Other Stuff, Personal

#justanxietythings

I had an actual blog post about the links between music and writing planned and half-written…and then this happened.

(I’m assuming that everyone’s familiar with the ‘justgirlythings’ meme?)

downloaddownload-2

download-5download-1

download-3

download

download-4

download-6

download-1

I’m trying to be much more open about my mental health, hence…whatever this is. I think it’s so important to talk about the problems we have to abolish the stigma around mental illnesses and make sure that people aren’t afraid or embarrassed to get the help that they need.

I remember reading something once that argued that you don’t blame someone who has broken their leg. You don’t tell them they’re making up how much it hurts. And if they need to take painkillers to alleviate the pain a little then that’s not shameful at all. Why is it any different with mental health?

While in theory I subscribe to this entirely, I still find it incredibly difficult to talk about my mental health face to face with people, even those closest to me – often especially those people. But I’m working to change that, and I hope anyone else who also suffers feels that they can do the same.

So yes, I have anxiety, I have depression, and I’m currently getting help for other problems I haven’t got a name for yet. I have mood swings, hallucinations and psychotic episodes, and those are things I have to learn to deal with. But with the right support and a maybe a little help from medication I can live a normal, productive and healthy life. I’m still learning how, but aren’t we all learning really?

Good Things, Other Stuff

Some Good Things

The world’s kind of dark right now. It’s not much, but here are some things that are keeping me going. I hope they help.

  1. Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary. This is the purest place on earth. With the motto “Where love never grows old”, OFSDS gives senior pups the best last years of their lives. Their Facebook and Instagram pages chronicle the dogs daily routines with delightful captions and the most best comment section on the Internet, with people sharing pictures of their own dogs. OFSDS is good for your heart.
  2. Hello from the Magic Tavern: I’ve got really into podcasts over this past year. They’re great for while walking or having on in the background while working. Hello from the Magic Tavern is my current favourite; completely improvised, it follows everyman Arnie Niecamp as he is unexpectedly thrown into the high-fantasy world of Foon. He sets up his podcasting equipment in the local tavern and interviews wizards, monsters, adventurers and even talking flowers. It’s great fun, especially if you’re familiar with fantasy tropes, and the three main hosts (Arnie, Chunt the shapeshifter and Usidore the Blue Wizard) have great chemistry. You can check out all of the episodes so far here.
  3. WebtoonsI’ve loved webcomics since my brother introduced me to Pokémon X waaaay back in the dark history that was the mid-2000s, and they provide a little light relief from the heavy politics that’s everywhere right now. Webtoons is my favourite site right now. It hosts webcomics across all genres and styles, so there’s something for everyone, and all the comics have regular update schedules. Some personal recommendations of mine include Bluechair, Brutally Honest, As Per Usual, Cluster Fudge and Trash Bird.
  4. ‘Calm the Fuck Down Tea’. I’ve always been a big fan of medicating with tea, and since friend got me this particular brand for Christmas I’ve been drinking it regularly whenever things get a bit much. It’s caffeine free and has rooibos and chamomile amongst other things. You can get it from Firebox.com and thank me later, because it is delicious.

I hope everyone is safe and taking care of themselves. Sorry that this is a bit different to what I usually post (maybe it’ll become a thing, maybe not); we will resume your regular posting shortly. For now, stay safe.

Other Stuff, Personal

Lessons from 2016

Ignoring the complete shitshow that 2016 has been (because what else can you call the year when ‘President Trump’ became not just an idea but reality), it’s been quite a year for me. Yes, I am going to use this post to be self-centered and pretentiously introspective.

It’s been my first year living away from my parents, resulting in a fairly…bumpy ride for my mental health, to put it somewhat lightly, although for the first time it feels like I’m making real progress in getting the treatment I need. I met someone who is so kind and patient I struggle to believe that he’s real sometimes. I’ve made new friends in a new city and had some great times visiting old ones. I’ve made some fairly major mistakes, but I’ve also learned how to pick up the pieces and keep myself going.

I don’t know if I could exactly claim that it’s been a good year, but I can definitely say that I’m proud of myself, and that’s enough for me.

So now that I’ve got all thoughtful and broody on you, I’m going to pretend that I’m in any way qualified to give life advice from the things that I’ve learned over the past year.

  1. Adults really don’t know what they’re doing either. Entering the inner circles of the adult working world is great, because you learn that everyone is making it up as they go along, just like you. You just get better at hiding the fear in your eyes.
  2. Independence is terrifying but ultimately wonderful. Yeah, it’s really weird the first time you have to pay bills or get a P60, but then you realise that you have the ability to buy a huge chocolate cake and eat the entire thing and no-one can stop you, and it’s all uphill from there.
  3. The world sucks a lot of the time, and it’s okay to step away from that every so often.  It’s important to remember that you can’t focus intensely on everything all the time; it’s exhausting and ultimately achieves nothing. You shouldn’t have to feel guilty about taking time for yourself sometimes.  Just appreciate that you are privileged enough to be able to step back from these situations and have some tea.
  4. You’re going to hate your job sometimes. Yes, even if it’s the ‘dream job’, there are going to be days when the last thing you want is to drag yourself to your desk and do whatever it is you’re paid to do. You’re an adult now, you just have to do it anyway. That’s what coffee’s for.
  5. If you want something, you’ve got to ask for it. People aren’t mind readers (fortunately). If you want something, it’s no good sitting quietly and just hoping it’ll happen without your input. I really struggle with this; my anxiety and my general upbringing have taught me to try and get in the way as little as possible, so asking for things is a big no. This is definitely something I’m still going to be working on in 2017.
  6. Tinder does work sometimes. Speaking from experience here. I know it can be disheartening, wading through the weirdos, cultists and dick picks, but one day you might just find a guy who asks you out using movie quotes and then takes you on a personalised tour of the city because you mentioned you were new here and shares his umbrella with you when it starts to rain. Just keep swiping and you might find him. Maybe. No guarantees though.
  7. Your significant other is human, just like you. Your partner is going to mess up sometimes, and you can’t resent them for that because you’re going to mess up just as much, if not more. Everyone has their bad days, but it’s wanting to be with someone even during those times that makes a relationship work.
  8. Tea is actually magic. I drank a lot of tea through my teens (I’m from Yorkshire, it comes with the territory), but I never truly appreciated the medicinal properties of a steaming mug of English Breakfast after the most stressful day at work, or a cup of chamomile while you read in bed.
  9.  It’s okay to not be okay. It’s taken me a long time to figure this one out. Still working on it.
  10. People are good. I’ve always taken the attitude that people as a group are awful, but most individuals have at least the potential for goodness. This year has kind of proved that for me. As scary as things may seem right now, surrounding yourself with compassionate, generous people makes life seem just a little brighter.

It’s not much, but it’s kept me going this year. I hope that 2017 is a wonderful year for everyone, and that things won’t seem quite so hopeless after a cup of tea.

Other Stuff

March Wrap Up and April TBR

I’ve finally managed to get out of my reading slump! It feels so good to be able to say that.

Despite this month being pretty busy with travelling around for Easter and my birthday (someone reminded me that this was my last year of being a ‘teen’, and now I’m having a small crisis), I’ve read more this month than I have in a while. I managed to read everything on my TBR and then an extra, and I’ve started both Outlander and The Talented Mr. Ripley as well.

April’s TBR shouldn’t have any shortage of possible material, because I’ve bought so many books (darn you Amazon and your book sale!). Now it’s just a matter of deciding which to read first.

51iyfcd4jtl-_sx324_bo1204203200_

 

As mentioned, I’ve started this one today. I did read it a few years ago and remember really enjoying it. I watched the film the other day (hello young Jude Law) and got a sudden urge to reread it. It’s actually better than I remember, so if you haven’t read it and enjoy thrillers I would highly recommend it.

 

71I’m reading this one on the recommendation of a work friend, who I actually bonded with over Marvel films and men with beards. I was assured that this contained men with not only beards but also kilts, so I was sold.

More seriously though, I’ve been informed that this is a great piece of historical fiction and that it’s incredibly well written. I’ve read the first couple of chapters already and I’m loving the style, and the protagonist’s husband is absolutely adorable, so I’m looking forward to more.

Also, men in kilts.

a12b3haiof6l

 

I can’t believe I’m so far behind the bandwagon on this one. When I first heard about it I wasn’t enamoured with the idea and dismissed it as just a space book, but the more I’ve heard about the humour and the emotion the more I’ve been worn away, and seeing clips from the film that I really enjoyed finally broke me to the point where I’m actually really looking forward to this now.

 

 

large_large_8cpr5psqeny12frn6fh6y9cskpy

 

 

adore Alan Bennett. He’s the ultimate sarcastic Yorkshireman, The History Boys is one of my favourite plays ever (which reminds me, I need to watch the film again…) and his prose is just as good as his plays. The recent film brought The Lady in the Van to my attention and I honestly can’t wait to read it.

 

harry20potter20and20the20philosophers20stone20202

 

 

Having finally rectified the tragic state of affairs where I didn’t own my own copies of the Harry Potter books, it’s far past time for my at-least-yearly reread of the series. If anyone would want to do a read along with me just let me know and I’ll see what I can organise!

 

 

city_of_bones

 

I’ve read the first two books in the Mortal Instruments series before several years ago. I remember liking the ideas but being a little disappointed in the execution, and one particular development made my put the series down. I’ve been watching the new Netflix series though and have really been enjoying it, so I decided it was time to give the books another go. If anyone has any hints about what order I’m supposed to read them in it would be much appreciated, because I’m clueless. Mortal Instruments first? Infernal Devices? Some combination of the two? Help!

 

If anyone has any recommendations for next month’s TBR I’d be more than happy to hear them (although my bank account might not). Has anyone read any of these before? And can anyone please help me with these Mortal Instrument books?!

Other Stuff, Tags

YA Frenzy Tag

I was tagged in this by the lovely Jemima at The Bookaholic to do Icebreaker 694‘s YA Frenzy tag!

  • Respond to this new tag in comments (so I know if you can participate).
  • Read through my Q&A.
  • Answer the questions I posted for my Q&A in your own post.
  • Choose at least 3 to 5 other bloggers to participate!

1. What book got you started on the path of YA?

I adored the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy (I still do), and, while the first three are more ‘older children’s fiction’ they mature throughout, and I would definitely say that they gave me my first taste of YA.

My first proper YA book though was probably John Green’s Looking for Alaska, which I threw across the room twice. Surprisingly, that meant that I loved it.

2. List 3 awesome book related gifs, add your own captions.

Trying to get your friends to read your favourite book/series:

tumblr_inline_o4aivrypco1rug82z_500

Trying to stay calm when everything is going to hell in the final chapters:

tumblr_m75a7wf6xf1rts02xo1_500

This just sums up reading in general really:

tumblr_mlenb8dsqd1qhqs8so1_250

3. What was the latest series you finished?

I haven’t read a YA series in a long time, unless you count Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl and Carry On as one series, which I sort of do. I’m about to start reading the Mortal Instruments though, as soon as I’ve worked out what order I’m supposed to read them in (original or prequels first? And where do these prequel-sequels fit?!)

4. What is one thing that you hate in YA? What is one thing you love?

I hate love triangles. Hate them. I always want to shake the protagonist, because they always have better things to do than mope around, like, I don’t know, saving the world! For me it detracts from the plot, and half the time the final choice is obvious anyway. Also, one of the love interests is always a ‘bad boy’ (or other gendered equivalents), which is basically shorthand for ‘genuinely terrible person’.

What I love about YA is that it’s the only genre I’ve found that really takes modern topics seriously, particularly those affecting young adults. Themes like LGBTQA issues, mental illness and the pressures of growing up do all appear in other genres, but are often badly handled (I’m looking at you Ian McEwan) The vast majority of YA fiction treats these topics with great sensitivity and insight, which is wonderful because I think that teenagers and young adults really need to see their lives properly represented. And then placed against a backdrop of magic and world-saving, because everything’s better with magic.

5. Take this Buzzfeed quiz and post your results. The quiz is “Are You Able to Identify the Real YA Cover From the Fake?”

You got 10 out of 10 right!
You did better than 100% of those who took this quiz!
Golden Bookworm
You’re a gold-standard bookworm! You can definitely identify your YA covers like a BOSS. Never stop getting your read on.
It took me forever to even work out what the difference between the Divergent covers was…
Comics, Other Stuff

Envelope Comics

I realise that I promised new content in my last post, and have since been hit by an incredibly busy time at work, as well as having to travel around a lot. So in lieu of an actual book-related post (which is coming soon, I swear), have some crappy comics I drew at work when I was bored because I’ve been reading too much xkcd and Hark, a Vagrant and thought that I could do the same with a biro on the back on an envelope (spoiler: I can’t). I might redraw some of these on better paper with a working biro and a non-sleep deprived brain in the future, if anyone out there likes them for some strange reason. Or at the very least I’ll find a way to scan them in rather than using my terrible phone camera.

So enjoy my attempts to be funny!

 

image
This one actually started out serious and cute, I swear.

 

 

image
A Portal and a Magritte reference in one? Never let it be said that this blog isn’t cultured.

 

 

image
For some reason this was the funniest thing in the world when I first drew it.

 

 

image
A History A-Level based entirely on his reign and this is still the main thing I know about Henry VIII.

 

 

image
Oh, and this.

 

Other Stuff

March TBR and Other Things to Come!

I know this is a few days late, but I wanted to finish my last read, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman, before even thinking about what I was going to read next. Those damn Physics books really take it out of you, but I’m back in my comfort zone with fiction and ready to throw myself completely back into reading!

cynmwmswyaamsxm

 

I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of the next book in The Firebird Chronicles series by Daniel Ingram-Brown, The Nemesis Charm (if you haven’t already, check out my review of the first book in the series, Rise of the Shadow Stealers). I’m already about a third of a way through this and am thoroughly enjoying it so far. It’s a little darker in tone than the previous book, but includes the same heartwarming whimsical fantasy that I loved in the first one. Keep an eye out for my review of this one!

enhanced-19465-1429806575-15

 

I’ve had Carry On since Christmas now, and despite having been incredibly excited for its release, I just haven’t read it yet and I really don’t know why. I’ve heard only good things about it, and I adored the Simon Snow segments in Fangirl (along with the rest of it). Also, Harry Potter-esque fantasy with meta-commentary on the Chosen One trope and a well-written LGBT romance, which you practically never see in this kind of fiction? Yes please!

 

51sq7azd-2bl-_sy344_bo1204203200_

 

Well written LGBT fiction seems to be a theme this month, because I’ve heard nothing but amazing praise for The Song of Achilles. Which is great because, as a massive Classics nerd, this is right up my alley. Also, as a massive Classics nerd, I know exactly what happens, so I’m preparing to have my heart ripped out and stomped on, which is exactly what I want…for some masochistic reason.

 

220px-the_deepwoods_2
And finally, The Edge Chronicles. I grew up on these books; I always associate them with family holidays to a tiny bungalow right on the coast – possibly the last place in England that ran entirely on gas – where my Mum would read them to us just before bed. I’ve been meaning to re-read them for years but haven’t got around to it until now. I remember the stories being equal parts fantastical and gruesome, and the illustrations were darkly beautiful. The Gloamglozer, a shapeshifting demon who held terrifying grudges, particularly scared me as a child. I haven’t spoken to very many other people who have read them though, so if you enjoy gory fantasy then I cannot recommend these enough.

In other news, I’ve spent the weekend completely revamping the blog (do you like it? Please say you like it.). I’ve decided to start dedicating more time to this, so I’m hoping to introduce some new post styles, a wider array of material and at least some kind of regular post schedule! So keep an eye out for not just more reviews but things like writing tips from an enthusiastic amateur, book recommendation lists and posts about my experiences working in a library (hopefully!) arriving soon.

So that’s my round up for what’s to come in March. Has anyone else read any of these? Or do you have any recommendations for next month’s list? I’m always open to suggestions, even if I do have a TBR pile taller than I am…

 

Other Stuff, Tags

I was nominated for the Liebster Award!

liebster2

I was nominated by the lovely Jemima from thebookaholic. Her blog is wonderful, so go check it out!

Here are the rules:

  • Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award.
  • Answer 11 question that the blog gives you.
  • Give 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5-11 blogs you think are deserving of the award that have less than 200 followers.
  • Let the blogs know you have nominated them.
  • Give them 11 questions to answer.

And these are the questions Jemima asked:

How many pages do you read in a day?

This varies wildly depending on how busy I am. On a good day it’ll be over 200. On a bad day it’ll be none. Those are dark days. We do not speak of them.

How do you start your day?

Reluctantly! I hate getting out of bed, so I usually leave it until the last minute before rolling out from under the covers and dashing out of the door for work. I’m not really awake until I get into the library, when I use my bullet journal to plan my day out before getting down to business.

What popular book (or series) have you (shamefully) never read?

I’ll completely lose my nerd cred for admitting this, but I’ve never finished the Lord of the Rings series. I’ve read Fellowship and the first half of Two Towers, but I haven’t got any further. It’s been on my TBR for years, and I’ve made myself promise to read all three by the end of 2016!

Who is your book crush?

I’ve been through so many, but my one true love that has never died is Remus Lupin from the Harry Potter series. I just want to wrap him in a blanket, make him tea and fight anyone who tries to hurt him.

Who is your favourite artist?

I adore Noelle Stevenson, aka. Gingerhaze. Her doodles and fanart are adorable, and her webcomic-turned-graphic-novel Nimona is one of my favourite things ever. I highly recommend it if you like knights, science, sharks and having your heart stomped into tiny pieces.

What is your favourite meal?

When I was little I refused to eat everything except macaroni cheese. I’ve broadened my tastes a bit since then, but I could still happily return to those days.

What is the last thing you do before you go to sleep?

Because I’d lose them if I didn’t keep them on at all times I’m not sleeping, the last thing I do is take my glasses off (if I were being super pretentious, I could call that a History Boys reference. But I won’t.)

What is your favourite bookshop?

There’s a wonderful shop in Oxford called The Last Bookshop (spoiler: it’s not actually the last one, there are multiple stores in Oxford and Bristol) which sell new books for £3 or 2 for £5. How can you say no to that? I also have a frankly dangerous University staff discount at Blackwells, and a soft spot for Waterstones, if just because there was one next to the train station where I used to live and whenever I was waiting for a train I’d go in and they’d let me rearrange the Terry Pratchett books.

Where do you want to travel?

I’d love to go to Italy. I was a Classicist at school (and have also played a ridiculous amount of Assassin’s Creed), so the history and culture combined with my ability to point at pretty much any building and say “I’ve climbed up that” makes it pretty much my dream destination.

What is your favourite place to read?

I really like reading on trains. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent a lot of time on them, what with travelling to school on one every day and now using them to travel home and visit friends a lot, but a long journey and a good book are a perfect combination for me.

What do you like most about blogging?

I like being able to write down my thoughts about what I’m reading and discuss them with other bloggers. There’s a really lovely sense of community in the book blogger community that makes it really easy to slip into a conversation with someone.

 

11 facts about me:

  1. I actually forgot how to ride a bike (seriously).
  2. I play the flute and got my Grade 8 before I left school.
  3. The only reason I read George Orwell’s 1984 was because I lied to a teacher about having read it.
  4. I took Irish Dancing lessons for 14 years.
  5. The highlight of my year is The Great British Bake Off.
  6. I was the first person in my family to read the last Harry Potter book because I stole it from my parents and hid it until I’d finished it.
  7. My party piece is singing the entirety of the song Secrets by Sammy J and Randy with my friend (I’m Sammy J, she’s Randy).
  8. All of our family dogs have been named after Harry Potter characters. So far we’ve had Dumbledore, Luna and Ludo Bagman.
  9. I have been asked multiple times in my life if I plan on becoming a nun just because my Dad’s a vicar.
  10. I can’t wake up in the morning until I’ve had at least one cup of tea.
  11. The first thing I ever remember writing was Lord of the Rings fanfiction. Very little has changed since.

 

I’m nominating adoptabookaus, Wield Words, abookaccount, Outright Book Review and My Novel Thoughts. Here are your questions:

  1. What’s your favourite reading drink?
  2. Where would you most liketo live?
  3. Paperback, hardback or ebook?
  4. What made you want to start a book blog?
  5. What’s your favourite genre?
  6. Do you prefer borrowing from libraries or buying books?
  7. What was the first book you remember reading?
  8. How do your organise your bookshelves?
  9. What author, past or present, would you most like to meet?
  10. What is the last book that made you cry?
  11. What book is next on your TBR?

 

I think this award is a great idea to help smaller blogs (like me!) get to know each other and find a place in the community. Thanks again to thebookaholic for nominating me!