Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Hello Again!

Hello guys!

I’m definitely not so self obsessed to think that anyone (that’s if anyone is even reading this, haha) has wondered where I disappeared to over the past few months, but regardless this post is my step back into blogging! It feels like forever since I’ve actually sat down and written a blog post... Most probably because it has been absolutely ages; as in... At least a few of months, oops. In all honesty, it was an unintentional break in that I just found that I was loving life, travelling, reading lots and spending time not worrying about social media or living life through a camera lens. As much as I was still taking lots of photographs and updating my goodreads account, I felt like for once in my life I didn’t feel like I needed a distraction from my life.

Over the past couple of years my mental health hasn’t been excellent, however at the moment I’m so fortunate that I’m in a fantastic place mentally. That’s something that I will never take for granted as although I’m so happy there are still tough days and it’s important not to downplay that but overall I’m very grateful. 2018 was a good year for me and 2019 so far has been great too; I've already visited Hungary and Wales, as well as having many more trips planned. In 2018 I travelled to four countries; the Netherlands, Spain, Czechia and Poland, which was such an incredible experience and as a result I can state with certainty that I have caught the travel bug; I’m forever dreaming about my next trip these days! So far in 2019 I’ve travelled to Hungary, which I’m planning to write a blog post on very soon, which I’m excited to share with you all.

2019 is going to be a busy year for me overall; there have been some pleasant surprises, such as my boyfriend picking out some city breaks for us (my favourite kind of holiday) and I’ve also started at the university of my choice to start a postgraduate degree, so I’m super excited to see how my life is going. Busy does mean less leisure time, so ultimately that is the main reason that this post has taken so long to get written out and posted, which as sad as this is to admit (for once upon a time I was a very regular blogger) at the end of the day I will soon be balancing a full time job and part time university so blogging has definitely been pushed to the back of my mind. However, I’m going to continue blogging and shall try and plan my life to the point that I can start posting regularly on social media once again.

Lots of love & hoping that you’re all well, Rachel xx

Friday, 21 December 2018

Monthly Playlist: November & December

Hello guys; the past couple of months have simply flown by for me! My boyfriend has started a new job and I’ve been working a lot, as well as enjoying some general me time. Part of me feels guilty for neglecting the blog, particularly as it was such a good outlet for me when I wasn’t feeling my best in terms of mental health but unfortunately sometimes life is for living and the extra work of writing and uploading blog posts was an extra something that I simply didn’t have any time for. Over the past couple of months I’ve noticed that I’ve been listening to music a lot less as I’ve been suffering with some painful tension headaches, so I’ve been preferring to read as opposed to listening to a variety of sounds. It feels like it has been years since I’ve not listened to music whilst on bus journeys but I needed a bit of a break. I have, however, been listening to the songs below on speakers which makes for nice background noise. Each of these songs brings to the fore a specific memory for me; do any of you have specific songs that you connect with a memory? I’d love to know that it’s not only me haha! Fingers crossed I’ll have sorted out my life enough to start posting more regularly on here again as I have missed it. Until next time! Xxx

1. Infra-Red - Placebo
2. Black Magic - Little Mix
3. Woman Up - Meghan Trainor
4. Don’t Look Down - Martin Garrix (feat. Usher)
5. For What It’s Worth - Placebo
6. One Thing - One Direction
7. Elastic Heart - Sia
8. With Ur Love - Cher Lloyd (feat. Mike Posner)
9. City of Angels - 30 Seconds to Mars
10. Payphone - Maroon 5
11. The Never-Ending Why - Placebo
12. What Makes You Beautiful - One Direction
13. Same Old Love - Selena Gomez
14. Animals - Maroon 5
15. This Is Me - Joe Jonas & Demi Lovato 

Sunday, 28 October 2018

I’ve started a YouTube channel!

Hey guys! I’ve finally bitten the bullet and decided to start a YouTube channel. In all honesty, this isn’t the best or most polished video but as you all know by now, I’m not necessarily the most polished at blogging either but I do th see things because I’m passionate about my interests, rather than because I want to make money (I don’t make any from blogging haha) but please do have a look at my video, let me know any comments, good or bad as I’d love to know what you think and how I can improve! I’ll see you guys again soon! :)

Friday, 19 October 2018

Book Review: Turtles All The Way Down

After reading countless rave reviews about this book, I decided to read it. Written in first person by sixteen year old Aza, we see everything through her eyes. Her life is fairly standard, although she lives her every minute haunted by a mental illness. From the outset, her life doesn't seem to be unbearably difficult as she has a caring, supportive mother and a best friend, Daisy who always makes time for her, even if she has to balance work and School work around Aza. In terms of School work, Aza never seems to struggle, actively completing homework and ensuring that she talks to her mother about how she feels whether at home or elsewhere. The meetings with her therapist were interesting to read as whenever she tried to explain how she was feeling both the inner voices in her head would reply and her therapist, which added to the understanding of how she must feel having to live alongside a constant inner muttering of unnecessary thoughts at every moment. Unfortunately, her condition makes her incredibly selfish, making it hard to sympathise with her at times.

The strongest part of this book was how realistically Aza struggled to live with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder alongside severe anxiety and how this affected those closest to her. Although this was a secondary part of the plot, it was actually the most memorable thing; how her chance at dating was scuppered by her fear of germs and catching diseases; it did seem extreme but that is an honest portrayal of the Disorder. The lengths that she takes to limit germs and contact with others was difficult to read, particularly as the writing style showed her deepest, most difficult to handle thoughts. Describing her every day life, as a reader you witness her need to constantly check out articles on her phone relating to the spread of bacterial infections, how once a thought is planted into her mind the thoughts just get louder and wilder until she acts upon the irrational thoughts that demand an intense need for cleanliness and sanitiser. The little things, such as the cover of the novel representing spiraling thoughts of Aza's mind, the thoughts that she's unable to ignore, even when she wants to, really helps to demonstrate how possessive the Disorder can be.

The introduction of Davis, a childhood friend added another level to the story, alongside Daisy's relationship with Mychel; however I liked that the romance side of things didn't take over the plot. Davis and his younger brother, Noah find themselves in an uncomfortable situation that Noah in particular genuinely can't cope with; your heart breaks just by reading about his plight. Both boys are fragile, but unfortunately so is Aza and so the potential of a relationship between her and Davis seems like an impossible dream. Aza's condition make her completely and utterly self-absorbed, although unintentionally, which is why it is so easy to feel sorry for her; she adores her friends and family but her mind doesn't allow her to escape or relax. Daisy is the best friend that many people would dream of as although she can be harsh and at times cruel due to frustration at the friend she loves being so selfish, however intentionally. That said, Daisy is very supportive and does her best to understand Aza even at her worst moments, when Aza doesn't understand herself.

Overall, I found this book to be an interesting read; I have a bit of love/hate relationship with John Green's novels if I'm honest. His ideas are always excellent, although I feel like the execution could be better and that has thus far has unfortunately rang true for each of the books that I've read by the author at this point. The portrayal of living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and extreme Anxiety was beautiful, it was definitely the strongest part of the plot, as you were also shown how others respond to mental heath too, but in this case it literally took over the majority of the book. It was great to see a average teenager living through her mental health problems, but the execution of the plot felt clumsy, there was a lot of things going on; investigations, mental health, relationships... All in all, it was a good read as it portrayed mental illness both carefully and realistically, but the other themes were a bit confusing as they all mixed in together, although that could also because the reader sees into the narrators mind and that is how she sees the world. This book had a lot of potential, the writing was good, but not outstanding. As much as it was a compelling read, it was only a 3 star as the ending didn't wow me and I just had too many questions and not enough answers, sadly.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Monthly Playlist: September

Hello again guys; it feels to be blogging again, today I spent some time taking photos for some upcoming blog posts and I feel like I’ll definitely try to get back into the swing of it but this month has taken a lot out of me, for some reason. Mental health isn’t an easy thing, it’s not something that’s magically fixed and I feel very lucky to say that my life is going well at the moment so there’s no particular reason for why I’ve felt like shit, but it is what it is. I like to be honest with you, so here it is; life is hard and it’s a struggle. That said, soon there’s a new month which is always a good excuse to be more positive in general. I’m sorry that I’m posting this so late in the month, but it’s better late than never in a way. My music is strange as always, with a mix of artists, genres and styles all muddled in somehow. One of things that I love about using an iPod is that I can put my phone away, press shuffle on the iPod and just fall into the music and forgetting about using social media or anything like that. It’s a great way to disconnect and chill out a little bit. It’s starting to get a bit colder now and even though it’s far away, I can’t wait for Christmas time as it’s a great excuse to bring out the cheesiest music there is. Is it just me that loves a good bit of cheese? I hope you’re all well and I’ll see you again very soon! :)

1. One Thing - One Direction
2. Black Magic - Little Mix
3. Swim - Douglas Dare
4. Battlefield - Jordin Sparks 
5. Live or Die - Noah Cyrus & Lil Xan
6. Se Vuelve Loca - CNCO
7. Best Song Ever - One Direction
8. In the Name of Love - Martin Garrix & Bebe Rexha
9. Mi Mala - Mau y Ricky & Karol G
10. What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger) - Kelly Clarkson
11. Say Amen (Saturday Night) - Panic! At the Disco
12. Ghost - Ella Henderson
13. Like I Did - Leadley
14. Chantaje - Shakira 
15. High Hopes - Panic! At the Disco

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Book Review: Holding Up the Universe

As anyone who has read my blog before will know; I do love Young Adult fiction and so after seeing this one hyped over on bookstagram pages I decided to give it a go .Focussing on two teenagers, Jack and Libby, the story develops as Libby head back into mainstream High School after taking two years out. Once known as America's Fattest Teen, as much as she has lost copious amounts of weight, unfortunately she's still a lot bigger than many of her classmates and so the teasing and name calling doesn't come as a surprise to her, sadly. Thanks to some rather unfortunate peer pressure, Jack gets involved in a nasty fat shaming prank that results in Libby sticking up for herself. In an attempt to not be called a coward by his friends, he ultimately becomes a coward in the eyes of the viewer and of Libby. Both he and Libby find themselves in group counselling together, alongside community service which neither are particularly happy about.

As the novel progresses, you do see their relationship begin to blossom; I liked how there was an initial connection between them that Libby wasn't aware of. It does make you appreciate his character a lot more, as to begin with I wasn't keen on him at all. That being said, there was nothing about this book that massively stood out for me; both Libby and Jack were defined by their conditions, Libby with her weight and Jack with his inability to recognise faces and they never seemed to develop much beyond that, which was a shame as they both had more potential. Of the two, Libby was more relatable due to her insecurities about her weight and looks in general, but at the same time she also seemed a little too confident at times for someone in her situation. Jack came across as a bit of an airhead, a stereotypical popular boy and I didn't feel any warmth for their growing relationship as it seemed quite forced as well as unbelievable at times. It sounds harsh but the whole two broken people falling in love felt a little overdone in this novel, which was disappointing as after reading All The Bright Places by the same author, I was expecting better execution.

Overall, I wasn't enamored with this book. The pace felt very slow, the characters not massively developed and the plot rather ill thought out. It was pretty offensive in terms of content, although the portrayal of Libby was a lot better than I expected, I wanted her to be more than just body image, teenage angst and aggression. This book isn't amazing, it's not the worst book that I've read but it's not the best, either. Niven's writing style is unique and that is what saved this for me; I do genuinely enjoy her style and the way that her text flows from page to page and chapter to chapter. However I do wish that her characters were less one dimensional as having read two of her books now I do feel like there is a formula to her work and that is disappointing. I want to see characters grow and develop, to become more than you expect and that just didn't happen. Jack was particularly uninteresting and selfish, I preferred his little brother which says it all when he's supposed to be a key figure. Based purely on the writing style, I rate this book 3 stars but it isn't one that I'd recommend. As I've said, I'm disappointed.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Monthly Playlist: August

Hello again guys; I’m sorry that I’ve been terrible at uploading blog posts this month but ultimately I wanted to have a bit of time out and basically look after myself a bit. I’ve had a batch of flu that stretched out into a cold for three weeks, which was horrible. However, as always I’ve been listening to my iPod to and from work, but I’ll admit that this months collection of songs is a little more strange (even for me) than usual, oops. As anyone who is familiar with my blog will know, I love listening to a range of artists, genres and songs at any time so my playlists can be fairly random but that’s how I like it. At the moment I’m loving Spanish & Latino songs as well as English songs as a little bit of culture never hurts anyone, haha. I’m hoping that next month will be better and so I’ll be posting more like usual, fingers crossed. In the meantime, I’ll be listening to these songs to get to work and back everyday! What songs are you loving at the moment? Let me know in the comments!

1. Crying for No Reason - Katy B
2. Suerte (Whenever, Wherever) - Shakira
3. Nota de Amor - Wisin & Carlos Vives (feat. Daddy Yankee)
4. One Kiss - Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa
5. Never Be the Same - Camila Cabello
6. Amor, Amor, Amor - Jennifer Lopez (feat. Wisin)
7. Only You - Cheat Codes & Little Mix
8. Rumba y Candela - Daddy Yankee
9. Mi Mala - Muy y Ricky & Karol G
10. Me Enamoré - Shakira
11. She Loves Control - Camila Cabello
12. If You’re Over Me - Years & Years
13. Like I Did - Leadley
14. Chantaje - Shakira
15. Love Lies - Khalid & Normani

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