It’s Not All Bad 3

Living the UK means that February is really not a great month. It’s cold, rains all the time, and it’s still dark in the mornings. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Here are some good news stories to brighten up the rubbish weather.

  1. A man has won $400,000 in the Virginia lottery after having the numbers come to him in a dream.
  2. A new drug aiming to work as a ‘heroine vaccine’ has shown promise in trials on mice. The drug stops heroine from having any effects which could help combat addiction and avoid overdose deaths.
  3. Finn the dog is helping children at Ashcroft school in Cheshire. The school has many students with complex needs such as ADHD and Finn has become everyone’s new best friend, roaming the halls and sitting under students’ desks.
  4. The last known ‘dancing bears’ in Nepal have been rescued, with the help of the Jane Goodall Institute and World Animal Protection. Although the bears are obviously still traumatised from their captivity, rescuers are hopeful that they’ll adjust well to their new life.
  5. Yacoba Tete-Marmon, Nana Ohenewaa Kuffour and Maame Bema Baffour Awuah  all faced bullying at school in Ghana due to their autism, but now they’re walking the runway and winning awards for it.
  6. Wales is following in the footsteps of Scotland and Ireland by looking to ban the use of wild animals in circuses. The RSPCA said they were “absolutely delighted” that Wales is trying to outlaw this “outdated and cruel practice”.
  7. A quick thinking American Airlines employee saved two girls from a human trafficking plot. The girls had been bought tickets to New York for a ‘modelling job’ by a suspicious online source who deleted all of his social media profiles immediately after being contacted by the airline.
  8. Refugees in Germany are being provided with counselling training in order to help fellow asylum seekers, as part of a program run by Médecins Sans Frontières to help combat the lack of support previously available.
  9. Inmates at Central California Women’s Facility are being given the opportunity to train as beauty therapists whilst in prison, massively increasing their opportunities for work once they are released.
  10. Tesla’s Elon Musk is turning 50,000 homes in South Australia into solar power generators at no cost to the residents in an attempt to help lower electricity bills and stop frequent electricity ‘blackouts’.

 

That’s just a few of the good news stories I found, proving once again that the world really isn’t such an awful place. Hopefully they’ll pick you up a little bit in the way they did for me, and serve as a reminder to look for the positives whenever possible. Drink some water, read a book, call/text someone you love. Until next time, take care of yourself x


Read more about these good news stories here:

  1. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/man-wins-lottery-with-numbers-from-dream/
  2. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/heroin-vaccine-prevent-overdoses-addiction/
  3. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/good-news/seven-seas/classroom-pets-can-help-child-development/
  4. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/the-last-known-dancing-bears-of-nepal-have-been-rescued_us_5a3c1030e4b06d1621b2f312
  5. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-africa-42919873/ghana-s-autistic-models-turn-heads-and-win-awards?intlink_from_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fnews%2Ftopics%2Fcz4pr2gdgvgt%2Finspiring-stories&link_location=live-reporting-map
  6. https://www.sunnyskyz.com/good-news/2650/Wales-To-Ban-The-Use-Of-Wild-Animals-In-Circuses
  7. https://www.sunnyskyz.com/good-news/2649/American-Airlines-Employee-Saves-2-Teenage-Girls-From-Human-Trafficking-Plot
  8. https://www.positive.news/2018/society/31351/refugees-become-mental-health-counsellors-for-peers/
  9. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/beauty-therapy-course-gives-prison-inmates-skills-make-beautiful-life/
  10. https://www.sunnyskyz.com/good-news/2630/Tesla-Is-Turning-50-000-Homes-In-South-Australia-Into-Power-Generators-At-No-Cost-To-Residents

My Top 3 Podcasts

Having recently moved from an out-in-the-sticks village into town has been a bit of an adjustment. Suddenly, I have been thrown into the modern world – fast wifi, and 4 different pizza delivery places at my fingertips. Better Netflix and more takeaways is definitely not doing wonders for my health but it feels oh so good to not be waking up at 6.20 every day to get an hour-long bus into school. Now that I have an easy 10 minute walk into school, I can get up and moving in the mornings as well as enjoying either the Hamilton soundtrack (again) or listening to a podcast. Here are a few of my favourites.

Another Round with Heben & Tracy

This podcast is honestly one of the funniest things I’ve ever listened to, and I desperately want to be friends with both of these ladies. I used to look like I’d totally lost the plot on the bus, staring out the window with my hand over my mouth trying not to burst out laughing. As well as ridiculously entertaining segments such as “Tracy’s Joke Time”, this show really gets into some key issues – with black women discussing the issues faced by black women. With brilliant guests, comedy gold and serious chat that makes you think, I don’t know what more I could want from a podcast?

Episode Recommendations: Any episode with Bim Adewunmi (I recently watched 107: “Lusting out Loud”, Episode 25: “Stop Telling Women to Smile”, and Episode 100: “Kunta in the House” (it stars Levar Burton aka Geordi La Forge, and I’m a shameless star trek fan).

Stuff You Should Know – by HowStuffWorks

This podcast is perfect for sating your curiosity on practically any topic you can dream of. With 3 episodes a week on a crazily wide range of topics, learn about something new without being bored to death. Most episodes are around an hour long, which lets you really sink your teeth into a new subject, but rather than just dry facts the episodes are broken up by hosts Josh and Chuck’s chats and jokes.

Episode Recommendations: How Psychopaths Work, The Black Panther Party, How The Gender Pay Gap Works (spoiler alert: a lot of the statistics you know are probably wrong).

Myths and Legends – by Jason Weiser

Until stumbling upon this podcast I wouldn’t have considered myself much of a mythology person. If you’re looking for storytime for grown-ups, this will become your new go-to. Jason is a natural storyteller, explaining just enough to help you understand what’s going on but without ruining the joy and flow of just listening to a story. The “creature of the week” segments are also always a fun way to close off the episode.

Episode Recommendations: 57 – Japanese Fairy Tales: Faithful, 47 – Urban Legends: In the Dark, 4 – Mulan: A Likely Hero


 

Another podcast that has to get an honourable mention is Frederic Bibard’s “Talk In French”. I love his podcast as a A-Level French student but it would also be great for anyone whose just interested in French culture or language. I didn’t include it in my list above because I know it’s not really relevant to everyone but I would check it out if you’ve got any interest in French.

Sorry for the delay between posts, it’s been a bit hectic around here – moving, getting wifi set up and dealing with mock exams. Thank you for sticking with me and now I’m settled I will try and get back to posting (how many times have I promised that now?) Drink lots of water, go on a walk outside, remember to floss. Until next time, take care of yourself x

Why I Love Arrival

Arrival  is one of the most understated films I’ve ever watched, and it’s also one of the best. If you haven’t watched it, here’s why you should.

Although Arrival is widely labelled a sci-fi film, it moves far beyond that label. I’m a massive sci-fi fan (and have recently become an accidental trekkie) and have no problem with films that stay happily within the sci-fi box. Arrival is not better simply because it strays from the sci-fi genre, but because it so cleverly manages to weave together elements that are entirely alien with ones that are intimately familiar.

The best example of these alien moments is undoubtedly in the ‘heptapod’ (alien) language. Denis Villeneuve and his creative team manage to conceive the inconceivable. If you haven’t seen Arrival, it’s a little hard to explain but I’ll do my best to summarise. The aliens who arrive on our planet communicate through the use of symbols, each of which represents an entire idea, rather than a single word. In effect, the ‘heptapods’ know everything they are going to say before they even begin to write, rather than the human way of crafting a sentence word by word. A language like this moves beyond our cognition, and even our concept of linear time. In far too many sci-fi films, aliens are merely space-humans, playing by all the same rules as we know on Earth. Arrival however creates a species that doesn’t just look different, or speak an alien language, but perceives existence in an entirely new way. This lets us see our way of viewing the world from an outside perspective, to realise how limited and blinkered we truly are in our understanding. That is how Arrival surpasses sci-fi, it’s not that it turns its back on the alien arrival story, but that it refuses to be limited to this, and pushes us to wonder not about life in space, but life on Earth.

Balance is a crucial aspect of Arrival. Yes, they create a species and a language that are completely new, but they ground these differences in emotions that are familiar to us. One scene massively struck me, due to both the writing and the incredible performance of Amy Adams as linguistics professor Louise Banks. Covered head to toe in a hazmat suit, preparing to meet the heptapods, she simply breathes. There is no clever dialogue, no incredible CGI, just raw human emotion. Rather than a Michael Bay situation in which every single moment has got screaming or explosions, Arrival adds drama through emotion not just noise. It was in the close-up shot of Amy Adams sat in a truck, breathing, that I realised I was watching something special. I felt everything she felt – the excitement, the fear, the claustrophobia of the helmet. Before she’d even met the aliens for the first time, I was invested in the success of Dr Louise Banks. Without these human moments of nervousness and anticipation Arrival could very easily fall flat. It could have ended up cold, a film that goes from being analytical and exploratory to just plain pretentious. It’s these quiet, understated moments that give it balance, that make not just about asking the big questions but appreciating the small moments.


I really hope I’ve done this film justice with my very quick review, it’s a hard one to talk about without giving too much away and I’m no film expert. If you haven’t watched Arrival please do, and if you have, leave me a comment letting me know what you thought about it. Eat your vegetables, cleanse your face and don’t forget to wear sunscreen (yes, even in winter!). Until next time, take care of yourself x

Have You Heard About: Ada Lovelace

Aside from having a name that would seem right at home in a fairytale, Ada Lovelace achieved some pretty incredible things, and has an interesting backstory to boot.


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Ada Lovelace was the daughter of the eccentric  – and quite abusive – Lord Byron, friend to Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein). She never had any relationship with her father though, as he cast out her mother less than a month after Ada was born and died when she was 8. Despite this, Ada’s father had a monumental impact upon her life. Her mother was so terrified of Ada turning out to be another crazed artist that she pushed her into mathematics, hoping to turn her mind towards logic and science. Luckily for Ada’s mother, even as a young girl Ada showed a love for maths – as well as a talent for it. She loved to study machinery, poring over plans for boats and planes. At just 12 years old she began to create her own plans for a steam-powered flying machine, with wings in proportion to the body. Her design came 15 years before the patenting of the aerial steam-carriage in 1842.

Marrying at 19, Ada quickly had 3 children but this didn’t stop her from pursuing her interest in mathematics. Both Ada and her husband William defied the expectations of the Victorian era, with Ada being a highly educated women and William encouraging her to continue her work. Prior to her marriage she had been introduced to Charles Babbage – a prominent mathematician 25 years her senior – and she became intrigued by his idea to create an ‘analytical engine’. This machine was the original computer, designed to solve complex mathematical functions. Lovelace wrote a number of intricate programs for the machine, and her notes later went on to inspire Alan Turing’s work. She hoped to create machine that functioned beyond mathematical equations, perhaps being able to compose music and create graphics. However, Babbage struggled to fund his ambitious project and the machine was never completed. Sadly, Ada also never got the opportunity to realise her ambitions, dying from uterine cancer aged just 36.


So next time you look at your computer, think of Ada Lovelace – the world’s first computer programmer.


That’s it for today, I just wanted to get a quick post up about a woman whose story I’ve loved for a while now. I’m determined to stick to my resolution of posting more, but I’m hitting a dead-end on post ideas so if there’s anything you’d like to hear me write about then let me know!

Learn something new, get your 5 a day and remember to floss. Until the next time, take care of yourself x

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05/01/18

Dear Izzy,

So, it’s 2018, I’m really not sure how it got here so quickly. Looking back, it’s been far too long since I last posted and far too long since I posted a little update on my life. I’ve done a few exciting things so let me give you a rundown.

The Tartan Times
Newspaper Logo
I finally achieved my little daydream of getting a school newspaper up and running. It’s been a ridiculous amount of hours, but I’m so glad to have the 1st one finished. My friend managed to transform the horrible kilt fabric of the lower school uniform into a beautiful logo that I’m so happy with.

Highpoint: Meeting lovely new people and hearing their fantastic article ideas.
Lowpoint: Wanting to smash a computer in after it keeps reformatting what I’ve spent an hour painstakingly arranging.

Christmas Day

Christmas was a very relaxed day for me this year, spent with a couple of family members and Barry the cat. I spent the whole time red-eyed and sneezing (cat allergies), but what was I supposed to do – turn down a cat trying to sit on my lap? I don’t think so.

Highpoint: Eating ready meal macaroni cheese for lunch.
Lowpoint: Eating ready meal macaroni cheese for lunch.

London

I’ve spent a number of lovely days in London recently. A weekend spent in Covent Garden pre-Christmas led to the discovery of Wahaca, my new favourite obsession. Mexican food + Amazing cocktails + Lots of veggie options = A Good Time.

I revisited Wahaca on the 30th to grab some food before going to The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House. Although I completely missed the plot (I spent the whole thing waiting for the toymaker to turn into a nutcracker!), it was beautiful visually and musically – although I’m not cultured enough to resist a quick giggle over the very tight tights.

Highpoint: Black bean and cheese quesadillas, corn and black bean tostadas, guacamole with tortilla chips, vanilla and passionfruit mojitos. (I did tell you it was an obsession.)
Lowpoint: Being too dim to keep up with a ballet, whilst the 3 year old sat in front of me seemed to grasp everything.


 

So there’s a little summary of my recent news, I promise (-ish) to be better at blogging regularly this year.

Drink lots of water, keep warm, do some mocks revision. Take care of yourself x

Netflix Originals (Part 2)

Back in January I wrote a post with a few Netflix recommendations, and since then there’s been a whole host of new Netflix originals.

Second Seasons

There has been a ton of Netflix shows continuing on into their second season this year, including Master of None, Grace and Frankie, Sense8, and The Get Down (although this was christened a ‘Part 2’ rather than a separate season). I mentioned most of these shows in my previous post so I’m just going to briefly summarise whether I found the second seasons worth watching.

If you read my previous post, you’ll know that I absolutely love Sense8. The 2nd season reached – and maybe even surpassed – my expectations and was definitely worth the 2 year wait. Sense8 is just so artfully written and filmed, with rich and dynamic characters that you can’t help becoming invested in. The 2nd season saw the addition of a new ‘cluster’ which opened so many new storylines and relationships. I was devastated when I found out that Sense8 was not being renewed, especially after the cliffhanger ending of season 2. Luckily, after a massive outcry from fans, Netflix is going to create one more episode to serve as a grand finale and hopefully tie up a lot of loose ends.

Although different in many ways, Master of None, Grace and Frankie, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt all fit neatly into the category of ‘Kooky Comedies’. Personally, I much preferred the 2nd season of Master of None. It felt like a season that was really offered you a little bit of everything. There were a couple of episodes set in Modena, Italy which gave a complete change from the show being centred around the rush of New York City. There were even a couple of episodes in which Dev (the main character, played by Aziz Ansari) took a backseat, such as “Thanksgiving” and “New York, I Love You”, allowing other characters to shine. Master of None practically captures life in 2017, exploring everything from the trivial – trying out a ‘popular dating app’ (that’s 100%, definitely, absolutely not Tinder) – to the incredibly heartfelt – coming out to family and falling in unrequited love. Grace and Frankie also manages to capture this mixture of intensity and sillyness, with the two women embarking on a venture to create vibrators for elderly women, but also struggling with aging, increasing frailty and not being taken seriously in the business world. This is something that Netflix seems to achieve in almost all of their original content, and it makes for great viewing. The characters feel real, because they experience the lows along with the highs, just like most people do in reality.

The Get Down, like Sense8, is sadly not being renewed for a 3rd season, despite being an incredible show. It’s vibrant, colourful and heartfelt with an amazing soundtrack to match. Definitely one I’d recommend watching.

Beyond 2 Seasons

May saw the release of season 3 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a show with the completely crazy (and quite dark) premise of following a girl who is trying to rebuild her life after being kidnapped and trapped in a bunker for 15 years. However, in the 3rd season as well as the previous 2, the overwhelming message is one of positivity as the naive Kimmy Schmidt exists as a burst of colour amongst the cold reality of a worn-down New York neighbourhood. Despite being in the process of divorcing her evil kidnapper, Kimmy’s main concerns are finding a date (with the fantastic Daveed Diggs) and avoiding internet humiliation, in a show that never seems to take itself too seriously.

One of Netflix’s most famous originals, Orange is the New Black reached it”s 5th (!) season this year, and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Although I enjoyed this season, I can’t say it blew me away. I wish there had been more focus on the quiet moments of grief following the death of one of the most beloved inmates rather than just the shouting, screaming, rioting moments. For me, this season didn’t quite live up to the previous ones, as it began to slightly sacrifice emotion and thoughtfulness in favour of shock value and exaggeration.

Shows I Haven’t Finished Yet

Having only just started the 2nd season of Narcos, I’m way behind everyone else, but so far it’s a great watch. Although it may be a bit gory for some, (seeing people beat to a pulp is not for the weak stomached) you can’t get more dramatic than Narcos. A show that really proves that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, I was awestruck by the events that unfolded in Columbia, events that previously I knew very little about (cut me some slack, I wasn’t even born yet). Yes, it is most definitely a dramatisation, but it’s just so darn good.

Confession time: I’m slowly becoming a star trek nerd. I’ve watched almost all of The Next Generation and have made some pretty serious progress on Deep Space 9, so the new Discovery series was a bit of an excitement for me. I’m aware that it’s not a true Netflix original, rather a Netflix exclusive, but I couldn’t leave it off this list. There’s only been 3 episodes released so far, and I’m slowly warming up to it, after finding the first episode a little underwhelming and souless. The thing I like about star trek is that it’s a little bit silly, with ridiculous aliens wearing budget costumes. For me, Discovery seemed slightly too serious, launching into battle and conflict before I could catch my breath. But, I reserve judgement, we’ve only had 3 episodes so far and there are many more to come. 
So there’s my thoughts on a few more Netflix originals. Sorry for the massive delay between posts, I’ve been lacking inspiration lately so let me know if you have any suggestions for what you’d like to see my write. Drink some water, do some exercise, watch some Netflix. Take care of yourself. X

Liebster Award

Thanks to my lovely friend Izzy at Thinking and Inking for nominating me for this.

The rules:

  • Post the award to your blog
  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • State eleven facts about you
  • Answer the questions
  • Think of eleven more questions for the nominees

11 Facts About Me

  1. My go-to cup of tea is Earl Grey with milk and 1 sugar.
  2. I’ve been a veggie for 5 years now.
  3. Most of my conversations are between me and my 2 dogs, a big cuddly ridgeback named Naya and a little terrier named Freya.
  4. I’m a total crybaby, even just a particularly sad advert can get to me. Laughing also often ends in tears.
  5. I love cats but am allergic, which causes a massive internal struggle between wanting to stroke a cat and avoiding an allergic reaction.
  6. Languages interest me massively, I’m studying French and hope to study Italian, Russian and Sign Language in the future.
  7. I’m a fan of dying my hair but hate going to the hairdresser’s – smalltalk with a stranger for 3 hours is my nightmare.
  8. I like gaming but I really don’t have the attention span for it. I play too many different games at once, and still haven’t finished the 1st Assassin’s Creed after 3 years.
  9. My weirdest ‘fear’ (aversion) is baked beans. They’re disgusting and unnerve me.
  10. I’m a massive nail-biter, it’s my worst habit.

Izzy’s Questions

  1. Favourite poet?
    I’m not a massive poetry buff, but I love Maya Angelou’s work (“Still I Rise” in particular) and Neil Gaiman manages to create vivid, rhythmic descriptions.
  2. Last song you listened to?
    Had my music on shuffle walking through town, and it was Let It Be by the Beatles.
  3. If you could meet an author, living or dead, who would it be?
    I think Oscar Wilde would make for some great conversations.
  4. How do you relax?
    When I’m trying to relax I read, play games or listen to music. But most of the time, I just live in a constant state of worry and tension.
  5. If you could improve one thing about yourself, what would it be?
    In terms of personality, I wish I took more risks and just went for things instead of over-thinking them. Physically, I wouldn’t mind going up cup size.
  6. Favourite book cover?
    I love the cover for The Power by Naomi Alderman. It hints to you where the book is going, with the propaganda poster style.
  7. What’s guaranteed to make you laugh?
    Something dry, sarcastic and a bit silly. There’s a ridiculous sketch by Joe Lycett which I love.
  8. Greatest dream for the future?
    Career-wise I don’t know yet, but I hope to combine whatever I do with having my own family.
  9. What are you currently reading?
    Storm of Swords (the 3rd Game Of Thrones book) by George R.R Martin. It’s amazing and I’d highly recommend it.
  10. Favourite fun fact?
    A sound effect called the “Wilhelm Scream” has been used in over 350 films as well as hundreds of TV shows. It’s been in Star Wars, Titanic, Avatar, Lord of the Rings and the Minions.
  11. How would you describe yourself in three words?
    Curious, distracted, emotional.

 

Thanks again to Izzy for nominating me, and forcing me to finally get round to posting.

Birthday Books

 

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Just over a week ago was my 17th birthday, and the only thing on my wishlist (other than money towards replacing my chromebook which I accidentally murdered) was books. So, here’s a look at the books I was gifted and the ones I picked up for myself recently.

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First up were 3 classics that I’d never read before, all from the “Alma Classics” set. I’ve bought some from this range before and I absolutely love all of them, the cover art by Nathan Burton is so vibrant that you can’t help wanting to show them off on your shelves. This time around I picked up The Double by Fyodor Dostoevsky as well as both The War Of The Worlds and The Invisible Man by H.G Wells.

I’m just over halfway through The Invisible Man and so far I’ve been really drawn in by it. As the title suggests, the plot centers around a mysterious invisible man, who chooses to use his hidden identity to cause havoc and chaos. It can be a little bit wordy in places (a risk you take when reading something from pre-1900) but the plot is simple and well-executed, leaving you wanting to unravel all the mysteries surrounding this invisible gentleman. Wells’ slightly sarcastic tone also makes this book a great read for me, adding in a bit of humour amongst the mystery and science.

Also by H.G Wells, I choose to buy a copy of The War Of The Worlds after my English Literature teacher recommended it in a lesson. I’ve watched the 2005 Spielberg film (starring Tom Cruise, my most bizarre childhood crush) on TV once or twice and as I consider myself a sci-fi fan, I figured I had to give the book a read. I’ve not started it yet but after reading some of The Invisible Man I have high hopes.

I’ll confess that I’d never heard the name Fyodor Dostoevsky despite knowing of his very famous novel Crime and Punishment. The blurb is what made me pick this up rather than any of his other works, there’s something interesting about the idea of meeting a doppelganger who is your opposite in every imaginable way. The book focuses on a young man named Yakov, who declines into madness after being faced with a double who is far more popular and successful than himself. I’m excited to start reading this and am keeping my fingers crossed that there won’t be too much of a vocabulary barrier considering it was first published in 1846.


 

Inkeeping with my usual book purchasing habits, I also picked up a few more sci-fi/dystopia novels. It would probably be a good idea for be to broaden my reading horizons a little bit rather than making a beeline for the “Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror” corner every time I go into Waterstones, but I just can’t help but feel bored to death by the prospect of ‘realism novels’. Why just read novels about ordinary men living ordinary lives when I could be enjoying stories about strange undiscovered worlds or apocalyptic futures?

I’ve bought something a little bit different in The Reader On The 6.27, a novel about a man who works in a book pulping factory and saves pages to read aloud on the train. One day he finds the tragic diary of a woman and begins to fall in love with her based upon only her words. There’s no aliens, no decimated landscapes, and no murderous totalitarian government so it’s not a book choice I’d usually make but its very well reviewed and I’m willing to give it a go (just this once). The other books I picked up – Solaris, Station 11, Annihilation and The Power – are far more within my usual science fiction reading.

I’ve already finished reading Solaris and I’m having pretty mixed thoughts on it. It’s one of those novels that has an exceptional premise but an ending that just leaves you thinking “Is that it?”. It tells the story of a Psychologist – Dr Kelvin – who is sent to the planet Solaris to decide whether research there should be terminated. Upon arrival he finds that the researches are bordering upon insanity after being ‘visited’ by people they used to know. Kelvin is himself visited by an creature imitating of his dead wife, and the story takes on a dark edge as he begins getting attached, despite the fact the creature will destroy everything in its path if Kelvin tries to walk away or leave it alone. It poses the question of whether it is a curse or a blessing to be faced with an imitation of someone, to have a second chance at a relationship. I enjoyed this book whilst I was reading it but it got to the ending and there was no real sense of closure, a particular bug bear of mine. On top of that, there were sections that read more like a textbook than a novel, so I had to do a little bit of page flicking to avoid the dull science bits.

The Power has received amazing reviews, recently winning the Bailey’s women’s fiction prize. Again, this was recommended by an English teacher and after the release of the paperback edition I had to add it to my birthday wishlist. My lovely brother bought it for me as well as Annihilation, which I know very little about but was sold on by the bright cover and intriguing blurb. Similarly, I’d not heard anything about Station Eleven but after a quick google it seemed to be well-liked and appealed to me so I thought it was worth a shot.


 

I’ll probably write up my thoughts on the books I haven’t read yet at a later date, although my teachers are keeping me busy at the minute with personal statements, university applications and mountains of work (a relaxing end to the school year!). If you’re also a book fan, let me know your thoughts on any of these that you’ve read (or want to read sometime soon) as well as any other recommendations you have. Eat your veggies, change your sheets and treat yourself to a good book. Take care of yourself x

 

31/05/17

Dear Izzy,

I have had a massive lack of motivation recently, which is a bit of problem when exams are imminent. One one hand I have psychology teachers telling me to revise into an early grave, and on the other there’s the English department, who take a “What’s revision?” approach. My only external exam this year is French (which I’m taking as an A2 anyway, so it doesn’t really count) but our teachers keep pointing out that our internal grades will be used for our predictions, and therefore if you don’t revise you will never get into university and will ultimately end up living a life of failure.

Alongside exams there’s the horrible process of university applications, a terrifying first step into being an adult which I’m definitely not prepared for (last week I sewing machined through my finger). Currently, it looks like I’m going to apply for psychology but there’s also a chance that I may have a crisis and apply for a degree in flower arranging instead. I haven’t been to any open days yet, but I’m headed off to Bath, Surrey, and UCL in the next few weeks which will hopefully help me make some kind of choice about where I want to go (Bath is currently the only one definitely on my list). Trust me to choose Bath, one of the most competitive Psychology courses in the country. I really do make life more difficult for myself.

On the bright side, this lack of motivation has meant that I’ve had time to binge Netflix, including the whole season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Sense8 (which I may do a whole post reviewing because it’s honestly exceptional). I’ve also procrastinated by doing things which are technically productive, but in no way relevant, like spending hours doing ironing or helping to paint the walls. I think the problem is that my brother is away and my mum is at work so I don’t even pretend to be busy because there’s no-one here to judge me. My only companionship is the dogs, and all they do is sleep so it’s a bit of a one-sided friendship. Luckily I avoided going stir crazy by going out for dinner last night, although it ended up being more of a bushtucker trial than a meal, with my veggie lasagna being the texture of baby food. The pub is so infamous for barring people that even my mother (recreational food critic and haggler extraordinaire) didn’t complain, instead we just sat at our table giggling at how ridiculously bad it was.

I’m determined to be at least a little more productive today, starting with posting this blog and hopefully followed by some revision. Eat some fruit, do some exercise, and don’t procrastinate (believe me, it’s not a good plan). Love you lots and wishing you loads of luck with your exams, take care of yourself x

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a Review

For just one minute imagine someone pitching the GOTG film: “It’s about a tree, a raccoon, a super assassin, a man with no grasp of metaphor and some guy who refers to himself as starlord”. It sounds beyond stupid, and yet Marvel pulled it off so well that I’m sat here reviewing the sequel. Films like Avengers Assemble, Antman, and Guardians of the Galaxy all have that perfect mix of humour, charisma, and a dash of the bizarre that makes for really fun films. GOTG 2 lives up to its predecessor, managing to combine a sense of lightheartedness – as the guardians basically become parents to a tiny tree – with all the action and special effects you expect from a superhero movie. Realistically, this isn’t some hard hitting film with a profound moral message that will revolutionise your view on the world. But, that’s far from a bad thing. GOTG 2 never feels like it’s taking itself too seriously which means that, unlike other marvel films that felt a little manufactured and over-angsty (including Age of Ultron), it manages to find balance between serious moments and humour. 
Warning, from this point on there may be spoilers, so maybe go watch the film first. 

One thing I loved about this film as a sequel is that it filled in the gaps that had been driving me crazy from GOTG 1. The explanation for how Quill could hold the infinity stone was only briefly touched upon but it was a massive improvement on the previous “Uh, through the power of hand holding?” explanation. There was also some much needed time spent on Nebula and Yondu, both of whom I felt were rounded out really well in this film. As someone who hasn’t read the GOTG comics, I was excited to find out about why Nebula had such a feud with Gamora, and about Yondu’s real personality and values. Having Yondu saving Quill from Ego rather than just being a guy who stole a child (for thievin’) added a sense of honour to him, making his death a lot more meaningful than it would otherwise have been. 

Every single character in GOTG 2 falls somewhere between good and evil, making the whole thing so much more interesting. Mantis saves them in the end, but helped lure them onto the planet knowing what would happen to Quill. Nebula has no qualms about planning to hunt and kill her father, but she stood by her sister when it meant the most. Even Quill makes mistakes, turning on Gamora when she tries to tell him she’s worried and picking fights with Rocket. The characters act like people, rather than ridiculous caricatures of the model moral citizen. 

As much as I enjoyed GOTG 2 I do have as couple of nitpicky criticisms. Ego was definitely more compelling as as villain than whoever that blue guy with smudgy eyeliner was in Vol. 1, but it still felt a little bit “eh”. To me, the Sovereign felt more like a distracting nuisance than a real threat, and the mutinous ravagers were all too stupid to be anything more than the butt of Rocket’s jokes. I feel like this is a criticism I have of Marvel in general, that lots of the time the villains are just plain boring. Most are the film equivalent of a cardboard cutout, with no explanation given for their motives and no real character development. Of course, there are a couple of exceptions (for example, Loki was more than just some walking pile of evil who could be defeated in about 5 minutes). Having Ego be Peter’s father added at least some dimension, but I’d still like to see just a little more. Seriously, the attack scenes with the Sovereign were just golden people going “pew pew pew” in their weird arcade of remotely controlled ships, I think there’s room for some improvement.

All in all, I really enjoyed GOTG 2 and am getting excited for all the upcoming Marvel releases (Thor, Black Panther, and Infinity War aren’t too long now). An added seal of approval for this film comes from the fact my mum didn’t fall asleep halfway through it (Trust me, most films don’t pass this test).

Eat some vegetables, moisturise, and message someone you haven’t spoken to for a while. Take care of yourself x