Sunday, 28 June 2015

Sunday Wishlist (28 June 2015)

It's Sunday - the day of rest, and the day of sitting on the internet in your pyjamas. I've trying to justify to myself that if I buy these lovely products, I can review them. However, the cold hard truth of my bank account tells me otherwise.

I've decided to work hard because I like nice things.

Lottie London Brushes
I was wandering about Superdrug and fell in love with these immediately. The colours are so pretty, they're vegan friendly and they're ADORABLE. I really want the Best of Brushes collection as they'll cover all the essentials - foundation, powder and eye makeup. They're fairly affordable at £19.99 from Superdrug - these products are aimed at an age range of teens to mid-20's (including fellow students). I've only read good reviews of this product, and I had a go with the testers in the shop - firm yet super soft bristles. I have a family wedding to go to and I've gotta look good, so I'm super tempted to get these. They're a new brand, so I look forward to their stuff!


Friday, 26 June 2015

Exeposé Books - Review 'Charm Offensive - William Thacker'

Originally published on Exeposé Online, 23 March 2014. Click the image to read the full article.

We all have established authors which we know and love, but nothing can match the excitement of discovering a wonderful novelist who is just starting out. 

William Thacker, a young London-born author and scriptwriter, recently released his debut novel; Charm Offensive, published 1 March 2014 by Legend Press. Intrigued by the unusual protagonist (and the prospect of a free book), I jumped at the chance to review it.
The story follows retired politician, Joe Street, who is thrown back into the spotlight as a result of a media scandal. Accompanied by a cheap PR consultant, he tries to save his reputation and marriage, rebuilding his relationship with his estranged daughter.

Exeposé Books: 'Can You Judge A Book By Its Cover?'

Originally published on Exeposé Online, 28 March 2014. Click the image to read the full article.

Christy Ku argues that the cover and title of a book is one of the most important elements to take into account when choosing what to read. Do you agree?
Several years ago, Borders was liquidising its stock as it went bust. Naturally, I went bargain hunting/scavenging through the boxes and chose a book purely because of its beautiful cover and intriguing title. To this day, I Capture the Castlestill stands as one of my all-time favourites.
As a result, I firmly believe that judging a book by its cover is a wonderful way to choose books. When you’re faced with overflowing bookshelves (physical or virtual), the book cover and title will be the first things that attracts your attention, making you pick it up and flick through the first few pages. Just listen to these book titles; Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the GalaxyWhen God Was a RabbitLife of PiA Clockwork Orange – they’re utterly bizarre, intriguing or just hard to forget.

Exeposé Books: 'So You Think You Can Read?'

Originally published in Exeposé. Issue 618, 21 Jan 2014, page 33. Click on the article to read the full thing!

Christy Ku gives advice on how to focus on reading and be efficient with your study time

'Had a nice Christmas at home? Got some money as presents? Good - now spent it all on your course books. And then read it all - you're not seeing daylight again.'

That seems to be the voice of uni as we head back to our halls, to the mountain of reading ahead of us. But never fear - Exeposé is here! We might not be Hermione Granger, but here are some tips to tackle that stack of books. Good luck!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

365 Photo Challenge: Week 8 (Feb/March)

25 Feb - Screens
26 - An Evening in The Firehouse 
27 - Makeup Column Part II
28 - Desk Mess
1 March - Testing colour saturation
2 - Scattering of Birds
3 - Stormy Days

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

365 Photo Challenge: Week 7 (Feb)

18 Feb - Ukulele in bed
19 - In the studio
20 - Valentina's Coffee
21 - Dragons in the New Year
22 - Rooftops
23 - Night
24 - Rainy Roads

365 Photo Challenge Week 6 (Feb)

I'm very behind with posting these, but I'm trying to put these up as quick as possible.

That week was a dull week, alternating between lots of walks around the campus and hiding from the greyness in my room.

11 Feb - Student Council election time, flags galore, classic thumb-on-lens.
12 - Snowdrops spotted, Spring is coming
13 - Reed Hall is still beautiful on dull days
14 - Walks
15 - Walks
16 - Walks
17 - Hiding inside

Writing Update #11

I'm getting terrible at these writing updates. As I do them every other week (supposedly), I forget if it's writing update week or not. I'll set reminders on my phone.

Also, I've changed the look of the blog (finally)! I quite like it - much sleeker and tidier than the previous one. What do you think?

  • I've joined The Public Reviews, which involves going to theatre shows for free (yay!) and then turning in a review midday the next day (gah!). The tight turnover is pretty tough, as I get home after the show at 9.30-10pm and have to get it done with no exceptions. But, it's good practice, the team is lovely, I get to write for a good publication and to see a lot of shows, something I wouldn't be able to afford otherwise.  
  • Got a big bundle of ideas, hopefully I'll be able to write some stories and poetry over the summer.
  •  I'm also going to be looking into entering a load of writing competitions, so I'll let you know how that goes!
  • I'm obsessed with The Narrative. They're an American indie duo comprised of Suzie Zeldin and Jesse Gabriel. Everything about their music is immensely beautiful; the lyrics, vocals and mix of synths and acoustic instruments. I really love their acoustic versions of their tracks - you know a song really works when you strip it down to the bare instruments and it's still amazing. This is my favourite - I kept listening to this song on repeat for a fortnight:

You can listen to more of their music here and they have a cute little online store here. I think I'll start saving up the logo hoodie and album.

Real Life and Other Nonsense
  • I went to London to see Les Misérables with my friend Julia! It was an incredible performance in the gorgeous Queen's Theatre. All we knew of the plot was Eponine is friendzoned, someone sings 'I Dreamed a Dream' and there's some flag waving as the French Revolution happens, so we were really immersed in the story. It was a breathtaking show (yes, I cried). We came to see Carrie Hope Fletcher, who plays Eponine, but unfortunately she was ill and was replaced by a really talented girl, whose name I CANNOT find (anyone? She was in the Weds 10 June matinee show). We ended up falling in love with Peter Lockyer (Jean Valjean) and Celinde Schoenmaker (Fantine) who have really powerful and gorgeous voices.
Queen's Theatre, London
  • Moving out of uni halls (again), which was very emotional (again). Your room becomes such a huge part of your life - it's a place of your own where you can build your own life, it's your home. Then, you have to hollow it out. Every sound echoes in the emptiness, and you realise it's just a room, and it's not yours. 
I'm off to unpack now, so see you guys later. Have a lovely day. 

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Oriana Curls - 'Love Me Hurt Me' Music Video

Oriana Curls is not a woman you easily forget. Dressed in her signature black, white and red, this French jazz, cabaret and pop singer-song writer has a voice that soars to sweet heights and falls to sultry depths.

Curls' previous songs are acoustic, featuring just her voice and a piano, and they really shine with this simplicity. Her new release, 'Love Me Hurt Me', is more complex, more pop - and immensely fun. The music video is full of fabulous costumes and glamour, intertwined with a playful dance choreography.

'Love Me Hurt Me' is a song about walking away from an ill-fated romance. With an introduction that brings to mind a saloon in the Wild West and a bouncy accordion-laced chorus, it's a quirky mix of jazz and pop.

Curls is effortlessly confident. Staring down the camera and raising her eyebrows, unimpressed by her dance partner's tricks, she brings her persona's seductive classiness to the video.

It uses a simple set, with atmospheric lights adding to the theme of late nights full of tempestuous love affairs. However, the video could have benefited from a wider variety of camera angles, as the use sliding shots as Curls lies on the sofa becomes repetitive.

Oriana Curls is a talented musician, has a fantastic stage presence and is a true performer - I have high hopes to see her live one day.

If you want to check out Oriana Curls:
Here's her website
This is her twitter 
And here's her album (you can pay what you can, even nothing)!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Top 10 Summer Reads

The sun is still out. Miracle, I know. I've been - brace yourself - outside and enjoying the weather. I even went to the beach (which is inspiring me to make videos on YouTube and therefore spend more time indoors on Martin the Laptop).

Right now, it's the perfect weather for sitting outside with a book. 

"But what shall I read??"

Well, I'm glad you asked. This is my list of recommendations of books (in no particular order) that have a summer vibe for me. It's an expansion on this article I wrote last year when I just started my job as Online Books Editor for Exeposé.


1. I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith)
In the vividly beautiful English countryside, Cassandra and her eccentric family live and dream in their home, a ruined castle. Even though it was written in the 1940's, the writing is incredibly modern and still relevant today. With an immensely likeable and relatable teenage narrator, it's a funny, honest and astoundingly gorgeous book.

2. The Great Gatsby (F.Scott Fitzgerald)
Clichéd English student choice but I've read this book over countless times, and I still find something new. It's heralded as an absolute classic and therefore risked ruin by the education system through forcing students to fish for metaphors. But it's a wonderful and beautiful story; full of beauty, touching moments and heady prose. It's easy to lose yourself in this dreamy and poetic novella as you watch the American Dream crumble.

3. Breakfast at Tiffany's (Truman Capote)
This is completely different from the film; darker, grittier - and better (please don't kill me). The effortlessly glamorous Holly Golightly resides in New York and her life glitters, but only on the surface. She could have easily become another Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, but she's immensely complex, fascinating and ungraspable. Always restless and always on the run, Holly Golightly will always be one of my favourite characters.

4. The Virgin Suicides (Jeffrey Eugenides)
It's as creepy as it sounds. The beautiful and distant Lisbon sisters capture the fascination of the neighbourhood - especially the teenage boys. When 13 year old Cecelia commits suicide they all watch, entranced, as the Lisbon family decays. It's masterfully written and haunting. 

5. On the Road (Jack Kerouac)
Drink, drugs and a lot of driving. It's another clichéd English student choice, but this book just sweeps you along with the frantic desperation to live life, set to the background of jazz music. On the Road has an unconventional prose style, called spontaneous prose. Kerouac originally wrote it in three weeks on "the scroll" - a 122ft long scroll of paper he taped together. It'll make you want to let everything go and take a road trip with friends.

6. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
One of my favourite bildungsroman, this book follows Sayuri's rise from a child living in an impoverished fishing village to an immensely successful geisha in Gion, whilst Japan is on the brink of WWII. It's an incredible and emotional insight into this world of beauty and luxury.

7. The Art of Asking (Amanda Palmer)
It's the non-fiction book everyone should read. So many of us spend too much of our life afraid or embarrassed to ask for help, and we shame others for asking. Amanda Palmer is a rock star, activist, blogger, a former living statue and now a writer. After leaving her record label, she launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2012, asking for $100,000 to fund an album. Palmer soon set a record for the biggest crowd-funded music project at $1.2 million. This lead to one of the most viewed TED talks, and now the book. Raw, honest and beautifully written, it's genuinely one of the most influential books I have ever read. If you want a full review of the book, I wrote one here.

8. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
I read it for the first time when I was about Jem's age, and reread again recently - it's a story that stays with you. Set in the 1930's, six-year-old Scout and her big brother Jem live in Alabama when their father, Atticus Finch, is appointed to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman. It's a heartachingly amazing book. The sequel, Go Set a Watchman, will be released 14 July 2015 (55 years after To Kill a Mockingbird), so get reading!

9. Paper Towns (John Green)
Books don't tend to make me laugh out loud, but this one got me. Margo Roth Spiegelman, who appears to be the ultimate girl-next-door, takes her neighbour and childhood friend Quentin on a mad night of revenge pranks - and she disappears the next day. With a group of friends, they search for her, discovering the "real Margo" and all her complexities. The film adaptation is coming out 24 July 2015.

10. The Sandman (Neil Gaiman)
In their attempts to capture Death, a cult have caught the wrong Eternal - Dream. During his imprisonment, the mortal world warps. It doesn't have a summer vibe for me, unlike the other books, but it's utterly engrossing and you'll want to spend your whole summer reading the whole series. 

Hope you enjoy this list - what books are you going to be reading this summer?

Monday, 8 June 2015

The Quiet, The Shy and The Introverted In a Loud World Pt 1: On Feeling Inferior and How Not to Get Interrupted/Ignored

A disclaimer: extroverts and loud people are great. People who make introverts, shy and quiet people feel bad - not so great. This is a post about the latter. Please do not cry "what about the extroverts?!?" The quiet people are talking now.

I think I've finally made peace with myself for being quiet, introverted and occasionally shy. Every single school report I've ever received labelled me as "quiet" and that I should speak more in class. People like me are often put down, made to feel bad about who we are. And we can spend a long time trying to 'fix' ourselves.

For this post, I'll be using "quiet" as an umbrella term for "shy" and "introverted" as it makes the writing easier. I am aware that quiet doesn't mean the same thing as introverted and shy, though for a lot of people, like me, all three apply. They are related, but not interchangeable terms.

  • Quiet: not loud.
  • Introverted: sensitive to Dopamine. So too much external stimulation (including social stimulation) can get exhausting.
  • Shy: fear of social judgement.

On Feeling Awful About Being Quiet

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt"
- Abraham Lincoln