Tuesday 30 August 2016

#2016ClassicsChallenge: Orlando

Originally published in 1928 by Hogarth Press

My edition: the Penguin Modern Classics paperback

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
In my final year of university I took a module on Virginia Woolf, based solely on the fact that I found her life and inclusion in the Bloomsbury Group fascinating. I’d never read a single word of hers until then.

WHY I Chose to Read It
This is one of the books that I never managed to finish while studying her so I’d like to change that. It’s also Woolf’s longest novel and she can be really, really tough to read so I think it might be better read outside of that pressured environment!

WHAT Makes It a Classic
Woolf’s exploration of gender and identity was far beyond her time and done in her trademark whimsical style.

WHAT I Thought of This Classic
I have a very complicated relationship with Virginia Woolf. I think she was an amazing women and a tour de force of literature, and though I love her essays, letters and A Room of One’s Own, I really struggle to enjoy her fiction. I appreciate what she's doing, the beauty of her writing and gel with the themes she’s portraying, but there’s no enjoyment in it for me. That sadly continued into Orlando.

My first Woolf novel was actually the highly experimental Jacob’s Room, and then The Waves and Mrs Dalloway, so Orlando felt like a much easier Woolf novel than the ones I’d read previously. Though Orlando transforms from man to woman and lives through four centuries while only reaching the age of 36, everything felt straightforward and easy to understand. Until the last chapter, of course, where the novel went whimsical and experimental and further into the realm of magical realism.

Orlando is a mock biography of Orlando and the biographer has a really strong narrative voice. I love the way the reader was addressed directly with little asides and small explanations of what was going on in Orlando’s mind or how she spoke at certain times. It made the novel feel punchy and fun in a way that I’d never experienced with Woolf before.

It was really interesting coming back to Woolf after so long and realising how much of what I learned about her and what she believed in and experienced had stayed with me. Woolf is famous for her feminism, but also for her theories on gender; but Orlando also latches onto Woolf’s resentment towards the Victorian sensibilities and restrictions that she was born into. I loved seeing the biographer’s/Woolf’s observations on the position and roles of both men and women throughout the centuries.

While I’m definitely glad I read Orlando and I’m still in awe of Virginia Woolf, I didn’t really enjoy the reading process. I’m not sure if I’m going to continue reading Woolf’s novels; I may just dig deeper into her non-fiction.

WILL It Stay a Classic
It’s Virginia Woolf – Orlando isn’t going anywhere.

WHO I’d Recommend it To
- Those wanting a relatively easy introduction to Woolf’s work (also Mrs Dalloway!).
- People interested in gender theory.


Monday 29 August 2016

Nevernight, Jay Kristoff

Pages: 429
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: 11th August 2016
Edition: UK hardback, received via Illumicrate

Other Titles by this Author: Stormdancer, Kinslayer, Endsinger, The Last Stormdancer, Illuminae (with Amie Kaufman)

Destined to destroy empires, Mia Corvere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and daemons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no ordinary school, but Mia is no ordinary student.
The shadows love her.
And they drink her fear.

All I've heard about Nevernight since proofs started landing on doormats is incoherent babblings of love and shock over one certain page. That’s hype I couldn’t ignore, and I'm so glad I didn’t.

I have to admit that I had a bit of a rocky start with Nevernight. The first few chapters are a bit confusing with Mia’s present and flashbacks from her past having equal weight in the narrative, but as soon as I grabbed on, I didn’t let go. I devoured this novel over the weekend (I read fantasy quite slowly so that’s pretty impressive for me!) and I just didn’t want to put it down.

Mia is ballsy and brave and I was never quite sure what she was going to do. She’s brutal and fierce and clever, but also very loyal and I loved how deeply she felt things, even if that did lead her into trouble at The Red Church. The affectionate banter between her and fellow acolytes Lotti and Ash was really lovely and I really enjoyed that depth to a story that could easily have been eclipsed by the romance. And oh, what a romance. Tric is mysterious, sweet, and completely lethal and Mia definitely doesn’t love him. Nope, not at all. The tension between them sizzled.

There’s so much depth to Mia, the people close to her and the world that I just didn’t stop wanting more. Thankfully, we got one of my favourite (when done well) narrative tricks – footnotes! Added in by the unnamed narrator, we got detailed elements of the world and its history and mythology; Mia and the other characters sassed and wonderful snark throughout; I really loved the footnotes. I know they put a lot of people off, but Jay Kristoff made them work perfectly.

I'd heard lots about the horrible shocks to come on a particular page in this book and as I veered into the final 100 pages of Nevernight I got worried because I couldn’t remember which page exactly. Even though I was expecting the twists, I was still thoroughly shocked – that is some serious skill right there. I loved how it altered so many things and sent the end of the novel into an unexpected spiral. I genuinely dragged that last quarter of the novel out over several hours because while I was desperate to know what happened, I didn’t want it to end.

Seriously, if you like your fantasy violent, sexy, funny and utterly captivating, Nevernight is for you. I want more.


Friday 26 August 2016

The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood

Vintage were kind enough to send me the gorgeous new Vintage Children’s Classics edition of The Handmaid’s Tale and I was over the moon. It’s ridiculous that I've made it to 24 without finishing a Margaret Atwood novel. No longer.

I had some thoughts.
  • I actually read the first third or so of The Handmaid’s Tale at university when I grabbed it out of the library on a whim during third year. Sadly, I never managed to finish it – darn exams.
  • I clearly remembered the start of Offred’s story and how intrigued I was. And I stayed intrigued. Atwood doesn’t give a whole lot away at first – details are drip fed throughout the novel. I love that sense of putting a puzzle together. 
  • The mystery and sense of impending doom was wonderfully atmospheric.
  • There did feel like there was a little something missing for me, though. I was expecting to be thoroughly blown away, and while I really enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale, I wouldn’t say it lived up to the ridiculous levels of hype.
  • The ending was where it fell down, I think. Though I appreciate the cleverness and originality of it, I was infuriated. SPOILER WARNING: I read 500 pages only to not actually find out what happened to Offred – I mean, really? It made me really quite annoyed and pushed the novel down in my estimations sadly, even though it fit with the format and what we found out about the story. SPOILER OVER.
  • If I had read this with no prior knowledge of how beloved and acclaimed it is, I think I could very easily have fallen head over heels in love with it. Until the ending, that is.
  • It is truly terrifying how plausible Offred’s world feels. Chilling and clever.

Though I didn't fall for The Handmaid's Tale completely, I really am looking forward to digging more into her backlist. I already have Alias Grace, Stone Mattress and The Heart Goes Last ready to go. 


Thursday 25 August 2016

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Monday 22 August 2016

The Potion Diaries: Royal Tour, Amy Alward

Pages: 372
Publisher: S&S
Release Date: 11th July 2016
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other titles in this Series: The Potion Diaries

Since winning the Hunt and saving her new BFF, Princess Evelyn, Sam Kemi has been royally busy. What with TV interviews, working in her family’s potion store and preparing to join Evelyn on her world tour, Sam STILL hasn’t had time for a real date with Zain, her new-boyfriend-slash-former-rival.

And that’s not happening anytime soon. Someone has tampered with Sam’s grandad’s mind and she is the only one who can unlock his memories. Memories that contain the key to the most powerful potion in the world and one which people would kill for . . .

So Sam must swap dresses, princes and palaces for dragons, centaurs and caves in her quest to save her grandad (and everyone else).

Just your standard episode in the life of a potion-making teenager, then.

I thoroughly enjoyed Amy Alward’s The Potion Diaries last year and while Royal Tour is just as fun and easy to read as book one, I was a little bit disappointed.

Up until the last 150 pages, it felt a little unoriginal and a tad dumbed down in the fantasy tropes and names of things. I was a little bored and noticed repeated ideas, the twists and turns in the plot were ones I had guessed and the revelations were expected. I was just eager to get finished with Royal Tour unfortunately.

I had very little investment in the story, even though I really like Sam, Ostanes and Molly. I think I must have been in the wrong headspace when I read this as what I found charming in The Potion Diaries I found a bit irritating.

The Potion Diaries is such a fun series and is perfect for young YA fans looking for their first foray into fantasy. I’ll be reading book three and hoping I connect with it a little more.

Thanks to S&S for the review copy.


Thursday 18 August 2016

Dabbling in poetry

Over the last month or so I've started to dip my toes into poetry.

I’ve always been pretty afraid of poetry – I won’t understand it. I’m not clever enough. I won’t feel anything. I avoided picking university modules that were poetry heavy and I dreaded it when collections popped up on my reading lists. And yet I love listening to poetry being read aloud and I adore spoken word poetry.

After seeing Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey all over Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads I decided to take the plunge with a birthday book token. I picked it up the day it arrived and devoured it in one sitting. It was like a light bulb turning on in my brain. These poems connected with me and I felt them as well as appreciating the beauty of the writing and the lovely line illustrations.

Maybe I could read poetry after all – it’s just a case of finding the right poets for me.

I was then offered a gorgeous new edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets and I was thoroughly bamboozled one again. As expected. But undeterred, I picked up Michel Faber’s Undying. This was a tough, tough read. Michel Faber wrote this collection in response to the death of his wife from cancer and it’s brutally honest and heart-wrenching. It was another collection that opened my eyes to what modern poetry could be.

I don’t have any more poetry collections on my TBR at the moment so I’d really love some recommendations, particularly modern, female poets.


Tuesday 16 August 2016

#2016ClassicsChallenge: Ethan Frome

Originally published in 1911 by Scribner’s

My edition: the 2012 Penguin English Library paperback

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
When the first lot of Little Black Classics came out last year, the first one I picked up was Edith Wharton’s The Reckoning and I really liked it. It was my first Wharton and so I looked her up.

WHY I Chose to Read It
I tried The Age of Innocence but I didn’t really click with the audiobook so I looked elsewhere in her bibliography. I’m a sucker for a tragic, intense love story and that’s exactly what Ethan Frome was said to be.

WHAT Makes It a Classic
To me, the structure felt like a Victorian classic – the protagonist’s narrative sandwiched by someone talking about them on either end – and the themes of doomed love, restrictions of class and being a woman at the turn of the century felt distinctly classic to me.

WHAT I Thought of This Classic
I really, really enjoyed Ethan Frome. Even though I liked what I read of Wharton’s short stories, I still wasn’t expecting to enjoy this so much.

At only 100 pages, Ethan Frome is a super quick and accessible classic and it only took me around 90-95 minutes to read. As I mentioned, the narrative structure felt like a familiar Victorian classic, even though it was written in 1911, and it perfectly matched the snowy, rural New England setting. It’s incredibly atmospheric and I was fascinated by Ethan within only a few pages. He is sad, quiet and leaks tragedy, and it’s all tied with his marriage to the bitter, mean, selfish Zeena who is constantly ill. And her beautiful young cousin, Mattie, who comes to care for her.

We then jumped back 20 years to Ethan at 28. His marriage to Zeena is perfunctory and full of frustration and he falls head over heels for Mattie who is full of life and light. Ethan’s love is vibrant, powerful and young, you know? It felt laced with the buzz of intense teen love and the trajectory of the story, which while not especially dramatic, hung under an atmosphere of doom. And Ethan Frome did not disappoint with the ending.

I was expecting tragedy, but I really wasn’t expecting the level of tragedy Edith Wharton delivered. I was a bit taken back by it! It’s powerful, shocking and so very sad. Reading Ethan Frome has made me seriously excited to delve into more of Wharton’s novels. I have The House of Mirth on my TBR and I’ll be acquiring The Age of Innocence next time I have a splurge!

I highly recommend Ethan Frome, especially if you’re short on time one month but still want to slip a classic in for the challenge. But you should read it regardless.

WILL It Stay a Classic
I hope so! Apparently it’s one of Wharton’s most famous novels, but I honestly haven’t really heard anyone talk about it…

WHO I’d Recommend it To
- Fans of doomed and forbidden love.
- People who are a little intimidated by longer classic.
- Those who want a quick, engaging read.


Monday 15 August 2016

Strange Star, Emma Carroll

Pages: 320
Publisher: Faber
Release Date: 7th July 2016
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Frost Hollow Hall, The Girl Who Walked on Air, In Darkling Wood, The Snow Sister

The year of 1816 felt extraordinary, and all because of a strange sort of star in the sky…

Lake Geneva, Switzerland

Early one summer’s morning, a servant boy named Felix delivers an invitation. Tonight, at the mysterious Villa Diodati, there will be ghost stories that promise to ‘freeze the blood’.

As darkness falls, the guests arrive. The storytelling begins. Then comes an unexpected knock at the door. Felix discovers a girl on the doorstep. She's travelled a long way to tell her tale, and now he must listen.

But be warned: hers is no ordinary ghost story. Sometimes the truth is far more terrifying.

After reading Emma Carroll’s The Snow Sister last year I knew that I needed to read her full length novels – and I thoroughly enjoyed Strange Star.

I’m a huge fan of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley and basically just everything about the Romantics so I was beside myself when I learned about the premise and inspiration for this book. It was super cool to meet Mary, Percy, Polidori and Byron – and I desperately wish that I could have been in that room with them on that famous night. Even in Carroll’s rather creepy version!

Soon after meeting the Romantics at Lake Geneva we move to the small English village of Sweepfield where a mysterious scientist has moved to town. The cold, snowy Regency setting was brimming with atmosphere and the mysteries Lizzie and Peg uncovered and the adventures they fell into were genuinely chilling and completely wonderful. I kind of wish I'd saved Strange Star for a cold and gloomy evening! This is definitely one to put on your Halloween reading list.

Strange Star is a wonderfully vivid and perfectly creepy homage to the masterpiece that is Frankenstein and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I really hope this gets younger readers intrigued enough to take the plunge into Shelley’s novel.

Thanks to Faber for the review copy.


Friday 12 August 2016

Time for Jas, Natasha Farrant

Pages: 278
Publisher: Faber
Release Date: 18th August 2016
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: The Things We Did For Love, After Iris, Flora in Love, All About Pumpkin, Lydia

It’s hard being the normal one in such a crazy family.

Bluebell and her siblings are beginning a new school year and everyone is freaking out! Twig has taken up violent team sports, Jas is being bullied and Blue has a big decision to make.

There are secrets and lies. Halloween parades and covert graffiti artists. Confusing friendships and life-changing choices.

But there is also laughter and above all, there is love and that’s what being a family is all about.

I love this series to the moon and back and I’m kinda devastated that Time for Jas is the final book about the chaotic, loveable Gadsbys.

The Gadsbys have returned from Devon and everyone is freaking out about something. In the wake of Flora’s dramatics about drama school, Twig’s determination to risk his life playing rugby and Jas struggling with some girls in her year, Blue is fading into the background again. She’s the ‘sensible’ one, the one that can be relied on to not cause any trouble. No one listens to her now that she’s hundreds of miles from Skye in Devon and she’s left battling with her siblings and against best friend Dodi. I loved how the friendship between Dodi and Blue was handled.

When I was a teenager, I had a friend like Dodi – one that wouldn’t let me speak, that would dictate my actions, crush down my ideas and always thought they knew what I wanted. I’m not as brave as Blue and didn’t stand up for myself, but I'm so, so glad she did. It’s a horrible situation to be in and I loved seeing her come out the other side and eventually do something that showed the colours she is on the inside.

Natasha Farrant handles tough subjects with the perfect touch and the trials of the Gadsbys and those around them is flawless. Mr Valetta, a minor character who seems like a villain, but is just as nuanced as the kids; strange, whimsical Pixie; and even the harassed Gadsby parents – there’s always so much more under the surface.

Blue, Flora, Jas and Twig go through a lot in Time for Jas ­– it is their last hurrah, after all! They face bullies, difficult choices, new friends, people they love leaving and people arriving that they grow to love too. Just like in All About Pumpkin, this Gadsby adventure was all about the changes, the loss and the gain of moving from out of childhood, and though it’s scary, it doesn’t all have to be bad. Especially is you’ve got an army of family and friends that love you right at your side.

I love this series so very much that I even got a little bit happy-teary at the end of Time for Jas. This book may be the end of these books, but Blue and the gang have a whole lot ahead of them. A gorgeous series about love and family in all its mess, chaos and mishaps that shouldn’t be missed.

Thanks to Faber for the review copy.


Thursday 11 August 2016

I'm addicted to collecting classics...

If you follow me anywhere on my social media, it won't be a surprise to you to hear that I’ve become completely obsessed with classics over the last year. Particularly collecting classics I want to read or have read in my favourite editions. These are some of them.

Penguin Clothbound Classics

These gorgeous, screen-printed, clothbound hardbacks were my first collection and the one I have the most of so far. I started collecting these back in 2014 and I have around 25. My favourites are Middlemarch, Villette and Madame Bovary. I really want the whole set, but I also know that I really shouldn’t buy the ones I already have…

Penguin English Library

These beautiful paperbacks come a close second to the Clothbounds. Mostly because they’re insanely beautiful AND affordable! I have around 25 of these and I've read shamefully few so far… I’m determined to get all of the ones I want as quickly as possible because they're starting to go out of print. My kingdom for copies of Daniel Deronda and The Wings of the Dove!

Penguin Modern Classics

These editions are sleek and modern and I love how they compare to the vibrancy of the Clothbounds and English Library editions they share a bookcase with. I love the clean, white spines; the blocky font and the bold photographs on the cover. Beautiful! I have around 15 of these in my collection. 

Vintage Classics

A photo posted by Sophie (@solittletimeforbooks) on

The Vintage red spine classics are my newest collection and I only have a few of these. They tend to be the editions I get if I can’t get them in the editions I’ve already mentioned. That sounds really bad, but I do love the cover designs of these editions and how varied they are, especially when an author’s works have a running theme.

Do you collect any editions?


Tuesday 9 August 2016

Mini-Reviews: Milk and Honey, Especially Amelia & Undying

Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur
204|Andrews McMeel Publishing|2014

Rupi Kaur’s debut poetry collection is made up of four chapters, each dealing with pain, heartache, love and healing.

This is actually the first collection of poetry I've ever picked up of my own volition and I’m so glad I did. Milk and Honey is so powerful that I felt punched in the heart after only 20/30 pages and it just kept on coming. The short poems talk about abuse, sex, break-ups and love. It's a feminist rally cry. Kaur discusses the power and beauty of women’s natural bodies and the importance of having our own control over them. Milk and Honey is a beautiful collections and I blew me away. I can’t wait for Rupi Kaur to release more for her words into the world.

The Strawberry Sisters: Especially Amelia, Candy Harper
250|Simon & Schuster|2016

Little Lucy has a scheme to get popular, but if you want to keep all your hair, you’d better not ask what it is. Chloe’s facing the fight of her life and this time she can’t win it with her fists. Ella would just like everyone to stop shouting so she can do her homework.
Then there’s Amelia. The moody big sister. Except Amelia’s decided to ditch the sulks and the sarcastic remarks. But that’s not so easy when your best friend is keeping secrets, your mum won’t even let you babysit and you’re terrified to do a solo in the school concert.

I fell in love with these girls in the first book is this series and I continued to fall for them in this one! I love the dynamic between Amelia, Ella, Chloe and Lucy – they fight and clash and argue, but they have genuine affection towards each other. Plus, all four girls are really distinct from each other. There’s a huge focus on friendship in Especially Amelia as well as an introduction to feminism for younger readers which I really loved. I can only hope there’ll be more from the Strawberry girls!

Undying: A Love Story, Michel Faber

How can you say goodbye to the love of your life?

In Undying Michel Faber honours the memory of his wife, who died after a six-year battle with cancer. Bright, tragic, candid and true, these poems are an exceptional chronicle of what it means to find the love of your life. And what it is like to have to say goodbye.

I knew when I went into Undying that it was going to be tough. Watching someone you love suffering from cancer is brutal – and reading about it, even after a few years distance, is still gutting. Faber is honest about the brutal cruelty of cancer and dying. Undying is an agonising portrait of love, grief, illness and carrying on living afterwards. I’m glad I read it, but it was a tough one to get through at times.


Monday 8 August 2016

Unboxed, Non Pratt

Pages: 140
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Release Date: 15th August 2016
Edition: UK paperback, purchased

Other Titles by this Author: Trouble, Remix

Alix, Ben, Zara and Dean meet at their old school to keep a longstanding promise to open a memory box they left there when they were thirteen. But there is a gaping hole – their friend Millie has died. When they open the box, secrets tumble out and old feelings rise to the surface.

A new book rom Non Pratt is always something to be celebrated so I was super excited to grab an early copy of Unboxed at YALC this year. And I obviously loved it!

When Alix, Zara, Ben and Dean meet to open an old memory box they hid when they were thirteen, they start to discover a whole lot more about themselves and each other than they had anticipated. I loved the clash of old and new dynamics between them, the secrets that came out and the way they came back together, even after years of silence, to a friendship that they'd never really left behind. Friendship, especially mixed friendship groups, being the focus of a story is one of my very favourite things to read about.

Aside from the story, I love the physical book itself. It’s 100% beautiful and I think the way that Barrington Stoke have tailored Unboxed to make it easier for dyslexic readers to enjoy is brilliant – thick, coloured paper; off-black print in a particular front; and a cover design that’s impossible to walk past. This is a book that could get so many people hooked on reading.

Unboxed is another beautiful book about friendship, identity and growing up from Non. It’s completely gorgeous and totally made me cry.


Friday 5 August 2016

Songs About a Girl, Chris Russell

Pages: 352
Publisher: Hodder
Release Date: 28th July 2016
Edition: UK proof, review copy

When aspiring photographer Charlie Bloom receives the invitation of her dreams – to take backstage photos for chart-topping boyband Fire&Lights – it’s an offer she can't refuse.

Overnight she is launched into a world of fame, paparazzi and backstage bickering – caught between the dark charms of the band’s lead singer Gabriel West, and boy-next-door bandmate Olly Samson.

But then Charlie stumbles upon a spine-tingling truth: all the songs Gabriel has written for Fire&Lights debut album are, impossibly, linked to her and her past.

What does he want with Charlie?
What's really going on?

Oh man, did I love this book! The recommendations of the UKYA community never fail me.

Songs About a Girl is FUN. But it’s also more than that. Charlie is a fab heroine – I love that she’s not a fan of Fire and Lights, that she’s super chill and quiet and shy. I just want to be her friend, really. Watching her grow across the novel was a pleasure. I love that she made mistakes, got into trouble, made snap judgments and mostly, that she wasn’t afraid to say when she was wrong.

I kinda went in to Songs About a Girl not thinking I was going to be that fond of the boys in Fire & Lights as I’m not a Directioner, I don’t like 5SOS or anything other young, male pop bands, but I totally fell in love with them. Yuki, Aiden and Olly are adorable and Gabe is mysterious and smouldering – though it took me a while to really warm to him. I think my favourite is actually Yuki…

Seeing how being in the band had changed the lives of the guys was fascinating. Their newfound fame meant that everything about their life was restricted, planned, controlled and nothing was off limits to the media. I felt so bad for them, but it was definitely interesting to read about! The tension between Olly and Gabriel is chafing and palpable under the pressure of their situation – glorious! What I wasn’t expecting was the fallout of Charlie spending time with the band. The trolls, the vitriol, the downright abuse. It was scary and really demonstrated cyber bullying and the dark side of social media. I think it’s an important side of these platforms to show.

Songs About a Girl ended on a cruel cliffhanger and I’m dying to hear more from Charlie and the boys from Fire and Lights – thank goodness there’s going to be another book! Chris Russell’s debut is one of the books that I've had the most fun reading so far this year.

Thanks to Hodder for the review copy.


Thursday 4 August 2016

On Reading Shakespeare's Sonnets

When I was offered the new Vintage Classics edition of Shakespeare’s ‘Sonnets’ for review, my first reaction was ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ – who was I to read Shakespeare’s sonnets?

Stupid, I know.

Then I realised that I genuinely had no memory of reading any of these famous poems, and I did an English Literature degree, so I figured it wasn’t too late to change that and gleefully accepted the beautiful new edition.

In picking up the book and sitting down to start it, I was kind of terrified, intimidated, worried. But, why?

The language is tough and there aren’t any notes.
I don’t have a teacher or lecturer on hand to decode them.
I won’t understand them.
What's the point if I don’t understand them?

After reading only a few sonnets I realised that no, I don’t really understand them, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t read them.

Just because I don’t understand every word doesn’t mean I can't appreciate the feelings, the phrases and the lyricism. Even the strange words, odd ideas and the fact that I’m reading Shakespeare without being made to is part of the experience!

I’m still new to poetry and maybe reading these ‘Sonnets’ is throwing myself in at the deep end, but I think my lovely friend Caro put it perfectly: “If you have feelings, you’re a poetry reader!” Can’t say fairer than that really!

How do you feel about Shakespeare? Are you a poetry pro?