Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

This year bestselling author John Green released his much-anticipated brand new novel Turtles All The Way Down. John Green’s books have sold over 45 million copies worldwide. The first one of his books that I read was The Fault in Our Stars after my friend recommended it to me. After that I was hooked. When I found out that a new John Green book was in the works, I couldn’t wait to read it.

A 16-year-old named Aza Holmes reaches out to an old friend when his father, a fugitive billionaire, is announced missing. Through the encouragement of her fearless best friend, Daisy, Aza gets caught up in the investigation and in turn becomes closer to the missing fugitive’s son, Davis. Davis and his younger brother struggle with the disappearance of their father and Aza wants nothing more than to help them. But, her obsessive thoughts relentlessly dominate her mind and take over her actions.

Turtles All The Way Down is an intriguing title which didn’t give anything away about the actual material, but it is (as expected and hoped for) a wonderful John Green metaphor. Metaphors may help you to think about something more deeply, and since teenagers in a coming-of-age setting don’t often make a lot of sense, Green layers their emotions into an enigma of adolescence.

Because it’s turtles all the way down” – p.245

I always find John Green’s characters to be very real. The central character in Turtles All The Way Down, Aza, struggles with anxiety and obsessive thoughts, particularly based around contamination and infection. John Green’s own struggles with mental health were a big influence on the story.

Throughout the story, Aza says she doesn’t feel that she has control over her own self, that she doesn’t know whether her thoughts and her body are actually hers, and her fears that she could be fiction. Green writes from Aza’s point of view. When reading Turtles All The Way Down, the readers thoughts become Aza’s thoughts, and the sense of isolation is incessant for much of the story. It provides a unsettling window into a world of anxiety, a very poignant depiction of the trials of mental illness.

The phrase ‘turtles all the way down’ is an expression of infinite regress, a chain that will never come to an end. All the world’s answers will only invoke more questions. In the context of the story, Aza is looking for answers about her own being, but our being is what we make it. Perhaps we’ll never understand everything about life, but we don’t need to know everything in order to live a fulfilled one.

In many ways, Aza is having an existential crisis. But, not just about the purpose or meaning of her life, but of her physical being and ownership of her own self. I love how much John Green’s stories make you think about life and, perhaps, the many ways that people see it.

Another important aspect of his stories is both friendships and relationships, including family relationships. A portion of Turtles All The Way Down focuses on Aza’s friendship with Daisy. Interestingly, their differences (which are vast) bring them closer together. Davis accepts Aza because Aza accepts Davis, who has his own insecurities. Davis’ younger brother, Noah, shields himself from the pain of his father’s disappearance by acting out as a typical teen (maybe because he wants to feel like a typical teen), but really he is being crushed by neglect. A variety of themes are explored in Turtles All The Way Down.

All my thoughts in this post are my own interpretations of the story. I would be really interested to read your thoughts if you’ve also read the story, so please do leave me a comment. I really enjoyed reading it and getting to know another John Green story.

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October Madness

Turtle's All The Way Down and Tanya's Christmas

October is a great month. Autumn begins to properly set in, Halloween approaches, and somewhere in the clutter of our minds we start to think about Christmas (or, at least I do). I wanted to write about some of the Halloweeny things I’ve been up to this month, and also a few things I’ve been buying.

I’d say if you like musical theatre, horror, or books – keep reading.

The Addams Family

I discovered Carrie Hope Fletcher’s wonderful YouTube channel somewhat recently and she has become an idol to me. When I started watching her Watch Me, Wednesday videos, I absolutely loved it because it reminded me of doing shows and how much of a close-knit family a cast becomes.

I really enjoyed watching the backstage action, getting to know the cast members, and the lovely Carrie. As the show was touring around the UK, I decided to have a look whether it was going anywhere close to me. I booked two tickets for my Godmother and I on the 28th October at Milton Keynes Theatre to see The Addams Family.

Me with Oliver Ormson
Oliver Ormson who plays Lucas Beineke

It was such a brilliant show, so funny, and perfect for Halloween weekend. The quirky, kooky nature of the Addams clan is so hilarious and addictive. Carrie Hope Fletcher’s portrayal of Wednesday, the Addams’s eldest child, who falls in love with Lucas Beineke (a boy of a rather different upbringing), is superb. Wednesday begins to see the light instead of the darkness, which causes a stir in the Addams’s Family household.

I also loved Samantha Womack as Morticia Addams, as much a lover of darkness but also a woman of her word, and Cameron Blakely as Gomez Addams, with an incredible voice and so many funny moments about not lying to his wife or daughter!

Ahhh, the intoxicating smell of the graveyaaard!

I also have to mention Dickon Gough as Lurch, the zombie-like butler who moved at painfully slow speed around the stage and communicated in grunts. It was such a funny surprise at the end of the show when he started singing and dancing.

The ensemble were all incredible, playing the Addams Family ancestors, each a unique ghostly character. And finally, I was lucky enough to get a photo with the gorgeous Oliver Ormson who plays Lucas Beineke, Wednesday’s love interest. His portrayal of a young man in love, stepping into the daunting family mansion of his soon-to-be fiancé was brilliant.

Horror at Hitchingbrooke House

My friend Jo and I went to Huntingdon to experience the Horror at Hitchingbrooke House, a Cambridge Halloween attraction which certainly lived up to the hype! Set in Hitchingbrooke House, where real supernatural sightings have been recorded, a maze of 18 sets based on popular horror films and TV shows. This is a live horror experience like no other.

You enter the maze in groups of about 12 people, putting her hands upon the person in fronts shoulders, and walking through the rooms in a chain. The sound and lighting FX were excellent, particularly the flashing FX that made it look as though the actors were moving very unnaturally as our sight was broken up by the quick flashes of light.

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The unique thing about this attraction was that the actors weren’t just dressed up scary, they were actually dressed as famous horror characters. In the maze, we saw the likes of Carrie from Stephen King’s Carrie, Twisty from American Horror Story: Freak Show, and Jason from Friday the 13th. The costume and make-up was brilliant!

The bits that I found the scariest were the chain saws because they sounded so real and I was screaming so loudly as we ran away from them. But, afterwards, we were also just laughing so much and overall it was so much fun and such a good laugh!

Starbucks x Skinny Dip Phonecase

This Autumn Starbucks and Skinny Dip collaborated to bring out a range of pumpkin-themed phone cases inspired by Starbucks favourite, Pumpkin Spice Latté. I chose the one with sparkly pumpkins and a clear background.

I love the Skinny Dip brand and I thought this was a genius collaboration for a generation obsessed with their phones and coffee shop creations. There were two other cases in the collection, one with glitter and floating pumpkins, and one with sequins, glitter and floating leaves. I think these are absolutely awesome designs and no doubt I’ll be getting my pumpkin case out every year for the Autumn months.

Starbucks X Skinny Dip Phone Case

This Month’s Books

Turtle’s All The Way Down by John Green

Turtle's All The Way Down and Tanya's Christmas
Books I’ve Bought This Month

John Green’s new book Turtle’s All The Way Down was released in the UK on the 10th October this year. I am a big fan of John Green’s writing, something about the way he builds his characters draws you in and makes them feel real.

Turtle’s All The Way Down is about a 16-year-old girl named Aza. In getting involved in an investigation to locate a criminal billionaire, Aza reconnects with old friend, Davis, who is the missing billionaire’s son. With her fun-loving best friend, Daisy, at her side, Aza doesn’t give up on the mystery and in turn becomes closer to Davis.

Aza also struggles with obsessive thoughts and carries out compulsive behaviours to manage them, but they are a big strain on her life. Turtle’s All The Way Down looks at Aza’s battle with anxiety and the strength of friendship and love to overcome your fears.

Turtle's All The Way Down
Special Limited Edition Jacket Poster

Tanya’s Christmas by Tanya Burr

Tanya Burr has released her third book, Tanya’s Christmas, which is filled with festive cheer. I know it may be slightly early to be talking about Christmas, but since this new release came out in October I just couldn’t wait to get it.

Tanya’s Christmas covers a wide range of festive topics, such as Christmas DIYs, Christmas baking, Christmas gifting. I think it will be a lovely book to pick up throughout November and December to start getting some ideas for Christmas and just to generally get in the festive spirit.

Tanya's Christmas

Tanya's Christmas Make-up Page

I have to say I am probably most excited about the baking section of the book. I love baking for all occasions, but bringing out homemade treats for Christmas time is a must! Tanya has included recipes such as Stained Glass Edible Decorations, Sausage Rolls, Parmesan Stars, and Gingerbread Cupcakes.

I’m sure I will be baking many things from this book, so it’s great that it covers both sweet and savoury. There are also recipes for both sweet snacks and festive desserts for your main meal. Whilst this may not be everybody’s cup of tea, I can’t think of anything better than reading a book all about Christmas! If you struggle thinking of gifts, there is also a gift guide covering different areas such as Kitchen and Home, Beauty, Bath and Body, and Secret Santa and Stockings.

Tanya's Christmas Baking Chapter

Tanya's Christmas Gingerbread Cupcakes Recipe

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post about some of things I’ve been up to this October. Please leave me links to your Halloween posts as I’d love to give them a read! Until next time…Happy Halloween!

Halloween Biscuits

This weekend I decided to bake some Halloween-themed biscuits. It is maybe a bit early still but I couldn’t wait to try them out. I got some Halloween cutters from TK Maxx in the shapes of a bat, coffin and vampire fangs. The packaging had ideas for how to decorate them with icing and I really wanted to give it a try.

I chose a chocolate biscuit recipe from Tanya Bakes, a baking book by Tanya Burr, which I think was originally a Mary Berry recipe.

When I was halfway through making the dough I worried that the biscuits would lose their shape because the mixture contained self-raising flour instead of plain, but they turned out really well.

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The recipe was very simple, the dough rolled out well and it was easy to transfer the shapes to the baking tray.

I picked up some super cheape Halloween decor as well. I found the glittery green potion bottle in TK Maxx, the glittery orange pumpkin in Asda and the light-up skull in Asda (all for £1-£2!).

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The best bit was the decorating. I used icing sugar mixed with water to make the icing and added various colourings. I put each badge of icing in a disposable piping bag without a nozzle and instead just snipped the end of with a pair of scissors. I then outlined out biscuit in the right colour and filled it in from one end to the other, which makes the icing look very smooth and uniform.

The vampire fang biscuits I filled in with white icing and added red onto the tips of the fangs. The coffin biscuits I filled in with grey icing and added detailing in white. And for the bat biscuits I filled them in with grey icing and added detailing in orange, white and yellow.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about how I made my Halloween biscuits. I hope to do some more Halloween baking before the month is up! Please link your Halloween blog posts below as I would love to have a read.

Autumn beauty haul

NYX Primer and Blush

Hello everyone and happy September! It’s hard to believe we’re actually half way through the month already. Before we know it, it’ll be Halloween and Christmas and then a brand new year. I really enjoy the autumn and winter months because I think the fashion and colours suit me a lot more, but also just because it’s so cosy.

I wanted to share a few beauty items I’ve bought over the last few weeks, many of which fit the theme of autumn. I’d love to hear what you love about autumn, so please link your posts in the comments below.

One thing that I’ve treated myself to is the Urban Decay Naked Heat eyeshadow palette. I, like many, had my eye on this palette for a while. I have two other Urban Decay eyeshadow palettes and they are kind of pricey but really good quality.

I absolutely love the colours in this palette, the packaging is sturdy, you get a nice big mirror and a double-ended brush. It is sure to remain a staple in your make-up bag and I can’t wait to start having a play with the colours.

So far I have been using the colour Sauced as a base all over my eyelids, Lumbre and Scorched over the top focusing it on the outer corners of my eye, and then Ounce in the inner corner. I also love putting Scorched along my waterline to tie the whole look together.

I’m sure there are endless looks you can do with this palette, so I’m excited to explore the other colours.

Urban Decay Heat Palette
Urban Decay Heat Palette

Urban Decay Heat PalettePerhaps as a cheaper alternative to the Urban Decay palette, if you’re still looking for reddish-brown colours, is this Maybelline Burgundy Bar Palette. The colours in this palette are all quite shimmery, whereas the UD palette does include some matte shades.

It really depends on what you’re looking for, but I like a shimmery eyeshadow, and these are all usable everyday colours.

The Burgundy Bar Palette
Maybelline Burgundy Bar Palette

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I picked up a couple of products from NYX, which is a really lovely brand. I got the HD Studio Photogenic Primer Base. This is a water-based primer which can help to smooth your skin before applying foundation.

I also got the Baked Blush in the colour Ladylike, which is in the most adorable box. I haven’t had a blush in my make-up bag for a while now, and I thought it would be nice to have as we go into the winter months.

NYX products
NYX HD Studio Photogenic Primer Base
NYX Primer and Blush
NYX Baked Blush Ladylike

NYX Blush

To go with my face primer, I got the Collection Primed & Ready Illuminating & Reviving Eye Primer. So far I’ve been using this underneath the Naked Heat palette and the colour is staying put the whole day, so it’s definitely a good combination.

From Collection, I also got the Primed & Ready Make Up Fixing Spray.

Collection products
Collection Primed & Ready Make Up Fixing Spray

Collection products

For an additional bit of autumnal colour I got two new lip colours and an eye liner. The first lip colour is from Maybelline and it’s the Vivid Matte Liquid in the colour Vivid Violet. I wore this colour on a night out and I really like it.

I got the NYX Waterproof Extreme Shine Eye Liner in Golden Bronze. I’ve been using this on my waterline after using the Naked Heat palette and it goes together really well and makes a great autumn look.

From Soap & Glory, I got the Sexy Mother Pucker Matte Lip in the colour Fire Cracker.

Autumn lip colours

Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid

I got three autumn/winter dark nail polishes which I cannot wait to use! They are all Maxfactor and I ended up getting three because it was 3 for 2.

I got two from the Glossfinity range in the colours Ruby Fruit and Amethyst. The third is from the Gel Shine Lacquer range in the colour Radiant Ruby.

Maxfactor Nail Varnish
Maxfactor Glossfinity Nail Polish
Maxfactor Nail Varnish
Maxfactor Gel Shine Lacquer

And that’s it! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my new autumn/winter make up buys. This is first beauty post I’ve done on this blog so please do give it some love and let me know if you’d like me to do similar ones in the future. I can’t wait to read all your autumnal blogs over the next few months.

Starting uni advice

I’m going to be real with you, uni is f****** great. I feel like I can offer good advice about starting uni because I went through it not all that long ago.

I graduated from Bournemouth University last year after completion of my studies which began in 2013. Back then, 18 year old me packed her bags and went off to start university.

First year is a lot to take in, but it is also a lot of fun. I want to write a post offering my advice on starting uni as a fresher (because it is a daunting change in your life) and I feel that I have experiences that can now hopefully become a help to others.

Take each day as it comes

Hell, take each hour as it comes. You’ll be in a situation where you don’t know anyone, which is a pretty unique situation to be in. Live in the moment, embrace it, and enjoy it.

Also, and you will most definitely get sick of hearing this but it is so very true, everyone is in exactly the same boat as you. Everyone will be nervous and excited. Some may find it easier than others.

From my experience you settle in so quickly, given that you’ll be living with some of these new people and there are lots of social activities being arranged for you (AND you’re all in the same boat).

Live in the Moment

So even after 1 day you feel so much better because you can already talk about your experience so far with everyone else. After the first semester, it’ll feel like you’ve been there a lifetime and it’ll be like a second home.

Take each day as it comes and enjoy it. Don’t try and take on too much in one go. If you need 5 minutes alone in your room to get some breathing space, that’s absolutely fine! Don’t pressure yourself into being the life of the party. Talk to your new house or flat mates, reassure each other, ask where they’re from and what they’re studying.

Everyone will be nervous and, most likely, everyone you encounter will be really friendly and welcoming. The best part is, if you’re stuck for things to talk about with your new house or flat mates, you can just talk to them about the whole process of moving to uni, and that should lead onto other conversations.

Give it time

It is possible that you could meet someone you immediately click with on the very first day, perhaps someone you live with, but you may not.

One of the things I’ve realised since finishing uni is that it’s such a unique environment to be in. You will never again be together with so many people the same age, going through the same thing. Particularly in first year, you’ll meet new people every day which means you are more than likely to find someone you get along with really well.

Passion led us here

If it doesn’t happen on the first day, don’t worry, it will happen. You will build really strong friendships within your first year at uni. Take advantage of your situation and talk to as many people as possible.

Your house or flat mates might well become your best friends. But, if they don’t, the likelihood is that they will still be nice people. Make an effort with them and a friendship could blossom later on. Living with people can make it very easy to become close with them.

Get involved and have fun

Excitement is a sure thing in fresher’s week. I can honestly say it’s one of the most unique experiences. You don’t have a care in the world; you literally spend 24/7 socialising with such a mixture of people.

You may be loud and outgoing, and you will meet similar people. Or you may be shy and reserved (moving to uni being a HUGE thing for you), and you will meet similar people.

There are activities to suit all during fresher’s week. Of course, I can only speak from my experience, but at my university we had a 2-week jam packed schedule. Obviously, you’re not obliged to go to any of it, but I would strongly recommend that you get involved as much as you can.

Let's go on adventures

If you’re nervous, I find that it only takes a moment to push yourself, even if it’s just walking out of your uni room. I usually find that once you’re there, it is easier than you think it’ll be.

There will be night’s out planned as part of fresher’s week (a large part of university culture). But, I met a lot of people in my first year who didn’t drink and still got involved the same amount and made just as many friends. If you’re a non-drinker, do not see this as something that will separate you from everything, just because so many depictions of uni involve alcohol. There is so much more to uni than that.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post about starting university and find my advice helpful during your first few weeks and after. I tried to think of my own experience and what helped me when I first moved to Bournemouth. Please leave a comment and ask questions.

Canoeing at The Brampton Mill

Me canoeing

This weekend just gone was a bank holiday weekend here in the UK and luckily we had some really sunny weather. On Monday my mum and dad and I went to The Brampton Mill Pub & Restaurant in Cambridgeshire.

The pub sits next to the River Ouse in Brampton, about two miles from Huntingdon. The Houghton Mill, a working 18th-century mill protected by the National Trust, is approximately a 5 mile drive away from the restaurant that we went to. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit both, but if you were interested in exploring a real working mill, you could easily see both in a day and go to the restaurant for dinner afterwards.

The Brampton Mill restaurant had so much character. To the left of the main door is the watermill wheel which is constantly turning. You walk straight into the main pub and bar area. If you like dogs this pub’s decor include armchairs made with material that has dogs stitched all over it – they were super cute.

Despite having planned to take a trip on the Great Ouse Ferry boat, we ended up making the decision to go canoeing. We got a 3 person canoe out for an hour and it was so much fun! We managed to canoe from The Brampton Mill to Godmanchester and take some great photos of the mill (and of our canoeing skills). Admittedly, it is harder than it looks, but definitely a lot of fun.

We went for dinner at The Brampton Mill afterwards and were taken up two floors to the main restaurant area. The interior was all very country-fied which I loved. We walked past the water wheel on the way up which you can see and hear through the windows. For our meal we had bread with olives and then I chose a Chicken and Leek Pie for my main. It was so delicious!

The Brampton Mill
The Brampton Mill
Me standing by the mill
The Watermill Wheel
Great Ouse Ferry
The Great Ouse Ferry

Me canoeing

Me canoeing 2

View from the canoe

Dinner at The Brampton Mill
Chicken & Leek Pie at The Brampton Mill

I really hoped you’ve enjoyed reading about my trip to The Brampton Mill. If you live nearby or if you’re ever in the area I’d recommend a visit there on a sunny day. Regardless of whether you’re into outdoor activities like canoeing, it is worth the visit just to experience this little country pub and the delicious food.

What I'm wearing:

Top: H&M - alternative - link  

Trousers: New Look White Tie Waist Stripe Cropped Trousers 

Shoes:Tesco - alternative - link 

Bag: M&S - alternative - link

50 facts about me

For my very first blog post I thought I would do the 50 facts about me tag. I find these really interesting to read because everyone gives completely different answers and they can be as random as you like.

If you’ve written a similar post please do drop me a link in the comments and I will happily check out your blog.

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  1. I graduated from Bournemouth Uni last year after such a crazy (drunk) 3 years
  2. I studied Communication & Media
  3. I lot of my best friends don’t live near me; I’m always missing them
  4. I love musical theatre
  5. When I was little my favourite thing to wear was my Snow White dress
  6. I am currently a Marketing Assistant and I love it
  7. My first job was in a car and bike shop
  8. I have a quote from Paper Towns tattooed on my foot: ‘If you don’t imagine, nothing ever happens at all
  9. I am currently learning to drive but unfortunately failed my first test 3 days ago
  10. I hate marshmallows
  11. I don’t like roller coasters mainly because of the sense of impending doom and the fact that once you’re on it you can’t get off
  12. I am a member of an amateur theatre group and I recently performed as Bet in a musical production of Oliver!
  13. I used to move snails from the middle of pathways to save them from being crushed
  14. I love watching YouTubers
  15. I love horror films
  16. I currently have no pets but I love cats and dogs so will probably end up with both
  17. I used to have a book blog
  18. Shoes hate me; it is rare for me to find a pair of shoes that are 100% comfortable
  19. I am currently reading It by Stephen King (it’s huge!)
  20. I love a good period drama; give me Downton Abbey or Victoria to watch any day
  21. The last place I went on holiday was Barcelona, Spain
  22. I am an Aquarius which means I am open-minded, free-spirited and adventurous
  23. When I was little I loved mermaids, especially Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid
  24. I recently saw Miss Saigon at the theatre and in October I am going to see The Addams Family musical
  25. Mint choc chip is my favourite ice cream flavour
  26. I am fascinated by history and particularly like learning about the world wars and Queen Victoria’s reign
  27. If I could meet one person from the past it would be Queen Victoria
  28. I discovered the truth about Santa when, a few weeks before the big day, I saw the same wrapping paper in our house that was then used for my presents
  29. I sing all the time when I’m at home
  30. I watch films over and over again and never get bored of them
  31. My favourite social media is Instagram
  32. My phone case has angel avocados on it
  33. I really enjoy baking
  34. I love tea and coffee (just all hot drinks)
  35. A book that I was absolutely addicted to was the first book in The Hunger Games trilogy
  36. I have one older sister
  37. One time at uni after a night out I came home and drunkenly ate 6 slices of toast!
  38. I can’t wait for Autumn, Halloween and Christmas
  39. In my first year of uni I lived in the student village and my housemates and I moved and hid the smokers bench and then watched a big group coming back from a night out at 3am and having to start searching for it
  40. Songs that massively remind me of uni are Rather Be (Clean Bandit), My Love (Route 94), I Got U (Duke Dumont) and Nobody To Love (Sigma)
  41. Last weekend I went to V Fest
  42. I’m 22 so yes, I still love a night out (but I don’t go nearly as much as I did at uni)
  43. I don’t think I have a favourite colour; I just love all colours
  44. I went to an 3-week academic seminar in Salzburg, Austria in 2015
  45. I am thoroughly enjoying the new season of Game of Thrones (last ep tomorrow!)
  46. My favourite takeaway is a curry
  47. I’ve only had one pet that was just mine and it was a guinea pig named Little Patch
  48. My birthday is in January
  49. My middle name is Jane
  50. I want to start a YouTube channel one day

And that’s it for my 50 facts; they are quite random but I wanted to try and make them interesting and it is actually pretty hard to think of 50 on the spot. I’ve really enjoyed writing this post and I hope you enjoy it too!

Have a great day!