Looking back at 2015

2015 was a good year — it brought new blogging adventures, my graduation, and an unexpected twist at the end of the year (you’ll have to read to the end of the post to find out about that).

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A piece of wisdom from Thomas Hardy

During the summer, I participated in the WordPress course Blogging 201, which gave me the boost I needed to refresh areas of my blog and plan for future posts.

I would have liked to post more often. My readership and reader engagement with the blog (i.e. via comments, follows and likes) increased during the two months when I posted my ‘Between the Pages’ series, with several themed posts about Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy. Continue reading

Movie review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Before you read this post, there’s a spoiler warning: I discuss scenes from the book and the movie, including the ending. These scenes are discussed in detail. If you want to be completely surprised, stop reading now! But if you’ve read the book and/or you don’t mind spoilers, read on….


In true movie franchise style, the adaptation of the final Hunger Games book was split into two movies: Mockingjay – Part 1 and Mockingjay – Part 2. I finally got round to seeing Part 2 last week, and it was almost exactly as I had expected. While I’ve been a fan of the series since I read the books in 2011, the last book is arguably the weakest and splitting it into two movies was a mistake. In my opinion, Mockingjay – Part 2 lacked the suspense, grittiness and plot strength (including the political symbolism) of the first two movies.

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A Very Literary Christmas – Part III

Happy

Public domain image by Pavan Trikutam

This is the final post in my “Very Literary Christmas” series, for this year at least. We began in Jane Austen’s England, exploring how Christmas was celebrated, and then we took a trip to the wild landscapes of Russia – a land of tundra, wolves, mountains and forests.

Last, but not least, we’ll drop by the March sisters in 19th century America. Little Women has to be one of the quintessential Christmas books. It opens with that well-known line, “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,’ grumbled Jo, lying on the rug“, and Christmas scenes play a large part in the novel.

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A Very Literary Christmas – Part II

Winter Night

Public domain photo by Christine Maklouf

Winter is the perfect time for curling up with a tome of Russian literature. Well, it would be if this weather wasn’t so unseasonably warm for the time of year — barely a hint of frost, let alone snow. I don’t think we’ll be having a white Christmas!

One of my favourite pieces of Russian literature is Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. You may know it better as the famous 1965 movie, but the book far surpasses the movie. Set against the backdrop of early twentieth century Russia, Doctor Zhivago tells the story of a young doctor and poet, Yuri Zhivago, and his struggles with life, his love for two women, and politics and ideology during unstable times.

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A Very Literary Christmas – Part I

This week marked the 240th anniversary of Jane Austen’s birth. She was born on December 16 1775, on a snowy day in the southern English county of Hampshire.

Her birthday isn’t the only Austen-related anniversary this month — JA’s novel Emma was published in December 200 years ago. As Christmas is fast approaching, I thought it would be fun to explore how Jane Austen would have celebrated the festive season.

Jane Austen lived during the Georgian era of British history, which I wrote about here during my Between the Pages series. A Georgian Christmas would have some recognizable similarities with popular Christmas traditions today, but equally there were aspects that are different to modern eyes.

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Festive Traditions

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The Twelve Days of Christmas. By Xavier Romero-Frias (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (Creative Commons)] via Wikimedia Commons

When I was growing up, family traditions made Christmas special, and we still continue many of these traditions.

On Christmas Day, we always unwrap our gifts in the afternoon, after lunch. When I was a child, on Christmas morning I was occupied with gifts from the stockings that had been hung up the night before. These gifts were delivered by Mother Christmas, not Santa Claus. And our Christmas lunch was — and still is — vegetarian. No turkey in sight!

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