Friday, 19 September 2014

North Cyprus Holiday Review!!

I wasn't sure if I was going to do a post on this as I didn't actually enjoy my holiday very much. The more I thought about it the less I felt like writing about it. It was great to get away, but I felt really unhappy and depressed and I just wanted it to be over so I could come home. Here's a quick-ish recap of the good stuff I remember.

Pictures should enlarge when you click them.

After panicking that we would miss our coach, we got on it. I took this in Costa after a deluxe hot chocolate and cheese toastie.

At Stansted. They were almost an hour late getting us on the Onur Air plane, and there was no explanation or anything. I was really nervous about the plane, but as sure I was that it was going to crash I also loved the take-off!

I got a window seat =D

Look at that view...

I tried to fall asleep but couldn't, so I listened to music. Too antsy to read. I kept thinking, what if the pilot unpredictably fainted? Would we crash?

Lunch on the place - a rice meal with chickpeas, sweetcorn, peppers and chicken; grated carrot and lemon; a bun that was delicious with the butter and spreadable cheese; and a berry cake. Washing it down with coke. I would say it was about now that my plane crash thoughts ended (LOL).


This is when we landed in Turkey. I fell asleep shortly after this - but I didn't realise until I woke up at the rough landing at Ercan airport, in Cyprus. My sister told me then that they had stopped for ages in Turkey - yet another delay.

Pia Bella 2014 - Kyrenia/Girne

We stayed at Pia Bella hotel. It was a really lovely hotel and one thing I remember is how helpful the staff were. The receptionist answered pretty much all our questions and sorted out transportation whenever we want to go somewhere. On our first night we arrived close to midnight, but the hotel kept the restaurant open so we could eat. The meal on the first night was delicious.

We were upgraded to a deluxe room. It was spacious, air-conditioned, and had a lovely view. Walls were a bit thin though - wasn't too fond of hearing our neighbour cough up phlegm! Pia Bella Hotel had a lovely garden area, two pools, and every night was live music. They played a lot of songs from the 80's/ A lot of the people staying at the hotel were mature (I only saw a few kids) which gave it a relaxed atmosphere. I remember one night there was this really incredible musician I could hear from our hotel room and I was clapping from the balcony. I was on the balcony pretty much every night because it was warm and there was such a pretty view of the city, the mountains, the stars and the moon.

Breakfast had a range of fruits, cheeses, bread, a HUGE selection of jams and spreads, and the hot food would includes boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, sausages, grilled tomatoes and so on. It was great the first two days, but despite the wide range it was the same range of things every day, so as we stayed for a week it soon got a bit 'uninspiring', to use my sister's description of it.

As tap water is undrinkable in North Cyprus, we bought bottled water from the bar at the hotel restaurant. I'm not sure if it was just me, but I swear the prices went up on the fourth day. But I was buying a LOT of water because I was trying to hit 1.5l a day, and they sold 1.5l bottles for about 3.50tl (Turkish Lira) but I also needed small ones for when we went out. I put them in our room's freezer the night before, and so glad I did. It was scorching in the day. My scarf over my shoulders and sunhat kept off the worst of it.


The beautiful dove fountain in Kyrenia's town centre.

The Colony Hotel in Kyrenia's town centre.

Kyrenia Holiday 2014 (Girne)

I like the atmosphere in Kyrenia, though we were stared at a lot. We got beeped at once. I wasn't sure if it was because my sundress was bright yellow, or because I was black. Or because of my dreadlocks. Or just because we were women. Hard to tell. But besides that we got beeped at my minibuses, which is the public transport in Kyrenia. You just flag down a bus from anywhere and they takes you somewhere in town for only a few lira.

Turkish culture is predominant in North Cyprus, and Greek culture in the South. Cyprus has a long and illustrious history, which I'm not going to go into now, but I was fascinated. Turkish and English are widely spoken in North Cyprus, and turkish food and traditional music are can also be experienced there. When I came back I kept forgetting and saying "When I was in Turkey..." To be clear, I went to CYPRUS, not Turkey!

My sister and I went to Best Foreign Exchange in Hammersmith to change our money to Euros. They do a really good rate - even Martin's Money Saving Expert says so. We were under the impression that in Kyrenia both euros and liras were okay. As it turned out, Turkish Lira was actually more widely accepted so we had to change our money AGAIN *sigh* I think lira is about 3 to 1 british pound, so things there were pretty cheap.

The town centre in Kyrenia has lots of place to buy holiday gifts and we saw two Turkish delight specialty places - one was holiday Turkish Delight, the other was Sweety.



I don't normally like Turkish Delight. I've had it in Britain and the taste and texture is weird. In Cyprus, though it was nothing like what I'd had before. Turkish delight was extremely soft and gooey, bursting with fruity flavour. I loved pretty much every flavour there was.

Sweety had more varieties of turkish delight than I had ever seen. It said on their bag that they sold; delight, baklava, apple tea, spice sets, honey nuts, helva, sweets. The apple tea was delicious at the hotel so I bought a box of it here, along with a mixture of turkish delights. They let us sample a new flavour called Double-Fried Pistachio and it was to DIE for. We didn't get a box of it, by me and my sister have been regretting it ever since! I've had DREAMS about that double-fried pistachio! WHY OH WHY DIDN'T I BUY?!

Other than that, we went to Bellapais Monastry and St. Hilarion. It was so cool, I climbed to the top of the mountain! Of course I was afraid of falling all the way, but I did it ^.^ However... I also saw a snake. It was only like three inches but my heart stopped.

One thing I'd come to learn in Kyrenia, or Girne, was how incredible the lemonade is there. Apparently lemons grow in abundance there. So if you're ever in Girne, order a lemonade! I ordered it at least five times; at the Pia Bella hotel, at a cafe, at Niazi's, Ikimiz restaurant - no matter where I tried it, it was refreshingly delicious.

Restaurants In Kyrenia (Girne)

One restaurant we went to was called Niazi's. Niazi's did the most DELICIOUS food, I just can't do it justice with words. We both got the platter, so they brought a wide selection of dips and breads to start, then vegetables and salads, and then the meat - which had just come off the grill - a variety of succulent chicken, lamb, and beef kebob (kebab) pieces. We were FULL to the brim at the end of the meal, I just couldn't manage desert... of course I waited five minutes and 'managed' it anyway :3 I highly, highly recommend Niazi's. To our embarrassment though, when we got back to the hotel we calculated it and realised we had been thinking in pounds, not liras, so we'd accidentally given a pretty lousy tip. Whoops. Don't make our mistake!

The second place tried was Ikimiz restaurant, was was also incredible. I can't tell if Ikimiz or Niazi's was better.

Niazi's was fine dining, but Ikimiz was more homely and rustic. It was a mother and daughter-run resturant - I think their names were latife and fatima - and we were served by the daughter. She was really friendly and explained all of the dishes on the menu. When she was done, my sister and I wanted to order EVERYTHING. They had a beautiful, beautiful garden and we dined there when it was night and the stars were out. They had paper lanterns and everything, it was so pretty.

Naturally I order fresh-made lemonade and a plate of warm flatbread with butter and olives was brought out while we waited. Then we had starter - Ikimiz pastry for me, delicious and crunchy with a sour yoghurt, and a tasty ravioli for my sister (I tried a bit). For the main meal, my sister had the 'beef with mushrooms', a beef patty with mushrooms in the middle. I had the Ikimiz Special, which was sliced meatball (90% beef, 10% lamb) deep fried in pastry topped with fresh tomato sauce and almonds. Both dishes came with a side of vegetables, batter-coated potatoes, and that yummy rice that looked like it's got tiny spaghetti pieces in it.




On our last day there, we went to Avanti, which was right next to Pia Bella hotel. It was a bakery with enchanting outside seats; couches and plush chairs with large straw umbrellas overhead. My sister got a brownie while I got this lovely honey cake. But then I had to go and ruin it by ordering hot chocolate as well and felt sick. And it was so hot outside! I think I ACTUALLY went crazy for five minutes.

They also did main meals so we came back for burgers that would give GBK some serious competition. While we waited, they brought up flatbread with a tomato, olive oil and vinegar dip selection - I think serving it first is part of the culture. I was so stuffed, I didn't want to leave food on my plate but I had to. Then I waddled back to the hotel to deflate and take in a last night on the balcony. Then I decided not to sleep and instead stay up until 4am, when our coach came to get us (late).

Palm beach! Did I take one of the water? Couldn't find one...

Beaches in Kyrenia

My sister had planned to get us a hotel close to the beach. Somehow she hadn't realised Pia Bella wasn't actually within walking distance of one, which she was really pissed about. Regardless, we went to two.

The first was Escape Beach Club, which I don't have any good picture of. We got the air-con'd minibus there, and I quite liked it but my sister pointed out that the sand was dirty, and the sunbeds all squished together. The water was warm after you'd been in it a while and shallow for a surprisingly long way out. I can't swim, so that was fine for me.

The second was called 'Palm Beach', because it was directly behind Palm Beach Hotel. Palm Beach was actually in famagusta - the home of our tour guide, which is why he recommended it. But it was far - at least an hour's drive, so we knew it would be a day trip. We had to get a shared cab over there, and then it was a half an hour or so walk, where we had to ask directions a few times. We found it eventually, and that beach was just beautiful. The sand was a golden yellow and really fine so we sank as we walked. And it BURNED! Damn! Palm Beach charged for sunbeds, while at Escape they charged you to get into the club. The water was sparkling and clear, but it also stayed cold, it never really got warm when you were in it. You had to bob around until you found a warm patch and then try and stay in it as it drifted away!

Anyway, I'd recommend Palm beach.


Breakfast on the plane. That delicious bun again (though it was less solid this time) with cheeses, veg, butter, jam, cake, and coca cola. (I don't eat meat from pigs.)


And so ended my first 'proper' holiday. Didn't really enjoy it, but *shrug* it was better than no holiday at all, and I learnt some valuable lessons.


Star xx

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

This Blog Is Back In Business!

AHHHHH!! It's sooo nice to actually get up at 8am, while the day is young, fresh and bright.


I am finally back.

It's been a while, huh? At first it was really hard not to post, and I was really itching to. But after a while it was easy to forget about the blog, especially when I had stuff on my mind, which I anticipated I would!

Now the suspension on this blog is finally lifted, I'm going to renew my efforts to post on this blog at least once a week. Stay tuned for a post about all the posts I wanted to make!



What Happened While I Was Away?

- Well... I was away, as in abroad, on holiday :3
- Had two more ideas for novels that got stuck in my head... trying to keep the ideas alive, but not get distracted by my first novel!
- Been working REALLY, really hard on my author blog. So pleased with both my effort and my progress.
`-- > (I can't believe I set out on that journey in February!! Just can't BELIEVE how that time just soared by!)
- Went to about half a dozen fantasy events and conventions!
- Really wanted to post on this blog... held back the urge in pursuit of greater things! Although I did post about The Fault In Our Stars for Zoe. :)
- Went to Birmingham... quite a lot of times
- Became even more addicted to my music
- Read over 10 books this summer! And I stayed true to the fantasy-only goal. YES
- Had my self-esteem entirely shattered.
- Enjoying the nice stuff I bought on holiday, including a new rucksack, a watch, a bowl, a clock, the list goes on! but I'll talk about THAT on Pink Sov.
- Lots of physical and mental health issues =( I'm trying not to call them 'problems'
- Weird weather in London. =/
- Time flew!


One thing I realised was how much I talk about my struggles on this blog without also addressing coping methods. That's usually because I don't actually HAVE any coping techniques, but I'm going to do some research and try and write about it.

All that's left to do now is be positive. =]



Star xx

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Sorta-Review: The Fault In Our Stars - John Green


I could lie and say I read this book because I wanted to, but I read this book because Zoe begged me to. I did not want to read this book. I was depressed and I wasn't sure I could handle it. Plus it was insanely popular and I have never, nor am I ever inclined to, read a book or watch a film when it's already such an overwhelming rave.

It was a double edged sword, I guess. I didn't want to be influenced, but if it didn't become so popular it never would've caught my eye in the first place.

When I decided to read it a few days ago, I didn't feel any better than when I eventually bought it, over a month ago, but I needed a distraction from my own thoughts and I'd just finished reading another YA book that WASN'T bad so I was in the mood to try another. Additionally, it was half price at the bookstore where I worked and with my staff discount I got it for £3.20. The bargain just made it better, really. :3

I tried to read with an open mind. I choose to read fantasy books as I enjoy them the most, but I'll also read any book that has a remotely engaging premise or will help me improve as a person. This includes self help books, crime, historical fiction, Sci Fi, and of course from my degree, classics, poems, plays, essays, journals and critical texts. With this book, I liked that the narrator was a voice I didn't normally hear in a book - a cancer patient.


So I began reading...

And three pages in, I was bored. Hopelessly bored. I put it down about three times by chapter three (I dunno why all the 3's) because I wasn't compelled to read on. But I did go back to it, more out of duty (I hate not finishing a novel, even if I dislike it - George Orwell's 1984 and Stephen King's 11.22.63 still have their bookmarks in but they're killin me) than intrigue, but slowly intrigue was first and duty second.

The humour jarred against my usual comedy preference, and I didn't feel very much drawn to Hazel as a character, despite her condition. But as the book went on, I grew accustomed to the humour and the bantering between Hazel and Augustus was really entertaining. That was about a third of the way through.

When I got about halfway, it got to the Now I'm Struggling To Put This Down phase, so I managed to finish it in about 3 days, which was a bit of a surprise to me as it's been some time since I got stuck in a good book. I has read Sally Green's Half Bad (no relation... er, I think O_O ) directly before and finished that in just over a day, so I think I'm getting back into the swing of things, still got stuff to read for uni though.

I began to love this book for the moral and social issues it raises; like how effortlessly like everybody else these cancer patients seem to be, except for that one drawback that infringes on their health; like how people are compelled to say something nice simply because of the illness an no necessary but the people was a good person; the cancer perks; people saying 'He/she fought bravely' and Hazel remarks, 'as if there's any other way to fight'; how, when people remark on someone after their passing, it seems everybody experienced a different side of them. There's a lot more things, that's all I can think of right now.


I love the dialect of the teenagers in the book. It's just so accurate! Sometimes it just made me laugh. I like how engrossed they were in video games and literature.

Like I said, I read Half Bad just before. But when I thought about the plot devices and choices, I'd never think 'Why did Nathan do that?' but 'Why did Sally Green make Nathan do that?' That may be because of the way I've been trained to analyse from school, college and now uni. But I think it's because it FELT like the events had being orchestrated, not just because it's a fantasy but because the actual story DEPENDS on the element of uncertainty. Nathan never knows what's going to happen to him so we wait on Sally Green to tell us.

But with The Fault In Our Stars, I can't impress how authentic it feels. The characters themselves and the way they speak, the events, there's a sense of everyday life that felt so lifelike. I felt like Hazel was REAL, as if this book was her factual autobiography, which is such a weird experience.

The bit when they went to Anne Frank's house reminded me of the book 'My Name Is Anne: She Said, Anne Frank' by Jacqueline Van Maarsen, Anne's best friend. I remembered it because even though this fictional book felt real, Jacqueline Van Maarsen's own biography felt like fiction to me when I read it. I loved the book but i didn't know why I couldn't connect with it as non-fiction. I kept forgetting that it was a retelling of actual events. It's just all very bizarre.


Laugh

So pretty much EVERY PERSON I have ever spoken to about this book said they laughed AND cried. As I said at the start, I tried not to think too much about how it SHOULD be making me feel and thought about my own actual response to it. The first time I burst out loud laughing just just before the halfway mark, when Augustus finishes An Imperial Affliction and sends this mortified text in capital letters like, OH GOD YOU CAN'T DO THIS TO ME WHAT IS HAPPENING or words to that effect, and I just rolled around laughing, because I can think of so many friends who'd send an identical text to me about something, or me to them.

And I know I shouldn't, but I did have the brief thought, 'One down.'


Cry

As for the crying, well I didn't 'cry' as such. The saddest parts of the novel, I couldn't cry. I felt kind of numb, and small, and insignificant. The only bit in the whole book that brought tears to my eyes was when Hazel's mother admits she going to become 'a Patrick', as Hazel kept calling it, and suddenly my eyes were stinging and my throat closed up. But I don't know why that bit in particular made me plummet into a dark hole. Not because of the book, but because of the way I felt because of the thoughts I had because of the themes of Desolation I was thinking about that came out of the book.

After I read it I kind of had to stop and breathe a bit, then then when I continued I was fine. I didn't even cry. I felt confused afterwards because I just couldn't pinpoint that feeling - was I connecting it to my own Mum somehow? God, I don't know. I just can't explain it so all I can do is stop talking about it.


After

I probably shouldn't be saying this on my blog, but afterwards I sat and thought about my depression and wondered why, even with the thought of the suffering of others in my head right now, their pains so much worse than mine, my depression wouldn't go away. And I felt selfish and horrible, even though I can't seem to control it, no matter how hard I try. It just tires me out. I felt miserable.


Agonising

That's the one word I think of when I think of this book.

Everybody in this book experiences some level of agony, but for the cancer patients it's of a different kind. Reading it is incredibly uplifting as it is depressing, and I didn't feel sympathy for Hazel because as a person (sorry, I mean character. See what I mean?) I couldn't connect with ehr. What I did connect with, though, was the ways he thought about things. That's what made me want to keep reading. Being inside her head was pretty wonderful, because she's very clever and sensitive and her moral values are high. Her personality is bleh.


As Literature Acknowledging Literature

I imagined studying this at school. I don't like saying this about books, but this book would actually be great for that because there's so much SYMBOLISM (I swear, just so much it's crazy), so much to learn from it, so much that you can take and analyse and think about. SOOO many lines form this book are quote-worthy, possibly because of all the repetition. 'Okay? Okay.' 'That's the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.' And so on, and so on. I did wonder why Augustus was described as a 'plot twist' in the blurb and I got my answer - by talking about fiction in the book, it's quietly acknowledged itself as a work of fiction and plays with that. I like that.




I'm not doing okay right now. I am breaking. Blu tack will not put me back together. More cups of tea, for now.


Star xx

Monday, 17 February 2014

SUSPENSION

Notice Of Suspension

This blog is now officially on suspension, from at LEAST
 February 2014 to September 2014.


Fine Print.


Vampire Academy 2014 Movie

RUSH POST.

I'm going to talk to you about an old obsession of mine that had become a faint buzz in the back of my mind - and is now officially dead.

... okay okay, I'm being overdramatic!

I hate saying this, not just because it was my obsession and I used to LOVE the Vampire Academy books - I felt so empty when I'd finished reading - but because I still think they are excellent books. But I cannot deny that the way 'They', and I don't know exactly whom I'm referring to here - decided to turn Vampire Academy from a (in my opinion) highly-serious, high-stakes, surprisingly romantic, high-school vampire concept into a Mean Girls meets Twilight, not only did my heart drop out my butt (lol) but I grew worried that this movie would tarnish the BOOK.


New book cover.

Now I must take some time to explain exactly what I mean by this. It's a delicate matter. Heh XD

[ 1 ]
We ALL understand that since the rise of Twilight, the Film Peoples have been taking every teenage book - oh, by the way, that genre is now called Young Adult, commonly known as YA (you probably know this but JUST SAYIN'!) - and turning that book into The Next Big Thing. Which, don't get me wrong, is pretty cool. Especially for the authors. Personally, I'm bored of this, but my opinions always have been and still are the minority and thus discarded. So er, despite that I find The Hunger Games and Divergent series intriguing, when they're on screen, the most highlighted bits are the things that were done before. Tiresome. So what first worried me what that Vampire Academy would be 'altered' to 'fit in' with what's already popular right now.

[ 2 ]
But on the other hand... like I said, these books are great. They're also very complex with many different things going on. Because of this, there's a part of me that is really glad that Richelle Mead is gonna get the extra attention from this movie. As far as I'm concerned, regardless of how a movie turns out or is received, if they're sold the film rights then they've 'Done It'. Or 'Made It'. I guess. (I've kept using this phrase because I couldn't think of a better one. e_e ) And it's great that her books got this opportunity - not all books do. We know this.

[ 3 ]
I have made the decision, as I do with most film adaptations of books I've read, not to see this film until a long time in the future, if at all. First because I often don't like film adaptations; second because I don't like a lot of films in general, I dislike moviegoing; and thirdly because I don't like being influenced by other opinions while the hype is still quite big. I can't remember how I ended up seeing The Hunger Games, but it was over a year since it had been in the cinemas and I was both glad I saw it and glad I waited. So in other words, everything I write in this post can be waved away as obviously I am only SPECULATING and making ASSUMPTIONS before I have actually seen the movie, and I dunno about you but it's annoying when people do that. So I'm annoying myself right now. A lot.

[ 4 ]
Um... this is going to sound rude but none of the characters cast are how I imagined them. At least in some other film adaptations there's a similarity, but in this case there are huge discrepancies between my crazy brain and the cast! Which is nothing more than an 'Awwwhhh...' type of thing. It's a bit hard for me to get Rose in my head as Glamorous. Really hard. It's obvious that she is a remarkably pretty girl but... seriously. No, srsly. I have to reprogram my brain for every single character in this. Like... an alternate dimension VA.



One thing I must say though, I adore the new covers, MUCH better than the original and somewhat better than the red covers. They're very much in line with the new Hunger Games and Divergent covers that were released after the movies came out, which all have a common dark-colours scheme to them. A lot of YA books seem to do this now, with the dark covers instead of bright, often they're dystopian books as well! I can only say this because I work in a bookshop and otherwise I wouldn't know or care.

I love pretty imagery on books but I have never liked faces, I think I mentioned this before. I hate that. I don't want somebody else to ascribe a face to a character I'm about to make a bond with, I'm not sure why but it really irritates me and can often put me off a book. I love being able to picture characters in my mind. Funnily enough though, I don't mind cartoons or silhouettes. I just can't stand real people. Once in a blue moon, faces can actually pull me towards a book - like Philippa Gregory's The White Princess. I can stare at that cover for ages, it is heavenly.


... anywhoo... =/

I'm still not sure how I feel about a great deal of YA books being so heavily fantasy based. As a huge fantasy fan, it's hard not to tear a YA book apart for not adhering to fantasy principles. (Much simpler when there was just 'teen' =c ) But as I read VA before it was actually classed as YA, I still have a soft spot for it. It's kind of different. I didn't feel that way about the House Of Night series. Ages ago, I said I was gonna re-read the VA series but I couldn't bring myself to. My friends bought me the spin-off series with Sydney as the lead, and as I didn't much like her in the origin series (nowhere NEAR as much as Rose, Rose was my FAVOURITE), I couldn't bring myself to read it.

So to conclude...

I am a terribly fucking annoying person and if I ever read this post again, I'll probably delete it.




Star xx

This is one of my Rush Posts - when they are all posted, you will find my NOTICE OF SUSPENSION.
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