In a Nutshell – Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill

A properly creepy read for the first 100 pages or so, as well as being super tense and eery. But after that something just disappeared. The plot itself became even more farfetched (yes I know ghost stories are already fairly unbelievable but you know what I’m getting at) 😂 I found the jumping between reality and flashbacks/dreams to be quite confusing for my fatigue-addled brain, but I grasped most of it eventually. Overall it was an enjoyable read, despite the ending being predictable + the writing/storyline losing its power less than halfway through

In a Nutshell – Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

‘You remind me of a little girl I knew years ago. One day, all of a sudden, her head fell off. It was very sad.’ – a line I read about five times because it kept making me chuckle.

Cuckoo Song had a definite Miss Peregrine’s vibe to it; which is great as that happens to be one of my favourite series. However it wasn’t at all what I had expected upon turning to that first page. It was a nice surprise though.

An intriguing read from start to finish. Incredibly imaginative concept. Well written + thoughtfully constructed. 4 stars.

In a Nutshell – Others by James Herbert

Hope you’re all having a wonderful Sunday. I’m still sat in my PJs at 11:45am and it’s glorious.

So here’s something a bit different for you guys; something that I’d like your opinion on. I’ve been writing short and to the point book reviews on Goodreads for AGES now. I never write anymore than a couple of paragraphs generally as I think it’s best for everyone to read a book for themselves instead of bowing to reviews 🤷🏻‍♀️ ANYWAY! I was thinking of copying some of my reviews from there onto my blog as and when I finish books etc. Oh and I’ve decided to call them my In a Nutshell reviews; short, sweet and concise 👍🏻 here goes nothing!

As an avid reader of James Herbert novels, I opened the pages of Others with tangible excitement. I knew that I was likely in for a dark and disturbing nightmare of a read; and that is precisely what I got.

Some of the scenes were particularly ghoulish or violent, which is exactly what I like in my books. Call me morbid if you will, I don’t mind one bit. The ‘haunting’ scenes were especially creepy and left me feeling a wee bit edgy!

Overall a solid 4 star read and would highly recommend to anyone who loves a twisted read.

Any feedback would be awesome!

Kelsey x

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Okay so this is TOTALLY not my usual sort of post, but hey ho. I’m rarely able to get to the cinema these days because of my ongoing struggle health-wise so a trip to the movies is always a nice treat 🙂

Now, I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for action films; also pretty much anything gory too. Love a good fight sequence, car chase, explosion, shootout. You get the idea, right? I hadn’t managed to see the previous two John Wick films in the cinema so was determined to do so with this; plus my boyfriend was super keen to watch too so happy days all round! Boy oh boy was it a belter of a film (just as the other two were to be totally frank) 👍🏻 I honestly couldn’t believe the speed in the fight scenes. Fists, legs, guns and swords everywhere. Or pretty much anything they could get their adrenaline fuelled hands on *thinking of one item in particular but won’t spoil it because I’m a considerate blogger*

How was that for a vague film review/hype-up? I’m very proud of myself right now. And on that note, I’m going to melt into a knackered heap and get some much needed shuteye.

Au revoir, avid and beautiful readers

Kelsey x

Reading, reading and more reading

As some of you know, the Goodreads app allows you to set a yearly reading goal, aka the number of books you aim to get through in a year. Before I got my PS4 a few years back, I was easily reaching 70+ or so. But once the gaming addiction kicked in, that went right out the window! I know, I know. I betrayed my beloved books.

HOWEVER, this year, I made a deal with myself: because there were no PS4 games I was eager to play ASAP, I stopped playing on it. Full stop. Ideally, this will mean that, when I introduce gaming time again, I can cope with only an hour or so a day without feeling like I’m missing out. So far so good. I’ve not played anything for weeks. And the impact on my reading goal? I’m halfway through my 24th book of 2019…so it seems that I’ll absolutely SMASH my goal of 70 🙂

Unite, bookaholics, unite!!

The Dark

Something creeps, unseen and unheard.

It lurks in the corner, not saying a word.

Maybe it’s waiting, biding it’s time.

Or maybe there is no reason or even no rhyme.

Blankly it sits, emotionless air.

What is it? What are you? Why are you there?

The dark does not speak, react or reply.

It simply exists, alone, and unable to die.

But wait, something is stirring.

Deep inside, the dark is whirring.

Silent movement, it leaves its place.

A discovery is made; the dark has a face.

Teeth not human, eyes glowing white.

Blood on its mind, eager for the fight.

It’s right there behind you, but you mustn’t scream.

The dark has chosen you, and this is not a dream.

Day at the Farm

Hello hello 😊 happy Monday!

I’ve had a very busy weekend which is quite rare for me *shock horror* hahaha. Saturday was a cinema day for a friend’s birthday and yesterday was a day at a petting farm. Yes. A farm. And you want to know the best thing? It was an ADULTS ONLY DAY AND IT WAS GLORIOUS. Don’t get me wrong, children are great. But it was so much quieter and just generally better.

The farm are all about encouraging you to get up close and personal with the different animals. In the spring, you can even hold lambs and goat kids 😍😍😍 other times of the year, you can hold rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens and ducklings. I realise I’m probably sounding like a big kid and you’re possibly questioning whether I genuinely am 25 or not. But let’s be honest: if you love animals, this sort of thing is ALWAYS a good idea, regardless of age.

I realise this wasn’t a particularly lengthy or informative post, but it’s nice to take a break from the more serious stuff sometimes. Oh and of course I have some photos for you all to enjoy 😉😁

Take care + look after yourself.

Kelsey xxx

Kelsey Q&A

Pretty much what it says on the tin. I’ve found allsorts of questions online and thought SOD IT, this could be amusing. Plus maybe it’ll give you a tad more insight as to who I am as a person rather than a faceless set of hands behind a keyboard.

What skill would you like to master?

Some sort of musical instrument would be amazinggggggg. I played clarinet, saxophone and bass guitar when I was younger. But being a perfectionist who wants to be good at everything I try in as little time as possible, I stopped with all of them. If I could master it overnight, sign me up!

What are some small things that make your day better?

Sunshine. Coffee. Food. A bubble bath. A good book. Quality time with my family and friends. Shopping. Photography. Being surrounded by animals and nature. Sleep. Fresh air. Music.

How often do you ‘people watch’?

All. The. Time. Anyone who says they don’t is an absolute liar. People watching is a natural part of being a human, I’m sure of it. You can get so much inspiration that way too. A new look to try. Lyrics for a song. You might even spot an old friend. And I just like being nosey. SHOCK HORROR.

What job would you be terrible at?

Anything involving manual labour, heavy lifting and overexertion. Anything with numbers because my brain hates those crafty devils. Anything where I’d get really hot. Anywhere I’d have to stand up (makes my symptoms flare up like crazy if I stand up for any length of time).

What film do you refuse to watch?

Fifty Shades Of Grey. The entire film series in fact.

What would be your dream car?

Does anything as long as it’s chauffer driven count? #iwanttofeelfamous hahaha. But more realistically, I think Fiat 500s are so cute! I’d have a pastel green one and call it Jellybean.

Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?

I’d have to say Poland. I went for a school trip back when I was about 15; the main focus of which was to visit Auschwitz. I’ll try to describe how it felt, but it’ll be nothing compared to the physically gut-wrenching emotions I had at the time. I felt such guilt on behalf of the human race; such guilt that some of us could do that to others. I felt sick to my stomach; sick that I was standing where so many innocent people were mindlessly and systematically slaughtered. It was utterly surreal. I know that these atrocities occurred, but to see evidence of it first-hand didn’t completely sink in. It was truly a harrowing experience that I won’t ever forget.

What are you absolutely determined to do?

Easy peasy. I am utterly, completely and wholeheartedly determined to own a sausage dog one day. Without a shadow of a doubt. For years as a child I was actually terrified of all dogs. My grandparents had a Boxer named Jai who I sadly didn’t appreciate at the time because of my anxiety around canines. It makes me pretty upset to think about it now as I recall her being a really lovely family dog; she’d just get a wee bit excited and run around at times which freaked me out. But now I am bordering on being obsessed with doggos, especially Dachshunds. Their little legs. Their stretched bodies. Those boopable snoots. One day I’ll have a pupper to call my own.

What do you wish your brain was better at doing?

Oh boy this is a good’un. Whilst I adore having a very active brain, I think too much. Granted I’m nowhere near in the same league as I used to be but damn I’m a thinker. Imagination, wanting to learn, curiosity and thinking about new ideas? Yes I possess all of those qualities and they are FABULOUS. But the overanalysing, worrying and making mountains out of molehills? Get away from me. You are not welcome here. In a nutshell, I yearn for my brain to be better at shutting up.

What thing(s) were you scared of as a child?

Going to go all nostalgic for this last question. If we go back to my childhood, we’d find a young Kelsey standing on the edge of a swimming pool. She could clearly see the bottom and adored splashing around. Yet she insisted on worrying about sharks; believing that they were somehow lurking in the chlorinated water. Yep. I used to have a ‘thing’ about sharks in illogical places. I remember a particular pool from a holiday in Portugal that really seemed to bother me. Due to the lighting, weird shadows would fall on the deeper end and my mind would immediately go crazy with wild theories. I convinced myself the shadows could in fact be killer whales. And I used to go even further with my worries; I used to think there could be a shark in the bath. IN THE BLOODY BATH I TELL YOU. I was an odd child.

There we have it, intrepid readers. A little bit of this and that to aid you in painting a hopefully decent picture of me. If this proves to be popular, I may try it again; possibly only answering really off the wall and silly questions, or possibly going down the serious road. We shall see!

Have a good Wednesday, folks.

Kelsey xxx

What type of posts would you like to see?

Good evening! I hope you’re doing well 🙂 Thought I’d do a bit of research for my upcoming blog posts and pose a question to you all:

What would you like to see posts about?

The main focus will still be my struggles with chronic illnesses, depression, anxiety etc. And I do enjoy sharing some of my day to day stuff, photography and just general life posts. But what would you like to see specifically?

  • Maybe some book and gaming reviews (although I can’t guarantee they’ll have a professional sounding vibe to them)
  • Something relating to my cooking and baking; all recipes would be gluten-free and most would be vegetarian. Also I could do some food reviews and recommendations of good ‘coeliac friendly’ places
  • Possibly even some random posts with memes, quotes or funny jokes I’ve heard
  • Poetry (all mine and original)
  • Short stories (also all mine and original)
  • More ‘get to know me’ kind of stuff, like my taste in music, films, TV shows. And some more serious things such as causes I feel strongly about. Don’t worry though. I don’t intend on turning this into some kind of controversial, opinionated or preachy blog. That’s totally not my style
  • Could maybe try a type of Q&A kind of post. You ask questions in a message or on the post itself and I answer. Simple. Well, assuming you actually ask appropriate things and I feel comfortable divulging the info.

SO MANY OPTIONS AND I NEED SOME HELP, FOLKS!

Drop me a comment or message if you have any ideas or requests.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Kelsey x

Academic Absence Part II – Reinventing Myself

After getting pretty emotional whilst writing my previous post, I thought it was best to have a little break. But now I’m back, feeling reasonably good and ready to write the more positive side of this story.

Without the academic part of my life, I had to find something to replace it. I was daunted at the prospect but I knew there had to be something out there for me. I knew there had to be more to me than studying and grades. I knew I’d get there and feel complete again. With my concentration and memory almost totally shot, I needed easy-going, relaxed hobbies; maybe something to tap into my more creative side. And with that, here’s a list that will hopefully shed some more light on this ‘new me’ and possibly give you some inspiration and ideas to help you on your journey 🙂

Photography

Okay, so not everyone can get out into the big, wide world and capture things on camera. But for me, it’s been a huge part of my life since being ill. I got into it beforehand, but I didn’t really hone my skills until after my M.E diagnosis. Even with just leaving the house for half an hour once a week, I might have been able to go into our communal garden and photograph some plants. Or some wildlife if I was lucky. Since moving to a house, I can easily watch the birds through our patio doors; catching photos of them in flight or feeding from the bird table. Photography essentially allows me complete creative freedom. I can choose whatever subject I like, whether that’s landscapes, flowers, insects or wildlife. I have control over what path I take with it and I love that. To feel in control of something again was wonderful. It really did, and still does, make a huge difference. I’ve even had online friends tell me in the past that they live vicariously through all my photos; they feel like they were there with me, enjoying the moment in real life. And that was something that encouraged me even more. I’ve known so many chronically ill individuals who are bedbound, housebound, wheelchair bound etc, and to know that my newfound hobby was helping them with their struggles? That spurred me on. So not only was I doing it for myself, I was doing it for others. Talk about silver linings, eh?

Pen Pals

Right at the start of my illness, I struggled immensely with the isolation and lack of contact with my peers. After seeking out some online forums, I made some incredible new friends; all of whom were in the same or a very similar situation to myself. Those I got closest to were then more than online friends. We became pen pals. I purchased a ton of cute stationery (Paperchase being a classic favourite) and got cracking. My hand would hurt. I’d have to take breaks. Sometimes I couldn’t reply to letters for days, even weeks. But I knew that the person on the other end would understand and patiently await my reply. There was no pressure at all. I was writing these letters and cards because I wanted to. I wanted to know how my friends were doing. I wanted to be able to cheer them up on a particularly rough day. And admittedly I did want to show off my new stickers, cards and funky letter sets. It gave me something to look forward to. At one point, I would receive a letter or more every single day. With hindsight, I can say that my pen pals helped me a hell of a lot more than I realised at the time. I began to feel less lonely and out of touch with people my own age. I’d found others in the same shitty place as me and we knew we could rely on each other. We had an instant common ground and connection. It was wonderful.

A New Focus

So this is probably the biggest and most important change for me. From a young age, I’d always been career focused. And even though the job itself would change (vet, doctor, fashion designer, forensic scientist, midwife), the same determination and goal was still there. When the possibility of this was thrown into question, I didn’t know how to react at first. As I said before, I was lost and didn’t know who I was or would be in the future. I had to find something else for my busy mind to concentrate on and work towards. And one day, it just sort of clicked. I realised that having a career wasn’t everything. I also realised that there was so much more to life than qualifications and grades. A lot of you will have always known this, but I hadn’t. It was all I’d ever wanted and been good at my whole life; learning, getting top grades and succeeding with it. But now I saw the light. I saw all the new opportunities out there for me. I had fresh goals and dreams to put into place for my future. I could do something with my creative writing and/or photography. I could work with animals. I could start a family. All these life events and routes that I’d never thought about before suddenly became very real and exciting prospects. I wasn’t all about a high-flying, high intensity job anymore. I knew I could be happy another way

Escapism

Plenty of you out there are likely to be avid readers or gamers; or both if you’re anything like me. I’d been a bookworm as a child but slacked, quite predictably, in my teenage years. I still had a few books in my bedroom, but they would often go untouched for months. But once my sleep problems appeared, I found my old friends again. Back then, it was taking me 2-3 hours to get to sleep at night, regardless of when I went to bed. I didn’t always want to watch TV, so I remember picking up my copy of The Order of The Phoenix. Despite being daunted by the sheer size of it, I hunkered down for a nice reading session. And that was the moment the obsession began anew. I’d fill those couple of hours prior to slumber with make-believe worlds and fictional adventures. I was escaping from reality without leaving the comfort of my bed. When I was eventually put on melatonin to aid my sleep, I was getting to sleep within half an hour of my head hitting the pillow. So instead of my escapism happening at night, I had to move it to the day. Whilst my concentration was dire when it came to learning and retaining facts, I found fiction to be much easier to grasp. Maybe it was simply because I was doing it for pleasure as opposed to a grade or important test. Frankly I didn’t really care. I just loved my books and that was that. The same thing applies to gaming. I’ve played god knows how many different titles in my 25 years but they just keep getting better. Fallout 4, Skyrim, GTA V, Dragon Age Inquisition; these are my recent favourites. I found them all to be incredibly immersive. I’d simply load them up and get lost in the stories. Plus the violent side of some games were extremely good stress relief :’) It probably sounds quite lame to some of you, but when I was able to do a lot less than now, video games were a brilliant escape. It was another case of me being in control. I still had power over something, even when I didn’t have it over my own health. And yes there’s been countless occasions when I’ve been addicted and lost track of time. I admit that it’s a double-edged sword for me. On the one hand, I’m filling my days with something I love and can escape into. But on the other hand, you can easily forget about other things and the people around you. Moderation, moderation, moderation is my answer to that.

I think that might be it for me today. I can sense a headache looming under the surface and I don’t want to make it too angry. I’m not sure how insightful this post actually was to be honest. Be sure to inform me if you felt it was though! It would be great to see that my effort wasn’t in vain. And of course, I totally understand that hobbies such as these aren’t feasible for everyone, which upsets me a lot. And this wasn’t intended to make anyone feel disappointed or angry at their limitations. It was merely my way of saying how I personally coped, grew and made the most of my own personal abilities. And maybe it will give some of my readers a sense of hope for their future. I’m writing this blog post 7+ years after initially getting ill and I wasn’t totally sure I’d ever get here. My newly discovered hobbies are one of many factors that have kept me sane over the past few years. And most importantly, I’ve gained the knowledge that, wherever you are in life and whatever your strengths, there’s something out there for you to embrace, pursue and excel at; it might just take you a little while to find it.

Peace and love to all. Kelsey over and out x