My New Years Resolution.

I’m usually terrible with resolutions. I’ve gone through all of the usual clichés in the last few years. You know the ones. Lose weight – didn’t happen. Go to the gym – lasted about 2 weeks. Eat healthier – that one usually lasts until I pass the chocolate cake in the supermarket. Well, I don’t pass it, that’s kind of the issue!

This year I’m going to make one that I can keep. It’s not to get healthy, exercise or lose weight, because truthfully I’m not in the right frame of mind to achieve that right now so why set myself up to fail? It’s to write down one thought every single day before I go to bed. Have any of you seen a book called ‘A Thought A Day’? Here it is.

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I suppose that technically it’s more of a journal than a book. It’s also more than a new years resolution because this journal runs for five years. Each page has the date at the top and then five boxes, each with a couple of lines to write down a thought. It could be a summary of your day, how you’re feeling, a highlight of what has gone on. Each year you fill in another box on the page with another thought. At the end of five years you will have something to reflect back on and remind you of the good times and the bad.

I already have a journal. I don’t use it as a daily diary or anything like that. It’s more of a ‘rant book’ I guess. When I’m having a particularly bad day, I just let loose. Be it a page of expletives or an in depth analysis of my depressive state. This journal is not consistent. I can go for months without making an entry or make several entries in one day. That’s why I bought ‘A Thought A Day’. I like the idea of looking back in five years, in December 2019 when I’m 34 and seeing what I was doing or feeling that day one, two, three or four years ago.

I’ve had this book for about a month now and have been itching to start it but my OCD mind was telling me that I had to wait until 1st January 2015. That was the only sensible time to start a diary. It would have bothered me had I started it on some random date in November. Obviously you can start it when you want, if your mind doesn’t work in odd ways like mine!

Where do you think you will be in five years time? Personally I have no idea. I have no five year plan. To be quite honest, I don’t even have a five minute plan. Life in this house is run on the fly. I think that will make for an even more interesting read in 2019 though. All I know is that in December 2019, I will have a 16 year old, a 14 year old and twin 10 year olds and that scares the crap out of me! Whatever happens, I can guarantee that ‘A Thought A Day’ will be a rollercoaster of a look back and something that will be kept in a drawer for many years to reminisce and look back when I’m feeling nostalgic.

What are your resolutions? Do you keep a journal?

Here’s where you can purchase ‘A Thought A Day’. They ship internationally for free too. CLICK HERE TO BUY

I hope you have all had a wonderful year and I wish you good health and happiness for 2015. Happy new year lovelies! ❤

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My 2015 Reading Goals.

As this will be my first ‘New Year’ with this blog, I thought I would set myself some reading goals for 2015. Usually, I don’t set myself goals, I just, y’know…read. I did however take part in, and fail miserably at, the ‘Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge’. Six books below my target, I now find myself in the position of not wanting to read anything until January 1st because I can typically read a book in a day if I really go for it so that is potentially two books that could count towards next years challenge. I’m really restraining myself because I have a few books I’m dying to get into.

Anyhow, here are the goals I am setting myself for 2015.

1) Read 50 Books.

This is an average of four-ish books a month. Doable I think. I’ll see how it goes and how much having four noisy children impedes me!

2) Review Every Book I Read.

Either here on my blog or on my YouTube channel. I post my reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and Bookbridgr (and Netgalley when appropriate) too.

3) Read The Hunger Games Trilogy.

Love the films but have so far failed to get into the books. Every time I pick up the first book I can’t get past the first chapter. I normally wouldn’t try to force myself to read a book that I struggle with, but I feel like I’m literally the last person on Earth to have not read these three books.

4) Acquire A Set Of Harry Potter Books.

I read them all in 2008/2009 after picking up the first one from the bookshelf in Stirling Ward at the Parkwood Unit in Blackpool. My lovely sister-in-law let me borrow the rest of the series from her and I loved them. I’ve been looking at different sets but I can’t decide which one to buy as they’re all so pretty!

 

I probably should add to read more adult books. I’m nearly twenty nine and my favourite genre is still YA (dystopian and paranormal in particular). Honestly though, who cares if it’s called ‘Young Adult’? Why should I let a publisher’s opinion of who the book is for bother me? I’m not ashamed to admit that I love YA and that I will no doubt continue to love YA well into my thirties. I’ve never felt my age anyway ;).

What are your reading goals for next year? Will you be taking part in the Goodreads challenge?

Take care, Jackie ❤

An Idea For Insomniacs.

It’s no secret that I have trouble sleeping. Just last night I was up until after 5am. This is a frequent occurrence. Despite the many different medications I take that apparently make you drowsy, it’s rare that I get an uninterrupted night or even close my eyes until gone 3am. Reasons range from racing thoughts, ruminating on things from forever ago that cannot be changed, to me just not being tired. I’ve tried breathing techniques, no caffeine, baths, lavender oil and all of the so – called ‘Sleep Hygiene’ tips and tricks given to me in therapy and from various people from the mental health team in my region. Nothing works.

But………I think I may have found something that will help. Especially with the racing thoughts.

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It’s called Can’t Sleep Write Now a nocturnal journal for tireless thinkers. I will link some places to buy this at the end of my post but first I would like to talk a little bit about it.

This is made by ‘Chronicle Books’ and is a hard backed book. It has a satin ribbon bookmark attached to it to keep your place. Before you get to the journal aspect of this book, there is a small introduction which tells you a little about the how day and night affect our thoughts. Peppered through the book you will find quotes about the power of night time. My favourite is one by Marie De Rabutin-Chantal – “There are twelve hours in the day and above fifty in the night”. It certainly can feel that way when you can’t sleep.

The description of this book says that this guided journal turns sleepless nights into a source of inspiration and features dozens of provocative creative writing prompts. Skimming through my copy I can see prompts ranging from a simple ‘why can’t you sleep?’ to ‘write your own operating instructions’ and ‘write the shortest story ever written’. There are also some pages with no prompts, leaving you free to write down whatever you are thinking that particular night. Of course you are not bound to fill out the pages in any particular order. If you wish to you may search to find something that captures your interest or you could flick to a random page and dive in there.

As a self confessed over thinker, I have my fingers crossed that this will both help to empty my mind of racing thoughts  and also give me something interesting to look back on when it is completed. I don’t know about you but as it gets later my thoughts get stranger!

If any of you decide to try this do let me know how you get on. I hope you’ve all had a very merry Christmas ❤

I bought my copy for £7.69 from HERE (Amazon UK)
If you are in the USA you can get it HERE (Amazon US)
And The Wordery has it too with the bonus of free international shipping!

 

We Need To Talk About… by Kevin Bridges.

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Publisher

Penguin – Published October 9th 2014.

 

Synopsis

Aged just 17, Kevin Bridges walked on stage for the first time in a Glasgow comedy club and brought the house down. He only had a five-minute set but in that short time he discovered that he really could earn a living from making people laugh.

Kevin began life as a shy, nerve-ridden school-boy, whose weekly highlights included a cake-bombing attack by the local youths. Reaching his teens, he followed his true calling as the class clown, and was soon after arrested for kidnapping Hugh Grant from his local cinema on a quiet Saturday night. This was a guy going somewhere – off the rails seeming most likely.

Kevin’s trademark social commentary, sharp one-liners and laugh-out-loud humour blend with his reflections on his Glaswegian childhood and the journey he’s taken to become one of the most-loved comedians of our time.

 

My Review

This is one autobiography that I am eternally grateful did not have a ghost writer. I’m not sure anybody else could capture Kevin Bridges quite as well as Kevin Bridges. Ever since being introduced to him on ‘Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow’ in 2009, I have loved his self-deprecating humor and his ‘realness’; not being ashamed of his working class roots and even building his early routines off of them.

Fame is known to change people and not always for the better, but in this book, Bridges shows himself to be a humble man with an affection for his family that is obvious when he talks about them. Cleverly taking inspiration from the title of another book (We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver), Bridges not only tells us about his upbringing and journey into stand up comedy, but throws in his views on controversial issues such as benefits and immigration. One of my favourite quotes from his book is “We were the ones dropping bombs on them, so we couldn’t complain when they were looking for a place to stay”. 

Bridges story begins when he was a nervous little boy in nursery and there is a particularly hilarious anecdote involving a wendy house that had me crying with laughter. His reluctance for his mother to leave him continued into primary school and he soon found his escape at home playing various football games with his dad. Going into high school, he was a bright boy but was very much an old head on young shoulders. Over thinking everything was a major problem, even when, at 17, inspired by Frank Skinner’s autobiography, he ventured into a Glasgow comedy club and did his first 5 minute set.

I could relate to a lot of the stories in this autobiography as Bridges and myself are the same age. I too remember staying up late to catch Eurotrash on Channel 5 ( I think everybody around my age will admit to that! 🙂 ) and chatting for hours on MSN messenger (RIP). The anxiety and feeling like being funny was all you had – without it your friends would obviously drop you right? Because what are you if you’re not funny? – is also all too familiar.

‘We Need To Talk About…’ showcases not only Bridges comedy talent but also his flair for writing. (I feel like an ass for continually calling him ‘Bridges’ but ‘Kevin’ makes it sound like we’re BFF’s or something!) He shows himself to have many endearing qualities, the most obvious being his humility. When taking part in two competitions early on in his career, he says that he struggled feeling that he had to impress the judges. That the opinion of what is funny is completely subjective and worrying about catering to one person is not what he got into stand up for (I’m paraphrasing there but that’s the gist of it). He also states many times that although this book could be a ‘f$%k you’ to the teachers that advised him to drop out of school because of his class clown persona, it is not and I honestly cannot picture him writing this with that in mind.

Overall, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. The quality of writing along with Bridges modesty, even when talking about his roaring successes, make for a read that is full of laughs and showcases his family values and down to earth attitude perfectly. Despite this being a hefty read at over 400 pages, I would recommend this to not just fans of Kevin Bridges, but to anyone interested in a ‘boy done good’ story that will make you smile and reminisce along with him.

 

Rating

∗∗∗∗∗

 

The First book To Beat me.

I have never before simply looked at a book and felt like I couldn’t read it. This post is about the first book in my twenty-something years long love affair with reading to have stopped me in my tracks like a ten foot brick wall.

I received this book in August of 2014 from Bookbridgr. It had everything I usually love in a book. Horror, suspense, supernatural entities. All these things add up to my ideal read. Yet here I sit, on December 12th 2014, typing a blog post about this damned book and how it has, for the last five months, had me in a choke hold in the worst reading slump I have ever found myself in.

This 432 page novel has sat on my bookshelf taunting me. It’s menacing cover challenging me to read it. I picked it up many times and opened up the first page but I could manage 0nly a paragraph or two before I became frustrated and gave up. I did everything I could to conquer this book. Even signing up to Audible and downloading the audio book. I have sat all afternoon today trying to listen but could not make it past chapter one. It is not the narrators fault. She spoke with enthusiasm and expression. It is not the authors fault. Despite it being his debut this novel has many four and five star reviews on Goodreads with an average rating of 3.68.

What is this book I hear you ask? ‘The String Diaries’ by Stephen Lloyd Jones. Here is the synopsis.

A family is hunted by a centuries-old monster: a man with a relentless obsession who can take on any identity.

The String Diaries opens with Hannah frantically driving through the night–her daughter asleep in the back, her husband bleeding out in the seat beside her. In the trunk of the car rests a cache of diaries dating back 200 years, tied and retied with strings through generations. The diaries carry the rules for survival that have been handed down from mother to daughter since the 19th century. But how can Hannah escape an enemy with the ability to look and sound like the people she loves?
Stephen Lloyd Jones’s debut novel is a sweeping thriller that extends from the present day, to Oxford in the 1970s, to Hungary at the turn of the 19th century, all tracing back to a man from an ancient royal family with a consuming passion–a boy who can change his shape, insert himself into the intimate lives of his victims, and destroy them.
If Hannah fails to end the chase now, her daughter is next in line. Only Hannah can decide how much she is willing to sacrifice to finally put a centuries-old curse to rest.

‘The String Diaries’ has prevented me from reading any of my other books (of which I have many) for five months now. Every time I pick up one of my many books, be it a copy for review or an old favourite, out of the corner of my eye I see ‘The String Diaries’ and feel like I have to finish it, or even attempt to finish it one more time before I pick up anything new.

I feel like I must clarify that I am in no way putting down the author in this post. It is completely my fault for allowing this book to get into my head and affect me so much. However, now is the time to let it go. This post is my white flag, waved in surrender to ‘The String Diaries’. You will not delay my reading any longer. I banish you to the back of a drawer where you can no longer make me feel guilty for wanting to read something else. Perhaps one day I will pick you up again and attempt to complete you, but for now, I admit defeat.

Have you ever had this experience with a book? Which one? 

Until next time,

Jackie x

Girl Online by Zoe Sugg.

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Publisher

Penguin Random House UK – Published November 25th 2014.

 

Synopsis

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.

 

My Review

Let me start off by saying that I am glad I waited a couple of days after reading this before writing my review as Zoe has now confirmed she had a ghostwriter (Siobhan Curham).

I have very mixed feelings about ‘Girl Online’. The writing style is very immature but at 28 years old, I’m not sure that I am the target market for this novel. I would recommend it more for ages 12-18. It is a very light read with a rather predictable plotline –

  • awkward girl meets hot boy
  • best friend becomes jealous
  • hot boy teaches awkward girl to believe in herself
  • boy and girl are separated
  • they begin to doubt their relationship and break up
  • big reunion at the end and everything is peachy

I can’t help but feel I’ve read this multiple times before. It’s the classic ‘teen angst’ plot line. Little things about the story bothered me, like using all the standard ‘touristy’ places in Brighton – beach, pier, Choccywoccydoodah etc. I would have thought that people actually living in Brighton would have had their fill of these places and visit other locations not swarming with tourists. If any of my readers are from Brighton, please feel free to correct me on that as I am just assuming.

Another issue I had with this novel is the believability of Noah as a famous musician and song writer. If you have read the lyrics of his song’Autumn Girl’ you will probably get my point. I mean…really?!

Some plot points seem to be thrown in just to fill  up pages. Elliot’s homophobic father just seemed like an afterthought and Ollie suddenly deciding that he likes Penny just doesn’t sit right with me. I mean, I get that Ollie is a symbol of her awkward phase before she met Noah and that Noah represents how she has blossomed into a confident young lady (at this point I have Britney Spears ‘I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman’ in my head but you get where I’m coming from) but why, after 4 or 5 years does Ollie suddenly want her? There is no reason given. I’m probably being pedantic here but it annoyed me.

Anyway, enough whining, lets get to what I did enjoy about ‘Girl Online’. It was a light enough read to pull me out of an almost-4-month reading slump. I could just switch off and relax whilst reading it and didn’t have to concentrate too hard to follow what was going on. I only actually took around 3 hours to read this which surprised me as the book does look fairly hefty but if you look inside you will see the print is quite large. Honestly, the book could have been condensed down a lot more to save paper. I am however, interested to see where Zoe (Siobhan?) goes with the next installment.

I have deliberated long and hard about the rating for ‘Girl Online’. I originally wanted to give it 2.5 stars but in the spirit of the holiday season and taking into account the fact that it has eased me out of my reading slump, I will give it 3 stars. I would recommend this for teen readers who want a nice, easy read over the Christmas holidays.

 

Rating

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