I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai

I am Malala – Malala Yousafzai

GoodReads Synopsis:

I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.

I think before I talk about Malala’a book I should mention that I’m not a big reader of non-fiction. I think the last non-fiction book I read may have been Michael McIntyre’s autobiography, so picking up this was going to be an interesting read. I’ve been interested in Malala’s story for a while, and after she won the Nobel Peace Prize this year I realised that I wanted to know more, so it was time to read this.

I’m not going to lie, it was hard to get “into”. Even though I’m an historian in nature, I find these sorts of books difficult to start. Once I had dedicated more time to reading and understanding it became much easier to get through. I liked that Malala included the history of Pakistan, I am surely not the only one to be ignorant of other countries. Pakistan is a young country, and embroiled in turmoil. Reading the take over of Swat, Malala’s home region, being taken over by the Taliban, and what it meant for all the people of Swat was heartbreaking in some places.

She includes her fathers work in setting up schools and wanting to educate people, his own education, and just how lucky she is to have a father not constrained by the mainstream views that are throughout Pakistan. In being lucky enough to have an education in the first place, she see the need for everyone to have an education, campaigning for women’s and children’s rights from a very young age, earning prizes and recognition [although not wanting the prizes and recognition… but wanting the change that would allow everyone to have that education].

Malala tells how she had come to the decision that she wanted to become a politician, to be the change that she wanted to be… if that makes sense? I think if more people were more like her the world be a much better place.

One thing that I didn’t expect was when she was talking about reading the “Twilight” novels, about how she loved the books and that her and her friends would play “Twilight” games. This really surprised me – and again, no doubt shows my ignorance – but I didn’t expect these books would be available in Pakistan. Maybe because I’m used to the idea of an anti-Western Tablianist – because that was when I remembered the country hitting the news.

I love Malala’s love of her home country, and her desire to return despite what happened to her. She also has a lot of faith – in herself and in Allah – and what her shooting has given her; global recognition that will ultimately help her cause.

If more people could be just a little more like this young woman the world would be a much better place, wouldn’t you agree?


November: A Recap

Ah, November, where have you gone? Drowned in a month of frantic writing, the occasional bit of knitting, and the occasional socialising as well. I have neglected this blog over the last month [I mean, spending time writing that 50,000 word novel doesn’t *always* endear you to spend more time writing a coherent blog…] So I thought I would take some time to recap what November has been like for me.

So, the writing:IMG_0697

NaNoWriMo – I got to 50,000 words. This is great because yay challenge completed, but at the same time I feel disappointment – I really wanted to go the extra mile and maybe have 75,000 or more. Unfortunately, life and work got in the way of the plan [doing about 55-60 hours this week alone quickly snags that idea]. There were the days I had to take off from the writing. I think this is where people may go wrong; taking the day off can make all the difference because it’s like work – if you don’t take that break, it will break you.

Next year I have the opportunity to become an ML for the Kent area, which is really exciting. When we first started doing NaNo back in the day, Nuri and I were “unofficial” ML’s in Canterbury, organising the write ins and the parties. Kent is a big area, so it will be an interesting ride. I love NaNo for the social aspects of it – the writes in are so productive, and the sprint threads in the forums and groups as well.

Overall I’m not too happy with my story – maybe if it was completely reworked it could be something worth while, but at the moment it is very raw, and not entirely coherent. So maybe I’ll work on that in the future [I always say this, but never end up doing anything with it.].

The Knitting:

During November I’ve managed to knit two dinosaurs:


The pattern is called “Tracey Triceratops” from one of the latest issues of Knit Now magazine, and was a fairly easy knit. I’m not convinced my “wrap and turn” stitches are the best, but it’s good enough for these. These are a present for my brother, who has recently had two small children come into his life. I am tempted to make another one for my niece as well as she was in love with the blue one, running around shouting “rawr!”, but that just depends on time between now and Christmas. I want to make my other niece a Sackboy, but don’t have any exciting colours to do it in.

I’ve also finished my latest “Eliza Day Tam”, as my other one, which was my favourite hat I may add, had a mysterious hole appear. It’s mysterious because I thought maybe I had the dreaded moths, but I’ve cleared out the whole section of my bedroom where the hat [and a couple of other woollen products were, including my first OWLs jumper, and the other, very first Eliza Day Tam hat – all of which have had mysterious holes appear] – had no sign of any sort of bugs. Nothing. I threw the two hats out, and was going to do the same with the jumper but my mum wouldn’t let me, despite the risk of those horrid creatures, so it’s sitting isolated in a draw in mums room instead…

I’m really happy with this version of the hat as it’s come out bigger [although, the ribbing is now too big and needs some elastic…  as usual with my hats]. It’s more slouchy as I used Debbie Bliss Rialto DK rather the 4ply that the pattern calls for. I used the Noro from before as well, which has now made three hats and still has over 60gs of yarn left!IMG_0699


I also won a competition with my “Water for the Elephants” socks, which arrived this week. There’s so much stuff there, which I totally wasn’t expected. There’s a Crazy Zauberball [which as I type I realise I’ve probably been pronouncing it wrong since hearing of it…]. There’s a project bad, some stitch makers, some really interesting scissors/yarn cutters that I’m really excited to try out], some patterns, some KnitPro Nova’s 2.5mm DPNs, Addi’s 2.5mm circular, tapestry needles, tape measure… so many things! I can’t wait to try it all out!





I finished reading “Citadel”, which I have previously written about. I think this book influenced my writing, and not in a good way – and when I realised I think I became more disillusioned with my own plot line.

I’ve started with Malala’s autobiography, which is so far an interesting read, but I don’t seem to be making fast progress with it. This lady is so interesting, her views which boil down to the fact that every one deserves an education, and education can change the world. I’m so glad that she won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work, for her to be recognised on a global scale in the manner that she has. More on it when I am finished I am sure.

Well, that’s November in a nutshell, here’s to December, and the challenges it will throw my way.

Take it easy folks,


NaNoWrio – 13.11.2014 – Brief Update

As with everything, sometimes real life just gets in the way. I planned to do weekly updates about my NaNo progress, but somehow between the writing and “real life” stuff, I just haven’t had the time. The good news is that I am currently ahead of target, sitting at 23,703 words. I plan to hit that magic halfway mark tonight, and with any luck, crank out another couple of thousand words to go with it. I say “any luck” because I am currently suffering with a pounding headache that I would just like to go. Of course, taking some painkillers would help in that direction for sure.

Last night I took a night off from the writing and just did a bit of knitting with the TV on in the background. [I’ve been rationing out the last series of Warehouse 13 as I don’t yet have the last series]. Knitting is my #1 hobby – it’s the thing that I do the most, so have definitely been experiencing the withdrawal from it over the last few days. I cast on a new dinosaur [to go with one that I have yet to actually blog about… I’ll write that towards the end of the week I think]. It looks like I’ll be making three of these dinosaurs in total.

I know it sounds utterly ridiculous to have that knitting withdrawal, but it is something that I do each and every day – except November. But it’s okay, because this is also the only time of year that I sit down to write a novel.

This is only a brief update as I still need to write my words for today.

Keep on writing and crafting for sure!


Citadel – Kate Mosse

Citadel – Kate Mosse


1942. Occupied France. A time of courage, betrayal, loyalty – and love.

That was the most detailed summary I could find on both GoodReads and Amazon.

This is one of those books that I had put off reading because of it’s sheer size – at over 900 pages I thought it was going to be one of those books that I wouldn’t ever make it to the end of.

It wasn’t like that at all, and was actually a pretty easy read. The writing flowed nicely, the scenes were beautiful. It is, in essence, a story about a group of women fighting in a resistance group in the Midi during the course of WWII. The author is refreshing in that she uses mainly female characters in all of her narratives, and this one is no different. These women fight against the impending Nazi invasion, whether it’s handing out pamphlets, helping refugees get to the right places or setting off bombs. They aren’t suspected of it because they are women. Perfect cover.

Despite it’s easy read, I did struggle with it. It was just too long. And in some places it was just too slow moving for me to really enjoy, and had me questioning the worth of those parts. The ending frustrated me more than I can describe – the was the author treated one of the characters before the ultimate end is something that I felt was unnecessary. I know war is brutal, and it would have been at that point in time, but it just wasn’t for me.

I enjoyed the interludes to the past, with the monk travelling to hide the Codex, and then some of his life thereafter.

I also liked that fact that Audric Baillard had a greater role in this book, but felt that his reflections into 1209 and the first Labyrinth book were a little over the top – having lived for something like 800 years, there would surely have been other people that he would have come into contact with that would have made a good and equal impression on him, not just the few characters from the first book?

I don’t know. I think I had hoped for so much more?

Anyone else given this one a go? Any thoughts?


Come Aboard the NaNo Train…

Midnight edges closer this All Hallow’s Eve, the monsters and the gremlins await the night to make their play. Then suddenly, Midnight, the moment the barriers between the known and unknown are at their weakest, something else appears. Something mad. Something insane.

Welcome to Night Vale…

Okay, maybe not. But NaNoWriMo is coming, and I am not entirely sure where the last week and a bit has gone since I last posted about the writing challenge, but suddenly it’s here. The spectre of the 50,000 word novel hovers in front of us, this abyss of uncertainty, determination, blood sweat, maybe even a few tears. There are already people in the world about to dust of their laptops, their tablets or their pens ready to tackle this challenge and do something great; write that novel, to begin a new chapter in their personal writing history.

I love this challenge. I remember way back when in 2007 there was just four of us attending the write ins; the third year we did it there was 15. Now there there are write-ins held all across the county, and that is amazing, to know that there are all these people doing the same as you, writing and aiming for that magical 50,000 word figure.

Already I know that in some ways this year is going to be much harder than previous years – simply because November will be much busier. I’m going to a couple of gigs the first two Saturdays, working six day weeks, arranging knitting circles, and possibly moving into a new home. It’s going to be busy, but the 50,000 is achievable, and even though I know it’s going to be a busy month I am even tempted to up my word count to 75,000 just to see if I could do it. Maybe [maybe not…] even 100,000 words just to see if I could achieve that in November. Last year I remember thinking that 50,000 was just too easy, so we shall see.

Tonight consists of me frantically trying to finish my current knitting project [a triceratops dinosaur], and finishing my current book [Citadel, Kate Mosse], and then possibly scheduling a couple of blogs for them too… plus some sleeping, and up early for work tomorrow, so maybe I could charge up the iPad and do some writing on my break rather than catching up with the news… I think Pages sync’s over the iCloud now that Yosemite has been completed…

We shall see. I shall be blogging my progress as I go through.

One question remains… Will you be on the NaNo train with me?


Water for the Elephants Socks

I’ve been working on these socks for about a month now. I was really excited to cast on, through the combination of colours, the pattern, and the fact that I was also taking part in the “SocktoberKAL2014” through the magic of Instagram. I finally finished the second sock today, but I have to admit it was a bit of a mission for one reason alone:

The first sock didn’t fit the person it’s intended for.

When I say “doesn’t fit” I mean that there’s not enough stretch to get the sock over the ankle and on, and it’s just a disappointment really. I mean, it looks great and pretty, but doesn’t carry out it’s primary function. Starting the second one took a couple of days of hesitating about whether to do it or not, knowing that that wouldn’t fit either, but in the end I decided to go for it as you can’t have a lonely sock.


I think because of my disappointment with the first sock I let myself make more mistakes with the second one. Mistakes that perhaps aren’t all that noticeable, but again affected my ability to keep going with this; I didn’t let it beat me though, and managed to make it to the end and have a complete pattern. Next time I think I’ll either use a thicker yarn, like a DK, maybe on the same size needles to get some elasticity into the garment, but that won’t be for some time yet.

This was a project that just didn’t want to be finished quickly.

It was the first time I used both “easyknit.co.uk” yarn [the blue “Bigger on the Inside” and MadelineTosh [“Citrus”], so whilst the colour combination was awesome, perhaps they didn’t work together so well? The MadelineTosh is a super wash yarn, but I am not too sure about the easyknits one to be honest. IMG_0579

I’m not going to be sworn from knitting colour work socks from this though, and I would like to think that if I made these again I would modify [sic: try to] the pattern so that I was working toe up, and would be able to add the stitches in along the side? I would need to look into the idea a bit more first though [does anyone have any suggestions for this being as though the pattern is entirely charted… could it be as simple as reading the chart in reverse?]

Thanks for stopping by and take it easy folks!


Welcome to Night Vale – The Librarian Live

Yesterday was exciting; I went to London to meet with Nuri and Ed to go and see the Welcome to Night Vale live tour, with their live performance of “The Librarian”. Welcome to Night Vale is, in case you didn’t know, is a podcast in the style of a local community radio, with weekly news and community updates – except for one thing every conspiracy theory is real… and that’s okay.

It was a bit of an adventure getting to Islington in the first place. My train was cancelled, even though I was on it, which was annoying as it meant that I had to get a different train into Central London – it was strange because I am so used to seeing Downtown London from a certain angle, and I didn’t get that which was just really strange.

When I go to London for some reason my phone crashes – I had about 40 per cent power when I got into London, and literally as soon as I stepped out of the tube and needed to contact my buddies to arrange a meeting place I couldn’t. And then poor Ed, his phone conked out on us as well as someone knocked him in a hurry and he managed to drop it and broke the screen. We did well with phones yesterday…

Luckily, I took my camera with me. I always feel a bit old school when I take it – everything is done on smart phones these days, you know? But it was cool, and I got a few pictures from the gig.
We queued up for about 2 hours before the gig as Nuri had been to the venue before and recommended that we got there early as the seats are/were unallocated and we wanted a decent place to take our pew… [That would make more sense when you realise that Union Chapel is actually a church…] Look at the picture below; isn’t that an awesome stage to be performing Night Vale of all things on?


The gig itself was so so good. So many fans dressed up; there was an awesome Glow Cloud that when she walked past everyone intoned “All Hail the Glow Cloud”; so many Carlos’ and Cecils’ and the awesome audience participation during the show was so, so good. Definitely one of the best shows that I’ve been to see; the audience was receptive to the whole the set up.

Cecil Baldwin’s ability to deliver just blew me away as well. I know in the podcast that he is the voice of all the different segments, the sponsors, but I didn’t actually expect his live performance to so seamlessly switch between the sections [if you’ve heard the podcast you’ll know what I mean]. It was just awesome to see. We made some new friends as well, and everyone is called “Amanda”.



We’re going again on November 8th because we are just that awesome! I may just have to take my big camera for that one for sure!