Thursday, 14 December 2017

New Favourite YA Book? Goodbye, Perfect | | Book Review

I do not say this lightly when I say I've found a new favourite YA book. I mean it like I stayed up into the early hours of this morning devouring it. It is SO damn good. The first book by Sara Barnard I've read and I wasn't disappointed. Readers on Twitter have always praised Barnard, and I have to agree. 

She writes young adult fabulously and flawlessly. 

Goodbye Perfect is about best friends, adopted and a bit wild Eden and goody two shoes Bonnie in their final year of high school, they're tackling revision and their GCSE's. It's a stressful time of year, made 10x more stressful when Bonnie runs away with her secret boyfriend. The police are involved, journalists are swarming their town and Eden is desperate to get her best friend back. But is she really her best friend? Aren't they supposed to tell each other everything? No matter how bad it seems? 

When Eden discovers where Bonnie is, she keeps it a secret. It's awfully selfish on Bonnie's part I think, Eden shouldn't have to keep this massive secret, secret, it's unfair and possibly even dangerous.

Remember the famous line from Matilda "Best friends don't tell.". Eden's loyalty to her best friend is seemingly unbreakable. 

Is Bonnie safe? Will she come back? 

Barnard has written an absolutely incredible and honest friendship between these girls, they reminded me of some of the friendships I had in high school. Almost made me nostalgic for what felt like the worst five years of my life. I understood Bonnie and her academic personality, the good-girl, the need for control in all aspects of life. I got that SO hard. I saw my teenage self in Eden too. There's good and bad in everyone, and you can't always stay on one side. 

Eden and Bonnie understand each other like no one else can, or so they think. They balance each other out. Bonnie's steadiness calms Eden's wild nature. It is an extraordinary friendship.

Family is important too. Eden was adopted by the McKinely's when she is 9, alongside her younger sister Daisy. The McKinely's have a biological daughter Valerie, the friendship that blooms between her and Eden is beautiful. Eden's character development through the book is unbelievable. She realises everyone doesn't always see her bad side. Everyone inherently has a bad side to their personality. 

It has been skillfully plotted, the book had my full attention from start to finish. I can't stop thinking about how wonderful it is. It made me feel everything. I laughed, I cried, I wanted to scream and punch walls at their naivety. I love Eden's adoptive parents and their love for gardening and their calm demeanour. I love her boyfriend Connor, like her and Bonnie another unlikely relationship that just works. I grew to love Valerie, just like Eden did. I just love it so much. Barnard captures what it can be like to be a teenager, fighting their wide range of emotions, having a boyfriend for the first time, deciding where their life is going to lead. The characters are diverse and different, Eden isn't academic, she doesn't portray the good-girl trope. She misbehaves and gets detention, she's been in trouble with the police, but she isn't a bad person. Ultimately, that's it, no one is perfect. No matter how hard you try to keep up with a persona, you'll find its faults soon enough. 

After reading Goodbye, Perfect, I need to lie down for a little while before I begin another book. I have been knocked off my feet by this book. I can't wait to get my hands on a physical copy when it's released in Feb, 2018!

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Christmas at The Little Knitting Box | | Book Review

It's been a while my dearest blog, but beginning my second year of university has been overwhelmingly busy, and exciting, and I have been prioritising settling back into the routine of uni life. I have two essays due that are 99% finished, which for once in my entire life I am well ahead of my assignment game. Who finishes an essay a week before it's due?? This nerd apparently. 

So, here's a book review perfectly fitting in with the season, and maybe if you're not feeling it yet, maybe it's too early for you (No such thing.) then I hope this post may help you find a festive read. 

I love Christmas, it's my favourite season. As soon as November rolls around I'm in full festive mode.  On the 1st of November the Christmas playlist was on. I also love knitting, it's my latest hobby, something I've persisted at and made a few beautiful scarves. So with that, I knew I would love reading Christmas at The Little Knitting Box.

This review is part of a blog tour with a paperback copy of Christmas at the Little Knitting Box and chocolate in a giveaway at the end. UK only.

Set in the most magical city for the festive season New York City, we meet Cleo who runs a knitting store in The West Village. It's her pride and joy, and every knitters dream. I loved Cleo's character, she's business minded and passionate, but like everyone, she has her flaws. She's got a history, one that led her to move from England to New York. She takes a massive risk but discovers NYC is her home and I don't blame her. 

There's just one problem. She receives a letter regarding the future on her store, of all the stores on the street. Cleo has a decision to make, another life-changing decision. But when she meets Dylan Bakersfield, a handsome single dad with two children her life changes. This is not one of those ridiculously romantic stories, not that I have any major dislike for them, they're just not my cup of tea. Dylan's story is complicated, and between Cleo and him they (kind of) work together and sort out their problems.

Not only does Cleo have The Little Knitting Box's future on her mind, she has to consider this man, Dylan, someone she's beginning to like and see a future with, but a man with his own bundle of problems - the ex-wife Prue (Who I couldn't stand at first but as her story unfolded I realised she wasn't the villain) who keeps popping up unexpected and a risky career change.

Cleo desperately wants to make the right decision for everyone involved. 

This story is incredibly festive, there's nothing I want more now than to spend a magical Christmas in NYC and to spend it with my family too. Family is important to Cleo, she's your typical home gal. Helen J Rolfe crafts her characters fantastically, they have complex, thought-out back stories with depth. 

One of my favourite scenes is the Inglenook Falls Christmas Market. Cleo happens to bump into Dylan and his two children and they enjoy an evening of festivities, of hot chocolate, cheese tasting and decoration making. 

It's the perfect mix of Christmas, crafts and a little bit of romance, although rocky at times, the ending is wonderful!

More info!

Christmas at the Little Knitting Box

Christmas is coming and New York is in full swing for the snowy season. But at The Little Knitting Box in the West Village, things are about to change …

The Little Knitting Box has been in Cleo’s family for nearly four decades, and since she arrived fresh off the plane from the Cotswolds four years ago, Cleo has been doing a stellar job of running the store. But instead of an early Christmas card in the mail this year, she gets a letter that tips her world on its axis.

Dylan has had a tumultuous few years. His marriage broke down, his mother passed away and he’s been trying to pick up the pieces as a stay-at-home dad. All he wants this Christmas is to give his kids the home and stability they need. But when he meets Cleo at a party one night, he begins to see it’s not always so easy to move on and pick up the pieces, especially when his ex seems determined to win him back.

When the snow starts to fall in New York City, both Cleo and Dylan realise life is rarely so black and white and both of them have choices to make. Will Dylan follow his heart or his head? And will Cleo ever allow herself to be a part of another family when her own fell apart at the seams?

Full of snow, love and the true meaning of Christmas, this novel will have you hooked until the final page.

You can purchase the book here - Amazon UK and

Contact Helen on her website, on Facebook and Twitter. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Bring Back The Letter

Handwriting is a curious thing. We're born humans with two arms, two legs, and such. We're made of the same ingredients - an egg cell, a sperm cell. Yet, we're all so vastly different. No one is quite alike. Twins can be identical in appearance but end up acquiring different tastes and likes. The ways we're nurtured, and our experiences and methods of learning affect our personalities and actions. 

Handwriting is curious to me because everyone's is different. So many styles of writing exist. You're not conscious of picking a writing style, it just flows. As a child when you're learning how to write letters and form words and sentences, how you write is how you write. We all learn how to write in the same ways yet the way you write is distinctive from anyone else. Children begin to learn to write in cursive, then when their writing develops it bounds off into another personal style. Some children stick with cursive. 

Handwriting has character, its own personality. 

It widely differs in size. I would say my own handwriting is on the larger side. My sister on the other hand, as I watch her write out revision notes, her writing is tiny. Her one page of writing would be 3-4 pages for me. 

It differs in style. People have various ways of writing letters. I write my 'A''s different to most other people, they often get mistaken for the number two. My sister does her 'Z's in such a peculiar way I can't understand the movement of a pen to make it.

Do you dot your 'i's? Do you cross your 'T's?  

Remember in school, when you were like 12 and every girl used to dot their 'i's with a heart?

The pressure placed on the pen creates a different style. Thicker, deeper, angrier letters. Whilst little pressure on the pen could denote a sensitive type. 

Whether you write pointed or rounded letters. Whether your writing is slanted. 

Can you tell I've studied the English Language deeply? I did it at A-Level. My interest in the English Language has stemmed from years of reading book after book and writing stories. 

It is fascinating to see how other people write, how their personality shines through. 

I like to look at handwritten letters. Wishing for writing letters to be a popular correspondence again. With the arrival of technology and social media, connecting with people has changed, we communicate via keyboard, instead of the traditional pen and paper. 

Being a writer, I like knowing how other writer's write. Their methods and tips etc. 

J.K Rowling's handwritten writing plans.

Sylvia Plath's draft of famous poem Ariel. 

Lewis Carroll's handwritten manuscript. 

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Goals for The Rest of The Year

How is it September!!! How is my second year of university imminent!! 2017 has flown by. It's been hectic, productive, stressful and exciting. I've had a lot of wonderful opportunities and spent a lot of time with myself learning about how I manage to be alone. (Thanks to university and being thrown into the deep end of independence)

As a way of remaining in control of my life and keeping focus I've been setting myself goals. This summer spent at home I've had a lot of time to think about what I like doing, what I'm good at and learning new things. So for the remaining three or so months of 2017, here are some of my goals. 

  1. Keep up with running. I have been running 3 times a week and upping my mileage slowly. Got some serious half marathon goals for next Spring. 
  2. Blogging once a week. All summer I've been trying to update my blog weekly and I plan for it to continue when I start the new academic term.  
  3. I appear to have a lot of writing projects on the go. Writing makes me happy and calm. My main WIP is at 18k, the goal is to write every day even if it's 100 words or 1,000.
  4. Treat myself more. This doesn't mean dropping excessive amounts of money on self care and bath bombs. Relaxation in the form of a long hot bath, although going back to uni means showering... Ugh. Buying myself coffee or making my own face mask at home. 
  5. Buy more yarn so I continue with my knitting projects, learn new stitches and make everyone in my life a chunky scarf for Christmas. 
  6. Learn embroidery. I have the equipment and supplies. I have Youtube tutorials to help me. 
  7. Find a small part time job whilst studying. It has to fit around my timetable, which isn't hard considering I only have one day a week to start with. I've already been applying and have interviews lined up. 
  8. Join a sports based society/team at uni. Deciding between rugby and kickboxing. 
  9. Explore Bath more. Bath is a richly historic city with gorgeous buildings. There's so much to see and do. On my to-see list is the Jane Austen Centre, she spent a period of her life in Bath writing novels, bathing in the spas and socialising. Also making the list is The Holborne Museum, The Royal Crescent and a Bath Ghost Tour.
  10. Finish re-reading Harry Potter. I rarely re-read so I have taken it upon myself to try for this magical series. Currently reading Prisoner of Azkaban. The series is making me laugh, cry and feel like I'm actually a part of the Hogwarts adventure. (A girl can dream)
  11. To-do lists reduce my stress levels and it's almost thrilling to tick tasks off, especially when the academic year starts and I have to juggle assignments and reading.

What are your plans for the rest of 2017? 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Fav Books Read This Year So Far

You should all know by now how much I read. There is always a book in my bag. No matter where I'm going or who I'm with, a book accompanies me. Who knows when the opportunity may arise for me to read a chapter? 

Somehow I've read a staggering 38 books this year, so far. With three months to go, I reckon I'll read a hell of a lot more, although bear in mind I will be returning to university this month which means more writing, more studying and less recreational reading. Saying that, studying creative writing means my course surrounds writing (Duh!) and reading. I remember during first year a lecturer telling us that if you're reading and someone questions your lack of studying, you can simply say reading is part of my course. 

A few of my favourites include 

Young adult: 

The Graces by Laura Eve - a thrilling young adult novel about witches, with stunning descriptions. The Graces are three siblings, Summer, Fenrin and Thalia and the story unfolds around secrets, rumours and superstitions. Need I say any more? 

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland - Written through the perspective of teenage boy Henry (Yay young adult, switching it up sometimes) as he falls in love for the first time. This was my favourite because you don't often see the other side, the males perspective of young love and heartbreak. Full review here

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - Oh my goodness. This book!!! Starr unfortunately witnesses her best friend shot dead by a white policeman. I was gripped by its raw emotion and brutal honesty about the treatment of POC by the police. A very important read!

Non- Fiction

Running Free by Richard Askwith - I run, I love running. Running Free is an account of Askwith's experiences with running, all the different kinds, the downfalls, the highs and some excellent tips for fellow runners. An inspiring read.

Science Fiction 

Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel - Jumping between now and then, before and after, of an apocalyptic world. The world as they know it ends after a Georgia Flu epidemic, a group of survivors name themselves The Travelling Symphony and travel their surrounding cities performing plays for other remaining survivors. A story of survival. It is hauntingly terrifying and surreal.    


The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware - A mystery well written. A travel journalist gets the opportunity to travel to Norway on a brand new luxury cruise liner, but when she hears a loud splash from the next cabin she suspects it was a body and it wasn't an accident. A thrilling story with many twists and turns that left me wanting to scream.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Bye August, Hello Autumn

August is over, a busy, fun filled month to say the least. As much as I loved it I'm glad it's behind me. I need autumn. I want autumn. Ready for chunky jumpers, the colours outside and the anticipation for Halloween, Christmas and my 22nd birthday. I'm excited for September. I'm moving back to Bath in the next couple of weeks and my second year of university begins. I'm seeing Neil Hilborn live in Bristol tomorrow, so there's a great start to the month. 

Over August, 

I bought these gorgeous embroidered/printed (?) boots from Primark for only £10!!! I'm dying for cooler weather to wear them everywhere! 

I have ran a total of 27 miles. 

Podcasts I've been listening to and loving are The Debrief, Run, Selfie, Repeat  and Ctrl Alt Delete. 

I have read 5 books: The Other Us, The Sellout, Everyone is Watching, Everything, Everything (Review here) and The Woman in Cabin 10. 

Films watched: Baby Driver (Swooning over Ansel Elgort), The Edge of Seventeen, Dope, Nightcrawler, World War Z (Zombies) and Arrival (Aliens).

My writing projects have been well underway. Reached 15k on my novel, it's becoming my favourite thing to write. I've been writing daily, whether that be blog posts, ramblings of thoughts, poetry or stories. And making fantastic use of my typewriter.

Ruby and I finally secured a house for second year. Although we've had a LOT of trouble with the organisation from the estate agents I'm hoping everything goes to plan and we move in very soon. It's a stunning house, we'll be living in the first floor apartment. Which will be heavily decorated with fairy lights, succulents and candles. 

Trips to IKEA, family dog walking to various parks around Hertfordshire, picnics and a hot air balloon festival in Northampton. Oh, and a lot of wine consumption. 

(Rickmansworth Park with my family)

(Silly restuarant toilet selfie w/ my sister)

(Extremely drunk selfie) 

(Candid of my new rain coat, grabbed in the New Look sale)

How has August treated you? What are you looking forward to in September?

Monday, 28 August 2017

Everything, Everything - Nicola Yoon | | Book Review

Everything, Everything is a YA novel about Madeline Whittier, an 18 year old girl who hasn't left her house for seventeen years. You see, she suffers from a rare yet ironically famous disease called Severe Combined Immunodeficiency meaning she's allergic to the world. Which sounds absolutely insane and unfathomable but Madeline can be allergic to anything in the outside world. She lives a very isolated life, home-schooled through Skype, spending most of her days reading, with her mum or with her nurse Carla.  

Madeline wants to escape and explore. Go to school, make friends. Sit outside in the grass, breathe fresh air. Is it worth the risk of being deathly ill?

A new family move in across the road. Meet Olly, the mysterious new boy. The boy who dresses head to toe in black. The boy who moves his body easily and impossibly. The boy Madeline may just fall in love with.

Sometimes romance in YA irritates me. It feels over the top, obsessive and unrealistic. I'm not criticising young adult fiction. I love it with all my heart. I understand why it's written. First love is obsessive. You've never felt anything like it before, every feeling goes from 0-100 pretty quick. Yet still, I read some YA and I hate it. I hate how quickly characters fall in love. Maybe it's simply me, no longer a teenager and slightly pessimistic. I felt this strongly with both of Yoon's novels, Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also A Star. It happens too quickly and puts me off. 

Despite my doubts, Madeline and Olly's developing relationship is cute and equally as dangerous. I liked Olly's sub-plot, his support for his sister and mum because his dad is an arsehole. Olly has nothing but a positive effect on Madeline, yet he is a constant threat to her health. He is careful, funny and adorable. Let's not forget the little dimple on his face or his Atlantic Ocean blue eyes. 

The plot twist/revelation at the end was unexpected and completely threw me off. It might be an extremely strong attitude towards the book but it ruined it for me. I felt livid. It was unnecessary. 

The books layout is definitely what kept me reading. Adorable illustrations drawn by the author's husband, they depict Madeline's feelings and plans, almost like a visual diary. 

There's a rock solid Bundt cake, a trip to Hawaii and a heavily detailed architecture model of a shopping centre involving an astronaut. All in all, the story is interesting, imaginative and hopeful.

I rated it 3/5 on Goodreads!

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Do you play the drums?

I like to believe I can out-run depression. Getting out of the house, hearing my feet pound the pavement and feeling high on endorphins. Feeling accomplished and strong after a run. A rush of euphoria. Like anything is possible. Like all my goals and dreams are under my nose waiting for me to reach out and grab them. 

Running is my lifeline. It keeps me sane. However, my mind doesn't always allow me to feel motivated to get out of bed and go. Every day I fight against my thoughts. Every day I fight the voice telling me to not bother, it's too much effort, you're never going to be able to achieve a half marathon.

Just run. Drink some water. Put on your gym clothes. Tie your shoes up. And go. Go!  Pep talks and positive affirmations. You can do this. Remember your goals. 

Yesterday's run for example. I slept badly the night before. I woke up feeling off. Feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. Feeling sad for no particular reason. I got up, had breakfast but ended up back in bed an hour later and slept until late afternoon. It wasn't a satisfying sleep, it made me more tired and defeated. 4pm I had lunch, walked my dog with my sister and perked up slightly. Spending time with my sister always has a positive result on my mood. She makes me laugh until I cry. We talked about the TV shows we're currently invested in (Me, Broad City, her, Bates Motel) and we talked about the latest Taylor Swift news. Nature helped too. The fresh air, the chill breeze reminding me autumn is close. The freedom of the outdoors. 

I put on my running clothes and did it. The simple act of putting the clothes on motivates me, cos now I'm suitably dressed and laced up it's too late to back out now. Do you know how hard it can be to get a sports bra on? It's a wrestling match with my own body most days. 

I ran 3.2km/2 miles along the canal. The sun was beginning to set. The wind felt glorious against my skin. I stopped for a breath on top of a small white bridge when a man approached me. I was apprehensive at first, it was late evening and there weren't many people around. Good run, he said. I laughed and said yes, amid some heavy breathes. He said he runs, 5 miles at a time. We spoke about routes along the canal and I told him I was training for a half marathon. Held to his body with gorgeous pieces of fabric were drums. He asked if I had ever played drums. I laughed and shook my head. He was going to his friends boat to play drums with him. After exchanging names ( I forgot his though) and goodbyes I felt extremely calm, happy and grateful. I could tell he had a kind soul. His eyes sparkled as he spoke and he was full of passion. 

Sometimes all you need is a tiny shift of perspective. For me, it's always meeting a random person and talking to them like I've known them for years. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Let's Travel

One of my desires is to travel. Travel the world. Experience culture and cuisines. Take in the incredible world around me before my legs give in and I'm sitting in an armchair knitting and eating bourbon biscuits. 

I want to explore cities but at the same time, find the nooks and crannies and the little bits of happiness and beauty tucked away from popular tourist spots. I'm itching to travel. It won't go away. I think about getting on a plane and leaving daily. I've never been on a plane. Got a serious case of FOMO!! Maybe I'm romanticising it. Flights sometimes seem like hell: delayed flights, overpriced airport prices and lost luggage. But I want to do it, so bad. I want to sit in an allocated seat, even if it happens to be one next to a screaming kid or a snorer. I want to know what it feels like to take off, be in the air, miraculously float in the sky and watch the clouds go by. I want to travel at night and see the world.

Amsterdam to visit The Anne Frank House, the teenage girl's diary is one of the first books I ever remember reading, it's cemented in my brain. The Van Gogh Museum. Ride a bike through the city. Take a canal cruise. See the stunning fields of tulips at Bollenstreen. Have a picnic in Vondelpark.

Sweden to visit Lapland. My cousins went when they were children, you know, when we believed in Father Christmas. It seems magical. Fresh white snow, untouched in places. Reindeer. Snowy mountains. I'm a winter baby, so winter naturally is my favourite. See the majestic Northern Lights at Abisko National Park. Drottningholm Palace, a fairy-tale building where the Swedish Royal Family live. 

Norway. another country of Scandinavia. Lush mountains, waterfalls and greenery. See the natural phenomena of the Satlstraumen whirlpools. Take a ride on the funicular railway. Immerse myself in the history, the earliest traces of human life. 

Europe; Bruges, Hamburg, Berlin, Venice, Rome, Paris and Vienna. America, Canada, Cuba, Australia and Japan. 

One day, I'll explore. Take photographs. Write about my travels. Marvel at extraordinary architecture. Visit museums. Learn new languages. Maybe fall in love. Eat the traditional foods of a country. 

If anybody wants to be my travel partner... I'm accepting applications. 

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Creativity and Depression: why is my brain crowded with ideas despite its gloom?

In the thick of it, in the deepest recesses of my mind and its experiences with depression I can be at my most creative. In my most recent episode (Right now unfortunately) I have been thinking a lot about my creativity. There's a pattern to it. I write more, my brain froths with new ideas at an impressive rate when I'm depressed.

Depression is never fun. It is emotionally painful. Boring. Infuriating. Relentless.

Being creative is a distraction from the bad and intrusive thoughts. My mind is constantly thinking of the bad, therefore I throw myself into creative projects. Creating is a way out of the mind, out of the emotional trauma I'm experiencing. I write. I knit. I plan.

I'm writing the first draft of a novel and it's hard. But figuratively exiting my own mind, I enter into the mind of my main character. It helps to pretend not to be me. Another reason I love writing and developing characters because just for a little while I escape. In the mind of my main character (She's called Honey, FYI.) I explore her life, not mine, I think about her adventures, dreams and experiences.

(My most recent chapter for my WIP.)
How do you fight your own mind? How do you fight something you cannot tangibly get rid of?

I create. And so do many others. Many well-known writers, musicians and creatives types have experienced mental illness and turned it into something positive. Although there is no certain link between creativity and depression, there is a lot to be said for what humans produce when they're battling the darkness of their minds. Think of Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf and Edgar Allen Poe? If some of the most successful, highly praised creators can create masterpieces, you can attempt to too.

Thinking about my own creativity and how it manifests during episodes of depression, not only is it a way of distracting myself from the inconsolable sadness and hopelessness but also a way of expressing myself. I can express my thoughts and emotions more coherently and less directly. I can write a blog post about my experiences and hope someone else feels the same. Talking openly about how I'm feeling does not come easy. I'm sure many others feel the same, so taking your depression and transforming it into something creative and rewarding whether that be writing, painting, drawing, knitting or learning how to play an instrument. Whatever works best for you, do it. Create something you are proud of. Create something that brings you happiness.

I can create something concrete, something real to look back on when I'm feeling myself again, proof to tell me depressive episodes aren't fantastic but maybe, just maybe something good can come out of it.

Creativity is about thinking. Thinking about your senses, your experiences, your surroundings. Thinking about everything. A creative idea can come from almost anything.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Hold Back The Stars by Katie Khan || Book Review

Looks like this book may be my favourite of the year so far. I hold high hopes nothing else I read will top it. With it being my 32nd book of 2017, there's still plenty of time for me to read more, but NOTHING will compete against Hold Back The Stars.

Hold Back The Stars is a fantastic story, marvellous, wonderful. It's a peculiar love story set in a future utopian world called Europia. Involving space too. Khan's world-building is so convincing I felt like I was living there too, which means it works. Her world-building is successful. HBTS would make an incredible movie. Citizens of Europia are to move through different communities (Voivodes) every three years. The ideals of the world are individualism, with every man responsible for their own actions. 

Carys and Max meet whilst on the same Voivode when Carys enquires on the Mindshare (Cool technology) about goose fat. Quirky! Their friendship quickly blooms despite the Couples Rule stating citizens are not to engage in permanent relationships until the age of 35. Carys and Max are in their twenties, but there's a strong, undying connection between them they cannot ignore. 

At the start of the book, Carys and Max are in space and have 90 minutes left of oxygen. We don't know how they came to be there just yet. Another delightful plot point from Khan. Wait for the story to unfold! The chapters are divided by scenes in space as they panic and logically make a plan for survival, and scenes on Earth of their relationship before. I liked this structure, I was watching the characters reminisce their relationship as they floated closer to time running out.

HBTS is emotional and hopeful, a story of friendship, survival and love. Doted with interesting science and space facts. Khan has developed their world with fascinating technology; the Mindshare is a futuristic Twitter sharing thoughts and queries; the Voivode Games where citizens can connect their wrist chip to an athlete and feel everything they feel as they experience the games.

A perfect sci-fi romance novel with a gorgeous cover!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

London Exploring | House of Minalima, Harry Potter and Hotdogs

As a surprise my mum told me we were going on a trip to London to visit the Harry Potter galleries/exhibitions dotted around the city. The surprise was to celebrate my fourth anniversary as a diabetic, every year I treat myself to something a little bit sugary (Cake) but this year my Mum had a plan up her sleeve. We got the train to London and spent the day exploring, gasping at Harry Potter, finding independent bookshops and eating vegan hot dogs from VX in Kings Cross. I had the most exciting day and my love for Harry Potter is still very much intact, and growing. 

First stop, Camden. A quick walk through Camden high street early morning is strange when you're used to the busyness of weekends. It was awfully quiet. The juices from The Good Yard are incredible, I've tried the 'Gym' shake!

On route to the Pottermore Pop-up gallery on Portobello Road. We walked through Portobello high street, its market and its variety of antique shops. One house on the street had a plaque declaring where writer George Orwell took up residence from 1903-1950, as a bookworm and literature enthusiast I was fascinated. It's peculiar to me to think about writers; where they lived; where they wrote their most famous works; the streets they walked upon.

The Pottermore Pop-up at Graffik Gallery on Portobello Road is only open 1st July - 7th July, unfortunately. It's a gallery appreciating artists and designers based on the Harry Potter franchise. The prints are available to buy, prices beginning at £19.95. These seven prints are designs for each movie. 

The House of Minalima on Greek Street in Soho is four floors dedicated to Harry Potter. It focuses on the graphic design that went into the films by two artists Miraphora and Eduardo. The attention to detail is unbelievable; the editions of The Daily Prophet, The Marauder's Map and Weasleys Wizard Wheezes. This museum/gallery is definitely eccentric and one of a kind. The tour through the four floors is interesting to say the least, very engaging and free! It showcases some of the actual props from the films, currently on loan from Warner Brothers. You can buy prints and accessories in the shop on the ground floor. 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Mini Book Review | Treats by Lara Williams

"Love was sneaky like that. It found a warm nook, a safe space, and crept in, settling there like an unwelcome houseguest..."

Treats by Manchester based writer Lara Williams is a collection of short stories. Some super short (Two page stories) and some of longer length. A lot of them focus on womanhood and all the various aspects of life: Careers, love, break-ups, dating, pregnancy and friendship. 

I flew through this book, my second time reading it. The stories are easy to devour. Short story collections mean you don't have to dedicate long periods of your time to reading. You can dip in and out as you please. Read one story and let it manifest. Come back to it another day, there's no need to remember the characters or plot because it's brand new. That's what I like about them. No commitment to a 70,000 word novel. 

I read this in a day, and absorbed all the stories, let them linger in my mind. I found myself relating to some of the situations and feelings felt by the characters. However, saying that, I didn't relate to some of the strange sex requests. "Can I pee on you?" is not my sexual fantasy. Williams's creates clear images and the detail is enticing. The stories are funny, hopeful and slightly depressing. 

Most of the main characters were women, I loved this. I loved the honest perspectives of life, and the second person narration allowing the reader to be in the character's shoes. Some of the stories spoke to me on a personal level, at a point in my life where everything appears to be changing, there's an uncertainty to my future, and I'm discovering who I am. I believe books find you the moment you need them. At a moment of relevance in your life. This book made me think about my own personal growth, my goals and plans.

My favourite stories are 'Treats' about Elaine, she is a woman of kindness, someone who gives and doesn't expect anything in return. It is her joy to treat people, to display random acts of kindness. She brings coffee and lunch to her colleague Joan, despite being the office manager herself. She visits the cinema by herself after her husband lets her down and she purchases a ticket for the girl behind her in the queue who also happens to be alone. Her selflessness has stayed with me, and how being alone isn't always something to be criticised. 

'Penguin' is another favourite. A single woman in her late twenties starts using dating websites, and finds herself sifting through the weirdos. She meets a man, begins a relationship and reaches all
the typical relationship milestones. Meet the friends, meet the family, move in, etc. Then, the man reveals a rather odd sex request. "Dress up like a penguin and incubate some eggs.".

Do you have any short story collection recommendations?

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Countryside Loving

I live in a town with an abundance of small villages in the surrounding areas. These villages are quaint and picturesque. White cottages with beautiful flowerbeds and thatched roofs, that kinda thing. The type of place a romance film starring Hugh Grant would be filmed. Their churches are to be admired, again small but with incredible architecture and traditional graveyards with stones hundreds of years old.

When I'm old and grey, and a successful author I want to live in a small thatched cottage in the countryside. Maybe with my own allotment nearby too. Dream big!

Events come all year round, Summer brings village fetes and my family spend weekends visiting them. A true family affair, dog too, we explore and take our turn picking tickets for the tombola. Chocolate tombolas and my favourite, the alcoholic ones. My sister and I have lucky picking abilities, and we often have handfuls of tickets ending in 0 and 5. I recently won rose wine (Yes please), beer and aero chocolate.
Wandering around the fetes under gazebos with local families selling homemade jams and baked goods, and homemade crafts. There's just something I love about the atmosphere, the sunny skies and feeling of community.  The traditional games for children (And adults of course) including a coconut shy and guessing games.

The lush greenery of the countryside sucks me in every time. I think myself as a city gal. I love exploring London and navigating the complicated maze that is the London Underground. I moved to Bath for university which is a pretty big city. But countryside feels like home. The winding roads that are dangerously narrow, the continuous roll of fields and livestock. The long walks, not just in summer, but every season. The trees, the tiny rivers and steep hills are what I'm all about. I like to take photographs. I like being surrounded by nature and its freedom compared to the hustle and bustle of city centres. 

As a writer, a creative searching for fresh ideas and inspiration, nature brings the most creative thoughts. The quiet, the walking and exploring, the little villages make me want to write more than ever. My head is always a flurry of ideas and my phone is full of random notes and descriptions. 

Monday, 26 June 2017

The Story of Reading

It seems fitting to write a post about my love of reading on the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone. Twenty years ago I was only one years old. A small baby who had no idea as she grew up she would fall in love with reading and the written word.

J.K Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson are the authors I immediately think of when I talk about my love of reading. That's where it all began. It began by reading the Harry Potter series as a 6/7 year old, and The Story of Tracy Beaker.

Harry Potter has been the only constant in my life, as have most books I've devoured. Harry Potter though, is a large part of my childhood. I remember my aunt buying me the books. I remember going to see Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets in the cinema with my then best friend, and being terrified at the scene with the basilisk (We sat front row.) I remember going to see all the films, and dragging my first boyfriend to The Deathly Hallows Pt 2. Every other child around me talking about Harry and all the magic. Reading the books together. Girls finding a role model in Hermione. Dressing up as Harry Potter characters on World Book Day (I dressed as a Dementor, apparently I was an odd child.) Deciding what house you belonged to. Running around the playground with a makeshift wand, made of sticks and sellotape.

I had the books. I loved the films. I adored Hermione's hair and ambition. I adored Harry's bravery. I adored Ron's humour. I still do. I love everything Harry Potter. My friends and family regularly look to me when HP is mentioned. I'm prone to dropping a HP reference. I love re watching the films, especially when they are aired on TV at Christmas time. My copies of the books are one of my prized possessions and have their own shelf on my bookcase. And eventually, when it's my chance to have children the series will most definitely forced upon them.

The series sparked my love for reading. I owe a lot of my life so far, my goals, ambitions and dreams to the series that started it all. Reading and writing are my one true loves. English was always my strongest point during school, and I'm pursing it further with my creative writing degree at university.

Reading brings me adventure, safety, escape and happiness, among many other things. I spent a lot of my school years back and forth to the library taking out all the books I could, and wishing to be old enough to reach the higher years shelves. Even now I will leave the public library with a bag overflowing with books, I haven't changed one bit. Sitting on the beanbags in primary school, and the fuzzy carpets surrounded by shelves of books that looked like huge skyscrapers.

I turn to the safety of a book in almost any situation. I like to carry a book with me wherever I go.

"Why have you brought a book with you?"  

Comfort is found in the pages of a book, in the stories, in the characters and in the words. My own bookcase, my own collection brings me immense happiness and satisfaction. Visiting bookshops and browsing the books is one of my favourite things to do, even if I have no money to buy a new book, it's the being there that means something to me. Books are my home. They are my pride and joy. Nothing makes me happier than tucking myself up in bed and losing myself in a story.

The power of language, and words constructed together beautifully is the reason why I write. Why my passion is writing and how sometimes explaining why I love it so much is unfathomable to some. A family member asked me recently how I can just sit down and write a story. I just can. That's how. It's my natural instinct to write. I have the ability to turn everything into a story: a conversation overheard on the bus, a beautiful stranger, a song or an emotion.

Writing is in my blood. Writing is how I convey my feelings. Writing is how I feel happiness on the lowest days.

Reading is my escape from the cruel world outside of my duvet. Reading is learning about other cultures and countries, and other types of people.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Books, books and books

Being home for three weeks over Easter meant I kinda forgot about my deadlines and dived into a pile of books. I bought books and I went to the local library, which is brand spanking new and I could have left with baskets of books. I stuck with only three books.

Over the three weeks home, and a couple of weeks back at uni, I've read five books. I'm definitely on target for my book goal this year, currently reading my 24th book... Girl, I gotta serious book problem! and I've realised it even more so now I've moved back home for summer and organised my book collection back on my shelves.

Some of my latest book reads include

The Bricks that Built the Houses by Kate Tempest

This book delivers stunning prose, obviously it does, have you listened to Kate's performance poetry? There's something so beautiful about a poet writing fiction, the traditional story form is there but poetry sneaks in so beautifully. Set in London, Becky, Harry and Leon are navigating their way through adulthood. The term 'nitty gritty' comes to mind: drugs, sex, relationships and financial problems. Kate's voice comes through on every page, it's so strong.

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

YA novel about Flora who is a teenage girl living a sheltered life after an incident that left her with amnesia.  Flora kisses her best friend's boyfriend Drake at his leaving party, miraculously she remembers it. She then goes on to have a ridiculously unrealistic adventure to Norway to find Drake, who she is now convinced is the love of her life. For me, young adult fiction often deals with issues young readers can relate to, but The One Memory of Flora Banks completely misses the point. It could have been stronger, IMO falling in love will not cure medical problems.

I Hate the Internet by Jarett Kobek

I loved this SO much. I borrowed it from the library, and devoured it with many laughs. A satire about our use of the internet in the 21st century. Shockingly accurate and hilarious. Covers internet culture, feminism, politics and pop culture, and how social media can affect someone's life. If you're looking for something oddly light-hearted, and humorous, this might be your next book.

The Vagenda: A Zero Tolerance Guide to the Media by Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett 

Found this to be extremely thought provoking. A very important piece of non-fiction about feminism and how women are represented in the media. It discusses advertising in magazines, and how competing magazines contradict each other. I stopped buying magazines a year or so ago, they are an unhealthy consumption, especially the celebrity gossip ones. The messages are misleading, and the essays reveal the reality of media representation, for both women and men. This book discusses lad culture, rape, dieting, fashion, sex and many more. The list is endless.

The last one I read over Easter was The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

My most anticipated book of the year so far, and the one I've seen everyone talk about on Twitter.  A young adult novel based on the movement Black Lives Matter. The story is of Starr Carter living in two different worlds: the poor neighbourhood she lives and grew up in, and the fancy prep school she goes to outside of her neighbourhood. Her best friend from childhood Khalil is shot by the police, and it all starts from there - following Starr's journey for justice. It's brutal, shocking and emotional, and if you weren't already aware of the justice system then you will soon. If there is one book you read this year, make sure it's The Hate U Give. It is a powerful story setting the bar for young adult fiction.

What have you been reading?

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Messages of 13 Reasons Why

For the last few days all anyone has spoken about is 13 Reasons Why, and I just finished watching it. To say I'm an emotional wreck right now would be an understatement. The final episode got me SO hard.

13 Reasons Why might possibly be the most important production for a long time. It covers bullying, friendships, mental health, drugs, sex, rape and suicide. And I want everyone to be talking about it for a while to come. The show addresses how you don't know how your actions might affect someone else, how your careless words can knock someone's self esteem or ruin their lives. It really makes you think about all the shitty things people do and say, and why. I've heard people say your high school years are the best of your life, but are they the best when bullying happens in every single school? And often gets pushed aside? How bullying is never solved? Suspending the bully doesn't solve anything. Moving schools will not solve anything because there will always be bullying until humans start being kinder and understand the full impact of our actions.

I read the novel by Jay Asher when I was around 14/15 but until the Netflix series I don't think the honest reality behind the novel hit me. I don't think I fully understood it, yeah high school is a shitty place for everyone at some point, but when I look back after watching this I realise how bad it can get for some. 

I was apprehensive about the series on first impression. I thought it cliche, and at times romanticising mental illness, because Hannah Baker (The main character) commits suicide and leaves 13 tapes as to what lead to her to make that final choice. 13 tapes 'blaming' the people around her, I thought this to be silly, and careless. I can't explain why, it's just the tapes, it feels almost as if it's a massive game of who's next on the list. However, I didn't let my doubt stop watching, and I'm glad I continued. I even begun to like some of the characters, most of them were awful yet accurate depictions of various people you meet in school.

A few things

  • Bryce was vile
  • I felt sympathy for Justin in the end (This doesn't mean he wasn't a complete dick)
  • Clay wound me up with that damn plaster on his forehead, and nearly getting hit by a car on his bike 47373 times
  • Skye's comment about self harm and how it's what you do instead of killing yourself. No. No. 
  • Is Alex ok??? Can someone please tell me
  • Hannah's hair

PSA - Some scenes came with warnings because of their content. Would not recommend watching it if you're going through a hard time or are easily triggered.

The point is, you never know what's going on in someone's life. 

We need to be kinder to everyone around us. We need to let the people we love and care for know that we do actually love them. 

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Lil Book Reviews

Feels ages since I last wrote a blog post, university assignments and travelling and just being generally busy has left me deflated and unenthusiastic about writing here. I've missed it, but hey I'm back!

Some of the things I've been doing in my absence includes learning how to knit. I went to a workshop at uni one evening with my flat mate, it took a while to get to grips with the yarn, the needles and all the movements, casting on and casting off but I completed my first sample. It intended to be a scarf but I made it too wide so it's not long enough. Since then, I've been obsessed with it and watching Youtube tutorials on fancy scarves and hats. It's super therapeutic, it helps my anxiety, calms me and distracts me, allows me to keep my hands busy. It's also rewarding to create something, I can't wait to be wearing something I've made and have people ask me where it's from so I can be all smug I MADE IT MYSELF. My current project is a mustard yellow scarf! I bought some yarn from a site called LoveKnitting, got chunky yarns in mustard yellow, peach and baby blue, all such fantastic quality.

Started going to boxing sessions too, which are amazing. I love it so much already after just 3 sessions. I want to tell everyone about it. It feels great to punch someone, and releases any tension/emotion/negative thoughts I've had. It's also pretty great to feel a part of something. An excellent workout too!

March has been chaos with lots of essays due at the same time, presentations, projects etc etc. But hey, two new hobbies?

As for reading, I haven't found much time for reading for my own pleasure. It's been set texts and books for research and all that degree stuff. (Still can't fathom that I'm doing a degree, it's hard but exciting and new and wonderful.) So the plan is a lil review for both the books I've read recently. They are both young adult novels, I think the next book needs to be something else although this is all worthy research for my own YA novel I'm writing.

First up is Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder.

I still find myself thinking about this book even though I finished it at the beginning of March. Sophie's World is about a 14 year old girl called Sophie (Obviously) who begins to receive anonymous letters and postcards asking philosophical questions such as "Who are you?" "Where does the world come from?".

She then discovers the person behind the letters; a philosopher called Alberto who intends to educate Sophie on philosophy. She begins the course of philosophy, it is so interesting and complex with information - a lot of the history is covered. It requires time and full concentration to read. You experience the course with Sophie and you will ask yourself many, many questions about the world we live in. You go on surreal adventures with Sophie, everything is all a bit dream-like and at some points I wasn't sure what was real. This book will throw you off balance, especially when you meet Hilde. Sophie receives postcards addressed to someone called Hilde too, who happens to have the same birthday and be the same age. Who is Hilde? Is Sophie real? Is Hilde real? WHAT is going on? The ending blew my mind.

And lastly, the book I've literally just finished is The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness.

Ness' writing has received a lot of praise, this is my first read. Strange things keep happening in Mike's small town, and strange things have been happening for decades. The 'indie kids' that attend his school are weird, everyone in town knows somethings not quite right. There's cops with glowing blue eyes, a zombie deer and death.

I read this fast, it was an easy read! Ness writes mental health issues excellently, Mike has OCD and anxiety and his sister Mel is recovering from anorexia.

"Everyone has something" or something along the lines of that crops us several times in the book, as a YA novel it's an important message showing that everybody has something to deal with, and you won't always will you know about it. People are good at keeping certain devastating aspects of their lives quiet. Serious issues aside, the book is about friendship, growing up, it's funny and has a little smidgen of romance too. I will definitely be reading more of the authors work.

What have you read recently? Any recommendations?

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

February Round Up

Let's recap the shortest month of the year! I can't believe we're already two months into the year.

Where I've been? 
  • Home. Back to Hertfordshire for reading week, involving coffee dates with my mum, the pub with my best friend and cuddles with my dog
  • Stroud. Before travelling back home I visited my flatmates hometown. Vegan pizza, wildlife documentaries, avocado on toast brunches and a farmers market. Blog post about that here!
  • Guildhall in Bath for a vintage fair. Bought a snazzy shirt for £5!

What I've been watching?
  • New season of Girls.
  • Gilmore Girls (On season 4)
  • The Kindness Diaries
  • Ex Machina 
  • Santa Clarita Diet (On my sisters request, outrageously hilarious)

What I've been listening to?
  • Ed Sheeran. OBVIOUSLY. Shape of You is so beautiful
  • Robyn - Dancing on My Own. On repeat. For days. It's such a feel good song!
  • Lower Than Atlantis' new album Safe in Sound

What I've been reading?
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Review here!
  • Nocturnal Animals by Austin Wright

Some favourites
  • The Banging Book Club podcast 
  • Running. Been attempting to up my game
  • Purchasing a new Breville Blend Active blender. Reached full adulthood now I'm excited for a BLENDER to be delivered... PS. It's super pretty and clean.
  • The Olive Fox online magazine. I contribute to their content once in a while. Check it out!

Ended the month with pancakes, made with chia seeds, flour and soya milk. Recipe here!

And now, March. Which means Spring and baby animals, and slightly warmer days and lots of flowers in bloom. March is unfortunately a month of uni assignments, but also my sister's 14th birthday, mother's day and a trip home for a weekend.

What were your favourite parts of February?