I am a huge fan of Lissie. Enough so that I reviewed two of her albums (Live at union chapel and My Wild West), two of her concerts (at Manchester and in Brighton), and interviewed her. Therefore, I was delighted to hear that she was releasing a new album; Castles is out today.

The opening of Castles has fragments of the elements; it’s the sound of rain that sets the tone for the album. It reminds me of how Fredia Hughes describes the creation of Ariel by Sylvia Plath (see the reference here), in the inclusion of seasonal references, gearing towards a new life. World Away sets the tone.


I also think that English students would like this album; what is striking is the use of fairytale language, the motifs of Castles. (This continues throughout.) Overall, this creates a far more conceptual album than previous works.
The sound of this album is also a departure from Lissie’s usual sound; Castles is a mix of dream rock, with songs not being based around the guitar. She also experiments a bit more with her voice; there is a lot more of her lower register, as well as the occasional falsetto.

Favourites on the album? Castles, the title track. Oh, and Blood and muscle-there lyrics are sparse, enough so that less is more, clearly. There is even a vulnerability which partially harks back to Back To Forever. Yet, this is what lends Lissie her power.

Best Days is a song for the beach; reminiscent of nineties dance music, it is one of the more optimistic tracks on the album.

Towards the end of the album, I begin to enjoy myself more; Somewhere begins with a slightly creepy quality, perfect for the backdrop of a horror film. However, it transforms into a song that seems almost nostalgic for Everywhere I Go. Unlike other tracks on the album, there is not a collision of sound.

Love Blows is also notable; the fast opening verse is like Back To Forever. There are confessional lyrics , reflecting a portrait of a women standing outside herself, looking back over her life.Meet Me In The Mystery completes the album. There’s a haunted quality, a sense of a story unfolding before our very eyes. (Well, ears!)

Overall, I wasn’t sure what to make of this album. It’s not what I expected.. But I would like to see it performed live. The more I listen, the more it grows on me, inspire of my initial disappointment. Give it a try, see what you think.

Click here to buy Castles on Amazon * Visit Lissie’s official site * Book concert tickets. * Order Castles here. 

Disclaimer: I was sent this album to review on the basis that I was reviewing it for two magazine assignments, so I thought I should share it on my blog. However, my opinions are my own. You can read more about it under my disclaimer.

Note: this review may contain spoilers. 

I have been a huge fan of Helen Callaghan’s work ever since I spotted the paperback of Dear Amy; the sleek, red paperback stood out of the pile of best sellers that dominated an already crowded table. Therefore, I was delighted to have been sent her new book, Everything Is Lies. 
This book is a departure from Dear Amy, and I think the quality of Callaghan’s work is better because of it. The language is bolder, the characters more realistic, the plot grounded in realism. This book made me feel much more positive about reading, as I had been wanting a book to captivate me for a long time; it is addictive, a thudding read that craves attention. (To illustrate further: I stayed up to midnight, anxious to get to the bottom of the mystery, prior to an interview the next morning.)
Plot? It has more substance than Dear Amy had; the dual narrative is what lends to its distinction.  On the one hand, Sophia comes home to find her Mother hanging from a tree, her Father terribly wounded, barely alive. But another character has a story to tell; they compliment each other, reaching a startling conclusion.
This book is also made for English students; on an A level course, your teacher is probably going to bang on about the symbology, the techniques used. But this book uses a wide variety in such an effective manner, creating a sophisticated narrative.
To improve, I think that there could have been a lot less scene setting, and more subtle hints to the true nature of some characters. The book is hard to get into; for the first chapter, I was a little bit bored. The phone call which dominates the opening could have been more dynamic; the protagonist, Sophia, can also sometimes be slow on the uptake-enough so that I could feel myself getting frustrated, as if she was real.
If you need a crime novel fix, or are in withdrawal from your Netflix boxset of choice, this book will perfectly fill the void for you; buy it from Amazon. And see my interview with Helen Callaghan here. 

Disclaimer: I was sent this proof copy in exchange for a review by Sarah Harwood at Micheal Joseph. However, prior to this, I had read Dear Amy by the same author and loved it. This review is my honest opinion. You can read more under my Disclaimer. 

A little while ago, I posted about how technology can have a wonderful impact for people on spectrum (you can view it here.) That week, I had meant to review it-but I was not at all well. So, I thought today would be an apt opportunity for review 😀
I am a huge fan of technology. (I wouldn’t be a Blogger, otherwise!) But, I saw the Penclic keyboards over on Criddle Me This and…. the rest is history as the saying goes. These keyboards connect either by wire or by Bluetooth to your Tablet (dependent on model) or to your Desktop. The design is also to allow for quieter keys; perfect for commuting!

What I liked:

The packaging is hot. (Maybe that’s not the right word for it.) It was very similar to Apple in that respect; space conserving, slick, sophisticated. My excitement was palpable at opening.
Setting it up was also easy; unlike other ‘toys’ that I have previously possessed, it was so simple. I did not have to fuss with it, tinkering; it was complete in a flash.
Oh, and, it’s wonderful to type with. And that’s saying something from me, when I own a typewriter.

What could be improved:

The instructions were not particularly clear-it took me a little while longer than usual to work out how to set the keyboard up. (But I think that that’s okay, given where the keyboard is manufactured.)
I also think that it would have been better to have a slot for the tablet; the tablet I have, due to the case it’s in, has to be leant against a wall to stand up. (It slides and makes a horrible noise.)
The keyboard is also a little bit bulky; it’s a little bit too big for me to stick in a bag when moving round.


This is a BAMF piece of tech. (And no, if you don’t know what that means, I’m not going to explain; Google it.)
I love the feel of it; it is so gratifying. I also think that my relatives are grateful for the in-built noise suppression for typing feature. (I have a terrible habit of banging away when typing.)
What’s not to love? I feel that it has enhanced my life-and it’s so useful. If you’re on a budget and in need of some technology, this is for you.

Lydia XO

Buy the keyboard here.

Disclaimer: I was gifted the keyboard in this post, in exchange for review, and an agreed upon amount of posts featuring in. However, this post is my honest opinion-and does not constitute advertising. For more information visit the Disclaimer page. 

What was your favourite gift you were given at Christmas?

When starting my journalism course (you can read more about it here) one of my teachers mentioned Harold Evans. A lot. So, I googled him-and asked for his biography My Paperchase, for Christmas. In retrospect, this seemed rather apt, given the trade I’m training for.
After reading it, I came to the conclusion that this book needs to be adapted to a drama, at least a Netflix box set . Stuffed full to the brim with captivating tales of the newspaper trade, if it was on the big screen, it would have a captive audience. With reference to the recent release of The Post (wonderful film!), this seems even more prevalent.
The sections of the book that deal with his career in investigative journalism had me captivated the most. Exposure of a Soviet spy? Check. There’s also the issue of Thalidomide; how can a journalist, who sees such an injustice, help the people at the heart of the story, when their position is legally precarious? You change the law as you go along. (Although more complex than just this simple sentence,  you can find out more  in the brilliant Netflix documentary Attacking The Devil. See the trailer here.)
My favourite chapter is “Death In Cairo”. Parts of this book shocked me-after all, I am only eighteen, and haven’t experienced as much as the author. It was this chapter that shocked me the most of all. A member of The Sunday Times fails to check into his hotel room; what happens next? I think that it also shows what it means to be an investigative journalist . There’s also interesting revelations; the office of the paper has had things stolen from it, for instance.
I was also struck by how kind Harry seems to be throughout the book; he has a real love of journalism, but also people. From helping the people affected by Thalidomide, to travelling down to the Deep South (complete with opposition to the sheer level of racism throughout), it almost appears integral to his success as a journalist. He can be brusque, sometimes blunt, yet people make up the core of the book. (Prior to Christmas, he also send me a tweet, including the line: ‘Without honest, brave reporting, we are blind.”) Moments of hilarity are also sporadically sprinkled throughout the book.
That’s the best sort of journalist and personality traits/
I think that the book could have benefitted from being more chronological; there are jumps forward and back in time. It can be confusing at times, and I found it difficult to keep track of the timeline of events. I would have also have liked to have seen more about Evans’ time in America, like the book The Vanity Fair Diaries, by Tina Brown (his wife.) The book can also occasionally be abrupt; perhaps the connections between chapters could have been more polished.
This book has something for everyone; whether you’re training to be a journalist, or are a journalist, like a good story, etc, I think this is the book for you.

Click here to buy the book.