We are a little late but here is our book club pick for March. We are reading The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle. We will also discuss our opinions on last months pick Normal People by Sally Rooney!
In celebration of all the epic Females in the world I’ve made a playlist full of empowering songs by some of the best Female vocalists on the planet. Have a listen and embrace what it means to be a Woman in the 21st century and have a great day!
And if you need a little extra inspiration read Maya Angelou’s poem Phenomenal Woman which was the starting point for Laura Mvula’s song of the same name which this playlist aptly starts with.
If you have any awesome tracks to suggest, then pop them down bellow in the comments section!
This post is about all the books I’ve read in January and February, pretty standard really and the title already told you that so this sections is obsolete really, so perhaps we’ll just get into the content then…
Oh and before you judge me for only reading six books these past two months I actually read a few more than whats in the picture but seeing as they were either in uni reading materials or online they can’t be present in this cute little pile of physical books.
FRANKENSTEIN BY MARY SHELLEY
Oh how I really wanted to love this novel. I love the Gothic genre and the fact that this was a young female writers first novel, in a time where men prevailed and she had the “apparent audacity” to publish it under her own name! In places there are intense moments of wonder (often when the wretched monster is speaking) and there are also dragging moments of boredom (do you really need to ramble on so much about mountains and nature – I get some of it and the symbolism, but just a little less would have been appreciated). Overall, Shelley’s work is a classic, a necessary read but I don’t think I’ll ever pick it up again.
THE SANDMAN BY E.T.A HOFFMAN
Weird, disturbing and has inspired so many people authors such as Neil Gaiman to evidence for a theory by none other than Sigmund Freud! The Sandman is at it’s heart a Kunstmärchen, a Fairy Tale not the Disney kind folks, the traditional ones where people died and had to endure harrowing acts of violence and misfortune. The story mixes so much but at the heart is the effect of childhood nightmares on the adult psyche (and now you know why dear old Freud was interested).
THE THINGS YOU CAN SEE ONLY WHEN YOU SLOW DOWN: HOW TO BE CALM IN A BUSY WORLD BY HAEMIN SUNIM
This book is a nice relaxing massage for the mind. I read it one afternoon when it was all rain and wind outside and I have never felt so chilled out while reading. Haemin Sunim is a Buddhist monk, of the Zen/Seon sector which I’ve mentioned that I have a deep interest in in the past, so my reading of this book is perhaps to be expected. I feel like I will return to read this little book of wisdom time and time again and I can’t wait to read his newest release too.
I’LL GO ON BY HWANG JUNGEUN
The story of two sisters and their childhood friend as one of the sisters navigates pregnancy doesn’t really sound like riveting stuff, but let me tell you that this book is one the best books I’ve read for a very long time. It explores three very close but different lives and the effect of past actions and relationships on current thoughts and behaviours. I’ll Go On is also full of Korean cultural references that have allowed me to get a deeper understanding of the society as a whole. Throughly enjoyable and really thought provoking, I may have also shed a tear or two.
WINTER WOODS (PART 2) BY COSMOS & VANJI – WEB COMIC
Winter Woods is a webcomic inspired by Frankenstein, but instead of The Monster, an alchemist creates a sensitive young man who has lived for more than a thousand years when the story opens. He slowly finds himself falling in love with a woman called Jane who teaches him what it means to be truly alive.
The artwork in this webcomic is absolutely stunning and the story is so uplifting and cute, so you should definitely check it out on Naver Webtoon.
MR SALARY BY SALLY ROONEY
Here starts my Sally Rooney binge, this is a short story and like Rooney’s other work it explores relationships, and more specifically complicated and unlikely relationships. Fast and interesting I really enjoyed this introduction to Rooney who is fast becoming a literature sensation.
THE SIGN OF THE FOUR BY ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
Having read a A Study in Scarlet many years ago (which I enjoyed) I was relieved when this book was part of my uni course. However I didn’t really think much of it. If anything I think The Sign of the Four was a little contrived, Conan Doyle was clearly writing about the British Empire and her pursuits in India to cash in on the Victorian anxieties about The Indian Rebellion of 1857, which was finding itself as the subject of many literary works of the time. Published in cheap magazines and read by the masses, The Sign of the Four was predictable and Romanticised a country (that Doyle never stepped foot on!) in turmoil for mass market appeal. I don’t agree with that at all!
NORMAL PEOPLE BY SALLY ROONEY
Normal People is a good book, I really enjoyed the experience of reading it but on retrospection a few things stand out as problematic, and of course no book can be perfect (except if your name is Haruki Murakami lol - ignore this rabid fan girl!). But overall I can tell why everyone has been reading Normal People and I’m looking forward to what Rooney writes next. Look out for a proper review on our youtube channel which is coming later this week (or early next week depending on logistics lol!!)
THE BEACH OF FALESÁ BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
Clearly a product of its time, this short story is laced with racism and ignorance despite the fact that Stevenson had immigrated to Samoa and wrote this short story to reflect the reality of life in the Pacific. I found it rather boring and cringe worthy, the only redeeming factor was Uma’s defiance of her husband once in the whole story. I had to read this short story for a uni essay, so its safe to say I will never read it again.
3/4 OF CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS BY SALLY ROONEY
Due to a mass deadline at the end of the month I didn’t get to finish the final book in my Sally Rooney binge! Never mind, I’ll finish it this month instead so you’ll be seeing this one properly in March and April’s book post.
Let me know what books you’ve been reading recently!
I am such a fan of Wishtrend, their products work, like really work, as in they have saved my skin from permanent unshifting acne to skin that actually has good days more often than the bad days. So when I ran out of my holy grail skin care products I had to re-order them and seeing as I’m always on the look out for cool new skin care products to try I also have a couple of newbies to test out.
Let’s get into this unboxing…
Have a lovely week, and don’t forget to celebrate a little self love this Valentines Day too!
Hello hello, welcome back to another edition of our bookclub. We have tried many a time to get this thing going and sadly it has always swiftly become a thing of the past. But it’s 2019, a brand new year of hope (1 month late, this doesn’t bode well!) and Charlotte has committed to joining me on this endeavour so not all of the books we will be reading will be obscure Japanese or Korean literature – Hurray I hear you shout, thank goodness – yet ironically this first book pick is actually mine, and it’s thoroughly mainstream as Sally Rooney is having a bit of a moment with her latest novel Normal People.
So whats it about?…
Burning is a taut and thrilling adaptation of one of Murakami’s most intriguing short stories, Barn Burning.
Of course Burning is not a literal retelling of Murakami’s story, it has been tweaked and reworked seeing as it is only a 20 page story and the film is over 2 hours long. These tweaks work so well and contribute to a study of Korean society that feels raw and rather brutal. It’s a classic example of class division, of the psychological harm that jealousy incurs and perhaps obsession.
Burning follows a young man called Jong-su, he works several part time jobs in a struggle to survive in Seoul, one day he meets Hae-mi, an old acquaintance from his hometown and they start seeing each other. Hae-mi goes travelling to Africa and asks Jong-su to look after her cat even though he has just moved back to his family farm in Paju. Jong-su performs his task diligently without ever encountering the cat. When Hae-mi returns from Africa she is accompanied by Ben a young successful man. And thus the tension begins between the two males.
Having Jong-su and Hae-mi come from simple means the sudden appearance of Ben a metropolitan man who drives a Porsche and lives in Gangnam is rather jarring and as an audience we never warm to his character. And he only gets more and more suspicious in his smugness and rather disturbing collection in his bathroom and the revelation that he likes to burn greenhouses. Abandoned greenhouses that take less than 10 minutes to completely disappear. At this point you start to think that he is just a rich boy on a power trip, later however when Hae-mi goes missing it becomes apparent that burning greenhouses is just a metaphor for something far more nefarious…or is it?
That’s the best thing about Lee’s direction, we are never really told anything concrete. Can we completely trust Jong-su, is he not just completely overcome with jealousy, Ben seems to have everything, success, fast cars, a beautiful apartment and a loving family. Is Jong-su imagining the scenario or is Ben really a psychopathic murderer of Women?
It’s a shame that Burning didn’t make it into the nominations for best foreign film for the Academy Awards this year as this is a masterfully conducted thriller. The acting especially by Yoo Ah-in and Steven Yeun is electrifying, they fit so well into their respective roles. The soundtrack heightens tension terrifically and the cinematography feels at moments whimsical and then all of a sudden concise and rigid.
Let me know in the comments section what you thought of the film.
Kingdom is Netflix’s new original Korean Period Drama with a twist, yes there is a Zombie outbreak! Directed by first time TV Director (he’s made quite a few films, A Hard Day and The Tunnel) and written by Kim Seong-hun who was behind Signal, one of the most critically acclaimed and popular cable TV Dramas of the decade in Korea.
ZOMBIES IN JOSEON!
The marriage of period drama and zombies is quite frankly genius, with Zombies going mainstream with tv shows like The Walking Dead, the undead started to lose their appeal. But with a fresh period setting new life has been breathed into the genre.
For Netflix’s first foray into original Korean content this cast is impeccable. Kingdom is headlined by Ju Ji-hoon and Bae Doona who are currently some of the most recognisable faces from Korean Cinema. Ju Ji-hoon plays a crown prince searching for answers and Bae Doona plays a small town nurse who first encounters the undead!
While the Zombies are horrifying so are the living and breathing people! Class systems, poverty and power hungry rivalries make some characters do some pretty awful things, including the source of the zombie outbreak!!!
A TV series about Zombies has never looked so beautiful. This is a masterfully shot drama that oozes style and substance. And standing at only 6 episodes long, you can tell an immense amount of detail has gone into crafting this aesthetically stunning drama.
IT’S NETFLIX’S FIRST (TRULY) ORIGINAL KOREAN DRAMA
Censorship be gone! Hello blood, guts and gore! Anyone who has watched Korean Dramas before know that certain things don’t get aired on national TV, and often if present (Say a gun or a knife, or a bloody wound) they will simply be blurred out which is quite jarring (to begin with especially) as it takes you right out of the action of whats happening. So thankfully as this is a true Netflix Original it will not have to pander to broadcasting rules in Korea!
Have you been convinced? Then go see what the hype is all about, and be warned you may just binge watch this short little series in one sitting!
As a Book addicted I have the overwhelming urge to constantly buy books, so here is a relatively sizeable addition of books to my already massive collection
Let me know in the comments section what books you’ve recently purchased and what book you’re going to read next.
Buddha once said that “Life is suffering”, most people would see that quote as really negative and quite depressing, however, it’s just that we are looking at it a little wrong.
What Buddha meant by “suffering” (or Dukkha as it appears in Buddhist teachings) was that because life is in a constant state of impermanence everything is always changing. Thus challenges will present themselves constantly, and we will be bombarded with misfortune, dissatisfaction and moments in life where we feel like giving up as a challenge seems like it is too hard to conquer. If we accept this truth then we can work to solve it, we can strive to conquer our fears, we can rise up in the face of adversity and overcome obstacles to fight against the uncertainty and trials of life.
MY CURRENT CHALLENGE
Currently I am in my second year of university (studying English Lit) and I also work 30 hours a week in retail. And if that wasn’t enough on my plate already I co-write this blog (although Charlotte where you at girl?), run a very small youtube channel and I am also learning French and Korean. I by all rights should be the queen of multitasking. I am not. I am currently out to sea in a massive storm. I am finding it so hard to juggle everything that I want to do and need to do (like lets face it nobody wants to go to work).
As a result sometimes I feel like I just want to give up. A massive essay needs to be written and I just can’t seem to find the words to convey what I want to say. Give Up. I still can’t speak French or Korean fluently. Oh I may as well Give Up. My youtube channel and blog get such low viewership and engagement. I’ll never get anywhere with this so I should Give Up
NO! Giving Up is the failure.
If you really do Give Up then you are guaranteeing that you definitely wont succeed. While you chip away at something there is always the possibility that you might succeed.
For example if I don’t have the time to hit the language textbooks, I can still practise French or Korean listening by watching a drama or a movie – as a result I’ll pick up some phrases. And then when I do get a little time (5 or 10 mins a day) I can also access a language learning textbook or app (check out LingoDeer!! Honestly one of the best language apps I’ve ever used!!!), it may take a long time but I will become fluent one day. Language learning is all about exposure.
The secret is to proactively assess how you can achieve your goals and then go out and smash them! And to do this you also need to develop a Never Give Up State of Mind…
HOW TO GET A NEVER GIVE UP STATE OF MIND
♥ Persevere, you will get there in the end.
♥ Stay positive, half of the battle is in your mind, if you feel positive you will more than likely achieve what you set out to do.
♥ Take inspiration from the Japanese and their phrase 仕方が無い (shikata ga nai) or しょうがない (Shō ga nai) which means It can’t be helped. I have been using this as a mantra in situations where the outcomes are totally out of my control and I have found it to be quite useful in helping me to let go of blaming myself for mistakes and any shortcomings that I have.
♥ Get a motivational Playlist. Music can make or break my mood so when I’m feeling down or overwhelmed I like to blast some tracks to bring me back on track. Check out my playlist and make your own!
Poignant, thought provoking and subtly charming. Hong Sang-soo blends reality and whimsy in this snapshot of life.
Haewon is a young woman still trying to find her place in the world when she finds herself abandoned by her mother who has suddenly decided to emigrate to Canada. And to make matters worse soon after her affair with a melancholy married professor comes to light, she is thus ostracised by her classmates and feels utterly alone.
I loved the simple direction in this film which made it feel really real, like I was simply observing a moment in someone else’s life. This effect was also helped by the natural and conversational dialogue and the lack of a soundtrack (except for a key recurring song). This style of filmmaking is to me simply wonderful, it’s perhaps the closest you can get to reading a book which makes it an utterly charming experience to watch.
Another key factor that makes Nobody’s daughter Haewon such an interesting watch is the abundance of recurring motives throughout the film. And for the sake of not spoiling what that alludes to I’m just going to leave it there. So if you haven’t watched the film yet keep your eyes peeled for them and if you have seen this indie gem then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
You can catch this film and 5 more of Hong Sang-soo’s films as part of the Mubi “selectrospective” of the prolific directors filmography titled Solving Puzzles: The Cinema of Hong Sang-soo. If you don’t want to miss this movie Mubi works is a little different to Netflix or other online streaming platforms so you do have to watch the films within 30 days before they disappear from the library making way for new content!
P.S. I have started a little film club over on Instagram on my Film Account so if you fancy joining head over there and get involved!!! This film was my first pick as I was super excited to find out about Mubi showcasing Hong Sang-soo’s work as most of his films have never been released here in the UK!!