My Top 5: The Crime Thriller – Because Who Needs Sleep, Anyway?

So I’m gunna be completely honest – I LOVE a good crime thriller. In fact, if I were to choose any genre to read, I would pick a crime thriller over anything else (apart from, of course, Harry Potter. Nothing comes close to Hazza P). For some reason, I find them calming more than anything. When I read of the brutal murders, the crazy stalking, the accidents that don’t quite add up, the perfectly normal characters who live anything from normal lives and the horrific events that uncurl throughout these pages, I get a buzz.

(Okay, reading that back makes me seem like a complete psychopath. I promise I’m not. I think).

For me, I think it’s the need to uncover the truth. I’ve always had a fascination with prison documentaries (Louis Theroux is a personal favourite of mine), the police system and detective stories – and that’s mainly because I hate not knowing the in’s and out’s of EVERYTHING. I’m pretty darn stubborn. So when I read these crime thrillers, I just love to figure out who did it, why they did it and their motives behind their actions before the story actually tells me – and I’m right 80% of the time (I won’t talk about the last 20%, that’s a sore subject for me).

Because I enjoy reading them so much, I’ve been on a bit of a crime thriller hype over the past few months and read some pretty incredible stories. So, I thought I would share them with the world of WorldPress – and if you love them too,  I’ll sleep even more soundly knowing I’m not alone in my love for murder and death. Yikes. Here are my Top 5 Crime Thrillers so far:

5.  The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

I know, I know. I know exactly what you’re thinking – ‘but this is so pop-culture’, right? I totally agree, this book has definitely been over-hyped over the course of it’s publication, but there’s no denying it is one hell of a book. (Don’t get me started on the film, what the hell were they thinking?) Many people now know the story of The Girl on the Train from the film adaptation, and probably steered clear of the book because of how awful it was. However, I genuinely would recommend this book to anyone. There aren’t many books who will keep me clueless until the end – but this was one of them, and you have to give credit where credit is due. This one got me.

4. Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll

Luckiest Girl Alive is genuinely one of the most clever books I have ever read, because it brings to life so many different themes that you wouldn’t normally fit together. Unlike many of the ‘Ooooh, I’m a writer in New York City’ cliches, the main character in this story knows that her whole life is a lie. She knows that the breakfast meetings, the gushing fans and her seemingly perfect life in the Big Apple is just hiding her real self and her real past. Over the course of this 400-page book, her real life comes through, and the horrific events of her childhood come to light, and it’s a good’un.

3. Dark PlacesGillian Flynn

If you’re already a lover of crime thrillers, you probably would have heard of Gillian Flynn – because she gave us the popular title, Gone Girl (again, the film adaptation is just as bad as Girl on the Train. These films are beginning to hurt my feelings). As much as I thoroughly enjoyed Gone Girl, it’s fair to say that Dark Places completely trumps it in terms of storyline and execution. Although it’s a pretty intense concept (all about the massacre of a family) the storyline does make us think, and question our own beliefs – as sometimes we believe the stories we want to believe, rather than the one we know in our heart’s is true. Wow, that was deep.

2. Blood Sisters – Jane Corry

Okay, so I had no idea what I was in for when I bought Blood Sisters. In fact, I bought it on a total whim because it was on offer in Asda – and who can say no to a £3 book?! Not me, that’s who. Luckily, the impulse decision paid off, because this is one of the best books I have ever read. With a split-timeline following the lives of two women during their childhood years and their adult years, their stories perfectly interlace with each other in such ease that you couldn’t get a better flow if you tried. I mean, just listen to this tag-line: ‘Three little girls. One good. One bad. One dead.’ Mind = Blown.

  1. I’m Travelling Alone – Samuel Bjork

Dear readers, if you are to read any of the books on this list – please, please, please make it this one. As well as being top of my crime thriller list, I’m Travelling Alone is also my all-time favourite book EVER (and considering I’ve read a fair few books, that is quite an achievement). Norwegian writer Samuel Bjork has created one of the most blood-curdling, enticing and most entertaining books in the world, and is genuinely the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if you love crime thrillers. I won’t give too much away – because you need to read it for yourself! Once you’ve finished, you can then read his second novel, The Owl Always Hunts At Night, which, incidentally, is my second favourite book of all time! Basically, Samuel Bjork is a genius.

Happy reading!

 

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The Diary of an Introvert

So I haven’t really posted in a while as my life has suddenly become incredibly busy (and I don’t really have much to say, if I’m completely honest – I know, how boring). But I’ve just started reading a new book, and it’s just given me the inspiration to write this new post. Please read until the end, I know I blabber on, but I do eventually get to a point. Enjoy!

I’m not much of a non-fiction fan, myself. Being an English literature student my life has been all about that…literature. I love reading fiction stories that are completely bizarre, that will make me laugh out loud or make me cry (but that’s not very hard. I’m a complete cry baby) – not books that will make me have to think, work out theorems or test my cognitive ability. Not that there’s anything wrong with those kind of books, but for my down-time, I like to read books that will reflect my mood, and not to determine my level insanity.

I’ve had the book ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain on my bookshelf for a while now and never really got around to reading it, until last week. I’m still making my way through it as it’s not something you can read all in one, but it has really got me thinking. The book is all about the power of introversion and the tag line just about sums it up – ‘The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.’ And I bet the introverts are now thinking…’yup. I hear that, sister.’ There’s a section in the book that I just absolutely love, and each time I’ve picked up the book I’ve read the same passage again and again because it’s just so good. Ever read a quote and just think – this gets me? This passage does that. Here it is:

‘Now that you’re an adult, you might feel a pang of guilt when you decline a dinner invitation in favour of a good book. Or maybe you like to eat alone in restaurants and could do without the pitying looks from fellow diners. Or you’re told that you’re ‘in your head too much,’ a phrase that’s often deployed against the quiet and cerebral. Of course, there’s another word for such people: thinkers.  – Susan Cain, Quiet.

Now, I’ve been an introvert for as long as I can remember. I used to bury myself in books as a child and avoid any form of contact that didn’t involve turning the pages of my YA fiction, and found that this carried onto into my teenage years and adulthood (yes, I guess I’m an adult now. And yes, it sucks).

Sure, I can be loud sometimes, and if I’m comfortable with people I’ll try my best to fit in. At university I really tried to make the most of my uni nights out and experience the ‘uni life’ that everyone harps on about, but I’d always want to go home at around 10 o’clock, get into my pyjamas, get into bed, watch tv or read. Because in all honestly, I find people exhausting. And I guess a mixture of social anxiety and introversion doesn’t make for a great people person.

Depending on the day, my levels of introversion change. Some days, I can be absolutely fine, and communicate with others – no problem. But other days, I find it incredibly difficult. I find people completely overpowering. I like to observe situations, I don’t like to be a part of them. And making conversations scares the hell out of me – completely. I had points during my time at university where I would physically make myself feel sick at the thought of going to a social event, because the thought of interacting with people, creating and keeping up the conversations with people, as well as worrying what others thought about me in these social situations made me incredibly anxious.

And I still have it today. If I’m surrounded by extremely extroverted people, you can guarantee that I’ll be the one cowering in the corner, not talking, with people asking me why I’m not enjoying myself. Most of the time it’s not that I’m not enjoying myself, but it’s because I like to observe situations, and like to observe from afar. I like to be a part of these situations, but can’t be a part of them in the way that other people can.

And you know what the weirdest part is? I write for a living. Every day I write blogs and articles that can connect with hundreds of people…but I couldn’t talk to them. I can write an article…but I don’t half bugger up my actually spoken sentences. And that’s true, sometimes i genuinely struggle to get out my sentences because of this. And it makes me feel silly, which doesn’t help, and we go full circle.

But this book has given me a new lease of life. I’ve always seen and been told that my introversion is a negative trait…but it’s the opposite. I am a thinker. I am an observer, and I think I’ve become more successful for it – because I channel the words that I know I can say into written words. And it seems to work. And just think of all of the other introverts out there who have used their for the better – one of the examples in the book is Rosa Parks. She was a shy, timid woman, but her small gesture of sitting on a bus created a huge knock-on effect and she’s since changed the course of history. Not saying I can change the world…or can I? Hmmm…

If you’re an introvert and often feel down in the dumps, just think – you’re the people that people actually want to talk to, because it’s normally the case with introverts that when they do have something to say – it’s meaningful. No offence, extroverts, but sometimes you do go on and spout a load of crap (I did say no offence). So what I say to the introverts like me is: you rock it! Don’t feel bad about turning down the dinner invitation. You read your book and you do you. Because it will have a bigger effect than you think. On you and those around you.

Woah. That got pretty deep real fast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Top 12 Books That I have Read. (I couldn’t just choose 10. Plus, I like to be different)

I wrote in one of my previous blog posts how certain things at are going/have gone on in my life have made me lose my passion and love for reading and writing.

I’ve started reading more over the past few weeks, and the spark is coming back. You could say me and Mr.Book took a little break, but we’ve started off on a clean slate and we’re on a steady path to marriage again! Basically a Rachel and Ross story. I guess in the very end, books are my Lobsters.

Anyways, there was one book in particular that started this all up again, and I thought I would write about. But I didn’t really think a whole blog post on one book would be very entertaining, so I’ve decided that you lucky readers will get a low-down on my Top 12 Books That I Have Read! (DISCLAIMER: These are my top 12 at the time of writing, it will probably change in a week. Also these are not in any order.)

  • Twenty Something: The Quarter Life Crisis of Jack Lancaster – Iain Hollingshead.

5193nafw9vl-_sx343_bo1204203200_Now this is THE BOOK that got me reading again. I literally read this in about 3 hours it was SO GOOD. It is an absolutely hilariously written book, and although I’m not quite at the quarter-of-my-life mark, I can completely relate. I won’t ruin the storyline with this one, because I genuinely urge everyone to read this book.

  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak.

1294761306-largeThe Book Thief is a book that I read when I was around 15 years old. To this day, I still get excited to read it. Written from the POV of Liesel, The Book Thief writes about Nazi Germany in a way that I haven’t seen before. I have one word for this book: Pure.

  • Stoner – John Williams.

51nu26thj-l-_sx323_bo1204203200_No, Stoner is NOT about drugs. Don’t get too excited. This novel is one of those books that doesn’t reaaally have a storyline, but it kind of does at the same time. But this, in actual fact, is what makes it so compelling. Stoner follows the life of one man, William Stoner. It’s not an exciting life, and almost goes undetected. This book scared me in a way that made me realise that I did not want to go undetected. (Woah, that’s morbid. But F.Y.I, it is a great book.)

  • Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov.

lolita-novel

Okay so this one may be controversial – considering this book was actually banned for being “too obscene” at one point. I was introduced to this book on my course at university, and remember getting into a few heated debates about this book. Yes, you could argue that this book is about paedophilia, and you could also argue that this is a book about love, but it’s not on my list because of its themes. The reason this book is on my list is because of how its written. In my opinion, Lolita is one of the most amazingly written books I have ever read. Nabokov is a genius.

  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – J.K Rowling.

harry_potter_and_the_cursed_child_special_rehearsal_edition_book_cover

BECAUSE IT’S HARRY POTTER!!!!!!!!!! I was super upset when I came to the end of the series when I was younger, Harry Potter was my childhood. So when the new book/script came out in 2016 it was the BEST THING EVER. (But i’m also now sad because it’s the end again.)

  • The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
  • .51fk3t7xial

If I was in a book shop, I can’t say that I would pick this book up first. But I was given it for Christmas, finished it two days ago, and already thinking ‘bugger it, should I just read it again?’ It is such a funny book with so much in it that I could genuinely be here all day typing out what happens in it.

  • Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn.

blog-gone-girl-book-jacket

Now I’m a sucker for a good crime-thriller. (Probably explains a lot, I bet you’re all thinking). But I often find that you can always predict the outcome. With this book, I genuinely had NO IDEA who did said-bad-thing. And normally I’m quite good with this kind of thing, even if I do say so myself. But this one stumped me, and for this, I commend it. (I didn’t like the film though.)

  • The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini.

51m3kl80z2bl-_sx326_bo1204203200_

The Kite Runner is the staple of all English A-Level students. I still have my copy with hundreds of notes in it today – which I shall never get rid of. Well, what can I say about The Kite Runner? It is a whirlwind of emotions. That is all. Read it. Please.

  • Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness – Jon Ronson.

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It’s not everyday I like to admit that someone is a funnier writer than me – but this guy actually made me LOL (excuse the 2005 lingo, it was appropriate) on multiple occasions whilst reading this book. This is my only non-fiction book on this list, as I don’t tend to stray from fiction, but Jon Ronson’s witty ramblings and stories of his life are genuinely worth a read.

  • Trumpet – Jackie Kay.

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EMOTIONS! So many emotions. Another beautiful book, all about love, but not the cheesy kind of love – the love love. This is a thinker, this one.

  • Frankenstein – Mary Shelley.

41wmhy-xrxl-_sy291_bo1204203200_ql40_Frankenstein is one of those books that just sticks with you. There is a reason it is so famous, and that is because it is quite simply… a brilliant book. Nearly 200 years have passed since it was published, yet it still resonates today. That’s got to count for something, right?

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky.

bbf7921d3a43dc617f32e499aa799345I will say one thing about this book – Beautiful. Completely sums up adolescence and the transition into adulthood, and if you haven’t read it…READ IT! That is all.

 

If you agree/disagree with any of my book choices, please type in the comments what you think! Feel free to send me any books you think I might like – I’m always on the look out. 🙂

When the girl who doesn’t like to eat healthily or exercise…begins to eat healthily and exercise.

For those of you that know me, you’ll know that I LOVE food, and that I’m completely averse to any kind of movement that doesn’t involve bringing a spoonful of ice cream to my mouth, or stretching my finger out to tell Netflix that ‘Yes, I am still here and am still watching, I just haven’t moved from my bed in 6 hours because I have been seshing OITNB’. (Some may call me lazy, I call myself conserving my energy…like a sloth).

But anyways, recently I’ve come to realise that maybe all of this junk food and not moving all that much PERHAPS isn’t too good for me, so I’ve decided (well, with a lot of my boyfriends help) to make a few changes to my lifestyle. Although I’ve never thought myself as overweight, I’ve also never thought of myself as skinny. I have always had big hips, and begrudgingly come to realise that as much as I hate my legs – they will never be as thin as I would like them to be. So for me, the goal is to just tone up, lose a little bit of weight here and there… and actually be able to wear my ‘skinny dress’ or my ‘skinny top’ that have been in my wardrobe with the tags still on for this exact moment where I FINALLY begin to eat healthily and exercise properly, and can fit into them.

I have to say, I haven’t embraced this change with open arms. For me, having a sweet tooth is my weakness, and you know what, most healthy foods SUCK. But with the help of my designated healthy chef (my boyfriend. I designated it. Sorry Charlie) I have found that healthy foods don’t need to be horrible and tasteless, and they can actually taste good. For example, you can still eat a burger and chips – but instead of a beef burger, you can have a turkey burger. Instead of the normal potato fries, you can have sweet potato fries. And then just don’t add the usual cheese, bacon, egg, ketchup… 😦

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve hated some of it. I’ve learnt that you will REALLY miss your snacks and treats, but sometimes you can allow yourself a treat.  Yesterday I had a mini breakdown, because my sweet tooth was not loving this dieting business, and I allowed myself to have some chocolate *gasp*. But you know what, I enjoyed that chocolate more than I have enjoyed any other chocolate before, and I didn’t even finish the sharing bag in one go…because I didn’t want to. Now this is a miracle for me, normally I could eat 4 or 5 sharing bags in one go (I know, it’s a talent) and so to stop at just a handful of milky bar buttons is unheard of! But because I’ve felt like I’ve made so much progress by going to the gym every day and can see the numbers on the scales going down, I felt guilty.

I’m not an expert at this, in all honesty I don’t know a lot about dieting or exercising really, but what I’ve learnt through this first week is that it is all in your mind set. I’ve had a gym membership previous to this, and I went for a long time, but I never really lost any weight because I don’t think I really WANTED to. But I know this time what my goal is, and the gist of what I need to make that goal happen, so I am going to continue to try, but I’m also going to treat myself one day a week to something that I really really enjoy, because you still have to enjoy the process – otherwise you’re more likely to fail.

*I’m toying with the idea of carrying on a fitness/healthy lifestyle blog (but for the average gal/guy, nothing crazy) or wondering whether it would just be a flop, so please comment if you would be interested in reading*

 

I’ve lost my love for English – but I want to get it back.

(I realise my posts at the moment are very depressing, I apologise in advance)

I’ve always been the kind of person that loved books. When I was younger, my most treasured possession was my library card. I used to long for the day that my mum would tell me she was just going to pop to the local library after picking me up from school, so I could take back my books to get another one, or two, or three, or… well you get the picture. I was always the one to stay in and read rather than go out and play. Even my own family (lovingly) have always called me a bookworm, or my sisters favourite, ‘Geek’.

I’ve never known exactly what to do with my life, so when everyone else was deciding what they wanted to do at university or just simply in life,  I began to think. What do I want to do? Or, more importantly, what do I love to do? And the answer was reading. So, this left one option….English.

But I think it was this decision that ruined reading for me. Suddenly, I was in a world where every sentence HAD to have a meaning (and I must admit, to keep up a steady 2:1, I just simply made them up sometimes). Suddenly, these books that I used to escape reality had to be brought back down to earth. They had to be analysed, they had to be dissected. And so, I couldn’t just ENJOY a book anymore. Even if it wasn’t a book needed for my degree, I struggled to effortlessly read a book for pleasure because I was constantly asking myself: BUT WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? And it frustrated me.

Before uni, I  also used to love writing. Poetry, mostly. I used to sit on my bed, listening to some emo/rock punk music (don’t judge, it motivates me), just…writing. I now hate poetry. We were given all these guidelines to adhere to for our modules, and the fun was just lost. I haven’t written a poem since.

But I’m trying to get my love for writing back. I’m now writing this blog (obviously, as you’re reading it.) I’m the sole blogger for a lovely company called Elephant in the Room, writing about social issues and inspiring change (go check them out), and i’m now pursuing a career as a content writer, whilst doing an online diploma in travel writing. I’m trying…but I’m not there yet. That’s why today, I have taken myself away from my room, and forced myself to sit down and let the words flow. I have worked on my course, I have done my assignment and I am writing this. I’ve realised that to reignite this spark, I need to sometimes take myself away from daily life – because tidying can wait! And focus on what I used to love/what i’m beginning to love again/what I will be passionate about again soon.

I would someday like to write a book of short stories – to get my name out there is the ultimate goal for any writer/English student. I would someday like to have my travel articles published. I would someday like to be a comfortable freelance content writer. So watch this space.

 

 

 

 

The feminism of today.

So, Feminism. Yes, I hear you all sigh. It’s that word that everyone utters under breath, that curse word that nobody wants to hear, because there’s always going to be a debate of some kind, someone is going to get annoyed (most likely me, and then i’ll sulk and then stress eat, and lets face it, nobody wants to see that). But why is this so? We now live in an age where anything goes. We have turned HUGE corners as a society – gay marriage is now legal, we have our first ever Down Syndrome model, our first ever black president, and we’ve found flowing water on Mars. So, why is feminism such a taboo subject?

In my opinion, Feminism today isn’t what it used to be. Gone are the days of  Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Davison, fighting for our basic human right to vote. Yes some may argue that hunger strikes and walking in front of a horse is a bit extreme, but it did the job didn’t it?

Yet still, in 2015, we still have this inequality. And yes we do have people fighting for women’s rights, but are they fighting for the right things? All I see on facebook and social media now is man-hating girls and women, fighting for their rights but shaming men in the process. This is NOT feminism. Men and women can both be feminists, because it is not all about women striving. It is about men and women striving TOGETHER . Yes, women seem to be the underdog – we get shamed for what we wear, in some countries we are denied an education, there are pay differences, and don’t even get me started on the tampon tax as we could be here all day. But feminism is about achieving equal opportunities for both men and women, and creating an equal society, not making women the superior sex.

In my opinion, these ‘feminists’ that shame and bring down men in the process are what’s ruining feminism. We are no longer fighting for the same cause, and the road to equality is getting further away. I am not disputing that we do not have honourable mascots for the feminism cause, because we do. Emma Watson’s #heforshe campaign created a huge amount of publicity for the cause, and Malala Yousafzai is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner for her work in creating an equal society and demanding girls to be allowed the same education as boys.

Despite all this, we are still so far away from creating an equal society. And in my opinion, we need to get back to the way things were, when feminism had one true meaning. We need to work together to make a difference, and not work against each other.

Life after University

Never in a million years did I ever think I would utter these next few words, but… I miss University *shudders*.

For those of you that know me well, you will know that I HATED uni. For one, I personally believe I chose the wrong university for my degree. As a small uni, there were specific subjects that were their subjects – and it wasn’t english. At most, I had 4 hours of actual teaching a week, and even then  the lecturer was simply reading through a powerpoint that I could have read at home (yeah that’s right, I actually got out of my pyjamas for that! I wanted MORE).

Secondly, I didn’t feel my course was taken seriously. As a subject, english and creative writing is subjective (woah,subject-ception). So why were we constantly being told our stories were wrong? Yes, by all means grade me on my style, on my grammar and on my craft, but please DO NOT tell me that my concept for the story is wrong. There is free reign in writing, yet we were held on a leash.

Thirdly, my three years at university, personally, were the worst three of my life. I lost friends, I was found by the person I least wanted to be found by,  I had a housemate try and take her life in front of my very eyes, and it was exhausting. But this isn’t a sorry sob story, because I did have some good times – I also met some great friends, I met my wonderful boyfriend (Hi Charlie), gained my independence and had some great opportunties. But I must admit, the bad outweighed the good, and as university neared to an end I just couldn’t wait for it to be finished.

Oh, ho, ho. How naiive I was. I have now been a graduate for 7 months. I have moved even further away from home, I accepted a typical 9-5 job to earn me some money (and hated every minute may I add), and I feel lost. Suddenly, my purpose has gone. No longer do I have deadlines to meet, set tasks to do, the student loan or the support of a big community like the univerity. For those adults among you, you’re probably thinking ‘Yes, Lauren. But this is the real world now! It’s time to grow up’. I get that, but it doesn’t make it any easier – because you know those breakdowns at uni that we all have (mine specifically included crying and Ben & Jerries)? Well….lets just say I think i’ve kept B&J’s in business these past 7 months.

All of a sudden I’ve realised that a degree isn’t everything. For me to get the job I want, I need to do the dirty work for a bit. I need to do interning, and I need to WRITE. Thankfully, now a few more opportunities are coming my way, life is getting better. But, it’s still a struggle, and the thoughts of ‘Shall I do a masters’ or ‘ Should I do a PGCE course’ float through my mind. I don’t WANT to do these things, but I want the stability of university life back.

So for those like me who are missing university (eugh, I said it again), this is the time for small steps. One opportunity can lead to another, but we need to be patient and then IT WILL GET BETTER!