Cover Photo - photo credit: Thomas Leuthard via photopin cc,;photo credit: ★ jox via photopin cc; photo credit: spaceabstract via photopin

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Chromebook Review

For Christmas I received a chromebook from my parents. In this article I'll be talking about how I found it so far...

The first thing I noticed about the chromebook was how light it was. At a weight of 1.1kg and as thin as 17.5mm,  it's amazingly light and thin.You can carry it to school, college or a friend's house with no hassle but a small shoulder bag, backpack or briefcase. But it still maintains function with just enough space for your average USB and SD card ports.

Another feature is its speed. I use the Samsung Chromebook with starts up in less than ten seconds, so there's no wasting time waiting for your laptop to load. You're working, playing or catching up with friends in no time. And if you need to take a break, just close the lid. When your ready to open it again, it's available instantly. 

This laptop is very portable due to it's size, but it's just added to when you don't need to carry round a charger. With six and a half hours of battery, it should last you all day. But even if you need more, the charger is small and sleek so you don't have a heavy load. 

The Chromebook is able to be personalized. From your icon picture that greets you on entry, to your chosen wallpaper and Google Chrome theme you have a choice of preloaded pictures or your own images. Additionally  when you create an account your apps, bookmarks and preferences are automatically synced  so it always feels like home. 

Many people are put off the Chromebook by its lack of software such as iTunes, Spotify and Microsoft Office, instead it relies on apps from the Chrome Web Store. But there's no need to worry, the web store holds apps for all your needs. From Aviary photo editor to documents, slides and sheets on Google Drive to media player and store Google Play, you're covered. To make sure you're up to date, the Chromebook updates automatically and you can even change from the Stable channel to a Beta or Devolpment channel to get the latest technology, before its even released.  

In conclusion, I love it. Google have redesigned the computer and made it faster, sleeker and thinner. What more could you ask for? 

Friday, 21 September 2012

Back to School

September. The month of the year where the holidays are over and you're forced to settle in a new routine. It's the month of early mornings, homework and never ending Mondays. But don't despair, we've come up with five top tips to help you back to school. 

Tip 1 - Make a Timetable
Timetable aren't only for classes. Draw up a schedule of all clubs, groups, activities and commitments you have. This will give you an idea of your free time and help you balance work and play. It may be an idea to buy a planner so you can timetable day to day.

Tip 2 - Cover your Books

Your books get a hard time. You lug them around in your bag and dump them at home or in your locker. They get damaged, torn and spoilt in a matter of months. By covering your books the can last for the whole year. Use whatever materials at hand and get to work. Wrapping paper, fabric, paper bags and playing cards are only a few examples. After affixing your cover, add a coat of glue on top to secure your design. Make your own labels to avoid confusion and you could even add ribbon to the spine for an extra detail. To hold timetables and notes, glue round three sides of paper, attach to your book and slot in your files.

Tip 3 - Personalise 
Nothing's worse then losing equipment and have to hand out for replacements. Use permanent markers and home-made or shop bought labels to stamp your name or initials on your gear. Addionally, when lend out stationery, make sure you give a clear return time so you can guarantee you'll get it back.

Tip 4 - Lockers
At school you're guaranteed to acquire textbooks, exercise books, pens, highlighters and other equipment. And do you really want to be lugging it  around all day? The solution - A locker. A safe place to keep your things until you need them. With loads of locker decorations on the market (whiteboards, shelves, pen holders) there's plenty of room to customize.

Tip 5 - The Bag 

Even with a locker, you're still going have to carry things around. You need to ensure you have a practical bag. If you can, go for a rucksack instead of a tote. There are lots of cool designs and even the drabbest bag  can be personalised. Use button badges, patches and anything else to hand to give your bag your own touch.!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

An Inspiration - Olympic Atheletes

 Normally I reserve this space for inspirational writers, but the overwhelming effort, commitment and hard work delivered by Olympic athletes deserves to be recognized.

The Olympic Stadium 
The early morning sun shines down on the newly built Olympic Park in the heart of Stratford. The world holds it's breath as the first day of London's third Olympic is about to commence. All over the country excitement builds, drum rolls start. The crowd take their seats, and suddenly the final buzzer yells out its ear piercing sounds and suddenly the water is filled with excitement. It's begun...

With Some Angolan Athelets
With some Russian Athletes
The Olympic Swimming Pool  
The Aquatics Centre is bursting to the brim with athletes from all over the world trying to make their mark on history. Seeing the likes of Michael Phelps pouring their hearts out over one of the most important races in their life opened my eyes to the true spirit of the Olympics. That it's the effort you put in that makes you succeed in sport and earn respect. The Olympics can teach us what attitude we should have in life, how we should cope with disappointment and success. I was lucky enough to meet some Russian and Angolan athletes  It was amazing to see their support to their fellow athletes and fans. It is easy to imagine the amount of determination and hard work they hold in their events. I would love to be as talented as an Olympian and as inspired to achieve my best. My trip to the Olympics has taught me a lot and has even inspired me to take up sailing. I can only hope one day I may be able sail half as well as any Olympian.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Caitlin has been an only child since the death of her brother Devon. Somehow, no one else seems to understand her. No one else seems to be able to answer her questions. With her dad always crying, her mum   not to be seen and Devon gone, the world in a confusing place. When she reads about closure in the dictionary she is convinced that it will make things better... But are things always black and white?

Mockingbird is insightful novel that gives you an amazing understanding of Asperger's syndrome, it's impacts and how you can overcome it. It also finds time to give you a look into the terrible, life ruining effects of death and how it tears everyone involved a part. Overall, this book made experiences many have not been through seem real. Although it brought a tear to your eye, the amount of hope Caitlin held was incredible. The story was true to life and you could really feel her emotions. An amazing book!

Friday, 22 June 2012

The Theodore Boone Series by John Grimsaw

'Theodore Boone'
John Grimsaw is a best-selling crime author. Normally his novels are not quite to my my taste, but Theodore Boone is a completely different. It follows the life of Theodore, a budding lawyer who lives in the heart of Strattenburg. His family own the law firm Boone & Boone, and although Theodore is only thirteen, he already spends more time in Strattenburg court then anywhere else. Soon he's facing murder, abduction and a whole load of complicated crimes in between...

'Theodore Boone: The Abduction'
The Theodore Boone series is an amazing set of books. It's a fabulous mix of law, thriller and teenage fiction.  It's a refreshing change from Nancy Drew or The Famous Five. I can't wait for the next book!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Angel by L.A Weatherly

Angel is probably my second favourite book of all time! (After Amy&Roger's Epic Detour - review to come). The story isn't as gothic as the front cover at all. It is a love story (always a good choice) and before you think it, no it is not like Harry Potter. It is a magical journey of two lives that meet and the journey of their friendship and more. It is a trilogy and I cannot wait to get in to the second and third books! 

I really loved reading about the situation Alex was in, by having all his licenses and credit cards on different surnames and the danger and difficulties he faces, a little mix of action! Normally I wouldn't choose an action book, but I think I liked the twist of it, I will definitely try some more now! 

I also really enjoyed travelling through the states with Alex and Willow with the hunt of the Church of Angels behind us. 

In this book, there is a "Church" of Angels, but it isn't anything like a normal church. It is more focusing on the worship and craziness of the people with "Angel burn", showing how bad the Angel burn actually is, by it becoming equivalent of a religion, which in some people's cases is the most important thing in their lives!

I was devastated when the end of the book came, if a book is around 700 pages, you kind of expect the story to be finished (in some cases...) but not this one! I jumped up and down and wanted to run to the shops to by 'Angel Fire'! This book made me do something I haven't done for quite a while: miss a load of homework and not mind (much!), stay up way later than appropriate and turning to the book, even if I only had a couple of seconds to read! And of course, very reluctant to stop! 

I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone,  that's how amazing it is!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

An Inspiration - The Brontë Family

Outside the Parsonage
The Yorkshire Moors
Welcome to the first post under our new feature 'An Inspiration'. The aim is to provide our readers with a look into some of the most inspirational figures of our time and before. If possible, we will visit their home towns and report our findings on the blog. Any suggestions of people to report on would be helpful, and we will try to find someone that will interest everyone of our readers. We hope you enjoy!

The rain was lashing down on the Yorkshire moors as our car travelled towards the small town of Haworth. It was a sight that had inspired the Brontë family to write such books which in many people's opinions, make them some of the best writers and poets to set foot on British soil. We already knew it had been the home to the Brontë family in the 19th century, but we hoped the Brontë Parsonage Museum we tell us more.
The Yorkshire Moors
The Graveyard
Patrick Brontë was the parson of Haworth so the family lived in the village church. Luckily, the museum was based there so we could explore their real home. The first thing we saw was a beautiful graveyard overgrown with grass and flowers where Patrick would have undoubtedly performed many a burial. Although Emily Brontë is world famous author, you may not know she had a part to play in the teaching of the very school you pass on your way into the museum. Photos were not allowed to be taken indoors, but there was a lot to be learnt. Here's what each room taught us:
The Dedication
Mr Brontë's Study - Most Parish Business was performed here, Patrick had many meals alone in the room. Many belongings he used for work are displayed and even in old age, he was seen sitting before the fire, upright as a solider.
Dining Room - Most of the world famous books were written here, it was were Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall were created. When night fell, and the rest of the family were asleep; the sisters were known to gave gathered round the fire and discuss writing. Emily is believed to have died on the sofa. After Emily and Anne's death, Charlotte still spent many an hour here, alone.
Kitchen - It was the heart of the family. The children would be told stories, read German, write poetry and bake bread.
Mr Nicholls' Study - Originally it was used for storing coal. In 1854 it was converted to Charlotte's husband's study. A window, fireplace and doorway were all added.
The Servant's Room - The Brontë's servants were seen as almost friends of the family. Local women, Tabitha Aykroyd served them for thirty years. Martha Brown assisted Tabitha and remained into Patrick Brontë's death.
Charlotte's Room - Main bedroom, it is where Mrs Brontë died. Aunt Branwell taught the girls domestic skills and needlework in the room. When Charlotte married, this was their room. She, like her mother, died here nine months later.
The Children's Study, later Emily's Room - The Brontë children played, studied and imagined new worlds here. Emily lived here in her final years.
Mr Brontë's Bedroom - Patrick Brontë moved here after the death of Mrs Brontë. When Branwell became an alcoholic and a danger to the family, he was moved here as to be watched over. Branwell also died here under the wath of the whole family in 1848.
Branwell's Studio
For a large stretch of time, it was used as a bedroom. In the late 1830s, it became Branwell's studio and you can see his work displayed here.

|The Brontë Medow 
A Bench in the  Brontë Meadow
After visiting the museum, it is now possible to visit the Brontë meadow. It is a site that has been restored to show the beauty of the moors the Brontë's both enjoyed and were inspired by... For example, the dry stone walls are suspected to have been built sometime in the 17th century!
In the Brontë Meadow

In Haworth
And finally, the town of Haworth can offer more information about the Brontë family. With bookshops stuffed full of the Brontë's masterpieces and even council estates named after the world famous characters, be sure to visit. In my opinion both the Brontë Parsonage Museum and the town of Haworth can offer an interesting and helpful exprience to any writer, poet or historian. Five stars from me!   
The Heathcliff Council Estate 

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Teen Books - The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo

'The Other Side of Truth'
Two gun shots. Two gun shots that changed everything for Sade and Femi, that changed everything for their families, that changed their entire lives... One day Sade was preparing for school in Nigeria; the next her mother was dead, she was travelling to England under a false identity and in more danger then she ever imagined. But when she finds herself abandoned and lost in the centre of London, will she ever find truth?

This was a powerful book with a message to give. After reading this book I understood a lot more about the emotions of refugees and political sufferers. I understood more about what challenges people face, even when they manage to flee. After reading this, you realise the truth must be told, whatever the cost.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Teen Books - Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks

'Martyn Pig'
When you accidentally kill your own father it means nothing but trouble, heart break, guilt and confusion. But when a whole lot of money is involved, everything becomes ten times worse...

Martyn never meant to kill his dad, it just happened. But unsurprisingly after being left as an orphan, calling the police was the last thing on his mind. It seems all he has is Alex, the girl next door. Alex, the girl who helps dispose of the body and accidentally tips Dean off about Martyn's inheritance. Martyn thinks she'll be right by him. But with her crazy ambitions and wild ways, will greed get the better of her?

Martyn Pig was one of the best books I read this month. It takes an experience not many people understand, and turns it into a book that touch's most peoples hearts. This book is true to life and shows complex emotions in a way everyone can learn from. Incredible.


This is Naomi, making an entrance!
I hope to give this blog a new edge, from a different point of view!

I do not read nearly as much as Fiona, however I'll review on other teen pleasures.

Short first post- more to come!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Butterfly Summer by Anne-Marie Conway

'Butterfly Summer'
Recently I was given a proof copy of Anne-Marie's 'Butterfly Summer'. Here's my thoughts...

Things have always just been Becky and her mum, she's never known any other way. But when her mum's job draws them back to Oakbridge and its beautiful butterfly garden, secrets are uncovered. Something is very wrong and the only clues Becky has is an old photo. Is it possible for your past to haunt you?

I loved this book! The topics were relatable to today's teenagers and true to life. I can't wait to find out what happens between Becky and her dad.... I hope there's a sequel. This book kept me reading all night, five stars from me!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans

'Small Change for Stuart'
Life has never been that great for Stuart. Not only is he short for his age, but with a name like S. Horten, the nickname shorten is inevitable. But when his mum's job takes the family to his fathers home town, Beeton, he discovers a secret that had been hidden in the family for years...

When six three-penny bits fall out of his father's trick box, Stuart is drawn into a world of codes, machines, pictures clues and anagrams. But can he discover the combination of the safe before Uncle Tony's house is gone forever... And will he ever find Tony Horten's mysterious workshop?

Although I enjoyed this novel, it was very much for younger readers, I would only recommend this book to eleven and under.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

'Between Shades of Gray'
Imagine one night you were lying in bed, and a knock on the door changed everything...

Lina is a fifteen year old artist, she's been old a great future of drawing lies before her. But when she, her mother and her younger brother are separated from her father and sent to a Siberian prison camp, tortured, threatened, half starved, thrown into holes, forced to sleep in cattle cars and worked to the bone you wold think her future is lost. But through art, love, hope, honour, a not so terrible prison guard and a boy she hardly knows, but doesn't want to lose; Lina wonders, could there be a ray of sunshine between shades of grey?

Unforgettable, heart-wrenching and hopeful, this book had it all. I have read this book at least four times and I never tire of it. I perfectly understand why this book was short-listed for the Carnegie medal and would recommend this book to any teen because in my opinion, this is a story everyone should know.

First published at:

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

'My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece'
Imagine that an event you can barely remember destroyed your family. Imagine that one terrorist attack changed everything for you. Imagine that your sister lives on the mantelpiece.

That's exactly what's happened to ten year old Jamie. His dad's an alcoholic, his mum's left, his sister Jasmine has pink hair and Rose is dead. Jamie is left trying to work out the questions that he can't ask.

When Jamie's dad moves the family to Ambelside he promises them all a fresh start. A place here they can  move on, where there's no Muslims. But things don't quite go as planed. Jamie meets Sunya, a Muslim girl, she's the only person that truly understands him. But there's one problem. His dad blames Muslims for the terrorist attack which killed Rose. And if he found out he'd be furious...

I loved this book, it tackled so many themes and issues. Although many of the subjects were upsetting, this book was full of hope and determination. I would recommend this book to any teen, anywhere.

First published at:

My Name is Mina by David Almond

'My Name is Mina''
Home schooled Mina has always been different, she just doesn't seem to fit in. She always seems to attract trouble... One night, in the the moon, she starts a journal. A book of her thoughts, fears, dreams, family and friends. Through this unusual and daring diary, we begin to understand what has made Mina just so strange...

I really enjoyed this book as the fonts, pictures and layouts captured your imagination and interest. It also helps you understand that even if someone is different, that's nothing to be afraid of. That even someone seen to be weird or strange, can turn out to be a great friend

I would recommend this book to any teenager, for friendship, for family, for differences, and for great literature. It is the perfect prequel to Skellig.

First published at:

Monday, 9 April 2012

Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran, (photo credit: <a href="">NRK P3</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <)
Since pop artist Ed Sheeran scooped Best Male and Best breakthrough act at the 2012 Brit Awards, Ed Sheeran's popularity has soared sky high. His lyrics, tunes, performance skills and fashion sense are superb, and I (like so many others) can hardly wait for his next song. It seems Ed and his followers can't be stopped, and in the words of Sheeran 'I'm going up in an elevator'.

There are many great qualities about Ed Sheeran. Ed writes his own lyrics, so it's impossible not to admire his creativity. But Ed Sheeran's musical style gives his songs a new dimension when both recording and listening. His music videos (unlike some many others), help fans to both understand the storyline and enjoy the music. And that's another thing! I have noticed nearly all of Sheeran's songs have a story line. Listen to Little Bird, Small Bump, A Team or Lego House; they all have story lines...

To sum up, he's a brilliant artist who I believe, has genuine talent. If you haven't heard him yet (which would mean you've either had your head in the sand or been fast asleep for the past three years!) you don't know what you're missing. A ten out of ten from me, Ed!

Sea Cadets (TS Tartar)

For about two years now I've been going to North Finchley's Sea Cadet Hall (TS Tartar). I can't say I was seen there every Wednesday and Friday or every district activity (in fact I would go as far to say quite the contrary!); but I have been enough to see the wonderful opportunities it can provide to a teen.

The name sea cadets makes you automatically assume everything about the service is connected to water. Inevitably, the wet substance is a major part of Sea Cadets, but there are certain 'dry land' activities e.g. 5 a side football.

Sea Cadets is not only about sports and activities. It aims to improve discipline for its young people using some techniques of the navy. New entries and juniors can join from the age of ten, at the age of twelve you become a full cadet and work your way through ordinary cadet, able cadet and, eventually, leading cadet.

Sea Cadets offer a wide range of opportunities for a low price. Find out more at:

Sunday, 8 April 2012

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian 
Arnold Spirit Junior has never had much luck in life. He was born with too much cerebral spine fluid in his skull (or as he puts it 'water on my brain') that has left him with brain damage, one near-sighted eye, one far-sighted eye, huge hands and feet, being super skinny and having forty two teeth. Junior has already been beaten up by the other kids (and adults) of his reservation and things get worse when he gets expelled from school after throwing a book at his maths teacher.

Following the advice of Mr P he goes to school at Reardan (a school for rich white kids). Not only has he betrayed the tribe (and lost his best mate, Rowdy, in process), he has to put up with being even more of an outsider then he was before. However, at least now he is surrounded by people who have hope in life. Junior surprises himself when he impresses the most popular boy in school, gets a girlfriend, gets in the basketball team and makes friends.

Through the words Junior says and cartoons he draws, this books teaches you to never give up, always have hope and dream big. I really enjoyed this book as it taught me to never give up hope. I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of twelve as the language and storyline can be upsetting.

First published at:

Massive by Julia Bell

Carmen's mum is obsessed with the idea that thin equals beauty, success and a way to get what you want. So it's not surprising that weight has always been a big issue in Carmen's life. But things get too much when Carmen is whisked off to Birmingham and forced to leave her father, her home and her friends. Her old life is starting to disappear.

With her mum's diets getting out of hand and her family secrets are being revealed, Carmen wonders whether if she was thin, really thin, would all this be happening?

This book made me think about making the right choices and about how much people think about their appearance. It was written from Carmen's point of view. I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of ten.

First published at:

Matched by Ally Conide

In Cassia's world society controls everything: who people love, where people work and when they die. All her life Cassia obeyed the rules because she though society was there for a reason.

On her seventeenth birthday Cassia meets her perfect partner – except he's not. When Cassia she sees her friend Ky's face on her micro card she just knows something isn't right.

As she finds herself falling in love, keeping secrets and questioning the society that she has trusted for so many years, her world starts to unravel.

This book is set in the future and written from Cassia's point of view. It taught me about love, family and how little things can mean a lot to you. I really enjoyed this book as I'd never read anything like it before. It was very unusual. I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of ten.

First published at:

The Declaration by Gemma Malley

'The Declaration''
Imagine a world were you could live forever, where you could never die. All thanks to the Longevity pill, it replaces cells in people's bodies. It cures people of all illness. No one dies so no one is born.

If you want to take the Longevity pill, you sign the deceleration, saying you can never have children. Some people are irresponsible, they break the rules, and they're selfish. They take the longevity pill and they have children. They're children are found, taken away to a surplus hall.

Surplus Anna's parents were irresponsible. They broke the rule about not having children. Now Anna lives at Grange Hall, a place where she must
learn how to repay society for the selfish act of her parents. She must learn to be a Valuable Asset.

Then one day, her whole world and what she believes turns around… Peter arrives at Grange hall; he's the oldest surplus to be found, he's spent so much time hidden away. Peter says he knows Anna's parents, that they told him to tell her they love her. And most importantly, he's here to take her back home…

This book taught me no matter how bad that past was, you can always have a better future! I'd thoroughly recommend this book to anyone.

First published at:

Bang, Bang You're Dead by Narinder Dhami

'Bang, Bang, You're Dead!'

Mia’s twin brother, Jamie, has always protected her. Until now. Mia and Jamie seem to be growing apart.  It’s all to do with their mum’s illness; it causes her to have mood swings. There are pills that could help her but their mum stopped taking them after grandpa died. With their mum refusing to see a doctor and Mia terrified of social services splitting her and her twin up and of anyone at school finding out it seems Mia and Jamie are stuck. Mia knows none of this is her mum’s fault, however Jamie has less sympathy. He’s fed up of trying to make things right. Recently he’s been threatening to do something drastic. Something to show their mum how this is affecting them, and he won’t tell Mia what it is……………

When rumours start about a man in school with a gun and Jamie’s no where to be seen Mia knows something bad is going to happen. Then she remembers the gun she and her twin found when they were little. Mia knows she has to stop this. The only problem is the man’s not Jamie, and it seems that Jamie died the day he was born. Soon Mia discovers she is Jamie and all the things she thought Jamie had done, had been her……..

I really enjoyed this book as it was different and unusual. Also, it showed me what life could be like for other people. However, I found it a bit confusing when Jamie turns out not to be real.  It is written in Mia’s point of view and I would recommend it to anyone over the age of ten as it can be quite upsetting.

First published at:

A Little Piece of Ground by Elizabeth Laird

'A Little Piece of Ground'
Karim Aboudi has a list of the things he wants to do in his life. One of them is to destroy the Israeli tanks that block the street. Karim can no longer play football or see his friends. All he can do is wait until the curfew ends. With his older brother doing anything to annoying him and Karim not be being able to go outside he's is ready to go crazy.

When the curfew ends, Karim is delighted! He and his new friend Hopper find a piece of wasteland to play football on. But the tanks and the guns come back and Karim is trapped in the wasteland…

This book taught me that even in the worst situations, you can survive.

I would recommend this book to any teenager, girl or boy.

First published at:

Girl Missing by Sophie McKenzie

'Girl Missing'

Imagine you'd always been told you had been adopted when you were three, that your real mother didn't want you. And when you asked more about your past, no one answered your questions. Until one day, on a missing children's website, you see a little girl who you think may be you. What would you do?

That's exactly the dilemma Lauren is faced with. With the help of her friend Jam she goes to find out to find her biological parents, to discover who she really is and whether the people she had known as her parents all these years were involved. Only to discover that her kidnappers will do anything to keep her silent...

I really enjoyed this book; you feel really involved in the story and can't wait to see what happens next. It taught me that sometimes your family are not always the people who gave birth to you and that things are not always as clear as they seem… I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading and is over ten years old.

First Published at: