In a Nutshell – The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

What an enjoyable gothic-tinged story! I’m not really sure what else to add to this review if I’m honest. The characters were solid + well formed. The story itself was executed perfectly. The many twists and shocks kept me on my toes. Hell, there’s even talk of ghosts + hauntings. It was just a hands down really decent read.

A definite 4 star one for me. Highly recommend

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 đŸ€·đŸ»â€â™€ïž 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 đŸ‘đŸ» 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

Bookish News!

Yes I’m one of those people now: I’m starting a Bookstagram.

It’s the same link as the one I *think* is already hooked up with my blog. But in case you’ve missed it and want to check it out, here it is 😊

http://www.instagram.com/thosedarkpages

Bookworm Q&A

Just a little light-hearted, book related post for this Sunday evening…

*DISCLAIMER* I’m not shaming anyone who enjoys any of the authors or books mentioned. Everyone has their own taste and that’s what makes the world such an interesting place.

BOOK I DISLIKE: The Boy in the Attic by David Malone

BOOK I LOVE: Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

BOOK I THINK IS OVERRATED: Pride and Prejudice, To Kill a Mockingbird, Twilight…

BOOK I THINK IS UNDERRATED: Ritual by David Pinner. Almost unheard of but a fantastic read

BOOK I COULD READ ON REPEAT: Anything by Edgar Allan Poe, especially The Raven

BOOK THAT MADE ME FALL IN LOVE WITH READING: The Jiggy McCue series by Michael Lawrence + The Measle Stubbs series by Ian Ogilvy

BOOK THAT CHANGED MY LIFE: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

GUILTY PLEASURE: I don’t feel remotely guilty about anything I read or have read and neither should you

MORBID CURIOSITY GENRES: Basically anything about the Holocaust, concentration camps etc. Also true crime, especially serial killers like Jack the Ripper

BOOK I SHOULD HAVE READ BY NOW BUT HAVEN’T: Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. I have the trilogy in one HUGE book but find it so daunting, even though I know it contains 3 books!

LONGEST READ: My paperback copy of It by Stephen King was over 1,300 pages and it’s still the longest book I’ve read to date

BOOKS CURRENTLY OWNED: According to my Goodreads account, it’s 161, which is predominantly made up of my ‘to be read’ collection

BOOKS READ SO FAR THIS YEAR: 34 and almost halfway through number 35. My goal for the whole year is 70 so I’m pretty chuffed with my progress so far

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!!

2019: goals, plans + dreams

Afternoon my friendly readers! I hope you’re all keeping okay.

As time marches on, it’s important to remind yourself of what you’ve got lined up for the coming year; and head towards anything you would like to do. For me, the main overall and ongoing goal is to keep my health stable, or possibly see it improve slightly. Besides this however, I’m hoping to:

  • Complete more free online courses
  • Battle some anxieties I am yet to beat
  • Keep up with my social life
  • Read more (currently nearly finished my SIXTH book of the year so far. My goal is around 70 for 2019)
  • Write more poetry
  • Give less f***s

And as for things I know are coming up this year or will be planned soon:

  • A wedding
  • Going to visit my dad in his new house
  • Short break with my boyfriend
  • My 26th birthday

So it’s not an extensive list at this point. But for little old me who’s been stuck in chronic illness limbo for over 8 years? I’m still getting used to actually making and having plans!

Don’t let the bastards get you down.

Kelsey x

Pages

Words on the page

Come alive in my head

Images created

Feeling what was said

Paper or screen

The experience the same

Of a world unknown

Spark the creative flame

Writer and magician

Skills go hand in hand

Conjure lives and places

Lifted to another land

Escapism for me

Education for others

Something for everyone

Underneath those paper covers

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