Blogmas 2020 - The Bookish Naughty or Nice List

Blogmas 2020 – The Bookish Naughty or Nice List

I wanted to add in some Christmassy tags and found this one over on Jenniely, let’s have some fun!

Rules

  • Tag & link the person who tagged you (tagged above)
  • Tag and link me/this post (I’d love to see how good you’ve been this year!)
  • Tick/cross off the ones you’ve done
  • Tag another 10 people!

Want to take part? Consider yourself tagged!

Bookish Naughty or Nice Tag

1. Received an ARC and not reviewed it  ✔️

Yes, I mean really who hasn’t?

2. Have less than 60% feedback rating on Netgalley

It’s currently at 57%…promise I’m going to work on it next year! Not travelling means I’ve read a lot less eBooks and I’ve been tackling my massive physical TBR.

3. Rated a book on Goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog (and never did) ✔️

Haha, haven’t most bloggers?

4. Folded down the page of a book

Nope! I did this growing up but now I’ll grab something to pop between the pages. On a good day it’s a bookmark, on another day it’s whatever is in reach.

5. Accidentally spilled on a book 

I don’t think I have this year!

6. DNF a book this year ✔️

Definitely, life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy for the sake of other people.

7. Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it 

I always have the intention of reading the book, whether I get to it is another thing.

8. Read whilst you were meant to be doing something else (like homework) ✔️

This is the story of my life from the moment I could read – of course I have!

9. Skim read a book 

Not an entire book, maybe a paragraph or a page.

10. Completely missed your Goodreads goal 

Nope! Another great goodreads year!

11. Borrowed a book and not returned it to the library 

I haven’y used the library this year at all because of the pandemic!

12. Broke a book buying ban ✔️

Hmmm yes, probably.

13. Started a review, left it for ages then forgot what the book was about ✔️

Oh definitely!

14. Wrote in a book you were reading

Nope, not since I was at University I think.

15. Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads

Definitely not this year.

16. Borrowed a book and not returned it to a friend

Nope! I do have a book I’m borrowing at the moment but that will go back when I can see them next.

17. Dodged someone asking if they can borrow a book 

I haven’t had to this year but you’ll bet I do. Usually I just order them the book if I can.

18. Broke the spine of someone else’s book

Never!!!

19. Took the jacket off a book to protect it and ended up making it more damaged 

No, thank goodness!

20. Sat on a book accidentally ✔️

Who hasn’t?

Want to do this tag? Consider yourself tagged!

Blogmas 2020 - Festive AF

Blogmas 2020 – Festive AF

It’s here, we’ve made it to the last month of 2020! Thank GOODNESS! And I’ve decided to try and be festive af this year, because why wouldn’t you after everything. I’ve been listening to Christmas music, wearing Christmas jumpers and grabbing festive drinks since November.

In my family, Christmas is a big thing anyway and while the majority of things that I usually do in the run up to the big day have been cancelled or changed I still want to get in the Christmas mood!

So, what kinds of things are you going to see on my blog? At least 24 days of blogs talking about some small businesses you should know about, my Christmas faves, what I’m hoping for under the tree this year, how to save spoons for my fellow spoonies and, of course, talking about books.

Because I obviously don’t know how to take a break, while I’m taking part in Blogmas I’ll also be in the process of moving house, getting back to the gym and everything else that December comes with.

Are you taking part in Blogmas this year? Drop your link below – I’d love to follow and support other bloggers!

What I Read In October 2020

What I Read In October 2020

Is it almost December? Yes. Have I still not posted this blog, 100%. It probably hasn’t escaped your notice I haven’t been blogging much. I’ll be honest, I finally got a great work project and when I wasn’t working on that I was trying to pack up my flat or sleep. Oh and a little thing, planning for Blogmas!

But before we get into the festive fun let’s finally get around to talking about what I read in October.

After seeing that Iman Vellani has been cast at Ms Marvel for the Disney+ series I decided it was time to finally get around to reading the comic book. It was a good read as far as an introduction but I’m not in a huge rush to get to volume 2, meaning it was a 3 star read for me.

Next up was Nikita Gill’s newest collection and I have to say that I, personally, think this is the best collection she has done so far. I adored each page of The Girl And The Goddess and was blown away by the story within. It was tough to read some parts and definitely be careful if you struggle with reading about sexual violence. That said it is handled brilliantly and this is going to be in my top 10 books of the year! 5 stars without a doubt!

Another favourite of this year (October was good for that) was Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin. Oh my goodness this book. This book. I actually got it for Christmas last year and hadn’t got around to it, I’m kicking myself. It’s incredible a Witch ends up marrying a Witch Hunter and I loved them both. So much so I told my Mum not to buy it for me for Christmas because I needed the sequel immediately. A 5 star read for sure.

Next up I finally picked up Vengeful by V.E. Schwab again to finish it. I ended up enjoying it although I did find the beginning slower once I got into it and was back into the EO world again. Also I don’t feel like Sydney and Mitch get enough love. This was a 4 star read for me.

Mindy Kaling is known for being hilarious and I really liked her books Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Why Not Me? So I’ve started making my way through these short essay type books available on Kindle. I really hope there’s a bound collection at some point. Big Shot was a quick, fun read that made me think and got 4 stars from me.

I Am Not A Label written by Carrie Burnell was something I came across online and was drawn by the art style, what I didn’t expect is for it to touch me so much. I say Lady Gaga on the cover but having a book which described Fibromyalgia that’s aimed at younger people was emotional. It’s the first time I’ve seen it and it meant so, so much to be seen. A truly wonderful 5 star read.

The last two are from a duo that my and my fiancé both love to read about and have met at MCM in London before – Sarah Graley & Stef Purenis. I finally picked up Our Super Adventure Vol 2 because I realised I didn’t have it. I also backed Cute! on Kickstarted and got an adorable cat pin too! Both of these were 4 star reads.

So, it was better late than never. Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments below!

The Longest Week Ever In The Longest Year Ever

Well, it feels like this week was one of the longest weeks of 2020. I don’t know about you guys but I have been exhausted. When it came to the blog I wasn’t sure what to write or when. Did I write when lockdown started again in England? Keep up a commentary of the US election? Or just as an when I felt that I could?

Watching The USA

I’m not sure this is classed as a hugely political blog, but I know I’m opinionated and my friends and family regularly tease me for my liberal views. From a look at any of my social media feeds you’ll know I was not a fan of the current president, his views or his ways. I had everything crossed for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, for a little bit of hope in America again.

Now, I didn’t intend to stay up to watch the results because of how unlikely it was that they would announce. So I went to bed, waking up every 2 hours (not consciously trying), I even had a very realistic dream that Biden won and thought it was real life…and was very sad it wasn’t true.

I streamed CNN on the TV on Saturday in the background waiting for any news…so of course when I dozed off I missed it being announced live but thankfully I was only behind a few minutes.

Knowing the giant orange has been voted out by the people made me breathe a sigh of relief. I felt a little hope again that he had been defeated and history was made.

Heading Back Into Lockdown

On Thursday, as if things weren’t already keeping me awake we went back into lockdown in England (other countries in the UK had already gone in much earlier). Even thought we knew it was coming I couldn’t help but feel sad and anxious.

We’ve just started to have a little bit of normality, being able to see my family pets helps my mental health immesley so going back into lockdown, especially when it’s so dark outside is tough. Do I think it’s going to do much in the grand scheme of things? Not really, but we’re doing what we need to do right now.

And Everything Else

Aside from that I’ve managed to pick up some more work after October was quieter than I would have liked which is a good thing. Other than that I’m spending my lockdown packing up the flat ready to move at the end of our lease.

It’s been a long, long week and now I think it’s time for a gin.

Book Review: The Girl And The Goddess - Nikita Gill

Book Review: The Girl And The Goddess – Nikita Gill

Let her be a little less human, a little more divine
Give her heart armor so it doesn’t break as easily as mine

Meet Paro. A girl with a strong will, a full heart, and much to learn. Born into a family reeling from the ruptures of Partition in India, we follow her as she crosses the precarious lines between childhood, teenage discovery, and realizing her adult self. In the process, Paro must confront fear, desire and the darkest parts of herself in the search for meaning and, ultimately, empowerment.

Nikita Gill is an incredible poet who isn’t afraid to try new things in her collections – The Girl and The Goddess is no different. Weaving poetry with stories of Hindu mythology I was hooked.

As a warning I will say that if you are sensitive to reading about violence or sexual assault then please take your time with this, make sure you know more before you go into it and that you’re okay.

This is a stunning collection we follow the story of Paro from a baby to a child forced to leave her home, all the way to a young woman who is figuring out who she is and her place in the world. I didn’t know much going in, only that I liked some of Gill’s previous collections

Paro is an incredible character, I think because she has flaws. She’s not perfect but she is human, she gets confused, hurt, angry. We see the world through her eyes as she grows and in a way that we feel like we don’t miss anything. I fell in love with her over and over again and just wanted the best for her.

I found myself desperate to find more about the Goddesses and God mentioned. I’m the first to admit that I knew nothing about Hindu myths and legends before starting but I can’t wait to learn more (if anyone knows any good books for me to start, let me know in the comments!).

A few people may hear poetry and think that it’s not for them, I would urge you to try this collection, which I would say is more of a novel in verse. It’s absolutely stunning and flows so well that you’ll fall into without realising it’s different from what you’re used to.

This collection was 5 stars for me, it’s absolutely beautiful and I had to keep reading. For a real treat, I’d recommend reading a few out loud, just for yourself to really feel the magic within the pages of the story. A breathtaking piece of literature that more people want to know about.

A Bloody Big Book Haul

A Bloody Big Book Haul

September was my birthday month, it was also a month that a lot of my pre orders arrived and I was given books – so we’ve got a big old haul coming! Grab a cuppa and a snack for this one!

So these books cover from the 1st September to the 15th October…I think this is all of them at least. I was really spoilt for my birthday, a few pre orders were released too but as you’re going to see there are a LOT of books for someone who is having to move in a few months…

After discovering Nina LaCour earlier in the year I ordered Watch Over Me as soon as I could and then read it as soon as it arrived. A little different to her other stuff but still excellent nonetheless. I also ordered a copy of Orpheus Girl by Brynne Rebele-Henry which was a tough read about a young woman going through ‘conversion therapy’ after she gets caught with her best friend.

American Widow by Alissa Torres was recommended as a graphic memoir after Alissa’s husband was killed in the 9/11 attacks while she was pregnant – this follows what life was like for her. Punching The Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam is a novel in verse which I devoured about a young man who is wrongly imprisoned. This has roots in Yusef’s experiences as one of the Exonerated Five.

So I got an early ebook of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, I ordered not one but 2 copies. My American edition arrived when it was meant to, there was an issue with my signed UK edition so technically it arrived later than this list but oh well. Everything you need to know about my favourite book of the year is in my review here.

I was given a copy of Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot, it looks to be an interesting and insightful memoir about an indigenous woman’s life. I bought a copy of Finding Joy by Gary Anderson this is a reflection of Gary’s life raising two kids after the death of his wife and it is truly beautiful.

I also received a copy of The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant as a gift from Maddie and Fred and not just any edition, a special sprayed edges edition!

I received Bloom by Beau Taplin and Swimming Sideways by C.L Walters from my friend Sarah for my birthday. One is a poetry collection and the other was recommended for fans of one of my new favourites Nina LaCour!

Dear Life by Rachel Clarke was a Waterstones Book Of The Month so I decided to buy it’s probably one for when I feel like less of an emotional mess though. I also got The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix with my birthday gift card, magic, books and an endorsement from V.E Schwab? Take my money.

Now I have my original copy of Radio Silence but I really wanted one to match my other Alice Oseman covers…it’s what birthday money is for right? I heard glowing reviews for Circe by Madeline Miller and I kept meaning to read it, also a reason for birthday money.

My pre order of Thoughts & Prayers by Bryan Bliss arrived! This is about the aftermath of a school shooting and how it impacts people’s lives, it should be an interesting read. I also picked up the only copy of Witch by Finbar Hawkins because I’ve found myself falling back in love with witchy books and Autumn is the perfect time!

Majesty is the second and final (for now) novel in American Royals, picking up after a number of cliffhangers from book one and the reign of America’s first Queen. I pre-ordered a signed copy of More Than A Woman by Caitlin Moran and started reading it the day I got it…I haven’t finished it yet, take from that what you will.

I got second hand copies of Just Listen and This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen with the covers I read as a teen – it was just before my birthday and I was feeling super nostalgic.

Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh is a novel in verse that I pre ordered, I don’t know too much about it other than it’s about a young woman and finding her place in the world. I also got Adventure Zone Vol 2 after enjoying the first one so much, let’s see what the gang get up to this time.

Another pre-order and another sapphic read (it’s been a good year for sapphic books, right?!) I Kissed Alice by Anna Birch. It’s pitched as a ‘romantic comedy about enemies, lovers and everything in between’ I’m in. I also won a copy of Ashes by Christopher De Vinck, a novel set in WW2 about friendship and survival.

After seeing that there is going to be a TV series for Ms Marvel I finally got around to picking up vol 1. I read it pretty much straight away – it was okay, I want to see what happens in the next few volumes. My friend Charissa gave me a copy of Sincerity by Carol Ann Duffy – I really like Duffy’s work and this is one I haven’t read yet.

And last, but certainly not least The Girl and the Goddess by Nikita Gill is a breathtaking novel in verse, I highly recommend and will write a review soon! Every collection of hers I like her style more and more.

I clearly don’t need to buy any more books (although as I write this my copy of Blood and Honey is on the way – oops). Have you done any book buying recently? Let me know what you picked up!

Wedding Update: Corona, Cocktails and Crying

Wedding Update: Corona, Cocktails and Crying

Well, it’s been a while since I did a wedding update – mostly because I had no idea what was going on and partly because the only solid update happened while I had a huge case of writer’s block – standard.

Let’s take it waaay back to August, my wedding dress was ready to pick up 3 months early (!!) which meant a cautious trip to Brighton on the hottest day of the year, in masks. We had to get there for 9.30am – the only appointment the shop had that week due to reduced opening. After all the anxiety that the dress wouldn’t fit it was a little big and I loved it just as much – I didn’t want to take it off.

Masks on and ready to go with Mumma

Moving to 2022.

Originally we still had a bit of hope and then cases started to rise and more restrictions started to come in. We’d already agreed that if we were restricted to less than 50 people by January we were going to postpone. As time went on it got more and more likely but we couldn’t officially postpone until 6 weeks before or we would be charged by our venue.

Then Boris laid out plans for the next 6 months, back down to 30 guests, no reception – some places are even requiring a 2 meter distance between the bride and whoever walks her down the aisle. We couldn’t do it, I’ve waited 12 years to say I do and while it’s the marriage that’s important we decided we wanted to do it with the people we loved.

Not long after that our venue agreed to let us move the day I started contacting suppliers, I was touched by how kind they were. It was all quite straightforward but after I still hadn’t cried. I just felt a little lost, I now had over a year.

Crying Over Cocktails

As my Hen Do had been moved as well my best friend and Bridesmaid, sister and Maid of Honour and my Mumma took me for a few cocktails the afternoon it was meant to be.

It started off with the booking I’d made not being added – not great but we soon had a table for a few hours and 30% off our first drinks. And we got started while waiting for my sister to finish work. Let me preface this with I’d been building my new Lego Hogwarts castle before I left so I hadn’t eaten much.

We got drinks and food…and it went straight to my head. I enjoyed spending time with some of the people I love most, I got louder and a little more loving. I went to the bathroom and it hit me, I definitely wasn’t getting married and I started to cry and it was like a dam broke. I couldn’t stop crying. Even after we left the tears kept coming, Chris decided to take me back to hers and let me cry it out with an adorable puppy and lovely Lex.

The thing is I needed that. I hadn’t let myself be upset really, I felt like I shouldn’t be because there was so much else going on in the world. But I can be upset and I am. It’s not swallowing me whole but being able to be upset is ok.

So there’s going to be more wedding content because we have over a year to go again now!

Have you missed out on any big events this year? Let me know in the comments below!

What I Read In September 2020

What I Read In September 2020

In September we got back into the reading game with a few new releases, some incredible sapphic reads and overall a good reading month. I thought I’d get through even more as I had a week off (finally) but I was actually pretty busy.

Let’s get cracking!

Over the past few months I started playing Dungeons and Dragons, my friends had been playing for a while and I wanted in on the action. I absolutely love it, so when I came across The Adventure Zone and was recommended it by someone in a bookshop I picked it up. It’s a fun DnD story and I laughed out loud so many times! A 4.5 star read for me.

Next up, the sequel to American Royals , Majesty. This follows the start of Beatrice’s reign mixed with social climbers, romances, revenge oh it was so good! I loved this book, I couldn’t put it down and when I got to the end I wanted more…only to find out that it’s a duology! This was also a 4.5 star read for me. For transparency I was sent this for review by the publishers.

American Widow is a novel by Alissa Torres who lost her husband in 9/11, his second day in the towers and while she was 7 months pregnant. This focuses on the aftermath as she tries to make sense of what has happened and access the support that she should have received. This was hard to rate because it is so sad but it was a 3 star read for me.

I was really looking forward to reading The Henna Wars, initially I had problems getting hold of the physical book so I got the audiobook…which had a American narrator for a novel set in Ireland. This month I finally picked up my delayed physical copy and wow! This was a great novel, I read it so quickly because I wanted to know what happened, I cared about the characters and I’m definitely planning to read more by Adiba Jaigirdar. 5 stars from me!

I was sent Lady In Waiting a while ago by the publisher and have just gotten to it. Anne Glenconner has lead an interesting life, as part of it she was one of the Ladies in Waiting to Princess Margaret, sister to the Queen. This was a different kind of read and Lady Glenconner has clearly lived more than most people. It was ok but I don’t think I was the target reader. A 3 star read for me.

I’ve really gotten into novels in verse lately and this was written by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five. Punching The Air is a unique novel, because of the influence that Yusef had on the novel and his experiences of being wrongly convicted and imprisoned. An incredibly well written novel that lets you feel the frustration through the pages. A 4.5 stars from me.

So many people love Kacen Callender’s novel Felix Ever After. I wanted to love this novel but, for me, it didn’t live up to the hype I saw online – it was okay, the blackmail situation felt very much like Simon vs The Homosapiens Agenda. Also there wasn’t really anyone in there I felt like I liked a lot or was connected to. That said, I’m not the target audience – it was 3 stars for me.

Finding Joy is one I came across in my local bookshop on my birthday and I instantly fell in love with the art style. This is a collection of drawings to show life after Gary unexpectedly lost his wife. It’s moving, beautifully drawn and will probably make you tear up at least – a 5 star read.

This year I discovered Nina LaCour so when I found out that she had a new novel coming out this year I was EXCITED. This is different to the other books I’ve read as it has a paranormal aspect. As if the case with Nina LaCour I didn’t always know what was happening and it wasn’t super fast paced but I still adored it – 4 stars!

I bought myself a copy or Orpheus Girl after eyeing it for a while. Wow this is a tough read, short but tough. This covers conversion ‘therapy’ and it’s pretty dark at times so I would advise some caution. This was another 4 star read for me.

I was given e-arcs of both My Name Is Selma and Loud Black Girls in exchange for review.

I read My Name Is Selma very quickly, it’s the story of a young woman who survived Nazi Germany as a resistance fighter and was also able to hide the fact she was Jewish. Selma lead a fascinating life and this was a brilliant read – 4.5 stars from me!

Loud Black Girls was an interesting read, there are some incredible writers in this collection but I did feel a little bored in the second half and put it down a fair bit. Still worth a read but a 3.5 star for me.

There we have it! I’m not sure October will be as successful but there are some excellent books in there. What did you read? Let me know in the comments below!

World Mental Health Day 2020 - Talking About Student's Mental Health

World Mental Health Day 2020 – Talking About Student’s Mental Health

Today is World Mental Health Day. While I was thinking about what to read I kept coming back to the current situations that students across the UK are facing with restrictions and lock down.

I’m one of the first to admit I really struggled in my first year at university. I had recently been formally diagnosed as having Anxiety and Depression (or ‘low mood’ as they like to call it – but that’s another blog) after struggling for years with my mental health.

I’d never lived away from home before and the most I’d been away from my family was for a week and once when I went on holiday without them and spent the entire morning in the airport crying and feeling anxious. Yeah I wasn’t the most adventurous kid or teenager, I liked my own home comforts…some things never change!

Now, I was actually one of the luckier ones. I have a 4 day taster living in halls, I’d been to every visit in the year running up to it because I needed to know everything to calm my anxiety. Even with all that I massively struggled and went home at least once a month, the other weekends I was mostly at my now fiancé’s flat because I struggled to connect with my flatmates. I would have fallen apart in a lockdown.

While they may be 18 these young people are vulnerable. They don’t know the people they’re living with, Halls rooms are normally small and they’re living with the worry and fear of a virus that has lead to a global pandemic. That’s not even touching on the fact it’s a new way of learning and a new course or subject.

When I see people blaming young people or telling them to stop complaining that they’re stuck in halls or that they’re stuck in a house miles away from home I get angry. Here’s the thing – the government told them to go back, get normal life going again! Universities and landlords wanted their rent too, only for classes to be held online. The whole idea that they might not be able to come home for Christmas is inhumane too.

Now, more than any time, we need to be sharing kindness and compassion, particularly for these young people. To the students out there I’m thinking of you, my DMs are open and please be kind for yourself.

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue - V.E Schwab

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V.E.Schwab

“France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

Addie, Addie, Addie where do I begin. It’s no surprise to my regular readers that I have been excited for this book, it featured in my most anticipated books of the year. I’m a big Schwab fan and I think seeing how excited and nervous she was to release this only made me love it more. So you can imagine I squealed when I received an ARC.

I fell in love with Addie quickly, she’s smart and wants to see the world, she wants more than to be a man she doesn’t love’s wife. While her decision to trade her soul in exchange for freedom to a god might not have been the smartest I understand it.

We follow Addie back and forth in her life. I was wondering how it would work, she’d be forgotten by everyone, how would she survive? What would it mean? How far did it go? All of my questions were answered and in a way I could believe.

I thought I loved Addie and then we met Henry. Can I just say that he’s probably the closest I’ve come to wanting a ‘book boyfriend’. He seems like a genuinely wonderful guy who has his own hang ups, his own issues but he’s very real.

You can tell while reading this is a personal book, Scwab has recently written about coming out (you can read it here – I got emotional), there is LGBTQ rep that just naturally falls into the story. There’s discussions of loneliness, depression, dreams, joy – it’s all there.

The thing is that you don’t read this book, you fall into it and live alongside the characters. You love and root for them. You care deeply about their happiness and what’s going to happen to them. Also, while I won’t say much about him the God that gives Addie the deal is a truly excellent character. I’m not usually drawn to bad guys but…well.

This is probably my favourite Schwab novel and ever since I read my ARC I’ve told everyone to pre-order a copy because it is absolutely incredible. I love it so much I’ve bought myself the USA cover and the Forbidden Planet signed edition – if I can get my hands on the Waterstones exclusive edition too.

It’s not going to be a surprise that I gave this 5 stars. It’s intelligent, beautiful and breathtaking. Victoria has spoken about this book for years and it was worth the wait. I cannot thank her, Tor and Netgalley for the early copy in exchange for review.