~ Ink ~

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They swarm on the breath of a midnight shadow

glossy with the ink of stolen dreams.

Faster, towards a hurricane’s spinning wheel, faster-

draining the sky of its sapphire violet and dying sunset,

of fresh rain sliding down a windowpane.

As shredded paper, they settle on the hillside; paralysed.

Beautiful, stripped, like a shooting star.

Twinkling, as lost treasure under the ocean,

Arching in a slow cruise, their feathers burn to ash

and are taken.

Below, in fields the colour of squeezed limes, strawberries tremble in anticipation

until even the broken sky brushing their cheeks

~ matter no more.

swirl-divider4

Copyright © 2016 by Kate W J White (All Rights Reserved)

Go Set A Watchman

GSAW

It is by no means considered a real sequel to TKAM (To Kill a Mockingbird) so like me, I went in without any expectations but interest as to why it received such controversy. I understand why some may think this novel is incomplete, or insubstantial. The ending is abrupt and people uproared against the portrayal/change in the much loved Atticus Finch. But if you wanted an epic saga then you had better read Lord of the Rings. Imagine it more of a snapshot of an internal conflict that occurs within Scout. It shows reality. It is real life, the change in society; history repeating itself.

Let’s face it, as we grow up we face multiple harsh realities. It’s like a slap in the face. We end up re-evaluate our past beliefs, (How can this be? The veil has been taken away and you see the world for what it is- with all the ugly, complicated and messy truths. Were we blind?) Like Scout (Jean Louise) our constructed world can be shattered when we realise what we once held so dear- our morals, events in our childhood; are not black or white, but simply the hues of grey in between.

Maybe it was never complete to start off with, and we need a certain level of maturity to truly see things as they really are.

Scout struggles hard. As a child she put her father Atticus Finch on a high pedestal, revering him almost as a God. Basing her sense of right and wrong, of morality, justice on the way he had taught her. That all people are equal, individuals. Yet when she returns home, she finds the town in political turmoil, she is disgusted to witness her close family/friends taking part in an act she views as a betrayal. Maycombe is not as it once was and she is physically sick when she cannot process the information for what she believes to be hypocritical behaviour.

“On any other day she would have stood barefoot on the wet grass listening to the mockingbirds’ early service; she would have pondered over the meaninglessness of silent, austere beauty renewing itself with every sunrise and going ungazed at by half the world. She would have walked beneath yellow-ringed pines rising to a brilliant eastern sky, and her senses would have succumbed to the joy of the morning.

It was waiting to receive her, but she neither looked nor listened.”

 You could argue that since TKAM Atticus Finch does not change, only more of his character is revealed through the eyes of his daughter. He maintains a sense of justice, his actions ‘to see the man behind the mask’ (to see the harm he can do) and his awareness of race arguably still make him a moral man.

“But a man who has lived by truth—and you have believed in what he has lived—he does not leave you merely wary when he fails you, he leaves you with nothing. I think that is why I’m nearly out of my mind.”

Harper Lee intentionally wrote ‘Go Set a Watchman’ with Jean Louise’s ‘childlike voice’ to address such a complex issue (perhaps a link to TKAM) The young and naïve Scout is still within her 26yr old self. She is strong, passionate and upholds her belief no matter who she stands against. That is something to be admired. But, you can definitely hear the little, petulant girl in her- she doesn’t listen to reason and believes her truth is the only one, as…that’s all she’s ever known.

 “Had she insight, could she have pierced the barriers of her highly selective, insular world, she may have discovered that all her life she had been with a visual defect which had gone unnoticed and neglected by herself and by those closest to her: she was born colour blind.”

Scout learns to uphold her ‘identity’, and accept that everyone is free to act as they see fit, it does not make them any less moral, only more human.

Personally, I enjoyed the quick to read writing style, it’s humour, rhetoric and clever analogies iconic of Harper Lee. It’s been a while since I read TKAM (I honestly had to wiki the plot to remind me) Though the ending confused me a little with it’s politically heavy  and heated dialogue (it seemed like the characters knew more than they were letting on to us, and moved on rather quickly) I enjoyed the first 3/4. It is a complex novel that has many discussion points, so definitely something to re-read! I would still give it 4 stars.

Let me know what you think 🙂

swirl-divider4

 

~ ‘Perfume’ the story of a murderer~

perfume

Jean Baptiste Grenouille is a name not easy to forget. His unique job is to obtain, categorize, replicate and produce his very own human scent beyond the realms of scientific discovery. To me, the concept in itself was captivating….

“Odours have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odour cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.”

Jean Baptiste is an orphan with no undefinable human smell which isolates him from society. His rare talent of pin pointing exact components, from brass doorknobs, wood, decaying fruit allows too him to pursue his passion. Under the guidance of the best perfumers in the world (through trickery, cunning or just brute honestly he manages to secure a place with them. It shows how unlucky Jean Baptiste is however- whoever he encounters meet their own sticky ends, which you could argue contributes to the author’s humour.) This cunning, yet seemingly straight forward character is able to combine and create his own ‘bottled’ scents with the single purpose of exciting disgust, or adoration from the general public.

Since the realm of scent is so understated (and I as one would admit to having just an average capability of smell, and eye-sight for that matter!) as we are able to create images from words, wonderful pieces of art, music- he can draw upon any scent in the world and strip it down to its bare elements not only to simply ‘recreate’ something he smelt only once, but create something new, unexpected. Quite inspiring really. But let’s not stop there.

As he grows older, his existence becomes almost animistic. “No longer distracted by anything external, he basked in his own existence and found it splendid.” He lives alone in a cave for many, long years, sustained by nothing but his ‘memory’ of lifelong scents, one day alone of which would drive any sane person mad, but not he. It becomes an obsession that overtakes even daily needs, an obsession which drives him to murder, again and again.

Grenouille knew for certain that unless he possessed this scent, his life would have no meaning.”

In fact, the novel is abundant with disgusting imagery of blood and decay, and most significantly, the perverse. He is systematic and logical, feeling no remorse for his actions and yet you sway between horror and desire to see him reach his goal of obtaining the ‘optimum’ scent – which by the way he does by killing all the beautiful girls in the city and embalming their skin.

I found the writing style to be witty, and fresh. Overall, I read this book in a few days and was really interested to read more of Patrick Süskind’s works. Though I had seen the movie originally and remembered liking it, it had definitely changed and diminished in my eyes after reading the novel. Nothing can be expressed better than through the author’s own words and intended voice, humour, tone, and ‘Perfume’ is no exception.

{The novel was originally written in German entitled ‘Das Parfum‘ in 1985, later translated and made into a film in 2006}

Urgent! Illustrator needed!!

So, a while ago I posted a cover of my book ‘Caskets of Ice‘, and after much deliberation and much inspired from the wonderful designs I found in “The Sleeper & the Spindle” by Neil Gaiman (Illustrated by Chris Riddell) I have come to the conclusion…..

That I am officially looking for an illustrator for my work. It is action/adventure fantasy, with gothic dreamy aspects with plenty of queens and castles that will appeal to all lovers of fairy stories-though not 100% a fairytale. It blurs the boundaries between dreams and reality from a perspective of a girl who yearns to escape from her daily life, trapped in a world which is far scarier, creepier and sometimes, downright brutal than she ever imagines.

It celebrates the imagination, and when dreams come alive.

All ideas are welcome! Below is the existing cover, designed by the talented Bonnie:

cover final_s_title

Here are examples of some of the illustrations you may see in “The Sleeper & the Spindle”, with their wonderful black and white drawings and gold leaf.

image1

image2 (1)

image3

Please drop me a message if you are interested in collaboration, or you want to know more information about the book. Let’s begin on this magical journey together…

Kate 🙂

 

‘Villette’ Review & New Books!!

 

IMG_6528

Before I start reviews on these lovely editions, let me start by writing on something long overdue on my blog; ‘Villette’ by Charlotte Brontë.

Both as a human being and a teacher, there passed understanding between Lucy Snowe and I.

After a series of disasters that befall the protagonist Lucy at the start of the novel; she breaks free and starts anew to work on her own merit in a French school. There’s a complexity of feeling and contradictions, by the end you truly appreciate just how many layers the reader is drawn into …her self reliance in new surroundings, her command and discipline over unruly pupils-it involved perseverance (a chapter a night in my case) Lucy too persevered through the pages. By no means faultless, she is strong in her convictions, and a willpower that could probably cut through steel. Her high depreciation for herself means she isn’t able to understand why anyone would love her, and stays much in the shadows. It contrasts against the shining qualities of Ginevra Earnshaw and little ‘Paulina’. I can only compare that Lucy has the constancy of a rock, versus Paulina’s elegance and inner shine, and perhaps- superficial glow of Ginevra.

I wanted to meet the characters and judge for myself what they were really like. It seemed that by the end you are unable to get a clear picture of any individual, which is true because it would take a lifetime (and more!) to really study the complexities of another. Lucy too grew to fondness ~

“There are people from whom we secretly shrink, whom we would personally avoid though reason confesses they are good people, those with faults of tempers …besides whom we live content as if the air about them did us good.”

A lot of French, and I only understood the basics! Sometimes I wished there would be translations in the large segments of text, but you can somehow infer from the passage the meaning, so it wasn’t a big problem. ‘Villette‘ is mysterious, religious, touching almost on the fantastical- but all are resolved and brought back into the realms of reality- from the appearance of the ghostly nun Justine Marie and the walk through the fete at midnight, induced by a drugged opium state.

The ending too leaves it open to the reader to decide- for Lucy her life has been much of disappointment and observation, she never believed anything good would come to her and yet she has experienced more emotions, more heartache and reasons to be grateful than any of the other characters. Through loss, she has gained something else. A deeper understanding and acceptance, a depth of love quite inspirational.

“I used to think what a delight it would be for one who loved him better than he loved himself, to gather and store up those handfuls of gold dust, so recklessly thrown up to heaven’s reckless winds.”

There is something about the Brontë sisters.

In Emily’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, in Anne’s ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’, of Charlotte’s own ‘Jane Eyre’. What do they have in common? Though this novel touches upon Lucy’s complicated relationships and luckless romances, perhaps you can argue that they understand what it is to feel loss, to show inner strength through determination of spirit and passion; you can feel this no doubt from their novels. They makes you uncomfortable, it is unsettling. Nobody can ever confuse ‘Wuthering Heights‘ with a light or easy read. There is no promise of a happy ending. It is about accepting this is what life is, never predictable, never carefree, and definitely not safe from loss on any accounts.

Unless you are an avid literature fan, this may not be the one that opens the avenue of your hidden passion for reading classics. But, I would say it’s worth it if, like me, your passion already is to read as many and as much of them as you can get your hands on.

swirl-divider4

 

A dedication

woodland watercolour

swirl-divider4

The cottage has opened its doors to me,

of dreams long foretold,

of poppies and tiger lilies, violets three,

and memories dear to hold

*

The path is worn through tender days,

the seeds blossomed; overgrown,

through woods and bluebells I long to stay,

o’er moss fair winds have blown

*

She halts my quiet sighs,

bent down with grains of sorrow,

and beckons me forth on green fields lie,

Where none but Death can follow

*

Storms rage on in faraway lands

but close stillness and quiet roam

It comforts the voices of my consumed heart;

and tenderly guides me Home.

swirl-divider4

Copyright © 2015 by Kate W J White (All Rights Reserved)

View from a Castle

2015-07-17 17.02.02

Rose Gardens, ‘Hever Castle’ 07.15

swirl-divider4

The Sky is streaked like an aeroplane runway, double yellow lines at the roadside. Puffs of evaporated whiteness dissipate slowly, absorbed by the hungry mouth of unending blue.

 The moat is a still mirror, stone and latticed brickwork sliding about on its surface like a skater on ice. Fingers of ivy snake in brilliant amber and ox-blood, splattering the castle in a web of tattoos.

She thrums her fingers on damp wood, wind battering her skin fiercely as she steps off the drawbridge; into the gloom beyond. ‘Surely,’ she thinks, ‘a queen needs a crown?’…

swirl-divider4

Copyright © 2015 by Kate W J White (All Rights Reserved)

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

“Treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends; they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies.” 

swirl-divider4tumblr_moedorC7XV1ss12s7o1_500 (2)

At first glance, Wuthering Heights appears to be a Gothic romance set amidst the wilderness of the Yorkshire moors. It encompasses the ferocity of raw emotions- of treachery, obsession and revenge. W.H is dark and brooding and does not have the light-hearted or witty societal interactions present in Jane Austen’s works. In my opinion, it is less a story of love, and more of possession; something deeper, a rawness of spirit that propels them to inflict the pain and damage to one another. It is almost spiritual in that Heathcliff believes the ghost of Cathy haunts him still after her death, and there will be no peace for them in the afterlife.

The narrative encompasses a period of 50 years and passes through 3 generations of two households- the Lintons and Earnshaws. I can understand why some readers may find it confusing; I had to keep turning back over the pages to find out who was who (cousins marrying cousins and various surname changes). It is told by a housekeeper Nelly Dean and a visitor to the moors- Mr. Lockwood. Between them they manage to piece together the event for the reader (reliable voices or no, it is up to you to judge!) it is one aspect of storytelling. I feel a lot of gothic novels such as Dracula, Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde, are written as first person through journals and letters. This allows us to experience from a subjective point of view, but I wonder if this make us feel 100% committed to a character, or even to form our own unbiased opinion.

Wuthering_Heights_family_tree One thing you notice- no character is likeable. Though I felt no emotional connection with the individuals, (Heathcliff is violent, domineering and abusive, Cathy flighty and emotionally erratic), there was something about their plight that moved me. In my opinion a successful book is supposed to make you feel a range of emotions, frustration, anger maybe, or even hatred- these are all significant to your growth as a reader. To move you to feel these things- an essence that makes you feel a natural affinity to a novel. For me W. H though highly dramatized, is closer to reality for me than something like “Pride and Prejudice”. It encompasses the devastation of reality, of death and disappointment and unfulfilled yearnings. I don’t know why I drew this comparison, but I feel W.H has similar gritty, stark truths (murder and mental torture) comparable to certain scenes of the North in ‘Game of Thrones‘, albeit a censored, classical literature version!

Bronte’s depiction of the nature of Heathcliff and the wild Catherine are reflective of the setting- the harsh weather and isolation of the country. W H did leave a lasting impression on me, certain songs would remind me of scenes. I would imagine Cathy tapping on the glass, a ghost girl with a shrill cry and blood dripping on the windowsill, trying to break through the casement to reach inside. All images the Yorkshire Dales can inspire! Honestly, I think it’s important to have some sense of the isolation of the place, to imagine the structure of the buildings, the weather, landscape and daily pursuits of the young Heathcliff and Cathy to get a better idea of what Emily Bronte envisioned to be the backdrop of her novel.

w.heightsAnd last but not least, I will leave you with Hayley Westenra’s version of “Wuthering Heights”(originally sung by Kate Bush)

Some questions I want to ask you guys:

– How is W H comparable to Romeo & Juliet as a love story?

-What do you think Emily Bronte’s main message was, that she hoped to carry through to the reader? Main themes?

-Do you think it’s important to know about the author, in order to understand a book better? Emily died 1 year after completing “Wuthering Heights” at the age of 30, her sister Anne following. They had such short lives (if we compare to the life expectancy now). The novel was published posthumously by her sister Charlotte.

swirl-divider4

song of solitude

big_thumb_6276a272b52d7aa152f9a102652589e0swirl-divider4

The whisper of mist, stealing over the land like dream’s breath,

o’er ruins, a fractured tooth on the rolling hillside,

discarded and forlorn as seasons pass.

Unto all stained in russet red, gold,

chasing an enduring reflection, for evermore.

swirl-divider4

Copyright © 2015 by Kate W J White (All Rights Reserved)

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

Big thanks to Josh at ‘Been there, Read that’ for the second nomination! The title of the award is actually sisterhood/brotherhood of the world bloggers, (for guys and gals right?) The purpose of this award is to recognize the unique voices of woman & men in the blogging community 🙂

These are the five rules to follow:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
  2. Put the Award logo on your blog.
  3. Answer the ten questions sent to you.
  4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
  5. Nominate ten blogs.

Well, I will begin by answering the questions. Here goes!

  1. What is your favourite bedside – or just table-side –  reading snack and beverage?

I usually have chocolate on my bedside table. Or sweets/ biscuits. Or a combination of all 3 just because I like to snack all the time. As for drinks I would say hot chocolate or coffee. But let’s face it, it’s usually something boring like water.

 2. Is there an author whom, if they are to release a new book, you buy it automatically without even thinking about it?

At the moment no…because I still haven’t found my favourite author  yet :L

3. Out of all of the books you have read, which one was the most difficult to get the hang of? (i.e. difficult language and such)

I would say Shakespeare- I still can’t pick apart or understand the meaning properly! At the start it also took some time to get into reading Dickens, but now I can get through one of his longer works quite quickly.

4. What is the most treasured book – or book like possession – that is most personal and important to you? One with a lot of sentimental value.

A vintage copy of “A Christmas Carol” from my grandmother…which is quite old and I’ve kept for sentimental reasons. I also have a signed copy of “Firesong” by William Nicholson and I regret not getting the rest in the series signed!

5. As I am a complete Tolkien nut, I must know: what is your favourite Tolkien story? – Tread carefully…

I’m going to say the Hobbit…though I haven’t read the LOTRs books I’ve seen the movies, and I preferred the Hobbit!

6.What book were you forced to read in school, that you actually ended up loving?

“The Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison. I did a book review on this some time ago…the book just somehow resonated with me, he had a strong narrative voice and a strong sense of injustice at society’s stereotypes…it is quite a heavier read just because of the content but definitely a good book which I highly recommend.

  7. You’re stranded on a deserted island with nothing to do, but you have three books with you: what books are they?

Ha, I’m going to say something like Dickens or War and Peace, something epically long because I’ll probably be on the desert island a while! Though I would want to bring my favourites, it might get a bit monotonous to re-read them over and over. Plus with Dickens if I was really bored, I could construct a timeline for the events surrounding the characters, which would be quite time consuming! 😛

8. Do you have a favourite reading spot? If so, where is it? A field perhaps; or maybe your bedroom; a particular tree in a forest; the list goes ever on and on…

My favourite dream spot would be somewhere like a field or forest, somewhere out in nature. But in reality, it’s my bed, contorted in the strangest reading position.

9. Are there any parts of a book that you always skip? E.g. songs, poems, dates, e-mails, etc.

I skip dates or sometimes poems, because I generally don’t remember them anyway! Plus if I  need to, I can always refer back. As for difficult names to pronounce (and you probably do it too!) I skip them and kind of make a weird sound in my mind whenever I come across them again…

10. Have you any writing accomplishments? – Big or small.

When I was at uni, I won a “On the Bus” poetry competition where two of my poems were printed on buses around the university area in UK. And aside from that some small children’s  book series & I co wrote eng grammar textbooks for secondary school kids some years back. But apart from that I really want to publish my novel or a collection of poetry….such is my dream! …

OK, onto my questions!

1. Do you always buy/borrow a novel based on the blurb?

2. What’s the quickest time you have finished a book, and what was it?

3. Do you have a book you lent to someone and haven’t got back?

4. What is your usual reading genre?

5. Do you have a favourite poem, or one which has really inspired you?

6. Have you had a novel recommended to you, which you are really thankful for? What is it and whom was it recommended by?

7. Would you buy a book you already own, just because of the cover?

8. If you knew there was a movie coming out, that is also a book you wanted to read, would you see the movie first or..? Does it make a difference to you?

9. If you had to have a book character follow you around, be your best friend for a week who would it be and why?

and finally…

10. What is the oldest book that you own?

I feel like the questions I set for the Liebster award were better >.< oops, sorry!  Maybe you can take a look and Mix & Match some- who is to judge!

My nominees:

Reading & Roaming

Coffee n’ Notes

In Noir Velvet

Mind Ecology

Enjoy, lovely people! 🙂

swirl-divider4