Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Inspirational Moodboard #1: A Quiet Sunday












Disclaimer: None of these are my pictures, I found them all on Tumblr, but I thought I could start making moodboards depending on how I feel. If you like them let me know and I will put some more together!

Author Interview: Jolene Stockman

Total Blueprint for World Domination

Jolene Stockman

Jolene Stockman is the author of 'Total Blueprint for World Domination' and I interviewed her a while ago about her book, which is aimed at teenage readers who want to achieve their goals and dreams. Well, I say a while ago, but it was probably more than a year ago and for some reason I never uploaded it. I'm so sorry Jolene! Here's what she had to say about it - not about me uploading this late, but about her actual book...

1. What is your book about?
"Total Blueprint for World Domination takes you from this very moment to your greatest dream. It supports you in designing your dream world – the perfect world for you, and shows you the steps to make it happen!"

2. Why did you decide to explore the world of non-fiction?
"For me, non-fiction is my comfort zone (that’s my day job). I loved the idea of writing a book that gave readers not only the tools to make their dreams come true, but also the confidence and the belief to actually do it."

3. Did you enjoy writing the book?
"I loved it! It’s all about being a voice for the reader that says, “Anything’s possible for you.” I’m writing the sequel now, and it’s so great to spend time in the “world domination” headspace."

4. Is your book aimed at any particular audience?
"The book “officially” targets teenage readers, but if you’re ready to change your life or start plotting your perfect world – this book’s for you!"

5. Would you consider writing in any other genre?
"Definitely! My second book, “The Jelly Bean Crisis” is also for young adults, but it’s a contemporary fiction. It was a huge (and exciting!) challenge to jump into another genre, and I will do it again for sure! Writing in different styles and genres is a great way to stretch and stay fresh as a writer."

6. What is your favourite genre/style to write in?
"Ooh, I love different things about different genres! With the non-fiction I get to talk directly to the reader, and with the contemporary fiction I get to disappear into another world. Right now I’m also working on something with a paranormal twist, and I’m finding a whole new kind of fun and freedom in doing that."

7. What genres do you like to read yourself?
"Elmore Leonard’s crime fiction novels are some of my favourites because they are such raw and speedy, film-like reads, but I also really love the Anne Rice vampire series for letting me lose all sense of time and space. Since I started writing young adult fiction, I’ve jumped in and found so many new favourites there, too. Goodreads and book bloggers have been awesome for helping me find so many great new books and authors! I’ve been wolfing YA like candy – all in the name of research of course :)"

8. Are you reading a book right now? If so, which one?
"For me, the only way to squeeze reading in, is by having lots of books I’m part way through. So, at the moment I have a heap of paranormal YA on my Kindle, research non-fiction by my bed, a paperback from the Dexter series next to my hairdryer, and the audio book of Veronica Roth’s Insurgent in my car. (I find the more books I have in different places the easier it is to juggle them with my life!)"

9. What is the best thing about writing, in your opinion?
"Hmmm, being able to work in my pyjamas? Teehee :) There are so many amazing things about being a writer, it really is a dream job. I love being able to create worlds from scratch, I love feeding and stretching my brain, and I LOVE hearing from readers that my work has made a difference to them."

10. Have you ever wanted to be anything else other than a writer?
"Besides wanting to own a chocolate factory or a travelling flea circus, I always thought I’d be a writer, and ultimately an author. I am so, so happy with how it turned out! As well as being an author, my day job includes screenwriting, technical writing, and copywriting. (And if I want to get myself a chocolate factory or a flea circus, I can always write them into my books!) There really is a perfect world for everyone, and you can make it happen starting now!"

You can get the book now on amazon or add it to your goodreads! All I have seen for this book is good reviews, so I suggest adding it to your e-book collection now.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Review: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Title: The Rosie Project/Don Tillman #1
Author: Graeme Simsion
Cover Artist: Joel Holland and Shutterstock
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 1st October 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA romance fiction
Page Count: 327
Original Language: English
Format Read: Paperback
Other books in series: The Rosie Effect/Don Tillman #2
Movie Adaptation: N/A

I had heard about The Rosie Project before and I only associated it with the lobster on the front, so when I was on holiday earlier this year I went to an independent bookshop and this book caught my eye. Low and behold, it was a great decision to purchase it.


"I'm not goo at understanding what other people want."

"Tell me something I don't know..."

Love isn't an exact science - but no one told Don Tillman. A handsome thirty-nine-year-old geneticist, Don's never had a second date. So he devises The Wife Project, a scientific test to find the perfect partner. Enter Rosie - 'the world's most incompatible woman' - throwing Don's safe, ordered life into chaos. Just what is this unsettling, alien emotion he's feeling?

The first page:

*Spoiler Alert - this review assumes you are not familiar with the story*

This, for me, was a very different type of book. It was understandable through its entirety and my God, it was so important.

I'll tell you why. The book covered the topic of Asperger's Syndrome in a tasteful manner, and assured the reader that even those who are different can function in society and even have a loving relationship. Yes, there are a few problems along the way, but the end is the same as anybody else's. It wasn't insulting to read either. I am usually very wary of these types of books because the author can slip up once and make it offensive for anyone with the syndrome to read, but I felt as though anyone reading it with Asperger's would not be insulted.

Also, the big irony of the book was that it actually didn't focus on love (I know, shocker) but instead provided the reader with a funny commentary into somebody's life and their search for something more than their work. It wasn't even about acceptance - everyone around Don accepted him as a human being and worked with him to overcome his relationship issues. 

Throughout the book there was a strong writer's voice and I couldn't put it down. I enjoyed sitting in the garden on a warm summer night whilst curled up on a big comfy chair and reading this. Rosie was a gem of a character, and I liked Gene and Claudia who are his best friends, but my favourite character by far was Don himself. He was so humorous and down to earth, and it felt like I was checking up on an old friend every time I opened the book. 

There was a bit of a rushed ending, but everything that needed to be said had been said, so it didn't spoil the last pages of what was a truly clever and magnificent book. That's why I decided to give it 5/5 cups of tea, for it truly deserved it. I can't wait to read the sequel, as I know it will be equally as intelligent and mesmerising. What a cracker of a novel.

About the author:

Graeme Simsion.jpg

Graeme Simsion is is a New Zealand born Australian author, screen-writer, playwright and data modeller. Prior to writing fiction he was an information systems consultant and wrote two books and several papers about data-modelling. He established a consulting business in 1982 and sold it in 1999. Simsion won the 2012 Victorian Premier's Unpublished Manuscript Award for his book, The Rosie Project. Text Publishing has sold the rights to the book internationally for over $1.8m, and The Rosie Project was published in Australia in January 2014, selling more than a million copies in over forty countries around the world.

Where to find Graeme Simsion: Website, Twitter

Friday, 26 September 2014

Kendal's Column: another weird life post about school.

     I seem to be writing a number of these posts recently, but maybe thats just me thinking that when it's not actually the case. Nevertheless, i feel the need to make this post (more for myself than anything else) as some pretty big changes have happened in the past 2 weeks and i think it might be time for an update. You never know, this could help me, or someone else, navigate life in the future. 

     So on September 2nd, I started at Sixth Form studying Maths with Mechanics, Physics, Psychology and Philosophy and Ethics. 
     I went to that sixth form for around 2 weeks and, i'm not going to go into too much detail but the school wasn't right for me and whilst it may have advertised good results and x,y,z it just didn't feel right. 
     I changed school (to make this less confusing, without naming names, the first school i went too shall be 'A' and the second 'B') and school B is, conveniently, a lot closer to me and i feel it is the better choice for me. I had actually wanted to go to school B up until year 11 when i changed my mind to school A. 
     The only issue was with starting at school B is that they were already quite far ahead in maths whilst i had only just started waking up from summer. It also didn't help that the first lesson i had was a test where i scored a whopping 5%. Good going Kendal- great first impression you made there. 
     Since then i had real doubts about maths and how well i could actually hope to do. Like, let's be honestly maths is HARD and this was, what, week 3?
     Today I had a surprise retest and i did improve but i still 'only' got 41% on a test that what would probably be described as half a step up from GCSE. This, needless to say, made me feel pretty shit because i really tried to give it 110% in that retest but i still didn't meet the mark and since today was the last day for subject changes that mark kind of made the decision for me. which sucks. 
     Call me a nerd but i really liked maths and it really hurts that i'm having to drop it simply because i have no idea how to do it. but that's the education system world we live in. I loved maths at GCSE but i think the 'jump' from GCSE to A level was more a leap over the grand canyon, for me. Or maybe I'm just being a pessimist- who knows.


     So with maths out of the picture, i had to choose something else to take. I chose Drama and Theatre studies (quite the opposite, i know) but, throughout high school, i went to a drama group and honestly loved it and have some of the best memories of my life from there. 
     I don't know if it's going to lead anywhere but i'm 99% certain that i will have more fun in drama than I, personally, ever could in maths. 

    If you have stubbled upon this somehow and think i've made the wrong choice then cool. maybe i have or maybe maths and me weren't meant to be. Life goes on and the world keeps turning. If it turns out that i want to maths-it-up later in life then awesome, why not? It'll mean i can do it in my own time whilst making sure i understand everything and i won't be able to compare myself to anyone and make myself feel small. Maybe i'll never do maths again and become some stage performer or therapist or philosopher. i don't know. The point that i'm trying to make is that, even though i've stopped doing maths, it isn't the end of everything i've ever wanted or worked for (you can tell i'm writing for myself, can't you) and, as long as i'm happy with what i'm doing and i think it's the best choice for me then that's all i really want. 

Happy Friday!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

I am left, not with conclusions or evidence or proofs, but with something less definite...

I realised that I need to start using this blog as online therapy again, just like I used to, because when I did I felt more empowered. And any writing is good writing, rather than not writing at all.

This blog doesn't reach a massive audience. You can probably tell... just look at all of the tumble weeds in the comment section. And I hope that more people choose to read it one day, but for now I'm okay. 

Blogging is an art form, and a lot of viewership has been lost to the more interactive medium of Youtube, where you can broadcast yourself instead of writing about yourself. I personally feel more comfortable with writing instead of talking, but I love youtubers and love how they are finally being noticed properly for their art. 

"I am left, not with conclusions or evidence or proofs, but with something less definite - feelings, questions, analogies, puzzling facts to be explained." - Raymond Moody

This is a quote that I've been thinking a lot about lately, and it rings so true. My feelings are so messed up at the moment that I don't know whether to write an entire novel or sit and do nothing, work my butt off or relax and enjoy living in the moment, or carry on or give up. I have been feeling very positive until today, and I've been thinking about how different my life was a year ago.

A year ago I wanted to do physics and maths for A-Level and go to UCLA and study either neurobiology or astrophysics. I was much weaker than I am now, much more anxious (if that is even possible) and basically falling apart. I didn't tell anyone until something happened that meant I couldn't keep it quiet any longer, and that sparked restless trips to the doctor's, the hospital, and at one point a therapist. It wasn't the fact that I hated school itself, I just didn't want to be there full time anymore. 

When I got my GCSE results a year ago, I soon realised I couldn't do maths and physics, but this was a blessing because honestly, the only reason I wanted to do them was to get somewhere in life, and I thought that was the only way to be successful. I then realised I couldn't go to UCLA because my parents are quite over-protective of me... plus you have to be a genius to get in, which I am certainly not. 

All of this got me thinking about my life and the point at where I am today. If I had done maths and physics, I wouldn't have done philosophy, and my life today would be the same as it was a year ago. If I hadn't have taken philosophy, the incident wouldn't have happened and I wouldn't have had those much needed doctor's appointments, and I wouldn't be getting better. 

Yeah, there are many things in my life before these things that I genuinely wish had never have happened, and there are a couple of things after these events that I would change if I could too. These are what the quote above would describe as 'puzzling facts'. You don't quite know why these things are the way they are, but they are most certainly there. 

Yesterday, I handed an essay to my English teacher, and I told him it probably wasn't very good. He began to read it since I had handed it in before anyone else (I know, I'm a keen bean) and he said "Its really good actually, a lot better than the one you handed to me a year ago. Remember that its only the first draft and when you make changes it will get even better."

I think that's a microcosm for our lives. We're doing better than we think we are, especially better than last year or the year before that. Each life plan we have is only a first draft, and as the situation changes you have to change your plans with it. But trust me, the changes will make your life even better, and if you have to plan again, it will get better again. Life will get better than it is in this moment. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

A letter to my 20 year old self

Kendal recently wrote 'A letter to my 18 year old self' and so I thought I would do the same, only I'm 17 now and my 18th birthday isn't that far off. Instead, I'm going to write a letter to my 20 year old self. Have a go at writing a letter to yourself in a couple of years time - it might help you put some things in perspective. This should be... interesting... to say the least. 

I'll link to Kendal's letter here

Hi Future Me,

So, you're 20 now, huh? I bet you thought you'd never get into university, but here you are. Two thirds of the way into your Philosophy and English Literature course. Did you get into Bangor? Or did you decide on Birmingham instead? Either one is fine, by the way, I'm not judging you. Let's just hope you've actually made a few friends from all of that baking you've been doing for them. And if you think they're just there for the cake, they probably are.

If you're in a relationship, I'm extremely surprised and you will be too I suppose. I never cared for romance as a 17 year old but maybe you are different and have grown to understand the advantages of late night cuddles and knowing another person all too well. Whoever it is, they must be a saint to put up with your fascination in Philosophy and your annoying habit of wanting to tell everyone something you've just learnt in that subject. Either that or they're just here for the great cake.

About the anxiety thing... don't worry about it. That's the worst thing to say to somebody with anxiety I know, and maybe you've 'grown out of it' by now, but if you still have it and all the weird things it does to your body then there's always something you can do about it. In fact, as I'm writing this letter things have been going a bit better - but I don't want to jinx it. I suppose I'll know if I've jinxed it in three year's time when I read this letter.

I hope you stay in contact with at least a couple of your old school friends, because it would be a shame to wipe out all of those great memories you have with them. Some of them will have definitely been your friend because they saw you at school five times a week, and some of them will have been there for the long haul. Either way, I hope you know who your true friends are now.

Do you still watch all of those youtubers you watched three years ago? Do you go to Summer In The City every year with Kendal? Have you been to Vidcon yet? Are the family members that are alive now still alive? I hope the answer to all of those questions is YES.

I don't even have to ask you if you're still blogging, because the answer to that is obviously a yes. Your life dramatically improved for a number of reasons when you made this blog so you'd be a fool to give it up now. 

I'm guessing you are no longer on a chocolate ban as you are as I'm writing this - in fact, you've probably just dipped your spoon in a jar of Nutella that you call 'dinner'. You have probably dip-died your hair blonde (or perhaps blue if you were feeling adventurous? I know that was always a little teenage dream of your's) and have your hair almost down to your bum, and love your mint-green tea and weird clothes. If you have your mother's eyes, you will have glasses by now, but that's fine because it makes you look more geeky, which is totally the look you're going for. And most of all, you still love books, and is known in university as that strange girl who is always reading books.

We've been through a lot these past five years or so, and I don't have to tell you why because you're me so you already know. But at age 17, it is getting better, you are getting stronger, and you are beginning to feel okay. And for us, that's a pretty big step.

I'm going to end this letter now because you're getting freaked out about the accuracy of it all, I can tell by the look on your face. Remember, your 17 year old self is rooting for you and even though you don't like sushi now your taste buds will change and you will be the cool kid you always dreamed of being. Except not as mean as the cool kids you went to school with.

Lots of love,
17 year old you x

Friday, 12 September 2014

Kendal's Column: A Letter To My 18 year Old Self

Dear Me,
    I write to you as a 16 year old teen who has just finished GCSE and has stumbled through her first week of A Level. I don't know if you'll remember how you felt at this point but it kinda sucks because, honestly, the answer is you feel pretty damn scared.
    You, on the other hand, are 18. An adult.
That's not to say I want you to be able to say you have it together, far from it in fact. I just hope you're happy and, if that is not the case, then I hope you are on your way to being happy.
When I read this in two years, i will be either going to university or not. I have no idea what you'll be studying or where but i hope you chose well and for you (for once).
    Seriously, if you change your mind about what you want to do, it's okay. i think someone might need to tell you that even if it is just me. Nothing is permanent and you are still young and can still choose to do whatever the hell you want.
    That said, there are a couple of things i would be really grateful if you had done or are doing at 18

1) Learn to drive
For the past 16 years you have lived in village with only one bus service which goes to only two places and even those places don't have an amazing train service. Consequently, you're relying on your parents to transport you places/train stations and the guilt is real. Plus, if start driving it'll hopefully be a lot easier to see old friends (and god knows you miss them) because you wont have to wait for an hour after school finishes to get the train home therefore you will get homework done earlier and, as a result, have more free time. See, it'll all work out. (i'm saying this like learning to drive will be easy...whoops)

2) Save up money
 Like, please could you maybe have £500 in the bank for once because that would be pretty damn great. It's ambitious for us, i know, but you'll probably thank yourself for it when you're in university (or not..i don't know).
Under this i feel i need to tell you that if you are still buying books when you have books to read then you need to stop and re-evaluate your spending. Seriously. This a major problem already.

3) Don't Quit Horse Riding
I know this has crossed your mind occasionally but i can't allow you to do that. Cut down on lessons if you must but don't quit altogether EVER. i know it might have been hard to find a balance sometimes but having to find a balance is probably better than just working solidly and not needing to balance.

4) Work-loads
This may just be me and my post-high school mindset but i hate not seeing people from high school everyday.
Those people made those 5 years great and without them it would've been miserable, as cheesy as it sounds. So, please don't neglect friends when the workload gets tough.
Make time for fun and happy times because work sucks.
That being said, i would really appreciate it if you kept up the whole 'do work as soon as it's set' thing that you've been doing for the past week because this is so much less stressful and that would *probably* leave more time for life.

5) Don't give up
 It's okay to change your mind and decide to do something completely different and change whatever life plan you have, just do it for the right reasons.
it's getting too hard? no one said life was easy and if you wanna go places then it's going to get hard. really hard.
but, if your not happy doing what you're doing then it's time to change your life so that you are happy which, admittedly, may be easier said than done but make changes for the long term and focus on being happy

Now i've got that out there, you're probably sat there judging your own grammar and mistakes and thinking that you were a total idiot but you can carry on with your life.
Good luck pal.

Happy Friday!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Kendal's Column: Back to school

It's now officially the end of summer for me now as, by the time this post goes up, i'll be on my second second day of 6th form (the terror) but , looking on the bright side, at least i got the grades to go so i'm just going to focus on that instead of the fact i'm going to be doing A levels.

As i have left school as many others will start i thought i would give some advice to those starting their high school 'career' (thats srsly what my teachers called it when i started....i just- no).

1) Try not to worry

I know you probably want to slap me yourself in the afec after reading that and i know it's 'not that simple' but honestly and truely, if you are starting high school, or indeed any new school, then its important to remember that the people around you are probably in the same boat. Everyone is nervous on there first day but PLEASE try not to let it get to you too much.
Starting somewhere new is not worth losing a night's sleep over.

2) Be prepared

This isn't just a good tip to follow for yourself, it could also lead to you helping others and maybe even making a new friend or friends. The person at the bus stop sniffing so much their nose might go into their brain? why not offer them a tissue. Person in English left their pencil case somewhere? why not offer them a spare pen.
Also, PLEASE DON'T FORGET THE EQUIPMENT YOU NEED FOR YOURSELF DAY AFTER DAY. The odd day is, of course, understandable but it really isn't cool to be continuously ill prepared for class. From personal experience i can tell you that it's wise to keep things like calculators and maths sets in your bag permanently; you never know when you might need.


Talk to people. Even though it is easier said than done you should make it your mission to talk to new people. admittedly i find big groups of strangers terrifying so if, like me, you find it hard to merge into a large group then try to talk to the people you sit next to in lessons and go from there. Ask them how they are, what they're studying, career ideas, college/university choices, past schools- whatever you want and try to find common ground and there you have it. Tried and tested by me with success.
If you are the only person from your previous school attending your new school then try not to panic or worry about losing contact with old friends. I know it is hard at the best of times to not be able to see your closest friends everyday but if you both make the effort you will remain friends for years to come.
For instance, my best friend for pretty much the whole of primary school went to the high school across town from where i was and that was pretty devastating for 11 year old me but we stayed in contact and she is still like my sister today. I even gained another close friend that i couldn't imagine life without as a result of her going to that school.
If you both make the effort, it works. If you're the one making the effort and getting nothing back from them then, if i'm brutally honest, they are not worth the time.

4) Classes and school life

if you are going into year 7 there's lots of new aspects to school like timetables and different teachers for different classes and lockers and school buses and blazers and whatever other strange things high schools have in store but there are some things that I, and many others, would appreciate you remembering

  • I know school is bigger but that unfortunately doesn't make you big. i'm sorry to tell you but you still have a lot of growing up to do and a lot of lessons to learn outside the classroom that not i nor anyone else can teach you. If you hear someone older than you saying 'ugh- i hate year 7's so much; they're so annoying' don't take it to heart AT ALL. It's just them showing their frustration at the fact that you are younger and don't yet know how the school really works. It comes in time and you will understand once a new year 7 class comes in. 
  • If you make life hell for your teacher then i hope that you stub your toe on every piece of furniture that you ever walk past and personally request that you get a paper cut every time you turn over a piece of paper because that is just plain rude and , congratulations, because you are a grade A* douche (to put it lightly). I know teachers can be strict and horrible at times but that is their job and teachers, believe it or not, want you to do well whilst simultaneously enforcing the rules that you have to follow so they themselves wont get penalised. That said, you don't need to be a 'teacher's pet' either. just show up on time, prepared, do the work you need to do and that's all you have to do. 
  • If something doesn't go exactly to plan and you end up landing in trouble just be honest. Even if it's hard, its better than digging yourself deeper in a whole. It's good to remember a decent person owns up to their mistakes, accepts responsibility and learns from their mistakes (it's better character building and all that stuff). AND more often than not, a teacher knows EXACTLY what's happened and will just watch you talk yourself into more and more trouble. 

5) Don't do anything I wouldn't do.

I guess that's kind of weird because you guys don;t ACTUALLY know me or what i would or wouldn't do BUT just promise me you'll think about choices you make, not just in year 7 or 8, but in all your classes you ever have and all the days you ever live. 

And that's pretty much all I got for year 7 advice. You might be able to apply some of it to other years too but i think, no matter what year you are in...

6)High school does end.

In year 7 I honestly thought 'how am I going to survive another 5 years of this?' but I did it. 
I quite literally counted down until I could leave school in year 11 from the start but I got through it. 
i wanted to homeschool, i wanted to change school, i wanted to stay in bed until I wasn't tired anymore but YOU WILL GET THROUGH IT. 
High school ends and people move on. The smaller things that seem to matter so much in high school won't matter after you've left. Just focus on getting the grades to get where you want to go and making memories with the people that matter to you. 

If you ever have any problems or want to talk to anyone, no matter how old you are, talk to someone. Me and @bookfangirling are always here if you want advice or just someone to talk to (http://thestaystrongandcarryonproject.tumblr.com/ is a good place to ask us from advice or you can get to us on twitter @KendalFace_ or @bookfangirling)

Happy Friday!