My Week #22

This week I did some extra shifts at work, and the Sunday also brought my last shift at Carlisle B&M. (until September!) It was a little strange leaving, knowing that I wouldn’t be back on the Saturday! Will definitely miss the weekenders there.

Not much else happened really. With no uni now until September, I have nothing to do but read, play sims, eat, take photos and now, find more work!


Matka – An expedition to Finland. Part #3.

imageThe last bit of our expedition was very different to what we had imagined. Looking online, Rovaniemi looked lovely and interesting. In reality, it was just like any other city in England!
Due to the time that we went, the tourist trips were mostly shut. Too late for winter, too early for summer! After walking around on the first morning, we headed into tourist information and managed to book ourselves onto a snow shoeing tour. It was fun but not as difficult or ‘extreme’ as expected. The guide that we had was brilliant, and told us so much information about the area, about Finland and his experiences. Rovaniemi was very warm, and had no snow. We drove out of the city about half an hour away and had knee deep snow in places!

Rovaniemi itself had some really pretty parts, but also some not so nice parts. Just like any city, right? This river was huge, and parts were still frozen from the winter, and there were also chunks of ice just floating around! We saw one traditional Finnish restaurant in Rovaniemi, but it was just so expensive that we didn’t have the money for it.

On our second day, we visited the Santa Village, as advised by the guide! It’s what most people come to Rovaniemi for… Due to the season, it was a little disappointing. The gift shops and buildings were lovely, but I guess the place just looks so much better in the winter and in the evening. I am glad that we went though, because otherwise I’d just be regretting it!

One thing that I loved, and this was the same in Helsinki (airport!), was the packaging designs in the supermarkets! Everything for kids just looked so cute! I actually saved a couple of cartons/wrappers to put in my travel journal.

Last but not least, Rovaniemi was covered in all kinds of cool graffiti. The images really helped to brighten up the area, and I loved seeing them. I’ll just let the photos do the talking…

So, that was the end of our expedition. To get back to Kajaani for our flight, we had to get two trains and it was around a 5 hour journey. Not too fun, but with a good book and nice scenery it’s all fine! Here’s a wagtail seen at Kajaani station! It came so close – clearly used to people!

Overall, the expedition was an amazing experience and I’m so happy to have had the chance! I would definitely visit Martinselkosen and the Boreal Wildlife Centre again. Lovely people, place and predators! Next time I’d maybe look at another place in the Arctic Circle – probably wouldn’t bother with Rovaniemi again! Although, Santa’s Village would be great in the winter. Hope you enjoyed looking at these photos!

A new scrapbooking project

My boyfriend and I have been together for four years now, and throughout the relationship I have kept random memories in a little box. I figured that it’s about time that I sorted through that stuff, and placed it into a scrapbook! One little trip to The Range, and I now have a ‘La De Dah’ scrapbook, as well as a few extra bits! I’ve been looking at these for ages, but never knew what I would use it for – I don’t think I could keep up a scrapbook of normal every day life. I was also put off from getting this originally because it just didn’t look like it had enough pages. When I discovered that you can add in pages though, I was sold!

I chose the blue one, and I thought it very fitting that the first page says ‘let the journey begin’. It’s going to be interesting to sort through all the things I’ve collected! I’ll be able to start it when I go home next week, and I can’t wait!

I am also (finally) beginning to sort my expedition travel journal out – hopefully that will be done in the next two weeks. I need to get some photos printed, but I’m hoping to get all my receipts/notes/leaflets stuck in during the next few days!

Book Review: The Geography of You and Me*

image– Jennifer E. Smith

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Now when I spotted this one on Bookbridgr, I just had to get it! I haven’t read a good young adult book in a while, and I figured this would hit the spot. I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve never read any of Smith’s books previously, but I may just have to check them out now!

Lucy and Owen are both likeable in my opinion. They meet in New York, but soon enough they’re both travelling in different parts of the world, hundreds of miles away from each other. The story is told from both perspectives, and I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot recently, but I usually dislike this. Here, it definitely worked. I wanted to see how each person was getting on, so the dual perspective was a plus. I also enjoyed the writing. It felt sort of young and free, and definitely easy to read.

Lucy is finally getting to explore Europe, as her parents have done throughout her childhood. She’s trying to deal with moving to a new country, fitting in at school and getting used to the new cultures that she’s just been thrown into. Owen and his father are trying to move on from his mother’s death. Travelling the US, they try to find a place to settle. With two different past stories, the book has a little more depth than just the usual teenage romance. As well as dealing with their own troubles, Lucy and Owen are attempting to stay in contact. Long distance relationships aren’t always easy (I should know, being in one!) but this shows that if you care, you can make it work.

I finished the book whilst on my train back up to Carlisle (university) and I was struggling towards the end. I just got all emotional! This book reminds me of John Green, though 10x better. I enjoyed his books, but I don’t believe they are worth the hype. This book would be worth the hype.

*Thank you to Bookbridgr and Headline for the chance to review this book!

My Week #21

I had a great time back at home this past week. Watched The Wind Rises with Phillip, as well as eating some good food and bouldering. My arms were still aching yesterday, after not climbing for around a year! Also visited Blackpool Zoo on the Wednesday and that was fun. Now I’m back in Carlisle and doing some short shifts at work throughout the week… The rest of the time will be spent relaxing!

Photo Friday #17

I was planning on putting up part 3 of my expedition today, but this week I just haven’t looked at my photos at all. I’ve been at home for the first time in what feels forever and I’ve just been enjoying the down time and being with my boyfriend/family. The rest of my expedition photos will be up next Friday though!

Anyway, here’s an orange tip butterfly that I photographed on the morning on my animal behaviour exam. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a photograph of one before. Didn’t have my macro lens, unfortunately, but I did have the 7D. I’m really going to miss that camera over summer. After using the university 7D for well over a month now, almost continuously, it feels so strange using my 500D. When I use my own, it feels too light now, and all the buttons are in the wrong place! I really cannot wait to upgrade.

Book Review: The Paula Maguire Series.*

– Claire McGowan

I’m reviewing these together because I read them both in quick succession, and it just makes sense to put them together. Now I was given the opportunity to receive and review The Dead Ground* by Headline and Bookbridgr. When I discovered that it was a sequel to The Lost, I just had to buy it and read them in order of course! I have to say, I am glad that I did buy The Lost!

The series follows Paula Maguire, a forensic psychologist, who has been living and working in London, helping the police with missing persons cases. In this series, we see her return to Northern Ireland, her homeland, to help the team of police and detectives from both sides of Ireland.

image– The Lost

When two teenage girls go missing along the Irish border, forensic psychologist Paula Maguire has to return to the hometown she left years before. Swirling with rumour and secrets, the town is gripped by fear of a serial killer. But the truth could be even darker.

Two girls have gone missing in Ballyterrin, and Paula is drafted in to help uncover the mystery. Her job is to find out about the girls, and figure out any connections between the two disappearances. Paula has avoided her hometown for years, not wanting to bring up her dark past. She has her own reasons to be working with the missing persons unit. The main reason for coming back was to help her father out. Once back in town, people from Paula’s past start to appear, and although unwelcome at first, they soon become a great deal of help to her. I found Paula to be a very strong character, and definitely likeable. She knows what she’s talking about it this kind of situation, having worked on many teenage missing persons cases. If Paula has a hunch, she will work with that, even if it is against orders and means a little sneaking around! Sometimes, finding the lost is more important than anything else.

The story very much shows the tensions between the police and detectives from across the border, being set after the troubles in Northern Ireland. With the team being made up of mixed religions due to the cases occurring around the border, it wasn’t always easy and friendly. I thought this added even more realism to the story because it shows people with differences coming together and, despite tensions still rising, they get the jobs done.

Paula as a character has tons of depth. As you’re reading, you can feel the emotions that she’s feeling, and the struggles between certain decisions. The Lost was a brilliant first look into the life of Paula Maguire.

image– The Dead Ground

A stolen baby. A murdered woman. A decades-old atrocity. Something connects them all.

Now, The Dead Ground, where do I start? The Lost was good… The Dead Ground was brilliant. Paula is still in Ballyterrin, despite not originally planning on staying for long. This book focuses on pregnancy, babies and abortions. The disagreements between catholic and protestant about abortions plays a big part in the story, and though disturbing at times, I thought the book was great. Babies are going missing, and Paula needs to find out just who is taking them.

Crime books are popular, and it’s hard to find a completely unique story line. The stories in this series have probably been done countless times before, but Claire McGowan writes with such detail, insight and depth that, throughout the books, I never felt like I had read something similar before. Almost every chapter provided some form of suspense or mystery – I was hooked all the way through.

One thing that I really liked about these books is that it felt real. No investigation was perfect. I can’t say I know what it is like in real life, but seeing the process build up and break down again and again, from bad leads or hunches that turned out to be wrong, just felt so much more realistic than the cases being solved quickly.

Definitely the best crime/mystery that I have read in a while, and I wholeheartedly recommend! Now, when’s the third coming out? 😉

My Week #20

Another busy week, but university year 2 is finally over! Glad to get that done… I really haven’t enjoyed most of this year’s modules!

Matka – An expedition to Finland. Part #2.

imageAfter visiting Martinselkosen Eräkeskus Wildlife Centre, we headed towards the Boreal Wildlife Centre. There was a two hour drive between the two, with this place being further South. This meant that there was less snow in the area and more green forest! This place was really pretty.

On the first day/night, we just explored a little and relaxed. We were actually so tired that we slept quite early, and set an alarm for 11pm to get some night shots! I really wanted to do a timelapse but it just didn’t work out. I’ve just never managed to get a good quality timelapse… How do you do it?! Anyway, this night was brilliant. We ended up seeing a tiny glimpse of the Northern Lights! It was only a bit of green in the sky (which was hardly visible to the eye but could be seen in camera) but it was so awesome. Green, purples and pinks… The sky was pretty!

Our small glimpse of Northern Lights!

The next morning we did some more exploring. Walking in the woods and just taking in the beautiful scenery. I took so many tree photos here.

Also managed to see and photograph a red squirrel and brambling. The red squirrel had funny colouring! Body mostly grey, white chest, red tail, red paws and red face/ears! It was cute though.

After lunch (3pm in both of these centers) we headed out for our first night in the hide. This hide gave us a very wide an open view – a lot different from the trees and the swamp in the first place. We were waiting for 4-5 hours for the first bear to appear but, once one had arrived, two more quickly followed. There was one bear that had a white patch on it’s back and I think it looked awesome! Whilst we were waiting for the bears, we just had lots of ravens in sight.

The area had lots of left over animal bones…

And lots of ravens.

Now for the best bit… The morning of our second stay in the hide, we saw two wolves! Yes, wolves! We felt so lucky because the guide had told us that the wolves would constantly patrol their territory and as a result they would only pass through the hide area once every 7/8 days. They didn’t stay for very long, but I’m happy that I managed to get some photographs! It was an incredible sight.

Phew, that was a long one, wasn’t it? Next Friday post up is Rovaniemi!

Book Review: The Forbidden Tomb

image– Chris Kuzneski

The Hunters are an elite team, made up of an ex-soldier, historian, computer whiz, weapons expert and a thief. Bringing their skills together, they set out to find history’s lost treasures. The Forbidden Tomb follows their journey as they try to find the tomb of Alexander the Great.

I am still reeling from the ending of this book. Yep.

After reading The Hunters, I just knew that I had to read the second book. Now I just feel the need to read all of Kuzneski’s books! The team is the same as those in the first one and they’re back on a new mission, aiming to find the tomb of Alexander the Great. This elite team of five bring together their own special expertise, each one determined to uncover the great mystery of Alexander the Great’s tomb. An ancient map helps to guide them along the way and throughout the mission they do whatever it takes to get the result wanted.

With a skilled team, finding the tomb can’t be that difficult… right? Of course, the team hits some trouble and all is not as it first seems. Someone is protecting the whereabouts of the tomb, but why?

I’ve surprised myself by really enjoying these books, because they do actually have a fair bit of history in them. I feel like I’m learning just like the team are when Jasmine is talking about the finds. The book contains intelligence, and it isn’t just an action-packed thriller/mystery. There’s so much more in the story. I would say that the characters don’t have a lot of depth to them, but we know just enough to know what each person is like and what they’re thinking. Furthermore, the depth of the storyline vastly makes up for that! The different characters in the team all balance each other out and you can really imagine it working in real life.

At one point I was actually in shock. I did not expect it at all, and that’s all I can say! I had to put the book down after that chapter just to regain my composure! Oh and the epilogue, well, I just need to get the rest of this story! With twists and turns throughout, you will struggle to put this book down! It isn’t often that I give a book 5 stars on Goodreads, but this one earned them!

Also, I’ve just seen that Chris Kuzneski has signed a movie deal for The Hunters! That’s awesome news!

  • I am 21 years old, currently studying Wildlife and Media at University and blogging about life, stationery, Filofax, fitness and more.

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