Why I Travel

 

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
St. Augustine

I developed my travel bug very early on in life. My grandparents took me all over the world as a child and it was always a positive experience. Even when I got food poisoning in Orlando, or stung by a jelly fish in Daytona, or threw up on the plane over the Atlantic Ocean and on a bus in Norwich, or incredibly sea sick in Alaska, these experiences were still all ones that I will cherish. For all the bad moments I made many many more positive ones. Now, in hindsight, all of these hiccups just add to my fondness for travel.

There are many reasons that I love to travel. Read on to get your wanderlust going (and if it’s constantly on, like mine, let me feed it with some fun stories)…

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HISTORY

I love history. Period. I love all of it. One of my majors from my undergrad degree was an honours history degree. I especially love my ancient history so getting to travel to Rome and see the Coliseum was surreal. Walking on the Acropolis of Athens I couldn’t help but think about how many ancients walked the same steps that I was taking.

In Europe there are still very obvious signs of World War II around. Some places are more evident than others, but finding a bomb shelter in an English backyard or simply just being in Poland, you feel it.

History is everywhere, it is in everyone and everything. Nothing makes me feel more connected to history than travel and there is no better way to experience it.

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“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”
Anita Desai

EXPLORE AND EXPERIENCE

I have an inherent need to explore. When I was a kid, my grandparents and I would go for long walks. I would always ask to explore off the path, to go into the forest, or to climb the rocks. I always wanted to see more. Today, I feel just the same. I wanted to see every corner of Versailles, I wanted to take in every angle. I am terrified of heights but I still climbed the 243 steps up the Penitent Bridge in Wrocław just to see that breathtaking view of the city, and again in Warsaw to see the magical sunset. Another experience I will never forget was approaching Charles Bridge at sunrise and seeing Prague Castle illuminated like an absolute fairy tale. Unbelievably beautiful.

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One of the most memorable things I have ever done, and perhaps the smallest in terms of how it may seem, was getting to see the statue of “Menelaus Carrying the Body of Patroclus.” I went back to see it three times. Once at night and twice in the day. It was surreal. Seeing art and history whilst amplifying my love for fiction and great literature was one of the top three experiences I have ever had in my life.

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“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
Gustave Flaubert

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And don’t even get me started on the Duomo. Speechless is how I felt quite often when I was in Florence.

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“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad / Roughing It

GROWTH

Perhaps most importantly, I love to travel because it helps me grow as a person. All the learning, and the experiencing change me for the better. Since I began my travelling (away from my immediate family) in 2014 I have grown to be a more confident person. I understand my strengths and my weaknesses what I enjoy and what I dislike. I have learned to control any anxiety I may have while travelling as best I can.

Travelling not only helps my personal growth and understanding my connection to history but it also helps me understand where I come from. My dad’s side is English and I’ve visited England many times. My mom’s side is Armenian. I would love to go to Armenia one day to fully understand where I come from, but until then I will try experience it through my Armenian family in California. I was also fortunate enough to go to Greece, which is one of the countries where my mom grew up. I felt more connected to her there than I have since she passed away ten years ago. It was an amazing feeling.

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Recently, I have made travel a priority of mine. This is very difficult being a woman who will mostly be travelling solo, and as a woman who also makes only minimum wage. But travel has become so important to me and to my identity that I am determined to make it work.

Stay tuned to see a post on the top 10 places I want to visit in the world!

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Where in the world have I travelled? Click HERE to find out!

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January-March WRAP UP!

So far, 2018 has been a great reading year. I don’t think there has ever been a year where, within the span of three months, I’ve managed to read five books (for pleasure). For me that’s such a win.

I had originally set my 2018 Bookish New Years Resolution to read 30 books but the first couple of weeks in January didn’t go so well, in terms of bookish accomplishments. Then I heard that Ariel Bissett sets her goal to one book every year to take the pressure off. So, I changed my goal to 12 books. That’s one book a month; easy stuff. I am already seeing what a good idea it has turned out to be. According to GoodReads I am three-whole-books books ahead of schedule. It feels good.

Anyway, you came here for spoiler-free mini-reviews of all the books that I’ve read. So, without further ado, it begins:

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Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
4/5 Stars
The main character in this book, Yarvi, is a Prince but he is destined for a life away from the throne. That is until his father, the king, is murdered. Thus ensues heartbreak, betrayal, and treason.
      Half a King was not a fast-paced book, although the beginning is the exception– it thrusts you into the events and, before you know it, you’re hooked and rooting for poor Yarvi. There’s a lot of character growth in Yarvi and how could there not be when your family betrays you and you’re forcibly sold to a fierce sea-captain as a slave. Yarvi is resourceful and intelligent and, despite all the hardships he has endured, Yarvi is kind. He becomes a man during the events of this book but I’d have a tough time deciding if Half a King is character based or plot based.
I’d say the driving force for this book (at least for me) is the possibility of catharsis. You can’t wait for Yarvi to get home one day and show his family and his people how strong he is, how much he’s suffered, and how misunderstood he has been. And we get a real treat of what I like to call “double-catharisis” at the end.
My only qualm with his book is that it was too short. I know it’s the first book in a series but this book needed more, especially as a borderline-high-fantasy. It needed more description, more character development of all of the characters, more conflict, more journeying. More of everything. Except the ending. The ending was prefect.

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Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
5/5 Stars
When people ask me what I thought of this book I am always struck with how little I have to say. This is simply because my opinion can be wrapped up in a neat little sentence: Reading Adichie’s letters helped me change how I perceive things. If you want me to go on further: it helped me open my eyes and recognize things that I’d buried deep within me. These aspects of life Adichie mentions were things that, as a woman, I’d noticed and some things I didn’t realize that I’d noticed. But in reading this book, all of those underlying details that I’d buried deep within me because of the patriarchal society we live in, came to the surface and now I perceive the world differently. More importantly, I perceive the world more actively.
Everyone should read this book no matter the gender that they identify with, no matter if they have children or not, no matter if they are fifteen years old or ninety-five.

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Sea of Shadows by Kelly Armstrong
3/5 Stars
There’s always that one book you want to love but turns out to be a dud. I don’t like to write negative things about books unless they’re really bad like how I felt about The Captive Prince so I’ll keep this “review” short. This books was really lacking in my opinion. Lacking in writing, lacking in character, lacking in plot. I was just not impressed. I think the most frustrating thing about it was that I could not pin down the two main characters: Moria and Ashyn. I think the problem there came from when we first meet Moria. In those first few pages I developed a sense for her character but when we meet again I found Moria’s initial characteristics in Ashyn and the confusion between the two never cleared. Beyond that, I won’t say much. I did find the story to be alluring, in that I wanted to find out what happened next. The writing, on the other hand, left everything to be desired which felt strange considering Armstrong’s status in the literary world.

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The Telling Pool by David Clement-Davies
4/5 Stars
This book has many mixed reviews and, as for me, I have very mixed feelings. While the writing was rich and the plot was loaded with many allegories and lessons, I can’t quite pinpoint the story’s nature or it’s intended audience. This is my first David Clement-Davies book so I look forward to seeing how this matches up to the likes of The Sight. I like how real this book was, how close to human nature, and how Rhodri’s thoughts process and develop throughout the book. It was a much slower read, especially having just read Sea of Shadows which takes the form of the most basic writing style and which I zipped through.
I feel like I still need to process the story in order to properly review it. Maybe one day I’ll have my thoughts in order…

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Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
5/5 Stars
Besides Adichie’s book (above), Call Me By Your Name is one of my favourite reads this year. I listened to it in the span of three days, I couldn’t get enough. I then proceeded to watch the movie and have declared myself obsessed. I don’t know if my obsession is in the story or in the idea of love. As a twenty-three year old woman who has never fallen in love, this Aciman fed me full of what it must be like to be in love (though Elio and Oliver’s love can also called infatuation– but I cannot argue that with so little evidence from my own life to draw from). This story is filled with so much of what it means to be human that reading it I felt raw at times. It was so beautiful. I want to review this in a separate post at some point because I have so much to say. Beyond that, I will leave you with this: Call Me By Your Name is one of my favourite books, though my impression just after reading it was that I wouldn’t call it one of my top five. Make of that what you will, I suppose.

 

Currently Reading:

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (re-read)

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach

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The Origin of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

This is a compilation of excerpts from an essay I wrote during the summer for a history course at York University.

Part I of the origin story is in my video below:

 

Part II of the Origin Story:

Frankenstein was written at a time when Britain was at the cusp of change; Britain was about to enter the first stages of its Industrial Revolution. Mary Shelley, born nearly half a century before the Industrial Revolution, was therefore raised in a society that served as a precursor to the technological transformations to come. Her society was both tolerant and intolerant of change, like many others who find themselves at the end of an era. The guidelines that were created to keep polite society refined were challenged by many, including Mary Shelley. Most who went against societal norms faced rejection in some form. For Shelley, her transgressions were numerous. Mainly, her “faults” were founded in her political beliefs and her relations with Percy Shelley. As a feminist, Mary Shelley was considered a radical, like her mother. Women were subject to very little freedom and enormous amounts of sexism.

It is a feminist rejection, or more accurately, the rejection of feminine choice and agency. In the novel, Mary Shelley has Frankenstein abort the creation of a female Creature. Frankenstein fears that the female he creates “will have desires and opinions that cannot be controlled by his male creature…” or even by Frankenstein himself. He also fears that this independent free will might be aggressive. Frankenstein fears this tremendous lack of control of the female he might create. If he were to create this female creature she might “[defy] that sexist aesthetic that insists that women be small, delicate, modest, passive, and sexually pleasing—but available only to their lawful husbands.”

The Creature has no name in the story though he does have a voice. This is the opposite of what Mary Shelley has as a woman, though nonetheless reminiscent. She has a name but her voice is hardly heard. Even in the publication of her book many believed, and still believe that she, a female, could not have possibly written the book, that it must have been a man.

Going against these sexist precursors of polite society was an easy route to alienation. Mary met Percy Shelley through her father. When Mary and Percy determined to be lovers some time later, Percy Shelley was married to another woman. Time went on and circumstances changed; they married in 1816 soon after Percy’s wife, Harriet, committed suicide. During this period before and after Mary and Percy’s marriage was when Frankenstein was conceived and created, though it was published after their union. This liaison with Percy Shelley was considered quite immoral. During the period before their marriage they had two children. As a result, Mary Shelley had a considerably difficult time being accepted into society. Unlike the Creature in Frankenstein, however, she did have a close circle of friends to rely upon. People reject the Creature because he is ugly, and in turn, people fear him. The family he secretly lives with at the beginning of his new life rejects him before they even know him, assuming he is harming the eldest member of the family.

Mary Shelley also experienced her fare share of paternal confusions and rejections. Mary Shelley’s mother died at childbirth and so, throughout her life, Mary worked to find and create a “nuclear family” on both her real life and in her many works of “fiction” Frankenstein then, is a literary illustration of what happens when a child is raised without a complete family filled with love and support. Mary Shelley also had a distinctive affection for her father, “later writing that her attachment to him bordered on the ‘romantic’ and was ‘excessive.’” He paid special attention to his daughters, though, after his wife’s death, he searched for another marriageable companion. When Godwin finally remarried, Mary did not take to her stepmother. This relationship had a negative effect on Mary’s relationship with her father to the extent that during a period of her life she found herself estranged from her father. Mary too was rejected by her father, arguably not to the same extent as her Creature.

 

Bibliography
Beer, John. Romantic Consciousness. London: Palgrave MacMillan. 2003.
Bennett, Betty T. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: An Introduction. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1998.
Brackett, Virginia .Critical Companion to Mary Shelley. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2011.
Hitchcock, Susan Tyler. Frankenstein: A Cultural History. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007.
Homans, Margaret. “Bearing Demons. Frankenstein’s Circumvention of the Maternal.” In Mary  Shelley’s Frankenstein edited by      Harold Bloom, 132-143. New York, 1987.
Johnson, Barbara. “My Monster/My Self.” In Frankenstein: The 1818 Text, Contexts, Nineteenth-Century Responses, Modern Criticism, edited by J. Paul Hunter, 241-242. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996.
Ketterer, David. Frankenstein’s Creation: The Books, The Monster, and Human Reality. British Columbia: University of Victoria. 1979.
Lipking, Lawrence. “Frankenstein, the True Story; or Rousseau Judges Jean-Jaques.” In Frankenstein: The 1818 Text, Contexts, Nineteenth-Century Responses, Modern  Criticism, edited by J. Paul Hunter, 325. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996.
Mellor, Anne K. Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters. New York: Rutledge.
Penny Dreadful. Television. Produced by John Logan, Sam Mendes. 2014. Ireland: Showtime.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Veeder, William. Mary Shelley and Frankenstein: The Fate of Androgyny. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1986.

Beautiful Book Covers

I love beautiful books so, I  just had to make a video about them. Below you will find the video as well as a list of the editions of the books I mention with direct links to Book Depository. Enjoy! Let me know what you love in a cover in the comments.

Colin Meloy’s Wildwood

Neil Gaiman’s Stardust (Illustrated by Charles Vess)

Tahereh Mafi’s Unravel Me

Michelle Hodkin’s The Retribution of Mara Dyer

Jane Austen’s Persuasion

Naomi Novik’s Uprooted

Ovid’s Metamorphoses

Nancy Horan’s Under The Wide and Starry Sky

Richard Adam’s Watership Down

Erika Johansen’ The Queen of the Tearling

Zachary Thomas Dodson’ Bats of the Republic

 

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Working RETAIL with ANXIETY

Living with anxiety is kind of like being a smart phone with the flashlight left on.  People with anxiety are always expending extra energy just by being. Being. Like the phone with the flashlight left on, our energy depletes much faster than a person who is not plagued by an anxious mind. That’s without any kind of outside stimulation like social interaction. Add socialization into the mix and you’ve left your Pokemon GO app running, full brightness, with your flashlight on. Bye Bye battery.

So, working in retail is like an amplification of that drainage. Anxiety becomes a high intensity electricity coursing through your entire body for the length of the shift, before, and after. Not only do you have to deal with issues and conflict in the workplace, the simple task of conversing with customers and coworkers is maddeningly exhausting.

That phone call to your boss about changing your shift, or calling in sick, becomes your worst nightmare.

Angry customers become seething monsters who feed off of all of your anxieties.

That pain in your neck from lifting all those boxes must be chronic.

You almost died putting the cardboard into the compactor.

This might all sound funny, but it is scary and it is real.

On top of all of this, it is in my personal nature to work full-tilt. I cannot slow down at work. I give it my all and nothing less. I smile, I speed walk (sometimes run), I circle the store for returns, I smile some more.

It is no surprise that a five hour shift feels like a 16 hour shift at the end of the day. All I want to do is curl up and sleep. Though I can only sleep after my brain has calmed down from the day. So, depending how late my shift goes (I work in a 24 hour store) that could be hours later.

I have worked in retail for three years and I only told one of my co-workers that I suffer with anxiety yesterday. She was genuinely surprised. I must hide it well.

The task is not impossible, but it is extremely difficult. I am not sorry I do it, I do not dread each shift more than any anxiety-less person would. Every shift I have is a battle, it is a way for me to become stronger, to overcome anxiety. If I can do it, you can too. Remember, you are not alone.

What do we say to the God of Anxiety? Not today.

Top 10 SUMMER Reads

Summer isn’t over yet. Forget about the pressures and stresses of the fall season with a last-minute video about my favourite summer reads. Take a look underneath the video below for my ratings for each book and direct links to GoodReads to find out more about each book.

✦ Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
5/5

✦ The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
4/5

✦ The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli
5/5

✦ The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
3.5/5

✦ Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
5/5

✦ The Lifeguard by Deborah Blumenthal
3.5/5

 Along For the Ride by Sarah Dessen
4.5/5

✦ Lament by Maggie Stiefvater
5/5

✦ Stolen by Lucy Christopher
5/5

✦ Sixteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton
3.5/5

✦ The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
5/5

 

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

 

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The Kiss of Deception Review | YouFoundMarina

I hadn’t expected to enjoy Mary E. Pearson’s The Kiss of Deception when I placed the book on my shelf months ago, and I certainly felt no differently when I started the book last week. I began reading it simply to get it off my TBR, though I was curious what so many people were talking about.

My initial impartial feelings towards the tale came when I read the first line of the book: “Today was the day a thousand dreams would die and a single dream would be born.” The line felt forced, like it was trying too hard. I decided then that I would dislike the book.

Boy was I wrong.

Although the going was slow for me, at first, I began to thoroughly like the book. I would find myself at work thinking about Lia, Rafe and Kaden. Now I need the second book. Only, there are three books coming out in the next three weeks that are going to cost me a fair amount of coin. And there are over 100 books on my TBR list. I know, I have a problem. These are good problems though.

As for the book, here are some of my thoughts:

Yes, the book does have a love triangle but it is not what you would expect. Pearson has written her book so that I never ever shipped Lia one of the love interests. Though they had their moments I could never trust him. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for the mysterious bad boy in books but this guy, I just can’t ever picture him as a love interest. So, in a way, it’s not an actual love interest. The love only goes one way.

When I began the book and the perspectives changed I struck me hard. I hadn’t noticed the change in perspective that is written beneath the chapter number. I was not prepared. I got used to this after a while, after I was able to discern which character was Rafe and which character was Kaden. IT took me several chapters. After that, though, my enjoyment increased. (Sorry for the dry language; I’m in book withdrawal.)

I also don’t quite understand the cover.

Lia’s crown is made of lavender in the book and on the cover there are pink and white flowers, for one. Who’s the girl holding the horse in the background beside the little tower? Pauline? What is the building supposed to be? Maybe I’m thinking too much. Also, the title does not feel serious enough. For the weight that the book carries in character development and strong plot work, the title seems to lie. The Kiss of Deception feels like a deception in itself. Without the back blurb for guidance, the title suggests that the novel is only about a deceptive love interest. This novel is so, so much more.

Mary E. Pearson is exceptional in her ability to describe and fill up space. I say this with the most admiration because that’s what I find most difficult in writing. The novel is nearly 500 pages and would be considerably– if not a third of the current size– shorter if it wasn’t for all of the descriptions, flashbacks, and change of perspective. Where in some novels this may become tedious and unnecessary, Pearson uses her skill well. It makes the book so much… deeper. (Again my arsenal of interesting synonyms is unavailable because I’m in book withdrawal).

My overall rating 3.5/5. On GoodReads I rated the book 4/5 because 3.5 isn’t an option. But 4/5 is just as good.

I can’t wait to read the next instalment!

Have you read the book? Tell me what you think. Do you have any other book recommendations for me? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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22 Things for 22 Years

I turned 22 in June and I have decided to make list of 11 things I learned so far and 11 things I would like to do before I am 23. Are any of these things on your list? Do you have any ideas for me? Let me know in the comments below.

THINGS I’VE LEARNED SO FAR:

  1. It is important to do your best but make sure you aren’t hurting yourself in the process.
  2. It’s okay to not know what to do, to feel lost as an adult. The feeling is part of growing up and will never go away. It’s frightening but exciting!
  3. It is okay to cry. In fact, it’s good for you! (Blog post on this coming soon).
  4. Read as much as you can whenever you can.
  5. You can’t change the people you love. You have to accept them as they are and not expect them to give you the love you give them.
  6. Traveling is so good for you. It can shape you into the person you need to become.
  7. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. You’ll have way more fun if you just embrace your own personality.
  8. Sever any relationship that is toxic, that makes you an less of a person than you currently are. Choose relationships that raise you up, that make you feel good about you.
  9. Wear what makes you comfortable because, I guarantee, it will make you feel so much  more confident.
  10. Anxiety and depression are not the be all and end all of your life. If you push them away with all your might, you will find better days on the horizon.
  11. As my mom always told me, “Fight, fight, fight.” You must fight for what you want, fight for what you believe, and fight to get rid of all those negative things in your life. You can do it.

THINGS I’D LIKE TO DO:

  1. Travel more often.
  2. Apply for as many full-time jobs in my field as possible.
  3. Attend the College of Makeup Art and Design in May 2017.
  4. Stay positive. Strive to be happy.
  5. Become at least 70% fluent in French.
  6. Stay in contact with family more frequently.
  7. Start an indoor garden (that includes lavender).
  8. Blog more often and restart my YouTube channel(s).
  9. See Loreena McKennitt live at Massey Hall in Toronto.
  10. Be more spontaneous.
  11. Finish writing my book.

 

Inspired by sunbeamjess’s video.

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Lover of Books |YouFoundMarina Poetry Week Day 7

Excerpt from The Girl at the Lion d’Or
by Sebastian Faulks

“From an early age she had developed the art of being alone and generally preferred her own company to anyone else’s. She read books at enormous speed and judged them entirely on her ability to remove her from her material surroundings. In almost all the unhappiest days of her life she had been able to escape from her own inner world by living temporarily in someone else’s, and on the two or three occasions that she had been too upset to concentrate she had been desolate.”

NOTE:
In the first full week of July 2016, from the 4th to the 10th, I will post a poem, or verse, or snippet from a book a day here on my blog. The purpose of this is to share the words we’ve read in the world that we most love. If you have any favourites leave them below or send me word on Twitter.

Happy reading.
Marina