Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Places We'll Wander: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Once you've read it, the cover alone will steal your tears.

The fact that Elle Fanning's going to play Violet is just the crowning glory here, because I literally pictured her as Violet the whole way through. And there's literally no one better, because come on, she's literally everyone's girl crush, and I basically hugged Violet because we're twins because we write and she's a fangirl of Sherlock and Supernatural, for pity's sake (which you can find out on because this is a book that actually has made the story's websites real. Including Germ. That's right, I'VE WRITTEN FOR VIOLET'S WEBSITE. BOO-YAH.

But let's get back to the story.

So, Theodore Finch wants to kill himself. That's how the book opens.

Well, to be precise, he doesn't want to kill himself. A lot of the time, he wants to live. But he thinks about killing himself. A lot.

And so the book opens with him on the bell-tower ledge at his school, wondering whether or not to jump off.

He doesn't, simply because he's not alone. The bell-tower ledge is also occupied  by Violet Markey. Who is also standing on the edge, staring down, and wondering whether or not to jump.

Finch-everyone kind of calls him Finch, it's cute-talks her down in a pretty adorable way, joking around with her and then talking her back onto the roof. And then he follows her.

That's pretty much the beginning of the story of Finch and Violet.

Finch's family life sucks-that's not an exaggeration. His sisters are cool enough-Kate's your typical worries-but-isn't-always-sure-how-to-ask responsible elder sister and Decca, his baby sister, is just adorable because she reminds me to a tee of my little cousin-smart, feisty, and obsessed with One Direction. (OK, Boy Parade, but it's basically their version of One Direction.) But his mother's working several jobs and isn't actually around all that often, due to the fact his dad walked out on one of those buy-a-new-wife-get-a-new-kid-free deals, and married someone else. Oh, and his dad is evil. And that's not an exaggeration, either. His dad hits him, for pity's sake. I cannot describe how much I started shouting at the pages when that became clear, because no one hits Finch, oh no.

Violet's close to her parents. She used to run a website with her big sister. Emphasis on "used to." Because a few months beforehand, her sister died in a car accident, because it was snowing and it was icy and Violet told her to go over a certain bridge. And they crashed and that's slammed Violet with a ton of survivor's guilt, and I can't explain how much I wanted to just wrap my arms around her. And ever since Eleanor died, Violet's lost her words. They've gone, died before they could be born. Her words are like still-born little stories that she can't reach in the dark.

And Finch and Violet end up working on a school project together. This isn't coincidence, entirely, the way it often seems to be in YA books-to put a long story short, Violet gets given the all-clear on everything to do with schoolwork these days because she's grieving and sad and mixed-up, and then their Geography teacher basically tells her "That's over, girl" and tells her to, in one of the best phrases ever, "get back on the camel."

The go-to animal for helping the bereaved move on.

But anyway, Violet ends up having to do the project and guess who asks her to be his partner? Right there, in the lesson?

One Finch.

So now they've got to work together on this project, which is basically finding any obscure place they can, driving out to it, videoing it, taking pictures of it, scribbling on it, whatever lets them tell everyone they're proud to be from Indiana, where the book's set. (I like to think the teacher might have come up with this project on the spot because he was fed up of all the kids whining that they couldn't wait to get out of this place, and he just decided to wind them all up.)

So, Finch and Violet have to spend a large amount of time together. And that pretty quickly leads to them falling for each other-but not in a clich├ęd way. In fact, it's so natural and great, that it's just easy to read. They're good for each other. Literally, one of my favourite scenes in the whole book is where Finch makes Violet climb into a car again. (Ever since the accident, cars have been taboo for Violet.) And she manages it. After this:

"Everyone around you is going to give you a gentle push now and then, but never hard enough because they don't want to upset Poor Violet. You need shoving, not pushing. You need to jump back on that camel. Otherwise, you're going to stay up on the ledge you've made for yourself."

BOOM. (OK, not Boom, but it's two-thirty am and it's the only thing I could think of right now.)

And Finch-Finch is helping Violet live but he's obsessed with death. Literally. He knows every statistic about suicide you could guess. You can probably guess where his mind's going, a lot.
But when he's not depressed, he's Awake. He shows up at Violet's house at three in the morning. He paints himself red for a day at school. He plays with bands on stage. He's one of the most Alive people you could imagine.

But that's not enough when he's Asleep.

Inside, I try not to take up too much space or make any noise because if I do, I may wake up the darkness and I want the darkness to sleep. I'm careful when I breathe so as not to breathe too loudly. If I breathe too loudly, there's no telling what the darkness will do to me or to Violet or to anyone I love.

A string of thoughts runs through my head like a song I can't get rid of, over and over in the same order: I am broken, I am a fraud, I am impossible to love.

I got Finch. I don't have anything like his family situation (my family's amazing.) But I got that darkness that pulls you down into the black hole inside, a hole you can't climb out of and sometimes can't make yourself want to. I got it too well.

And I got Violet too. I got her counting down the days until she can leave and go anywhere, anyplace but where she is now. I got how the world can be upside-down with you dangling off the edge before you know what to do or what happened or why you're here.

Nothing that says: This is the last thing you will ever write before the world changes.

I think of all the things I want to shout: I hate this town! I hate winter! Why did you die? This last thought is directed at Eleanor. Why did you leave me? Why did you do this to me?

"It's like I've got this angry little person inside me, and I can feel him trying to get out. He's running out of room because he's growing bigger and bigger, and so he starts rising up into my lungs, chest, throat and I just push him right back down. I don't want him to come out. I can't let him out. Because I hate him, because he's not me, but he won't leave me alone and all I can think is that I want to go up to someone, anyone, and just knock them into space because I'm angry at all of them."

And everyone has their own story. Even Embryo, Finch's counsellor (yeah, it's an unfortunate nickname, Finch came up with it) has his moment after everything happens where we can see him wondering why. Even Violet's parents aren't like the Brady Bunch (perhaps it's me being an angsty teenager but I did not like her father that much. Long story short: she stays out all night with Finch, which sucks, but then her father effectively banishes him from the house and takes on the classic-sitcom-dad role of "You will never see that boy again" and I actually screamed at the book because seriously, he doesn't even ask her side of it or look at how much happier she is with Finch. It's just like, he's right, that's it. Drove me almost as mad as Finch's dad. Thank God Violet's a rebel. ) Finch's little step-brother isn't that bad, he's just trying to get by.

Even the mean-girl types have their own story. SPOILERS:

Finch shows up at an anti-suicide group for teenagers during one of his moments of desperately trying to get better for Violet's sake and everyone's telling their stories when guess who walks in but Amanda, who's been giving Finch hell since the start of the story and used to be Violet's best friend. Which I actually loved because it dispelled the whole "mean girls are just mean and that's it, and they never have any issues, so there" thing that's pretty prevalent in books these days. And the theory that the popular kids never have mental health problems, never struggle with anything. It smashes that theory to pieces.

This book is important. Take it as someone who's been there with the black hole; it's an important book. People do not talk about teenage mental health enough. It needs to be talked about. This book is one of those ones that literally said my feelings word for word on some pages. It needs to be read and it needs to be talked about. Because how it ends-no spoilers-actually didn't disappoint me. (It made me sad. Oh hell, it made me sad.) But to be honest, it was real. And that just made it sadder, but I actually felt like Jennifer Niven did us a real favour by ending it this way, by being brave enough to make it real. To show that this is what happens. This is what is happening. And this is what we need to talk about.

You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.

I loved the little things, too. The way Finch makes up epitaphs for the people he knows. The bad words they tear up and the good words they stick on the wall. The closet-universe that Finch makes for Violet. As Violet learns to appreciate the little moments in life, we're soaking them up in the book too.

Maybe one day I'll talk more about why this book felt so important but not right now. But I will say I kept listening to "How To Save A Life" by the Fray and "Cut" by Plumb over and over while I read it. I kept thinking about Doll Hospital and why it's so important. I kept thinking about the black hole, which always to me, feels kind of like the song "Needle In The Hay" by Elliott Smith-just that quiet hopelessness, getting stronger and stronger all the time. I kept thinking about that moment you wish you'd stayed on the phone a moment longer, you'd asked that question you were scared to ask. I kept thinking about how right now, we still have the chance to do those things we want to. It's not too late.

On a lighter note, this book also inspired the website Germ, which is amazing and I've written for, and you should totally check it out.

Don't forget to wander.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Bright Places, Misfit Music, and Morpheus Is Everything

Soo, I've been the worst blogger ever. That's probably because I've been wrestling with the education system's weird way of testing us by upping stress and probably shortening our lives by twenty years.
Anyway, hopefully, there'll be some more outfit posts in the future, because I've just found some camera in our house that we haven't used in a year, but apparently still works fine. (Though with the lack of a tripod, I always had to balance the thing on a stepladder and hope it wouldn't fall over. Now, I've got to balance the thing on a bunch of books and hope it doesn't go crashing to the floor.)
Anyway, I might be writing this half-asleep in front of Frasier, and playing this song over and over in my head.

And yeah, sorry about this video not being right in the centre but for some reason Youtube videos seem to prefer the left side of my blog and I don't know why. It's like their own weird little idiosyncrasy.
I seriously want the hat that guy's wearing in the video by the way. (If it's a black trilby, I might already have it, except it's currently residing somewhere else, given I need to rescue it tomorrow.) This would probably have been one of the songs I listened to over and over in high school, if this band had existed when I was in high school.
In the meantime, I've basically been sobbing over the Splintered series by A.G.Howard, which is awesome and has finished and why is Morpheus not real? More specifically, why is Morpheus not mine? He is getting a cool character post sometime soon, because Morpheus is too beautiful and seriously, that cannot be the last we ever see of him.
Oh, and then I read All the Bright Places and cried more because how come I might already have read my favourite two books of the year and it's only January? Also, it just made me really proud to contribute to Germ magazine, and everyone needs to read it, and I need to talk about it when I can form some coherent thoughts.
Anyway, I'll be back soooon, but right now, I'm busy watching Frasier and Niles duke out their sibling rivalry. Catch you later.

Monday, 12 January 2015

magic in a quiet way

Yes, I'm a really terrible blogger right now. In my defence, it's been kind of heavy with school work toppling off my shoulders and everything. And I really need to do more outfit posts, just because, but I'll probably have to wait until after my exams because education is killing me.

And thanks for all the views after my short story went up at Germ! *sends you hugs* *then takes them back* *then wraps them up properly**then sends them again*
But anyway, I've finished reading Lullabies for Little Criminals by the awesome Heather O'Neill, and it's just one of those books that kind of sucks you in because the words are so matter-of-fact and quiet and yet, they're kind of magic in a quiet way. The whole book kind of reminded me of a Death Cab for Cutie song, in some ways.
Bebe Zeva introduced me to Romwe clothes which rocks.
Also, the Golden Globes taught me how to correctly pronounce Jake Gyllenhaal's name for the first time. (I've been saying GUY-llenhaal for the last ten years or whatever.) And that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are to be missed as hosts forever. And that they said what everyone was thinking about Amal Alamuddin's human rights achievements.
And Eddie Redmayne was adorable getting that Golden Globe for Best Actor, which he deserved because if you haven't seen The Theory of Everything, you need to.
And yes, I promise I'll get a proper blog post up soon but in my defence, I have been superhumanly busy with education and also exciting things. :)
In the meantime, here's this music video and song that I found the other night and promptly stayed up until 2am drowning in. Watch it if you want to spend the next few hours quietly dying in the colours and truth of the whole li'l thing.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015


So, I just got my first short story published CUE INTERNET SCREAMS OF EXCITEMENT AND LOVE YAY YAY YAY

It's called When We Were Us and it's published on the awesome Germ magazine, which yes, is the same as the Germ in the book All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven! It's about friendship and growing up and what happens when your best friend is still your best friend but there's all these unsaid things gnawing away between you and it feels like it's tugging at your throat, trying to climb out your mouth all the time!

And yes, you can read it! Here's the link:


(That was an incredibly subtle advertisement on the part of Lydia. Thank you.)
Oh and thank you so much to the awesome editor, Briana Bailey, and Jennifer Niven for setting up that site! You guys are more coolio than the person who invented coolio. And I don't even know who that was.

*screams hysterically*

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

"Do You Think I Can Do Anything?"

Yes, I promised that it would be up yesterday-ay....but in my defence, exams keep tugging at my brain. I only go to school two days a week-my schooling situation is *uses quotation marks* complicated, to say the least, but I still get tested sometimes. So, anyway, here it is.
And yes, the title line's from the play.
And here's what I wore to the play:

The blouse is from Pulp, and the coolio graffiti skirt is from Ark. I'll post a better picture of that tomorrow. And yeah, still got that blue streak. Photo cred to my dad, who was cool and offered to hold my phone for me.
Anyway, I'd read the Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-time-if I ever get to interview Mark Haddon, I might die of excitement-so I was pretty anxious to see them get it right and I needn't have worried because it's like a little journey into Christopher Boone's head. The lights, the sound, everything is used to reflect Christopher's thoughts and Christopher's reactions. You know when something is so perfectly real, and when someone's got something so utterly right, that you actually almost cry because you didn't think anyone could? That was this.
I'm not going to give away EVERYTHING in case you haven't read the book, but Christopher Boone is the sort of character who sits on your shoulder and doesn't let go. Even though he hates touching people. And often, talking to people.
Christopher is so utterly real and so contradictory. Someone once described him as a bunch of contradictions (yes, like the line in Anne Frank's diary)-he's brilliant in some areas-maths-and utterly helpless in others. Such as talking to people. Such as knowing the right things to say.
A lot of people will say that Christopher falls on the autism spectrum, and yeah. He does, because he couldn't really not with all those symptoms, if you looked at it diagnostically. But it's not a story about autism, even though that plays a part in it. In fact, there probably wouldn't be a story without it. It's not even quite a murder mystery, though Christopher would say that it is. There might not be a story without the dead dog. But it's not a story about a dead dog or autism, though it might not be the same story without either of those things. It's a story about someone who's on the outside struggling to navigate the inside and navigating it in his own way. The same way that Christopher is not autism, yet autism is an intrinsic part of Christopher.
The actors are great. Literally great. The guy who plays Christopher needs to be given every acting medal there is because he was awesome and I wanted to hug him constantly. (Though Christopher hates being hugged.) And the soundtrack just leapt into my head. It was great but it was great because it sounded how Christopher thought and how Christopher saw. Stories are about taking you inside someone else's head-with this, you couldn't not be inside Christopher's head.
It was great. Oh, and I got these.
I can't tell you how appropriate that shirt is. Also, conveniently, I'm listening to Chit-Chat by Hannah Georgas at the moment and it's amazing.
After we watched it, we walked outside and saw this art installation outside the theatre. And yes, I ran through the lights. I ran through the lights and it was like being inside my own head, where all my thoughts light up in different colours and ideas explode in my mind like fireworks.
Afterwards, in the car, driving home in the dark, I played "Easier To Lose" by Paper Mache and "Nuclear Seasons" by Charli XCX over and over. I leaned my head against the window, Christopher's world still humming under my skin. Those songs got inside my head the same way.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Hello World, I'm Your...

So, I made a playlist for wanting to change things and get stuff done and generally be awesome and all, which is kind of what I'm feeling right now. The other part of me wants to crawl up and hide under the bed. (By the way, I'm sitting with my canopy pulled round my bed like a tent, and Paramore and Miranda Lambert blasting. It's midnight or something. Because that's when I choose to blog. And I love it when songs come on when I need.)

I guess 2014 was a lot of FIGURING THINGS OUT. And maybe 2015 will be even more of that because of the whole figuring-things-out all the time and changing and changing and changing. I guess it's exciting but then there's the whole fact I think that in five years I'll be totally different and it's great but it grabs at my stomach and makes me go AARGH MATURITY IS COMING TO GET ME.

I have a lot of things I want to do. I want to make changes and make things happen and get into social activism and that kind of world-changing Dear-God-XTC mentality. I guess I've got my Atticus Finch head on at the minute. But sometimes, it's hard and I want to curl up and hide in my canopy and listen to sad music about people crying into their pillows. And I've had sad things happen to me sometimes in the past year, sad stuff I didn't expect, and sometimes it curls up inside me, and it just really hurts, you know?

But aah, I want 2015 to be a lot less depressing than that. And so, I'm gonna try stuff. I'm going to take photos and listen to music and dress in weird clothes and do my writing and forget about the stuff that gets in the way of me being me because I'm being angsty-happy right now and is that an actual thing? (Hangsty? Angappy? Coolio.)

But anyway, I had a piece of writing published at Holy Glitter Zine. It's called "Flying Dreams and Glitter-Edged Memories" and I like it, and want to wave it around like a glitter wand and spread words everywhere.

And I saw the Curious Incident of the Night-time which I'll post about tomorrow along with an outfit post. And I want to live inside the soundtrack because it jumped up and down inside my skull and it was so real and great and I will shriek at you all about it tomorrow.

And in the meantime, if any of you feel down about the future, my lovelies, please watch this awesome video of this awesome baby singing to Dark Horse, because this kid clearly got Hayley-Williams level of awesomeness when she was born.

And here's the New Beginnings and Making Changes and Other Cool Things little playlist I did:

Old Yellow Bricks by the Arctic Monkeys
Everybody Wants To Rule The World by Tears for Fears
And Run by He Is We
Change of Seasons by Sweet Thing
I Wanna Live by the Ramones
Cherry Bomb by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Looking Up by Paramore
Cha-Ching ('Til We Grow Older) by Imagine Dragons
Keep Your Head Up by Ben Howard
Swim Until You Can't See Land by Frightened Rabbit
Walking On A Dream by Empire of the Sun
Tennis Court by Lorde
These Feet Are Made For Walking by Nancy Sinatra
Now by Paramore
The Dream's Not Dead by Candy Hearts
In My Life by the Beatles
Begin Again by Taylor Swift
I Just Want To Make It New With You by Soko
Long Way by Papercranes
Here Comes The Sun by the Beatles
Once In A Lifetime by Talking Heads

Friday, 2 January 2015

The Future Is Here: New Year's Eve Outfit

So, this was me on New Year's Eve.

The photo cred has to go to my dad here and for my Christmas photo. I usually just hand him my smartphone and tell him or whoever's nearest to take a picture.
Red plaid Peter Pan dress is from New Look, my black jacket is from Next (I think-it's one of those things you own forever so you don't even remember a time when they weren't there, really.) Don't know where I got my tights-they're just-black tights. My black trilby hat that literally lives on my head, I got from this cool little shop called the Hippy Hole, and my purple ring I got from this absolute tinily adorable indie shop that I'm pretty sure is a one-off thing.
My personal way of dressing has been evolving lately and I get the feeling it's going to evolve more in the future. This picture kind of reflects that-I'm taking in the items I've loved for ages-my jacket and my coolio black trilby-and putting them with newer styles of dressing for me, like my Peter Pan l'il dress here. I feel like I'm in a good book and I'm on the edge of finding out what's going to happen and now I want to turn the page to fall into the next part of the story. The future's here and now, I'm looking forward to 2015 happening.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

So, I read a lot in 2014...

And the grand total of books I read last year is....*drum roll please*...


They're kind of a weird mix, I guess-true crime, and classics, but a lot of YA fiction. A lot of Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Maureen Johnson, Rainbow Rowell, David Levithan, Courtney Summers, Cat Clarke-last year, a lot of John Green and Hannah Moskowitz-and some Diary of A Wimpy Kid, obviously. And books about Harry Potter, Sherlock, and the 90s. And even a couple of graphic novels, because they're still telling stories, am I right?

I don't know if I want to set any reading goal for myself since I love it so much, but I reckoned I might try for 100 books this year. We'll see how far I get.

In case anyone's interested, here's the list of the books I read last year! :) :) And then at the bottom, my absolute favourite! Which I was actually able to pick this year, though I had loads of favourite ones bouncing around my brain!

All the Books that Lydia Read: :) :)

Hick by Andrea Portes
Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney
The Summer We Fell Apart by Robin Antalek
Sherlock: The Casebook by Guy Adams
Unhinged by A.G. Howard
Did I Do That? The Best (And Worst) Of The 90s by Amber Humphrey
The Theory Of Everything by Kari Luna
This Star Won't Go Out: The Life And Words of Esther Grace Earl
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett
The Bling Ring: How A Gang Of Fame-Obsessed Teenagers Ripped Off Hollywood And Shocked The World by Nancy Jo Sales
The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hennings
Hurt by Tabitha Suzuma
Kick-Ass (Graphic Novel) by Mark Millar
Kick-Ass 2: Prelude-Hit-Girl (Graphic Novel) by Mark Millar
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
The Mortal Instruments: City Of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Tease by Amanda Maciel
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Laura Lamont's Life In Pictures by Emma Straub
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson
Bitter End by Jennifer Brown
I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert
Torn by Cat Clarke
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
A Childhood At Green Hedges: A Fragment of Autobiography by Enid Blyton's Daughter by Imogen Smallwood
Zombie Tag by Hannah Moskowitz
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Illyria by Elizabeth Hand
The Shadowhunter's Codex by Cassandra Clare
The Vacationers by Emma Straub
Undone by Cat Clarke
Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers
It's Kind Of A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Harry, A History: The True Story Of A Boy Wizard, His Fans, And Life Inside The Harry Potter Phenomenon  by Melissa Anelli
Every Day by David Levithan
Everything Leads To You by Nina Lacour
Say Her Name by James Dawson
The Key To The Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson
The Name Of The Star by Maureen Johnson
The Class Project: How To Kill A Mother-The True Story of Canada's Infamous Bathtub Girls by Bob Mitchell
Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
Runaway Devil: How Forbidden Love Drove A 12-Year-Old To Murder Her Family by Robert Remington and Sherri Zickefoose
17 And Gone by Nova Ren Suma
The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin
Confessions Of A Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding In Plain Sight by M. E. Thomas
Fabulous Things by Kelly Braffet
Tithe by Holly Black
Valiant by Holly Black
Ironside by Holly Black
Goodbye, Dearest Holly by Kevin Wells
I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
White Cat by Holly Black
Red Glove by Holly Black
Black Heart by Holly Black
Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney
Beyond Evil: Inside The Twisted Mind of Ian Huntley by Nathan Yates
Reeva: A Mother's Story by June Steenkamp with Sarah Edworthy
A Kiss In The Dark by Cat Clarke
The Sweet Revenge Of Celia Door by Karen Finneyfrock
The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
My True Love Gave To Me Collection
Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

A lot, huh? And *draws in breath*, my favourite book of the year was....*drum roll*...

I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson!

Now I'm aiming for 100 this year! :) Any cool books you read last year, tell me in the comments....