Blog Makeover and Photography

As you may have noticed my blog has had a huge makeover. My blog had been neglected for a long time and I wasn't enjoying writing posts, so I thought a little refresh would help me get back into it.

So back in January I bought my new blog design from the lovely Kotryna Bass, who has lots of great designs on her website and Etsy page. This is the second design I've bought from Kotryna and I absolutely love it, and she was super helpful in setting it up for me which was so great and kind of her!
I'd love to know how often you update or make tweaks to your blog design.

I finally feel happy with how my blog looks because it reflects me, which in turn motivates me even more to post new content as much as I can! The homepage of this new design is heavily based around photography, therefore, I've definitely set a challenge for myself because I am more of a confident writer than photographer. At times I've had a handful of photo-less drafts waiting to be published but taking those pictures has seemed such a chore. But I've been taking this challenge head on, and I'm beginning to enjoy planning photo ideas, finding props and taking pictures. I also have a super helpful friend who has been helping me with my photography and editing, and making gifs like the one above, which was definitely not me!

I'd love to know your thoughts on my new layout :)


Studying at university | Tips and advice

Staying on top of your work and meeting deadlines play a big part in having a good time at university. I studied History, so most of my studying was based around reading, analysing, writing and finding relevant sources. I've compiled a list of tips and advice on how to study best.

Take some time to learn about how you study best - look back to how you studied at school, when were you most efficient?

  • Do you need music to study or absolute silence? I have never been able to read and listen to music in headphones at the same time, I'd end up learning all the lyrics! Having the radio on quietly in the background got me through lots of my essays and dissertation. 
  • Do you concentrate more on your own or do you get more done in a group setting? If the latter then setting up a study group with course friends is always a good idea.
  • When do you study best, are you an early bird and like to get everything done in the day, or do you prefer staying up? 
All these things could change over the 3/4 years of your course but knowing yourself and being honest will always make life easier; there's no point setting up a study group at 10am when your brain functions best after lunch time.

Study where you feel comfortable  - but not too comfy because you don't want to end up having a nap!

  • I mainly worked on my desk in my room but I liked to change it up here and there because staring out of the same window for hours on end was not fun!
  • If you like the buzz of coffee shops then they're always great places to work; I loved going in to make notes, plan essays and blog posts, whilst having a little treat, or two.
  • Or maybe you work best in the university library, where you are (hopefully) encouraged by the rows of studious people around you. In my final year I found a few nice corner spots in the library and I always felt a great sense of accomplishment when I managed to do lots of work there.

Keep hydrated and snacks at the ready - this is the most important study tip in my opinion because food can become a big distraction.

  • I always had a bowl of grapes or popcorn on my desk just to reduce time spent procrastinating about food. 
  • And even better opt for brain foods like walnuts, almonds or a fruity smoothie. 
  • And obviously a tea or a coffee, whichever kick starts your day (it's a tea for me please).


Book Review | Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

I bought this book back in January, whilst browsing through and looking for new reads for the year. It came up in my recommendations as I have bought lots of young adult books (Rainbow Rowell and John Green-esque) from Amazon, so I glanced over a few reviews and it went straight into my basket. And I absolutely loved it!

Everything, Everything is the story of seventeen year old Maddie, who has never left her home because she has a rare condition called SCID, which means she is allergic to everything. She lives in a safe bubble, where she can only breathe in filtered air and the only people she knows are the ones who take care of her; one is her nurse and the other her mother, who is also her doctor. With no communication with anyone her age, she immerses herself in books to pass her time until a new family moves in next door.

Despite her condition, we see Maddie develop a friendship through posters in her bedroom window and IM's with her cool new neighbour, Olly, who is equally as intrigued by her as she is by him and his family. And as in most coming of age stories, we see her struggle with the thoughts of wanting to turn this friendship into something more.

This is how it's described on-line:
Everything, Everything is about the thrill and heartbreak that happens when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love."

It is definitely a book about first love and teenage angst, but has serious underlying themes that come to the surface, such as grief, isolation, alcoholism and illness. It also highlights the fragile but very important relationship between a teenage girl and her mother, and whether you have a life-threatening condition or not, you will definitely be able to relate to the feeling of needing independence and your own space.

I also love the fact that Maddie is half African-American and half Japanese; I haven't come across any other YA novels where the protagonist is a woman of colour so this is something I'd love to see more.

Everything, Everything had me hooked, I couldn't put it down so it was a fairly quick read for me. However, I do wish it was longer and more detailed particularly towards the end of the book. There was so much more I wanted to know about Maddie, Olly and certain twists in the storyline that I felt the second half of the book lacked slightly in the 'feelings' department than the first. But in no way was I disappointed with the book, I just wanted more!

If you've read this I'd love to know your thoughts, and if you have any good YA recommendations, particularly ones with diverse characters please leave a comment!