Category Archives: Personal

January/February Roundup

So my January post said that I was definitely interested in more frequent updates to the blog, but considering it sat dormant for the next two months, I’ve clearly not had the time or the headspace to update it.

This was due to a few different things – my book was published in January, and I handed in my PhD, which both took up a fair amount of time. I helped to organise a conference in mid-February, which was also quite time-consuming, and since then I’ve been having some health issues which have made blogging really slip to the back of my mind.

But now that it’s March, let’s try get back on the wagon a little bit!

In January and February, I read 39 books.

16 of those were re-reads, which means I read 26 new books in the first two months of the year.A few of those will probably get their own blog posts, but I may as well mention a few highlights.

I re-read The Princess Diaries series, because my sister got Royal Wedding for Christmas, and I felt like I needed to catch up.

I then followed this up with the first in Cabot’s spin-off middle-grade series, The Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, because I don’t like to do things by halves.

The hardest thing about this was the difficulty of updating my GoodReads, because the books have a) their US titles, b) the titles of the copies we have and c) the titles that Macmillan are now publishing them under.

So when updating my GoodReads to say I was reading the sixth PD, for example, I was reading ‘Sixsational’, but if I were to buy it in a shop here it would be ‘Royal Rebel’ and on GoodReads it was actually ‘Princess in Training’. Phew! No wonder I was having trouble!

Other highlights of the two months included The Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer, a space-age retelling of classic fairy tales which I ADORED. Although Stars Above is in this picture, I haven’t actually read that yet. I’m really looking forward to it – specifically The Princess and the Guard, and the promise of a forthcoming wedding! Eeee!


I re-read the Guardians of Time trilogy, a favourite of mine from when I was still in school, although a headwrecker when it comes to the different covers.

I won a copy of Faceless by Alyssa Sheinmel, in a MaximumPop! Books competition, which was actually only the day after I had picked it up and decided I liked the look of it, so that was great, as well. I’m definitely putting that on the ‘to-review’ list, as I really enjoyed it, and think it deserves some discussion.

I also spent a lot of time reading a buttload of romance novels, because they’re quick and easy to read when you’re not feeling up to anything else – one day I managed to read four in the same day, because they were so sweet!

In terms of sheer numbers, January and February have been very productive for how many books I’ve read – I’m two fifths of the way to my annual goal of 100 books at only a sixth of the way into the year, so I could stop reading for another month or so and still do fine!

I’ve also got two 2016 reading challenges stuck up on my wall, which I’m going to start ticking boxes off and posting about as soon as I can.

So hopefully from here on in things will be a little less tumbleweed-y and a lot more bookish! In March and beyond, I will really try to post more about what I’m reading – not just keep the list and neglect my poor blog which, as it happens, turned seven in January. And I didn’t even notice the day!




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Copyright Master

28791018So I made a promise to myself at the start of the year that I would try to post every week. But actually, we’re not even a month into the year and I’ve already failed miserably at that.

In my defence, though, I’ve had a lot to do this month (still do, in fact – no rest for the wicked) and updating my blog has been the last thing on my mind.

I have been reading, because it’s important to me to give myself some sort of relaxation time, but I just haven’t had time to update reviews on here. Hopefully next month things will calm down a little, and I’ll have some more time.

In the mean time, though, let me show you guys one of the things which kept me busy this month. I know this is outside the normal bounds of what this blog reviews, but…

At the start of this week, I published my first book. Not a YA Dystopia, or any kind of fantasy book, but Copyright Master is actually a short digital-only guide to copyright in the digital age, designed for writers, songwriters, artists, or anyone who has an interest in copyright in general. It aims to be a short guide to copyright, and I think (I hope!) that’s what it managed to be.

In the interests of consistency, though, let’s do this the right way.

Copyright Master – Aislinn O’Connell

The perfect distillation of everything you need to know about copyright law

Covering everything from copyright’s early history to the protection of cutting-edge software, Copyright Master is a concise, practical guide through the labyrinth of licensing and intellectual property.

Whether by explaining the Creative Commons system, providing a useful guide to takedown notices, or examining the process for licensing orphan works, Copyright Master forms an ideal primer. It will help you use content imaginatively and judiciously, detailing what you can do without licences, including fair use, American legislation and recent amendments to British fair dealing rules. Finally, Copyright Master looks into the future of this rapidly-changing field and examines how the EU’s Digital Single Market strategy will shape digital copyright in the years to come

Packed with tips, links, and other practical information, this is an essential guide for anyone wanting to create and use copyright with confidence.

Having read Copyright Master a few times now, I have to say that I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I think it’s clear, well-organised, and (hopefully) interesting. I’m really proud of my first foray into publishing, and I absolutely think you should buy this book.

In fact, I recommend that you go get it on Amazon right now. 😉


Five Stars

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A Quick Note

I realise that I have not had a particularly auspicious start to 2015 in terms of this blog. That’s for a variety of reasons. One is that I spent half of January in New Zealand, which was great for reading time (lots of planes) but not so great in terms of actually getting online and writing blog posts.

Besides that, I’ve been quite busy in college, as the journal I’m copy editor of went to print this week, and the month running up to that was, well, manic. I had far more to do than I had anticipated, and everything else sort of fell by the wayside.

I’ve still been reading this year (not much else to do in my hour-long commute to college each day) and keeping track of what books I’ve read so far this year, but none of it has translated into actual blog posts. Yet!

I’m hoping to get going with them again soon – World Book Day yesterday reminded me that I actually have a book blog which I actively enjoy running, and should really get back to.


So look out for actual book review posts, coming soon! Hopefully…

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Liebster Awards

liebster2-pagespeed-ce-fzvb3mebe_Because I am a terrible person, I was nominated for a Liebster award by the ever so kind Cumuloquoise last month, but I never actually got around to doing the challenge.

Then yesterday, I was nominated for another liebster award by the equally lovely Chilly Milly. So to assuage my feelings of guilt, I have two sets of questions to answer, and five blogs to nominate to pass on the award, but at least I’m actually doing it!

So the basic premise of the Liebster award is that it works like a sort of chain letter, allowing people to discover new blogs, with not very many followers, and acknowledging bloggers! You answer the questions set by your nominator, and set your own questions for your nominees.

The Rules are These:

  • You have to link back to the person who nominated you.
  • You must answer all 11 questions given to you by the person who nominated you.
  • After completing the questions, you must nominate at least 5 bloggers with under 200 followers and give them 11 questions of your choice.
  • You are not allowed to nominate the person who nominated you.
  • You must let your nominees know that they have been nominated and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it.

So, question set number one comes from Cumuloquoise:

  1. Why did you decide to blog in the first place? I started blogging because I liked to write, because my diary didn’t have enough space in it, because I won a free domain and wanted to do something with it, and because I’m basically a massive narcissist and wanted to talk about my life. Very admirable reasons, as I’m sure you’ll agree.
  2. Name three of your pastimes or hobbies. My primary hobby is playing music – I’ve played since I was a very little girl, and still play in the Concert Band in my university. Unfortunately, they’re >still< on summer break, so it’s been a while since I’ve actually played anything. Hobby number two would be reading – I spent a fair whack of time commuting to college every day, which gives me ample time to read (although that does occasionally cause me to miss stops). Does blogging count as a hobby? I do that. If not, swimming – a lapsed hobby, which I’m planning to get back into this month.
  3. If you could interview anyone right now, who would it be and why? Awh man, uh, Hargreaves, to ask why his impact assessments are so rubbish (nerdy research interview ftw.)
  4. If you could interview anyone who has already died, who would it be and why? Interview questions are difficult. Errrrrrrr – Edward VIII, to ask him whether he knew the consequences of wanting to abdicate, and if he did, whether he would’ve done it anyways. Mostly because I watched The King’s Speech two weeks ago.
  5. Recommend a movie. And thus, you see what film I recommend – The King’s Speech. Very excellent.
  6. Recommend a book. Sabriel, by Garth Nix, or more widely his Old Kingdom trilogy. Still one of my favourite trilogies, and I am desperately awaiting the launch of Clariel.
  7. Recommend an album. Absolution by Muse – one of my favourite Muse albums!
  8. Recommend a Youtuber. MysteryGuitarMan, although I temper my recommendation with the fact that I don’t actually follow any youtubers.
  9. If you could cosplay as any character, who would it be and why? I think Sabriel! Who WOULDN’T want to be able to bring back the dead? But I don’t think I ever will – embroidered costume would be far too difficult.
  10. Who is your celebrity crush? Jennifer Lawrence, like half the world, for being amazing. Although, in terms of straight crush, currently Andrew Scott.
  11. What’s your favourite fandom? The Avatar/Legend of Korra fandom. Incredible series, with so much dedication and amazing skill behind it, and a fandom which is generally very friendly, enthusiastic and welcoming!

And question set number two from Chilly Milly:

  1. If you could convey a message to the people of your fellow generation, what would you say? Probably something along the lines of ‘Don’t listen to me, I don’t know any more than you do’.
  2. Of morals and principles, what is something you stand by steadfastly?
  3. What is it that you detest the most?
  4. What are some of your greatest literary loves? I don’t know if this is characters, authors, or books. So! Characters: Sabriel, Lirael, Mogget, Ethan Roberts, Arkarian, Rochelle Thallimar, Hanno Hath, Pinpin Hath, Mumpo Inch, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger. Also Mia Hall and Adam Wilde. Authors: Garth Nix, Marianne Curley, William Nicholson, Gayle Forman, Dorothy Koomson, Lauren Oliver, Jaclyn Moriarty, Malorie Blackman. Books: the Old Kingdom trilogy, the Guardians of Time trilogy, the Wind on Fire trilogy, My Best Friend’s Girl, My Sister’s Keeper, If I Stay, Where She Went, the Brookfield/Ashbury books, the Redwall books,  Harry Potter, Noughts and Crosses (all books), The Night Watch (series)… I could go on, here.
  5. When in need of an escape, where do you seek solace? My bedroom, generally. I don’t often feel the need to escape, but I find most things can be solved by sleep (the human equivalent of turning it off and on again).
  6. What is your opinion on the ways social media has influenced our modern day society? Social media has blurred the line between what’s public and what’s private – the relative merit or demerit of that is up to individuals. Personally, as someone who lives in a different country to half her family and all her college friends, I find it’s a magnificent tool for keeping in touch, and keeping up to date on the lives of those you might have an interest in their wellbeing without actually bothering to actively seek them out and ask them.
  7. What is a quote that you love most? Does the Walker choose the Path, or the Path the Walker? – The Book of the Dead, from Sabriel, by Garth Nix.
  8. If you could make one irrefutable change in the world today, what would it be? I’d bring Ireland and England much closer together. Purely selfish, but God, it would make my life much nicer.
  9. What is your favorite sound in the world? The voices of my sisters and my boyfriend.
  10. What is a characteristic you praise the most in a person? Hard work and determination. Even without success, trying at something is always worth praise.
  11. What is a painting that captures your heart and soul the most? Cliché, but The Starry Night, by van Gogh.

My nominees are as follows:

Emily Rose, Makeup & Beauty by Amy, Dapper, Irish and Butch, The Book Spa and Chitownbooks

And my questions are thus (assume, for any where appropriate, that it is followed by ‘and why’):

  1.  What’s your favourite colour?
  2. If you could invite anybody (alive or dead) to dinner with your family, who would it be?
  3. Who’s your favourite author?
  4. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  5. What’s your favourite book cover?
  6. What are your top 3 most-visited websites?
  7. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  8. What are your three desert-island must-haves [you can’t have a mirror, and assume survival is already provided for]?
  9. What is one thing you wish you knew more about?
  10. If you didn’t do what you do now (school/college/work-wise) what would you do instead?
  11. What’s your favourite flavour of ice cream?


That’s it! Have fun!

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Okay, so I had intended on writing a year in review post on December 31st, as I have done in the last few years, but I was busy playing violent card games and sleeping and enjoying my last few days in Ireland, so it kind of slipped.
Today is 12 months exactly since I started my PhD, meaning that I am officially a second year student. So I guess it’s as good a day as any to look back on the last 12 months, right? I mean, it’s kind of a milestone, even if not as big a milestone as the actual change of the year.
In actual fact, I’m gonna include the few days before I started my PhD too, because there was a kinda big event in there, you know.

So yeah. To start off. I moved to London and started a PhD. That’s been, well, interesting.
London is big, scary and faceless, and full of people. The first probably six months were atrociously hard. I spent most of them thinking I was drowning in college work and loneliness and confusion and not being a proper grown up. I’m still not a proper grown up. But either way.
General college-related things… I’ve done a lot of reading and research, and failed miserably at reading everything I should have read. I’ve got a fleshed-out thesis plan and the guts of my upgrade chapter. I have a literature review, or the skeleton of one, which needs to be fleshed out. I’m currently working on my upgrade, which means that I have to write an entire chapter of the thesis, write a literature review, produce a plan of what I’m going to do for the next two years and then defend it in a mini-viva. That’s what’s going on in the next few months, and it’s bloody terrifying, but I think I can do it.
I hope I can do it!

I’m a student of the centre for publishing, in the Department of Information Studies, so for the first few months I worked in the DIS PhD room, which is quiet and has a computer, but also has the temperature turned up to a truly ridiculous 25 degrees. It was alright in there, but there wasn’t much company or chatter, so during the summer I started working in the DIS common room. I enjoyed that, because there were lots of Masters students writing their theses, so I had plenty of company and lots of friends to chat to. The only problem with that was that come September, they were all finished and I was bang out of luck and on my own again. Around the same time, my supervisor went on sabbatical, so I got a new supervisor (who had previously been my secondary supervisor) who’s in the faculty of Laws. Why Laws instead of Law? I don’t know, but there you go. I started spending more time in the Laws PhD room, and that was actually much better, because they’re very friendly and welcoming, and I enjoy spending time there. Plus there are social nights on relatively frequently.

I went to a few boards beers and managed to find some friends there, which was a relief. Incidentally, one of the boardsies used to live with my brother-in-law, so if that’s not a coincidence, I don’t know what is. Boards was a real help in meeting people and getting out of my flat, which was difficult, to be honest, at first.

Living arrangement-wise, I spent the first six or seven weeks staying with my brother, but after my nephew was born, I started to feel like I was crowding the place, so I rented a room in the flat of another PhD student. It was fine, and it was a lovely flat, but being a lodger made me feel a lot like I was intruding on someone else’s space the whole time. When my six-month lease was up I moved on to a flat which is further away from the college, but where I’m an equal stake-holder. It’s also not exactly what I’m looking for, so I think I’ll be moving on within a few months, but it’s not been the worst thing in the world. It’s not bad living here, just certain things can get very frustrating, mostly being off the tube lines. Won’t be going south-east again!

The start of the year was pretty hectic as a whole, with the golden trilogy of life events – hatching, matching and dispatching all happening within a two-month period. My nephew, who remains the cutest thing in the world, arrived on scene, my gran sadly departed and my brother-in-law Shane finally gained an official spot in the family, not that he wasn’t there in every sense already.

After Easter, things started to go downhill, though. I had a lot of difficulty making friends (the moving to the common room thing didn’t happen until about June) and I was incredibly lonely. I tried to fix it by spending extra time with my brother, but to be honest he’s not really the type of person to really appreciate that, so I was mostly just annoying him and upsetting myself. It wasn’t until May that I admitted to myself that I was depressed again and actually went to the doctor. I went back on the anti-depressants, but told nobody, once again ashamed of being too weak to stay happy by myself. But, of course, that was dumb as balls, because nobody who knows and loves me would judge me.

In any case, I went to the doctor and I got the pills and for most of the summer I was functioning again and it was all good. But in September then I got a phone call which I had been expecting but dreading for oh, months. It put an end to the whole situation from July 2012 (you know the one I mean) and, although it wasn’t anything I hadn’t expected, I was absolutely floored by it. I was gutted that it was a no, even though every ounce of logic in my brain had told me that it would be a no. What made it worse, though, was that I had nobody to turn to and nobody to tell and for a week when all I wanted was a hug, I didn’t have anyone I could go to with it. It was an absolutely atrocious, horrendous week. And it really hammered home to me just how alone I am here. I have Shane, yes, but he’s not… I’m not as close to him as to the rest of my family. And I have friends here, but they’re just buddies, not actually people I can properly talk to about big things. And this was a big thing.
For a week or so, all I wanted was a hug. Just a big massive, squishy hug which says everything will be okay.
And it was that week that I realised that I don’t hug anyone here. At home I’m incredibly free with the hugs, but over here the only person I hug is my nephew. And, to be honest, he’s not that keen on being cuddled, he mostly tries to squirm away.
So yes. That was tough. It was incredibly tough. I lasted approximately a week before I had a total breakdown in the middle of a park and finally admitted to myself that I needed to go to counselling to help me get past this.

So I did. I went to counselling, and it was… it was weird. A lot of the time it felt like I was just being told things I already knew, and I would have had about as much success and personal development talking to a wall, but between it and the pills, eventually the fog lifted. I’m not done yet. I’m still healing. I’m still on the pills and I’m actually in floods of tears as I write this, but I’m getting there. I’m slowly, very slowly, moving on.

After that, in September, things did get better. I joined the concert band in the university, which has been incredibly positive. I’ve really missed playing music, and having an outlet for it has helped beyond anything. It also has lots of social outlets, which is good. I even went to see Wicked (for the second time) with people from the band, which was equally as good as, if not better than, the first time I saw it four years ago.

As well as that, I kept going with college, and did a seminar for my sponsors in November, which went really well. I’ve made more friends, which should hopefully help me from getting into a situation like September again. I mean, I still don’t hug any of them, but maybe there are people I could talk to.

The physicality of being in London is… annoying. In the weeks when I’ve been home (and there have been about six of them), I’ve been able to just go over to someone’s home and have a cup of tea and a gossip with them (or a full ham and turkey dinner in someone else’s home while they hide in the kitchen, I mean whatever), which just isn’t something I can do with my closest friends (or my sisters, parents, or Alex) while I’m over here. The distance really got to me this year.
BUT there’s never likely to be another moment like that one in September again, so I don’t think I have to worry about it too much.

In general, like, being in London is great! There’s so much to do! There are so many things to see! I have been the ultimate tourist/resident. I’ve done lots of things that I did when I was a child (museums, why always the museums? I have millions of memories of going to museums!) and things that I had never done before (never been to Madame Tussaud’s in London, but went with Sinéad during the summer).
My relationship with my family is still good. I am an expert at Skype, and I am intimately familiar with the details of the ceiling coving, because my mum is too lazy to hold the tablet up while she’s talking to me.
Things with Alex haven’t been perfect this year, but by God, it’s a million times better than when I was in France. We’ve had plenty of visits, and the longest we’ve gone without seeing each other was eight weeks which, in the grand scheme of things, is really not that many. If our relationship is as strong in the next two years as it has been in the last one, we should have nothing to worry about until I get home. That’s when actually being in proximity to each other will begin to freak us out. After all, in the last three years, we’ve only been in the same province for six months.

In general though, last year was good. I know this blog post doesn’t make it seem that way, but it has been.
I love my PhD. It’s big and terrifying and overwhelming and my sponsors are really scary, but I adore what I do. I love researching and I love keeping up to date with everything that’s going on. I’m really looking forward to the next two years (although when I think that come June I’ll be halfway through, I come quite close to hyperventilating!).
I love my university (have to say uni over here, if you say college they think you’re still in sixth form), and all its bizarre oddities, especially the dead body in the box. I really, really enjoy the concert band and am happy to be here. I think it would have been much easier if I had started in a September, rather than a January, but sometimes life just throws you a curveball and you have to deal with it. The uni is weird and wonderful, and the people I’ve met here are really nice to spend time with. I really am enjoying being here.
Living on my own is strange – I know when I was in France I was terribly lonely, and being a lodger gave me a lot of the same feelings – with added doses of feeling like intruding on my landlady’s space whenever I tried to cook. Although, I must admit, sometimes I did have terrible cooking skills. I did set off the fire alarm, after all. The flat I’m in now is nice, I like the feeling of being an equal and I’m quite fond of my flatmates. I must admit I’m not fond of the sink being blocked for over a month, that was no fun, or the bathroom flooding the hall and part of my bedroom, that was no fun either, but hey, at least they were adventures!

I am happy here. This year has been strange and difficult and sad and lonely, but it’s also been interesting and delightful and wonderful. New additions to the family are wonderful (there isn’t a child in the world cuter than my nephew, and Shane Byrne is pretty alright), I’m in a relationship with an incredible man who puts up with my country-hopping, I have a family who love me and a great PhD, as well as lovely and supportive friends – overall, if I were offered a chance to re-do this year, I don’t think I’d change it.
On balance, the happy times won out. It wasn’t the BEST year of my life. But it was certainly one of the most interesting.
Also, I got an iPad. I think that makes this year a win!

^Mark, Sinéad, Alex and I at Aoife and Shane’s wedding.

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