Sunday, December 27, 2015

Self Care Sunday December Edition

It’s been a while since I posted! I had finished Blog Every Day in November, full of gusto for the month of December and all the blogging ideas I had. And I fell sick. I caught a really bad cold the weekend I was home for Late Late Toy Show and it took over 2 weeks to shake it. And by then I got caught up in the panic of being behind making all my Christmas gifts (post on which to come soon) and blogging didn’t even get a look in. And now that Christmas Day has passed and it’s the lull before New Year’s, I decided to do another Self Care Sunday post.

self care sunday

December was NOT a self care month. I was physically sick, which brought my mental health down, though I did try and take care of myself. I did get so stressed out though before Christmas, trying to get my own gifts sorted and worried that they are inadequate, trying to shop with and for others, meeting people, organising surprises, trying to keep everyone but myself happy and of course failing to succeed on that. This Christmas is probably one of the first I have not enjoyed in a long time. Full of anxiety and stress, I’ve felt lonely despite having people nearby, had a constant hum of anxiety in my chest, which swells up when I least expect it.
One thing that has kept me afloat is Vlogmas. Not me doing it, I don’t know if I’d ever have the courage to start a YouTube account. But I really enjoyed watching some of my favourite YouTubers do Vlogmas, especially Rosianna’s. To watch someone be so frank at times about her feelings but also see her trying to care and look out for herself helped me big time. On Day 4, she describes waking up and feeling depressed and decides to be nice to herself. Rosianna goes on to describe 4 things she keeps on a post-it note to help with self care (1. Have a meal 2. Drink a glass of water 3. Have a shower 4. Go outside) and if she does these 4 things, it makes her feel like she has some control of her life and even thinking about the post-it note helps distract her from negative feelings and sets some easy tasks for her to accomplish. This has been on my mind since watching that video and I really like that idea, I’m going to have a think for a post-it note of my own, something that will help ground me when I feel like I’m spiralling out of control with anxiety.


During Blog Every Day in November, I made some self care pledges and this slipped away out of my mind. Being sick, I barely left the house, so I haven’t had a chance to be more active. I’ve barely seen friends either (partly from being sick, partly from being anxious and partly because plans just didn’t work out). I haven’t enjoyed crafting that much, mainly because I was trying to get things finished and stressing out over that. The only thing has been enjoying the small things. And not a conscious effort either, but just when they’ve cropped up. Enjoying time with the cats, planning on my reading year for next year, listening to rain. Again I want to spend time for the rest of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 making an effort on these pledges.

IMG_5502
Spending time with one of the cats back home!

Part of me feels ridiculous that I feel like this. That I have so much to be grateful for and I do know this, deep down I do. But this year has been such a rollercoaster, a shitty rollercoaster. I could name more bad than good I think, though I won’t. I want to concentrate on the good. My friends, who I know are frustrated by me but are still supportive. My boyfriend, who feels helpless when he sees me struggling but tries his best and has stuck by me for 10 whole years. My family, who have all helped in their own small ways, even if they don’t know how bad I feel (or maybe they do!). 2015 is almost over and I'm so glad. I have a lot to look forward to in 2016 and hopefully it was overshadow 2015. This hadn’t intended to be a post like this, of reflections and plans for the future but I suppose it does fit under self care!

In the vein of Rosianna’s video, I’d love for people to comment below with any self care tips they have. I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays) and that you have a fantastic New Year as well. Here’s to taking care of ourselves!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

November Reads

Finally back on track with Reading Reviews! Here’s what I read in November.

November Reads

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

frankenstein

I started reading Frankenstein in October, thinking it would be a suitable read for over Halloween. I didn’t find it scary but it does make you think! You really feel for the monster, I felt really sorry for him. Shelley has a beautiful way with words and it’s well worth the read, it’s a classic for a reason. The only reason I didn’t love it was I felt it dragged in places and my mind started to wander.

 

 

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

lolita

Another classic, although a more modern one. Lolita is a story that we probably all know something about, bit it something small. It tells the story of pervert Humbert Humbert, who falls in love with 12 year old Lolita and sets forth to seduce her. The book is very uncomfortable in parts, but there’s no doubting that Nabokov is a fantastic writer, he has a wonderful turn of phrase and it’s easy to see why this is a masterpiece.

 

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

daughter of smoke and bone

This is the first book in the YA fantasy series. It follows Karou, a 17 year old girl who lives in Prague, goes to art school and spends her time drawing fantastical monsters. Except for the fact that these monsters are not part of her imagination, they are real and the only family Karou knows. She runs errands for Brimstone, collecting teeth from hunters around the world, not really knowing what Brimstone’s work is. Karou doesn’t much much of her life, but as the angels start to arrive, Brimstone and co.’s enemies, Karou is about to find out a lot more about her past. I really loved this book and the idea behind it. I’ve read a lot of YA fantasy series and I really loved the setting in Prague, probably because I’ve been there twice. The two worlds that Taylor has created are well thought out and interesting.

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith

the woman who walked in sunshine

This is book number 16 in the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, about Precious Ramotswe and her agency in Botswana. Mma Ramotswe’s assistant, Grace, persuades Mma Ramotswe to go on holiday but of course she can’t just relax and get wraps up in a few different mysteries! These are feel good light mysteries, they’ve really made me want to visit Botswana!

 

 

 

The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh

The Pillowman

 The Pillowman is play about an author who writes some twisted, gruesome stories and finds himself and his brother under arrest when a number of recent child murders bare striking resemblances to the stories. This is probably the first time I’ve read a play outside of school, I’d love to see this on stage as it’s dark and twisted and there’s short stories within the story of the play which just adds these layers and really make you think. Added to this is the fact it’s set in an unnamed totalitarian state and the themes of censorship and interrogation that crop up make this play a fascinating read. McDonagh is the writer and director of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths so if you like those films you’ll enjoy this play!

Persuasion by Jane Austen

persuasion

The only other Austen I’ve read is Pride and Prejudice, which I did like but I’ve never really felt compelled to read other Austen novels. But when the Reading Challenge called for a classic romance I decided to give Austen another go and settled for an audio book of Persuasion. Set in early 1800s, Anne Elliot was in love with Captain Wentworth but rejected his proposal due to family and friends persuading her to do so. Years later Wentworth crops up on the scene and Anne is still in love with him. But does he still feel the same way about her? I didn’t love the book, it was ok. It felt like there were too many characters than needed, which made it hard to remember who was who. I can see why people would love the book, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

The Second Book of General Ignorance by John LLoyd and John Mitchinson

QI_Second_Book

I started this book in April 2012 and only finished it now. But don’t let that put you off! There wasn’t a real reason for doing so, except for the fact it’s the perfect book to dip in and out of, that there’s no need to hurry through it. If you’re a fan of QI and just a fan in general of fact books, then you’ll definitely get something out of this. Now to give it back to my aunt, who’s probably forgotten that she even owns this!

 

 

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood and Starlight

Book two in the Daughter of Smoke and Bones series and seeing as it’s a book in a series then I won’t say much about it! It follows on from the first book (review up above), where by the end Karou has learnt a lot more about her past and she spends this book dealing with this knowledge and putting it to good use! We get to see more of the other world which is nice too as it helps build the entire setting of the book.

 

 

 

The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell

Bookshop book

Having read and loved Jen Campbell’s Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops series I decided to give this book a go. In it, Jen tells us about books all over the world, starting with the UK, then Europe, Africa the Americas, Australasia and finally Asia. All continents covered except Antarctica, which I’m sure would have been covered if there was a bookshop there! In between these descriptions are interviews with authors, where they state their earliest memories of bookstores, the bookshops they love now and what their dream bookshop would be if they ever ran one. I loved hearing about all these bookshops, some are so innovative and cool, others just sound cosy and small but are anchors to the communities they are in. I read it more or less in one go, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had just picked it up every now and again, just so I could savour it more!

Humbugs and Heartstrings by Catherine Ferguson

humbugs and heartstrings

Every Christmas I read one or two of these lighter, fluffier books and make no apologies for it! This book is a loose reworking of A Christmas Carol, where Bobbie works for the meanest, Scroogiest boss Carol, who is actually a old friend of Bobbie’s. They used to be very close but something happened to deteriorate their relationship. The only reason Bobbie stays working for her is because she’s saving for an operation for her brother Tim (see, very Christmas Carol!). When a cracked lady reads Bobbie’s tea leaves and sees not only a reconciliation with Carol but a new man in Bobbie’s life, things start getting a bit crazy. It’s a bit cheesy but I enjoyed it. It’s also currently only £0.99 on Kindle at the moment too.

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne

winnie the pooh

I thought I had read this before but turns out I haven’t. I’ve read other Pooh stories but not this one. This seems to be all the original stories and the original of Winnie the Pooh but please correct me if I’m wrong. I enjoyed this, Pooh bear is childhood staple and I definitely identify with Eeyore to a certain degree! No Tigger in this book though, he must come later on.

 

 

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

carry on

I love Rainbow’s YA novels Fangirl and Eleanor and Park, she writes contemporary young adult novels really well. So when I heard she was writing a fantasty novel when I went to her book signing last year, I was a bit surprised but also intrigued. Then I found out it’s based on the characters from Fangirl. No, not Cath and Levi, but the characters that Cath writes fanfiction about. Rainbow has made it clear that this book is not Cath’s intruptation of the characters nor the ‘original author’ of the books in the Fangirl book but Rainbow’s own take on the characters. Ok then, so does this make is fanfiction? Seeing as the original author in Fangirl is considered canon and this is Rainbow’s take on it? I still don’t know exactly how I feel about this book. There are elements I do like: the mix of contemporary world and the world of Mages, the characters of Baz and Penny. Things I hated like how the name of the bad guy in the book is the Humdrum and the fact the school is set in Watford (right where the studios for Harry Potter are) and things I’m unsure of (how the magic works, hated it at first but I’ve warmed to it). There are very clever Harry Potter vibes, including Harry and Draco fanfiction, which I don’t mind really. The book is slow to start, which I think didn’t help me at the beginning but once it gets going I did find it a bit of a page turner. If you liked the fanfic in Fangirl then you’ll probably like this. If you didn’t like the fanfic, then you won’t like this. But if you were unsure or could take or leave the fanfic then you might enjoy this. It does have classic elements of Rainbow’s writing and if there was a follow up book to this I might pick it up. Though considering the amount of people I’ve seen who LOVE this book, there’s probably going to be plenty of fanfic online about what happens after this book!

November Stats

Number of books read- 12
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 10:2
Male to Female authors- 5:7
Number of eBooks- 2 (Frankenstein and Humbugs and Heartstrings)
Number of books borrowed from library- 7 (Lolita, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine, The Pillowman, Days of Blood and Starlight, The Bookshop Book and Carry On)
Number of Audio Books- 1 (Persuasion)

Reading Challenge Completed

A Classic Romance- Persuasion

A Book that Scares You- Lolita

A Play- The Pillow Man

A Book Based On or Turned Into a TV Show- The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine

A Book You Started but Never Finished- The Second Book of General Ignorance

A Book Set at Christmas- Humbugs and Heartstrings

A Banned Book- Winnie the Pooh

Read a trilogy Book One: Daughter of Smoke and Bones

Read a trilogy Book Two: Days of Blood and Starlight

 

There we go! That was a big reading month and as you can probably tell, I’m trying to finish off all the Reading Challenge themes. I’m slowly getting there, only 7ish left to go!

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