A Few Words On Fangirl.

All Posts, Reviews

SPOILERS AHEAD

A Creative Writing student obsessing over FanFiction, dating an agriculture (range management) major … could there possibly be any more similarities to my real life than that?

Of course – Levi works in Starbucks after all!

Although there have been dramatic changes in my life since the point in which Fangirl could have been a biography on me, my love for the book itself hasn’t faded.  Rainbow Rowell provides, in Fangirl, a lesson on how YA Fiction should be done. Hearing Cather’s thoughts and emotions on moving out, college life and friendships as well as her and her family’s relationships with each other and their mental illnesses is a true to life depiction of the struggles faced by the average university student. Growing up and moving on isn’t easy, and Rowell just effortlessly understands.

As well as being perfectly relatable, Rainbow Rowell’s character’s and narration are brilliant.  The inner stress and contemplation of Cath are truly felt by the reader as she muddles through her first year in a strange place. The confident voices of Wren and Reagan are a stark contrast to her occasionally timid vocabulary.

Within the book itself, there are frequent inserts of FanFiction written by ‘MagiCath’ (Cath’s alias online) and they serve as an excellent addition to the book. The sections of fan-fic provide more insight into Cather as a character and offset her experiences in the world of Simon Snow.

Fangirl will always be one of my favourite novels, no matter how old I get. It’s the perfect book to remember what, that very first, unsure and surprising year of University was like.

Advertisements

The Great Yorkshire Show 2018

All Posts, Travel

I have attended the Yorkshire Show a grand total of three times in my life and every year I’ve loved it. This year was the 160th anniversary of the show, with even more events to make it the best year yet.

The Great Yorkshire show truly is a day out for all the family.  There’s army play-areas to keep the more exuberant children occupied, a chance to visit the wide array of animals competing at the show,  Black Sheep Brewery’s marquee and a huge selection of food kiosks, just to name a few attractions. If you want the best view of the show ground and all it has to offer, the quickest way to see it is from the top of the big wheel (one of my personal highlights of the day).

The Great Yorkshire show is, at it’s essence, is an agricultural show.   It brings together the county’s farmers, conservationists and volunteers, putting all their hard work on show for the nation. The show is a way to engage the general public in their world.

Aside from the technical aspects of the day, the main ring provides dazzling entertainment which can be enjoyed by all.  2018’s main attraction was Lorenzo.  Lorenzo’s equestrian displays are amazing to behold. Witnessing him stand astride two horses with the ability to command them without the need to touch is mesmerising. 10 unsaddled horses jumping fences, synchronised and in sequence isn’t something you see every day.

The Great Yorkshire show is one of the highlights of my year and I hope it will continue to be for many years to come.

Netflix: Favourites and Upcoming Releases.

All Posts

Netflix Recommendations and Upcoming Releases: March 2018

As a student, I of course spend a lot of my downtime browsing through Netflix for new series to binge watch into the middle of the night.

Over the last month there have been several programmes which I have been loving. So here is a selection of my favourites from the last month.

Warning Spoilers Ahead

  1. Riverdale: Season 2

Riverdale has finally returned from its mid-season hiatus. Tensions are as the Lodge’s continue to seize control of the town and relationships in the small town are feeling the strain.

Riverdale continues to captivate its loyal followers with its consistent writing, and unexpected plot twists and cliff-hangers keeping everyone hooked.  As we continue into the second half of the season, I can’t wait to see if Cheryl escapes the clutches of her mother, will Betty ever uncover the truth behind Chick’s past?  And does Jughead ever get one up on Hiram Lodge?

Currently we are on episode 17 of season 2 (March 28th, 2018), with 5 episodes remaining. Whether any my questions will be answered by the end of the season remains to be seen, but with a musical episode coming up on 18th April, it’s sure to be an interesting conclusion to season 2.

  1. Flint Town

Flint Town is an eight-part documentary about the city of Flint, USA.  Flint is plagued by crime and is suffering through a shortage of police officers. Only 99 police officers serve Flint, which is a city home to over 100,000 citizens.

This documentary follows a select few officers from the Flint Police department as they carry out their day-to-day activities. Violence and illegal drugs are some of the main problems within Flint, alongside the water crisis created by a mission to cut costs.

The documentary is a fascinating look into one of the poorest cities in America and well worth watching.

  1. Rebellion

Although this five part drama was released in 2016, to mark the 100-year anniversary of the Easter Uprising, is has only recently made it into my top recommendations. This programme follows three women through Holy week, leading up to the Easter Uprisings in 1916.

Despite the historical inaccuracies which run throughout the show, the drama is still a captivating watch. If you were a fan of Peaky Blinders, then Rebellion is the show for you.

Upcoming Releases

  1. 13 Reasons Why: Season 2

13 Reasons why was one of the most talked about programmes in 2017, both positively and negatively. Based on the novel by Jay Asher, 13 Reasons Why follows two main characters; Hannah Baker, who’s POV is displayed through her suicide tapes, and Clay Jensen who we follow as he uncovers the truth behind Hannah’s suicide. The finale of the first season is an extremely difficult episode to watch and comes with a trigger warning for obvious reasons. The suicide of Hannah is something which divided the entire audience of 13 Reasons Why and is likely to affect the number of people willing to watch the next season.

The second season rumoured to be released at the end of this month and is now featuring a short warning video directly before the start of the episodes due to the nature of it’s content.

Despite the controversy surrounding the programme I am still greatly looking forward to watching the new season as it was one of the most addictive programmes of last year.

  1. GLOW: Season 2

GLOW season 2 is scheduled to be released within the next few months. GLOW (Glamorous Ladies of Wrestling) dramatises the way in which women entered the world of wrestling, as images of beauty and strength. Controversial issues within the show, such as the sexualisation of women and stereotypes, are all highlighted within the show and provokes a range of discussions amongst fans of the show.  I watched the first season of GLOW more than once and I am eagerly anticipating the next instalment.

Blink and you’ll miss it…

All Posts, university

Second year of uni has gone by in a blur.  We’re now 5 taught weeks away from the end of the semester and assignments are rushing up thick and fast.  This is just a quick update to say how second year has gone so far.

This last year has so far been pretty successful.  I took more time off work in first semester to concentrate on uni work and I came out of first semester on track for a 2:1! Last semester was possibly one of the most enjoyable semesters I have had at YSJ, all of my modules were well run and for a change I felt like I had time to breathe and organise my life in the way I wanted.

This semester my part time job has taken over once again. Working 25+ hour weeks on top of university and hoping all my assignments will be done in time.  One positive of this semester is my linguistics module which is e-communication. Researching people’s online profiles and investigating how the online world is changing our language is one of the areas of linguistics that I have been most interested in throughout my time at uni.

There’s now only 2 taught weeks left until Easter break and my diary is pretty much packed for the rest of the term.  Currently I’m sat with a coffee, staring at an outline for my first deadline of the semester, procrastinating putting any words down on paper till I actually understand the theories behind my research and hoping that my study playlist will actually motivate me to begin writing.

For now at least, uni is taking priority over all my activities (including this blog) so it might be a while before I catch up with my post schedule again!

Lets hope we have a more organised end to the semester …

Stranger Things 2 (Warning: Spoilers Ahead)

All Posts, Reviews

Stranger Things has taken a very different turn in the brand new season, released October 27th 2017.  Will is back, new girl max and her brother have arrived in town, and Bob, Joyce’s love interest this season, is new to the show.

As one of the most popular series on Netflix of last two years, Stranger Things has brought a retro feel to the Sci-fi world in a new, yet nostalgically brilliant way. It is a combination of comedy and engaging real world issues, wrapped up inside the small American town of Hawkins. In the new season of Stranger Things 2, issues such as racism and abuse are key aspects of the storyline, as well as the continuing themes of bullying which are present in the initial season. Aside from the programme itself, when it comes to real life, the actors in the show are continually dealing with issues of sexualisation and racism. Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) is the focus of attention as she is continually sexualised by the media and public despite being only 13 years old.

Millie Bobby Brown

Source: IMBd

 

The new season brings out a darker side of Millie’s character, with Eleven’s return to Hawkins and adventure across the US.  This season the episodes almost have a disjointed feel, created by the dual narrative which takes place during a large part of the season.  The multiple storylines are a confusing part of the new season, in the sense that the secondary narrative in some way detracts from the main events of the season.  Despite the development of Eleven’s character, you might find yourself wishing her episodes were shorter, just to get back to Hawkins.

As a whole, the new season of Stranger Things has been a mixed bag, with several episodes resulting in disappointment after the year long wait. Ending on a cliffhanger once again, season two will not be the last we see from the Stranger Things cast, and despite the unusual format of this season, the lure of the upside down is too strong to resist.

Grow your own Forest (literally)

All Posts, Reviews

Forest is an app available on IOS and Android designed to help you focus and spend time away from your smart phone.

This is an app I recently re-discovered through a recommendation from one of my classmates at University and so far I have found it extremely useful. The app is designed so that your phone and notifications (apart from the app itself) are off limits to you for a period of time which you select. Depending on the time you select, you have a choice of different virtual trees and plants to grow in your own forest. If you leave the app to look at anything on your phone the tree dies and you have to start over. This method of encouragement to concentrate or spend time away from your phone really works as there are consequences if you fail.

Apart from the virtual forrest, there are also real-life implications for this app. After you have earned a specific number of coins, you have the choice to spend them on having a real tree planted in Africa through the charity Trees For The Future.  Therefore keeping consistently can now become a real benefit for the environment.

Personally I am going to persevere with the app as it has real lasting benefits for myself and the charity.

Prepping for Uni – Second Year

All Posts, university

Being a fresher was stressful, so going into second year I know I can’t afford to make the same mistakes I did last year.  It turns out that being on an English degree requires quite a lot of reading. Reading that takes up hours and hours of your life. Reading that is not always as straight forward as picking up an easy to read book and sitting for hours till it’s done. So, this year I decided to get ahead.

The reading lists for my two book-heavy modules were published around a month ago, giving me the chance to purchase and get a healthy start on most of the texts. I know that as soon as first semester starts I will be too busy going to class and my part time job to get any of my reading done. Trying to read 2 books a week as well as going to university and my part-time job alongside food shopping, cleaning and generally living is a lot to juggle. As well as pre-reading all of my books before semester starts I also decided to create summaries so I don’t forget what each text is about before the week I need to know.

Alongside preparing for classes at uni I have also been getting ready to move into a new house. In first year, I lived in university accommodation but this year I am renting privately with 2 friends. There is a lot more to consider when you are moving into a house compared to halls.  For example, you have to be prepared for paying bills on your own, arranging insurance, and the entire logistics of the move in general.

Overall preparing for second year has been a lot smoother and calmer than last year. In some ways moving back to York again in September will feel familiar. I now know the city and the university quite well rather than being thrown into a completely new environment like I was last year.  Move in date for my new house is set for the 1st of September and honestly, I can’t wait to get back and settle into the messy routine of uni life again.

Travel Diary: Sorrento, Pompeii and Capri

All Posts, Reviews, Travel

In the last week of June I travelled with my parents, using TUI, to Sorrento Italy.  Here I just wanted to re-cap some of the highlights of my trip and suggest some tips for anyone who is planning on visiting Sorrento.

Sorrento

The journey to Sorrento from Naples airport is a long one.  With one road leading the entire way down the Amalfi Coast plus the risky Italian driving style, you can imagine how congested the traffic was. The coach transfer between the airport was roughly 2 hours long but despite the length of the journey, the views were unbeatable.

Our hotel for this trip was the Hotel Minerva. The view across the bay of Naples, towards Vesuvius was incredible. The terrace dining room of the hotel meant that every evening we could sit and watch the sunset over the volcano. The sunlight picked out the brilliant white sails of the yachts drifting along the coast and the trails in the water left by the occasional Jet Ski.

The town of Sorrento is very traditionally Italian. Within the town centre, the main piazza is filled with shops and restaurants, with the main roads leading off towards the ports and the train station. The first trip we went on during the week was to visit Pompeii, which we visited by train.  Although it is advertised by the TUI reps as being a difficult commute, this was not my experience. The TUI goal is to sell you their excursions at extortionate prices, where it is actually very simple to  make the journeys independently.

Pompeii

As I mentioned, Pompeii was my first trip of the week. The walk to the train station from the hotel took around 20 minutes and was a straight route through the town centre. The train tickets for Pompeii cost €2.50 single and €5 return. The journey on the train takes around 50 minutes to reach Pompeii. There is only one train line which runs from Sorrento to Naples, making commuting on the train very simple. Before leaving the train station at Sorrento, a family of Romany Gypsies boarded the train to play music for the passengers, moving up and down the carriages. Just before the train left they jumped off of the train and made their way around to the next one.

We reached Pompeii at lunch time and easily joined a tour group who were about to set off into the city itself. Being an EU student made the entrance fee cheaper for me with the presentation of ID. It will be interesting to see if this remains the same for us in our post-brexit world.  The ancient city is a complicated place, and to get the full value out of your time there, getting an official guide is important. All of the official tour guides within Pompeii have degrees in the study of the city so therefore have a vast knowledge on the history of Pompeii. The city is also a lot bigger than you might expect so getting lost is easy if you are not familiar with the site.

Our tour lasted 2 hours, in which a lot of important parts of the city were covered. If I was to go back again I would definitely make the trip to see the amphitheatre which, because of the long walk it is away from the forum, I didn’t get chance to see. On the day I visited Pompeii the sky was clear, and the temperature was around 36 degrees, so I cannot stress enough how important it is to take bottles of water and suncream with you into the city.

Capri

The only other trip I took in the week was to the island of Capri.  Capri is the island where the rich and the famous come to live, and take their summer vacations. This is obvious from the streets filled with designer shops and high end restaurants, aimed at the vastly wealthy people who visit Capri.

To get up to Capri, from where the boats arrive, you have to travel either by taxi or on the funicular. From Capri you can also choose to travel up to Anacapri by chair lift, however as someone who doesn’t particularly love heights, this was definitely not an activity for me. This particular day, Anacapri was also shrouded in a thick cloud, making the journey up to Anacapri a pointless one as there would be no view out over Capri.

 

Overall the trip was an amazing one, although personally I don’t feel as though it is anywhere close to the sights at Venice. If I was to return to Sorrento again, visiting Herculaneum and seeing more of Pompeii are at the top of my list.