Friday, 28 August 2015

Book Review: Allegiant (CONTAINS SPOILERS)

I didn't know how to write this review without referencing it's incredible and impactful ending so apologies for the spoilage (if that is a word).
As someone who has read both Divergent and Insurgent, I would call myself a follower of the series rather than a 'fan'. Don't get me wrong I fully connected with the characters and I loved the concept, but it just doesn't stick out to me as an amazing trilogy. However, Allegiant was the perfect way to finish it off and managed to bring out a strong bond with Tris and Tobias which I wasn't aware I had. 

Firstly, Veronica Roth is the ultimate troll as she not only placed Tris and co in this supposedly Dystopian world where there was nothing outside but the remains of our world, fooling them in to believing that their four factions compromised the entire earth, BUT SHE FOOLED US TOO! This genre went from post apocalyptic to I don't even know what category in a matter of pages. This is such a crazy but clever idea that keeps the reader on their toes. 

The structure of the narrative was also beautiful as we got to see inside the mind of the mysterious Tobias, his character development from a Dauntless to a Pacifist was very interesting to witness. Also, you could clearly see that Tris' confusing but intense love for him was definitely reciprocated which was comforting to know as Roth doesn't make Tobias an easy character to figure out from the outside. 

My only problem with the narrative, as I have found with the whole trilogy, is that the plot progression becomes slightly too slow and requires more reader effort somewhere around the middle, However in all cases it is worth pushing through to make it to the shocking endings, this one being the most incredible of all. 

This is the only book I have ever read where-in the protagonist dies. That sounds really lame as if I really haven't read many books but once you think about it, it is a really difficult thing to do if the one dying is the narrative voice. Roth was so daring to make this decision as for some it can feel like a let down but for me it was so emotional and shocking, I have to admit that this is the first time in a long time that I have had a good old cry at a book. However when you look back at Roth's inclusion of Tobias in the narration then you can kind of guess where it is going. 

What makes the Divergent trilogy special for me is the characterisation, the plot itself can be slow at times but I always have to go back to it to see where Tris and Tobias have ended up. For me Roth ended their stories in the perfect way, Tris dies a martyr leaving behind her a world free of oppression and segregation. This is the way she has always wanted to die, just like her parents so she would feel like she had made them proud. Tobias is also left feeling like he has finally found the place where he fits in in the world and seems the most content he has ever been (but obviously with a huge chunk ripped out of his heart, hence the tears on my behalf).

For me, this was the best of the trilogy. It does always seem to end up this way with any series but Veronica Roth outdone herself with emotion, characterisation and generally insane concepts that were very very unique in the dystopian genre. 

If you have read this, which I hope you have otherwise I have just ruined everything, let me know what you thought of 'Allegiant', Did it live up to the others in the trilogy? Or did you feel like the ending was a complete cop out? 
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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Girl Code


While I was on holiday in Tenerife, my sister and I came across the girl about our age who was just so rude I had to write a post about her. We were queueing up to go and watch a show and she turned round, looked us up and down then gave us the filthiest scowl I have ever seen in my life. Bear in mind that my sister and I were just chatting away probably about what we were going to have for dinner etc, yet with one look she decided that we were the scum of the earth. 

I felt like this broke some kind of Girl Code that we females of the planet have in place. Throughout the night, every time we walked past to get a drink or food or go to the toilet she would whisper to her sister and repeat said scowl. It got to the point where I felt so self conscious I wouldn't even get up from my seat to walk past her. 

As a part of the gender that is seen by society as somewhat inferior, should we not be building up each other's confidence? What harm does a smile or a compliment do to a stranger? The only reason I can think that this girl would be so incredibly rude and mean is because she felt threatened that she had other girls to 'compete with', but why should this be the attitude we have? Everyone would feel better for giving or receiving a compliment and building another girl or another person in general up. If the world worked in this way we would create a much more positive and happy environment. Not one full of hostility and competition. 

So what do you think? Am I overreacting or do we need some kind of 'Girl Code'? Let me know in the comments and we can create our own :)
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Saturday, 22 August 2015

Life Update: The Future



You may or may not have noticed my absence over the past week or so, this was due to the stress and excitement that surrounds A Level results day...

After a really disappointing set of results for my AS Levels, I was so so motivated to work as hard as I could to achieve what I needed to be able to go on and study English Literature at University. Thankfully this hard work paid off when I woke up on the morning of results day to see I had been accepted in to my first choice, the University of Essex. 

This was such a relief for me and such a surprise, I had decided that perhaps A Levels just weren't for me and perhaps I didn't have what it takes to study at University. But luckily I proved all my teachers wrong who thought my grades last year were due to lack of effort or skill, plus I made my parents and my boyfriend super duper happy when they didn't have to find the words to tell me it was okay even though it really wouldn't have been. 

So this past week I have been starting my preparations since I hadn't even looked in to what I might need in case I didn't get in. I am so excited as I have already met some of my house-mates who seem lovely, and I have chosen extra modules (including one in Spanish which I am thrilled about), also (perhaps most importantly) I have purchased my freshers wristband so I can enjoy the intense two weeks of activities/partying/making friends. 

I guess this means my life is pretty much sorted for the next three years which is a scary but also comforting thought because the big bad world is still locked away for a while. I am hoping that Uni life will bring some interesting blog posts and definitely a whole lot of book related knowledge that I can share on here. I am excited and you guys should be too!! 

As I an pretty much clueless about what University requires of me other than hard work, cooking skills and general stamina to party but also study, please comment below if you have any tips of what to pack or what I need for my actual course etc.

Don't forget to follow me on Bloglovin or Twitter, both these links are in the side bar to your right so you can make sure you never miss a post :)
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Friday, 14 August 2015

Book Review: One Million Lovely Letters by Jodi Ann Bickley


Carrie Fletcher (ItsWayPastMyBedtime on YouTube) made this video all about this book and the project behind the story. She explains it much better than I can so give that a little watch to give you some context. This book is written by Jodi and narrates her inspiring and quite frankly tragic experiences: contracting a brain infection from a tick bite which left her immobilised on her right side and triggered a chronic fatigue disease to top it all off, but it ends in a very uplifting way as she describes how this led to the incredible project which is 'One Million Lovely Letters' (OMLL) which not only gave her purpose and dug her out of a very dark place, but also it helped thousands of others all over the world who were also struggling in their day to day life. 

In a nut-shell, OMLL asks people in need of guidance or help to email Jodi to which she sends a hand written 'hug-in-an-envelope' to brighten their day and remind them that they matter. The project has been so successful that now Jodi has a team of people to meet the ever increasing demand she is receiving. 

It was so incredible to me that Jodi took on something which so drastically changed her life yet she was still determined to help others. Even when she was fit and healthy she would leave little notes on trains or buses and write a thank you note to leave with the bill at a restaurant. I think this is something everyone should try, we have this misconception that once we leave the comfort of our homes we should steer clear of all strangers as they could be murderers or 'weirdos' but quite frankly 80% of people we see in the street are just like us and our families, facing the same problems we face. How much effort does it really take to compliment their shoes or to ask them about the book they are reading on the train? This could make their day or even just make them smile, not only that but you feel good yourself for finding this connection with a total stranger.

If you are inspired my Jodi's story and want to help with her prohectm her website http://onemillionlovelyletters.com/howtohelp/ she is asking for 'lovely letters' for an exhibtion called 'Find The Right Words' where people can visit and take the letter that most speaks to them which can be written and donated by you. Or there are other little opportunities that pop up which you can read about to support Jodi's wonderful work. 

I had to write a post about Jodi because I just found the whole concept so touching and inspiring, even more so because this is totally off her own back. If I can help even by raising awareness on my little blog then I will be so pleased. I will definitely be sending in some letters for her exhibition too! Sometimes we get so caught up in our own worlds and our own problems we forget about everyone around us. Let me know in the comments or tweet me @whatmelthinks if you want to get involved too or if you plan to send in a letter to help her out :) 
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Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Life Update: Holiday to Tenerife

Just under a week ago I got back from a 10 day holiday to Tenerife with my family. It was so needed for everyone as my sister and I have had a year of revision and exams and my parents both work so hard all year round in there jobs, Holidays are always something that we all treasure and look forward to.

We stayed in a beautiful villa at Costa Adeje which is around the south-west of the island. We were lucky enough to have our own pool and the location meant we were a 5 minute walk from literally everything: supermarkets, taxis, restaurants, the beach. 

So we had the most lovely little break together full of heat (sometimes into the 30s!!) and lots of cocktails. I didn't want to ramble on but I just thought I'd upload a few of my pictures :)













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Thursday, 6 August 2015

Advice For Controlling Anxiety

As some of you may know I suffer with anxiety and have done now for about 3 years. As you can probably imagine, during this time I have learnt a lot about what calms me and what triggers my anxiety. I know this will change for each individual and what makes me anxious may not make someone else feel the same way, but if I can help anyone it would make me feel amazing.


Find out what triggers your anxiety:
For me personally this is mainly long journeys, where I am trapped in my seat such as in a car or on a bus or even on a plane when I don't have an aisle seat. Or working long hours whether this is on my blog or for school.

Find ways of working around them or taking gradual steps to conquer them:
In the previous examples this was through taking the train to places instead of driving so I can walk up and down the aisles if I need to or pop into the loo if I need to calm myself down a bit. And during my revision or working of any sort I had a cut off time of 8pm so I had a few hours before bed to watch a TV show, read a book or take a bath to calm down before going to sleep. 

Meditation:


I cannot emphasise this enough for anyone who suffers from stress or anxiety. If you told me about this three years ago I would have laughed and pictured crossing my legs on the floor and saying 'ommmmmm' but this isn't what meditation is. There are lots of apps and videos on YouTube which guide you through meditation and if you get the hang of it you can practice it yourself but I always prefer listening to someone else's voice instead of my own, particularly if I am in a very anxious frame of mind. The main app I use is called 'Calm.com' and I have used it for over a year now, unfortunately they have introduced a really hefty subscription fee which I don't think I can afford to pay but they have a free 'lite' version where you can still get access to some of their recordings. Or if you want to search YouTube just type in meditation and thousands of results will come up with very specific benefits, for example I used one the night before my driving test to 'Calm Driving Anxiety' and it really helped. I meditate at least once a day, usually before bed.
    Have a pamper evening:


    This might just be me but I love to set aside a whole evening before a day that I know may make me anxious just to pamper myself. I usually put on a face mask, run a bath, and paint my nails so in the morning I feel confident enough to face whatever is worrying me that day.

    Get a 'Worry Book':


    I keep a notebook beside my bed that I use whenever I am worrying about anything or just feeling particularly anxious and I write down literally anything that comes into my head that I am worrying about usually during the early evening then put it away and go to do something else like watching TV or being with my family, then when I am in a calmer state of mind I draw a line under all my worries and try to fix them in my mind. This could be planning a way around it, or just positive sentences to make the worry seem less scary. This is a particularly useful tip if you are worried other people will think your worries are small and silly, you are ultimately comforting yourself. 

    Talk to someone:

    If your anxiety gets really out of control and starts to ruin your every day life then it is really important to talk to someone about it. Whether this is a parent or a friend, you need to find to courage to share this worry with somebody else. I know that sounds so simple written down like that, I know it isn't but for me it was really the first step towards dealing with anxiety. Then if you feel you can, have a chat with your GP about it. The NHS were so helpful with me and sent me on a course which taught me so much about what anxiety actually is and how to deal with it and although I don't advocate taking pills, they prescribed me with some beta blockers which I rarely use (probably not even once a month) but they just help to slow my heart rate down and help me out a bit if the anxiety gets too much. 

    Keep talking:
    It is just as important to maintain communication with someone as it is to start it. Luckily I have people who are really supportive around me so I feel I can always have a little cry to my Boyfriend or my Mum when things are really getting to me. Getting another perspective on a worry is always really helpful for you to see it in a different way, or even just so they know you're worried about something so they can help you through that day or leave you a little note to give you a confidence boost (my Mum is amazing for that).

    That, in a nutshell, is what has helped me to deal with my anxiety over the years. I can't say I have 'overcome' it as I still have days when I want to crawl back into bed and never go outside again, but I have learnt how to deal with anxious thoughts and how to prevent them from manifesting in the first place. I really hope this has helped somebody, let me know if it has in the comments and add your own tips if you have any! 

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