-up since perhaps March, I believe. I have been extremely stressed this month for numerous reasons so it has been very difficult to sit down and focus on something. I did attempt to finish The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson but it just wasn’t doing it for me either.

As I have mentioned thousands of times on Twitter, I’m moving to university next month and my reading time is going to dramatically decrease and I am wondering if I’ll be doing any reading at all. My workload is going to be incredibly intense but I do have to read some books for my course (especially in second semester) so that should hopefully get me up to my reading goal!

I’ve read 33/40 books of my Goodreads Challenge so far and I really hope that I can reach 40 by at least December, so that I can possibly exceed my target! Before I move out next weekend, I am hoping to finish 3 of my current reads : The History and Topography of Ireland by Gerald of Wales, The Little Book of Lykke : The Danish Search for the World’s Happiest People, and The Tale of Tales by Giambattista Basile. I want to finish them simply because I just want a fresh start when I move and not have to bring half read books with me!

Hopefully I’ll get over my bizarre hatred towards secondhand books (I don’t trust other people’s personal hygiene) and will be able to make some blog posts about good secondhand bookshops!

 

Wishing you all the best! x

July Wrap-Up 2017

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It’s somehow that time of the month already and now I’ll be sharing with you all 7 novels that I got through this July! I’ve had a pretty good reading month again which I’m very happy about as I am trying to reach my Goodreads goal of 40 books before September! September because when I’m at uni, I won’t have any money to buy books and I’m not sure I’ll really have much time!

 

Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi – 5/5 stars – Goodreads Buy it here!

I started this book in June but finished it on the first day of July (so it still counts ok), and I haven’t stopped praising it since! You can read my full review here if you are interested in seeing my thoughts in a bit more depth!

The Bear and The Nightingale – Katherine Arden – 3/5 stars –Goodreads Buy it here!

I was actually given this book by my sister as she had a spare copy and I would have never picked it up myself. I have very very mixed feelings about this one, the first two thirds of the novel were a bit slow and I felt myself wanting to put it down. However I persevered and got to the end, but the last 100 pages were incredible but for the slowness of the majority of the book, I had to give it 3 stars. The main reason I picked this up rather than giving it away was that Katherine Arden is a modern languages graduate and so it made me intrigued to see how she coped with transliterating Russian words.

The Final Empire – Brandon Sanderson – 5/5 stars – Goodreads Buy it here!

I started reading this novel in April but picked it up again this month and utterly devoured it. I’d explain what it’s about but I don’t think I’ll be able to do it justice. One small issue I had with this book is that I really dislike the protagonist, Vin. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what the issue is but she just really irritates me and makes such foolish decisions in the novel. However, I think she is only 17 in the book and had a rough upbringing, so I can’t really blame her for anything.

Sinbad The Sailor – 2/5 stars – Goodreads

The Arabian Nights is something I have been wanting to pick up for months but 3 thick volumes seems a bit too much for me, so I chose this Penguin Little Black Classic and had stupidly high expectations. Of course, this is just very tiny extract from it but I felt it didn’t flow particularly well and didn’t make for a pleasant reading experience. I can’t say I’d really recommend this because it didn’t really give me anything.

The Greek and Roman Myths : A Guide to the Classical Stories – Philip Matyszak – 5/5 stars –    Buy it here! Goodreads 

I’ve always found mythology fascinating and I received this book for my birthday after my excessive blabbing about The Song of Achilles. This was much better than the Celtic Myths book by the same publisher (Review – Review – The Celtic Myths : A Guide to the Ancient Gods and Legends). This was an excellent, concise but informative book for an introduction to mythology in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely reread it in the future. Matyszak explains everything well but not in a patronising manner, it is very easy to read as a beginner to mythology.

Why the Dutch are Different : A Journey into the Hidden Heart of the Netherlands – Ben Coates – 2/5 stars – Goodreads

Whilst on a search for cheap books, I found this for 99p in the Kindle store and downloaded it without much research. The usual mistake. I’m not sure what I expected but this book wasn’t it. It was essentially just the history of The Netherlands written by an Englishman who made very odd remarks about immigrants and women. I only finished this book because I’d bought it but it’s not worth a read, you could get most of the information from wikipedia.

The Sandman – E.T.A Hoffmann – 5/5 stars – Goodreads

English translation

German edition

As an ex-German student, I’ve been itching to plunge myself into German literature as I never had the chance to study any. I actually own this novel in German (but I can’t read it, natürlich), so I got myself and English edition and I adored it! I’m so annoyed at myself that I let such a a good story sit on my shelves for months without even considering getting a translation. Not going to lie, this story is rather creepy and perhaps not good for bedtime reading if you are easily scared.

The Changeling’s Journey – Christine Spoors – 5/5 stars – Goodreads Buy it here!

My review may be a little bias since MY SISTER WROTE THIS BOOK!! I still can’t believe that I can even say that. I absolutely adored this novel. I read half of it during the editing stage but for some reason never got around to finishing it. It was so lovely to read a tale inspired by Scottish folklore, written by a Scot. It’s almost impossible to find Scottish authors nowadays. I don’t want to spoil too much so if you are interested in some Scottish folklore, make sure you check the links above!

 

This was very half-hearted blog post as I just wanted to document what I’d read and some general thoughts!

Best wishes for August x

Review : Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi

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I felt compelled to write this very short review, despite very rarely doing them. This book is too incredible to simply give a 5 star rating and leave it at that. **I’ve included purchase links at the end of this post in various languages, just in case you are not 100% confident reading in English.

Here is the summary from Goodreads :

“Effia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader’s wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel – the intimate, gripping story of a brilliantly vivid cast of characters and through their lives the very story of America itself.”

This book was, to put it simply, glorious. I have read very few novels which could even be compared in beauty to this one. The writing was just exceptional, and I hope that Yaa Gyasi writes many more novels in the future as I will be purchasing every single one of them, regardless of topic.

General Thoughts

One thing which particularly stood out to me in this novel, and something many people have issues with, is that each chapter follows a different member of the family tree. I personally loved this as it allowed Gyasi to slip through generations with ease, with some members making an appearance in other chapters. Also, it was good for the characters who I didn’t particularly like as I knew I wouldn’t have to read about them for too long. She carefully crafted each individual storyline so beautifully that she could have easily written a full length novel about every single character and there would be no overlapping with story ideas. Props to Gyasi for being able to do that! However many people do have an issue with this as it is unfortunate to have to say goodbye to characters that you love and are interested in after only one chapter. But I feel like the book had to be written this way for it to work.

As someone who is incredibly uncultured, I feel this was such an important book for me to read. Basically, since I’m white and have never left Europe, I barely know anything about the Translatlantic slave trade or it’s lasting impact on the Americas. So reading this gave me a very informative insight into how slavery has impacted society and the African people. Although much more further reading is required, and I shall get around to it soon. It would be wrong to describe this book than anything other than heartbreaking, but some characters did have a satisfying ending, in my opinion.

Long story short, this is an incredibly important novel and I am so glad that Gyasi decided to share it with the world. This book will no doubt become a classic and most definitely will be read for generations to come.

English Edition

French Edition

German Edition

Spanish Edition

Catalan Edition

Italian Edition

Icelandic Edition (Kindle)

Polish Edition

 

Hope you’re all well x