Archive | June, 2013

Novel charms: Book-themed Accessories on Etsy

4 Jun

I love Etsy almost as much as I love Regretsy. You can get amazing and unique gifts, and all the profits from your purchase go straight to the person who made it! Here are my current five favourite bookish accessories. Click through for more information!

book

Tiny Book Earrings by TheIdleBindery.

Harry Potter 'Always' Haircomb by KyraBothwell.

Harry Potter ‘Always’ Haircomb by KyraBothwell.

'The Hunger Games' Mockingjay Pins by Gliterature.

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Pins by Gliterature (that’s me!).

'I Found My Love In A Book' Necklace in Blue by BeneathGlass.

‘I Found My Love In A Book’ Necklace in Blue by BeneathGlass.

Miniature Bookcase Necklace by JanDaJewelry.

Miniature Bookcase Necklace by JanDaJewelry.

Were there any that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About ‘The Great Gatsby’

2 Jun

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal novella is regarded as one of the greatest stories of the twentieth century. It has been translated into forty-two languages and touched countless lives.

There’s a lot of hype surrounding the story right now, what with the new film out and all, and last month I was lucky enough to attend a screening of the 1974 version, hosted by Oona Chaplin and The Gathering Goddess, at The May Fair Hotel. It was amazing! Tonks from Harry Potter was there, as were Cassie from Skins and Talisa from Game of Thrones. I was fangirling like there was no tomorrow.

Here are ten things you may not have known about the original text, which I’ve blatantly plagiarised from my own list over at the Vintage Screenings website. If you want to know more about the 1974 adaptation, or other Gatsby adaptations in general, I’ve written about those too!

  1. The great American novel has been adapted into several films, stage productions and ballets as well as a graphic novel, three video games and an opera.
  2. The Great Gatsby may have inspired Breakfast at Tiffany’s (both the novel and the film), and was at the forefront of Hunter S. Thompson’s mind when he wrote ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas‘.
  3. Francis Cugat was commissioned to create a cover for the book before Fitzgerald had finished writing it. The author liked the design so much that he wrote it into the novel.
  4. David Lynch directed a 30-second commercial for Calvin Klein’s Obsession fragrance which was titled ‘The Great Gatsby’ and which featured Heather Graham.
  5. The author tried to change the name of the book several times, his final preference being for ‘Trimalchio’ or ‘Gold-Hatted Gatsby’.
  6. There are several conspiratorial readings of the text, particularly by scholars. Some argue that the narrator is in love with Jay Gatsby and therefore unreliable, others write papers outlining the reasons why Gatsby should actually be read as a black man.
  7. The author and his wife Zelda walked out of the 1926 silent film adaptation of the novel.
  8. Some people have said that the entire text is a lipogram devoid of the letter ‘e’. This is not the case – it’s in the title, for instance, and it appears sixteen times in the first sentence alone. Readers may be confusing ‘The Great Gatsby’ with ‘Gadsby: A Story of Over 50,000 Words Without Using the Letter E‘ by Ernest Vincent Wright.
  9. Screenwriter Francis Ford Copolla went on to write Apocalypse Now, based on Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness‘, but Fitzgerald was also indebted to Conrad’s text and drew inspiration from it during the composition of his own novel.
  10. The poem which appears as an epigraph is credited to one of Fitzgerald’s characters from his first novel ‘This Side of Paradise‘.

New Fiction Review: ‘Doll Bones’ by Holly Black

1 Jun

dollbones

I won my copy of ‘Doll Bones’ through one of Goodread‘s First Reads competition and it couldn’t have come at a better time, as I was in the stages of recovering from a particularly bad ‘The Graveyard Book‘-induced book hangover. I hadn’t read any of Holly Black’s previous works (no, not even the Spiderwick Chronicles) so I didn’t know what to expect, but I thought this book might make an appropriate supplement to Neil Gaiman’s novel. I was not disappointed.

‘Doll Bones’ is an unexpected coming of age story which follows three preteen BFFs who are on a quest to placate a ghost who may, or may not, be haunting them in the guise of a bone china doll. With a father like the one in ‘The Neverending Story‘ and a naïvety concerning his affect on girls his age, Zach is a cute choice for protagonist. I love that he wasn’t a bit ashamed to be carrying around this doll, and his concern about growing up and having to stop playing with the girls was touching and poignant. One particular passage near the beginning reminded me of the first half of the latest Hyperbole and a Half blog post:

That was why Zach loved playing: those moments where it seemed like he was accessing some other world, one that felt real as anything. It was something he never wanted to give up. He’d rather go on playing like this forever, no matter how old they got, although he didn’t see how that was possible. It was already hard sometimes.

Growing up is inevitable and sad. Something gets lost but it doesn’t have to be lost forever… not if you don’t want it to be. I find myself wanting to write this C.S. Lewis quote down and slip it between the pages of one of Zach’s books (like he was doing in one of the library scenes): “When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

‘Doll Bones’ is different to other quest plots in that the characters actually know they are ‘questing’. The children are fans of J.R.R. Tolkein, Doctor Who and other fantasy worlds; they relish the idea of their adventure, and some of the themes about growing up and putting toys away etc. play into this hope against all odds that magic can be real. This can be a little postmodern at times, for example when Zach is wondering about all the questers who must have failed before the heroes finally prevailed in the stories he loves, but it’s a nice touch and very fun to pick up on while reading.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend this book for children under the recommended reading age as it’s quite creepy – unless they’re connoisseurs of Goosebumps or whatever the contemporary equivalent is. I think a child revisiting this book when they’re fully grown will find it even more precious, after they’ve lived their own bildungsroman. Older readers should be able to get through this book in a couple of days. It’s really that absorbing. When you’re not reading it you’re wondering about the characters and their plight, and I think that’s the mark of a good novel. Black is clearly brilliant at creating story worlds, and despite the fantasy element of this one it was still totally believable. I’ll certainly be checking out her other writings – especially now as I have another book hangover to deal with!