Wednesday, 19 October 2016

From Somewhere in a Field

We're so busy.

Endless to-do lists.

The clock in the corner of our laptop screens. The clock on our phones.

Walking from room to room, phones uselessly, randomly, automatically in our hands.

Outside, with no destination in mind, nowhere in particular to go - we still rush. Why do we rush?

In the bath, the music from our phones dipping in volume every minute or so as yet another email comes through.

Curled up on the sofa, finally doing nothing - but on the TV over in the corner is the news, and we are still absorbing.

We're so busy, and we never switch off.

At least, I don't. Even when I have the opportunity to just stop, there are still 'better' things I could be doing: revising for my theory test, revising for my exams, thinking up post ideas, filming and editing YouTube videos, taking bookstagram photos, working, talking to someone, eating something, reading one of the many unread books I own. I don't consciously think it - the sentence 'I don't have time to rest' doesn't flit through my brain - but clearly, somewhere, that's what my body believes.

And when my eyes hurt, my head aches, and I have a literal pain in the neck from looking down at my laptop all day, I put some clothes on, run a brush through my hair, throw my phone on the bed and get out of here. A five-minute walk in any direction and I'm in a field.

Fields are nice.

I force myself to wander slowly rather than walk so fast my feet only skim the concrete. I leave my phone behind so time loses meaning and I'm blissfully unaware of the notifications popping up from people demanding I do this or look at that. I don't let myself think about work, college, or anything else even vaguely stressful. 

I did this today. That's how this blog post was born. And I discovered something new in my town - a seating area with flowers and setting sun where the broken, graffitied skate ramps used to be. It's a tiny town and I've lived here for the best part of two decades but I'm usually too quick, too preoccupied, too much in the past or the future to see the present.

Forcing myself to just be is important. And, apparently, it can birth deep blog posts when I haven't been able to write one in weeks.

But yes. Fields. I encourage you to go and sit in one and take some time out in a world obsessed with time.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

A Life Update: Books, Films, Blogging Struggles and Rambling

Consider this a recap of everything bookish, because I've been slacking with the blog recently. There are a few reasons for this: A Levels, job hunting, volunteering for a couple of places, revising for my driving tests... and, as I mentioned on Instagram, it's hard to think of new and exciting content when you've pretty much done everything. It doesn't help that I haven't had much time to read.

That doesn't mean I haven't read anything at all, though - I've read a handful of books over the last couple of months, and whilst I'm unable to review them fully right now, I couldn't not mention them here. The first book on this list is Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, and everyone has been talking about it. It's a phenomenal little book of raw and honest poetry, with simple but completely perfect line drawings. I also love that it's split into four parts: the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing. I LOVE good poetry, the kind you find yourself connecting with, the kind that feels like the words are wrapping around you like a blanket and taking on new meanings to find a place in your own life story. You probably didn't know that about me because, to be honest, I always forget how much I love poems. *shrug*

Dem rings tho.

In addition, I finally got my hands on the second book in C.J. Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld's The Alchemist Chronicles. I've been waiting for this since before the first book even came out (proof copies are both a blessing and a curse) and it didn't disappoint. The characters are so ridiculously strong and I'm constantly rooting for them.

Now, I have to mention something I don't really talk about: TV. The only TV show I watch religiously is EastEnders, but when the leaves start changing colour and the air gets crisper, I find the telly people seriously up their game. At the moment I am loving Humans - the first series, because I saw adverts for the second one and it looked awesome so I'm catching up. If you haven't heard of it, it's basically a realistic look at what our future could be like, and focuses on robots - or 'synths' - who are extremely similar to humans, except they can't feel emotion or think for themselves. Well, they shouldn't be able to. A select few can... Elsewhere, I've been enjoying the second series of both Scream Queens and The Missing, and I'm hoping to catch up with National Treasure at some point. Which reminds me: I watched all of the Psycho films recently and they were so bad they were good. I'm not usually one for black and white films - this might have been my first - but I actually found myself preferring it to colour.

In regards to more modern stuff, I've seen some other pretty great films recently, too, including Bad Moms (so funny, so heartwarming) and Bridget Jones's Baby. Kinda disappointed with the ending of that one but I get why the film-y people made that decision...

I recently went to Waterstones Cambridge for a talk and signing by Paige Toon, author of the Jessie Jefferson books which are so good for escapism. And, when it got to the audience Q&A, I PUT MY HAND UP AND ASKED A QUESTION IN FRONT OF A ROOM FULL OF PEOPLE. I always want to ask questions but I'm too scared to talk in front of so many people, yet this time I did it. I asked Paige how she knows when she's written the end of a novel, because I keep typing and typing, and the perfect last line never comes. I think it's because in so many of my essays at school, way back in Year 7 and right now in Year 13, I'm often told that the ending is too sudden, so I physically can't end my novel in case it's too blunt. Sigh. (Also, I look rank in that picture but I'd rather have gross photos in a post than none at all, so... and it was a nice moment.)

And finally, in terms of blogging, two rather epic things have happened recently. Firstly... I GOT VERIFIED ON TWITTER. WTAF. This has been one of my goals for a while now - y'know, one of those goals you're kind of ashamed to admit to having because it's literally an arrangement of pixels on a website. I thought if I achieved that, it would mean I'd reached a certain level of success. And then this blue tick appeared out of nowhere, sooner than I thought it would, and... nope. I thought it would come when I had a six-figure book deal (I wish), not when I'm still that seventeen-year-old who can't finish her (probably not very good) novel and doesn't have that many followers. Still cool though - I'm working towards getting a response from Queen Rowling with my new VIP access to her mentions. What if she ignores me though? *strokes Harry Potter books worriedly*

The second thing? I've only gone and been nominated for a UKYABA for the second year in a row! Last year I was nominated for Blogger's Blogger and Champion Teen Blogger, and I won the latter to my amazement and surprise. This year, I'm up for Champion of YA along with Debbie and Viv. I won't win but it made me so happy to be thought of because, as I said, I've struggled so much with blogging this year.

Soooo... there's your recap of all the things I wanted to write separate posts on but didn't. Maybe in half-term I'll have some time to read so I can schedule a bunch of kickass posts. Don't worry though, I might be struggling to come up with ideas but I've always got stuff in the pipeline and, having blogged through my GCSEs and AS exams, I'm definitely not giving up now.

Oh crap. Was that a blunt ending? *types for the rest of time*

Tell me what's been going on in your life recently!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

How Blogging Has Changed Me as a Bookworm

I couldn't find a bookish photo of me as a child, so here's an irrelevant photo of me, aged three, holding a daisy chain that I definitely did not make but appeared to take credit for anyway.

Before I started book blogging, life was very different. I was a bookworm but I was completely isolated, in that I hadn't read a book review until 2008, and most of the books I read came from relatives at Christmas and on birthdays, and from charity shops, libraries, and cereal boxes. (Side note: does anyone remember when you'd get a free Roald Dahl book with each box of Coco Pops? Those were the days.) I didn't know what was released when and I didn't freak out whenever I saw a book advertised on the tube. I re-read old favourites more often than I read new ones, and whenever I did get a new book I had to choose very, very carefully because to me, if you had £6.99 to spare for a paperback, you were rich (and if you had enough for a hardback, you were even richer).

I had no idea that book blogs existed or that there was a whole community surrounding it, and I solely judged books by their covers and their descriptions, not awards and fun promo campaigns. I never noticed book trends, and the lack of diversity in literature didn't even occur to me until I was about 15 because I'd never seen anyone talk about it before.

Being a book blogger means I am incredibly privileged. I wouldn't be the person I am now without having read so many books I've been lucky enough to receive thanks to working with publishers. But that doesn't stop me thinking about how lovely it must be to get to read whatever you want, whenever you want. I love reading and I love being a book blogger, of course, but there will always be a small part of me that envies those who are able to go weeks or even a month or two without reading a single book, guilt-free. I considered doing that myself, but then realised that that's not actually an option. I look back fondly on the days where I'd be sat in bed and I'd pick up a book with absolutely no strings attached. No 'should I review this?' or 'how many reviews have I got scheduled at the moment?' or 'is there anything else I should be reading instead that has a deadline?'

Maybe people who work in the industry sometimes feel the same way?

However, I wouldn't change a thing. Through book blogging, I've received invaluable experience in the industry, and I've read way more books than I ever would have been able to if I didn't have this shiny corner of the Internet. I've made friends, met the most inspiring people, had the coolest opportunities and been to the most interesting places. I've found a community that, for the most part, is lovely, supportive, and willing to help anyone who needs it.

Book blogging might mean I read in a different way than I did before, and it might be stressful sometimes, but it's changed me for the better and I wouldn't have it any other way.

How have your hobbies changed you?