5 Things I Learnt from 24 Hours of Kitten Fostering!

In August I became a volunteer for Cats Protection, with my main interest being fostering. I discovered Kitten Lady about a year ago but up until a few months ago I had a very old and defensive cat. It wouldn’t have been fair to him to put him under the stress of kitten roommates. When he passed, it was unbelievably heartbreaking. But eventually I realised that I now had the opportunity to help cats find homes with people that would love them like I loved him. The adventure started with looking after three kittens for 24 hours, and here’s what I learnt…

1. It’s hard. 
Seriously, kitten fosterers who deal with orphan newborn kittens are warriors. The three tiny babies I was taking care of were maybe three weeks old and I probably got about four or five hours accumulative sleep while I was taking care of them. They needed feeding every two hours because they were so malnourished, and because they weren’t used to a bottle it took about an hour and a half to get them fed and settled. Half an hour later, it started right back up again!
2. You have to recognise your limits.
These three-week old abandoned kittens were originally estimated at about five weeks. At five weeks kittens are starting to wean from the bottle to solid food, they’re starting to use a litter tray, they’re much less dependent and I like to think I could’ve handled it. But when I actually got them, they were much younger, hadn’t been fed overnight and throughout the day I discovered they were far from healthy. They needed more help then I could give and that was tough! I felt like a failure. But kittens come before pride and I knew that there was a limit to my knowledge. They were taken back to the vet, then taken in with a more experienced fosterer and have since flourished!
3. Kittens are always cute, even when they pee on your hand.
Very small kittens can’t pee or poop on their own. They need stimulation. Normally this is the mother licking them but luckily a paper towel rubbing also does the trick. Sometimes, though, there’s a very full bladder and pee gets on your hand. I swear I washed my hands more times in those 24 hours then I normally do in a week. But- kittens! They were so cute, they could pee on me and I’d just be like- oh you little sweetheart! Good job!
4. It’s lifesaving.
While the kittens I had were under the wing of Cats Protection and luckily there were fosterers other than me to take care of them, in certain areas and shelters- there isn’t. Orphan kittens who require bottle feeding every two hours, heating pads and manual help to pee and poop, are put down in a lot of shelters because there just aren’t enough people to do the work. And not everyone can do it! It’s full-on and full-time for the first couple weeks. But it literally saves kittens lives and even though I was only keeping the little guys alive for 24 hours, it felt really great to be able to do that.

5. Boy names are tough!
Throughout this post, the kittens didn’t have names because they were three little boys and I couldn’t think of any for the life of me! And just as I thought of some, they were leaving. I have so many girl names but boy names? I’m lost. Luckily, the kittens I’m looking after now are a boy and a girl so it wasn’t quite as tough. Esther and Gilbert are named for Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Literary names are the best.
Have you ever fostered kittens? Aren’t they just the cutest?
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5 Things that make me DNF a Book!

DNF. The three letters that strike the heart of every reader. Did Not Finish. I know different readers have different rules; some finish every book they start, some give a book 100 pages minus their age, but I just put a book down when I know I’m not getting anything out of it. Here are some examples with the books I paused in 2014 and 2015! And here are 5 things that make that decision for me…

1. Unjustifiable Racism/ Sexism/ Homophobia
None of these things are justifiable in real life. I just want to shut that down right now. However, if I can tell that the racism/ sexism/ homophobia is leading towards a character realising that it’s not right- then it’s a lesson rather than a bad worldview. If the narration, especially third person is okaying it though, then I’m out.

2. No female characters
I DNF’d a book over the summer that had one female character that spoke. One, who within the 100-ish pages I read, said some really disgusting things about a notable female actress. Aaaaand I’m out. Women exist. They don’t have to be the main character but if I’m reading and I’m thinking it’s a weird dystopia where the female population has died and it’s taboo to talk about- no thank you.

3. Ableism
This is definitely something I pick up on more than I’m older and actively knowledgeable on the subject. Heck, I missed it the first time reading this series. But it’s also something that’s personal, I have physical and mental health issues so when I’m reading and a book attacks or says something awful about people like me- Nope. I get enough of that from the real world, I don’t need that from my escapism.

4. I don’t like the writing style
Writing style is personal. I don’t like a lot of books that people I love and respect do. It’s not like they like books that are bad. So if someone says they don’t like the way my favourite author writes, I’m not going to be bothered. But if I’m reading a book and the writing style isn’t clicking with me, I’d rather put it down and read something else. As a writer, if someone didn’t like my writing style, I would rather they read something else that they clicked with and made them happy.

5. I’m dreaming of other books
Sometimes when I’m reading, I can’t get my mind off another book. Normally this happens when I try and push myself out of my comfort zone or I have to read a certain book by a specific time. Sometimes I ignore it and it works out well, I get into the book I’m reading and forget about the other, but sometimes it’s a constant niggle. If I can’t get another book out of my head, the one I’m reading isn’t holding my attention well enough and it might be time to stop.

A few of these are bendable, especially with classics that were written in the past where people were awful without the same morals we have now. It’ll bother me, but I’ll give it more leeway. And some are solid. Life is too short for books you don’t enjoy.

What makes you DNF a book?
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5 Things I Learnt from an Unsuccessful NaNoWriMo!

I lost NaNoWriMo. I think it was pretty clear that was going to happen after Update 1, and definitely after Update 2. I’m still excited about the story, and I’m still going to write it even now that November is over. And I learnt a lot from the experience and that’s good enough for me. So here are the 5 Things my unsuccessful NaNo taught me..

5 Things I Learnt from an Unsuccessful NaNoWriMo!

1. Not editing is the key
Editing is built into the way I write and turning that off was a tough lesson. Heck, I edited that last sentence before I finished it. But sometimes it’s good to turn that off and just see what happens. It can be good, it can be bad, it can be literal garbage but it’s worth it for the few times that something really magical gets written.
2. It might not be for me…
I was a mess trying to balance NaNo with my degree work, classes, and blogging. My health problems, physical and mental, reared their ugly heads. I don’t think I’m in a place right now where I can do without the small flexibility that I allow myself of not writing.

3. Co-Writing is hard

Do you know what’s harder than organising one persons life to add everyday writing? Doing it with two people. Then add different timezones, personal lives and a busy month. But- it’s worth it. I love writing with Ashley and I think we’ve started something great. It just might take longer, we’re shuffling zombie writers rather than 28 Days Later zombie writers.

4. Failure isn’t the worst
I have to keep drilling this into my brain because it’s hard for me to believe. The way my education worked, failure was the worst possible thing on the planet and if you didn’t do well then your entire life would be miserable. But there are worse things. And everyone learns from failure. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.
5. People who complete NaNo are warriors
Seriously. 50,000 words is a lot! And people were writing that much and surpassing it. Everyone who took part in NaNo is brilliant, even if you don’t win. But 50,000 words… Warriors! And I can’t wait to read the books I heard about while they were being written last month.

Did you try NaNo? How did you do?
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5 Things I Want to Do Before 2016 Ends!

2016 has been so bad, it’s literally become a meme. I don’t know anyone who has had a good year so far. Is it just that I’m getting older and therefore more aware? Or have the past couple years just sucked? Either way, I’m going to try and turn it around as best I can. I was looking back at my goals for 2016 and thought I’d switch it into 5 manageable things to do…

Stationary and a calendar for 2016

1. Get my bedroom in order
My bedroom is in a state of limbo right now. It’s newly decorated, but I’m still waiting on furniture so everything is still everywhere. It’s stressful that nothing has a place. So I’m hopefully going to get some heavy lifting done, build some flat-pack, send a bunch of stuff to charity shops, and just get everything squared away before my family descends for Christmas.

2. Go to Germany
Last December I went to Köln to see the Christmas Markets and the chocolate museum. It was incredible, but my depression was in high-gear.  This year I’ll be heading to Munich for a couple days to get myself in the Christmas spirit. Now I’m a little better at speaking German and my mental health is a little more controlled, it’ll hopefully be a good time.

3. End the year up to date on my degree work
I’m a little behind, it happens. I got really sick in October so I need to catch up if I want to end the year up to date. I have a two week break starting on the 24th of December, and I’d love to not need to work through it. But I will if I have to. I don’t want to start 2017 trying to make up for 2016, I have a feeling there’ll be enough of that in the world.

4. Grow my blog
My blog is going to be three years old this time next week. I’m not completely content with where I am now- I don’t know many bloggers who are!- but I want to learn and grow. I want to publish blog posts that my readers will love, and for my readers to feel about my blog, the way I feel about these blogs. So if you have any ideas- I’d love to hear them!

5. Plan 2017!
2016 was a bust. Even without taking Brexit and Donald Trump into account, there’s also been a huge amount of loss and sadness in my personal life and the lives of everyone I love. We all deserve better, the world deserves better. So, it’s my hope that with a steady plan for 2017, it will be the year that I look back on and think- yeah, we needed that after 2016. I don’t know the specifics but my general thoughts are; beginning year 2 of my degree, starting a podcast, and getting a handle on my physical and mental health.

What do you want to do before 2016 is over?
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5 Things to Watch on Amazon Instant Video!

A couple months ago I talked about 5 Things I Love about Amazon Instant Video, and I’ve done a couple lists about things to watch on Netflix (here and here) so I felt like doing the same for Amazon! I always find myself struggling to narrow these posts down so there might be another one soon. My Amazon watchlist is packed. But here’s 5 things you might want to check out on Amazon…

1. The Interestings / The Last Tycoon 
It’s Amazon Pilot season! I think? They seem to have these every couple months. This is where they put out a few pilots, (two dramas and four kids shows currently) you watch them and fill out a little questionnaire if you’re so inclined about what you liked/ loathed/ want to see more of. Interestingly, both dramas this time around are based on books!
The Interestings is based on the book by Meg Wolitzer and is a multi-decade look at a group of friends. And The Last Tycoon is based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald book and has Matt Bomer and Kelsey Grammar. It’s almost enough for me to pass by the grossness of F. Scott Fitzgerald as a person.

2. UnREAL
I’m a little all or nothing when it comes to reality TV. I love Jersey Shore, I hate Geordie Shore. I love the Great British Bake Off, I hate Cupcake Wars. UnREAL is different in that it’s a fictional show based behind the scenes of one of those dating competition shows. It’s fascinating. All the manipulation of candidates, all the drama, all the background things we don’t see, and great flawed characters that you just love to hate!

3. The Walking Dead (and Fear The Walking Dead)
Didn’t think I’d miss a chance to plug the show I love, did you? Season 1 to 5 of The Walking Dead is on Amazon Instant Video and that is quite a marathon. Unfortunately, watching it back-to-back makes the continuity issues blindingly obvious (the walkers using rocks and turning doorknobs, anyone?) but you’ll never be bored. And when you watch, you can always tweet me about it because I never miss a chance to talk zombies.
Fear The Walking Dead is a pretty nice prequel too, featuring a vaguely familiar face for you Harry Potter fans.

4. Crossing Lines
It’s rare that I get truly sad over an overlooked show. Fringe, Falling Skies, Death in Paradise, they all deserve more attention but none compare to the silence that seems to surround Crossing Lines. The official twitter only has 5500+ followers and hasn’t tweeted since 2013. Am I missing something?
It’s basically a cop show. Except, it’s set all over Europe in a cross-borders investigation team. Paris, Prague, London, Luxembourg, it’s all covered. It actually really interests me that this team doesn’t actually exist in the real world because it’s so easy to get around Europe with a European passport. This is obviously wonderful but if you committed crimes in several different countries, nobody is specifically looking out for those patterns.
If anything, watch for my favourite actor/ shameless crush Tom Wlaschiha, also in Game of Thrones and always handsome.

5. Empire
Here’s the thing about TV, it’s really white. I could probably count the POC in the last four shows I mentioned on my fingers. But Empire is about an African American family who run a music company, it has an almost entirely POC cast and an incredibly important LGBT+ storyline. It’s refreshing. And even underneath all that, it’s a really good watch. If you watch one thing on this list, it should be this and yes, this takes priority over The Walking Dead. I’ve been bopping along to the soundtrack while I wrote this post and I’m not even a music person.
Also, Taraji Henson is on it and she is a queen.

What have you been watching lately?
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5 Things I Want to Do this Summer!

Despite the weather, it is Summer! Although Summer is a little different when you’re a distance learning student, because my last assignment is handing in on the 8th of September. The same day my acting classes start up again. No rest for the wicked, eh? But I do have some things I want to do this Summer even if I’ll spend it with my nose to the grindstone…

1. Read so many books!
The number of books I’ve read this year is actually pretty low. I’m not one to get stuck on numbers but I feel like I haven’t had one of those hardcore reading moods where all you want to do is devour book after book this year, yet. When I posted My Summer TBR I challenged myself to read 1000 pages/ 3 books a week, I haven’t quite done that but I got to 750 pages last week!

2. See my family!
I don’t see my extended family all that often since we’re pretty spread out over the UK, but this Summer there’s a plan to get together in Northumberland and spend some time together. Even though I will have to take my uni work with me. And of course, I’ll be making my usual trip to Barter Books!

3. Get ahead with my university work!
One of the reasons my blogging has been a bit sporadic lately is that I’m juggling a couple more things than usual on top of being poorly. Time management has never been my strong suit anyway so when things knocked my schedule off, I got behind on degree work. I need to get ahead, or at least catch up. I miss Summer holidays.

4. Enjoy blogging!
Lately I’ve been feeling like at some point I started taking blogging too seriously. My photos were never good enough, the words weren’t coming easily, everyone seemed to be getting further with their blogs and I felt at a stand-still. So this Summer I want to enjoy blogging, whether it’s blogging more, less, better, worse, I don’t know. But at the end of the day I just want to love my hobby again.

5. Get some balance.
Things have been getting a little hectic in my personal life lately. Everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. And not just for me but my circle of friends, and even my country too. The past couple months have not been fun and I’ve never felt more out of sync. So this Summer, I want to focus on getting back on an even keel, as much as I can control.

What are your plans for this Summer?
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5 Things I look for when Book Shopping!

Book shopping is one of my favourite things to do. Online, in store, it doesn’t matter. I love looking at covers, reading blurbs, flicking through, scanning a page, looking at reviews, buying it, walking out of the store with my shiny new books or waiting patiently my the post box. But what do I look for when I’m book shopping? Here’s 5 things…

Barter Books is wonderful!

1. Radio hosts
I have a weird love for reading about radio hosts, specifically late night radio hosts. Maybe from my love for Frasier, and the feeling of quiet in the night. It’s the main reason I picked up Eleven and the Kitty Norville books. Show me a book with a radio host and I’ll probably buy it, they’re unsurprisingly rare though.

2. My favourite authors
I posted about the authors where I own most of their books and when I’m book shopping I do find myself drifting towards them to fill out the gaps in my collection. When you’re buying books, it can be comforting to know you like an authors writing style when you lay down the cash.

3. A recommendation
Recommendations come from all over the place; friends, family, bloggers, youtubers, the media. It can be tough to know who shares your taste until you’ve tried out a couple of their favourites. And I can’t be the only one that sees a book while browsing and is like, ‘Yes! Whoever loved this!’ It’s a slippery slope when you follow a lot of book blogs!

4. A good cover
I know. I know. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover and all that but really- those covers are the first thing you see when you look at a book. They’re meant to represent the book inside so when I look at a book, I want a nice cover. I’ve loved books with ugly covers too but I don’t actively seek them out when I’m shopping.

5. The next in a series
I love series. I think there’s something wonderful about getting to visit the same world without the repetition that comes with re-reading. I love fresh plots while I spend time with my favourite characters and seeing how they change and grow over three, eight, even thirteen books. So if I have the beginning of a series and loved it, then I’ll pick up the next book.

What do you look for when you book shop?
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5 (More) Things to Watch on UK Netflix!

Netflix is my favourite thing. I love having such a variety of things to watch on my phone after years of re-watching the same few shows over and over that I bought on iTunes. Alas, Netflix has finally worked out a way to crack down on people using VPNs to get onto other countries libraries. Which sucks. But the UK has some great shows and I thought I would share 5 more things, as most of my original 5 are gone, to watch on UK Netflix if you’re stuck.

5 (More) Things to Watch on UK Netflix written on the netflix home screen!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
This is by far, my favourite show on Netflix right now. I’ve watched each episode at least 5 or 6 times. It might even take over from US Office as my favourite comedy show. I love that so many things that are a given in TV shows, are turned on it’s head. The loveable white guy main character actually respects women. The two Latina females aren’t clichés and are both wonderfully rounded out characters. The captain, an openly gay black man who doesn’t shy away from talking about the prejudices he’s faced. And on top of all that? It’s hilarious.

Z Nation
6 months of The Walking Dead hiatus looms ahead but never fear because Z Nation is now on UK Netflix. It’s hard not to compare but Z Nation is a great show all by itself. There’s a pain-in-the-butt guy named Murphy who was given the last vaccine for the Zombie virus, and a intrepid group have to get him from the North East of America to California. It’s intense, it’s scary, it’s funny, and it’s more reminiscent of my favourite book; World War Z by Max Brooks than the movie ever was.

Glitter Force
I’m not an anime person. I appreciate that a lot of people are and I understand the appeal but it’s just not my thing. Which is why it’s all the more surprising that I love Glitter Force. An anime about a group of girls who are kind of superheroes that I’ve been watching with my best friend. It’s all very pink and sparkly and it makes me laugh at how ridiculous it is. “Puppies and Kittens! The Power of Love!” I love it.

Scream
Am I talking about the movie or the show? Kind of both. If you haven’t watched the original Scream movie then you should do that immediately. But the show is a great modern homage to the original trilogy. They didn’t get the rights to Ghost Face so they have this mask that reminds me of House of Wax- my least favourite movie of all time, by the way. Horrifying. If you’re looking for a scare and mythical creatures like zombies or ghosts don’t do it for you. This is the way to go. Humans are the worst. Scariest show I’ve ever watched.

Charmed
I watched Charmed as a kid but it was an episode here and there rather than a back-to-back series. As an adult I really enjoy the late 90’s/ early 00’s nostalgia and girl power. The storytelling isn’t half bad either, I might actually prefer it to Buffy! I’ve made it up to the end of Season 4 after a marathon watch last week and it’s a nice show to just have on your list and pop in and out of whenever you feel like something witch-y.

What are you watching on Netflix?
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5 Things I Love about Amazon Instant Video!

Now I’ve talked about how much I love Netflix and some recommendations I have before but Amazon Instant Video has always been the lame little brother in my eyes. Until I tried the free 30-day trial and downloaded the app on my phone, then I changed my tune. Here’s 5 reasons why…

5 Things I Love about Amazon Instant Video on a background of the Amazon website

1. It has big name shows
The Walking Dead, Fear The Walking Dead, X-Files, Constantine, Arrow, Outlander, The 100, Parks and Recreation, Sleepy Hollow, Revolution, Under The Dome, Vikings, Lucifer, Black Sails, Crossing Lines. Amazon has some very well known shows that UK Netflix just lacks. Current shows as well, with some updating every week with new episodes.

2. It’s cheaper than Netflix
Did you know this? I didn’t know this. At £5.99 a month for Instant Video to Netflix’s £6.99 a month, Amazon is the cheaper option. In fact, an Amazon Prime account at £79 a year still works out cheaper at around £6.58 a month with the free shipping and Amazon Music and all that other stuff. I think that’s enough maths, basically- cheaper. I don’t have Prime but my mum does and I figured out how to share it here! Pretty neat.

3. They tell you when shows are leaving
Friday Night Dinner, Educating Essex, The IT Crowd and The Inbetweeners were taken off on the 27th March. How do I know this? Not by suddenly finding them gone or searching the internet. It’s clear on both the app and the site.

4. The app is better
My one wish for the Netflix app is a skip forward 10 seconds button to go with the skip backwards 10 seconds button. Basically so I can skip through credits and ‘previously on’. If I’ve been watching a show for hours, I know what happened last episode. But alas, it doesn’t. And the Amazon one does, along with intuitive pausing (press the middle of the screen) and sliding to skip (left for forward, right for back).

5. Amazon Originals
Netflix has better original shows but the Amazon ones aren’t half bad! I just marathoned Alpha House, a comedy show about four Republican congressmen, and The Man in the High Castle looks really good. I’ll probably watch it after I read the book. They don’t have a lot of originals, but I think over the next few years they will really pick up their game.

Do you have Prime Instant Video? You can get a 30-day Free Trial here!
*My Amazon link is an affiliate link. Sign up and fund my TV habit, or don’t, you do you.
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5 Things I Love about Lent!

I should start this by saying I’m not religious, but I went to a school that while claiming not to be Christian put a heck of a lot of emphasis on the religions traditions. And I guess Lent kind of stuck with me. Since I’ve now made 44 days without the love of my life; chocolate, and it’s nearly over- here are 5 Things I love about this tradition…

1. Shrove Tuesday!
My mum makes the best pancakes and I love any excuse to bring out the frying pan, lemons and sugar as a subtle hint. Shrove Tuesday is literally the day to indulge and treat yo’ self. Even if Lent isn’t your thing, everyone loves pancake day.

2. The Challenge
Not only do I give chocolate up for Lent, I also give it up for November in a pre-advent calendar/Christmas detox. I think pushing yourself to give something up forces you to adjust and find out something about yourself. If you manage to get to the end, nothing feels better than that first taste. If you give up half-way through it just doesn’t have the same effect.

3. That Countdown
Countdowns are either the best or the worst. Countdowns to exams, deadlines, Monday mornings, and the end of the holidays suck. But Countdowns to Christmas, exciting events, travelling and the end of Lent are the best. 3 days to go!

4. The Anticipation
I’ve spent more time than I care to admit thinking about what I’m going to eat first when Easter Sunday comes around. Do I go classic Easter with Mini Eggs? Spoil myself with a hot chocolate pudding? Finally rip open the box of my favourite ice cream bars; Maxibon? Whatever it is, it’s going to taste so good.

5. Easter!
Some of my favourite memories from being a kid revolve around Easter. Doing the egg hunt with my brother and cousin, those little plastic fluffy chicks that seem to appear from nowhere, and as I’ve grown up it’s always been a time of productivity for me… Maybe from all the extra chocolate related energy!

Do you participate in Lent?
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