Saturday, 28 September 2013

September Wrap-Up and October TBR

Wow. This last month has gone so quickly. I've moved in to my new house and have spent the past two and a half weeks living with my housemates. We've gone out a couple of times as returners during freshers week, drunk a tad too much, danced a lot and had sing-along washing-up times. University started last week so I've been attending lots of first lectures and seminars too, as well as beginning to organise the creative writing society. Amongst all that crazyness there hasn't been loads of time for reading, I'm afraid, so this Wrap-up might look a little pathetic. But there you have it!

September Wrap-Up

The first book I read this month I finished in a couple of days when I was on holiday. The Taliban Cricket Club by Timeri N. Murari was incredible. Set in 2000 during the middle-end of the Taliban's reign of Afganistan, the book is based in fact (although the work itself is fiction), and follows the life of a young lady. Rukhsana hates life under the Taliban. They have forced her to give up her job, where a burkha and she cannot leave the house without a male companion. All she and her family want to do is find a way to escape Afganistan and get across the boarder to Pakistan and freedom. When they discover the governments decision to set up a cricket team, Rukhsana believes she has found her cousins way out. Having learnt cricket at university in Delhi, she vows to teach her cousins and help them escape. This book was a fascinating read about the lives of young women under brutal regimes. I was only young during the outbreak of the war in Afganistan and didn't really understand fully the Taliban and its laws. This was an eye-opening read for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 4/5

I also read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman whilst on holiday. The only other Gaiman book I'd read was Coraline and I hadn't really enjoyed it, but after hearing him on BBC Radio 3's Arts and Idea's podcast I thought I'd give him another go. I enjoyed this book - or rather collection of interconnected short stories which follow the life of a boy growing up in a graveyard - and gave it 3/5.

The final book I read this month was A Short History Of Tractors In Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka. This book is a lot more enjoyable than it sounds. From the perspective of one of two feuding sisters, this is a surprisingly light read about family life. The father in this is both funny, infuriating and pitiable, the sisters well balanced and not caricatured, and the 'villian' both contemptible and lamentable. I wouldn't palce it in the top 1001 books you have to read before you die, but it's a nice little read. 3/5

And that, sadly, is it, which means I've read 941 pages this month. Which, it's fair to say, is a little bit disappointing after last months success. I did get halfway through The Life of Pi, however, and if I get the chance to finish that tomorrow or Monday I can add that to the pile!

October TBR

I'm not really sure what to put in this. Most of the book I'll be reading will be university stuff, but fingers crossed I'll get around to reading some other bits and bobs too!

As I said, I plan on finishing Life of Pi by Yann Martell in the next couple of days or so, and hopefully I'll also finish Vagina, a new biography too!!

The first of the novels I'll be reading for uni this month is Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. I have always wanted to read this, and am not really sure what it't about, so hopefully that'll be interesting.

The second novel I'll be reading is Gulliver's Travels  by Johnathan Swift. Again, despite going to Gulliver's Kingdom when I was little, I don't really know what this book is about. 

I think I'll leave it at that to be getting on with. Hopefully I'll get into a bit of a routine and I'll post more frequently again!

Best Wishes


Saturday, 14 September 2013

August Wrap-up and September TBR

Hello, sorry this is coming to you so late but I was away on holiday in the over the end of August and the first week of September, then I've been moving into my new house and saying goodbye to old friends and preparing for uni and yeah. Generally been crazy! But enough of that, let's get down to it!

August Wrap-up

The first book I read in August was Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, and I reviewed it here. Same goes with the second book I read (Divergent by Veronica Roth).

Then I picked up Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. I really liked the concept of this book - the struggle to produce words when letters dissappear is super intersting, particularly as a writer. The world building in this book (which is an epistolary story) is amazing, it doesn't feel like it's being explained just for the reader, which could have been difficult as the author is almost solely speaking to characters which already exist in the world. This said, I never really got involved with the characters - there were too many names flying around with not enough backstory. I gave it 3/5.

This was followed by two books which weren't on my TBR - City of Bones by Cassandra Clare and The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, which I also reviewed here.

Back on piste I read The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith. Following the life of Alex Li-Tandem (an autograph salesman) this story is about his coming to terms with the death of his father and his obsession with the autograph of Kitty Alexander and how these impact his daily life. Whilst this book didn't live up to NW, it was still a really good read and I gave it 4 stars.

Finally, the last book I read in August was The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern. This book was incredible, it managed to skate the line been childish fantasy and young adult novel perfectly. In it, we watch the circus and take part in the lives of the people who work there - particularly the lives of Celia and Marco whose destinies have been preordained since their youth. It is wonderfully written, an easy enough read that anyone with a touch of imagination and the desire to be taken on an adventure would really enjoy. I gave it 4/5.

So that was it! Sorry my wrap-up wasn't as detailed as they have been in the past, but there are 4 full length reviews hidden in those hyperlinks, so it's not as short as it might appear. I did pretty well with my TBR from last time - the only book I didn't read was Vagina, but I wasn't in the mood for non-fiction. Maybe next month, eh? In total I read 2921 pages in the month of August, which I'm very pleased about.

September TBR

I feel a tad cheeky putting two of these on here as I've already read them, but here goes.

The Taliban Cricket Club by Timeri N. Murari. This book is about Rukhsana, a young Afgan women living under the brutal reign of the Taliban in 2000. Partially based in fact, we follow her as she risks her life teaching her cousins cricket in order to help them escape the country she has grown to fear.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Beginning life as a collection of bedtime stories for his daughter, The Graveyard Book features Bod, the boy raised by ghosts, as he grows up and discovered the real reason for his supernatural upbringing.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka. Recently my friend gave me a copy of 1001 books to read before you die, and this was in there so I thought I'd pick it up. Fingers crossed nit's as good as they say!

The rest of these books I'm adding tentatively, as Uni starts on the 23rd and I'll have got a tonne of reading to do for it.

The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler - I've heard so many good things about this book that when I saw it on Amazon Kindle for 99p I had to have it!

White Teeth by Zadie Smith - Loving her at the moment, and when I saw this in a charity shop for a bargin 75p I had to pick it up.

And once again, Vagina, a new biography by Naomi Wolf. Maybe.

Till next time,


Monday, 26 August 2013

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The story follows a couple narratives, the main one being Cassie, a 16 (ish, I think) year old girl. Cassie lives a normal life with her mum, dad and baby brother Sammy. She is invisible to the guy she has a crush on, worries about her hair and spends most of her time texting her best friend. Basically your standard teenager. However, her whole life gets flipped upside-down when the Mothership is seen orbiting Earth. Then the First Wave arrives - and there's no going back. We enter the story shortly after the Fourth Wave has ended. Cassie is camping in the woods, alone save for a teddy bear and a being in the dark.

When I first started reading this book I adored it. It was fast paced, exciting, you learn so much in such a short period of time and I raced through the first 60-100 pages. Cassie was a very real, down to earth character. Yancey does an excellent job of capturing the growth from girl to woman that Cassie is forced to prematurely experience (one line of the book mentions how she is worried that her supply of tampons will run out - which I loved as writers (especially male writers) tend to miss out).

I was surprised and a bit disappointed at first when the narrator changed, as it seemed a shame to move away from Cassie as she was becoming a fully fledged character. The other characters we follow aren't as well developed as Cassie initially, but they are engaging enough to sustain the plot, and I was looking forward to the point when the narratives collided.

However, I haven't only got praise for this book. One aspect of it very nearly put me off finishing it, mostly because I thought this book was better than the trope it used.

There will be sort of spoilers from this point on (concerning Cassie and Evan - both of whom the blurb of the book introduces), so read on at your peril if spoilers bother you.

-------- SPOILER WARNING ---------------------------------------------------------------

When Cassie first meets Evan, I'm ok with that. I understand that the author wanted to create a bit of romantic tension for his leading lady, and having her lusting after a guy who she's literally said a sentence to isn't the most engaging plot. When Evan kisses Cassie, that's when I get angry.

This kissing scene is described as a deeply romantic, sensual act. However, Evan essentially kisses Cassie against her will. We already know that he knows a lot more about Cassie than he's been letting on (and we later learn that he's been stalking her), and to add what can be described as sexual assault to this mix (and to portray it in a way which is meant to have teenage girls swooning) is disgusting and dangerous. I hate Evan and Cassies entire relationship - it's totally overdramatic and over the top. Whilst Zombie's relationship with Ringer is understated, natural and sweet, Evans and Cassie's is scary.

Not only this, but from the moment Cassie meets Evan most of her strength and conviction (her best and strongest personality traits) vanish, and she virtually regresses back into the teenage girl with a crush.From being such a strong female lead she turns into a girl who can't cope without her man. I thought this book was better than that, and Cassie's character was strong enough to sustain her part of the narrative. I understand why Evan was needed (from a knowledge point of view) but I don't understand why they had to be so overly 'romantic'.

This being said, the premise of the book was excellent and the execution (for the most part) was superb. I recommend reading it, so long as you can question the presentation you're given.

I gave it 3.5/5


Currently Reading: Vagina: a new biography by Naomi Wolf

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Fifteen year old Clary Fray has spent her whole life feeling normal - well as normal as any teenage girl ever can feel - until she becomes the sole witness to a murder. A murder performed by 3 teenagers who no-one else are able to see, and where the body of the victim vanishes. The murders turn out to be Shaddow Hunters, a race of humans to have 'The Sight' - the ability to see Downworlders (demons, vampires, werewolves etc) and kill them using magic. When Clary's mother is taken by demons, Clary gets sucked further into this mysterious world, and wants vengeance.

For the most part I was extremely underwhelmed by this book. I never felt anything more than annoyance for the main characters - ridiculously self-obsessed, know-it-all sixteen year olds that they were - and many of the plot lines were predictable and followed the standard 'ya fantasy' tropes. If I had read this during or just before my 'Twilight' era, I probably would have loved it, which might also be one of the reasons I was disappointed with this - it felt like something I had read before.

The main story, however, is an intriguing and interesting idea and some of the plot twists (whilst not being particularly well executed) were twisty enough that it kept me reading. If this book had tried to be a heavier read, I don't think I would have been able to sustain it till the end, however it was really easy to get through (for the most part, although the more difficult parts to read were the result of even worse writing rather than cleaver or more sophisticated writing).

I was really looking forward to reading this and seeing the film, but after this experience I'll probably just wait till it shows up on Sky Movies before I see it. Weirdly, I still want to read the second book in the series - I just really hope the writing style and the characters progress. Also, the last plot twist (whilst confusing, again due to the poor writing style) leaves some questions that, whilst they won't keep me up at night, are interesting enough that I'd like to see where Clare takes them.

A 'mundane', harmless little read, not worth paying full price for, but an interesting enough time filler to be picked up from a library.

I gave it 2/5 on Goodreads.


Currently Reading:
The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
Vagina: a new biography by Naomi Wolf

Friday, 9 August 2013

The First and Last tag

This tag as been floating around the booktubers for a while now, and it got me thinking about books I've read etc, so I thought I'd give it a go!

1. (I'm missing out the first question because it's about video)

2. First booktuber I ever watched: Rosianna got me into watching book related videos, but as she's mroe than just a booktuber, it'll either be Kayley or Lena?
    Last booktuber I watched: Kayley again!

3. First book I bought: I got a lot of books given to me when I was growing up, and spent hours in the library, so I haven't really started buying books till semi-recently. Maybe Emily the Strange: The Lost Days by Rob Reger or The Ant Colony by Jenny Valentine.
   Last book I bought: The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. I read The Golden Compass (aka Northern Lights) just after the film came out and really didn't like it (I also didn't like the film), but the fella keeps bugging me to read them, so much so that he gave me a copy of The Subtle Knife so I thought I might as well have the whole set! Plus it was only 20p at a second hand sale. The last full priced book I bought was NW by Zadie Smith.

4. First novel I read: This is a hard one. I read everything I could lay my hands on when I was little and read on my own from a very very young age. The first books I remember loving (and I swear I almost read the entire set - or at least as many as the library could order in) were the Animal Ark series by Lucy Daniels.
   Last novel I read: Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

5. First dystopian I read: When I first heard this I immediately jumped to The Hunger Games but then I thought about it and actually the first dystopian I read was probably Orwell's Animal Farm. It's not a traditional dystopian I guess, as it's an allegorical novel, but it's definitely about a world gone wrong, which is what defines dystopian in my mind.
   Last dystopian I read: Divergent by Veronica Roth.

6. First paranormal romance I read: Probably Twilight as I can't remember reading much romantic fiction before that.
   Last paranormal romance I read: Maybe one of the Morganville Vampires series, although I can't remember if I'd got bored of those by the time Breaking Dawn came out? Although, I've just flicked through GoodReads and I read Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, if that counts?

7. First time I cried over a book: I very rarely cry over books, so the first time I can remember crying over a book was probably Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine.
   Last time I cried over a book: Looking for Alaska by John Green. Maybe. I don't know. I remember books that a lot of people cried at that I didn't (the final Harry Potter and Now Is Good for example). I cry more at films or TV than books, I think because with a book I can close it, gather myself, and read on.

8. First series I completed: I think I've read all the Famous Five books? So maybe those? If not then the Switchers trilogy by Kate Thompson. I think I'm one of a rare few whose first series wasn't Harry Potter.
   Last series I completed: This is surprisingly difficult. I've read all the Uglies books by Scott Westerfeld that were in the original trilogy, but I think he released a forth book (Extras) but I've no idea if I ever finished it. I know I got a bit fed up with them. Oh, The Hunger Games. Obviously.

9. The first book I couldn't press myself to finish: I did eventually get round to reading this and LOVING it, which just shows how taste changes over time, but the first time round I simply could not push myself to finish The Hobbit.
    The last book I couldn't push myself to finish: Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde. This book came so highly recommended but I just couldn't get into it. I got about 100 pages in and had to bail out. It's still sitting in my currently reading on GoodReads because they don't have an 'I abandoned this book' function as far as I can tell.

10. First and Last people you'll tag: If Maz or Meg are reading this, then you guys!

Hope you guys enjoyed this as much as I did! I might see if I can do more tags that I stumble upon...

Best Wishes,


Currently Reading: The Autograph Man  by Zadie Smith
Vagina: a new biography by Naomi Wolf

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

First off I'm going to apologise if these reviews are terrible nonsense. I had an 8 1/2 hour shift at work today (which meant getting up at the ungodly hour of 5.45am) and apparently I'm still awake enough to type. So here goes... I've had a super productive couple of reading days, and have managed to power through both of these books. They're both very light hearted, easy reads, aimed at a YA audience, but they are both VERY different.

Divergent by Veronica Roth is your classic dystopian novel. Set in the future, when humanity is trying to fix its flaws, humans have been dived into different factions based on which character traits they value the most (ie, honesty, self-less-ness, knowledge, bravery etc). In your sixteenth year, you get to decide which faction you are going to join - whether you stay with the faction you've grown up with or whether you leave behind everything and everyone you've known and start life in a new faction. This is the point at which we meet Beatrice, our main character. Beatrice feels like she isn't enough for her faction, but also doesn't know which faction she would fit into. Beatrice has one of the hardest decisions of her life to confront, whilst at the same time being aware of the stirrings of trouble in the stricture of humanity.

This sounds like a heavy topic, but at it's heart this story is a YA read. Whilst it does deal with some tough themes (most importantly, especially in YA, the idea of growing up and becoming your own person and being comfortable in your own skin), it's also got romance and (I hate to say it) a bit of cliche thrown it to make it a really easy read.

I really enjoyed this book, it was faced paced, with just the right amount of world setting and I can 't wait to read the sequel and watch the film. However, I am a little disappointed about the way the romance was done in the book. Without spoiling things, it becomes obvious to the reader (although of course Beatrice is oblivious) that there are two guys who like her, and when she finally realises, she has to reject one etc etc. Now, I don't mind a love triangle situation, but it kind of felt like there was a love triangle for love triangles sake.

That being said, I do think the eventual romance is important to the story, although the family ties/ personal growth should have been more of a driving force through the novel, rather than just the beginning. I gave it 4/5 though, and powered through it in a couple of days despite it being nearly 500 pages long (the quickest I've read a book of that length since Potter I think - high praise indeed)

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell - as I said in my TBR, I picked this up in lieu of there not being Eleanor and Park, and when I started reading it I was a bit disappointed. However, the tables quickly turned, and I soon found it hard to put down.

Again this was a super light and easy read, lighter than Divergent even though it is aimed at the slightly older spectrum of YA. I say this because the usual YA trope is to have the 16/17/18/19 year old character who has to learn something important about themselves, whereas this book featured adults as the main characters, with jobs and established identities. It's 1999, the internet is just becoming established and we're following Lincoln: a 29 year old IT technician who still lives with his mum and works the night shifts at a newspaper company, monitoring the new in-company email system. It's his job to send warnings to any users who are sending non-work related emails. Beth and Jennifer's emails appear in his filter a lot. But he never sends them a warning and instead becomes engrossed in their lives.

This is a lovely little love story. Funny and romantic, the female characters are believable (ie. they don't just talk about men, although men do get spoken about) and Lincoln in endearing. The fact that this story is about adults is really what elevates it from the traditional YA love story - it somehow feels more real when the people falling head over heals have had long term serious relationships beforehand.

I gave this 3/5 on goodreads, but to be honest it's more of a 3.5/5. I can't wait to pick up Eleanor and Park now, and I'd really like to see how Rowell's writing will have progressed, and if she can capture the same sense of believability with younger characters.

Writing all of that has actually made me sleepy (result!), so,

Goodnight and TTFN


Currently Reading: Vagina: a new biography by Naomi Wolf

Monday, 5 August 2013

Review: The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of A Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

I read this book back in June, and I know I've been promising a review since then, so here it finally is!! Sorry it's a little short, but it's one of those books that you can't really explore without spoiling it.

It's Tuesday May 2nd 2005 and Allan Karlsson is hours away from celebrating his 100th birthday when he steps out of his bedroom window and runs away. He makes his way to the nearest bus stop where he is asked by a young man to look after a rather large and rather heavy suitcase. When his bus arrives and the man has not returned, Allan steps on, suitcase and all, and sets off on an adventure. However, this is not the first adventure Allan has (somewhat accidentally) embarked upon during his 100 year time upon the earth. The story follows Allan in this newest adventure whilst recounting his previous ones and the elevctic people he's met over the years.

I picked this book up almost as much on a whim as Allan picks up his various adventures - that is to say when I saw it was only 20p on Kindle I thought 'This has been on Waterstones best seller shelves for a while, might as well give it a go!' and boy was it worth it!

Allan is an extremely endearing character. He is very matter of fact, polite and generally nice guy who enjoys a good vodka almost as much as he enjoys his sleep, and the friends he encounters on his adventures are equally likable, even with their somewhat dubious pasts. The adventures he goes on a wildly dramatic for such a sweet, quiet man and in a way he is very much like Forest Gump, if Forest Gump preferred a nap to a run.

I laughed a hell of a lot through this book at all the absurd situations that Allan and his friends find themselves in. I would love to go into detail about some of my favourite moments, but I wouldn't want to spoil them as what makes them so incredible is how unexpected they are. Entertaining, easy to read and wonderfully written, I would highly recommend this book. Five stars!

Happy Reading!


Currently Reading: Attatchments by Rainbow Rowell
Vagina: a new biography
 by Naomi Wolf

Monday, 29 July 2013

July Wrap-Up and August TBR

Hey guys, sorry about the brief unintentional hiatus, but I've been picking up shifts at work, trying to sort my house stuff and taking every opportunity to sit outside in the glorious sunshine we're having in little old Blighty! I've really missed blogging and I've sat down so many times about to start, but then tumblr happens and it all sorta goes out the window. So, to ease myself back into things, even though its not quite the end of the month yet, here's my July Wrap-up and August TBR!

July Reading Wrap-up

The first book I picked up in July was NW by Zadie Smith. As I said in my previous TBR post I hadn't really enjoyed the first Zadie Smith I'd read, but oh my goodness I ADORED this book. NW is the voice of London, it captures it's spirit and its soul. Free indirect discourse that imitates stream of consciousness, poem, graphology, this book is a writers book. I really must write a full review of it, but in the mean time I cannot more highly recommend it. 5/5.

Then I started reading The Red House by Mark Haddon. Now,  in direct contrast to Smith, I had loved my first exposure to Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime). I enjoyed Red House, but after reading NW it felt like it was trying to do what Smith had done, only more clumsily. It was a good story with some nice plot twists and a decent capturing of an awkward family holiday, but it wasn't anything special per say. 3/5.

I then read three books from the same series on the trot - these were Douglas Adam's The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and Life, The Universe and Everything. I really enjoyed all of these, even if there were moments in each book where I felt a bit bored with the plot, the good moments more than made up for these. Adam's is such a delicately witty writer - aside from the typical slapstick. I gave them 4/5, 3/5 and 3/5 respectively.

As it was such baking weather, I decided it was perfect to read the end of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I'd seen the Disney adaptation with the fella a few days before picking it up again, and I'm sad to say it may have hindered my enjoyment of the book slightly (Treasure Planet is one of my favourite Disney films). This being said, I was gripped during the last part of the book (where it most drastically differs from Treasure Planet) and really enjoyed my reading experience. I gave it 3/5. I also would really recommend watching the two-part Sky adaptation staring Eddie Izzard as Long John and Elijah Wood as Ben Gum, as well as Rupert Penry-Jones, Daniel Mays, Phillip Glenister and Donald Sutherland. It's pretty faithful to the book from what I can remember (although I watched it a while ago).

Luckily for me, the heat wave in Britain still hadn't abated, so I could lay outside and read Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamed. I was slightly apprehensive as I began reading this as I had adored The Reluctant Fundamentalist so much, but Moth Smoke did not disappoint. There were a few dodgy patches in the second person address that weren't present in The Relucantant Fundamentalist,  but I guess that is to be expected as Hamed hones his skills. The story was fast paced and claustrophobic, just perfect, and I gave it 5/5.

I'm really pleased with the amount I read this month (1738 pages!) - I think I've probably got the gorgeous weather to thank - and I'm going to try to keep it up next month. I've got loads of books out of the library, so I really need to start getting through them. With no further ado, here's my

August TBR

I have literally piled all my books up in size order (ie, how tall the book is rather than how long it is), so I'm just going to go through them one at a time.

Divergent by Veronica Roth - I've heard loads of good things about this book, and I know there's a film coming out, so I really want to read it.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell - I really wanted to read Eleanor and Park by the same author, but the library didn't have it, so I've picked this one up instead. I think its a pretty light, romantic read, so it might be a nice breather from some of the heavier things I've picked up.

The Autograph Man  by Zadie Smith - What can I say, I've got the Zadie Smith bug! Again, this wasn't the book I really wanted (I wanted On Beauty or White Teeth) but beggars can't be choosers, so I'll see how this one goes.

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn - I first heard about this book when we studied OULIPO in CWS and the concept of it intrigued me: a world in which the letters of the alphabet were slowly disappearing until only l, m, n, o and p were left. I'm really looking forward to this.

Vagina, a new biography by Naomi Woolf - I've been getting more and more interested into the concept of female sexuality and how its treated in relation to male sexuality etc recently, so when I saw this sitting on the library shelf I had to pick it up (much to the embarrassment of my sister). Again, I'm really intrigued about this and cannot wait to read it.

I think that's all for this month. I'm not sure how much I'll be able to get through, I should be picking up the keys to my house on Thursday (provided the insurance goes through ok - I perhaps shouldn't have left it so last minute) so I might be a bit busy moving in etc to do read through all this stuff. Fingers crossed though!

Best Wishes,


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Life Update c.July 2013

'I've got lots of post idea's' she said... It's true though! I've just, y'know, been too lazy to actually do any of them... Sorry!

Right, so, life update:

1) Health. After my holiday I felt so big. Every meal I ate whilst I was away was bigger than the equivalent meal I'd eat when I was at home, and I ate more fatty products (LOTS OF CHEESE AND BREAD) than I would normally, so whilst I left feeling ok, I came home visibly bigger. This is despite going for long walks most days (It was an hour round trip to the shop and back). So, to try to rectify both my physical feelings of unhealthy-ness and my actual unhealthy-ness, I've started running. I used to do a lot of running (I was on my junior school's cross country team) and since I've stopped going to my weekly dance classes I've been craving a bit of physical exercise. My stamina is ridiculously bad, so anything to help build that up (so I could run for a bus/ train without feeling out of puff) was always going to be great for me. I'm using the NHS 'Couch to 5K' podcasts to help me out. They're free and as their NHS created they're a safe, healthy way to build up exercise. I'm only just on the second week of podcasts (there are 9 weeks in total) but already I'm feeling better about myself, which is the most important thing. I've also been upping my fruit and veg intake, as well as drinking more water and green tea (with honey - the best drink ever as far as I'm concerned) and I've mostly cut out alcohol (we went overboard with cheap French wine, so I needed a liver break! I was meant to avoid it for 2 weeks, but the weathers been so beautiful that I couldn't resist the odd Pimms and half a lager-shandy in the sunshine). So, yay! Feeling good!

2) Clothes. I have been seriously suffering from post-holiday-poverty, but I've told myself I'm allowed to spend the money I have in my bank account pre-holiday, provided I don't spend any of the money I earn post-holiday. Aaaand both Urban Outfitters and Miss Selfridge had sales on. I couldn't resist. I got a huge oversized bright yellow jumper and an oversized black denim jacket from UO (both half price or less) and I got super bargains at Miss Selfridge - a dress reduced from £50 to £7 and a skirt from £40 to £12! Plus student discount! Love it! Now, no more clothes!

3) FLY. My university is hosting a Festival of Literature for Young people this year, and I got to be part of it! I performed two poems alongside some of my classmates and some international students on a summer school course. It always amazes me how talented the people I know are! Afterwards we sat on the steps and had a drink with the international students - it was great to chat to them, to hear their experiences of the university, to share some of my own and to big up the creative writing courses we offer. All in all, it was a lovely day.

That's about it for now, today I'm going to see The Bling Ring - super excited. Might try to take notes, not sure how it'll go, but either way I'll post a review up here soon (ish, you know how this thing works!)

Best Wishes!


Currently Reading: The Red House by Mark Haddon
Treasure Island
by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Monday, 1 July 2013

June Wrap-Up and July TBR

Why hello there chaps! It's been a while since my last post because, as I may a have mentioned just a couple of times, I spent the last two weeks in Le France!

Since I've got back (late Friday) I've been meaning to write a little post, but I've had loads of ideas and couldn't really settle on one, so I've decided to do a wrap-up and tbr blog to get me back into the swing. Goodreads tab is open, so lets get on with it, eh?

June Reading Wrap Up

The first book I read (or rather finished) in June was The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simons. I've already reviewed this book, so you can click here if you want to read that. As a quick summary: It's 1941 and Russia is at war. A young girl called Tatiana meets a solider and the inevitable happens. Expect a lot of strife, heartache and sex. For the most part I really loved this book, but there was a horrible section in the middle that did not sit well with me at all and I couldn't really get over it to give it a higher rating than 3.75/5.

After this book I slipped into a reading slump, but on holiday I managed to get my self out of it by picking up The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. Oh my goodness I cannot more highly recommend this book. It's brilliantly written, hilarious and the perfect pick me up. I am going to review this book soon, as I adored it and gave it 5/5.

I also read On The Road by Jack Kerouac. I read this because it was a classic and you're meant to read it whilst you're away from home in a different environment, but for me it didn't live up to the hype. I really struggled with it, especially in the first two parts of the book. The final two parts definitely changed my mind on it and I began to enjoy it more. I gave it 3/5 on Goodreads, and probably won't review it unless you guys want me to?

After I'd finished these two books I forgot what the third book I said I'd attempt on holiday was, so I started reading another book I said I might try if I had time: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. As with all Austen, the story is centred around a young girl/ young woman growing up in Regency England. In the case of Mansfield Park we follow the life of Fanny Price, who is brought up by her much wealthier Aunt and Uncle in their family home (Mansfield). I didn't enjoy this Austen as much as I have enjoyed previous ones (baring in mind that Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite books of all time), but that isn't to say I didn't like it. Austen's writing carries the story and I laughed out loud at several points.

The last book I read in June was The Wild Things by Dave Eggers. I'll probably review this soon(ish) because I have some very mixed feelings on this book, and I'd quite like the see the film (the book is a companion) in order to construct any proper thoughts about it. At the moment though, I'll just say I started out loving it and sped through, then took a break and never got back into it. (I started reading this before my holiday, but as I only took my Kindle I couldn't finish it till I got home).

So there you have it! I'm quite please by how many books I read (about 1,500 pages (not counting The Bronze Horseman as I read the majority of that in May)).

With June wrapped up, here's my July To Be Read:

On the bus home from the airport, with Mansfield Park sitting finished, I remembered the the final book I said I'd read - Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. So began to read it, but then my Kindle battery died, so I'd really like to finish it. At the moment I'm 50 pages in (27%).

Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamed. I got this book out of the library at the same time as Bronze Horseman and The Wild Things but still haven't read it, so I really need to get on and do that!

NW  by Zadie Smith. I bought this book on a buy one get one half-price deal in Waterstones, so I really have to read it now. The cover is beautiful and YouTubes Missxrojas raved about it, so I'm looking forward to this, despite not really enjoying the only other piece I've read by Zadie Smith.

The Red House by Mark Haddon. This was the other book I bought on the deal. I really liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, so I'm super excited to read some of Mark Haddon's other stuff. I have no idea what this book is about and can't wait to pick it up!

I've also recently got a couple more books on my Kindle that I'd like to read (including The Hitchhikers series and Lord of the Rings), so I may or may not be making a start on those. This month I should also find out what modules I'm on next year, so any or all of these books may be abandoned in the name of getting ahead in my reading for next year!

Well, that's all for now, so

TTFN and Happy Reading!


Currently Reading: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Review: The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simons

(This review is pretty much directly taken from my goodreads, so if you happen to be friends we me on there and have already read my review, I'll forgive you if you want to skip this post...)

I had heard about this book through Little Book Owl's channel - she completely raved about it - so when I was wandering through the library one day I decided to pick it up. Oh my goodness.

Set in 1941, this is the story of 17 year old Tatiania and her family, and their experiences in the first few months of the Soviet Union's involvement with World War Two. However, it isn't just the war that is changing Tatiana's life irrevocably - as she is going to the shops one morning she meets Alexander (a Red Army solider). 

This story is so beautifully written and just so heart breakingly moving, it is really hard to put down once you've picked it up. It's the first book if this kind that I read (adult, set in the past, war romance) and I really enjoyed the reading experience. It is a very long book, but the story is pretty well sustained throughout - although there is one section about 4/5 of the way through in which I started to get more than a little annoyed with all of the characters (it felt like I was reading the same passage over and over and the whole plot wasn't moving anywhere or even building up to anything). However, the ending is dramatic and powerful. At one point I was unsure if I would try to pick up the second book, but now I know I just have to.

Like I've said, overall I love the main characters, however this isn't to say they are without flaw, and at times their interactions sent me up the wall. I'm not going to go into details because spoilers, but be prepared to want to punch all of them at one point or another. This being said, it's probably what makes them so human - they have flaws and are not the perfect 'star crossed lovers'.

This is the perfect book to read on a cold winters night - the cold outside would make the freezing Russian winter come to life even more graphically than it does in the book. Really recommend this book, especially if you already like the historical/war romance genre.

I gave it 4/5 on goodreads, but I'm probably going to give it a 3.75 on here, just because I did get very annoyed with the whole book at one or two points because of the poor momentum etc.

I've decided to try to bring back the 'currently reading' thing that I used to do, hopefully now I'm free to read books I want, they'll actually be interesting!

Best Wishes,


Currently Reading: The Wild Things by Dave Eggers

Monday, 10 June 2013

Body Image

TW: Anorexia, Bulimia, Eating Disorders.

(side note, Laci Green expresses a lot of these views a lot better than I do on her YouTube channel, Sex+. A couple of really good videos can be found here and here)

'Tis the season for bikinis, and lately I've been thinking a lot about body image, societies relationship to body, and my own personal relationship to both food and my body.

Body image can mean a lot of things: the way your body looks, the way society views your body and the way your body looks to you. And although this might sound the same, these can often be vastly different. For example, a person may be 20 stone, feel beautiful and love their body. However, sadly society would perceive them as ugly and fat. Equally, a person may be 8 stone and hate their body, even though society would view them as having a perfect figure. These situations are specific to weight, but when you add proportions, age and gender into the mix, this becomes an even bigger mess of opinions and generalisations.

The way the human body is viewed has changed a lot over the course of history, particularly in regards to 'beauty' (ie, what we perceive to be the perfect body). I'm going to talk specifically about women in this post, not only because I am one so I understand society and its relationship to my body (as well as how my female friends and family feel about their body image), but also because what is considered beautiful in women is more exclusive (not only to each era but female perfect is an exclusive concept) and more widely discussed in the media (think tabloids, gossip mags and adverts etc).

So, let’s start from a sort of beginning. Being on the larger side used to be attractive and considered beautiful. If you look at any old painting of a women you'll see she is larger stomached and smaller busted than a pin up today would be. (You can see images photoshopped to more modern standards next to the originals here). There is a very simple reason for this: women who were larger were not only wealthier (they could afford fattening foods) but were also healthier (again, because they had a better, wider, fuller diet). It all came down to reproduction: you wanted the best chance that when you get a women pregnant she will give birth to a healthy child who will grow up in a well-off family.

Then something shifted in our culture. People became wealthier as a society, so they stopped looking to women whose bodies could support a family. Instead, the fashion industry became the go to for information of body type and its relationship to beauty. Since the end of the second world war, this image has fluctuated between two distinct types - the ironing board and the hourglass.

The ironing board refers to women who are tall, slim, with small chests, waists and hips, so their body essentially goes straight up and down (think Kiera Knightly).

The hourglass refers to women who are tall, slim, with larger chests and hips than waists (think Marilyn Monroe or Christina Hendricks).

You'll notice that both associate beauty with being tall and slim - this is because fashion designers produce stock sizes for their models and want to show their clothes off so they look the best. They believe their clothes look good on taller, slimmer people.

Anyway, so society fluctuated between women of these two sizes between 1920 (ish) and the late 1990s (for example, 20s flappers = ironing boards, 50s pin ups = hourglass, 80-90s androgyny = ironing boards). Now, there is a pretty decent mix of the two, often combining in a woman who had a fuller bust but a flat stomach and tiny waist (Rosie Huntington-Whitley, Jourdan Dunn or Miley Cyrus spring to mind).

So all this is going on in society, with women with these figures being placed in the spotlight, whilst women of other figures are ridiculed. This is known as fat shaming - a phrase which commonly refers to when larger women are discriminated because of their size, but I am also going to use it to describe the same effect on women who are thinner. The former type is much more common, and images of women with these figures (in particular the ironing board figure which is arguably more coveted in the fashion industry) can often end up being a trigger for mental illnesses and eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. Women are told that they need to look a certain way and can feel a lot of pressure to conform to these standards of beauty.

Needless to say, this is wrong and bad. Not only that, but these perceptions of beauty and many of the arguments that support them (specifically health arguments) are often false. The most important thing is that you love your body, no matter what shape or size. For the UK the average dress size is 14-16. However, women still feel the need to conform the images shown in fashion magazines depicting 'size 0' (UK size 4) models.

The fashion industry are taking baby steps to acknowledge their role in the perception of beauty in society (there is a fabulous article by a 'plus size model' here, in which she discusses the pressures of being a model and the semantics around the term 'plus size'). But they are only baby steps.

Now, most of this post has been about beauty generally. I'm going to try and articulate something I have been coming to terms with recently: my own perception of my body image and my relationship with food.

Overall, I quiet like my body. I'm about 5ft 5" and weigh somewhere in the region of 8.5 stone. On BMI charts I sit around the 19-20 marl, which is healthy for a girl my age, height and weight. This doesn't mean I'm 100% happy with the way I look though.

I am a victim of the 'flat stomach' desire. I want a flatter stomach and I know I can get one. I feel 10 times bigger than I was last summer (despite the fact that the guy I'm seeing says I haven't changed and my mum thinks I look the same) and I know I'm a lot less healthy. I've been eating more and exercising less, it's really as simple as that.

I used to be able to brush off feelings of unhealthiness, go on health kicks and feel better about myself. But this time, I've really sunk into a rut, thinking that everybody around me is so much thinner and prettier. I shouldn't aspire to be thinner. I know I'm healthy, and I know a lot of people want my body type. I also know I'm unhappy in my skin, so I want to change that. However, this feeling of general unhealthiness as for the first time highlighted to me my own relationship with food. Which is by no means as healthy as I'd like it to be. I categorize foods into good and bad. I reward myself with food, as well as deny myself it. I count calories obsessively.

Now I know this is ridiculous. I know that if I acted on many of my food feelings I would end up becoming seriously unhealthy, and part of me worries that it's only because I've got my mum feeding me that I eat proper sized portions at all (too bigger portions in my eyes, but I eat them because she gives them to me).

This has been a huge realisation for me. I've started to do more exercise and eat more regularly (ie, cutting out snacks and eating larger meals). So that feels better. I've also started to go for walks more regularly, to get myself up out of my computer seat and into the fresh air, which always makes me feel healthier anyway. I'm going to try not to worry about my tummy in my bikini on holiday, and sort out any issues I have afterwards.

So, mostly I'm feeling good. However, society and its relationship to the female body is still hugely flawed. I might do another post this week on ownership of the female body, because as I've said it's something I've been thinking a lot about recently.

Best Wishes, 


If you suffer from any of the issues mentioned, and would like to talk about it, you can visit your local doctor, visit or

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Reading Slump and Holiday TBR

Don't get me wrong. I adore books. If there was a job which only required me to read books that would be the job for me. I watch book-tubers, I read book blogs, and quite a large portion of my output on this blog has probably been book reviews. But every once in a while, I hit a reading slump. And it is the worst.

I have barely read at all since the read-a-thon in the middle of last month. I didn't even finish the book I was reading during the read-a-thon, despite the fact I'm only 20 pages from the end. I don't know why, I just haven't picked up a book.

Hopefully, however, this will all change sooner rather than later! I'm going to finish that book if not tonight then definitely tomorrow. Plus I bought myself a couple of books when I popped into Waterstones the other day, and have been staring at the covers ever since in the hope it will re-inspire me to read again.

As I said yesterday, I'm going on holiday for a fortnight at the end of the week, and whilst I won't be taking any physical books with me (too big and too heavy), I will be taking my lovely Kindle. Last holiday i took my Kindle on I was so paranoid about the sand that I barely read on the holiday (I read Alice in Wonderland on the plane), but this year we're in-land, so fingers crossed I can get some books tackled!

All this being said, here's a short holiday TBR:

The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
On The Road by Jack Kerouac
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The first two on this list are the ones I'd really like to have a go at, but if I do finish them, then I'll move on to Treasure Island. I'm really not fussed if I don't get round to finishing or even starting all or any of these books, but I like to have something set out in my mind to read. I might also have a look at an Austen (either P&P because I can always re-read that, or one of the ones I haven't read yet (Emma, Mansfield Park or Northanger Abbey) just because she is such a nice little read). But I'll not get my hopes up just yet...

I'll let you know how I get on once I'm home!

Happy Reading,


Saturday, 8 June 2013

Beauty: Product Reviews (Volumizing Powder and Rimmel Polish)

Hey gang.

So after my last, rambling, boring, self-indulgent post, I thought I better do something a bit more useful/interesting, so here's a couple of quick little reviews.

1) Schwarzkopf Got2be Powder'ful Volumizing Styling Powder (£4-ish) Ok, so this is advertised pretty much constantly on E4, and I'd heard some good things about it, so I thought I'd pick it up and give it a go. I really struggle with flat hair - my hair is so fine and thin it doesn't really have any texture to it at the roots, and because its long and curly it tends to get all it's body around my chin - the result of which leaves me with 'triangle issues'. I had some high hopes for this product - and was disappointed for a number of reasons. Firstly, you can only apply it when your hair is dry. I hadn't seen this note when I bought the product, and if I had I probably wouldn't have bothered. It is impossible for me to style my hair when it's dry - it turns into a wispy mess. Every time I've used the product I've just felt frizzy, which is something I've been trying to avoid my whole life. Secondly, the texture. Whilst it definitely gives body to my roots, its feels disgusting and dry in my normally shiny hair. I hated it. If you pour it into your hands, as directed, it also leaves them feeling sticky, and it's really hard to wash off. This said, when I have used it, it has definitely boosted my volume, and has been useful if I'm heading out and don't have time to wash and dry my hair. 2/5 sunbeams.

2) Rimmel I Love Lasting Finish Nail Polish (£2.99) I'd been looking for an orange nail polish for a while, and when I picked up 200 Orange Your Life thought I'd found a great one. Under the shop lights it looked perfect, however, when I actually put it on at home, it was a lot pinker and a lot more neon that I had anticipated. Whilst it's still a great, fun, summery colour, it wasn't what I was looking for. A few days later I was serving someone at the kiosk when I spotted their nail colour - and immediately had to ask where they'd got it from. Lo and behold, it was from this exact same collection, in the colour 705 Tangy Tangerine. It was the perfect colour - light and summery, a nice peachy orange. The only problem I have with this range is the application - its very streaky. I'm not the best at applying nail polish anyway, so I have real issues with this. Also, for a lasting finish nail polish, it doesn't really last for longer than a day before it starts chipping. Again this could be because it's very hard to apply it evenly. Overall, however, I give it 3.5/5 sunbeams. I almost gave it a 4 but the application really let it down.

Hopefully I'll get the chance to write a couple more posts this week before I head off to France for a fortnight!

Best Wishes


Tuesday, 28 May 2013


Hey, hi, hello (is a band which I used to be super into - and by super into I mean I quite liked one song of theirs, it started off by singing 'It's a beautiful day outside everything is ok and alright, your smile is a vast contrast to the things we said last night'. They are super pop-y and fun. Super. Apparently. You can tell when I've been watching American YouTubers...)

Soooo, as you might be able to tell, I have no idea what I'm going to write about, but I just thought I'd sit down and see what comes out of my fingers clickity-clacking on these here keys. I've got several blog post ideas, but they are pretty serious, and I'm too tired to formulate them. So, this is what you're stuck with. A ramble. About nothing, most probably. Have fun!

Today some of my lady flavoured friends popped over for a cuppa and it was really lovely, especially as I won't get to see one of them properly again till late June. She lives such a beautiful, crazy life, and sometimes I wish I had her guts to just go for things. This summer, she's working on a farm in Monaco for a month, then she's working with foreign language students at the other end of the country, then she's working at festivals. She never really plans anything, just goes for every opportunity she's given, which is great. I have no idea where she gets the money to do it, particularly as she loves in London, but she has such a full life anyway. I feel like I'm always torn between the present and the future. I want to live life to the full, but I also want to have a safe and secure future. It's really hard to balance, and sometimes I feel like I should be more like her, say what the hell to tomorrow and focus on living today. I'm a person who tends to regret things, though, not socially or memories wise (I never regret the things I do, unless I really hurt someone I care about), but in monetary terms. No matter how much you work, sometimes it feel like you need to have money to achieve your dreams. However wrong that might be.

Speaking of money, I stayed up till midnight watching Made in Chelsea, despite the fact I had refused work because I wanted an early night. I am an idiot, but man I love that show. There is something worryingly enjoyable about watching pretty rich people live their indulgent lives. Plus there was so much drama between Lucy and Louise and Pheobe and Alex and Spencer and Andy and oh my goodness so good.

On a very different note, the fella is coming back home in a few days, after he has been away travelling for almost 5 weeks. It's really weird to think about. Thinking about him I get stuck in this strange in-between stage of grief. Like, I know he is coming home soon, but he's still not here now, and I want him to be, but at the same time I want him to be off having fun in the world doing something he's always wanted to do. There's a selfish corner of my brain which is demanding he comes home now, and there's the paranoid corner which is worried things might not be the same. I have this habit of changing people in my mind when I don't see them for a prolonged period of time. It's happened once before with a boyfriend who I built up so much in my mind that he could never live up to it in reality. Suffice to say that relationship didn't last long, and I felt really bad about it because it was all in my head and there was nothing he could've done. So I really hope that doesn't happen again, and I really hope things haven't changed in our dynamic. We've always been best-friends before anything else, and we were both really worried that seeing each other would ruin that. Luckily, it hasn't, but I don't want this to have changed anything. I'm sure I'm worrying over nothing - everytime we talked its felt the same as it did before. But still. The brain eh? Can't function with it, can't live without it...

I've been really getting into BookTubers recently, as you might have guessed from my read-a-thon posts. They are such a lovely, fuzzy little community that I'd really like to get part of. Some of my favourites include:

thegirlsawthecomet (aka justkissmyfrog)
railroadreads (aka booksandquills)

They are all so insightful and well read (obviously) and funny and just plain good!

Right. Think that's probably all for tonight. I just felt like I should write something, just to spring clean my brain a little - and to stop me from continually refreshing my tumblr dash!

Best Wishes


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Tips and Tricks for Surviving 1st Year at Uni

So, you've just sat you're A2 exams, you're anxiously waiting for your marks to come back, and the whole summer is stretched out before you... University feel a long  way off, something to look forward to (hopefully), something to be afraid of (maybe), something to prepare for (definitely). But how can you prepare? Here's my little guide to get ready for University living! (Bare in mind, this will be tailored to arts/literature courses, but there's a lot of stuff which is general good practice)

a) Money, money, money 

  1. Check out how much money you're going to be getting from student finance, then check out the cost of your accommodation. Sometimes, the amount of money you'll be getting in won't quite cover the cost of the rent. 
  2. Equally, check when you have to pay rent, and the date your student finance gets into your account.  Don't get caught out by not having the money in your bank account on the day the rent needs paying! Most uni's will have the option of either paying monthly rent, or termly. With the monthly rent, you'll have more money in your bank account for more of the term. However, some monthly rents will start before you get student finance in. If you pick termly, you're bank account is going to get hit pretty hard  each time the money goes in. However, you'll have a better idea about how much money you realistically have to spend (or save) over the course of the term.
  3. Either way, it's a good idea to do a mock budget. I sat down with a calculator and worked out that if I set aside a certain amount of money for rent, food, clothes and books, I'd be left with £18 per week for other 'fun' things. Realistically this might not be exact - you might spend a lot more or less on some of the necessary things, leaving you with more or less money for extras - but it can give you a good starting point.
  4. Get a job. You ARE going to need more money. I know people whose parents paid for their accommodation, but still ran into debt. Get a job over summer, earn some extra pocket money, and SAVE IT. You'll have plenty of free time to spend with people who might be going away, you can spare the odd evening to earn more cash. You won't regret it.
  5. Put as much money as you can in a savings account - but make sure its one that you can still access. Every month, I put the majority of my earnings in a savings account, leaving myself less to play with in my daily account. This means I feel poorer than I am, so save more money by spending less.
b) Do the work!
  1. Preparing for seminars is really important. Remember, you're paying up to £9,000 per year, and even if the first year 'doesn't count you don't want to just throw that money away. Attend as many lectures and seminars as possible, you'll finds yourself a lot better prepared for the second year, when it really starts to matter.
  2. Practise over summer. This might sound ridiculous, but if you're on a lit course, you're going to have to do a lot of reading. Reading is a skill that you can train yourself to do, so read for half an hour every day. You'll soon find yourself getting quicker and better at it. Equally, you're going to have a read more than one book at a time, so practise swapping between texts. A lot of uni's will have reading lists available, so if you know you're slow, get ahead.
  3. For non-reading based courses, keep up with revision. Its amazing how much knowledge can melt away on long summers days. I'm not saying spend every second with your nose in a text book, but set aside an hour or two every week to keep your brain ticking over.
c) Remember your friends
  1. Spend time with your nearest and dearest over the summer, and make the most of it.
  2. Set up Skype or another messaging service of your choice, and start chatting to each other in a routine. Or, if you're staying close to home for uni, arrange a day a week when all your friends are likely to be free. The biggest mistake I made was loosing contact with some of my closest friends in the first term of Uni. Keeping in touch is so important, especially if they are stuck in a boring gap year job whilst you're off having fun with bright and shiny new friends.
d) Have fun!
  1. You're paying for the experience of Uni just as much as your paying for the education. When you get there make the most of what they have to offer - go to plays, poetry nights, gigs, the gym, the library. A lot of things with be cut price for students - I went to a play for £6 and poetry nights for £3, and the gym/pool is only £1.60 a go. My biggest regret if not using these facilities to their full extent.
  2. Don't spend all your money on booze. You want to remember your year. A couple of mates of mine went a little freedom crazy, and now they're seriously paying for it (both in the liver, the mind and the wallet).
  3. You'll have a lot of free time at Uni, and no one will tell you what to do with it. Use it.
  4. Join at least one society. I have made all my closest friends through society, and I'm living with people in my society. Some of the best hours of uni have been spent in society. Most are cheap to join if not free (mine was £3) and they are so worth your money.
e) Ask
  1. The biggest skill Uni teaches is to ask questions. Whether this is in a seminar, for an essay, or for help (scholarly or emotionally), the University is there for you. You are paying for a service, and that service includes the lecturers or the finance officers or the dean of students giving you a hand. They will appreciate being asked, rather than you struggling through and not doing the best you can.
I know some of this is perhaps more dedicated to what to do when you get to uni, rather than what to do before Uni, but its all stuff to think about. Oh, and if you've got a shared kitchen there's no need to bring toasters, microwaves, kettles etc. Most Uni's will provide the basics, and if not, you can work it out between your flatmates what to buy. You don't want to end up with 12 toasters but no kettles!

Best Wishes!


Monday, 20 May 2013

Read-a-thon: Round-up

So, if any of you have been checking out my tumblr ( then you'll have seen my steady progress throughout the week, but here's my final round-up. I'll put the book title, the author, my original goal, and what I ended up actually reading.

She by Henry Ryder Haggard [finish] I achieved my goal and finished this book pretty early on in the read-a-thon (I think on the Wednesday). I enjoyed this book but didn't love it, and I gave it 3 stars on goodreads. Not sure if I'll do a review yet or not.

The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal [finish] I achieved my goal with this too! To be honest, I thought it was going to be a lot harder to finish this than it was, it was definitely slow going at the start, but boy did it kick in! I raced through this and finished it on the Tuesday (I think). I gave it 4/5 on goodreads, and there'll be a review up pretty soon.

The Casual Vacancy  by JK Rowling [halfway] I completely surpassed my expectations and finished this book on Friday! Not sure how I feel about this yet, and I think Rowling should probably stick to fantasy, but it was a very easy read. 3/5, will review soon.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton [made progress] I totally achieved my goal for this, and am now on page 148/229. Very happy with this. Really enjoying this book, can't wait to finish it - hopefully today.

I'm very happy with the progress I made, especially as I had plans all week. Yay! I didn't get round to starting any of the books-to-take-my-mind-of-things books (other than VOGUE), but they're the kinds of things you can just pick up any time, so I'm ok with that. Really enjoyed getting back into sitting and reading for pleasure, but it was nice to have a goal too. Plus, now I'm 3 books ahead in my goodreads schedule, yay! Did any of you attempt the read-a-thon? How'd it go?

I'm going to try and get back to blogging more frequently (as she always says), but I'm not going to attempt a set timetable yet. In the meantime, follow me on tumblr to keep up with my little musings, and I'll speak soon.

Best Wishes!


Monday, 13 May 2013


Hullo team! So my life has been crazy busy over the past few weeks! I've had my last uni exams, been saying goodbye to friends, taking over secretarial responsibilities in Creative Writing Society, performing prose and poetry in front of Tim Clare. I feel exhausted.

With all this going on, I've been doing a pretty poor job of reading, so this week I am going to be taking part in an internet wide 'Read-a-thon'. I can't quite remember who started it up, but I heard about it from Jesse (YouTube, Tumblr and probably Twitter's 'jessethereader') and Katrina (littlebookowl). Basically, the idea is that you dedicate as much time as possible with the aim of finishing as many books as you can! Here's my reading list for the week:

She by Henry Ryder Haggard - I started reading this book, Goodreads informs me, on the 21st of March. This was right in the middle of my semester at uni, and so far I've got about 50% of the way through it. I'm really enjoying it, just need to remember to pick up my Kindle again and start reading! I want to have finished this book by the end of the week.

The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal - My papa gave me this book not too long ago and said I'd probably enjoy it. We have very similar reading tastes, and so far he's bang on. Started this book in the middle of April, just starting to get into it now. I'm on about chapter 10, so about 90 pages into the 350 or so. It's a biography of an object (specifically a netsuke) which has been inherited by the author, and he's tracing it's journey through his family. Really interesting so far, so I'm hoping to have finished this book.

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling - I know, I know. I've owned this book for ages, I think my grandparents bought it me for Christmas, and I still haven't finished it yet! It's a mammoth book, and I'm about 100 or so pages in, although I haven't picked it up in so long I might have to skim read the whole start of it again, just to get my bearings! By the end of the week I want to have got at least halfway through.

The Age of Innocence by  Edith Wharton - I got this book as a present for my 18th and I still haven't read it yet. However, hopefully I'm studying Wharton next semester so I thought I'd get a head up and read some of her work early! This is only a short book, but I've given myself a lot, but I want to have made progress with this.

Now, because these are all quite heavy going, I'm going to give myself a couple of lighter-hearted things to read in between so I don't hit a reading slump mid week!

VOGUE and Miss VOGUE June 2013 ed - So I've bought VOGUE as I sporadically do, and I think it'll be really good to keep me focused on the heavier stuff. I don't really mind if I don't get too far through it, as I enjoy flicking through over and over again as the months go by.

Creative Writing Society Anthology 2012-2013 - I really want to give this a proper read to see what all my friends have contributed. I'll be reading a couple of poems or short stories whenever I feel I can't go on with my other novels. I really want to have finished this by the time the week is out, as it'll coincide nicely with our last workshops!

Pub Stuntman by Tim Clare - As I said at the top of this post, I had the pleasure of performing with Tim at the tail end of last week. He is an amazing poet and a stand up gent, and possibly had the best put down for a heckler ever. I bought his book there and then, really looking forward to sinking my teeth into some of his work. I want to have made progress by the end of the week.

So there you have it! I'll probably be doing updates on Tumblr as the week goes on, so you can follow my progress on

Happy Reading


Monday, 6 May 2013

Oh Captain My Captian!

So, I just finished watching The Dead Poets Society and it's one of those films that you just want to watch again and again and it just makes you want to live your life and stand up for what you believe in and don't let anyone get you down ever again. And it also makes you want to tell everyone to go and watch it, even if they've seen it before to watch it again.

Ahhhh it's so good!

Seize the day!


ps. I also have a tumblr now. You can follow me on

Monday, 29 April 2013

Review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

People have been recommending Mohsin Hamid's work from all sides, so when I saw this in the library I thought I'd pick it up*. Let's just say the recommendations were wholly deserved - I really enjoyed this book.

* As an aside I have very conflicting views on libraries so hopefully I'll do a discussion post on that in the near future (along with all the other posts I've promised, sorry!).

1) It's premise really intrigued me - being addressed directly and so specifically was really interesting. This was particularly fascinating as I found I really did not like the person who was being addressed - and the uncomfortable situation this puts the reader is in just <emotivearmmovements> good. Really good.

2) The narrator is very eloquent yet very bare at the same time, which created just stunning reading. The book is written as a very one-sided conversation, and it really felt like you were sitting down listening to someone tell you about their life. This could be boring, but when the narrator has lived such a rich life it's very interesting.
3) It's surprisingly tension filled - the moment at the end (which I shall not reveal) may not be entirely shocking (due to the hints laid down in the novel) but is very very well executed.
4) I read it in two chunks (the first 3/4 in one sitting, and the last 1/4 this morning) but because of the style of the book I'd really recommend trying to read it in one sitting. It's only 200 pages long, so it really doesn't take that long to get though if you can set aside a couple of hours.

5) It picked up some very interesting points about how we (or specifically how Americans - although it applied to most Western nations) judge people based on appearance. And how (again Americans, but us Brits do it too) completely misinterpret situations when the issue of terrorism is brought up.

6) The love story in this raised some very interesting questions about what rape is and what an abusive relationship is. If you don't mind a spoiler I'm going to put a little discussion at the very end of the post, so don't scroll down if you don't want to know.

Yeah. So, I think that pretty much sums my feelings on this book up. Highly recommend it. I gave it four sunbeams.

Happy Reading!


---------------------------- SPOILER ZONE ----------------------

There is a moment in this book where the narrator has sex with the girl he is in love with. She appears to have feeling for him too, but is definitely not an active participant in the intercourse. When the narrator realises that she isn't getting involved, he, albeit begrudgingly, stops. I found this very uncomfortable to read, as to me, this was clearly a rape. She did not want to have sex with him. However, as you see everything through the narrator's eyes, it became very muddled in my mind. There is a second sex scene, which to my mind is also rape, although the girl is an active participant. The narrator abuses her mental fragility in order to get what he wants. Which, as I've said, constitutes rape, or at the very least an abusive relationship. Once again, because we see everything through the narrator's eyes, we can see that he wants to make her happy. However, we can also see how much he is manipulating his own thoughts. His rationale may be her happiness, but his motive is very much his own fulfilment.

I just found this interesting. If you want to contribute to this discussion (particularly if you’ve read the book) please leave a comment!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Personal Issues with 'yourfaveisproblematic'

Yesterday, I was alerted to the prescience Now, on the face of this this website is nothing to worry about, and in fact should probably be encouraged. It's premise is to look at people in the public eye and point out 'problematic' things they have said/done and make 'reciepts' of them. As I said, on the face of it this should be encouraged - it's good to look critically on the people we admire to make sure what we like about them isn't clouding our judgement. However, after posting libelous things about John Green, I think we need to review some of the more 'problematic' aspects of this website. I would like to stress that this is by no means a comprehensive list, and if you find anything false about it I will more than happily put my hands up and say I got it wrong - I only looked at the website for about half an hour last night.

1) Frequently de-contextualises comments. This includes comments that were obviously made in jest and by no means represent the speakers values, comments that have been taken out of their historical time frame, and comments that have been taken out of their chronology. I'll go into more detail with specifics later.

2) Calls out people on what does/does not constitute cultural appropriation (ie. when celebrities wear a bindi/Native American headdress etc) yet refuses to acknowledge that this makes it a source of information on what is/is not cultural appropriation. If you are stating that 'this is and this isn't', then be prepared to answer for what you're saying and attempt to explain to those who have queries (ie, why aren't corn-rows/ dreadlocks cultural appropriation yet the wearing of the bindi (what wikipedia - and I know it's not the most reliable source - states as worn as fashion for many women, even though the traditional bindi is preserved as a religious symbol) is?). It's not good enough for you to say 'I can't answer that as we are not an authority' when you repeatedly make judgements on other people.

3) Attributes what fictional characters say/do to their authors/the actors who portray them. This appears to only apply to those characters who say/do something considered racially or culturally offensive, not those characters who commit moral crimes/ things that are sexually offensive. The people who run the website can't seem to understand that things that characters say and do are more often than not the complete polar opposite of an authors opinions. This links into point (1), particularly about chronology and historical context. The examples I saw of this on the website: a) John Green wrote a Muslim character into one of his novels (this character was the second most important in the novel) who says a Muslim word which is offensive, but flips it so it is almost a term of endearment. It is a word that Green wouldn't/doesn't say in his life, and a word that is completely appropriate with context. b) A character in 'Mad Men' (I believe) did 'blackface' (where a white person wears black face paint to portray a different ethnicity). Whilst this is completely unacceptable in modern times, this show is set in the 1950s, where this sort of actively was a lot more common place and not frowned on to such a degree. Equally, just because a character did something relevant to its historical context, does not mean to actor who portrayed it agrees with it. As I said, they have not called out people like Tom Cruise, Matt Damon or Bruce Willis for advocating murder simply because they kill people in their films. Equally, they do not call out Jane Austen for portraying patriarchal views in her novels. This is a ridiculous double standard. This website needs to recognise that authors and actors do not represent the views of the characters they create.

4) (This one I am not 100% certain about, but it was my impression after last nights searching) They want their blog to be an open discussion, then close off the 'ask' box feature when they receive a high volume of criticism for the libelous comments made against John Green and get angry at those who find other ways to interact with them. Whilst I understand that the people on this blog were also receiving threats (including death threats) they still have a responsibility to engage with the polite discussion. Threatening people is never acceptable, but when a site is making these claims on people who they do not know then they have to allow themselves to be held accountable for their words - particularly when these words could seriously damage a persons career. Again I am not saying that things celebrities do/say shouldn't be called out on if it is offensive/distasteful, because it's great to look at things we admire critically, HOWEVER these need to be verified before being posted on the internet. It's a dangerous place.

5) Linking to (2) makes political statements yet refuses to acknowledge themselves as a source of information.

6) Linking to above and (2), asks their audience to accept what they are saying as fact, not always revealing the source of their information (although they are mostly good as showing the source) and removes the ability for their audience to directly question me further.

Now, as I've said, I have not comprehensively reviewed this tumblr. Some of what I have said is potentially incorrect, and if anyone who either follows the tumblr or those who run the tumblr would like to speak to me about this then please do so, either in the comments or by my email. I would prefer that any comments were made directly to me as there is a high possibility that I won't see them otherwise, and I would like to address any concerns people may have.

I would also like to stress that I support the premise of the site. But the people who run it need to be aware of the responsibilities that come with running a site like this. If this site gets any more publicity, I would be very surprised if celebrities don't start to sue over some of the claims made on the site. Equally, clearly I am very angry about point (3) as it is ridiculous if you believe that the things characters do/say are they things their creators believe.

Sorry about the long break and about the rant, but this really wound me up.

Best Wishes,


Sunday, 14 April 2013

Review: Snow White and The Huntsman (SPOILERS, sort of)

SPOILERS although not really as it basically is the fairytale. BUT YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Based on the traditional fairytale, this tells the story of a Princess named Snow White, whose evil stepmother attempts to cut out her heart in order to preserve her own beauty. This is a little different from the original, and although it features dwarves, it also features 'The Huntsman' played by Chris Hemsworth. This addition adds a different dimension to the original story (which I haven't read yet, but intend to, so correct me if I'm wrong on any level here).

Things I liked about the film:

1) The acting. I don't care what anyone else says, I ADORE Kristen Stewart and she does a stellar job in this movie. She doesn't have that many lines (despite being the leading lady), but the ones she does she performs in a surprisingly good (although not faultless) British accent. Most of her work is done through her trademark lip twitches, which I think are possibly the most emotive lip twitches in all of Hollywood. People do not give her enough credit. The rest of the cast are fabulous too, particularly Charlize Theron.

2) The portrayal of the love story. In many re-tellings of the story, Snow White is produced as a love story. Which is all well and good, but it also kind of misses the point - which is don't obsess over your looks, its much better to be beautiful on the inside (remember, Snow White, whilst physically attractive, is only a threat to the Queen because of her purity and innocence of mind). This film did this so well, and only used the love story when necessary. In the end it's all about Snow White's triumph, and whilst the love interest does get a look in it it only brief. There is no Disney-esque wedding.

3) The special effects. Wowza. That department were incredible. The transitions between young and old, the bit with the crows and the mud (if you've seen the film you'll know the bit I mean). Just outstanding. And the Troll!! Amazing! Ooooh and the hallucinations - really crazy good (also, the acting at this point is stunning).

Things I didn't like:

1) The Dwarves. Whilst I think the film should have them, I didn't really see why they had to digitally shrink taller actors. There are plenty of amazing short actors out there (Warwick Davis, to name but one) which weren't used. Whilst I love Toby Jones, Eddie Mason and Nick Frost, I think they could have used other actors to the same effect.

And that's pretty much it... Recommend this for sure.

I give this film 3.5 sunbeams. (By the way, this rating is out of five. Don't know if I've explained this before.)

Best Wishes,