Sunday, 3 January 2016

Resolutions 2016

Originally posted on Tumblr

1.) Write more - the goal is to write 50,000 words of my novel and to try to write a book/film review once a month.

2.) Continue to draw consistently - to build on my digital skills and continue painting and sketching.

3.) Cook more things myself - try more types of food!

4.) Run regularly - aim for 2/3 runs a week and hopefully finish the year having completed a 10k race for charity.

5.) Take more photos/videos 

6.) Learn how to play an instrument

7.) Become more green - to learn about the environment and how I can change my lifestyle to help

8.) Continue volunteering and raise money for charity - through my job but also outside of work

9.) Look after myself - to try not to let stress get on top of me and take time out to relax and enjoy myself

10.) Continue to be happy


Sunday, 21 June 2015

June Update

Well hello there, long time no see! I haven't posted a blog since April, I really ought to get better at this. I thought I'd write a little post about what I've been up to since my last post. Spoiler alert: it's a lot!

Some of my travel snaps, find more here

First of all, I went travelling! I'm still in shock that it's over but, on the 30th of April, a friend and I flew to Paris and spent a whole month wandering around Europe with huge bags on our backs and blisters on our feet. It was one of the best experiences I've ever had and very freeing. We made up our route as we went along and it was so exciting to be able to change where we were going at the last minute. Since returning, I've been compiling my travel notes and drawings into some comprehensive blog posts. I was pretty rubbish at writing everything that happened as we went along in great detail but I kept a bullet point list of all the big points of our trip. I am currently in the process of filling in the gaps.

Originally posted on Tumblr

I have also been doing a lot of drawing and creative writing and thought I would take this opportunity to post about my new art blog. I created it in January and am currently using SketchFlynn as a way to share my own original sketches, paintings and digital work. I'm not using it because I think I am some amazing artist! But I am very passionate about art and want very much to grow as an artist and learn as much as I can.

And finally, as always, I have been reading lots! Europe was a fantastic opportunity for me to get back into the swing of reading and make a dent on my 'to read' list. However, I spent a large portion of my trip solely focussed on reading the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I developed a bit of an obsession and read the first 6 books within about 3 weeks! Meanwhile, my travel companion, Hayley, was reading Game of Thrones and kept making fun of me for reading a book aimed at 13 year olds. I have zero regrets.

I had enough time to also read Still Alice by Lisa Genova, this month's book club read, whilst I was kicking back and relaxing on a sunbed. It was a very harrowing and interesting read, touching on the subject of Alzheimers, and I must say I found myself fogging up my sunglasses as I had a secret cry more than once. Probably to Hayley's embarrassment...

So that, alongside a fair few cocktails and dodgy selfies, is what I've been up to. What about you?

Friday, 10 April 2015

The Start of a Healthier, Happier Me!

This year I've decided to focus on my fitness a bit more and start my own weight loss journey.

Black forest berries and strawberry smoothie!
Since finishing university, I've lost over a stone without really trying, which just goes to show how poorly I'd been eating whilst living away from home. I've decided to step up my game a bit and really work on improving my healthy eating and exercise regime.

I've never felt overweight. I was a normal sized child but went through a serious chubby stage from the age of around 10 to 14/15. I started doing a lot more exercise as a teenager and did Taekwon Do three times a week, and loved it! It incorporated a lot of great things like core training as well as cardio and I felt really strong because of it. Looking back, I realise that I struggled a lot with my self-image at that time, even though I was generally a good weight. When I see pictures of my sixteen year old self, I wonder why I was so worried because I looked so nice! I was especially happy with my weight at age 17/18.

When I went to university, things went a little down hill for me. I struggled to eat healthily and my weight really yo-yo-ed, especially related to my stress. I specifically remember my diet taking quite drastic turns during exam time: in first year I over ate to deal with stress whilst in my second year I more or less starved myself due to nerves. Thankfully, I now have a healthier approach to food and a slightly better understanding of what my body needs.

To get to my ideal weight I think I would like to lose about two stone which I think could be doable by September time, depending on how well I stick to my new plan. Ideally, I will be doing 25-50 minute workouts 4 or 5 times a week at home, alongside the weekly Pilates sessions I have started attending with some friends! I will be keeping track of this on the calendar in my room because the only way I will be able to do this is if I write it down and document my efforts.

In my diet, I don't want to deprive myself of the things I really love like chocolate and ice cream but I do need to cut down on my portions. I will also be making myself a lot of home made smoothies, and replacing my lunch, which is usually consisting of a lot of carbs, with a smoothie. One of my friends is doing that at the moment and says she feels amazing! So far it's been a tasty and fun way to get more fruit into my diet.

I've been looking at a lot of fitness blogs for tips  and I've bookmarked a lot of really great videos on YouTube as well as joined Fitness Blender which posts lots of useful videos (for free). I've also been thinking about how to motivate myself and I've set myself some weight loss deadlines:
  • 30th April - five pounds loss. This is the date I set off for Europe for a month! I only have about three weeks to achieve this so I'm not sure how ambitious this is but I will do my best!
  • July - I would like to have kept the five pounds off or maybe even lost a little more. This will mean watching what I eat quite closely in Europe.
  • July - 1 stone loss.
  • August - 1 stone 7 pounds loss.
  • September - 2 stone loss.
To reward myself for reaching these goals I will think of some fun treats for myself. I've always wanted to go on a spa day, so perhaps that could be an incentive!
I also have a couple of clothing goals. Whilst clearing out my wardrobe this week, I found a few outfits from when I was younger that I am hoping to slim down to fit into a bit better. For example, I've had these red and white floral  shorts from Topshop since I was about 16 (6 years ago!). They still fit me but they're a little bit snug now! So this is an item I think I could feasibly be able to fit into after maybe a month or two, just in time for the summer!

I'm currently off work for two weeks, one of the perks of working in a school, so I'm taking this time to kickstart my new regime. Alongside this, I'm sending off job applications and working on some creative projects whilst trying to plan my Europe adventure in May. I'm a little bit worried that when I go back to work I'll fall into some unhealthy habits but hopefully that won't be the case. More than losing weight and gaining confidence, I would just like to make a lifestyle change. I don't want to be fit for now, I want to be fit for life.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Update // Book Haul

I have found in recent months that my motivation to write blog posts has been extremely low. If you care, I'm sorry! Since January I have been devoting a lot of time to writing my novel and drawing more (note my resolutions for this year!) leaving me with little time to get my head around writing some of the blog posts I have wanted to write. Do you ever feel like you can't get your thoughts onto paper fast enough? Because I do. My head's been aching with ideas for months now.
Other than that I've also been able to do lots of lovely things with friends, For example, myself and a few friends have started a monthly book club, something I have always wanted to do! We've had two meetings so far and will be having our third one to discuss our March book: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I've also been to see two West End musicals, a ballet, went ziplining through the trees and had a brief* stint as a vegetarian, so it's been a busy few months for me. (*By brief, by God I mean brief. I lasted about two days and got so close to ordering a veggie burger before my mouth slipped and I asked for the cajun chicken burger. No regrets, it was possibly one of the best burgers of  my life.)

Since Christmas, I've also been a busy book worm, chomping my way through anything and everything I can get my hands on. I thought I would share some of the brilliant books I've collected over the last few months in a December - March book haul summary! I will only be focusing on the physical copies, if I went into eBooks we'd be here all night...


As I have had a kindle for the last few years, my mother and I have an unspoken agreement that I won't ask for fiction books for Christmas as she'll always suggest I get it in eBook form instead. I don't mind this but it is always preferable to have the physical feel and smell of a book in your hands. I did, however, ask for a few books by some of my favourite female role models. With these kinds of autobiographical books, I always feel its more important to have a copy that you can flick through and get the full quality effect of the images also.

  These books were: Yes Please by Amy Poehler, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling and It by Alexa Chung. I've only read Kaling's book so far but I loved it. It was a really comforting read for me to see someone with such an enviable career break down the experiences and situations she had to overcome before landing her dream job as a writer on The US Office. Also, I love her style. I can't wait to read the others, I've dipped into It a few times but am not very far yet. However, the quality of images and the book in general (I got the newly released paperback copy) is really great!

For my birthday (30th Dec), I was also given various books from friends including a really cute cupcake recipe book with space to write notes about my favourite cakes as well as a doodle book called 642 Places To Draw. If you have any friends with an artistic flair, I highly recommend that as a gift, its brimming with drawing prompts and just generally very nice to work through. My older brother, who is always really good at getting me gifts, got me Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey by Richard Ayoade, Crap CVS by Jenny Crompton as well as a really gorgeous tote bag with the Penguin Gatsby cover printed on it! Ayoade on Ayoade is weird and wonderful so far and Crap CVs is very useful for me as I start the job hunt again!


The only way I can explain the purchase of The Humans by Matt Haig and The Last Girlfriend on Earth by Simon Rich is that they were both on sale in Sainsbury's for a ridiculously cheap price. The Humans was also recommended to me by one of my best friends from uni who said that the book really made her think about life in a different way. From that, my curiosity was really piqued. With The Last Girlfriend on Earth, is it bad that I totally judged a book by it's cover, which I am prone to do, and thought it looked cool? So far it's an enjoyable read, too, opening with a hilarious short story from the perspective of a condom in a teenaged boy's wallet. Yep, you read that correctly...

When it comes to I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, I have far better reasons why I bought it. Firstly, I feel like the novel has been mentioned in the acknowledgement section of too many of my favourite author's books that I couldn't ignore it any longer. I've been meaning to read it since I was maybe thirteen years old and I plucked a copy off my friend's mum's bookcase and thought it sounded interesting. I read that first line about the girl writing from inside the sink and was hooked back then, only to resume reading nearly ten years later.
Also, I never knew Dodie Smith wrote 101 Dalmatians, which was adapted into  one of my favourite Disney films, so I feel like I owe it to Smith to read this one...


The following three books I acquired for free on World Book Day at the primary school I currently work at. There was a book exchange for the kids and Mister God This Is Anna by Fynn, Lily and the Lost Boy by Paula Fox and The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien were among the leftovers. The children I work with are aged between 3-7 so I think it's safe to say these books were a little too long for some of them to read just yet! I jumped at the chance to take them home and have read a bit of Lily, which is a really nicely written story set in Greece,  so far. I've never heard of Mister God though and am very curious to start reading when I have time! 
I'd previously read a fair bit of The Hobbit on my Kindle but a lot of my Tolkien loving friends really suggested I get a physical copy which is proving to be useful, especially when I want to check back on what's happened or look at the map!
This book has been on my to-read list for years now. A lot of my friends have warned me against American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis but how can I resist a story so intriguing. Again, I'm only a couple of pages in as my book club commitments have been distracting me, but so far I have no idea what's going on, that's always fun.

My final purchase of the last few months came this past weekend when I went up to Lincoln to visit one of my old housemates for a night out and to plan our oncoming trip to Europe (!!!!). 
We mooched around Waterstones for a bit whilst we waited for our table at Nandos to be ready and of course, being the English graduates we are, we both ended up spending money.
In honour of Penguin's 80th anniversary, the publishers have released a collection of 80 classic titles to celebrate, all only 80p each! Ever since I found out about this I've been itching to get my hands on some of them. The simplicity of the cover design is so eye catching and classic which I really like. The nightingales are drunk by Hafez really caught my attention most of all.
I also found myself walking away with Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, a book I've been interested in for a while. I've only flicked through a few pages so far but it is already very different to what I normally read. First example being that I don't usually read graphic novels, although my passion for art means that I really would like to. The subject matter of the book also touches on a lot of things I'm not familiar with so I'm very excited and nervous to start this one!

As you can see I've got a lot of work to do if I want to read all of these books! Maybe it'd be best if I steer clear of bookshops for a while...

eBook purchases:
  • The Savages by Matt Whyman
  • The Guestbook by Holly Martin (read)
  • My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (read)
  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
  • The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R Carey (read)
  • Lobsters by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison (read)
  • To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (read)
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty series by Jenny Han (read)
  • The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

Sunday, 18 January 2015


So I'm only about 18 days late on this blog post but every year I make some sort of resolution. I'm not really into that "New Year, New You" idea. I don't really want a new me, I think current me is okay. She could probably lose a bit of weight but I won't be losing sleep over it.
However, there are a few things I would like to do.

1. Write more. I get so many ideas all the time, I practically dream about writing my novel but I get distracted and at this rate I'll never finish anything.

2. Draw more. I am actively trying to improve my skills all the time. This month alone I've produced so much work, some that I've really like and a lot I was less pleased with. But I know I'm still on my artist's journey and still need to develop my style. So this year I intend to work on that both with traditional and digital art. I'm thinking of starting a tumblr purely for my doodles.
My first drawing of 2015, based on the film Eagle Vs Shark.

3. Take more interest in my appearance. I don't usually care how I look but I know that I feel really good about myself if I take a little bit of time on what I look like. So whether that be spending more time on my clothes or my make up now and then or going out especially to get my nails or something done, I need to learn to invest in myself a little bit. Although I think I'll not bother with all that waxing malarky, the last time I got waxed, I ended up having a leg spasm and kicked the beautician in the boob.

And finally (a cheesy one):

4. To become a human doing rather than just a human being. I sometimes feel like I should be taking more risks and putting myself out there more now that I'm living back at home. At uni, I had to do that, to branch out and make friends. But at home I'm so comfortable that I forget to push myself. This year I want to take more chances and gain more experiences. For the first time I have time spread out ahead of me, without educational obligations or anything to alter my plans. Sometimes the magnitude of this freedom overwhelms me, but I need to beat that and start living.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Best of 2014

As seems to be tradition with me, I spent the majority of New Year's Day with my head in a toilet, so here's my slightly late round up of my personal favourite things in arts and culture from the last year. See you later, 2014...

  • Her - dir. Spike Jonze
Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with his phone, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Need I say anything else?  But honestly, this film is brilliant. It is shot beautifully and made me think about my own relationship with technology. Side note: I'm not going to shag my laptop...
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel - dir. Wes Anderson
Symmetry, cakes, intrigue, just brilliant and in classic Anderson style.
  • The Double - dir. Richard Ayoade
I can't even remember the details of this film, just that it made me feel a certain way. As a whole it is very atmospheric and very dark.  Literally. I don't think a single scene is shot in daylight.
  • Boyhood - dir. Richard Linklater
Shot over 12 years, Boyhood chronicles Mason's life from childhood through adolescence. I'm probably only one or two years older than the protagonist of this film, and I was personally struck by the way the use of certain pieces of music, as well as other references, threw me back to a similar time in my life.
  • Mockingjay Part One - dir. Francis Lawrence
The beginning of the end of The Hunger Games film franchise. Once again, all involved bring a tense and aesthetically pleasing adaptation to screen. Sticking true to the source material, Mockingjay delivers.
  • The Wind Rises - dir. Hayao Myazaki
From the creator of My Neighbour Totoro, The Wind Rises follows Jiro Horikoshi and his dream to become an aircraft designer. Plot wise the film is slow, languidly exploring Jiro's life, but visually is an absolute triumph in animation, blending the use of hand painted scenery with modern digital animation.
  • How To Train Your Dragon 2 - dir. Dean DeBlois
Animated sequel that will 100% make you cry. I just love some of the messages this films puts across. For example, the hero loses his leg in the first film and yet, despite his disability, Hiccup shows strength and courage, going on to again save the day and get on with his life. An excellent message to people, especially young people, in a similar position. 

  • In The Flesh - created by Dominic Mitchell
The rural town of Roarton is recovering from "The Rising". During the rising, thousands of people across the country rose from the dead, including Kieren Walker, a teen who took his own life. It deals not so much with zombie attacks but frames the undead as victims - "partially deceased" - who are targeted by the living as they try to assimilate back into society. It is excellent.
  • Sherlock - created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat
Excuse me for being late to the party on this one, but after years of friends badgering me about it, I finally bothered to watch it. And let me tell you, I finally understand the hype behind that Benderback Cumberbiscuit. No, but really, I loved it. A lot more than I anticipated I would. I especially loved the character of Molly, portrayed by Louise Brealey. I want nothing more than for her feelings for the cold and oblivious Sherlock to finally be requited.

  • We Were Liars - E. Lockhart
Since reading this book in early 2014, I have since passed it book on to many of my friends who have all similarly loved this book. It is a YA romance of it's own kind. We Were Liars is a mystery that will have you guessing (and screaming, probably) until the very end.
  • Tiger Lily - Jodi Lynn Anderson
I can't remember what happens but the prose is so beautiful, Anderson's quality of writing is a really high standard. As a retelling of Peter Pan, we follow wild child, Tiger Lily, as the boy she loves falls for someone else. It is brilliant and touching.
  • One Hundred Proposals - Holly Martin
So good I somehow had time to read it twice! The main character, Suzie McKenzie, has my dream job. She runs a website that specialises in helping people work out how to propose to their other half.
Her best friend, Harry, helps her run it and, as a marketing ploy, decides to test the proposals out on Suzie and start a blog. The only problem is that Suzie loves Harry and every fake proposal breaks her heart. I really didn't expect to love this book, but after three years of reading the heavy stuff at uni, it was lovely to read something that was so nice and relaxing to read. 
  • Isla and the Happily Ever After - Stephanie Perkins
In the third and final book of the series, we return to Paris, this time following sweet and shy Isla as she tackles her final year of school just as she embarks on a romance with the boy she's always been in love with. Cute and quirky, Perkins creates the perfect love story, full of drama, set in the City of Light.

  • 1989 - Taylor Swift
Swift takes a risk with this departure from her usual country genre, branching out to pop. It pays off. 1989 is easily one of my favourite albums of 2014. Swift herself has been especially impressive this year, having grown so much as a woman and a feminist. Check out Blank Space (obvs) and Welcome to New York
  • So Long, See You Tomorrow - Bombay Bicycle Club
Not only my favourite album of last year but possibly of all time. I've been a Bombay fan since I was about 16 but this album is, to me, a step beyond their previous work. Listen to Luna, Eyes Off You, Come To... Just listen to it all, okay?

So, to round off, 2014 was a pretty big year. I watched, read and listened to some pretty good stuff. Here's to 2015 and whatever this year will bring!
Happy new year!

Monday, 8 December 2014

NANOWRIMO 2014: A Summary

Like many aspiring writers, I find myself wandering around with thousands of stories swimming through my head, waiting to pour out onto the page. But one of the biggest things I struggle with is deciding which one to go for and actually start working on! The predicament is paralysing, leading to absolutely no work getting done.

Where the magic happens...

This year's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) was my opportunity to break out of my writer's block. If you didn't know, NaNoWriMo is a website that challenges writers to work on their writing and write 50,000 words from the 1st to the 30th of November. I think it is a good way of tricking yourself into finally getting shit done. I currently work full time and it is a massive change from being a student. I don't have strict deadlines anymore, so imposing deadlines on myself is really hard. NaNo was especially helpful in that way as it gave me a goal and a set date to work to. Unfortunately, I didn't succeed in writing the obligatory 50,000 words this November, but I did give it a good crack.

After umm-ing and ahh-ing about what project to work on - to continue the novel I started for my dissertation or start something completely new - I decided to start fresh on something I'd been thinking about writing for a while. I wrote about 1,000 measly words in the first week, mainly in note form as I fleshed out a plot. But, after a while, I found my concentration drifting back to the novel I'd already started and I decided to focus back on that.

For my dissertation in my final year of university, I did a creative writing portfolio and wrote the first 10,000 words of my own original novel. Ever the sucker for dystopian fiction, my novel centres around a young woman, in her 20s, who has been imprisoned and experimented on for over a year. When released, she discovers that she has been moulded into a super soldier to fight mindlessly for a cause she doesn't understand or necessarily believe in. Needless to say, drama ensues, blah blah blah, you can all read it when I publish it! Over the course of the month I managed to write a few thousand for it. It's not an amazing amount! I know that! But I am so pleased with myself for getting back into something I'd neglected for so long.

To be honest, the hardest thing I found was remembering exactly where I'd left off. I've been writing it for over 2 years now. So instead of agonising over what I'd already done, I decided to push forward. I wrote little scenes here and there from random parts in the book, parts I'd been particularly excited about. This is working quite well for me because, instead of having a start and a finish and having to write the inbetweens, which is very overwhelming, I now have lots of pit stops throughout to aim for!

I've never finished a novel I've started and I am so driven with this one. I vaguely remember being told that, when it comes to writing, you should just get everything written down and worry about the edit later. So that's what I've been doing and I've found writing it so much more enjoyable. It is so much more exciting to make progress than stay stuck in the same place.

Anyway, that's all I really have to say at the moment. I didn't complete NaNoWriMo this year, maybe next year! But, if anything, I have reignited my ardent love of writing again, so thanks NaNo!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

How Elmer the Elephant Got Me a Job

One night about a month ago, I found myself on a website for local jobs in schools. I'd been thinking a lot about what sort of job would make me happy. Before work each morning, I used to walk past a local primary school. I found myself wishing I was going there instead of to my actual job. I wasn't enjoying my job and I craved something different. I love talking to people, I love education, I love being a little bit silly so I started to think about getting a job in a school. Anyone who knows me will remember my disastrous au pair job two summers ago where I swore off kids forever, but deep down I know that I've always worked wonderfully with children. If I'm anywhere near a kid I will make faces behind their parents back to make them laugh. Last year, I became the unofficial baby sitter for the hotelier's daughter on my holiday in Greece. I've spent my entire educational career being told I'd be a good teacher.

So, feeling extremely unqualified, I applied for a few jobs as a TA and, unlike the majority of things I'd previously been applying for, I received interview offers from each and every role I applied for. At this point, the lack of interest from employers had become unbearable. In some situations I'd even attended interviews, actual, physical interviews, only to never hear back from that company again. Not even out of courtesy. To get a sudden influx of attention was really great for my confidence but also nerve-wracking.

I was offered a job at an infant and nursery school near where I live. The school is really nice and felt almost comforting in a way. For the interview, I was asked to conduct a 10-15 minute story-telling session with a small group of children. This sent me into a pretty wild panic. It'd been years since I'd done anything like it and had no idea how best to engage the kids. I agonised over the book I would read until my mum reminded me of a fancy dress costume I wore for World Book Day when I was in primary school. She'd made me this amazing elephant headmask and I got to be Elmer the Elephant for the whole day. I found the book Elmer Again (pictured above) in our cupboard, a book I loved a lot when I was a child, and decided to use that. Having not worked with 5/6 year olds before, I wasn't sure what kind of story would be suitable but Elmer worked really well. I had the children counting the elephants together on each page, doing impressions of elephants (and other animals!), as well as talking about which colour on Elmer's patchwork body we liked the most, which the kids really loved. I was so nervous about how it had gone which is why when I got a phone call from the school, only an hour later, I was really surprised and happy to be offered the job.

I am now two weeks into this new role and am enjoying it so far. I know that it isn't a forever thing. Part of me applied because I wanted to see if the teacher route was for me and I don't think it is. But if you are a graduate or a parent or a school leaver and want to do something that is actually rewarding, challenging and new everyday then I highly recommend a role like this.  Working with kids, especially my class, can be a really great experience and definitely makes a difference to your usual 9-5.

By the way this was my leaving cake from a co-worker at my previous job! It was INCREDIBLE.
White chocolate icing, milk chocolate lettering and chocolate cake inside!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

"You can always find me in the drift..."

Mako Mori doodle!

I recently saw Pacific Rim and, ever since doing so, I have been having some feelings. I didn't expect to like it. When it came out it looked very much Not My Thing. I made a flat out assumption that it would be something very clinical, unfeeling, plotless. I like action, I like monsters, but I also like characters and interaction and back story. I want to care about the characters. If they're gonna try to "cancel the apocalypse", I want to be able to root for them.

To be blunt, Pacific Rim kicked ass. When a deadly threat from under the Pacific ocean surfaces, humankind must fight monstrous creatures to save the world. Former pilot, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam of Queer as Folk fame) is re-recruited to defend the Earth in giant machines, called Jaegers, that can only be operated by a pair of pilots. When operating these machines, the pilots must share a deep connection. Not everyone can pilot these machines and siblings, or other relations, are usually the most "drift compatible". However, after serving with his brother for many years, Raleigh finds himself compatible once again with a trainee, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi).

Pacific Rim fails the Bechdel Test spectacularly, but it should definitely not be dismissed because of this. It's rare to see an action film that doesn't focus on Americans as saviours of the Earth and, furthermore, actually includes a range of cultures, endeavouring to represent POC really well. I was especially excited to see lots of languages featured in the film with subtitles, adding a certain sense of authenticity. I hate when films, that are set in non-English speaking countries, completely disregard that country's native language and was really excited to see the opposite here.

MOST IMPORTANTLY HOWEVER! My main reason to love this film comes down to my favourite character in the film (and, possibly, EVER). Mako Mori is not a marketing afterthought. She's not there as the obligatory female prop to influence young girls to watch it. Nor is she a piece of eye candy. She is Raleigh Becket's peer, she beats the shit out of him at one point and, although she starts out feeling pretty self conscious about her abilities, she proves that she deserves to be a part of the team. She has an interesting back story and relationship with Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), Head of the Hong Kong Shatterdome, and Mako's adoptive father. I especially liked that there was no explicit romance between Mako and Raleigh, but hints at what their relationship could become.

I just want to know more about this character and her general bad-assery has inspired a lot of terrible drawings from me.

And guess what? There's going to be a sequel.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

The Best Thing I Never Had - Erin Lawless

Formerly published as 'Little White Lies'.

Downloaded on a whim, The Best Thing I Never Had turned out to be a pretty great read. Reminding me slightly of David Nicholls' romantic novel, One Day, the story follows a group of university students in their final year of studying.

 Lawless' insight into university life and beyond felt very on point for me. We meet the gang in February 2012, several years after finishing uni. Miles has just proposed to his long term girlfriend, Nicky, leading to a mass text to all of their friends to spread the good news. However, for Nicky, Sukie, Harriet and Leigha, who lived together at university, a lot has changed and the prospect of being reunited is jarring. Especially for Harriet whose relationship with the rest of her university pals has broken down almost entirely. Flashback to September 2006, the start of her last year of studying, and we discover why. 

As the novel progresses, Adam, Johnny and Miles (Nicky's boyfriend), a group of boys who live down the road, become more prominent. Tensions develop as Leigha develops feeling for Adam,  whilst his best mate, Johnny, falls madly in love with her. Quite the kerfuffle. To make matters worse, Adam's friendship with Harriet grows, leading to some serious rivalry between the girls, with disastrous consequences.

I think one of the main draws to this book was, as mentioned, just how brilliantly it captures university life. The characters must juggle their workloads and budding relationships whilst managing to get pissed on a week night. It truly is a hard life. What's more is that Lawless manages to craft some pretty fantastic characters. Personally, I loved Harriet the best. Becoming one of the more prominent characters of the ensemble, Harriet is quieter than her rowdy girlfriends. She's kind, fiercely loyal, bookish, hard-working, yet somehow effortlessly cool. Lawless has us really feeling for this character, whilst an excellent book boyfriend was made in the form of Adam. He, at first, seems rather superficial, lapping up the attention he gets from Leigha, yet emerges as a really lovely and swoon worthy guy.

Furthermore, I really liked Sukie's character, but felt that she wasn't explored enough at all. Only in the final section of the book, when the narrative returns to the present day as the group start to prepare for Nicky and Miles' big day, do we really begin to understand her character. Similarly with Nicky and Miles. We learn a lot about them in the latter part of the novel but their 2006 story sheds only a small amount of light on what makes them tick as a couple. Nicky's lost dream of living and studying in France seems like a massive afterthought. Considering the couple are so important to bringing the group back together, we don't learn as much about them as I'd personally like.

I must say that I felt an unexpected connection to this novel. I lived in a house full of girls at university for two years, after enduring some smelly (albeit secretly sweet) boys in my first year, and found myself picturing my friends and our house as I made my way through the story. Those girls were and are some of my best friends and so I felt an affinity with this group of female characters and their close friendship with each other. It really made me miss them and the thought of falling out with them (as Harriet does in the novel) is unbearable. I think the novel really taps into a sense of time and place that I feel a lot of readers will be able to recognise.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable read that I recommend to all young romantics out there.
4/5 stars.