31 May 2014

Review - Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman


Author: Alyssa Brugman
Publisher: Curious Fox
Published: May 2014
Pages: 216
Source: For review*
Genre: YA, Contemporary

I was very kindly sent this book by Curious Fox in exchange for an honest review. As always, this review is 100% honest and all opinions are my own. 

"Why does it matter whether I am a boy or a girl? But it does. It really, really matters." When Alex was born, the doctors described him as “sexually ambiguous”, with both male and female reproductive organs. For the last fourteen years his parents have raised Alex as a boy. They dressed him in boys’ clothes, sent him to a boys’ school and gave him medication to help regulate his hormones. But last night at dinner, Alex made an announcement, three words that would change everything: “I’m a girl”. And when Alex sets about changing her life – her wardrobe, her school, her entire identity – no one knows how to react, least of all her parents.

♥ 


Alex As Well was a book that I was really interested in reading. It deals with an issue that isn't usually discussed in books for this age-range (12+) so I was curious as to how Alyssa Brugman would approach it and how it would be managed in the book. I'm not new to novels about gender identification and intersexuality but Alex As Well is the first one I've read that is aimed at young teenagers. I wanted to read Alex As Well to gauge how the author approached the issue and, to be completely honest, I'm not convinced.

Our protagonist is Alex - she was born intersexual and her parents made the decision to raise her as a boy but when she becomes a teenager and has started to think about gender identification, she decided that she would rather be recognised as a girl. She stops taking her medication and starts to identify as a girl. As soon as I read about Alex's decision, I started to really admire her - what she did shows a lot of courage. Throughout the novel, Alex comes across as being quite bratty and selfish but, considering what she is going through, I really couldn't blame her. Overall, I liked the character of Alex. Sticking with the topic of characters, I really didn't find any of the other characters to be particularly likable and, in many cases, they didn't provoke much of a response from me. Alex's parents were, in my opinion, terrible people who were manipulative, oppressive and controlling but, unfortunately, that's the way quite a few parents would probably react to Alex's decision. Alyssa Brugman managed to show the harsh reality of how a decision like Alex's could affect family life. This is where I start to have a few issues with Alex As Well...

Dealing with intersexuality in a book for young teenagers brings quite a lot of responsibility and I think it's incredibly important to handle it carefully and sympathetically. There's a good chance that a reader could be struggling with identification themselves and, unfortunately, I think Alex As Well could make it harder for them to accept themselves and make these decisions. Although it was handled carefully for the most part, Alex As Well also suggested that making a decision like Alex's could ruin families and friendships. It was an honest novel but it may have also put intersexuality in a negative light.

Right, negativity over! I've got to say, I really enjoyed Alyssa Brugman's writing style. She showed great flair and natural talent, making Alex As Well an easy and enjoyable read. I had a few issues with aspects of the novel (as said above) but overall, I admire Alyssa Brugman for her writing and for having the confidence to address the topic of intersexuality in a novel for younger readers. I give Alex As Well, 3 out of 5 stars.

Lots of love, Cat
xxx
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28 May 2014

Currently I'm...#4


Reading:
I'm actually splitting my time between two books at the moment which is really unlike me. I'm reading Silas Marner by George Eliot for school and I'm re-reading Starter For Ten by David Nicholls just for the sake of it. I've been given a list of classics to work my way through for Advanced Higher English next year (the teacher wants us to get started on the reading before the summer holidays) so I'm trying to get into Silas Marner right now. I'm only a couple of chapters in so far and I'm struggling slightly because it's so different to what I'm used to, but I actually think I'll end up enjoying it. ^_^ As for Starter For Ten, it's my favourite book and I could read it back-to-back for the rest of time. Simple.

Watching:
It really feels like all the TV shows I watch are ending simultaneously: Gogglebox is done, America's Next Top Model is done, Glee is on a stupid mid-season break in the UK, My Mad Fat Diary is done, Awkward is done, Are You The One? is done...and like, everything else is done. Luckily, Catfish has just returned for season 3 and so far, it's better than ever. :D As for YouTube, I've just been watching all my usual stuff but I did discover my love for MeowItsLucy recently so I've been marathoning her videos and thoroughly enjoying them. :3

Listening To:
An amazing band that I've recently discovered called TEAM*. They are honestly incredible and I can't believe that I've never heard them until now! For the past 3 weeks or so, I've had about 8 of their songs on repeat and I love them all. My favourites are probably Excalibur, Human War Machine and Sinking.

Eating:
This is going to sound weird but I've been absolutely loving omelet with avocado and walnuts... Yes, it's an unusual combination but don't knock it until you've tried it. It's odd but delicious. :'D

Loving:
My new room layout. After my exams, I decided to move my room about to disassociate my bedroom with my exam-studying (I hope that makes sense) and I'm super pleased with how it's turned out. It's a nice change. 
My album artwork wall! I'm planning to do a post all about it and how I achieved it but basically, I took the sleeves out of all of my favourite CDs, blu-tacked each individual page together in every booklet, then blu-tacked them to the wall behind my bed in a kind of mosaic. It took about 4 hours but I kept myself occupied with music and Once (my sister came in at 1am to watch it with me) and I couldn't be happier with the results. Unfortunately, I did this a week before I decided to re-arrange the furniture in my room so it didn't fit around my desk properly after the move. I did a bit of adjusting and I'm back to loving it. It's the perfect addition to my room. ^_^

Enjoying:
Not having exams to worry about. I finished my Higher exams on the 16th of May and I couldn't be more relieved. I was getting so stressed about my exams so now that they're finally over, I can just relax and have some time away from school and studying. I'm back at school on the 9th of June but having my exams done is a massive weight off my shoulders. ^_^
Having a full-blown, very detailed, categorised blog archive! It took absolutely ages to compile but I finally have a page with links to every post I've done since 2012 (this blog was founded in August 2007 but I've deleted posts before 2010 and I only listed posts from 2012 onwards in the archive so it wouldn't take days to make). They're all in convenient categories like books, decor, fashion and beauty so you can browse this blog more easily. I hope you like it! You can see the archive HERE.
Shameless plug there. ;D 

Lots of love, Cat
xxx
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24 May 2014

Currently I'm... #3

I swear, my cat could be a model...

Reading:
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. This is the third time I've read this in the past 5 months... I guess I must really like it. :'D Anna and the French Kiss is one of my all-time favourite books and is probably by joint favourite YA contemporary romance novel, tied with Lola and the Boy Next Door, also by Stephanie Perkins. I can't express my love for these books. ♥

Watching:
Not much, to be honest. I've been watching the newest series of America's Next Top Model with my mum (we've be slightly obsessed for years now), Gogglebox every Friday and Modern Family every Sunday but that's about it. As for YouTube, I've just been watching all of my usual stuff but my recent favourites have probably been KickThePJ and Helen Melonlady. Nothing new.

Listening To:
Podcasts! I've still been listening to music just as much as always but I've started to listen to a few podcasts every single day. It's hard to pick a favourite but, at the moment, it's gotta be Full Frontal (don't listen to Full Frontal unless you're at least 16). Full Frontal is Alex Gaskarth and Jack Barakat from All Time Low's podcast and it is absolutely freaking hilarious. I just love podcasts. :'D

Drinking:
Nothing unusual but I feel like I've been drinking more green tea and lemon than I normally do. 

Learning:
The Higher administration and biology courses. My life is so exciting right now!

Loving:
Kayla Hadlington's amazing blog. Her blog is seriously so beautiful and I've been obsessed with reading it lately. Her style is just perfect! I could read her blog for hours on end, just getting inspiration for outfits and building up a massive wishlist.

Enjoying:
Spending time at home, making little adjustments to my room. I'm on study leave at the moment so most of my time has been spent studying but, in my spare time, I've been changing my room up and making some new feature walls. ^_^

Lots of love, Cat
xxx
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21 May 2014

Interview With Jean From Oberjean

Today, I'm joined by the lovely Jean from Oberjean! I've known Jean for a while now and her blog is one of my favourites so I'm incredibly happy to be interviewing her today. I hope you all enjoy getting to know Jean a bit better! You can see Oberjean here

Welcome to Through A Cat's Eyes! Let's just start with you saying a little bit about yourself and your blog, Oberjean.
Well my blog is pretty much a condensed version of myself in a blog form! I set off trying to be a fashion blog, but because I am a fashion student and it is basically all I do, I tend to talk less about that and more about other things so that I don't end up thinking about it the entire time. Also, I tried to do a "what I wore" and I got super self conscious... so I think being a true fashion blog is out the picture! It has ended up being a mix of the things I love with the things I would like to help other people with. I'm a bit of a nerd and it shows through my writing style, and when I pick things to write about I always try and make sure it's things I am enthusiastic about too!!

What inspired you to start blogging?
I've had several blogs over the years and I think after getting back into the blogging world last year I saw the possibilities shown by others to do blogs that were really about what they were passionate about. I can't really remember why I started my first ever blog but for this one, it was to try and show a true version of myself in a blog form. Sounds a bit cheesy, but I'd never properly written about things I liked in my blogs before, it might have been because I changed quite a bit in those years and I grew out of my old blogs, but I think this time i've managed to encompass all the ideas I have for a blog... in a blog I actually like to post on!

Do you have any blogging goals for 2014?
If I can look back at 2014 and see that I have been at least posting on a regular basis from here on out, that would be me achieving a goal! 

Where do you hope to see yourself and your blog in a few years?
Lots of things!! But mainly... hopefully still going! However hard I have tried I do get bored quite easily of things so I just hope this little blog is still trundling along. I hope I've managed to meet some bloggers and become friends with people using it. Also, I wanted this blog to be useful in terms of my career as well as just being a way of getting back into the love I have for blogging, so if helps me in that sense at all in the next few years I will be super happy!

How would you describe your style?
I would say it's 'unique' but I get influenced by other people on the street, other Gray's School of Art students and what I see on Tumblr (I follow way more "arty" blogs than I used to!). It's very winter-y, even in summer. I basically try and wear knitted tights for as long as possible!! It's quite French in style but I keep to my roots and wear lots of Scottish style jumpers when possible... This question has made me realise there's so many things I could describe my style as that I don't really know what it is... 

If you could only own 5 items of clothing, what would they be?
Ooooh!! I think I would have a knitted jumper, a simple t-shirt, a cute pinafore dress, a skater skirt and a more statement shirt. Think I could get the most combinations of clothing out of those 5 than most things, I think!

Who is your style icon?
This is difficult! I still get really inspired by whatever Emma Watson wears. The best compliment I have ever received was when a stranger told me I looked like her, so it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling whenever I see her wear something gorgeous!

Which city would you most like to live in?
This is difficult - I really want to experience living in lots of different cities, like London, New York and Paris, but I think I would most like to live in New York. It's a big dream but I'm determined to get there... one day!

What are your favourite and least favourite things about blogging?
My favourite thing about blogging is definitely about learning new things - either about yourself, about other people, about the world, about blogging... anything really. It's amazing how much stuff there is not just in the blogging world but in the respective niches (book blogosphere, fashion blogs, lifestyle blogs etc.). My least favourite thing about blogging is probably having bloggers block, not being able to think of things to post about!

Do you have any advice for anyone who is thinking about starting a blog?
First of all, think of what you are passionate about, then start it up! It's so simple to start a blog these days and the wealth of information out there for new bloggers is growing each day. Simple jump in with a clear idea of the types of things you will post about and it will be pretty easy to keep on going from there. If anyone is thinking of starting a blog and needs more help, getting in touch with literally any blogger you look up to is a good bet, and most if not all will reply thanking you for emailing them in the first place! We love getting emails!!



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17 May 2014

Review - Essie Neo Whimsical

Essie 'Neo Whimsical'

If you've been reading my blog for a while now, you should definitely be familiar with this nail polish. It's no stranger to favourites posts but, for some reason, I'm only just getting round to reviewing it. Essie's 'Neo Whimsical' is, without a doubt, my favourite nail polish and it has been for about a year now.

It's no secret that I love Essie nail polishes; the formula is gorgeous and the range of colours is unbelievable. Unfortunately, they're not the most affordable nail polishes ever but I really think the formula makes the price pretty reasonable. I have quite a few Essie polishes now but this one beats them all by a mile. The formula is just as brilliant as always - smooth, non-streaky and opaque in 2 coats - and it usually lasts 5 or 6 days on me before it gets properly chipped. Neo Whimsical has absolutely no shimmer and is an absolutely beautiful pale pinky-purple colour which, in my opinion, compliments every skin-tone and every outfit. I haven't decided for sure yet, but Neo Whimsical is a pretty strong contender for my prom nail polish. ^_^

Unfortunately, I couldn't find Neo Whimsical on the Boots website but you can see the full Essie range at Boots here, and you can see Neo Whimsical on the Essie website here (it's much paler in person). Essie nail polishes are £7.99 unless you're lucky and find them in T.K Maxx. :3

Have you tried Neo Whimsical? Do you have a favourite nail polish? ♥
Lots of love, Cat
xxx
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14 May 2014

Hello Instagram #5


I made amazing art instead of studying for modern studies. This masterpiece is called 'All Aboard The Banter Bus'. Genius, right? // McBusted at the Hydro on April 18th! It was incredible // Reading Slaughterhouse 5 with Millie on a beautiful Sunday afternoon // Fall Out Boy on the B stage at the Hydro at the end of March. That gig was seriously a dream come true (post here).

I was reunited with my favourite Beanie Baby from when I was little. Her name's Sequoia and she was a present from my dad when he was at summer school when I was 6. I love her a lot :3 // Casually trying on some hats in T.K Maxx with my friends // Another photo from Fall Out Boy - that one was during Joe's guitar solo (so good!) // Beka managed to fit in one of the kids' rides outside Tesco and I needed a photo to mark the occasion. :'D

My maths teacher left his version of words of wisdom on my homework - "I'm going to batter you". Sorry, sir! // New Politics in March (post here) - they're amazing! // Millie came to keep me company when I was studying // Another photo from Fall Out Boy. The staging was beautiful and I love the lights in that photo. ^_^

A throwback to when I got my first CD. It was Busted and I still love them to this day ^_^ // A selfie before school one day. I rarely take selfies but the light was nice and my hair was behaving // Yet another photo from Fall Out Boy...again, the staging and lights were gorgeous and it was just an amazing night in every way possible // Another photo from McBusted in April - I think this one was during Crashed the Wedding. :D 

The past couple of months have been awesome! I hope March and April treated you well and that May is just as wonderful. ♥
Lots of love, Cat
xxx
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10 May 2014

Recent Reads: March, April & May

Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides 

I'll just admit it: I've majorly lost my reading mojo recently. I've been reading quite a bit but, for some weird reason, I've just not been finishing books for the past few months. Since late March, I've only finished three books and, since I really enjoyed all three, I thought I would share my thoughts on them. ^_^

At the end of March, I read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I got this read in about a week, doing the majority of my reading at school and on the bus home. To be honest, I was a little sceptical before I started it; I'd just heard so much about it and I was pretty scared that I would be let down. Luckily, it lived up to the hype and I actually ended up loving it. The Bell Jar is such an honest and original novel and, although it's quite upsetting at points, it's kinda fascinating and is incredibly enjoyable. 

The only book I finished in April was The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. This is my second experience with a Jeffrey Eugenides book (the first being Middlesex) and I think I can safely say that he is becoming a favourite of mine. The Virgin Suicides is absolutely brilliant. I genuinely have no idea how to describe the way I feel about this book, it's just so different, unexpected and, again, fascinating. There is so much that can be said about this book and I feel like it would be perfect to study in school or uni. I've already had a conversation about it with my friend, Jenni, and I left the conversation having realised so much more about the book than I did initially. I honestly don't know what to say about The Virgin Suicides. It's just utterly brilliant. 

My most recent read is Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. Unlike the other two, Daily Rituals is non-fiction but is equally as good. It's basically a compilation of the daily routines of hundreds of famous writers, composers, artists and philosophers. I'd been wanting to read Daily Rituals for months (since Christmas, I think) and it really didn't let me down; it's really interesting, original and actually quite motivational. I'd highly recommend it to pretty much everyone, even if you don't usually read non-fiction. 

Have you read any of these books? What have you been reading recently?
Lots of love, Cat
xxx
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7 May 2014

DIY: Pin Board Makeover

Just under 2 years ago, I posted about how I had given my old cork-board a makeover and made it into a cushioned pin board instead (here). Now, I'm posting about how I've given my cushioned pin board a makeover and have made it into a covered notice board. I guess it's come full-circle. ^_^ Basically, I was getting sick of having a padded, bright pink pin board above my desk so I decided to take the covering off and re-cover the cork board in really nice wallpaper instead. It's more neutral now and I personally think it's much prettier. I thought I would share the results with you - tell me what you think! 

The Results!

The Before (ew)

I genuinely find it hilarious how much the wall above my desk has changed over the past 18 months. It used to be so...empty. If you have any questions about what anything is or where anything's from, feel free to ask!

The process of how I did this is very simple: Firstly, I ripped (literally) the fabric covering off the cork board and got a couple of splinters and grazes because I'm not particularly careful. Then, I cut my wallpaper to fit the board, leaving 4cm all around so it can be secured at the back. Then it was as simple as folding the paper around the board and securing it in place using drawing-pins and adding some ribbon to the corners, again, using drawing pins. On reflection, a staple gun would have been a better way of securing it but I only had drawing pins at the time. Luckily, it actually worked out really well. ^_^

I'm really pleased with the results and can see it staying like this for quite a while! What do you think? 
Lots of love, Cat
xxx
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1 May 2014

Ticked Off The Bucket List - Seeing New Politics


Date: 22nd March 2014
Goal: See New Politics in concert
Not my photo - oh sweet Jesus, I wish it was - credit: newpoliticsrock.com

In my last 'Ticked Off The Bucket List' post, I rambled on about my experience of seeing Fall Out Boy in concert in March. They are my all-time favourite band and seeing them live signified major progress with my fear of crowds and new places, as well as literally making one of my dreams come true. That post is just word-vomit and a whole lot of emotion... I mentioned in it that one of the support bands was New Politics who are, in fact, one of my favourite bands.

When I found out that they were supporting Fall Out Boy I squealed a fair bit, listened to Harlem at full volume, then squealed some more. They're a fairly new discovery for me but I love them a lot. A lot, a lot. My twitter has just been New Politics, New Politics, New Politics for a couple of months (sorry!) and my laptop wallpaper and lock-screen, twitter background, and phone lock-screen are all New Politics. Now that I'm typing this, I realise that it may be a little excessive... :'D Their music is incredible and I really look up to them. They've had a hard time getting noticed and their sheer dedication and passion is so inspirational. Like with Fall Out Boy, I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to see them live. ♥

Unfortunately, I only saw about two thirds of their set when they were supporting FOB. We were late leaving the house and dawdled a bit when we got to the Hydro so we got in 10 or so minutes into their set. I remember walking in and just seeing David jumping about like a hyperactive puppy and realising that I was actually about to see New freaking Politics. :'D Their set-list was perfect and they performed amazingly; they seriously have limitless amounts of energy... Unlike with Fall Out Boy, I can actually pick out one specific highlight:

About half-way through the set, David shouted 'GLASGOW, CAN I FALL INTO YOUR ARMS?!'. I knew what was coming (they were going to sing Fall Into These Arms, funnily enough) and I freaked out. Fall Into These Arms is probably my favourite New Politics song and freaking David Boyd had just asked to fall into Glasgow's arms. He stood on the crowd throughout the entire song and it was beautiful. Oh wow... :')

I really hope I get to see New Politics again in the future, hopefully even for their own headline tour. They're wonderful and I can see them being a favourite band of mine for a long time to come. 

Lots of love, Cat
xxx

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Click HERE to see my last 'Ticked Off The Bucket List' post where I told the story of when I saw my favourite band live. I'll warn you now; it's brain-mush and a lot of fangirling...
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