RSS Feed

Category Archives: Mind Bites

Life Bite: Feminist Inequality in my Underwear Drawer!

In the great movement of ’embracing the female body’ I believe we have gone too far.
‘Women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful’. Okay, I accept this premise…to an extent.
Yes, curvy women are beautiful. Yes, no women should feel inadequate for being a size 12/14. Yes, society shouldn’t make a woman feel ugly for being larger.

BUT

A woman who is morbidly obese…200lbs and suffering major health issues as a result. Is this beautiful? No, it is not. And not because it’s ‘unnattractive’ (which is IS, but that’s not my main reason for seeing it as wrong.) But because it’s UNHEALTHY. Eating junk food and stuffing yourself full of fat and unhealthy foods (and if you’re morbidly obese, don’t tell me you eat super healthy and moderately etc., that CANNOT be true) is not healthy, it’s not good and it’s not ‘beautiful. Fine, if you’re ‘happy’ to look and be that way, then go ahead, but don’t you dare tell me I’m being unfair when I say it’s not good. It just isn’t.

The whole love your curves thing (although it doesn’t really apply to me) is great and I think that no woman who is a size 14 should be made to feel unattractve because of those curves, because you can be completely healthy at that size, in fact, a lot of women are. But there is a limit.

Lingerie 5

And furthermore, in ’embracing curves’ I feel we are now discriminating against the ‘thin’. Some women have small builds and are naturally very slender. I am a size UK6, but I KNOW I eat healthily and also, a lot! I have chocolate and biscuits every day…like EVERY DAY; dinner is not over until I’ve had some chocolate for pudding. But I also eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains. Every meal has carbs, I love bread and potatoes and pasta, but I eat MODERATELY and SENSIBLY. It doesn’t make me ‘annorexic’ or ‘unhealthy’ and I shouldn’t be discriminated against for being SMALL. Which I feel I can be.

I often have trouble finding clothes that fit me, as I have narrow hips (especially compared to my body itself…my hips are narrower than my shoulders and narrower than the standard ‘size 6 measurements’ which can be an issue for me. But I never have trouble pulling a size 16 off the rack. They are in abundance and I feel I am being discriminated against (a little, I’m not going to over exaggerate here…) for being smaller.

IMG_0272

Mostly, however, I find it in bras. The rise of the ‘plus size model’ (a term I don’t endorse, but it’s the generally accepted term and suits my needs here) and the embracing of ‘curvier’ girls means we now have bras up to and beyone 40K…which is fine, one of my oldest friends has a ‘G’ cup (which i used to be incredibly jealous of, but she does have back problems as a result, and I’ve learned to embrace my oppisite-end of the spectrum boobs) and she used to have big trouble finding bras. People were forever saying how unfair it was that bigger girls couldn’t buy NICE bra’s that fitted.

I can’t find NICE bras that are small enough. I am a 28A. I haven’t got much, but I still need some support! I can’t go bra-less, there’s enough there to make that a problem, but more and more lingerie specialists now are not making Bras in my size! Often I find a stunning set of lingerie (I had a major issue with this at the Cosmopolitan Lingerie Show), get all excited only to be completely broken hearted when they tell me (yet again) oh, we only start from 32B.

IMG_0294This set from ‘Gossard’ was my pick of the night, I was madly in love with it from the minute I saw it. I would have paid a lot of good money for the set, but guess what? Not in my size…They lost out on good money and a good customer (I’d have bought other things, such as the one piece further up if they’d had my size as well) because they don’t cater to the small. Fools!

In our desperate dash towards equality and embracing the ‘female body in whatever shape or size’ (or so they CLAIM) I think we’ve gone too far. Now there is inequality AGAINST smaller women. I get told I’m too skinny, or ‘figureless’. Fine, I don’t really care what you think, but I know I’m healthy, I know I eat well and I really resent not being able to wear nice clothes and especially lingerie because I’m small!!!

We’ve embraced cruvy women. We love our larger sizes and our curvier figures. They are catered for and accepted and loved. That’s great. I completely respect that and I think it’s wonderful. But, in all this, we’ve created a new inequality and a new discrimination. I can’t find a bra that fits. That isn’t fair. We’ve done the bigger sizes, the movement has been a success. Now can we please have a movement to re-accept the smaller figures please? I want to wear nice lingerie and clothes. Why should I suffer for having little breasts!!?!?!

Life Bite: Make it Happen, Make the Change

Short and sweet message: If you want something, make it happen. If you don’t like something, change it.

good-life-quotes-sayings-pictures-images-pic-quote

It’s the approach I take to life, and it needs no real explanation and I don’t need to give direction here.

Are you unhappy? Okay, now look at your life…why are you unhappy? Who/what makes you feel bad. Who/What don’t you like. Who/What don’t you need?

Now you’ve identified the root, change it. If you don’t like something then change it. Your job? change it, find a new one, find what you love. You don’t like your partner, well, do I need to tell you what to do there? You have a ‘friend’ or person in your life who makes you unhappy? Say good-bye. You want to do something? Do it.

It’s simple. Mostly.

Okay, I accept that there are things we can’t change and we can’t just up and quit jobs, ditch people, completely change our lives and ourselves at the drop of a hat, but there is always SOMETHING you can do.

Okay, you hate your job, but you can’t just QUIT. Start looking at other options, maybe do some evening classes or go back to school to train in something you really want to do so that EVENTUALLY, you can quit that job you hate and start doing what you love.

This is the model and the method. It may not be easy, it may not always be quick and simple, but there is always something you can do and if something isn’t right in your life, then you CAN and you SHOULD change it.

If you want something bad enough, you will make it happen. Maybe it will take 5 minutes, maybe it will take 5 years, maybe it will even take a lifetime but if you don’t try for it, you’ll never get it. Always strive for what you want and that is how you will be the best you can be.

Life is short, happiness is what the ultimate goal of a life is (I believe). If you can get to the end of your life and say you are happy and have been happy through your life, then I believe that is as good as any other achievement of a lifetime. Happiness is the ultimate goal. So make it happen. You are not powerless, you own yourself and your life. So take control, take charge and own it!

Mind Bite: Feminism, Racism and Equality…My Big Issues!

In ‘fighting’ racism and sexism…are we actually perpetuating it?

political Over the course of my studies, I have spent a lot of time dealing with these two issues. Everything can be seen in terms of feminism, racism, equality (capitalism, consumerism,marxism,postmodernism,post colonialism…any ‘ism’ you’d care to mention actually) and to be honest, I’ve kind of had enough.

This is a rather different direction, post-wise than most of my others, but it’s a big part of my life and it’s been pressing on my mind for a while, so I thought I’d get it out there! It’s a rant, but I feel it’s a fairly well constructed rant!

I am female. I am a woman. Of course I want equality and equal standards and rights, but to be completely honest, I’m not a feminist. And most feminists completely piss me off.

I can’t really approach racism in the same way, never really having experienced it myself and not being the ‘typical’ target for it (“Hey, skinny white girl…” in the South East London area is the closest I get and to be honest…I am Skinny (ish) I am white and I am a girl…how could that be offensive anyway?)

My point is this: In our over-sensitised, ‘political-correctness-maddened’ society, I believe we are doing more to perpetuate and breed racism and sexism than we are to remove it. When we cast a black child in the role of Billy Elliot (a white, working class 12 year old son of a coal miner in the 80’s in Durham) is this about equality and fairness or are we just drawing attention to race as being something that differentiates us?

In the utopian world of equality for all, man and woman, black, white or asian would all be exactly the same, enjoy the same rights and no one would even consider their skin/gender in terms of defining them. Of course, this is not, nor will it ever be the case.

Hogwash
We as human beings define ourselves by others. We can have no real sense of ourselves until we have encountered someone outside of ourselves and compared ourselves to them. And being as we make about 90% of our first impressions of a person on their appearance, gender and ethnicity will play a big part in defining both ourselves and others around us. I see no problem with this.

If two white, 20 year old women meet face to face and then you asked them about one another, answers like “she had blonde hair, she was tanned, she had lovely eyes, big lips, curly hair…etc” would not make you blink. And then if you asked them to make a judgement on the kind of person the other was based on only that brief encounter, an answer such as “she obviously takes care of herself, she was pretty, she makes an effort, she seemed very professional, she seemed care-free…etc” would also be acceptable. But this is because they are two white girls. If you mixed the race, suddenly ‘racism’ comes in to play and an answer “she’s black” becomes tricky and any judgement made about ‘the kind of person she seemed to be’ (based on minimal information) suddenly could be seen as ‘racist’.
We are so careful not to appear racist, that I believe we are actually being racist. If racism is judging and potentially discriminating against or having a certain opinion of a person based on their skin colour, then surely when we say “We have to have at least one black back-up dancer in this music video….we need a black presenter on the news etc” we are actually just being racist and perpetuating it. What if the white condidates are simply better? What if there is no genuinely suitable black substitute and WHITE people lose out in the name of ‘equality’? Is this not just judging someone for their skin colour just in another way?

I have plenty of ‘black’ friends, and one of best best childhood friends was Indian…but I never defined them by these terms. And if you asked me to point out my friend I would happily say “the black girl over there” and it’s not racist…it’s fact!

fem

The same goes for feminism and sexism. By constantly drawing attention to it, I believe we make it happen and cause it to continue. Any anyway, whats wrong with a few stereotypes?

I like shopping. Okay, I LOVE shopping.
I like make up, and hair and clothes and beauty and fashion and all ‘feminine’ things. So what? If people want to make a judgement about me based on that information, then they are entitled to. I don’t care, and if they want to treat me a certain way as a result, and I don’t appreciate their views and behaviours, then I don’t need them in my lives, I can move on and it doesn’t matter.

Stop being so sensitive. Everyone judges others based on appearances, stereotypes and initial snap judgements and impressions. It’s HUMAN NATURE! As animals, we had to judge if another animal was threat or not based on their APPEARANCE and our own EXPERIENCE AND INSTINCTS :
How did we know that the striped animal approaching was dangerous? A) Its sripey…but ORANGE and stripey, so its a tiger (not a zebra for example) B) We’ve seen people get eaten by tigers, so we know they’re dangerous C) It’s growling and has big teeth…stereotype suggests it’s dangerous so RUN!

The only information we have comes from our own past experiences, cultural stereotypes and what we see in front of our eyes. So of course we will judge someone based on those three elements. That doesn’t make it wrong, and we can always change our opinions…I don’t think anyone can say that the first impresssion they had of any given person didn’t change one bit upon getting to know them. Maybe we’ll be pretty accurate, maybe we’ll be completely wrong, but we can change our minds, develop our opinions and have new views. First impressions matter, but they are not the be all and end all and sometimes we need those first impressions just to go about or lives. Get over it.

nigellaAnd seriously, what’s with all the hate for Nigella becuse she’s ‘anti-feminist’, realistically, I don’t believe a female, ANY female, could possibly be anti-feminist! If she wants to claim power over he body and be all sexualised and such on her show, then let her. How is it anti-feminist? I love Nigella…

I appreciate that Racism and Feminism are issues which do need to be addressed. There are horrible acts of race-violence and murder and terrorism and some places, Women are treated horribly, but I am talking in terms of this, our Western world (UK, but USA too and other ‘forward-thinking’ countries) and the society here. I’m not saying these aren’t issues, I’m saying that we often make them much more than they are/could be/need to be, or just create them when they weren’t there in the first place.

Stop fussing about being ‘politically correct’ and ‘equality’ and ‘equal rights’. We are all people, we are all different, we all do it anyway, maybe we just don’t say it and maybe its on a more subconscious level but we do it. Deal with it and don’t let it define you or your actions and all will be well.

And anyway, I’m a girl and I want equal rights, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t nice when a man hold the door open for me based on his internal first judgements of me. In fact, I quite like it!!

Life Bite: Get Organised!!

With so much going on in my life at the moment, and so many different things that need to be done, I have to make sure I’m organised. I need to stay on top of things, and keep track of what I’m doing, what needs to be done…if I’m not careful the small errands get away from me or I don’t factor in the time I need to get bigger tasks done! It also means I can be sure to keep up a social life and get out and about the eevnts and parties etc. that I want to go to, as I can plan ahead and make sure I get everything done around having a life!

These tips and tricks are mainly useful for Students, as that’s a huge part of my life at the moment, but there’s still something in here for everyone…for me, being organised is the key to living a full life!!

IMG_0179The three things in life I wouldn’t get anywhere without…and the iPhone that this pic was taken with!

I have everything on this laptop. All the reading lists, schedules, timetables, deadlines, course breakdowns, essays, articles…everything for my uni courses is on here and it’s my first port of call when I need to get some work done! And I can’t stand a messy desktop or filing system…everything is filed away into conventient folders withing folders withing folders…But it means I can find exactly what I’m looking for when I want it. The same goes for off the laptop too though!

The iPad is more of a gadget and a toy, but I read everything on it. All of my books, both for leisure and any for my courses that come in ebook version or are electronic resources are on here and because it’s so light and compact, I always have it in my bag, so I can get some valuable reading done (whether for work or pleasure) wherever I am! I also have all my emails coming to the iPad as well as the laptop and iphone, so I never miss a trick! It’s also great to be able to type and do any little bits and pieces (ordering groceries, writing memo’s, emails, essay drafts, blog posts…) on the move without fiddling around on the iPhone.

And the book. I do not know how I would survive without the book. It’s my diary and it’s my to-so list and it has everything I ever need to know about what’s happening, when, where…

Diary

If I could only give one piece of organisational advice, it would be this: Keep a diary and make to-do lists! I record all events and committments and appointments and lectures etc in the diary dection, but at the back I have individual day pages and I have lists of everything that needs to be done. I can keep track of what reading I need to do for what lectures (Friday I read for Monday’s lecture, Saturday for Thursday’s, Sunday for my Dissertation, Wednesday and Monday for my French Course etc.) but I can also move things around to suit what else I need to get done. If I can’t finish something one day, it goes straight on the next day’s pag and that way I keep on track of it all. I lvoe a good list, but it’s honestly my number one tip for staying on top of everything that needs to be done…even if it’s just making sure the recycling goes out for collection, or remembering to ring the landlord (again!)…today I defrosted the freezer!

IMG_0188

We also have a flat calendar so everyone knows who’s doing what, when and who will be in/out/available or of use at any given time without running around trying to communicate! We’re all dashing around and work very different schedules, so we often don’t see each other for days at a time, but we can leave notes for each other and sort things out much easier when we know what everyone’s doing. I can set up a meeting with the landlord when i know everyone will be in, without having to ring them individually and then call him back! He’s tricky, so you never want to leave it open-ended!

IMG_0181

For students; Files, folders, colour coordinate. Whatver works, but keep everything organised and together and in the right place! It makes it a thousand times easier to keep on top of work and get things done when you know where your notes for that particular lecture will be, or need to find a book while you’re dashing out because you’re late!!

IMG_0182

I love storage and organisation, as I’m sure you’ve gathered. But you can get pretty cheap units like these and keep everything where it should be! I have several of these little towers in my room, and I have a drawer for facial products, body products, hair products, nails, make-up, and many more…and then there’s the miscelaneous drawer! But keeping things where they should be just saves that extra time when you haven’t got much to spare.

And finally, it’s just about making time! I like to take care of myself as much as I have plenty to do. So I plan it in. I don’t sit and write down daily schedules (I’m not THAT crazy and neurotic!!) but I do map out the day in my head a little. I wake up at 6, because that’s when I’m up. It happens and it’s actually convenient, but I always make sure to plan the night before.

For example: If I have to be at work at 9, I need to leave at 8:10, so I need to be pretty much ready to go at 8, which means I need to eat breakfast at 7:30, which means I need to be ready at 7:15 which means I need to be IN the shower at 6:15, which means I need to get up at 6…see what I mean? I always over estimate, because I hate to be late and stressed out, but that’s the general idea! It means I allow time for my beauty routine, time to get the make-up on and time to sit down and eat breakfast and be well set for the day! I also plan and lay out my outfit for the day the night before to make myself all the more efficient the next day!

So really, as it turns out, my organisation tip is this: BE ORGANISED! Note things down, keep everything in one place and where it should be, make lists, make plans…and when you’ve done all that, go out and have fun! (As long as it’s in the plan…!!) I’m not saying be neurotic and if things go off schedule, it’s not the end of the world, but this way, you’re more likely to keep on top of things and make the time to relax and live your life!

Life Bite: A Dieting Rant Pre Autumn Slim-Down!

I’ve been seeing a disturbing amount of poor dieting advice and down-right unhealthy weight loss ideas flung about all over twitter and the general web-o-sphere recently, and it’s really getting on my nerves, so I’ve decided to do a short post on the ‘Autumn Slim Down’!

It’s not a traditional time of year to be embarking upon a new diet or trying to shed a few pounds, but after the holidays of the Summer months and ahead of the decadence of the Christmas period, I feel that now is the perfect time to get back in shape; even if only so that we can splurge all the more over Christmas!!

As I’ve repeatedly mentioned, for me October is the real beginning of Autumn and a fresh start and time for a new beginning. So a new Autumn diet? Why ever not!

I’m not about to post a whole bunch of recipes and build diet plans and calorie counts etc: I’m not offering a service or trying to sell something, all I’m going to do is give my advice and my own experiences on dieting and being healthy.

Even if you’re not looking to lose weight, eating healthy is important! It’s good for the skin, for the mind and for the heart and soul! You will have more energy, a clearer mind and will feel a whole lot better with a diet full of fresh, natural ingredients and a good balance of nutrients!

There are two things that really get me when it comes to health and dieting;

Firstly, all the fad-diets and solutions and products and pills and downright awful advice. Low carb – I tried it for a while a couple of years ago – the weight does come off, but guess what? When you try to start eating normally again, you put it all back on! High Protein – awful for the kidneys and gives you bad breath and is, once again, not a long term solution. Juicing, Low-Gi, Raw-Food…the list goes on and to be honest, they’re all a bunch of nonsense and they’re so damaging to your health and body in the long (and short) term!

Secondly, a poor diet really really irritates me. The obesity in the world, the constant stream of fast food and the overwhelming dependency on the cheap, quick, easy take-away food really gets to me and just makes my skin crawl and blood boil! I get overwhelmingly bewildered by my flatmate, who doesn’t appear to eat a fresh, home-cooked or remotely healthy thing EVER. Sugar-packed cereal in the morning, supermarket meal-deal for lunch and frozen Pizza/Battered Fish/Kebab/Burger/Battered Chicken etc. for dinner and then endless bags of cookies and doughnuts and sugar-coated baked goods throughout the day. He’s not fat, but he’s incredibly unhealthy and it’s going to catch up to him!

But I’m not preaching or anything…!

Honestly, I do eat sweets and chocolates and biscuits and eat a fair amount of ready meals (being as busy as I have been, sometimes you need something quick!) but I always add a whole load of fresh veg to the meals and try to choose ones that are less processed and have fewer artificial ingredients and preservatives in them. I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m saying do it less!

When it comes to dieting, the only formula you need to know is this: Reduced calories = Reduced Weight. Cut down on the calorie intake and you will lose weight, it’s fact, its science and it’s general common sense. The problem is, so many people are out for a quick fix (we are the instant gratification generation after all!) that they want instant results so cut their calories massively and then end up falling off the wagon after two weeks due to what is literally starvation and as a result of not having seen the completely unrealistic results they were hoping for.

So reduced calories. I could talk about TDEE and BMR and all the rest, but I don’t see the point, I’m no expert and you can find that info freely elsewhere. What I’m saying is, cut the calories, but NOT TOO MUCH!! The general consensus seems to be 1200, but I think even that is too low. 1300 at the least. The weight loss is slower, but the results will be more permanent and you will be able to actually stick to the diet effectively for a prolonged period of time!

By cutting out around 500 calories a day you are set to lose about 1lb. a week (or more depending on your stats) and although that doesn’t seem like much, the thing about weight loss is that it needs to be a lifestyle change. You need to set yourself up with habits that will last a lifetime, not just 2 months on the diet! If you take it slow and learn new habits and a new way of life then you will be able to MAINTAIN the weight loss and hopefully never have to diet again!

So what have I said…oh, that’s right, EAT LESS TO LOSE WEIGHT! Don’t rush into it and don’t expect a miracle, it won’t happen like that. I yo-yo dieted for years but it’s only in the last year that I really found out how to lose weight, keep it off and not go completely crazy thinking about weight/food/dieting etc all the time. A small cut makes a big difference in the long run.

When I say eat less, I also mean, eat less but balanced. Every meal should have carbs, protein and AT LEAST one portion of fresh fruit or vegetables. I will post a few meals and recipes at some point highlighting this, but what I’m saying here is, DO NOT DENY YOURSELF! Denying yourself things just creates an obsession. So I have chocolate, I have crisps, I have anything I want as long as I’m careful about what else I eat. And it works, it truly and honestly works.

The reason why the crazy diets such as no-carb, low-Gi, Raw-Food etc work for a while is because they cut out a huge food group and therefore force you to dramatically reduce your calorie intake, but the problem is that they don’t teach you a lifestyle – do you really want to never have a carb again? – and the minute you go off the diet and try to eat ‘normally’ again, you put all the weight back on (and often more!) That and you can do some irreparable damage to your body and metabolism and mental health. Look after your body for god’s sake, we don’t get to trade in every 24 months!

So don’t deny yourself, but don’t over-indulge every day. It’s fine to indulge on holidays, or at Christmas or for special events, but don’t make it an everyday habit! Everything in moderation!

Eating Healthily really requires these same rules, but without the calorie reduction. Eat something from every food group (those pyramids that they’e always showing us…) and make sure you have as much organic, clean, fresh, un-processed food as possible. But always allow yourself treats! Eat what you like, and find new ways to introduce the healthy foods into your diet – I love risotto, but it’s so stodgy and I’ve recently invented a quinoa based variation that I love! I will post the recipe some time. But finding ways to make your favourite ‘un-healthy’ meals more healthy and clean is the way to go!

Goodness, this was supposed to be a quick note, but it seems to have spiralled out of control! I just get very irritated with all the dieting advice that claims to be expert and healthy and effective etc. and it actually just an utter load of crap!

Basically, eat fresh stay fresh! If you eat less, then you will weigh less…it’s really as simple as that. A healthy diet is the best thing you can do for yourself, in every way. Your diet affects everything about you, from your sight, to sleep, to concentration, physical appearance, mental health and even IQ! So make sure that it’s a good one! Never deny yourself, but learn moderation! Eat as healthily as you can but allow yourself indulgences and you will be just fine. Whether you want to lose weight or not, eating a balanced, healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.

Reading Bite: Kate Mosse

Reading Bite: Kate Mosse

I seem to be getting through my books at an alarming pace recently! Having finished The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, I went straight into another short story that I’ve been meaning to read for some time; The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse.
Labyrinth
I love Kate Mosse. I first read Labyrinth when I was in the South of France on holiday some years ago, and I raced through it, pages turning almost too fast for me to keep up I was so enthralled. It deals with the Cathar persecution in the 13th Century and the importance of remembering the brutality of our history today. The juxtaposition between the past and the present and the constant mystery and building tension keeps you enthralled from first to last page. Just when you’re about to discover something, or just when the tension reaches its peak, you are dragged away to a different time. The way that the medieval character of Alais and the modern day character of Alice’s lives are linked through the centuries and a shared destiny is incredibly gripping and the twists and turns of the story (much like a labyrinth!) leave you guessing until the very end. I had no idea where the story was going to take me, but I was desperate to find out.

The historical element of her writing is another thing I love. I’m fascinated by history and the richness of the detail that she feeds into her stories is excellent. I believe she does a huge amount of research for her books and to capture such distant events and long forgotten atrocities in such vivid detail is astounding. But ySepuou never feel as though you’re reading a history book. She brings the times to life so vividly that even the more ‘magical’ elements of her books (The holy grail…eternal life…magic tarot cards…armies of the dead) become completely plausible as you read. I never even stopped to question the appearance of ghosts or the existence of magical texts!

Sepulcre is the second book in her Langedoc trilogy and is in keeping the with formula of its prequel, although the past is much closer to the present in this work. I will admit, I was not as enamored with this book as I was with Labyrinth. It had all the same ingredients but it felt rushed. It felt a little sloppy and I was never as gripped by the book as by the first. That doesn’t mean to say it wasn’t a very good read – it was and I enjoyed it – but I think that the excellence of the first book raised my expectations far too high and anything was likely to pale in comparison. That said, past and present destinies collide, ancient hidden mysteries and secrets are discovered and unwound, plots are uncovered and the mystical is still present!citadel

Citadel is the final book in the trilogy and involved even more recent history – WW2 in fact. This was better than it’s prequel and closer to the brilliance of Labyrinth. The main difference is that we no longer skip from present to past and back again. There is no modern day character searching for the truth of a long dead ancestor. But the other ingredients are there; fates are still interwoven and destinies are tied together by a shared goal and common secret. An old friend appears from the first two books and he is a comforting presence in what is by far the most gritty book in the series. There’s something about the closeness of the events in this book that make it feel more raw – the atrocities and deception and betrayal and all number of crimes against humanity that were committed by friends and neighbours and communities against one another during the occupation period feel to close for comfort. But it is this that keeps you gripping the book.

Once more, there is a mystical secret. Citadel combines the action and adventure of Labyrinth with the mystery and haunting secrets of Sepulcre spectacularly and in amongst all the very real action of French resistance and Nazi action of the War, there is a hidden secret buried in the Pyrenees and the fates of all our characters are tied to one another and to the discovery of this secret.

ghostsNow, I’m not quite finished The Winter Ghosts (only 40 pages to go though…) but I can safely say that it’s a very good short story, much in keeping with her themes and style. However, I do think it could do with more. I feel like there is so much left unsaid and so much more that could be present in the book and its a shame she cuts herself off. It feels like it has the potential to be, not necessarily as long as her other novels, but at least a little longer. It just feels rushed, like she is trying to hurry you through the story before you truly get a chance to grip the events taking place. But it’s still a good read, and it still has the secrets and mystery of her other writing. We follow a character Freddie, through the events that shaped his life. He is a broken man for having lost his brother in WW1 and a strange encounter and series of events that befall him in the mountains of the South of France change his life forever, and, of course, the ghosts of the past appear and are liberated through remembrance.

All her books are about bearing witness to the past. She deals with tough subjects and historical atrocities and presses the importance of remembering our history and learning from it. This is all very important, but what it really comes down to, for me, is ‘am I gripped by the story?’. If you’ve read my other ‘reviews’ you’ll see that I love a good mystery and thriller, and Kate Mosse really provides this in her books.

If you like stories where the past collides with the present, where ancient mysteries and long-buried secrets are unravelled and burst to the light, then Kate Mosse is for you. She cunningly weaves historical fact and rich ancient detail in amongst mythical characters and mystical stories passed down from generation to generation. If you want a book where you never know what’s coming next, with winding mysteries and haunting secrets, then Kate Mosse is the author for you.

Friday Bite: The Importance of Being Selfish…

selfish

I read an article in Red yesterday about how to be a good mum, you need to be selfish sometimes and when my flatmate got home yesterday evening she told me she’d ended things with her boyfriend.

It was a fairly new relationship, but she’s not had many relationships before and I think it was quite a big deal for her (whatever she might say), but anyway, he’s been a little ill recently but over the last few weeks he’s been completely MIA. No texts, not answering phone calls – zilch. She got the train up to see him at home last week and it seemed to improve things; she discussed the lack of communication and he seemed to understand, but for the last week and a half, she’s not heard a peep and has done her best to get hold of him, short of turning up on his doorstep again.

Anyway, she ended it and it made me think back to the article in Red. I think we all need to be a bit selfish in our lives to be the best we can be, to ourselves and to others around us.

I’ve always tried to be true to myself and have worked on the mantra; “If you feel something, it’s the truth.” By this I mean, if you feel like doing something, then it’s probably what you should do…if you feel like NOT doing something, then don’t do it etc. Obviously this is within reason…we can’t just go about our lives doing whatever we want whenever we want to, but for the most part I try to do what feels right…in whatever context.

Remember the ‘Yes Man’? I’m fully in support of the ‘say yes to everything’ thesis, but I take it a slightly different way. I say: “Say yes to yourself!” – If someone asks you to go somewhere or do something and your gut reaction is ‘yes’, then say ‘yes’ – not to them, but to yourself. Likewise if someone invites you out or to an event and your instinct is to say ‘no’ then say ‘yes’ – to yourself!

“Saying yes to saying no” may sound like a bizarre, complex way of looking at things, but I’m all for saying yes to whatever fancy strikes you or whatever instinct takes hold, even if that means you have to say no. Have you ever been on a night out with friends and reached the point where you just want to go home? – I’m sure everyone has – but you’ve carried on through peer pressure, guilt, a feeling of duty etc. and therefore had a miserable night after? Well I take these instances and say; If your body and mind say you want to go home…just say yes to them! Go home and you’ll have had a better experience in the end.

The article recalled Airline emergency procedures; Always secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. This is because if you don’t do whats best for you, how can you be of any use to anyone else?

If you spend your life living for others and doing things you don’t want to do, you’re not going to have a very fulfilled life. If you’re not a little selfish now and then, and do what’s right for you, you’re not going to be the best person you can be, and really, is that good for anyone?

So go on, sometimes it’s ok to be selfish!