Life

I am still 14 years old in my head

January 29, 2015

On holiday in Tunisia when I was about 14. Note the Mega Lolz t-shirt – this was how ‘emo kids’ recognised each other at the time.

This week I have done two, what I consider to be, very adult things: I bought new window wipers and completed my tax self-assessment and I don’t like it. 

In my head I am still 14 years old and I frequently forget that I’m actually 22. I think I might be having, what I can only describe as, an extremely premature mid-life crisis.

I wish I could go back to being 14 years-old, when my only real concern was how close to the barriers I could get at a My Chemical Romance or Fall Out Boy gig.

When I look back on my life so far I can’t help but wonder when I grew up, you know? I see myself as a kid wondering what it would be like to be 18 and free of all age restrictions and then suddenly I was a teenager (I don’t know when that happened!) and then I kind of melted into being an adult.

I know that age is just a number and that it’s about how you feel on the inside but how fast time goes is damn scary. It has been seven years since I left high school and that is terrifying because I could swear that it only happened a couple of years ago.

Time is flying so darn fast that I just don’t have enough time in the day to do things either and the thing that keeps me trying to fit all of those things into 24 hours is that I want more than this. I don’t want to be in the same job for the next 50 years, or however long it is I’ll have to work before I’m allowed to retire and then pay tax again on my pension. (I’m not cynical, honest.)

I don’t want to be worrying about money forever. I want to be able to spend time with family and I don’t want to be one of those parents who never sees their kids because they have to work so much – I guess no one wants any of that really.

And I sure as hell don’t want to reach 70 years old and find myself wondering where life has gone and wish I’d done more.

Some days I feel myself just going along with the rat race and others the weight of all of that seems to come at me like a freight train and I feel paralysed and panic.

How and when did I become an adult and get loaded with all of that? They sure don’t prepare you for that at school.

I think that’s enough of my mini panic attack to be sharing with the internet for one day and I don’t exactly feel better for it but this year I wanted to make my blog a bit more personal and less ZOMG THIS LIPSTICK IS AMAZEBALLS! (Not that I have ever said that word, until now.)

How old do you feel mentally?

books

Love Hurts anthology – edited by Malorie Blackman*

January 28, 2015
Love Hurts Book Cover Love Hurts
Various, edited by Malorie Blackman
Romance, young adult, anthologies, contemporary
Corgi Children's
29th January 2015
576

Malorie Blackman brings together the best teen writers of today in a stunningly romantic collection about love against the odds. Featuring short stories and extracts about modern star-crossed lovers from stars such as Gayle Forman, Markus Zusak and Patrick Ness, and with a brand-new story from Malorie Blackman herself, Love Hurts looks at every kind of relationship, from first kiss to final heartbreak.

The popularity of My True Love Gave To Me released for Christmas last year was undeniable and it was an enjoyable collection, so I was expecting the same from Love Hurts. 

Like MTLGTM I was expecting it to be a collection of original romance stories, but it wasn’t; the majority of the stories are snippets of books that have already been published. There are a handful of originals, which do stand out and, for the most part, are better than unoriginal stories because they work well.

The majority of the unoriginal stories don’t quite work well because you feel like you’re thrown into the middle of the book, you don’t know what’s going on, you don’t understand relationships and motives and it just doesn’t work.

I had only read two of the unoriginal pieces but I don’t think I’d be happy if I bought this book only to discover I’d read a few stories already.

I’m going to list each book and give you a brief review and let you know if it’s an original story or not.

 

Humming Through My Fingers – Malorie Blackman – 4 /5 – this short story has been published elsewhere before

This was a really sweet and strong opener. I was drawn in and I wish it was a bit longer so I could found out what happened next.

 

More Than This – Patrick Ness – 3 /5 – Part of a full story. 

This was very, very short but fairly good. It did feel like we were missing a bit of information.

 

The Infinite Moment of Us – Lauren Myracle – 4 /5 – Part of a full story 

I really liked Myracle’s offering and felt like I was sat there next to the characters listening to their conversations. This is probably one of the better snippets from a full-length book in this anthology.

 

If I Stay – Gayle Forman – 3 /5 – Part of a full story 

The inclusion of this kind of annoyed me because I want to read this book and this snippet doesn’t seem to have been taken from the very beginning of the book so I’m a touch annoyed that I’ve already read part of it.

While the content of this snippet was good, the snippet itself didn’t work for me because it felt like too much information was missing.

 

Tumbling – Susie Day – 2 /5 – Original

This really confused me; Tumbling follows a Sherlock fangirl and there’s a lot of fangirl and Tumblr speak which I didn’t get, despite having watched Sherlock.

I preferred the parts of this story which were based on the main characters real life, the fangirling bit didn’t work for me.

 

Trouble – Non Pratt – 3.5 / 5 – Part of a full story 

The content of this snippet is good and I felt myself being drawn in but it doesn’t quite work because we don’t understand the relationship and history between the two main characters. That being said, it has left me intrigued to read the full story.

 

Rani and Sukh – Bali Rai – 3 / 5 – Part of a full story 

I liked the concept behind this story; I was excited to find out what would happen next for our characters and how their families reacted. The second half of this story though was a friend trying to get Rani and Sukh to meet and I lost interest.

 

You Against Me – Jenny Downham – 3 / 5 stars – Part of a full story

This was interesting and drew me in quickly but I always felt on the backfoot because I didn’t understand  exactly what was going on.

 

13 Little Blue Envelopes – Maureen Johnson – 1 /5 stars – Part of a full story 

This didn’t work for me at all. Ginny is visiting England (we don’t know why) and decides to buy all of the tickets to Keith’s show (again, we don’t know why). The pair go to a pub together and have an awkward conversation.

Nothing really happened and there was so much information missing that I couldn’t get into this story at all.

 

Junk – Melvin Burgess – 1 /5 – Part of a full story

14 year-old Gemma finds herself running away from home and squatting in a house with her boyfriend, Tar, and his friends. This was another one that I couldn’t get into because there’s too much information missing.

 

Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman – 5 / 5 

This is one of the best examples of snippets in this anthology. It drew me in and the snippet told me enough to get on board with what was happening and feel for the characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one and found myself immersed in it and I want to read the full book to find out what happens next.

 

Gentlewoman – Laura Dockrill – 5 / 5 – original 

This was absolutely wonderful, by far the best original piece in the collection.

Gentlewoman drew me in instantly and I really felt for Danni and I could fell her anxiety and nervousness. I wish I was a full story because I would love to read more about Danni.

 

Heroic – Phil Earle – 3.5 / 5 – Part of a full story 

This was another story which pulled me in quickly and I felt myself worrying about the characters and I’d love to know what happens next.

 

Grasshopper Jungle – Andrew Smith – DNF – Part of a full story 

I struggled with this one, I couldn’t get a grip on it and most of it seemed pointless. That being said, I looked it up on Goodreads and it sounds interesting but I don’t remember any of what I read relating to the Goodreads description.

 

Miss Lucy Had A Steamboat – David Levithan – 3 / 5 – this short has been published in another anthology before

I liked that this short covered the whole length of a relationship and it was more than a story about a relationship; it was also about how Lucy had to hide being a lesbian from her Mother. I felt it was a bit long and dragged out in places but overall it was quite good.

 

I Am The Messenger – Marcus Zusak – DNF – Part of a full story

I was quite intrigued when I saw this in here because I’ve heard of the book and the author before, but I found it to be so confusing that I couldn’t finish it.

 

Echo Boy – Matt Haig – DNF – Part of a full story

We’re thrown into a battle scene in Echo Boy and without knowing who is who and what’s going on, it got incredibly confusing, incredibly quickly and I couldn’t figure out what was happening.

 

Forbidden – Tabitha Suzuma – 5 / 5 – Part of a full story 

This is a book I’ve been wanting to read for about a year now and I was worried that it would annoy me as If I Stay did but this snippet worked well.

I was sucked in quickly, I cared about the characters and I really want to read the rest of the book now.

 

Midwinterblood – Marcus Sedgwick – DNF – Part of a fully story

This really confused me and I couldn’t get into it or finish it. I looked it up on Goodreads and it does actually sound interesting but that particularly snippet didn’t echo that for me.

 

The Liar’s Girl – Catherine Johnson – 4 / 5 – Original 

It took me a few pages to get into this book because the narrative is strange and it uses ‘you’, as if the main character is telling the story to the reader. Once you get about 75% of the way through, you understand why the narrative is that way.

 

The Unicorn – James Dawnson – 4 / 5 – Original

I thoroughly enjoyed this; it drew me in quickly and I really felt the characters elation, pain and frustration.

 

Northern Lights – Phillip Pullman – 2 / 5 – Part of a full story 

I was a bit baffled about why this was included, to me it seems like including part of the first Harry Potter book because so many people have read it. The snippet that was included didn’t drag me in and I found myself skim reading really.

 

We Were Liars – E. Lockhart – 3 / 5 – Part of a full story 

I squeed when I saw this was included because I love this book. The snippet in here worked fairly well but I think the problem is that you need to know a lot more about the family to fully appreciate what’s happening and I don’t think you’d understand all the little nuances without knowing the background. And I think that’s the case for a lot of the stories in here which are part of a full story.

****

Overall, I wasn’t thrilled by this. I was expecting something on part with My True Love Gave To Me and it just wasn’t. The originals were brilliant, the problem was taking snippets out of books that already exist and trying to make them work as a short story.

I don’t really know that I would recommend this because I felt disappointed by it and I received a free review copy, so if I’d paid for it – I think I’d be a bit miffed. The shorts are really good though but I don’t think a handful of originals makes up for a higher number of underwhelming snippets.

You know what it feels like though? It feels like the publisher’s, or someone, saw the success of MTLGTM and wanted to try and replicate that for Valentine’s Day and didn’t have enough time to ask authors to submit original short stories. I can’t imagine why else you would pick a book which is mostly made up of snippets from full length books over a book full of original stories.

If this book had been full of originals, it would have worked well.

How do you feel about a collection including books that have already been published?

 

* I received a free e-copy of Love Hurts via Net Galley from Corgi Children’s in exchange for an honest review.

blogging tips

Blogging tips: Fixing missed schedule posts on WordPress

January 27, 2015

How to fix 'missed schedule' on WordPress

When I first switched to WordPress all of my scheduled posts missed their schedule and I know this isn’t an uncommon problem but thankfully there is a simple and free solution. 

The first thing to do is go to ‘settings’ and make sure your blog is set to the right timezone. You might be scheduling posts for 8AM UK time but if your timezone is 5 hours behind UK time, then it will be posting 5 hours later than you’re expecting.

If that doesn’t work, you will need a plugin to do the job. There are a few available but the one I use is ‘WP Missed Schedule‘.

It’s simple to install and it didn’t ask me for any extra information; all I had to do was press a couple of buttons to install it.

WP Missed Schedule works by checking your site every few minutes and if it finds a post that has missed it’s schedule, it will post it. This means that your posts should never miss their schedule by more than a few minutes, rather than hours.

I’ve been using this plugin for the past couple of weeks and I’ve not had a single post miss schedule since installing it, so this plugin does the job.

Life, Photography

Instax Mini 90

January 26, 2015

Instax Mini 90

Instant photos

I take so many photos on my phone but rarely do I get round to actually printing them so I was really excited when Tom gave me an Instax Mini 90 for Christmas.

My sister and I had a mini Polaroid camera for Christmas one year when we were kids and I loved it. I drove my Mum crazy though because I’d get through a pack of film instantly and I’d start nagging her for some more, and it was not cheap.

At some point I lost it and forgot about it.

Since joining a photography club about a year and a half ago we’ve been going out on photography adventures and I found myself wishing I had my instant camera again so I could capture that moment and hold the photo in my hands straight away.

There’s something about instant photos that I love. They kind of look like memories; they aren’t entirely perfect but they seem to have this nice glow to them.

With a digital camera you don’t get that eager anticipation as you wait to see how your photo turned out, you don’t have to stare at it as you wait for it to develop and you certainly don’t get to hold it in your hands straight away.

The Instax Mini 90 is fairly easy to use but trying to get the exposure just right without relying on an LCD screen is a bit of a challenge, a fun one mind you.

I took it to Edinburgh with me and after a lot of trial and error, I ended up with a handful of not quite perfect, but pretty good, photos. I don’t care about perfection truthfully because my SLR can take care of that, I just want to try and capture that moment.

Have you got an instant camera?

book review, books

Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse

January 25, 2015
Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse Book Cover Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Rick Riordan
Children's, adventure,
ebook

IT'S NOT EVERYDAY YOU FIND YOURSELF IN COMBAT WITH A HALF-LION, HALF-HUMAN.

But when you're the son of a Greek god, it happens. And now my friend Annabeth is missing, a goddess is in chains and only five half-blood heroes can join the quest to defeat the doomsday monster.

Oh, and guess what? The Oracle has predicted that not all of us will survive...

I know I don’t usually blog on a Sunday but I’ve got a lot of book reviews sitting in my drafts folder at the moment, so I will be posting on Sunday’s until I’ve got through at least all of the ones left over from last year.

After two strong books The Titan’s Curse floundered about like a half-dead fish and completely failed to live up to my expectations set by the first two books. 

The third book in the Percy Jackson series takes place in the run up to the winter solstice and the gang find themselves on a quest to save Artemis and Annabeth.

Unlike the first two books I struggled to get through this quickly. It was an easy read but it wasn’t as enjoyable as the first two books and I certainly wasn’t hooked, which really disappointed me.

There wasn’t much action, and the little there was ended quickly, and I think the biggest thing was that Percy seemed to lose his voice. He’s a cocky kid with a sense of humour, which comes across in the writing style, but it didn’t seem to be there in this book.

Everything that made the first two books so enjoyable seemed to either be lacking or severely muted in this book. The bad guys weren’t bad enough, the action was lacking and the banter was missing.

I will pick up the next book, The Battle of the Labryinth, because I loved the first two books and I need to know what happens next.

Have you read the Percy Jackson series? 

Life, things that made me happy this week, writing

8 things that made me happy this week (#4)

January 24, 2015

Things that made me happy this week

Serial - Last week I mentioned that I’d started listening to the Serial podcast and I finished it off this week. I still don’t know who I think did it but I know that there are huge holes in the case that should have been investigated at the time.

Food - A couple of weeks ago I moaned that I’d fallen out of love with food but I think I’m beginning to enjoy it again after cooking Shakshuka at the weekend and finally nailing lemony spinach egg, which I had made a right mess of the first few times I tried it.

Being cosy - I love cold weather. Specifically I love being super comfortable and cosy while it’s cold outside. There are few things better than snuggling up and watching TV while you glance out the window desperately hoping to see snow.

Huffington Post published my ramble! - On Friday the Huffington Post UK published something I wrote about the media judging celebrities / people based on their appearance on their blog. You can read it here. I’m so proud and excited to see my name on such a big website, but at the same time it does terrify me.

Writing - This week I’ve been in the writing zone, with my piece for the HuffPost and I’m planning another couple of pieces too.

Books - Over Christmas I won a competition on Nayu’s Reading Corner to win copies of the books from The Night School Series by C. J. Daugherty and the books arrived this week.

#AllTheBrightPlaces - On Monday I took part in Penguin’s #AllTheBrightPlaces campaign to encourage people to talk about things / places that made them happy. I read the book by Jennifer Niven last weekend and loved it; if you like YA I think you will enjoy it.

Edit: Oh my goodness I cannot believe I missed this out! Catching up with friends - One of my friends from school came back to the UK from Australia for a few days and on Friday we had a mini reunion. The strange this is that we all like we’ve only just left school – when we worked it out, we realised that we left school 7 years ago! That’s scary; in my head I am only 14.

What made you happy this week?

books

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) – Mindy Kaling

January 23, 2015
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) Book Cover Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns)
Mindy Kaling
Humour, non-fiction, memoir,
Ebury Press
Paperback
222

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: comedienne, actress, obedient child of immigrant professionals and, now, writer. With a blend of witty confessions and unscientific observations, Mindy writes about everything from being a timid young chubster afraid of her own bike to living the Hollywood life, dating, friendships and planning her own funeral - all executed with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls.

After catching a few episodes of The Mindy Project and hearing great things about this book, I promptly put it on my list to Santa. 

I didn’t know a whole lot about Mindy going into this book but I came out of it a fan.

This book was exactly what I was expecting it to be; it was conversational, funny and a bit random. It was like sitting down and having a one-sided conversation with a friend.

I enjoyed learning about her love for comedy, her early days and how she ended up on The Office, which I haven’t watch either the UK or US version.

Something I found really interesting was that in her early career she wasn’t deemed good enough to play herself in a show that she and her friend had written. Yet in 2012 The Mindy Project aired and of course, she plays herself, so I’d like to read another memoir from her where she talks about The Mindy Project and perhaps rambles about playing herself.

Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the cover? I want the wallpaper and Mindy looks stunning.

This is a really nice, easy, quick read that I think would be perfect for a holiday read.

I’m totally feeling comedienne books right now, so if you have any recommendations let me know.