Review – The Celtic Myths : A Guide to the Ancient Gods and Legends

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I received these beautiful mythology books for my birthday this month and I cannot stop sharing photos of them! If you are interested, here are the purchase links.

The Celtic Myths

The Egyptian Myths

The Norse Myths

The Greek and Roman Myths

I personally find mythology absolutely fascinating and I am so grateful that we still have access to these texts and have managed to translate them into modern languages. Yet, as most mythology was never written down so we have lost far too much.

Here is a section of the summary of this book from Goodreads

“From gods, heroes, and monsters to Druids, sorcerers, and talking animals, The Celtic Myths explores every aspect of Irish and Welsh myths in this appealing and authoritative guide. Besides vividly retelling the tales, Miranda Aldhouse-Green brings her expertise in the archaeology of the Iron Age and particularly shamanism to bear on the mythical world she describes, with evidence as diverse as the Gundestrup Cauldron and the famous bog bodies.”

General Thoughts

I did enjoy this book, I really did. But I felt it just lacked in something which I can’t quite put my finger on it. However my absolute favourite thing about this book (apart from the utterly flawless cover) was the inclusion of numerous illustrations/photographs throughout it. I think this really gave the book a special something and kept me intrigued. Reading about statues, cauldrons etc is one thing, but getting to actually see them is really interesting!

However I feel this book wasn’t very cohesive (like my blog but I’m not an author so it’s ok). Information was just thrown in from all corners at random and it made it very difficult to read. I think the book could have been a bit more organised and not just crammed with information with limited explanations.

It’s a great shame that this only included Irish and Welsh mythology with Irish being the main focus. Inclusion of all 6 Celtic nations would have been absolutely incredible, but I do understand that there is often lack of information for the others. I would have loved to see Breton, Scottish, Manx and Cornish included somewhere. There are endless books about Irish mythology so it really is just unfortunate that this book was so heavily focused on it. But I do find it equally as interesting!

I would absolutely recommend this book to others but would just encourage everyone to be aware that it’s only 2 countries. But if that’s what you want, GET IT!

 


 

Not a particularly extensive review as I don’t have that much to say but I felt compelled to write it as so many people have messaged me about these books since I first posted about them! I’ll definitely be doing a full review of the entire collection once I have read them all.

Hope you’re all having a glorious weekend x

A Babble about Foreign Languages – Anglophones

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We are awful at languages, it’s a fact. It’s not even that we aren’t able to learn them, many of us simply choose not to. Foreign languages are not deemed to be an essential subject in schools in anglophone countries (although I can only speak for Scotland) and it’s upsetting. We leave high school being barely able to mutter “je m’appelle…uh.”.

Personally, I believe one of the main problems is that the world tells us not to. What I mean by this is that as English seems to have become the lingua franca of the world, it’s essential to know. Therefore, it can be difficult to find the motivation to learn any other language when most of the world wants to practice English with us. However, I do understand there are other lingua francas (does that even make sense?) in other areas of the world, this is simply a generalisation. One thing I find particularly fascinating about English speakers is that we are always incredibly overenthusiastic about how many languages we speak if we know any. I’ve seen people say they speak French and Spanish, but aren’t actually fluent which can make things a bit difficult. Click here if you are interested in learning about the European Language Framework Scale!

Learning a language is incredible. Even if you never achieve fluency, it gives you so many benefits. Having to learn the grammar and vocabulary of another allows you to fully understand your own language and the beauty of it. I don’t think ugly languages exist, sure some people think that some sound awful (Dutch is a fine example), but all languages are fascinating regarding their vocabulary, origins and structure. Choosing to learn multiple languages from a specific language family can be fairly useful since they are similar in structure (sometimes) and particularly regarding vocabulary. But this can make things a bit confusing. It’s unfortunate that although English is classified as Germanic, it doesn’t really directly link or give us any help with learning other Germanic languages.

In my case, I only speak English fluently but I am hoping that shall change. I’ve had the opportunity to study many languages: French, Spanish, German, Russian, Portuguese and Italian. And (if you didn’t know) I’ll be heading back to university in September to do a degree in French and Portuguese.  Previously I studied French and German at the University of Glasgow but I hated the course and I was awful at German. And that’s fine! Different language families just don’t work for some people. Not being able to learn a specific language doesn’t mean that you can’t learn a language, it simply means that you find that specific one difficult. Don’t lose hope!

As I mentioned, German gave me absolute grief. However, I achieved my highest grades at university in Russian, a grammatically difficult language. Not being able to pick up German quickly doesn’t equal being bad at languages, it just didn’t work for me. This is such an important mindset to adopt as it is the reason many of us give up.

Why I Study Foreign Languages

I thought I’d include a little bit about why I specifically chose to study languages at university. Long story short, I failed in becoming a scientist (I’m not joking), but I love languages too so it’s okay. Basically, I’ve always been utterly fascinated by language and how we all use different vocabulary to express the same thing. I got to study a tiny tiny tiny bit of French when I was in primary school and loved it, so that only fueled my “obsession”! In addition to that, I really hope to be able to teach foreign languages in my country, especially Portuguese. I had 3 incredible French/Spanish teachers when I was in high school and they helped me fall in love with language and so, I hope to do the same one day for someone else.

I’m not 100% sure why I decided to babble so much and post it on my blog. However I hope it inspires you to at least perhaps try learning even a little bit of a foreign language! I chose not to include much advice about learning languages as I’ll get around to doing this once I’m actually C2 level in one or more languages (apart from English, of course).

 

I hope you enjoyed x

 

PS. Here are some of the textbooks/grammar I have personally used and absolutely loved! But please check the levels of these books before you buy them! (A1 = beginner).

Willkommen! German Beginner’s Course

L’Italiano all’università

Português XXI

Ruslan 1

Penguin Russian Course

Version Originale

Collins Advanced French Grammar

Collins Easy Learning French Grammar

Basic Portuguese – Practice Makes Perfect

My Experience as an Au Pair

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I’ve been home for 3 months now after a one month stay in Italy, and I think I’ve had more than enough time to reflect on it. After quitting my course at university in November, I decided to become an au pair for a short while, just to try something new. I was planning to stay for 2/3 months, however the only suitable family that I found only wanted an au pair for one month (and this was after 3 months of searching!).

I think it’s important to be very fussy when choosing a host family. I would never recommend going to the first family who contact you. You need to make sure that you will be compatible, and if that’s the first family then that’s amazing! But more often than not, it won’t be. I used a site called Au Pair World and I found it very simple to use! It’s a legit website, however be aware that not all families on the site will be as honest. So I didn’t go through an agency as I didn’t even know they existed!

Overall Thoughts

I mean, I am very glad that I decided to au pair and got the chance to live in the gorgeous city of Rome for an entire month. I stayed in the EUR area, so EUR Magliana metro station holds a very dear place in my heart! However I don’t think this is something I’ll be rushing to do again soon.

If you followed me on twitter during my stay, you’ll know that the family and I did not get on that well. There were no fights or anything, but they were very distant from me and I felt rather isolated. I was clearly not as good as their previous au pair and it made me a little awkward. The children, Chiara and Martina, were absolutely lovely! The youngest was a bit… energetic and broke my bed and some of my pens but I guess that was part of the experience! The family never wanted to do things together so I had to just explore on my own which was a shame.

My main complaint was they ate really small portions of food (*cries*) and they only had snacks for the children so I was so so hungry the whole time. Of course an 18 year old needs more than an 8 year old, y’know. So I spent most of my pocket money on food that I could snack on, which was a shame because it would have been nice to buy other things! But hey, survival is key! 

One other thing that I didn’t enjoy was just the idea that you cannot escape your workplace. Of course living and working in the same apartment is a bit frustrating because it’s not like you leave work and it just ends, you’re just stuck there. Also it means you have to be ready to babysit, teach or take one of the kids to something at anytime which made me a bit anxious. I think this is something you should keep in mind if you want to become an au pair.

 

Living in Rome

I thought it would be worth including a section about living in Rome since people are usually more interested in that part! As I said, I lived in the EUR area but I had to get another train to get to the metro station so it was a little inconvenient. But there were 4 trains an hour (my town in Scotland has 2), so I was pretty content! However I chose not to take Italian courses as they were expensive and I had little money (60 euros a week, but as I said, I spent it mostly on food!), but I do regret it a bit now. Whenever I was at the train station or back in EUR, people would chat to me or ask for directions and I’d just freeze and forget how to speak. One time, a woman was complaining to me about a train station name (very exciting), and I knew EXACTLY what she had said but couldn’t respond in my broken Italian, ugh.

It was absolutely incredible to be able to just stroll past the Colosseum, Roman Forum, hop on a train to Ostia Antica, frolic around Circo Massimo (I spent so much time here) etc etc! I never thought I’d get to see those things, never mind live so close to them! Although I didn’t do many tourist things as they took a lot of time with queues etc and I had limited free time. But that means I have an excuse to return in the future! By far my favourite place in Italy is Ostia Antica. I went for a visit there near the end of my stay because I refused to leave without visiting it and it was everything I had ever dreamed of. Once you escaped the business of the main path, you could explore by yourself without seeing many people. I can’t quite put into words how utterly beautiful it was, being able to climb through ruins and walk down old Roman streets. It is by far the most incredible place I have ever visited and if I’m ever back in Rome, I’ll be going back for sure.

One thing that I think is worth adding is that it was around 17/18 degrees the entire time I was there which is summer temperatures for my poor Scottish body. Foolishly I had only packed jumpers, a thick coat etc because my host parents assured me that it was very cold in Rome. Nope nope nope. I was melting the entire time and everyone else was wearing woollen scarves and hats, it was really uhm… interesting. 

One last thing about Italy, I miss Pan di Stelle biscuits with every inch of my soul. 

 

Advice for Future Au Pairs

  1. SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OF THE COUNTRY THAT YOU ARE GOING TO. I cannot stress this enough. Moving to a country where you cannot communicate with anyone is incredibly scary and lonely. One of the children I took care of spoke no English, the mother spoke no English, the eldest child spoke some but barely understood me and only the dad spoke it fluently but he was never home. So make sure it’s a country where you speak a little of the language! I can understand lots of written Italian due to knowledge of French and Spanish but it was still very tough on my anxiety.

2. . Choose a family carefully. Skype with them a couple of times before making a decision and make sure you understand the living arrangements and what exactly they expect you to do. You don’t want to turn up and get some unexpected surprises!

3. Have enough money and arrangements to come home immediately if need be. Although being an au pair is generally very safe, you are still living in a stranger’s house. Make sure you have a feasible plan to “escape” if they turn out to not be as nice as you thought they were, or if they ask you to leave due to an argument etc.

 

If you’re going to be an au pair soon, I wish you all the luck in the world and be safe x

April/May Wrap-Up 2017

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So… I barely read much during these months. However there was one book in particular which I utterly adored and I’m very looking forward to chatting about it. I’ve discovered that my slow reading is essentially fuelled by simply not owning many particularly interesting novels. That’s not to say that I don’t want to read them, just not right now. And I don’t buy new books often due to financial constraints. Anyway, time for the wrap up!

April – 2 Books

May – 1 Books

 April –

La Nuit (Night) – Elie Wiesel – 5 stars

Buy French edition here

Buy English edition here

I picked this up in Feltrinelli simply because it was short and inexpensive, but I’m so glad that I got it. It’s an autobiographical account of Wiesel’s survival in Nazi death camps. An absolutely haunting novel, but impossible to put down. Of course, it’s a very depressing read but that is what makes it so incredible.

Only Dull People Are Brilliant at Breakfast – Oscar Wilde – 5 stars

Buy it here

In order to attempt to escape my slump, I picked up this little black classic for only £1. I really did enjoy it, it wasn’t particularly dense or extensive which is what I liked. I can’t decide how to describe what it is so here is the blurb:

“Wilde’s celebrated witticisms on the dangers of sincerity, duplicitous biographers, the stupidity of the English – and his own genius.:

 I absolutely adore Oscar Wilde’s writing, his style is so elegant and unique. So this was a much needed read.

May –

Writings from Ancient Egypt – Toby Wilkinson – 5/5 stars

Buy it here

This is by far the best book I have ever read in my life. As an ancient history enthusiast, this book is everything that I have ever dreamed of. Split into 11 sections, it discusses topics such as mortuary texts, lamentations, hymns, battle narratives, teachings and more exciting things. Each section opens with a brief introduction about the topic and its relevance in Ancient Egyptian society. It is really the perfect introduction to this rich, sophisticated culture.

I’m probably going to recommend this book to everyone I meet for the rest of my life. I cannot express how incredible it is, I urge you all to read it ASAP.

Hope you didn’t die of boredom whilst reading this! See ya soon!

Self Harm Distractions

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Originally this post was going to be about my experience with self-harm, but I decided that that would be utterly selfish as all I do is complain anyway and no good would come out of it. Thus I’ve decided to compile a list of self-harm distractions in case any of you are struggling. Of course, these are not all my ideas so I shall link all the sites that I used so you can take a look at them if you desire! I would quickly like to say that I cannot guarantee that these will stop you self-harming, but I hope that they help you think.

 

Although I’m not sure how triggering this post will be, but regardless, please take care if you are sensitive to such discussions!

 

Distractions

 

  • Write down everything that you are feeling on a piece of paper and then either scrunch it up, tear it up, throw it the bin etc.

 

  • Analyse why you are wanting to hurt yourself. Is this situation worth causing yourself pain over? Is it worth scarring? No. It never is.

 

  • Write a journal to help let your feelings out in a more constructive way.

 

  • Doing yoga or meditation to relax your breathing and focus yourself on something else (this surprisingly works most of the time).

 

  • Talk to someone. If there is no one that you can confide in, here is a link to Samaritans

 

  • Listen to an audiobook. It can be exceptionally difficult to stay focused on a novel when you are in that mindset, so an audiobook is a great alternative.

 

  • Take a shower. Sounds silly but I literally find washing my hair rejuvenating!

 

  • Treating yourself to a relaxing evening. Even something simple such as having some tea and watching a (Disney, obviously) film, rewatching your favourite TV show. Something simple, but relaxing and harmless.

 

  • Baking/cooking, productive and tasty!

 

  • Listen to all your old favourite cringy songs from high school (come on, they are hilarious).

 

  • The 15 minute rule. When you have the urge, distract yourself using other methods (such as those listed), then think about it again after 15 minutes. Still got the urge? Choose another method, repeat.

 

  • * Using an elastic band to flick your wrists rather than cutting * This is something I debated including. I do not want to suggest that other methods of self-harm are “better”, but if you MUST hurt yourself, please make it something nondestructive.

 

 

 

AVOID USING TABLETS OR MEDICINE. There is NO such thing as a “safe overdose”. Please don’t even consider them.

Also do not keep things that you harm yourself with in your bedroom. This may cause you to harm yourself more frequently as they are in easy reach. Keep them away.

 

Those are all the distractions that I’m going to be including in this post, as I mentioned you can check out the websites for some more information. But before I end this post, I just want to say that self-harm doesn’t solve anything. You don’t deserve the pain and I really hope that one day you find peace.

 

Please stay safe, stay healthy and remember that there is help available if you do need it.

 

 

Much love x

Websites used : Clicky 

Clicky click

March Wrap Up 2017

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Once again, I somehow managed to get through the month without doing much reading at all. To be honest, this month has been rough for me regarding my mental health (but I am okay, worry not!), so focusing on reading has been a bit of a task. Instead I’ve been binge watching Netflix since it requires minimal effort (and putting on French subtitles counts as studying, right?). So this month I only managed to read 2 books. Both weren’t particularly long and one of them I started in January, I believe. I’ve lost interest in a lot of the books that I own, so making myself read them is quite challenging!

 

The Song Rising – Samantha Shannon – 4/5 stars

Buy a copy here! – Be aware that this is the third book in a series!

Book 1

Book 2

While I was waiting for this book, I really didn’t think it would ever be released. The wait just seemed to go on forever, but I’m glad that I’ve finally had the chance to see what happens next! I actually had the chance to meet Samantha Shannon last month in Edinburgh at her launch party! However, since I’m an awkward bundle of flesh, I barely spoke to her and I regret it now. But I’m sure I’ll have the chance to attend bookish events in the future!

The long wait gave me such high expectations for the book, which of course Samantha Shannon could not meet, which explains the 4 star rating. I felt like something was missing and more could have happened. I really did enjoy it and I will continue with the series as it’s the only series I am following at the moment, but I just wanted a bit more. I feel cruel for not giving it 5 stars but The Bone Season just set the bar so high and I personally feel that both The Mime Order and The Song Rising did not quite match it.

I think one thing worth mentioning is that at one part of the book, the characters are in Edinburgh and I cannot even express how happy that made me! I barely ever see my country in literature (partly my fault for not reading much by Scottish authors), so that was so important to me. I hope we see more of it in the future!

 

The Magician of Lublin – Isaac Bashevis Singer 3/5 stars

Buy it here!

I was gifted this book by my lovely sister for Christmas (I think?)! What interested me the most is that it’s an English translation of a book written in Yiddish. I have never even seen a book translated from Yiddish before! I absolutely love reading translated books as I really hope one day I’ll have the chance to translate a novel into English. Also, this book is set in Lublin, obviously, and again I have somehow never read a book set in Poland so that aspect was rather interesting!

As for the book itself, I can’t say that I loved it or hated it. I’m sure it’s a book that requires some further reading in order to understand it fully, as I’m sure that I missed lots of things whilst reading it. The protagonist, Yasha, was exceptionally unlikeable although I did pity him a lot, especially nearer the end of the book. I honestly don’t have too much to say about it because I read it in chunks over the course of 3 months, so I really can’t remember it in detail. However, it is worth reading!

 

  • I promise at the end of April, I’ll actually have some books to write about!

 

 

Toodle pip!

January/February Wrap-Up 2017

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Hello to you all, I hope 2017 has been treating you well. I decided to combine my wrap-ups for both January and February because I knew that February would be a terrible reading month (I was right!). I managed to read 9 books in January but only one in February. Since I’m exceptionally lazy and merely want to document my reading on my blog, I won’t be doing reviews for any of these books, but I may add some comments to my particular favourites. One day I will get into the habit of blogging, but it is not this day. As always, I’ll link the books below in case you want to take a peep!

JANUARY

Nous sommes tous des féministes – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – 4/5 stars English edition , French Edition

French Literature : A Very Short Introduction  – John D. Lyons– 4/5 stars –  Clicky click

The Symposium – Plato – 5/5 stars – This edition is good

The Summer Palace – C.S Pacat – 5/5 stars –  Only available as an ebook

Preparing My Daughter For The Rain – Key Ballah – 4/5 stars – click click

Sanshirō- Natsume Sōseki – 5/5 stars – Buy it here!

Lust, Caution – Eileen Chang – 5/5 stars –  Buy it here!

Nejma – Nayyirah Waheed – 5/5 stars –  Only available on Amazon

Bone – Yrsa Daley-Ward – 5/5 stars – Amazon link

 

FEBRUARY

The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition: A Compendium of Knowledge from the Classical Islamic World – Shibab al-Din al-Nuwayri – 5/5 stars  (WordPress won’t let me add a link, but it’s available on Amazon!)

As you can see, I really enjoyed all the books that I read and my particular favourites were The Symposium, Nejma and The Summer Palace (Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be.)! I have been making an effort to put some more poetry into my tbr and to be honest, it’s quite difficult to find good poetry collections. Either way, hopefully March and the following months will include many more wonderful books!

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Again, apologies that this combined wrap up came so late and is so rushed and horrible! I’ll have more time when I return from Italy.

 

Sending you all lots of love!