Thursday, 29 August 2013

Bookworm: The Sea Sisters by Lucy Clarke

I really enjoyed this book.

Clarke's writing keeps you gripped and not wanting to stop reading. I found myself constantly wanting to read this tale full of twists and turns.

Following the death of her sister Mia, whose body is found whilst she's away travelling, this tale looks at Katie's quest for the truth and delves into the complicated relationships of sisters and more.

Strong characters such as Katie, Finn, Mia and Noah are well described and clearly defined. 

I loved the use of Mia's journal, the 'current day' storytelling and Katie's thoughts to provide an intertwined account of what happened and what is going on now.

Various locations and situations are mentioned in this book and I really felt I lost myself in all of them. 

Strong topics are covered and covered well. Just when you think you've got it all worked out Clarke smacks in with another addition to the story.

As Katie experiences her journey of discovery you too as the reader join her and learn more - and are hungry to know more too.

The only reason I didn't read this book quicker is because I went away and didn't have any time to read. However last night on getting reacquainted with the ebook I found I couldn't put it down and had to read on until the very end.

Good points
Real page turner
Tackles darker topics
Lots of twists and turns 
Strong description and serial 
Interesting characters 
Dark but not totally depressing! 

Not so great
Some parts were a little gushy/soppy at times regarding the romantic side, but this is really me trying to look for faults listing this

Overall I'd really recommend this book as   one to keep you gripped and provide some escapism.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Bookworm: The Diaries of a Fleet Street Fox

I was introduced to the delights of the Fleet Street Fox by a friend who told me about her blog and Tweets and then kindly leant me the book.

Admittedly I'd not heard of this journalist, who became popular following her anonymous blog letting people in on the secrets of life on a tabloid newspaper. 

However from what my friend told me I was pretty sure I'd enjoy this book.

The reader gets treated to a double dose of an insight into Foxy's divorce and her life working on a tabloid. 

It was nice to read a book that was non fiction for once, albeit many parts are exaggerated for entertainment value. 

Having always wanted to be a journalist and having completed various work experience placements on local papers and bigger names such as News International and The Independent I've seen how life runs for a journalist to an extent. 

Being a nosey female I also enjoy getting the inside on somebody's relationship. This book seemed an ideal combination.

I really enjoyed the Fleet Street Fox's style of writing, she keeps you gripped with a fast pace and plenty of humour. Many a time I laughed out loud at her witty remarks and anecdotes. Then the parts where she focuses on her relationship and her true feelings are very heartfelt and you feel for her.

It was great to read about a strong woman in real life, but also see how she copes when things do go wrong. 

I loved the stories of life in the newsroom and it made me think back to memories of former work experience placements and the characters I came into contact with. 

Good points
Fast, gripping and addictive read
Mix of emotions 

Not so great
At times I did wish the main focus wasn't just the divorce Foxy goes through and wished I was hearing about other aspects of her life. For that perhaps I should check out her Twitter or blog though 
Some points were a bit repetitive 

All in all I enjoyed this read and am grateful to my friend for introducing me to it. I would definitely recommend and am keen to check out other offerings from the Fleet Street Fox. Opinions, gossip, scandal and emotion - a great mix.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

30 Day Shred: the results

I've become a tad obsessive of late with the 30 Day Shred, I constantly visit its hashtag on Twitter and I keep looking for signs it's worked/working. I've even had strangers sharing tips, work colleagues starting the plan too and people asking my advice on Facebook.

30 Day Shred has pretty much been my personal life.

So now thirty days down what do I think?

First off I'm having a 'fat day' today so it's probably not the best day for me to judge this plan as I'm feeling a bit of a whale! 

However, the facts and figures can't be denied I admit, regardless of how I personally think I look.

As you'll see from the image below I have seen results from this workout.

The plan goes for thirty days and I decided this time to follow it solidly everyday consistently and work up through the levels. 10 days on level 1, level 2 for ten days and a further 10 days for level three. 

There are resources online to follow a set diet Michaels prescribes, however I wanted to just eat a healthy balanced diet, I'm not a fan of fad diets. 

I've stuck mainly to my diet, although there have been a few odd days on some weekends when I've had to eat out or drink some alcohol. 

A key improvement I've seen is my core, definitely improved and I've worked my way up through the levels. I definitely have more defined back, shoulders and arms. I'm disappointed I didn't see more of a 'shred' on my thighs and tummy, but I'm pleased my bum has a bit of shape now from all the squat-like moves (it kinda disappeared through spinning!)  

So what have I achieved? In total nine pounds lost in weight. No not 20lbs suggested by the DVD, but I'm not too disheartened as I've seen most people report similar. The best results can be seen in my measurements, three inches off my waist is pretty impressive even I admit.

I think the problem I had was that I'd seen such good results by day 20, I was really thinking I'd get amazing results by day 30. There wasn't that big leap I had set my heart on.

However, I can't deny I've done well overall and I would certainly use this plan again.

For now, I want to exercise/eat healthily up until my birthday week off I've got planned so I'm doing the shred until Friday for another three days. 

I decided I'll mix it up and so am doing level one for day 31, level two for day 32 and level three for day 33. I just hope it gives me another kick and gives me a few final results! 

I've then got a busy and calorie laden rest of the month ahead so who knows what's next. Now I've got to decide what else I can do to try keep shrinking my body, I've got a long way to go yet!

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Another one off the list of Richard & Judy Summer Reads, The Age of Miracles tells the tale of a world hit by a natural disaster. The world slows down.

If days were suddenly to start lasting longer what sort of impact could that have on animals, plants, weather and even humans? Thompson Walker tries to give us an idea.

I'm not really a Sci Fi fan, not that much in films and certainly not in books. Yet something appealed to me it seemed to make a change.

A key to this novel's appeal is the fact it also ties in with growing up and teenage angst - school troubles and young romance, dealing with your parents and realising what life is really like.

Yes the world may be going through a crisis, but Julia is still a young girl feeling unpopular, unsure whether she still has a best friend and getting wrapped up in crushes. 

I enjoyed the fact the book was different and tackled a very different topic. At times I thought early on that the combination of high school heartache and an 'end of the world' type scenario was not well matched and far fetched. The author's style is clever and develops well though to make it feel more natural and this fictional piece has more to it than you'd think.

Thompson Walker writes strong descriptions and you can picture the people and scenes she describes. I often thought how the book could easily be made into a film.

I'm still undecided how I feel about the book as a whole and the story. The Age of Miracles left me feeling pretty depressed to be honest, it's certainly not a feel-good piece. Saying that, I did enjoy it in the main and was glad I gave it a go. 

Good points
Something new
Strong descriptions 
Very unique approach, such as the tense used, ending, general storyline 

Not so great
How much actually happens
Was there a conclusion really?
Very negative/depressing 

Like the book I've not really come to a conclusion here I know, all I can say is give it a go yourself and let me know what you think. I'm still a bit muddled! 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Thrill of the scare

I love scary films. Even the most cheese-ridden offerings tend to appeal to my horror-loving nature. 

However, there's one issue. I jump at everything.

Yes, I am the person who leaps out the seat, spills their popcorn/drink and elbows the person next to me (typically my man not a random stranger!) 

I jump watching scary films, if someone suddenly sneezes loudly or if my boyfriend suddenly pokes his head round the doorframe when I think he's in the other room. 

Key embarrassments are jumping when young as Willy the whale leaps out the water at one point in Free Willy, getting bad cramp in my leg as I jumped at a small girl abruptly appearing in a shop in 30 Days of night and coming out pale and with a slightly trembly hand after Paranormal Activity! 

The film can be gory, jumpy, spooky, based on real events or completely far fetched. I will jump at them all.

Recently I was sat on the sofa catching up on spooky French drama The Returned and something as per usual made me jump and I chucked a load of water over myself (I was stupidly holding a glass at the time). 

When I was young I can remember not being allowed to watch certain types of films until I got a bit older. Funnily enough the older I've got the more scared I seem to get.

Last night we were talking to friends after dinner and the topic of scary films came up. My boyfriend explained how he laughs at gory films (this is why he's suited to working in the health sector/ambulance driving) and my friend said how she doesn't get scary films unless they are related to real life/possible (I strongly insisted she avoid The Strangers as a result). 

I know other people in the past who laughed at films such as The Blair Witch Project (scared me because of my overactive imagination of thinking about what could be there, not anything I actually saw). Others I know think Paranormal Activity is boring and always fail to get spooked at similar cinema offerings.

Last night just talking about some of the films we've seen and discussing certain scenes I had to stop as I was 'freaking myself out'. I just about managed to go to the bathroom on my own before we left and then was wary as we walked home. Well, we did have a 20 minute walk back about 2 in the morning and were around Romford to be fair! 

I've always loved to see scary films - nowadays my issue is embarrassment and I often spend a lot of my time peering between my fingers as I'm so conscious of jumping or screaming really obviously and having other cinema-goers  laugh at me. At home I'm not too concerned about this, but I could never watch a frightening film on my own. 

I can't explain it but I just love to be scared. I get petrified and think things through in my mind for days after seeing the film. Yet it's like an addiction, as soon as I see the trailer (most of which I normally can't even last through) I just have to go see the film.

My issue is jumping, even films I've seen before and I know what's about to happen, they still never fail to cause me to leap up.

My poor boyfriend has many the time been victim to being elbowed in the side or having his fingers crushed if I've been holding hands with him as the scene suddenly gets filled with something loud, spooky or unexpected. 

The build up and anticipation is just as bad, the soundtrack goes quiet or builds up to a tense, creepy tone, you know something is about to happen. Then I start to get a coat/cardigan ready or raise my hand to potentially cover my eyes. When the first Paranormal Activity came out I was getting myself all worked up before we even booked our tickets to go!

I just can't explain it. I don't get it, why do I love to be frightened so much by films, yet at the time of watching them I'm wishing I'm not there or experiencing it.

A week or two ago I saw a trailer for The Conjuring and it spooked me out. Tonight we are probably going to see it. 

One thing I can guarantee is no matter how frightening it is or far fetched and unbelievable it may be, I will get scared and jump! My mind just doesn't accept that it's clearly not real and often not possible, I have a total disregard for the facts when I see this genre of film. Common sense and any reasonable thinking goes straight out the window.

For now I better go before my brain starts going into overdrive remembering all those scenes I've been blogging about. Will I survive The Conjuring? I'll let you know (once I've stopped tremblling of course!)