My most recent reads – Spring 2019

Not quite sure if it really means anything, or actually push me to read more, but I’ve recently updated my GoodReads 2019 reading challenge to try and read 11 books this whole year! 🎉

Obviously, I don’t have the highest expectations of myself, but I thought it was realistic considering half of my year has been finishing University. The GoodReads reading challenge option is really useful as it shows you the percentage you have completed of your ‘challenge’, if you are any books ahead or behind schedule, as well as some recommendations based on what books you’ve managed to read! Have a go at starting your own reading challenge here. They also encourage you to re-read your favourites (still counts as a read) and use audiobooks if that’s what you prefer. 🎧

So what books have I read so far in 2019? Well I won’t bore you with every single one (well there’s only 5 so far, but still), so I thought I’d quickly share the most recent 3 I have finished as well as give you a quick review!

Book # 1 – Pure by Rose Cartwright

I first heard about Rose Cartwright and her OCD story through an article she wrote for The Guardian. Dealing with a recent diagnosis of OCD (a story I may go into another time when I feel more comfortable) myself, I thought picking up her book would be a good idea to get somebody else’s personal insight into living with the disorder and it’s struggles. In this memoir, Rose talks about her ‘Pure O’ OCD in which she experiences intense sexual intrusive thoughts, she discusses how it felt before she even discovered that she had OCD, she discusses countless attempts at therapies and writing her story for the Guardian. Despite me and Rose’s experiences being completely different, there were moments where she’d talk about the anxiety and distress and I would be like ‘oh my god I do that’. It was an incredibly reassuring and emotional read and Rose also pokes in lovely bits of humour and references that made this a very enjoyable memoir read. đŸŒ»

Purchase ‘Pure’ here.

Book #2 – The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

‘The Bell Jar’ is a ‘cult classic’ from the 60’s that I hadn’t even considered picking up until this year. I have enjoyed Plath’s poetry before but randomly after spotting it in my University library, I decided to try the first chapter and I honestly could not put it down. It is said that the main protagonist Esther may be a ‘self-insert’ for Sylvia Plath, as Plath suffered with quite severe depression much like Esther did. When I read this, I enjoyed Esther’s first-person narrative incredibly because she showed such a blunt and realistic representation of how depression feels inside and on the outside. How frustrating it can feel when others do not understand how you feel. I would definitely recommend this to anybody, although the second half of the book has quite a lot of mention and scenes of suicide attempts and self-harm so it might be a bit intense for some readers.

Purchase ‘The Bell Jar’ here.

Book # 3 – You by Caroline Kepnes

This book literally left me sat up at night going ‘what the f*ck?’ but in a slightly good way. You (😉) have probably heard of ‘You’ if you have a Netflix account; recently a 10 episode series was released following a similar story to the book. If you haven’t watched the show – ‘You’ follows the first person narrative of bookstore manager Joe Goldberg. Joe claims he’s a big romantic and wants to do anything for the woman he loves. This not-so-lucky woman is called Beck. What Beck doesn’t know is Joe is willing to do anything. Even murder. She also doesn’t know that their future ‘coincidental meetings’ are completely manipulated and planned by Joe. Reading this book was so strange and creepy since everything is from Joe’s point of view. He believes everything he is doing – stalking, manipulating, stealing – is completely right. I did enjoy the book and got through it quite quickly but there were some parts that I just felt were too unnecessarily vulgar and didn’t make sense. Why you gotta bring Ben & Jerry’s into a scene like that?!đŸ˜· (People who finished the book will know!)

Purchase ‘You’ here.

So that’s the most recent books I’ve been reading. I have recently started ‘The Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled‘ by Ruby Wax that I am half way through and I also have ‘The Binding‘ by Bridget Collins on my TBR pile. Do you want to keep track of what books you have read or want to read? I highly recommend signing up for a GoodReads account. 📚

Feel free to share what books you’ve been reading in the comments below! I’d love to hear.

Thanks for reading,

The little things of 2019 so far (Jan/Feb)

I might not express it too eloquently or obviously but deep down I am one of those people who tries their best to see the beauty in a lot of things and also gets easily excited and cheered up by little things. Whether it be seeing a cute dog when out and about or if the sunset looks really pretty that particular day. Although I suffer from low moods and mental health struggles, which I’m not really going to go into on this post, I do find a lot of things make me happy and cheer me up. One of my personal ‘new year’ resolutions coming into 2019 was to try and buy less and curb my habit of impulsive purchasing, purchasing things I don’t necessarily need and also just buying stuff for the concept of ‘cheering me up’. Although I am a big advocate of ‘treating yourself’, I want to recognise it more as treating yourself in a way that looks after my physical health and mental health first before you know, buying more clothes or something.

This post is going to be some of the things I’ve experienced over the first two months of 2019 that have made me happy, excited me or just cheered me up. You could call it another favourites post if you will. This is not to say I haven’t bought new things or given into that consumerist addiction yet in 2019 because we all fall of the horse sometimes. But this post and future ‘favourite’ posts I’m going to try and revolve them around experiences and habits instead of products.

Switching to loose-leaf tea

My first habit that I’m so glad I’ve brought into my life has to be loose-leaf tea. Now I’ve not managed to empty all my tea boxes I have sitting around both my student house and parents (I like tea ok?!), but I have managed to switch from using everyday breakfast teabags (my old reliable had to be PG Tips or Yorkshire Tea) to instead using loose leaf breakfast tea with a strainer. My main reason for trying to incorporate this switch was to be more eco-friendly. A lot of big brand teabags contain ‘polypropylene’ which is a sealing plastic, so even when you chuck your used teabag in the compost heap or food waste bin – it won’t all be broken down, thus contributing to plastic waste. Although there are some great brands who are making decisions to eradicate plastic from their teabags, I just thought it’d be nice overall to try the traditional leaves and straining. I bought my tea strainer and a bag of gorgeous Everyday Breakfast Brew tea from TeaPigs. Their teas are lovely, and I definitely recommend the switch! It barely changes the taste and it’s a good switch if you want to be a little more eco-conscious!

Next up I’d like to talk about a book I recently finished! My partner is a massive fan of the Cassandra Clare ‘Mortal Instruments‘ book series (most people would know it as the books Freeform TV series Shadowhunters is based off) and he has been very persistent throughout our relationship on getting me to start the book series; he gifted me the first book a while back for my birthday I believe and then gifted me the second one when I had gotten half way through the first book. I managed to finally finish book one, City of Bones, last winter and really enjoyed it! Last week whilst feeling quite under the weather I got around to completing book number two – City of Ashes.

Finishing City of Ashes

Although I have some points I could criticize about the Mortal Instruments stories, I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy City of Ashes. Cassandra Clare does an amazing job of describing the scenes and world inside her stories. Everything she brings to the supernatural world in the Mortal Instruments seems very well researched and is then described beautifully. I enjoyed the main protagonist, Clary Fray, a bit more in this book than I did the first one and I’m glad this second book gave more depth to other characters such as Alec Lightwood and Simon Lewis. If you are a big fan of young adult supernatural book series or perhaps enjoy TV series like Teen Wolf, The Vampire Diaries or even the actual Shadowhunters TV show then definitely consider giving this book series a read.

Lastly, I struggled when thinking of what this ‘nice thing’ should be for my last favourite experience of the past two months. I wanted to add something that might be relevant or relatable to other people, but I also wanted to be honest. My last thing would have to be handing in my dissertation (Sad, I know.)

Handing in my dissertation

The experience of planning, researching and writing this dissertation was stressful. I had weeks where I was scared I’d never finish it. I had times where I’d pick up a book to read and assist my research and it just felt like all the information was jumbled up mush on the page that I couldn’t understand. When my mental health was bad, I felt like giving up – emailing my tutors saying doing this was a mistake and that I wasn’t cut out for it. But when I came out the other end and managed to complete it and hand it in. I was so happy with myself, I was unapologetically proud of myself. This was a bloody lovely feeling.

Removed my university logo for privacy reasons – that’s why it looks a tad weird!

My dissertation was essentially using corpus linguistics to explore the themes in children’s literature over history – so I was looking at traditional 19th century fairy tales and then looking at modern/recently published children’s literature like Jacqueline Wilson’s books. Because I picked a topic that was dear to my heart and interests sometimes I found doing the primary research weirdly fun. Would I offer to optionally write a dissertation again? Probably not. But did I enjoy the process of writing this one and do I buzz with excitement every time I look at my bounded copy? Yes.

Although I’ve had some weeks of pure stress where I’m worried that the anxiety and low mood are being clear indicators of what 2019 is going to be like for me. I’ve actually seen a lot of positive changes and experienced a lot of lovely feelings so far going into the last part of the winter. I’m excited to take on the Spring and possibly have new experiences or see better lifestyle changes in my day-to-day that I can share with you soon! What kind of positive changes have you made so far in 2019 and what little things have made you smile? Feel free to share in the comments.

Thank you for reading,

Header image: rawpixel on Unsplash

September reading goals and blog rambles

According to WordPress today is my 3 year anniversary of blogging! It’s so weird to think about how many blog posts I’ve done, how much work I’ve put into it or things that have gone well for me because of it. It’s almost ironic that the past few months I’ve felt incredibly down and stuck when it comes to my blog – honestly some days I can’t even find the motivation to do a blog post because I don’t think people will read it or I’m struggling to find the topic to write about. Some times I want to write personal posts – I want to share with the lovely people who continue to read my posts and support me stuff that is strange, sweet or a struggle in my life. I want to talk more about mental health or university/work struggles and break any stigma about discussing depression, anxiety and such. I want to talk about what it’s like to have a hearing disability or how I felt at 3am last Tuesday when I couldn’t sleep and the shadow of my coat hanging up in my room looked more like a ghoul than usual.

I want to help people, advise people, I want to talk about my experiences in hope people might relate or find hope or inspiration. But then I feel ‘god, who wants to hear me rant and ramble on about my life?!’ and I consider taking my blog in a direction of it being like a service to people. Reviews, tips and tricks and general advice about simple things that most people have covered before. But it just feels so not-me. So commercialized and through that I lose my real writing voice. I feel I’m focusing more on ‘will my friends share this on facebook?! will this get me noticed by a company?! will this get lots of views?!’ instead of ‘did I enjoy writing this? did I put my heart and soul into this? would I enjoy reading this if it was someone else?’, which at the end of the day is what matters more and the blog posts that come from me wanting to be genuine and the writing that comes from my rambling heart tend to be the posts I have more pride in.

Does this mean I won’t write reviews or tip posts again? As you can see by this title obviously not. When I say I love helping people or advising people, I take that in every aspect of life. If someone even tries a new flavour of tea or watches 5 minutes of a TV show because I suggested it, it makes me smile. Much like if I can make someone laugh after they’ve had the most horrible day at work or if I can let somebody rest by helping them with the washing up or a chore I feel better about myself and feel a lot happier. Whenever anyone even says they like my writing or enjoy reading it – that makes my heart soar. So when I combine advice and writing it’s almost like a very small, itsy-bitsy bit of therapy.

So today I thought I’d share 3 books I’m planning to read and complete by hopefully the end of September and the themes of these books are to help me better myself, help me in a dark mental health time and just in general cheer me up. Reading is beneficial, no matter whether it’s fiction, a self-help book or a picture book.

The first one in my list is ‘How to be a Better Person’ by Kate Hanley. This adorable little book shares 401 simple ways to help you become a better and kinder person as well as make a positive impact on the people around you. Although sometimes these books can feel like you’ve paid money to read something you already knew, the real trick is taking in everything you can from these simple tips. Sure, of course it suggests being more interactive with nature – but this book helps you recognise why this will make you feel better and make you more mindful and present and why simple things like drinking more water, getting better sleep, complimenting people more, smiling at strangers etc. will benefit you and make you a more positive, approachable person in the long run.

betterpersonbook

Second is a fiction YA novel I bought a while back that I’m going to try to finally get round to reading this upcoming month and I’m holding out that it’s going to be a book that’ll make me feel good and keep me immersed in a fictional world whenever I need a bit of a distraction and break from real life. ‘Ramona Blue’ by Julie Murphy is a young adult novel that is a story about friendship, growing up, sexuality and family. I’m excited to read this since the description implies a discussion about possibly bisexuality and how sexuality is fluid and I’m really looking forward to discovering Ramona as a character since I’ve found it hard to find books with female bisexual characters (I’m probably not looking hard enough – would love some recommendations!). A lot of people on GoodReads have said that parts of this book stayed with them after finishing it so I’m very excited to have that feeling of absolute amazement and generally be dumbfounded and emotional after finishing a good book because I predict it will happen with this one!

ramonablue.png

The final book in my little pile is a book by an author I’ve been following on social media for a while and for ages kept meaning to pick up one of his books and finally I’ve managed to pick up ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’. This memoir is by the amazingly talented Matt Haig and I’ve heard so many positive comments about this book and his other things so I’m very much ready to curl up and read this one. ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ is Haig’s story of dealing with depression and mental illness and how different it can be for everyone but also the tale of how he survived and overcame some of his lowest points in life. I feel this is a book I really need right now as I am at a point in my life where my mood is fluctuating constantly but when I’m down, I’m very heavily down almost like I’m stuck in a well and somebody’s covered up the hole so I’m alone in pitch darkness. I feel ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ is going to help me find something to relate to amidst the stress of starting back at University and other things and I am so excited to start it.

reasonstostay.png

Although most of my reading these upcoming months should mainly be dissertation related I thought I’d share these so you guys could have an insight to what book reviews might be coming up, plus I would always love to hear what people are reading at the moment or have on their to read list! Sometimes when mental illness is being a bit crap, it helps to push yourself to do a hobby you love (in my case reading and writing) despite how much you want to give up and how you feel you are losing hope. I’ve chosen these books this month because I think they’re good choices if you need a little bit of pick me up or something to reignite that spark of hope in you.

Thank you for reading,

signaturejune18

‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda’ by Becky Albertalli: Book Review

One of my favourite feelings is when you’ve been non-stop reading a book for hours in one day and finally finishing it at god knows what time in the morning and having that feeling of fulfillment and excitement to share how good it was with people. I had that last night with Becky Albertalli’s ‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda’. It’s a wholesome, funny tale of accepting yourself and falling in love with who you love no matter what. It’s a book for LGBT youth with a happy ending and adorable tidbits to give a feeling of hope.

The story follows seventeen year old Simon Spier who is gay, but isn’t open and not quite ready to come out yet. He lives a very chilled and fun life with a dorky but caring family, supportive, funny best friends and has recently started talking to a guy who is also gay going by the anonymous alias ‘Blue’. The novel shares each email conversation between Blue and Simon (who is also anonymously going by ‘Jacques’) as the story develops and reading Blue and Simon share their favourite food, favourite songs, little memories from their life and how each of them feel about coming out and being gay just put a smile on my face each time because seeing them fall in love and seeing Simon find someone he feels so comfortable with and someone who inspires him to come out was just lovely and precious.

Compared to the film (Love, Simon – which I also recommend watching as it was one of my favourite films of this year!), the book has a lot less ‘drama’ moments and focuses more on Simon’s feelings and him trying to figure out who Blue is. Without spoiling anything, in general Simon’s friends are a lot more accepting and understanding of how Simon acts when he is blackmailed. In the film I found myself angry at his friends for being so selfish and not taking a minute to think of how much of a big deal it was for Simon to have his emails between Blue under blackmail. ‘Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda’ discusses the topic of coming out and the ‘ceremonial feeling’ of it often and points out the unfair fact that ‘straight’ is seen as the default or the sexuality everybody has until said otherwise and that straight people will never have to come out or worry about people’s reactions when it comes to bringing an opposite sex partner home. Blue also points out the fact that ‘white’ is seen as a default too which is another very interesting point and even Simon corrects himself and takes responsibility for instantly believing Blue could be a white person. The book raises important discussions which I really appreciated and I have to hand Becky Albertalli a lot of credit for being very observant on LGBT topics.

Another interesting point to think about when reading is that Simon is very lucky to have probably the more ‘easy’ end of coming out. His family is already very liberal, his friends instantly accept his sexuality and even when he is teased in school when his sexuality is revealed a lot of classmates are quick to defend him and his teacher ensures the suspension of the homophobic perpetrators. Although reading his coming out story might be a bit of a slap in the face or a bit of a strain on the heart for LGBT people whose family didn’t readily accept them or their coming out story was a lot more stressful, I think the story in itself is very hopeful and heart warming and hopefully is a reminder that good people are out there with open minds and open arms.

The story itself is very adorably written. Simon is instantly lovable with his obsession of Oreos, his sarkiness and slightly moody music taste. His friends and family are also very lovely although in comparison to the film I didn’t like Leah as much in the book as I did the film. I’m hoping reading Albertalli’s next book ‘Leah on the Offbeat’ will clear up some things for me. I really enjoyed how much music came in to play in Simon’s story because I feel people’s playlists can really let you inadvertently know a lot about how the character feels and views themselves or people around them. The soundtrack for the film was already incredible but I really loved taking songs and musicians mentioned in the book and listening to them whilst I read it really gave the whole reading of this book a new, wholesome atmosphere.

There was so many incredibly adorable and funny moments in this book but I don’t want to spoil too much so all I can say is that I highly recommend you read this book! It’s quite a quick read (especially if you find yourself lost in it like I did) but it’s such a feel good book and such a lovely read that I give it a 5/5!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Thanks for reading,

signaturejune18

‘Alice’ by Christina Henry: Book Review

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by L.Carroll is a story popular for being retold, adapted and used as an inspiration for new projects. The list for film and television programmes based on Alice in Wonderland is big enough to have its own Wikipedia page, the novel has been adapted into musical/stage productions and has even inspired stories and characters in video games. However, another common thing artists and writers take from Alice in Wonderland is twisting it and creating a dark retelling of the tale of the girl falling down the rabbit hole. ‘Alice’ by Christina Henry isn’t the first ‘dark’ and ‘edgy’ retelling of Alice in Wonderland I have come across, as the first one is actually PS3/PC and Xbox 360 game Alice: Madness Returns. A game I actually quite enjoyed growing up!

‘Alice’ the 2015 novel by Christina Henry also almost brought that excitement back to me but this time in written form. Now I will say my first write-up of this and the feelings I had when I finished the book was very similar to how I finish most books which are excited and feeling accomplished! I wrote down how much I adored this retelling and that even though it was disturbing it felt like it succeeded in making a point about the dark topics used. But now I’ve sat back and thought about it, I thought I’d share my honest, spoiler-free review of ‘Alice’.

What I did enjoy about this book is that I enjoyed the inverted characters, I really loved seeing Henry’s dark portrayals of originally beloved characters from the books but this time they’d be antagonists and have very dark, irredeemable pasts. Objects and tropes from the original tale made appearances too such as the ‘Eat Me!’ cupcake and ‘Drink Me!’ bottle, the roses and the tea party. But, this time everything had such a darker symbolism and it was quite clever how Christina had changed this. Even after finishing I’m recalling characters and realising their reference to the original story and being quite intrigued. The story itself played out almost like an RPG, in which there was ‘bosses’ and big bads one after the other, the main characters stopping for rest and food and the main character herself having a power she didn’t even realise she had. I didn’t mind reading it this way and actually quite enjoyed it, I liked imagining in my head what Old City was like and enjoyed that some of the names of places and areas called back to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and if they didn’t (or I couldn’t get the reference) they still brought personality to the world.

However, my biggest gripe with the story is that there was way too much sexual violence. I get this was meant to be a mature, disturbing retelling where there will be horror, gore and blood and I could get behind that and in some novels and stories I can understand why rape, abuse and violence comes up and if the victims manage to get a happy ending, revenge and the story emphasizes how horrible it is, I can normally accept a story having it. What I think went wrong in ‘Alice’ however is, although the story is clear the trade of young girls for sexual purposes or being eaten is horrific and the men that puppeteer this need to be punished, the way it’s written feels like they tried to emphasize how horrible it is by making it happen so often, by describing Alice’s trauma in detail, and having every female in the story basically either terrified of being raped or had been. Even then, I personally felt the final fights with the main antagonists that were rapists or allowing this violence and abuse were so anti-climatic that there was no justice? There was a scene of freeing a bunch of girls from the horrible trade and I was grateful for that scene but it’s almost as if the original plot had one antagonist in mind and then it was said the story was not brutal enough or ‘real world dark’ enough so they added in all this sexual violence?

Personally, I found myself gripped to parts of this book and did want to find out the outcome of every character and felt myself wanting Alice to get revenge and justice not just for herself but for all the females in the story. I did also find myself quite wanting to read the sequel book (Red Queen -and pray that hopefully the level of sexual violence is remarkably toned down) just so I can find out what happens next in the story.

I’d rate ‘Alice’ about a 2.5 of 5 as it has some cool fantasy ideas and I could somehow picture it in a film or video game but after sitting back I do see the flaws in how parts of it were written. Shock value is popular for a reason, popular media like Game of Thrones is widely watched and read for a reason and I feel the reason is purely that people are so shocked and astonished by what characters do and think it’s so out of the blue (and normally it is, sometimes very out of character) that they must finish it to find out what happens! I definitely succumbed to that reading this. I enjoyed parts of it but in general was very much turned off by the use of sexual violence and rape as shock value. Would I like to read any of the other stories by Christina Henry such as Lost Boy? Possibly. But ‘Alice’ in itself is a story not for everyone.

Photo 26-07-2018, 15 14 49

Thank you for reading!

signaturejune18

How I got the motivation back for reading and writing

Long time, no blog!

Two days ago it was my 22nd birthday! It’s mad to think when I started writing this blog I was only 19 and still in the midst of figuring out if I wanted to go to University or carry on looking for full-time jobs, I remember being in the struggle of being made redundant from a dodgy apprenticeship company and just about finding what I loved to do – which is writing. So much has changed and I have changed a lot since being a teenager but I still sometimes feel like my 19-year-old self. However, I’m glad that writing and reading have become such a big passion in my life now whilst being in my early twenties (what a scary sentence to say!) and I feel it’s something that relaxes me and motivates me.

Obviously going back to University and especially doing a course that revolves around language and literature helped me get back motivation in reading and writing, but I definitely don’t find myself reading non-ficiton and textbooks for fun and I do still dread coursework and essays and procrastinate. But now I find that reading regularly definitely improves my concentration and even my writing skills. Last Winter, I got a wonderful opportunity to write poems for a University exhibition and in one of my modules I had to write so many words of my own contemporary novel – when I took the drafts to my tutor to get the feedback he told me my writing has improved massively since my first year and I definitely think reading has helped without me even realising!

I’d recommend keeping track of what books you have enjoyed and read too so you can look back and remember the stories and how they made you feel. I use a GoodReads account to keep track of the books I’ve read but also love posting them on my Instagram and sharing little reviews of what I thought! I’d also recommend maybe trying beloved classics or new genres to mix it up and surprise yourself! Last year I made a start on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and ended up falling in love with it and starting my own little Austen collection which I hope to get through this year! I’m currently in the middle of Emma and have a weird adoration for how Austen writes.

Photo 23-03-2018, 20 39 57.png

When it comes to writing and studying, I definitely feel setting up your own little study area in your house or keeping your notes colourful and interesting! For a while, I’ve been absolutely obsessed with a theme on Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest called ‘studyspo’ (Study Inspiration). People post their notes, diaries, bullet journals, desk setups and the different techniques they’ve used and it’s just really motivating because I look at them and think ‘Wow I wish I had my stuff all together like theirs!’. You don’t even need to have the high-end stuff they may have, simply getting cheap colourful fine-liners, highlighters, a pen and a cute notebook and you can transform your boring notes to something you have interest in and keeps in your memory. Another tip that goes hand in hand with that is definitely taking notes by hand. It’s been said that writing your notes by hand and paraphrasing them in your own words helps facts and information stick in your brain a lot faster than typing them up. I personally like to try and scribble down all my notes in class or downloading what tutors have put up on the student access site (e.g Blackboard) and making time to carefully rephrase and write them out again in a cute notebook with pretty handwriting so I can spend more time taking it in.

Photo 23-03-2018, 20 43 31.png

Finally, I started my own bullet journal this year. I tried a little one last year and decided to take the plunge and get a gorgeous hardback notebook in London which I have made my bullet journal. These are great because you can design them how you want, make the spreads whatever you want and cater it to you and your priorities. In mine so far, as well as typical weekly diary spreads, I have made pages to remind me what books and films I’d like to discover this year, a calendar where I can colour each day in to match my mood so I can keep track of it and even a pretty page for my dungeons and dragons character! So many people have gotten into this and you can get inspiration off youtube, pinterest and instagram!

Photo 23-03-2018, 20 42 10.png

Photo 23-03-2018, 20 42 33.png

I hope you enjoyed this and that it may even give you a bit of inspiration! I may in the future share some of my favourite Instagram handles and Pinterest boards I’ve made that have inspired me and motivated me!

Thank you for reading,

signaturejune18

Books I read in 2017

Happy 2018!

I say, 20 days late! 2017 was a year of up and downs for me; majority of it was the rest of my first year at University, as well as studying I also took part in two performances with my university’s theatre company, visited Dublin and Prestatyn, went to concerts, went to my first Pride festival and lots of other happy memories. One thing I was particularly proud of in 2017 was how many books I managed to read. I’ve always loved reading since I was tiny but during high school and afterwards, I drifted away from reading as a hobby and always struggled to try to find the time and the motivation to sit down and concentrate on a book. Luckily this year, the motivation and drive suddenly came back to me and I fell back in love with reading, bookshops, libraries and literature all over again and I am so thankful for it. Unfortunately, a downside of last year is I neglected my blog massively, which I blame partly on trying to focus on University and get used to the new routine and also blame on just laziness in general but I did manage to crack out two book reviews on my blog last year! You can read them here and here!

I thought I’d share some of the books I managed to read last year and what I thought of them, as well as talk about books I plan to read this year and ones I’d like to read! This list is in no particular order and not in any particular ‘rating’ and doesn’t include every book that I read this year:

  1. Too Close to Home by Aoife Walsh

Photo 20-01-2018, 16 29 19

Ironically I first mentioned this book back in a blog post in February 2016! Only took me until October 2017 to finish it! I still stand by my original thoughts that Aoife’s novel reminds me of coming of age/YA stories like Ally’s World, which I used to read back in year 7 and 8. It tells the story of Minny who lives in a big, confusing family – where the father and mother are separated and Minny feels like she has to also help take care of her younger sister, baby brother and older sister Aisling who is autistic. I also enjoyed this book because I personally felt Aoife wrote an autistic character well and didn’t draw unnatural attention to how Aisling acted in situations and such. The novel also has typical YA novel topics like family problems, crushes and bullying. Overall I did quite enjoy it, I’m not in any rush to reread it and you can definitely tell it is a young adult novel – but I still enjoyed it and I’m very glad I finally finished it!

2. We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

After finishing this novel I was completely enamoured by it and the concepts discussed/implied in the story. Not spoiling any twists or big plot points but the story eventually brings up the question of humanity in animals, specifically primates and if they can remember family and if similar bonds between family members can be shown between a human and primate. The story was so surprising and different to other books I have read that once I hit a particular chapter or point in the book where a lot of things became revealed, I found myself glued to the book – not wanting to put it down. I’d love to read another book of Karen Joy Fowler’s as this novel is probably the book of 2017 that brought me back into reading regularly.

3. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Photo 20-01-2018, 16 29 11

I now actually claim this novel as my favourite book, that is how much I enjoyed it. Not only that, I absolutely adore Ishiguro’s style of writing and when I found out that he had won the Nobel prize in Literature I was so proud to be a fan of his work because he is so talented and definitely deserves the prize. I went into detail about Never Let Me Go on a previous review on my blog, but let me tell you – this book has such a natural, raw narration from the main character that you find emotions hitting you for hours after you’ve finished the story.

4. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

The Shock of the Fall was included on one of my University module reading lists, and that is actually how I ended up reading it but the story was so real and impactful that I ended up sitting for hours not putting my kindle down because I needed to know what happened. I will warn that the story’s themes largely include mental health, schizophrenia, depression, suicide and death. The main protagonist had his flaws and parts of him that you’d find yourself reading and wanting to argue or yell at him but other times you’d pity him. In some parts of the novel, I found myself getting goosebumps because of how blunt and honest the character was and how dark the story could get. But I felt this was good writing because it didn’t romanticize mental health disorders, it didn’t paint them as something that one day would be magically cured, it showed how bleak it could be. That it could happen to anyone, that the symptoms can be far and near from what people expect. In general, I definitely recommend this book because it is so powerful and so well written.

I’m currently trying to power through Jane Austen’s Emma. I do love Austen’s stories and her writing, but sometimes when I’m tired it does take a couple of going over the same paragraph again to try and take in what happened in the scene and sometimes I mix characters up – but I am enjoying it and plan to finish it! Other books I have in my book box ready to read include

  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  • Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
  • Georgia, Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
  • Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
  • City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  • Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher

Photo 20-01-2018 16 30 32

So wish me luck! Hopefully I can read way more books this year than I did last! Feel free to share what books you loved in 2017, or any 2018 releases you are looking forward to!

I am also on GoodReads if you’d like to give me a follow!

Thanks for reading,

signaturejune18