Saturday, June 30

June Book Reviews


I was originally a book blogger. Back in the day, when the grass was greener, and the days longer, when I created my first ever blog post, I declared that I would write about books! So although both my blog and I have gone through some mega changes, we agreed we still like talking about books.

My Old Blog ^ first post I ever wrote ( did not look like this back then )
And seeing as it has been a century since I last wrote a book review I shall give you a few of them in one post.

Alas, because time has an annoying effect on memory, there are some books I read and just cannot for the life of me remember what they were about, or if I liked them all that much... oh well.

Wonder

I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse. August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.


I was expecting a children’s book, a story far too immature to keep me engaged, a light-hearted tale, a book I would fling to the side not long after finishing. But I was wrong. In reality this is a book for any person, young and old. A story that is very real and will touch many people. A tale with a heavy topic but conjures hope and love from the reader. A book I still love many months after reading it. 

Wonder is about a boy who looks different to everyone else and how he copes with starting school for the first time at the age of 10. Told from various characters’ perspectives, you get to see the bigger picture and the different sides to the story. It is both heart warming and heart wrenching and I recommend this book highly.

Almost Love

When Sarah falls for Matthew, she falls hard.

So it doesn't matter that he's twenty years older. That he sees her only in secret. That, slowly but surely, she's sacrificing everything else in her life to be with him.

Sarah's friends are worried. Her father can't understand how she could allow herself to be used like this. And she's on the verge of losing her job.

But Sarah can't help it. She is addicted to being desired by Matthew.

And love is supposed to hurt.

Isn't it?

I am a big fan of Louise O'Neill's books ( and her articles in the Saturday paper ) and I have become accustomed to her horrifically negative endings that leave me distraught for weeks. With this expectation in mind, I was ready for the tears of rage, the oppression of women and the deafening silence of the last page.

I'm not going to turn around and tell you that I received the exact opposite. There are no happily ever afters in Louise O'Neills book. However I actually found the story rather uplifting in parts. Now the character is quite difficult to like - almost damn impossible - but I couldn't help feel like I was looking in the mirror. I saw aspects of myself in her. Things I did not like but accepted that I also acted that way from time to time. I was appalled that this character that I didn't like had such similarities with myself, but I think we can all see parts of ourself in this book. It's so real and familiar.

Changing perspectives from "now" to "then" and vice versa was confusing at first and it was hard to keep track of all those names but once I got into it, Almost Love was hard to put down. A fascinating read about the self-destruction from obsessive love and how perspective on a situation means everything, as I shouted from the sidelines at Sarah to see what was blatantly obvious to me but clearly blind-sighted by her.

To All The Boys I've Loved Before

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

Jenny Han was one of my favourite authors growing up. Her trilogy “The Summer I turned Pretty” had me madly in love with Jeremiah, Conrad and of course, Belly. As a teenager these books were definitely in my top 10 for many years. So of course when I came across this book by the same author, the nostalgia hit me and I couldn’t help but pick it up. I knew I was going to be well past the age for this story but I had seen a lot of hype from some bloggers I follow and decided it could be well worth it.

Unfortunately I didn’t get hooked. Within two days I finished the novel but that is solely because it was an easy read. The characters were lacking something and the plot line was predictable. I knew the ending just from the first chapter. I think if I was 5 years younger I would absolutely be head over heals for this book. But at 22, teen romance can make me cringe.

I also want to mention that this is actually being made into a film by Netflix. You can watch the trailer here, and although the book was a bit disappointing for me, I am looking forward to watching this. I have a bit of a guilty pleasure for sappy teen romance movies.

This book is part of a trilogy and would be more suited towards teenagers and possibly some young adults.

Farenheit 451

Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.

The classic novel of a post-literate future, ‘Fahrenheit 451’ stands alongside Orwell’s ‘1984’ and Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ as a prophetic account of Western civilization’s enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity.

Bradbury’s powerful and poetic prose combines with uncanny insight into the potential of technology to create a novel which over fifty years from first publication, still has the power to dazzle and shock.

This is one of those books that should be on everyones to-be-read list since the dawn of time. It is a classic and I would be very surprised if you have never heard of it. Fahrenheit 451 is grouped with Orwell’s 1984 and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale because of the timelessness dystopian that has uncanny similarities with the world today.

The thought of books being illegal and actively sought out to be burned is a very intriguing ( and repelling ) idea to a reader. Mesmarised by the world Bradbury had built in the story, I could't help but recognise aspects in our own world - particularly with notion of our reduced attention spans, how we want things faster and faster with technology. I was blown away by the book and cannot get over that it was written in 1953!




Have you read any of these? What are you currently reading?


Always, M

Monday, May 21

The Eighth Amendment : To Repeal Or Not To Repeal

In every town, at every corner, on every street - Propaganda posters are telling you to Vote Yes or Vote No. There is no getting away from the 8th Amendment. It has haunted this country for 35 years and on Friday May 25th, the citizens of Ireland will vote to repeal it or keep the 8th amendment in the Irish Constitution. This is a revolutionary referendum that could change Ireland forever and will no doubt be a significant part of history to come. It is crucial that every person educate themselves on this topic. I cannot stress enough the importance of your vote. Whatever your opinion is, ignorance will not be tolerated.

But what is the Eighth? I wrote a similar blog post almost two years ago, discussing it: HERE. In brief, the 8th refers to the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution which guarantees the equal right to life of the unborn and the mother. This law that was brought in in 1983 means that abortion is illegal in Ireland except if there is a substantial risk to the life of the mother. This forces women to travel abroad usually to the UK for abortion which is physically and emotionally traumatic and stressful, and often isn’t even an option because of the cost.

The Present Article 40.3.3 The Proposed Article 40.3.3
The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right. This subsection shall not limit freedom to travel between the State and another state. This subsection shall not limit freedom to obtain or make available, in the State, subject to such conditions as may be laid down by law, information relating to services lawfully available in another state. Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.


To Repeal or Not To Repeal?


I cannot do an unbiased blog post on this topic. I tried. But I feel much too strongly about this referendum and I shake with anger every time I see a No Poster (Especially when that No Poster is telling blatant lies and forcing crude imagery on my eyes). Trying to argue with a no voter makes my blood boil. They cannot take a step back and see things from my point of view and it is impossible to have any civil discussion. I have tried to understand why people want to keep the 8th Amendment. I can see their valid reasoning but I can also see that it is forcing one person’s opinion on everyone else. Choosing to vote yes means I can keep my opinion without forcing it on anyone. I am pro-choice.

Why am I in favour of repealing the 8th?


After following this matter very closely over the last two years, by hearing women's own stories of how the 8th has affected them, I am in doubt that we need to repeal. There have been women in the past and there will continue to be women who need this amendment abolished. Hell - we all dereve a say in our own bodies. Just because you personally would not choose to have an abortion does not mean that everyone else should be denied that choice. If the 8th is repealed, no one is changing what you must do with your body. In fact it is opening up options for women who have had no options before.


In 1983, Shelia Hodgers was diagnosed with cancer when she became pregnant. Shelia was refused treatment because the drugs may harm the foetus. She delivered her premature baby at 7 months. The baby died and two days later, Shelia passed away in agony. Her husband had begged for mercy but the law stood.  Love Both you say? Well the 8th Amendment killed both. 

Anonymous women have come out and told their stories after suffering in silence. To read many of them you can follow In Her Shoes on twitter and facebook to see how the 8th has affected them. Many are too graphic and harrowing to share here but I implore you to read some and hear their side of the story.
Hear how women face 14 years in jail for having an abortion. That's more than someone can get for rape. Or hear the women who wear forced to remain pregnant even after rape. Or what about the woman who wanted her baby but was diagnosed with fatal foetal abnormality and still had to remain pregnant even when she knew she waiting to deliver a baby with a death sentence. Even worse are the people congratulating her and asking about the baby as there is no way of hiding a pregnancy once the mother begins to show.

The Catholic Church has taken the no side ( no shit Sherlock ) in this campaign. I almost roll my eyes at this because I have no tolerance for the Church after its despicable history. Don't get me wrong, I have utmost respect for religion, but the church is an organisation that have committed revolting crimes and support archaic views here in Ireland. In the past, the Church has opposed Tampons ( because it may arouse women), Mother and Child scheme, Married women in Civil Service, Contraception, Divorce, Civil Partnerships, Gay Marriage and now Abortion. And don't get me started on the tuam babies and magdalene laundries. You say love both, but where was the love when you forced women into the laundries and took their babies away from them and sold them to America or the rest that that you buried in sewers?! Where were your love both signs then, huh?!! So apologies, Father Buckley, but your sermon at mass on Sunday was disgusting and I did everything in my power not to scream at you as you called us murderers from the alter.



I hope you join me in saying Yes on May 25th.

Always, M

Tuesday, January 16

Mix Tapes

Even though CDs are going out of fashion and it's becoming increasingly hard to find a suitable player for them, I still love to make my own mix tapes. The first one I ever made was back in 2007, just over 10 years ago! It featured some terrible club songs and everything was a remix. To be honest, I didn't even know what music I liked back then. I was a product of society and only liking these songs because that's what was popular. Today, mostly everyone uses Spotify, Soundcloud or another digital form of listening to music. I myself, listen to most of my music in the car. Volume up, singing wrong lyrics and forgetting about whatever problems are havocking my mind. I have 5 different mix tapes I have compiled into different genres/occasions. And for each, I made cover artworks. Now they're not going to win any prizes or ever be thought of as impressive but making them was something I had a lot of fun doing and I just wanted to write a post about them.

Golden Oldies

Most of these I would classify as fairly old songs but are still brilliant none the less. Age is just a number baby.
YouTube Playlist here
1. Pumped Up Kicks
2. Stacy's Mom
3. I'm Coming Out
4. Hey there Delilah
5. Come on Eileen
6. Year 3000
7. Here comes the Sun
8. Iris
9. Home Again
10. Good Riddance
11. Folsom Prison Blues
12. Fits (Too Drunk to Drive)
13. Grace Kelly
14. Little Talks
15. It Ain't Me Babe
16. Love Today
17. Me and Julio
18. Hey Baby
19. You Can Call Me Al
20. Valley Where The River Runs

Disney

Disney music is timeless and perfect for any time of day. There are so many amazing songs that it was difficult to choose which were worthy of a place on this CD. (And they're technically not *all* Disney but shur what harm...)
YouTube Playlist Here
1. Belle - Beauty and the Beast
2. Reflection - Mulan
3. For the First Time in Forever
4. How Far I'll Go
5. A Whole New World
6. Colors of the Wind
7. When Will My Life Begin
8. Strangers Like Me
9. Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride
10. I Just Can't Wait To Be King
11. You're Welcome
12. I'll Make A Man Out of You
13. You've Got A Friend in Me
14. When She Loved Me
15. That's How You Know
16. Learn To Do It
17. Under The Sea
18. Tale As Old As Time

That's All Folks

I tried to make this CD all folk songs, with a mix of Indie and Rock. But I have no idea what to classify it as anymore. They are just songs I really like, a lot of Irish Artists on here!
YouTube Playlist Here
1. Falling
2. Little Lion Man
3. Battles - Hudson Taylor
4. Take All The Time You Need
5. Forget Me Knots
6. Send Me On My Way
7. The Wire
8. She's so Lovely
9. Little Talks
10. Fake - the Frays
11. Jackie and Wilson
12. San  Diego Song
13. Remember When
14. Hoppipolla
15. Holly
16. Heroes or Ghosts
17. Heart of Nowhere
18. Lifetime
19. Cups
20. I want the Sky

You Are A Masterpiece All By Yourself

Music can have a huge impact on your mood and a few months ago, when I was feeling down and quite insecure, I decided I needed something to help, to improve my attitude. So I compiled a list of songs that are kick-ass, feel good, empowering, inspiring and promote independence. I wouldn't typically listen to many of these artists and sometimes I cringe at how much I enjoy these but they have helped me cope during tough times.
YouTube Playlist Here
1. True Colours - Tom Odell
2. Fight Song - Rachel Platten
3. Love Myself - Hailee Steinfield
4. Brave
5. Just Like Fire
6. Stronger
7. Who Says
8. F**kin Perfect
9. Cool Kids
10. Stronger
11. Loser Like Me
12. Flashlight
13. Best Day of My Life
14. Lean On Me

Dawn till Dusk | Dusk till Dawn

This is the CD I would play driving through town with my best friends, in the middle of the night, volume up so high that you can't here anything else. The name of this CD is inspired my incredible friend Dawn. Most of the songs on here were introduced to me by her. But I dedicate it to my closest friends as I have such good memories sparked from this.
YouTube Playlist Here!
1. Feel It Still - Portugal. The Man
2. Tease - Ralph
3. Smooth Criminal - Glee
4. Help Me Lose My Mind - Disclosure
5. Jungle - Tash Sultana
6. Big Jet Plane - Angus and Julia Stone
7. Breezeblocks - Alt J
8. Alaska - Maggie Rogers
9. Classic Man - Jidenna
10. Health - Blue Monday
11. Faded - ZHU
12. Left Hand Free - Alt J
13. Lose Yourself - Eminem
14. Jolene - Miley Cyrus
15. My Song 5 - HAIM
16. My Silver Lining - First Aid Kit

What are some of your favourite songs?

Always, M

Sunday, December 24

Wrapping Up the Year: 2017

I started 2017 with great hope and optimism. There's something about the New Year that brings such refreshing positivity. It's like all the mistakes from last year are in the past and it's a chance to begin again for the next year. Like a new slate. My plans, or resolutions as they were, included " trying to be a better person, a better friend and a better blogger", and I 100% failed on each of those. Yep. You may think I'm being a melodramatic and maybe I am but looking back on the year now, I see it from a different perspective. 2017 was a huge year of change for me with many times that weren't particularly nice. But I think these experiences help shape me as a person and make me appreciate the good times a hell of a lot more. And even though 2017 has been a mostly terrible year it also holds some of my best memories.

JANUARY
Within the first month of the year I got my first tattoo! It was very exciting because it's something I've always wanted to do but never really had the guts to do it. You see, I am petrified of needles. I hate them and anything hospital related. I go weak at the knees. However a tattoo needle is quite different and doesn't stab any veins ( *wince* ) instead it's just this horrible uncomfortableness and long pain that sometimes can get really intense. The tattoo I got was my own design in the shape of an arrow and encompassed the Time Turner from Harry Potter, some morse code and a floral design. I have it on my outer thigh and it points down my leg as if to say "one step at a time" or "a step in the right direction" or "time doesn't turn back, gotta keep going". It means all those cheesy things and much more to me and I absolutely love it! I can't wait to get my next tattoo!!

FEBRUARY
I was busy with exams and a team project. We had to make a virtual monopoly board game. This turned out to be a lot of fun because I always thought I hated teamwork but in fact when you work with the right people it can be easy peasy lemon squeeze. February was a memorable time because an amazing woman I have looked up to for years, who inspired me to blog and continue the things I love, who I consider a role model, followed me on twitter and read my blog post. Her name, ladies and gentleman, is Scarlett Curtis and you should all go follow her on twitter, instagram and see the amazing work she is doing, in particular the Free Periods protest she has been a catalyst for!

MARCH
My work placement began in March and this meant moving out of home for six months. I've only previously lived in student accommodation but this time I had real adult housemates who turned out to be so lovely. Actually one of them, Margaret, I was totally in awe of because she was just so cool and was everything I wanted to be in life. She read books, liked cats, had awesome tattoos, had great opinions on feminism and basically life, and was studying a fascinating masters and gave great advice. We bonded over a mutual love of Louise O'Neill. I also made new friends with other Interns at work. I'm glad to say that I am still close with a group of them and they made my time at work so much more enjoyable.

APRIL
I was taken ill in April and had to have keyhole surgery to remove my gallbladder. It wasn't a very dangerous operation but it was pretty scary and I was in a lot of pain. I actually had been having symptoms for almost a year until it became so unbearable that I had no choice but to go to the A&E. Lesson learned, don't ignore the signs.

MAY
This was a month of recovery for me. I binge watched The Crown ( it's so good! ), 13 reasons why ( it was horrifying but brilliant ) and started Gilmore Girls ( seen every episode, it is amazing! ), and saw a whole bunch of movies on Netflix. I think all these shows fried my brain , I became obsessed with these non real things and that is just not healthy!

JUNE
I turned 21 and my family threw me a lovely birthday party. They even got me a Harry Potter cake!!! <3 That was the best thing that happened that month then unfortunately I had a pretty big fight with my best friend. It had been brewing passively for about a year and there were things that we both needed to say to each other. Although I probably shouldn't have thrown a can of drink at her, and I am sorry for that but I'm glad we got everything out because I missed my friend and I hate being angry. I also went through a break up and to be honest I feel like I'm still going through it. It was horrible, I had to take some time off work and stayed with my friends until I had no choice but to face real life.

JULY
I tried to keep as busy as possible to stop me from falling apart. I went to London, Sligo, and Spain. I love travelling and it was amazing to visit the Warner Bros. Studios in London and see Phantom of the Opera.

AUGUST
I finished up my work placement and moved back home. It was sad saying goodbye to everyone but I was also happy to move home and get to see my cat everyday. My friends and I took a trip to Edinburgh to the Fringe Festival. Edinburgh is an incredible place and very Harry-Potter-esque so no wonder I liked it so much!

SEPTEMBER
This was the start of my final year at college. Time passes so quickly, it's strange to think I'm an adult now with responsibilities and what not. In just another few months I'll have a degree and a full time job. September also brought a terrible sadness as a classmate in college passed away. People die all the time but when it's a person your own age and you see the pain in the faces of his closest friends, it really is a huge shock and kind of throws you off balance. You wonder about your own mortality and how fickle life can be.

OCTOBER
I began to truly appreciate my best friends. Sometimes you take for granted what's always been there but when times get hard you see who is there and who runs away. I have the greatest friends in the world and they mean the world to me. Unfortunately, not everyone can be as amazing as they are and during October I was made to feel belittled by someone. They didn't do it intentionally and probably didn't realise what some stupid words can do. It initially knocked my confidence but there wasn't that much to begin with anyway. I think I was most angry that I let someone make me feel bad. I should have listened to Eleanor Roosevelt, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent".

NOVEMBER
Thanks to said person in October, I finally decided it was time I appreciate my own self and understand my worth. I listened to a lot of crappy motivational songs and followed stupid instagram quotes accounts. It took time, and I guess it still is taking time, but I am lot happier in myself and feel like I am enough. I didn't realise how low my self esteem had been before. I don't always have confidence, it fluctuates, but when I do it is honestly a great feeling and I realise now how important it is to love yourself.

DECEMBER
In the midst of exams and the stress of studying there was another horrifying death in my class. A girl, a friend, was knocked down and killed. To be honest, it still hasn't hit me. This was even more of a shock. I think because it can happen to anyone at any time, it is so frightening. I knew her a lot better than the late Greg but I wasn't in her close group of friends. This year has been really difficult for everyone in my class, and I hope 2018 won't bring any more similar circumstances. My sister also spent time in Hospital just before Christmas to have double jaw surgery. This was hard to watch her be in so much pain and to not be able to help. She's doing a lot better now, thank god.

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! In the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt - "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

Always, M

Sunday, September 24

Living Without A Mental Illness

“Mental Illness” is a term I hear almost every day. Whether it be on twitter, a blog post or even coming up in conversation with my friends. I straight a way think of depression and anxiety but of course this umbrella term covers a whole range of things that plague the world. It is everywhere. And it has always been everywhere but only with recent years has it developed into such a topical discussion. And I mean thank God! Living with a mental Illness is not something to be embarrassed about and because it is so openly discussed hopefully people suffering from it don’t feel as pressured to hide it.

I don’t believe I suffer from a mental illness ( even though some people claim that everyone is affected by a mental illness to a certain degree ). I guess I consider myself lucky because I have seen depression cripple people close to me. I’ve seen them get so low that getting out of bed becomes impossible. The easiest of tasks are now Mount Everest. It is not something I’d wish upon my worst enemy. But even though I am not “depressed”, I too have felt like the world is on my shoulders and the sky is crashing down around me. I have felt so low and sad that I thought I’d never make it to the next day. I’ve wondered how my body has not crinkled up with water loss because surely I just cried out the pacific ocean. But these are just emotions, mood and stress that bring the ups and downs. Because everyone, depressed or not, will have their good days and bad. And whether you have a doctor’s note does not determine how important your emotions are. Or the strength of your pills will not make my feelings any less significant. In the past I have felt guilty about feeling bad when I have it so much better than others I know. Over time I have realised that we are all living different lives and our glasses of water don’t all contain the same amount. Some of us might have buckets or jugs instead of shot glasses and we’ll all overflow at different times. It is important to remember that it’s okay not to be okay.


It appears that mental illness has become trendy, and in particular anxiety and depression. This used to irritate me because I felt that perfectly healthy people were being dramatic about their depression and that it was diminishing the true struggle of living with a mental illness. It became cool to have anxiety. And you didn’t fit in if you didn’t have depression. I have been excluded and made felt different because I didn’t take depression medication and was told that I don’t understand it. Some of my own friends made me feel beneath them because I didn’t have a mental illness. But as more and more people open up about their own stories, mental illness has become very popular. And this trend isn’t actually a bad thing! It is important to know that people aren’t alone out there. That we can all tackle this together. As Scarlett Curtis says “I want it to become so trendy that it gets it’s own clothing line and homeware range”.


I am not trying to belittle or downgrade mental health. I have been affected by it my whole life. I know how destroying it can be.  From my first Christmas as a baby spent with one parent because depression had put my other parent in hospital to my best friends suffering from anxiety and/or depression everyday and even the death of someone very close to me because of mental health. Sometimes I think maybe that I have depression. That maybe it’s actually contagious and I have caught it like the common cold. But then that’s me being melodramatic and reality brings me back to earth. Everyone has their ups and down. And regardless of a label,  how we feel is not something to be overlooked.