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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Breaks and Balance

I didn't intend to take a break this weekend.  Turns out my brain and body needed it.  I didn't do much writing.  In fact, I didn't do much of anything.  But I'm feeling ready to get back into the swing of things again now. 

I didn't intend to take a break.  To begin with I felt guilty for not reading and writing and creating as much as I usually do.  I realise now I had burnt myself out with getting overly ambitious last week.  I know I still need to find the right balance and I'm determined to keep trying until I find it.  Until then I apologize for any sudden incontinuity on this blog.  I will try to always keep you updated - I want you to know what's going on.  But sometimes, like this past weekend (and a few extra days), I just can't bring myself to open a blank document and write a post.  Like I said, I'm looking for the balance.  If you have any tips please share in the comments.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Doctor Who!

For those of you who are already Doctor Who fans, you probably don't need reminding that episode 7 is being aired tonight.  If you are not a Doctor Who fan - where on earth have you been?  Seriously, you're missing out (okay, so that's just my opinion but still).

So to get you appetite whetted, here's the prequel to 'Let's Kill Hitler'

And if that wasn't enough to make you want to watch it, here are the two clips of the episode that the BBC have already shown:

(Even if you're not a Doctor Who fan I recommend you watch that last clip as it had me literally laughing out loud - to the point that Chris wanted to know what I was laughing at so naturally I had to watch it again to show him!)

Friday, 26 August 2011

Review: Red by Kait Nolan

Elodie Rose has a secret. Any day, she’ll become a wolf and succumb to the violence that’s cursed her family for centuries. For seventeen years she’s hidden who and what she is. But now someone knows the truth and is determined to exterminate her family line. Living on borrowed time in the midst of this dangerous game of hide and seek, the last thing Elodie needs to do is fall in love. But Sawyer is determined to protect her, and the brooding, angry boy is more than what he seems. Can they outsmart a madman? And if they survive, will they find a way to beat the curse for good?

I have never been a big fan of the whole paranormal YA genre (especially after reading Twilight), however, after reading and loving Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (my review) I figured perhaps the genre was worth a second look.  That’s how I came to read Red by Kait Nolan and I’m glad I did.

The story is told from two points of view – Elodie (a teenage girl trying to avoid the curse that has been handed down by her mother) and Sawyer (a teenage werewolf) – however, it is clearly Elodie’s story.  The plot is a strange mix of paranormal romance and paranormal thriller yet I found it worked and I wanted to keep reading.  I needed to know who would win out which kept me turning the pages.

My favourite aspect was definitely the emotion and motivation woven through each scene.  The reader is pulled into the characters lives and more than once I found myself flooded with the strong desires which plagued Elodie and Sawyer.

Engaging, with strong characters, my only criticism is that although we are shown Sawyer’s point of view, the majority of it is written in Elodie’s voice.  I found that this disrupted my reading of it a little as it was far too lopsided.  However, I believe the author was right to include Sawyer’s view – I just wish there was more of it.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick escape from the real world.  And if, like me, you haven’t read much of the paranormal genre, I think this is a good place to start.  I know I certainly will be looking into more books by Kait Nolan.

Read the first chapter on Kait's website.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this ebook in return for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are entirely my own.]

Thursday, 25 August 2011


Image owned by Goodreads

Okay, I realise that once again I am late to the party, but I've just discovered Goodreads (I'm guessing you're rolling your eyes about now).  To be fair I've known about Goodreads for a while, just haven't seen the point of joining.  I had on app on facebook that does pretty much the same thing (or so I thought) and that was good enough for me.  So when said app decided to discontinue I wasn't the happiest bunny.  It did offer me the chance, however, to upload all my saved books to Goodreads so I grudgingly agreed.  Turns out I've been missing out.

In case you don't know, Goodreads is a site where readers (and authors) can share what they're reading/want to read/have read with their friends.  You can rate the books and leave reviews.  That is pretty much what my old app did.  Goodreads takes it a lot further, which is why I now realise I was missing out.  Not only can you share your books but you can vote on lists, join groups (I'm currently looking for a bookclub to join - there are not a few of them!), read interviews with authors and join in with reading challenges and goals (or set your own).  Seriously, if you don't have a goodreads account - get one. (And when you do, feel free to add me as a friend - just message me first so I know how you found me.)

And the best part?  Since I've joined Goodreads I've wanted to read more as the whole atmosphere is geared towards reading and once again I'm back into my goal of reading every book under the sun.

Anyone have any suggestions on bookclubs I might want to join?

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Issue of Privacy

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The other day I started looking into Google – you know, the whole Google +1 thing and linking my profile to my blog and twitter.  That of course got me started on a whole other topic and so I couldn’t help but google myself (don’t look down on me, you know you’ve done it too).  What I found surprised me.

For starters, apparently there are at least two other people in the world with my exact same name.  Okay, we probably don’t share middle names (though now I’m thinking I should check) but I had been under the impression my name was relatively obscure.  I know ‘Tamara’ has become more popular since I was born, but seriously, my surname is a little weird if you ask me.

The other shock factor I got was just how much information was available to anyone who searched my name.  Did you know there is a website called DatingSPY?  I’m not kidding.  Apparently you can not only find information such as birthday, photo, where they live, family members, but there are links to dating site profiles that might be who you’re looking for.  Is it just me or is that providing stalkers, kidnappers and murderers with too much information.  Just in case you’re curious I promptly removed my profile and then proceeded to go through the masses of privacy settings on facebook.

I know I shouldn’t really have been surprised, after all, I’ve never really worried too much about what information is available to others.  I’m not saying I took intentional risks – I’ve never put my address on the internet and consider myself relatively careful when it comes to this blog.  I just didn’t realise how easy I was to track.  (In real life I mean as the whole point of having a blog and twitter is to become more visible online).

I have to wonder if I’m being paranoid here.  Or should we really be worried about privacy (or the lack thereof) at all?  We are living in a digital age and the truth is that every movement we make online is being tracked (admit it, Google probably knows more about you than you do) to create better ad-targeting and to help us in our searches find what we want quicker (so I am told).  So where do we draw the line?

Are you worried about the amount of information about you that is available on the web?  Do you try and keep everything private or have you decided that other battles are more important?

Monday, 22 August 2011


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 I have always loved to learn.  I was one of those who loved school, sixth form, college and university.  I can’t say with certainty which I loved the most, but I do know that the love came from my desire to learn being satiated.  Honestly, I would be very happy being a student for the rest of my life (and I know that even then I wouldn’t be close to knowing everything).  That isn’t really the best option; but I am not going to give up learning.

You won’t be surprised to find that I love words.  To me, book learning is the easiest.  I am academic.  Therefore I am planning on using books and the internet to keep myself from becoming bored with my knowledge.  (It’s true that I’ve found if I’m not learning I feel like something is missing from my life.)  Believe me, living in this technology age has made learning incredibly easy for anyone with access to a computer and I know it.  I know it to the point that I’m determined to not let all that knowledge out there go to waste.

When I was younger I had a dream to read every book ever published.  Even then I knew it wasn’t possible but that didn’t stop me trying (and a part of me knows that I will never truly stop trying).  The same is true of learning.  I know I can’t learn everything.  To be honest I don’t think I’d be happy if I did (seriously, I need to be learning to feel satisfied) but that won’t stop me trying.  I just need to work out where to start.

That dream I had of reading all the books, I had a starting point.  I wanted to read all the books in my bedroom (as I had over three hundred books I will admit that I am still working my way through them), followed by in our house, in our local library, etc.  I feel I need the same approach with learning.  There are some things that I will never stop learning about (writing being one of those) but there is so much more to the world.  And now I literally (thanks to the internet) have that world of knowledge at my finger tips.  

So, any ideas where I should start?

Friday, 19 August 2011

Review: Sweet Valley Confidential

I have loved the Sweet Valley books ever since my early teens.  When I felt too old for Enid Blyton (just a phase, a promise you, I'll never be too old for Enid Blyton) it was the Wakefield twins I turned to.  I have to admit I haven't read them all and Sweet Valley University was definitely my favourite section.  But when I saw that another book was coming out, I registered my interest then promptly forgot all about it.  I didn't have any plans to read it, not yet anyway, but when I saw it in the library I couldn't help myself.

In one word, I would sum this book up as shocking.  Not necessarily in content, but simply because of the situation.  It was something that took me most of the book to get used to, and to believe.  For you lovers of SV I'm not going to spoil it for you, but it involves Todd (remember him?).  That's all you're getting, you'll have to read it for more.

The style, for me, felt quite different to the books I remember.  This is in large part due to the fact that it's written in first person (mostly alternating chapters between Elizabeth and Jessica) and there are large sections of flashback to fill us in on the story of the past ten years (actually, it's mostly about an event/events that happens eight months prior to the current story).

Once I'd got used to the much more adult tone, I couldn't put the book down as I just had to know what the hell had happened.  While I did find the events and ending a little predictable (once I'd got used to that major plot point I mentioned above), I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who love the Wakefield twins.  I would also recommend it to anyone who enjoys very emotioanl, family-orientated and romantic stories as this book is sure to deliver.

Did you read Sweet Valley growing up?  Who was your favourite?  I love Elizabeth as she was exactly how I wanted to be - what with the excessive reading and writing she did.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Why I Made Envelopes

If you saw Monday's post you are probably wondering why I'm suddenly crafting envelopes.  The truth is I like to craft and am currently trying to find ways to be more creative, particularly with paper and fabrics.  This has led me to many new blogs, sites and forums.  However, the envelopes were not inspired by one of these.  It was something I found on my new favourite site, Swap-Bot.

Swap-Bot is a site that is for all us snail mail lovers.  There are groups and swaps for lots of different things (crafts do seem to be a biggie but you can just opt into letter writing swaps if you want) for almost anything you can think of.  And if there's not, you can create your own.  If you love sending and receiving post I would strongly recommend you pay the sit a visit.

Those envelopes were made as part of a swap and I'm hoping that the recipients enjoyed receiving them - I know I loved the ones that were sent to me.

Did you enjoy seeing one of my crafts on here?  Would like to see more?  Let me know in the comments.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Handmade Envelopes

So yesterday I started making some envelopes.  I honestly don't know why I hadn't thought of it before, as I absolutely love sending letters and this is like the simplest paper craft ever.  All you will need is some pretty paper (I used some from a scrapbook stack that I've had laying around for a long time), some glue and double-sided sticky tape.  Okay, actually I didn't use glue as I couldn't find it in amongst the boxes so you can leave that one out if you don't have it (though I would definitely recommend it).

First, I cut out a template.  There are plenty of free ones online, I won't point you in the direction of the one I used as it was actually badly sized meaning that the front and back weren't the same size (I improvised on that bit) or you could probably create one using word or publisher or something (don't ask me, I'm rubbish when it comes to something other than writing or googling!)

Once you've got the template, use it to create your envelopes.  I literally just drew around it and then cut them out.  Make sure you fold in all the right places - it's pretty self-explanatry.

Glue (or sticky-tape) the inside folds, then match it up with what will become the back of the evelope.  This stage is the trickiest which is why I would advise using glue as you will then have a few seconds to readjust if you get it wrong.

Then put a line of double-sided sticky tape across the flap.  Don't pull off the top protective layer until your letter is inside.  And ta-da - envelopes:

As you can see, some of my envelopes are a little dark and I was worried that the addresses wouldn't be easily seen.  So on a couple of them I placed a little address box.  I found these cute 'hello!' ones here.

Hope you enjoyed this quick and easy craft.  Let me know if you try it and feel free to link to any pictures of your creations.  You could always add some patterned paper to the insides to make them extra special or simply draw your own.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Review: Supernaturally

Supernaturally is the second in the Paranormalcy series by Kiersten White (you can read my review of the first one here).  I have to say I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first one, and therefore didn't read it as quickly.  Or, at least, not until two thirds of the way through when it suddenly became un-put-down-able.  Evie is the same as we remember her, but now she is realising that the real world she hankered for so much isn't quite as cracked up as she imagined (though she still loves lockers). 

All characters that we met in the first book stay true to who they are and the way they are evolving is entirely believable.  However, I found the new character, Jack, to be quite predictable throughout - one of the reasons I didn't enjoy it so much as it was a little too obvious what has happening.  Jack does put all of Evie's relationships with everyone else in a bit of peril though and I found myself turning the page to find out whether they would work out or not.

Kiersten makes all the paranormal characters her own.  This time including unicorns in the mix as well as a few other new ones.  I found her take on all these creatures highly refreshing and completely unique which means I will definitely be buying the third and final book in this series 'Endlessly' and am looking forward to what she has in store for us next.

[Disclaier: I read this book on Kindle and have not been asked or offered anything to write this review.  All opinions are entirely my own.]

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Passing It On

A little while ago, Michael Nobbs ran a little giveaway for subscribers and I was lucky enough to receive a copy of The Beany and The Hummingbird Bakery - Cake Days book.  I'm sure Michael must have researched me as I love baking (as you all know). 

Anyway, I haven't had a chance to do much baking due to my health, and also I no longer have Chris' housemates to eat them.  Last weekend one of our new neighbours let us know they were having a party for one of their kids.  Instead of complaining I decided it was the perfect opportunity to bake.  I made the vanilla cupcakes using the recipe from my new book (not the most adventurous, but one that is always necessary to try) and covered them in the butter icing recipe recommended.  I used blue dye but as you can see, they turned out green, though still looked delicious.

Chris and I tried one each (got to say, they weren't the best vanilla cupcakes I've made but they were still delicious) and we gave the rest to the party.  I couldn't give them myself (Chris had to take them out for me) but I heard lots and lots of thank yous.  To be honest I didn't bake them for the thank yous - I baked them because I enjoy baking and besides, Michael had made me feel so special by sending that enormous parcel, I felt it was only right that I pass it on.

Has anyone ever surprised you with something you weren't expecting, something that made you feel special and loved?  Did you pass it on?  Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Change of Outlook

As you've probably noticed, I've changed my blog.  Again.  (If you haven't noticed then I appreciate that you are drawn straight to my words but really, not noticing is not a good sign or appreciating life in general.) 

After writing yesterday's post, I really wanted to change my blog design to reflect me as last time I simply settled for a design that was alright, but not quite right.  Turns out there was a reason I settled.  Finding the right background, something that truly reflects me, is bloody difficult.  No, seriously, it took me over two hours to find this background (which, by the way, I found here).

The problem was, I didn't really know what I wanted it to reflect.  Sure, I enjoy crafts so that was the first thing I looked for.  But just because I enjoy it doesn't mean it can reflect me.  There was also an awesome food/cooking background but as this is blog is not about cooking it didn't feel right - in the same way that this blog isn't about crafts.  There may be elements of crafts and cooking in this blog, but that's not what it's about.  It's about me.  And I am not crafts or cooking.  I'm not entirely sure who I am/what I want which turned out to be the problem.

In the end I went for something that made me feel how I want to come across.  Yes, it is a ploy for you to see me in a certain light, but that is true of everything we do online.  This background, to me, suggests serenity and beauty, something natural yet made by humans.  And I guess that's who I want to be.  I want to be serene in my outlook.  I want my words to be beautiful.  I want to show that I am part of nature, and yet a product of others (society, upbringing, etc).  I don't know if this is what I am.  It's just what I want to project.  Therefore, it made sense to me to use my blog as a place to show this and hope that in projecting it, I will become it (after all, I'm a true believer that if you wear a mask, sooner or later it stops being a mask).

I am curious though as to how you, my reader, see me.  Are you nodding your head in agreement with the above paragraph?  Or do you think I'm wrong about myself?  Seriously, I want to know.

Monday, 8 August 2011


Ever since I handed in my final piece of work for uni, I have been waiting.  To begin with I was waiting to get keys to our new place, then it was to move my stuff in.  Then it was to go back to my parents' to pack up my stuff.  Then it was waiting for the actual graduation.

And now there is nothing left to wait for.  Except I still feel like I'm waiting.  Like I'm waiting for my life to begin, waiting for it to start falling into place.  The problem with this of course is that if I just sit about and wait, nothing is going to happen. 

Even knowing this doesn't help.  Because I'm full of excuses.  I'm waiting for us to be completely unpacked (which at this rate maybe sometime next year!).  I'm waiting for the perfect idea.  And the biggie...I'm waiting for my health to improve.

This last one is the biggest hurdle for me.  I have plans, I have ideas, but I don't feel capable of putting the majority of them into practice as my M.E. is at a very low point (okay, I realise it's not as low as many people have to deal with - I can still get out of bed and onto the sofa most days - but it's almost the worst I've ever been, and certainly for the longest time yet).  I'm struggling to believe.  I don't know if I can believe in myself anymore.  And I don't know if I can believe in happy-ever-afters either (or at least, life without too much difficulty).  That is the true reason I have been avoiding this blog.

But, no more.  I am refusing to let this beat me.  I know it will take a lot of time and more effort than I'm sure I'm willing to give.  But I have decided - I am going to get my life back.  I don't know quite how yet.  But I know it starts with this blog.  I will be sharing my life with you and with it the responsiblity to have something to write about!  Now, don't panic - I'm not going to force my body to do things it's not ready for.  But I am planning on making an effort.  I know I might fail.  But I can't let that stop me.  (And please can I not use 'but' at the beginning of every sentence in future posts? - You know you were thinking it!)  Connection makes us strong, and blogging is one of the most connective activities I've ever taken part in.

Right, now I've written this long, hyped up post, I think I'll pop over to neopets to play a few games and relax!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

I'm Still Here

I realise I haven't posted in a while.  And I did consider giving you all sorts of explanations but I know you are worth more than that.  Simply put, I haven't been in the mindset to blog.  I have the ideas for posts, I just don't feel like writing them right now.  This may sound terrible, and if I was getting paid to write here, believe me, I would be churning out those posts as fast as I could.  But you deserve more.  You deserve more than words I force out of myself without care or thought.  You deserve my attention.  You deserve my passion.  You deserve me at my best.  So for now I am just going to leave you with a few pictures (all from WeHeartIt) until I can devote myself fully for a proper post.

This picture reminds me of the fairies in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' - my favourite Shakespeare play.

And this is my favourite summer treat.

Hope you're enjoying the summer wherever you are.