My 2012 GoodReads Challenge

Was a fail.

I challenged myself to read 15 books this year... and I read 9.

I'll explain why I didn't manage to complete this challenge later on. But first, I'm going to just recap what I did actually read*.
  1. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson - 3/5 | Review
  2. Paper Towns by John Green - 4/5 | Review
  3. The Fault in our Stars by John Green - 5/5 | Review
  4. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - 4/5 | Review
  5. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach - 3/5 | Review
  6. Divergent by Veronica Roth - 5/5 | Review
  7. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin - 4/5 | Review
  8. The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer - 5/5 | Review
  9. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel - 5/5 | Review
The stand-out book for me was The Fault in our Stars. Basically, John Green is a master of words. It makes you laugh and cry (like, ugly-sobbing-type crying) in equal measures. If this gets made into a film... I think I might skip wearing makeup.

The surprise read was The Life of Pi. The only reason I started reading it was because, last year, with the iTunes 12 Days of Christmas, I got it free, and one time at work, I had nothing to do so I started reading. And it was well worth it.

So, why didn't I finish the challenge?

One word: fanfiction.

If fanfiction was included in this challenge, I definitely would have completed it. Like, 10 times over. As it is, it isn't and I didn't so...

For 2013, I'm going to aim a little more realistic, with 12 books. Father Christmas was very kind, and I now have a Kindle to read on, so I have no excuse. Hopefully, this time next year I'll be writing about how I completed this challenge, and maybe even surpassed it?

*I've linked each book title to the appropriate Amazon UK page, and to my reviews of the books (either on GoodReads or on this blog).

Book Review: The Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

Synopsis: One boy, one boat, one tiger ...After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger.

Number of pages: 464

Rating: 10/10

Overall Impression: Compelling, thought-provoking and unbelievable. I opened this book with little to no idea what it was about, and it weaves an unimaginable tale of hope and faith, but with none of the pretention of the award-winning book it is.
Life of Pi

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The Christmas Presents: 2012 Edition


Hope you are all having a lovely holiday season. Despite working Christmas Day, mine has been very enjoyable. Especially as Father Christmas has been very kind this year :D

The highlights of my haul this year:
Harry Potter ring :D
A Kindle Paperwhite! Now fully kitted out with Harry Potter. Obv.
A rather impressive stack of Blurays. Gonna take me a while to get through these!
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
A Darren Criss calendar!!! Hells yeah.
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
My sister knows me so well...
Yep, did pretty well this year. How about you??

British Sign Language and a few other things.

Today, I officially enrolled on a British sign language (BSL) level 1 course. Yay me!

This might seem quite random to some, but if you have seen my Tumblr or Twitter in the last few months, stuff from a telly show called Switched At Birth may have shown up between the myriad of Darren Criss (he's just so pretty) and Glee posts.

My sister, Megan, introduced me to this show. It's about these two girls, Bay and Daphne, who get, surprise surprise, switched at birth. And it turns out the one of the girls, Daphne, is deaf and therefore uses sign language. She uses American sign language (ASL), which is actually almost unintelligible to BSL users but still, it's what got me interested initially. And I don't really care if it's not using ASL correctly or what-have-you, it is still introducing a culture and language to a whole new audience, which can only be a good thing (/rant).

So anyway, it got me interested in learning sign language or at least, finding out more about Deaf culture. And by coinky-dink, I found out that one of my colleagues is hard-of-hearing and actually knows and uses BSL! Now, we end up spending a good chunk of time (when we should be working... shhhh!) talking about BSL, and him teaching me some signs. Important signs like how to not to mix up f**k you with thank you. Still waiting for the sign for lemonade though...

It definitely opened my eyes to how many people are affected by hearing impairments, and how useful it could be, as a hearing person, to be able to communicate with them in their language. To me, it's no different than going to a foreign country and at least trying to use the local language, rather than talk more loudly and slowly in English.

Also, it can only be advantageous as someone going into teaching to know some sign language. I would love to be able to help out a possible Deaf student in my classroom, than have to rely on a communication support worker all the time.

In other news, I've just painted my nails for Christmas and they look awesome:
They're so Christmassy!
And also, my sister and I filmed a Christmas tag video. It's really quite hilarious so please have a peek!

Go check out my sister's other videos on her YouTube channel, MeganShaelyn. She sings and stuff.

Film Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, (dir.) Bill Condon

Certificate: 12A (PG-13)

Rating: 5/10

Overall: I did really enjoy it, but I'd be lying if I said it was a good film. Seriously, that baby was very creepy. For fans, it's a great end to the saga. Not sure about everyone else...
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I Don't Know How to Feel About This

This is not gonna be a happy post. At all. But I feel like I need to write it out somewhere.

Today has been... like a cold shower. And I don't mean that in the 'ooh, how refreshing!', I mean in an unpleasant way. More like when a really hot, lovely shower suddenly turns freezing cold.

A woman jumped from the third floor. In the middle of the busy Birmingham Bull Ring shopping centre. Just as my sister and I were walking through.

It was horrible. It actually makes me feel like my skin is crawling just thinking about it. I remember my heart just clenching as I realised what I'd just seen out the corner of my eye. I didn't know and still don't really know how to react to seeing something like that. Are you supposed to just continue with your day of shopping as if nothing happened or what? My hands were actually shaking for a good half an hour afterwards. I didn't even know this woman. I dread to think...

I think I just don't understand the motivation or need to do something like that. Especially in such a public place. I mean, children were around. I just have never been in that kind of headspace. Sure, I've had bad times where I just want to curl up and hide away from everything, but I've always found something to smile about. I don't think I ever want to understand.

I suppose it has put into stark focus how important those hotlines are, and how essential it is that mental health issues are picked up by the right people.

The Trevor Project - 1-866-488-7386 (US)
Samaritans - 08457 90 90 90 (UK)
IMAlive - (Anywhere textchat)

Let Me Eat Cake!

I have discovered a previously untapped skill of mine!

Apparently, I can bake a mean chocolate cake!

It is a favourite question/remark about how I work in a sweet shop and that I must find it hard not to just eat sweets all day. Actually, if I worked in a cake shop, I'd have no resistance. Cake is my biggest weakness.

Anyway, my mum charged me with the task of making some cake and I think you'll find I nailed it.

Look at this beauty:

I almost didn't want to cut into it...
Chocolate cake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream filling, covered in chocolate buttercream. I followed Lorraine Pascal's recipe, which is rather extravagant but definitely well worth it.

Om nom nom nom nom...
And it is delicious, if I may say so.

Reckon I could enter the Great British Bake Off next year? I only need to be able to bake a victoria sponge right?

Three Things I'd Take On A Desert Island

I just came across a thing on the New Yorker website which I thought might be fun to do.

If you were trapped on a desert island and could only bring one book, one movie and one record, what would they be?


I could obviously go for Harry Potter but I'm going to assume that you can only take one book, and I'm not sure I could choose which one to take...

And I'm not going to go for anything "useful", you know, that could be used as kindling or whatever

So I could now say The Fault in Our Stars by John Green because it is probably the best book I've read in a while.

Maybe A Game of Thrones? Because there are a lot of characters and there would be lots of scope for fanfic to keep me amused ;)


Hmmm... difficult. Again, I could go for Harry Potter but same problem, which one do I choose?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower? But that feels like a cop out as it's the most recent film I've seen and loved...

I think I need a film that is funny with some emotional side to it. I haven't seen Pitch Perfect but I have high hopes and could be the film I would take.

If it has to be one I've seen, I think... the Avengers. Yep, that is a film I could watch again and again. Lots of pretty men and very funny to boot!


After a small amount of thought, this is probably the easiest of the three. Teenage Dream by Darren Criss. The version with his own arrangement. Because I never get tired of listening to that song.

So what would be your three choices?

Taking the Coast Road through Life

Confession: I have coasted through my life up to this point.

I am under no illusion that I have had to work very hard to get what I have in life. I coasted through school, doing just enough to get where I wanted/needed to go. My family are (on the outside looking in anyway) well-off, I don't want for anything. I have my own car, that I can afford to run. I've traveled quite extensively. I have an iPhone and a Macbook. I have savings.

I have means to do things. Nothing is stopping me...

So why can't I coast through this next stage of life??

I am at the proverbial fork in the road. I could do anything. But I feel like I can't.

It's like there are some roadworks that need to be done before I can move forwards, but what roadworks are needed?

Friends, family, Joe Bloggs on the streets offer me advice frequently on what I could or should do next and I appreciate that it's all just to try and help me. But I still honestly don't know what to do.

Should I go back to university? Do the PGCE thing and become a teacher? Or look into doing a Masters, possibly even abroad?

Should I bite the bullet and go and live abroad for a bit and do whatever? Just for the hell of it. And because I keep saying I want to and I will.

Maybe I should just move out and break out on my own either way.

All I know is that if I don't do something definitive soon, I'll get stuck in a rut that I can't escape.

I should just admit that getting a fucking 2:2 in my degree has affected my confidence in a way that didn't seem obvious (to me, at least) at the time. I feel like people will just dismiss me on face value when I apply for a grad-level job.

I know I'm better than a 2:2 degree. I bloody know it. But how the hell do I show that to someone who only sees the paper version of me?

Real Life sucks. I want a reboot.

Re: Response Times

I applied for a job in a pharmacy back in... July? Maybe August. Something like that, and got an interview. When the interview finished, I asked how long I should expect to wait for an answer. They said two weeks.

I got a reply yesterday. It was a no. No shit, Sherlock. At least two months have passed since the interview. I had guessed I hadn't got the job, but thanks for the confirmation.

Seriously, this can not be considered acceptable or professional. Can it?


Film Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Cast: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, (dir.) Stephen Chbosky

Certificate: 12A (PG-13)

Rating: 10/10

Overall: Loved it. The central three characters/actors were amazing, especially Logan Lerman who should get awards for this role. I laughed, I cried, I cringed, I loved, I felt infinite.
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The Relevance of Knowledge and Richard III

People who know me, know that I am a font of useless knowledge. I'm pretty handy in the old pub quiz. At least... I'd like to think so.

My specialist subject is Tudor history. Case and point: I visited Warwick Castle today and they had models of Henry VIII and his six wives on display. I discovered that I could apparently identify each of his wives on sight. I couldn't fully confirm my educated guess as there was no sign saying who was who though, but I'm relatively confident...
(Not my pic - source) L-R Katherine Howard, Anne Boleyn, Jane
Seymour, Henry VIII, Anne of Cleves, Katherine of Aragon and
Katherine Parr.
My interest in this subject is helped by the fact that I literally live a few miles from the site of the Battle of Bosworth Field, where Richard III was killed by the young Henry Tudor in 1485. The site is a place I semi-regularly visit to walk the dog, and it was the standard school trip for us.

I personally think it's pretty cool that I live very near the site where one of the most famous English monarchic dynasties started and where a civil war ended. Without the Tudors, particularly Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, Britain would not be as it is now.

But anyway, I bring this up now because of the news that archaeologists may have discovered the final resting site of Richard III in Leicester, under what used to be an old Franciscan church (now a carpark).

People are debating whether knowing the burial place of an old king is relevant anymore. Someone I spoke to about the discovery wondered if we should be spending money on such things when we have the current economic situation, and problems like poverty still prevalent. An article in the HuffPost argues that finding and verifying stuff we thought we knew is culturally and emotionally satisfying. There are probably a few other opinions that are just as valid.

I put forward that spending money (either private investment or taxpayer's money) into research of any kind is a good thing. If we don't fund projects, we put people who are trained to do such projects out of work, and in turn worsen the economic climate we are already in. Fine, it may not affect our daily lives that we have (possibly) discovered the remains of a king under a Leicester carpark, or that we now think there actually is a Higg's boson-like particle but:
Not to know is bad, not to wish to know is worse. - Nigerian Proverb
Learning about new things is making us slowly less and less ignorant of the world around us, and that can't be a bad thing.

The learning and knowledge that we have, is, at the most, but little compared with that of which we are ignorant. - Plato 
In conclusion, I'm excited about this new development in the story of Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth Field.

I Have A (Tentative) Plan!

So I've finally decided what I'm going to do...



With that bombshell out of the way, here is my penciled-in plan for the next year or so:

  1. Volunteer once or twice a week at school
  2. Apply for PGCEs
  3. Get into one of those PGCEs
  4. Work/Save money
  5. Travel for a few months if possible, possibly to France to finally learn that damn language
  6. Go to Leaky Con 2013 London(OMG YAYAYAYAY!!!)
  7. Start PGCE
Tomorrow, I will be calling the school to hopefully organise step 1 and get the ball rolling on the rest of this list. I'll report back to this post in a year (someone remind me) and see what happened.


Response Times

Continuing on from the last post about jobs and stuff, it reminded me about something that has affected me quite a bit while searching and applying for jobs.

How long do you expect to wait for a response to a job application?

Within a day? Week? Month? Ever?

How long should you wait for a response to a job application?

I have sent many many applications out over the past few years, some to "big" companies, some to small independent businesses. Who do you think is more likely to respond promptly? If you said the small independent businesses, you'd be in the right ball park.

It is an unfortunate side-effect of the jobs market that when one sends an application, either as a speculative inquiry or in answer to an advert, that one expects no answer.

Well, personally, I think this is extremely unprofessional, bordering on rude of the prospective employers.

You may send out, in one frenzy of applying, ten applications. In the current way of things, I'd expect perhaps two responses back.

It is drilled into us that we must respond to a correspondence (e-mail/snail mail/phone/etc.) as soon as possible. Preferably within 24 hours. Otherwise, we as potential employees could be seen as unreliable, someone who can't complete things on time, or any number of things if we do not.

So how is it acceptable that those potential employers do the very thing we are told not to do?
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Ten Steps to a Successful Life

  1. Learn the 3 "R"s - reading, writing and arithmetic
  2. Pass SATs/entrance exams and get into good secondary school
  3. Get five good (A*-C) GCSEs including English, maths and science
  4. Get at least three A-Levels in "good" subjects i.e. Sciences, humanities, not "Mickey Mouse studies"
  5. Get into (a good) university
  6. Get a decent degree in a "useful" subject
  7. Get a good/proper job
  8. Buy a house
  9. Get a husband/wife/partner
  10. Have some kids and start the cycle again 
N.B. Not all steps have to be completed in this order

Obviously, not everyone would fit this order of events for various reasons but it feels like there is a definite perception that these steps are the prescribed way to be considered successful. In life.

And I've stalled at Step 7.
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The Post-Olympic Slump

Party time at the Closing Ceremony
After seven years of planning, building, worrying, cynicism and Britishness, the London 2012 Olympic Games are over.

And there seems to be a nationwide feeling of emptiness.

For two weeks, the streets, parks and cities have been distinctly quieter as everyone has been glued to the television watching the exploits of Team GB.

And now me and a significant portion of the British population believe that London should have the Olympics every time!

Mainly because who else could have Voldemort, Mary Poppins and a parachuting Queen in their Opening Ceremony, or the Spice Girls alongside Eric Idle in the Closing Ceremony?

Well, anyway, the Olympics have been awesome. Team GB won 29 golds and 65 total medals, and we got to see some amazing sport happen in places we all recognise so well.

On the upside, the Paralympics are still to come before we really do have to wait four years til Rio 2016.

And all I can say is: Good Luck, Rio.

Book Review: The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

Synopsis: Alex and Conner Bailey's world is about to change. When the twins' grandmother gives them a fairy-tale book, they have no idea they're about to enter a land beyond all imagining: the Land of Stories, where fairy tales are real.
But as Alex and Conner soon discover, the stories they know so well haven't ended in this magical land - Goldilocks is now a wanted fugitive, Red Riding Hood has her own kingdom, and Queen Cinderella is about to become a mother!
The twins know they must get back home somehow. But with the legendary Evil Queen hot on their trail, will they ever find the way?

Number of pages: 438

Rating: 9/10

Overall Impression: So imaginative! I loved seeing what happened to all the classic fairy-tale characters after the "Happily Ever After". Some really did live happily ever after, while some really didn't. There were some giggles as I had expected and some gripping moments which I hoped for. I just really enjoyed it.

The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories, #1)

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Book Review: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Synopsis: Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.
As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.
The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

Number of Pages: 780

Rating: 8/10

Overall Impression: Long, detailed, complicated but a great read. Really interesting characters and great plot development. And the world building was extensive and immersive. I'm looking forward to reading on, and also to watching the series.

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)

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An Olympian Day Out

In a spontaneous turn of events, I came home from work on Sunday and found out we were going to the Olympics the next day! Specifically, we were going to see the Men's Team Gymnastics final. Team GB had a team in the final and we would see the medal ceremony too. Ahhh! Exciting!

We left Nuneaton at 10am on the train, and got in to London Euston just before midday. And yes, the train station was busy. Police dotted about and just people everywhere. Off to the Tube. As we had only bought the tickets the day before, we went straight to the venue (the North Greenwich Arena, AKA the O2 Arena, AKA the Millenium Dome) to pick up the tickets and make sure we had plenty of time before the 4.30pm session start.

Got there and got the tickets in loads of time to spare. Kudos to Transport of London and the London 2012 people, because everything was running smoothly and calmly with info and directions freely available.

After some food, we went and got some merchandise and then made our way into the arena. And we had amazing seats! We were right next to the high bar.

Only five rows back from the front! Also there's my mum photobombing...
There was a sort of energy buzzing around the arena, as everyone trickled in. Everyone was anticipating an exciting afternoon ahead.

Team GB over by the pommel horse
About half an hour before the gymnasts came in, we got treated to a sort of warm-up act: Pixie Lott! We had literally no idea that was going to happen, another bonus. She came out and sang Use Sombody by Kings of Leon and then one of her own songs.

The main event was the highlight. Obviously. The atmosphere was electric, and every Team GB performance was met with a roar of approval from the crowd.

Britain on the parallel bars
We couldn't really see Team GB too well from where we were sitting at the start but with all the other teams on the other apparatus, there was plenty to look at. In fact, too much! I didn't know where to look, and sometimes I was clapping for... well, I don't know what!

But in the end, not being able to see them at the start, worked to our advantage, because the end of the competition was so exciting. Going into the last event (for Team GB, the floor), Team GB was in contention for a medal: silver or bronze, the first time in, I think, 80 years of British gymnastics history.

Watching Team GB doing their floor routines, well, I couldn't have told you what even Team USA was doing on the high bar right in front of me! Max Whitlock and Daniel Purvis both had really good scores for their routines, but Kristian Thomas absolutely nailed his. And the noise as he finished was amazing, especially as he egged the crowd on.

After his score was released, the roof was blown off the arena, I swear. Team GB had won the silver medal! It was so exciting, I can't describe it.

But unfortunately, Japan appealed and won, getting an increased score for something (can't say I really know what was going on. Perhaps the only disadvantage from watching the telly coverage was the lack of commentary and therefore explanation) so Team GB was demoted to bronze. Massive boos erupted across the arena...

Anyway. We still won a medal, and we had got to see it happen live :D And the ceremony was pretty cool to witness in person.
Blurry pic of the medal cermony. Britain is on the left

Other than the main event, there were some other exciting happenings.

Photographic evidence of Chelsea Handler's presence.
1. Chelsea Handler off of American telly was sitting in the seat literally in front of me. Didn't really notice it was her until the end, but when Megan and I saw her face, we both turned to each other and mouthed "That's Chelsea Lately!!!" In the first photo above you can also see the back of her head between Megan and me.
Delta Goodrem on the Tube

2. Prince William and Prince Harry were there, in the crowd. Unfortunately we couldn't see them from where we were. Apparently they were on the opposite side of the stadium. Megan was beside herself when she found out.

3. We saw Delta Goodrem off of Neighbours (also went out with Nick Jonas, and sings a bit) on the Tube.

I have been to London many times and have never seen a celebrity randomly on the Tube, or out and about. And now I've seen two! You wait for one bus and three come at once...

Well, anyway. We had the most amazing day, one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that I'm glad I didn't let pass me by. Yay! For London 2012!

Dealing with Fandom

While Twitter was down a few days ago, I thought I'd fill my time by having a thought.

I was and sort of still am a fan of Twilight. And when I say fan, I mean, I read the books and have watched all the films thus far released, and was rather enamoured by Mr Pattinson for awhile there (sorry Rob, Darren has just caught me... hook, line and sinker).

I entered the fandom feet first, having already been part of the Harry Potter fandom, so knew that I was about to enter obsession-level territory, where people knew anything and everything to do with Twilight.

And initially, in the honeymoon phase, it was a lot of fun. I've met some amazing people, who I am still friends with now through Twilight. Sue (@Roselover24) set up a blog, where Tanja (@TheycallmeT_) and me help(ed) out, then Jeannie (@gojeannie) joined in on the fun. I've even met some of them in real life, including T, and Skyped with those who are further afield (one day we will meet, Sue and Jeannie! ;) ).

In a way, Twilight was a replacement for Harry Potter in a sense that there was still a lot of new stuff waiting to happen. When I first read Twilight, Deathly Hallows had already been published so it sort of felt like there was a limited amount of stuff left.

But then the shine started to wear off.

And for me, most of that can be traced to one thing: hate of Kristen Stewart.

Let me clarify. Not my own opinion of Kristen Stewart, or any indivdual in particular but the fandom's hate as a whole.

Obviously, the recent "news" that Stewart cheated on boyfriend, Robert Pattinson has made me think about this but that's not what I want to talk about here.

I get it. Kristen Stewart is kinda like marmite. You either love her or hate her. But while I neither love her nor hate her, I lean towards liking her. I'm not going to go into reasons why, because a) that's not the point I'm trying to make, b) I can't really put a finger on it, and c) I can't be bothered right now.

But what always gets to me, is the seemingly unadulterated HATE for a girl/woman/person who is an actress by trade, a celebrity by the nature of that business.

Fine, you don't think she can act. Fine, you think she should "try harder" when talking to the media or whatever. Fine, you think she shouldn't be dating Robert Pattinson (cheating aside).

My point is, if you don't like her, maybe even hate her, why even bother wasting your effort on her?

Every tweet, every comment, every word you say about her, is another moment of energy you have wasted on someone you supposedly hate. If you don't like her, ignore her. Focus on what you do like, like Rob!

Over the past few days, my twitter feed has just been filled with bitchiness and hate.

There is one person I would hate to be right now, and that is her. Not only has her personal life apparently gone tits up (regardless of who's fault it is), but she is getting the mother of all shitstorms for it.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not condoning what she did, but I do wonder how it would have panned out if the tables had been turned, i.e. Rob cheated on her. (Considering how Kristen Stewart has previously been treated by Twilight/Robert Pattinson fans, I'd say the blame would have been put on her and she would have "deserved it". Just sayin'.)

This has what has put the nail in the coffin, so to speak, on my direct participation in the Twilight fandom. Initially, I got distracted by Darren Criss Glee, and the Glee fandom has it's own share of hate-mongering, but this Kristen Stewart hate seems to colour everything to do with Twilight now.

Fandoms are supposed to be places of fun. Places we go to talk about the thing we all have in common, a love for that thing. And unfortunately the Twilight fandom stopped being that for me.

Maybe one day, we can go back to enjoying what we initially all came together over... I look forward to that day.

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Synopsis: In the future, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions that will define her identity for the rest of her life. This decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.

Number of Pages: 487

Rating: 8/10

Overall impression: Great read. Likeable female protagonist. The first two thirds of the book could be seen as slow if you like to get right to the action, but the underlying tension keeps you reading til the climatic final act.

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

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Film Review: Magic Mike

Cast: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Cody Horn

Certificate: 15 (R)

Rating: 8/10

Overall: Too much plot, not enough stripping. Hilarious, light-hearted first half, slightly depressing, moral second half. Really entertaining, with a slightly depressing turn about half-way through as an attempt to make this a meaningful film.

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One Year On

It has been exactly one year since I graduated.

Yup. I know. I graduated on the same day as the World Premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

That first week of July 2011 was a really exciting week all round to be honest.

On the 5th, Megan (my sister) and I went to see Darren Criss in one of four live shows he did in London after the end of the Glee Live Tour.

Yep, we were quite excited...
Joe Walker and Darren Criss. Look how close we were!
I also got to meet Liz for the first time, who is my fellow Darren lover, and we've been obsessing together ever since.

Then on the 7th July, it was my graduation, i.e. this happened:

Shiny red face because it was boiling where we had the photos done.
As this was the same day as the Harry Potter premiere, it meant we couldn't go down to Trafalgar Square and get a last chance to experience this phenomenon the first time round. Megan was not impressed when I informed her that my graduation clashed...

Anyway, graduation was pretty cool, one of those moments that you'll always remember. A moment for everyone to recognise what you achieved.

But perhaps the most amusing thing from that day is the procession at the end of the graduation ceremony. We, as newly-minted graduates, got to walk out to, I shit you not, this: 

Which is to say, we walked out to The Entry of the Gladiators by Julius Fučík. I am still wondering if they were expecting us to do cartwheels and juggle down the aisle...

At the time, I said that graduating on the same day as the last Harry Potter premiere was like the official end of my childhood. The first book came out when I was 8, the first film came out the same year I moved up to secondary school, and then I graduated as it all finished...

And to be honest, I was probably right.

Film Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen

Certificate: 12A (PG-13)

Rating: 8/10

Awesome. Amazing. Thrilling. Impressive. Other adjectives may apply. Andrew Garfield nailed it as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and the chemistry between him and Emma Stone just works. Great action, seamless 3D and even some emotional moments. My only fault with it was, IMO, a relatively weak bad guy.

Spoilers galore after the jump.
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Another Day, Another England Match

Yep, England is playing Ukraine, one of the home nations of the Euro 2012 tournament.

This time, to up the ante, I've placed two bets:

  • England to win, 2-1. 15/2. £10 gets me £75 if I win.
  • Rooney to score first, England win 2-1. 30/1. £5 gets me £150.

This is my first time ever placing real money bets on things. So it's quite exciting.

Now I've done it though, I'm blatantly not gonna win anything but hey it's just a bit of fun.

Just... cross your fingers though. Either way, still want England to go through to the quarters.

Everybody Apparently Knows How To Play Football

If you are European and don't live in a cave, you'll be aware that it is the European Football Championship, henceforth known as Euro 2012. If you're not European... well, now you know.

It's a pretty big deal in Europe. One below the World Cup. Euro 2012 occurs every fours years, or two years after the World Cup.

Anyway, if you were to watch the people watching these matches, you would notice a couple of things:
  • Apparently the referee knows nothing. Unless it goes in your chosen team's favour, and suddenly said ref can do no wrong.
  • Everybody, regardless of experience or lack thereof, suddenly thinks they know how what's going on.
  • Lots of people, who previously could give a monkey's left elbow, become intensely interested in the outcome of matches.
I don't exempt myself from this either. Though I still, despite many explanations, don't get that stupid-ass Offside Rule. Something about something in front of the thingy, but possibly behind the whatsit... 

Also, in my experience, this is not limited to the "Beautiful Game". I don't play tennis, but I suddenly become an expert on the subject when Wimbledon is on. I can bluff knowledge on rugby whenever the Six Nations is on.  This summer, at London 2012, people will declare with misplaced authority who they think will win gold at whatever sport, despite having no interest or knowledge in said sport before.

I just think it's funny.

Having said all that, if Ireland manage to beat Spain (the World Cup holders) it'll be a miracle.

6 Reasons Why The Avengers Succeeded

Marvel's Avengers Assemble. This is a successful film. I don't think there is anyone who could deny it. In fact, it has become one of the biggest grossing films ever (third in actual fact), with the biggest opening weekend ever. Omg, it beat HP7.2!

This is particularly interesting because it is NOT a sequel.

But why? Why did it do so well?

Spoilers ahoy.

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Pro-Con lists: Careers

I have potentially narrowed down what I could possibly do as a career to two options:



I feel I need to do pro-con lists for both of these, so I'm going to hash it out here.



  • Incorporates my previous medical science knowledge.
  • Stable job prospects.
  • Could work in any field that takes my fancy.
  • Apparently relatively well paid.
  • Active job.
  • NHS will pay the tuition fees.
  • Another three years at university.
  • Unsociable hours.
  • According to my mum, working for the NHS is not a walk in the park.


  • Stable job prospects.
  • Relatively well paid.
  • Active job.
  • Only one year more at university.
  • Teaching primary, I would get to teach a bit of everything.
  • I work well with children, and enjoy working with them.
  • Could work in the private or state sector.
  • Good holidays.
  • Potential bursary.
  • Is it a cop-out? The old adage "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." comes to mind.
  • Could end up in a difficult school, with difficult kids.
I am probably leaning towards teaching... but I'd like to know your thoughts or even your experiences in either of these fields.

Jubilee Shenanigans

As I'm watching the Jubilee Concert, I thought I'd recap what occurs in Britain when it's Jubilee time.

  1. Everywhere you go, there are union flags. Everywhere. Honestly, I have seen every kind of item splashed with the Union Jack in the last month or so. 
  2. It becomes an excuse to have a party or shindig. Which may or may not include cucumber sandwiches and tea.
  3. We see more of the Queen than at any other time, ever.
  4. It's made everyone forget about the European Football Championships that start next week. Which, considering it is the national sport, is quite an achievement!
So far, we've had a special Derby day of horse-racing at Epsom, a flotilla of 1000 boats down the River Thames, a massive concert in front of Buckingham Palace, and tomorrow there will be a procession followed by a service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral. 

It's brought the whole country together in celebration, and thankfully there has been no chat about whether we should or shouldn't have a monarchy at all. We have just been celebrating what is undoubtably an extraordinary life's work.

Our little nod to Queen Elizabeth's 60 years was an afternoon tea:
The Victoria Sponge with some gratuitous Instagram 'magic'
Jam tarts, pork pies, finger sandwiches (not here yet)... what more could you want?
Well, this is my nod to her Majesty.

Congratulations on a great 60 years on the throne, here's to the rest!

Fanfiction Readers Anonymous

I have a confession to make.

I read fanfiction.

To some people I know, this is not news, but anyway, it still feels like a confession.

tl;dr - Fanfiction is an inherent part of fandom 'life'. I love it and I wouldn't change that for anything.

I think this is because of the impression of 'outsiders' - by which I mean, those who don't read fanfiction and/or are not inside fandoms - is that fanfiction is a very nerdy or geeky part of fan culture. It is also perceived that fanfiction is a hotbed (pun fully and unashamedly intended ;) ) of porn and smut. Well... it is. There is no point in denying it. But that's not to say that you can't find something with as much depth and plot as the original material.

The point of fanfiction is to fill in the gaps, continue the story, and have a play with those characters you love (or love to hate) so much. It's like you have this huge playground to play in, with infinite possibilities. Also, for a lot of writers, it is a sounding board for their writing. They get to experiment and hone their craft, but with established characters/worlds, an established audience and instant feedback.

I have read fanfiction from a few fandoms in my time, namely, Harry Potter, Twilight (no judgment please) and Glee. Each of these fandoms have their own idiosyncrasies and vernacular, but the thing that stays the same is the enthusiasm of the authors for their stories and the source material.

Reading fanfiction is a different beast from reading books. If you're lucky you might stumble upon a completed multi-chapter behemoth of a fanfiction that is well written, has a good plot and good characterisation. If you're extremely lucky.

You, of course, read a LOT of horrendous stuff as well. Both in story line and in the writing. For an example of this, there is one that is infamous in fanfiction circles; I present exhibit A: My Immortal from the Harry Potter community. It is a masterpiece of modern literature. Otherwise known as the worst thing I have ever read, but also one of the most hilarious because of it. I can't even begin to explain it... just know that not all (or any) fanfiction is as bad as that. I've linked to it, but fair warning, read it at your own peril.

Fanfiction is the main reason I don't 'read' as much as I would like to, despite the fact I am actually reading all the time. I have set a challenge for myself on GoodReads to read 15 books this year. Well, I can safely say I have already read enough to constitute that many books, but unfortunately fanfiction doesn't count...

Fanfiction is, for me, a way of keeping the story going beyond the pages or screen. It's as close to being able to read the books/watch the tv show again with fresh eyes as I can get. It inspires creativity, debate and collaboration. The story of Harry Potter was completed now 5 years ago. Apart from the films, there has been no 'new' material to work with but still the fandom marches on, and IMHO, I think the creation of fanfiction is a big part of that.

I don't think I could stop reading fanfiction, even if I tried. It has been a big part of my life since I was 12ish, and is an inherent part of my being a fan. It doesn't stop me from reading new stuff completely, just more slowly. And sometimes, I'll come across something new that makes me want to go find fanfiction for that book/film/tv show/whatever. Finding something that makes me want to go find fanfiction for it is generally the seal of approval from me.

Living at Home: Being Part of the Statistics

Today, it was revealed that 3 million young adults between 20 and 34 still live at home.
In 2011, 64% of men and 46% of women aged 20 were living with their parents, while only 7% of 34-year-old males and 2% of 34-year-old females remained in the family home.
And I am one of those statistics. Sigh.

I am even one of the clichés. I spent 4 years at university, racked up thousands of pounds of debt, graduated, returned home, and couldn't find a graduate job (though I didn't exactly try very hard).

So now I live at home, work as a waitress and in a sweet shop and have no solid plans to get out.

But at least I'm not part of the unemployed young people statistics anymore... swings and roundabouts.

There is also a comments page to go with the above article, where 4 'young people' have described their experiences of living at home. A few of their comments stood out:
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Don't be embarrassed to read Harry Potter

Through the Tumblr grapevine, I came across this article in the New York Times: Adults Should Read Adult Fiction.

Well, excuse you, Joel Stein.

I'm just going to pick apart this article in defense of reading what the hell you like.

The tl;dr version is:

Just because a book is classed as Young Adult (YA) or children's literature does not mean that it is unworthy of the attention of 'adult'* readers. Not everything we read needs to be dissected and analysed. Even so, YA and children's literature stands up to analysis just as well as adult literature, sometimes even better.

Also, what she said.

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A New Project

I pledge forthwith to blog at least once a week about anything and everything.

Let me tell you a bit about myself.

My name is Hannah.

I'm 23 years old.

I'm British.

I still live at home.

I graduated from the University of Bath in Pharmacology last year (2011).

I work in a hotel as a waitress, and in a sweet shop.

I have a dog called Dobby.

Well, that's the basics covered. Let's do this!