Wednesday, 24 June 2015

22 things I've learnt

This year is my first year out of education and I have had a lot of different experiences which have helped me see the adult world in a slightly different way.

So here goes. I hope these things help you guys as well.

1. You only need to keep in touch with those who you are care about
Life suddenly gets busy. And free time becomes precious. You don't want to waste it trying to keep in touch with those rubbish people who never reciprocate. I really did learn who my friends are this year.

2. It's ok not to have all the answers
If you're anything like me, you will want to have them. I want to work out the entire world right now. But remember you're 22. No one expects you to have all the answers, so just wander around and find them. That's part of the fun. Or it's meant to be.

3. You should do what you love
We're young and free from any properly serious responsibilities like kids or mortgages. So use your time and money to do everything you enjoy. Don't waste time on things (or people) you dislike.

4. Family are important
You may have ignored them for three years while you were at uni and trying to be cool and independent. But you don't really want to be an adult yet do you? And they are the people who you can truly rely on to help you/give you advice and always always be there, no matter what.

5. It's ok not to be ok
You don't have to be 'fine' the whole time. It's alright to panic and cry and have mini breakdowns. If your friends are real, they will help you and your family should always be there for you as well.

6. What makes you different, makes you beautiful
This was a quote from a celebrity in a magazine. But actually I love this. You should never be sorry for what makes you unique. Whether that's looks or personality or independent thoughts. Never hide that, especially not for someone else

7. Nobody has any idea what they are doing
I panic a lot because everyone seems to be so settled and organised and ok with their lives. Whereas I am just flying around, tripping from one disaster into the next. But I have come to realise that no one else has any idea what they are doing either. They just a brave face on it and muddle along as best they can. Which is all we have to do as well.

8. Try to accept the bad things that happens to you
Everything is an experience. And without the bad experiences, certain good ones might not come around. Plus, these things that seem so awful now, may not matter very much in five years time anyway.

9. Time is precious
Let's face it - we're getting old. So you don't have as much of it anymore. Use it wisely

10. It's alright to be fussy
About jobs, people, houses, how you spend your Saturday night. Make every second and decision count for something and improve your life in some way.

11. It could be worse
This may not always be a comfort but it helps you to think about the positive things in your life

12. University is overrated
Yes it was amazing and yes I would recommend people to go...but why did we actually go?? It was expensive and stressful and tiring. SO so tiring. I am still sleeping it off, a year later

13. You can put a positive spin on anything if you try
Believe me. I am doing this right now.

14. You can be selfish occasionally
It's alright to put yourself first once in a while. Trying to please everyone becomes far too difficult as you get to know more and more people.

15. Some people are rubbish
That happens. Ignore them and move on. You will meet new ones

16. It's fine to make mistakes
The trick is to learn from them. So you don't make them again. 

17. You should definitely not give up
For this, I am thinking mainly about your dreams in particular. In the impatient world we live within, we almost expect everything to happen to us at once. But they don't. Things take time. So keep going.

18. You should always be grateful
For your opportunities. Your life. Everything. I can't speak for you, but my life is pretty great and the opportunities I have had, have been fabulous. Don't forget this, when you don't think your life is going the way you want it.

19. You must not settle
Whether that's for a job, for a boyfriend or girlfriend, a friend in general. Anything. Always aim high

20. You haven't had time to fail yet
Our life is just beginning, our paths are just starting. If you reach a deadend this isn't permanent. Find a new route. You can't fail when you have only just begun and there's no way, you have managed to reach the end of the road yet.

21. There's still plenty of time for dreams to come true
This is strongly linked to number 17. Give yourself a chance to make your dreams happen. A year is nothing in the grand scheme of things.

22. Life is an adventure
So take part in all that it throws at you. And try to enjoy it as much as you can, as you go =]

Like what I say?
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Pinterest
Follow me on Instagram
Like me on Facebook

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Book challenge - Part 2

I have continued my #26BooksWithBringingUpBurns book blogging challenge and here are the next five tags/books that I have read. You can check out my first part here. I hope you enjoy the books that I came up for each tag. 

6. A book by an author you've never read before - To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I feel like this is one of those books that everyone has read and I have just never got around to it. I didn't study it in school, (I did Catcher in the Rye instead) and until recently it has never actually been on my radar. But considering they are bringing out the sequel later this year, I thought I would give it a go.

I have to admit though, that I didn't really get this book that much. I enjoyed it enough at face value. Scout was suitably irritating for a girl her age although I thought that the language Lee used could have reflected this age a little more. The portrayal of the Finch family unit was beautifully written and I loved the little scraps and arguments that they all got into. I think that was really realistic.

The most interesting character of the book was potentially Boo Radley who is portrayed as a kind of godlike figure. Always there, but never seen; pure and completely white; saves their life: The clues are endless.

I love reading into books, whether that be a children's book or classic fiction. But I just felt I couldn't do that with this one which aggravated me. I mean, kids do this for GCSE. As an English graduate I should be able to handle it. But apparently not. Clearly my readings aren't as deep as I thought they were.

7. A book by an author you love - A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Not everyone loves Ernest Hemingway. His writing is somewhat whimsical and can begin to ramble when he gets excited about something. But I am a huge fan. I really think that his descriptive skills are unrivalled by any other author.

He just has this amazing ability to draw you into another world and fires your imagination with information about everything that is surrounding you. His descriptions are so complete and rich, it's impossible not to be able to see the world that he is trying to create for you.

In the case of A Farewell to Arms, this world is the world of the First World War. Frederic Henry is an American in the Italian Ambulance service where he falls in love with a nurse, Catherine. They are pulled apart by the war, but of course find their way back to each other with very tragic circumstances in the end.

There is some really interesting imagery but not a huge amount. This is why Hemingway is so readable - because you can literally take him at his word. He doesn't try to use hard language and you don't have to read into the language a lot. But there was a little basic imagery...for instance, the use of rain every time something bad is about to happen which is laughably cliché. Plus the title itself - A Farewell to Arms. Is that because he is trying to get the war out of his system by writing about it? Or is it due to the character, abandoning the war? Or is it because the novel ends with him saying goodbye to Catherine forever?

The problem with Hemingway is that his characterisation isn't great. Therefore, he creates very unlikeable characters who are not softened by entertaining dialogue. Catherine is annoying in her efforts to try and please Frederic, while Frederic is a complete drip who doesn't know his own mind and doesn't stick to anything that he says, being so easily swayed by others. Therefore I wasn't very effected by the tragic events at the end of the book, which I won't give away.

That being said, I still managed to enjoy the book which is unusual for me. Normally I can't stand descriptive books and I only read those which are driven by strong characters and plenty of dialogue. But Hemingway really does involve me deeply within his world, so much so that the characters seem to be merely the plot device to allow him to show off the realistic version of war-stricken Europe that he has saved within the pages.

8. A book at the bottom of your to read pile - The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
This is the newest book which I have bought so it's at the bottom of my TBR pile simply because I should be reading my books in the order that I bought them. Of course, I never do and I jumped at the chance of moving this one higher because I have been very excited about reading it for ages.

It is addictively good. But it is extremely complicated so to explain the plot would be quite difficult. Jessie Burton describes this as historical fiction with a supernatural twist which I think sums it up pretty well. The supernatural elements of it are not overpowering but do add an excitement to it.

The characters are all very well written and likeable. And even the 'evil' ones you can kind of forgive them as they all have a reason behind it. The character of the miniaturist herself, remains cleverly elusive and you see no more of her than through a very brief insight when Nella, the main character talks to her father. Therefore you focus on her work and the characters who she's controlling. She is the one who oversees everything but doesn't need to be seen. She is almost godlike in that way and becomes the most interesting character of all, with the most interesting secrets.

The action and dialogue is at times, a little bit disjointed. However, the overall plot is an interesting one and you can't help but want to find out what happens in the end. Plus, I love the way it comes full circle with the opening chapter actually coming chronologically at the end of the book, so you really have to go back to the beginning to finish the book off properly. An interesting technique. I really did love this book.

9. A book with a colour in the title - The Color Purple by Alice Walker
This was the first one that popped into my head when I saw this prompt and I have wanted to read it for a while. But it wasn't what I was expecting at all.

To be fair I wasn't expecting that much. I didn't really know what it was about. I just knew that lots of people had enjoyed it and that was enough for me to want to read it too. This is a story namely about love. But not necessarily the mushy kind - there is a little bit of that, and then there is also the love between family, between friends, between two women, between children (who are separated from their mother) and between two sisters.

These sisters are so close but are split up when they are very young and then don't see each other for years and years. Decades. Until they are reunited as old women. The book is written in letter form, and shows each one growing up and finding themselves, until they then find each other at the end. It has interesting connotations in how family can sometimes hold you back, and you need to find yourself without them interfering. But at the same time, they will remain true and constant even when you don't see them.

The book is beautifully written as well, worded with a believable dialect that is natural to the main character. The letter format is one that I don't normally like as I tend to not feel as involved with the characters. But again this was skilfully done. I love that the last word of the novel was Amen, like the whole book had been her praying to God for the return of her sister. And when this happened, she could finish the prayer, and therefore complete the book.

The title is an interesting one as well. Purple represents royalty and richness, of which they are neither but she feels it towards the end, when she is so completely happy and content. Purple is her favourite colour and therefore it represents happiness and on a greater level, represents her sister, who is the source of this happiness.
10. A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit - The South by Colm Toibin
This was actually really difficult for me, considering that I want to visit half the world. But eventually I settled on my place being Barcelona. So I had a cheeky Google and The South, set partially in Barcelona, partially in the Pyrenees and partially in Ireland, is the one which attracted me the most.

I have only read one other novel by Colm Toibin and that was The Testament of Mary, a book which I loved for turning a well known story completely on its head and looking at it from another perspective. I was really interested therefore to read this, his debut novel.

I just love Toibin's writing. It is so understated, and relaxed. He makes it look effortless as he spans 30 years and two countries, without interrupting the flow at all. The pace is at times sluggish, but he always does it for a reason and when the plot is slow, it is only because the life the characters are leading, is currently slow. He is always one step ahead of you, and it takes you a minute or two, to catch up. Which as a reader who likes to be challenged in different ways, I find that really exciting.

This is not the most exciting book in the world but he brings you on a journey of a character's self-discovery which is truly entertaining. And it is definitely a depiction of a life that I would not have even considered to exist, describing people and places that are a lot more interesting than they initially seem.

Like what I say?
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Pinterest
Follow me on Instagram
Like me on Facebook

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Meeting Jodi Picoult

Even though I am not a die hard Jodi Picoult fan who has read every single one of her books, I still loved meeting her. I always enjoy attending book signings and events, because I am so interested to see what the real person is like. The person behind the page, hidden in that name on the front cover. And nine times out of ten, they are completely different to how I expect them to be.

Plus there is an element of jealous curiosity which makes me attend them when I can. I like to see how these events work because I am desperate for the chance to be a part of them. How amazing must it be to have worked so hard and then for others to come up and tell you just how amazing they think your work is? It must make it all worth it.

I kind of see Jodi Picoult as an adult equivalent of Jacqueline Wilson. All of her novels tackle such intense subjects that aren't normally touched upon by popular fiction. For instance, the only one of hers I have read is Salem Falls. It is the story of a teacher wrongly accused of rape and all the repercussions which follow him around as he tries to build a new life for himself. Like I said, intense. And a writer you definitely have to check out if you haven't already.

Like what I say?
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Pinterest
Follow me on Instagram
Like me on Facebook