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    Book Reviews, Books

    Blog Tour: Relativity – Antonia Hayes*

    ‘Relativity is a novel of assured and measured empathy, a story of familial love and familial hurt that is fair, honest and remarkably non-judgmental. Hayes is a convincing writer and a true storyteller: her characters are alive.’ Christos Tsiolkas, author of THE SLAP

    Relativity

    Relativity is Antonia Hayes’ debut novel and boy, is it one to remember! In Relativity we meet Ethan, an exceptionally gifted young boy who is absolutely obsessed with physics and astronomy. Now I’ve always been interested in astronomy – physics not so much – but I was initially surprised at how heavily these topics featured. Hayes writes about the science in such a way that you can’t help but want to keep on reading. To find out more about Ethan and the way he thinks.

    To be honest, I actually read the first couple of chapters and I wasn’t so sure about the book. I’ve really struggled with my reading in the past few months and when that happens usually I’ll go for either a YA or Crime Series book as I personally find them really easy to get into. As a contemporary and more adult book, this obviously didn’t fit into that criteria. It’s just not something I read a lot of.

    That said, a few more chapters and I was well and truly hooked. The narration was cleverly done. We were focused on three characters throughout the story so it was almost like they had their own POV chapters/sections, yet written in third person. The switch between the mind of a young child and the mind of the parents was just so natural. I enjoyed reading from all perspectives and it was great to see the dynamic between these characters from different views.

    I also really liked how we were thrown into not just Ethan’s life and struggles, but the relationships around him. The people in his life that are on their own emotional journey. I felt like each character was really believable and whilst I couldn’t directly relate to them, I could definitely empathise and I felt those emotions that they went through.

    The story line was gripping and whilst it had sensitive topics (SBS being a big part of it) it was done very well and led to such a fascinating idea. Once you get into it, it’s hard to out down! I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants a book with family, intrigue and a bit of the unknown.

    I was sent Relativity for review as part of the Blog Tour organised by Clara Diaz at Little Brown UK. All opinions are my own.


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    Fitness

    Half-Marathon Training – What’s To Come!

    Yep, I’m doing a Half-Marathon this year. Am I mad? Only a little… Why? Because I love a good challenge. I’ve had many people tell me that the half is their favourite distance so I’m hoping I feel the same!

    Running

    I recently did a poll on twitter asking if I should create a separate blog just for my running/fitness updates and well, the results were surprising to say the least. I’d always thought that my fitness posts weren’t too popular…


    I know it’s half and half but I figured you know, this blog is about my life and my fitness is a huge part of it so for now the updates will be on here. Fear not, if running doesn’t interest you then I won’t be doing a weekly update. It’s more for things that stand out in my training, things I’m struggling with or things that are helping me.

    I will probably still end up writing weekly running-related posts but they’ll be more varied and not just updates! I’ve got all the fun of running for a continuous 2 hours, trying new kit, testing run-safe foods and braving the cold weather to come!

    Starting The Long Runs

    Yesterday I did my first ‘long run’ of my training plan. The plan I’m doing is working with time, rather than mileage, and I think this is the best way to go really. This long run called for 50 minutes, and whilst that isn’t long to some, I know it sounds like a marathon to others. For me, I know I can run this long – I have done so many times before – but it was the first time I had in a good few weeks.

    Overall the run felt really good. I started strong, had a little wobble at 25 minutes with pins and needles but then finished the next 25 minutes strong too. My breathing felt absolutely fine though and I actually finished feeling really optimistic about this upcoming half.

    I am fully expecting this half to take me over two hours so I’ve obviously still got a way to go with these long runs. Just over 10 weeks to go now, and I know I should have started my training earlier but you know, it’s totally doable. Posting about my training regularly will hopefully keep me motivated over these cold months! If you have a Strava account I’d love to follow! I’m not entirely sure how you share profiles but mine is here (I think!)


    A photo posted by Katie Halsall (@runliftkt) on

    I do have a fitness instagram as you can see above, so if you want regular daily (mostly) updates on what I’m doing that’s the place you need to be!


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    Lifestyle

    17 Goals for 2017

    Happy New Year! Yes okay, it’s the 4th of the month now but hey, never too late to start goals right? Last year I hit some pretty big goals – I passed my driving test, bought a car, got a job in media. What will 2017 bring eh?

    2017GoalsMe

    Some people hate setting goals. They hate the pressure that comes with a specific figure or thing. I am not one of those people. Having goals gives me something to aim for, something to work towards. It makes me think about what I really want for myself.

    What do I want to achieve this year? Is there anything that I need to set into motion early on to get it done? One look at my planning section is enough to tell you how much I like to organise things! And whilst we’re in 2017 I figured why not make it 17 goals. I actually really dislike odd numbers (yay for being 24 this year!) so to have 17 goals kind of messes with my mind a little but we’re sticking to it. Just because.

    When I wrote them down I did it randomly, but I can definitely separate the goals into life, travel and fitness. You’ll notice a bit of a theme with all these goals – I think they fit together quite nicely. Of course, no goal is complete without an action plan. I’ll probably do another update soon enough with what I’m doing to achieve my goals. There will definitely be one on fitness!

    2017GoalsList

    If you can’t read my untidy scrawl, here’s a proper list of all my goals:

    #1 Save a portion of my wage each month
    #2 Run 1000km in the year
    #3 Travel to two (or more!) different countries
    #4 To be earning extra income from blogging
    #5 Complete a Half-Marathon under 2h30
    #6 Complete a 10k Race under 60 minutes
    #7 Practise yoga at least once a week
    #8 Take an online course
    #9 Try a new sport
    #10 Visit the Lake District
    #11 Complete a 52 weeks photography project
    #12 Read 52 books
    #13 Hike in a few different places
    #14 Get back into learning Spanish
    #15 Watch all the marvel films
    #16 Get a piece of writing published
    #17 To be happy in my job

    Life Plans

    Yesterday I set up a savings account, finally. There will be a specified portion of my wage going into that account every month, with any extra I can spare also going in. It’s time to really get some money behind myself, and well, if I want to go travelling I need that money! Number 4 also fits well with this – earning money from this blog. This year feels like the time to start properly putting more quality effort into the blog, and doing more of what I enjoy. Which also makes sense for the taking an online course goal. Thinking something writing related for this one!

    Getting back into photography is a big goal. I’ve barely touched my camera since leaving university besides for blog photos, and that doesn’t count. I’ve completed a 365 and a 52 Week challenge before, and they were tough but made me think more creatively. I want that again. Doing a 365 right now would be setting myself up for failure, so 52 weeks it is. Will be posting a new photo every Sunday – not sure whether I’ll do it on the blog or just stick to Flickr/500px.

    Then I’ve got reading 52 books (lower than last years goal because last year my reading was AWFUL!), get back into learning Spanish (managed to keep this up for two months I think last year?), watching all the Marvel films (because I’ve seen like 3), get a piece of writing published (anything) and to just be happy in my job.

    Travel

    A few travel goals on the list this year. I’m definitely travelling to one different country this year (I’ll be going away on a hen party in August!) so I’ve set the goal of two or more because I’d really like to visit somewhere else too. Now that I can drive I also really want to visit more places. The Lake District is high on the list (I miss it!) and I’d also like to go hiking in a few random places. Not sure where yet!

    Fitness

    A lot of people set a goal to hit 1000 miles in the year. As I’m training using kilometers, I thought I’d try the slightly easier goal of 1000km. That’s still a lot mind. I think it works out to be 2.7km a day. Obviously I’m not going to be running every day, but you know, it adds up. I’ll also be running a half-marathon and 10k race for sure, as they’re already booked in. The times I’ve set are just what I want to aim for.

    Practising yoga is something I really want to keep up this year. For the past three I’ve completed the Yoga With Adriene 30 day challenge and then given it up for the rest of the year, but I know yoga will help me with my running/strength and with general well being. I’d also like to try a new sport because you know, that’s always fun.

    It’s 2017 and changes are coming. I’m feeling optimistic for this year!


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    Life in...

    Life in December ’16

    Should I carry these on for 2017? I’m not so sure I will to be honest. Felt like I should at least do a December one to finish off the year! I’m going to do a blog round up soon, pull some stats together from the year! That’ll be interesting, at least for me…

    Life in December '16 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Manchester Christmas Markets!

    You just can’t beat a good pancake, am I right? Arguably the best thing about the Manchester Christmas Markets. Oh, and those ginger biscuits too… I twice, once with family and once with friends and enjoyed both times. A lot of the things there are super expensive, but the stalls are always lovely to walk around.

    LUSH Event

    Early December I was lucky enough to be invited to my first ever LUSH Event – the Beauty School Event at LUSH Arndale. It was a fab evening, and I definitely learnt a lot about the company through the brilliant team there. We were given handy tutorials, information on how to use certain products and even got to make our own. You can read my write up on the LUSH Arndale Beauty School Event here.

    Life in December '16 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Moana

    I feel like this film needs a mention. IT WAS SO GOOD. Oh I loved the storyline. Moana and Maui were both brilliant characters and the songs are just so catchy. I’m sure you all know by now that I work in a cinema right? Well we’re obviously still showing Moana so I’ll be walking down the corridor and all of a sudden hear ‘Hey, it’s okay, it’s okay, you’re welcome!’ Then it gets stuck in my head for the rest of the day and I don’t hate it at all. I love it.

    Blogmas

    Blogmas happened! I told myself I’d do it this year and got really excited for it. I did do it, but I missed two days… Not the end of the world, I’m impressed I managed to post 22 days out of 24 to be honest! If you want to look back, all my Blogmas 2016 posts have their own category for ease.

    Particular favourites include: LUSH Never Mind the Ballistics, 8 Reasons to Love Christmas, My Winter Trail Running Must-Haves & 5 Reasons Why Winter is My Least Favourite Season.

    Life in December '16 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Christmas

    I almost forgot about this… How ridiculous. Christmas Day itself was great, though it didn’t feel like Christmas to be honest. We went out for dinner, absolutely stuffed ourselves and spent the rest of the night playing Trivial Pursuit and eating yet more food. (Cheese and crackers, obviously)

    Park Run

    I successfully managed to attend every Park Run that I could (bar the days I was working) and got my Christmas Eve run in there! I was planning on doing two on New Years Day as it is possible with the two local to me, but I just honestly don’t think I’ll have the time.

    I’m staying at a friends after their NYE party and the original plan was to go to my second nearest local Park Run at 9am and go to my usual at 10:30, but I’m also starting a 10 hour shift at 12:15 so yeah, I can’t go home in between the run and work. That’s why I’ll probably just do my usual at the later time, then head straight to work and change there. Maybe I’ll be up bright and early to do the 9am one… We’ll see. (Don’t hold your breath!)

    Life in December '16 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    ————————

    How was your December? Ready for the new year?


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    Blogmas

    Christmas Box of Lame // #22 of Blogmas ’16

    Merry Christmas all! It’s Christmas Eve and I won’t be posting tomorrow so I just wanted to say I hope you all have a lovely day with family/friends! As it’s Christmas Eve, I thought I’d share with you the amazing Christmas themed Box of Lame!

    IMG_0213

    Over the past few months I’ve seen so many people getting the Box of Lame and always told myself I needed to get one because they actually look amazing. Well when I spotted the Christmas one I figured you know, why not treat myself?! And that I did… It arrived the other day and I just love everything inside!

    This box pretty much includes all the treats you could need for Christmas/New Year. There were SO many prints (I’ve only included a few!) that I’m sure you’ll see appearing in photos here on the blog… Pretty, handmade Christmas decorations were also included and a few sweets, hot chocolate and tea treats! You can see Chloe’s post about the making of the Christmas Box of Lame with links to all the independent businesses that helped!

    IMG_0161

    IMG_0168

    Then we’ve got some candles and wax melts. The tealight holder is for decoration purposes only, but I may see if there’s any way I can put something on it to make it fire safe? Hmmm. It’s super pretty though – I love the copper bottom! The gingerbread and tree wax melts smell absolutely gorgeous and I can’t wait to burn them. They’re almost too cute though…

    IMG_0195

    And we have some really helpful planning sheets. I really love the idea of the kraft paper sheets – things I want to do more of in 2017 and some resolutions. Then we’ve got a weekly budgeting sheet (which I really do need to track this year!) and a to-do list style paper pad. These are all going to come to great use for 2017 and it just gives me more motivation to be honest. Who wouldn’t want pretty stationery?!

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    I’m so glad I ordered one. Have you had a Box of Lame before?!


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    Blogmas

    Preparing For Christmas Eve & Day // #21 of Blogmas ’16

    MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE EVE! How did we get here so quickly eh? To be honest, I don’t feel that Christmassy. I’ve got work in a couple of hours but then I’ve got my Christmas Eve & Day off… So what have I got planned for tomorrow?!

    Preparing For Christmas Eve & Day // #21 of Blogmas ’16

    Starting the day with Park Run

    First things first, the Park Run Santa Hat 5k… Yes I’ll be getting to the park for 9am to take part in Park Run because hey, it’s Christmas Eve and why not?! Once that’s done, I’ll be meeting the family to do a bit of food shopping. Last minute, yep, but my parents are going on holiday from Boxing Day to New Years Day so this is them basically getting my brother and I some food for the week.

    We should have done all that by midday and that’s when the fun can start. To be honest, I’m not planning anything majorly exciting. I just feel like I need to properly throw myself into the Christmas spirit tomorrow to get everything started!

    Sweet Treats & Relaxation

    There’s still plenty of peppermint bark and ginger biscuits to be eaten, and I’ve also got some brownies to bake (and eat). I’m also hoping to use time during the day to finish setting up my planner for 2017. Got loads of ideas to make it really useful and an easy way to track my running/fitness so I’m just designing bits for that!

    It’s actually going to be a strange Christmas Eve because it’s the first in years where we won’t be sat down in the evening preparing veg for the next day. We’re eating out on Christmas Day itself! Instead I’m hoping to get a few games out or maybe a puzzle. Just so we can all come together and enjoy a relaxing evening rather than my brother being on his pc upstairs and me being on the laptop being unsociable!

    We’ll also likely watch a few Christmassy films! Not sure what exactly, but I’m thinking Four Christmases, Christmas with the Kranks, Home Alone 2, or one of the many Santa Claus films. Won’t watch all of them, but they’re the ones that spring to mind. Unless there’s something better on tv. I saw a list flying around the other day and the tv film schedule actually looks pretty good this year!

    Christmas Pyjamas!

    And to finish the night off, I’ve got my new Christmas PJ’s ready! My mum is actually going to wrap these up for me… Yes I picked them, but you know, it’s Christmas Eve tradition to open the first present of pyjamas! Even now I’m 23… How cute are the bears though?! I’ve also got a fuzzy black sweatshirt to go with them and I seriously cannot wait to get into them.

    Preparing For Christmas Eve & Day // #21 of Blogmas ’16

    As for now, I’m off to work… What are your plans for Christmas Eve?


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    5 Reasons To..., Blogmas

    5 Reasons Why Winter is My Least Favourite Season // #20 of Blogmas ’16

    I don’t like Winter. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I hated it, but I definitely dislike it. I mean, in theory I love it. Cosy nights, layers, pretty snow. In reality, there’s no sunlight, never managing to get layers just right and snow quickly turns into slush…

    5 Reasons Why Winter is My Least Favourite Season // #20 of Blogmas ’16

    #1 It’s Cold

    We all know I hate the cold, right? Because I do. Take me to a hot country any day. I just don’t like having to layer up to feel warm, and I don’t like having to occasionally sleep in full pyjamas, socks, dressing gown and my 15 tog duvet because I’m just that cold. Give me the slightest breeze and I’ll have goosebumps, I’m not made for this weather.

    #2 Snow is Overrated

    It’s amazing when that first snow falls. I love how it makes everything look prettier and I love taking photographs of it. I found these from my last winter in Carlisle… Wasn’t it gorgeous?! But yeah, soon enough it’s slushy and horrible to walk in. Actually, the crunching of snow goes through me too. Hate it. I do love snow, when I’m not in it. Does make for fab selfies though – with the sunlight getting reflected in all that white. Like being in a big lightbox.

    #3 December is Misleading

    Anyone else forget that Winter has actually only just started when it gets to the end of the year? We’re in December now and already it feels like Winter has graced us forever and a day. But nope, the worst is yet to come. Today is actually the Winter Solstice so the days will get longer from now on (yay!) but the weather doesn’t start to brighten up. Oh no. January/February are generally so much colder, and that’s when the snow and ice appears…

    #4 Icy Roads & Cars

    Which leads me to this point. This is my first year driving in my own car and I’m actually terrified for when it starts getting icy and snowy. It’s bad enough trying to walk on an icy pavement, but having full control over something that has wheels and will easily slip on ice…? No thanks! I mean I’ll have to, but I wish I didn’t.

    #5 Constantly Feeling Sluggish

    Dark mornings make it harder to get up in the morning and in the cold I tend to reach for unhealthy comforts. Like having too many hot chocolates, living off potatoes because mash and gravy, reaching for all the chocolates that are just laying about, not wanting to do anything productive. Just me? My energy and motivation just gets a total hit in Winter. It’s something I want to work on but you know, it’s hard. I think I need one of those SAD lights.

    5 Reasons Why Winter is My Least Favourite Season // #20 of Blogmas ’16

    Despite all that, Winter can be super pretty though can’t it?


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