Feminist Fridays

Feminist Fridays: Carrie Hope Fletcher

Today I’d like to talk about one my favorite people to watch on Youtube: singer, actress, blogger, and vlogger Carrie Hope Fletcher. I’ve been a fan of her videos for years (since I was in middle school?!) and it’s been amazing to watch her grow and develop her channel over such a long time. I want to highlight her in this Feminist Fridays feature in particular because I think she is such a positive, empowering figure for younger girls and women alike.

I love how Carrie is incredibly open and honest when discussing body image, mental health, self-esteem, being a woman, etc. on her channel. She’s not afraid to call people out when they reinforce sexist stereotypes or make comments that are objectifying, insulting, or harmful. While she clearly sees the importance of empowering women to be confident in their own skin, she also acknowledges the pressure this puts on her as a sort of public figure with an audience and talks about how it can be overwhelming and frustrating at times. This is why I love Carrie’s videos: she’s genuine and makes a point to tackle tough topics with nuance and an attention to detail that is to be admired. 

Her blog is another source of positivity and empowerment as she writes about kindness, self-love, and shares tidbits about her life as an actress. For the current month of April she decided to take part in the Blurt Foundation’s Self Care-athon, writing a post every day about a refreshingly thought-provoking, positive, inspirational topic. For instance, she begins a post all about kindness by writing:

One of the reasons I love coming to WaltDisneyWorld is because the kindness is rife. Left, right and centre there are women complimenting each other’s clothes and accessories. There are cast members creating magical moments for little ones simply because they can. Families from all over the world stand together in front of Cinderella’s castle, chatting before the fireworks begin and then sing together when they do. I always try to bring that mentality home to England with me but “real life” often bogs me down. When people aren’t as receptive to kindness, it’s often intimidating to be the one that takes that step. It suddenly takes a lot more courage to reach out and tell someone you love what they’re wearing on the London tube, the place where everyone’s far too British to chat. Often you’re met with looks of befuddlement, a scoff or even worse, silence. It can easily put you off making that extra effort to be kind but it mustn’t.

If this doesn’t show Carrie’s dedication to helping spread positivity, empowerment, and kindness, then I don’t know what does!

Recently I had the opportunity to see Carrie perform live in London at Cadogan Hall and it was such an incredible experience. How surreal it was to see her belting her heart out on stage after watching her videos and reading her books for so many years! (Also, would highly recommend her book On the Other Side, which you can read my review of here.) It felt great to be surrounded by people who are also inspired by this woman who exudes encouragement, compassion, and empathy in everything she does.

I hope this gushing post about Carrie has made you want to starting watching her videos or reading her books even just a teensy bit!

Click here to see other Feminist Friday posts!

Are you a fan of Carrie Hope Fletcher, watch her videos, or read her books? Let me know in the comments section below!




Booktube-A-Thon 2017 TBR

HAPPY BOOKTUBE-A-THON TIME! The Booktube-a-thon is an annual event hosted by Ariel Bissett that encourages people to read as much as they can in seven days. Packed with challenges, giveaways, and fun videos, the Booktubeathon is guaranteed to be a blast! This year the Booktube-a-thon is taking place from July 24th to July 30th. (That’s right: it officially starts TODAY!) If you haven’t heard of the Booktube-a-thon before or you want to learn more about it, you can check out the official Youtube channel, Twitter account, or this new website.

Copy of June

Each year there are challenges you can choose to participate in that will help guide your TBR for the week. This year the challenges are:

1 || Read a book with a person on the cover.
2 || Read a hyped book.
3 || Finish a book in one day.
4 || Read about a character that is very different from you.
5 || Finish a book completely outdoors.
6 || Read a book you bought because of the cover.
7 || Read seven books.

I can say with certainty that I won’t be reading seven books this week, but I’m going to do my best to complete as many of the other challenges as possible.

Copy of June-2

Because I have SO MUCH reading to do this summer for my courses in the fall, my TBR will be mostly assigned reading. However, I think I might have a little wiggle room to squeeze in some extra ones!

The Women in White by Wilkie Collins

{Read about a character that is very different from you}

This is the book I’m currently reading for my upcoming tutorial on British Literature from 1830-1910. I’ve already started reading it and I’m really liking it so far. It’s sensation fiction, which preceded what is now the mystery or detective novel. I’m definitely not from nineteenth century England, so this classic is perfect for this challenge.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

{Read a hyped book}

War and Peace is one of the most hyped classics I’ve ever heard of (the length! the huge cast of characters! the complicated story!). This summer I’m reading it for a War and Peace Newbie Read-along, which means that I have to keep up with our weekly reading amounts. I definitely won’t be finishing this tome during the Booktube-A-Thon, but I’ll be happy if I can get through this week’s reading amount.

Echo by Nadette Rae Rodgers

{Read a book with a person on the cover.}

Recently I received a copy of this sequel to Nadette Rae Rodgers’ novel Illusion in the mail and I can’t wait to read it! Thanks again to Nadette for sending me this ARC!

George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl

{Finish a book in one day, finish a book completely outdoors, read a book you bought because of the cover}

Roald Dahl’s books are perfect for when you need a break from assigned reading (or when you have to complete reading challenges like these!). This summer I’m trying to read the Roald Dahl books I never read as a kid and this one is next on my list. Everything he writes is brilliant so I’m really looking forward to reading about George’s adventures!

I’ll be posting a wrap-up of my Booktube-a-thon experience at the end of the week, so be sure to stay tuned! Also, if you want to stay up to date more regularly with my progress you can follow me on Twitter (@peanutfreeismeand Instagram (nutfreenerd).

Are you participating in the Booktube-a-thon? What are you planning to read this week? Let me know in the comments section below!

Whether or not you’re participating in the Booktube-a-thon, I hope you have a lovely week! Happy reading! ❤




The Happy Videos Tag

Hello, hello!! I’m super excited about today’s tag because it was actually created by my awesome friend Christina @ The Penniless OptimistShe often talks about her “happy videos,” or the videos that she watches whenever she needs a bit of a pick-me-up. As a way to spread some smiles she decided to make this Happy Videos Tag, which I think is such a fun idea. ❤

  1. Create a playlist of videos that make you happy
  2. Profile ten of those videos in a blog post
  3. Embed your complete happy videos playlist at the end of your blog post (it doesn’t have to be only ten videos long)
  4. Tag someone else to make their own!

In no particular order, some of my happy videos are:

1. Looking for Alaska at My High School by John Green of the Vlogbrothers

This one is definitely an oldie but a goodie. I love John Green’s debut novel Looking for Alaska, so I was ecstatic when he made this video explaining the connections between the fictional boarding school in the book and the one he attended in real life.

2. Literally any video by Ariel Bissett

Ariel Bissett has been my favorite booktuber for years. She’s funny, brilliant, and has excellent tastes in books. I’m not joking when I say that I do a little happy dance every time I see that she has uploaded a video!

3. Company is Coming by Chris Fleming

THIS. VIDEO. If you ever need a chuckle then do yourself a favor and go straight to watching this hilarious Gayle clip. Not only will it make your sides hurt from laughing so hard, but it’s also SO RELATABLE.

4. Miscast 2015: “Cell Block Tango” from “Chicago”

I owe Christina (who tagged me for this tag!) a million boxes of macaroni and cheese for showing me this amazing video. Even if you’ve never seen Chicago before (which you should definitely watch!!) this is still worth seeing.

5. Jonathan Groff Performs “Anything Goes”

This video encompasses two things I love very much: tap dancing and Jonathan Groff. I also owe Christina for showing me this one as well. ❤

6. A Very Potter Sequel Act 1 Part 6

THIS. VIDEO. Like the previously mentioned Gayle clip, this specific scene of A Very Potter Sequel always cracks me up. I literally can’t get through it without bursting into tears from laughing to hard!! All of these musicals in general are HILARIOUS but this scene in particular is absolute gold.

7. Moral of the Story by Watsky

I’m sure you’re all pretty tired of hearing me talk about how much I love Watsky’s music, but that’s not going to stop me from talking about it even more. This music video has just the right amount of cringy cheesiness.

8. The Schuyler Georges

This video is yet another reason why Jonathan Groff is amazing.

9. All videos from this dance studio.

I’ve watched SO MANY dance videos from this particular studio. The choreography is always awesome and they allow me to vicariously live my dream of being a professional dancer (if you know me, you know this is impossible because I’m #awkward one hundred percent of the time).

10. Any video by ThatMatt (AKA my brother!)

My super talented brother has a Youtube channel! I especially love watching his videos when I’m living on campus because they remind me of home ❤ Definitely check out his channel!

Thanks so much to Christina for tagging me!! ❤

Have you ever watched any of these videos? What videos do you watch when you need a little extra cheer? Let me know in the comments section below!



Bookish, Discussion

Are Book Hauls “Meaningless” Content? | Discussion

When I saw that Ariel Bissett made a video titled “Why Do Booktubers Make Book Hauls?” I was immediately intrigued. To tell you the truth, I had been asking myself the same question for quite some time. Book hauls have sort of been a controversial topic in the online bookish community as of late. Some people claim that they are “meaningless” content because the person talking about the books likely hasn’t even read them yet– what could they possibly have to say about it that is substantial or thought-provoking? Another common argument against book hauls is that they are “filler” content  solely used to generate large numbers of views, since these kinds of videos and posts tend to be really popular. There’s also the idea that book hauls are just a way for bloggers and booktubers to boast about how many books they accumulate on a regular basis, which can lead to the notion that in order to be successful in the online bookish community one has to have the privilege of being able to purchase and own all of the books you read.

There are clearly a lot of issues that need to be unpacked, here; fortunately, Ariel does a lot of that unpacking in her video. She counters many of these negative arguments by emphasizing that book hauls essentially do what most bloggers and booktubers endeavor to achieve with their posts and videos: spread a love of books and have FUN. Ariel also points out that book hauls allow us to keep up to date with what people are really excited about reading in general compared to the smaller number of books that they may actually be able to read in a given year. I highly recommend watching her video for a more accurate and detailed explanation of why book hauls can be really valuable and important.

Personally, I agree with a lot of Ariel’s arguments in support of books hauls. Yet I think an important point is missing: people find “meaning” in all kinds of content. Just because a book haul might not be discussing literature from a critical perspective in terms of having already read the books does not mean that it cannot offer interesting ideas for a thought-provoking discussion. Readers of posts and watchers of videos add their own meaning to the original content of the blogger or booktuber by sharing thoughts and opinions in the comments. A similar argument could be made regarding memes, tags, etc.; in other words, a book review or discussion is not the only kind of “meaningful” content. 

I think the most interesting aspect of this controversy over book hauls is the question it raises about bookish content in general: Who is to say what kind of content bloggers and booktubers should be sharing? My answer: NO ONE besides the bloggers and booktubers themselves. Create what makes you happy, what gets your message across, what shares the ideas and opinions and feelings that you want to express.

I haven’t posted a book haul in a while, mostly because I’ve been trying to buy fewer books and read the ones I already own. However, recently I’ve been thinking about maybe posting one in the near future.

Scratch that. I will post one in the near future.

What are your thoughts on Ariel’s video and book hauls in general? Do you post book hauls? Let me know in the comments section below!




ON THE OTHER SIDE by Carrie Hope Fletcher | Review

I’ve been a fan of Carrie Hope Fletcher’s Youtube channel since middle school, back in the days of wearing crocs and starting stories I would never finish writing and pretending that I could run fast enough to be on the cross-country team (fun fact: I could not). Not only have we both grown older since then, but she has become an accomplished performer on the West End as well as a published author of both memoir and fiction books. Sometimes I think about the Carrie I used to watch back in my early teens and wonder how someone can be so incredibly talented and kindhearted and genuinely down to earth. Needless to say, Carrie is nothing short of inspirational.

I give this context of my history as an admirer of Carrie’s work to help explain how very excited I was when I learned that she would be writing a novel called On the Other Side. Becoming a published author has been a dream of mine since my age was in the single digits, and seeing Carrie accomplish this feat reignited this goal in me for the umpteenth time. My excitement rose even further after finding out that it would be a whimsical, magical, adorable love story– something I could completely imagine Carrie sitting down at her computer to craft. By the time a copy came into my hands via the lending hand of a friend (shoutout to my good friend Christina) it’s safe to say that I was so ready to read this book.

And I thoroughly enjoyed it. Everything about simply screamed Carrie to me: the descriptions of Evie’s flat, her affection for sweets, the creativity of the story, the relationship between Evie and Vincent, the charming character of Vincent himself, the focus on highlighting the value of the arts and creative endeavors in general. I felt as though I could recognize the Carrie I’ve admired for years in every page turn, every new line, every adorable moment that made my lips widen into a smile. The story was cleverly layered with bursts of the present and the past, trips between Evie’s life on Earth and the intriguing middle ground of her life after death.

It’s difficult to write a book about love, life, and death like this without coming off as over-the-top and preachy, yet Carrie has managed to do so (albeit with a charmingly generous dose of cheesiness). I feel as though readers can relate to the story no matter what stage of their life they are currently living. Even though a major portion of the novel is written from the perspective of an older Evie, I could really relate to the confused and conflicting emotions she experienced as a twenty-something trying to figure her life out. The idea of being able to go back and mend rather than change certain aspects of your life is a really interesting twist on the usual approach to this topic. Though this novel is brimming with magical realism, the important themes it emphasizes are incredibly real and relevant to our actual lives.

On the Other Side ended up being exactly what I imagined it would be: that whimsical, magical, adorable love story that I had hoped for.

But here’s the problem: it wasn’t anything more. 

The writing was okay, but not fantastic. At times the magical elements seemed over-the-top and out-of-place, oddly standing out against an otherwise ordinary background. A handful of scenes had to be reread because I couldn’t tell if they were meant to be figurative or literal (as in, did those pieces of paper really just turn into shards of glass?). Certain plot points felt forced, others illogical, still others as though they could have been expanded or emphasized as more important to the story.

I believe in sharing honest opinions, so that’s what I’m going to do. On the Other Side was okay– good, even– but not great. I turned the last page with a warm and fuzzy feeling in my chest that was tinged with a hint of disappointment. It almost feels as though I should give this work two different ratings: from the perspective of a fan of Carrie in general it was AMAZING, but I simply enjoyed it from a reader’s perspective. I’m proud of Carrie for accomplishing the daunting task of writing and publishing a novel– it just wasn’t the perfect novel for me.

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) 3 out of 5 smileys

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes, especially if they a) are a fan of Carrie Hope Fletcher and/or b) love a good romance story.

I hope this review makes at least an inkling of sense. On the Other Side is a fun, adorable, charming novel that is well worth reading… I was just a teensy bit let down because of all the hype.

What did you think of this novel? Do you watch Carrie’s videos? Let me know in the comments section below!



Bookish, Discussion

How fast do I read? | Discussion

Usually when people realize how many books I read in an average week/month/year, their immediate response is to exclaim: “WOW. You must read really fast.” This remark has always struck me as rather odd because I don’t picture myself as a very fast reader; rather, I’ve always though that the reason I read so much is that I simply spend a lot of time reading. However, recently I watched a video by Ariel Bissett called “Can You Read Faster?” that made me ask myself: How fast do I actually read?

In this video, Ariel embarks on a mini challenge of sorts to increase how many words per minute (wpm) she reads, aided by assorted video tutorials giving tips on how to speed read. Though the prospect of speed reading sounds pretty enticing at times, I’ve always been a bit wary of its impact on how much someone comprehends while reading. Apparently there are ways of improving comprehension levels alongside increasing one’s wpm, which I’m sure involve a great deal of forcing yourself to focus solely on the words on the page rather than thinking of that delicious piece of cake waiting for you at the end of your reading assignment.

(Focus, Holly.)

Anyways, after watching Ariel’s video I decided to try a little experiment of my own. A quick Google search brought me to dozens of websites dedicated to calculating one’s reading speed. I tried the first three that popped up and ended up with 472513, and 507 wpm, which averages out to a solid 497 wpm.  This is obviously just a rough estimate, but considering that the average adult reads around 300 wpm and the average college student reads about 450 wpm, I would say this is a fairly accurate result. A little faster than the average college student, but nothing extraordinary.

So, am I a speed reader like people generally seem to assume that I am? My verdict: nope. Again, I think the reason I’m able to read so many books is that I simply spend more time reading on a regular basis than the average person normally would.

Perhaps I’ll try learning how to speed read in the future (summer break?) but for now I’m happy with my current reading speed. I feel like I strike a good balance between reading briskly enough to make quick progress and reading slowly enough to comprehend the maximum amount of information that I can. Still, there’s no denying that speed reading would be an incredibly valuable skill to have, especially as a college English major.

Do you consider yourself a slow, average, or fast reader? Have you ever tried speed reading before? How many wpm do you read? Let me know in the comments section below!



Bookish, Discussion

Do we prioritize “shareable” reading? | Discussion

As you can probably tell from some of my previous discussion posts, I get a lot of my inspiration from Rosianna Halse Rojas, one of my favorite Youtubers. Early in March she posted a video called “The Currency of Sharing” in which she discusses our frequent desire to share everything we do online. Even more interestingly, she talks about how sometimes we may or may not do things based on whether or not they can be shared. The example she uses is going for a walk. Normally she would use it as an excuse to take a selfie outside, showcasing that she was doing something more adventurous than her average day job; however, on this particular day she decides to take a walk simply for the sake of being outside and getting some exercise.

Her video made me think about our desire to share what we read. This desire is incredibly evident when looking at things like Goodreads and #bookstagram (and even blogs like the one you’re reading right now). Us bibliophiles are constantly sharing what we read with others through quick Twitter updates, Goodreads statuses, longer reviews, etc. I’ve been blogging and using these sites for so long that it’s hard to remember what it was like to not keep others in the loop with what I’m reading.

Sharing what we read certainly has many benefits: it helps build book-loving communities, spreads awareness of great books, and can connect people with new friends, ideas, and perspectives. However, one can’t help but wonder if it also influences and sets limitations on what we read. For example, I’ve found that it’s surprisingly difficult to share the fact that I’ve read certain short stories and poems. There’s no Goodreads entry for individual Shakespeare sonnets or short stories by Kate Chopin.

Does this stop me from reading works that aren’t novels? Do I prioritize “shareable” reading? The unfortunate answer is: yes, occasionally.

Sometimes I feel trapped by the need to write weekly book reviews for my blog, convinced that I can only write reviews of full length novels instead of particular poems and stories. Of course, there’s nothing actually stopping me from reviewing or discussing these shorter works, but something about it just feels strange. Nontraditional. Different. It’s a mindset I hope to change in the near future, starting with a greater variety of reviews and bookish discussions.

What are your thoughts on the way we share what we read? Do you prioritize “shareable” reading? Do you review shorter works like poems and stories? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so please let me know what you think in the comments section below!



Discussion, Video

How Do You Prevent Blogging Burnout? | Discussion

wilberry-15A few months ago Rosianna Halse Rojas created a video called Knowing When To Stop in which she discusses the feeling of not knowing when to stop working and striving to be as productive as possible. As someone who has been thought of as an “overachiever” throughout her entire life, she explains how challenging it can be to hold yourself back from constantly being in overdrive. This inner source of motivation is certainly valuable in terms of work ethic and accomplishing goals; however, there is danger in not knowing when to stop and give yourself a break.

I relate to this video on a personal level in my everyday life so much that it almost feels as though Rosianna has peered through a tiny window into my mind. As a perfectionist, I’m constantly in competition with myself to do more and be better, but eventually this becomes too big a burden to bear. The pressure I place on myself to be as productive as possible and meet my impossibly high standards can be overwhelming at times. There’s this feeling of needing to always live up to incredibly high expectations lest someone expose one’s true identity: that of a normal, average, flawed human being. It’s a vicious cycle that can never be won, for no matter how hard we try it’s obvious that we can never escape the reality that no one is flawless. Still, that truth clearly doesn’t keep us from trying.

It’s no surprise that this mindset has trickled into my blogging life as well. For a while I endeavored to post every single day, which ultimately made blogging feel more like a chore than simply a fun hobby. However, like Rosianna I had a hard time admitting and acknowledging to myself that it was time to scale back and reassess my goals to make them more realistic.

Finding a schedule that works for me (around three posts a week) has been incredibly helpful in reeling in my do-it-all tendencies. Not only does limiting my posts each week ensure that what I’m posting is actually quality content (or at least better than it would be if I was rushing to create seven posts each week), but it also prevents me from developing the dreaded blogger burnout. In high school when I had more time to blog I would frequently feel as though I needed to take breaks or a hiatus and return when blogging no longer felt like a chore. Fortunately, the way my life is now structured in college forces me to step away from blogging each semester due to a lack of free time. As a result, I enter each vacation period feeling refreshed and ready to blog because I haven’t been able to dedicate any significant time to it in months.

Rosianna’s video really resonated with me as it likely does with many other people as well. It’s an important discussion to have, not only with others but also with ourselves. Recognizing and accepting when we need to step back and take some time to relax is a valuable step towards feeling less stressed, more creative, and happier overall.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you also struggle with knowing when to take a break? What are your tips for setting goals that are both challenging and realistic? Have any recommendations of other videos or books about this topic? Let me know in the comments section below!




Musical Mondays: Corey Gray

corey grayCorey Gray is this fantastic singer on Youtube who does covers of songs. As well as singing, he also plays the guitar, piano, drums, etc. His covers are really cool to listen to because a lot of the time he takes faster songs and makes them slower, or takes pop songs and gives them an acoustic twist. He’s a great musician overall, but here’s the real reason behind why I love him so much:

Do you know the song Treasure by Bruno Mars? Well, I may be in the minority here, but I don’t really like that song. Something about it irks me, and I find myself fiddling with the knobs every time it comes on the radio. Corey recently uploaded a cover of this song (click here to watch it) and I listened to it all the way through, captivated. His voice actually made me enjoy listening to a song that I very much disliked before. To men, that takes some serious talent.

Check out Corey’s channel by clicking here to listen to some truly great music. If you like what you hear, he has several albums available for purchase on iTunes. Give him a chance, and you won’t be disappointed! Some of my personal favorites are his covers of:

  • Pumped Up Kicks (feat. Jake Coco)
  • It Girl
  • She Will Be Loved
  • Here Without You
  • Don’t You Worry Child (feat. Jake Coco)

Hope you enjoy his music!



Thoughtful Thursdays

The Tea Chronicles

charlie mcdonnellThe Tea Chronicles is an awesome short film created by Charlie McDonnell. He is one of my favorite Youtubers, and his channel is called charlieissocoollike. The topics of his videos vary widely, however they are always, to quote the Ninth Doctor, fantastic. This short film is witty, clever, suspenseful, and overall very entertaining. Who knew that tea could be so frightening?

Check The Tea Chronicles out, as well as Charlie’s other videos- you won’t be disappointed! To go to his channel, click here.