Why some of my favourite books are YA

As a university student currently studying novel writing and undertaking an internship at a publishing company, you might expect my taste in books to be somewhat more sophisticated. But rather than reading the classics, literary novels or even non-fiction, my taste in books hasn’t really grown up.

Despite my ever growing ‘to be read’ list and pile of new books I have acquired, you might find me re-reading books for the millionth time or buying something brand new that could jump to the top of that pile. Honestly, I have very little in the way of explaining my reading habits.

Simply put, I like a happily ever after. I like to understand what I’m reading, because if I need someone to explain the story to me, I don’t feel like the book has done a very good job. I like to feel satisfied or content when I finish a book. The world can be dull and crappy sometimes so why not read something that will make you feel happier in some way.

Many people have a prejudice against young adult novels, and just children’s books in general. They think writing them is easy and publishing them is not as prestigious. If you read them you’re immature or not cultured.

Obviously I disagree.

If a book makes you feel warm and happy, if it makes you feel better about yourself, how bad can it really be? No matter how stupid a book may seem or how much people make fun of it, if you enjoy it then it did it’s job.

A great example is Twilight. Yes it’s very poorly written and you could find a lot wrong with it, but the audience reception was positive and the franchise managed to be made into 5 blockbuster movies. So is it a good or a bad book? It’s hard to say, I suppose it depends how you interpret the question.

Now I’m not saying that Twilight is my favourite book or anything, not by a long shot. But whenever I have this discussion with someone, it proves to be a great example and argument point. The book sold millions of copies, had 5 movies made (and inspired 50 Shades of Grey… but I won’t talk about that). So tell me again why it’s a bad book. It’s badly written? Yeah so what, the target audience clearly didn’t care. It perpetuates YA writing stereo-types? Well that’s what was popular around then. You’re embarrassed to have read it? Get over yourself basically everyone did.

A good book is an incredibly personal thing and while yes there are probably some indicators of what makes books better than others, like sales or awards. Read what you like, because at the end of the day it’s not the books we think we should read but the books we want to read that go to the top of our ‘to be read’ piles.

So catch me reading Harry Potter again, or John Green. I don’t care.

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More than Coffee/Drinks

Going for coffee or drinks has become a cornerstone of our social interactions. We go with family, friends, on dates, even for meetings.

But if we’re always doing the same things, sometimes it can get a bit boring. So where do you go if you want more than just coffee or drinks? I have found some cool places around Melbourne (Australia) that I believe deserve more attention than they get. They offer a range of different game experiences (with some bonus books and karaoke).

WINE BAR: Willows & Wine

For all you book and board game lovers, Willows & Wine is the perfect place. Offering a range of second hand books that span many styles and genres, there’s something for every reader; and if you find one you really love you can even purchase it. They also offer a great range of board-games catering to groups of any size.

Their food menu is short and sweet, but you can bring in outside food if you like. Their drinks menu is where it’s really at, though. With a large variety of wines, available by the glass or bottle, beer, and cider. For those who don’t drink alcohol they have a range of options for you too.

Notably though, their cocktail list is inspired by some famous and favourite fictional characters. Featuring a range from Lady Montague, to Winnie the Pooh, to the Mad Hatter. An absolute stand out though is their Dumbledore’s Butterbeer, a hot buttered rum that is both delicious and strong (so beware). This drink is perfect for anyone looking to warm up from the cold or take a step into the world of Harry Potter.

You can find them on Instagram and Facebook. They are located right by Queen Vic Market, at 315 Victoria St, West Melbourne. With Queen Vic currently hosting a book market (every Sunday until December 15) it makes for a great afternoon outing.

BAR: Pixel Alley and Mr Wow’s Emporium

Great for retro vibes and the gamer in you, Pixel Alley is host to a whole range of arcade games, including Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and pinball machines. The games cost $1-$2 a play or you can spend $15 to get 20 tokens (worth $1 each), for good value. If you head there on the last Tuesday of every month you can join their pinball tournament for a chance to be listed as a winner on the pinball scores.

Their drinks too are themed, offering bubble cups and cocktails named after some classic games, as well as beer and wine options. Though they don’t offer any food.

Pixel Alley is located at 95 Smith St, Fitzroy, and you can find them on Instagram and Facebook.

If you head up the stairs at the back of Pixel Alley you will find yourself in one of their sister bars, Mr Wow’s Emporium.

Mr Wow’s offers more games of a different variety. Featuring Pool, Table Tennis, Foosball, and more. Their drink options range from classic to eccentric, along with beer and wine of course. Though again there is no food, Mr Wow’s also offers a more rustic feel with more seating to be found than downstairs.

A little trick I discovered, try to start the game without paying as sometimes you may not need to. As with the Foosball machine, I got many rounds out of it without paying, though whether this is by chance or intentional, I couldn’t say.

Located up stairs at 97B Smith St, Fitzroy, they have their own entrance as well as an entrance at the back of Pixel Alley. Find them on Instagram and Facebook.

CAFE: Queen of Spades

Just down the road from Pixel and Mr Wow’s is a cafe offering yet another gaming experience. Queen of Spades is a cafe turn bar with a large food and drink menu. Offering brunch and burgers, coffee and cocktails, (and more,) they will suit a visit any time of day.

Spread over two levels, there’s ample seating and board games to go around. Groups of any size will find games to play, with new games being added regularly, take a stroll down memory lane or learn something new. Note that they charge $5 p/person to play unlimited games, think of it as a seating charge so even if you don’t order any food or drink the cafe can make a profit so they can keep providing new games and fun times.

They also offer games nights and events which you can check out on their website, under the events subheading. If you find a game you love they have new versions of some of them available for purchase in the cafe too.

You can find them at 189 Smith St, Fitzroy and on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Asian food: Marche

Back near Queen Vic Market is another board game hub, offering karaoke as well. They offer a Taiwanese menu heavily inspired by the board games on offer, and their drinks look just as fun as the games. “Eat like a king” and “drink like a queen” their menu states, whether this is a reference to chess or a bold statement about their menu, it sure seems true.

For gaming without the food, its $15 a head for 3hrs (including a drink). Karaoke can cost from $22-$38 p/person depending on the day and time; with different combinations of min. amount of people, max. amount of time, and inclusive food and drink. The karaoke is held in private rooms so there’s no need to be shy, but if you want to mingle you should check out their social event page on the website.

They’re located between Melbourne Central and Queen Vic Market, at 63 A’Beckett St, Melbourne. You can also check out their Instagram and Facebook.

So there are 5 recommendations of places to go when you want something just a little more than plain old coffee or drinks, whoever you’re with. I highly suggest checking them all out!

Cinema Etiquette

I have, in the past month, gone to see both Spider-Man: Far From Home and The Lion King in cinemas. While I have many thoughts about these movies and could go on and give reviews, that’s not what this post is about. I will, however, summarise my reviews as followed:

Spider-Man: Far From Home = 100% worth watching. Well deserved 7.9 on IMDb (perhaps it even deserved higher). Funny and engaging, a good follow on from Avengers: End Game.

The Lion King = perhaps worth watching if you’ve never seen the original (i.e. young kids). Undeserved 7.2 on IMDb. There was very little emotional investment and the movie offered nothing new to the original that warranted it being remade.

What this post is about is stated quite plainly in the title. Cinema etiquette. It has come to my attention though, that perhaps these social expectations are lost on some people.

The following are all things I’ve seen real people do in real cinemas… Unfortunately.

Hopefully by now we all know to turn off our phones, or at least put them on silent (or do not disturb) when we go to the cinema. But this is just the bare minimum of how we should behave during movies.

To some extent we also have to treat the cinema as though it’s our home. You wouldn’t dump popcorn all over your couch at home, you shouldn’t do it at a cinema. Someone has to clean it up and it’s rude and inconsiderate.

But we shouldn’t take the home feeling too far. Don’t put your feet up on the chair in front of you, especially if there’s someone sitting there. And definitely don’t do it with your shoes off.

If you need the bathroom, leave quickly and quietly. Don’t stand up then stay standing to watch a whole other scene before leaving.

If you have to talk to the person next to you, whisper. Very quietly. Ideally during a loud moment like an explosion.

By all means laugh, cry, gasp, or even scream during a movie WHEN APPROPRIATE.

Do not shriek when your favorite actor appears. (No matter how much you looooooove Tom Holland.)

Don’t scream and have a full on meltdown during a shocking or pivotal scene.

Don’t jump up and scream “YEAH” when you win a bet over how many end credit scenes there are.

People have paid money to go to the movies, and doing these things takes them out of the movie and ruins their experience.

Just be considerate. It’s not hard.

Life Update

So I don’t know if it’s just me, but during the holidays I lose all track of time. Has it been a week? A month? Who knows? Not me.

I put off everything I actually need to do. I keep saying to myself, oh I’ll do the thing tomorrow. And then I don’t.

Like this blog post. Slightly overdue. And not about anything in particular.

Do I have actual things I want to write about? Of course. I have a list of things I’ve been meaning to write and instead I’ve chosen… this. Whatever this is.

At the end of next week my winter holidays will be over. I had a two month long break but I’d be hard pressed to tell you what I did with all that time. Other than watch a lot of Netflix.

I know my productivity increases during the uni term because I have actual work to do. So obviously I do everything else first. You can probably expect a more interesting blog post in the next couple of weeks.

For now I just wanted to take the time to say thank you to everyone that’s read what I’ve written so far, supported and encouraged me.

The people I do not want to thank are the builders next door who are always making noise right at 7am. You disturbed my sleep and my holiday. Screw you. I am mad.

Interviewing at Apple

Tech giant Apple undoubtedly receives many job applications all the time (including mine). I was always scared of applying though, as I felt I didn’t know enough or I didn’t have what they looked for; I let that fear keep me down. But this year I decided it was worth a shot, the worst thing that could happen was I get yet another rejection email (or even no email at all). So I sent in 5 different applications for whatever position I thought was even slightly within the realm of something I could do. And why not, hopefully one of them would get through to them (the more chances the better, I figured).

For anyone else wanting to apply, here’s what I know about the Apple application process:

Applying: you can start either in sales or support, wherever you’re more inclined. Send in a resume (or many like I did) and wait. If they think you’re a match, you’ll commonly hear back at least a month later.

At this point I ran around the house screaming in excitement.

Invitation to connect: an email inviting you to set up a phone interview. They offer multiple times over one working week, obviously the sooner you sign up for a time the more options are available. IMPORTANT NOTE: make sure you have a set up Apple profile including your current phone number.

Phone interview: they will call you exactly on the dot of your chosen start time. Make sure you’re in a quiet and comfortable place. The phone call will go for approx 20 minutes. Don’t try to impress them with your Apple knowledge, they want to know you; your passions, experiences, questions.

I had an incredible chat about creativity and my love for writing. Honestly, it was just the best phone chat and I was overly stressing for no reason.

Outcome email: commonly you’ll get an email saying whether you got through or not (I was actually told over the phone). At this stage they’ll let you know what the next stage is, roughly when it is and what it’s about.

At this point, once again, I went bouncing around the house looking for someone to tell.

Apple hiring event: they will invite you to a group session by email, they go for 2 hours and will take place in your chosen Apple store. They’re largely interactive info sessions about the different roles and your store with a couple of activities. They’ll let you know a few days later whether you’re successful or not.

I was so nervous for this outcome email, I didn’t expect anything at all but was so ecstatic when I got the invite to the next stage.

Group interview: once again you will be invited to choose a time by email. This stage has 3-4 candidates with 2 mangers from your chosen store. You will likely be with the people that were at your hiring event so expect to see some familiar faces. They ask 2-3 questions each, typically one is about past work experience. In my experience, this took place in a relatively quiet place to the side of the store.

Unfortunately, this is where my journey ended. As sad as I am to not make it further in the process or get a job, I am flattered to have had the chance to make it this far. I will definitely be trying again in the future.

As I was told during the experience, be prepared for a lot of “no” and a lot of “not now”, this is not just true for Apple but for everything in life. While this isn’t the ideal outcome (obviously), I have learned a lot and am no longer intimidated to try.

I want to thank Apple for seeing something in me and giving me this chance, I look forward to trying again.

To anyone wanting to apply, feel free to ask me questions. I strongly encourage you to go for it, even if you don’t think you’ll get it.

If you don’t try, the answer will always be no.

Some Thoughts About University Marks

So by this time, marks are starting to get released and the outcome of a semester worth of learning will be revealed, whether your your mantra is “P’s get degrees” or you want to get top marks in everything.

But honestly, it doesn’t really matter.

Sure it’s nice to get 100%, but in reality it doesn’t affect to anyone but you (and maybe your parents). No employer is going to look at your transcript and go oh you only got a 66% in that one random elective subject you did in the second year of your bachelors. Unless maybe you’re a doctor or something.

People care more about life experiences than first year scores. That’s why some unis don’t even count them when calculating total grades (though my uni does). The important thing is not that you have a degree, it’s that you do something with it.

If you’re one of those people who can breeze through without study much, congrats. But for most people, university is stressful enough. We don’t need the added pressure of having to get perfect scores in everything.

So when you get your marks soon, don’t worry too much about it. A failed subject can be retaken. A low score can be balanced out in your overall mark. Nothing is the end of the world.

Now excuse me while I go stress about my results…

How to celebrate the end of term (and still be lazy)

So the cool thing to do is to go out, party all night and get hella drunk… but that means going out, so I’m obviously not doing that.

This is how to celebrate, the lazy way.

  • Post to social media that you’re done: this will encourage other people to congratulate you, and make you feel good about yourself.
  • Celebratory meal: take out, of course.
  • Netflix binge: pick a new favourite show or movies.
  • Sleep: this is pretty self explanatory, catch up on all the sleep you missed during the term.
  • Throwing out notes: destroy any evidence that you’ve actually learned something the past few months.
  • Cleaning your room: boring, I know, but there is a floor under there somewhere.

Additional more social/extroverted options that still allow for laziness.

  • Individual meet-up: pick a good friend you wanna see and just chill at your house.
  • Recommended activities include laying on the floor together not doing anything, scrolling through social media while sitting next to each other.

WARNING: these next ones may require a little more effort.

  • Host a small gathering: (definitely not a house party): have a small group of friends over for a chill time.
  • Recommended activities include Mario Kart, poker (or other games), movie nights, chill ‘sesh’.
  • Meals: an easy way to see people without needing to do much, meet up for any meal (my go to is brunch/dinner)

Finally, and this is important:

  1. Opening some beers.
  2. Opening some wine.
  3. Opening some spirits.
  4. Pass Out.

Also, note to self: update the blog… it’s been a while (whoops).

In other news, I have now created an Instagram for the blog so follow that for new updates.