Saturday, 8 September 2018


Sixth. Form. These two words fill me with a sense of dread and panic that I’ve never once faced in my eighteen years of walking this earth. If you live outside of the United Kingdom these two words will be foreign to you, so I shall explain. Sixth form are two years of education for students between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, where we partake in advanced level education. We focus on passions of ours and expand our knowledge in those areas in the hopes, for most students, that we’ll end up at university. It’s taken me a while to write this blog post, partly out of fear of revisiting two of the most difficult years of my life but also because I didn’t have any words that could sum up my experience at sixth form. I have the words now, I am ready to share now. This is an extremely long blog post, so I’d suggest sitting down with a cup of tea and a snack, so you can settle in for the ride. I also want to warn people that there are sensitive subjects dealt with in this blog post such as depression and suicide, along with a whole other realm of mental health problems.
Education is always something that has always excited me, learning is something I wouldn’t be able to live without. When the prospect of sixth form became apparent on my radar I was ready, I was ready to move schools as quickly as possible and mature both in terms of me as a person but also in terms of my education levels. Deciding on what I was going to study at sixth form was not something I struggled with at all so checking the boxes for English Literature, English Language and History wasn’t difficult. This has always been part of the problem, I thought I was so ready for what sixth form had to give me that when I realised what sixth form really entailed I became overwhelmed. It was so much more that what I had been told. My first week at sixth form was perfect…until it really wasn’t. This was for personal reasons that I’ve never spoken about and probably will never speak about, it opens a can of worms that I’ve supressed so hard that it would inevitably be like opening Pandora’s Box.
It became quite apparent to me quite quickly that I was deeply struggling with the social aspect of moving schools. I felt like I was intruding on the secured friendships that people had made of five years. I felt like everything that came out of my mouth sounded ridiculously stupid. I felt like I was a swan; on the outside, for the most part, I looked calm and collected but under the water I was drowning. This very quickly began to show in all aspects of my life; my school work was nowhere near the standard that it needed to be, every social occasion that I attended I felt out of place and talking to both family and friends about how I was feeling became increasingly difficult. However, I stayed silent for months and months, pretending that I was just tired when I was exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. I had nothing left to give, until one day I broke. There was one of my friends stood outside of the sixth form with me before lessons had even started watching me break my heart crying telling her in a room full of people I felt completely and utterly alone. That conversation was one of the hardest I’ve ever had but I do honestly believe it saved my life, as dramatic as that sounds.
March 2017, the 16th to be precise, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder with suicidal ideation. Even though I think it’s always been expressed on my social media platforms that these are issues that I deal with I’ve never written that sentence. There are tears in my eyes as I write that sentence for the pure fact that sometimes I give myself a lot of grief for not being able to live the same carefree lives that others do, however, there’s a valid reason for it and I shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about it. This is probably the main reason that I’ve never properly spoken about my experience at sixth form; because I’ve been afraid of admitting this fact to myself, but I think that the person that I’ve grown into has realised that these problems aren’t going to get easier if I don’t speak about them. 
This was a problem throughout most of my time at sixth form after my diagnosis. Speaking to people was an idea that I thought was ridiculous, because I knew what the problem was I believed that I could deal with it myself. Inevitably this didn’t work, and I fell out with my best friend over this because I refused to tell her that I was okay when it was obvious. Although at the time I cried and cried and cried and cried over this argument, in the long run its helped unbelievable amounts. Our friendship is stronger because I feel comfortable telling her about my problems and she helped me realise that people do care about how I’m feeling. During my last year at sixth form I took comfort in speaking not only to my best friend but one of my teachers about how I was feeling. Speaking to people is something that I still find difficult and probably always will, however, I really do recommend trying to find a small handful, maybe even just one person, that you feel comfortable talking to. This was difficult for me at first, I know that it is for a lot of people with mental health issues, but after I started opening up to people I realised my sixth form experience did change slightly.
Even though my mental health suffered extremely badly throughout my time at sixth form there was a point where my grades slowly started to improve. I threw myself into my studies as a form of distraction from what was going on in my mind, which is something that I probably shouldn’t have done but I do think taught me that perseverance through anything pays off. However, something else happened when I full throttle, highway speed chased my grades. I began to make friends who I, for the first time in a long time, felt comfortable around and felt connected to. We would sit during our free periods and talk in depth about issues that we felt were important to talk about and be discussed. Although not a lot of work was done during those hours they changed my aspect of the social side of sixth form. It made me realise that my mental health wasn’t the first and only thing that people noticed about me. For the first time at sixth form I felt as if I belonged somewhere and wasn’t a fish out of water. I’m still friends with these people and believe I will be for an extremely long time.
Throughout my two years at sixth form the one situation that I found the most difficult and stressful were exams. Whether it was a mock exam or my final exams the stress and panic that I felt was overwhelming, just the mere thought sends me into a frenzy. No matter how well I was able to write an essay during class or as a piece of homework the dots just didn’t connect and none of the information managed to slot together when I had to do it under exam conditions. This has always been a problem and always will, however, the stress was insurmountable during my A Level exam period. Exam stress is a factor of life that most people deal with but mine felt so other worldly that after every exam I cried so much that I think that I’ve cried all the tears that were put in my body. To be completely honest though I don’t really know whether I was crying about how I felt my exam had gone or because I had so much pent up emotion that there was nothing else that I could do.
Attempting to explain how much painstaking fear the idea of returning to sixth form puts in my body is difficult, I don’t think that there will ever come a day where I will have enough words to fully explain this. The other day I attempted to do this, and I failed miserably. Actually on a recent visit to my dad’s I had to pass my old sixth form building and the amount of crippling fear and anxiety that this put me in was overwhelming; I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t move and my mind began showing me a sort of highlights of my time at sixth form, but it was just a series of bad memories instead of good. I know it sounds dramatic, and sometimes I am one who tends to exaggerate, this is in fact the one time that I will never be able to do so.
Although I will forever remember the pain, the heartache and the difficulty that I faced throughout my two years at sixth form, the memories that I made within those two years combat it all. Sure, there were bad days, there were awful days, but there were also good days. They came in many forms. They came on Friday afternoons in the middle of my Literature class with my favourite teacher and some of my favourite people in the world. They came from the videos I would send my best friend of me dancing round my bedroom on my mornings off. They came from the free periods I would spend in the Learning Centre on a Tuesday afternoon. They came from the sarcastic comments passed between my form tutor and I every day. They came from knowing that I had made it through a full day at sixth form. They came from merely knowing that I’d made through another at a place I thought I couldn’t belong in any longer.
My sixth form experience was rough, my sixth form experience is not the standard sixth form experience, my sixth form experience is not to be taken at face value. Sixth form isn’t easy, it’s true when they say that they’re the toughest two years of your life, however, I wouldn’t change my experience for the world. It would be much easier to not deal with the implications that it’s left on my mental health on a day to day basis, but I came out of sixth form a much stronger and a much wiser human being. If that’s all that I take with from these past two years of education that’s fine, I have no problem with that because that piece of information will forever carry me through my darkest days. So, although it feels like a contradiction to all the problems I faced, I’m grateful for the teachers, the friends, the memories and sixth form for showing me that.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018


If you read my last blog post you’ll know that one of my summer plans is to read as many books as physically possible. Today I thought that I’d give all you lovely people some insight into the extensive list of books that I’m hoping to read over the summer months. I’ve already read one of these books and have started another; however, you’re going to have to wait until the end of summer to hear my thoughts and opinions on the books that I’ve managed to read.

In order to give you some insight into the books that I’m planning to read I thought that I’d share with you the synopsis of each book. The synopses that I’m giving to you today come from the wonderful world of Goodreads. If you don’t have a Goodreads account and you’re a bookworm then you need to get one a.s.a.p. Here’s a link to the website so you can open an account as well as a link to my profile so you can follow me on my reading journey.

We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-viewed TEDx talk of the same name—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun

With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike. 

Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a bestselling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher

You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. 

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

It Only Happens in the Movies, Holly Bourne

Audrey is over romance. Since her parents' relationship imploded her mother's been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn't mean things are easy. Because real love isn't like the movies...

The greatest love story ever told doesn't feature kissing in the snow or racing to airports. It features pain and confusion and hope and wonder and a ban on cheesy clich├ęs. Oh, and zombies... YA star Holly Bourne tackles real love in this hugely funny and poignant novel.

Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow presents a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation.

In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”

Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. “To repudiate his legacy,” Chernow writes, “is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.” Chernow here recounts Hamilton’s turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States. Historians have long told the story of America’s birth as the triumph of Jefferson’s democratic ideals over the aristocratic intentions of Hamilton. Chernow presents an entirely different man, whose legendary ambitions were motivated not merely by self-interest but by passionate patriotism and a stubborn will to build the foundations of American prosperity and power. His is a Hamilton far more human than we’ve encountered before—from his shame about his birth to his fiery aspirations, from his intimate relationships with childhood friends to his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Monroe, and Burr, and from his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds to his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza. And never before has there been a more vivid account of Hamilton’s famous and mysterious death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July of 1804.

Chernow’s biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America’s birth seen through its most central figure. At a critical time to look back to our roots, Alexander Hamilton will remind readers of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

The Moonlight Dreamers, Siobhan Curham

Amber craves excitement and adventure. Instead, she’s being bullied at school for having two dads, and life at home isn’t much better. Inspired by Oscar Wilde, Amber realizes that among the millions of people in London, there must be others who feel the same as she does; other dreamers – moonlight dreamers. After chance encounters with Maali, Sky and Rose, Amber soon recruits the three girls to the Moonlight Dreamers. It’s high time they started pursuing their dreams, and how better than with the support of friends?

The Dark Artifices: Lady Midnight, Cassandra Clare

In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

The darkly magical world of Shadowhunters has captured the imaginations of millions of readers across the globe. Join the adventure in Lady Midnight, the long-awaited first volume of a new trilogy from Cassandra Clare.

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, Cassandra Clare & Sarah Rees Brennan

Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. But the events of City of Heavenly Fireleft him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows he was friends with Clary, and that he convinced the total goddess Isabelle Lightwood to go out with him…but he doesn’t know how. And when Clary and Isabelle look at him, expecting him to be a man he doesn’t remember…Simon can’t take it.

So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. His new self. Whomever this new Simon might be.

But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. And that differences—like being a former vampire—are greatly looked down upon. At least Simon is trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.

Join Simon on his journey to become a Shadowhunter, and learn about the Academy’s illustrious history along the way, through guest lecturers such as Jace Herondale, Tessa Gray, and Magnus Bane. These ten short stories give an epilogue to the Mortal Instruments series and provide glimpses of what’s in store in the Dark Artifices.

What Happened, Hilary Rodham Clinton

For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet.

In these pages, she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterward. With humor and candor, she tells readers what it took to get back on her feet—the rituals, relationships, and reading that got her through, and what the experience has taught her about life. She speaks about the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, the criticism over her voice, age, and appearance, and the double standard confronting women in politics.

She lays out how the 2016 election was marked by an unprecedented assault on our democracy by a foreign adversary. By analyzing the evidence and connecting the dots, Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect our values and our democracy in the future.

The election of 2016 was unprecedented and historic. What Happened is the story of that campaign and its aftermath—both a deeply intimate account and a cautionary tale for the nation.

The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald

A true classic of twentieth-century literature, this edition has been updated by Fitzgerald scholar James L.W. West III to include the author’s final revisions and features a note on the composition and text, a personal foreword by Fitzgerald’s granddaughter, Eleanor Lanahan—and a new introduction by two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward.

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. First published in 1925, this quintessential novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the mysteriously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.                        
Head Land: 10 Years of the Edge Hill Short Story Prize

Marking its tenth anniversary, this is a lavishly produced anthology of selected stories from winners and shortlisted authors from the Edge Hill Short Story Prize, now the only dedicated literary award for story collections in the UK. It features a stellar list of contributors and some of the very best practitioners of the form working today. Contributors include Kevin Barry, Colm ToIbIn, Ali Smith, Neil Gaiman, Kirsty Gunn, Tessa Hadley, Sarah Hall, Zoe Lambert, Claire Keegan, Jon McGregor, Nicholas Royle, Helen Simpson, amongst others.

Looking for Alaska, John Green

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . . 

After. Nothing is ever the same.

Paper Towns, John Green

Who is the real Margo?

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew...

Reasons to Stay Alive, Matt Haig

I want life. I want to read it and write it and feel it and live it. I want, for as much of the time as possible in this blink-of-an-eye existence we have, to feel all that can be felt. I hate depression. I am scared of it. Terrified, in fact. But at the same time, it has made me who I am. And if - for me - it is the price of feeling life, it's a price always worth paying.

Reasons to Stay Alive is about making the most of your time on earth. In the western world the suicide rate is highest amongst men under the age of 35. Matt Haig could have added to that statistic when, aged 24, he found himself staring at a cliff-edge about to jump off. This is the story of why he didn't, how he recovered and learned to live with anxiety and depression. It's also an upbeat, joyous and very funny exploration of how live better, love better, read better and feel more.

Trylle: The Complete Trilogy, Amanda Hocking

Discover the magical world of the Trylle with the complete New York Times bestselling Trylle trilogy together in one volume for the first time!

When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. Eleven years later, Wendy discovers her mother might have been right. She’s not the person she’s always believed herself to be, and her whole life begins to unravel—all because of Finn Holmes.
Finn is a mysterious guy who always seems to be watching her. Every encounter leaves her deeply shaken…though it has more to do with her fierce attraction to him than she’d ever admit. But it isn't long before he reveals the truth: Wendy is a changeling who was switched at birth—and he’s come to take her home.

Now Wendy’s about to journey to a magical world she never knew existed, one that’s both beautiful and frightening. And where she must leave her old life behind to discover who she’s meant to become…

Moxie, Jennifer Mathieu

Moxie girls fight back!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

One of Us Is Lying, Karen McManus

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little LiarsOne of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide. 

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. 
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. 
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High's notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn't an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he'd planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who's still on the loose? 
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them."

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King

"Long live the King" hailed Entertainment Weekly upon the publication of Stephen King's On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 -- and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it -- fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

So there you go - all the books that I'm hoping to fit into my extended Summer holiday! I don't expect to finish all of these but I am hoping to get as many read a possible before starting university in September where the reading will (hopefully) continue. Let me know if you've read any of these books or are hoping to read some of these books over the Summer.