My Life in Books Tag

My Life in Books Tag

1. Find a book for each of your initials

A is for…

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L is for….

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and W is for…

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2. Count your age along your bookshelf: What book is it?

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This is the 24th book (I’m 24 next week so I thought I may as well round up). A banging book for what I hope is a banging year

3. Pick a book set in your city/country

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I’ve mentioned this book before in a tag, but its such a special book (and series) to me that I have to mention it again. I’ve never read a book set in a town anywhere near mine, so I figured rural east coast Australia would do  smilelaugh.jpg

4. Pick a book that represents a destination you’d love to travel to

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FOOORR  SCOOOTTTLLLAAANDDD

*coughs awkwardly*

Scotland please. Thanks Diana Gabaldon

5. Pick a book that’s your favourite colour

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I love red. Also adore blue, but this is just a stunning cover.

6. Which book do you have the fondest memories of?

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This was a staple of my younger years; my mum read this to me at least once a week when I was a kid. I adored it, and my mum especially adored it! This book brings up all the warm fuzzies, and hopefully I can read this to future progeny of my own.

7. Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

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This book was really good. Like really good… It just took me a month. A MONTH. And it was a slog. Diana’s work is fantastic, but SOOOOOOOOOOOO long and so detailed. Each line is dense with both story and importance; its not a light read at all. The drama that happened in this book was quite frankly ridiculous… but so good. Gabaldon is a queen, but i’d really appreciate it if she made her work easier to read.

8. Which book in your TBR pile will give you the biggest accomplishment when you finish it?

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This book has honestly sat on my shelf taunting me for 6 years. Every time I go to pick it up I get really intimidated and put it back down. Everyone who has read it has assured me i’ll love it- I really fan girl hard over the TV show- and I know I will enjoy it, I just know how much hard work it is. And after Gabaldon, it’s more than a little daunting. But if I can make Gabaldon, I can definitely do Martin.

 

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Shout out to Dreamland book blog where I found this tag. Loved reading her answers. I tag anyone who wants to give this a whirl.

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My Top 10 Books of 2017

I’ve had a year this year.

2017 was a bit all over the place for me, and if you’ve noticed how quiet this blog has been in 2017, i’m sure this is obvious.

I’ve had both fantastic highs and really s$%# lows. I’ve loved and lost. I’ve had moments of crippling self doubt, and moments of great triumph where I did things I didn’t think I could do but did.

I’ve had a very insular year; I’ve spent the year focusing inward and working out what my priorities are, what I fight for, and what I don’t have time for.

Books, my ever faithful support agencies, have supported me throughout the entire roller coaster. And perhaps because I’ve had such a year, I’ve read A LOT.

In fact, I’ve read so much, I made my Goodreads goal. I DID IT!!! I READ OVER 50 BOOKS THIS YEAR!!!

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My tastes have varied throughout the year, and I’ve read across multiple genres, ticked off books that have been long sitting on my TBR, consumed some hot new reads and many more. I’ve fallen in love with audiobooks, and really worked out my kindle.

I’ve actually had a pretty good run; I cant pick any bad books this year! All the ones I’ve read this year I’ve enjoyed immensely and my book pickings have been on point. So for this tag, I’m just going to focus on my ten faves this year. Which has been so hard to choose!!!

Top 10 of 2017

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Goodreads   ||  Review (kinda)

I had been trying to get a copy of this to read forever, and it took me until this year to get a copy. What an intense adventure. I was sucked in from the beginning, and loved the sequel almost as much as this first one. This whole world is riveting and the heavy drawings on the Roman Gladiators just did it for me. (Major History buff here).

 

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Goodreads   ||    Review (Kinda)

This book is a game changer. I can guarantee you that this is the most unique book you have ever read. Everyone I have recommended this too loves it as much as I do. It’s told in such a unique way, the story keeps you on tenterhooks the entire time, and the sequel is so kick ass and just works perfectly with this one. GET YOU THIS BOOK AND MAKE SURE YOU READ THIS! You can thank me later

 

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Rook by Sharon Cameron

Goodreads || Amazon

I knew this book was going to be good when I brought it. Its bloody amazing. Another wild ride where you’re on pins and needles for the whole read. If you like history with a dystopian twist, this is for you. This is a true adventure book set in Dystopian England and Paris. MC is witty and strong and you cannot help but love her.

 

A Court of Wings and Ruin

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas (Book 3 in ACOTR series)

Goodreads   ||   Amazon

God Damn what a good third book. If you’ve read my reviews for the first two books in this series, you’ll know how much I love it. This book did not dissapoint. This book took all the delicious momentum and character development from the second half of book 2 and just kicked it up into overdrive. I honestly am in love with Sarah Maas and she stole my heart again with this book.

 

A Gentlemans Guide to Vice and Virtue

The Gentlemans Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Goodreads   ||  Amazon

I listened to this book on audiobook and thoroughly recommend listening to this one (Voiced by the actor who played Tom Riddle delish). This is another history adventure, and is an absolute lark. The main character is un-apologetically deplorable but I adored him. This is a very well done story with a queer main character who gets himself, his best friend Monty, and his sass queen of a sister into all manners of trouble.

 

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Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (and the whole damn Peter Grant series)

Goodreads  ||   Amazon 

I fell in love with this whole series this year, and read all the currently published books in it! I listened to them via audiobook and had heart eyes the whole time (Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is a god and should narrate every audiobook ever. His performances are incredible). This series is what happens when an excellent mystery, cop-procedural series has a baby with a fantasy book. With cops that are also wizards, ghosts, river spirits and all manner of other magical creatures running amok in London, this series is going to grab hold of you and not let you go. I could talk for hours about how much I loved this series, and how much i’m dying waiting for the next instalment due in 2018.

 

Turtles All the Way Down

Turtles all the Way Down by John Green

Goodreads  ||  Amazon

There is a reason everyone has been hyping this book. It’s incredible. John Green can sometimes be a bit hit or miss;- some books of his I adore i.e. the Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns, and others not so much (i’m looking at you ‘Looking for Alaska’). This one is so worth his hiatus. I think his writing has improved so much, and I think he’s nailed the story telling. I was utterly fascinated by his presentation of anxiety and OCD and I gathered so much more empathy and understanding from this book (I have people close to me with these conditions).

 

Tower of Dawn

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas (Book 6 in the Throne of Glass Series)

Goodreads   ||  Amazon

She’s done it again folks! Maas has appeared on my best books list twice again! I was initially unsure about this book- it pulls away from the main story line and focuses on one of the side characters and his story while book 5 happens. I shouldn’t have been worried. This was fantastic. This story felt much more carefully written, and given how quickly it came out after book 5, I feel like Maas may have partially written this story when writing book 5. I loved hearing Chaol’s adventures, and loved meeting all the new characters.

Drums of Autumn

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

Goodreads    ||    Amazon 

This book was a wild ride. In order to avoid spoiling the series (this is book 4), let me tell you that this is a fantastic fourth book; it keeps all the action and build up of the third and pushes it further in a neat way. Action isn’t forced, it rolls beautifully in between some intense character development. Your heart will likely break for each character about 5 times (Diana can be mean to her characters) but the small circle of main characters are strong and prove worthy of your admiration. This book had me hooked!

 

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Dawn Study by Maria V Snyder

Goodreads   ||    Amazon

There’s divided opinion on goodreads about this book; as always with the final book in  a series, some love it. Others not. I loved it. I thought it was neat and tidy ending to one of my fav series. It didn’t suffer from the “omg we must do everything quickly” syndrome that Snyder tends to get on penultimate books. I liked the character development and the time she took to detail changes in the heroine. I think Snyder took the time to wrap up all the plot lines in a believable way and while I would have liked more time at the end on (Spoiler item redacted), I’m satisfied with this as the end of the series.

 

Honourable Mentions;

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Goodreads    ||    My Review

 

Midnight Jewel

Goodreads   ||   Amazon

 

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Goodreads    ||    Amazon

 

 

So here’s to 2017; thank Christ its over!!

And for those curious, here’s my Goodreads goal for 2018;

2018 GOodreads Challenge

Ashleigh’s Tips for Solo Travel

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So I recently went to Ireland by myself.

I had an absolute blast, but I have found something interesting over the past few months; whenever I tell people about my holiday. “On your own? Wow that’s so brave!” is honestly the sentence every single person uses.

This boggles my brain. Why is solo travel so weird to some people?

I’ve always been conscious of solo travellers, and have always wanted to do it. So many people I know have solo travelled, so the idea was never new to me.

Don’t get me wrong, there were moments where it was kind of intimidating to be on my own, but I loved every second of my trip away and never felt regret or scared. I’ve always been someone who thrives when alone, and I have always enjoyed my own company. I knew, before going, that I wasn’t going to get lonely. I didn’t. I loved it.

There’s nothing better than living to your own schedule- going where you want, seeing what you want to see, spending as much time as you please somewhere. Eating when and what you want. Sleeping when you want. Choosing where you want to stay. All that without having to worry about or consult with anyone else. You choose the adventure, quite literally! The freedom of going solo is more than I can describe, and I revelled in it.

I’m only fairly new to Solo travel so there are still many things I don’t know, but I thought I might pass on some tips and tricks to those yet to venture into that world so that you have a bit of leg-up in your research and planning!

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  1. Do your research for literally everything before you go. Even as small as walking routes, best restaurants, weather etc. I was pedantic about my research in Ireland and had a very smooth experience with only a few hiccups.
  2. Make sure you stay in the ‘safe’ suburbs. This is for yours, and your parents and family’s peace of mind. Especially as a solo female traveller, this is essential.
  3. Do your hotel research, especially for hostels. Be really picky with your hostels; always remember the price you pay always reflects what you’re going to get. The $30 beds are $30 for a reason (learned the hard way)
  4. Shower Shoes are essentials. Never travel without.
  5. If possible, ask for a top bunk bed in a hostel. Safety combined with practicality. And try to not get the bunk straight next to the door.
  6. If you can choose your seat on an aeroplane, go for a bulkhead or emergency row. You’ll thank me for this after 14-20 hours in the air.
  7. Pack a change of shirt in your carry on (plane/train). Long haul flights are bearable if you can change out of that sweaty, crusty shirt you’ve been in for an ungodly amount of hours. Trust me this is one of the best travel hacks I’ve learned. Armed with a pack of camping wipes (shower wipes), and some deodorant, you feel so much better when changed.
  8. Before you go, work out your sleeping hours on the plane to try and match the timezone you are travelling to. It doesn’t get rid of Jetlag, but it definitely helps a lot.
  9. Check if your destination has particular cultural customs around certain days of the week– i.e. in Dublin, nothing is open before 11am on Sundays. I didn’t know this and spent my first day in Dublin walking around confused because nothing (and I mean nothing) was open.
  10. Airport Shuttles are your best friend. The busses are usually 10 times cheaper than taxi’s/uber or the dedicated train. Most shuttles have different routes and you’re guaranteed that one will stop pretty much right at where you need to go.
  11. Take as little suitcase/luggage as you can. As a solo traveller, if you’re hauling a lot of luggage, not only is it hard for you to manage and cart around, but it also paints a massive target on your back to undesirables. Little luggage means you will spend less on things to bring home, and will make you very economical in your packing. If you’re going on day trips/short tours, this will also help you to stick close to your weight limit.
  12. Always take spare baggage locks and luggage straps. I can guarantee you’re likely to need them, even when you think you wont. You will. And you’ll curse yourself at the end of the trip trust me.
  13. Take your time packing; don’t leave it to the last minute. This allows you to think logically about what you’re packing; you wont over pack and you wont be frantically trying to clean clothes at the last minute. Also helps with tip 15.
  14. Study the weather for a while leading up to leaving; this will help you pack the right type of clothes. Be super critical and watch the weather for a number of weeks, especially in the lead up. I ended up changing out a few of my clothing choices the day before I left for Ireland because I was a bit too optimistic when originally packing. This was a good decision because I needed those extra leggings and jacket let me tell you!
  15. When packing, lay out all the clothes you intend on taking, and the go back the next day and halve it. Consolidate your clothes as much as possible. Pants can be worn a few days before washing. You don’t need as much as you think because…
  16. Wash your clothes on the road; hotel bathroom sinks are there for a reason.
  17. If a hotel offers a laundry service, use it. Sinks are good in a pinch but not practical for washing some clothes items (Aka jeans. Trust me don’t try it). And the chance of fresh laundered clothes is precious. Don’t waste it.
  18. Most hotels hold luggage if you’re too early. I’ve never been to a city/country where hotels don’t have luggage holding facilities.
  19. When booking, make sure you tell your hotel/hostel what time you are intending to arrive. If it’s still a bit up in the air until the day of, give your best estimate. Just common courtesy. Also by letting them know what time you intend on arriving, it increases the chances of your room being ready for you when you get there.
  20. Don’t carry around a big bag/backpack- try and live out of a very small shoulder bag (with cross body strap) during the day. Always keep your big bags at your accommodation. Which leads to…
  21. Be careful when carrying around big souvenir store bags/wearing souvenir clothing; this tells everyone you’re not from around there. You become more of a target for undesirables.
  22. Always remember to use your street smarts and always be over cautious.
  23. Bring a water bottle with you everywhere; staying hydrated is important.
  24. If staying in a hostel, take in other’s behaviour and match it; if everyone keeps to themselves, do so. If people are open, make friends.
  25. Do mini tours while at your destination with local tour guides/companies; they can show you things you wouldn’t have seen otherwise and you can make friends while there. (Shamrocker tours are bomb if you’re ever in Ireland.)

Above all, remember to have fun and enjoy your holiday. Rejoice that you’re brave enough to travel on your own! Not a lot of people will.

Some pictures of my Trip to Ireland are below for any curious souls 😉

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My Holiday TBR!- Ireland 2017

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As I’ve begun packing for my upcoming holiday – I fly out on 1 July eep!!- one very important thing is coming with me… my Kindle. As a booklover, there was no way I was leaving the country without a few books to while away my transit hours. And due to a rather strict luggage limit on the tour I’m going on, my trusty kindle has taken one for the team.

I don’t usually do TBR’s, purely because of my hot and cold reading patterns, but Holidays are always big reading times for me. I also get a kick out of seeing what books people take with them on holiday- it says a lot about their personality style.

Here are the books i’m taking with me to Ireland;

  1. The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales 

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By all reports this is a silly, slightly trashy read which is heavily inspired by genre fiction. Some hate it, some love it. The ones who love it sold me. I wanted something quick and easy to read that would amuse me on a plane ride. This seems to fit the bill. It might be stupid, but I cant wait to test it.

2. Wintersong by S Jae-Jones

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I stumbled on this one by accident as it popped up in my recommended books on goodreads. A reviewer promised heavy references to Labyrinth and that’s all they had to say! The power of the Voodoo was too much and it came into my hands quickly and easily

3. Dawn Study by Maria V Snyder

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So I’ve been looking for this book in bookstores for the last few months and haven’t been able to find it. It’s the latest (and appears to be the last) book in the Chronicles of Ixia which I’ve been hooked on since 2015. When I saw it on the Amazon store I was so giddy I squealed with delight. I really hope this is as good as the rest of the series!!!

4. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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Buzzfeed promised me this book is hilarious. I’m hoping buzzfeed isn’t lying to me. I wanted a comedy book to balance out my reading list. I wanted a cross section of different options to read. I’m also always down to read some diverse fiction.

5. A Conjuring of Light by V E Schwab

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I really enjoyed the first book- V E Schwab has magical writing abilities and, lets be honest, everything she touches is gold- and when the second book popped up in popular on Amazon, I just kinda went for it. It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have a dystopian fiction on my list.

Top Tips for Pop Culture Conventions

Top Tips

I am by no means an expert in terms of Pop Culture Conventions; I’m a relative newbie to the Con scene, having gone to my first Con in 2013. But I was brought into the community under the very experienced wing of my Best friend who is more of a veteran. Over the last few years, I’ve very quickly learned the dos and don’ts of Cons, and I’m keen to share my knowledge for those who are looking to get into cons or are still relatively fresh on the scene.

These tips aren’t biblical, but they will sure as heck make sure you have a smooth weekend.

Before the Convention

  • Be Organised; at the beginning of the year, plan which Cons you intend to go to. Start visualising where they are in the year, how you will get there and how many cosplays you intend to do for the year.
  • Book your hotel strategically; not all conventions are in the easiest to access places- some are not near hotels or major highways, and frequently you need to stay at hotels to attend. However, you do not have to be suckered in to the absolutely ridiculously high prices of those immediately surrounding hotels (who jack up prices because they know a convention is planned). I am extremely strategic when booking my hotels. I always book a hotel that sits on/extremely close to a major public transport line. And I usually try and book a hotel that’s several stops away from the convention location. The earlier you book this hotel, the better price your will get. You can always use an agent like booking.com to take advantage of their cancellation deals, so if you need to cancel, you can. Try and get a hotel with bag holding services (see why later) and tea/coffee/mini fridge.
  • Start your cosplays early; there’s nothing worse than staying up late the night before, punching rivets into a piece of fabric, let me tell you.
  • Before planning cosplay, make sure you check weapons/props rules of the event company. There is no point spending all this time on a beautiful big prop to have it confiscated when you get there because it exceeds regulations. The prop rules might also affect who you decide to cosplay as.
  • While checking weapon rules for the event, also check in on local legislation. I.e. at the end of 2016, NSW brought in very strict rules regarding ‘fake guns’, making a lot of cosplay props illegal.

During the Convention

  • Have a ‘Floor Bag’; your floor bag should contain bare minimum- there is nothing worse than lugging around a huge bag around the convention. Go for something lightweight but big enough to hold what you need. Those super trendy, small, faux leather backpacks are perfect for cons. Also smaller shoulder satchels are a good idea. The bag should be able to hold comfortably a cosplay emergency kit (See next point), a water bottle, your wallet, phone/camera, tickets/coupons and a very lightweight cardigan/shawl.
  • Cosplay Emergency Kit;- This has only been a recent discovery of mine, but has saved my ass on more than one occasion. In your floor bag, keep a cosplay emergency kit; sometimes, things happen… like your hasty rivets/string sleeve breaks and you are walking around with a dirty, great bit of fabric flapping around your elbow. Or your foam armour comes away from the suit/backing. Or your eyeliner smudges like the winter soldier under your eyes. This is where the cosplay emergency kit comes in. There are multiple guides on the internet of what to put in your cosplay emergency kit, and sometimes some items depend on the costume. But there are a few things that definitely should be in there. Here are the items in my cosplay emergency kit;
    – Bandaids/plasters (multiple)
    – Safety pins (lots)
    – Bobby Pins (a small handful)
    – Small role of double sided tape
    – Panadol/pain killer
    – Translucent powder (Small container and small brush for makeup emergencies)
    – concealer (small tube in your shade)

    Cosplaying-on-a-budget and this forum on a cosplay community have some good tips and guides to follow regarding this.
  • Take Snacks; oh man believe me, this has saved me so many $$. Convention food is always ridiculously expensive and fair enough that you need to buy lunch, but if you can avoid buying snacks then you are already saving some dollars. Conventions require a lot of energy, and, if you can, I’d recommend going for some power foods; fruits (especially bananas) to give you an mid-morning energy boost and something like nuts (almonds and peanuts unsalted and raw) or muesli bars (check ingredients for hidden nasties) for any afternoon munchies. These items are small and can easily be slotted into your con bag.
  • If you are staying in the hotel, get your bags (not your floor bag) held at your hotel;- most Australian cons don’t hold luggage and you don’t want to be that annoying person walking around with a big bag and bashing into everyone. Saves your back, and other’s patience. I have not found one hotel, big or small/boutique, that does not hold your bags (if you are a guest).
  • When packing your bigger bags/overnight bag, make sure you bring normal clothes. I do not know about you, but after a big day at the con, I want nothing more to get changed and go for dinner. Dinner at a normal restaurant, not near the con, would be mightily awkward in cosplay.
  • Try to bring, not buy breakfast (hence mini fridge and tea and coffee at hotel). This also saves some much needed dollars and also can save a lot of time of a morning. I usually get those super small cereal boxes and bring them with me to hotels. They will often have milk in the room for tea and coffee making (if the room has that function) so you can skimp there. This is where it pays to do your room research. Another good idea is to get a deal at your hotel for included/free breakfast. This is another lifesaver.
  • Download the program before you get to the con, and highlight what panels you need to go to. Making a plan of attack for the day is essential. If there is a panel or signing that is early in the morning, you don’t want to miss it by rocking up late and not knowing it was on.
  • Buy photoshoots/autograph tickets as early as you can; if you want your preferred choice of time, then this is essential. They also sell out really quickly, so if you can buy them online before the con, I would definitely recommend it.
  • Take a portable recharger for on-the-go phone charging. I learnt this the hard way. If you are using your phone for social media checking in, photos and contact with friends, then your battery is going to die quicker than a background soldier in an action movie.
  • If at the con with friends, always have a spot to meet in case you go separate ways; I can guarantee you they will not ever respond to your texts or calls. Try to pick an unusual spot out of the way of most other con goers; do not clog a walkway.
  • Have your social media deets written down on paper, business cards or something creative (a cosplayer once gave me her youtube channel name on a wooden peg!) to give out to people as needed. Carry it in an easy to access place; you have more of a chance being tagged in photos of your cosplay that way.
  • Always have some cash on you; not all vendors have Credit Card facilities (though this gets better every year)

 

Please be aware of

  • Always, Always, Always be polite to everyone you meet; they are here to have fun and enjoy themselves just as much as you. I do not care if they barged you out of the way/took your friends seat/wearing the same cosplay as you/looked at you weird; everyone, especially your fellow nerds, deserves respect. Yes, people do not always show you the same kindness/politeness, but you will not receive it if you do not give it.
  • Respect other people’s work. This is mainly a Cosplay thing, but please always be respectful of someone else’s cosplay. I do not care if you personally don’t like it. I do not care how basic of a cosplay it is. I do not care how many other cosplayers are cosplaying the same character. People have put a lot of thought and effort into their cosplay. No matter how good it is, or how intricate/complex (or seemingly opposite). Every person cosplaying (even if it is just a slightly influenced one) is worthy and good. They deserve attention and praise just as much as others.
  • If you see someone being harassed, or assaulted, please step in. I cannot stress this enough. Like it or not (whether you have seen it before or not), this is something that still happens at cons. We cannot beat this behaviour unless we, as the by-standing public, call it out and prove that this is not ok. Please step in and protect your fellows. Please report it to Con officials/volunteers. Do not be a bystander. Stick up for people.
  • And finally, please, PLEASE BE CONSCIOUS OF YOUR PERSONAL HYGIENE!!! Please make sure you have showered and used deodorant. I’ve seen (and especially smelt) some bad things at cons. Please do your fellows a favour. I do not care if you do not think you smell or do not think it is bad. People will be much more sensitive to your hygiene than you are. It is a pet peeve of mine, and I am so conscious about myself, I get cut when others do not return the favour. There has been so many times when I have been gridlocked into a panel/hall/line and had to suffer through hell because someone has awful body odour. Please- also- if you are sick, please sanitise/clean your hands regularly, and cover your mouth. Germs travel like wildfire during cons.

 

I hope these tips have been super helpful and you have a fantastic time at your next con. 🙂

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Beauty and the Beast Book Tag!

Beauty and the Beast Book Tag- Undecided Bookworm

So like most people, I’m Disney trash. And I live for the new Beauty and the Beast. When looking for blog inspo, I lighted on this tag. I just had to do it.

“Oh what a guy, Gaston!” A villain you can’t help but love-

Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes Novels. Both via the on-screen adaptions and the original book adaption, there’s just something weirdly fascinating about Moriarty. I am not validifying his crimes or saying he is not- at times- despicable. I think that’s why I like him; he’s weird, more than a little bit psycho but our resident friendly megalomaniac

“Here’s where she meets Prince Charming” Your OTP-

I have a lot of ships. Like a lot. And sometimes my OTP changes depending on what I read and loved recently. But my all time fav OTP (Canonical here) is probably Elizabeth/Darcy. Common yes, but I just cant even with those two.

“I want so much more than this provincial life” A character destined for greater things. –

So. Many. Of. My. Children. Deserve. More!!! A constant pet peeve of mine is characters destined for far greater things than they’re given time for. There’s so many, so I just picked the first one which popped into my head which is Manon from the Celena Sardothian series by Sarah J Maas. Amirite?

“Be our guest!” A book that made you hungry.-

The Hunger Games. Ironically. Probably because Food is such a sacred thing to both Katniss and Peta that when they actually get the food, you kinda feel like you’re eating it with them. Case in point, Catching Fire at the Victors Ball.

“Beauty and the Beast” Opposites attract.

DUDE! Again, way too many options here. I live for opposites attract. LIKE LIVE. Purely because I’m reading the series at the moment, I’ll whack in Jamie Fraser and Claire Beauchamp/Randal/Fraser from the Outlander series. The best opposite attracts pair who are destined to be together!!!

“But there’s something in him that I simply didn’t see” A character who is more than they appear-

Once again, too many. But to settle on one for now, let’s go Rhysand from the ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ Series. To avoid spoilers, that is all I will say.

“I was innocent and certain, now I’m wiser but unsure” A book that changed you in some way-

Little known fact, the first book I read that wasn’t a middle grade fiction was actually Romeo and Juliet. It had a massive impact on me and cemented both my love of reading, but also my love of theatre. I’ve been obsessed with Shakespeare ever since and have gone on to perform in several Shakespeare plays. This book changed me a lot, and while it’s not my favourite of the Bard’s works, it holds a special significance for me.

“Kill the Beast!” A book you picked up because of hype. –

I’ve picked up many a book due to hype, some good, and some not so good (literally see all my book reviews). In the spirit of positivity, one of the best ones I picked up that was worth the hype was Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. This book was SO FANTASTIC it’s literally insane. i am trash for this book. I’ve literally recommended it to three different people over the past two months (only one of whom has read it since). Do yourself a favour and get your paws on this book.

“I’ll never shake away the pain” A book or moment that always makes you cry-

Can I name literally all of the Harry Potter Series? No? Well tough luck, the whole damn series makes me cry.

“How does a moment last forever” A book that you’ve loved since you were little.-

Funny story, one of my favourite childhood books was a random book that no one seems to have ever heard of. My gran owned it and I used to insist on having it read to me every time we stayed at her house. It went missing sometime when I was a teenager, and I’m still devastated to this day. The book was called “What a Pest” and if anyone else has read it, please raise your hand so I can bond with you.

 

I tag literally everyone. Please do this if it tickles your fancy. Leave your blog link below so I can check it out and give you some love.

 

Credit to the Book Nut where I originally found this tag. And credit to Amber Elise from Du Livre as the original tag owner

Review: Riverdale Season 1

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Riverdale- (Netflix)

or: This. Show.

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So like most people on the planet, I have Netflix; I’ve been done with mainstream free to air TV for a good 5 years. About 2 years ago, I got hooked on Netflix. I’ve watched a lot of shows in my short time on Netflix, from a range of different genres, and binge watched a majority. My tastes in TV vary greatly depending on my mood, but usually I stay away from the faux teen angst dramas. I think they’re stupid and obnoxious.

When Riverdale was first uploaded to Australian Netflix, I totally ignored it. I was finishing off a few different shows, and wasn’t interested with the tooth aching promo pictures. Eventually, though, the net was abuzz with it; everyone was talking about Riverdale, and I begun to grow a little more curious. As my relationship with my Ex ended, I needed to binge watch something crappy, and so, in a fit of feminine woe, I clicked on the first episode.

I don’t know what I expected- perhaps a pretty-little liars and vampire diaries hybrid? – This so wasn’t it.

I watched the first 5 episodes in one sitting, then had to wait while each episode came out. I was hooked. No, I AM hooked.

There’s something about ambiguously attractive 20-somethings playing teenagers that has just snared my attention. The mystery that the story rotates around, at first, seems so cheesy it’s not funny. But then three episodes in, it becomes obvious that this isn’t what you thought.

Now, I’m usually pretty good with who-dun-its. There’s only really been three that have really, deeply shocked me; there is the one who shall remain nameless because i’m still traumatised and get the wails each time I even think of the title, Broadchurch and this damn show.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself… I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.

Because that’s one of the best things about this show; it takes you for a ride. The mystery is bold, but intricately crafted. The plot points each episode are fresh, different in style, and keep the narrative spinning on. The whole series has excellent pace, and I cannot think of one second of it that dragged.

From a cinema-buff’s point of view, the techniques and the shots were fabulous. Slow intense closeups, cut with wide shots and super high quality mp characterises some really innovative work. Props to the cameraman.

But perhaps one of my favourite things was the use, and the play on colours.

SO. MUCH. BEAUTIFUL. COLOURS.

The highly saturated, definitely digitally enhanced, colours made the whole story velvet gold. The manipulation of colours in this way is clearly a nod back to the source material; the TV show is based off the old comic series Archie. But the colours also add a touch of modern-ness to this; the use of colour in this way reeks of current film trends, and the impact of the technique is so huge, I could right a thesis paper on it.

Colour helps to define characters and their motives. The Blossoms are shades of red (don’t forget the symbolism here folks! Red is an important colour for a reason), Betty is Pink (cute colour offset by a much deeper and surprising character), Jughead and JP in Blacks and Greys (total opposites personality wise, and made to play off each other in the same hue), Archie in blues and reds (to highlight the two different Archie’s employed by the show writers at particular points in the series) and so on.

I liked that the show writers didn’t force the show into the super long American standard episodes (in comparison to usually shorter model European and British shows use); had they done so, it definitely would have cheapened the show. The impact is in it’s succinctness.

Now that season one has come to an end (I’m not crying, your crying!) I feel weirdly satisfied. I mean, I’m definitely going to be on tenterhooks for season two, but man that was such a neat way to end the series (i’m a hideous tease I know ;-))

Riverdale will definitely surprise you; trust me, even my review isn’t going to assist you here. 100% would recommend this show. My only advice is, wait to judge if you will continue the series until after episode four. If it’s not doing it for you after episode four, it might not be for you. And hey, you’ve got plenty of time to binge watch season one, season two might be a while.

I hope you liked my first TV show review. Something a bit different, but good to get back into the swing of things again. 

Book Unhaul- Best Places to Get Rid of Old Books

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If you’re like me, your bookcase is less #shelfgoals and more “oh my god where can I fit this book I just got, I’ve got no space!”. My book shelf frequently spills out onto my floor, and periodically, much to my distress, I do a book cull.

Book culls seem scary for bibliophiles, but trust me, it’s sometimes sorely needed and almost cathartic.

A few weeks ago, I accepted that I needed to purge my bookcase. There were things on there from when I was 15 that I had read and wasn’t particularly fond of, and some things I was just never going to look at. So I went through and culled.

It wasn’t a particularly big cull- I did a huge cull about 2 years ago- but was a sizable portion; I can get all my books into my book case now, even if they are double layered.

I realised that there may be some people who are keen to purge, but either don’t know how/what to give away, or where to give them away too. So here are some of my tips that will hopefully help you with your endeavours;

What to Get Rid of- Book Purge

There are some rules of thumb that you should always use when doing a book purge, and some categories/identifiers you can use to select books to purge;

  1. Did you really enjoy this book when you read it?
  2. Does this book carry a lot of memories for a particular place/time/person?
  3. Was this book a present from someone special?
  4. How long has this book sat on your shelf for?
  5. Be brutally honest, are you ever going to read this book?

If you answer yes/not long to most of these, then this book should probably stay, unless you’re intending on really de-cluttering. If it answers to more than 2 no’s (if it’s no to question 5 it should definitely go) then you should probably put this in your “get rid of” pile.

Will it be hard to get rid of most of the books? yes. I’m not going to lie and pretend that it isn’t. But just keep in mind that just because you are parting ways with this book, doesn’t mean this is the end of the book’s life; think about how much of an impact this book could have on someone else.

A book purge isn’t the destruction of books; it’s just identifying the books you should pass on to someone else.

 

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Books should never be thrown away, unless you physically can’t keep the pages in the binding anymore. I am a strong campaigner for book re-homing. Given how expensive books can be, and how precious they are, it’s important they live a few different lives with a few different people.

I’ve always given away books; I like to pass on the magic to someone else who would enjoy them as much, or more, than me.

So, you’ve identified the books you no longer want/need. So now where do they go? There’s so many different options or ways to go about this, but here’s a few for those who aren’t sure where to start.

Give them to your friends

After my recent purge, there were quite a few books which I thought my friends might like, so I put up a Facebook post listing the books I was giving away, and a picture of the books and their titles and conditions. I got a fantastic response from my friends, with most wanting the same series. I ended up giving away 5 of the books to one of my friends who is very excited to have them.

Never take for granted the power of friends or social media!

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Sell your second hand books

There are lots of websites or small indie bookstores around the world who offer to buy your second hand books for you. A quick google search will show you multiple places to do so in your area. Try to go for reputable companies and make sure you check what prices they on-sell them for and the condition of the books that they ask for, to ensure they’re not taking you for a ride. Some examples I’ve heard of are AbeBooks.com, Thriftbooks (very highly recommended). If you’re an Aussie, the are lots of smaller organisations that Australian based who are keen to buy second hand books; i.e. BerkelouWbooks. A lot of university/Alumni bookshops also offer similar services.

If you happen to have a very popular/hyped/new/rare book that you would like to sell, you might have some luck on places like Ebay, Gumtree/Craigslist, buy/sell groups on Facebook.

Give your books to a women/children’s shelter

There are so many people that have it so much harder than we do, and as domestic violence and homelessness rates rise around the world, it’s important to do all we can to support our fellow human beings. While you may not be able to give cash/donations to organisations like this, you can give old clothes or books.

Ask around/google for some local shelters, and get in touch with the organisation/charity group running them to see if they are willing to take books (most shelters love book donations). The difference that a book could make in someones life who rely’s on these shelters is immense.

Give them to a Charity Shop/Charity

This is my favourite way to pass on most things I don’t want i.e. clothes, CD’s etc. Books definitely falls under this category. I like choosing what store/charity I give the books to, and knowing that someone who may not normally have to buy books at retail price can purchase my books. My books are pretty much in new condition (I’m extremely fussy with my books), and I love having something to physically give to a charity. I’m so privileged to lead a comfortable life and if I can give to a charity that can help ease the strain in someone else’s life, i’m down. The money the charities make from the book sale will go to something worthy; the books have a double impact, not only being available to others for their enjoyment, but also helping another group of people at the same time.

My favourite charities to give to in Australia are Lifeline, the Salvation Army and the St Vincent De Paul Society. Do your research though, there might be a local charity which may catch your attention as a local cause.

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So there’s some ideas of what you can do with your old books you no longer want. Leave me a line in the comments if you try some of these out or you personally recommend one of the methods. I would love to hear from you.

Here’s a little picture of the books I un-hauled 😉

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The Harry Potter Spells Tag

So I’m big Harry Potter Trash (if you’re new here and haven’t worked that out yet), and when I was looking for some blog inspo and stumbled upon Dreamland book blog‘s answers for this tag, I couldn’t resist.

I’ve had a bit of a rubbish last four weeks so anything to get me back into the swing of things is good. And Harry Potter is always like a soothing tonic.

So, I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.

The Harry Potter Spells Tag

  1. Flagrate / Writing Charm – A Book that you found interesting but would like to re-write.

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Give it to me… no just GIVE IT TO ME AND I”LL FIX IT FOR YOU! Damn it this book could have been so good! And it bloody sucked. I’d be happy to re-write his to fix it and make it better.

2. Alohomora/ Unlocking Charm- A first book in a series that got you hooked

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Dude everyone saw this coming. I was already technically hooked after seeing the first Tv series of Outlander, but this book just signed on the dotted line and sealed the deal. This book just speaks to my soul, and has somehow convinced me to read 5000+ pages of the series. I’m serious Outlander trash.

3. Accio / Summoning Spell- A book that you wish you could have right now

Dawn Study (Soulfinders, #3; Study, #6)

This book, the next installation in the study series (which I have fawned over a lot on this blog) was published in January this year…. DO YOU THINK I CAN FIND IT ANYWHERE?! I’m so annoyed. I’ve been to 3 different book stores multiple times this year and hunted for it… still cant find it. I couldn’t find it in my usual online book haunt and i’m so frustrated! I need this in my hands so badly!

4. Avada Kedavra / Killing Curse- A killer book

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Dude, DUDE! This book is soooooooo good. Like I’ve recommended this book to my best friend, her boyfriend, and multiple others because I bloody loved it. This book is killer in more ways than one. The Australian excellence in this book is stunning (i’m so proud) and the story is so good its insane. This book got a little bit of hype in booktube, but it should have gotten so much more because this book is an innovation! A Master peice! Go get yourself a copy of this book.

5. Confundo / Confusion Charm- A book that you found confusing

Anything ever written by the Bronte sisters.

6. Expecto Patronum / Guarding Spell- Your spirit animal book

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This book is honestly so close to my heart. I saw so much of myself in Cath it scared me. I adored this book because it treated the pop culture fandom community so well; Rowell is so respectful, understanding and never cheapens the culture. She doesn’t apologise for us, rather she takes time to cement the fandom and show how important it is. Cath isn’t made to radically change to get a boy. Shes still herself by the end of the book, she’s just a stronger version of herself. This book is an inspiration and I adore it.

7.Sectumsempra / Dark curse- A dark twisted book

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You don’t realise until you really get stuck into this book how dark it is. It seems – especially the first third of the book to be a silly, bumbling steam punk sort of story. But before you know it, this has taken a twisted turn on the train to nope-ville. This book scared the crap out of me, and i’ll fight anyone who challenges the fact of this book being dark; you didn’t read it properly or fully understand it if you didn’t. Approach this classic carefully. And while I definitely think people should read it, keep safe and keep wary.

8. Protego / Protection Charm- A childhood book connected to good memories

The Lion the witch and the Wardrobe is quite a dark book for children, but I adored this book as a child. It was the first book I cried for, and the first book to make my heart ache, but lord was it good. This book evokes warm fuzzy memories of reading it snuggled on the couch with my mum and sister. And of going to see the stage play in my best outfit. I still am very fond of this story and may always be.

9. Expelliarmus / Disarming Spell- A book that took you by surprise

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This book really took me by surprise. It was so not what I had expected- I read the bio totally incorrectly and expected a very different story. I loved that this took me by surprise though. It was dark, full of adventure, payed homage to the Roman culture and really demanded respect. Tahir is such a talented writer and this book deserves every iota of praise it gets.

10. Prior Incantato / Reverse Spell- The last book you read

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This book was good; I enjoyed it a lot, but I don’t know if it was as froth worthy as some people made it out. It’s a good complex story with a beautiful world that has been expertly constructed… I just wish we spent more time to get to know the characters. Character building may come into the sequel of this book, so I don’t really want to give my final verdict until I’ve read the sequel. But I did like this book. A very different taste from Schwab; different from her usual style but just as good.

11. Riddikulus / Boggart Banashing Spell – A funny book you’ve read

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Sarah Andersen is a gift to human kind. This isn’t technically a book; it’s a bind up of a lot of her comics in one place. It’s so funny though. Andersen’s humour lies with her relatability and her parody of real life situations. She celebrates awkwardness and the little things in life. Her style is quirky, original and adorable. She’s one super talented human being.

12. Sonorus / Amplifying Charm – A book you think everyone should know about

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This book came to me as a discounted book that was an overstock in a little bookshop my friend works at. I almost forgot about this book until I was hunting through my shelves looking for something to read. I picked it up purely because it looked like a quick read, and I liked the cover. Dude I was wrong. This book is a gem. Alternate history and dystopian fantasy collide in a beautiful mix with lashings of romance, mystery and suspense. This book is fantastic. More people should be reading this. I don’t know why this book has got zero attention. The less you know about this story going in, the better, so i’m going to have to get you to trust me on this one.

13. Obliviate / Memory Charm – A book or spoiler you would like to forget having read

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Look I’ve already said enough on this book. It doesn’t deserve any more of my time to be honest. Review

14. Imperio / Controlling Curse – A book you had to read for school

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You know how in school you were forced to read books you hated, then were forced to continuously study and assess them for assignments? This was it for me. I detest this book. I know this will offend a lot of people, but i’m sorry I cant pretend to like this book. What is the point of this book other than showing how terrible people can be to each other? It’s not glamorous, it’s vulgar and petty. Wealth and privilege is liberally wasted in a way that’s not excusable or redeemable. The characters are either dull, two dimensional or superfluous and the “morals” are questionable at best. 10/10 do not recommend.

15. Crucio / Torture Curse – A book that was painful to read

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I struggled with this book. The Mary-sue main character coupled with the painfully obnoxious story line made my teeth ache. I can’t believe this is what is fed to the hungry YA crowd these days. Aveyard struggles with Fantasy as much as character development. I will give Aveyard this though, the plot moves quickly (perhaps a bit too quickly) and she does have a few good moments of suspense. The twist could be seen coming a mile away (she does the same thing that’s been done by every man and his dog) and I had no patience to even deal with the fact that her publishers were stupid enough to give her a second book.

 

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I tag literally everyone who sees this.

Mischief Managed.

6 Years on; Success, adult Life and Old Classmates

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Much to my horror, I had a bit of a realisation this year. It’s been 6 years since I’ve been at High School. 6 years. That’s just plain ridiculous.

It feels like just yesterday I was furiously studying for university, feeling the pressure of my 17 years of life, and wondering what the hell I was going to do with myself post school. That final year is built up so much and yet ends so dramatically; for something that has such a small ripple in your adult life, it’s something that tends to hang around you a lot.

I’ve changed a lot; the 17 year old Ashleigh wouldn’t recognise the current almost 23 year old sitting in this office chair. I didn’t follow 17 year old Ashleigh’s goals, nor did I even stay with 17 year old Ashleigh’s friends. 17 year old Ashleigh was shy, woefully insecure and so clueless about what she wanted. She was willing to let her friends and peers walk all over her, because she was ‘nice’ and didn’t have a spine. She was in love with an unattainable and unhealthy dream.

I was definitely a University person. High School was a dark time. I didn’t fit in; I liked the course content but hated the peers. University was my coming of age. I learned more about the world and myself in those three years than I had bargained for. I miss University; I really enjoyed my time there.

In the years since High School I’ve earned a University Degree, travelled overseas, went back to College to get a Diploma, and got a full time job in an area I never even thought of 6 years ago. I learned to be ambitious. I learned how to love. I learned that boys are clueless, and that if you find one who makes you laugh, he should probably stick around.

I was a ugly duckling. And now i’m a swan.

Don’t get me wrong; I never lost my baby fat and I still haven’t been able to work out what to do with my hair, but I’m pretty damn happy with where I am personally.

Success of course is relative. What I count as success doesn’t match others. Just as what I have achieved isn’t the same story as my classmates.

Like I mentioned, I didn’t really like my classmates in High School. The limited strong connections I formed with some people, shattered soon after leaving School as we left to pursue our own interests. In high school, you’re thrown in tiny rooms with people who are so different from you, that in the real world, it would never work. You’re with each other because you have to be. It’s either stick together, or go alone.

Going alone is a scary thought, and one 17 year old Ashleigh was not brave enough to make.

I haven’t kept in contact with anyone since high school; a combination of choice and physically loosing touch with people. But there is Facebook, and Facebook- the devil that it is- allows me to see if others in my year have found success too.

Some have

Some haven’t.

The some who have, I’m proud of. They did it! They’ve made it past all that awful indecision and self-finding and have carved their own niche into a very full world. They’ve demanded the world take notice of them, and I’m so proud of them.

There’s the fashion stylist, styling models, rich clients and national celebs. One is a successful body builder who tours local competitions. One is a very well loved personal trainer who has started her own active-wear line. Another has arguably started one of the best up and coming hair salons in the region; he’s got a successful franchise of 6 stores and is opening new stores in Sydney each time I check in on him online.

Another has written a book. And that book is the inspiration behind my post.

Keaton never struck me as someone with a love for the written word. I don’t know if it was because I was always wrapped up in my own head, or because I just didn’t know him that well. We rotated around the same groups, and had similar friends, but I can’t say I ever sat down and had a conversation with him. In Keaton’s defence, it was because I was determined to make myself invisible and small, and not due to any fault on his part.

When I saw a few months ago he had secured a publisher for his book, I was surprised. A) that someone had so much motivation to break into such a closed market, and b) because I had no idea he was a writer. I instantly knew I had to get my hands on a copy of this book when it came out. Success is so hard won that it should be celebrated; if Keaton needed an audience, I was happy to volunteer my time.

I’ve always admired writers. Partly from being a book addict from birth, and the other half because writing was always a hobby and a pipe dream. Since I was young, it’s been one of those unachievable dreams of mine to have a story published. And Keaton had done it.

I followed the progress of the book closely, and after a great deal of searching to find a copy, I managed to get one not long after it was released.

It was a small book, but one that had obviously had a lot of time and care poured into it. Every choice was deliberate and well thought out. His writing was economical, frank and showed such an astounding amount of self-awareness and acceptance that I couldn’t help but be awed.

Keaton’s got this adult thing figured out.

Keaton’s book is a life-coaching style of non-fiction which calls on the reader to focus on their inner knowledge and inspires them to change their behaviours to better their chances. To put it simply, Keaton wants to help his readers get where he is; happy (or working towards it) and on the right path.

Keaton doesn’t claim to give you the secrets of life; rather he guides you to the right path to find the right tools to find them. A lot of the comments he makes and questions he raises has come at a time of my life where I was also asking them of myself. This has been an immense comfort to me.

I am very proud of Keaton; I think he’s done a banger of a job. He’s defiantly someone we need to keep an eye on.

Dwayne “the rock” Johnson said that “success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” This is something that I believe is fundamentally true, and something that Keaton is hinting at in his book.

I am an ambitious woman; I’m only at the beginning of my road, but my goals are clear and i’m working towards them. I have lots left to do before I can claim I am a success, though I have had success over the last 6 years. I am and always have been, a quiet achiever. But in 4 years when the inevitable High School reunions begin to be organised, I am looking forward to celebrating what I have achieved with others and their achievements. I’ll admit it, there’s that secret part of me that looks forward to shoving my happiness and progress in the face of those who doubted me and underestimated me, but I am human. Humans are entitled to a bit of wickedness every now and then.

If the last 6 years have changed me, than it’s little doubt that the next 6 years will change me yet again. Time goes very quickly, and I’ve got lots to do in that time.

My old classmates won’t talk about me to their friends; I am fairly certain they’ve forgotten I was in class with them. But I don’t measure my success by them, just as they shouldn’t measure their success by me. When I’m where I want to be though, I look forward to what they’ll say about me then.

When I graduated high school, Firework by Katy Perry was the pump-up song, and Warner Bros. had just released the last Harry Potter . Charlie Sheen had a melt-down, and the world fell in love with the Royals again with the Cinderella wedding of the decade. 17 year old Ashleigh was obsessed with Harry Potter (still am lets be real) and wanted to be a journalist.

It seems like yesterday, but I wouldn’t trade the last six years for all the world.

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