Thursday, 16 October 2014

Reading Music: Submarine Soundtrack




I haven't done this for a while! I thought I'd bring it back, because I finally listened to the whole of the Submarine soundtrack and I fell in love with every song.

I've seen the film, and I really liked it. I'm into indie films and I wish I went to see them more, and when they're indie I love it when there is a bit of romance.

I know... I'm not a big fan of romance books, but films? I can take.

The whole album was written and sung by none other than Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys, and the sound is just calming and feels like you're walking alone on a crisp, quiet Autumn evening. Glass in the Park is one of the most memorable songs on the album and a personal favourite of mine.

I could see myself easily reading with this in the background, but I would more likely take a stroll with it in my ears and write with it as inspiration, or take the album to a coffee shop and scribble some short stories in my notebook whilst holding a mug of tea. This album was practically made for rainy days and feeling a bit sorry for yourself.

The album is only about 19 minutes long but that's enough to give you some peace and quiet or some quick inspiration. Its kind of a perfect album and one of my favourite full albums I've listened to in a long time.

Enjoy!


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Reflecting on an anxiously calm day



I thought I'd start with an oxymoron in the title, because that is genuinely how today has been. Anxiously calm.

I don't usually notice when I'm anxious because it has become a daily part of my life. It feels like normality, and only when it gets worse do I start to notice that my heart beats faster than everyone else's and my head feels heavy and I'm stressed more than I need to be. It may seem impossible to call it 'normal', but you have to remember that I've been struggling with it for four or five years now, and I didn't know what it was until last year. So I've been thinking this is how everyone feels and really I've been suffering with an illness for all these years.

So now that I'm very aware of it, it seems only right that I force myself to calm down. Breathing techniques help to a certain extent, but once I'm stuck in the cycle, I'm stuck for the foreseeable future. Then come the all of the side effects of becoming very aware that your body is freaking out in public without your permission.

I had to deal with anxiety today like on any other day, but after having a few very bad anxiety days lately, this was a 'good' day. The physical side of it wasn't causing me much bother and my breathing became steady the more I focused on it. Then I was much calmer than I had been since last wednesday.

Anyone that has anxiety will know that the feeling of being calm is a blessing, and you can't appreciate it enough when its here. I was walking home from school, and even though I had to stay in for an extra hour because of extra lessons and my hands were freezing from the biting cold, the silence and calm I experienced was like being gently wrapped in a hug. I even made sure to make no sound when I walked because there was nobody around and all I could hear was the low hum of the cars on the road, and I suddenly became more aware of life and it was just blissful. 

The weird thing was that I felt quite lonely on the walk home, but I didn't mind, because it felt like there was a clear space beside me. You don't realise how heavy the demon on your shoulder is until you shake it off.

These are just my thoughts today, because I am grateful for the little things in life, and being calm is such a rare experience for me. One of my close friends shared with me today how he was feeling in himself and how long its been going on for, and I was struck by how brave he was to tell me, as it isn't something you tell many people. And after listening to him share something so private with me, I felt compelled to write down my feelings, even if I don't feel like saying them out loud quite yet.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Mental Health Day 2014: Schizophrenia Awareness

wmhd-2014-page-image-text-3.jpg


Its World Mental Health Day today and like I said in my last post, the focus this year is on Schizophrenia. I don't know much about the illness, but I have done some research. I also said I would tell you a bit more about it so that you can become more aware, so this is the subject for this post.

Schizophrenia is commonly characterized as an illness that leads to abnormal social behaviour and a failure to recognise what is real and what is not. Currently, around 26 million people around the world suffer from it. Some people inherit it, sometimes its due to environmental factors like childhood trauma, or sometimes it is brought on by substance abuse. 


The symptoms are:
  • Losing in touch with reality
  • Seeing or hearing things that are not there
  • Irrational beliefs
  • Abnormal behaviour due to a response to hallucinations
  • Disorganised thinking or speech
  • Difficulties in paying attention and long-term memory
  • Paranoia 

I certainly have an idea how it feels to lose touch with reality, because some sufferers of anxiety experience derealisation/depersonalisation themselves, and I have experienced it before. It may occur in a different way to Schizophrenia sufferers, but I can't say because I don't have Schizophrenia.


There is no cure, but you can manage it if you take anti-psychotic medication such as amisulprideolanzapinerisperidone and clozapine. About 40-50% of patients have a good response to any of this medication, but the rest either don't respond immediately, or instead experience terrible side effects. These can include low white blood cell count, weight gain and diabetes, to name a few.

Another very sad side to this illness is that on average it decreases life expectancy by 10-25 years, because of obesity from the weight gain from the tablets, and also from increased suicide attempts in patients. Unless they get the help they need, both in some sort of therapy and medication, patients cannot begin to get better. 


Find out more about World Mental Health Day 2014


If people understand this mental health issue more, we can show some support for those suffering it and show them that they are not alone, so that they don't feel the need to take their own lives. Sometimes a feeling of community is all it takes for a mental health issue to become just that little bit more bearable, and by educating ourselves on the illness, we are helping those who suffer from having to explain. 

I got all of this information from MentalHealthOrg and Wikipedia, so if you want to know more about it click the links. This sounds like an awful illness to have, and I wouldn't wish it on anybody. I can't imagine what it must be like to deal with it everyday.

On a lighter note, I hope you all had a safe and good day today - hopefully life was kind to you, as it surprisingly was for me. Unfortunately I couldn't find a red button for #DontPanicButton to show support for anxiety and panic attack sufferers, but I was thinking about it all day. 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Mental Health Day and Mental Health Days



The Mental Health Foundation are having a World Mental Health Day and this year its taking place on the 10th October. So yes, it is tomorrow, and I do realise that I'm always rather late with letting you in on things.

The day is to raise awareness and it takes place on the same day every single year, so you can put it in you diary for next year too. This year it focuses on raising awareness about living with Schizophrenia, which is a very scary illness for anyone that has it, but the day is to raise awareness for any mental illness that exists and to show support for the people who have them, as well as trying to get rid of the stigma that surrounds them. I will however make a separate post about Schizophrenia tomorrow, in honour of Mental Health Day.


Group


The site Mind also has a lot of information about mental health, and Zoe Sugg (aka Zoella) is the first digital ambassador for the website. Tomorrow she is going to launch the #DontPanicButton initiative, to get people talking on social media. If you want to take part, wear a red button somewhere on your body tomorrow to school, work or just around where you live, and those spotting it who know what its about will know that you're here to support them, or just simply that you understand. 

As if we couldn't love Zoe more!




This day is important to me because, like I have stated before, I suffer with anxiety. Its not self-diagnosed, I actually have it, and its made a conscious effort to ruin my life for the past four years. And, I some of my closest friends have had or do have anxiety and depression. So, any day like this to help spread awareness is amazing, because people still don't 'get' anxiety (or any other mental health issue for that matter) and if more people can understand it, its less for us to worry about. 

It links in with what I wanted to talk about today, because I wanted to tell you about Mental Health Days. These are different from the actual World Mental Health Day, and they are a short break from school or work, perhaps for one day, maybe for a couple more. You can take mental health days if you have gone through a long period of stress or anxiety, and it is affecting your everyday life, and you feel as if you need a day or two to forget about everything and have a couple of 'me' days.

I didn't know these existed until a while ago, and I have researched them more. You don't declare them to your school because it will count as an unauthorised absence, unless your school knows of your mental health and are willing to overlook it, which is probably very rare. If you feel as though everything is getting too much, take a day off. Declare it as a 'sick' day and let yourself calm down. 

I have never taken a mental health day from school, but this year I might have to. I'm usually very anxious about having 100% attendance, but its only ever worked out for me in one whole year, as I've had many hospital and dentist and doctor appointments since then, as well as having some real sick days.

Today I was thinking that I should have taken a mental health day, as yesterday a couple of things happened in school that really stressed me out, and it didn't exactly help me today as I had to enter the same place where the stressful things happened the day before. My work is starting to pile up, simply because I've been taking a lot of nights off from homework to stop myself from becoming too stressed and now I have lots to do and now I'm stressed. Its a terrible cycle. 

You could use the day to catch up on your work, or simply relax. Its your day, so its up to you. I will make a post on how to spend your day wisely within the next week, as this post is becoming a bit too long.

Have a stress-free and safe day tomorrow. I'm here if you want to talk!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: A Visual Journey by Ed Sheeran



This is a very different type of book that I'm excited about, and by one of my many favourite singers. A Visual Journey by Ed Sheeran is a visual book (obviously) that takes you through his life since he exploded onto the music scene, sharing pictures and anecdotes and memories from his time on tour and his life around music. 

It is officially released on the 9th October 2014... so tomorrow! And if you want to get it on the day you can you can pre-order it quickly here




Description (from the Amazon website):

With words by Ed Sheeran and illustrations by his childhood friend, artist Phillip Butah (who produces artwork for Sheeran's albums and singles), and accompanying photos, Ed Sheeran: A Visual Journey is an exclusive, fully authorised, first-person account by Ed of how he became an internationally renowned singer-songwriter.
In the book, Ed explores his early musical experiences and influences as well as his time recording and touring, right up to the release of his second album, 'x'. The book reveals what drives and inspires Ed as he continues to evolve as an artist, while coping with stratospheric success, and is an honest account of what it takes to make it in the music business.
With Phillip Butah's distinctive portraits of Ed throughout, this is a unique book celebrating a unique musician. It includes Ed's recollections of working tirelessly on the London gig circuit and self-releasing EPs, working hard on finding his sound, signing to Asylum Records and recording his huge hit album, '+', performing at the Grammys, touring with Taylor Swift and sell-out headline gigs at Madison Square Garden. It takes us up to Ed as a musician today, including recording his new album, 'x'.


The artist, Phillip Butah, is Ed's friend, and so I'm excited for how they're going to compliment each other's artistic flare. 

I personally cannot wait! I think it will be a brilliant companion to his new album, and you will be able to read it whilst listening to his glorious songwriting skills. I picked a few of my favourites: Thinking Out Loud, Afire Love, Don't, and Nina. You can give them a listen if you haven't already:






Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Author Interview: Madeline Cariglia

 Thunderstruck


My guest today is a teen author (I'm so jealous!) called Madeline Carliglia, who has self-published her first novel called Thunderstruck. I'm really excited to share this interview with you, and I think we can all learn from her mature wisdom. 

If you want to support Madeline, you can buy her book here: 

And if you do buy one, make sure to leave her a review!


1. What is your book about?

My book, "Thunderstruck" follows Lacey, Fawn, and Garnet, three young girls faced with a nearly impossible task. While Lacey lives alone in a suburban community, she isn't truly alone- she is protected by fairies who she shares her home with. The fairies tell her a shocking revelation of the dark forces that are working against them and trying to destroy them by targeting thunderstorms at the fairies and the rest of the world. Lacey is sent on a quest by the fairies to stop the dark forces, and on her travels, she encounters Fawn and Garnet, who live in a society completely cut off and hidden from the rest of the world. They join her on her journey and help her to save what's most important to herself, all while learning about themselves and their own strengths. 


2. How long did it take you to write?

I started "Thunderstruck" when I was 9 years old. I never imagined it to become what it is now, I purely wrote for fun. As I got older and finished the book, I learned more about publishing and it became my dream to share my stories with the world. In total, it took me five years to completely finish my book and get it published- I'm 15 now. 


3. You're a teen author - was it hard to write your first book so young?

It wasn't hard for me to write because it came about so naturally. When I first started writing it, I had no idea what it would turn out to be, I just wrote whatever came to mind, even by the last of the first draft. Even when I had a plan for how it would end, it changed as it went. I reviewed and edited it numerous times afterwards too, and it changed then, too. The first draft is like a completely different story than the final!


4. Are people often shocked to find out you're an author? What do they say?

Yeah! Every person I know knows about it and has read it, or at least knows I love to write. It's been a long work in progress; when I first started writing it, even without knowing what it would become, I told people about it, just because I was excited and passionate about it. Almost everyone around me is passionate about it and for me as well, which is wonderful.


5. Have you ever doubted yourself/thought you were too young to write a novel?

Of course. I think every young person who wants to become anything has a ton of self-doubt in their mind. I believed that I had what it takes to be published and successful, not out of arrogance or greediness for attention, but because it was what fueled me. It was- and still is- my dream, and all I wanted to be. I'll admit- there were many days where I wanted to just give up and start something entirely new, if anything at all. I constantly questioned myself, but I had to believe I would get to where I wanted to be- published- because it was my passion. And eventually, I did make it! It's all about belief in yourself and your skill. If you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will! It's not easy but it's definitely worth it, and hey, you'll never know unless you try! And by the way, I'm not very well known yet, by any means, but it's all an upward climb and I'm just happy to be on the ride. :) 


6. Is it independently published or from a publishing company? 

Independently published, although it is printed through a company called Lulu. I received a grant from my 7th / 8th grade English teacher who thought that my story deserved to be published and that's what introduced me to the company. 


7. Are you planning on writing any other books?

Yes- I would love to pursue a career in writing! Right now, I'm focusing on getting people interested in "Thunderstruck", though. 


8. Do you hope to carry on being an author or will you get another job when you're older?

I hope to continue writing and sharing my work as long as I live! I can't imagine a world without literature, and I'm fascinated with creating my own. Being solely an author is a difficult job to live off of, though, and I do have other passions as well- I'd love to balance out being an author with something involved with animals, religion, counseling and maybe even music!


9. What are your other hobbies besides writing?

I love animals- I have three cats at home and I've had rabbits in the past; I also work at an alpaca farm! I dance (hip-hop, although I used to do tap, ballet, jazz, and modern when I was younger, as well as compete)and I love music! Oh, and reading. I'm constantly reading. ;)


10. What is one piece of advice you would give to other teens hoping to be authors?

For starters- it's not impossible! It's not. Start small and work your way to where you want to be. I always wanted to publish through a big publishing house, not independently, because I thought nobody would ever know me if I published independently. I was offered my grant, though, and I had to take it. So take risks! If you're given an opportunity, go for it. Don't give up, ever, no matter what, and don't let anybody tell you that you don't have what it takes to be whatever you want to be, author or not. And stay humble! Put your passion for your craft first and everything else will work out on its own. 

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! If you want to get updates from Madeline, you can follow her on Twitter @TheMCariglia or on Instagram @madelinecariglia. 

Hope you're having a nice day!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Review: One Day by David Nicholls





Title: One Day
Author: David Nicholls
Cover Artist: Craig Ward
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: August 1st 2009
Genre: Romance fiction
Page Count: 435
Original Language: English
Format Read: Paperback
Other books in series: N/A
Movie Adaptation: One Day, released 2011




I knew about this book, and just like The Rosie Project I was passing an independent bookshop on holiday and decided to buy it, because I felt like some romance fiction at the time. All I can say is that I can't believe I didn't read it sooner. Anyway, here's the review.


Blurb:

You can live your whole life not realising that what you're looking for is right in front of you.

15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that? And every year that follows?


The first page:





*Spoiler Alert - this review assumes you are familiar with the story's ending*

I read this a while ago so I just have a lot of scribbled notes in my book journal to go on - bear with me! I'm getting quite passionate about this book whilst I'm thinking of things to say about it, and I'm thinking that I'm definitely going to have to read it again.

And you all know how much I hate romance novels, let alone consider reading them for a second time.

So I guess you can say that's a compliment in itself.

The book is about Emma and Dexter, who go from strangers to best friends to... more. The novel covers a whole twenty year period, and that's an immense amount of time to cover. I expected it to feel more strained and laboured, but I think this is the only book where I can confidently say it works well for the story. It was very absorbing, and I just had to finish it. I can't quite remember how long it took me to read it, but I can tell you it probably wasn't very long. It's just like Picture Me Gone - it consumes you whilst you read it. 

Whilst I was reading it, I could visualise Emma's POV so clearly, but perhaps one of the only negatives of this book was that I couldn't always visualise Dexter's as clearly. It wasn't much of a problem though, I only found this around the middle of the novel, at Dexter's downfall moments. However, the imagery was so strong, and I could spot a few subtle foreshadowing techniques. I love a good foreshadow if its done correctly, and in One Day, it certainly was.

I've written down "I guessed she would die though" at the bottom of my page. Sorry if I spoiled it, but you were previously warned in bold lettering. I presume I meant this with sadness and despair, but knowing me it was as cold-hearted as a snowman in wintertime. Don't look at me like that... I just knew. It's not obvious from the text, but I've read far too many novels to know that when everything has been going stupendously well, it never ends in the same way. At the time, I do remember feeling a bit broken, because I was really rooting for Emma. And I don't have that much experience with romantic novels. God, I just remembered why I hate them so much. Those darn feels.

Overall, it was shocking, sentimental, and left me nostalgic for something that didn't happen to me. 

I've also written "reads like a five, reviews like a four" and I have no clue what that means, but I'm going to take my past self's advice anyway and give it 4/5 cups of tea. It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't far off. You know, for a romance novel.






About the author:

David NichollsDavid Nicholls is a British author, screenwriter, and actor. He worked as an actor for the eight years, followed by a job at BBC Radio Drama as a script reader/researcher. This led to script-editing jobs at London Weekend Television and Tiger Aspect Productions. Simpatico was turned into a feature film in 1999, and this allowed David to start writing full-time. He has been twice nominated for BAFTA awards and his first novel, Starter for Ten was featured on the first Richard and Judy Book Club.


Where to find David Nicholls: Website

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Saturday: Book Haul and Zoella Beauty Haul

So I haven't posted a book haul for aaaaages now, and I thought I'd better give you one before you give up on my blog completely. Gosh, I'm so bad at this weekly schedule malarkey.

This is a summer reads haul, that I got before I went on holiday. It is from quite a while ago now but I still haven't read any of them since my entire summer was kind of ruined (see this post for details) and so I thought I could still show you what I bought.



1. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey: Kendal has been telling me to read this for a while so I can't wait to get stuck in. I value her opinion a lot!
2. We  Were Liars by E. Lockhart: Another one Kendal recommended whilst I was in Waterstones with her one time. It only looks like a short book so I'll have to give it a read soon.
3. You're the one that I want by Giovanna Fletcher: Yes, I did buy it because she's a vlogger (and also Tom from McFly's wife, but that wasn't a deciding factor). I've actually started this book and its very very good!
4. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell: I just realised that I lied when I said I haven't read any of them yet... I read this one whilst on holiday! A review will be up soon-ish. 















In addition to all of this, I went into town today and managed to get my hands on some Zoella Beauty products! I went fairly early in the morning so everything was still mainly in stock, thank goodness, because I've been trying to buy some for the past week, and even though there are four Superdrugs near my house, there has been no sign of the products.



It was pretty cool, because the girl on the till asked me who Zoella actually was because the products are so popular, and when I told her how many subcribers she had she gasped! She was also warning me that they would be sold out soon, and I agreed with her on that one. They're like gold dust to get at the moment.







The first thing I put in my bath was the bath and shower gel, and it smells SO GOOD. Everything in her range pretty much smells the same so I could even break up some of the fizz bar and put a bit of both in, to give it extra bubbles. I think Zoe described them as 'fruity' in one of her vlogs, but it smells more of shea butter, and it just relaxes you as soon as you step into the bath. The fizz bar is presented like a chocolate bar, so you can easily snap off as many pieces as you want, and save the rest for later.




The body lotion smelt differently to the other two products. I don't know whether you've heard of E45 cream or Savlon, but they are both soothing creams that you put on an area of pain/irritation, and it smells like a much more appealing version of that. It also smells a bit like shea butter, but it isn't as prominent. I really like it though, because when I smell the cream, it instantly soothes me. I have a feeling there may be some ingredients similar to those in Savlon or something, but I can't be sure. If you're stressed, it calms you down.

I think this range is meant to calm you and help you with stress relief instead of having a really strong and fruity smell, and I like that, because I haven't got bath products that are solely for stress relief. It is so worth buying, and all three products I bought today were £5 each, so its a bargain for the size of them and the fact Zoe created them.

She also favourited my tweet about her products, and I was pretty happy about it.




Something to note: always check the temperature of your bath before you get in. For those who are anxious like myself, if a bath is too hot you can sometimes be fearful of overheating and fainting, and it will help you relax if you feel comfortable with the temperature of your bath. I've had a few occasions where I've felt light-headed after a bath and it ruined the relaxed mood I was in.

Hope you liked this post!
P.S: good luck in your quest for finding Zoe's beauty range!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Girl Online by Zoe Sugg





Zoe Sugg, known as Zoella on Youtube, is releasing a book. I'm sure you know about it, because who doesn't watch Zoella? Even if you're not there for the beauty tips (I wasn't originally... no amount of tutorials are going to fix my face!) you stay for the fantastic vlogs. She has her own beauty and pamper range, and if she wasn't successful enough with over 6 million subscribers, she's going to become an author as well. I can't get enough of this girl, and I certainly can't wait to buy the book.

The book in question is going to be called Girl Online, and is a fiction book about a girl who is popular online but struggles with anxiety. When she goes to New York, she meets a boy, and things take a surprising turn. It will be a teen/YA romance novel, and although not an autobiography, it is loosely based on her own life, since she too struggles with anxiety. 

Blurb:

"I had no idea GirlOnline would take off the way it has - I can't believe I now have 5432 followers, thanks so much! - and the thought of opening up to you all about this is terrifying, but here goes . . .
Penny has a secret.
Under the alias GirlOnline, she blogs about school dramas, boys, her mad, whirlwind family - and the panic attacks she's suffered from lately. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets the gorgeous, guitar-strumming Noah. Suddenly Penny is falling in love - and capturing every moment of it on her blog.
But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny's cover - and her closest friendship - forever."




This is the cover without the winner's photo from the competition Zoe held for a fan to get a polaroid picture of their own on the cover, and it will go just at the bottom right where the balloons are.

It comes out on the 25th November and you can pre-order it on Amazon, which I highly suggest you do since it is going to sell like hot cakes when it arrives in shops. 

I am so looking forward to reading it, and I am curious to see how she writes the anxiety in, as I know that feeling all too well, and I've never read a book that covers the subject before. I love watching Zoe's videos and I'm currently saving money to buy pretty much everything in her beauty range, and now the book is going to be the icing on the cake to what has been a really exciting year for her and her viewers. 

Overall, me and about 6 million other people are buzzing for this release, so come along for the ride and experience Girl Online.