Word Nerd – Susin Nielsen (Book Review)

Susin Nielsen, is a YA author that truly owns my bank account. Whenever she releases a new book, I never hesitate to buy her work. She creates books with characters that you can laugh at, with and truly resonate with them and their quirkiness.

Word Nerd

In Word Nerd, that is exactly what we get when we follow Ambrose’s journey of accepting his weird and quirky side. The side that nearly got him killed by school bullies.

With a deadly peanut allergy, a tendency to say what is on his mind and his unique fashion choices, Ambrose has been struggling to fit into his new school. So, one day at lunch when the school’s notorious group of jerks approach Ambrose and attempt to befriend him, Ambrose is more than willing to comply and close his eyes and join their game. He realises a little too late that they slipped a peanut into his sandwich and left him on the ground alone, and struggling to breathe. Whilst he recovers, he decides to take the higher ground, and not be angry about it. There had to be a logical explanation as to why they just tried to kill him right?

Ambrose’ mother, single, overprotective, and struggling with work,is livid. In her rage, she pulls him from the regular school system and enrolls him into home schooling, with technical assistance from the school. This now means that she has to be more lenient in letting Ambrose be home alone, as her work hours conflict. With this new found freedom, Ambrose does all the things he was never previously allowed, including watching tv until late, snooping around his mother’s bedroom, and talking to the landlords criminal son.

Ambrose strikes up an unlikely friendship with Cosmo, who was previously released from prison, and trying to find a fresh new start. With a mutual love of Scrabble, Ambrose convinces Cosmo to try out a local scrabble club. There, Ambrose finds the sense of security and acceptance he longs for in his School and home life. Whereas Cosmo finds an even more unlikely friendship, accepting of his past.

With the friendship growing stronger, it doesn’t take long for the deceit to begin either. Ambrose begins planning his scrabble dates around his mother’s schedule, especially as taking self defence lessons from a former prisoner, would give his mother an anuerism.

The plotline is humorous whilst still tackling common and uncomfortable issues. It explores the meaning and importance of friendships, honesty and Knock off Nikes. The characters are all sworn to their individuality, and compliment each other perfectly. We have Annoyingly curious Ambrose striking a friendship with reformed and irritable Cosmo, which in any world, would not work, but in this fictional one, ties the bow of the book together.

We see the breakdown of stereotypes with someone as young as Ambrose seeing Cosmo as more than just a violent thug with a chequered past, and we see Cosmo accept the nerdy sides of Ambrose that are repeatedly ridiculed.

I finished this book in one sitting and couldn’t wait to read it all over again and experience the warmth that radiates from it, it truly is simple yet effective. A great story for children Ambrose’ age to learn from.

12 year old Ambrose Bukowski truly is the friendless nerd we all need in our lives.

 

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What I’ve Been Reading And Loving In March

March has been full of journeys. I’ve spent quite a large portion of the month bouncing between my house and London, and even Wales. I made sure to fill the car boot with a bag of books that I knew I wanted to finish, and figured the four hour drives would be perfect to do that. It also helped me reduce my internet usage this month.

The first book I actually finished on the bus ride home, and I was so tangled in, that I nearly missed my stop. It’s called Pushing Perfect by Michelle Falkoff, the author of Playlist for the dead.

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This story, follows a teenage girl, called Kara, who is deemed ‘perfect’ by her two best friends. She always performs to her best ability, never has trouble with her appearance, and is always given credit and praise. Starting High school, Kara and her two best friends plan out their lives and every way they can remain best friends. Avid swimmers, two of them decide to join the swim team, and so practice constantly.

As a result of this, Kara discovers a skin condition caused by the chlorine in the water, and so ditches her best friend at try outs. This sparks some tension between the friends, and they stop talking. A little further into their school lives, and the pressure to be perfect and hide her skin condition gets to kara, the closer exam period gets,

To ease the pressure, Kara begins talking to a girl named Alex, who suggests she meet her other friends. These new friends, are involved in less than legal activities, and very soon find themselves being black mailed, regarding a large sum of money. Kara and her new group of friends, must observe and recruit to find the blackmailer, and settle the problem, all whilst maintaining her perfect persona, and fixing old ties.

I personally, guessed who the black mailer was in the third chapter, not at all due to a weak plot, but just how much CSI and Criminal minds I watch. I was gripped throughout the whole story, and strongly suggest this to anyone who wants a young adult / crime plot, but doesn’t want to read any actual crimes. There are a variety of characters, all with very different and relatable personalities. The High school setting, once again, familiarising these characters, whilst tackling lesser discussed issues within school.

Word Nerd

A shorter read this month, comes from one of my favourite authors, Susin Nielson. It’s a book called ‘word nerd’ that tells the story of little Ambrose who is nearly killed by his classmates for being different. It is a light hearted read, as Ambrose is taken out of public school, and must find ways to complete school, whilst remaining social and occupied as his mother works and he grows lonelier. The landlords of his home have a son, who was recently released from prison, and begins to grow closer to Ambrose, after seeing the struggles he has gone through. This story, much like Susin’s other’s radiate warmth and angst, by creating characters that you can grow to resonate with, and eventually understand.

Next Book, I am yet to finish, but am currently really enjoying, is Genuine Fraud, by E Lockheart. It took me a while to get to this one, but now that I have started it, I wish I prioritised it above everything else. It’s a really intense YA thriller, that is pouring with Velma and Louise themes. The main character’s best friend is dead and she is on the run. As she goes about her new lives, she meets people, spins stories and disappears, leaving a world of pain and destruction behind everytime she throws on a new wig. As I said, I’ve not yet finished the book, and don’t want to over describe the plot line in case I spoil it for someone (or myself.)

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Finally, the exploring a classic Winnie The Pooh book, from the Victoria and Albert museum in companionship with the exhibition that ends the first week of April. Alongside that, I also have been loving the ‘art of Winnie the pooh’ book, which is filled with drawings and sketches of the originals and how Winnie turned from a bear to a crop top, body positive, honey eating, king. These have been great to flick through or even try to replicate during long car rides, or when I have a few minutes free. They will probably rest on my coffee table when I get back.

My reading has become very stagnant these last few months, and so I’m hoping the change in scenery and weather will help me find motivation to pick up books and read them and actually enjoy them.

 

Adventure Time With Jess (And Winnie The Pooh)

A A Milne created a masterpiece in Winnie The Pooh. The books and the characters still resonate with me as a teenager in the same way they did when I was five and would run around the house in my winnie the pooh onesie, reciting lines from the movies, and being the most impatient brat whilst waiting for the VHS tape to rewind to the beginning of the movie.

So when the Victoria and Albert Museum announced the temporary winnie the pooh exhibit, I grabbed a sibling and jumped on a train. It was quite busy, particularly with younger children that were crawling across the floor, but overall it was great.

Hallo

The room was transformed to look like various places in the movies and books. My favourite part was probably Christopher Robin’s bedroom, or the display piece that had the characters and part of the story.

The attention to detail in Christopher’s room was amazing, and took me forever to get through. For example, if you look out through the window, it looks like the characters are outside, but it is actually the next part of the tour. There were also a wide selection of illustrated post cards on the walls in frames, some were even available for purchase in the gift shop.

There were many interactive sections, and lots of things to read as you wandered around. There were original concept sketches, toys that depicted what the character’s looked like before they were animated, and I thought it was really cool to see A A Milne’s original inspiration throughout his working process.

Once Finished, you can enter the gift shop, which is filled with memorabilia from the original books, to pencils and stationery. As the exhibit was limited and will change in April, I bought a few things to remember my time there. The prices ranged, but I was happy to pay them, as most of them were Victoria and Albert exclusives.

In terms of books, I already own the stories written by A A Milne, so didn’t feel the need to pick up any more editions, so instead picked up the tour book which was £25 and then the art of Winnie The pooh book which I don’t remember the price of, and don’t currently have to photograph because my sister has borrowed it. It shows the creative process taken to make winnie the way we see him now, and how he began as an actual bear.

In addition to the two books, I also caved and picked up the classic winnie plushes. They had all of the main characters, but I decided to leave Tigger and Piglet, before my bank account started weeping. Eeyore and Winnie are incredibly soft, and come with character tags that illustrate the classic look.

I had such a lovely day exploring the exhibition, that once we finished we ended up spending the rest of the day wandering throughout the museum and around London. I strongly suggest visiting before the exhibit changes again, as it is perfect for children with all of the interactive opportunities, or like me, Winnie the pooh is a part of your childhood. The tickets are cheap, and there is so much to do and see.

February Photo Diary

28 days isn’t very long when you think about it. When you continue thinking of all the ways you chose to fill those 28 days, it can be a little scary. No, actually, it can be really scary and intimidating.
I’ve never been much of a people person, and so always choose to fill my days with pretty mundane things, Much like a low maintenance plant, as long as I’m fed and left alone, I can continue being a silently beautiful thing.

I got sick again, which increased my irritability, and I don’t mean I caught a cold from the snow, I mean, something in my body stopped working and caused me to cough up significantly large amounts of blood. My ears also caused me a lot of pain, and I found it easier to just lock myself in my room, and only communicate with family when they got home from work or school.
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I spent large amounts of the days, just reading, and keeping my space clean. On occasion, I would manage to get to the bookstore, or the library, and come home immediately before coughing up more blood, but sometimes it would ungracefully happen in public, which was an awkward conversation, especially when people fear for your health and try to call ambulances.

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Pancake Day was a thing that happened this month, right? I stuck to my tradition of eating waffles instead; just a weird change my quirky ten year old self made when she decided she hated flat pancakes, but had never seen American styled before. I made the effort this year. I let my brother choose the music, and even managed to throw out a few weak dad dance moves whilst whipping the batter into shape. I helped him with his homework, which has gotten significantly harder in the two years since I left, and we finished the day by watching the office, because he has never seen it, and by my standards, that’s nearly a violation of the law.

Valentines day, also a thing. My friend got back from NY and surprised me, with late birthday presents and a lot of stories. Granted, I surprised her with the whole, zombie/ Tim Burton style look, I was sporting, but regardless, we had a great time. We ate some cookies, talked a lot about life and NY and the future, and just laid on the floor in a comfortable silence, whilst she explained the meaning behind each birthday gift, and the reason she bought them for me. Admittedly, I had to cover my cheeks a little to hide the blushing and control the need to cry at how sweet the gesture was.

The last two weeks eased up on my body. I wasn’t so tired, the bleeding had mostly stopped, and my hearing came back, so the sign language could stop. It was scary. Not knowing whether I would be okay, and continue to be okay, scares me. Doctors and Nurses stare at my MRI results, jab me with tools and still have no definitive answers.

Storm Emma filled my last two weeks of February. I was a lot more willing for the snow this time around, because it was something new. Normally, London only sees a dusting, and then the rain takes it from us, but this time, we had the full show. We had the settling over night, the storm, the fresh track prints, the traffic and road scares, the ice and then we returned to spring like nothing had happened.

I managed to get outside and take photos, and forget about the rough first half of the month, and in some way, it was refreshing. My health is always going to be an issue. Sign Language is always going to be the thing I rely on in crowded places, or when my hearing cuts out unexpectedly, but I can’t and won’t hide from it forever.

I’ve pushed myself to live with my hearing, and experience everything I can whilst I can still hear it happening around me. I live in silence enough already and need to open up more, and hear my friends and parents and siblings voices before I no longer get the choice.

February Favourites

I mean, what did I even do this month except watch the snow and drink my weight in hot chocolate? February isn’t my favourite month of the year. I don’t like that it only has 28 days, and I don’t like the tiredness it leaves me feeling. I’ve been so unmotivated to do anything but lay on the floor and watch movies, that I can’t even find the energy to get into my bed to watch them.

My first favourite of the month, has to be 5SOS’ new Single ‘Want You Back.’ I have been patiently waiting the return of 5sos, and this song blew me away when I heard it at midnight. Annoyingly, I couldn’t express anything out loud, in fear I would wake everyone up, but I have not stopped listening to it, and cannot wait for the album.

Whilst on the topic of music, One of my friends returned from NY a few days before Valentines Day, and so she missed my birthday, and wanted to catch up. She threw a bag at me, and told me to open it.

Inside, there were a few wrapped presents for my birthday, which were all beautiful and I couldn’t stop blushing, but my favourite and possibly the most thoughtful gift in the bag, was a cassette tape, with my favourite songs on that she made whilst she was travelling. It’s mostly just NSYNC and Backstreet Boys, which made me laugh a lot, and I love it. It definitely put my red velvet cookies to shame.

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Next up, I guess we have to talk about Black Panther, because this movie is Marvel’s greatest movie so far. I saw it the day it came out; pancake day, and there was a woman in the front who took that day seriously, like, the trailers were running and she pulled out a plastic container of pancakes and just had the time of her life watching the movie, cheering whenever anything happened, and clapping whenever Chadwick breathed or moved. I also went back and watched it a second time, because I was just completely in awe of the movie, the characters and the culture they captured.

When the weather got worse, I stayed inside a lot more, I stockpiled up on books and snacks and worked my way through. My favourite book of the month was Coraline. I picked up a tenth anniversary edition from a charity shop for pretty cheap, and great condition, and it was signed by both the author and the artist.

I guess this is pretty miscellaneous, but The Disney store has been releasing a limited edition mickey every month, and February’s was absolutely beautiful. The Mickey Plush is a yellow, velvet fabric, and the body is stitched with Mickey’s head shape. January’s Mickey was steamboat Willie, and as it was my favourite era, I bought it for my birthday, and this was a late birthday present. I’m not sure if I’ll buy the whole collection, or just the ones I like.

Lastly, I guess are ‘fashion favourites’ even though I wear the same shirts in different colours and generally don’t care for ‘fashion’.

The first shirt I have been obsessed with, purely because it’s technically band merch, is my BT21 shooky T-Shirt. This is a collaboration between Line and BTS, and because I live in the UK and the stores are situated in NY and Korea, it was quite a surprise getting this. If you are familiar with BTS, the shirt is the Shooky, No milk! Tshirt. It’s just white and blue, with Shooky (Suga / Yoongi’s character) screaming because milk is his weakness. It is oversized, which makes me love it even more.

The next and final two favourites, are shoes. I’m fairly short for my age, I’m roughly 5’2, but since turning 18, sometimes on a good day, I’m 5’3. I bought a pair of black platform converse a while ago for my sister’s birthday, and I guess she re gifted them to me, but I’m not complaining, I’ve found myself wearing them more frequently. I also, decided to buy a pair of platform classic slip on vans. Despite my initial concern, they are incredibly comfortable and easy to walk in, and add a subtle lift to my short frame, so I can now reach the top shelves of bookstores, without having to stretch or ask for help.

February Book Haul

February is often that month of the year that I tend to forget ever happened, and really disappear throughout. I take multiple social media hiatuses, and get absorbed in outside activities that better me for a few weeks until I resort to my angry and often tired self, by the time March rolls around and the daffodils bloom.

This month, I’ve spent a lot of time at my desk drawing, in the library studying or in the bookstore being stared at by the nice shy girl that throws book suggestions at me whilst I’m staring at the bookshelves, and whispers conversations with me, so no one else hears. Kind of fanfiction ish but it’s nice. Besides, it’s not like our hands have touched as we reach for the same book, or made eye contact over Shakespeare recitals. That would be too fanfictionish.

The first two purchases of February were They Both Die at the end by Adam Silvera and Nightwalker (DC Origins story) By Marie Lu. I spent the majority of January raving about how much I adored Marie Lu’s writing technique, and again, she has amazed me by re writing such a well known story, and keeping me thoroughly entertained throughout. I knew when I purchased this, it would be bumped up my tbr list, and I finished reading it two days later.

Next, I was given The 100 year old man that climbed out of the window and disappeared and The girl who saved the king of Sweden, both written by Jonas Jonasson. I worked in a bookstore over Christmas, and they gifted them to me as a late birthday present, which I was quite surprised by, but thankful, because I have been wanting to read them for a while now, and now have all three of his works.

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As usual, I bought some new thrillers, because people being stalked and taunted by the dead is really interesting to me. The first one, is The Woman in the window, which currently has stolen my attention away from my tbr and cr list. The next one is a ya thriller, called 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough. The Woman in the window is giving me the same vibe as Girl on the train, which isn’t ideal, but so far the plot line is interesting. The main character is spooky, and incredibly perceptive, and personally has too much time on her hands to be sat at her window spying all day. I am hoping for a grand plot twist, as opposed to the usual ‘this character was manipulated’ ending of most thrillers.

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13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough is about a girl who legally dies for thirteen minutes, and can’t remember what happened. At first, she is doubtful that her friends could hurt her, but then she begins to learn new things and the book is described as ‘the mean girls of instagram’ which is always a great concept for YA thrillers. It was in a sale, so my sister picked it up alongside a few others and gave them to me, because she thought I would like them. I am quite excited to read this, since ya thrillers are original and twisty, arguably sometimes predictable, but I have read previous works by this author, and am expecting a good strong story line and characters.

 

 

 

 

(A Very Late) January Favourites

I’ve been 18 for just over two weeks now, and I’m not entirely sure how to feel about it. It definitely wasn’t my favourite thing to have happened to me in January.

I spent my actual birthday in the cinema, crying over the death cure, which is how I personally like to spend the day. I imagine whilst I was crying over a fictional character’s death, my mother was crying over her ptsd of being in a hospital gown cursing at every person in a white coat telling her to breathe.

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This movie was everything I needed for the ending, granted, they strayed from the book  lot, it did it’s job and made me cry. I cannot praise the writing or the actors enough for bringing these characters with everything they have. Across the four years, I have never once stopped caring for these characters, and I never intend to stop just because the movies have ended.

 

Since I’m talking about the movie, I also have to praise the book and James Dashner for creating something so creative and impactful. The book never fails to make me emotional or angry, and I love that. My emotions are invested into the very spine of this book. It is well loved and will be forever.

My first read of January, was Warcross by Marie Lu, which again is a science fiction read. I’m not usually a fan of that genre, but I guess my emotions were all over the place and I thought it would be a good idea. Surprisingly, I loved this book. I loved the creativity and freedom of the writing, it really allowed readers to envision the characters and the games in their own way. No surprise, but I also grew attached to the characters. Arguably, one of the main characters is very lacking in the personality department, but the main heroine Emika makes up for it, with her bold, carefree image.

For my birthday, I was surprised with a basket of Harry Potter things from my sister. My favourite parts of the basket were the terrible puns scribbled onto scraps of paper and hidden inside. Who knew you could even make so many inappropriate jokes about Voldemort? I truly appreciated every gift given to me for my birthday, but this Hufflepuff throw and Harry mug stole my attention.

These were the two items I really wanted to buy myself when they were first released, but I couldn’t find them and assumed they were limited. My sister, somehow managed to find them after Christmas, and I cannot explain how warm my heart was and is every time I wrap myself up in this blanket, or drink from my mug.

The blanket is just plain white, with yellow stars and the House crest scattered across the blanket (in the correct colours too!) The aesthetic is simple, and the material is just insanely soft. The mug is the cutest thing I have ever seen, and I can only hope they create other characters, because Dumbledore with his beard and crescent glasses would complete my life.

I am a big fan of hygiene and just cleanliness in general, but I also don’t adventure anywhere with my products. If I find a scent I like, I buy it frequently, and in twos, in case it gets pulled. With it being the new year, I thought I would make a change to that, and try the things that were in my stocking at Christmas. This Ted Baker boxset of mini things is now my new favourite thing.

First of all, the packaging is geometric and the nicest shade of pink I have ever seen. Second of all, the flowery scent is indescribable, just please bury me with a bottle of the body spray. In the box, there was a mini body wash and body lotion, in the scent, blush pink. There was also a body scrub, which could kill a guy, and a body spray. Perfect for travelling light.

Another Product I have been obsessed with, is this Mango and Mandarin shower mousse, from Radox. I could smell it before I could see it, and dropped everything I was doing on Christmas day to take a shower and smell this good. What I love most, is it can also be used as a shaving cream. My skin is super soft and smells great all the time.

Finally, I have been living in this Hello Kitty denim jacket from the primark collaboration. It is more of a summer jacket, because the denim is really lightweight but I love the details, the embroidery and the fact that it’s black denim. Almost all of my jackets are grey, and plain. This just adds something to my wardrobe, and I love it, so much sass oozes from it. I mean, look at that posture. I could have used some of that gangsta ness when I was watching The death Cure.

The fact that I called it ‘gangsta ness’ is why I will never truly be cool.