Friday, 2 June 2017

Book Review - The Power - Naomi Alderman




In The Power the roles of men and women change. Teenage girls now have immense physical power - they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.

The premise of this book really intrigued me. It promised a feminist, dystonian novel with the roles of men and women reversed. And I would say the first half of the book mostly delivers this.

In the first half of the book we see how the world reacts to the new power - the overwhelming reaction of course being fear. We meet a few different characters and see how the adjust to either having the power, or being surrounded by it - it sets the tone for a very good book.

However, I found the further I got a long with the book, the less believable it became, and the less I enjoyed it. There is one line that sticks with me even after a few months of having read it, where a woman is being interview by a man, that she has seen topless pictures of online, and she thinks 'how can he expect me to take him seriously after seeing that.' If this is satire I think it is poorly executed. Sure there may be some women who think like that - but this is a character we have known throughout the book and it just doesn't fit. It seems to push the theory that if women had the power over men then they would for the majority become scummy and sexist. I get it, it is reversing how it is now, but I don't think it is believable - but perhaps that is the hippy in me.

There is a very heavy scene where women rampage a camp of men in hiding and rape and torture them. It is brutal and horrendous - but what struck me most was how common it was to see the reversed story of this in most fiction, and how normalized it is, to then see if from this point of view and be horrified. This scene really made me aware, and I thought I was before, of how normalized rape and torture of women is, of how you come to expect it of certain genres of books and shows and how numb you are to reading it. Always with the excuse of 'this is how women used to be treated' even in bloody fantasy shows like Game of Thrones where there are dragons flying all over the place. It isn't a real place, this isn't real history, why do we still have to expect to see this treatment of women? (I know this does still happen in parts of the world today, my example is nodding more towards historical fantasy fiction etc)

I would have enjoyed it more if it gave a more believable account of how the world would be if the roles were reversed. I just don't think women would pop up, overthrow men and then treat them like shit. I just don't. I think the idea was great and that is what pulled me in, but the execution fell flat, but then again it did make me think about how normalized sexism is now-a-days, even with this new wave of feminism being seemingly in fashion.  It is an interesting read, and the idea was great but because of how it panned out I will give it 3/5


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Friday, 26 May 2017

Book Review - The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson



I've been a fan of Shirley Jackson ever since reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle, but somehow never read her horror The Haunting of Hill House.

I found this book to be a subtle horror. There were some more typical haunted house scenes, but mostly it was slow, subtle psychological horror. It wasn't what I expected, but it was true to Shirley Jackson's writing style. Bleak yet somehow beautiful.

I think the relationship between Theodora and Eleanor is, in my opinion, the most powerful part of the book. What starts off looking like a firm friendship turns more twisted, spiraling between lust and loathing, and is an integral part to the slowly unraveling of Eleanor's mind.

I think, however, when the Dr's wife and friend join the story further into the story, some of the creepy spell the book had created was broken. They came across comical, and rather annoying which did nothing to add to the bleak, tense novel. They were characters that I think the book could have done without.

If you're looking for a jumpy type of horror, this isn't it, but if you're looking for something a bit slower, something that when you read you feel fine, but keeps you up at night, spooked in the darkness, then this is for you. I thoroughly enjoyed it - 4/5
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Thursday, 20 April 2017

Why I am proud to be lazy








Lazy, idle, slothful, work-shy, sluggish, listless. These are all ‘bad’ descriptions of a person, something we aim not to be; to call someone lazy is to offend them. But why?

I am a lazy person, by anyone’s standards, ask my mum, ask my friends, check out the pit I have created for myself in my bed. I am lazy, and I don’t aim to change that about myself anytime soon, and I encourage more people to get on board my lazy train.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a job, I have bills, I have goals that I need to work for to achieve. I’m not checking out of life, I’m not going to the extreme of making myself a burden on society just because I can’t be bothered. There is the ‘good’ type of lazy, and the ‘bad’ type of lazy, the lazy who would happily let someone else take all the work, have no goals or aims, and just don’t contribute to any sort of life. I am not that lazy, I am the lazy who chooses the easy option, who chooses relaxing over work.

I work 9-5. 9am to 5pm, those are the hours I am paid for, however, my job views me as ‘lazy’ and ‘not going the extra mile’ because I will not work overtime, unpaid, for them every night, because I will not give up my time to de-stress and prepare for the next day so that they can get free labour. The fact that I do not work past five, has been brought up as a ‘negative’ in my yearly reviews, and has gotten me a smaller bonus than those who do. And that is, frankly, bullshit. Let me just point out that I do not leave a load of work for the next day, for the next week, for my co-workers. I do not half-arse my job and just sit and watch the clock until the dial strikes five and then scamper off without a care in the world. I fulfill all aspects of my job, I ace all KPIs; if anyone asks me to take on anything outside of my usual role, I will take it, providing it falls within the hours I get paid. And even then, I have done overtime on every occasion that I needed to - I just ask to be paid for it. And yet I am still lazy? I am seen as someone who isn’t as hard a worker as someone else because I leave to have some hours to myself?

I am of the opinion that if you constantly need to do overtime you are either bad at managing your time, not very good at your job, or have too much work and your work needs to employ more staff. Sadly, though, it seems that the working world sees the opposite, and working hours are becoming longer, and free time shorter, and we can’t help but go along with it just to afford to survive. Already weeknights are too short for those working 9-5 (or 9-6, or even 8-6 jobs that I’ve seen advertised). If you work those hours you’ll know how little time there is in the evening to actually do anything, not after you travel home, try and make yourself a fresh, healthy dinner, perhaps squeeze in a workout and then shower and get ready for the next morning, by the time you finally sit down it’s gone 9pm and that means if we’re going to get our ‘needed’ hours of sleep we need to be in bed by 10pm. Where is the roam for personal time?

And then to make it worse we have to read all of these articles that tell us how stress is the silent killer? How are we supposed to win?

I used to be among those who would brag about how busy and stressed they are, it seems to be something to be proud of now-a-days? It makes us seem more successful, if you've got free time surely you're doing something wrong? Instead I was wrong. I wished I had more free time, I was jealous of those who didn't have a mountain of things to do - so I became that person.

Perhaps it is because I am not ambitious in the normal sense. I do not want to be CEO of a company, I don’t want to become top in the corporate field. If I did, perhaps the longer, unpaid hours would make more sense, a means to an end. At least one day I will be super rich and my life won’t be like this anymore right? That life isn’t for me, as anyone who reads this blog will know. My ambition lies in making a life out of creativity, writing a book, making art, being happy.

I know stress is inevitable to make goals happen, to live every day life, but I choose to be lazy in an aim to lessen the stress I have to deal with. I choose to take the easy route to get something done, as long as it is still done properly, I choose to leave work on time rather than ‘go that extra mile’, I choose to spend weekends in bed without shame. I choose to be lazy, and I am proud to be lazy because it makes me happy.
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Thursday, 13 April 2017

Folkestone - Kent - April 2017


With spring in full swing here in England, last weekend my family and I did what all Brits do at the sight of sun - headed to the beach. 

My parents aren't really the lay out in the sun kind of people, neither am I, they're more the 'lets go on really long walks when the sun is boiling our already sweaty bodies' kind of people, which I am not. To me, Sunday is the day of laying in bed doing nothing but dreading Monday, but I was summoned by my parents and that meant we were heading off to Folkestone, Kent.

As I've been there a few times over the years I thought I would take a few clips of the area and make a (very) short video:


Its a really beautiful area, though the beach being stony meant my going for a paddle ended in me whining in foot pain. Still it increased my longing to live by the sea, one day it will happen!

I don't know, since my holiday video I've been really enjoying making them, I think its the little nod to the home videos my dad would make when I was younger - they can be much more personal, and tell you so much more than pictures (which I still enjoy taking). Anyway, I thought I would share with you guys, and perhaps inspire some of you to go and visit Folkestone on the weekend!


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Saturday, 1 April 2017

Book Review - Strange Medicine - Mike Russell




I was kindly sent this book to review by Strange Books - an indie press based in Brighton. I knew straight away that this book was for me, and was delighted to be given the opportunity to read it.

Strange Medicine is a collection of short, weird stories, that get progressively strange the further you read. I found myself snort laughing on the train home from work at the unexpected absurdity of the first story; a nice touch for the book, but not so much for the appearance of my sanity to the other passengers.

Unlike Pretty Monsters, the stories in this book aren't dark, or any way twisted. They're strange of course - thats said in the title! But I would describe them more as charming than anything else. They're easy to read, and easy to make you smile.

I've read a few other reviews on this book, and a lot of people comment about the morals of the stories, and what Mike Russell was trying to get across to the reader. It could be because I am fantastically dim, but to me there wasn't another agenda other than for the reader to enjoy short, weird reads. And I think that should be the way you go into it, not to look, and analyse everything that has been said for a deeper meaning (English teachers around the world stand in uproar), but to just enjoy it for what it is.

My only complaint is that the book wasn't longer, I think I finished this over the course of 2 days worth of train commutes.

If you don't like weird, if you like everything to have a strong significant meaning, then this book isn't for you. But if you're open, if you're willing to step into a world that is just a little bit odder than our own I would definitely recommend giving this collection a go - 4/5
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Friday, 24 March 2017

Book Review - The Butterfly Garden - Dot Hutchinson





I saw this book on Goodreads as one of the best thrillers of 2016 - I looked into the blurb of the book and just knew I had to read it. And read it I did, all in one night.

If you don't like rape, kidnapping, child molestation, abuse and more (like is probably the wrong word but you know what I mean) then this book definitely isn't for you. Its dark, gritty and utterly captivating.

The chapters are split into police interviews, where we get to meet FBI agents  Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison  and first person recountings of the Butterfly Garden, told by victim Maya. I liked the layout of this retelling, we got to see right into the story of the butterfly garden, but also get to ask ourselves how trustworthy this first person recounting is - Maya was getting interviewed by the FBI after-all, can we believe everything she has to say?

I did find it difficult to actually imagine the Butterfly Garden though. I couldn't really grasp the sheer size of it, and how the girls within could have gone unnoticed for so long, however, after a while I just went with it and got completely absorbed with the story.

There have been complaints that the writing of the women is sexist, and they all just go along with what their captor tells them. And in some ways I understand this, Maya especially seems to just keep quiet and do as she is told, however, as explained in the book, if you push too far you die and get put on display for all the other girls to see. I don't think we can really judge as we have never been in that situation! Though I would like to think I would fight, then how would I get out of the garden? Would I actually be brave enough to fight when so many before me haven't been able to get free?

I just really enjoyed this book, it was something different from what I usually read, it had all the darkness and brutality that I wanted, that I expect of a book that claims to be potentially offensive. It was just really great 5/5


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Friday, 17 March 2017

Book Review - The Roanoke Girls - Amy Engel




'Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.'

I was sent this ebook for free through blogging for books - however this will not influence my review in any way!

I had never heard about Roanoke until the latest season of American Horror Story. Finding out about this creepy place where a whole colony just disappeared with the added hauntings through the tv show got me hooked. Though this book doesn't look into the history of Roanoake, you get the same creepy, disturbing story that if you enjoy AHS you will love here.

I have read a few reviews about this book where people feel bad or wrong for enjoying it - because of the themes (such as incest) it touches on. I really enjoyed this book, so I don't know if I should also feel guilty? But I don't, its just a story, and sure its creepy and wrong but I'm not hurting anyone by reading it!

The story follows Lane Roanoke, both in the past and the present. Her mother kills herself while Lane is young, and she is sent off to live with her Grandparents and cousin, where she discovers that having a loving family is not all it is cracked up to be. In the present, Lane goes back to Roanoke to look into the disappearance of her cousin. As all of the Roanoke girls have upped and left at one point or another, Lane is sure something is amiss in regards to her cousin's disappearance, and is defiant in finding out what that is. 

The revelation of incest comes out slowly in this book, even though I think it is obvious what is happening throughout? And I would have liked Lane to stick around longer just to see how far her Grandfather would push her - in ways I think she got off easy. I want to see the darkest, twisted parts of the story, not just have mentions of them. Though if a lot of people found this offending, I don't think they would have been able to cope with anything darker.

I read this book cover to cover in one night, I was hooked on the story and wanted to know where it went. I loved that it had the mystery woven into the story and really recommend. 4/5
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Monday, 13 March 2017

Book Review - King's Cage - Victoria Aveyard





“I've been broken too many times to break again.”

This is the third book in the Red Queen series - you can find my review of the second book here

There are so many things I dislike about this series, yet I find myself needing to read the next one to see what happens. So in a way I hoped this would be the last in the series, partly because I like trilogies and partly because I don't want to have to keep buying into the story. Sadly it isn't, so it won't be too long until I am here reviewing the next one because I am a sucker for a cliffhanger.

Overall I think this book is better than the last, and part of that is because I liked that we got more points of view this time other than Mare and her eternal torment. If I could just cut out all the parts of her and Maven and they're bullshit love story I would be happy.

The book starts with Mare having been taken hostage by Maven, her powers are taken from her by Arvens and she is locked in a small room with nothing to do. Outside of the city walls the Scarlet Guard are continuing their fight for the Reds and Newbloods, and through the book we meet new characters and new alliances. 

We finally get a proper fight scene in this book. I was really ready for it at the end of the last book, but it was taken from me at the last moment. I'm not completely dismissing the fight in the prison in the second book, but I've been so ready for a proper Silver vs Red/Newblood war.

I think my biggest problem with the series is the love story arc that carries on throughout. I cannot for the life of me understand why so many people 'ship' Mare and Maven, I even have issue with Mare and Cal... I just don't think the romances work, but because they're so loved by so many people it is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the story. I care about the war, about the reds and their struggle, about the new bloods and their confusion and powers. I do not care about Mare's conflicted feelings for Maven who is quite clearly a bastard who doesn't deserve any love. Just because he was 'made' by his mother doesn't stop him from still being a cunt now. Any pity for him is quickly lost and her tortured feelings about him every time he flutters his eyes is just... its the worst. 

Of course the book ended on another cliffhanger, because Aveyard is just a pro at book endings, and therefore I will have to read the next one. 

I think Cameron is a great addition to the book, she is similar to Mare in a lot of ways, but I really enjoy reading her and even Evangeline's chapters. I think they add so much more to the series. 

Overall I would give this book a 3/5. I just hate the love story. I'm sorry, but other than that I didn't get as annoyed reading this as I did before! 

Have you read any of the Red Queen series, what do you think? Are you a Maven/Mare shipper? Let me know why in the comments below. 
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Thursday, 9 March 2017

International Women's day



I am the worst woman/blogger as International Women's day was in fact yesterday 8th March... I'll be completely honest and say I didn't have a clue it was coming up, but still wanted to put my two cents in. 

Women are great, and thanks to the efforts of many women before me, I am lucky to have many/all of the same rights as men. This isn't to say that we haven't got a way to go (just a friendly reminder of how the Suffragettes used racism to further their cause), but we have achieved a lot. 

I have been a firm feminist for as long as I can remember. Even when I was younger I would get a deep sense of anger against anyone who said I couldn't do something because I am a girl - and I think this is thanks to my parents, especially my mum.  Because of them, feminism isn't a thing it is just common sense, and it still astounds me today that it is even an issue for debate. 

My mum is a woman who takes no shit. She firmly pushed the belief into us that we should stand up for ourselves, to not bow down to bullies. Though this point shows through me in silent stubbornness rather than vocalization, it is something I have kept with me for a long time. I went through a tough period of being put down, and made to feel a failure by my own school. Though I didn't really do anything proactive against this, because of my mum I have kept that stubborn fire burning in myself to pursue my dreams in my own way and on my own terms. Thanks to my mum I have goals, and I believe I can achieve them as long as I work for it.

My dad showed me that not all men treat women like delicate flowers, and that I can be just as tough and strong as them. My favourite show growing up was Buffy the vampire slayer. There is no other way of describing my feelings for the show as anything other than obsession - I probably still am today. I remember one day him coming out of his garage with a present for me, a little wooden stake that he had carved - so I could be just like Buffy. Its a small thing, that he probably doesn't even remember, but it meant a lot to me. It wasn't a doll's house, it wasn't something fluffy, it was a stake so I could run around the garden pretending to stab things. It showed me that he understood who I was as a woman and didn't want to change that. 

Both of my parents encouraged me in my sporting days, from netball and football to kick boxing. Nothing was off limits to me just because of my gender.

I'm also lucky enough to be surrounded by like minded people. I think this is probably because I pick my friends partly for their beliefs and not just blind luck. I have friends that are determined to make me feel invincible - this cartoon by Sarah Andersen is probably my favourite way of describing it:

I appreciate all the great people around me who make me happy with the fact that I am a woman.


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Thursday, 9 February 2017

Book Review - The Fifth Petal - Brunonia Barry


'In the realm between life and death, time, as we know it, does not exist.'.

I was sent this ebook for free through blogging for books - however this will not influence my review in any way!

Murder, crime, mystery, witches - all things that led me to choose this book. I didn't realise that this was a second book of a series, but it really didn't impact my enjoyment of the book.

Salem’s chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, investigates a 25-year-old triple homicide dubbed “The Goddess Murders,” in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed one Halloween night. Aided by Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims who has returned to town, Rafferty begins to uncover a dark chapter in Salem’s past.

Honestly? I don't know what I think about this book. I found myself enjoying it, but at the same time thinking 'this is going on foreverrrr' which isn't how you should feel about a book - especially one that isn't even that big? And sitting down now to review it, I'm coming up quite blank.

I definitely found the writing to be a little forced at times. Callie, for example, will finish someone's sentence and then think 'I know what people are going to say before they say it' - yeah we can get that from the writing, I don't think it needs to be pushed on you. Show don't tell, you know? And I think it happened a few too many times so it got on my nerves.

I did enjoy the looks back into Salem witch trials, I think these were some of my favourite parts, plus the world building was written well giving the whole book an autumnal, Halloween theme suitable to Salem. I would read more books in the series too as I'm interested in the occult going on in the town and how this affects Rafferty's work.

It was also a lot sexier than I thought it would be, I had to check no one was reading over my shoulder on the train a couple of times!

Overall, I think I would give this book a 3. I just feel kind of meh about it? I would read other books by the author, but only if it were on sale ... if that makes sense.

Have you read The Fifth Petal? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.
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Friday, 27 January 2017

Book Review - Nod - Adrian Barnes


'Life's a scab, and it's our nature to pick at it until it bleeds.'.

Nod is a unique, dystopian novel (albeit a short novel), that follows Paul in a world where the majority no longer sleep.

I was intrigued by the idea of this book as soon as I saw it. It isn't something I've seen before and I really wanted to see how it panned out; the slow, sleepy descent into madness.

It isn't a long book at all, the chapters are set into days, the countdown till insomnia could kill; but a lot sure happens in those days. The crazy just seems to pour out of these people so quickly. Its hard to imagine actually happening, but the again I can barely stay away for 12 hours without getting grumpy, let alone 16 days.

You never get a reason why with this book, but that didn't bother me, Paul is a normal person, he wouldn't know why it is happening, so why should the reader? I would have liked to see more of the silent children, even some guesses at why they are like that, but that is only small. I also think that, surely, the sleepers should have been... I don't know, better? I know they're up against a lot of people, but these are people that haven't slept in forever, they aren't smart, the sleepers still have their brains, they should have been able to outsmart some kind of escape?

What you do get is a lot of crazy, and a lot of characters that you hate. More characters that you hate than that you love. I mean I really hated Charles. So much so that I got annoyed every time he popped into a scene. I mean, I think you're meant to, but he is in it quite a lot, so that is a lot of angry reading. I didn't feel bad for him, I didn't care about his situation, I just wish that Paul ripped his head off of something.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I liked seeing the crazy, and the group mentality of the crazy. I do wish it was longer, but then I don't know where it would have really gone. 4/5

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Friday, 20 January 2017

Book Review - The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood






'Better never means better for everyone... It always means worse, for some.'.

Since reading the Heart Goes Last I am all for Margaret Atwood. Granted I've only read three of her books... but all of them I have loved. And after hearing that The Handmaid's Tale was going to be coming to TV in April, I knew I had to read the book first.

The Handmaid's Tale is a feminist, dystopian novel. Margaret Atwood imagines an extreme Christian future for America, and in this future Women have absolutely no rights, they belong to men, to serve in what way they wish. And in a way, its a future I can imagine. You know, if the world went completely backwards and tits up, and even then, there are many places in the world where women are still seen as belonging to men rather than being their own person. Its scary, it's wrong, but its believable.

The thing with Atwood's writing, aside from having no quotation marks, is that she just jumps straight into the story. One minute Offred, our protagonist, is a working wife and mother, she is a free woman, then in the space of what feels like seconds she is covered head to toe in red garb, used as a baby machine for her new Commander. There is no in between. You would expect uproar if such a vast change in laws/events happened no? I, for one, would be screaming bloody murder if I strolled into work one day, to be told that I can no longer be there, oh and my partner is in charge of all of my money, you know, because he has a penis. Anyway, back on the book. Atwood jumps straight into the world she imagined, without much thought of what kind of timeline events would actually follow, and I understand it, she wants to get to her idea of the book, she wants to write about what she has imagined. And once you get past it, you're involved with the main story as well.

So, the book follows Offred, one of the few women left in the country that can have children (the subject isn't looked into much, but it is something to do with radiation, and of course it's the woman's fault if a baby isn't conceived, it has absolutely nothing to do with the man I mean all men are perfect right?) Anyway, it follows Offred in her new household where every month she has to lie back and try and have a baby with the Commander of the house (its even weirder than you first might have thought, the wife and the baby maker have to hold hands throughout the whole affair... very awkward) It isn't a fast paced novel, I see it more as just an introduction of such a world through Offred's eyes. We get glimpses of her past, contrasts to how she lives now, and hints of the affects of not following the rules. And thought I would have liked to have seen the darker side of the world, which you know there is one! You don't really get to see this, its a small gated area of the life that we get to look into.


All the same, I think Offred's view of it is believable. Time has past, and she has, pretty much, given up. She is resigned to this life she lives now. How she thinks, she seems numb to it, and in a way I think that is better than raving and screaming, she wouldn't get away with actions like that, not anymore, and she has a child, somewhere, she has to think of her, even when she thinks of suicide, which they have taken many precautions against, she still thinks of her child, and whether giving up would be anything more than letting them win.

Don't let the bastards get you down


I did enjoy the book, its slow but not monotonous, and I am looking forward to seeing how they translate it into a TV show - 4/5

Have you read a Handmaid's tale? If so, are what did you think? Are you looking forward to the show? Let me know in the comments below!
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Friday, 13 January 2017

What I've learned from 2016




I'm not really one for reflection, however when my friend asked me what were my best and worst moments of 2016 I was at a loss for an answer. 2016 has felt like both the longest and shortest year I have endured yet, I think there have been numerous times where I have said 'How is it already December and I have fuck all to show for it?' And that is depressing really; a whole year has passed and I don't feel like anything has changed. Perhaps I am wrong, I hope I am wrong, and that is what has inspired this post - lets really look back on 2016 and see what I have learnt from it, if anything.


You know what is best for you

I think this is probably something I can say I have learnt from this year. 2016 is the year that I started to work part time instead of full time at my finance job. I ended up being completely honest with them and told them 'I don't know if this is what I want to do, I don't think I am a 9-5 office person and I need to at least give my other goals a go' I was really lucky that they wanted me to stay on part time with them instead of move on somewhere else. I had a lot of people tell me not to go part time, I was pushed by a lot of well intending people into jobs that I didn't want. I know they mean well, but deep down I've always known I was made for something different. I don't know what the trigger for this year was that made me realise that, 'no, I know what I want, I can't live my life doing only what people have told me'. And I was right. I am so much happier now, I think this is evident not just to me, but those around me. It has been hard, of course, but I believe it is worth it, I do not regret it for a second and just wish I had started earlier. If you know deep down that you're not following something that you actually want to do, if you know that you're doing what is expected of you instead, be brave. This is your life, no one else's. If it is career related like me, you're going to be working for 60 or more years, you want to make sure you're happy. Follow what you want, not what everyone else wants of you.

Being stressed and busy is not an accomplishment

I think we live in a world where seeming to be excessivly busy means you're more succesful than the next person, which pushes everyone to become more and more busy, and therefore more and more stressed. I do not handle stress well, but I didn't want to look like a failure either, so I would join in, trying to pile as much onto my plate as I could, even if I knew I would never finish it. This year, I realised how unhappy this was making me. This year I realised that I really needed to start focusing, and caring for my mental health, and trying to be the busiest person out of my friends wasn't helping that. There seems to be a buzz to being the busiest, most stressed out of your friends, but it was short lived and then overwhelmed by the misery of being overworked. Some people thrive on stress, but that person isn't me, and I've learnt this year to both work and play.

Don't be ashamed of what you enjoy

Unless its illegal or perverse or hurts people, but you get the jist. I used to be so ashamed of the fact that I am a creative person, that I enjoy writing and art. To me I felt like a child if I told anyone, and that it wasn't an 'adult' hobby. I've had this idea reinforced to me by a few people, which is never helpful. Then I started to think about it, and the only reason I'm ashamed of it, is because I don't believe I'm very good at either things, but how can I become good without practising? And why should I care what other people think? Especially of things that make me happy, they're not there when I'm doing it, why let them take something like that from me? I decided not to be ashamed, and it was a choice I had to work at, I still go red when people ask me about my hobbies, but I no longer deny them or pretend they don't exist. And you know what? Most people are really supportive of it, and more important than that, I feel a little pride in saying it now!

Honesty is always the best option 

I have always been worried that I can be a bit blunt, but at the same time I also notice that I will say what people want to hear rather than what I honestly think, I think my response depended on the person. I think it could be a growing confidence in myself, but this year I have tried to be as honest as possible when someone asks me a question, not ignoring their feelings, but knowing the truth may be more helpful. This has come most apparent with friends that have come to me for advise. As I am sure many of you do, I would usually just agree with what they say and be there to comfort more than anything else. However, situations arose this year with people where I thought, if I just comfort them and agree with them, they're going to keep hurting themselves instead of moving towards a happier place, so I was honest, sometimes blunt, but always honest. I even apologised for the honesty, why did I feel bad for telling the truth! The honesty was mostly accepted happily, but would sometimes not be what they want to hear, so it is important to tell people, 'this is what I think, but I will be on your side if you choose to follow it or do something else.' And you know what? I think it has helped my relationships more than being a dormat would ever do.


These are what I've learned from 2016 - what are some of yours? Let me know in the comments below.
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Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Book Review - Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King



'How life did imitate art sometimes. And the cruder the art, the closer the imitation.'.

Full Dark, No Stars is a collection of novellas from the king himself, Stephen King.

Stephen King is the writer I aspire to be. Sticking to no genre, just writing great novels, consistently and constantly. I know a lot of people choose to criticise, but I think unnecessarily, no one can tell a story quite like him, and if I can be just 10% of the writer he is, I will be proud.

Now, back to the stories. King writes stories about normal people in extraordinary situations. That's his thing, he isn't interested in the heroes, he is interested is us Joe Norms and how we feel and react. That is, what I think, draws a lot of people in, because deep down, as much as we try to deny it, we are just an average person, living an average life, I know I'm no hero, the closest thing I would get to adventure would be being thrust into it as an innocent bystander.

Of course, true to King he has kept the tones of these stories dark, with themes of murder, rape and cancer, though all are very individual.

I think the one that stuck in my mind the most was A Good Marriage, not just because it is the last story in the book, but because King wrote it in such a way that I felt that I was this woman, married to a man she has just discovered she had no true clue about. He wrote her so well, he wrote their relationship well, and, I think, he wrote how she dealt with the situation in a way most of us would actually react. Though I will say the ending to 1922 definitely stuck with me, I thought it was the weakest of the stories when I was reading it, that was until the last few sentences.

If you're triggered by topics such as rape though, I would fully recommend skipping Big Driver. This was probably one of the darkest of the lot, and even I felt a little uncomfortable when reading it because, It could happen to any of us.

I would definitely recommend this book, whether your fans of Stephen King or not. They're short enough to enjoy over the course of one of two commutes to work, but detailed enough to feel like a full story. 4/5


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