Thursday, 28 January 2016

The love of blogging (& fail of Janu-Blog)


So, I aimed to blog every day in January and I didn't quite succeed.

My aim in trying to blog every day in the month was to reignite the love of writing, to use a cliché. I'd fallen out of the habit over the run-up to Christmas and thought that writing something every day, no matter how silly or serious, would help.

For the first half of the month, I really enjoyed it. I wrote about books and lifestyle; the two things I enjoy writing about the most. It was incredibly motivating. As the month went on and life started getting back to normal after Christmas, with uni and work training, writing a new post every single day became quite pressurising and began to have the opposite effect to what the start of the month had brought.

So after 19 days of Janu-Blog, I decided to stop.

The little experiment worked. I'm now very inspired in my blog and have quite a few topics I want to discuss. I stopped the "blog post every day" at the perfect time for me.

Now, I think I will aim to have a blog post up at least once a week to keep myself writing and keep my posts consistent. I don't plan on keeping a certain day or time to publish my posts, but this might change.

I've grown to love my blog over the past month. With a new header and a clear outline of what I enjoy posting about, things are looking up for Becca Writes and I'm hoping that despite what this semester of uni throws at me (hint: lots of exams, essays with a side order of absolute stress) I'll keep up this little corner of the internet - to quote another cliché - and stay active with blogging.

I hope January has treated you all well and the next few months are equally as great for you!


Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Back to uni | Janu-Blog Day 19

Yesterday, semester two of my third year of university began. I'm exhausted already.

Lecture number one warned us of how much work the class would be over the next few months. Lecture number two handed us a reading list that I don't think I would finish if I read non-stop for the rest of the year.

Remember at school when the first day back after the holidays was known as an easy day. Teachers would discuss the agenda for the weeks ahead... and not much else happened. Uni is totally different. We are shoved straight into the fear of upcoming exams and feeling guilty for spending any time at all not studying.

It makes sense; in six months I'll have a degree if all goes well. That doesn't mean the journey there will be easy.

Thus, today's post is a brief one. I'm just very tired two days into a 12 week semester.

I'm blogging every day in January! Check back at 6pm GMT every day for a new Janu-Blog post!

Monday, 18 January 2016

"The Martian" by Andy Weir - spoiler free book review | Janu-Blog Day 18

"The Martian" by Andy Weir was the first book I read in 2016 and I feel it will be difficult for any other book this year to top it.

Sci-fi isn't my usual genre of interest - the only science-y books I've ever truly enjoyed were the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, and the reason I enjoyed these were because they are fairytale retellings. Nevertheless, after hearing great things about the movie and being intrigued by the synopsis, I decided to pick it up.

"The Martian" follows Mark Watney, an astronaut who is on a mission to Mars. In a dust storm accident, his crew are left believing that Mark has died and they leave the planet to go back to Earth without him. However, he wakes up to find that he is entirely alone on a planet and must work out how to survive for the next number of years, while trying to contact Earth to let them know he is still there.

What makes this book enjoyable for someone who is not usually a fan of sci-fi is the main character. Mark is hilarious. I'd go as far to say that he's the best book character I've ever read about. In the face of crisis, his humour appears and he relies on his sarcasm to try and pull him through.

Despite being a science fiction that contained a lot of science, maths and calculations, they are explained in a way that's easy to understand while also making you feel like you're intelligent for comprehending them.  The story itself is very interesting - we see Mark's point of view through logs and we see occasional flashes of what is happening back on Earth. This makes the fact that we're following one person alone on a planet the opposite of boring; Mark is easy to root for and his journey is full of action. Andy Weir thought of everything when he was writing this - it almost makes me suspect that he has too been trapped alone on Mars.

I gave "The Martian" 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads and if I'd read it a week earlier, it would have made it into my top books of 2015 without a doubt. Watch out for my 2016 version - I don't doubt that this will make an appearance.

I'm blogging every day in January! Check back at 6pm GMT every day for a new Janu-Blog post!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Harry Potter tag! | Janu-Blog Day 17

a snap from the harry potter studio tour

Saying that I love Harry Potter is an understatement. It remains one of my favourite series of all-time and frequently re-read or re-watch it (sorry Dad!). I thought it would be apt to bring out my inner Potter nerd and do the Harry Potter tag today. Probably needless to say, but there will be spoilers throughout this blog post if you have not completed the series in book or film form!

1. Favourite book?
Goblet of Fire. It's where the series fully turns adult and the writing is excellent.
2. Favourite movie
Deathly Hallows Part 1. Everything came to life from the book so well and every actor is very true to character as I imagined when I read the book.
3. Least favourite book 
There isn't a book in the series that I dislike, but the one I probably care about the least is Prisoner of Azkaban. The first time I read it I struggled to get into it, plus it's before Goblet of Fire which was, as I said before, my favourite in the series.
4. Parts of the books/movies that made you cry
 I didn't cry during the movies, but while reading the books for the first time I sobbed at Dobby's death. I surprisingly didn't cry at any of the human deaths, probably because most of them were very quick and shocking, whereas Dobby's death had the aftermath of Harry digging his grave.
5. If you could hook up with any HP character who would it be?
Probably Ron, because he's a bit of a loser at times and I am too!
6. Favourite character?
Luna Lovegood. This is quite a typical character to have as a favourite, but her quirkiness and courage make her unbeatable.
7. What would your Patronus be?
I just took a very credible Buzzfeed quiz and it told me that my Patronus would be a horse because I'm "loyal, smart and willing to take risks for my friends". Until Pottermore opens its Patronus quiz, I have to rely on this reputable answer from Buzzfeed.
8. If you could have the Resurrection Stone, Invisibility Cloak or the Elder Wand which one would you choose?
I should say the Invisibility Cloak because I know the tale of the three brothers... but who could resist the most powerful magic wand in the world that you could do anything with?
9. What House would you be in?
I'm a Hufflepuff through and through.
 10. If you could meet any member of the cast who would it be? 
Maggie Smith (who played McGonagall) - she's a legendary actress and I think having a chat with her would be incredibly enriching.
11. Were you happy with the ending?
I was - except I'd have loved the epilogue to be an extra five-ten minutes long so we could see what came of other main characters (Neville, Luna, some of the teachers).

I hope you enjoyed this! Let me know your favourite character in the comments if you're a Potter nerd too.


I'm blogging every day in January! Check back at 6pm GMT every day for a new Janu-Blog post!

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Time | Janu-Blog Day 16

Time. It constantly ticks. We don't know how long we have left so we should embrace every second, right?

That would be much easier if time didn't move so quickly.

I try to enjoy life as much as I can but the older I grow, the quicker time flies. Every time I blink, time speeds up. More than ever, realisations hit me of "oh, I'm so old". I found out today that a little boy I used to play games with when I was around 12 is now turning 14. 14. I swear he was still barely starting primary school when I moved houses five years ago, and now he's studying for his exams.

I'm 20, so this may seem ridiculous. People older than myself say "the 20s are the prime of your life", or "you're so young!", or "don't worry about getting old". It's hard to agree with them when time is whizzing by; I could swear that yesterday I started university.

And now, I'm halfway through my degree.

Two and a half years have now passed since my first day as a uni student (and met Rachel for the first time, bonjour amie!). My second semester of third year begins on Monday and now, with every class and every day that passes, I will be further and further away from the beginning of the timeline of "my degree" and I will edge closer to the end. Before long, I will be a graduate and have to work a "real" job.

I fear that I'll finish this post, fall asleep and suddenly wake up in my 50s. 

Time is going quickly and nothing will stop it; it's a fairground ride that's spinning round and round, getting faster and faster and all I can do is hold on for dear life and enjoy it while it lasts.

I'm blogging every day in January! Check back at 6pm GMT every day for a new Janu-Blog post!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Super cheap book haul | Janu-Blog Day 15

Recently, I cleared out a lot of books to donate to a charity shop. I chose a cancer care bookshop in Ayrshire, where my boyfriend lives, and while visiting to give my books, I had to look at what they had on offer...

Nothing could have prepared me for those prices.

Every book was 50p or under, with multi-buy deals if you bought a few books. I couldn't contain myself and bought five second-hand books for £1.30. I was practically hyperventilating as I left the shop; FIVE books for £1.30?! I felt like I had robbed the charity.

Nevertheless, here are the books that I bought!

"Beautiful" by Katie Piper:
I adore Katie Piper. Her story is very inspiring and right now, I'm addicted to Bodyshockers on TV. "Beautiful" is her first autobiography, and if I enjoy it I'll definitely have a look at her other two.

"Life & Laughing" by Michael McIntyre:
During 2015, I read a lot of autobiographies and I wanted to continue this trend into this year. Comedians' autobiographies are some of my favourites, so I couldn't resist picking up Michael McIntyre's.

"Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes:
I had to pick up this book when I saw it because I've heard so many great things about it. It follows Lou, who loses her job, and Will, who is recovering from a motorbike accident. All I know is that the pair cross paths and things ensue from there.

 "The List" by Joanna Bolouri:
 This was a total spine/cover buy. I didn't think I owned any books with pink spines and I thought it would look beautiful on my bookshelf. I'm saving this one for if I ever need pulled out of a reading slump, as I've heard it's an easy, fun read about a woman who is single and trying to have fun.

"Confessions of a Tinderella" by Rosy Edwards:
I've already read this one since buying it and it was super funny! It's a memoir of Rosy and her journey to find love on Tinder. I found myself laughing out loud a few times at this and would recommend it as an easy read, especially if you aren't used to non-fiction and want to get into it.

I'll perhaps definitely need to return to this bookshop soon, so many bargains!

I'm blogging every day in January! Check back at 6pm GMT every day for a new Janu-Blog post!

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Alan Rickman | Janu-Blog Day 14

photo credit

Today, Alan Rickman sadly passed away from cancer at the age of 69.

Celebrity deaths are not something that usually affect me terribly. I feel sad for the family and friends of the deceased and get on with my day-to-day life. Around 150,000 people who I don't know die every single day around the world and a celebrity is just one of them.

Alan Rickman's death, however, has impacted me.

He is one of the most recognisable actors of the past 30 years. Of course, he is most well-known for playing the role of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series, which is how most people of my age know him best. He's one of those actors who has been in everything, including Love Actually, Die Hard, Sense and Sensibility and he voiced a character in Alice in Wonderland.

I don't think there's any true reason for the effect his death has had on me, except from that he is an actor I grew up watching. There's also no real reason for this blog post except from that his death is all I have thought about today and it felt wrong to post a book haul or something as trivial when my peers and I are absolutely saddened by his death.

Rest in peace Alan Rickman. 

"I do take my work seriously and the way to do that is not to take yourself too seriously."

I'm blogging every day in January! Check back at 6pm GMT every day for a new Janu-Blog post!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

13 truths about studying modern languages | Janu-Blog Day 13

I study French at university and there are many aspects of the course that people who don't study a language just don't seem to get.

1. It's a constant battle trying to explain that we speak some of the language but we aren't actually anywhere near fluent.

2. But when we've had a bit too much to drink, we're convinced we're fluent and we will talk loudly in broken Franglais to the whole pub.

3. We buy very bulky, extensive dictionaries and never actually use them. Between the efficiency of Word Reference, Collins Dictionary online and Google Translate, why would we need to go through the effort of flicking through pages to find the word we're looking for?

4. Speaking of Google Translate, it's awful. We know it's awful. Yet, we continue to use it for all last-minute translations.

5. When we can't remember which of the 20 different past tenses to use, we will always resort to the most basic form.

6. Fitting a subjunctive phrase into an essay makes us feel incredible.

7. The phrase "oral class" is as second nature to us as the terms "tutorial" and "lecture", so it sometimes takes us a few seconds to realise why you're laughing at us when we talk about our uni classes.

8. Some words don't have a direct translation and nothing is more frustrating.

9. When something is said in any other language in a film or TV show, everyone will ask us what it means, even if we don't speak a word of that language.

10. Yet, when we voluntarily offer a translation, people assume we're just showing off.

11. We will never know every idiom that exists in our learned language, and we're kind of alright with that.

12. Netflix counts as revision (as long as we're in the International section).

13. As much as we complain about our course, languages can really be enjoyable and most of the time, we're glad we chose to study it.

I'm blogging every day in January! Check back at 6pm GMT every day for a new Janu-Blog post!

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

New blog design! | Janu-Blog Day 12

I'm super happy to finally show off my new blog design!

I was never really happy with how Becca Writes looked before. I like it simple, but it was a bit too simple for my liking.

And here enters my knight in shining armour with the skills to give me a new blog design - my boyfriend, Jamie. He's a whizz at Photoshop and has the patience to cope with my indecisiveness, so he was pressured into kindly volunteered to help me out. Fast forward and here we are with five sample headers (y'know, in case I ever change my mind), new icons and an overall design that I'm really satisfied with.

The thing I loved most about my previous design was definitely the colour. White, grey and blue just works (in my opinion anyway!) and I wanted to keep that, but add a bit more me into it. We came up with the watercolour design for my header - in a shade of blue that's very slightly more muted than my previous colour - and ended up using that as the inspiration for the rest of the blog. We completed it little incorporations of foxes - which are my favourite animal. I'm very happy with it, and feel like it's came at the perfect time to hopefully motivate me to complete Janu-Blog.

Hope you all love it as much as I do! (I keep exclaiming "I LOVE IT!" every time I see it, so you probably don't.)

I'm blogging every day in January! Check back at 6pm GMT every day for a new Janu-Blog post!

Monday, 11 January 2016

Am I an adult? | Janu-Blog Day 11

I'm 20 years old, but I don't know how old I feel.

Honestly, I don't really know how old I'm supposed to feel.

When I was younger I thought about hitting my 20s and it seemed so old - "married at 21, kids at 23, millionaire at 25". That was the plan. I turn 21 this year and I'm nowhere near marriage, even further away from having children and I know that at 25, I'll be lucky to be on a graduate salary. I don't even know if the three things I associated with being in my early 20s will ever happen (except from becoming a millionaire, because I'm fabulous and it will happen one day).

On the other hand, there are many people my age who are married or engaged, who have children, who have mortgages and real life jobs and other adult things. The thought of that is terrifying. I struggle to make my bed in the morning; I'm definitely not ready to be a real adult yet.

So where does that place me? I'm the age of an adult - I can legally drink, vote, gamble, get a tattoo. But I don't have adult responsibilities. I still live with my parents, I'm a student with no large commitments. I feel like nothing has changed from when I was around 15. 

How does one define the term "adult"? Is there a defining moment where the realisation that you are now a grown up hits? Am I an adult simply because I am over the age of 18? My brother made the point that in his opinion, adulthood is simply when you do what other adults do because that is what is expected of you. Is he correct?

Whether I'm truly an adult or not yet, I'm enjoying the life I lead while I can. It won't be long before I have real responsibilities; I'm dreading the day I move out and have bills to pay - maybe when that day comes, I'll realise that being an adult is not easy and I'll beg my parents to let me move back home.

I'm blogging every day in January! Check back at 6pm GMT every day for a new Janu-Blog post!

Sunday, 10 January 2016

5 book recommendations - Guest post by OriginalBooker | Janu-Blog Day 10

Today's post is by Anthea, from OriginalBooker, and she's going to share five book recommendations!

I’ve read so many books in my life that recommending books to people should be easy, but it really isn’t. There’s such a range of books to choose from, I feel bad for leaving some out! I’m going to try my hardest to pick out books that I absolutely loved and adored. These are the books that I think everyone should read! 

 1. "Ugly Love" by Colleen Hoover

This is a New Adult love story. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh god not another one” but just hear me out. It’s REALLY good. It’s about a girl and a guy who hate each other at first meeting, but eventually come to an arrangement of friends with benefits. We all know what happens from there, it’s not pretty but there’s a big event/dark memory that lingers over these characters that makes this book so unique.

2. "Silver Linings Playbook" by Matthew Quick 

I was told by a million and one people to read something of Colleen Hoover’s so this is the book I chose and honestly, as I was reading it, I thought ‘You know what? This is definitely one of my favourite books, ever.’ And it really is. It brought out SO many emotions and I applaud books that can do that. I was happy, sad, angry, frustrated, hopeful and completely heartbroken. 
This may be a book that everyone has read (or at least seen the film) but I just read this a few months ago, and loved it. If you don’t know, it’s about a man who was admitted to a mental health facility for reasons. He then is allowed home and it’s about him figuring out how to deal with everything. 

3. "Everything Everything" by Nicola Yoon 

The issues that it dealt with are so close to my heart that I couldn’t not love this book. Everything about it was so raw, and realistic. It was a truly inspiring read and I think anyone who is interested in/has links with mental health (and those who don’t) should definitely give this a read. It’s fantastic. 
This was my favourite read of 2015, without a doubt. I remember finishing it and just being completely lost. It’s about a girl who has a disease which stops her from being able to go outside into the world. She’s allergic to it, so she’s confined to her house. But then she gets new neighbours, and sees them from her window and everything takes off from there. 

I cried during this, I was just shocked. It was cute, and it was happy at times. It was also sad, and I found myself wondering what it would be like to be her, to always be in your house and never go anywhere. It was just a really intriguing concept. I don’t want to say anymore because I don’t want to give anything away but it’s GOOD. Really good. Oh I want to read it again. 

If you’ve read this, try "Emmy & Oliver" by Robin Benway.

4. "A Court of Thorns and Roses" by Sarah J Maas 

I didn’t want to add this into the 5 recommendations, but I needed to switch them up a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved this book, but I know you’ve all heard of it. This is a beauty and the beast retelling, with faeries. Nuff said, amirite? 

I’m going to tell you now, if you’re sitting on the fence about this, you’re unsure whether you’ll like it or not. Pick it up, give it a try and I will guarantee that you’ll at least like it, if not love it. I loved everything about this book. It was slow throughout the middle, but I think it needed that and I enjoyed that aspect. I’m not really a fan of fae, I never have been but this book has converted me. I love the world, I loved the characters and all the action at the end boosted my rating all the way up. If anything, the end is worth the slowness in the middle. 

5. "Cinder" by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #1) 

This is my all-time favourite series. Again, it’s another fairytale retelling, each book focuses on a different fairytale/heroine. It’s amazing. A cyborg Cinderella in a world set in the future. SOLD. Again, when I first heard about this series, I thought ‘nah I’m not into cyborgs and sci-fi’ but it’s not what you think. It’s really good. Cinder is an AMAZING character. The world she lives in is so interesting. I can’t say enough about this, I could go on and on. 

The thing I love most about this series is that it’s so cleverly written, as you work your way through, it all fits together like a jigsaw puzzle and I love that. 

Thanks Anth for writing this post! If you want to check out the five recommendations I wrote about on her blog, you can here!

I'm blogging every day in January! Check back at 6pm GMT every day for a new Janu-Blog post!

Friday, 8 January 2016

Most disappointing books of 2015 | Janu-Blog Day 8

 Nobody likes every book in the world - which is a shame because sometimes reading a dud book can feel like a waste of time. Nevertheless, we can learn from the books we didn't like and it's interesting to reflect on what didn't float your boat.

"Divergent" series by Veronica Roth -
 The hype surrounding this trilogy is colossal, and is equal to the interest that surrounded The Hunger Games series a couple of years ago (which I also read because of the hype, and I loved). The first book, Divergent, was pretty good - it was very fast-paced and exciting. Unfortunately, the second book, Insurgent, was very slow and not much happened. By the final book, I was done with the slow pace and gave up after around 150 pages. This was the most disappointing thing I read in 2015, simply because of the hype.

"The Humans" by Matt Haig -
 I loved "Reasons to Stay Alive" by Matt Haig in 2015 so I was very excited to read one of his pieces of fiction, especially as my friend Rachel loved it. I just found it boring and unbelievable. It tells the story of an alien who is sent to Earth to pose as a human, but he knows nothing about mankind. I finished it in the hope that it'd get better, but it didn't.

"Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell -  
"Fangirl" was one of two Rainbow Rowell books I read in 2015 and it was the most dull read of the year. I hated the main character - I wanted to shake sense into her, she was so boring! The "climax" of the book wasn't exciting at all and the ending was as boring as the rest of it. This novel is very popular, with a 4.2 rating on Goodreads and a five-star rating from almost all of my friends who have read it. I just don't get it.

This is a short list, which is great because it meant that I enjoyed most of what I read in 2015! What books did you find disappointing last year?


I'm blogging every day in January! Check back at 6pm GMT every day for a new Janu-Blog post!

Thursday, 7 January 2016

How to tell if a MAC lipstick is fake | Janu-Blog Day 7


MAC lipsticks are so darn expensive, yet most ladies go crazy over them. This has led to a huge rise in fakes around the Internet, for as little as £1.50 a pop. These fakes can be exceptionally realistic so it's easy to see why so many people are duped into thinking they're grabbing a bargain. I have a few MAC lipsticks and can identify a real one from a fake, and wanted to share my knowledge. Curious about the pages of fakes on eBay, I ordered the cheapest I could find to compare it to my real products (before getting a refund from the seller due to the bad quality, of course). 

fake: left. real: right.

The packaging of MAC lipsticks is very distinctive, which makes them very easy to copy. There are some subtle differences, however, between the fake and the real deal. The tube itself of a real MAC lipstick is slightly shiny with subtle shimmer, whereas my fake is completely matte and the shade of black is not as dark. Watch out for a faded "MAC" logo: it should be clearly silver and will not fade quickly. My fake also did not come in a box, which all legitimate MAC lipsticks should.

fake: left. real: right.
 The MAC logo is always the same font; its size and positioning on the tube are two of the biggest giveaways that a lipstick is not legitimate. The tube on my real lipstick is also thinner than the fake.

fake: left. real: right.
 A real MAC lipstick will state its name and code in bold capitals, and everything else on the sticker will not be bolded. The address going round the sticker will never have overlapping letters or symbols. On the fake I purchased, it has the style of lipstick in bold and has the incorrectt one. A real lipstick in "Rebel" is a satin finish, whereas the sticker of the fake claims it is a retro matte.

The real lipstick is much heavier than the fake, which weighs almost nothing. Its overall feel is much more plastic than the real thing.

The scent of MAC lipsticks is renowned - they have a unique vanilla scent. My fake does not smell of anything.

The differences between the real and fake lipsticks are subtle (especially if you do not own any real ones!) but they exist and it's important to be vigilant. Legitimate make-up sellers will be willing to send more photos of a product if you are unsure. Remember, if you see an expensive product online for an extremely cheap price, it's probably too good to be true.

I'm blogging every day in January! Check back at 6pm GMT every day for a new Janu-Blog post!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

5 things that happened in 2015 | Janu-Blog Day 6

2015 had its good points and its bad points, and it'll definitely be a year that I'll remember. It's always fun to reflect on what happened, so here are five things that happened in 2015 to make it the memorable year that it was.

I travelled

After a couple of years of going on all-inclusive holidays, my friends and I decided to do something a bit different in September. Just before uni started, we embarked on a two week interrailing trip to France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. These were four countries that I'd never visited before and the whole trip was unforgettable. We tried so many new things, had experiences I'd never imagined we'd have and ate lots of local food. It was fast-paced and amazing. It's given me the travel bug and I can't wait until the next time I go abroad. I also saw quite a bit of Scotland in 2015: as well as areas of Greater Glasgow I'd never visited, I ventured to Edinburgh, Perth, Loch Lomond and Tiree.

some snaps from Europe

I went to a Taylor Swift concert

Taylor Swift has been my favourite singer for seven years - I'm a tad obsessed with her. Seeing her perform live was on my bucket list and I was able to cross it off when she came to Glasgow on her 1989 Tour in June and managed to get tickets (thanks Jamie!). I screamed, I cried and I spent the full concert re-enacting my 13-year-old fangirl days. It was magical.

photo credit to my chum Rachel

I entered my third year of uni

Third year is difficult. I've never been so academically challenged in my life. The jump from second to third year was astronomical, but I'm proud of myself for making it this far. Entering third year is momentous because at the end of next semester, I WILL HAVE A DEGREE. That's impossible to comprehend.

I saw lots of wrestling shows

2015 was a great year for wrestling. I'm fortunate enough to live near Glasgow, which is one of the most thriving cities in the UK for wrestling shows. I saw quite a few ICW shows (the highlight of these was being part of the 4000+ crowd at the SECC; the biggest show by a UK wrestling company in a long time), I saw NXT on their first ever UK tour (which had the best wrestling audience of any show I've ever attended) and even though I've pretty much stopped watching WWE altogether during 2015, I was lucky enough to work at one of their Glasgow shows this year and was essentially paid to watch a wrestling show (and get knocked over by 200 Roman Reigns fans all under the age of 10 - but that's another story). I'm looking forward to attending more shows in 2016, starting with ICW's Square Go at the end of this month.

I gave up the job I hated

 This really was a big one for me - I had a part-time job that really was not for me and after 11 months, I finally packed it in. After leaving, everything seemed to fall into place and I found a new job about a week later. It was sheer luck, and now I have a seasonal job which is welcoming me back in spring 2016 as well as a casual job to help top up my bank balance during uni. I'm much happier with my working life now!

Hope 2015 was memorable for you all!

I'm blogging every day in January! Check back at 6pm GMT every day for a new Janu-Blog post!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Taylor Swift book tag | Janu-Blog Day 5


Books and Taylor Swift are two of my favourite things in life, and when I found out there was a tag that combined them I knew that I had to do it. I don't know how I didn't think of it. The aim is to answer the Taylor Swift song-inspired questions with a corresponding book. And it's mandatory to listen to Tay Sway as you complete it (this isn't actually a rule; I just wanted an excuse to listen to her).

1. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together - pick a book or series that you were pretty sure you were in love with, but then wanted to break up with.
"Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer. When I first read it, I was 12-years-old and I believed this series was THE best thing ever. The hype surrounding it when the movies started coming out drew me in, and I (shamefully) found myself in many a team Edward vs team Jacob dispute. I wish I could pretend my Twilight days didn't happen.

2. Red - pick a book with a RED cover.
"Winter" by Marissa Meyer; in fact, all four of the novels in the Lunar Chronicles have red on the cover. I adore this series, and "Winter" has a beautiful cover.

3. The Best Day - pick a book that makes you feel nostalgic.
Most people would say the Harry Potter series, but for me it has to be "Bootleg" by Alex Shearer. My brother and I spent hours discussing this book when we were younger, and we were so excited when a TV film was made out of it. It tells the story of a world where chocolate is made illegal (which even today is my worst nightmare) and the story was so different to anything I'd read before when I was younger, making it stick with me.

4. Love Story - pick a book with forbidden love.
I'm completely not into the "we're in love but can't be together" storyline, so can't think of any answers for this question because it's not the style that I read!

5. I Knew You Were Trouble - pick a book with a bad character you couldn’t help but love.
In "The Selection" series by Keira Cass, the reader is supposed to dislike the character of Celeste. She does such bitchy things and tries to ruin everyone else's chances of winning the competition, but part of me knew that there was more to her character and I actually really liked her.

6. Innocent (written b/c of Kanye West!) - pick a book that someone ruined the ending for.
Not the ending as such, but I was told that Dobby died in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling as I started reading Goblet of Fire.

7. Everything Has Changed - pick a character from a book who goes through extensive character development.

Samantha from "The Undomestic Goddess" by Sophie Kinsella. She transforms throughout the book from an overworked lawyer to being relaxed and having a flexible job. Her personality, looks and outlook on life all change and her development is heart-warming to read.

8. You Belong With Me - pick your most anticipated book release.
"Heartless" by Marissa Meyer. After loving the Lunar Chronicles in 2015 and because I have an attachment to Alice in Wonderland, I'm very excited to read her new stand-alone when it comes out in November.

9. Forever and Always - pick your favorite book couple.
There's something I love about Ben and Fallon in "November 9th by Colleen Hoover". Despite everything that happens to them, they work well together and have a strong connection - I just love them.

10. Come Back, Be Here - pick the book you would least like to lend out, for fear of missing it too much.
My signed copy of "The Dream Shall Never Die" by Alex Salmond. I'll never lend it out.

11. Teardrops On My Guitar - pick a book that made you cry a lot.
"Will You Remember Me?" by Amanda Prowse had me sobbing for a good hour. The theme of cancer struck me hard as it's an issue close to my heart. Reading about main character Poppy's cancer journey shook me emotionally, and I take my hat off to Amanda Prowse for her accurate portrayal of cancer sufferers.

12. Shake It Off - pick a book that you love so much, you just shake off the haters.
 My all-time favourite book is "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline. A lot of people love it, but those who don't love it tend to really hate it. I can't find a single thing I dislike about it, so haters gonna hate!

I'm blogging every day in January! Check back at 6pm GMT every day for a new Janu-Blog post!

Monday, 4 January 2016

Looking back at 2015's bookish resolutions | Janu-Blog Day 4

My first post in 2015 was discussing my reading goals for the year and it's time to look back on them to see how I got on!

Firstly, I wanted to read 40 books in 2015. I surpassed this and read 53. I started the year off well, reading a new book every couple of days before calming down a bit after uni started.

In terms of the types of books I wanted to read, I mainly wanted to delve into the world of the autobiography and non-fiction. I feel that I've done quite well with this one. 12 of the 53 books I read are non-fiction; mostly autobiographies. My favourites were James Corden and Daniel Bryan's autobiographies, as well as Matt Haig's "Reasons to Stay Alive" (a mix of autobiography and advice about Haig's journey with depression, anxiety and stress) and "In Order to Live" by Yeonmi Park - the story of a girl escaping North Korea.

My other goal was to read more series of books rather than standalones, which I succeeded in. I started reading / completed eight series throughout the year. The main reason for this resolution was to finally pick up the "Divergent" series by Veronica Roth, which I had heard amazing things about. I did pick up this trilogy, and thoroughly enjoyed the first book. The second book, however, was a slog and I made it through about a fifth of the final book before giving up and looking up the ending on Wikipedia (more on this in my disappointing books post that I'll have up during Janu-Blog). Despite the fail that was the Divergent trilogy, this resolution led me to some incredible series this year, such as "The Selection" series by Keira Cass, the "Lunar Chronicles" by Marissa Meyer and quite a few years after starting the "Shopaholic" series by Sophie Kinsella, the final novel came out this year and I have finally completed it.

Overall, it was a surprisingly good year for keeping bookish resolutions! For 2016, I'm focusing on expanding my reading through the 2016 reading challenge, where I'm aiming to read 40 books under different categories and genres. I've also upped my total goal for reading and want to read 60 books by the 31st of December.

Let me know your bookish resolutions and aims (and any recommendations!) in the comments.

I'm blogging every day in January! Check back at 6pm GMT every day for a new Janu-Blog post!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

My most anticipated books of 2016 | Janu-Blog Day 3

photo credit
One of the most exciting things about a new year for me is looking at all of the new books that are going to be coming out. New standalones, sequels and everything in between, I can't wait!

"The Heart" by Maylis de Kerangal - to be released on Febuary 9th.
This novel follows the story of a heart transplant between a brain-dead teenage boy and a girl whose life can be saved, and it sounds so interesting. The full story takes place over 24 hours and concentrates on everyone who is affected on both sides. It was orginally a French book published in 2014, but because the story sounds so moving I decided to wait until the English translation so that I don't lose any meaning, and I'll probably read both copies side-by-side in Febuary. I've heard some great things about this one, and I'm looking forward to it.

"Politics" by Nick Clegg - to be released in May (date unconfirmed). 
 I'm not a Lib Dem supporter and I do not think highly of Nick Clegg at all - yet, I'm curious about the book he is writing. It has been claimed that it will reveal the secrets behind the UK's recent coalition and why he made many of the decisions that have made him so unpopular, and the part of me that loves politics is interested in whether he has any valid points or whether it'll be pointless excuses.

"The Crown" by Keira Cass - to be released on May 3rd. 
The final instalment of "The Selection" series comes out this year, and I'm very excited! The first four books have had quite a lot of mixed reviews, but I personally think that the concept is original and well-executed. The first three books were intended to be a triology, following a competition in the future where everyday people compete to become the prince's wife. Think The Bachelor mixed with I Want To Marry Harry mixed with some dystopia and a feisty main character. I was so pleased when the trilogy was being turned into a five-part series, and this is the book I'm most likely to pre-order so that I can read it as soon as it's out.

"Heartless" by Marissa Meyer - to be released on November 8th.
I loved all of four books in Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles and read all of them in 2015. In 2016, she will be releasing another book about an already existing world; this time, we will explore the story of the Queen of Hearts before Wonderland existed. Not much has been released yet, but I've never been disappointed by Marissa Meyer's work and whether it is a standalone or the beginning of a new series, I'll read it.

 Are there any books that I should add to my TBR for 2016?

I'm blogging every day in January! Check back at 6pm GMT every day for a new Janu-Blog post!

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Top 5 books of 2015! | Janu-Blog Day 2

In 2015, I read 53 books. A lot of what I read was really great, but a few books were much more memorable than the rest (for the right reasons). Thus, here are the five best books that I read in the past 12 months.

The tear-inducer: "Will You Remember Me?" by Amanda Prowse
What do you do when you know you're going to die? Main character Poppy is faced with this question when she is diagnosed with cancer. We follow Poppy's cancer journey with her husband, children and friends as well as how she copes with her illness. As cancer is an issue very close to me with loved ones, I was impressed by how accurately Amanda Prowse portrayed the realities and frustrations of the disease. I spent an hour full-on crying and had to put the book down at one point as the page was getting too wet with tears. The most heart-breaking book I've ever read, but a fantastic and interesting story.

 The best of the autobiographies: "May I Have Your Attention Please?" by James Corden
I worry that when I read the autobiography of someone I like, it will be bad and I'll end up not liking the person as much. I didn't have this problem with James Corden's book though: it was very well-written and flowed excellently. It wasn't padded out with 500 unnecessary photos like many celebrity memoirs have the habit of doing. I laughed out loud numerous times at the stories of Corden's past. He's one of my favourite actors, and I have even more respect for him after reading this.

The chick-lit with a twist: "Rebel Belle" by Rachel Hawkins
 The story of an ordinary girl who falls into a world of fantasy killers and magic powers whilst applying lipgloss in a bathroom. Although slow at first, it was so worth carrying on reading. Rachel Hawkins is exceptional at throwing twists where you least expect it in her writing. "Rebel Belle" is the first in a trilogy, of which I also read the second book this year. However, it didn't blow me away as much as "Rebel Belle" did. The final book comes out in April 2016, and I'm hoping it has the same impact on me.

 The love story: "Eleanor and Park" by Rainbow Rowell
Two misfits come together and end up falling in love. Sounds clichéd, but there's something beautiful about the story of Eleanor and Park trying to brighten each other's lives in little ways, while battling their own insecurities. It was compelling and every inch of me wanted them to have their happy ending despite their family problems. It's definitely one for if you're in the mood for a not quite conventional love story.

The best book I've ever read: "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline 
RPO came out in 2011 and since, I have heard very mixed things about the novel. When I finally got round to reading it this year, it fast became my favourite book of all time. My heart was racing throughout the full story and I only put it down when I fell asleep on top of it mid-page. I finished it in two days and was desperate to pick it back up again as soon as I finished. The book follows Wade, a teenager in the year 2044 where the world has declined and everyone lives their lives inside virtual reality. A worldwide easter egg hunt inside the virtual reality is going on, set up by the inventor of this reality in his will. The prize is the inheritance of his invention and his millions. It's truly a must-read. I couldn't recommend it enough.

Here's to 2016 being another great reading year!

I'm blogging every day in January! Check back at 6pm GMT every day for a new Janu-Blog post!