Book Review: Red Clocks – Leni Zumas

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In the not too distant future abortion is illegal. IVF has been banned and the clock is ticking for any women who wants to have a child past a certain age or a child on her own. This is America. In one city, four women deal with their own lives in relation to these changes. This is their story. A pregnant teenager, a healer trying to help, a frustrated mother and a woman wanting to be a mother more than anything.

I knew I wanted to read this as soon as it was released so as soon as I could I requested it and was graciously given a copy to review and devoured it. The scariest thing about this novel, it could be a reality in the US from recent news, which is exactly why you need to read it.

One of the best parts of this novel is that women come through for women but not in a cheesy way. Becuase of the situation they are in there is a vibe where women pass on vital knowledge to other women to help each other but not in a cheesy way. Also, this novel isn’t about hating men. Are there some terrible guys in this? Yes, but most importantly they are not the focus, not a plot point they just exist. This is a novel for an about women.

The one criticism that I have is that I felt the character of Susan, a frustrated mother didn’t add that much to the story. I understood why she was included but I just felt a little irritated with her and her perspective on things. You don’t need to like every character in a book and out of the four main women she was the one I felt the least connected with in any way.

I gave this 4 stars. I was thinking about this constantly for about a week after reading it. I had so many thoughts, questions and a little bit of anxiety. That said, it is a really important novel and a stunning debut. I can’t wait to see what Zumas comes up with next.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for my review copy

Book Review: Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls – Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

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It’s well known that there are a lot of kick ass ladies in history who aren’t taught about or who are looked over. It’s also well known that little girls need people to look up to. So, let me introduce you to a book that covers both of these things. A book that has been raved about online, and I completely understand why.

I just need to say I absolutely adore this book and want to give it to every little girl I know and plan to always have a copy in my home.  Although this is aimed at children I learned so much from it about women I’d never even heard of and I feel like I should have.  There is also great diversity in this book women from across the world with many different achievements, backgrounds, and goals are included.

I did see some complaints online that there wasn’t enough to the stories or they didn’t give that much info but we need to remember that some of these stories didn’t play out so well and this is aimed at children. To me, this was more of a snapshot, I imagine if a little girl, or boy, found someone really cool from this book they might look into them more or ask questions. That’s one of the most beautiful things about this book, it invites thinking and questions and intelligence.

Each woman chosen has their own unique portrait alongside the piece about them and they are stunning. Illustrated in different styles and colours no two looks the same. Additionally, there is a quote from every woman within the illustration to really sum them up as a person, which was a really nice touch.

If you haven’t guessed already, I gave this five stars. I’m in love with it, I would recommend it to absolutely EVERYONE because I honestly think there’s something for everyone to learn from it. There are all these amazing women from all over the world who have done incredible things for humanity, it’s about time they are all celebrated and that’s exactly what this book does.

 

Young and Desperate?

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I found this quote while searching through Pinterest (obviously one of my favourite websites) and it went well with a decision I made today. I wrote last week about grad job rejection  and how to handle it and for the past few days I’ve been frantically searching for jobs to apply for. I wasn’t getting stressed until I saw people over Facebook posting about grad jobs they’d been accepted for already or the amount of jobs they’d been applying for. Then I started to panic, all the jobs I wanted to apply for needed you to start in a month or less, there were no grad schemes. So I got online and poured over jobsites looking for jobs I was slightly interested in.

I realised this morning while looking through all the tabs again, that this wasn’t how I was going to find a job I wanted to do. All the ones I was going to apply for were either only slightly related to what I want to do or had a much lower salary that I was hoping and expecting to aim for. And for what? I’d been drawn in by anxiety and panic, thankfully I realised what the uneasy feeling was before applying. I know there are jobs in my field and I know that I’m qualified but I just can’t take a job just yet.

Although I’m only 21 I’ve already had quite a few different roles I’ve worked in retail, cinema, office work, tutoring and freelance and I already have a solid idea of what I hate. When I was 16 I took a job from anyone who would offer it to me because I needed the money and wanted the independence. My first two jobs I hated with a passion because I took them out of desperation. My third job I took on but should have been wiser about contracts and things like that. By the time I took on my 4th job that wasn’t babysitting or tutoring I was working somewhere I wanted to and it made all the difference. It’s been the same with my university jobs that I love doing, I wasn’t desperate, I took my time and I excel at my job. With that in mind I’m going to try and take that into account when applying for post uni jobs.

I know that not everyone can do that and I’m thankful that Ali and I have somewhere to go once we graduate. There was no question I could move back into my parents house but come July, if we haven’t found work, we’ll be moving in with Ali’s Mum temporarily as she has more room. Thankfully I’m only about 10 minutes away in the car from my Mum and Dads too. Ali’s said to me before there’s not a desperate rush and for the first time ever I’m starting to believe him. I’ll work hard and apply for jobs of course but I won’t rush into things and be tricked into an underpaid job, particularly with the experience I have. I want to go into interviews and be passionate and excited about the job and the company. I want to have goals and ideas about what I can bring and I know how cliché I sound right now, but I’ve had enough crappy jobs to last me a lifetime.

 

Crack – a poem

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Sometimes I write poetry, this image really made me think about the past year and where I’m at now. I started writing this after a really tough gym session,where I just felt my body let me down. Anyway, this is one of my few poems, enjoy.

One second was all it took,

Flying then falling

My lungs gasping for air

You cracked and you crumbled,

making me not as high.

Once I’d dreamed of growing taller, now I’d take it with no complaints.

You made my legs useless,

my summer a sleepy haze.

A city that should have been my playground,

turned into white walls and levels of pain.

Even now as I start to reclaim,

some of those things you took.

You can still floor me with a no notice

reaching out for boxes, the only hope I have of taking away my pain.

No doubt you’ve changed my life,

for the good as well as the bad.

In ways I couldn’t have dreamt of,

before their letter came.

I don’t want to fight against you,

spend my days angry and depressed.

But some days I can’t forgive a body that fights against me.

When I’m trying every day.

But I suppose time will tell,

and all I can do is carry on.

Slowly and pick myself up from the fall.

I don’t know what I’m doing

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I took myself off the blog for the last few days for a combination of things, I’ve been busy, my backs been keeping up at night and I’ve been freaking out more than a little bit. So I spent my time with family, at work, sleeping and occasionally having an almost panic attack.

I had a conversation with my Mum last night and just ended up saying ‘you know what I have no idea what I’m doing with my life, I have no idea what to do when I graduate, I just really don’t know’. Honestly that is how I feel right now but my Mum, being the babe she is just said to me ‘You know what Chlo, no one knows what they’re doing, just do what you want to do’ and there it was. It’s something so simple but something that we all forget.

I don’t think that anyone’s job choices will make everyone happy. Some people will make choices based on what other people want and then make themselves happy and to be honest no one really gives a shit. You get a job, you make people proud, blah blah blah, but no one else has to go to the job every day, has to work with the people in it and to you know earn a living and possibly do it until they die.

Does any of this mean that I understand what to do with my life? Of course not I still get stressed out all the bloody time. Will I get a good class degree? Do I go and do a grad scheme I like the look of? Do I go all in and just do my PhD and worry about money later? Do I just go and get a job straight away? Part of me just wants to go please someone give me a crystal bloody ball so I know what should happen!

I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’m guessing that there are a lot of people who just freak out sometimes and don’t know what’s going on or what they should do or if they’re even doing the right thing right now. I don’t think it’s specific this fear and uncertainty can impact anyone regardless of race, gender, sexuality, class etc. Who knows maybe everyone else is just pretending very well.

Milestones

I’ve been thinking lately about milestones. I don’t know what it was exactly but I’m guessing it’s a combination of turning 21 (which I don’t understand why it’s a big deal in the UK), seeing more and more of the people I went to school with having children and getting engaged and a lot of my other friends graduating, starting careers and all that jazz. To put it simply milestones freak me out, I’m sure they do for most people. You’re supposed to do this, do that at a certain age, a certain time. For girls there’s a choice between being a mother and being a career woman, because we’re told we can’t have it all.

In some ways I’m lucky, I found the love of my life when I was 13 years old and we live together. Now we’re more than happy together, we’re both doing degrees we love and have careers that we want, but for everyone else it’s not enough. Everyone asks me when we’ll get married, when we’ll have a baby (never if). I just feel a bit stuck and part of that is because I am a woman. Ali NEVER gets asked when he’ll be a father, he’s asked about his job and what he’s going to do for work, it’s all pretty frustrating. I know that I’m an intelligent woman and I have big aspirations, so why do people ask about these ‘traditional’ things.

I’m in no way saying that people my age shouldn’t be married or have children, most of the women in my family had babies by the time they were my age and they’ve all taught me so much. My best friend became a mother at 17 and she’s one of the most awesome ones I know.The thing is my dream right now is walking across that stage to pick up my degree, being able to treat myself with money I’ve earnt and being happy. I will have children, I’d love to be a mum at some point but I wish people would understand there is so much more to me than the fact I can grow a human. I liked this picture below, it definitely made me smile.

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This isn’t an anti-children post, which is how some will read it, it’s just a frustration that sometimes I’m judged by these milestones when I have other amazing things going on. I hate that I have to think about body clocks and all that crap when I’m trying to plan things out about where I want to be in my life, because I’ve been bombarded with media listing risks and problems. Like I said why am I even thinking about this as a twenty year old!

I appreciate that this post might not make much sense, I don’t even know if it does to me, but I can’t be the only one who feels like this. Who knows how I’ll feel in a month, a year or ten but I just want it to be on my own terms, not because of supposed milestones and other people’s ideas of what happiness is.

Sisters – The ride of my life.

I’m struggling tonight. I’m struggling to get what I want to say on to the page, or really to know what I want to say at all. My sister’s gone home and it’s the first time in three days I’ve had time to just sit with my own thoughts and man they’re loud. It’s weird not to have Sum’s here because it’s just so natural to me to have my little sister around.

Every time I spend time with her now I just marvel at the person she is. I can’t be more proud of the kid, well she’s not a kid any more exactly. She’s smart, funny and just an awesome person that I’m so incredibly blessed to have in my life. I always get a little sad when we’re apart because I had this big thing when I went to uni, I was scared of not being around for her. Basically I didn’t want her to have the same troubles and make the same mistakes I did. She doesn’t and she hasn’t and I’m so grateful. In the hardest of times it was my sister that got me through, I could never have let her down, I don’t know if she knows that. At the same time she NEVER has to be perfect or pretend to be, she’s pretty awesome just the way she is.

She also reminded me that I’m not her age any more. I’m about to go into my third year at uni and that is more than a little bit terrifying. I’m finally going into this big unknown. What am I going to do for a job? Am I going to still want to do my PhD? Will I get the funding I need? Or will I just jump into something completely different? Will the band take off and I finally get to perform for a living?

Her excited voice and endless amounts of energy have shushed the worries for a little while but I know they’re there. I know that I’m heading towards the unknown and old enough to admit that it’s both overwhelmingly terrifying and incredibly exciting. I can plan as much as I like but I have no idea what’s going to happen. All I know is that my sister’s going to be coming along for the ride and she’s an awesome person to take along.

Last Day of Placement/ Pre night out nerves

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A lesson plan I wrote up… I ended up not using it!

I wrote earlier in the week about the fact that I’ve decided not to become a teacher any time soon. I finished my placement today and had a fairly easy day and I still feel the same. The 15 days that I’ve done have made me realise that I love working with children but I couldn’t be a teacher. I want to work with children but on a smaller scale, maybe even as a teaching assistant? I also didn’t get the feedback I wanted which is a shame but that’s not to say I wouldn’t go back and work in a school again.

This is just a quick and early blog tonight because I’m finally going out with some girls! The lovely Daniela invited me to meet some of the girls who will be in full field English with me next year and I’m really nervous. Let’s hope my bowling skills are up to the task!