Cover Design: Ring of Bright Water

Another thing I realised when coming back to this poor neglected website-o-mine is that in a wild fit of enthusiasm, I had designed quite a few extra book covers last year, which I never posted.

One of them is this one, for Ring of Bright Waterby Gavin Maxwell.Ring of bright water

Ring of Bright Water is a beautiful book written by a man who lived on a secluded island near Skye, with an otter for a companion.

I took this photo when I was on holiday in Skye a few years ago. I did actually see Gavin Maxwell’s island, but unfortunately they’ve build a big bridge from the mainland to Skye, which has a pillar right on his island, so it wouldn’t quite have captured the seclusion. The bottom is slightly blurred because I took it on a bus!

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A Dance with Dragons – George R R Martin

After a lengthy hiatus I have decided to return to muse upon some bookish things.

Currently Reading: A Dance with Dragons Part 2: After the Feast

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This is (currently) the final instalment of George R. R. Martin’s epic series, A Song Of Ice and Fire, which I have been reading for a very long time.  I did a mini review of the third book in my summer reading mini reviews post , which I seemed to really enjoy. I think for me, the key to reading this series is only committing when I have lots of time for reading. In a holiday, I can devour these books pretty quickly, and enjoy them a lot.  When I try to read them during the term though, I end up in a bit of a deadly cycle. Each time I pick up the book I seem to have forgotten entirely what’s going on, which is made only worse by the fact that each character only pops up every 7 chapters or so. I am lost in a sea of confusion, which only makes me less likely to pick up the book. The marvellous plot is almost entirely lost on me, and I can never remember who’s doing what.

I’ve also been borrowing the e-book from the library so it seems to have expired every time I feel like reading it. Ah well, my gritty determination to finish will (hopefully) see me through.

I’ve also just finished watching the series with some friends, which in some ways has made it easier to follow the plot, although sometimes just leads to more confusion, when I can’t remember which things happened in the book, and which in the series.

Enough Game of Thrones rambling. I’m going to be jolly glad when I can get onto something else.

Book (so far) – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️4/5

My Commitment – 0/5

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Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman

As most people are probably aware, the Noughts and Crosses series is set in an alternative world in which the white race (the Noughts) have been historically oppressed by the black race (the Crosses), rather than the other way round. There are a lot of racial conflict and civil rights issues being played out, but it’s the black people who hold all the power and the white people who are screwed by the system.

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It’s taken me absolutely AGES to finish this series. Literal ages.

I read the first book, Noughts and Crosses, when I was about 12. I found the book very shocking and traumatic – to be honest, it was probably a bit too mature for me to be reading. So I never continued on with the series. One dose of this sex/violence/tear gas-infused sequence was quite enough for my sheltered little mind.

It wasn’t until last year when I spotted the series at the library, and decided to give it another shot. Ironically, I think that perhaps this time round, I’ve overshot the mark a bit, because I found some of the language quite juvenile. For example, words like “sooooo” kind of grated on my nerves a bit. (Although this may well be more of a reflection of my nerves rather than bad writing, since after all parts of it were narrated by a young-ish girl.)

The premise of this book is certainly fascinating. I know that at 12, I found it really thought provoking, especially smaller issues like “skin coloured plasters” only being pink (or in this universe, brown). I found it really embarrassing that I’d never noticed stuff like that before. Obviously in an ideal world, it would have had the same impact without the race reversal, but flipping the status quo like this really forces the reader to abandon all their stupid unconscious racial bias.

Much of this series focuses on relationships between noughts and crosses across the racial divide, angsty forbidden love à la Romeo and Juliet. I must say that a lot of the characters throughout this series really frustrated me in their seeming inability to EVER change their mind about things. This did make for really frustrating parts, where people would mull over a stupid grudge for YEARS and not have any fresh perspectives or even consider any other point of view. High stubbornness content I would say. Everyone thinking in black and white, as if the colour scheme of the book covers has leaked into their consciousnesses. (Ooh, poetic).

All in all, great premise, but irritating characters and juvenile language.

⭐️⭐️⭐️3/5

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Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys

*WARNING! May contain Jane Eyre spoilers* Continue at your peril if you haven’t read Jane Eyre, and don’t know the story. In fact if the above is true, then probably go and read it.

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The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, which is a prequel to Jane Eyre. It was an intriguing read, all about the back story of how Mr Rochester managed to end up with a secret wife in his attic. Which is, I suppose, quite a pertinent question.

It really turns the original story on its head. Whereas Bronte portrays Mrs Rochester as some kind of possessed demon-freak, selfishly coming between the innocent lovers living downstairs, Rhys takes a step back, and tries to explain the backstory to all this horrible mess.

I mean hang on, right? This guy keeps his wife locked in the attic, and yet Bronte still seems to think he’s good husband material?  Wide Sargasso Sea makes it sound more like a kidnapping case.

The story is set mostly in the West Indies, where Antoinette is growing up. (She’s not even actually called Bertha. Bonkers). It’s all happening in a time just after slavery has been abolished, and so there’s a lot of unrest, and nobody’s doing any work, because they can’t afford to actually pay the amount of people they were enslaving. There’s a lot of racial tension, and she ends up having a pretty traumatic childhood.  Followed by what I think most would assess to be a pretty traumatic marriage.

It’s a Raises quite a few issues about mental health and the unfair demonization  – I think most people would be pretty derailed after the treatment she’s had. I mean, she doesn’t even know she’s in England!

So is Mr Rochester the victim of an unfair marriage arrangement? Or did he bring his “curse” upon himself?

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5

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