10 May 2015

Reading & Seeing 23

The Bees
Set (unsurprsingly) in a beehive and told almost entirely from the perspective of one bee, Flora 717. Starting with her birth, into the lowest ranking kin of the hive, the story follows her journey through hive-life and how her courage and extra-ordinariness set her on a path so far removed from the life she was expected to have as a sanitation worker. I thought this book was incredible largely thanks to the vivid descriptions and serious skillz of the author, Laline Paul. I was completely caught up in the lives of the bees – so many times I wondered whether elements were factual and based on bee research (bee research - that's a thing) or whether Paul's amazing imagination was responsible. It's been called a cross between Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Watership Down which, before reading, sounded totally nuts, but I see what the critics are getting at. I was really rooting for Flora right from the start and found the behaviours of the bees fascinating, particularly as it was fairly easy to see links between both the actions and structure of the hive (are they humanised? Maybe that's just what bees do too) and the way in which our religions and society work. This was Blook Club's read for May and I essentially inhaled it within a week. I would highly reccomend it but be warned, you'll never be able to look at a bee in the same way again.

Burial Rites
Iceland 1829, convicted murderess Agnes Magnúsdóttir is sent to live on a farm with the local lawman, his wife and daughters to await her execution. Based on true events – there was a young servant woman named Agnes who was sentenced to death for murdering her ex-lover and master – author, Hannah Kent, has coupled the facts and research with her imagining of what might have happened to Agnes. I really enjoyed this book - the pace, the descriptions, the mix of Agnes' life at the farm intertwined with her account of what happened - which was only enhanced by the fact that I started reading it just before I went to Iceland and completed it a few days after I got back. There is definitely something to be said for reading books set in the place you're about to travel to. Again, I would highly reccomend this, even if you're not off to Iceand soon :)

Elizabeth is Missing
Another impressive debut novel, this time about Maud, an eighty-something year old suffering from severe memory lapses, possibly Alzheimers. The narrative swings between the present day when Maud is increasingly concerned about the whereabouts of her friend Elizabeth, to her post war childhood around the time that her older sister disappears. Emma Healey has created an excellent unreliable narrator, Maud's mixed-up memories and confusion is very well done, so much so that it really made me think about what my nan might have been experiencing before she died - her dementia was quite far gone. Clever and v.readable, definitely another book I'd reccomend.

Agent Carter
If you've seen Captain America (or have read the comics) you'll be familiar with Agent Carter. She's the smart, ass-kicking Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) agent who the Cap had a bit of a crush on (which was v.much reciprocated). In Agent Carter, Peggy isn't only fighting the bad guys, she's also dealing with the shit-loads of sexism and male chauvinism that post-war America is full of. It's only had one season but I'm hoping it returns. Hayley Atwell is ace as the lead and Jarvis, Howard's Stark's butler, makes for an excellent side-kick. Oh yeah, and the costumes are freaking luuuuuush. Deffo worth a watch.

Avengers: Age of Ultron - a fairly decent sequel but nowhere near as good as the first film, gratuitous fighting scenes (particularly between the Hulk and Iron Man) and a running time of 141 mins did it no favours. Death to Smoochy - comedy centred around two kid's TV program presenters Ed Norton (who is hella cute in this) and Robin Williams (who actually plays the 'bad guy' and gets almost all the best lines), it's a little weird but pretty funny. Play It Again Sam - how had I never watched this before??!! I loved it! Woody Allen plays the awkward type who's wife has just left him and is finding it really hard to successfully date new women. To boost his self-confidence he calls upon the advice of an imaginary Humphrey Bogart. As you'd expect with a Woody Allen movie, the script is clever, quick and v.amusing. A great little film that I know I'll want to watch again.


  1. I just finished The Bees and was completely underwhelmed by it. I kept reading hoping to really get what everyone loved about it, I got to the end and I still didn't really like it. I was really excited about it before I read it, especially having seen an endorsement from Margaret Atwood on the book itself and just felt a bit meh about it. It's a shame as it's had such a buzz (!) about it.

  2. Nice pun :) it's annoying when that happens (which is essentially what happened to me with the miniaturist - everyone loved it and I just don't understand what all the fuss is about). I think sometimes the hype can ruin books (and films too), you go in expecting it to be amazing and it just can't live up to what you imagined.

  3. I loved Burial Rites, and it must have been even better when read during a trip to Iceland. I'm a big fan of doing location-appropriate reading.

    1. It was! I need to do more location appropriate reading although perhaps only for holidays. I started reading a book set in London (Capital) and I found it too much, of course that could've been because I just didn't like it!


Ta v.much :)

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