Tuesday, 28 February 2017

A New Adventure

One of the greatest hurdles in my blogging career (ha!) is that for the last 18 months I have not been in possession of a fully functioning laptop. After an unfortunate incident involving a cup of tea, I broke my darling 2011 MacBook Pro, whom I christened Maxill.

Since then, I have been using a 2007 Macbook that was on it's last legs. It couldn't be used without being perma-plugged in, and it would shut down suddenly if it was disconnected, and would fail to restart if the battery did run out. How I managed to write my dissertation on that thing, I will never understand.

Now, I am pleased to say, I have come into possession of a brand spanking new laptop, fully functioning and ready to have the next great novel written on it. (Again, ha!)

With this new revelation, I am so excited to announce that there will a whole new look coming to this blog pretty soon, as well as a lot more brand spanking new content. I can't wait to get back to blogging properly, writing big long posts and sharing some of the things I've been doing lately, with you.

Thank you to everyone who still reads my blog and has stuck with me through all of these trying technological times.

You're the best!

Saturday, 21 January 2017

The Millenial

Yes, I'm a Millenial. Born blissfully unaware of how my generation would be branded in 1994. At the time, my father was 22. He had a mortgage and a good wage. Now I am his age and the differences are staggering. And I am sick to death of it being blamed on me.

As a Millenial, I've grown up to believe that I am entitled, wasteful and lazy. The truth couldn't be farther from the truth.

From a young age I learned the hardships of life: my mother suffered cancer when I was four, my aunt died suddenly when I was eleven, followed by my granda eighteen months later. I witnessed my birth mother have a mental breakdown and get sectioned when I was thirteen. I was diagnosed with my own mental health problems when I was fifteen and many of those trouble me to this day. Depression. Anxiety. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I never got diagnosed with an Eating Disorder (though if you read my medical notes you would see allusions to it), but I know I suffered with them. I mean, there's only one thing they call making yourself sick to lose weight, right? When I was 20 I was perhaps the illest I ever was and hopefully ever will be. I lost 2 stone in 6 week, passed out the first day of my dream job and was the closest to suicidal a person can be.

And despite all of this, I don't expect to be given anything.

I have worked hard for everything that I have. I worked through university, through my breakdown, to give myself the best chance I could. I went to university to study something I love and worked god damn hard. There were times when I wanted to give up, when I wanted to turn around and go back home. But I would never have gone home and wasted my life like so many people I know back there.

I stepped up. I graduated university with a respectable 2.1 (frustratingly close to a 1st). Despite breaking my arm a few days after my last deadline, I spent the summer job hunting. I interviewed for a few jobs that went well. Some I turned down, the office was too far or I didn't feel comfortable with some part of my experience. Some say that's entitlement: I say it's important that you feel safe in the work place. I've experienced enough awful work environments to last me a lifetime. I even got an offer for my dream job as a social media apprentice- until they discovered I had a degree and that was snatched away from me. Eventually I went into temping, and my first role is now my first full time permanent job. It's something I love and that will hopefully open a lot of doors for me. I even won a staff award despite only being there since August.

My point in all of this is that I worked hard for where I am. Yet living is still a struggle. Money is still a struggle. For what my role is, I'm very well paid. I know people who work in the same role as I do for a different company and earn a third of what I do. Yet living costs still sting me every single month. When we complain about the cost of renting, we are not merely whinging or being entitled. We're highlighting real issues. When you are renting a flat for hundreds a month and your neighbours mortgage costs nearly half of that, is it that hard to understand why we're angry? We're generation rent because rents are so high! How are you expected to save up for a deposit on a house when two thirds of your wage goes on rent and bills?

I don't mind paying my taxes. I don't mind paying my bills. I don't even mind paying my rent that much.

But when I am shamed for spending £3 on a fancy donut on a day out in town when I could be saving that money for a house, I have to ask if us Millenials are living on a different planet. In my desired area, decent 3 bedroom houses are around £150k, so a deposit of £15k is required. Please, enlighten me on how that £3 on a donut on a special occasion- namely seeing my friend for the first time in 6 months- is going to benefit the deposit in any way, shape or form!

I try bloody hard to save money. I am living in a time when house prices are skyrocketing, where wages are stagnated and where the government is placing ever more stringent restrictions on workers rights, wages and our NHS. Where once dental care was not considered a luxury and where paying for medication didn't mean restricting the food shop, and getting a job came with secure hours, and zero hour contracts weren't a thing.

 I am doing better than most. And I am still struggling.

And every time I see somebody slate the Millenial for being lazy, look at how much competition there is for work and look at how degraded a degree now is. When you accuse Millenial of being entitled, realise that you don't know anything about that person or their background. When you accuse a Millenial of being wasteful, take a look at all their hard work, how much they're being paid and how much that compares to their necessary expenditures. Then compare all of that to your life twenty years ago.

You will see a very different picture.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

George by Alex Gino

George is everything I could ever want in a children's book. It tackles real issues and more specifically gender issues, in a way that no other children's book has before.

You have probably heard about George. With its bright white cover and title text in the pride colours, it's hard to miss this book on the shelf. It's also hard to miss the controversy around it, because this book, placed in the 9-12 years of age range in the book store, is a book about a transgender child.

George had always known she was a girl, it's just that the rest of the world sees her as a boy. George is different from every other child, frequently bullied for being weak or girly for a boy. However, that is who George really is. Aged around 9/10 in the book, George is on a mission of self discovery. With a secret stash of girly pre-teen magazines stashed away in a private bag, George had been learning all about the world of girlhood and wondering how she can fit in.

At school, her class is learning about Charlotte's Web and as such, will be holding a play. Being deeply enamoured by the spider Charlotte, George longs to play her in on stage, but the teachers black and white view on gender comes into play, and sets in motion a series of events where George opens up to express who he truly is.

This book was so beautifully written. As an own voices novel, with Gino being transgender theirselves, this book offers an accurate look into the life of a transgender child. Though some images are clearly exaggerated in ordered to highlight the issues (overt gender structures, for example), it is children that Gino is appealing to here and thus the message is abundantly clear. I felt captivated by Gino'a words and the reactions of the characters that they wrote. Seeing the prejudices and fears that family and friends may have about these issues was certainly interesting and also eye opening. There is a great mix of reactions and solutions tackled that certainly open up a world of thinking that some- and children in particular- struggle to understand.

What I liked most about this book is that the transgender character is not used as a token. There have been a few books I've read where the transgender character is presented as a sensationalist character, where it is used as a plot twist *cough*Only We Know*cough*. This delicately and accurately handles the topic without reducing the novel to gimmicks.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was refreshing to read something to unique and interesting and something that so simply offers a way for people to understand the topic. Transgender rights and particularly those of children are fiercely debated and argued and to see thisnside, from someone whose been there, will certainly increase awareness and open dialogue. All children- all people- should read this book.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Feeling Down

It's been five years since I was first diagnosed with mild depression. It has been two years since I was diagnosed with moderate/severe depression. Throughout these five years I have been through some of the worst, but also the best experiences of my life. I have been both happy and sad, tired and enthusiastic and often downright miserable.

For a while now I've been fooling myself that I'm cured. That I would never suffer from my mental health again. OH HOW WRONG I WAS. Of course, depression is an ongoing struggle. Those who have suffered will know what I'm feeling right now, but those who haven't, you can never understand how difficult it can be.

Winter sucks. Let's be honest, the darkness and the cold can really drag a mood down. I go to work and the sun is rising, I come home and the sky is pitch black. It's a nuisance. I often ignore the feelings of depression around this time of year because I blame them on the fact it's dark and that I'm tired because of that. I realise now that it's something I should be taking seriously and working on to improve. Light boxes, exercise and keeping active can definitely counteract the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and are such simple steps I can take to make things better. Having the main light on definitely makes a massive difference in comparison to the little lamp that we usually have on. Not only does the type of light make it feel lighter and the room bigger, but it also stops me from falling asleep. I need to remember that those lights really do make a lot of difference!

Over the weekend, I felt incredibly low on energy and felt rather poop. Sunday was a wasted day for me. I found myself sleeping for far too long, and even though I got dressed into cosy lounge wear, I just felt so down and groggy. I forced myself into a lovely lush bath, sat back and relaxed. I read some books and took some time to reflect on some things that had been bothering me. I did my hair and painted my nails.

Today, things didn't improve much but I did take the time to stay home, enjoy some time to myself and simply enjoy doing the things I love. I cooked a delicious meal (honey spiced rice) and watched some youtube videos, something I've been quite bad at keeping up with of late! It's hard to remember to keep active when you feel so rubbish. You just want to curl up in your bed, put your head down and just feel sorry for yourself. NO! You need to move around, be creative, get some air in your lungs. I'm not saying that it's a solid cure, but it does certainly help. What I've been doing lately if I've been feeling down is grabbing my laptop, writing a blog or posting an Instagram picture.

So, what I'm figuring out at the moment is that I'm definitely not over my demons. This depression will probably be with me for a very long time and I'll not be under the illusions again that I'm cured. It's a recurrent thing, something I have to overcome over and over again, but one that I've never let completely consume my life. I'm still able to go about my day to day life. I'm high functioning, and most of the time you would probably not realise that this is something that I fight with on a daily basis.

I spend so much of my time expressing positivity and making sure that I'm always a happy and bubbly person. Of course, this is impossible to achieve but I can't help but see the best in everything. Even when something seems to be absolutely rubbish or pointless, I will always try and find a positive in it, identify something I learned from a rubbish situation and how that has affected me. People don't often see the side of me that just wants to hide away and avoid the world, because outwardly I put a lot of effort into how I look and will always try to laugh, joke and generally be happy.

I'm slowly learning that it's ok to be sad sometimes and to not want to surround myself with loads of people. I need to not be ashamed of my struggles, because so many people go through the same thing. It's definitely a journey that I've been on and there's so long still to go.

If you ever go through these down periods, I encourage you to speak to someone, whether it's a friend, relative or professional. Sometimes talking can really help. I certainly feel a lot better after writing this. Please feel free to message me if you feel the need to talk. I care!

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

My Favourite Quick and Easy Vegetarian Meals

Today's post is a little different to my usual run of the mill posts about books, but it is something I have wanted to make my space more about for quite a while. On September 11th 2016 I became vegetarian. Since I was 13 it has been something I've wanted to do and have tried several times. It's hard when you're either living with family or have problems with your eating, but it is something that I have finally managed to crack. Whilst it may only have been four months, I have had no difficulties whatsoever, and have made only a handful of silly mistakes.

Of course, one of the most common questions that you get asked when people learn of your lifestyle changes is, 'how do you do it?' In the case of turning to vegetarian, it tends to be 'but what do you eat?' Well, my dears, I have compiled a couple of my no-fuss favourite meals that I have discovered through going vegetarian. 

1. Stuffed Jacket Sweet Potato
This is one of my favourite foods, and is such a versatile one. This particular meal you see before you is 100% vegan, and so it is one that everyone can indulge in. It may seem very simple but it is divine. My favourite way to have this dinner (and you will see a trend here) is to bake the potato in oil, rubbed with salt and pepper. When cooked, slice it open and stuff with mashed avocado and chilli flakes, topped with hummus, with a side of carrot sticks and pitta bread. A high carb meal that is simply delicious and nearly all vegetables!

2. Avocado Toast
I am a sucker for avocado on toast. Possibly the biggest veggie cliche but I seriously do. I live for the weekends when I have the time to put all this together. The way I like it is two slices of bread (three here because I foolishly ordered some sort of mini loaf), with hummus spread instead of butter, slices of avocado and here, I've topped it with two fried eggs (though poached is my favourite!). Always always sprinkle chilli flakes on top as it gives it a completely different twist! Of course, this can very easily be made vegan, by leaving out the eggs and adding scrambled tofu. 

3. Greek Falafel Salad
This is another meal that I absolutely adore and takes all of five minutes to prepare. My partner is part Greek and so he has had an obvious influence on my food. Here I have a delicious greek salad with Mediterranean cous cous, pitta bread, hummus and falafel. Another delicious veggie meal that goes down a treat. The olives really give the salad something different and the cous cous adds all the flavours and spices you need. I was never a huge fan of falafel until recently but in this meal it's divine. On my salad I am a sucker for a Greek cheese- in this case halloumi, but feta also makes an appearance. And the best part of this? Leave off the halloumi and it's all vegan! 

4. Leek and Potato Tart with Cheesy Kale and Breadcrumbs
This meal was one that I found in the veggie cooking book that Fraser's dad got me for Christmas and it was divine. This tart (admittedly the pastry is shop bought) took about ten minutes to prepare and then got whacked in the oven. By chopping a waxy potato- we went for Charlotte potatoes- and leeks, adding to a pan to boil and then simply plonking onto the pastry, whack on some feta cheese and pop in the oven, you have a wonderful tart! You can even leave off the cheese if you prefer, or substitute with a vegan brand. The kale is chopped finely, thrown into a frying pan with a mix of melted butter, flour and soft cheese. Stir it all together until you get a clumpy bread crumby mess (how appetising) and you have this delicious crunchy side! DELICIOUS!

What has become apparent in this post is just how many of these meals I could absolutely make vegan if I wanted. That is something I'm definitely going to try more of. I definitely make a conscious effort to limit my egg and dairy intake and will be the first to admit I'm pretty weak. I usually have my coffee with soya and almond milk these days and have been leaving the cheese off my pasta (though I think we may still be using an egg based pasta) so it's definitely likely more recipes I make will be vegan in the coming months.

I hope you enjoyed seeing these meals. As I said, they are all super easy recipes and meals that I will go to if I just want a quick dinner. They always make me so full for the rest of the evening. There is clearly a theme here with the hummus and avocado, but what can I say?

I'll be writing up full recipes for these meals very soon, and you'll soon be able to find them in the recipe part of this blog. Certainly keep an eye out for that!

What are some of your favourite veggie and vegan meals? Are there any veggie ones that when you think about it could easily be made vegan? I'd love you to share your favourite recipes in the comments!

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Friends, Book Shopping and A Good Catch Up

Today I met up with a fantastic friend of mine, the lovely Kayla who some of you may know from her youtube channel, Mrs Bookaholic. It had been six months since we had last seen each other, and though that had been an equally dreary day in terms of weather, it was another day full of laughter, friendship and advice.

As usual, when the two of us get together we are lethal. We bought several books each, visited several different bookshops around Nottingham, and grabbed a bite to eat at the delightful Fox Cafe, that offers an extensive range of veggie and vegan sandwiches. Following that we went on a little trip to Lush and Boots, where we spent too much time admiring blue lipsticks and browsing the Nyx counter.

I'm sure it's the books that you're most interested in hearing about so let me tell you a little about that.

We started our adventure where all great book lovers begin: Waterstone's. Even though it has been two years since I have worked there, I am still greeted by Pete as though we only spoke yesterday. He is also quiet acquainted with Kayla, which was great because as we walked in together, he thrust a book into our hands, told us it was one of his favourites of last year and that we should buy it. He then walked off. Thanks Pete! We both of course bought this books, Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barry Norris. I don't believe either of us really knew what the book was about, but we wandered around and looked at other books too, before deciding that yes, we would certainly take it home with such a recommendation... and a few bullying tactics.

Following this we had a little wander into The Works which ended in us each getting a copy of Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher. As I'm sure you're aware, I've been finding it very difficult to get my hands on Carrie Fisher's books, and I was astounded to find it for £3 in The Works, of all places! I am so excited to finally have my hands on this and so I will be reading it super soon, although I don't want to exhaust the material as there is now, sadly, a finite amount to read. I managed to convince Kayla to indulge in this book too, despite her having never seen Star Wars, by explaining just how important Carrie's work has been for mental health and drug awareness.

Next we had a little wander around the rest of Nottingham's bookshops, including Page 45, Fopp and Book Bargains. It was however in Oxfam that I found my final purchase of the day, which was a book that I am sure I have stumbled upon on youtube, and that is Wetlands by Charlotte Roche. Another book I'm not quite sure what it's about but hey, there's an avocado on the cover so how could I not purchase it? And for £1 and in hardcover and for charity, how could I possibly refuse?

And when I got home, I found a lovely little parcel all for me, containing my very own copy of The Princess Diarist, also by the magnificent Carrie Fisher. I ordered this book shortly after her death and have been waiting for it ever since. It is such a surreal thing to be holding a book I yearned for before her death and that she was promoting when she passed, and to be excited to read this book that was never intended to be her last. I will definitely be reading this with sadness and wonder.

I was so happy with my purchases, managing to scrounge 3 books for only £5 which was incredible for me. I spent more on a jar of hot chocolate as a treat for myself! Today has been a wonderful day and I am so grateful to have a friend I can have so many wonderful conversations with and to truly be myself.

As usual, I am awful at taking pictures throughout the day. I just have too much fun being involved in the moment. But I can assure you that both myself and Kayla looked FIERCE. This woman is a wonderful force in my life. I had an amazing time and I can't wait until we do it again.

Have you bought any exciting books lately? Please do let me know in the comments!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

My Favourite Books of 2016

As we're well and truly into 2017, it's time to once again reflect on my favourite books of the year. Whilst 2016 was a mediocre reading year for me, there were of course a few books that blew my mind that I definitely think you should check out.

Check them out in my latest video!


3. Cherry by Lindsey Rosin
A wonderful little YA book exploring a group of four girls as they learn about sex and relationships through a pact to lose their virginity before finishing high school, this book breaks taboos and the truth about what teenagers think and go through when discovering theirselves and sexuality.

2. The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury
The sequel to one of my favourite books from last year, Salisbury draws you back into her mystical world with a whole new cast of characters to get to know. If you're anything like me you will find your new love interest in Silas and your world will come crumbling down as you discover what's happened to your favourite characters from The Sin Eater'a Daughter.

1. Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? By Jeanette Winterson 
I never thought a nonfiction book would be my favourite book of the year. Just like 2015, another Winterson book makes it to the top of my list. Clearly something in this woman's writing just clicks with me. This memoir explores the truth behind her semi-autobiographical novel Oranges are not the Only Fruit and is truly intriguing!

Let me know your favourite books of 2016 below!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

My Top Books to Read in 2017

I figure people must be sick of these by now and to be honest I know I am. I feel like a new year is such a mundane time for content, with everyone rushing to post their faves of the previous year and their hopes for the future one. I can't complain about that because it's exactly what I'm doing now. I love doing this but I think it works more in blog form than in video as it's much less clunky.

There are books I of course want to read this year. They are not necessarily new releases as I am rubbish at keeping track these days, but they are some hugely popular books I can't wait to get around to!

Without further ado!

1. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
I have never had much love for this fan favourite. I do love to delve into an epic fantasy every now and then but I have never been able to endure The Lord of the Rings... until now. After pretty much forcing me to watch Fellowship of the Ring nearly two years ago, and me falling asleep at least four times before I could finish it, I recently watched the other two films after my sister bought Fraser the box set of blu-rays for Christmas. Now I'm hooked and definitely want to read the books!

2. The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury
I adore this series. The first two books have managed to land themselves in the top 3 books I have read in the past two years. They were insanely gripping and so unique in a cluttered world of young adult fantasy. I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on this final installation in the trilogy. If it follows the general pattern of improvement this series is on, it's going to be magnificent.

3. The Princess Diarist and Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
I love Carrie, that much is clear if you look at my tweets and posts in the last few weeks. After reading/listening to Shockoholic I am so excited to get my hands on the rest of her memoirs. Eventually I will read her novels but right now, these are what I desire. Her wit and humour and raw emotion is so poignant and intriguing. And I can't wait to learn about her naughty affair!

4. The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett
Last Christmas one of my very dear friends gifted me the first three books in this epic series. I adored the first book but was deep into my final year of university when I stopped. I wanted to take a break and then devour these when I had the chance. Since then I've been putting them off and putting them off. There are more books out in the series now and I can't wait to emerge myself back into this world!

5. The Optician of Lampedusa by Emma Jane Kirby
This non-fiction book was sent to me on behalf of Oxfam and I have been anxiously waiting to read it. The harrowing tale of the refugee crisis when one of the boats toppled, I'm quiet obviously preparing myself for this one. With so much cruelty in the world, it's important to open our hearts to love and compassion and time to welcome these refugees. Their homes have been devastated, let us show some humanity. I really hope this book opens my eyes and I can pass it on to many others.

Those are just a few of the books I'm anticipating reading this year. Most have already been released but there are a couple which will be coming this year or are relatively new releases. I'm really excited for what this year brings to my reading. Already it's been much better than the last few months and so I couldn't be happier.

Let me know what books you're most looking forward to reading this year and come talk to me in the comments!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

On Listening to Books

The Illustrated Harry Potter books have been hugely popular since their release. Re-reading these books has been a bundle of joy for me. Currently I'm reading The Chamber of Secrets with Fraser and were reading it aloud. Much like we did with Philospher'a Stone.

One of the things I am quickly learning this year is that to experience a book through reading and speaking it is a completely different experience. As someone who has always struggled with reading audiobooks- or rather, listening to them- it is strange to me to suddenly really enjoy this format of absorbing a book. The inflections and interpretations of words when read aloud astound me.

One of the things Fraser and I enjoy most is taking it in turns to do the voices of characters. I must admit that he is so much better at them than me. I find myself choking on accents or having to repeat a line as I did not get the correct tone at first. Fraser on the other hand has been a perfect Hagrid. It is these humourous moments of us messing things up that really make us enjoy reading aloud.

The main advantage of reading books aloud is that you often notice things you have never noticed before. During the reading of Chamber of Secrets in particular I have noticed so much foreshadowing of what is to come particularly in book six within Borgim and Burkes. It is because of the slowing down of the narrative that reading aloud requires that I am able to notice more of these things. This I am able to understand it a lot more clearly.

This is similar with audiobooks, as you are often restricted to the narrators speed of speech (though this of course can be sped up) and so you are forced to absorb the story at a set pace. Sometimes I may have to rewind as I have gotten distracted but I find myself hearing every word rather than just skipping over words as my eyes move too quickly down the page.

These are just a few observations I have noticed in my recent experience of audiobooks and reading aloud with Fraser. Both of these experiences really do change the way I consume a book and I am so excited that this is one of my endeavours of 2017. By taking in literature in different ways and formats, I really hope to enjoy the reading I do on a whole other level.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Shockoholic by Carrie Fisher

This post comes in memory of Carrie Fisher, who sadly passed on December 27th 2016. This book was chosen as my first read of 2017 in respect and admiration of this strong and powerful woman.

I grew up watching Star Wars. Those films are the first ones I remember having any significant impact on my life. My father and step-mother are two of the biggest geeks I know and so, they instilled that in me. Princess Leia was my first icon. I remember putting my hair in two buns growing up and thinking I was so cool. Seeing Leia on screen, the only female amongst many male heroes, she stood out to me as the feisty and strong woman who I could perhaps become.

It wasn't until years later, when I was in my late teens, suffering my own mental health issues, that I discovered Carrie Fisher. Now, of course I knew that Leia was a character, and I knew that she was played by Carrie, but by discovering her, I mean I learned about her background. I learned about her drug and alcohol abuse. I learned about her own struggles with bipolar disorder, and I learned she was an intelligent, creative and witty individual. And so very strong. She became a symbol to me, of someone who had been through all these trials and come out the other side.

Add this to my admiration of Leia, and I had a role model to look up to.

When I heard of Carrie's heart attack, I had just returned from seeing Rogue One in the cinema with my family, after which I watched her interview on The Graham Norton Show that my father had recorded for me. I had retreated to bed and, after doing my nightly Facebook scroll... what was this? I could scarcely believe it. I hoped and prayed for her swift recovery.

When I heard  of Carrie's passing, I was on the train home from visiting my family for Christmas. I barely kept it together. Tears filled my eyes and there was a pain in my chest that sting pangs whenever I remember that Carrie is no longer with us. I saw all the memes and heartfelt messages left by those who knew her and those whose lives she touched and I smiled through the tears. And then, I see the obituary she wrote for herself in Wishful Drinking, 'drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra' and I laugh at the wit and humour that for so many was so special about Carrie. Perhaps selfishly, I wonder about what this means for Star Wars IX.

Carrie's books were the only ones on my Christmas wishlist this year. Usually I have a long list of new releases and recommendations from friends that I want to received. This year, hers were the only ones I wanted to read. To hear her own words. I didn't get them, but as I quickly went to Amazon to rectify that, I was both disheartened (for myself) and delighted to find that they were all sold out.

That night I came home and had my own Christmas with Fraser. Over the last year we had both been more that a little obsessed with Star Wars and so the majority of his gifts were of that ilk. An annual that we flicked through and found pictures of Carrie as Leia; a chess set of vintage carved Star Wars characters, Leia carefully positioned next to Han. It raised the emotions in us.

I spent the next few days checking to see if anywhere had her books in stock, but nowhere did. Then I realised that I had an audible credit, and the books were all narrated by her! So I decided to download one. I had ordered The Princess Diarist (her latest release) a few days after her passing. Wishful Drinking was the cheapest on audible and so I decided to go with perhaps her least well known memoir, Shockoholic, a book that focuses on her experience of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT, more commonly known as Shock Therapy), and some shocking stories pertaining to herself, her family and, perhaps most crudely, Michael Jackson. As 2016 turned to 2017, I stayed up late, preparing to listen to the audibook whilst I ran the final twitter sprint of the Holiday Booktubeathon (thank you again for inviting me, Ariel!). As January 1st came to a close, I completed the book.

Here are some thoughts I have about Shockoholic:

1. Carrie's wit and humour continues in text as it does on camera. I suppose that means the same could be true of her in reality. She does not give a flying monkey about what people think of her, or what she has to say. Her stories are often crude, shocking and her language foul- but that's what people love about her!

2. Though the narrative is completely disjointed, which seems to be one of the main criticisms of the book, for me it worked. Carrie's life has been chaotic and difficult. It is only right that the stories she tell reflect this. It also keeps you on your toes- you never know what story she will tell you next. Going quickly from a story about her Dentist's accusations about Michael Jackson, to her recreative drug use with her father, it is interested and random.

3. There is something wonderful about audiobooks- particularly memoirs- where the author reads their own work. Listening to Carrie's words through Carrie's voice is both soothing and hilarious. The inflections and the punchlines are delivered with such precision, there were several times I laughed out loud of gasped. I was enthralled by this familiar voice tell such dismal and emphatic tales.

4. I was expected much more about her treatment for mental health, and therefore more about her struggles with mental health. However, I am sure that this is covered more in other books by her. With such an array, I'm confident there'll be more in Wishful Drinking and even the semi-autobiographical novel, Postcards from the Edge, to satiate that desire.

5. Hearing Carrie discuss the mortality of celebrity, how we feel when celebrities die, and how she things she will be remembered was such a poignant part of the book that it was surreal to think I was learning about it so soon after her own death. I kind of cried, though not a sobbing, wailing cry, but more the cry where a single tear rolls down your face.

This gave me a real taste for Carrie's writing and I will definitely be reading/listening to many more of her works from now on.

Recently I have become interested in learning  more about alcoholism, drug addiction and mental health, and so in 2017 I made it a goal to read more non-fiction books about people who had been through these things. I am very glad to have started with this one. I had intended to read it as part of a small book club I had organised, but I couldn't wait to get into it, and so I will be endeavouring to make Wishful Drinking the Carrie book I read for this.

It is always important to remember that there is a person behind the addiction. Since her death, Carrie has been vilified for her past, with many opting to criticise her in her passing, rather than celebrate her. Those that talk of addiction and mental health as something someone brought upon themselves don't understand these struggles, and it is imperative that these misconceptions and cruel prejudices are overcome. I am sure that Carrie's influence and work as an advocate and campaigner for mental health and addiction will certainly be prevalent in coming months, and that perhaps there can be some more understanding amongst our communities.

If you are a Carrie Fisher fan, I highly recommend Shockoholic. It was an interesting and surreal entrance to 2017 for me, but one that I can very much recommend. This book was, for me, a solid 4 star read.

Rest in peace, Carrie. May the force be with you. Always

Sunday, 1 January 2017

My 2017 Goals and Challenges

It is 23.50 on Saturday 31st December, 2016. I am sat on the sofa, listening to Elvis on the record player and sitting next to my favourite person in a Pikachu onesie. Fraser is in a Chewbacca onesie. I may only be 22 and you may think that I'd rather be out celebrating the new year in a club, but this is perfect. Soon, the clock with sound midnight and we'll be into 2017. We've made it through the whole of 2016 together and things are better than ever.


The time is 17.42 on Sunday 1st January, 2017. The new year is well and truly upon us. For the past few hours we have been cleaning, making sure our home is ready for the new year and all the exciting things we're going to throw at it. Unfortunately, this cleaning job also means taking down all the Christmas decorations until the new year. 

During cleaning is the perfect time to reflect on the past. The previous year had been fantastic. I graduated university, Fraser and I got a flat together, I found a job that I adore. All these things have made 2016 a really successful year for me. I feel like an adult now, and whilst that's terrifying, I'm also loving the independence. I can eat whatever I want, do whatever I want and go to bed whenever I want. There were tragedies in the year of course; celebrity deaths, the breakdown of friendships and I also suffered an injury. Despite this, the year was one I truly embrace.

Now as it's the 1st day of the new year, I have set about compiling some goals for the coming months. I don't really stick to resolutions such as diets and cutting out certain things, but goals that last the whole year are definitely something I'm all for.

This years I've focused mainly on my youtube channel and my reading, two of my biggest passions of late. I definitely want to make this year an even better year for them. My youtube has been rather stagnated the last couple of years and I want to work on that. I need to make the most of my spare time by making videos I enjoy making, reading books that teach me something and overall being a more creative and thoughtful person.

In my latest video, I discuss all this and more. 

I really do love the new year. It sounds cliche but it really does give me a fresh start on so many things. I'm not someone who's all about 'new year, new me', I'm more somebody who marks the year in milestones. Thats why I love to set a reading goal. That's why I like to push myself to do something new every year. This year, I want to read more than I've ever read before. I want to write a book and edit it, I want to create exciting things. And I'm so glad to have you all on this journey with me.

Do you have any goals set for 2017? Let me know in the comments!