Saturday, 31 May 2014

Looking Back At: May 2014

This month has both dragged and gone extremely quickly at the same time. There have been a limited amount of things that have really gotten me excited. There were some times I wish time would go a little slower for me so I had more time to prepare for things and times where I wish things would just hurry up so I could get a lot of stuff just done and over with. 

May saw me kick-starting the first set of my exams. Within the space of six days I sat my Medicine and Treatment paper for history and all three of my science papers. I haven't got a clue what the results are going to come out like in September. So, I'm just going to have to wait and see what happens next. But that is four out of nine exams sat and done and there isn't anything I can do to change them now. I tried my best and gave it my all. So, a lot of May went towards me just anticipating exams and then four days of sitting them.

It's been a month that has been full of revision. exams and a lot of comfort eating. I've finally given my controlled assessments in for marking in resistant materials (RMT) and science. My RMT coursework was such a relief to give in, I was so worried what the mark would come out like since I can't draw for the life of me but I don't think it went too badly! I have learnt that I do need to spruce up my drawing skills a little before that exam next summer. 

The pretty awesome thing that happened was that I'm now a Deputy Head Girl in my school along with another one of my friends. We had to go through an application process where we either applied to be a Prefect or a Head. I applied for Head Girl, it then got narrowed down to five of us . We had to do a speech in front of our year group which I really enjoyed. They then voted for us and I ended up being in the top three and became a Deputy which I am more than happy with. It's a great way to kick off my last year of Secondary school and something that genuinely made me smile this month!

To say it's been a slow reading month is a huge understatement... I have only read two book. Personally, I think that's pretty good between revision and exams. I didn't even think that was going to get through that. But then again, I read one book at the beginning of the month before any of my exams had started and then read the other in half term where I had a lot more time and finished the book in two days 

So, I May I finished: 

  • Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead 
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
But I have also started: 
  • Outshine by Nola Decker 
  • The Pledge by Kimberly Derting 

I've read 20 out of the 50 books on my Goodreads challenge and am just about on track but with the end of exams coming up I should hopefully be able to pick the pace up with reading which would be really nice. 

Hopefully June should have a lot more going on and won't be as packed with me going on about revision and comfort eating. There are quite a few things going on in that month that I'm really looking forward to!  

Hope everyone had a really good May and hope you all have an amazing June!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The Fandom Confectionery: May 2014

I love fandom merch as much as the next person and I love showing the stuff I find on the internet to people. So, I decided to put a new feature on my blog where I showcase the top ten of my favourite fandom merchandise that I've found! Here are some of my May favourites!

1) Tesseract Necklace 
I actually ended up getting this for my sister. I love the Avengers and love Loki! When I stumbled across it on Etsy I fell in love with it. The necklace can be brought in different lengths and the actual chain colour can be different. It's so pretty and come people might not even realise it's fandom merch! 
Buy - £9.82

2) Divergent Quote Typography Print 
The quote on the print says:
'Becoming Fearless Isn't The Point
That's Impossible
It's Learning How To Your Fear 
And How To Be Free From It 
That's The Point' 
The Divergent movie only came out last month and I loved it, I loved the book as well, although I haven't read it in a while. I came across this print and read the quote and it sprang to mind from the book. It's on of those prints you could have up on your wall just to inspire you when you get up in the morning. It's printed out on a page from a vintage dictionary. Personally, I think it looks quite pretty, I kind of really want to buy this now and hang it up in my room... even though there's barely any room left. 


3) Sherlock T-Shirt 
The top says: 
'I'm not a psycopath, 
I'm a high-function sociopath.
(Do you research)'
I'm such a huge fan of Sherlock and I've been looking for a top with this saying but I just haven't like the way that it's been printed on the shirts. There's just something when I see different fonts on a top that makes me want to get it. 
Buy - £18.90

4) Supernatural Phone Case 
Admittedly, I'm only on the first season of Supernatural but I am hoping to get through more of it once exams are over! The episodes I have watched though, I have been in love with! So, I thought I'd add some Supernatural to this post. It's a Winchester & Sons Supernatural Whisky phone case. They've got it for the iPhones and the Samsung S2, S3 and S4. A slightly subtle way of showing your love for Supernatural whilst protecting your phone in the process. 
Buy - £9.14

5) The Mortal Instruments Paper Bead Bracelet 
I've had my eye on these bracelets for a while now and I really, really want it! It's basically part of one the of The Mortal Instruments books and you can pick which book you want on the bracelet from the series and what colour thread you want with it. I really need to get my hands on one of these.
Buy - £9.20


6) No Admittance Sign 
For the Lord of the Rings fans, we have Bilbo's 'No Admittance Except On Party Business' sign which it made out of aluminium. I really
love the look of it and it reminds me exactly of the sign you see at the beginning of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It's one of those things you could just hang outside your room door, or even outside of your house before a birthday party. 
Buy - £6.00

7) Games of Thrones Small Hair BowI've never watched or read the Game of Thrones but I thought that I would throw this in for people who do. I think it looks pretty cute. Just a small hair accessory that could pretty much go with anything. All the houses are on the fabric as well and it's a pretty good price.
Buy - £3.68

8) Alice in Wonderland Playing Cards 
I don't really play cards and there are only a few card games I know from when I was on a plane but these ended up catching my eye when I was looking at some Alice in Wonderland things. The whole set of cards are inspired by the the books. It's a full set of cards that you can actually play with and come in a clear plastic box. Great for a fan or card games and Alice in Wonderland
Buy - £9.20

9) Shadowhunter Stele
Another treat for fans of Cassie Clare's world. Comic Con is coming up and some people might want to cosplay there or just cosplay in general I thought I would put this Shadowhunter stele up. It just looks really elegant and I really want it! The Etsy shop does have a few other stele's on there but this one has to be on of my favourites. 
Buy - £7.34

10) The Fault In Our Stars Cards x3 
The Fault in Our Stars in out next month and my twitter seems to be going mental every time something comes out related to the movie. I would be lying if I said I wasn't just as excited. It's currently getting me through revision. Here are there TFIOS inspired cards to send to your friends who are fans like you. Whether it be for a birthday or a thank you for sticking around the uncontrollable sobbing. 
Buy - £2.25

So, those are my picks for the month! Anything catch your fancy? And are there any fandoms that you want to see more of or ones that I haven't mentioned that you'd like to see?

*Postage and Packing aren't included in the prices 

Saturday, 24 May 2014

WISE: Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was born in 1943 on the 15th July, was a Northern Irish astrophysicist. She ended up being credited with one of the most significant discoveries of the twentieth century whilst she was completing her postgraduate studies.

At a young age Burnell had read a lot of books on astronomy and her interest on the topic was always encouraged by the Armagh Observatory, where her father worked. She ended up attending Lurgan College and then earned a degree in Physics from Glasgow University, Scotland, in 1965. In 1969, she completed her PhD from the University of Cambridge.

In her first two years of studying there, Bell assisted in the construction of an 81.5 – megahertz radio telescope that was going to be used to track quasars, a distant source of energy that give off huge amount of radiation. In 1967, the telescope first went into operation and it was Bell’s job to operate the telescope and to analyse over 120 metres of chart paper that was produced by the telescope every four days. After analysing this data over several weeks Bell had noticed something unusual about the markings that were on the chart. These marking had been made by a radio source that was too fast and regular to be a quasar. Its signal only took up about 2.5 centimetres of the 121.8 metres of the chart paper but Bell had recognised the importance of it. She had detected evidence of the first pulsar. The work was published in the February of 1968.

In the same year Bell’s work as published she married Martin Burnell, who was a government worker. His work ended up making them travel around England. Burnell worked part time while she looked after their son, Gavin Burnell. During this time she started studying almost every wave spectrum. in astronomy and gained extensive experience. In 1970 - 972 she held a junior teaching fellowship in Southampton University. It was here she developed and calibrated a 1-10 million electron gamma ray telescope. She also held research and teaching positions in x-ray astronomy at Mullard Space Science Laboratory in London, and in Edinburgh she studied infrared astronomy. 

Burnell didn't end up sharing the Nobel Prize with Hewish - her thesis supervisor - for the discovery of pulsars but she ended up gaining numerous different awards. She was chosen to be a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1969 and has now served as it's Vice President. She's also won the Beatrice M. Tinsley Prize from the American Astronomical Society in 1987, which recognises the outstanding research contribution to astronomy or astrophysics. She also won the Herschel Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society in 1989 which is awarded for outstanding work in the area of observational astrophysics  astrophysics and has won many other awards. 

Currently, Jocelyn Burnell in a Visiting Professor of Astrophysics as the University of Oxford and is a Fellow of Masfield College. she is also the current President of the Institute of Physics 

Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a women who never stopped achieving and believes that there should be more women in science. 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Book Review: Severed Heads, Broken Hearts

Title: Severed Heads, Broken Hearts
Author: Robyn Schneider
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: 01/09/2013
Pages: 335
Format: Paperback
Buy: Book Depository
Author Twitter: @robynschneider

‘Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them – a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: In one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his career as a jock, and his social life.

No longer front-runner for homecoming king, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, when he encounters new girl Cassidy Thrope. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra has ever met – achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

Together, Ezra and Cassidy discover flash mobs, buried treasure, secret movie screenings, and a poodle that might just be the reincarnation of Jay Gatsby. But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: If one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortunes strike?’

I don’t even know how to start this review off! The book was absolutely amazing and it turned out to be so much better than I thought it would!

There are so many aspects of this book that I could sit on fawn over. Schneider’s writing style is brilliant and really brings in school politics the way that Ezra’s old friends treat him after the accident and the way that she’s set the whole lunch table organisation out. Although that might seem like a small detail it does help move the plot for quite a big portion on the book. The beginning of the book was quite shocking but instantly made me interested to see what else was going to happen.

Ezra has very quickly become one of my favourite male characters for quite a few reasons. He was quite a realistic character in my eyes, especially the way that he reacted to the aftermath of his accident. You saw him grow as a character and find things in his life that he may have not have realised were there before the tragedy had happened. He doesn’t end up becoming completely bitter to his old friends and learns to make new ones quickly and starts to care about them a lot.

I wasn’t exactly a huge fan of Cassidy, she seemed like the type of person who thought that being closed off and mysterious is cool. Towards the end of the book when her story was explained I finally understood why she was the way she was and it did help me like her a little bit more but she still didn’t end up being one of my favourite characters.

What I love about this book is something that I don’t see very often in other books. Ezra changed for himself. He did it to become a better person for none but him and to make his life better. It wasn’t for someone else and it wasn’t so that someone would like him. It was because he wanted to have a happier life and wanted to make do with what he had so he changed to make sure that he could get everything out of life that he could.

This is definitely a book that I would gladly read again and I cannot hesitate to give it this rating.

Rating: ★★★★★

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Saira's Speculating Mind: After Exam Stress?

We're in full swing of exams season and I've seen so many posts and tweets about revision sessions and how to manage your time between revision and numerous exams but I don't think I've seen many, if any, posts about how to handle everything that goes on after an exams happens. Even though these are only my first set of exams, I thought I'd share with you guys what I do and think after I've finished an exam because personally, I think that sometimes that's when the worst part is. 

Exams are a stressful business, whether you're sitting GCSE's, A-Level's or your degree. You spend weeks preparing and revising and then the day comes and you just have to go in there and do the best that you can. Getting out of that exam room can sometimes leave me either feeling pretty happy or a little bit down heartened and I have a feeling I'm not the only one that gets this feeling. 

I tend to call this the "After Exam Stess". The stress you have after an exam is done and dusted with. That feeling in the pit of your stomach where you haven't got a clue what is going to happen, where you're analysing every question you just answered, kicking yourself for not answering the question right and panicking about what your results day will hold. I've seen it in school and I've done it. Over the course of exams though, I've taught myself that I can't do all of those things. 

Once you're out of the exam room, that's it! You're out of there and your exam paper is no longer in your hands. There is absolutely no point in thinking about it. You've gone in there and done your best and as soon as you walk out of there, there's nothing that you can do. It's pointless stressing over it. If you still have exams left, it's only going to set you back. I know that it's easier said then done but you just have to try and push it to the back of your mind. Even after you've finished your exams, don't think about it. That's your time to just relax and do some of the things that you enjoy before being thrown into whatever else happens next. 

Your results day will come when it comes. I know that it does have a lot riding on it at the end of the day but you stressing about it and panicking isn't going to do anything to change what happens. Whatever happens, happens for a reason. That is one saying that I make myself remember. Things will fall into place and everything that is meant to happen will. All you can do is try your best in the exam and then carry on with your other exams and just try and relax once everything is over. 

I hope that everyone who's finished their exams or have done a few of them have gone well and you guys are happy. To everyone who is yet to start or is in the midst of their exams, good luck! You guys will rock them! 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Saira's Speculating Mind: Do Photoshopped Images Make You Us Feel Bad About Ourselves?

This is a subject that is spoken and wrote about a lot and is something I feel quite strongly towards; do seeing photoshopped images make us feel bad about the way we look? I think it’s nearly a fact now that most images that we see in magazines and on websites are often photoshopped. There obviously is that professionalism of wanting to clean up images before you show your work to the public which I understand but have people been taking it too far?

A lot of people will say it’s just for marketing. At the end of the day, there are a lot of business men and women out there who are making their living by selling things like clothes and so on. They need to make their products look as appealing as possible, it’s just marketing and the way the business world works and surely that should be something that we are used to. People shouldn’t be foolish enough to believe that models really are what they appear to be when the finished product is shown. It should be common knowledge by now.

Magazines and websites should have the right to portray models the way that they want to. It’s their artistic licence and isn’t their fault If people feel hurt or offended. It was never intentional. Surely, a person should have a good enough self-esteem to not feel bad about a photo that they have just seen. Editors are only trying to cover as many bases as possible, in terms of different types of people, and the only way they are able to do that is by using photoshop.

But as many cases as there are for using photoshop there will always be cases against it. Marketing shouldn’t come to the expense of changing the way someone looks completely. If you look at before and after pictures of models when they’ve been photoshopped, you can see that sometimes they’re bone structure in their face has been altered completely. If you want models to look a certain way, then shouldn’t you be hiring them instead of photoshopping others? And if those models don’t exist, isn’t that telling us something. That maybe we are pushing this idea of what consumers ‘want’ a little too much?

Even though for some people it might be common knowledge that photoshop is used on a lot of models, some people may not know. I find that even though I know that quite a lot of images are extremely edited, I find it quite hard to notice which parts actually are. It could be anything for their height, to their weight, to their skin tone, to their hair length. You can do almost anything to an image in photoshop and that’s the problem.

You can’t blame a person for having a bad self-esteem, especially when it’s always edited photos that are being shoved in front of you face. How can you accept the fact that that isn’t what is normal when that’s what the media is trying to make you believe? There’s going to be a knock to your confidence.

Even though the above infographic makes it seem as though there aren't many people in the UK that have an eating disorder, there are in fact an estimated 1.6 million people who have a eating disorder. For me, I find that number way too high. Body image dominates social media sites and the media and it has to partially be a contributor to the high rates of eating disorders. 

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of photoshop. My generation is already extremely self-conscious about the way we look and constantly worked up about what we’re consuming on a day to day basis. I don’t think it’s helping that every magazine we pick up, every celebrity we look up to is just an edited form of what they are. For me, unedited photos and images are so much more beautiful.

So, are photoshopped images making you feel bad about what you look like? 

Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Chocolate Book Tag

So, Zara over on Page 394 did the chocolate book tag on Youtube and tagged me in it and I shall be doing this tag in written form! I'm really looking forward to this one since it's the first tag that I'm doing on here. So, here goes nothing. 

Dark Chocolate - A book that covers a dark topic (abuse, domestic violence, rape, loneliness, bullying, death etc) 

For this one, I'm going to have to pick Undone by Cat Clarke. The whole book just covered a darker subject of death and suicide and the aftermath of it. 

White Chocolate - Your favourite light hearted/humorous read

This one is pretty easy and it's quite a short story that's only available in ebook format but it has to be What Really Happened In Peru (The Bane Chronicles #1) by Cassandra Clare. I'm a huge fan of Magnus Bane who never seems to fail to make me smile. This ebook had be grinning to myself and I can't wait to read the rest of the series that is currently waiting for me on my tablet.

Milk Chocolate - A book that has a lot of hype that you're dying to read

I think that one is going to have to be The Maze Runner (Maze Runner #1) by James Dashner. I've seen a lot of hype about this book on tumblr and twitter and I always seen it in the teens section in Waterstones and I am dying to read it now! Hopefully I will soon! 

Chocolate with a Caramel Centre - Name a book that made you feel all gooey in the middle while you were reading it

For this one I'm going to say Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. I'd say this is more of a Christmas time read since it is set around Christmas. It's just one of those books that makes you feel all festive and by the end just makes me want to go "awwww". 

Wafer Free Kit Kat - Name a book that surprised you lately

I've had a hard time picking something out for this one but I've gone with The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness. There were a lot of things about this book that surprised me to be honest, I enjoyed it so much more than I though I would have done. 

Snickers - A book that you are going nuts about

The School For Good and Evil (The School For Good and Evil #1) by Soman Chainani. I loved this book from the minute that I started to read it and I can't wait to get the next book in the series. Every single time I put down the book after reading it I'd just turn to someone and tell them how much I loved it. If there wasn't anyone around I'd just fangirl to myself about it! It's just so good! 

Hot Chocolate with Cream and Marshmallows - What book would you turn to for a comfort read?

I'd probably turn to the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling for comfort. I know that they're a set of books that would make me feel better if I was just having a bad day. I just know that I could turn to these books no matter what. 

Box of Chocolates - What series have you read that you feel has a wide variety and a little something for everyone?

For this one, I'm going to pick The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver. It's got a lot of action, small touches of romance, so many twists and turns and a lot of different types of characters. 

So, that is my Chocolate Book Tag and I tag 

Finnoula @ Books for Birds
Miguel @ The Quirky Reader
Hope you guys have fun with this tag!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Dropping Off At: Wicked's UK Tour

Saturday before last my sister and I took a train down to Cardiff and then another train to get to 
the Millennium Centre to watch the penultimate showing of Wicked in Cardiff before it moved on. And what can I say about the day? Genuinely, nothing would give it justice! 

We got into Cardiff at about half twelve and the show didn't start for two hours so we ended up grabbing lunch at what has to be one of my favourite place for food. The one... The only... Pizza Express! So, that was the start of what ended up being an fabulous day! 

We ended up wandering into the Millennium Centre after that and it was starting to fill with people floating around, ready to watch Wicked. There were some younger kids who had dressed up as witches and some girls who had the miniature witch hats in their hair. We ended up decided to go and look at the merchandise first before going to find our seat and I ended up picking up a few things on there that'll be later on in the post! Right next to the merchandise stand there was a small wooden cabin that was selling sweets and as you can see from the photo, it had squished the Wicked Witch of the East. If I hadn't been excited enough, that made me ten times more excited to head in. 

Once we were in our seat I couldn't help but take pictures of the stage before the show began. It was just so pretty and then the lights finally went down and I was grinning as soon as I heard the opening number. There were so many things about this show I fell in love with all over again. I ended up watching Wicked when I was in year six when we went to London. But I think being that little bit older now, knowing the songs and having a huge appreciation for theatre, it made everything ten times better. 

There were just so many incredible things about the show. The costume design as fantastic! As soon as they lifted the curtain and we got the first view of some of the Munchkins and couldn't help but just stare at what they were wearing. It got even better when the citizens of Oz came out, now they were some costumes that I definitely was not expecting. 

I loved the acting and personally, I think the characters were portrayed perfectly! There were so many characters that I just wanted to yell at and so many I just wanted to hug and tell them that it would be okay. The whole cast just did a magnificent job! The music pit was just beautiful. I couldn't get over the instrumental. Listening to the CD is one thing but having a live orchestra play whilst watching the show was just another experience completely and nothing could have made it any better! 

I love fandom merchandise so much and I loved so much of the stuff that they were selling in the theatre so I did end up picking up a few pieces. I ended up getting the Wicked programme because I know it's something I'll always be able to look back and remember the day. I bought the Wicked tote bag as well which was really cute and I can't wait to use it! I've also got a Defying Gravity top which I am in love with at the moment and I'm really looking forward to wearing it! 

So, that was my trip to Wicked and I loved every single moment of it! 

Banner image from Page 394 and edited by myself

Sunday, 4 May 2014

W is for: 'What's My Age Again?'

This is going to be my last post on the challenge since I can’t think of anymore songs for the other names. So, I’m finishing off with What’s My Name Again? by Blink 182.

It’s one of the timeless songs that I think most people have heard and it’s just one of those songs that you can scream from the top of your lungs. Has to be another one of my favourite songs! I can sing one line and someone else ends up picking up the rest of the song.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments, on the song, below.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Looking Back At: April 2014

I would love to say that it's been an exciting month in April but there hasn't been a whole load going on. It's been a quiet month but still packed with revision. That has literally been most of my month. 

There was one really good thing that came out of April though. Wicked has been going on tour around the UK and they were in Cardiff, so me and my sister ended up booking tickets last year to go and see it. It was amazing! It's been and agonizing wait but it was completely worth it. There will be a post about that day soon though! So, keep our eyes peeled! 

The Easter holiday and school has been packed with revision otherwise. I can't really say much else about that, it is what it is. It's been slightly stressful and slightly tiring and it'll probably stay like that until July. So my May and June wrap up will probably be the same sort of thing. 

I did have a mini training day this Easter, where I found out how to pack my bag properly, how to cook whilst we're on our expedition and how to put up a tent. It's was actually really interesting and pretty funny. Does this mean I'm prepared for my expedition? Not in the slightest! It's going to be very interesting...

Reading wise, it's been a pretty good month. I can't really complain! 

In April, I finished: 

  • Undone by Cat Clarke 
  • The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith 
  • Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead 
  • Unremembered by Jessica Brody
And I'm currently in the midst of reading 
  • Delirium by Lauren Oliver
I've read 19 out of 50 books of my 2014 reading challenge and am three books ahead of schedule. We'll see how May goes with reading since with the start of my exams I don't really know how much time I'm going to have to read. I don't really have anything that I'm planning to read during May, just see what happens.

It's been a really short wrap up but there just hasn't been a lot going on. Hopefully in July (possibly June) I'll have some more exciting wrap ups. 

Until then though, good luck to everyone who has exams coming up. I hope you all had a really good April, and do you have any plans for May?