Saturday, 3 January 2015

Books of December 2014

What some of you may not know about me is that I'm an avid reader. In 2014 alone I managed to read 120 books on my Kindle, and I'm hoping another 120 in 2015. So I thought I'd just go through some of my most recent reads with a small review and summary and then some others I've read throughout 2014 because I've read so many amazing books, how ever will I be able to limit them down?

My Life Next Door - Huntley Fitzpatrick
This books about a senate's daughter who lives quite a lonely unhappy life in a small family, completely opposite to her neighbours' house. Samantha always watched the family next door through her window, with eight good looking and cool children, and wished she could participate in all their activities. Then one night Jase, one of the sons from next door, climb up onto her balcony and they get to know each other. This sounds like it could be another basic teenage love story but it really isn't! Yes there's love and arguments and family drama but I found it so completely different to the other books I read. It seems to almost be set in a slightly earlier time period but it was released in 2012 and nothing clearly says the year I think. I really recommend this book as Summer 2015s beach read.

Dark Places - Gillian Flynn
The Gone Girl author strikes again. In 2014 I managed to read all three of her books (Gone Girl, Dark Places and Sharp Objects) and I did love all three of them. However Gone Girl is one that everyone has heard almost too much about because its distracting people from Flynn's other novels that are as good! Dark Places is about a girl called Libby Day, who when she was eight witnessed her, fifteen year old, brother kill her two older sisters and her mother in some sort of demonic worship. Her brother's been in prison ever since. Libby is awoken by members of a group trying to resolve the case, is she sure she saw what she did? This book is horrific and challenging but ever so amazing. If you loved Gone Girl or are interested in reading more from her - read Dark Places

We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler
This book seems to be on everyone's recommendation list and or to-read list yet I don't see the hype. The blurb and reviews just tell you to wait till 'Page 77' and all the secrets will be revealed. I don't want to ruin the book for you all, so I'm not going to say the secret but I was definitely disappointed. The twist, not being supernatural or unrealistic, made the book seem incompatible and barely possible to relate to! However I did like some of the characters in the book, especially Harlow and Lowell.

We Were Liars - E. Lockheart
One of my favourite books of the year without doubt. This is definitely a modern classic, when our children are in school this is the book their English teacher will force them to read. Its thrilling and ethereal and unlike We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves, you believe the plot twists. Its about the Sinclair family, who spend their summers on a private island called Beechwood. The 'Liars' themselves are called Cadence, Gat, Mirren and Johnny - 4 grandchildren of an aristocrat (except Gat - he's a friend of Johnny who comes to the island with them). Its set from Cadence's viewpoint and if I say too much it will ruin it but I totally recommend this. 

The Bitch Goddess Notebook - Martha O'Connor
I'm reading this at the moment and almost finished it but wow, its painful to read. The story is about three grown up girls, Cherry, Amy and Wren. Every chapter changes their view point and also alternates between the current day in 2003 when they're no long best friends, and in 1998 when they were all thriving together. The book is not one for the faint-hearted, featuring a lot of self-harm, alcohol, drugs and abuse - sometimes I even have to take a break when reading it. However, no matter how challenging it is to read the actual pain they're going through, its amazing that these characters are so realistic and alive that you actually emphasize with them. All three characters are relatable, even some of their situations are not (unless you can relate to teacher/student affairs) and you see how their past has affected their future. I'm enjoying reading their journey of their wrecked lives and I think some of you might too.

Eleanor and Park - Rainbow Rowell
Rainbow Rowell has had so much success this year and she really deserves it. She's published a few more novels, including the iconic Fangirl (a cult favourite) but personally I preferred Eleanor and Park. I loved the character of Eleanor mainly, I thought she was so sincere, and I loved how Park helped her. Eleanor was very poor, facing bullying and many problems at home, Park noticed this and started bringing her comics and eventually a friendship, then relationship formed. It is  sad book but they bring light to the other's eyes and its beautiful at the same time. I loved this book so much that the ending made me cry. Definitely read some of her books, I've bought two more of hers already for 2015!

Lovely Vicious - Sara Wolf
One of my favourite books ever I think. The first of a trilogy of three fantastic books but the first one is my favourite - I read it three times before I even realised it could be part of a trilogy. I love all the characters in it, they're all so broken, especially the protagonist's mother. Actually I think they are almost all as broken as each other - from Jack to Isis, to Avery and Sophia. I still get chills every time I read the end, the first two times made me cry. I think if you find yourself alone or upset one day - turn to this book! I can't explain it but the witty humour and the depth of each character will just change your mood around. I also loved the title of the first book, it always stood out to me - but then I realised the other two sequels of the trilogy were also named oxymorons 'Savage Delight' and 'Brutal Precious' and this quite annoyed me - can you get any more cliche, however I really do recommend them! 

Hardwired (series) - Meredith Wild
I had to include this, especially on my blog! What is meant to be a 50 Shades of Grey copy turned into a longer series - currently four books with a fifth being released in the spring, with more plot-lines than that of 50 Shades of Grey. However there are many similarities. personally my favourite thing about the book, instead of Christian Grey being an uber-billionaire trying to save the world, we have Blake Landon, also an uber-billionair, but earned by being a hacker. The girl on the other hand, Erica, is a bit more stubborn than Anastasia Steele, and is a blogger! With her own fashion network called 'Clozpin', I found that I instantly loved her. To all bloggers, fashion or beauty lovers read the Hardwired series even if its just to follow the journey of 'Clozpin'.

Panic - Lauren Oliver
Another amazing concept by Lauren Oliver. After the senior class has graduated, the majority of them can join the summer game 'Panic'. This is where each round they will all be tested to their furthest ability, pushing against their fears. In past years it has resulted in death and injuries - how will this year go? I loved the three main characters in this book and their relationships together - the end and plot twists were all building up to the most catastrophic final round. This book is definitely a page-turner and another fab beach read.

Fire and Flood - Victoria Scott
This is part of a trilogy that I haven't continued to read yet, but I will! Mainly because there is two aspects of the book I love. First is that its based off a game, consider it almost the maze in Maze Runner or the arena in Hunger Games, where the contestants are consisted of people who need a cure for a loved one. The main character's brother is dying and she is willing to participate, even if it could result in her death, to save him. The 'fire' and 'flood' refers to the two territories crossed in this book, a desert and rainforest. I found this a lot more heart-wrenching than the Hunger Games or Maze Runner, as the contestants have chosen to enter and its all for a greater cause. The second aspect I loved, unique to the book, were the 'Pandoras'. These are animal based companions all with almost robotic names but the protagonist nick-named hers Maddox. Maddox and all the other Pandoras have a special form, Maddox' is a small fox compared to massive lions and bears and even at one point a Pandora is a young boy. The relationship between the Pandora and owner is thrilling and heart-wrenching, especially if they got lost or killed as they help the contestants throughout the game.I really recommend this book for anyone who loved the Hunger Games.

These are all the books I'm going to mention right now, but I hope to do more of these posts. Comment down below if you liked them and what books you have read or want to read! Any recommendations are always greatly appreciated! 

Friday, 2 January 2015

2014 Finished // 2015 Started

Remember me? After many failed attempts, swearing to you all that I will get back into a blogging schedule in 2014 I was proven defeated. 2014, even though a great year, was stressful and busy and simply overwhelming to the point in which blogging became a thought in the back of my mind. However, now its 2015 - lets call it 'The Year of the Raindrops', and or as seen on my instagram 'The Year of the Perdragon'. 
Sitting here in my baby blue fleece pyjamas  with my Yankee Candle in Candy Cane Lane burning I thought lets start now. This post is going to be a summary of what I've learnt this year and my best experiences as well as what I will hope to happen in 2015.

1) Giving back is one of the most valued things a person can do
I had the opportunity to go to one of the most amazing countries in the world this summer, Costa Rica, and spend some time giving back. I wrote a post about this so I won't rant but I spent two weeks helping in three different schools in Quepos, San Jose and Turrialba with teaching, building and painting. It was one of the best life experiances I have ever had and one I will definitely do again. I think I'm going to start doing excursions like this as often as possible, it's so important to give back to a world that gives you so much. Whether its helping someone struggling crossing the road, or giving up your seat on public transport - you are benefitting someone. 

2) Traveling 
Please do not think I'm bragging when I talk about my experiences, I do have a job and I work hard to afford to travel but 2014 was a great year for me, I was able to see some amazing places. I started the year off in Phuket, Thailand and then Italy and Costa Rica in the summer and Greece in October and I've seen some of the most beautiful sites. 

3) Discovering the Vegan lifestyle
At the beginning of 2014 and in the end of 2013 I had two operations, minor ones, that put me on medication for months. This caused me to become sluggish, had breakouts and gain weight. In February I discovered the Vegan lifestyle in which I've always gone on again and off again, but I'm hoping in 2015 I'll be able to stay on it as much as possible. I've just discovered Trek bars and love them, especially the 'Peanut Power' one! 

4) Relationships and Friendships
This year all my friendships have definitely improved and I've gained so many close friends, especially girls, that I hope I will stay friends with throughout the years. Special credit goes to my girls of 2014: Martina, Millie, Sylvie, Tubby, Amy, Cat and Lia who have helped make this year amazing! I don't think any of them will ever even check this post out but these girls have all been so kind and friendly this year, some I only met or became close to this year, and they have literally helped 2014 become as amazing as it was. Some girls, even me, can say things like 'I get along better with boys than girls' or 'Girls don't like me', give them a chance - I did and they have definitely made my year better than I could have ever presumed.

5) Procrastination versus Working
This year, in February, not only did I get a part-time job but I've also started juggling that with my five AS levels, extra curriculars and social life - hence why blogging had to take a drawback. I've had to cancel plans with both family and friends to get my school work done and fit in 6 hours a week in at work but I've balanced it to a fine art. Around 4/5 weekdays I stay at school till around 7pm and do some work, I also try to do my school work on Friday nights or Saturday mornings and then also after work on Sunday evenings. This leaves me to have my social and family life, and blogging life, when I'm home and it allows me to relax. Gone were the days when I finished my weekdays at 4 and was left to do what I wanted. I tried that in September and I crashed and burned. My advice is reduce your social calender Monday-Friday, even if its just a coffee after school and it will pay off.

When I think of 2014, I think of those changes and improvements. 

Now its 2015 and I want to make it bigger and better and try and complete as many goals on my list and complete some of my new years resolutions. These resolutions I've divided emotionally, physically and economically in my head but here they'll probably seem a bit more random. I've left out any blogging goals because for 2015 WMRDX isn't going to be about the statistics or numbers of viewers and hits but about enjoying blogging. However hypocritically, I do have some blogging goals! 

Pass my driving test
I've seen this on a few people's to-do list for 2015 and I totally agree. I don't turn 17 till February but I can't wait to start and I'm hoping I'll pass it within the year, hopefully by the summer so I can start cruisin'. 

Improve my foul mouth
What none of you do know about me is that my language is absolutely awful when it comes to swearing and its so unattractive. I've tried many times to reduce my cuss words, from swear jars to mental scoldings, and just nothing has worked but I'm hoping 2015 will be the year.

Save up to have £500 emergency savings
This may seem either a small number, especially for all you full-time workers, or a large number depending on whose reading but I decided I'm going to start saving up a fraction of my paychecks each month so that by the end of 2015 I can have at least £500 of savings to be spent on nothing - yet.

Go on a 'gurlz' trip and travel to somewhere new
These two go almost hand in hand but some of my friends and I all want to go on a massive group holiday this summer and I really hope we do. Some want to go on a dingy, motel, party island beach getaway whilst others want to hire a villa or stay in a house or apartment and have a couple of days pure relaxation. We'll see where this year takes us.

Eat as vegan as possible
This one is quite self-explanatory but when I am vegan I feel so energetic and light and bouncy, its something I always want to feel! Sometimes it can be overwhelming and when I'm tired or at school, eating a salad or some tofu is literally not what I want and ergo there is the 'as possible'.

Reduce the amount of arguments I get into 
This usually refers to boys - come on girls, we all get into this stage, right? When all you end up doing is arguing with the same people over the same reason over and over again? Well this year I'm going to try and reduce that - with everyone: boys, girls, friends, family and especially teachers.

Sing and laugh and become more free and involved
'Sing' is a totally unprofessional, I'll-smash-the-glass way not as in career. I want to be more light-hearted and go with the flow more. I may keep a strict schedule for my blog, work and social life but when it comes to relaxing and hanging out I want to be more free and active. I want to have more fun with my friends and make sure I laugh and enjoy myself every single day. I want to get more active within my school, community, blog, the world and my life in general to help me do so.
I hope this year brings you all the hope and happiness each one of you deserves. Thank you so much for sticking by me during 2014 - its means so much! Happy new year, 2015 will be yours for sure!