Filled with Ghosts by Karen Little

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‘We all want to tell our story and be fascinated by ourselves’

Filled with Ghosts is a great surrealist novella, set in southern Spain. It is told from several perspectives and by interweaving their lives the narrative reveals their deepest desires, fears and secrets. I wasn’t sure how to review this, there is so much to it so I decided to break it down. There are other characters but I thought I’d stick to the main and the most interesting ones in my opinion, as they take up the largest portions of the book.

Firstly we have Diana, an artist who knows all about Miguel’s depravity and feels bound to him, even helping hide the evidence. She’s an artist and uses anything and everything for her work.

Miguel drinks too much, does drugs and is angry at the world. He needs to have control over all the women in his life, believing he’s irresistible. While he’s with Diana, he has an affair with Catalina, a wealthy woman who was friends with Diana. Catalina becomes pregnant and Miguel marries her for her money. When Catalina dies (or is she killed?) things start to shift and change.

Next up we have Pilar, Miguel’s kleptomaniac, drug smuggling, hoarding mother. She’s my personal favourite because she exhibits this twisted sense of common sense and motherly duty. For example, how bluntly she considers that police won’t check a child’s teddy for forbidden drugs.

Tila is a character I’m conflicted on. I love her descriptions, the detailed yet blurry way she sees the world, but it can also make for a confusing read at times. She slips between reality and visions, as she has psychotic episodes. She becomes obsessed with Helena after buying snake oil from her, believing it to have cured some of her problems.

These multiple narratives each have a strong distinctive voice, however when they slip into dreaming or deep thoughts it becomes clear they are all seeking a way to escape. There is a vivid beauty in the novel, the way in which Karen Little writes is very poetic. I can smell the moss in the woods where Miguel came across those two men and almost taste the plaster dust as Diana’s studio falls down around her. The exploration of human faults and vices alongside lyrical and beautiful settings create a compelling read. However at times it’s hard to stay untangled in the web of these people’s lives and at a few points I was a little distracted or confused as to where I was in the book and had to go back and check just to be sure.

I don’t want to give away too much, and I hope I haven’t, as this is a novel you need to read for yourselves to become fully immersed in the lives of these Spanish residents.

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QOTD: Ernest Hemingway

Both Ash and I know people who write, unpublished and published, and we have huge respect for all of them. Page One gives us the opportunity to talk to and discover new writers and that’s amazing. We do our best to review fairly, honestly and give feedback that’s constructive. Writing sounds easy, but I think Hemingway summed it up beautifully.

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So just keep writing, you beautiful, smart, wonderful people. The world always needs more art.

Book to Film Adaptations: Paper Towns

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I’m a little late to the game with this review as it’s already out on DVD but I recently bought it and figured it was about time we tried something a little different here at Page One. We do like to mix things up.

So before it was adapted for the big screen, Paper Towns was a book written by John Green who is also responsible for The Fault in Our Stars (also recently adapted starring Shailene Woodly and Ansel Elgort. If you haven’t seen it, find a way to.) and Looking for Alaska. For those of you who are yet to read anything by John Green, please do so now. I promise you won’t regret it.

From here on in things are going to get a little bit rambly because before I even get to the film I feel I need to explain some of my theories about the book.

I think Paper Towns is often misunderstood. It isn’t a love story even though the love story is kinda a big deal. But this isn’t a story about Margo and Quentin. This isn’t even a story about Margo even though she drives the story forward, I mean a key feature of plot is that she is missing and Quentin and the gang have to go look for her. I don’t even think this is a story about Quentin so ignore the fact he is the one telling it. This is a story about everyone. Everyone who has ever idealised someone or something so much so that you then proceeded to invent an entirely different scenario/world in your head without really realising it. So when you actually got to do this thing or meet this person, be friends with or perhaps even go out with them, it inevitably turns out to be nothing like you’ve imagined. The illusion completely shatters. You then realise they are just human, you are just human. Which leaves you a little sad but also a little wiser. For me at least, that is what Paper Towns is about. The moment you realise that the grass isn’t always greener. And that’s one of the reasons why I love John Green so much. His writing is all about the extraordinary but very ordinarily human things in life.

Now when you’re trying to translate this into film it doesn’t always work. The Fault in Our Stars did. Paper Towns eh, not so much. And I think it’s because the climax falls short for a lot of people. For me, it didn’t quite get the nuances of the book. I constantly felt like there was something missing. Of course there was, scenes, lines. Small things here and there that get cut because you have to condense a 300ish page book into a two hour slot. But it still didn’t quite capture the Paper Towns that I read, like other adaptations of books I have seen. Did anyone else feel the same way?

I don’t want to say too much more because I’ll have to start writing spoiler every other word but I will say I loved the little cameo appearance and Cara Delevingne was a perfect choice for Margo.

So yeah overall rating 3*, I recommend you see it.

 

Literary Love at Look Human

So I’ve already written a review for this site on my personal blog (which you can find here) but Hannah took one look at this t-shirt and said you have to include something for Page One.

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The quotation has been verified and it is correct ha!

For those that don’t know Look Human is basically an online shop that prints these awesomely quirky designs on t-shirts, accessories, home stuff, stickers, you name it they’ll probably print on it. They have all these amazing categories like Book Nerd and Fandom which is ideal for all us literary lovers.

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I will point out that there are more styles available, I just love a baseball tee.

However, the company is based in the U.S. so shipping is a little bit more expensive but is still pretty reasonable when you work out the exchange rate, somewhere around £10 and the tops themselves are only around £19. They usually have some sort of offer code up for grabs too, like they gave me $10 off my next purchase. Delivery only took a week, which was pleasantly surprising considering the distance my order had to travel (I live in the middle of nowhere, South Wales Valleys) and the packaging was undamaged.

The fit was exactly right, the material is really soft and easy to wear. The colours are vibrant and the print is a really good quality, it doesn’t have that horrible plastic smell and feels like it’s a part of the t-shirt design rather than just stuck on top. I’ve actually worn these a couple of times now and they still look brand new.

So yay, super happy and I would definitely recommend you try them out.

Beautiful Books – Waterstones

The kryptonite to any booklover, any collector or even people who just like beautiful things is of course, a beautiful book. It doesn’t matter if you already own a copy, or maybe like Ash, you actually own three copies of the same book because of the different covers. A beautiful book has an irresistible allure.

I was browsing the Waterstones website, pay day after all means new books, and at the bottom of the page I saw the catagory ‘Beautiful Books’. These are novels and books that have been redesigned with unique cloth binding or leather, simply gorgeous covers -and the best part? They’re affordable. Honestly affordable, not like in fashion or beauty magazines where the bargain product still costs £100s. These stunning books are £25 and under, well worth the price.

Since there are a few to choose from, I’ll just show you my favourite ones. I especially love the children’s book, The Fox and The Star.

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, £20.

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2. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, £20

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3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, £14.99

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4. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli, £9.99

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5. The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith, £14.99.9781846148507

All these gorgeous books and more can be found on the Waterstones website, here.

Which one is your favorite?

Do you own any special editions?

Feel free to share them with us. We love beautiful books here at Page One.

Better Late Than Never: My Bookish Gifts of 2015

Apologies for my prolonged absence this month. I have no real excuse apart from sheer laziness but I promise all of that is about to change. I also want to say a big thank you to Hannah for picking up the slack!

To break my silence I thought I’d riff off Hannah’s A Very Alice Christmas and put together a collated post of gifts I was given for my birthday in November and Christmas for you literary lovers.

Let’s get to it!

For my birthday Hannah made me this amazing gift, my initial completely covered in pages from one of the Daphne du Maurier short stories I used for my MA dissertation The Doll. It now takes pride of place on my du Maurier shelf. You can find out how she did it here on her own personal blog mishmashcreations.

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One of my best friends Amy Jo also got me a notebook and pencil case from one of my favourite shops Blott. They have lots of cute stationary which is another major addiction of mine and when it combines with the literary world it’s a must have. I am yet to crack into the notebook as I don’t want to sully it’s beautiful pages with just anything.

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I always get a few books from my to read list for Christmas. I’ve already reviewed A Beautiful Wedding as part of the Challenge but stay tuned for rest!

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Next was yet another great gift from Hannah because she knows me so, perhaps even too well. Tequila Mockingbird is a  literary twist on the classic cocktail recipe book. It also has a few drinking games at the back, one of which is featured below to give you an idea of how awesome this book really is. I’m not sure where she got it but I found it here on Amazon.

Back to stationary, I told you it’s an addiction! In my stocking I had this cute little notebook from the beautiful book company. I just wish I had a picture of the gift wrapping for you guys because it was so pretty. Definitely recommend if you’re buying anything from here for someone.

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From my wonderful Mother I got this amazing little print. It’s one of my favourite Shakespeare quotes because I’m practically a minion. I believe it’s from not on the high street but don’t quote me on that yet. I’ll edit in if I’m wrong. The background is an actual page from one of his many plays. Below you can see a picture of the frame collage I have in my room so you can get a sense of the scale of it. And yes there are a few other literary items mingled amongst the photographs. Again the gift wrapping was insane!

And I think that’s it! Did you get anything beautifully bookish for Christmas? Let us know in the comments section so we can check it out.

 

Graduation Day: Ashleigh

Today one half of our little team here at Page One is graduating. So I’d like to say a huge congratulations to Ash for graduating with a Distinction in English Language and Literature. Yes you read that right, a Distinctinction. Our Ashleigh is one smart lady. I hope you have a fab day and sorry I couldn’t be there.

CONGRATULATIONS

Christmas Challenge 8 – A Prize Winning Book: The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

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‘I do not have a split mind. I am not different people. I am myself, the same self I have always been, the one person I can never escape.’

The book is narrated by Matt, a schizophrenic struggling with his illness, the care system and life after his brother died when they were children. It follows his descent into mental illness and the effects not only upon Matt, but the people around him. I like how the book changes typefaces demonstrating Matt’s attempt at writing therapy using a typewriter and is filled with drawings, and notes reflecting the fragility of his mental state.

There’s a lot of praise and hype surrounding the novel and I can see why. While I enjoyed the book, it was dark, funny, obsessive, it also wasn’t quite a five stars for me. I understood what the narrative was attempting to do, reflecting the downward spiral of the narrator as he deals with his schizophrenia. It mirrors nuances, pokes fun at perceptions and offers a bold viewpoint.

However as a reader I found the repetition tiresome at times and I found other parts slow moving. It was like the author was saying ‘Look here, do you see what I’ve done here? Now do you see?’ And I’m not the only one who felt a little frustrated with the drawn out parts, lots of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads express similar frustrations – some going as far to call it boring, but I don’t agree with that. There were also certain parts that were predictable, like the death of his brother. Matt blames himself, he has great guilt and tries to convince the reader that the death is his fault, however we later learn, it wasn’t. His brother fell and it was ‘The Shock of the Fall’ that killed him.

I enjoyed the ending very much. It was heartfelt, and it felt not like a resolution, but more like a step towards feeling better and managing his condition. It gave me, as a reader, a sense of closure, acceptance and love.