The Goldfinch | Donna Tartt | Book Reviews Are Back Despite No-One Reading Them Because I Ramble Too Much

Where do I start in reviewing such a masterpiece? It’s left me feeling accomplished (since it was a hefty book) though not necessarily happier or sadder. Although it has left an impression, I can’t exactly pinpoint where or how 🤷‍♀️ That’s not to say it’s a bad book because I loved it! From start to finish, the description enticed me and the plot was so detailed.

Initially I picked this book up in aim to defeat my fear of large books. I’ve always avoided books with 600+ pages, especially if their font is small. In a way, it has helped defeat my fear. But the book was so fascinating that I forgot about the word and page count, and became immersed in the plot and characters.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate. 

Theo Decker is our main protagonist. I don’t know whether to love or hate him, but I do dislike him at the very least. In the last few pages he gave a beautiful, poetic passage that seemed to come from a place of wisdom. However, that alone does not counteract the mistakes he made throughout the novel that in my opinion where stupid. Perhaps this is a spoiler, although it doesn’t affect your enjoyment of the novel if you decide to read it: Boris and Theo become really close friends. They have no support from outsiders so are left primarily to their own devices. They turn to drugs and crime in this period of abandonment. It follows them around like a shadow far into their adult life, and hinders their social abilities. The way Tartt describes and develops their characters appears to be incredibly realistic, although I have never known a drug addict/criminal 😅

I took this book slow, despite it being a page-turner. Every sentence was a work of art, and I wanted to savour that as much as possible. However this morning I woke up late, around 8am, sat on the sofa all morning and trundled through 165 pages worth of this novel until I reached the end. Do I regret rushing the last few chapters? Not at all! It felt so right, and I couldn’t put it down even though I tried. I thought, ‘I’ll just go and practise my cello, and come back to this later’ but my eyes kept moving across the page and physically could not stop reading. 

My favourite character has to Hobie. If any of you have read this novel, I’d love to know who your favourite was! He took on a father-like role for Theo, and became a solid rock for him to rely on. Unlike Boris, who often slipped away without warning. Ever since I was introduced to Boris I felt wary and did not trust him in the slightest. I don’t think Theo did either!

Theo’s character was believable, and this whole book almost felt like a retelling of a non-fiction story. It’s written in first person, from his perspective, but from other people’s dialogues you could guess that he wasn’t someone to admire. Even up to the last pages, Theo was incredibly pessimistic and brutally honest. However I did like this a lot! Many chapters just sounded like one great old moan, but it was entertaining simultaneously. It made the book more believable and almost made me feel guilty because I’m under blankets with a cup of tea while he’s committing drug abuse and being dragged into a criminal underworld… 

The reason I give this book 5 stars is for reasons I’ve just explained, but also the timeline. We see Theo grow from 13 to his mid-twenties! And it’s not as if details have been skimmed over or anything has been missed out because it did make loads of sense. 

Bought this copy from a charity shop for £2. Safe to say I’m a happy customer!

Have you read any big books recently? Or are you afraid of them?

erin x

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Exciting Announcement! | Staying Happy During Lockdown + The Uprise Of Positive Social Media

I can’t contain my excitement to announce this new initiative! For a while I’ve been considering starting my own hashtag because they seem to be really popular on Instagram at the moment. Also, since The Positivity Project, I’ve been searching for new ways to spread happiness even in the darkest times. After a couple of late nights and brainstorming, I thought of the perfect idea: Stay At Home Sunshine!

In its simplest form, this hashtag is a hub of positivity. However, just photos was too simple for me. I’ve decided, taking inspiration from the amazing Emma Blether, to create questions each week for people to answer in their captions, via photos or as blog posts. They won’t be any random questions either, always sticking to the initial idea of positivity. This week’s question is ‘What are you grateful for?’ Can’t wait to see your answers on Instagram, or even over here on WordPress! Just make sure to tag me so I can see it straight away.

Not only will this hopefully increase levels of happiness for my followers, but also growth! Hashtags are a great way to boost engagement and find new people. Plus, if all people posting to that hashtag are passionate about positivity, you’re curating your feed to be a good space! This seems like a great idea in my mind, and that’s why I need your help.

Creating a project like this one requires a lot of energy. To see all of that effort wasted, due to people not responding, is so disheartening. Please, if you have the time, participate in my positivity project! Every comment is dearly appreciated, from two word answers to paragraphs of inspiration. Don’t forget to add stayathomesunshine to the bottom of the caption either!

My Instagram feed at the moment is so inspiring. Loads of people have been spreading love and happiness, and that’s the main reason I began this whole thing. It’s you, my wonderful followers, who make it possible. I can’t thank you enough for that.

So, in response to Week One of Stay At Home Sunshine…

What are you grateful for?

YOU!

Hope you all have a great week, whether you’re participating or not. Remember to head over to my Instagram because that is where the bulk of the project will be shared. However, I’m also hoping that if we get some lengthy answers then I can compile them into a blog post (with the author’s permission of course!) You may also want to be aware that I’m going to like and comment on every post under the hashtag. EVERY SINGLE ONE! Can’t wait to see your responses.

Lots of love,

erin x

Spread the word! I’d appreciate if you could reblog, share the link with a friend or even leave a like. Anything to help get more people involved is worth it! This project isn’t about boosting engagement or followers, it’s about being happy even in the darkest of times. 

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Top 5 Extras To Add In Letters | Collaboration With Jasmin @ The Writer Of Letters

Communication with others is incredibly essential, especially at this time. I have taken up the hobby of letter writing! Although I did this before lockdown, now it feels more important. I reached out to my wonderful friend, Jasmin, to create a collaboration all about the art of writing letters. Over on her amazing blog, you can see my half of the collab. I wrote out 5 letter writing essentials! Then on top of that, Jasmin has kindly written this post for my blog. In this post she is sharing cute add-ins to letters. Hope you enjoy the post. If you do, make sure to check out Jasmin’s blog through this link!

1. Small Cards With Cute Quotes, Bible Verses Or Encouragement On Them

I love adding little homemade cards with encouraging quotes and such into my letters, it’s such a fun little extra to receive! You can print quotes out, make your own DIY encouraging cards, or even print off some of your favourite memes to send to your pen-pals!

2. Stickers

Stickers are a really fun add-in and they’re also quite useful as your pen pal can use them to decorate water bottles, computers, and even letters and envelopes! You can get a ton of cute stickers off of Amazon and Etsy and your pen-pals will love them. Erin’s post also mentioned stickers, so make sure to check out her post!

3. Washi Tape Samples

Washi tape is basically a requirement for pen-paling, it’s so cute an you can add it to the letters and envelopes! A fun add-in for your next letter could be some washi tape samples, which you can easily make by winding your favorite washi tapes around a popsicle stick! Make sure to wind enough for a pen pal to use.

4. Tea Or Other Drink Packets

Another fun extra to add into letters is tea packets. The individually wrapped tea packets work best but hot cocoa, coffee, and hot cider packets also can work, as long as they’re flat and light enough!

5. Dried Flowers And Other Journaling Scraps

Dried flowers, magazine clippings and cute paper cutouts are all super fun to receive in the mail, especially if you enjoy using scraps and such for your journal like me! Dried flowers are so dainty and lovely to tape into your journal and to send it letters and I love sending  them my friends, especially it the flower is not native where they live!

 

That’s all for today! I hope that Jasmin and I can collaborate in the future, since this was so fun to create. Make sure to check out my post on her blog too.

Do you write letters? Have you received any during lockdown? (beside bills and random promotions haha)

Hope you have a great weekend,

erin x

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Top 6 Favourite YouTubers During Lockdown

During lockdown I have spent an unhealthy amount of time on YouTube, which I’m looking to amend this month. However, through those hours of watching videos I have compiled a list of my favourite YouTubers. Previously I have written a post about my favourite YouTubers, and I don’t want to repeat myself (check out that post for more). On top of this there are plenty more, so I’ll do a part three if you like!

Millie Button

Very happy to say that Millie is actually a fellow blogging friend of mine! On top of her blog and stunning Instagram, she runs a YouTube channel which is so beautiful. The videos are always quite relaxing, especially designing videos. Make sure to check out her blog while you’re here.

Holly Gabrielle

Holly’s name was popping up all around my YouTube recommended tab so I decided to check out her videos. I do not regret it! She is such a lovely human and I’m really enjoying the book updates that she has been giving as she discovers reading for pleasure again. 

Alfie Deyes Vlogs

Never thought I’d say this, but I am quite the fan of Alfie’s vlogs. He is an incredibly lucky man, and sometimes I’m questionable about his habits but honestly such a joy to watch. Though this is a difficult time, he has been sharing lots of smiles and laughs which I’m forever grateful for. 

Eve Bennett

Would this list really be complete without a study tuber? Eve is one of those honest people who doesn’t cover up her struggles. The content is very engaging and she openly speaks about mental health which is much appreciated. While also supplying raw videos, there are plenty of smiles and positivity there too!

Sadie Aldis

I used to watch Sadie religiously but then I started a new YouTube account and didn’t re-subscribe (I’m subscribed now) Her videos never fail to motivate me! I especially love the way she incorporates Law of Attraction into her channel. If you’re searching for some inspiration you’ll definitely be able to find it here.

Louise Pentland

An all-time favourite of mine! The long, chatty vlogs incorporate many thoughts and real-life stuff. The cuteness of her children makes me smile endlessly. Like with many of the YouTubers on this list, it supplies real content and doesn’t sugar-coat over anything. You must check out her channel if you’re looking for long vlogs to wind-down with.

That’s it for today! Please leave your YouTube recommendations in the comments of this post. I’ll definitely check them out in this long expanse of time that stretches before us. 

What have you been watching at the moment? YouTube, Netflix or a bit of BBC iPlayer?

Hope you all have great weeks,

erin x

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Top 7 Things To Do In Quarantine Tag

Welcome back to the blog, hope you’re doing well. Today’s post is another tag which I’m super excited about. After seeing the trend circulating YouTube, my friend Girl Online decided to bring it to the blogging community. This tag is all about ‘what to do in quarantine’. Thank you so much for the nomination!

The Rules

  1. Thank the person who tagged you and provide a link to their blog
  2. Post the rules on the top of your post
  3. Give credit to the creator Girl Online
  4. Tag as many people as you would like and let them know
  5. Write at least 7 things to do in quarantine 

7 Things To Do In Quarantine

Start A Journal

Journaling is really beneficial for the mind! Since quarantine began, I started a journal and have been writing in it ever since. When I was in school I didn’t really have the time, though now I update it day and night (or at least try to). You can write anything you like in it: problems, goals, gratitude or even keep it as a diary and update it with what’s going on in your life! Through beginning this practise I’ve learned many things about myself.

Begin A Blog Or YouTube Channel

Honestly, these hobbies take so much time! You will not be bored if you decide to do this. It’s really fun to have an online space with online friends, I’ve not met a single blogger who regrets it. Once you have your channel or website running, you may want to open a shop and try to make money from it! 

Do Some Creative Writing

Try writing creatively! Whether you choose laptop or notebook doesn’t matter, either way I encourage you to write something imaginative. You might ambitiously decide on a novel, or something smaller like a poem. If you are a musician, you could even have a go at writing your own song! Things like this are abandoned in our busy lives, so make use of this extra time. 

Create A Playlist

Making a playlist takes a lot of time, and it’s a very fun activity! I certainly don’t have time to make playlists doing school time, but I can make playlists for when I go back. You might decide on a playlist for different moods! I have one called ‘cry in happiness’ then another called ‘happy vibes’ and finally my ‘sad tunes’. Have fun doing this one!

Read A Book

Pick up a book and start reading it (or listening, whichever is most comfortable). During this difficult time I’ve been escaping to new worlds with my books, and spending too much time wrapped up in my duvet. However, it’s a productive use of time. It also means that you’re not on your phone and being away from social media is just what we need right now! Give it a go, and I’m sure you won’t regret it.

Play An Instrument

I’ve been using this extra time to do more cello practise and it’s benefited my musical brain so much! You may have a musical instrument in the house that you’ve never learned to play properly, or you might even be a musician (that’s so cool if you are). So make sure you’re practising, and just expand your brain a little bit. I am very fortunate to have a keyboard, though I don’t play it as much as I should!

Write Down All Of Your Goals

Getting a clear idea of what you want to achieve helps you better work towards it! I like writing it down on paper, though you may prefer making a dream board on Pinterest. Everyone has dreams spinning about in their head somewhere, and visualising it makes you understand better how to reach them. If you’re still wondering what on Earth I’m rambling about, search up the YouTuber Sadie Aldis. She creates loads of videos on this subject!

My Nominees

Jasmin @ The Writer Of Letters

Rachel @ The World Of Rachel

Alexandra @ You And Me And Cup Of Coffee

Sophie @ Sophie’s Corner

Grace @ Grace Ariya

Hope you can all take part in this tag! If you do, make sure to tag me in it and I will definitely read it. 

What have you been doing the most during lockdown? What has kept you motivated?

Stay safe everyone, and have a lovely weekend.

erin x

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