Enjoying Writing Again

Enjoying Writing Again

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll have noticed I didn’t post much in July…in fact I only posted 3 times. I got to a point where I felt like the blog was another pressure in my life, another thing I needed to do and that’s not what this blog is about.

My blog has always just been a place where I can write, get ideas down and create something that I’m proud of. So when it stopped being fun I took a step back. For me, there was never a question of me getting back to it but I didn’t know when. I thought maybe I’d take until September because I was just so overwhelmed and struggling with my mental health.

That is until today, when I could feel my fingers itching to get to the keyboard and write about things. I could feel ideas for posts forming in my brain without it feeling like a colossal effort. Despite the fact I’m absolutely exhausted today (gym workout felt great yesterday, less so today) I wanted to write again. Yippie!

So, I’m not planning on putting pressure on myself to post a certain number of times a week at the moment, or on the views because, really does it matter? I blog mostly for me, to write, to get better at my craft etc. I don’t rely on this blog for my income, it’s not something I have to do so I’m going to get back to writing what I want again…I hope you enjoy it!

It’s good to be back.

Heading To The Aisle: 6 Months To Go & Planning During A Pandemic

Heading To The Aisle: 6 Months To Go & Planning During A Pandemic

Today marks 6 months until my wedding day! After being together for 12 years and being engaged for over a year getting to the 6 month mark is exciting!

So, where are we at? Luckily I booked a lot before we went into lockdown in March. I still have a fair bit to sort flowers, suits for the men, food options etc. People have asked me if it’s still going ahead, while I’m anxious about what will happen in January we’re planning as if everything is going ahead.

During the lockdown and covid I have felt a little disheartened. There are things that I always thought would be part of my countdown experience that I won’t get. In light of everything going on in the world they seem so small and insignificant but I won’t get them back.

I planned to take my sister to pick up my dress with me as she couldn’t go when I tried them on, possibly my Nanna too. I’m only allowed one person to go and pick up my dress next month (yes, it’s 4 months earlier than we anticipated!) which is my Mum. So there’s a little bit of bittersweet there as well.

Unlike most people, I also had a few different Hen Do celebrations planned. A trip to Disneyland Paris with my Mum, Sister and one of my best friends has been postponed to after the wedding. My big Hen Do that I know nothing about other than the fact it’s in London in October is being planned to go ahead. The final one, a meal with those who couldn’t or didn’t want to come to London is a quiet meal that I hope can still happen.

That said, I know that in the grand scheme of things I’m lucky. There’s still enough time between now and January that it can still go ahead as we planned. I’m trying not to think too much or get too wrapped up in the ‘what ifs’ – it’s bloody hard. I’m sending all the love to brides who have had to postpone.

So, 6 months to go and fingers crossed we’ll be in a much better situation then. If I’m honest the most important part is marrying the man I love. The party part is just a bonus to me. I just want us to be married.

What I Read In May And June 2020

Am I posting this in the middle of July, yes, yes I am.

After April’s mammoth reading month which featured a part 1 and part 2 wrap up because there were so many books, it felt like I read hardly anything in May and June.

It turns out I was wrong, while I did dip into a lot of shorter reads I’m pleased to say that there was a good mix. I also managed a good number of LGBTQ books in May and June and while the original TBR didn’t happen (surprise, surprise) I will carry on in the coming months.

Let’s get into the books!

I finished ‘I Will Not Be Erased” Our Stories About Growing-Up As People Of Colour by Gal-dem at the beginning of the month. This was a collection of work by people of colour and I learnt a lot about things that I couldn’t experience myself. I’d highly recommend it which is why it was a 5 star read for me.

I was given A Quick & Easy Guide To Consent to review via NetGally and this one wasn’t really for me. I’m not sure if it is aimed at younger readers but it came across as a little bit patronising.

So, Clap When You Land is one of my favourite books of the year so far, I’m almost certain that it will be in my top ten. Beautifully written with a plot that I just couldn’t put down. 5 stars and I’m recommending it to everyone.

I read my second Nina LaCour book, Hold Still and I think I liked it just as much if not more than We Are Okay. It follows Caitlin as she tries to navigate life without her best friend, who she recently lost to suicide. The way LaCour writes is magical and I adore it. Another 5 star read.

I finally got around to reading Nimona and what took me so damn long?! I laughed out loud reading but this graphic novel also has a lot of heart. I got a little emotional at the end as well. Again we have a 5 star read – I know it was a bloody good few months.

I got an early copy of Frankie Comics by Rachel Dukes via NetGalley. This is a must for any cat owner it’s absolutely adorable and I just fell in love with the cuteness of it all.

I really loved The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary last year, it was sweet, funny and really well narrated. So of course I wanted to read her next novel The Switch (and I’ve already added her third to my TBR), I listened to it on Audible as I did the first book and it was equally sweet. You don’t often get perspectives from peoples nans but I really loved it – Eileen was my favourite. 4.5 starts for me.

What Would Boudicca Do was one I’d had for a while and wanted to give a chance to. While I did find out about interesting women it wasn’t for me. It felt like it was trying too hard to be cool and down with the kids. I did finish it but put it into the donate pile. 3 stars for me.

I’ve not read a Monica Hesse book before and thought this would be a good one to start with. They Went Left follows a young woman after she is liberated by a concentration camp and the search for her brother. I appreciated this novel and the story it was telling but the ending really bothered me. That’s all I can say and this was a 3 star read for me.

Read With Pride is the second book in the Paper And Hearts Society series by the lovely Lucy Powrie. This follows Olivia and her fight after her school tries to make it impossible to take out books with LGBTQ characters while at the same time trying to do her best in exams, see her girlfriend and friends… A 4 star read for me!

Another book I’ve been meaning to get to since it came out was The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven who also wrote one of my favourite YA books The Exact Opposite of Okay . A novel about a teen who wants to work out love and will experiment to work out the one formulae she hasn’t cracked so far. This was a strange one that I wasn’t sure of at first but by the end I was crying tears of joy.

If you’re looking for a cute graphic novel with beautiful artwork then do yourself a favour and read Bloom. I read this in record time, sent a message to my friend and they also read it super quickly. It felt so real and also so sweet. 5 stars, of course!

I Moved To Los Angeles To Work In Animation was recommended to me on Scribd and it was well worth it. I enjoyed the illustration, the honesty that Natalie shares and that she also adds in thoughts from other people who work in animation. A great book for people who are interested in Animation and those interested in memoirs – 4 stars.

I haven’t read any Jackie Kay before but have heard about her before. Bantam was one that didn’t quite work for me as it didn’t seem to flow in a way I could appreciate. Also I find it difficult to read accents, particularly in poetry as there is less time to get used to them. Not memorable for me so a 2 star.

I listened to All Boys Aren’t Blue after seeing it raved about everywhere. I’m not sure if it was just the audiobook but I found it a little disjointed. I did, however, learn a lot about growing up black and queer in the US – something I know little about. Overall a 3 star read for me.

Love On The Main Stage by S.A. Domingo was sent to me for review by the publisher and this is an adorable YA novel that is perfect for the summer. It follows sixteen year old Nova as she works the festival circuit during the summer on her family’s food truck. She then meets Sam, a cute American and romance ensues… A 4 star read!

I’ve waiting for Happily Ever After & Everything In Between by Debbie Tung to come out on Scribd and I was not disappointed. This is such a sweet collection and one that I could relate to again. And that ending!!! 5 stars from me.

And there we have it! Are there any you want to read or have read? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review: The Eve Illusion – Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

As we’re thrown back into the world of Eve, the first girl born in 50 years things are about to get dark. This will contain spoilers for the first book (review here) so if you haven’t read it yet pop back later! 

It might just be that I haven’t read the first book in a long time but this definitely felt darker and earned its place as a dystopian book in my opinion. With new technology, a few big twists and a plot that meant I could not put the book down for the life of me. 

When starting the book I was a little lost, but thankfully the end of book one is recapped in an interesting way, from a different perspective which allowed me to remember where we left off and who was who. I didn’t realise that the first book came out 2 years ago – no wonder I felt like it had been a while. 

That said once I’d caught up that was it. It was also great to find out more about the world that Eve had been shielded from and what the reality was outside her own paradise. I had chills while reading this. 

While I can’t say much about it, because I wouldn’t ruin a book like that, the ending is incredible. I did wonder about it a little earlier on but once it happened I was full of intrigue and excitement. That is how you write a cliff hanger, the Fletcher’s have got it spot on. 

This is easily my favourite sequel of the year so far and deserves all the praise. A 5 star read and I’ll be eagerly anticipating book 3, which according to the internet is supposed to come out in 2021 – I will be keeping everything crossed. 

Thank you to the publisher, authors and Netgalley for a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

5 Things You Might Not Realise When You Start Therapy

5 Things You Might Not Realise When You Start Therapy

I’ve mentioned on my social media that I started therapy this year. I’d been on the waiting list for 11 months so I’d had a lot of time to think (read worry) about what was going to happen, if it was going to work, if it would ever happen.

Then I started and while I’m not going to go into detail, because therapy is private, I have had some realisations about therapy that I didn’t know I would. I’ve heard from a number of you guys about your own mental health, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learnt.

More people than you think will have gone through similar feelings

I was really open about going to therapy and so many people surprised me with their own stories. I was shocked by the number of people who had been to therapy, were currently going or hoping to start soon.

It was a real reminder that no matter how much our brains make us feel like we’re completely alone, we’re not.

You may turn into a human tap

I cried, oh man I cried. Not even about the things I was talking through. I’d watch a cute video about animal friends on Facebook and start blubbing like a baby.

After my first 2 sessions in particular I just kept crying. I think this is down to the fact that some of the things I’ve been going through I haven’t dealt with, I’ve pushed it aside because I didn’t have time to fall apart – shit needed to get done.

So, lifting the lid in the first session just opened up the part of my brain that makes the tears come. That was not so fun.

You can feel both heavier and lighter at the same time

This is a weird one to write about and to describe. In on sense just being able to talk about things makes me feel lighter. On the flip side after the sessions I was incredibly tired and my body felt heavy…hopefully that makes sense.

There may be trauma that you haven’t processed

Oof this is something that hit me harder than I thought. We realised in the first few sessions that a lot of what was going on was linked to the accident I had where I broke my spine and after.

Going back about 5 years and working through it is a lot but I’m glad I can finally deal with it.

You’re going to be ok

It might take a while, but you really, really will.

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2020

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2020

Well, what a reading year so far! At the time of writing this post I have read a total of 72 books…I’m pretty sure that’s the most books I’ve ever consumed in 6 months.

While I set my goal at 100 books, I’m pretty sure that I will hit at least 120, if not more. So while I’m not freaking out I am excited to look back at the books I’ve been reading in the first very weird half of the year. If you want to see how it compares to 2019 you can click here.

Best Book Of The Year So Far

This is too hard, there are so many excellent books I’ve read this year so, top 3? Even that was super hard but they are all new to be books and the authors you’ll find out more about below!

Clap When You Land is an excellent YA novel about two girls who are sisters…but neither knew the other existed.

Hold Still is about a young woman who’s coping with the death of her best friend. It’s beautifully written and while it hurt my heart it also made it full.

Come Tumbling Down is the 5th book in the Wayward Children series and definitely my favourite but that is because I have a soft spot for Jack – I highly recommend the audiobook!

Best Sequel Of The Year So Far

The Eve Illusion - Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

The Eve Illusion – Tom and Giovanna Fletcher

I thought this was going to be good but I was blown away by the second in the series and the ending was incredible. Spoiler free review coming soon, keep your eyes peeled. 👀

A New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

I am all about the Sapphic books this year, can’t get enough of them. This looks absolutely adorable and came out in June. It follows Saoirse who no longer believes in happy endings after her mother ends up with early onset dementia – something she may inherit.

That is until she meets a girl at a party who’s determined to give her a summer of fun, including movie cliches, rom-com moments and the promise it will end in the autumn.

This just screams cute to me and I need to get to it soon.

Most Anticipated Release Of Autumn/Winter

So Victoria Schwab has become an autobuy author, I’ve already preordered a signed special edition of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. A bargain is made by a young woman so that she can live forever – but to do so will mean that cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. That is until she meets a man who remembers her name. Dun, dun, duuuuuuuun. Sounds so good, I’m so excited.

Also, Nina LaCour is now an autobuy author. This one looks a little different and has a paranormal element to it which is totally different to her other books but I find her writing beautiful and lyrical so obviously I need it.

Biggest Disappointment Of The Year So Far

Similar to last year I think I’ve outgrown Amanda Lovelace as an author. I’ve now read all of her poetry collections and while I loved her first, I just can’t get on with the others, they just seem to repeat.

Biggest Surprise So Far

I was one of the few people who couldn’t get into The Poet X, so I didn’t really keep an eye on Elizabeth Acevedo as an author but then I kept hearing about With The Fire On High and it peaked my interest.

After I read this I immediately wanted more of her writing and requested Clap When You Land, one of my favourite books of the year so far.

New Favourite Author (Debut/New To You)

I couldn’t pick just one…because this year I’ve found three authors I absolutely adore (all of which I found in lockdown). I tried Elizabeth Acevedo again this year and fell in love with two of her novels and absolutely devoured them.

Similarly, I started We Are Okay by Nina LaCour after getting it for Christmas and as soon as I could I ordered her first novel Hold Still. I’m looking forward to getting through the rest of her books.

Last but not least Seanan McGuire. I got through all of the Wayward Children series in record time while listening to the audiobooks (thank goodness for Scribd!).

Newest Fictional Crush

I don’t get crushes on fictional characters, sorry!

Your Newest Favourite Character

Eileen Cotton is adorable, fierce and lovely and I completely fell in love with her while reading Beth O’Leary’s second novel, The Switch. She’s the best.

A Book That Made You Cry

So I teared up at the end of this book, which means I can tell you absolutely nothing about the reasons why but I didn’t expect to because the rest of this book is absolutely hilarious.

A Book That Made You Happy

The Most Beautiful Book So Far

I bought this over Christmas while I was working in a book shop but only got around to it once I’d finished in January. Oh this is stunning, absolutely beautiful in both its illustration and its message. A good read for adults or kids too (I swear I’ll be trying to sell this book for the rest of time, it’s like muscle memory now).

Books You Need To Read By The End Of The Year

There are so many but out of the books I already own and are currently staring at me The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas (I know, I know!), The Missing of Claire de lune by Christelle Dabos and Everything Leads To You by Nina LaCour.

What have you loved so far this year? I’d love to hear your recommendations below!

Book Reviews: The Liar’s Daughter – Megan Cooley Peterson

Piper was raised in a cult.
She just doesn’t know it.

Seventeen-year-old Piper knows that Father is a Prophet. Infallible. The chosen one.

She would do anything for Father. That’s why she takes care of all her little sisters. That’s why she runs end-of-the-world drills. That’s why she never asks questions. Because Father knows best.

Until the day he doesn’t. Until the day the government raids the compound and separates Piper from her siblings, from Mother, from the Aunts, from all of Father’s followers–even from Caspian, the boy she loves.

Now Piper is living Outside. Among Them.

I can’t help but find myself intrigued by these kind of books about those who are raised in cults and don’t know any better, because they have had no choice. This is a story about Piper’s discovery of herself and questions about the world around her.

The novel is told before and after the raid. In the time before the raid we see Piper and what she believes to be her siblings being raised under strict rules by the Aunts with visits from her mother and father – the heads of the compound. All she wants is to care for her younger siblings and prove herself to her father. Although she is starting to question memories and practices in the house.

In the after sections, however, Piper is struggling. She doesn’t trust anyone and thinks that this is the real kidnapping, living with a woman who claims to be her mother. She also starts therapy which was incredibly interesting. Seeing her attempt to unlearn years of lies and pressure.

There is also a romantic element which, at first, I was unsure about whether it was necessary in terms of the wider plot, but the more I read the more I understood. When there is a lack of people around, it isn’t surprising that you would have feelings for one of the people who show kindness.

I really wanted to know more about what happened after the children were rescued, how they coped and while we do see some of this I found myself wondering if they ever saw each other again. That said, I understand that wasn’t the intent of the book.

This was a 4 star read for me. I read it incredibly quickly and found myself absorbed in the story and even through I knew that Piper and the other children would be rescued at times I forgot while reading – that’s how absorbed I was in the story.

Most Anticipated 2020 Reads: Part 2

Seeing as we’ve somehow got to the middle of the year (I know, I know what even is time after the last few months?) it seemed like a good idea to look ahead to some of the books that will be coming out later this year!

The Falling In Love Montage (9th June)

This book will already be out by the time this post goes live but it sounds like its going to be a good one. Saoirse is coping with her Mum’s dementia diagnosis and coming to terms that she may develop it later on – which means she does not have time for love. Or does she?

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavour (7th July)

I had very mixed feelings about Hank Green’s first book in this series An Absolute Remarkable thing but I just remember needing to know what happens next. He writes a damn good cliff hanger.

Loveless (9th July)

Alice has been tweeting about this book and how much it means to her and I’m really looking forward to reading it. It is also has an Ace main character, something I’m really interested in reading because I don’t think I’ve read a book with an Ace main character before.

This Is My America (28th July)

Tracy is already dealing with the fact that her father is an innocent black man on death row with time running out, then her brother is accused of killing a white girl. Dealing with the US prison system and someone being seeing as instantly guilty because of the colour of their skin this one is going to be heavy but super important.

Midnight Sun (4th August)

Yep, I’m doing it. I really loved Twilight when I was a teenager so I’m going to be buying a copy out of curiosity.

The Black Kids (1st September)

Set during the 1992 LA riots after the beating of Rodney King at the hands of 4 LAPD officers, this one couldn’t be more timely. Ashley is from a well off black family but has to consider who she is, where she stands and what this means to her.

Majesty (3rd September)

I read the first in the series American Royals as an ARC last year. The premise is what if America had a royal family. Kind of The Crown mixed with american culture. The first was left on a big cliff hanger and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Every Body Looking (22nd September)

Described as ‘a heavily autobiographical novel of a young woman’s struggle to carve a place for herself–for her black female body–in a world of deeply conflicting messages’ told in verse.

I’ve started to really enjoy novels in verse and think this will be a great addition to my growing collection.

Watch Over Me (15th September)

I’ve only discovered Nina LaCour this year but I’ve fallen in love with her way of writing. This looks different to her other contemporary novels, it’s about a young woman fresh out of the foster system who chooses to take a job on an isolated farm but has to deal with her own demons and the ghosts of those who have been there previously.

More Than A Woman (15th September)

This appears to be a follow up to her bestseller How To Be A Woman. While I know now that it was problematic Caitlin really got me to embrace feminism while at university and I’ve enjoyed her other books so I’m looking forward to a new perspective in this one.

Dear Justyce (29th September)

This is titled on NetGalley as Dear Martin #2. Dear Martin was an incredible book and showed Nic Stone’s talent as an author. The novel follows Quan during his time in a holding cell while he awaits trial after pleading not guilty in the shooting of a police officer. I have a feeling I’m going to cry at this one.

The Invisible Live of Addie LaRue (6th October)

V.E Schwab’s next release and that alone makes me super excited. This is also a book that Victoria has been working on for years. It’s about a young woman who makes a deal to live forever but she’s cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Hijab and Red Lipstick (15th October)

A debut by Yousra Imran who is an absolute gem on Twitter and Instagram. It’s about a young woman with a strict Egyptian father finding herself and her voice.

The Midnight Library (20th October)

The latest novel from Matt Haig whos books I absolutely adore. Firstly its set in a library, which is a instant plus for me. It also talks about the ability to live other lives as you choose, I’m intrigued, especially after I loved How To Stop Time so much.

The Book Of Two Ways (22nd October UK Release)

Jodi Picoult has been one of my favourite authors since I was a teenager. From the information that has been released it’s about the choices we make and you can expect a Picoult twist as is standard and one of the reasons I love her books.

The How & The Why (5th November)

Told across time as a young pregnant woman writes to her unborn baby, 18 years later her daughter is looking for answers to who she is and where she comes from. This sounds like it could be a really beautiful novel and I love the idea of seeing both young women at different points in their lives.

Admission (1st December)

One of the first novels I’ve seen that deals with the college admissions scandal in the US. I’m really intrigued when real life news topics are explored in fiction. I’m interested to see how the author tackles the topic.

What are you looking forward to in the second half of the year? Let me know below!

Book Review: We Are Okay - Nina LaCour

Book Review: We Are Okay – Nina LaCour

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun.

Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart. 

I’d heard so much about Nina LaCour’s books, so I added We Are Ok to my to read/to buy list, then I got a copy for Christmas and I didn’t know I’d find a new favourite author. Fast forward to the UK lockdown and I picked it up…then I couldn’t put it down.

This is not a story that is full of action, movement and adventure. It is a quieter novel, something that fully wraps itself around you and lets you see a life rather than a spectacle. A glimpse into grief, sadness and becoming an young adult for the first time.

The novel is written incredibly well and has a beautiful lyrical quality that I haven’t seen in a while. I read this in less than 24 hours, only stopping to sleep. I needed to know what was going to happen between Marin and Mara (although I will admit I did get the two names confused at times). What had happened in the past and how it impacted the current story.

There is also an LGBT element to the story which came across as very well done, particularly because it wasn’t the main focal point of the novel, it was simply there. Additionally, I felt the pain of losing a friendship and not knowing how to put it back together.

I would happily have read a book that was double the length because I wanted to know what happened after the last page, I can’t say more than that because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

This was a 4.5 star read for me. I absolutely adored it and felt for Marin the whole way through. Beautiful writing, a thought provoking novel and one that I absolutely adore. Keep your eyes peeled for my review of Hold Still, LaCour’s first novel, coming soon.

Standing With The Trans Community

Standing With The Trans Community

If you’re on Twitter, particularly bookish Twitter, you will probably have seen the uproar based on the anti-trans posts that J.K. Rowling has posted in the last few days and the blog she has posted today. To put it simply I’m disgusted as well as heartbroken.

For so many of us the Harry Potter books were so wonderful and an escape from our lives. They taught about love and friendship and kindness. I’m not sure where the woman who wrote those books has gone.

As I write this I’m looking at a chunk of the Harry Potter merchandise I’ve displayed in my living room, thinking about all the clothes I own with the Potter brand on and the tattoo I have of Hermione’s wand on my leg and feel betrayed. If I feel that way as a cis woman I can’t even imagine how someone who is Trans or Non-Binary feels.

I’m a proud part of the LGBTQIA+ community and stand with my Trans sisters and brothers. There is no question about that and there is no excuse for the lies that have been posted.

A few years ago I would have given anything to meet Rowling, now I’d just want the opportunity to tell her that she’s wrong. To tell her about the wonderful trans people I’ve met. To tell her about one of my closest friends who is a trans man and is worth a million and more of her.

Am I getting emotional writing this? Yes. Yes I bloody well am. So many people, so many who’ve felt out of the norm have found solace in those books and now, for me at least, they’re tainted.

To everyone else who now feels conflicted about their love for Potter, reading Daniel Radcliffe’s statement really helped to remind me that I can still have a love for the books that made up so much of my life. As my friend brilliantly pointed out Barthes ‘Death of The Author‘ can come into play here (a theory uni age me was not as appreciative of).

This may not be the most eloquent piece I’ve written but it does come from the heart. My DMs are always open.