Friday, 30 December 2016

A little haul

I'm still unsure as to whether I have worded the title of this post correctly... The term haul, to me, has negative connotations, many  of which I do not want to associate myself with. 

As you may have noticed, this is the first haul I have written for a very long while. The main reason for this is because it vexes me increasingly to read wishlists and pages written by people about what they have spent their money on. If I am being perfectly frank, I really don't care. I apologise if this comes across brutal or uncaring but I really don't. It's entirely your choice if you'd like to spend your (hard earned) cash on a new pair of flashy shoes or phone and if that's what you'd like to do with your money then by all means, do what makes your happy (whether your happiness is artificial or not is a whole new subject). 

Christmas is just a tricky time for lots of people. A time where lots of families feel pressure sent by consumers to make their Christmas a happy one. One filled with presents and food and warmth. When many families across the globe struggle even to get enough food to keep them alive for a week though, a 'happy Christmas' remains a silver lined fantasy. That's why it agitates me to read or write hauls and I hope that everyone reading will respect and understand that. Evidently, this is just how I see it but if writing such post makes you happy then I bid you good luck with it.

Moving on to what I intended to do originally but got side tracked with. I have discorded a new passion and interest for second hand shopping. Purchasing from charity shops means that I am still able to purchase items with my money but without the pang of guilt I receive when shopping in a retail for example.

 I have found so many benefits to shopping second hand from these hospices including the fact that all the money spent goes to charity; the prices tend to be low; it's less likely that somebody else will be wearing the same outfit as me and finally that they have a more quirky and all round less materialistic aura to them.

So finally, here are the bits and pieces that I've picked up. I'm sorry that the post had been a bit long winded but every point I have made, I strongly stick up for. 

Skirt (brand new with tags!): £4.00, St Michael's Hospice
Shoes: £5.00, St Michael's Hospice
Little Men: £1.99, Oxfam
Lolita: £1.50, Oxfam
The Odyssey: £1.99, Oxfam
 I hope you all had a very merry Christmas! 
Health and happiness,
Marti xx

Friday, 16 December 2016

Making up a song about Coraline

She's a peach, she's a doll, she's a pal of mine.
She's as cute as a button 
In the eyes of everyone who ever laid their eyes on Coraline.
When she comes around exploring, 
Mom and I will never ever make it boring.
Our eyes will be on Coraline.

Health and happiness,
Marti xxx

Friday, 2 December 2016

Don't Need No Mock Exam Blues

Hello! As I am writing this, today is Friday the second of December and blimey, this last month has seemed to both drag and fly at the same time.. It's been quite a while since I've 'word vommed' about my life over my blog so today I thought I'd do just that. 

Monday marked my first mock new spec higher maths paper which I did in the hall over two hours. The first one we did was non calculator and bearing in mind I see maths as my worst subject, I don't think I did too badly. I mean, I did quite a lot of online revision before hand but obviously didn't know what to revise for so there was a great deal of questions I bombed (google is totally going to sensor this and track me down for using the term 'bombed' aha). On Tuesday I had my geography paper which I got the marks back for today and actually did surprisingly well. Then Wednesday meant my next maths paper which was calculator was, and as far as I'm concerned, much easier. 

Finally, Thursday was celebrated with two French papers: one reading and one listening. I found both papers rather difficult but for good reason. Our teacher told us today that he wanted to give us such 'horrible' papers in order to see how we coped under the pressure. This sounds almost as berserk as when he gave us a Italian paper in a French lesson and told us not to ask any questions and just to do it. Anyways, in spite of how hard I found it, I actually did pretty well in the scheme of things which I think can be pinned down to how much revision I did.

That's why I thought I'd share some of my tips with you guys. I've actually been asked on numerous occasions what my top revision tips are but previously, I've not known how to answer. When I'm suddenly faced with so many exams in one week, my brain becomes as disorganised as Primark's isles on a Saturday. I believe that the only way you can discover how to solve your problems is to face them hands on. For me, this problem is being so mentally jumbled up. Here is how I learnt to revise in a way that suited me:
  1. My first piece of advice for people like myself is to make plenty of lists. Lists about anything and everything that pops up in your head. It's honestly, such a big help and means that instead of floating around, jumbling up inside your brain, you can organise your thoughts into neat and orderly columns. I have lists of things I want to get done in a certain day; lists of books I want to read; lists of revision I need to get done and (yep, you guessed it), lists of things to list!
  2. Secondly, after you have organised your head, organise your work space. If your revising is done online, make a folder of useful websites. For me, this includes KESH Maths, Vocab Express, BBC Bitesize, ect. If you're a flash cards and spider diagram kinda person (I much prefer this way), make sure that your desk or work area is clear and you have enough space to spread your work out on. The worst thing is when you get even more stressed because you've spilt water all over your notes (whoops!).
  3. Use lots of colours! This is the way forward for me and has resulted in my owning of an abundance of highlighters and coloured pens (the perks of working in a stationery shop!). Somehow, the act of highlighting information helps me remember it and also, when looking through a sheet of information, the bright bits are going to stand out.
  4. Last but not least, pace yourself! Give the information time to settle and take short but regular breaks. You're not doing yourself any good in cramming six non-stop hours of French revision into your Sunday morning so do your best to avoid it! In my breaks, I like to read a chapter or two of the book I'm currently reading (Heathcliff, it's me, Cathy!) or do something like have a conversation with anybody I can find aha. That's another point: don't isolate yourself! Spending so much time alone drives me crazy and means that when I do interact with somebody, I'm really snappy hehe.
That's all, my gosh, I can ramble can't I?! Let me know if you have any revision tips in the comments.

Health and happiness,
Marti xxx

P.S. Anybody who understood by Wuthering Heights reference is my new best friend ;)

Friday, 25 November 2016

Rain Season is Book Season

Hello my darlings! 
Over the span of a year, I've read so many amazing books that for some reason, I've actually never shared with you. I've done the odd book review here and there but never have I actually told you which books I've been reading and what I think of them. So for a change, today I have decided to do a book 'wrap up' if you will. 

The first book is Miss Peregrine by Ransom Riggs. Unlike the rest of the books here, I've actually done an indepth review on my blog before. I'd say that I read this book quite slowly over the span of about two weeks but I think that if I read it any faster, I'd have missed details. I really enjoyed this book and therefore rated it a four out of five stars. 

 The next book is Macbeth by well.. I'm sure you know who. We studied this at school for English Lit and I actually really really enjoyed it! I'm absolutely positive that most of you will know how the story goes but in a summary, it's a story of power, love and most importantly, MURDER. A really great read for anybody who is (semi) comfortable with reading Shakespeare.
The third book I've read is Charlotte's Web. This is a timeless classic and a book I absolutely loved to reread. If there is anybody out there who has not read this book, you should definitely be asking why and getting your hands on a copy. It's one of those books that take no effort to read and make it simple to immerse yourself in the story line. Spolier alert- there will be tears.

At number four is The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Honestly, when I first heard of this book, I shamefully overlooked it as 'another Diary of a Wimpy Kid kind of word vomit' but truthfully, I have not connected with characters so much in one single book before. It's such a beautifully told story which unlike many diary style stories, holds a profound level of honesty. 

Oh R.L.Stine, you never cease to entertain me. The next book on here is a rather guilty pleasure of mine that not an awful lot of people know about aha. Yes, you got it! I'm still an avid Goosebumps reader, guilty as charged. This one in particular is truly rather hair raising.   
And finally, these last three books are all ones that have touched me in different ways. Made me appreciate the world for what it is. Made me think about how one person can be two different people, and made me look at the war through a German perspective rather than the English which so many other books are written under.

Firstly is Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. This is another book I read for English Lit but somehow managed to finish way ahead of time (oops!). A classic, and a real eye opener in terms of duality.

That moves me on to The Book Thief. I could make a million TBT references here but if you haven't read the book, I'm going to look mighty silly haha. It tells the story of Lisel Meminger in Nazi Germany and her story of a boy with hair the colour of lemons, a Jewish fist fighter, and a book thief. I absolutely loved this book and I feel as though it will always hold a certain place in my heart.
And finally, FINALLY, that can only leave The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. I must have read this book over the shortest span of time becuase in all honesty, I could not put it down. A tale of injustice and a fence, what more is there to say?
Tell me what you've been reading over this rainy season! Also, be sure to leave your Goodreads names below if you have it so we can be book buds, yay!

Forever health and happiness,
Marti xx

Friday, 18 November 2016

Death is Nothing at All

Death is nothing at all. 
It does not count. 
I have only slipped away into the next room. 
Nothing has happened. 

Everything remains exactly as it was. 
I am I, and you are you, 
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. 
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. 

Call me by the old familiar name. 
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. 
Put no difference into your tone. 
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. 

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. 
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. 
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. 

Life means all that it ever meant. 
It is the same as it ever was. 
There is absolute and unbroken continuity. 
What is this death but a negligible accident? 

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? 
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, 
somewhere very near, 
just round the corner. 

All is well. 
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. 
One brief moment and all will be as it was before. 
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

By Henry Scott-Holland 

Friday, 4 November 2016

Oooh for October!

Today I decided that I was going to write a favourites post for October and it wasn't until I sat down to write the post that I realised that this was going to be tricky. You see, there have been so many great things (and a few not so great!) that have happened recently but the difficult part is trying to remember each and every one of these things. It wasn't until I decided to log into Pinterest and see if any inspiration struck me that I realised that subconsciously, everything that I have loved this month is reflected on my boards. 

So there we go! I chose a few of my most recent boards to share with you. If you'd like to me to follow you on Pinterest, make sure to leave your name in the comments.
Health and happiness,
Marti xx

Friday, 28 October 2016

An interview with Cathy Cassidy!

 Recently I had the incredible opportunity to interview one of my favourite childhood authors and as it would be simply criminal not to share it with you, share it with you is exactly what I've done! 
Cathy Cassidy is a children's author of 23 books, previous agony aunt for Shout and Jackie magazine as well as being vegetarian of 30 years! What I like the most about Cathy is that she does not deem herself  'superior' to her readers and took the time to send me this lengthy reply the same day as we arranged our interview!
1. Is there a certain book you’ve read that has changed your perspective on the world? A few! One was The catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger, an American book written in the 50s... in some ways, one of the first YA books perhaps. It was so direct, so emotional and tackled real-life issues and troubles from the viewpoint of a teenage boy. I loved it. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath had a strong impact also, and then Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian, which showed me that a children's book could handle very serious issues in a powerful yet redeeming way. 2. Do you believe in writer’s block? Depends what you mean by 'believe'! We all experience it, that lack of inspiration or a lack of certainty about how to handle a tricky bit in the plot... but giving in to it? Not happening. No other career path is allowed to give in to 'block' so why should an author? Daydream or try doing doing something totally different until you work out how to iron out the plot problem, but keep writing... better to do something than to give in and find yourself genuinely stuck.

3. Do you think that it’s important for public libraries to remain open to all universally? Yes, totally. As a child, all my books came from libraries... without them I could never have read so widely nor dreamed so big. Without them I would not be a writer today, no question of that. We imagine we've come a long way and that technology has replaced the need for libraries, but many children today live in poverty and libraries are a lifeline for them. Everyone should have access to books and learning, and to the magic of stories. And even if you do have money to buy books, who can buy enough to satisfy an avid reader? Free public libraries are one of the great achievements of a civilised country, yet the UK government is closing them and slamming the doors of opportunity on the writers and creatives of the future. Shameful. 4. When did you first decide that English was a subject you wanted to pursue as a career? I didn't! I didn't like English Lit at school as I liked to have my own responses and reactions to novels, plays and poetry rather than be told what to think. Analysing those awesome books and poems ruined their magic for me. Also, I didn't see how a degree in English Lit would help me to be a writer... and there were no degrees in Creative Writing back then. I took a degree in illustration, and loved every minute... art school was a perfect place for me to be as creative and off beat as I wanted. I'd already had my first short story published by that point, and I went on writing all through art college... art and writing were equally important to me.
5. What does a typical day in the life of Cathy Cassidy look like? I get up quite early - seven-ish - and check through emails, check the FB fanpage, twitter and Insta. I have breakfast, walk the dogs and the sit down to write. If a book is going well, I will break off for dinner and write again till evening. Most evenings are spent doing emails etc, but there never seems to be enough time for everything that needs to be done! Because I work for myself, I have the option to be flexible and I can take a random day off (unless a deadline is looming). When I'm on tour, things are very different, and I may be away from home for a week or a fortnight at a time, living out of suitcase and criss-crossing the country by train, talking to 400 kids in a school in the morning and the same amount in a different school, different town, in the afternoon. 6. What’s your opinion on eBooks as opposed to traditional paper books? I am not a fan of e-books... reading on screen just feels like work to me! I love the feel of a book and the cover design is important to me too. I spend so long at my laptop writing that the very last thing I want to do is read from it, or from a tablet. Nope, not for me.
7. Before gaining fame as a writer, did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? I often used pseudonyms when writing for teen mags. Often I had two short stories in the same issue, or an illustration and a story... so it looked better if I used different names! Interestingly, Cassidy is not my married name, so even now I can pass under the radar if I use my married name! 8. Is there one book that you believe everybody should read at least once? Generally, no... we are all so very different I think we find our own passions and favourite genres when it comes to reading. I do wish every child could read a book called The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce, about immigrant children who vanish unexpectedly from a class. It shows so perfectly that migrants are human beings just like us, that we should never turn our faces away from their plight. Actually, I'd quite like the government to read that book, too!

9. Do you read reviews on your works? How do you deal with positive/negative responses? I don't go looking for reviews... and I'm lucky, as I honestly haven't seen many bad ones. My readers tell me what they think, and they are the people who matter most... if they're happy, I'm happy. 10. Is there one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring young writers? Write - in your own time, outside of school. Write about what you care about, because the passion will shine through, and don't listen if others tell you it's a waste of time dreaming of a career as an author. Believe in what you are doing, and work your socks off to make the dream happen.
Once again, thank you very much for the fab opportunity.
Health and Happiness, 
Marti xxx

Friday, 21 October 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

I am honestly SO excited for this post purely for trivial reasons such as the fact that I haven't done a book review in a few months and the fact that I have truly committed to the series. Anyhow, I finished reading this book in the first week of October and really fell in love with the story line and the children and decided to share my thoughts with you lovely lot!

In  a nutshell, this book is the story of 16 year olJacob Portman and the event that changed his life forever, cliché I know but give it a chance. The first few chapters of the book focus on the relationship between Jacob and his Grandpa Abe, who grew up in an orphanage for his entire childhood and fought in the war. Growing up, Jacobs's grandpa would tell him fantastic stories about a girl that could fly, a boy who was invisible, 'the bird' who kept them safe from the monsters and wonderful Emma who could start a fire with her hands. Jacob adores his grandfather but realises as he grows up that these stories are nothing but that, 'stories'. 

When Jacob is merely fifteen, Grandpa Abe starts to obsess over these monsters which Jacob's dad quickly writes off as dementia. What a terrible mistake. When Jacob comes home early from work (to be honest, anything is better that stacking adult diapers), he finds his grandpa unconscious and bleeding terribly in the garden. Grandpa Portman dies in Jacob's arms, but not without spluttering a few words with his last breath. Here's a few for you to remember Alaska"'Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man's grave. September third, 1940.' I'll leave you with that thought and not include any spoilers. 

As anyone who has both seen the movie adaptation that hit the screens a few weeks ago will know, there are a huge amount of details that have either been changed or cut out completely in the process of constructing this film. 

For a start, Emma's peculiarity is switched with Olive's. I don't in any way think that this is a negative thing though and I mean, being able to fly is just as awesome as being able to make fire right? In the film, we first meet Emma as she introduces the home and peculiar children in wait..are those lead boots? Like I said, it's interesting to see Tim Burton's views on what the work of Ransom Riggs looks like to him and I understand why he thought it might be necessary. Also, I don't think that the music play list did much justice for this film. It just didn't seem to fit very well which was a shame because the music in the trailer is so pretty. I absolutely loved watching Eva Green as Miss Peregrine and all of the children were amazing.  Although some scenes were in my opinion, over animated and far fetched (don't even get me started on the Blackpool scene), I do truly recommend giving it a watch.

Until next time, health and happiness,
Marti xxx