Favourites of 2015 — Part One…

Hey hey 🙂

In the past six months that I have been away from the blogging world, a few things have occupied my time besides work. I have managed to get through a lot of books, so much that I surprised myself. This is a sort of favourites post where I will write about the books which I have loved and others not so much, I will also include shows that I have enjoyed amongst other things. So let’s start!

Books


— The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

1This book I borrowed from the library and it is a classic from the 1950s. When I began to read it, I got a déjà vu feeling as I felt it was going to be too similar to The Walking Dead show and I thought it would go down the same route but I am so glad it didn’t.

So the plot of the story is as follows: Bill Masen wakes up in hospital with bandages covering his injured eyes and he has missed the most spectacular meteorite shower England has ever seen. On removing his bandages the next morning, he discovers a plague of blindness has befallen the whole world. He has to leave the city because the place he knew twenty-four hours before is now gone forever. But to survive in this post-apocalyptic world, one must survive the Triffids. The Triffids are these strange plants that appeared years ago all over the world. They can grow to over seven feet tall, they can walk and kill with one quick lash of their poisonous stingers. Now that the world is in a mess, the Triffids are taking this chance to prey on humankind.

All in all, Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids surprised me and it gave me lots of food for thought. I found it fascinating especially reading how the society went to shambles, not long post crisis which could very easily happen today.

Noughts & Crosses Series (#1) by Malorie Blackman

Noughts & Crosses I was supposed to read the other two books in the Noughts & Crosses series but got sidetracked by the other books. I don’t think it would be right for me to review this book on its own entity, so I will review the series one I have read all of them. The thing I liked most about this book was that however contemporaneous the issues were; I believe it is the way Blackman switched them over to give them a different perspective, was what made it really clever.

— Harry Potter Series by J K Rowling

Harry Potter Series I re-read the first three Harry Potter books in the Harry Potter series. They bring back so many childhood memories, especially when I used to think that Hogwarts actually existed. 😀

So in a way it is always great to go back and familiarise myself with the books again because they were loads of things I’d forgotten. My favourite book would always have to be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Paper Towns by John Green

PTAs the movie was releasing this summer I really wanted to read it before it released here in the UK. I had high hopes for this book as I absolutely loved John Green’s other work but I felt the story to be too similar to ‘Looking for Alaska’ so I didn’t enjoy it.

The other problem I had with this book was the character of Margo Roth Spiegelman, I couldn’t relate to her character at all. The ending also left much to be desired. I still think John Green is a great writer but this one wasn’t up to the mark for me.

But I liked to share the one quote I loved in this book:

“It’s so hard to leave-until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world…Leaving feels too good, once you leave.”

— Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & ParkI fell in love with this book instantly, it brought back happy childhood memories; the times when I used to listen to music on my Sony Walkman, ahh those were the days. You must be thinking why I am all of a sudden talking about my childhood, tapes and music. Well, all these play a big part in the love story between Eleanor and Park. I love their first meeting in the school bus, it is quite quaint and unique.

I also love the part music plays in the story. It shows how two strangers can connect and bond, how essentially a song a break can the ice between two people whereas nowadays we listen to music as a way to ignore or shut the world out.

So totally recommend this one!

— Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

ugly-loveAfter hearing numerous bloggers, youtubers, etc raving about this book on Twitter, so I just had to read it.

However it is full-on story about love, romance so don’t go in expecting anything else. But I have to say this; Colleen Hoover’s writing style is what sets this book apart from others. Like most authors this year, Hoover is another I have recently introduced to; so I think I’m breaking the mould a little now.

— The Mara Dyer Series by Michelle Hodkin

I could not manage to finish these series, I have to admit because the second and third books let me down majorly and I just couldn’t get back into it. Perhaps one day, when I am in the right mood I might go back and finish it. But the thing that drew me to these books originally were the unique covers, they are just AH-MAZING, beautifully done…I love them. Have a look at them below and let me know what you think?

mara-dyer-trilogy

Amazing covers!

I have to say I loved the first book, it had all the elements needed to make a story great but sad to say I was left disappointed with how bizarre the plot went and it was not believable.

— Perfect by Judith McNaught

PerfectThis is the first Judith McNaught book I have read, so I gave it a chance. I definitely felt it to be a bit of an outdated story, a little cheesy and long-winded in parts. The second half of the book particular irritated me, the story took on the typical misunderstandings plot twist and it became frustrating to read.

It could’ve been a good story; if the unnecessary dragging was cut down, the romance and cheesy lines was toned down a bit.

— Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New WorldThis book was strongly recommended to me by my good friend Ana and to be honest I was a bit skeptical about reading it. But I went along with it as she was quite persistent. I admit I found it difficult to get into this book, as the first few chapters were heavy going and made it boring to read. I stuck to it and…eventually the story got interesting. I don’t like giving up on a book, but all in all if the story had not picked up (which I think it was chapter three or four) I was going to call it a day.

There are only certain times when I found myself disengaged with a book and this could be because I don’t like the writing style or the plot has become incomprehensible or beyond ridiculous.

Movie


— Far From The Madding Crowd

Far From The Madding CrowdFar From The Madding Crowd is based on the novel by Thomas Hardy by the same name and it is a classic, written in 1874. I haven’t read many classics so I am hoping to change that.

I went to see this movie in the spur of the moment, so I knew absolutely nothing about the story. I remember watching a short trailer on TV but that’s about it. My first impressions were oh no it is going to a slow moving film but surprisingly I enjoyed it and I would love to watch it all over again.

Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts stood out for me, they played their characters very well, it also helped that Schoenaerts was really good looking. 🙂


End of June, Ramadan started so I completely cut down on reading for the whole month and during that time I stumbled upon Korean shows or specifically a Korean show called ‘Boys Over Flowers’, it may sound a little odd but I became hooked once I started. I was reading the English subtitles which felt a bit weird at first but soon got used to it.

That is all for now, but I will be reviewing ‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins soon so keep an eye out for that.

Until next time…

Naj

Elusiveness…a state of mind!

Recently I was described by a colleague as being elusive, (after a search, Google spouted out a load of definitions but the top two were: difficult to find/catch or track down; preferring or living in solitude and anonymity). Not sure if it fits the bill but, what happened next was that I thought about this blog which to be honest I hadn’t done in months and I took it as a sign… 🙂

I know this post is a bit random, but what am I trying to say here, is that as much as I love the time I spent away from the internet I have missed writing and blogging.

Just to show how happy I’m glad to be back, here’s an image of the planet Pluto which I’m sure everyone has seen by now.

Yo, Pluto!

Yo, Pluto!

Adios, until next time…

Naj

2014 in Review – A BIG Thank You!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

I just want to say a very BIG Thank You to everyone who has visited, enjoyed and has gained something from my blog this year. You’ve all been great! 🙂
I hope you all have an awesome New Year filled with love, happiness and hope.

In sha’ Allah, I will be back in 2015 with more fresher content, which I’m sure everyone will be able to benefit from.
See ya then!

Until then…

Naj

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

It’s Halloween…

Hey hey! 🙂

Halloween is just around the corner now and many of you will have planned parties or have been invited out by friends to celebrate – by dressing up in different/odd/strange costumes imaginable, to party till late or even trick-or-treating; but as I’m a Muslim, I don’t celebrate it. So I’ll be settling down to watch one of many movies. Sounds boring, you’re probably thinking, but it is not at all boring because I absolutely LOVE watching horror movies! This has become a tradition for me of some sorts.

Even though I don’t celebrate it, I decided to blog and share with you guys these five halloween movies which I have watched and enjoyed.


 Halloween  (1978)

Halloween_cover


The Shining
The Shining


Ringu (Japanese Version)


World War Z


Sleepy Hollow


If you are celebrating Halloween completely different this year than the norm, I would love to know so do leave a comment.

And if you do decide to watch any of these movies from above, or if you have seen them already; let me know what you thought about them.

Until next time…

Naj

Interview: Catherine Hancock – Freelance Multimedia Reporter at Worksop Guardian Newspaper

Catherine Hancock

Going from working part-time at Costa Coffee to finally getting her dream job in journalism. Catherine Hancock reveals all how she became to be the Freelance Multimedia Reporter at the Worksop Guardian Newspaper and emphasises the importance of having a blog.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background. 

I’m 23-years-old and I’ve lived in Nottingham all my life.

I have always wanted to write in one way or another. I think it runs in the family because my dad is a writer!

As a child I never really had any confidence in my ability at school. For example I had to take my maths GCSE a whole FIVE times!

Maths wasn’t for me, but I always did well in English. Despite this, after school I decided to go onto college and study English Language, Geography and Media.

At the time, I kind of tried to push the idea of Uni to the back of my head, because I knew I wanted to go, but I wasn’t sure I would get the grades I needed to get in. I applied to go to Uni anyway and I went to the University of Chester to study a journalism degree.

They were truly the best three years of my life. I did work experience at the Liverpool Echo and Chester Chronicle whilst I was there.

When I graduated, I moved back home and thought it wouldn’t be too long to find a journalism job.

I was wrong. The first problem was that my degree wasn’t accredited by the NCTJ so, I decided to teach them myself from home because it was the cheapest option.

Then I was told I wasn’t experienced enough, so I spent over a year doing various free work for companies such as the Nottingham Post, Leicester Mercury, Wannabe Hacks, Journograds and the Newark Advertiser.

I did all this whilst working part-time at Costa Coffee and studying.

I eventually got to my dream job though.

What one word would you use to describe yourself?

Driven (I was going to say determined but I think that can sound a bit aggressive sometimes).

How did you keep yourself motivated, when you were faced with rejections?

I have always wanted to be a journalist so there was no chance of me ever giving up because there is nothing else I want to do.

I’m a Taurus so can be quite stubborn sometimes!

After job rejections I would always get feedback on the interviews which helped a lot.

I carried on writing and kept getting work published, which gave me the confidence that I could write and everything is about timing.

If you’re not ready then it won’t happen.

Tell us about your current job? 

I’m a full time freelance multimedia reporter at a weekly newspaper called the Worksop Guardian, which is owned by Johnston Press.

I write all kinds of stories from charity events, court stories to council stories.

I don’t just write stories though, I have to make videos, update the website frequently, update the social media sites and occasionally have to do the odd review!

What do you like most about your job?, What do you like least?

There is a lot I love about my job and I could go on forever, but I won’t!

I love going out and meeting all different types of people.

It’s just the best feeling in the world, talking to people who you wouldn’t perhaps get the chance to talk to in everyday life.

There is also no better feeling than seeing the end product when the newspaper comes out and seeing your name in print, I’m not sure that feeling will get old anytime soon.

Oh and the occasional freebie too – I’m off on a press trip to Poland in a couple of weeks time!

I least like the fact that I’m freelance. Even though I work full time like everyone else, you don’t get the same benefits or security as the fully employed people.

Unfortunately more and more reporters are being employed as freelance these days because it tends to be cheaper – but I’m just so pleased I have a job.

What has been the happiest day of your life?

The happiest day of my life was graduating.

I graduated in Chester Cathedral on Halloween and it was incredible.

It was so nice to celebrate everyone’s achievements together with their family and friends.

I never thought I would graduate or get a degree, so it was an emotional day and one that I will never forget.

What do you hope to achieve in the next 5 years?

Naive me would say in five years time I would love to be working at a national, but I think that is probably more of a ten year dream.

The next best thing would be working at a daily newspaper in a big city like Manchester (I’m not sure I could ever afford London).

What would you advise someone who is wanting to embark on becoming a journalist?

First an foremost get two of the most important things you need to be a journalist – the NCTJs and a driving licence.

If you look at job descriptions for trainee journalists it is so rare for companies not to mention that candidates should have their NCTJs.

If it isn’t on the job description they will more than likely bring it up in the interview.

The NCTJ exams show that you can write a court story that is legally safe, you understand how the government and local councils work and that you can write news stories up to the standard of a journalist.

Driving speaks for itself. As a journalist you need to be able to get out of the office at the drop of a hat.

If you have both of these things and a bit of experience, then I don’t see why someone can’t at least get a job interview.

Get as much work experience as you can. Do it once a week at the same newspaper, if you can.

This way you familiarise yourself with the team, get the chance to build up great contacts and you will get to hear of any vacancies that may arise in the company before everyone else.

I think weeklies are a good training ground because the teams are smaller and there is less chance of you being forgotten about.

During your work experience make sure you have a good at everything and not just writing for the newspaper.

Have a go at making a video, updating the website and social media sites.

Also get a blog! I cannot stress enough how important having a blog is for someone who wants a career in journalism.

I didn’t have a blog until about a year ago, I thought they were a bit pointless.

This changed when I went for an interview at the Nottingham Post and the editor told me I needed to get a blog and update it regularly, because that is what my competition was doing.

I took his advice and have never looked back since.

It has given me a lot of different opportunities. So PLEASE get a blog!

Catherine Hancock is a writer, blogger and a journalist. You can follow her on Twitter @catherineha1991 and Instagram @catherinehancock91. Her blog can be found on catherinescolumn.com.