Nearly A Year Older
While I was trying to decide what to write about on the blog this month, all I could really think about was how I’d soon be turning another year older and how that was essentially making me feel in the long run. I do not feel ready to be another year older. I do not feel grown up enough to be turning 26. I feel like I should be more mature now. More settled. More… ready to face the world. But I’m not. Deep down inside I still feel like a scared 16 year old. I want to be able to just run home and let my mum help me. But from talking to other people, from reading books and watching TV, I realise that in a way we all feel like that. We’re all floundering in some way or another.
But we all also just get on with it. One way or another, we work out how to get past that point or crisis in our life and continue moving forward.
And it is because of this that today I wanted to look back on the last year. I want to show to you and to myself how much I have grown, how far I’ve come and how much I’ve tackled.
So first things first I obviously have to talk about this blog. This time last year I was struggling with the blog. I was struggling to read and as such struggling to find the motivation and energy to write blog posts. So it all sort of fell to the wayside. But I also wasn’t ready to let it all go so I turned it from a book blog to a lifestyle blog and while that didn’t instantaneously spark my creativity and passion, it is now starting to become a more exciting prospect to my blog. I love that I can talk about a variety of topics on this blog without worrying that you might all up and leave me! Now I’m scheduling posts left, right and centre. I’ve got my passion back. And I love it so much. I may go through a slump again but now I know I can make it through to the other side, it’s not quite so scary. Also, I’ve got something exciting planned for my fifth year anniversary in September, so keep an eye out for that!
There is absolutely no way that this time last year I could have predicted I would be where I am right now with my PR business. I have come so far. Helped so many authors and am rapidly growing my client list and just love everything single minute of it. Since last year I’ve worked as a freelancer for Scholastic, helped a non-fiction author, helped adult authors and acquired a long-term client as well. I’ve also increased my blogger list, been spotlighted on Maximum Pop, had an intern, and am currently very seriously looking into expanding my business even further. I am so proud of how far I’ve come and I am very excited for what the future holds.
I’m not going to lie, I feel overwhelmed by the amount of support and close friends I currently have at the moment. I’m not trying to sound showy or proud or anything like that but I have never felt quite so loved as I have felt recently. I have three amazing ladies that I have grown incredibly close to this year who I would do anything for, could tell anything, and know that no matter what, they’ll always be there for me. I’ve grown closer to my flatmate this past year too. We have a fair few in depth conversations and it’s been really nice getting to know her that much more. I’ve also grown closer to another London blogger friend very recently and I’m so glad I did as he’s so wonderful and supportive and I really appreciate his friendship. I feel closer to someone who moved away. I feel closer to friends that I’ve known for years and I feel more loved than ever. I suddenly feel like I understand why friends can be so important. These people in my life now are the reason I’m still here, they’re the reason I am stronger than ever and they’re the reason I am still able to smile and I just hope they all realise how special they are to me.
In Personal Growth
I am not the person I was a year ago. I have definitely become a stronger person. More confident, more experienced, more able. I have support so I know that even on my hardest day or my lowest day, I am not facing the world and my struggles alone. I feel more grounded and stable now in a way I’m not sure I’ve ever felt before. I’m happier with my life despite it not being exactly what I want it to be or that I’m not where I wanted to be, but that’s okay. I feel more open and caring. I just feel like I’m a much better person today than I was last year. Maybe that’s not true, I could, for all I know, be worse, but I feel like I’m definitely better within myself.
The Bad Side
So, all of the above has been the positive things about the past year but my life isn’t without its negatives, just as everyone has bad things going on. In the past year the most notable thing to go down hill is my health. I’m getting better at dealing with it but the truth of it stares me in the face every morning when I wake up in pain. When I feel unable to walk for too long. When my arms get tired from writing a blog post. I know that I’m not healthy but I’m also glad that I’m taking positive steps to get better. With physio and potential rheumatology referrals, I’m glad I have the strength to not just let myself live like this. Along with the health there’s the job issue. I am really struggling at work at the moment. It’s not what I want to be doing, colleagues keep dropping like flies and with one government cut after another, it’s been difficult to keep the morale and motivation for work going. So it’s been tough. And with that comes a few financial issues too. Now, I’m certainly not going to be losing my house (hah!) anytime soon or the roof over my head either, but I’ve said no to a lot of events and trips because money isn’t coming in. It’s getting better now but it’s been an interesting few months recently. Then there’s family and friends with illnesses cropping up all over the place, and wanting to just make them all better with a wave of a wand.
Yet, with all the bad stuff going on, I’ve still found reasons to smile, reasons to continue, reasons to be, and that is good enough for me.
How have you grown this year?
Deep Quarry by John E Stith
When a private eye undergoing a moral crisis uncovers a long-buried starship that’s still occupied by nasty aliens, he and woman he loves have to overcome them to survive.
Ben Takent is a private eye on a hot, dusty world at the edge of the civilized galaxy. When he’s asked to find out who is stealing artifacts from a 10,000-year-old archaeological dig in the desert, he reluctantly takes the case. Then, when it becomes clear that the artifacts are pointing to an ancient alien spacecraft, the stakes in the case go up—way up.
This was the first John E Stith book that I’ve ever read and I have to admit that I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, and admittedly I probably would not have picked it up based on the old cover – because we do judge, unfortunately – but I’m really glad that I decided to give this book a go. It was a very quick read, fast-paced and I loved all of the characters as well. It went in a completely different direction that I thought it would and that really made it all the more enjoyable.
I actually wanted to read this book because I’ve been a real crime/thriller mood at the moment and so I read the words “private eye” and was certain I’d read it. I also have become a lover of sci-fi so was really intrigued as to how the two genres would merge. Personally I loved how they did. It was like having a book that was the best of both worlds – excuse the pun. I got to fulfil my mood of a thrilling read while also being situated on an alien planet with different species. It was really interesting to read as well as being incredibly well written too.
You To A
What helped to make this book entertaining was the characters. The main protagonist, Ben Takent was a vivid character. He had a very unique and brilliant voice and it was easy to see where his head space was. He spoke his mind, got affected by the world and just wanted to solve puzzles – something I love doing! I also thought Kate was a good character and liked reading about her. But I also just really loved all the side characters and different species and how it all came together. It was done really well and helped to make the book more interesting to read about.
Overall I found this book to be riveting and fascinating. I was hooked into the book from the first page and when it all changed around the half-way point I was pulled into another world that was fast-paced, intense, and a little bit frightening too. I loved how involved I became in the story and really enjoyed learning about the world it was set and the different species it described. John E Stith has created a wonderful piece of fiction that I really don’t think you should miss.
** I received this copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. **
The Witch’s Kiss by Elizabeth and Katharine Corr
Today I am here to share with you all a brilliant guest post from Elizabeth and Katharine Corr to help celebrate the release of their debut book, The Witch’s Kiss!
But first, here’s some information on the book!
By Elizabeth and Katherine Corr
Once Upon A Time….
Don’t those words – the traditional opening words of all fairy tales, everywhere – just send shivers up and down your spine? If there’s one universal form of literature, it’s probably the fairy tale. These stories span eras and cultures; the most famous of them seep into our collective memory like ink into blotting paper. So it’s no surprise that lots of writers choose to re-interpret the ancient themes for their own times, or pick fairy tales as starting points for their own stories. That’s what we did for The Witch’s Kiss, so obviously any list of our favourite fairy tales has to start with the one that inspired us…
1) Sleeping Beauty
Our favourite part of this story is the curse: the drama of the princess pricking her finger on a spinning wheel and then sleeping for a hundred years. We picked this up and ran with it for The Witch’s Kiss. Our Sleeping Beauty is an Anglo-Saxon prince, who deliberately pierces his skin with poisonous black holly and falls asleep for fifteen hundred years…
2) Snow White
There’s so much fantastic imagery in this story. We love the foreshadowing of Snow White’s appearance right at the beginning, as the doomed queen wishes for a child with skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood and hair as black as ebony. And then there’s the magic mirror, the glass coffin and the various poisoned articles: combs, corsets, apples. Lots of brilliantly witchy ideas to play with!
3) Hansel & Gretel
This is on our list because of the sibling angle. We’re sisters, and our main character in The Witch’s Kiss, Merry, has a really strong bond with her elder brother, Leo: it’s pretty much them against the world. So we love the fact that in Hansel & Gretel we get to see a brother and sister sticking together and fighting their way through a fairly horrific situation. And then of course there’s the whole gingerbread cottage thing. Living in an edible building has to be fun! At least until it goes mouldy…
4) The Red Shoes
Not so commonly read as the others on this list, possibly because it’s not as old: The Red Shoes was written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1845. It’s also very obviously a morality tale, since the main character is punished for her vanity and for neglecting her ailing mother. We mainly like it because it’s SO GRUESOME. It’s hard to think of another fairy tale where the protagonist ends up having her feet chopped off and even then the feet keep on dancing. The Red Shoes really takes fairy tales to the Dark Side.
We really enjoy stories where people pretend to be things that they’re not, or have things that they don’t, and Rumplestiltskin has this in spades. The father who pretends he has a magically talented daughter; the daughter who vainly goes along with the lie; the strange little man who pretends he is there to help; the king who (presumably) pretends he’s a decent human being in order to get the poor girl to marry him. Even straw pretending to be gold. Misdirection and deceit abound, and the happy ending seems curiously grafted on. Rumplestiltskin is a tragedy waiting to be revealed. Now, there’s an idea for a novel….
About the Authors
Elizabeth and Katharine Corr have been writing since they were children. They keep in touch any way they can, discussing their work via phone, text and skype, and have been known to finish each other’s sentences – and not just when they are writing!
What’s your favourite fairytale?
Two Summers by Aimee Friedman
Today is my stop on the Two Summers blog tour! I’m here today to tell you my five favourite things about this book in hopes that it will persuade you all to read it!
But first, here’s some more information on the book.
But right before she’s about to board, her phone rings. Should she answer it? Either way, it’s going to be a summer Summer will never forget.
Five Favourite Things About Two Summers
One of my absolute favourite things about this book was the fact that it had two parralel lives in it. A look into what would have happened to Summer if she had answered the call and what would have happened if she hadn’t. I love the idea that every choice we make can set us off on a path that may be different to what we’re expecting. That one of our lives is doing one thing and somewhere else, something else is happening to us. It’s such a wonderful philosophy. I also like to believe that no matter what happens, we’re always living the best parralel life. So being able to read this within a book was wonderful and really shows how fascinating it can all be.
France & Hudsonville
The two destinations of this book were both wonderful. Reading about the wonderful little village in Provence made me itch to travel in a way I haven’t wanted to travel in a long time. I loved reading about the bakery and the street with cute independent shops and reading about her visiting places. I loved that she was also travelling alone. It made the book have such a wonderful sense of adventure to it. On the other side of things, I also loved Hudsonville. I love that Summer spent some time exploring places in her home town that she’d never been to before and how it showed that you can find that wonderful feeling of adventure anywhere you are.
It’s not something I’ve ever studied and I’ve never had an expensive camera but I have always loved photography. I love moving my camera around until I get just the angle that I want with the right lighting and setting. So reading about all the photography in this book made me feel really inspired. It made me want to go be with nature and take pictures of my surroundings and just enjoy being at one with the world. I definitely will be doing some photography soon. I loved reading about it in this book and loved how vital a part of the story the photography became too.
Cute boy alert. No, seriously, cute boy alert. I really loved reading about Hugh in both timelines but I have to admit I preferred the Hudsonville timeline because of Hugh – and the bigger emphasis on photography. I thought Hugh was a wonderful character. He was full of possibilities and intrigue. He was cute, nerdy, loved writing and photography and just had a really sweet, sensitive side to him. Definitely a wonderful character to read about!
Lastly, but certainly not least because there were just so many wonderful things about this book to enjoy – there is Summer. Summer is a brilliant protagonist. She goes on a very big journey in the story and really goes through an amazing self-discovery. This book was a very intense coming-of-age story and I loved how Summer grew throughout the book in both stories. That in the end, no matter which path she took, she ended up as the same person at the end of it because it was just something that she needed to go through. And I really, really, loved that about this book. I also felt very emotionally connected to Summer too, felt her sadness, confusion, shock and happiness. A real treasure to read about.
** I received this copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. **
About the Author
Aimee Friedman was born and raised in Queens, New York, in an apartment filled with books and different languages. She wrote her first story at the age of five, and was off and running from there. Aimee wrote all through her years as a student at the Bronx High School of Science and then Vassar College. After graduating from college in 2001, she became a children’s book editor, a job she still does, and loves, to this day! Aimee published her first novel, the New York Times bestseller, South Beach, in 2005, and is now the author of several novels for young adults, the latest being Two Summers. Aimee lives in New York City, where she can usually be found writing in cafes, window-shopping, or searching for the perfect iced latte.
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Will you be reading this book?
Owl Song at Dawn by Emma Claire Sweeney
Today is my stop on the Owl Song At Dawn blog tour! I’m here today to tell you my five favourite things about this book in hopes that it will persuade you all to read it!
But first, here’s some more information on the book.
Maeve Maloney is a force to be reckoned with. Despite nearing eighty, she keeps Sea View Lodge just as her parents did during Morecambe’s 1950s heyday. But now only her employees and regular guests recognise the tenderness and heartbreak hidden beneath her spikiness. Until, that is, Vincent shows up. Vincent is the last person Maeve wants to see. He is the only man alive to have known her twin sister, Edie. The nightingale to Maeve’s crow, the dawn to Maeve’s dusk, Edie would have set her sights on the stage all things being equal. But, from birth, things never were. If only Maeve could confront the secret past she shares with Vincent, she might finally see what it means to love and be loved a lesson that her exuberant yet inexplicable twin may have been trying to teach her all along.
Five Favourite Things About Owl Song At Dawn
As far as I am aware, I have never read a book quite like Owl Song at Dawn. It is a very unique story with a unique writing style and unique structure. It made the book so very interesting to read. It did also make the book have a slow start for me and it took a while for me to really get into the story but once I got used to it all, I was well and truly sucked into the book and I could not wait to see where the story was going to take me. A very exciting way to write a book.
I absolutely loved that this book is full of so many vibrant and interesting characters including characters with Downs Syndrome, characters with Aspergers and mentions of other characters with a wide variety of disabilities too. More than that, all of the characters were dealt with in a wonderful and sensitive way and was a wonderful way of showing just how wonderful people with Downs and Aspergers are. They all have their own personalities and are full of vibrant life.
As mentioned above, it took me a while to get into this book and one of the reasons for that was the writing style. While it was easy to read, it was also different because the narrator is talking to another person so the book is, essentially, written as a letter/thought process to another character. So it just a small while to adjust to this but I actually really loved this aspect of the novel by the end. It really just added another dimension to the book.
Past & Present
One thing that I love in books is the characters’ background story and this book has that by the shedload. The book flipped between past and present throughout and I loved how the past stories helped you to understand the present a lot more. It really added that extra something to the book and made it that much more enjoyable. And is just another wonderful thing that made this book so unique.
While it isn’t anywhere fancy and certainly nowhere I have ever head of, I loved that this book was set at Sea View Lodge. I love that most of the story happened within the walls of the inn, both past and present. It, in itself, was a character too as it witnessed all of the events that occured throughout the novel. I also just love the way the Lodge ran and became a home to so many of the characters. It was just a brilliant addition to the book.
About the Author
Emma was brought up in the North West of England, the elder sibling of twins, and OWL SONG AT DAWN is inspired by her autistic sister.
With her writer friend and colleague, Emily Midorikawa, she runs the website Something Rhymed, which shines a light on the forgotten friendships of the world’s most famous female authors.
Emma writes literary features, reviews, and pieces on disability for broadsheets and magazines.
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Don’t miss Emma’s guest post about Owl Song At Dawn from last week, you can find it here.
Music to my Ears
It has been said that music can change someone’s mood and I have always believed that. If I’m in a low mood, an up-beat tune can cheer me up. If I’m happy, an up-beat tune can keep me up-beat. A mellow tune can calm me. An old tune can make me feel nostalgic. Songs can remind me of specific moments in my life, be they happy or sad, and they just help to keep me sane. But for years I have just listened to my iPod and the music that I downloaded onto it about four years ago. I started purchasing books instead of CDs and just stopped listening to the radio so never really heard any new music. But that was fine with me. I liked what I liked. I listened to what I liked and it was good.
A few months ago I started to get a little bored of my music. A scary thought to think really. Instead of listening to the same songs over and over, I opted for silence. Preferring to just walk with the sound of my thoughts. But public transport became an issue. I really struggle with loud noises that I have no control over. They jar into my brain and make me feel incredibly uncomfortable. So I usually put my headphones in and tune out the rest of the world. Allowing my mind to become an internal little bubble of comfort.
So I started looking into the options of changing up my music. CDs have always made sense to me as I’m a driver with a CD stereo in my car and only a year ago got an aux cable so that I could plug in my iPod. But I didn’t really feel drawn to CDs. I didn’t want to spend money on a CD only to find I only liked one song on it. iTunes would have been my next option but having changed laptops recently, I actually haven’t re-downloaded iTunes – eeek – and my iPod hasn’t changed from like OS 4, a guess, I don’t actually know what operating system it is on but I know it’s not current. I’m also not sure if I’d ended up losing all my songs as I haven’t transferred them from one laptop to another.
My stepbrother uses Google Music and so I thought, why not give that a try instead? I downloaded the app on to my phone, tried the trial for a month or so but found that I just did not get on with it very well. I loved listening to it in the browser but on my phone it kept cutting off after a certain period or if I tried to do something else on my phone and it just took up so much space so I decided to get rid of it.
I went back to iPod, back to my old tunes and left it at that.
Then I went on a road trip with some friends and they all had Spotify on their phones so we were able to listen to a range of music that I hadn’t even heard of with relative ease. So when we got back, I thought, why not? I downloaded Spotify on to my computer and straight away saw the “Mellow Radio”. Clicked on it and it was just perfect for the mood I was in. Later I asked for some recommendations on Twitter of good artists to listen to and loved that I could just search for the artist and not just listen to their tunes but get more recommendations of similar artists!
Naturally I quickly downloaded the app onto my phone too and loved how everything I did on the computer went straight onto my phone too. I’ll be trying to see if I can get my iPod connected soon but think my low OS will probably not allow it! After trying the free version for a while, the other day I decided to trial the premium and I love it so much more. I can listen on my phone offline, it doesn’t take up too much space, I can create my own playlists, explore so many songs and it has broaden my horizons so much!
I will definitely be looking into purchasing the premium in the long run. Starting with just 99p for the first three months!
So, if you have any music recommendations for me, do send them along! I’ll listen to basically anything!
Do you use a music subscription service at all?
Phones, Phones, Everywhere!
There is a lot of chatter about mobile phones isn’t there? Are we giving them to children to young? Are we too obssessed with them? Does it make us anti-social? There are a lot of arguments for and against phones which can all be found on the internet somewhere and everyone has their own opinion on the devices but no matter where you stand with phones, sometimes knowing which phone or which network to choose can be a right pain, can’t it?
I know, personally, I’ve been with the same network provider for the last eight years or so – they do like to trap you in those two year contracts too, don’t they? – mostly because it’s a lot easier to just upgrade then it is to shop the market and find out which Mobile Network is actually the best one; which one offers the best coverage or the best deal. The hassle of that is far too much for busy old me, plus, I do quite like keeping my number.
But I also know that there are a few people out there who do shop around and it can be a very confusing thing to do, especially if it’s your first time shopping or you’re looking for a specific contract, or perhaps the best network that does pay as you go. So fortunately, I’m here to tall you about the Mobile Network Guide; a website that it is here to literally make it a lot less confusing. With information about all of the different UK Network Providors to articles about how to keep your number, it is definitely a website worth having a look at if you need a little help.
To finish this post – I just want to say it is also very important to get the right phone – otherwise your emoji’s can cause miscommunication with your friends! Just the other day my friend posted an alarmed/embarrased emoji but on my phone it looked like a really sad face and I immediately apologised to which she was rather confused about! Of course, it led to a hysterical conversation but certainly made me wonder if I should be looking into purchasing an iPhone for my next contract – in November – gah!
*This post is a collaboration post – all words are my own*