Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Book review time! Are you ready?!

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be. (Goodreads)

aristotle and dante

Guys…I loved this book.

This book is such an endearing depiction of the struggles that teenagers go through when discovering who they are. This book is written from Aristotle’s perspective; an angry and sad teenage boy who is trying hard to process his feelings about himself, his family, Dante, and ultimately his life.

I loved this book for so many reasons, mainly the friendship between Dante and Aristotle. At the beginning of the book they seem like polar opposites but as the book goes on Aristotle becomes more and more aware of their similarities. Their relationship is so honest and raw and meaningful and is undoubtedly complex.  That being said, I really enjoyed the depiction of all the relationships in this book, particularly the familial relationships. In a lot of young adult fiction, there are some common tropes which usually appear; such as single parent families, problematic relationships between parents or parent and child etc. However, in these book both Aristotle and Dante have fairly positive relationships with their families, and where there are problems they continue to develop over the course of the story.

I really enjoyed the themes in this book and I found it to be such a beautifully written examination of identity. Aristotle and Dante both struggle in many aspects with identity; regarding family, sexuality, nationality and more. In particular I enjoyed the ongoing discussion between Aristotle and Dante of being a Mexican teen living in America and about ‘feeling like a true Mexican’ and such. I loved the exploration of sexuality and of puberty that the boys go; the experimentation and the discussion on things like masturbation. It all felt very honest and realistic to the teenage condition and how uncertain teenagers are when changes are happening in their lives.

I found this book so engrossing and different from a lot of young adult fiction that I have read in the past. I felt it was extremely descriptive and analytical and that the story managed to cover a lot of different events and plot points without feeling too fast paced. In short, I bloody loved it!

If you are a lover of contemporary fiction, books about coming of age or ‘finding yourself’, family, friendship and sexuality, then this book is for you. I really would recommend it to you, whether you read young adult or not!

 

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Mystery Blogger Award.

Hey guys!

mystery-blogger-award

I’ve been nominated by the lovely Athena of @ pricelessbooks  for the Mystery Blogger Award, which aims to try and bring bloggers together! Thank you, Athena! Also, thank you to Okoto Enigma for creating this award.

The Rules:

1/ Put the award logo/image on your blog

2/ List the rules

3/ Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog

4/ Mention the creator of the award and provide a link to their blog

5/ Tell your readers 3 things about yourself

6/ You nominate 10-20 people

7/ Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog

8/ Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)

9/ Share a link to your best post(s)

About Me:

1/  I am in my third year  of  studying Applied Social Sciences at Robert Gordon University and I absolutely love my degree. I have one year left and I know I’m going to miss it so much!

2/ I have loved art since I was a kid and I particularly love portrait art  and I often do drawings as commissions for other people. Here’s some of my favourites!

portrait art

3/ I live next to the sea and the mouth of a river, and it is my favourite place to go when I want to clear my head.

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Answering questions:

1/ What is one book you have read that you think is underrated? Why do you think it’s underrated?

-While JK Rowling is an extremely famous and popular author, I would have to say that The Casual Vacancy is underrated. I think a lot of people read this with excitement and were sorely disappointed that it was nothing like Harry Potter, however if you strip the expectations away, this is actually a really fantastic book with extremely 3 dimensional and flawed characters, and which addresses a lot of different issues. I found it addicting when I read it, however it took me a few different attempts to get into it.

2/ If you were stranded on an island and could only bring three books what would you bring?

-Hmmm…To Kill a Mockingbird is my favourite book of all time, so that is a given. I would probably take one of Maya Angelou’s autobiographies (she wrote 7) however I don’t know which one. Lastly, as much as I’d love to take every single Harry Potter book, I’d probably take one of the bigger ones…maybe Order of the Phoenix, Half Blood Prince or Deathly Hallows. This is a bloody hard question!

3/ Which would you prefer: coffee, tea, or neither? Why?

-AH! Another hard one. I love both. However, I think tea is probably my preference as -while I go through phases of drinking coffee- I never get sick of tea, I’m even drinking a cup right now!

4/ Do you keep the artist separate from the art? Or do you think they should go together? What I mean is, say an artist creates something that you absolutely love, but you find out they are a terrible person, would you still enjoy their art or would you boycott it?

-I love this question! It is extremely interesting. While rationally I can acknowledge that art is fantastic or touches me in a certain way, I feel that the artist and their character would undoubtedly effect my judgement. So while I can conclude that a piece of artwork or a book or a movie is fantastic, I would still be influenced by the creator.

5/ The weird question: If you had to do cartwheels or somersaults for the rest of your life which one would you choose?

-Cartwheels…because I wouldn’t really be leaving the ground, and it’d make travelling anywhere extremely fun!

Questions for the nominees:

1/ If you could redo a book to movie adaptation, which one would you redo and why?

2/ What is your opinion on the increase in YouTubers publishing books?

3/ If you could choose one genre of books to read for the rest of your days, what would it be and why?

4/ If you could possess any talent, what would you pick?

5/ What’s the closest thing (in your opinion) to real magic?

Nominations: 

yalitreader

pricelessbooks

nerdytalksbookblog

nannygrannie

thatbookwyrmlife

baffybasics

jadecranwell

katedoublebooked

lovebooked

vanessamule

comfyreadingcorner

My best post(s):

The last rule in this tag asks you to link your best post. I am quite proud of the posts I have written so I thought I’d put 3 instead. Here’s to being indecisive!

Kim Kardashian and what it means to be a feminist.

-Funnily enough this isn’t a bookish post, but one I am really proud of. It is about the misunderstanding of the word feminism and why it is important to use it!

Fit Like, Yer Majesty?

-This is a blog post about a book of poetry that is written in Doric, a dialect from the North East of Scotland, which is where I’m from.

Kendall Jenner, The Daily Mail and beauty standards.

-This is a reaction to an article I read which I thought was a really negative message regarding beauty standards, and so I decided to rant about it!

The end:

And that’s the Mystery Blogger Award! Thank you so much for reading and thank you again to Athena for nominating me!

The Time and Place Book Tag.

Good day one and all!

I thought I’d do a book tag today, so sit back, relax and enjoy, as today I’ll be doing…

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This tag came from the land of Booktube, more specifically from Jen Campbell; author, poet, YouTuber and altogether amazing human. The basic idea of this tag is to share 10 books that have effected you in such a way that you can remember where and when you read them.

I am not going to be sharing 10 books today, for sake of length. I am instead going to share 5 books which have had a significant impact on me, so much so that I can remember everything about them. We’ll just crack on then, shall we?

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

I remember the experience of reading this book vividly. I was given this book by my Primary 5 teacher read in an attempt to shut me up, because I ploughed through books like nobody’s business and was always ready for something else. While The Wee Free Men is one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels which is geared more towards young adults, it was definitely still a more complicated read for me, given that I was roughly 9 years old at the time. That didn’t stop me though, and I spent (admittedly a significantly high number of) hours with my nose in this book. I would take it home in my little primary school homework bag, open it up and read to my heart’s content. This book did two things; challenged me and expanded my 9 year old self’s vocabulary to new heights, and introduced me to Terry Pratchett, one of my favourite authors in adulthood. I fell in love with the sarcastic commentary, the fantasy elements, the diversity of characters, and the size and potential of the Discworld.

Why is God Laughing?: The Path to Joy and Spiritual Optimism by Deepak Chopra

This is a slightly different book, and my reasoning for reading it may be bizarre. From the time I started secondary school and started learning more about religion and philosophy, I felt myself becoming conflicted and lost in my belief. I had never really felt like a Christian, and my family had never particularly raised me as such (despite being Christened and having in depth education on the religion in my younger years). I remember stumbling into the library when I was about 14, adamant I wanted to figure this out. I suppose in a way I wanted to find something I could relate to, or find myself, and I was using books to do that. I picked this book up, and I can barely remember anything about it, I can’t remember if I enjoyed it. But what I do remember is that once I had finished it, I realised I did not feel any deep connection to it, to religion or spirituality, and thus ended the fear of being lost. I remember this book so vividly because in my mind at the time, I was hopeful it would answer all my questions, and that if I felt something, anything, I’d be able to work things out. Turns out that doesn’t always work, and that’s okay.

The Famous Five by Enid Blyton

I am lumping these books together, as there are 21 books in this series by Enid Blyton. I had grown up reading Blyton books, such as The Faraway Tree and others. I read The Famous Five when I was in my final year of primary school. I had fallen and broken my ankle and was subsequently not allowed to go outside during break times or lunchtimes for 6 weeks, and so I spent every morning break and every lunchtime sitting alone with not much to do. I remember picking up the first of these books in that time, and getting hooked. I loved the characters, the pace, the mystery and the setting. I ended up reading The Famous Five books over the course of a month or so, reading a new one every day. This was the first, but most definitely not the last time that I looked upon books for guidance, happiness, companionship and more.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I read this book when I was in my final year of secondary school. I had had a really rough year, and had been heavily reliant on books during this time. I was at a low point when this book fell into my lap. I remember beginning this with apprehension, worrying that classics were maybe not for me. I was wrong. I become sorely addicted to this book and I spent many a study period at school devouring it. I remember going into my favourite study room with a cup of coffee, taking out the book and immersing myself in the story, distracting myself from myself and my problems. The time I spent reading Jane Eyre was and will always be special to me, and a reread is more than overdue!

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This is my favourite tkambook of all time, and is another one that I read during my lowest point. In my secondary school each class was assigned an American classic to read, and mine was The Great Gatsby which -despite reading twice- I could not force myself to like. Another class had gotten to read To Kill a Mockingbird, and so I decided to see what the fuss was about. Four years on and I have reread it several times, I love it. One of my most vivid memories of this book is the first time I read it, and I was on a bus home from a really intense counselling session and I just wanted to distract myself. I ended up reading a particularly sad moment in the book (which in itself is not overly sad, but the circumstances of the story most definitely are) and I burst into tears on the bus. I remember being glued to the book and barely noticing that I was crying, until the old woman sat next to me asked me if I was alright.

This book and the story hold a special place in my heart, and whenever I feel a bit lost or not myself I pick it up and read a chapter or two, to distract. In addition to the story itself, my physical copy of the book was a sentimental object to me, which represented a saving grace during a hard time and it meant the world to me. Recently, I accidentally ruined my copy of the book by spilling a cup of tea over it, and I remember phoning my boyfriend in the middle of the night and crying for nearly an hour, because I truly felt I had lost something. However, my angel of a boyfriend kindly bought me another copy in the same edition, and I dried out my ruined copy and still have it and hold it dear. All is okay in the world.

Bookish YouTubers I’d recommend.

Hi!

So I was first introduced to the book blogging community and the bookish corner of YouTube when I googled a book I wanted to read, and a YouTube video came up. Since then I have been an avid watcher of what is titled “BookTube” and there are a number of YouTubers that I love and whose videos I will watch as soon as they appear in my subscription feed. These YouTubers – while creating a lot of bookish content – create a vast array of other videos which I find equally enjoyable.  So here are a 3 of my favourite bookish YouTubers!

1/ Leena Normington (Youtube: justkissmyfrog)

leena normington

I have been watching Leena since her uni days in Aberystwyth and have been obsessed since. Leena creates extremely insightful, analytical and fun book reviews which always provide me with great recommendations. Her reading varies in genre and scope and I can always rely on her for a fantastic next read as well as a good giggle.

In addition to her BookTube content, Leena creates so much other content which I love! She has a series titled “Stupid Questions with Leena” where she interviews and has discussions with people with backgrounds which are different from hers, whether this be through faith, sexuality, gender and more.  Most recently, Leena did 40 videos for every day of Lent, each was fun, poignant and unique.  She has done videos with authors such as Sofia Khan, and Caitlin Moran, as well as collaborations with other YouTubers. Leena is a fantastic poet also, and has created many beautifully shot and eloquent videos of spoken poetry, my favourite being her poem on the Brexit referendum.

Another thing which I love about Leena is her presence on Instagram. Leena is an advocate for body positivity, and I often look to her Instagram (@leenanorms) for a reality check and a reminder that my body and my cellulite and everything else is completely okay. As well as this, Leena shares her current reads and other aspects of her life, with witty captioning and some BOMB ASS SELFIES.

So yeah, in summary…SUBSCRIBE TO LEENA!

2/ Ariel Bissett

Ariel bissettAriel is another YouTuber I’ve been watching for a long time and who I love. She is a Canadian YouTuber who is responsible for one of my favourite bookish events of the year, the “BookTubeathon” and she creates a variety of great videos.

Ariel used to read a lot of young adult fiction, which suited me at the time which I first started watching her, however as her reading tastes have changed the books she reads and reviews have changed also, and her content and analysis of books is just as brilliant as ever. I relate to Ariel for a number of reasons, namely because she admits that she doesn’t read that much, yet she still has the same passion and adoration of books as any other BookTuber.

Ariel also creates a lot of beautifully produced travel videos and observational videos, my favourite being a beautiful video about people reading on public transport in London. Ariel makes a number of insighftul bookish discussions relating to things such as the increase in YouTubers publishing books, writing, journalling and more. I love her humour and her ability to create analytical, informative and inspiring content.

SUBSCRIBE, SUBSCRIBE, SUBSCRIBE DAMMIT!

3/ Jean Menzies (Youtube: Jeansbookishthoughts)

Jean is a Scottish YouTuber based in London, who is studying a PhD while also a creative producer forjean menzies Pan Macmillan, a publishing company. Jean does book hauls, reviews, wrap ups, discussions, collabs and runs a book club called the Feminist Orchestra. Her content is captivating and well produced, and her personality shines through in every video.  Jean formats her videos in interesting and unique ways, whether it be a video recommending adult fiction based on young adult preferences, or doing mini reviews in groups of 3 on specific topics (such as dystopian). What I love about Jean’s channel is that she reads a lot of Ancient Greek literature, as well as classics and non fiction, which are areas I am interested in but have not read much of. Jean’s passion for Ancient Greek literature is obvious in her videos on said literature and is inclusive and helpful for Ancient literature novices like myself!

Jean also creates a number of non bookish videos, never shying away from discussing feminism, politics and -most recently- mental health. Jean also has a study tips series, with university tips and stationery recommendations, which I have found incredibly useful! In short, Jean is a well rounded YouTuber who I love to watch!

PLEAASE SUBSCRIBE TO JEAN, CLICK HERE!


I hope you guys enjoyed this mini recommendation of 3 of my favourite bookish YouTubers! If you’d like to see another recommendation video let me know, as I have several more people that I watch regularly and that I’d love to share!

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa.

This feels like my first book review in ages!  Today I’m going to review the book I most recently finished; The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa.

the housekeeper and the professor
I took my book down to the river Don and I read it in the sun…blissful!
He is a brilliant maths professor with a peculiar problem – ever since a traumatic head injury seventeen years ago, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory.

She is a sensitive but astute young housekeeper who is entrusted to take care of him.

Each morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are reintroduced to one another, a strange, beautiful relationship blossoms between them. The Professor may not remember what he had for breakfast, but his mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. He devises clever maths riddles – based on her shoe size or her birthday – and the numbers reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her ten-year-old son. With each new equation, the three lost souls forge an affection more mysterious than imaginary numbers, and a bond that runs deeper than memory. (Goodreads)

This book was so interesting to read as I loved the incorporation of a memory impairment into the synopsis. I am a social sciences student, and I have studied cognitive psychology and impairments to cognitive processes – such as short term memory – in depth. I have never read a piece of fiction before that manages to incorporate amnesia into a character’s narrative, and I think Ogawa did a magnificent job at portraying a life or experience she has not experienced.

I loved the character of the professor. He is so complex and while on the surface he appears to be an eccentric mathematician who never stops talking about numbers; as the housekeeper (whose name we never learn) gets to know him alongside her son, Root, she realises that there is so much more to him, and that he is a thoughtful, analytical, warm, caring man who seeks comforts in numbers and who used them to rationalise and understand aspects of his life.

As for the mathematics aspect of the book, I loved it! I am terrified of numbers and am fairly bad at maths, however I found the professor’s passion for the intricacies of numbers to be endearing. The professor uses numbers and mathematical theories to express emotions, to cope with his memory loss and confusions and to build a relationship with the housekeeper and her son. I love that the housekeeper seeks to properly understand the professor through his love of mathematics, and she begins to find the beauty within it and the intricacies.

I adore that the housekeeper and Root form a strong, warm, familial relationship with the professor which manages to overcome memory. It is delightfully uplifting and endearing to me. I would recommend this book to anybody who wants a short read with a plot you’ll never have read before, with relationships which are deep and meaningful, and with great writing. For a piece of fiction that has been translated from Japanese, this book flows spectacularly well. Read it!

I hope you guys enjoyed this book review!