Sunday, 28 February 2016

#SundaySeven (28/02/16)

So here is the very first #SundaySeven! I will admit, I totally underestimated how difficult this would be. At one point, I was worried it would become Sunday Seventeen, or perhaps even Sunday Seventy... But, at the end of the day, I have knuckled down and chosen my favourite seven. It amazes me just how talented the bookstagram community is, and the wide range of photos and imaginative techniques they display, especially considering most aren't professional photographers.
So, here is what you have all been waiting for...


This photo caught my eye and became my favourite of the week for a few reasons. Firstly, I am a huge Harry Potter fan, and am bound to 'like' any photo Potter related. Also, I love the contrast of the dark green against the whites and pastel colours of the surrounding books. Furthermore, just something about the way it is being removed from the shelf really catches my attention.


These two books have been on my tbr ever since I joined bookstagram. I mean look at those covers! I have since heard wonderful things about the contents too. Books featuring a selection of pens are quite common, even I have joined in with the trend a few times, but something about the contrast of the two book covers and the selection of pens, some of which you can easily match with a colour on the covers, and others that you feel as if are included somewhere, just really makes this photo stand out from the rest.


I love Sarah's account! All of her photos looks so simple yet sophisticated, I'm sure she could make even my least favourite books look absolutely gorgeous. As mentioned before, I am a huge Potterhead (and I promise there is only one more Potter related photo this week!) and saying that I'm jealous of those socks is quite an understatement. #SockSaturday and #SockSunday are very popular and some weekends it can feel as if I'm scrolling through a website displaying socks only! But this photo, with some beautiful copies of Harry Potter, just makes the scrolling worth it, because sometimes you'll come across some real gems, like this one.


I'm really not much of a clothes or shoes girl, but my gosh I love those boots! What I like about this photo, is the way Alex has played the colour scheme of Six of Crows (another book I am dying to read). Often, black, whites and greys can look more drab than smart, but this photo has really pulled it off! I think the location and positioning of the cardigan (possibly a blanket?) to the right of the photo, rather than the centre, helps make this one something special.


Although new to bookstagram, Ilsie's photos look like she has been around for years. Not only does she make use of roses, as mentioned in the title, she throws in one of those beautiful masks that I used to have an obsession with! To me, the other items in the photo compliment the book cover and title so well, it pretty much feels as if she has created this perfect visualisation of the book. Girl, you've got some serious talent and I can't wait to see what you come up with this week! (No pressure.)


 A quick flick through bookstagram tells you that books come in all shapes and sizes, including a lovely pin-wheel as shown here! The pin-wheel itself looks just like numerous others (beautiful though it is!), but what really makes this photo is the adorable little crafted flower in the centre. To whoever made it, it's stunning! It really adds something special to this otherwise fairly average photo.


So as promised, one last Harry Potter photo to end my first ever #SundaySeven. Taking us back to where it all began, this photo shows off some adorable merch. I love love love these bookmarks (IG of creator found here) and am always so tempted to buy some. The problem is, I'm in so many fandoms, it would cost a fortune! Also included is the Harry Potter funko pop which, just like all pops, looks so cute. So although not a busy photo, the simplicity along with just how adorable the items are makes this photo just enter my top 7 of the week.

Thankyou for reading, and thanks to all the bookstagram accounts (both those featured, and the countless others I poured through in order to decide on my seven). 

None of these photos are mine, and I have credited the account and notified them that I am using their image. Occasionally, it is known for accounts to repost photos without crediting the original owner. I do not support this. All photos are, to my knowledge, original to the accounts credited. If not, I will happily amend and assist in reporting accounts that are stealing photos. (To the accounts featured: I am not suggesting this applies to you, I am merely covering myself. This paragraph shall feature on all #SundaySeven posts in the rare and unfortunate case problems may occur.)

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Introducing #SundaySeven

Recently I've been trying to think of ways to make my blog a bit more unique, and a little more interesting than just mostly consisting of book reviews. As well as this, I have been considering ways to link my blog and bookstagram

So, here is my ingenious idea, #SundaySeven! I discussed this on my bookstagram, and some of my followers thought it was a great idea so I've decided to go ahead with it.

Every Sunday, I shall write a post featuring my 7 favourite bookstagram photos of the past week. Of course, the accounts will be credited, and I will also write a little paragraph about why I like the photo so much. I shall also post an Instagram photo featuring my favourite one(s), or at least mentioning who they are.

In a way, it will also be a good way for getting some of my favourite bookstagrams some more followers. As I joined bookstagram for the community feel, I mostly avoid big accounts as I want mutuals that I can talk to and share things with, so most (if not all) photos that will be featured will be from the smaller accounts.

So, what do you all think of the idea? I would love to hear your views!

If you would like to partake in #SundaySeven, let me know! I want to compile a list of blogs taking part. I would also really appreciate it if you could credit me with the original idea. 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Book Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass

The Elite – Kiera Cass
*Warning – may contain spoilers*

Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperCollins
First published: 2013
Cover: Paperback
Pages: 323
Blurb:    America Singer is one of The Elite and Prince Maxon only has eyes for her.
If she wins the competition for his heart, she will leave her pre-destined life for a world of luxury. But the outcome is less than certain; the threat of rebel violence just beyond the palace walls is escalating into war and bitter rivals are ready to take her down.
And as America’s feelings for Maxon grow stronger, ex-lover Aspen waits for her in the shadows. Where do her loyalties truly lie?

History of my copy: I bought this book only 2 days ago after a day at Plymouth university. Having read The Selection (review here) only a month ago, I was dying to get my hands on The Elite.

Anyone who knows me will know that 2 days is a very short time for me to read a book. I’d say I’m an average speed reader, but I like to have many books on the go at once. For me to leave a book for months is certainly not a bad sign, but rarely am I in the right mood to read a book in only a few days.

Plot: The Elite continues on from The Selection, with only a few girls left. In terms of diminishing the competition, this book sort of fails as only two girls sent home. However, this book delves into the caste system, and each of the remaining girl’s personalities more. With only a small number left, it’s much easier to set them tasks, such as the project towards the end of the book. The Elite also allows us, the reader, to explore Maxon’s relationships with the other girls more too. Understandably, America is upset by his closeness with Kriss and Celeste, despite it being expected. I also side with Maxon in all this – he has given America everything, yet she has done little but throw it back in his face and instantly think the worse of him.

Setting: The Elite continues to be set in the palace, but Cass’ description of the different settings, especially the receptions and the devastation after the rebel attacks, still keeps you immersed in the world.

Characters: Many people dislike America, and I am starting to see why. Whilst I adored her in The Selection, I feel that in The Elite she lost her five-ness, and became a bit more of a spoilt brat. Whilst she has other fantastic qualities, I will admit that there were a few occasions when I wanted to slap her for how hypocritical she can be. She complains at Maxon dating the other girls, something that, although horrible, is part of the competition and something he is allowed to do. Whilst he’s doing this, she is seeing Aspen behind Maxon’s back, which, as we see with Marlee, is treason!
                Maxon, on the other hand, I am starting to fall in love with as a character. The Elite explores him more, and we get to see the man behind the impassive Prince face. He tries so hard to please America and to be honest with her, whilst still partaking in The Selection. He also has compassion, something his Father really lacks. Although I feel that the whole abuse thing is a little cliché, it just makes me ache for Maxon more.

To read or not to read: Read. This book isn’t really my usual style, but it’s light reading and ridiculously addictive. I would recommend The Elite and the rest of the series to anyone, especially those wanting something more than a typical YA love triangle. Whilst The Elite does contain one, the extra complication of all the other girls makes it so much different!

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

A Day in the Life of a Medical Student

Well, sort of.

As any of you who regularly reads my blog may know, I am an aspiring doctor. As I am now in Year 13, this year I had the exciting (yet daunting, I won't lie) task of choosing which medical schools to apply. I narrowed it down to Cambridge, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Plymouth. I've had interviews at all (apart from Edinburgh, which doesn't interview anyway), and with an unsurprising rejection from Cambridge, I am glad I have a back up now that I have an offer from Plymouth, which I received in December. And I only have to get AAA!! (Let me clarify, AAA is the lowest a medical school will ever offer.)

Today, I was lucky enough to be able to partake in a medicine offer-holder day at Plymouth, along with 19 others who will hopefully become my course-mates next year. Unlike the majority of the group, I only live a little distance away from Plymouth, and actually go to school in the city, so there was no long car or train journeys for me. Although, I think going to Edinburgh will make up for that. With this blog post, I want to explain the sorts of things medical students, especially those that go to Plymouth, get up to, something I hope will both be interesting to anyone, and perhaps a helpful insight to anyone hoping to pursue a career in medicine.

In the first part of the morning, we got to have a look at Clinical Skills, a vital part of training that ranges from communication and teamwork, to actual procedures. Plymouth's Peninsula medical school has fantastic facilities for this, including a range of dummy patients and even a simulated ward, where you work with actors who pretend to be a wide range of different patients you may encounter. Fortunately for me, I was quite familiar with the facilities as I did my Year 10 work experience with the medical school.

Aside from a tour of the facilities, we got to perform a couple practical tasks. First of all, we got to intubate dummy patients, which is when you push a pipe down their trachea so that they can breathe. It's surprisingly difficult, and I think we all instantly appreciated why we don't try this on real people first, as most of us managed to inflate the stomach rather than the lungs, and no-one did it particular fast, so I'm sure our whole room of patients would have died if they were real. But don't worry, I'm sure that in 5 years time we'll be able to do it with our eyes closed! (Not literally, that could be a little dangerous...)

Another exciting thing we did, was learn how to perform intramuscular injections. Perhaps not as exciting to write about, but learning how to keep things uncontaminated, and how to correctly draw up a solution and inject it into (once again a dummy) patient was fun, and surprisingly complicated!

The day also consisted of a tour of the university and Student Union, a free lunch, and an overview of the course and how Plymouth, as a modern uni, is different to those that try the traditional approach to medicine.

In the afternoon, we got to watch an hour of a PBL session. PBL, problem based learning, is when students work in small groups to focus on a case, where they apply previous knowledge, and go away to research new topics, to understand the situations, how things can be done differently, and perhaps even form a diagnosis or solution. It's a very modern way of learning, and different to the traditional lecture-based method. At first, I wasn't too keen on the idea, but now it has been broken down a little, and now I've had a chance to watch a session, it seems like a really interactive way to learn.

After I had finished at the university, I popped into the city centre to do a spot of book shopping. I ended up buying The Elite by Kiera Cass, and Cress by Marissa Meyer (the previous books of both series have been reviewed, so go check them out from the Review page!). I also had a discussion with a man who worked in Waterstones about Red Queen and it's sequel. He, like me, wasn't that sold with Red Queen, although found the ending good. He has, however, convinced me to consider continuing with the series. (Red Queen has also been reviewed).

If anyone has any questions about Plymouth uni, medicine/medical school, applying to uni, etc, please feel free to comment! Also, if any of you reading this are medical students, I'd love to hear about where you study and what you think of it.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Book Review: Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer – Rick Riordan

*Warning – may contain spoilers*

Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Puffin Books
First published: 2015
Cover: Hardback, signed

Pages: 489
Blurb:    My name is Magnus Chase. I’m orphaned and living rough on the streets of Boston. And things are about to get much worse.
My day started out normally enough. I was sleeping under a bridge when some guy kicked me awake and said, ‘They’re after you.’ Next thing I know, I’m reunited with my obnoxious uncle, who casually informs me that my long-lost father is a Norse god.
Nothing normal about that. And it turns out the gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Apparently, if I can’t find the sword my father lost two thousand years ago, there will be doom. Doomsday, to be precise.
A fire giant attacking the city?
Immortal warriors hacking each other to pieces?
Unkillable wolves with glowing eyes?
It’s all coming up.
But first I’m going to die.
This is the story of how my life goes downhill from there…

History of my copy: This is one of the many books I got for Christmas just gone. (See full list here) I’m a huge fan of mythology, and Norse is one that I’ve always wanted to get into. When I heard Riordan was releasing Magnus Chase, I knew I had to get it. Waterstones were doing signed editions, so I got one to put back for Christmas.

I’ve been reading this book on and off since Christmas. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it (I can take years to read books I love), but Riordan certainly has a unique style that I really have to be in the mood for. Sometimes I just can’t put up with the heroics and humour his books contain.
This book also contains my favourite dedication I have ever read. ‘To Cassandra Clare, thanks for letting me share the excellent name Magnus’. It’s true, when I hear Magnus I instantly think of the wonderful Magnus Bane, and this dedication really made me laugh!

Plot: This book follows the journey of Magnus Chase who has been living on the streets after the death of his mother. It follows him as he dies, then as he embarks on a quest to prevent Ragnarok. One of the things I particularly loved about this book is that Magnus isn’t the son of a well-known, popular god, and also isn’t your typical hero. He uses his father’s powers to his advantage, rather than trying to fight his way out of danger.
         Another aspect I enjoyed was the slightly more grown-up tone on the book. Percy Jackson can be rather silly in places, which makes sense as it’s written from a 12 year olds perspective. However, as Magnus is a little older, the book takes a more teenaged perspective. Yes, it still has many of those silly jokes and fantastic chapter titles, but I prefer it as it’s written more at my age.

Setting: This book takes place in many of the 9 realms, mostly focussing on Midgard (Earth) in Boston, which is a special place linked to Norse mythology. I think perhaps that some of the places would benefit from a little more description, but overall it is certainly descriptive enough to know where they are and what is going on.

Characters: I adore Magnus’ entire group of friends. Magnus himself is a really interesting and well developed character. I was a little apprehensive, worried he might just be another Percy Jackson, but he’s not! He’s very likable, and his lack of knowledge on the Norse world is entertaining.
                His sidekick, so to speak, is the Valkyrie that took him to Valhalla. Sam is an interesting character, as the daughter of Loki, but shows that you can’t prejudice people because of their parents. She tries to juggle her secret life with a normal one. Another thing I like about Sam is that it’s nice to see other religions and races portrayed in books.
                The other two friends are Blitz the dwarf and Hearth the elf. Blitz is a fashionable dwarf, but very loyal and is willing to risk his life. Hearth can use magic runes, which does save their skin a few times.
                My favourite God thus far is Loki the tricky trickster! He appears quite a few times (and the epilogue, oooooh!), and seems to have his interests all over the place. I imagine he shall be in the next book too, and I can’t wait!
                Now I have to mention a very special character that appears in this book… Annabeth (from Percy Jackson)! She is Magnus’ cousin, and the book ends with them (hopefully) going off to discover they are both children of a god. It looks like we may see a little more from her in the future.

To read or not to read: Read. This. Book. Is. Amazing. I loved this book, even more so than Percy Jackson. I recommend it for anyone who is a fan of fantasy and mythology. Its humour makes it an enjoyable read, without taking away from the story.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard

*Warning – may contain spoilers*

Author: Victoria Aveyard
Publisher: Orion Books
First published: 2015
Cover: Paperback
Pages: 383
Blurb: This is a world divided by blood – Red or Silver.
The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to seventeen-year-old Mare, a Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.
But Mare possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.
Fearful of her potential, the Silvers hide Mare in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess. Knowing that one false move will mean her death, Mare must use her new position to bring down the regime – from the inside.
Now Mare has entered a game of betrayal and lies.
This is Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart…

History of my copy: I saw that the Red Queen was a hugely popular book in the Bookstagram community, so I picked it up for a 3 for £10 deal on Amazon along with the books I got my friend for her birthday.

At first, this book really did nothing for me. It was a terrible mix of Baldacci’s The Finisher, Cass’ The Selection and Collins’ The Hunger Games. However, I stuck with it and I am glad I did. It got better, especially the last ten or so chapters.
I will also applaud Aveyard’s brilliant way of creating an apartheid world. The whole idea of Red against Silver was different to everything I’ve seen before, and I think it did make a good premise for a book series.

Plot: Mare Barrow is a Red thief, stealing to help her family survive in the Stilts. She is conscripted to war, just like her brothers, best friend, and every other Red that doesn’t have a job. However, she is ‘saved’ when a man, who turns out to be the heir to the throne, Prince Callum, gets her a job as a servant. This doesn’t last very long when, at Queenstrial (an event where the royal family chooses who the princes should marry), they discovered that Mare has a power, just like the Silvers.
         The Royal family promise her to Prince Maven, disguising her as a Silver, where she will then secretly work with the terrorist Scarlet Guard to bring an end to the superiority of the Silver rule with the help of her future husband.
         Soon, Mare learns that anyone can betray anyone. Sons betray fathers, wives betray husbands and, perhaps worse of all, one of the Princes betray Mare.
Setting: I love how different this Dystopian world feels. I think the way Aveyard has conquered the differences between how the Reds live compared to the Silvers was beautifully done. The Silver cities and palaces are described in all their glory, whereas the Red slums are depicted as the dirty, poverty-stricken places they are, and it really feels like you are there.
Characters: This bit definitely contains spoilers, so stop reading now if you don’t want the end to be ruined!

                Firstly, Mare, what a fantastic main character she is! She’s a heroine with realistic flaws oh my! She is confused by what she is, and remains loyal to her people until the very end. She totally does not deserve what happens to her.
                I love Call too. He remains loyal to his family, and cares about Mare. He does bad things, but he’s a soldier and he carries out what his father expects of him. The moment when he was made to kill the King broke my heart. I do hope him and Mare end up together and ruling a just world, the Silver King and his Red Queen, a world in which people are equal, regardless of their blood colour and powers.
                Maven. What slimy scum! From the start I wasn’t too sure on him. He seemed too nice and, as his mother’s son, I felt like I couldn’t trust a thing he did. I was surprised he was actually allowed to partake in the Scarlet Guard’s plans in the first place, I thought they would have been too clever to fall for that. However, regardless of how much I disliked him, I never thought he would be that evil! He truly is a villain of villains.

To read or not to read: Read. Read and persevere. I nearly gave up on the book at one point, and there were many times I felt like putting it down and leaving it for a while, but there’s a point you hit and you just can’t put it down! I am looking forward to reading the sequel and seeing what happens next.

Monday, 8 February 2016

How much do you cost the NHS?

I just came across this really interesting feature on the Guardian's website, regarding how much we cost the NHS. (Link here)
Perhaps this is just my inner medic talking, but I find it interesting to see just how much even procedures that seem relatively simple, and even just your average GP visit, costs!
Funding for the NHS has been in the news a lot lately, especially regarding privatisation. I believe that more should be done to make the population aware of how much it does cost to run a safe, and decent health care service entirely free of charge (excluding taxes of course).
Of course these figures should be taken with a pinch of salt, but I do recommend that you have a quick look to just see how much you have cost the NHS, and just how much you would've had to pay if we weren't lucky enough to have it, over the past few years alone. 
I believe we should have a free health care service for all. I think it's the Government's responsibility to take care of the population and the NHS is a fair way of doing it. Sure, it has it's issues, as does everything, but until someone comes up with a better idea, we need to stick with it!
I also don't think that people who go private should be able to queue jump. Just because you have money, that doesn't make you more important than someone who doesn't.
However, I do believe that we should be encouraged to contribute in some way. I know that, once I have an income and if it were easy enough to do, I would happily pay towards any treatment I receive. Okay, perhaps paying a few thousand for an operation may be a little out of the price range, but I would happily give anything I can. Besides, even if everyone gave £20, that's some extra income, right?

What are your views on the NHS and funding? Or, if you're from other countries, what is your opinion on your healthcare system, or lack of? I would love to hear all your views!

Harry Potter Colouring Book Part 2

I won't lie, I've been bitten by the adult colouring bug and seriously infected. I love it!
As someone with depression and anxiety, colouring gives me a break and a distraction. Plus it's quite a nice break from A-levels too. 
I bought a nice pack of Faber Castell eco-pencils recently. I really recommend buying them from Staples as the 36 pack cost me less than £5!
So here is my next piece from the beautiful Harry Potter book. I shall hopefully be getting my hands on the new Harry Potter one soon too.
The background of this picture was done with Crayola pencils. They are cheap, yet give beautifully bright colours. The rest was done with my lovely new Faber Castells that are so smooth to colour with, and blend brilliantly. I am super happy with them!
I'd love to hear some feedback!