What are you doing

What are you doing?!

Over the last week or so you might have seen the question: what are you doing? The whole thing kicked off after Forbes named Kylie Jenner the next self-made billionaire which was controversial at best. Then the New York Daily News but you this tweet.

What are you doing? Kylie Jenner

Yep, anyone else feel a little gut punch when they first read that? I did. Even if you don’t think about the enormous privilege that Kylie has there’s something not quite right with this. I take my hat off to her for making a business and being successful from that but it was just damn ridiculous to ask what we were doing with our lives. It adds to this idea that we should all be at the same level, that there is an ultimate goal and if you’re not there, then you’re a failure.

I used to have a plan for my life. I was going to graduate with a 1st, I was going to get married in my early 20s, have 2 children by the time I was 30 and a career I enjoyed. I had everything mapped out until I didn’t. Hell, as I write this I’ve got no idea what I’m doing. I’m not married, I don’t feel ready to have a baby any time soon, I don’t have the best selling novel or a big job. Does that mean I’m a failure? To people who changed their minds or had a life change, are they failures? In short, no.

In the age of social media, it’s easy to forget that we’re seeing people’s highlight reels. We might see these super successful 20-year-olds or our friends with a ‘perfect’ life. We don’t see the sacrifice, the late nights, the tears. We don’t see the days where you look and feel like shit, where you want to pack it all in. I know for a fact these successful, beautiful or brilliant people have days like that. They are human, as are we.

There is so much pressure on us to look perfect, to follow a certain path. What struck me about it is the stress I personally feel about timelines. I can bet most of you reading have felt this too! Each of us are doing something with our lives. For some of us, that means getting out of bed in the morning, for others it might be being creative, raising kids or working a job. We’re all living our lives in different ways and that’s what important.

I’d love to hear what you are up to, however big or small. Live your life, and screw what anyone else thinks.

 

 

 

Book Review: Eve of Man – Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

Book Review: Eve of Man - Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

‘AGAINST ALL ODDS, SHE SURVIVED.
THE FIRST GIRL BORN IN FIFTY YEARS.
THEY CALLED HER EVE . . .’

A lot of pressure rests on Eve’s shoulders. Only she can save the human race and now she’s 16 all eyes are on her to kick start the human race and give birth to healthy girls with an appropriate man. She’s ready to accept her destiny until she meets Bram. Is everything out of touch? Can Eve be free? And will she choose love or the human race?

I read this book within a matter of hours, I got up early on a Saturday to finish it, I ended up having dreams about it once I finished. The novel was that good. That’s a pretty strong start to a review, so let me continue. I was really intrigued by the premise of this book but didn’t know what to expect. I haven’t read any of Gi or Tom’s fiction, only Gi’s Non-Fiction (you can read the review here), but I am a big fan of their Youtube Channels.

The pace of this novel was fantastic. The whole idea has been incredibly well thought out, while early in the novel I was a little confused, things fall into place within the first few chapters. I loved the Eve and her voice. She was strong, determined and smart. I was a little sceptical of the romance element before reading but it is so well done and I think, in part, that’s due to the strength of Eve.

I also have to mention that I couldn’t tell that this was written by two authors. I’m not sure how they divided the writing process but even though the novel is told through both Eve and Bram’s perspective, it seamlessly melts together. I didn’t feel that pushing the novel onwards was left to either character, it was a pretty equal split.

This is the type of novel where I could write multiple posts about how much I loved it. The world creation, the set up for the rest of the trilogy, the nature vs science debate. If you would like me to write a more in-depth post about elements of it then let me know in the comments below!

If you hadn’t guessed already, I gave this novel 5 stars. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a novel which I couldn’t put down. This is a stunning start to a trilogy and I’m already eagerly anticipating the next in the series. I would 100% recommend this with the warning that you’re going to want more, much, much more.

I'm a Gryffindor

I’m a Gryffindor

Gryffindor Pride Harry Potter

If you follow me on any social media or have been following this blog for any period of time you’ll know I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan. I fell in love with the books, the movies and the whole Potter world. I can’t tell you why I fell so much in love with it, but I did and I never miss an opportunity to see or do something Potter related or celebrate the fandom. Oh and owning a lot of merch (see my most recent haul here).

Since I first read the books I have always felt like a Gryffindor, mainly, when I was younger because I saw so much of myself in Hermione. I finally found a girl in a book just like me. She loved studying and learning, was a bit of a know it all but loyal to her friends. As I got older I realised that I still strongly associated with Gryffindor, also with the slightly stubborn tendencies they are known to have…

In the above picture, my friends described me as looking like Gryffindor threw up on me. My two friends went it Ravenclaw aesthetic (hint of blue, well put together) and a lot of black and green for Slytherin…and then there was me. There was a Potter t-shirt under the Gryffindor jumper, obviously my scarf, red hair and even red and white Potter trainers. Even in the way we dressed we represented our houses when visiting the British Library exhibition.

Here’s what the Sorting Hat says about being a Gryffindor

You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart

 

Now, I know that there is a whole crowd of people screaming, it’s not real BUT there’s a beautiful sense of comradery in the fandom. This is something I grew up with and something I cherish. It may seem silly to some but I love the world of Potter, I love the fact that I relate so much to a book!

staying-in-20-something

What is your Hogwarts house? I’d love to know! Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

Book Review: Moxie – Jennifer Mathieu

Book Review: Moxie - Jennifer Mathieu

 

Meet Viv, she’s a quiet 16-year-old who doesn’t break the rules. She works hard, hangs out with her friends and is the perfect daughter, the opposite of her mother as a teenager. Viv’s Mum was a Riot Grrl in the 1990s, all about Feminism and ‘zines, rebellion and riots. Nobody expects Viv to follow in her footsteps until she gets pushed a little too far.

Sick of the sexism in her high school, dress checks, disgusting football players and the expectation of women, Viv decides to start a quiet revolution. Taking a leaf from her Mum’s book Viv starts Moxie, a zine for the girls at her high school. As she anonymously writes and distributes the zine, things heat up. Can one ‘zine make any difference?

Well, this book. This book, what can I say? This is a rebellion in a couple of hundred pages. I finished this, created a playlist of kick-ass women and started planning the reboot of my Feminist Friday series. That’s the impact this book had.

I loved the fact that the author didn’t make the challenge easy either. She looks at the reputation feminism has, the feelings of being overwhelmed, having to try and convince people that Feminism is a good thing. She does it incredibly well and I loved all the Riot Grrl references and the fact that Bikini Kill was mentioned (listen to them here).

I will say, the only thing I didn’t enjoy about this novel and one of the reasons it didn’t get the full 5 stars was the romance. I just felt like it wasn’t needed and it made things a little too cutesy? Obviously, I know people did love it and it was good to see a male feminist but it just seemed a little too perfect timing to me.

Overall I gave this an amazing 4.5 stars! This was a breath of fresh air and while it took a little while to grow on me, once it did it was amazing. This is the kind of book that can inspire, that can make people realise that they have power in their voices. That feminism is still here, it’s still relevant and important. More than that it shows young women as saving themselves and that’s important.

I Read HOW MANY Books?

I’ve Read HOW MANY Books So Far?!

Do any of you guys remember me writing about cutting down my reading goals, trying not to worry about them and focus on other things? Well, I don’t know if it was the lack of pressure or just some good books but I’ve managed to read a total of 70 books in the first half of the year! I wanted to share with you some of the excellent reads and I’m showing no signs of slowing down!

January

February

  • Brave – Rose McGowen 5 Stars
  • A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J Maas 5 Stars 
  • Clean – Juno Dawson 1 Star
  • Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body – Roxanne Gay 3 Stars 
  • Time Bomb – Joelle Charbonneau 3 Stars
  • But You Did Not Come Back – Marceline Loridan-Ivens 5 Stars 
  • Why Have Kids? – Jessica Valenti 3 Stars
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin – Sarah J Maas 5 Stars
  • This is Really Happening – Erin Chack 3 Stars 
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay 5 Stars 

March

April

  • Red Clocks – Leni Zumas 4 Stars 
  • #MeToo: A Women’s Poetry Anthology – Edited by Deborah Alma 4 Stars 
  • The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One – Amanda Lovelace 4 Stars 
  • I am, I am, I am: Seventeen Brushes With Death – Maggie O’Farrell 4 Stars 
  • Saga Volume 1 – Brian K Vaughn 5 Stars 
  • Everywoman – Jess Phillips 5 Stars
  • How Do You Like Me Now – Holly Bourne 2 Stars 
  • Saga Volume 2 – Brian K Vaughn 5 Stars 

May 

June

  • Moxie – Jennifer Matheiu 4 Stars 
  • Maggy Garrison – Lewis Trondheim 2 Stars
  • Grabbing Pussy – Karen Finley 2 Stars 
  • Bookshop Girl – Chloe Coles 2 Stars
  • Open – Gemma Cairney 3 Stars
  • Glimmerglass Girl – Holly Wrath 2 Stars 
  • Tyler Johnson Was Here – Jay Coles 5 Stars
  • Love is Love – edited by Marc Andreyko 5 Stars
  • 30 Things Before 30 – Hope Alcocer 5 Stars
  • Eve of Man – Giovanna and Tom Fletcher 5 Stars 
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote 4 Stars
  • Convenience Store Woman – Sayaka Murata 4 Stars
  • Everything All At Once – Steven Camden 4 Stars 
  • Surviving the Angel of Death – Eva Mozes Kor 5 Stars
  • Girl Made of Stars – Ashleigh Herring Blake 5 Stars

 

Why I Don't Want To Go Travelling

Why I Don’t Want To Go Travelling

The summer is finally here and it’s time for people to be jetting off on their holidays or packing their bags to go travelling. Thousands of students will have finished their degrees and will be heading on adventures around the globe, I know a lot of my graduating class did. That, however, won’t be me. Not a chance.

The idea of travelling in the traditional sense has never appealed to me. Just the thought of backpacking across continents stresses me out, but that’s ok! I was told a lot when I was in uni to make the most of my youth, book trips here there and everywhere, work my way around a country. Trying to explain why I didn’t want too often made me feel uncultured but hear me out.

Saying I don’t want to go travelling doesn’t mean that I don’t want to see the world. I’ve been visiting amazing countries since I was 3 years old spending time in Greece, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, America, Cyprus and France just to name a few. I love seeing new cultures, the sights, the smells but I also like having a nice time. I’ll stay in hotels or apartments, I’ll visit for a week or two rather than a month or six because that’s what I personally enjoy.

There are still so many places I want to see and things I want to do but I’m happy doing that with a little luxury for shorter amounts of time! I’ve still been able to see amazing sites an have amazing experiences like walking up Vesuvius, seeing the Eifel tower or having breakfast at a small family run restaurant.

That’s just my feelings, how about you? Do you have the travel bug or do you prefer to visit with a little luxury behind you? I’d love to know in the comments below!

So, What Happened?

While I may have been posting blogs, you might have noticed I disappeared from my Twitter a bit in the last few weeks. I wrote a post updating you all that I had Kidney Stones a day after that I was back in hospital, turns out it wasn’t Kidney Stones. After a few days in the hospital, it turns out my Ovaries had a tantrum, grew a cyst and it burst.

So, it turns out that Ovary owners can grow cysts, that’s pretty common. Most of the time they’ll deal with themselves, we don’t even know about them, happy days. Not if you’re me, apparently. If you’re unlucky, they can grow and either twist or burst, causing pain that I can’t describe. My boyfriend commented that I was making sounds like I was in labor…can confirm that’s not happening.

While in hospital I felt very appreciative of the NHS. I had to see professionals 4 times and then was admitted, had a range of tests, a bed and care plus aftercare. I didn’t pay a penny. Was I terrified when I arrived and was on nil by mouth as prep for potential surgery? Of course, I was but I think I would have been even more scared if I had to think of the costs.

I was pretty sick, it’s taken me a few weeks to get back to myself and be able to go out again. It also made me reevaluate a lot of things. How I’m looking after my self (spoiler, not well). I have a lot of things to work on but I’ve healed, I need another check up to work out what exactly happened but I’m hoping things will get better again.

So, that’s that! Now I’ll be back to normal.

What I Read in June!

Well, I may be a little late but what would my website be without a monthly reading round-up? I read 15 books in June, I know! This was down to a mix of having a lot of time at home in the evening, being really poorly and just loving what I was reading. This is going to be a long one so let’s go.

First up was my YA Feminist fantasy with Moxie, teenagers, Riot Grrls and taking on sexism it got 4 stars from me. Next, I tried two ARCs I received, one a graphic novel called Maggy Garrisson and a poetry collection called Grabbing Pussy neither of these ones that I enjoyed and both got 2 stars. Then on to another ARC, Chloe Coles’ Bookshop Girl, a genuinely sweet novel I gave this 3 stars.

I’d been listening to Open on Audible for a long time and finally finished it this month with a 3 star rating, an ok book but I don’t think there was much new information in it. After this another ARC poetry collection, Glimmerglass, unfortunately, it was only a 2 star read for me. Then things picked up with the incredible Tyler Johnson Was Here, an incredible novel based on the Black Lives Matter movement 5 stars. Then an incredible collection for the victims of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, this was such an emotional read and 5 stars.

I listened to 30 Things Before 30 which I needed in my life if you’re in your 20s and wondering what on earth you’re doing read this 5 star book. Then we went on to possibly my favourite book of the year so far, Eve of Man by Giovanna & Tom Fletcher I read this in a matter of hours, 5 stars. I also gave a novel I’ve wanted to try for a while a go, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I don’t quite know why but I loved this and now I can’t wait to watch the film too – 4 stars. I was also sent a copy of Convenience Store Woman, a quirky new novel which I gave 4 stars you can read my review here.

My final poetry collection of the month was Everything All At Once by Steve Camden this was such an amazing concept it goes through a week in a secondary school it. An excellent idea and one to get excited about 4.5 stars. The next novel broke my heart a little bit, Girl Made of Stars looks at sexual assault, family and relationships and hallelujah we had a bisexual main character. This was a 5 star read, absolutely incredible. Finally this month I read a memoir called Surviving The Angel of Death by Eva Mozes Kor, a tough but needed read which also got 5 stars.

 

What did you read in June, let me know in the comments below!

 

Book Review: Convenience Store Woman – Sayaka Murata

IMG_9193.JPG

Last month I came home to a wonderful package from Portobello books with an early release of Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata in exchange for an honest review. The novel is set in Japan being released as a UK translation on the 5th July. So, what did I think of it?

This novel is very different from anything that I’ve read before. It’s the first novel I’ve read that was set in Japan and that was definitely a culture change for me and something to get used to. The protagonist is a Convenience Store worker in her thirties, something that is against social norms. From what I could understand from the novel this is not the done thing for a woman in her thirties, who is expected to either have a good career or marriage. However, Keiko knows that she is not ‘normal’ and this is central to the plot.

To me, it appears that Keiko is on the Autism spectrum, although this is never confirmed in the novel itself, instead, she is described as ‘odd’ or ‘different’. Her struggles with social interaction broke my heart, for the entirety of the novel, Keiko is trying to mirror the ways of those around her so that she is accepted. Even as a child Keiko struggled with what was socially acceptable, while her parents searched for a ‘cure’ to her.

That said, the novel did make me laugh a few times, Keiko is a charming protagonist. She see’s things in a certain way which, when you think about it makes sense. For example as a child as she watches a fight break out in the playground and someone shouts to ‘stop them’ Keiko does…by hitting them with a shovel. She also notices social norms that don’t make much sense, such as the fuss over crying babies. In this respect she is excellent.

Soon, Keiko feels the need to evaluate her life again following more pushing questions from her peers. Should she be more than a Convenience Store Woman?

This is definitely different to something I would have normally picked up but I actually enjoyed it. It gave me a glimpse into another culture and their expectations. I really liked Keiko as a protagonist and gave this 4 stars. If you’re looking for a quick read that’s a little different I’d definitely give it a go.

I also want to say a HUGE thank you to Portobello Books for sending me a lovely package including some Miso Soup, a mini KitKat, some adorable sushi erasers and a wrap, which I believe is traditionally used to wrap food in Japan. They also sent me my very own ‘staff tag’ for the convenience store! Thank you so much!

Convenience Store Woman

I'm Obese?

I’m Obese?!

Earlier in the year at a hospital appointment, I stood on the scales and burst into tears. Still classed as overweight, even obese. Despite the fact I’m a UK size 12-14, I felt dread and disgust that those words would be put on my chart. The nurse patted me on the arm and said don’t take any notice, hers said the same, another nurse agreed. This was rated on the BMI scale, which has been part of various debates.

Now, if you follow me on any of my social media you’ll know that I have curves, I always have. When I think and look back on my relationship with my body I’ve always thought I was ‘fat’. I want to go back in time and shake myself because between the ages of 16-19 I was tiny, I shouldn’t have worried about crop today or short dresses. I should have loved every inch of my self and I didn’t.

I started having a lot more issues with my body after my spinal injury. I couldn’t walk properly for months and any definition I’d gained horse riding was gone and had been replaced with weight gain. I was on a stupid number of tablets, mostly having to rest or use a wheelchair and as a result, I put on a lot of weight, I knew that. My face always shows it first.

Face shot 2015 wearing brace

Me in 2015

 

As soon as I was in recovery I tried to lose weight, counted calories and went to rehab gym and it worked! I got down to a slimmer size. Then I graduated, got a job and stopped going to the gym, stopped counting and got bigger again.

Why am I tell you this? Why am I sharing this on the internet? Because I’m done with BMI. I’m done with this idea there is one perfect body and size we all should be. BMI doesn’t account for the fact that my boobs could probably be classed as a small country. It doesn’t account for athletes that are classed as ‘obese’ because of muscle. It doesn’t account for people who cannot be as physically active as they would like due to illness or injury.

Even though it’s hard I need to try and love my body, I need to not get absorbed by numbers and comparisons. I have boobs and I have a butt and I love them very much. I also have a ‘pouch’. I had this idea that I should shrink myself into being the same as I was when I was 18 and that’s not how bodies work as we get older. We’re not meant to look like our 18-year-old selves for the rest of our lives.

Full Body Selfie June 2018

Me in June 2018

So I’m going to try, try to be healthy while still loving the skin that I’m in. What about you? Do you have the same feelings? Let me know in the comments below!