Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Recommended Reads

Hello my little dingo darlings.
It's time for one of our regular segments: recommended reads.
If you're new, it's a weekly segment where I recommend a few things that I've spotted around the internet lately and give you something better to look at than your Tumblr Dashboard for a change.
Here are our picks for the week:

Tuesday, 29 July 2014


I think you know the drill by now.
This is a DIY master post. I do one each month and they simply contain info on cool DIY projects you could do. Some are from blog posts or YouTube tutorial videos etc. Either way, the idea is to inspire you to to and make new things because DIY is fun and important.
Here are my picks for the month:

Also check out below, there's a picture guide of how to turn an old, baggy shirt into a dress:

Sunday, 27 July 2014


So I've been thinking a lot lately about the idea of achievements and aspirations: the things we want to do before we die, the things we wish to be known for. Job interviews have forced me to really try and figure out the path ahead of me. I never had a clear, rigic career plan. I just have these vague aspirations, a giant check list with things waiting to be ticked off. I've had some wonderful experiences so far, even just in the past ten years of my life. Maybe it's because I'm back in the perpetual job hunt which prompts me to constantly talk about myself and reconsider my achievements.

I've worked for a radio station from being a show host to being the head of PR and Marketing. I landed my first publishing deal at the age of 21 and was published by age 22. I've been in music videos for bands and artists that I love. I've been on TV several times. I graduated university with a 2:1 degree. It's time to tun my mind to the things that come next. So here I'm going to take a moment to outline to myself, and to you, the things I'd like to achieve in some way before I die.

  • Film. I want to be involved in film somehow. At the moment I'm thinking of starting by writing a few film scripts, some original and some adapted, and I'd like to write them and maybe even have the chance to direct them. I feel that, if you wrote something, you know it so much more intimately.
  • Television. Same as above: I have projects planned that I'd ideally like to write and direct.
  • Music. I want to sing. I want to record music and put it out there even if it's not topping charts and being wildly successful. I want to leave my voice behind in the world when I'm gone. 
  • Publishing. At the moment I'd really like to gain some experience in the world of publishing, even if it's just a six month paid internship or something. I feel that I'd gain some invaluable experience.
  • Writing. First and foremost I want to be a writer. I want to finish a novel soon and I want to have several books published before I die. 
  • Family. I want to get married. I want to move into a nice house with my partner and have some children. I want to be a parent.
  • Theatre. I'd love to act again - even in just one show.
    Travel. I want to travel. I want to write as I travel. I want to write about travel. I want to find myself in new corners of the world. I want to take photographs of sunny places.
    Art. I'm not the best when it comes to art but I appreciate art. I want to create art of my own even if it's not the best. Maybe it will be performance art or a sculpture or a painting... Who knows?
I suppose this shows that I'm really dedicated to the arts and, before death, want to pursue my interests in many different art forms. 

Saturday, 26 July 2014

My 2014 Summer Reading List

So, it's no secret... I have a lot of books in my room that I still haven't read. Therefore, I decided to make a TBR (To Be Read) list that then becomes a Summer Reading List. I will try to read as many of these books as possible over the summer period. I've not been reading as much lately since I'm taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo and am over half way through writing my novel.
(Well, I'm half way through my suggested word count but I feel the first draft of the novel itself will definitely be over 50,000 words)
Once I'm done writing the first draft I'll hope to keep writing so that I can continue reading and work towads completing my 2014 Reading Challenge where I try to read a total of 30 books in the year. The summer will be a crucial reading period that will surely impact whether or not I finish my target.

So, here are some of the books I'd like to try and finish over the Summer:

  • Bird Box by Josh Malerman (currently reading)
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein
  • Flowers in the Attic by VC Andrews
  • Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  • What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • Lips Touch by Laini Taylor
  • The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall
  • A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen
  • Nameless by Lili St Crow
  • Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
  • The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice
  • The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
  • Orange Is The New Black: My Time In A Woman's Prison by Piper Kerman
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  • Taipei by Tao Lin
  • King Crow by Michael Stewart

Friday, 25 July 2014

Self Care and Letting Go.

Recently I've been going through all of my old make up and beauty items and trying to either get rid of unused/unwanted items or use them up. You shouldn't have make up and beauty items too long as bacteria can build up. That's why I've recently purged a lot of old make up from my collection and now I'm working through stuff. It means that, in the evenings, I'm pampering myself more than usual. I clean my face with nice face soaps, cover myself in moisturiser, scrub my feet with foot and nail cream. The foot and nail cream I've had since my final year of university. Yikes!

If you have way too many beauty items at home I'd urge you to do the same. It minimises clutter and bacteria whilst also giving you the excuse to pamper yourself. You even get into a good routine of self care.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Anna Paquin Dyes Hair Blue and Purple

Anna Paquin has said goodbye to blonde fairy Sookie Stackhouse, the character she has played on True Blood for many years now. Until recently her hair was blonde to match her character on the show but with the show wrapped up and soon to end, Paquin has gone all colourful for the summer with beautifully toned blue and purple hair.

I think her hair looks absolutely wonderful.
What do you think?

The Crucible @ The Old Vic: Review + Response

Yesterday I headed out to the theatre to see the wonderful Richard Armitage take on the audience at The Old Vic in an atmospheric and ambitious performance of Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible' on a balmy Wednesday afternoon to celebrate my anniversary. Sure, it's not the most romantic thing to see for your anniversary but it's what we did. The Crucible is one of my absolute favourite plays. Judging by the queue of people lined up at the stage door after the performance I'm not the only one who thought the performance was wonderful. 

 Their decision to make good use of the full potential of the stage and performing in the round, with some audience members actually sitting on the stage, was a really interesting decision. In between scenes the cast create interesting tableaux to create striking metaphorical images. The burning of herbs and release of dry ice start the play as Tituba enters, circling the stage, each step becoming more laboured. At the centre of the stage, chairs sit in a disorganised manner. The chairs face different directions. Some are on their sides. The cast enter the stage, taking their seats for a moment, all facing different directions as if to represent Salem's broken societal views and the uncomfortable discord within the town. They look out to the audience, to us, as voyeurs casting our gaze on Salem to remind us that in watching we become just as much of the hysteria as the characters. Then they promptly rise and leave, pulling the chairs away. The set design was perfect with a grimy and almost industrial feel. This created a cold, isolated setting as soon as you entered the theatre. The costumes, set and furniture were all so minimalistic that they did not distract from the players. Major points must be awarded to Richard Hammarton who created all of the background sounds and music. Uncanny sounds like clanking metal and clinking glass felt familiar and yet strange in the darkness of the theatre. It created this constant throbbing sound that came in so subtly you hardly noticed when it started. It was minimalistic but eerily atmospheric. In between scenes, furniture was moved and sets were changed, and this was usually done by Abigail Williams and the other young women in on her devil-calling scheme. This served as a subtle reminder of how much control these girls had over the town. 

Miller's writing is characteristically strong and powerful and every member of the cast so skilfully carried the text.  In the current run at The Old Vic, Armitage has ambitiously taken up the role of John Proctor. Playing the last good man in Salem, Armitage's performance was strong. Samantha Colley played the darkest and most vindictive Abigail Williams that I have ever seen. She masterfully manipulated her peers and gave such a strong performance. As Betty, Marama Corlett gave a really utilised her body as she contorted herself and writhed in her bed. As Giles Corey, William Gaunt managed to garner a few laughs in such a dark play. Anna Madeley perfectly captured Elizabeth Proctor's cold nature and delivered her final lines so effortlessly. Yaël Farber has lead the cast superbly and created a wonderful performance from start to finish. It's just a shame that this play doesn't have a longer run. Every movement felt choreographed to perfection and a truly enigmatic performance was created as a result.

This is the most passionately intense performance of The Crucible I've had the pleasure to see and it is a real theatrical triumph. The current run of this play will end on the 13th of September. Click here for tickets and more information
I think it's about time I go somewhere nice. Unfortunately I've not been able to book any time off over the summer holiday period. That said, I think I'm going to book some holiday time off after the summer period. By that time, summer holiday rates will have gone down and I'll probably be able to do a cheap week away somewhere sunny. I desperately need to get away.

Are you going away anywhere this summer?

Wednesday, 23 July 2014


So Starbucks have put together what they feel is THE ULTIMATE BRITISH SUMMER TO DO LIST. It includes things like going to music festivals, eating strawberries and cream and building sandcastles. The post is written out like a check list so you can go through and check off the things you've done so far. I've done quite a few of them so far, actually.

Now Summer is only just kicking off (not a World Cup reference, I swear) and there's plenty of time to tick things off of your list. Do you think this is a good list? What sort of things are you hoping to do over the summer?

I think my summer to do list is fairly simple:
  • Write and work towards completion of novel
  • Work on pilot of original TV show that I am writing
Is there anything on the Starbucks list you'll be doing this summer?


Hello, lovely readers!

I'm away from the blog today as it is my anniversary with my beloved partner. As of today we've been together for four years. I can honestly say that I've found the one for me. Though we may drive each other crazy, this year alone our relationship has been strengthened. We evolve and grow with each other. We give each other the support we need. We provide each other with the love we need and deserve. She honestly makes me so happy that sometimes I feel that contentment radiates from every pore.

Today the two of us are out having an adventure to celebrate.
If there's someone you love, go tell them today.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


Hello poppets!

I'm not sure if I've ever posted it here before but I thought I'd share my instagram. Please click here to follow me or search for @GabrielleLeimon on the Instagram app. I've had a lot of likes lately but I'd love a few more followers and instagrammers to follow!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Love Your Self(ie): The Positive Rise of Selfie Culture

In 2013 there were mixed reactions when 'selfie' became the word of the year in the Oxford Dictionary.
We hear people talk negatively about the selfie because it is seen as vain and self indulgent. I, however, wish to offer another view.

We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with hyper-sexual images of 'perfect' bodies. Companies are flocking to make commercials to remind us about their products to fix our skin, our hair, our wrinkles. Everywhere we turn, we are being sold more insecurities. It's very easy to fall prey to the bizarre beauty culture in which we live where our self esteem begins to plummet. 44% of American high school girls are focused on losing weight. A worryingly high percentage of young people with self esteem problems also engage in other negative activities such as self harm, smoking, drinking, bullying, disordered eating/eating disorders. At least 20% of teens will experience depression before their 20s. The amount of boys in middle school who have admitted to using protein supplements, even steroids, is staggering. Though these statistics focus on American youth, it can be said that there are similar findings across the world. Our self esteems are pushed far too low. Therefore, if someone takes a moment to take a photo of themselves because they feel and look good, I cannot find any problem with that. I think that, when we take a selfie, we do it more for us than for others. We attempt to relate ourselves to ourselves like a strange Lacan's Mirror Theory style act. It's a way of saying 'I feel good about myself today and I wish to capture that somehow. This is me.'

Ever since getting my iPhone and experimenting with apps like Snapchat and Instagram, I found myself taking more selfies and viewing myself in this way more regularly. It made me really look at myself and assess the aspects of my face and, in time, I realised that I actually really like the way that I look not just in the strategically angled and well lit photos that we take of ourselves. In the past 8 months I've felt happier about my appearance than ever before. In the act of simply looking at ourselves and focusing on our good features can really make us feel better about our face and body in general.

The argument that selfies are vain really stuck with me and forces me to ask an important question: why do we dislike vanity so much? Closely associated with pride, one of the seven deadly sins, vanity is something often seen to be negative. Surely we all know that person whose Facebook or blog consists heavily of photos of them in various different outfits and poses. 'How vain' we may think. Yes? So? Simple vanity itself doesn't seem to harm anyone. One possible reason is because in a 'vain' person we see someone who is confident in themselves in ways we cannot be confident and therein lies some form of jealousy. In Britain traits like modesty and humility often seem sociocultural expectations of character. We are often apprehensive to talk about our achievements and find the process of CV writing and job applications a little daunting.

In a time where notions of beauty are regulated, controlled and broadcast so heavily by the media, most of us live our lives totally unsatisfied with our appearances as a result. I've read articles on the selfie calling selfie-takers 'self-satisfied' which prompted me to question what is so inherently wrong with being satisfied with ourselves? Surely this is a state in which we should all be? Have we so heavily internalised the media-given images of what 'beauty' is meant to be that we then attack anyone who refuses to give in to feeling awful about their appearance? Why should beauty be the sole privilege of the beholder? I simply cannot fathom why we criticise those who see beauty in themselves when we're constantly being told otherwise. Surely it takes more to ignore the messages we're constantly being subjected to and to be comfortable in our skin. I will happily support anyone who wants to take a moment to feel good about their looks because, to me, it takes so much more to ignore negative messages and rise above it all. If you feel good and you want to capture it, go ahead. If you want to shame others for taking selfies, however, perhaps you should take a moment to consider what this says about you as a person.

'But first... let me take a selfie...'

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Review + Response: Globe on Screen, Macbeth

On Monday I went down to my local cinema to watch Globe on Screen's Macbeth.
Strange to think that, four years ago, I was actually at the Globe to see a different RSC performance of the Scottish play. I entered knowing nothing of the cast or production. I know the play very well. It is my absolute favourite Shakespeare play. I was so overjoyed when I saw that Billy Boyd, most famous for playing Pippin in Lord of the Rings, was playing Banquo. Let me first say how great Billy Boyd was. He is utterly splendid as a stage actor as well as a screen actor.

Eve Best as a director has skilfully lead the cast to create a highly entertaining performance full of unique moments of comedy to juxtapose the dark subject matter. One brilliant moment that had the entire audience laughing was Macbeth entering a scene by skipping jovially over Banquo's body.

Samantha Spiro played a truly coarse and ambitious Lady Macbeth whose presence was immediately commanding. The three witches created a wonderful performance with the use of song, dance and music to create chilling atmospheres in each scene. I loved that the play began with the entire cast creating a wonderfully boisterous drum performance and ended with one of the witches pulling out a violin for a melancholic solo that then became faster until the cast broke into a dance for their final bows. It made a tragic play have a fun ending so the audience left feeling a little more uplifted than they would have done otherwise. I can safely say that this was the best performance of Macbeth that I've ever seen.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Halfway through the year.

So we are roughly half way through 2014. When half way through the year it always prompts me to wonder how the year is going and if I'm achieving my goals.

So, if you'll indulge me, I wanted to take a moment to think about my achievements and overall year so far and what's yet to come in the next few months.

So I set out a whole bunch of New Year's Resolutions for myself and I wanted to walk through them to see how dedicated I've been to them and where I need to step up.

- I said that I wanted to travel. So far, I've not been out of the country. I'd made plans for two separate holidays and so far, both of those plans have fallen through due to who I planned to travel with, so perhaps in the next few months I'll take a last minute trip and travel somewhere on my own. That's definitely something that I still need to do.

- I said that I wanted to keep writing and I've done that. I've done it here on the blog, on The Huffington Post and in my first novel. In fact, at this rate, I may finish this one soon and have the chance to start on a second before the year is out.

- I said that I wanted to work. I've worked all through the year and recently I started looking for decent graduate jobs. I've got a telephone interview tomorrow so maybe that will be my stepping stone towards a better job.

- I said that I wanted to get into photography and I have. I've played around with modern and traditional methods. I take photos regularly with my iPhone and upload them to Instagram as well as using an actual camera. Please check out my Instagram by clicking here. Follow me @GabrielleLeimon

- I said I wanted to get involved with music and, aside from hosting a musical event, I've not done much. I have written some music but not recorded any. That said, this may change in the next few months.

- I've vlogged a little but not much. Time to change that...

- I said that I wanted to exercise more and I have been. In fact I walk a lot more than I did before. I'm hoping to get back into swimming soon too.

So I'm on track to completing everything, I just need to make sure I get all of this done before the end of the year. On top of that I'm also working towards crossing things off of my B425 List.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Over Halfway Through Camp NaNoWriMo!

So we're now over half way through Camp NaNoWriMo and I've got to say, I'm feeling cautiously optimistic at this point...

I'm pretty much on target with my word count and feel that I definitely could write 50,000 words by the end of the month. I feel my first draft of the novel will definitely be longer than 50,000 words but that's fine. That's what redrafting is for.

So far it's going well. A few of my Camp Buddies are doing really well too. I'm very proud of them.
I may even do NaNoWriMo in November as well.

Are YOU doing Camp NaNoWriMo?
How are you doing so far?

Song of the Day: For Blue Skies by Strays Don't Sleep

"It’s been a long year 
Since we last spoke 
How’s your halo? 
Just between you and I 
You and me and the satellites 
I never believed you 
I only wanted to 
Before all of this 
What did I miss? "

Things You'll Miss About Student Life

Everyone has a different approach to student life. Some people really enjoy being a student. Some people just want to graduate and move on with their degree. We're told that being a student at university is going to be the "best" time of our life and that we're going to love
the student experience. We spend several years studying, plunging head first into the world of academia, and along with that you find yourself on a rather strange and very personal adventure. I remember people telling me I'd miss being a student when my time was up. I thought they were wrong. Now I've graduated I realise that they were right. I do miss my life as a student. It wasn't as crazy in the way some others are, but it was good. Recently, as it will soon mark one year since my graduation ceremony, I've been thinking about those little things we start to miss once we've got our degree.

Here are some things I, and other students I know, have come to sorely miss:

  • You now wander past costume shops and realise that events nowadays rarely require costumes for no good reason. You still have novelty items in your underwear drawer like a coconut bra and grass skirt from a party that were worn once and never again.
  • At this post-graduate stage of your life having at least three bottle openers in any given handbag is seen as excessive rather than handy. People wonder if you have a problem whereas a year or so ago it just made you the helpful person at a party.
  • You miss sitting in a lecture hall. There's something about the vibe of a big lecture hall that reminds you that you made it, you got into university, and therefore must have a shred of intelligence. The things discussed there make you feel alive, like yours is a young mind, fresh and ready for moulding. 
  • You'll find yourself reminiscing, scrolling through old Facebook photos of those wild nights out at the SU or that trip to Kavos that only you and your university friends know about. It's always worse if you've moved away from university. All those friends have suddenly scattered to the wind and you can't always just pop over to see them. I know the people are the things about university that I miss the most.
  • You're envying students across the country who get to experience Fresher Faires whilst managing to haul bags of free stuff. Oh God, the free stuff...
  • When a few months ago you would have laughed in the face of anyone asking you if you were going to do a Masters degree, you're actually starting to consider it... you're even considering possible thesis titles during the day.
  • You'll miss pretending to understand things in lectures. "Derrida? Sure, I have a great understanding and appreciation of his work..."
  • You feel a pang of loss in your gut whenever you unexpectedly apply critical thinking to a film or book you're enjoying. One minute you're just sitting in the cinema and suddenly you're mentally conversing with Foucault, Simone De Beauvoir or Žižek and all you want to do is enjoy this silly rom com in peace.
  • You're a grown up now. That means actually doing laundry and the dishes and not eating from paper plates or wearing the same jeans for two months in a row without washing them.
  • You'll miss the shared sense of camaraderie felt in a past-midnight library session. You can see the stress in the eyes of your peers as you look around. You're all in the same boat. This brings a weird sense of sympathy. You'll miss sneaking in cans of energy drink to fuel you whilst you crack on with that final essay. 
  • You still use your student card to try to get discounts but now it comes with the dreaded moment of anxiety that occurs as you begin to pray they don't check the expiry date.
  • You'll feel an immense sense of guilt as you slowly forget certain things you spent several lectures learning whilst still paying off the debt you accumulated for those lectures...
  • Finally, possibly the saddest thing on this list, you can't use "because I'm a student" as an excuse to drink your weight, buy stodgy food from the reduced section for every meal or pull all nighters to do work admittedly at the last minute. The truth is you're not a student any more no matter how many times you try to whip your old, expired student card out to try and get discounts at the cinema or on the bus praying no one notices it's out of date.

Now here you are at the end of the journey trying to bridge the gap and move on to the next chapter of your life. The world is your oyster and your student years were part of the path that got you to where you are now. It's only right you look back on those times with some fondness from time to time. Also, if you miss all of the above too much, there's always time for a Master's degree.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

What My University Degree Means To Me

A year ago, I graduated from university and I can safely say that it was one of the proudest and happiest moments of my life so far. It represented so much: I'd achieved something big. I was good enough to hold an influential degree. It was a hot day. I'd just got back from Corfu where it was sweltering but I was still graduating in a heat wave, buried under heavy black robes and sweating like a piglet. I had to pick up my robes, find my friends, pick up tickets for my family... It was a hectic morning but the whole time, excitement swelled in my stomach. Three years had amounted to this: this moment of glory, this feeling of triumph. As I walked across that stage and shook hands with the Dean it almost didn't feel real. It was a moment I'd imagined so many times and finally it was happening...

I remember telling my family I was getting a 2:1, a higher grade than I'd honestly expected. I'd felt a lot of trepidation and self doubt. I sat in the car, trying not to say anything to my mother to let the secret slip. I wanted to tell all of my family together. When I did there were hugs, a bottle of champagne was brought in and it began to really sink in. I'd done it.

My university education has afforded me so much. I've made many friendships, had the experience of living in Yorkshire. In fact, without my university education, I wouldn't be a published author right now. Before university I'd never even considered writing for films and television. I owe so much to the University of Huddersfield. I opted for a degree that had a creative writing portion because I'd always wanted to be an author. The only problem was, before university, I had real trouble focusing on and finishing projects. I needed to learn more about crafting my work and the publication process.

During the course of my education I really had my doubts.
Am I doing the right degree?
Will this all really pay off some day?

Is this the best route for me?
Is it all worth it?

It hasn't been easy since leaving university. I'm still looking for that perfect graduate job. That said I've gained so much more confidence and experience. Once my novel is finished I'm far more confident in taking the steps that come after. I had such wonderful experiences and my time at university will always hold a really special place in my heart. I'm so thankful that my family were so supportive through the entire process. My partner was a real pillar of strength to me also. It was a lot of hard work but it has already had a huge impact on my life. Without university I wouldn't be published, wouldn't have started this blog, wouldn't be a blogger for The Huffington Post. I cannot fathom how my life would have turned out otherwise.

My degree certificate is framed in my study next to my mother's degree. It has a place of pride upon my wall and I often catch myself looking at it. I understand that it grants me and signifies a real privilege as not everyone is afforded the education I've had and I do not forget the gravity of my degree. I will forever be proud and strive to put my qualifications to good use. It's something I carry with me and still feel so immensely proud of. I proved a lot of things to the people around me and I proved a lot of things to myself as well. I'm taking some time today to think of all the other people graduating right now and the people who graduated at my side.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Song of the Day: I Am Not A Robot by Autry!

It's another cover song today.
I give you Autry! with a splendid cover of 'I Am Not A Robot' by Marina and the Diamonds


Recommended Reads!

Hello poppets!
How are you doing this fine day?
Are you okay?
Are you feelin' good?

It's Wednesday once more and so that means it's time for recommended reads.
Recommended reads is a weekly segment where I give you a few links to some interesting things around t'internet. My hopes in sharing them are that you have something else to look at other than Candy Crush.

Without any more faff, here are my links for this week:

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Song of the Day: Teenage Dream by Brittani Louise Taylor

Yes, yes, I'm sure I posted this a long time ago as song of the day but I was thinking about it again lately.
It's such a wonderful song that really gets you by the heartstrings. 
Though this video is called a parady, it feels too poignant for such a term.
Please listen and enjoy,

Orange Is The New Black SEASON 2 REVIEW.

Okay so I know I'm posting this super late but I decided to write up a quick review anyway.
Firstly, I love that Netflix put up all of the episodes at once thus allowing for an epic binge fest. I devoured season 2 in 3 days around my work schedule. The show has already been piling up the Emmy nominations as testament to how much of a hit season two was.

Piper felt a little less like the central character as we begin to focus on other characters and story arcs. The characters of Vee, Poussey and Taystee became crucial to the season two storyline. Vee creates a wonderful, sociopathis villain who stirs things up perfectly and manages to shock and offend at every turn. She is the thing you find in prison that really scares you. Everyone's character is tested a little in this season and this allows for such wonderful plot and character development across the board. I'm glad to see my suspicions about Morello were correct but it pains me that I still don't know why a sweetheart like Suzanne (Crazy Eyes) is in prison. By the first episode  of season two we see how Piper has been truly hardened by prison life. She understands and passively accepts her lack of privacy or control and, although she still contests the powers that be, has learned to deal with her circumstances with a 'zero fucks given' attitude. The show is darkly optimistic as it shows how people find ways to cope with incarceration. The show, though constantly adding characters and exploring their story-lines, still feels like an intimate viewing experience. It has a lot of things to subtly say about the treatment of women in the prison system and how the government and parole officers treat their inmates.

This show goes from strength to strength and is still pulling in new viewers every day. What I love about it is that it offers a multitude of different women with different stories. I'm sure every episode passes the Bechdel test. We see women of different strengths, backgrounds, lifestyles and we see how they interact. This feels like the show television has been waiting for.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Review + Response: How To Train Your Dragon 2

At the weekend I went to see the latest installment of the How To Train Your Dragon series and, as expected, I loved it.

The film follows Hiccup and Toothless facing a new evil and discovering more about themselves and each other. We see how the worlds of dragons and Vikings have, since the last film, become one. There's more wonderful swooping, flying action in this 3D-fan-pleasing flick. The storytelling is imaginative and the designs of all the new dragons does not fail to impress. The film is substantial enough for viewers young and old and has a real sense of heart. It was a visual feast with great scenery designs and a wonderful soundtrack. Hats off to Dreamworks for creating a successful sequal that will no doubt soar at a Box Office high for weeks to come...

Song of the Day: Human by Christina Perri

" I can hold my breath
 I can bite my tongue 
I can stay awake for days
 If that's what you want"

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Hottest Lesbian Kiss EVER

Below is a video that I think everyone should watch.
I know what it looks like and it's not what you think.

This is so funny and it really highlights how stupid it is to fetishise lesbians and their relationships.
Please, if you watch anything today, let it be this.

Song of the Day: Once Upon A Dream by Lana Del Rey

"I know you,
I walked with you once upon a dream.
I know you,
That look in your eyes is so familiar a gleam..."

Friday, 11 July 2014

Eleanor and Park: Review and Response

So recently, as part of my 2014 Reading Challenge, I read Eleanor and Park.
It was one of those books that you've heard the title of time and time again.
People everywhere seem to be reading it and loving it.
I, however, didn't quite feel the same.


The book follows a young couple, a boy and a girl, and their story of first love with each other. They both have their own problems to deal with and so they find comfort in each other. I thought the beginning was sweet and really promising. I loved how Park started, without speaking to her, leaving comic books on her seat or making her mix tapes. Their love blossomed in a really cute, caring way.

I found Eleanor to be really blunt, almost uncaring. She makes great effort to put up barriers and push people away. She can't be polite enough to accept people's kindness with good grace. As a character she was really hard to like. I hated how her weight and appearance were constantly mentioned. I felt that this work was, perhaps, somewhat semi-autobiographical based on things that Rowell has said of the book. I just didn't connect well with either Eleanor or Park. Also I didn't really get their romance. It felt really forced. If I were Park, I'd have totally given up all of my patience with Eleanor. She constantly makes things difficult and creates friction between them.

Park, as a character, had so much untapped potential. His half Korean heritage wasn't really explored even though he was living in the 80s and people probably weren't all too accepting. This wasn't really explored and his mother, at times, seemed like a negative cliché portrait. Park's mother was a really tragic character whose culture and identity have been highly erased: even her children don't know much about her life before coming to America and being forced to assimilate into Western culture.

The end was so anti climatic. I think that this is my main problem with the book. What I really didn't like was that Eleanor didn't ever think about her family, the safety of her mother or siblings, she just left. She simply thought to protect herself and left the rest of her family in an unsafe space. She then cut Park off completely. As a character it felt like she was very selfish, never taking the feelings of others into consideration. I spent so long waiting for this big tension and nothing happens. Eleanor just leaves in the last 50 pages. There's no tension or relief. The book just fell flat and, when I finished reading, I had that horrible question flash through my mind: Is that all there is? For a book that had so many glowing reviews, I found them to be utterly unfounded. This book was so promising, and it started so well, but fell flat so hard.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

My Little Shopping Spree

So I finally got around to that little shopping spree I'd mentioned lately. I'm a bit of a saver rather than a spender. Most of my wages end up in a savings fund each month so that I can put money away for the future. I don't go out and just splurge on things like I did the other day.

I stopped off at Lush Cosmetics at Liverpool Street Station and then at Primark on Oxford Street and picked up a couple of goodies from both stores. At Lush, I went in to buy my regular shampoo only to find that the price had gone up. I decided to go crazy and try their Cynthia Sylvia
Stout shampoo that contains beer and cognac. Phwoar! It's the fanciest shampoo I've ever bought.

I got a gorgeous grey sweater form Primark (pictured right) and it's so cute. I suppose I like it because it's really long and super comfy.

When I was trying it on, I liked it mainly because it looks like something a sexy wizard would wear. Basically, I'm just a fan of wizard chic. Can we make that a thing? Can that be a trend?
I got a black kimino-like thing and another thing. Basically, I'm not very good at the words associated with fashion. But yes, maybe next month I'll do a little more shopping... And maybe I'll learn the words for the items I buy.

Chef: Review + Response

So recently I went to see the film Chef about a chef who is given a 2 out of five star rating and a career-ruining review by a renowned food critic. This pushes him to get back to his roots and open up a Cubanos food truck.

That said, the film itself only pulls 2 out of 5 stars.
What could have been a heart warming, foodie comedy fell very flat and seemed to focus more about the power of social media than the mending of a broken family or, you know, food. I was expecting food porn. I wanted to see and experience the food even more than we got to. I wanted more of a relationship to develop between the father and son. It took so long for us to get to the part where the protagonist even acquires the food truck and then they rush through the actual road trip where they could have really had fun with it and explored different regional/state foods and flavours even more. Basic synopsis: Man loses jobs and makes sandwiches for a bit. Miraculously fixes all his problems.

Sofia Vergara was charming and Scarlett Johansson, whose character was totally irrelevant and gratuitous, really suited her short brunette bob. This was an uneventful flick that glossed over the meat in favour of a few flicks of spice. I find it hard to believe that a simple tweet or two could honestly conjure up enough business. Sure, Carl the chef became a meme but memes die fast. Elements of the film just seem unrealistic. I'm sure the petrol/gas prices involved in driving across state and around America would have totally eaten up all of their earnings. This film was slow, like a meal that's flavourless and hard to digest.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Recommended Reads

Hello my little treacle pies!
It's time for recommended reads, isn't it?
Don't know what recommended reads is?
It's a weekly segment where I suggest a couple of things for you that I've previously spotted from around t'internet. It just gives you something cool and new to look at.

So here are my picks for this week:

Song of the Day: The Only One by The Cure

This could very well be an unpopular opinion but this is one of my favourite songs by The Cure.
Not The Lovecats or Friday I'm In Love or any of the most popular hit songs.
My favourite songs by The Cure are The Only One, Underneath The Stars and Burn.

In the past few weeks I've been retweeted by Amanda Palmer and actor Scott Cohen just liked one of my tweets. Because of this I felt like putting together a quick list of celebrities and people I admire who have liked my tweets/tweeted me/spoken to me over Facebook or in person etc...

I've been tweeted/retweeted/had tweets favourited by:
  • Amanda Palmer
  • Dan Bucatinsky
  • Darren Shan
  • Sam Smith
  • Scott Cohen
  • Brittani Louise Taylor
  • Carice Van Houten
  • Rainbow Rowell
  • Dominic Monaghan 
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Natalia Tena
Also Anne Rice has replied to me twice over Facebook.
I'm sure there are more people who I've had some form of interation with over social media but I can't think of them at the moment. It may seem lame but I decided to make and keep a list to remind myself of how cool social media is in bridging a gap between fans and artists. 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

One Week Into NaNoWriMo!

We're one week into NaNoWriMo and so far, I'm doing well. I'm writing steadily and am currently about 24,000 words into my 50,000 word goal. Do I think my novel will be completed around 50,000 words? Certainly not! The first draft will most definitely take up a lot of space and hundreds of pages. Then again, that's what editing is for. I'm starting to think that, at this rate, I'll be able to have my first novel done by the end of the year. I'm feeling very optimistic right now. I suppose, for the next three weeks, I have to just keep on writing and encouraging my fellow cabin mates.

I absolutely love the notion of NaNoWriMo cabin mates. They're all wonderful strangers. I'm the oldest of all of them at the age of 22. Everyone else is a teenager. I find it so thrilling to see young writers taking such a leap. It's a real inspiration. They're all beautiful little nerds and I'll be so proud of them when they reach their goal. I'd urge any of you to try Camp NaNoWriMo next year or NaNoWriMo itself later this year. 

Song of the Day: Orinoco Flow by Celtic Woman

Sail away
Sail away
Sail away..


I'm finding it so weird.

Game of Thrones and Grey's Anatomy have just finished. I watched season two of Orange is the New Black in about three days around my work schedule. Thankfully, the new season of Masters of Sex should be back any day now. That said, there aren't many TV shows that I watch that are on at the moment. I may therefore try to get back into True Blood which I gave up about 5 seasons or so in. Maybe I'll pick up Breaking Bad. So far I've only seen the first episode.

If you've any suggestions for TV shoes then please let me know as I'd love to hear them.
Let me know in the comments or tweet me.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Saturday, 5 July 2014

The Ultimate British Summer To Do List!

So Starbucks have put together what they feel is THE ULTIMATE BRITISH SUMMER TO DO LIST. It includes things like going to music festivals, eating strawberries and cream and building sandcastles. The post is written out like a check list so you can go through and check off the things you've done so far. I've done quite a few of them so far, actually.

Now Summer is only just kicking off (not a World Cup reference, I swear) and there's plenty of time to tick things off of your list. Do you think this is a good list? What sort of things are you hoping to do over the summer?

I think my summer to do list is fairly simple:
  • Write and work towards completion of novel
  • Work on pilot of original TV show that I am writing
Is there anything on the Starbucks list you'll be doing this summer?

Song of the Day: Let Me Borrow That Top by Kelly

One of my YouTube faves.
If you've not seen it, you've got to.
Click play.
Just do it.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Blog Book Reviews

Hello readers!
I just wanted to post a quick notice just to clear some things up as I strive through my 2014 Reading Challenge. As you may know I set out to read 30 books in the year of 2014. So far I've not read as fast as I'd hoped but I'm hoping to still complete the challenge on time. That said, I often review the books I read when I'm done with them however I just wanted to state that I do not post reviews for all of these books. There are multiple reasons for this for example, how does one review a classic? Especially when you've nothing new to say it seems silly to review it. It'd just be a post that read "People said it was good and it was good."

Similarly I've read books that friends or professional acquaintances of mine have read like the workds of fellow Grist author William Thirsk Gaskill or previous mentor Simon Crump. Soon I shall also read a book written by the man who was the editor of my book. I find it very hard to honestly critique the work of your peers: firstly, if you didn't like their book how would you ever go about saying so? Or if you had praise for them, they may think that you're only giving praise because you know them and wish to spare their feelings. Thankfully the books written by the people I know are splendid but it's a situation altogether that I'd really rather avoid.

I'm reading (and reviewing where possible) as fast as I can.
Please be patient with me - I'm not the fastest reader and simply can't review every book but I'm trying to do as much as possible.

Many thanks,

Song of the Day: ...And Then I Kissed Him by Hans Zimmer

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Song of the Day: Define Me (Acoustic) by Bad Pollyanna

"I'm coming out
So call your friends and gather round
It's time to judge and bring me down
I'm in the box you put me in
It's dark and I can't see a thing 

Nowhere, I need to breathe, I'm climbing out"

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Recommended Reads

Hello, dearest pudding pies!

Yes, that's what you get to be today.
Well, it's time for recommended reads, the weekly segment where I share a few links to things I've spotted around the internet so you can experience them too.
Here are my picks for the week, kids:

Song of the Day: Architect's Son by Julia Gray

"Icharus knows like the back of his hand
The promises he has made.
Oh, but the sky is un-mappable land!
Icharus is not afraid.
He says:
'You are an architect
You've got an architect's mind
I cannot do what you do when there's so much to look for
So much to find."

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Silver Linings Search: June

Once more, I sit down and cast my mind back over the past month to think about all of the nice things that have happened to me this past month.
It was pretty crappy in some ways after one of my cats fell seriously ill and had to be put down. That said, my mission in doing this is to remind myself that good stuff still happens, despite the bad stuff happening. That's why it's so important to keep doing this: so all the positive things don't get lost. So I've rounded up some little nuggets of good that popped up this past month:

  • Hannah, Julia and I took part in The Great Contiki Challenge 2014 and did pretty darn well, actually. Not enough to win, of course, but we did well. It made for a really fun day and an after party with free pizza and beer. 
  • I won another competition at work and came home with £30 worth of vouchers. Oops!
  • I landed a job interview way about my punching weight for a law firm. Even though I was up against applicants with actual law degrees it was really cool that they considered me and still actually really wanted to interview me. 
  • I went shopping and bought some gorgeous new clothes which make me feel fab. I've still not had the courage to wear them yet. They're too precious <3
  • I've had a lot of lovely, relaxing days with my partner. 
  • I've had the opportunity to spend some quality time with my sister.
  • I also bought some goodies from Lush Cosmetics to pamper myself
  • I hosted an event called Harpicide in London with Elly McCabe, Julia Mascetti and Julia Gray which was great.
  • I got a bit of writing done. Here's hoping that CampNaNoWriMo in July might take off a little.
  • The sun came out a great deal! The world feels warm, at least here it does.
  • I've lost quite a bit of weight. I'm eating healthy and my body is thanking me for it.
  • My partner surprised me with a ticket to Calling Festival to go see Aerosmith. She pulled some strings to get that ticket and absolutely amazed me with her thoughtfulness and generosity.
  • Then there was the gig itself... Aerosmith were absolutely amazing and the festival vibe as they played was great. I had a great time. 
  • I saw lots of good films.
  • My team and I are currently in the lead for a different work competition.

Camp NaNoWriMo Begins!

Camp NaNoWriMo begins today and so this month I'm going to try to write at least 25,000 words of my novel as I want to have it finished by the end of the year. I'll be posting updates of my progress on this blog as well as trying to keep regular posts going up.

I'd totally urge anyone interested in writing to give it a go and I'm sure you can still sign up by clicking here.

Wish me luck!

Song of the Day: Journey To The Past from Anastasia

"Somewhere down this road
I know someone's waiting
Years of dreams just can't be wrong
Arms will open wide
I'll be safe and wanted
Finally home where I belong."