Sunday Seven: 22 and a half

This week I hit 22 and a half, I know most adults don’t count their half birthdays, but firstly I don’t see myself as an adult and secondly I like using this as a benchmark to take stock of what I’ve done in half a year. I mentioned way back in January that I don’t like making New Years Resolutions, instead, I like to use my year birthday to birthday to see how things I have been going. So let’s take a look back and see what I’ve learnt in the past 6 months.

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You don’t need loads of friends to be happy 

Now I’m back in Basingstoke we don’t have as many friends around, but that really doesn’t matter. I still talk to Joe all the time, although it sucks I can’t just pop and see him. I also have Abbie and Ben on the other side of town. I have a lot smaller group of people that I’m in contact with but it’s really about the quality rather than the quantity.

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The pain of losing someone you love never goes away, you learn how to deal with it

A few weeks after my birthday I lost one of my hamsters. Although, to me they are my babies. Noodle passed away and it broke my heart, I still miss her each and every day and that never stops.

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I want to write, so I’ll goddam write 

Enough messing around, it was time to get serious, get planning and get on with it. We’ll see what happens…

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Having your own space is key to happiness 

We finally moved home! Having our own space has made it much easier for me to relax and have time to myself and Ali.

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It’s ok not to be ok. 

I have a problem with wanting to be perfect. I always have. In the last few months when things have gotten tricky I’ve had to remind myself that I’m allowed to feel tired or overwhelmed, that I’m human. So, I did what I always do and I wrote about it and it made me feel a lot better.

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Leaving a job that isn’t right for you doesn’t make you a failure

Back in November I left my first full-time job for a variety of reasons. I wasn’t happy there and didn’t feel like it was right. When I left, even though I had another job lined up, I felt like a failure because I hadn’t been there long. That said it lead on to bigger and better things and just because it didn’t work out didn’t mean I was a failure.

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Grades aren’t everything. 

For a good few months, I hid my degree certificate. I didn’t want people to know that I wasn’t perfect and didn’t get the first I’d been dreaming about. I hated mentioning it and whenever I did I’d follow up with ‘but I was only 3% off of a first!’ as if getting a 2:1 in literature was something to be ashamed of. I won’t lie and say it doesn’t hurt but at the same time my life was a mess in third year, to come out at all with a degree is fine with me. It now happily sits on my desk while I write.

Carrie – An Icon

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I’m writing this with a heavy heart and tear stained cheeks, today the world lost an incredible woman, Carrie Fisher, her death was confirmed by daughter Billie’s publicist. To many Carrie will be remembered as Princess Leia, but she was so, so much more. I met Carrie only a few weeks ago and still can’t get my head around how this fun loving woman who crouched down to sign a little girls wheelchair without so much as a second thought is no longer with us, the world is cruel.

Of course Carrie was Princess Leia, but it’s not all she should be remembered for. She had a no BS attitude to life, which was apparent in her interviews. She was also an incredibly talented writer publishing three memoirs, a handful of novels and also working on screenplays in her life too. Carrie had a way with words that I can only dream to have, I’m thankful she took the time to have a London signing.

While Star Wars makes me happier than most things, it’s not the the thing I’ll remember Carrie most fondly for. She was open and honest about her struggles with addiction and life with Bipolar Disorder. When I met Carrie I wanted to thank her for that, when I did she seemed surprised and said ‘well I have a voice, when you can speak out you should, you know?’ There was nothing more to it. Carrie knew that she could make a big change and she did. For a star of her size to talk so openly about mental illness opened people’s minds. Carrie took the label of ‘crazy’ in her stride, she laughed about it, she made people realise it was ok to laugh. She made mental health come into the conversation, because she wasn’t ashamed. I didn’t get into Star Wars until I was 20, but finding out about Carrie changed my life. I devoured her books and interviews because she became an icon to me.

We have lost a beautiful soul, I can’t help but think of her daughter Billie, her dogs and the rest of her family at this time. She meant so much to so many, but at the end of the day she was someone’s Mum, Sister, Daughter and I cannot imagine the heartbreak they are facing right now.

Rest in Peace Carrie, and May The Force Always Be With You.

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Book Review: The Light Between Oceans – M.L. Stedman

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A Woman stole your heart when you didn’t know it could mend, 

Her heart is now broken and you can fix it if you never tell a soul as well as saving a child. 

As this novel is about to fill our cinema screens, I wanted to share with you my review of the breath taking, heart breaking novel by M.L. Stedman.

Set just after  WW1, war hero Tom Sherborne wants a quiet life after what he has seen. With a heavy heart it is just short of a miracle when he finds not only his perfect job on the isolated island of Janus, but also a young and fiery Isabel. After exchanging letters Tom and Isabel marry as he takes her back to Janus to join him in the lighthouse and start their own paradise on the island. When a boat arrives on the island holding a dead man and a tiny infant the couple don’t know what to do. While Tom is adamant he must stick to the keepers code Isabel , heartbroken by the death of her stillborn son and two miscarriages, and sure the child is an orphan. The couple begin to realise that while their paradise is a world away, they cannot hide forever.

This novel absolutely warmed and shattered my heart all at once. I honestly can not remember a book that has touched me in this way before, even my favourite The Storyteller didn’t make my heart ache this much. I knew nothing of this book before I found it in my local Tesco’s and I was hesitant to pick it up, but I am so glad I did. The blurb warns you that it will break your heart but I was sceptical. That said, I am yet to read a review in which the novel hasn’t brought the reader to tears by the end. I’ve read reviews beforehand saying that they couldn’t stand Isabel and I could see why some would hate her, but I just couldn’t. I don’t know if it is because I’m a woman, because of my own maternal instincts, but I understood Isabel. I understood why she did what she did. The pain of losing her children broke her and changed her in a way no one could explain, because think about it, wouldn’t it change you? I can also understand Tom’s dilemma and the decision he makes, and maybe it’s not the right one but in his shoes I doubt anyone knows what they would really do.

The novel has a very real sense of the implications of war and the fragile nature of human life. Although we never hear about Tom’s time as a serving soldier to graphically you don’t need to because it is not the dead who will shatter you heart it is the living who are left behind. On land there is an eerie sense of the hardships of war, of the men who came home but never really came back at all, the mothers and widowers who refuse to believe their boys are really dead. Stedman also bravely touches on the subject of racism after  war, when an innocent life is lost because of the decisions of the few. In my opinion, this was incredibly important because we rarely see this side written about and also because it shows the hurt of a whole community and also the sacrifice of Australia in WW1, something that is often overlooked.

One of the main reasons I loved it though was because I wasn’t in a rush. This wasn’t a thriller but it made you want to read on at your own pace. After saying this, however, this does not mean that I couldn’t put it down and even though I peeked later on at one point I soon forgot what I had read because you get so absorbed in the novel. The imagery of the surroundings is beautiful and I could hear the characters inside my head. The way I can decide if it is a novel worth passing on is if the characters live on in my head, if they become alive and Stedman has certainly done this. I think about living in a lighthouse, about Tom and Izzy and I dream about Australia, so on that basis I can give you a five-star rating!

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***** – It may have broken my heart but I love this novel to pieces already!

Published by Black Swan

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher

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‘You can’t stop the future. 

You can’t rewind the past.

The only way to learn the secret…is to press play’

Clay is an ordinary guy, like a lot of other people in the school when he hears about Hannah Baker’s death he feels something, but what he doesn’t know is that Hannah has plans for him. After a box of tapes arrive addressed to him he can’t quite believe it when Hannah’s voice comes through the speakers, explaining that if he listens long enough he’ll know why he is one of the thirteen reasons.

This book has been on my to read list for a really long time, I finally got around to picking it up and was told after I wouldn’t regret reading it. I don’t, but I also don’t think it deserves all the hype. It’s an intriguing read and a great idea but there were some holes in the plot that just didn’t make it believable. As for the characters, I thought that Clay was just, a bit boring really, we don’t really know anything about him other than he’s a ‘nice guy’, there could have been more background about him and who he was. Hannah was different, while at first I couldn’t really understand her character, she grew on me and got a place in my heart. When I got to the end I wanted to cry, because at some points I knew how she felt, school can be a heartless place.

I think it did highlight the sheer loneliness that can be caused by rumors. Hannah, like Margo from Paper Towns, is a kind of enigma. Nobody really knows her, they just know the idea of her. These tapes, recorded before she killed herself, are the only way to know anything about Hannah, because there was no other way after everything that had happened. It also seemed to me like she could have been saved and maybe that’s the tragedy in all of it, that I’m sure if the right person had noticed she could have lived. That said, it’s easier said than done and I fully appreciate that.

To review this book is to have to make my way through a minefield of potential spoilers and connections that I don’t want to spoil for you, I do think you could have seen some of them coming though just because of the nature of the book.

I’ve given this novel three stars ***, it’s not because it’s bad, it’s a perfectly ok read but for it it really was just ok. I feel like there are better and much deeper stories that can explain what can lead a person to suicide. On the other hand I really appreciate the way Hannah’s loneliness is expressed, she’s a complex character and I definitely think that the book could have been longer. It’s that little bit more detail that I think is lacking in this to make it a great story rather than just a good one.

Review by Chloe Metzger

I just need to say if you are at a low point and considering suicide, please, please speak to someone. Your life is worth it, I promise ❤