Tuesday, 16 October 2018

What I got up to in recovery...

I was once again blessed with a sweet bit of recovery time recently, and when I wasn’t asleep or in horrendous pain, I got a lot done while also relaxing to the max. Here are some of my accomplishments while I was healing after my reconstruction… and I promise they get better the further you scroll… 


(Photo: Erin Veness)
(dress and earrings from JOY)

Saturday, 13 October 2018

You playin'?

Funny story, that’s really not that funny – I actually began writing this blog post in the summer last year, and have had the document sitting on my desktop, staring at me accusingly, ever since. The truth is, the urge that inspired me to write it I couldn’t hang on to, because it was so toxic and sent me into a horrible spiral. 

There has been a lot of scandal in the news in the past year, to say the least. In fact, I think the more appropriate term would be ‘a sh*t ton’. Obviously there have been a great deal of women bravely speaking out about being wronged by powerful perverted men, hideous accusations hurled around the House of Commons, and even more pay gap shockers (seriously, folks. It’s 2018. Whut?). I have felt moved by all of these things, in good ways and in bad. However, for some reason, it’s a very silly and much littler thing that’s reignited my need to write this post… 


Thursday, 11 October 2018

'Summoning her'; a creative piece.

I saw a tweet doing the rounds recently (lol, I think this is the twelfth blog post I’ve started with that little phrase) which read something like: ‘what 5 items would people have to get together in a circle to summon you?’

I took no time at all to answer with a < 280 character list, but it really felt like a creative prompt, much like my beloved ‘642 Things to Write About’ books. So, here’s a little creative piece to go with it… 


(Photo: Erin Veness)

Thursday, 4 October 2018

'Dear John: The Road to Pelindaba', by Jeff Osment; a mini review and excerpt!

Here’s something you may not have known about the mega rad brand Lush… they publish books!? And if you follow me on socials, I’m sure you’re aware they frequently host epic Lush book club events in their Soho HQ, yes? Ughh, I love those evenings. See you at the next one, maybe? 

Lush also have a record label, and are making waves right now with their new cosmetics range, as well as their new naked packaging projects. Basically, they’re kicking butt in all kinds of areas. But in this particular post, I’ll be focusing on their bookish endeavours… one in particular.

'Dear John – The Road to Pelindaba' by Jeff Osment is the incredible tale of Mark Constantine OBE, Co-Founder of Lush, and his long-lost father. Read on to get a glimpse of the amazing story... 




Monday, 1 October 2018

The 8 books I will always keep.

I’m a hoarder. I have realised this for the millionth time today, after clearing out all the boxes under my bed for the first time in years (I managed to condense six down to one!? Yay me!), and finding all sorts of trinkets and mementos that really, looking at them now, I needn’t have kept but simply couldn’t let go…

However, I will always be particularly ruthless when it comes to my book collection. I clear out my bookcase regularly, plucking novels and non fics out of my rainbow that I am sure I won’t re-read, or have never got round to reading and don’t feel I ever will. I then offer friends their picks from my piles of old proofs, and have recently started donating bags of books to my secondary school library (giving the teachers first dibs, obvs).




There are books I will always keep, though. If they’re signed by their authors, exclusive special editions or perhaps even ones I had something to do with (more on those later)… and if I’ve come across them at important times in my life. Here are a few of the books I can never part with… 

Monday, 24 September 2018

The BBC Young Writers Award, 2018; an exclusive extract.


It’s that wonderful time of year again – the BBC Young Writers’ Award is upon us! 

This is the fourth year of the wonderful award which invites all 14 – 18 year olds living in the United Kingdom to submit short stories of up to 1,000 words. The BBC Young Writers’ Award was launched as part of the tenth anniversary celebrations for the BBC National Short Story Award and aims to inspire and encourage the next generation of writers. 




The five shortlisted writers will attend the exclusive BBC Short Story Awards ceremony on 2nd of October 2018 at Cambridge University, when the winner will be announced live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and they will have the chance to meet high-profile authors, publishers, agents and broadcasters at the award ceremony. 

And I’ve been given a lovely job in promoting it, by sharing an exclusive excerpt of a shortlisted young author’s entry! Below, you’ll find a brilliant piece of Davina Bacon’s story, ‘Under a Deep Blue Sky’. 

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Valuable Things Having an Uneven Face Has Taught Me.

I have had a somewhat disfigured face for the past three years; a dent formed on one side, and an accompanying bulge just underneath it, after my temporalis muscle moved following my second brain op in 2015.

It’s over a fortnight since I got my face fixed by a brilliant cosmetic surgeon. In that time, I’ve seen my face change a little bit every day. Bits of it have gone from yellow to purple to grey to blue; the enormous swelling has stuck out, shrunk, and shone. I’ve had two black eyes, an irritated scalp, and crusty blood in my hair (that I am still washing out). But I’ve been trying my best to live with all these things that have come with my recovery, and I’ve even been out and about a few times since I’ve got some strength back. I’ve felt quite confident, considering. 
And I’ve learned a lot – before this latest operation, and after… 


(Photo: Erin Veness)
(dress and earrings from JOY)
(necklace from Stargazy)

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Treat your shelf! Perfect gifts and goodies for bookworms.

I realise a lot of my posts have been about books lately… oops. Sometimes I just can’t stop, okay? My bookwormishness (it’s totally a word) runs deep and often I can’t keep it under control. Fortunately for me, I know a lot of you readers and followers are also book lovers, so you’ll not only humour me when I post reviews, recs and rambles, you’ll also geek out with me and spur me on! 

I thought that in this post, I’d share some bookish bits and bobs I’ve come across online and IRL recently that I really feel need to be shouted about – and maybe even bought – by my book-loving brethren. Get your wallets out, gang... 


Saturday, 15 September 2018

Post-grad life - am I doing it right!?

It’s coming up for 4 years ago that I graduated from the University of Winchester with a pretty sweet 2:1 in Drama and Creative Writing BA. It was October 14th 2014 when I got to walk up onstage to collect my certificate in that beautiful cathedral, then walk out of the big red doors to crowds of smiling friends while a funky band played. It was gloriously cheesy, and I really felt the enormity of the achievement, that day – so much so that I burst into tears several times and hugged everyone in sight a little too hard. 

But… what have I achieved in these past 4 years? How have I used the degree that cost me over £10K!?

(I am so happy I was in the last year group that paid £3,500 per year, because geezz the interest is a killer 4 years on.)  


(Photo: Erin Veness)
(jumpsuit and earrings from JOY)


Thursday, 13 September 2018

'Race to the Frozen North', by Catherine Johnson; a mini review, giveaway and author interview!

The fabulous author and real life heroine Catherine Johnson has written a brilliant book with Barrington Stoke: 'Race to the Frozen North: The Matthew Henson story'. It will be published on the 15th of September, but here’s a little preview just for you readers… 




Publishing ahead of Black History Month in October, this amazing fictionalised story of a real life BAME hero is not to be missed.

Matthew Henson was the first man to reach the North Pole in the early twentieth century, but his story was suppressed for decades because of the colour of his skin.

Matthew Henson was simply an ordinary young man. That was, until Commander Robert E. Peary entered his life and offered him a chance at true adventure. Henson would become navigator, craftsman, translator, and right-hand man on multiple treacherous journeys to the North Pole. Defying the odds and the many prejudices that faced him to become a true pioneer, this is his incredible and often untold story. 


I was able to chat with the lovely Catherine (IRL!!) recently about her latest novel, and here’s what I found out… 



What is the story of this book? How did it come to be?

I wrote a non-fiction book for Barrington Stoke maybe… 10 years ago!? It was about Matthew Henson. [This book] has done very well over the years, and they wanted to do something different this time. So I wrote a dramatic, fictionalised retelling of his life! So, although it’s true, it’s written as a story. It was quite hard, because he’s a real person – I don’t know exactly what he says, I don’t know precisely what he did! I’ve joined the dots between things that I knew had happened.

I don’t think you’d ever find anyone like Barrington Stoke. Every writer will say the same thing, every writer wants to work for them! Because they know what they’re doing, they believe in their books… and they’re great!



So, what do we need to know about Matthew Henson before we read this novella?

He had an amazing story. It’s like a fairy tale. Over 100 years ago, he achieved the greatest things, including going to the North Pole… and it all went unrecognised. There was an issue with the North Pole expedition; people didn’t believe they could do it, mostly because they couldn’t believe that Peary, the white man in charge, would ever have gone [on the expedition] with a black man. The one he trusted most on that trip was a black guy? Oh no, surely not!

So they gave Peary a medal but not Henson. Henson then came home and worked driving cars, sending messages… he worked in his late fifties as a messenger boy! He did do some lecture tours in the black colleges, but he wasn’t recognised and never received a medal or was admitted to the prestigious clubs. When he died, he just had a regular funeral. It wasn’t until the 1980s when he was celebrated and recognised by mainstream America – so these days there are probably a lot of Matthew Henson schools and colleges. He came from nothing, he was illiterate and he was brought up by his stepmother, who would beat him. Eventually he ran away at just 11 years old, and met a sea captain who taught him how to read and write and took him around the world, and Matthew picked up all kinds of languages – he saw everything, and that was the making of him. And of course after that, he was spoiled for regular work.

It’s an amazing story, because it doesn’t seem real. 



Did you find this book fun to write?

I am a big, big chicken and would never do any brave things like cross icy crevasses or pull sledges over snow… I’d rather be at home with a little heater and an extra pair of socks, writing. I’m quite happy pretending; that’s what’s fun about being a writer, you won’t get frostbite or have your toes fall off, you don’t have to cut open a seal and eat it while it’s warm – you don’t have to do any of the practical stuff. 



What do you love most about writing, in general?

I like writing because you don’t have to actually go to work – you don’t have to put a uniform on or leave your house. These are advantages and disadvantages; you have to be able to motivate yourself. I’m really lucky, and I know I am. I wish I could be more productive; I know some authors who are like machines!

[Writing] is like falling in love, you can’t help but think about your pretend world and your pretend people and all the ideas you get. You go about your daily life, all the while thinking about your world and your people – like you do when you’re in love. You almost don’t want it to end – you want to stay there.

In fiction, especially young fiction, yes your protagonist might have it hard, but there will always be some kind of hope. In most cases, there will be some kind of comeuppance for the bad guys – and sometimes it’s the protagonist engineering it. It’s not like that in real life! In real life we’re hostages to fortune. But in fiction, you choose what happens. You can face adversity and come out stronger. It enables massive positive life change – which in real life, it doesn’t always. Sometimes, in real life, it’s just sh*t! So that’s why I like fiction… because it’s better than life. 

*

Thank you so much for chatting with me (over a lovely lunch at Bullet Coffee House), gorgeous Catherine.




Wanna keep up with my reading before I post about it on the blog?

Find me on Goodreads!

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

How To: do Fresher year!

Yes, yes I know. As a graduate, I’m kind ‘past it’. However, as an aspiring MA student and a proud holder of an NUS Extra card (thanks to a loophole), I like to think I’m not too far out of the bubble.

Oh, I am also about to become a big sis to a Fresher. That’s where this post started from; the two of us chatting about her buying a specific fluorescent events wristband for her first week (see tip #2) and me going off on a tangent, giving out a few of my best tips on uni life, made me realise there was a list that needed writing on here. Read on to get a few tips on Fresher Year, from this wise old graduate! 

(To spice this lecture of a blog post up, there will be Fresher year photos of me throughout. You’re welcome) 


(the shelving unit above my desk in halls. I was very proud of it. Plz don't judge my film taste.)

Monday, 10 September 2018

The Body Positivity Revolution, with Chidera Eggerue (@theslumflower) & Michelle Elman (@scarrednotscared) ; a write up.

I was so excited to host an event in Waterstones TCR on Thursday 26th of July, in which I got to ask two extraordinary women questions about their brilliant books ('Am I Ugly?' and 'What a Time to be Alone'), body positive theses and massive online movements. The event was very fabulously entitled ‘The Body Positivity Revolution; with #saggyboobsmatter and #scarrednotscared’. 


Me, living a dream, seeing my name on the big events board at Waterstones TCR. Had to get a pic, didn't I? 


Despite knowing it may take me ages to do afterwards, given how perfectly talkative and inspiring these women are, I was determined to record the whole event and write it up for all those of you who were unable to make it on the night (because, FYI, we sold out. Or as Chidera said: ‘we broke Waterstones!!’).

So, I am sitting on my bed as it rains outside, a peeler mask on my face and my phone beside me with the voice memo open. Here goes…


(photos all taken by gorgeous friends - let me know which is yours if you want credit!?)

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Recent Reads: the 33rd and 34th of 2018.

I recently read two very cute lil books, both of which helped me get my head around this crazy ride of life and get into a positive mindset. They were written by my queen, Lorelai Gilmore… and a unicorn. 


Wednesday, 5 September 2018

'True Sisters', by Keren David; a review and giveaway!

I recently read ‘True Sisters’, Keren David’s lovely novella published by the babes at Barrington Stoke. It was a little gritty, immensely powerful, super sweet and enormously important.  


Saturday, 1 September 2018

Grace's adventure to Barcelona, 2018.

Before I caught my flight to Barcelona (literally, I tweeted it from the airport gate where we passengers all sat for approximately 2.5 hours waiting for the damn plane to turn up) I asked friends and followers for suggestions of spots to look up over the 2 days I was there – I wanted vegan restaurants, good coffee, museums, nice wanders and quirky bars. 
I was so happy with the recs I got – the wonderful Stacey @theprettybooks sent me her brilliant Barcelona blog post, Isra @ivebeengilmored shouted out Veggie Garden (and I went there on my last night!) and Lydia @lydiaruffles (the utter babe who I spoke to on here recently) suggested Flax & Kale (where I had my breakfast on my last day!). Everyone seemed to rate Mount Tibidabo and MACBA, too. 

It’s safe to say I had a long To Do list. Here are some of the places I managed to get to while I stayed in the city... 


Thursday, 30 August 2018

38.

My name’s Grace.

I love a good Buddha bowl, I'm apparently now an underwear model, I think Joey Tribbiani is a genuinely good guy and his romance with Rachel was kinda nice, my investment in TV shows and their characters borders on worryingly obsessive, bookshops both soothe and excite me, I could eat a whole jar of crunchy peanut butter with a spoon in just one sitting, I'm forever in love with the moon, keeping my skin clear is almost always my #1 concern in life, I'm addicted to Gilmore Guys (only a couple of years late), I'm actually writing a book for reals, I'm considering starting up a Beauty category on this blog, I'll be off to hospital very soon and I'm planning a Recovery Reading List. (comment with any recommendations plz thx)


(Photo: Erin Veness)


Tuesday, 28 August 2018

'To All the Boys I've Loved Before'; a book & film review!

I got this book for my birthday a couple of years ago from my gal Clare; I’d been so excited to read it but unfortunately that thing happened when I popped it on my perfectly colour-coordinated shelf, 100% meaning to read it ASAP, and then… time passed, and other books came into my life. And here we are.

But of course when I saw the ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ trailer appear on my Netflix, and then suddenly cute gifs and quotes from the film were popping up all over my timelines, I knew I had to grab it from the bottom of the pile and get on the hype. 


(Photos in this post all taken in Cake Room, my regular haunt in Hastings)

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Rejection.

I have thick skin. No, seriously. Medical professionals have told me repeatedly for the past few years that they have trouble taking blood and inserting cannulas because my skin is so damn thick, and my veins run deep. Every time they tell me this, I laugh. Because it may be true in the physical sense but figuratively, emotionally speaking... my skin is thin as tissue paper. 


(Photo: Erin Veness)


Thursday, 23 August 2018

Why changing my Instagram theme/style/order/whatever actually means a lot to me.

Ooh yes, I’m hearing some of y’all sighing and picturing you rolling your eyes upon reading this title! And I can only apologise – you see, it turns out, Instagram means a lot to me. 


(Photo: Erin Veness)


Yeah, my millennial status has officially peaked. My favourite breakfasts are either a fresh acai bowl or avo smash toast with chilli flakes, I am currently using a 16-25 railcard that's technically valid until I am 27, I can only dream of someday getting a foot on the mythical property ladder, and I recently had a sex dream about a YouTuber. Now, this: I am officially an Insta obsessive. I almost value double-tap likes from strangers as much as I do IRL hugs from loved ones. I have a note on my phone containing every grouping of hashtags I could possibly need, that I copy & paste into a comment immediately after posting something. I have two separate editing apps, one of which lets me plan my grid weeks in advance. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

How I accidentally became an underwear model.

Hmm. Most click bait-ish title ever? Quite possibly.

So, yes. I have recently been modelling gorgeous lingerie for a couple of fabulous, feminist, empowering brands – Curvy Kate and Neon Moon. How the hell did that happen?! I have found myself wondering just that quite a bit recently. Let’s investigate by retracing my steps a little… 


(Photo: Metro UK)

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Balance.

Balance is important to me, and is something I will always work hard to create and maintain in my life. It’s not easy though, in fact a lot of the time I find it’s all or nothing in my world; I'll have several weeks of non-stop movement and excitement, often followed by whole days spent doing next to nothing. 


(Photo: Erin Veness)


Friday, 17 August 2018

Recent Reads: the 27th and 28th of 2018.

Oh hey there, welcome to my latest Recent Reads post! This one features Sarah Knight, Chloe Seager, and Emma Nash; friendship fails and not giving any f*cks. Read on to get yourself a new fictional friend and a no-f*cks given attitude to life! 
 


Wednesday, 15 August 2018

'Friendship Fails of Emma Nash', by Chloe Seager; a guest piece!

The wonderful, hilarious Chloe Seager has done it again! Her latest novel, a follow-up to her 2017 debut ‘Editing Emma’, is all about friendships – and the many filters, pitfalls and straight up fails that can be found within them. My fab friends, this is 'Friendship Fails of Emma Nash'!

I am so thrilled to be a stop on this blog tour, having recently finished the book – and doing a Twitter giveaway when I was sent 2 copies! My ‘proper’ review will be featured in my next Recent Reads post, but for now I can simply say: everyone needs to befriend Emma, immediately. But be warned: she’s prone to accidentally making potential friends cry about their unfortunate surnames, lying about owning a cat and sniffing ex-boyfriend’s clothes. I mean...haven’t we all done at least one of those things!? Show of hands? No? K.

Anyway, let’s get on with this blog tour ting – the lovely Chloe has blessed this blog with a piece about her ‘ideal celeb BFF’! See below to find out who it is (and why I 1000% completely agree)… 


Monday, 13 August 2018

How to: fly (in a plane, anyway).

I have flown a lot in my life; I'm very fortunate in that the Latter parents have always been keen travellers and I have some very adventurous friends – some of whom live permanently abroad. Growing up with these people around me could be why I crave and adore taking trips here and there, or maybe it was something in me anyway that's been nurtured and encouraged appropriately? Who even knows! 

Before I start to psychoanalyse myself (one of my favourite forms of torture), I'll get to the point of this post. It's a little different to my usual stuff (i.e. intense health stories, ridiculous anecdotes...and fun bookish geek-outs) but I wanted to share some tips on flying! 


(Photo: Erin Veness)

Friday, 10 August 2018

'Colour Me In', by Lydia Ruffles ; a mini review and Q&A!

The wonderful Lydia Ruffles is the author of two excellent YA novels that are both so beautifully written, with the most creative plots and lovable, fascinating characters. I was delighted to have the opportunity to throw some Qs at Lydia in preparation for the publication of her latest book, Colour Me In’; the story of Arlo, an actor whose world is turned upside down after a tragedy which then sends him fleeing to the other side of the world – where he meets and befriends a fellow traveller. 

I loved this book – surprise, surprise! I adored her debut, 'The Taste of Blue Light', but if possible I found this one even more exciting and fun to read. Arlo as a character was so gorgeous and the way he felt things was so true and pure, it hurt at times to read. I will be shouting about this book and its author for a while yet, so jump on my Lydia Love Train, will you? Thx. 


Wednesday, 8 August 2018

What is self care?

Self care has become a huge deal in recent years. More people are taking time for themselves – and treating themselves – using the #selfcare hashtag liberally and actually saying out loud that they need it.

But self care is often seen in soft focus. The truth is, it’s not always a photogenic mix of bath bombs, glossy magazines and milky tea on rainy days. Sometimes it’s much smaller, but with equally enormous results. 


(Photo: Erin Veness)


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