The Clasp by Sloane Crosley These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

Stop making the eyes at me, I'll stop making the eyes at you

Friday, September 20, 2013

I've wanted to talk about these things all week but never got round to writing full length blog posts about them. So, without further ado, here are the things that have caught my eye this week:


Very - Everyday Stylish (St Luke's)                      
I don't really like the clothes on Very but this is a brilliant advert. If you're interested, the song is  Fine Shrine by Purity Ring. 

Tesco F+F - A/W 2013 (WARL)                  
Again, I don't really shop the F+F range but this advert is pretty cool. The song is What I Might Do by Ben Pearce. 

Bonus: I'm sure you've seen it by now but if not, head on over to Gawker and take a look at the latest Chipotle advert. I've never been to Chiptole, even though I worked opposite one of the only restaurants in the UK, and I don't know how it's received in the US but I'm sure they're getting a lot of new customers this week.


This was one of my favourite songs of the year anyway but it has gained new life with the added rap bit. If you haven't heard Overgrown by James Blake, which was quite rightly nominated for the Mercury Prize, go and have a listen now!

Also, Robin Thicke's new video has been getting more airplay. I know a lot of people think his videos are misogynistic, and 2 Chainz's verse is very weak (how many times is he going to 'get this thing in action'?) but I really like the dance routine by the Albany State Golden Passionettes and Alabama State Stingettes. Plus, the ending is very disco-y - pirouettes and high kicks galore. 


Jennifer Aniston is (not) pregnant? 
~Loki and Superman visit Sesame Street. 
~The Grace Kelly film doesn't look so good. 
~Emily Ratajkowski is Andie in Gone Girl, which is great for her but I still don't see Ben Affleck as Nick. 
~Do you, like, have vocal fry too? I've been watching a lot of the Kardashian's lately and have started to pick up their speech patterns, which is more than a little concerning considering I live in ENGLAND.
~Did you enjoy your Mindy/Jess double? 1-0 to Mindy so far...
~Zac Efron went to rehab. Hopefully he's on the road to recovery. 
~Kerry Washington was voted The World's Best Dressed Woman. Too right- you go girl!

Reading Mutiny Challenge: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Monday, September 16, 2013

Publisher: Atria Books
Format: Kindle e-book
Rating: 5/5

After a terrible tragedy, Nastya Kashnikov decides to move two hours away from her hometown so that she might start afresh and finish high school in peace and quiet. However, this proves more than a little difficult as her life becomes entwined with orphaned Josh Bennett and his best friend, Mr Popular, Drew Leighton. As she starts to interact with the two best friends more and more, Nastya is forced to slowly get back to reality and confront her demons so that she might one day begin to start moving forward.  

Ok, I cannot write a decent synopsis for this book without giving anything away but to be honest, all you really need to know is: this book is INCREDIBLE. Some people are born storytellers and Katja Millay is most definitely one of these people. 

At the heart of this tragedy there is a love story. In fact, it is a story that has been told for time immemorial. The story of the girl who saves the boy and the boy who saves the girl because they are both so very broken. It is a very popular YA scenario and sometimes it works and makes for a good story, oftentimes it makes for a nice (we don't like that word, do we?) but cliched story. However, in the case of The Sea of Tranquility, Katja Millay took great care and such a long time layering the characters, revealing and concealing, building and destroying, that this story transcended the usual YA norm and ended up being one of the most moving pieces of writing I've read all year. This story could have easily been Crash but it wasn't because the aim wasn't about jumping to the juicy bits and skipping the who, what, why, how. In fact, there aren't any 'juicy bits' in this book (not really anyway) even though I would argue it more what I'd expect a New Adult book should be - if we need to use that label at all. In fact, in that respect, the book is very much like Nastya itself - on the surface, yes there's swearing and sexual references, the bad girl image, but once you remove the make-up there's an extremely fragile and heartbreaking story there. 

Naturally, with such a tragic and brutal act at the heart of the story, it is quite a dark and depressing story- no happy endings here. Not really anyway but there is hope. Katja Millay really puts the reader through the ringer in order to find out what actually happened to Nastya (you have to wait until near enough the end to get the full story, so it's not one for impatient readers) and the truth is definitely not a cop out or anticlimax. What happened to Nastya, and why, is sickening and heartbreaking. However, as I said, there is hope and this is represented by the lifeline that is Josh and Drew and Drew's family. This story truly shows that no one is an island, everybody needs somebody, and friends can indeed become family. As Barbra sang, "people who need people, are the luckiest in the world"! The Leighton family are a perfect example of those good people who open their doors to all the kids in their own children's friendship groups. I always admired the parents that did this because I'm sure the children that they included, be it once in a blue moon or every Sunday, will never forget their kindness. 

As I said, this is a story about "first love, last love, only love". As with the general story, Katja Millay really took time to build this relationship between Josh and Nastya. After all, they are two people who have been dealt some bloody awful cards in life, so it couldn't be rushed. It was nice to read about a love built on friendship too. Some might argue that's not necessary but I prefer to read about these types of relationships- seems more real to me. 

I'm rambling, so a quick summary of some other things I loved about this book: 
  • Nastya's obsession with names. I am a name nerd and firmly in the camp of picking names for their meaning, then their prettiness (because that counts too - obviously). All of the name meanings of the main characters were excellent choices but I won't spoil that part for you. 
  • I can't eat ice cream anymore (stupid allergies) but I thought everyone knew Nastya's way of eating ice cream was the best way? Half melted, from the edge = ice cream heaven, no?
  • Nastya's way of dealing with her tragedy was so uncomfortable but it made a big difference to have so much of an internal monologue. So many books nowadays read like scripts, so it was a nice change. 
  • Drew Leighton for best fictional friend of the year? 
  • Alternating points of view. Ever since I read Two Way Street and the Rachel Cohn/David Levithan books all those years ago, I've always loved male/female dual narrative. 
Overall, The Sea of Tranquility is most certainly one of the best books I've read all year. I hope more people read it and I look forward to whatever is next from Katja Millay. 

Oh, and as always, I had to create a playlist:

Top Ten Tuesday : Books I'd Love to See as a TV Show/Movie

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is: Top Ten Books I'd Love To See As A TV Show/Movie. 

1. Gallagher Girls Series by Ally CarterWould be perfect as the lead in to Pretty Little Liars or something. Just don't let the CW get hold of it. 

2. Secret Society Girl by Diana Peterfreund- This one could be on The CW. There hasn't been a good college TV show since Greek. We're in need of one. 

3. Dairy Queen Series by Catherine Gilbert Murdock - I think this would make a GREAT TV series. Perfect for those of us who miss Friday Night Lights.

4. Troy Series by David Gemmell - Everybody fell in love with GoT and Pillars of the Earth, and Merlin and Robin Hood did well on the BBC. Why not try Troy?

5. Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian - Again, perfect for the PLL fans. 

6. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld - I think this would make a good HBO miniseries like Mildred Pierce or something like that. There's too much in there to become a movie but not enough for it to become a long running series. 

7. Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan - Perfect Christmas movie. We need a new Christmas classic, don't we? I think the rights have already been acquired and I vaguely remember hearing Lena Dunham's name attached to write the screenplay or something, so fingers crossed. 

8. The It Girl by Cecily von Ziegsar - When Marc Jacobs met Harry Potter (minus the magic). We need a boarding school TV show. Perfect opportunity to recast Jenny Humphrey too.

9. Violet Series by Melissa C.Walker - This could fill the void left by Ugly Betty and Jane by Design. 

10. The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice - I've mentioned this book so much this year but I really do think it would make for a brilliant BBC adaptation. 

I Like Your Style

Monday, September 9, 2013

As usual, this weekend I spent some time going through the forums of the FashionSpot checking out the usual suspects (Kerry, Blake, Mila) and revisiting some those I only catch up with now and then (Elizabeth, Felicity, Scarlett). Finally, I looked at Alicia Vikander's thread and OMG - her style is amazing. Mother and I only managed to sit through 1/4 of Anna Karenina this weekend but Alicia was quite charming as Kitty. Anyway, Alicia has been promoted to the usual suspects list (Blake might have to be demoted).

I LOVE this outfit. I very much want that jumper but cannot find it anywhere at this moment in time- the internet is a big place when you don't know where to start. The bag is Miu Miu and the jeans are probably J Brand (although that slanted, zippered pocket style can be found almost everywhere these days, don't you think?) but I have no idea about the jumper! So, guesses on a postcard to the usual address please.  

Lupita Nyong'o is also having a good run at TIFF after wearing this beautiful Prada dress to her premiere of 12 Years A Slave (which I'm sure we'll all be talking about for the next six months, especially as the Oscars are later than usual, so I'll refrain from saying anything about the film just yet). I'm so glad she went neutral. I'm glad she didn't stick to stereotype and go with a print because yes, print usually works wonderfully on darker skin but sometimes we ethnic girls just want to wear a Gwyneth/Annie/Jennifer moment too, in a pale, 'it's my moment, I'm a star' gown. Just as long as it's not by Marchesa (Naomi Watts - what were you thinking?)

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wish Were Taught In Schools

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is: Top Ten Books I Wish Were Taught In Schools.

I will preface this by saying, I don't think we have required reading as such in our schools in the UK (UK teachers, please correct me if I am wrong). Not in the way I've seen the PDF's from various US high school classes. Partly because we just had compulsory English lessons from year 7-11 (ages 11-16) and these weren't split into levels or specific topics. I tried to speak to a few English teachers to gain a better insight but couldn't get an answer in time. From what I remember, I was only given a reading list in year 7 to complete the library challenge and in year 12 to help with our A Level English exam. The year 12 list contained what you'd probably expect from an English Literature reading list. Anyway, this might be worth discussing another time but for now...

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - I'm sure this will be on nearly everyone's lists today but it's a phenomenal piece of writing. I don't remember reading much (if anything at all) from the German perspective of WWII, so it would be a marvellous teaching tool. 

2. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher- Actions have consequences. Sometimes people need a little reminder. I would've loved to read something like this for school. 

3. The Plague by Albert Camus - This little book contains so much food for thought. It would tie in nicely with the ethics modules in RE/Philosophy. 

4. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Alexie Sherman - Or something similar set in Britain (isn't it terrible I couldn't think of a counterpart - I must read more British YA. I am ashamed). 

5. Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman - There's a reason why Malorie Blackman is now the Waterstone's Children's Laureate. I think this book is actually read in schools and quite rightly so. If you haven't come across it before now, definitely get yourself a copy.  

6. Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne - When I read this book, I remember thinking if I were a teenager right now, I could definitely relate to this book. It is very modern but there's a lot of teaching material in there too. 

7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Obviously. I'm sure it is taught in classes now anyway. Especially with the film companion. Our teachers loved it when there was a film version to show snippets from to get us quiet for ten minutes. 

8. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - Could be discussed for months on end. 

9. Stolen by Lucy Christopher - Again, there's so much to talk about when reading this novel. Obviously there'd need to be a few lessons on Stockholm Syndrome.

10. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K Rowling - This should be read as soon as the kids start year seven. It would get them excited about secondary school and make their English teacher seem like one of the coolest.  

Summer Round Up

Monday, September 2, 2013

Summer is over, so I'd just like to round up some of the entertainment highlights. 


How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski - I loved this book, it really made me laugh. 

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan - This was my favourite adult book of the summer. Again, extremely hilarious. 


Live music: Despite my general dislike of them, I ended up at two festivals this year. First of all, I went to Lovebox in East London. It was one of the hottest days of the year during our fantastic heatwave, so everybody was in a great mood. I was lucky enough to enjoy the sounds of: Charlie Wilson, Julio Bashmore, Redlight, Wiley, Disclosure, Annie Mac and Azealia Banks. The crowd was amazing- everyone just wanted to enjoy the day- and there were decent toilet facilities (at a small charge), which is always a plus in my books. 

Then I went to V festival in my hometown, which was almost the polar opposite. The weather was rubbish, the crowd was miserable and unappreciative and it was just generally a not very nice day. To be fair, I only wanted to see Beyonce but even the debut of her new hairstyle couldn't make the evening any better. Poor Bey was singing her heart out and whipping that bob around like nobody's business but the crappy sound and the boring crowd won in the end. They even dared to boo her! To make matters worse, we were stuck next to a group of chatterers who then started fighting and we witnessed a man punch a woman in the face. Classy Essex as always. 

Best albums: Settle by Disclosure (check out Ed Macfarlane from Friendly Fires singing one of my favourite tracks from the album at Reading- I always have love and respect to give to a committed dancer); Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend; True Romance by Charli XCX; Ciara by Ciara; Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke; Unorthodox Jukebox by Bruno Mars; and Body Music by AlunaGeorge.

Best songs: Well, you know my Songs of the Summer but I also enjoyed some others that I've put in a playlist for your listening pleasure. Extra special kudos to Icona Pop who have been contenders for Song of the Summer with I Love It two years in a row!


I haven't really seen much at the cinema this year. I missed all of the blockbusters and superhero flicks. I was also supposed to go to TIFF but circumstances changed. However, these were my picks and I will look out for their general release dates: Gravity, The Fifth Estate, Rush, August: Osage County; Third Person; and How I Live Now. 

However, I have made good use of the various on demand services I'm signed up to such as LoveFilm and Netflix and enjoyed fun summer movies such as Almost Famous, Adventureland and Walk the Line- all of which had amazing soundtracks. I also enjoyed Lakey Peterson: Zero to 100, which was very interesting and inspiring. 


I've been watching Elementary. It took a while to really get into it but now I am IN LOVE. It's very different to the BBC's Sherlock but I think I prefer Jonny Lee Miller's portrayal a little more than Benedict Cumberbatch's (*quickly hides from the Cumberbatch superfans*). Whoever decided to cast Lucy Liu as Watson deserves an award because the idea-and execution-is genius. I really like the dynamic Sherlock and Watson have got going and hopefully they keep it platonic. I'm up to the episode where Sherlock asks Watson to stay on as his apprentice - what a beautiful speech! Oh and I covet Watson's wardrobe. 

Also, the second season of Scandal has been airing over here to fill The Good Wife/Nashville void. I'm not sure I'm really on board with this show anymore partly because I don't believe in Olivia and Fitz (he's so spineless) the same way I believe in MerDer. Kerry Washington is awesome though so I'm glad Scandal is pushing her more into the limelight. 

Rookie Blue is also back on the air over here. I love this show - it just keeps getting better and better.

Finally, I've become quite invested in the little MTV show Washington Heights, which is a bit like a real life How to Make it in America (cut down in its prime). It's kind of refreshing to see a reality show that doesn't have too much drama. I don't think there's a second season, which is a shame but at least they got their five minutes of fame and hopefully the opportunity opens some more doors for them. They seem like a nice, hard-working group of twenty somethings. 

Summer Reading: Part Five

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

WHAT'S THE DEAL? Four mysterious men turn up to Silverlake one day and murder Saba's father and neighbour before capturing her twin brother and riding off into the storm. So, she sets off on a quest to find her brother with her little sister in tow. The sisters encounter trouble in Hopetown before joining forces with a maverick called Jack and a band of warrior women called the Free Hawks. Together, they hunt down Saba's brother in Freedom Field. 

ANY GOOD? I was supposed to read this for this month's Reading Mutiny but got a little delayed. Well, to be honest, I was going to choose How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles but changed my mind at the last minute. I always choose contemporary YA, so thought I should change it up, even though bad things sometimes happen on Project Runway when contestants 'change it up'. So, with great trepidation I started Blood Red Road and thankfully the gamble paid off because I really enjoyed it! It was fast, lively, and full of interesting characters. 

I won't lie, it took a while to get used to the writing style. I didn't read anything about the book prior to purchasing it, so I wasn't sure where it was set or anything. As a result, I couldn't work out if the accent was supposed to be West Country (British) or Southern (US). Turns out it was the latter but written out on the page, both accents are quite similar. 

However, Saba was such a great main character that I soon got over the accent confusion. I liked that she knew her own mind and was a bit of a wild one who suffered from Summer Robertsesque rage blackouts (although she called it the 'red hot'). Her band of merry men and women grew on me and I'm interested to see what becomes of De Malo. The romance element was a bit cringey at times with the heartstone but perhaps that plays more of a part in the next instalment, which I am greatly looking forward to reading.

ADD TO BASKET? If you're itching for a good, old fashioned quest story.  

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

WHAT'S THE DEAL? After a bad break up, Bria pushed herself out of her comfort zone and books herself onto a group tour around Central America. However, a chance encounter with a brother/sister backpacking duo causes her to rethink the group tour in favour of exploring things outside of the itinerary. Over the course of the trip, Bria ponders questions about what it means to travel and life in general. 

ANY GOOD? I've been trying to get hold of this book for AGES! Eventually, I tracked down a copy whilst I tried to avoid all the glowing reviews containing any spoilers. I'm glad to report, it was as good as I expected. I think everyone will get something out of this book. The general message is that you have to go out there and choose your own adventure because life is what you make it. I liked that  Kirsten Hubbard showed all types of travel in the book- everyone's got their own style. Some people like to go on group tours and have everything scheduled to the minute, some people like to wing it off the beaten track, some people like to do a bit of both (like me!). Anyway, this is definitely a special book that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. I kind of want to go to Belize now. Oh and the illustrations were delightful! 

ADD TO BASKET? If you're in the mood to ponder some of the big questions.

The Smart One by Jennifer Close 
WHAT'S THE DEAL? Weezy Coffey suddenly finds all of her grown up children back home with plenty of physical and mental baggage. Over the course of the year, she watches them get up and dust their shoulders off whilst trying to be as helpful as possible without meddling too much. 

ANY GOOD? This was on my summer reading list. I'm not sure why the title was changed for the UK edition (ours is Things We Need) but anyway it's not one for readers who want a lot of action, drama, and romance. However, fans of Girls in White Dresses won't be disappointed. It's an intense look at a middle class family all at different stages of their lives. With alternating POV's, Close carefully layers, unravels, and then adds new layers to her characters as they pull themselves out of debt, finding new jobs, deal with rejection, and create new lives. Overall, I liked this delicately crafted family portrait.

ADD TO BASKET? If you enjoyed Girls in White Dresses or television shows such as Brothers & Sisters.