No Time To Read?

I’ve often heard friends and colleagues proclaim “I’ve got no time to read”. I mean, how many of us will have no time to read but spend twenty mins a day browsing facebook or watching a TV programme we actually have no interest in? Surely it would be easy to find half an hour somewhere in the day to dedicate to reading. However, I’ve recently found myself declaring the very same phrase to my husband.  The thing is, it’s less about time than I would really like to admit and a lot more about inclination. I’ve been tired a lot recently and just haven’t felt like the mental exertion (not to mention the eye strain) of reading. I’m quite happy at the moment to waste my time on Sim City: Build It or watching The One Show because it takes very little brain power. 

I’m hoping that my inclination comes back soon as I do miss reading but in the meantime there is some pretty good TV out at the moment so that will just have to keep me going.

 

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BOOK REVIEW: This Book Is Gay- James Dawson

Former PSHCE teacher and acclaimed YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it’s like to grow up as LGBT*. Including testimonials from people ‘across the spectrum’, this inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know – from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes, how to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell’s hilarious illustrations combined with funny and factual text make this a must-read.

At the beginning of 2015 I decided to join a few different reading challenges to try and extend and diversify my reading this year.  One of the challenges I am taking part in is the LGBT Book Challenge over at Niji Feels.  So far, my LGBT reading has been limited to YA fiction so I decided to take a look at a non-fiction text intended for young adult readers.

First of all, the cover is beautiful.  The rainbow colours and the white writing just grab the attention.  It’s also great that the title (and the text inside) deals with the idea of ‘gay’ being used as a derogatory term.  This occurs a lot in schools (and not just in secondary… we hear it in primary school too) and really does need to be tackled head on.  I can imagine that the book would very informative and even comforting to an LGBT+ teen or someone questioning their sexuality.  However, this book shouldn’t just be read by those on the LGBT+ spectrum… straight teens should equip themselves with information and understanding about gender and sexuality too.

The book is clear, concise but detailed, interesting but funny.  I left the book feeling that any young person that had ever been taught PSHCE by James Dawson was incredibly lucky.  The book was inclusive and covered all aspects of LGBT+, although arguably didn’t include too much about asexuality which was a little disappointing because this is one part of the spectrum that I don’t really know much about and was hoping to learn about.

Obviously the book is meant to educate teenagers so I’m not really the target audience.  Having said that though I found it to be a really entertaining and informative read.  The writing is frank and the illustrations are funny.  I think secondary schools should ensure that their PSHCE department and their library has a copy of this book.

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Getting Out of the Blog Slump

At the beginning of May I declared my intention to take part in Blog Everyday May as a way of getting myself out of a blogging slump.  I did find the posed prompts to be really useful and interesting and enjoyed the interaction with other bloggers.  However, I really struggled to find something of value to say every day.  Unlike Hannah in Girls (quoted above) I am pretty sure that I’m not the voice of my generation but I do want my blog posts to be reflective of me and what I want to say.  When I was blogging every day I feel that my voice became diluted and I became less sure of what I did want to say on the blog.  I know that I took part in NaBloPoMo in November but I was still off work back then and it gave me a focus for each day.  At the moment, getting back into work has been more of a priority (as it should be) so blogging has taken a bit of a back seat.

I have, however, sat down recently and made a few decisions about my blogging which will hopefully help to motivate me a little more.  I love book-blogging but the reviews take me ages to write and I never feel that I complete them to my satisfaction.  I think a lot of this is to do with being wary of giving spoilers.  Sometimes it’s really hard to discuss the nitty gritty of a book without giving spoilers.  Also, sometimes when you’ve really enjoyed a book it’s really hard to know what to say except “please read it.” I’ve decided that I’m going to do less reviews- I’m not going to request books on NetGalley or BookBridgr except in exceptional circumstances and I’m not going to feel like I have to do a review.  If I feel like doing a review, I will.  I won’t feel obliged to review but can choose to if I want to. I still will take part in the reading challenges and will complete reviews/discussions on the books read for this. 

However, if I’m not reviewing will there be any book content on this blog?  Well, yes I’m hoping that there will be.  More discussion pieces, lists (I love a good list- just like Rob in High Fidelity), general reflections upon books.  I think that this more relaxed approach to book blogging will mean that I stop feeling like I have to do it (which is completely not true- this is just a hobby) and will remind me why I started blogging.  I want to get that fun and joy back into blogging.

I have taken a side step into fashion and lifestyle a bit too.  I actually intend to keep this in the blog.  I enjoy discussing how I can keep literary and geeky influences in my homeware and fashion choices and feel that it adds a little variety to the blog too.

What do you think? What type of pieces would you like to read? Is there a place for fashion and lifestyle on a book blog? Is there a place for the movie/TV pieces on a book blog?

Fan Friday: Pitch Perfect 2

I loved the first Pitch Perfect film and was a little wary of the sequel.  I mean, as the Muppets sing (in Muppets Most Wanted) “everybody knows that the sequel’s never quite as good.”  The thing is, no… Pitch Perfect 2 doesn’t have quite as many quotable lines as the first film and is fairly light on plot but it delivers on heart, fun and song.  And there is another riff off!!!! (That’s all I needed to know!)

What I think is testament to how much I enjoyed this film is the fact that I’ve spent today listening to the sountrack on Spotify, trying to track down a necklace or top that would show that I really could be a Barden Bella.

Have you seen Pitch Perfect 2 yet? What did you think?

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To Flower Crown or Not To Flower Crown? 

Today I asked my husband the question which has been plaguing my mind for a while: can a 33 year old teacher pull off a flower crown?

I love the idea of channelling an actress playing Juliet in a garden-theatre Shakespeare production or taking inspiration from Rapunzel’s floral accessories in Tangled. However, I am not 13 anymore- I couldn’t play Juliet! Also, I don’t have the amazing hair of Rapunzel and will not be at Coachella.  So… should I leave dreams of floral headdresses behind me in my youth or can I pretend to be a princess from classic literature and float about Liverpool with faux roses on my head?

The problem was that a lot of the flower crowns and garlands that I found in the shops were just too expensive for something that I wasn’t convinced I would wear.  The solution: Primark.  I ended up using three floral hair accessories with varying amounts of floral fantasticness- a subtle peach and cream headband (£3), a pink and white flower crown to sit on top of the head (£4) and a bright pink Frida Kahlo-esquire flower crown (£4).

  
So… now to develop some outfits that will do these beautiful (but cheap) flower crowns justice. Any ideas? 

A Day in The Life #BEDM

Hmmm… today’s Blog Everyday May topic included sharing a typical day or a look at what we had done today.  I was actually quite looking forward to this one- I was going to talk about typical Friday’s and how I chill out after a week at school.  As it happens, today has not been a typical Friday.  In fact, I have spent today in a bad mood due to the results of the UK General Election (booo!!) and my silly sprained ankle.  Basically, I’ve been feeling sorry for myself today which is not something that the blog-reading public probably want to know about.

So… instead I thought I’d share what I do on a day when I am feeling sorry for myself or feeling particularly low…

I watch clips of The Muppets.

I quite like opera but feel that it should always be performed by Muppets!

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UK Election 2015

I sprained my ankle quite badly the other day and am not dealing very well with crutches.  I’m like Bambi trying to walk on ice.  It took me half an hour to cross the road on crutches to get to the polling station so I could vote. My husband had to bring the car over the road to drive me back as I couldn’t face the journey back.  It tired me out completely but I’m so glad that I had my say and actually got to vote.

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Stepping Back Into The 90s with The Music of Space

At the weekend I went down to the Museum of Liverpool with my husband and his parents.  We went up to the top floor where the ‘Wondrous Place’ permanent exhibition is held.  ‘Wondrous Place’ allows a look at the sporting and artistic achievements of Liverpool’s daughters and sons.  My father-in-law absolutely loved having the opportunity to explore the music of his youth and spent a lot of time listening to the 60s Merseybeat music.  Whilst he and my mother-in-law stood in a booth listening to “Needles and Pins” I had a walk around the different displays of Liverpool bands and clubs.  I came across this little fella and just the sight of him took me back to my own youth in the 90s.


Do you remember him? He featured on the back cover of Scouse indie band Space’s Tin Planet album.  The front showed a self-assembly kit and the completed robot sat proudly on the back of the record.

Ever since I spotted him I’ve had some of my favourite Space songs just floating around my head so it seems like a good opportunity for reminiscing and returning to the 90s.

Female of the Species

Probably the most famous of Space’s songs, this is an ode to the Bond girl, Pussy Galore.  This was the weekly soundtrack to our warm-up in PE in the final two years of school.  I can’t hear it without wanting to bend the knees and stretch up to the side.

Neighbourhood

Great use of sampling and probably the best use ever of Loyd Grossman’s catchphrase from Through The Keyhole.

The Ballad of Tom Jones

This was always going to be a song that I would love- Space and Cerys Matthews together is great enough but they are singing about Mr Tom Jones!!!  I’m a huge Tom Jones fan and understand exactly how the mellifluous tones of the Welsh wonder would keep a warring couple together.

Me and You Vs. The World

The jangly beginning reminds me of the Merseybeat sound of the 60s and I love the kitchen-sink/Coronation Street style love story start -” I first met you hanging knickers on the line” which ends with a tale of armed robbery and death.

Do you remember Space? Which was your favourite song?

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REVIEW: Butter- Erin Lange

A lonely obese boy everyone calls “Butter” is about to make history. He is going to eat himself to death-live on the Internet-and everyone is invited to watch. When he first makes the announcement online to his classmates, Butter expects pity, insults, and possibly sheer indifference. What he gets are morbid cheerleaders rallying around his deadly plan. Yet as their dark encouragement grows, it begins to feel a lot like popularity. And that feels good. But what happens when Butter reaches his suicide deadline? Can he live with the fallout if he doesn’t go through with his plans?

Blurb taken from Goodreads

I like my YA the way I like my coffee, really dark.  Just because an author is writing for teens doesn’t mean that they should pull any punches… and in Butter, her debut novel, Erin Lange really goes straight for the heart of the matter.  Butter is a lonely teenager who is struggling with his obesity.  When he posts on a social media site that he plans to eat himself to death on New Year’s Eve he soon grabs the attention of the more popular kids in the school but is it the right type of attention? Do they want to be his friend or are they obsessed with his grisly plans? Are they only being friends with him to be part of the action when he does commit suicide live on webcam?

I really liked the concept of the book- a teen so ostracised that the only way for him to get any attention is to live-stream his own death.  It’s heart-breaking and gruesome all at once.  The details of the list of foods that Butter begins to develop is stomach-churning and I was kept absolutely riveted wondering whether he would go through with it.  Reading greedily on, I actually began to feel complicit in his suicide plans, like one of the kids who were egging him on.  It was an awkward place to be but allowed me to really mull over the issue of what I would do if faced with this situation in real life.

Butter is an absolutely engaging first person narrator with a really dry sense of humour.  I couldn’t help but totally fall in love with his personality and just hoped that the other kids would see past his size and through to his lovely good-hearted nature.  The book just shows the loneliness of the bullied child and really should be a must-read in secondary school.

I was a little disappointed in the ending.  The issues seemed sewn up a little too easily.  I know it’s a teen novel and storylines generally do end on a hopeful note but Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours shows that a tragic end can actually make the point even stronger.  I was happy for Butter with this ending but think that the novel may have been stronger had it perhaps shown more realistically the aftermath of the events.