Sunday Seven: Reasons having a hamster is the best

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If you follow me on any social media you will know that I LOVE hamsters. I’ve had 3 dwarf hamsters and 1 Syrian in my life. I just find them to be loving, adorable and ah I can’t get enough of hamsters. So, here’s some reasons why hamsters are the best.

1. They’re adorable

Just look at them!

2. Each and every one has their own personality 

For such tiny creatures, they all have their own personalities that are so different. I’ve not had two hamsters the same and I doubt I ever will.

3. They’re pretty low maintenance as pets 

Food, Water, Sawdust and a reasonable cage and you’re ready to go. Exercise is also pretty easy, a wheel and an exercise ball is plenty!

 

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4. Watching a hamster eat something bigger than them is hilarious 

Seriously, just google.

5. Playtime is so much fun

Watching a hamster run around in their ball or on a wheel is fun! They get so excited by the simplest things.

6. They’re very affectionate 

All of my hamsters have had their own way of being affectionate from curling up in your hair, on your shoulders, dragging your hand to make a slide, or playing hide and seek.

7. There’s unconditional love

Like with most pets, they won’t judge just love and sometimes that’s all you need.

Feminist Friday: The ‘Girls’ in modern thrillers

Have you ever noticed a trend in modern thrillers? The Girl on the Train, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl or the other couple of thousands I found when I typed in ‘The Girl’ into a thriller search. I can hear some, what’s the problem? Are you making a mountain out of a molehill here?! When this was initially pointed out to me I wondered the same thing but it goes deeper than that. In all of the books that I’ve read with a similar title, there is no ‘girl’, just a grown woman. So, why are publishers so persistent in presenting them this way?

Now, it could be as simple as this is a catchier title, but I’m not buying it. It seems to go further. When we hear the word girl as a society there are connotations of weakness, naivety and childishness. I know for a fact in ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘The Girl on the Train’ both of these characters aren’t seen as reliable narrators, which is only added to the fact that they are referred to as ‘girls’ in the title.  If we switch this, trying to find instances of men being called boys is incredibly low. Which just screams inequality to me.

I’m aware that this isn’t a huge issue, that this isn’t the most important thing that feminism should address but it is an issue. It just shows how there is a, sometimes unconscious, bias against women in our everyday language. I’m not a linguist but even I can see that by branding these women ‘girls’ we are doing women a disservice. If you’ve ever read Gone Girl for example, Amy is not a one-dimensional character, far from it, nor is Rachel from The Girl on the Train.

It’s definitely something I think we should be mindful of. Call these characters what they are, women! It’s just something that has been playing on my mind. As always let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Book Review: The New Girl: A Trans Girl Tells It How It Is – Rhyannon Styles

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Imagine feeling lost in your own body. Imagine spending years living a lie, denying what makes you ‘you’. This was Ryan’s reality. He had to choose: die as a man or live as a woman.

Rhyannon is brilliant, to put it simply. Throughout her life she has been a light in what sounds like quite a bland place to live for someone so fabulous. After being assigned male and named Ryan at birth, Rhyannon knew she was different. From her earliest memories she wanted to be a girl. At the age of 30 her dream finally came through, this is her story.

I’m a huge fan of reading about people’s journeys and how they have faced adversity. I listened as Rhyannon narrated her story, the highs and the lows and what it was like growing up in a small town and labelled ‘gay’ to living in the city and realising who she really was.

What makes this stand out for me is how Rhyannon adresses her family and their reaction to her transition. I appreciate the honesty that she has about how she and her family differed about her being Trans, how families can struggle and feel the need to grieve the person they thought they knew. I feel this could really help young people who go through a similar experience not feel so alone.

The only issue I had with this book is that it seems to be divided in two, but not in an obvious way. Rhyannon has decided that she would first tell her story in relation to happiness and light-heartedness but later reveal her ‘b-side’ as she calls it. With this there was a bit of a risk that people would give up before that point, I know I wondered if the story was sugar coated until I got to this point. It’s not a case of wanting misery, rather I wanted to know more about how Rhyannon felt prior to transition.

I gave this 4 stars. I found Rhyannon to be intelligent, insightful and show her feelings well throughout the book. There is also humour in the book as Rhyannon looks back and considers both the good and the bad in relation to her experience. I’d definitely recommend for an informative read.

Growing & Keeping Your Twitter Followers!

In the last few years, I’ve worked to try and organically grow my Twitter following. As I write this I have 3702 Twitter followers. While to many it might not sound huge or impressive, it’s taken some work. I’m not a big Youtube star or self-employed blogger, nor have I ever used a bot or paid for my followers. While it’s still a little way off of my goal of 5K by the end of the year I fully believe that I can do it! If you’re looking for a way to get to 10K fast, this isn’t the blog for you BUT if you want to know how little by little you can build a great following then you’re in the right place.

I first got Twitter a few years ago and barely used it, it’s only in the past 2 years I’ve really gotten into Twitter and increasing my followers. So, I’ve learned a few things about being authentic while still getting steady growth. Since January I’ve gained over 100 followers a month, and some of those months I haven’t been at my most active!

Engage with the followers you have 

There is no use trying to build a following if you ignore the people that are already there. Tweet your existing followers, follow them back if you find them interesting! Engagement is key and is what will make people want to check in with you/ your projects

Follow people who interest you and in turn, they may find you interesting!  

It’s no use following people just because you want to be followed back. You want people who are going to engage and make Twitter more interesting for you. So follow people you have an interest in and don’t judge accounts if they’re small. Who’s more likely to follow you, Kylie Jenner or the newbie blogger? Think about it.

Use apps like Crowdfire to see who’s following you, who’s unfollowed  

I have a huge online pet peeve for people unfollowing you once you’ve followed back (it’s not cool) so apps like Crowdfire are really helpful to see who’s following you and who’s staying following you!

Use relevant Hashtags  

Seems easy enough right? Using Hashtags can connect you with THE most awesome people, I was mentioned in the New York Times online once! You can debate or share an admiration for the same things, it’s a great way to find new people to follow and get more followers yourself.

Link people in your tweets 

Whenever I review anything I always tweet the company or the person I’m Tweeting about, you never know who’s watching! I’ve spoken to some lovely people online, gotten signed books and got to meet a few celebs too! All through Twitter!

Join Twitter chats for your interests! 

There are so many chats online every day for all time zones. It’s a great way to meet new people online and I always get at least one new follower from each chat that I partake in.

Think before you Tweet! 

Think, think, think. Some people can Tweet rude or obnoxious things and get a huge unfollowing. It’s great to have thoughts and opinions but not at the expense of someone else!

 

What would you add? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Sunday Seven: My Holiday Reading Shortlist!

Aside from spending time with my boyfriend and exploring, the thing I’m looking forward to most on holiday is having time to sit and read without distraction! I’ve had a few ARC copies sent to me that I want to sit and get through as well as one or two newer releases that I want to pick up! So let’s take a look through my shortlist.

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The Summer of Impossible Things – Rowan Coleman 

In the blurb there is talk of time-travel, family bonds and some form of secrecy, it sounds like a great next read and I’ve heard great things about Rowan Coleman.

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A Knight of The Seven Kingdoms – George R.R. Martin

I’m going to admit that I haven’t gotten through all of the Game of Thrones books because, well you could hold a door with them (get it…yes my jokes are terrible) but I’m up to date with the TV show so know enough. I took a look through this, not only is it shorter but it’s also illustrated! I can’t wait to go and pick this up before I go away.

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See You in the Cosmos 

This is a young teen book but seems interesting. Music, space and family are all included in this book. I’m not sure what initially made me want to read it but I think it’s going to be a heartwarming novel.

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Dreadnought – April Daniels

I am so stupidly excited to read this book. This is another YA novel but this time focusing on Superheroes, Gender and saving humanity. Sign me up.

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One of Us is Lying – Karen M. McManus 

This seems like a The Breakfast Club meets murder mystery. The Breakfast Club is one of my favourite films so the whole idea of these teenagers who are so different coming together could go really well. I’m hoping it goes really well.

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The Best of Adam Sharp – Graeme Simison 

I LOVED The Rosie Project when I read it a few years ago and I’m so excited that there is a new direction that Simison is going in and I’m excited to read his style of writing again.

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The Power – Naomi Alderman 

We were going to read this for my new book club, but on a vote, we decided on another book. This really seems intriguing with female power and a fear of it being the central point, I’m really hoping to pick this up at the airport.

 

What are you looking to read this summer? Let me know in the comments below!

I got a job!

Tonight I’m sharing some really exciting news with my lovely readers! I’ve been offered a position to be an Account Executive with a Creative Design firm locally. I’m incredibly excited and can’t wait to get into the next chapter of my life. I don’t start for a few weeks but I’m so looking forward to my new team, new space and a great new opportunity.

It’s been quite a rough year since graduating and I was worried that this was it, that nothing was going to make me feel happy and fulfilled, that I wasn’t going to get the kind of job I wanted and, now it seems to be finally settling into what I wanted. I’ve learnt from every role and every experience in this crazy year of mine, but I’m hoping now I can get to a point where I’m not constantly worried and spinning or driving a lot.

I’m SO up for this challenge and to really make something great. Good things come to those who wait!

 

Book Review: The Girl Who Beat ISIS – Farida Khalaf

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Frida was a normal young girl, a loving family, friends and getting a good education in Northern Iraq. When her father taught her how to use a gun, she never thought she’d need it. Little did she know ISIS were advancing and before long they would take her town as well as her and her friends.

Books are starting to come through of that it is like being held by ISIS and Farida’s story is both heartbreaking and an eye opener into what some of these young women go through. This is not an easy read at all, but it is an important one. There is so much that as a wider world we don’t know, see or understand. It was an honour to read her story.

The one thing that comes through, again and again, is the strength that Frida has throughout the horrors of being held by ISIS. She fights in every way that she can against the men that hold her physically, mentally and in her faith. It’s incredible how despite everything that she goes through she keeps true to her faith no matter what.

I’m not able to say that I enjoyed the book because that seemed wrong. I appreciated it. I felt glad to have to read Fatima’s story and I have to recommend it to everyone. I would have liked to have heard more about her life after she escaped and how she’s doing now, but I understand why she didn’t.

I gave this a well deserved 4 stars ****.

Thank you to the publisher for this ARC.