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2017 in 5 Songs

As we approach the end of another year, most of us find ourselves in rather reflective moods. Gifts have been opened, food has been ravished and then we cast our minds back across the last 12 months and ponder, what did I do? What did I learn? Did I accomplish anything of significant worth? These questions cannot be answered with a simple one word reply, but rather than do a lengthy blog post weaving you amongst the months that formed my year, I instead have chosen 5 songs that sum up how I felt over the year, from when I was at my happiest to when things became darkened by a shadow that I wasn't sure would fade. Music is such an important aspect of my emotions, I find it utterly therapeutic and cathartic to listen to songs that I can pour my emotions into when I struggle to articulate them verbally, or even through the written word. So, without further ado, I present to you, dear reader, my year as told through the following 5 songs.


1) Mia & Sebastian's Theme from "L…

How Not To Be A Boy - Robert Webb

"What are we saying to a boy when we tell him to 'man up' or 'act like a man'? More often we're effectively saying, 'Stop expressing those feelings.' And if the boy hears that often enough, it actually starts to sound uncannily like, 'Stop feeling those feelings.'"

Herein lies the main issue that surrounds Robert Webb's new book How Not To Be A Boy, the idea of how much damage that can be inflicted on to young boys when they are encouraged to behave in ways that supposedly befit their gender. But Webb interweaves this idea tenderly with an autobiographical tale of him growing up in 1970s Lincolnshire with a working class woodcutter for a father and a mother who was tragically taken from him when he was just seventeen. 

   Webb frankly admits how he never really felt like much of a 'boy', taking a dislike for sport, writing a diary, having sticky-out ribs and liking poetry. He is told how he is 'sensitive' and 'shy'…

Review | IT

I'm going to be honest and get this out of the way, I've never read a single Stephen King novel. E v e r. This is not to say horror isn't my thing, I just have never attempted to shift King up my reading list. Having said this, there is something ingrained with King's IT into popular culture, whether that be the mammoth size of the novel (a staggering 1,138 pages) or the more iconic image of Pennywise the clown, fabulously portrayed by Tim Curry in the 1990 mini series and this has always fascinated me. So, when I first saw the (record breaking) trailer for the Andy Muschetti-directed adaption, Warner Bros firmly held my attention and I couldn't wait to catch IT in cinemas. But does IT live up to the hype?

  For those who aren't familar with the novel or the mini series, IT follows a small group of kids living in Derry trying to uncover the mystery of why so many children are disappearing at an alarming rate. As time unfolds, the culprit points to a shape-shi…

Hag-Seed - Margaret Atwood

“You’re clear, Mr. Duke.” Grins from both of them. What could Felix possibly be suspected of smuggling, a harmless old thespian like him? It’s the words that should concern you, he thinks at them. That’s the real danger. Words don’t show up on scanners.” 
I picked up my copy of Hag-Seed many months ago after hearing a lots of praise heaped onto Margaret Atwood for her adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest. I naturally had my doubts, as I adore both William Shakespeare and Margaret Atwood, but Atwood successfully takes one of Shakespeare's most famous plays and transforms it into truly something remarkable. The writing is deliciously dark, sharp and extremely self-aware without ever veering into parody territory. It's also extremely funny and exuberant, which makes this re-telling of Shakespeare an utter joy to read.
   The plot follows similar strands from The Tempest, which will delight many Bard lovers as there is an eclectic range of nods and references to pick up on b…

The Lonely Traveller

We were travellers across worlds dazzling stars and lands far beyond peripheral sight, You the man who bore the fire of the sun  in his crystalised eyes, the passion for eternal knowledge  bristling from your vivacious heart.

You took me by the hand and we danced through the cosmos, jumping from burning comets to shattered moons, thrusting us both into the shimmering tower of light that befitted you a crown, My King. 


From world to world we flew, Botantist Gardens rich with green glaciers that swam like tears, the abode of Everyman encompassing us in comfortable darkness, the singing towers of Tortworth that calmed us when we lost our way, Withybrook’s winding rivers encased us with a profound strength that determined our next steps, these steps took us to the four corners of the universe to unearth every secret; we were happy.


The planets guided us, moulded the foundations of our very being until it was time to rest our weary heads amongst a blanket of stars, laid out by Asteria herself for she took pity on the fati…

Simon James Green Blog Takeover

Since I reviewed Noah Can't Even a few weeks ago, I've been dying to get a hold of Simon James Green as I had a plethora of questions I wanted to ask and as he's so lovely I managed to bag myself an interview with him, so I hereby welcome you to Simon James Green's blog takeover! *trumpet fanfare*

Noah Grimes is the new epitome of teenage awkwardness, is there a little bit of biographical truth deep within the character of Noah? I for one related to many of his problems at school, such as the PE incident...

Thankfully, not too much. As a rule, I was fairly socially inept as a teenager, so there is stuff in the book that’s vaguely based on the sort of things I might do, say or think… although I was never as extreme as Noah, honest! The thing that happens in Sophie’s bathroom where the tap splashes his trousers and it looks like he’s wet himself - that’s real. And I think you’d be hard-pressed (pun intended!) to find a teenage boy who hasn’t encountered any sort of er… boy…

How to Stop Time - Matt Haig

"I suddenly realise it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that we age differently. It doesn't matter that there is no way of resisting the laws of time. The time ahead of you is the like the land beyond the ice. You can guess what it could be like but you can never know. All you know is the moment you are in."

Imagine, for a second, that you were different to everyone else. To others, you may seem like a rather ordinary forty year old, but the reality is you're closer to four hundred and ninety. This is the problem of Tom Hazard, the protagonist of Matt Haig's incredible new novel How to Stop Time. Tom suffers from a rare condition that has caused him to be alive for centuries, ageing one physical year every fifteen years. Always on the move to avoid suspicion, Tom now works in a secondary school as a history teacher, but the one rule he is told never to break keeps making itself known; never fall in love. 

  The joyous quality with Matt Haig is that he trul…

Noah Can't Even - Simon James Green

Can I even? YES I CAN. Without a doubt, Simon James Green's debut YA novel Noah Can't Even is one of the best books I have read this year; possibly one of my favourite YA books ever. The story follows down-on-his-luck Noah Grimes, as he navigates his way through a turbulent adolescence, filled with awkward mishaps, Wuthering Heights quotes and a very very VERY confusing kiss.

   Five pages in and I found myself bursting out laughing, Green characterises Noah in the most brilliantly awkward yet totally endearing way. When faced with the possibility of a house party Noah asks himself "Would there be nibbles? Noah hoped so.", and deals with 'boy problems' atop some equipment in a PE lesson. Noah's hilarious innate Britishness is what makes the novel with his social ineptitude and it especially resonated with me as it felt like I was reading the diary of my fifteen year old self. I also shed a tear (out of pure hilarity) of how middle class Noah is with his re…

The Power - Naomi Alderman

"Jews: look to Miriam, not Moses, for what you can learn from her. Muslims: look to Fatimah, not Muhammad. Buddhists, remember Tara, the mother of liberation. Christians: pray to Mary for your salvation." It is through these haunting words that Naomi Alderman creates a novel so bold and so daring in order to show us how the present structures of society need a change, and offers us a glimpse of what would happen if you flipped the gender roles in which women rule the world. What would then happen if men lived in fear of women?

The Power begins as teenage girls over the world discover they can release electrical jolts from their fingertips, ranging from a slight tickle to the ability to kill. Men are segregated for their own safety, countries verge on war on a day-to-day basis as more girls harness this 'power' and use it to awaken it in older women. As this all unfolds, the story weaves between four narrative voices: Roxy, daughter of a London mobster, Allie, a teenag…

The Bookshop Girl - Sylvia Bishop

If you're reading this, chances are, you probably like books. You probably would go as far to say you LOVE books, that if you chance upon a bookshop on your travels that you just HAVE to pop in for a browse and end up losing the rest of your day in there. This love for bookshops and love for reading is encapsulated perfectly in Sylvia Bishop's The Bookshop Girl, her follow up to Erica's Elephant

  Perkily illustrated by my bookselling chum Ashley King, The Bookshop Girl follows the adventures of Property Jones, who lives in a second hand bookshop after she was left there in a cupboard when she was a baby, who wins the opportunity of a lifetime to look after the renowned Montgomery Book Emporium. But can Property save the day when a sinister Mr Pink shows up demanding a rare and valuable manuscript? And will she ever reveal her biggest secret? 

  One of the biggest perks of Bishop's writing is how charming and breezy it is. The story reminded me of Dahl's 'Charl…

Into the Water - Paula Hawkins

Chances are that most of you reading this will have read Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train, a book that took the world by storm and to this day has sold close to 20 million copies worldwide, hit the No.1 spot in 26 territories and has been turned into a feature film adaption that was a box office hit. But the question lingers in the air that befalls all debut authors after so high a success, can lightening strike twice? Hawkins certainly gives it her all in her new novel Into the Water, in which a small town is rocked by the drowning of a local woman in the bend of the river known, for centuries, as the drowning pool. The victim's sister, Jules, now has to return to the town, to the one place she swore she would never return to and care for the teenage daughter her sister left behind. But why is Jules so afraid? And what secrets are left to be uncovered?

   As someone who didn't really get on with The Girl on the Train I didn't have the highest of expectations going …