This April I Have…

  

…updated my blog.

I decided it was time for a change and in a bid to broaden my blog and discuss more than just books I have gone for a new look and decided to include more posts on life in general, especially my trip to Australia.  I love the idea of making this more of an online journal and including all the things I love. 

…moved house (again).

I moved into my own flat six months ago and have loved living on my own and the freedom and peace that this brings.  Unfortunately (or not as is now the case) my landlord decided to sell my flat so I had to get out.  Instead of finding somewhere new in this city and leaving it empty for a month I have decided to move back home to Mum’s for a few months.  It will be a long commute – although I might stay at my boyfriend’s  some of the time – but I will be saving money which will be fab for Australia.  So all my furniture and the vast amount of my belongings moved last weekend, leaving me sleeping on an air bed and living a little bit like a student for ten days.  There was a huge and scary row on another floor in the flats a few weeks ago so in hindsight it’s a good job I’m moving. 

…read books of course.

Although I haven’t been reading as much as I would have liked, mainly due to the bore of packing boxes. 

Bridget Jones’ Diary: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding.  I read this as part of my TBR Pile 2015.

A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast by George. R. R. Martin

Mariana by Monica Dickens which counts towards my TBR Pile 2015 and I’m debating adding it to Reading England as some of the novel is set in Somerset.  Ooo and it counts for Reading the Twentieth Century.

I have also been reading two other books on the side, well dipping in to them.  One of them I found in my boyfriend’s house which is shocking as he isn’t a reader; it is about murderers but hopefully that’s not a sign. 

…been watching.

  

Pretty Littel Liars on Netflix and I am obsessed! I read the first five books in the series in January and loved them so I was initially a bit reluctant to watch the TV programme.  After a few episodes I completely forgot about the books and just became engrossed in the series.  It is so addictive and I love the mystery element of it.  I think this is why my reading has taken a little bit of a backseat as I have become Netflix obsessed.  One of my friends is also watching the series on Netflix and although I have overtaken her we still gossip about the show and send OMG texts at dramatic events. 

…joined The National Trust.

  

I worked for The National Trust for a number of years and due to this I always had a staff card so I could visit properties for free.  On Easter Monday my boyfriend and I went with some friends to Kingston Lacy, which is one of my favourite National Trust properties.  I love the Edwardian feel and the ‘tent’ bedrooms at the top of the house.  When we were there I tentatively approached the subject of joining as a couple and luckily – despite his ‘rock god’ (ha!) image – he agreed and now we always have somewhere to go at weekends.  And I even convinced my mum to join as well so that when I’m home we can go to different places, especially as there are lots of properties around there.  


Australia Planning

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On a trip to Paris my friend and I were discussing things we wanted to do before we were 30, now I know I have a few years left, but judging how quickly a school year flies by I’m sure it will be here before I can blink *sob*. Top of my list was to travel outside of Europe and for a while I debated an American road trip with a friend of mine, but then I had a rethink. For years I have been saying I would one day make it to Australia; during my Masters I worked in an Australian bar and I have kept in touch with someone I worked with and I have always said I would visit one day. So I’m sure I hoped this new ‘Things to do Before I’m Thirty’ challenge would be the push I needed to book that plane ticket…luckily it was.

I began thinking about booking my flights last summer, I even bought The Lonely Planet Guide to inspire me. I have always avoided travel guides as they turn me into a green eyed monster as I am jealous of all the people who get to visit these exciting places so I knew that buying the book would be a big decider. For weeks I flicked through the travel guide, sticking post it notes on pages and places I knew I definitely wanted to visit, deciding travelling along the East Coast was the best way to spend my time. I even got a credit card so I could put the flights on that instead of relying on my saving skills. And then my flatmate decided she was moving to the Midlands.

When my flatmate said she was moving I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to afford to live alone and travel on my mini adventure. I knew I didn’t want to live with anyone else again; there’s something about living with people who aren’t your family, partner or friends that I just couldn’t cope with any longer – possibly the drink rings on the kitchen sides or the dried up contact lenses that occasionally fell out of the washing machine. I’m no saint to live with either to balance out the moaning. After much deliberation and poor maths skills on my part I just thought ‘sod it’ and booked the flights anyway. Yes it is a pain trying to pay all the bills, but let’s be cliched and say ‘you only live once’.

I booked my flights back in October and I have done some planning in preparation for my trip, but I could probably do with another good sit down to go over everything…and book somewhere for me to sleep when I’m over there. For months I was essentially just turning up in a strange country, but now I have a loose plan and a few months to go to make ensure I make the most of my time over there.

I’ll just get move number two of the past six months out of the way and then I will return to organising far more exciting Australia related things.

Blog Update

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After much thought I have decided it is time to refresh and update my blog. I have been feeling a tad disconnected with the whole blog at the moment and it was long overdue a revamp, so in a bid to avoid packing for my imminent move and school work, I have had a good sit down (on my laptop, not my usual ipad post) and restyled LindyLit. I mean it might not be a huge visual change, but I have decided to include a page for all posts related to Australia and my upcoming trip to the other side of the world and a page dedicated to ‘Lifestyle’ things, such as beauty product reviews, cooking and recipes and just general moseying about posts. I’m hoping this becomes more of an online journal/scrapbook of all the things I love doing and I’m geekily excited about the idea. I’m currently resisting the urge to write millions of blog posts, but I’m hoping that my move to including more than just books and reading will make my blog more active, especially as the whole moving thing (and my addiction to Pretty Little Liars on Netflix) has slowed my reading down for the time being.

A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast

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Title: A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast
Author: George. R. R. Martin
Published: 2011
Challenges: None
Star Rating: 5 out of 5

*Warning: Spoilers/Theories at the very end of this review*

Synopsis
It is difficult to write a synopsis for a book in a series, especially when you don’t want to give away too many spoilers. A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast returns to the battle for the Iron Throne, beginning where Part One ends – obviously! A Dance with Dragons focused on the North and life across the seas from Westoros, however Part Two sees the narratives of most of the main characters come back together again. By the end of the book the dragons are on the loose, Cersei Lannister has fallen from power and Jon Snow has made the difficult decision to get involved in the war, something which men of The Wall are not supposed to do.

My Thoughts
It is easier to talk about my thoughts on the book than focus on what happens as I am slightly less likely to give away spoilers this way. After A Feast for Crows I felt a little lost as far as this series went, but I am so glad the last two books returned to form and I cannot wait for the next one, even though the publication date is still unknown. I don’t think I’ll be able to say anything new as far as my feelings on these books goes, but I love them. Yes, in places the narrative is complicated and occasionally I forget what happened to a character in a certain book, but I discovered this amazing website (http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/A_Song_of_Ice_and_Fire) which gives detailed profiles on every character and what happens to them in each book. I think this will come in handy when the next book is released as I’m sure I’ll forget what has happened to some characters by then.

Spoilers/Theories
The best thing about finishing A Song of Fire and Ice so far is that I can speak to my friend about theories as to what might happen next *geeks*. I did have one OMG moment in the last Jon Snow chapter as I genuinely did not see it coming, don’t worry he is alive (we hope!). In the earlier books I had an idea about Gendry, one of Robert’s bastard sons, and how maybe he would come to play a bigger role in the narrative, but as of yet he has failed to make a huge impact. Both my friend and I think Jon Snow is actually Lyanna Stark’s son with Rhaegar Targaryen, but my friend thinks we will then marry Danyeres and rule the Seven Kingdoms. I’m not too sure. She also has an interesting theory about who the three dragons represent and something involving Tyrion which I never thought about. Only time will tell I guess.

Mostly I am relieved I have finished the series before the TV show starts again. I had a nightmare avoiding spoilers in the past, so at least now I don’t need to worry about that. And I can finally watch series three and four.

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy

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Title: Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy
Author: Helen Fielding
Published: 2013
Challenges: TBR Pile 2015 and a third book for London in my Reading England challenge, but that doesn’t really count.
Star Rating: 4 out of 5

*WARNING CONTAINS SPOILERS*

Synopsis
Bridget Jones is back…albeit older and with two young children in tow. She has moved on slightly from the life of a carefree thirty-something singleton plagued by the horrors and the minefield that is dating and is now a widowed fifty-something plagued by the horrors and the minefield that is dating. Yes after sailing off into the sunset with the lovely (although slightly too sensible for me) Mark Darcy at the end of The Edge of Reason, Mad About the Boy sees Bridget struggling to come to terms with the sudden death of Mark and the chaos and tribulations of raising two children alone whilst trying to fit in school concerts, trips to visit her mum and Aunt Una in their glamorous retirement home, business meetings about potential scripts, dates with men met over the Internet and the possibility of what we all ultimately dream for…a perfect romantic mini break! Ha!

Mad About the Boy explores the difficulties of suddenly finding yourself single in your early fifties and realising that the dating world you used to inhabit has completely changed. No longer is it a world of office romances and meeting through friends, but instead it is dominated by dating websites and all the difficulties this brings. Not to mention the difficulties of dating a man 20 years younger. Although Mad About the Boy isn’t just about dating and Bridget’s love life, it deals with the everyday dramas of family life and the various issues of family life in an endearing and heart warming way.

My Thoughts
I originally started reading Mad About the Boy not long after its release; my friend picked up an airport copy on a trip to Malta and after she devoured it on the flight there I added it to my holiday reading. However I started it on the flight back and didn’t get much further than that. I decided to add it to my TBR Pile for 2015 as I didn’t really have any motivation to pick it up again but I felt as though I should finish it and find out Bridget’s fate, especially after I had read the first two instalments. I forgot how easy to read Fielding’s writing is, in Bridget she has created a lovable character who is far from perfect but copes all the same. I like the diary style, especially the added information at the start of each day’s entry detailing silly extras such as ‘number of Twitter followers lost, entire bags of cheese eaten, amount of time spent worrying about lack of communication from toyboy’. I was also pleased to read updates on the lives of some of Bridget’s friends and family, including her ‘f**kwit’ ex boyfriend, Daniel Cleaver and her crazy and overpowering mother. For some fans of Bridget I am sure the hardest bit was coming to terms with the death of Mark Darcy; I liked how Fielding introduced the death early on in the novel but didn’t reveal how it happened until part way through, creating some mystery surrounding the whole thing. I do think killing off Mark was a good move as I’m not sure how interesting Bridget’s diary would have been if it was just full of ‘smug married ness’ and I couldn’t imagine Mark and Bridget ever actually getting divorced.

My favourite parts of Mad About the Boy were definitely the bits exploring online dating. I have had a fair amount of experience of online dating which when I say it makes me feel like some ridiculous failure at dating in ‘real life’ but I guess that comment is incredibly rude to the millions of people who use online dating sites and slightly hypocritical as I willingly used it. I find the whole process very unromantic, but unfortunately it is a part of the technological age we live in. Fielding perfectly describes the confusion this style of dating brings, the waiting for replies, the nosing at profiles and hoping the other person doesn’t know you are spying, the whole ‘are they really who they say they are’ dilemma and perhaps the most common online dating experience of all – endless messages back and forth and yet never actually arranging a face to face date. I loved these parts of the novel because they are so relatable and offered such a true snapshot of dating in the twenty-first century.

I have read a few reviews criticising how Bridget Jones has changed from a haphazard, yet endearing singleton to an unrealistic and unachievable portrayal of an upper middle class life many of us could never achieve. And yes I agree that it is highly unlikely that I will end up living in a gorgeous mansion in a posh part of London or have the luxury of never needing to work and being able to afford a nanny etc but surely reading is supposed to offer some form of escapism…I’m never going to live in Westros or a Jilly Cooper’s Rutshire, but I can dream.

Challenges
Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is the fifth book I have read from my TBR Pile 2015, which makes me very happy as I am ahead of target. I am conscious that I still have my two biggest books to go, but Vanity Fair definitely has to wait until my plane journey to Australia, luckily a friend is reading it at the moment and has only positive things to say about it.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

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Title: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Author: Anne Bronte
Published: 1848
Challenges: The Classics Club, Reading England
Star Rating: 3 and a half out of 5

Synopsis
When a mysterious new tenant moves into Wildfell Hall all the local residents are curious to discover more about her. Mrs. Graham – potentially a widow – and her young son move in and rarely visit or have anything to do with their neighbours, something which sparks great curiosity in a small community. It is certainly that way for Mr. Markham, who is intrigued by the young woman, how she came to live in such a secluded area and just what is her true relationship with her landlord, Mr Lawrence. Told partly through Mr. Markham’s letters to his friend and partly through the private diary of Mrs. Graham, this is a novel that explores the difficulties facing women who marry ‘cads’: men who willingly spend their time and money on alcohol, gambling and pursuing extra marital affairs. Women who don’t have the option of divorcing a husband who is mistreating them, but instead have to quietly cope, knowing that they have very little rights and would be destitute if they even dared to think about divorce.

My Thoughts
I always think I’m not a fan of the Brontes, however when I truly reflect on this I realise that I base this solely on Wuthering Heights, which I find somewhat overrated. I studied Jane Eyre at A Level and it was one of the first books that truly convinced me I wanted to study English Literature at university and I enjoyed Villette when I read it for a Classics Club Spin, so really this is an unfair opinion. Having read books by her two sisters I thought it was time I gave Anne Bronte a chance and as The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is on my CC Reading List, I decided Match was the perfect time to pick it up.

I’m not about to start screaming my love of the Bronte sisters from the rooftops but I was pleasantly surprised with The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Anne is arguably the most overlooked of the Bronte sisters and I never remember hearing about her work when I was at school…or university for that matter, so it was interesting to form my opinions and decide whether this reputation as the least memorable sister is justified.

I found Helen’s part of the narrative much more interesting than Mr. Markham’s as it is where the main part of the action seems to take place. Mr Markham’s narrative focuses on how this mysterious new tenant is perceived by her new neighbours and whilst this is quite interesting in terms of background, I found the reasons she ended up at Wildfell Hall much more interesting. The attitudes of the neighbours help to show the prejudice a woman living alone faced in Victorian times, but it is Helen’s relationship with her husband that truly shows the unfair, sexist society of the time. Helen makes the mistake of marrying for ‘love’ and going against her family’s wishes and is duly punished; her husband is a gambler, drinker and serial womaniser who does little to hide this from his wife and shows no remorse when it is discovered. I felt sorry for Helen, who had no rights and if she had divorced her husband – even though he was in the wrong – she would have been left destitute and without her son. For the time, her act of running away and essentially hiding from her husband was a brave, but reckless one for which she would have been severely judged. It just seems so surreal when I think about the life I lead and how restricting it was to be a woman in Victorian times, something which always fascinates me. I love reading about the difficulties female characters face and how they struggle to overcome these.

Of course this is a novel where are heroine overcomes her personal struggles and lives happily ever after, but I was very pleased that Bronte took the time to clear up the loose ends of all the characters. My favourite was the fate of Annabella, a woman who marries a Lord and one of the first woman Helen’s husband has an affair with. Her husband eventually divorces her (because of course men could divorce their cheating spouses even though women had to put up with it) and she dies poor, destitute and alone in a foreign country with no one to care for her. Of course it is the woman who falls from grace and goes against female conventions who ultimately meets a messy end and the woman who is virtuous and stays true to her morals who lives happily ever after. Thank goodness we have a slightly less black and white society as I’m not sure what my fate would be if I lived in a Victorian novel.

On the whole I think it is quite sad that poor Anne Bronte is overlooked in favour of her sisters, I for one found The Tenant of Wildfell Hall more enjoyable than Wuthering Heights and I’m certain I can’t be the only one with this view. I almost feel a need to read a biography of the Brontes, something which sets alarm bells ringing in my head, luckily I am on a complete book buying ban as the fear of moving all those books again is slowly starting to creep up on me.

Challenges
I have hit a milestone in terms of my Classics Club List as The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is book number 20 ticked off the list…a list I have serious doubts over completing by my March 2017 deadline.
This also ticks another county in my Reading England list as according to some other bloggers the majority of the action is set in Cumbria.

March Round Up

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March is finished and as always after Christmas the school year is flying by. March has been a crazy busy month in terms of work, with an observation and then the dreaded O coming in to school so I feel as though my reading took a backseat for most of the month. I also had a bit of a shock flat wise as my landlord is selling it, so I have to find somewhere else to live, which as I type seems a tad surreal even though I know I am moving. I have decided to go home for a few months as I will save myself some money before Australia. I’m not overly bothered but the thought of moving all of my books again and then again a few months later has given me a push to be incredibly ruthless and start sending some to the charity shop. So far 28 books have been culled from the collection which for a normal person would be most of their collection gone, but for me this has barely made a dent, so maybe it’s time to look again.

We are know a quarter of the way through the year and I’m happy with my reading so far. I have a mini challenge set on Good Reads to read 50 books this year and I have currently read 16 which puts me ahead of target if I keep reading at this pace. March reading consisted of:

A Dance with Dragons Part One by George. R. R. Martin
Withering Tights by Louise Rennison
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte (review yet to be published)

I’m pleased with my reading as two of the books are pretty bulky. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall surprised me as I really enjoyed it and found it relatively easy to read, but my favourite read of the month was A Dance with Dragons and the return to the world of Game of Thrones.

Challenges
I have currently read four books from my TBR Pile 2015 ticking Withering Tights off the list this month.
I have also added two more titles to my Reading England 2015 challenge with Withering Tights set in Yorkshire and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall set in Cumbria.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall counts towards my Classics Club List as well, so although I haven’t read any books written in the twentieth century this month I have had a good month for challenges on the whole.

I’m not sure where April will take my reading if I’m honest. I’m have entered the Classics Club Spin #9 but that might happen in May, depends on my book and my mood. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a lot of reading done with what is left of my Easter holidays.