Thursday, 4 October 2018


Welcome to Degree Diaries, a new series on my blog where I will be reflecting upon my feelings at different stages of my degree. I am studying BA English Literature at a UK University. 

I have just finished my first week at university. Studying at degree level is a change, but it is a welcome change for me. At A-Level, I was used to studying a Shakespeare play for months on end, but at university, I will be studying a Shakespeare play in a week. The expectation is that you read faster but deeper. I am well aware that hard work is ahead, but I am ready for it. The concept of having three years stretching out ahead of me that will shape my life and I can push myself as hard as I can excites me. The lecturers at my university are extremely passionate about their subject — it truly is infectious. Being part of an academic community is really special, as you're surrounded by others with similar ambitions and interests to you. This time last year, I only knew of two people who had similar interests to me; now, I am truly content when I am sat in a lecture theatre with nearly one hundred people that are just as passionate as I am about English Literature. I honestly couldn't be happier studying a subject that I love.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018


I don't usually enjoy historical fiction, but A Sky Painted Gold completely changed my perception of it: It was a fantastic book to end my summer reading.

Set in the 1920's, sixteen - year - old Lou lives in a small town in Cornwall and has always dreamt of being a writer. Her older sister Alice is getting married to her childhood sweetheart and is building her own new life and Lou has never felt more alone. As the second oldest child, Lou thinks that she will be expected to follow a similar path and can't help but not want that at all. She starts to write a novel of her own, finding love in the written word. Lou doesn't get much time to herself in her busy household, so she discovers that the Cardew family have seemed to have abandoned their house and starts to eat apples falling from their tree and reads books from their library. However, when Robert and Caitlin Cardew, two siblings, return to their house for the summer, Lou experiences new things that she could have only written about: She attends glamorous house parties, wears stunning dresses and drinks champagne. But are there hidden secrets in the Cardew family?

The post-war, Great Gatsby atmosphere was captured perfectly; Wood definitely has a talent for crafting words that made me not want to put the book down and desperate for more once I had finished it. A huge factor that made the book fantastic was the characters; I liked the development of Lou throughout the novel and adored the fact that all of the females were extremely supportive of each other - it was heart-warming. The romance between Lou and Robert was slow burning, but realistic and touching. Moreover, the plot wasn't complicated, which means that a spectrum of ages would enjoy the novel: It is perfect for a young person who is venturing into YA fiction, but it is also perfect for a young adult who is looking for a relaxing and pleasurable read.

A Sky Painted Gold is definitely a 5/5 - it's a book that you will want to keep on your shelf and re-read. I can't wait to see what Wood writes next.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018


Lou out of Luck is a hilarious novel, just as the first book in the series Girl Out of Water was. It lives up to some of the most popular comedy books such as the Noah Can't Even Series by Simon James Green and the Super Awkward Series by Beth Garrod. It is rare to find an upbeat book that makes you laugh out loud but also addresses important themes that really makes the reader think. Lou out of Luck definitely ticks this box, covering topics such as anxiety, family tensions and strained friendships. As a reader, I could really connect to Lou: I love how she embraces her awkwardness and clumsiness rather than trying to hide from it. It was also inspiring to read how Lou found solutions to the problems that faced her throughout the course of the novel.

Both of Lou's parents are unemployed so money is tight in the Brown family. Therefore, the heating is off, Lou eating lentils for dinner every night and the family car is being used as little as possible, so Lou has to get lifts to school with her eccentric classmate Dermot and his extremely quirky mother, Aggy. Furthermore, Lou's sister Lav has been entered into a modelling competition by someone without her knowledge, but the prize is £25,000 and the Brown family are in need of money so her Dad wants her to stay in the competition. With Lou's school prom on the horizon and her best friend Hannah occupied with being on the Prom Committee, as well as her boyfriend Gabe joining the debating team and forgetting about Lou, she has plenty to write about in her worry diary. But will Lou get her life back on track?

Nat Luurtsema captures to essence of teenage life perfectly - developing friendships, pressures to conform and new relationships. I adored Lou, Lav, Gabe and Lou's Dad especially as characters. I really enjoyed gaining a deeper insight in this book into secondary characters, such as Hannah and I also liked being introduced to new characters like Dermot. Without spoiling anything, the ending rounded the book off perfectly and I could resonate with it myself. Lou out of Luck is 100% worth reading - you will not regret it. Nat Luurtsema is a brilliant writer and I hope that she continues Lou's story in a third novel.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018


TITLE: Atonement 
AUTHOR:  Ian McEwan
PUBLISHER: Jonathan Cape 
AGE GROUP: 16+ (Explicit themes are discussed.)
RATING:  5/5

Atonement is easily my favourite novel. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to start reading postmodern fiction or explore the genre further. Ian McEwan is a master of crafting prose through language and structure - I was truly in awe whilst reading Atonement.

The first part of the novel is set in a large English country house in the mid-1930's, which is home to the Tallis family. The central character is Briony, an aspiring writer who has an innocent but in some instances advanced perception of the world. On a hot, hazy summer's day her older brother and one of his close friends are coming to the house for a dinner: The events that occur that day due to Briony's 'deductions' will rip the family's lives apart and change them forever. Will Briony ever atone for her childhood mistake?

Some may argue that the first part of the novel is a little slow, but I think the use of the omniscient narrator and extremely vivid description worked perfectly to slowly introduce the reader to the internal thoughts of all of the characters. McEwan presents a 13 year old's thoughts so perfectly that it is uncanny; Briony is at the awkward stage of adolescence where she isn't treated like a child, but still isn't regarded as an adult. She wants attention and to feel knowledgeable, which are very realistic feelings of a young teenage girl. I didn't like her character at the start of the novel, but upon reflection after reading Atonement, I started to understand her feelings.

Structurally, Atonement is a book of multiple layers; McEwan skilfully embodies Briony's journey as a writer within his own book. At the beginning of the novel, the prose is split into chapters, whereas in Part 2 the prose becomes more fluid and elements of metafiction start appearing more frequently. I applaud McEwan on his descriptions of Briony working as a nurse in the midst of World War Two and Robbie's experiences as a soldier. Robbie's struggle to reach Dunkirk and the images that Briony witnesses in the hospital are described in gruesome, minute detail - I really felt like I was witnessing the events along with the characters. Cecilia, Briony's sister, was definitely my favourite character; her unwavering love for Robbie made her a beautiful romantic heroine. Robbie's determination was also inspiring.

McEwan exposes the power of narrative within the novel: It controls our lives and no matter if one believes that it is true or false, it is subjective to an individual. Atonement is an extremely rewarding read, but is also heart breaking and poignant; the language was stunning, the character development was intricate and the structural choices were phenomenal.

A certain work of art, Atonement will be staying with me for a long time.
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