Friday, 30 November 2012

Thought of the Day (Week!)

Monday, 26 November 2012

Say NO To Scrooge

2012 is the first year that Princess can appreciate Christmas.

For her first Christmas she was just 10 weeks old and just over a year for her second. This year she is a very smart and alert two year old that could not be more excited.

However, for each and every year, we have decked our house out like Santas Grotto. I remember her tiny 10 week old face as she stared in wonder at the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree. 


And I remember her as a cheeky one year old, fascinated by the tinsel and baubles.

This year is no different, except she can now express her amazement at the lights and decorations. She's currently obsessed with snowmen and asks Ross and me to draw them. I have downloaded an app on my phone so I can pretend Santa Claus is ringing her to see if she's been good. All of this, just to put a smile on my girls face. And it works.

For me, Christmas is about family. Whether you have kids of your own or it's just you spending time with your family, it's what it's all about.

So I don't understand why people have to be such Scrooge's about Christmas!

Yes, October is a bit too early to start decking the halls with boughs of holly (fa la la la la, la la la la) and putting up the Christmas tree - I mean, let's get Halloween and Bonfire night out of the way first - but when it's mid November, when we only have 40 SLEEPS to go, why moan? Why ruin it for those of us who are excited for something? Especially when the reason we're excited for Christmas, is because we love our children and thrive off of their own eagerness.


Those lights in the town centres haven't been put there for the soul purpose of annoying you. Oh no. They've been put there for you to enjoy and maybe even cheer you up! Join in with the Christmas festivities. Break out the mince pies and pick funny baubles to stick on your tree. You never know, you might just crack a smile and God forbid - enjoy yourselves.

Saturday, 24 November 2012


Tonight, I am in shock.

I am sat here, with my glass of wine and I am genuinely confused.

Today, Princess had a nap.

She fell to sleep on the bus at about 2pm and didn't wake until gone 4.

And then she went to bed at 8pm.


I've been a parent long enough to know that miracles do NOT happen, and children do not do you 'favours'.

This is going to come back and bite me in the arse. I just know it.

So if you see me tweeting at 4am, you know exactly why.

Silent Sunday

 Silent Sunday

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Top Ten Tips for Surving Toddler-dom

Last month saw Princess see in her 2nd Birthday. She is now an official 'toddler'. She walks, she talks and she tantrums. Boy, does she tantrum.

The Terrible Two's aint got nothing on this girl.

So I devised a plan. I came up with the Top Ten Tips for surviving with a toddler. Some you may agree with, some may save your life. Stick to these rules and I promise you, your life will be much, much easier. Stick it to your fridge, pop it in your bag, just make sure you know your shit.

1. Always make sure you have a snack and juice available. These need to be to hand at. all. times. If you're at home, in the car, on the bus, you need to have your toddlers favourite snack available. It is guaranteed to give you at least a 5 minute respite from any tantrum. Whether it be an apple or chocolate buttons, they soon forget about spitting at you when they have they're gob full. Same goes with juice. All that screaming makes for a thirsty toddler. Shove beaker in mouth mid-scream = problem solved.

2. Expect the unexpected. If your toddler is behaved whilst you're driving in the car to do your weekly shop, don't be fooled. This just means you're in for it later. Probably whilst doing the shopping. Or paying for it. Or on the ride home. Either way, good behaviour is always topped with bad behaviour. And when they're leaning in with their lips all sloppy and puckered for a kiss? Be prepared for a donkey punch to the face instead. That's how they lure you in.

3. Memorise yourself with all cartoons. For example: If Princess is having a particularly bad day and it's only 1pm, I know I have at least 25 minutes until peace because Curious George starts at 1.25pm.. it makes it more bearable to know there's light at the end of the tunnel. Not that I condone using the TV as a child minder.. except I do. It also means you can mentally prepare yourself to drown out the happy 'lets be best friends' songs that undoubtedly come with your toddlers favourite cartoon. Why are they always so fucking happy...?

4. Grow eyes in the back of your head. No. Seriously. Either that or attach two wing mirrors to the side of your face so you know what's going on all. the. time. Vigilance is key. Never leave a toddler unattended, that is when shit goes down. Remember that Sudocreme you hid in a cupboard months ago buried underneath heaps of crap? Well your toddler has just found it and smeared it all over your sofa. Those felt tips you were sure you had hidden? They're now being used for toddler-style graffiti. Never take your eyes off of them. Ever.

5. Always carry baby wipes. I cannot emphasise this enough. Wipes will save your furniture, save your clothes and save your life. You can never have too many. Baby wipes should be kept on your person at all times. Wipes capture bogies so you don't have to. They wipe away chocolate covered hands so your clothes can be worn more than once - if you're lucky. And wipes are the only things that can help us during those moments that strike fear in the heart of every Mum.. nappy explosions. BABY WIPES!

6. This one is a given for any toddler - the Park. The Park is a place your toddler can go and use up every ounce of their energy whilst you watch from a distance. They can run, skip and shout without destroying anything. Sometimes they may need a helping hand, but at least it's a slide they're climbing up and not your TV unit where the TV wobbles precariously, threatening to fall off and smash to smithereens. It also means that by the time they get home, they're suitably knackered, giving you time to put your feet up and relax. No more running around for you..

7. Wine. Wine is always the answer. Make sure your fridges and cupboards are stocked with your alcoholic beverage of choice and you just might make it through the day.

8. Do not laugh. It irritates your child. And definitely do not laugh when they fall over. Other people frown upon that.

9. But DO have a sense of humour. Because if you don't laugh, you will cry. And if your toddler is anything like mine, if you cry, she hits you to make you shut up. She's beefy, so it hurts.

10. Did I mention wine?

So, there you have it. My Top Ten tops for surviving a toddler. I promise you, they most definitely all apply and all of them will help save your sanity at one point or another.

Put them to good use. Commit them to memory. They are here to help you!

Can you add any more?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Dear Job Centre

Dear Job Centre,

I visited you for the first time today. I woke up bright and early this morning (helped by Princess's super early wake up call), got dressed up in my smart interview clothes and left my house at 9.30am. I reached your building at 10.25am.

It takes me 50 minutes to travel from my house to your building by bus, including 15 minutes walking time.

This means, when I arrive at your building 5 minutes before my interview time, I do not appreciate being kept waiting until 10.50am.

I traveled across Nottingham to make this appointment. I waved my daughter off at the door, got on the bus and traveled for over half an hour and then walked the rest of the way. To be kept waiting. Four other people arrived and were taken to their advisers before I was seen. I could see several members of staff just lounging around, chatting.

I was asked to fill in a form. The questions were general, name, age, National Insurance number. Then came the question:
Who do you live with?
Options: Alone, With Parents, With Friends, With Guardian, With Family or Homeless.
 My first instinct would usually be to pick With Family.. except the 'With Family' option clearly stated (e.g Grandparents)


I do not live with my parents, or my friends, nor am I homeless. I live with my family. A family that I, as a Mother, take care of, not that take care of me.

There wasn't even a 'With Partner' option. So I wrote it in BLOCK CAPITALS.

I was starting to get very annoyed.

I was also confused as to why the last adviser I spoke to informed me 'I must dress smart and treat it as a real interview'. This was not the case at all. The girl that arrived after me was wearing black leggings with zips up the side and bright turquoise sandals with gems on. That's hardly interview attire, don't you agree? So here's me, dressed all smart, looking a TWAT because clearly, no one else bothered, and for what? TO BE LATE.

What if I had plans? What if I was waiting to go to an interview? Are you going to ring them up and explain "sorry, she couldn't make your interview, she had to come to the Job Centre." No, I didn't think so. Luckily, I had no plans, but that's far beyond the point.

I was eventually taken over to my adviser, who, to be fair, was a genuinely nice bloke. But the damage had already been done. I was already pissed off.

Apparently I was carted off to this 'youth centre' because I fall between the 18-24 age category. Now I can guarantee you that there are some pissed off 24 year olds out there that are being generalised as 'youths'. I've already proven I shouldn't be at this particular centre, simply by not fitting in to your little boxes.

The thing that annoyed me the most? Do you want to know the reason why I was dragged all the way to that particular Job Centre? For an appointment card.

Yes, that's right. This new adviser didn't tell me anything that the previous adviser hadn't told me during my last interview. The only thing that was different, was he gave me an appointment card for my sign on date.

I now have to travel all the way back to this 'youth Job Centre' on Wednesday for a 10 minute conversation. I have to spend my own money - which lets be honest, I'm not fucking rolling in - to come to your building and have someone pat me on the head and tell me I'm doing the right thing.

And then every fortnight after that.

I'm sorry Job Centre, but it's just not fucking on. There is a perfectly good Job Centre within walking distance of where I live that does exactly the same as you. Oh no sorry, I am mistaken. You have college advisers at your Job Centre. College advisers which are useless to me, because as you so kindly pointed out, I am overqualified to go back to College. Cheers for that.

So overall, I am more than disappointed with my experience so far. I realise I might sound ungrateful and petty but can you blame me? You're insulting, ageist and sexist. You make me feel like shit.

I have never been more convinced to find a job.

Maybe that was your plan all along?



Friday, 16 November 2012

Why I hate the Job Centre

One thing I haven't gone in to too much detail about on my blog is Ross's working situation. I have briefly mentioned he has had to give up his job without really explaining why.

Basically, he was being bullied in work. He was signed off sick with 'work related stress' by the Doctor because of this bullying. He was put on to Beta Blockers to help with his anxiety and palpitations, also sleeping tablets and very nearly anti-depressants. He would suffer panic attacks on his way to work.

Ross followed the correct route and raised a grievance with his boss. The person who was bullying him was his Kitchen Manager, so he had to go above her, which was to the Headmaster of the school. Emails and letters were passed about, Ross was slagged off and was told he was useless at his job. Eventually we decided enough was enough. He'd had six weeks off work, statutory sick pay wasn't enough to survive on, so he decided to hand in his notice. We contacted the Job Centre and was told as soon as his notice was over, which was Monday, we could apply for Job Seekers Allowance.

So, on Monday, I filled in the online form, sent it off and promptly received a text message confirming my appointment for the next day. I was told to bring I.D for both myself and Ross, as well as any proof of work. Baring in mind we obviously decided to go for a joint claim - I have made the decision to go back to work part time, whilst he has been looking for a full time job.

We made our way to our local Job Centre and I was quickly called over to a lady at a desk whilst Ross was told to take a seat. A bit odd I thought, considering we were told we both needed to attend, but I ignored it. Two minutes into the conversation I realised she was only registering me alone, for the Job Seekers Allowance.

"But it's for a joint claim," I told her.

"Are you a parent?" She asked.


"Well then you can't apply for a joint claim. That would imply you were both looking for work."

"Well we are.."

"Yes, but you would have to be looking for full time work. Even if you only got part time. You can't both look for full time, you have a child."

"There is such a thing as Childcare..."

"That's not what we're applying for."

I was incredulous. I was sat here being told that because Ross and I have a child together, only one of us could work because clearly, the other one had to stay at home and look after Princess.

"But we both want to look for work," I tried again.

"Well really your partner should be the one signing on whilst you stay and look after your child."

Woah, woah woah.

Did she really just go there? Yes, yes she did.

So it would appear the Job Centre is sexist.

Apparently, I am meant to stay at home, whilst Ross goes and signs on and looks for work. I have done that for the past 2 years and have finally decided I would like a Part Time job. Is that against the law?

Eventually I just shook my head and nodded at her to carry on. She asks me what type of work I've been looking for and what I think is best suited to my abilities. I tell her I have been looking for retail, admin and cleaning work. Anything I can find that I know I can do.

She types in retail and adds it to the list.
She types in cleaning and adds it to the list.
She then types in 'recepcion' and adds it to the list. I then have to correct her.

I never, ever make a point of telling people I'm a good speller. People often ask me to spell things for them, but I don't ever brag about it. But when I'm sat across from this woman, desperate for a job and I'm watching her tap away at the keys with ridiculously long fake nails that she cannot type with, and spelling words wrong.. I began to lose faith. I know that makes me sound really pig-headed, but it makes you wonder.

After she had thanked me for my correction, I sighed and nodded at her to continue.

She asks me to list my qualifications and previous job experience.

She prints it all off and I sign a few forms.

She hands me over leaflets and tells me that because of my age, I have to attend a 'special youth centre' to help me gain 'tips and tricks' to help me find a job. It is a centre that is aiming to get 'the youth of today, back into work!'

I stared at her open mouthed.

I do realise that at the age of 23 I am still considerably young and by no means old. But I am not a youth. I worked from the age of 17, was promoted, had a baby, raised said baby and have ran a home in the space of 6 years. If I still lived at home and went out every weekend getting drunk, then fair enough, I still have a level of youth in me. But I don't, and I haven't done for 3 years. I have my own family now, I am an adult.. not a youth.

I was offended.

On top of this, the special 'youth centre' I have to attend, is on the other side of the City.

I have to get dressed up in my 'interview gear' and head on down for a fake interview that will last approximately ten minutes. After getting off my bus, it will take me at least 20 minutes to walk there.

Basically, I had a very bad experience of the Job Centre. Some people probably think I have taken it too personally or have been offended for the wrong reasons. What you have to understand is my family currently has no income. I am stressed, upset and tired of fighting to keep our heads above water. 

All of this hassle ladies and gents, is for £71 a week. Which myself and my family are expected to live on. To pay bills on. To pay rent with - because yes, I still have to pay some rent.

I know I shouldn't complain. There are people out there far worse off than me, and I am getting some sort of help. But I just don't agree with it. For a country that is apparently hell-bent on getting people back  in to work, especially stay at home Mums, they have a funny way of showing it.

Why can't a Mum and a Dad both look for work?

Why can't a Mum go to work and the Dad stay home and look after the baby?

Why, at the age of 23 are you treated like a child?

You will have to ask the Job Centre.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The one with the Christmas shopping..

I remember when Christmas shopping used to fill me with excitement. All year round my Grandparents would save all of their spare change in an old whiskey jar, and at the beginning of December they'd let me count it all up and whatever was in there I could use for Christmas presents.

There was usually only about £30 saved, but at the age of 7/8, that seemed like an awful lot. They'd take me to the market at Burton-on-Trent and I'd buy everyones Christmas presents in one go.

These days, it's not quite that simple.

This year I have opted for online Christmas shopping. I just don't have the time or the energy to go fighting through all of the other angry shoppers in the town centre, queue for hours or stand and try to make a decision. I don't want to run from shop to shop comparing prices and I don't want the bus ride there and back armed with a shit load of shopping bags,

It was fun when all I had to do was point to the shop I wanted, pick what I wanted to buy and have somebody else queue, pay and carry my items.

So I thought, HEY, why don't I try this online malarky.. you know.. just click and it's in my basket. Press 'go to checkout' and VOILA I enter in some card details and my shopping is done. I don't even have to leave the couch.

So why am I finding it so fucking stressful?

Picture Credit

Example one: First website gives a certain payment option. I choose my items (which took me about a week), continue to the checkout to be told I can't use this payment option. Thank you VERY much.

Example two: I change website (after telling previous website how shit they are) and pick out more of my items. All of a sudden, I'm chuffed. This website is much cheaper and has my selected payment option. I finally have everything I need - minus one present - and suddenly, items are disappearing from my basket. Where are they going? Is this virtual supermarket theft? No, I'll tell you where they went. OUT OF STOCK.

I'm not having very much luck at all. I know what I want to buy, but nowhere will let me buy it. I can guarantee you if I were to pop to Argos tomorrow, I could be in and out within ten minutes.

But I'm not going to give in. No I'm not. I'm gonna substitute Princess's Mickey Mouse robot for something else. I'm not quite sure what yet.

I'm also not used to not actually being physically able to see the items. Being able to press a button and see how well it works, what it does. Half of the toys don't have reviews, so I'm sort of buying blindly. Also, online shopping is full of everything so you can never find anything specific, y'know?

Like, I'm looking through 'Gifts For Him' and it's telling me to buy Nandos sauce dispensers. Really? Nearly 4 years together and you want me to buy him condiment holders? No thank you. Bum & Face soap? A miniature bottle of Jack Daniels?

Everything seems so impersonal and a bit gag-like. I want to buy something he would love and so far I'm coming up empty handed. Gag presents are all well and good considering you have a decent present to make up for the shitness that is a 'Chilli Oil Trio'.
I'm gonna persevere with online Christmas shopping because I really, really don't want to have to venture into all those crowded shops. I'd much rather cuddle up on the sofa with a packet of crisps and browse endlessly through gifts that have been chosen for me.

And if they take anything out of my basket again.. I'm going to the police.

Monday, 12 November 2012

A long overdue day off

On Saturday I was invited round to my friends house for a 'Twilight marathon'. Basically, we would spend all day watching the Twilight films back to back.

She also invited round a few of her other friends too. Some from work and neighbours, I was the only person who didn't know anybody else there - minus the host obviously.

I have to admit, it was the nicest afternoon I'd had in a long while.


All four of the films make up for over 8 hours worth of viewing time. I think we watched the first 2 and a half films before the wine and chatter took over the afternoon.

It was so nice to finally be in a room filled with adults without any interruption. Usually I only have to look slightly busy and I'm met with waves of "Mummy.. Mummy.. Mummy.." Or shouts and demands. This was over 8 hours of adult conversation, food, wine, vampires and werewolves.. What wasn't to love?

By 6pm, myself and a few others were slightly tipsy. We had been there the longest and the wine had been opened around midday - what did we expect?

Overall, it was a laugh. I hadn't felt so involved and more myself in a long, long time. I am always a Mum first, but on Saturday I got to be myself.

It was also liberating being in a room of 95% strangers and actually still have a good time. Turns out I'm not a repulsive person who nobody wants to talk to, which is how I feel majority of the time.

If an opportunity like Saturday ever rears itself again, I will be snapping it up like a shot. I love Princess, more than life itself.. But it's nice to not have to worry about anyone but myself. 

Even if it was just for 10hours..

And now of course, I am beyond excited for the final installment on Friday! Who else is going to see it?

Friday, 9 November 2012

Saturday is Caption Day! #SatCap

That's right ladies and gents, it's Saturday! That means I produce the picture, and your fabulous selves get to caption it!

Princess was given a pair of goggles by her Nana and she is now in love with them!


Can you guys come up with a caption for this cheeky picture?

Saturday Is Caption Day

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Gender Stereotyping.. Who Cares?

I want to get one thing out in the open straight away.

I hate the judgement that people pass over what colours parents choose to dress their children or buy toys in.

For example: A woman is pregnant. She finds out it's a girl. She buys lots of pink vests, sleepsuits, bottles, etc. People will then pass comments about how it's wrong to dress a girl in all pink. It's gender stereotyping. You're damaging your child this way.

How the fuck did you come to that conclusion!?

I don't understand how, by dressing my girl in a pink dress, I am damaging her. I'm messing her up psychologically. Or how it's anyone else business.

For Christmas, I plan on buying Princess a tool kit. Do you know why? Because she likes to play with tools. She likes to pretend to 'fix' her Daddys bike and play that she's mending things. How is that any different to me also buying her a dolls pushchair? Because she also likes to pretend she's a Mummy too.

So by encouraging my girl to play with tools which are typically meant for boys, I'm doing the right thing. But by buying her a dolls pram I'm enforcing the fact that she 'should' play with dolls because it will be her role later on in life.


I will buy her tools because she likes to play with them, and I will buy her a pram because she likes to play with them too. I'm not buying her a dolls pram just because she's a girl.

Fixing Daddys bike
I also don't dress her in pink just because she's a girl. I happen to actually like the colour pink. I like it on girls and I like it on boys. Ross's nephews quite often wear pink t-shirts, and do you know what? They look ace in them.

So what should I do? Should I be coerced into non conformity and dress my girl in jeans and a t-shirt? Because guess what? I do that too.

You'll probably reel at the thought of Princess having a pink pushchair. She did and it was beautiful. I didn't buy it just because she was a girl, I bought it because I loved it. It's true, that if I'd have had a boy I probably would've bought the blue version, but what does it matter? I personally like the colour pink. So whilst I actually have the option to choose what my daughter wears, I shall dress her in things that I like. When she's old enough to make the decision herself, I will let her. (Within reason, obv)

You ask Princess what her favourite colour is and she will say/point to something blue. She will grab a brush and pretend to sweep. Sometimes she pretends to feed her dolls and other times she will play wrestling with us.

Is my parenting wrong because I bought her a pink guitar & piano?
I absolutely hate that people judge me because I dress my daughter in pink. What does it fucking matter? I am not forcing her to do anything she doesn't want to do. If she wanted to pick her own clothes, I'd bloody well let her. If she grows up and wants to wear tracksuits and climb tree's, then that's what she'll do.

Please explain to me how by dressing her in God forbid.. a pink frilly dress with glittery shoes, am I forcing her to be a certain way?

I believe that how you interact with your child is what forms their mind and their gender. If you don't allow your girl to play with cars and tools and only allow dolls and kitchenette sets, then yes, you're reinforcing it.If you don't allow her to climb trees and get dirty like her male peers then once again, it's reinforcement.

However, playing pretend 'mechanics' with your daughter whilst simultaneously feeding a doll is just pure fun!

Just because I dress my daughter in pink and I chose purple in her bedroom instead of blue does not mean I am gender stereotyping her. She can be whatever she wants to be and I will support her 110%! People need to stop judging others by what they think is right (and wrong) and just accept that sometimes girls wear pink because they like it and not because they were forced.

I admit, if I had had a boy, he would probably wear blue. But my point is, by actually conforming to gender stereotypes at such a young age, I don't understand what sort of 'damage' I am doing. When she's old enough to make her own choices, I won't force her to wear pink because that's what girls 'should' wear. She can wear whatever colour she likes. 

 Where do you stand on gender stereotyping? Are you like me - not bothered, I like the colours, who cares? Or are you the sort who purposely dresses their girls non-girly just to make a point?

Oh and here's a little snippet of information for you... While both mothersand fathers contribute to the gender stereotyping of their children, fathershave been found to reinforce gender stereotypes more often than mothers(Ruble, 1988).

Monday, 5 November 2012


Anonymity. I can't even pronounce it. It's a really hard word to say.

(In my head I pronounce it "an-on-ny-no-mi-nity" - Seriously)

I was having a chat with someone the other day who was quite surprised that my blog is public knowledge in my personal life. I was surprised that they thought this was odd.

I mean, why shouldn't they know I write a blog? They all feature in it. Surely it would be rude for me to write about the people in my life without making them aware of it?

I would never write anything that I think would offend or embarrass them. In fact I have a blog post I'm not sure about publishing in case it's too personal so I'm going to ask their opinion first. In my opinion it's common decency. However, in a sense it does limit what I write about.

The past 2 weeks I have really struggled for material for my blog. I don't know if it's because I haven't done anything exciting or because I'm suffering writers block. I do know however, that if my blog was anonymous, I would have a lot more to write about. I could give my opinions on things without offending people I know personally. It would give me a space to air my own opinions without causing an argument.

I have been toying with the idea of starting another blog - anonymously.

But then I think, why should I? If the things I want to post are offensive or embarrassing then I shouldn't post them irregardless of whether it's anonymous or not. I'm just not that sort of person.

Nothing I have posted on my blog could get me in trouble. Nobody is going to search it and find something incriminating about somebody else. I don't even have to worry about Princess because I don't post her name. I know that those of you on my Twitter know her name, but I know that nobody in her school 10 years from now is going to Google her and find embarrassing information on there. And they won't on here either. When Princess is old enough to understand, I will tell her about my blog. I will allow her to read it, and if she wants, I will probably allow her to write on it too. If she wants to stay anonymous, that's then her decision.

I'm conflicted with the idea of anonymity. I think being anonymous can be great, especially if you're the sort of person who has lots of opinions but don't want to be personally linked to them. I do find myself asking the same question though. If you are not open and honest about your blog, then what is it you are hiding? I'm not saying that because you don't flaunt your blog to your friends then you're a criminal, it's just that surely there is a reason behind not telling them?

Blogs are our own little space on the internet. It's like a little garden that we can grow and create how we please, one that we can tend to and prune. I am proud of my blog, I am. I also have family members who are proud of me, because of my blog. There is no better feeling than that.

I recently made the decision to post my blog on my personal Facebook page. I have a separate page for my actual blog updates, but I thought if I advertised on my personal page, then all of my other friends could also see it. I toyed with the idea for ages, I wasn't sure if it would be a good thing or bad thing. But then I realised I have nothing to hide. All opinions and musings on here are my own. I haven't stolen them and I haven't insulted anyone. Since I did this, I have had nothing but praise.

It feels uplifting to have people I know personally give me compliments on my writing and design. I love that people I don't speak to often can relate to something I've written.

If I were to stay anonymous, I wouldn't have any of that. My blog doesn't have a massive following, I don't have 1000's of Twitter followers. But it doesn't matter to me, because I know my friends and family are proud.

At the end of the day, I write my blog for me. If other people choose to read it, that's amazing. I appreciate every single one of you. I'm not going to hide behind a pseudonym and spout opinions about people I know or share other peoples stories just because nobody knows who I am.

I can honestly say that what you see is what you get. I'm not pretending to be somebody I'm not which is something that can be easily done when you're anonymous. If I were spouting bullshit on here, somebody would call me up on it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, even though my posts can be limited and my topic range varied, I'm glad that I'm Misty.. Seriously.

Do you see what I did there? Do ya!?

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffenegger: Book Review

This week I have been reading Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, the number one bestselling author of The Time Travellers Wife. After reading her previous book - which is now a movie adaptation - I had really high hopes for this book.

The story starts in london with Elspeth and her lover Robert. Elspeth sadly dies of leukemia, leaving Robert with her diaries, and her estate is left to her twin nieces who live in Chicago, whom she has never met.
The nieces are given Elspeths apartment in London on the grounds that they are to live there for a year before moving and/or selling and that their Mother - Elspeths twin sister Edie - never sets foot in the apartment.

Elspeths lover, Robert, lives below the apartment, and Martin, an obsessive compulsive whose wife has just left him, lives above.

The main story revolves around the twins - Valentina and Julia - and their relationship. Valentina is more reserved whilst Julia is quite clearly the dominant twin. Valentina has situs invertus, a condition which means all of her organs are on the opposite side of her body, including her heart. She has asthma and often gets ill whereas Julia never does. This means that Julia often has to care for Valentina, even when Valentina wished she wouldn't.We get to read about their relationship together, and how they feel when they're apart. Julia stops her sister doing things she wants to do, and even goes as far as to smoke around her just because she knows her sister doesn't like it, to show that she is in control.

Throughout the book different relationships are formed. Valentina ends up falling for Robert whilst Julia strikes up a friendship with Martin the obsessive compulsive upstairs. All of them have their own small stories to tell whilst they are all caught up in their own problems. Robert continues to struggle with his loss of Elspeth, whilst Martin has to deal with the departure of his wife.

Eventually, a ghost story begins to appear. It seems that Elspeth is stuck in the twins apartment and is unable to get out. She manages to communicate with them by writing in dust. This then leads to a strange sort of relationship between Valentina and Elspeth. They spend a lot of time communicating but Elspeth still won't tell them her secret. Why she won't let her sister come into the apartment.

There are two twists near the end. One regarding Valentina and Elspeth - a huge misunderstanding which leads to something deadly. We also get to find out Elspeths secret - but nobody knows but Robert.

I can't tell you any thing else about the twists, or the ending of the book without giving the climax away.

It's not usually a book I would read, but I had previously enjoyed the science fiction in The Time Travellers Wife so assumed I would this too. Some parts I found quite dull, especially the scenes in the cemetary. Ironically, they're probably the most important parts of the book, but they weren't something I could personally relate to. I don't find cemeteries interesting so I would find myself reading faster through those parts.

I didn't find all of the characters and their relationships believable either. Any young 21 year old girl could make friends with a middle aged obsessive compulsive, but to think of him romantically in any sense - especially as is described in the book - isn't realistic to me. Neither was Robert and Valentinas friendship.

Despite this, I still enjoyed the story. I was compelled to read on from the very first chapter, eager to find out the secret. I also wanted to see what would happen with the twins and how they would progress in London, far away from their own parents.

The supernatural aspect was also appealing to me. I have always enjoyed ghost stories and even though this one wasn't intended to be scary, it made for enjoyable reading. I especially enjoyed the introduction of 'The Kitten of Death' and it's untimely departure.

Overall I would recommend this book to people who enjoy science fiction, ghost stories or anything related to the paranormal. Also if you enjoyed Niffeneggers previous novel, you will probably like this one too.

If you're an avid chick-lit fan, it's definitely not for you.