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!

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.

Livin' La Vida Lockdown Day Thirty-Six: Being A Freelancer Right Now

Livin’ La Vida Lockdown Day Thirty-Six: Being A Freelancer Right Now

In August this year I will be celebrating 2 years of being self-employed, although probably not in the way I thought. 

While some friends of mine are being furloughed knowing that they were going to be receiving 80% pay others found themselves completely and utterly stuck – the self employed. 

Me, my fiancé, my dad and a large chunk of my friends are self employed because of the nature of their jobs. Ali works in live sound along with a load of other friends their whole income has gone in a matter of weeks for who knows how long. My Dad and other people I know are taxi drivers who are still working because bills and food don’t just wait for 3 months before they get any help. 

As for me I’m still managing to get some work, it’s not at my normal level and it is scary. I’m muddling through but still expected to pay full rent (that’s another post altogether). 

When you go freelance you know there’s going to be a risk, you expect it but as with anyone who starts a business you never expect a global pandemic and there isn’t really a way to plan for it. 

Being a freelancer right now, for me, includes varying stages including:

Panic, panic, PANIIIIIIIIIIIIC

Well known to all freelancers as a common based point.

Ok, it’s ok, I can get through this

It’s going to be fine, everything is going to be fine.

Work, work, work, work, woooooooooork

These are the waves where I can get loads done, lists upon lists are created.

What am I doing?

Accompanied by tears, blankets and a lot of snacks…a lot.

Check in on your freelance and self-employed friends right now, they might need it.

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-Five - Alternative Ways To Cope

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-Five – Alternative Ways To Cope

I saw an Instagram story recently about ways to cope in lockdown, it simply mentioned crying and that yoga didn’t work for them. Which made me think, why do people recommend yoga for bloody everything? Now, if you enjoy it good for you. But if it doesnt?

So I came up with alternative ways to deal with lockdown* – you’re welcome.

Take screaming breaks

Feeling overwhelmed? People getting on your nerves. Grab that pillow and scream your heart out.

God knows I’ve been wanting to do it recently, particularly when a certain internet provider goes down and the internet is one of the few ways you can contact the people you love. 🙃

Create your own drinking game

Number of times you internet goes down in a day? Number of lies Trump tells in a day? Number of days you’re in lockdown? The possibilities are endless.

Mine is called drink Gin at the end of each day to take the edge off.

See how long you can stay in bed over a weekend

Snacks, way of entertaining yourself, phone. You’re all set for this kind of marathon. The only thing that may let you down is how many time you need the loo…

Learn 90s and 00s dance routines

Now is the time to perfect your routines. YouTube is your friend, but you *might* want to think before you put them on TikTok.

Cry – just bloody cry

Let it rip. I tried not to for a week, kept it down and well, you can imagine how well that worked.

We’re living through such weird and unpredictable times right now, if you need to cry do it. Plus points if your cry face is like Kim Kardashian’s because THAT is a real cry face.**

Get lost in a fantasy world and pretend you live there now

Preferably not one where a virus is taking over the planet, those aren’t great right now BUT fall into some great fantasy books.

Yes, yes you can go and climb into the familiar world of Harry Potter, that is more than a little bit allowed.

Do what you need to do

Ok the final one and the one I want to scream. There is no one way to get through this. Some people (the lucky bastards) are really incline to get fit and healthy, do a lot of exercise and get those endorphins going. My brain doesn’t work that way and wants stacks of chocolate.

Who am I to tell you what you should be doing, I don’t know you or your life and nor does anyone else writing lists about becoming our best self. You do you.

Any more you’d like to add? Let me know below.

*yes this is a joke and it’s satire, don’t @ me. I want to make people laugh.

**I love KUWTK and, by extension, Kim.

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-One - Getting Through Tough Days

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-One – Getting Through Tough Days

I’m going to be honest with you all, I was dreading today. I’d been dreading it for a few weeks and until recently my plan was to spend the day hiding in my bed – I was in a much worse place mentally than I am right now.

Today marks 5 years since my life completely changed after a horse riding accident. If you’ve read my blogs for a while you’ll probably know quite a lot if not I started horse riding at university and loved it, 6 months into learning to ride I fell and broke part of my spine. It was a long recovery and I later developed Fibromyalgia.

Normally, I’d make sure I treated myself on the day. If I could help it I wouldn’t plan anything but I’d maybe go to my local shopping center and let myself buy a few things, go to a coffee shop and maybe see a friend or my family and get through the day. Obviously I couldn’t do that today.

I woke up and checked my social media and BAM Facebook memories, thank you very much for the picture of me riding. Thank you indeed. So I got up, got my cup of tea and let myself have some time to sit and think – feel how I needed to feel. I did get teary and emotional thinking about all the changes, everything that happened.

I’m working through the event, what happened after and my Fibromyalgia diagnosis in therapy. I do think that had helped this year. I let myself feel and then got up, got showered and dressed. I worked all morning and went out for a walk to feel the sun on my skin.

While I was walking I thought about how far I’ve come. Some days I can’t do that, other days (in non lockdown times) I can go to the gym. Each day is different but I think I’m doing well. Would I have got through today a few years ago? I don’t know.

It’s a bit of a rambly post, but I expected that. I’m proud of myself for where I am. Does that mean I don’t struggle? No. I struggle mentally and physically with the fact my life has changed forever and I’ve had to change the future I thought I would have.

That said I’m trying. I’m taking it day by day and I’m proud of myself for getting through today in a totally weird and stressful situation.

Peace out.

Livin' La Vida Lockdown: Day Twenty-Two What I Read In March 2020

Livin’ La Vida Lockdown: Day Twenty-Two What I Read In March 2020

Better late than never, right?! March was a strange month and I found myself in a slump, particularly as news about the virus started to pick up speed. That said, I managed 4 physical books, 2 ebooks and 1 audiobook. Pretty good going, huh?

First up I finished my book club read of The Near Witch by V.E Schwab. Now I have loved everything I’ve read by Schwab but because of that I put off reading it until right before. In the words of Hermione Granger what an idiot. For a first novel this was pretty amazing and it was a 4.5 star read for me.

Next up I got to Great Goddesses by Nikita Gill that I borrowed from my friend Fred. I find Nikita Gill very hit and miss and this was no different. It was a 3 star read for me, while it was good I didn’t really know enough about greek mythology and had to keep stopping to look stuff up.

I got to a highly anticipated read of mine, partly because I knew the author at university and that is The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper. Two guys move to a NASA facility as their parents have been chosen for a space mission. There’s a love story, social media and space – the last of which I didn’t realise I’d be that interested in. A 4 star read for me and there’s a review coming soon, so keep your eyes peeled.

Another LGBTQ based book which explores the world of drag – The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta. This is a novel written in verse and while it did take me a little while to get into and get a rhythm with it. Because of the breaks I took while reading it I gave it 4 stars rather than 5. It also has a review coming soon.

I finally got around to getting to one of my Sara Barnard books that I won in a Twitter giveaway. Now, fair warning I love A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard book a whole lot. It features a girl who has selective mutism and a guy who is deaf and it’s their story of getting to know each other in a hearing and speaking world. It was excellent and, of course, it got 5 stars from me.

I also got Scribd in this month which meant I could catch up on some poetry collections I haven’t been able to get hold of or been able to afford before. Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace is the start of a new collection and it was okay. Again, this is another poet I have mixed feelings about. This collection was a 3 star read for me as the collections are starting to feel quite repetitive.

And last but not least another Scribd read and a book I’ve been curious about for a long time it’s The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. This romance was excellent and I absolutely loved reading it. It’s enemies to lovers, it’s passionate without being over the top and I want to read more Christina Lauren soon.

Did you get through many books in March? Any recommendations for me? Let me know below!

Livin' La Vida Lockdown: Day Twenty-One An Average Weekday In Lockdown

Livin’ La Vida Lockdown: Day Twenty-One An Average Weekday In Lockdown

What is life like for me in lockdown? What do I get up to? I thought I’d write about it because, why not?

I warn you – it’s not the most interesting life…but who’s is right now?

7.30/8.00am

Wake up, no matter what day it is I will wake up at this time. It doesn’t matter if I have any plans, any calls or if I have slept my body just seems to wake up at this time.

8am – 9am

After Ali has kicks me out of bed, my first port of call is to feed the Hams who act as if they have been starved for weeks, despite the fact they will have food in their cages.

Pour the first big cup of tea of the day – there is no time for

9am – 10am

Shower, get ready in whatever form that’s going to be for the day. Check my emails and LinkedIn to see if anything has come in overnight, make my list for the day. If I have work to do I’ll try and start in this window, if not I’ll take a scroll through YouTube to entertain myself or carry on with whatever I’m reading.

10am – 12pm

This definitely depends on what I’ve got on. I’m still getting some work, although less that normal so this will be the block where I work on it, have any calls or catch ups etc.

That said there are more days than not where I don’t have much to do and will alternate between cleaning (still boring), watching something or reading.

12pm -1pm

Pop out to sit on the grass for a bit, talk to my neighbour from a distance – if I’m feeling up to it I might even try and go for a walk but this obviously depends on how I’m feeling.

1pm-2pm

Remember I haven’t eaten lunch yet and I should probably do that… Also look at what I have for the afternoon. Prioritise my tasks and check LinkedIn again. If there isn’t anything I’ll try and find something to read/watch for a bit.

2pm-3pm

If I’m not working this is optimal nap time if I feel I need it. Now, this isn’t because of the pandemic. I have a condition that causes fatigue – when I was working full time in an office I’d have to try and have naps on both days of the weekend and early nights most week days.

When I work from home I can have my ‘lunch break’ as a nap if I’m feeling particularly rough. That said you don’t need a chronic illness to enjoy having a nap – especially now. Probably less so when you get back to work unless you have a REALLY good hiding place. 😉

3pm-5pm

More searching for something to do, aimlessly looking out of the window and reminding Ali that our next place needs to have a garden – this is coming from someone who is not an outdoor person and never has been.

Also, if my family is dropping food off for me it’s normally around this time.

5pm – 6pm

This will be around the time I log off for the day if I’ve been working on anything, although that’s not every day! I’m slowly trying to accept doing nothing and just trying to enjoy that. I might go for a walk if I haven’t already.

6pm – 7pm – Dinner, Brooklyn 99 and more importantly, GIN. Yes, I’ve definitely drank more Gin in the last few weeks with an evening meal than I have in my life with meals.

7pm -10pm –

This can vary, sometimes I’ll be on my laptop chatting to friends, I might be on the phone to family or just hang out with Ali. There have been evenings where we have caught up with some kind of streaming. Sometimes I even do exercise.

Also blogging, obviously.

10pm – 10.30pm –

Start getting ready for bed, play with the hams for a bit.

10.30 – 11pm – Try and sleep…sometimes it even works

What’s happening with your daily routine right now? Let me know below!

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Twenty - How I Did With The Easter Readathon 2020

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Twenty – How I Did With The Easter Readathon 2020

Hello, hello, hello!

While I intended to writer yesterday on Easter Sunday, when it came down to it I didn’t want to. It was a pretty weird day for me – the first Easter I’ve ever spent without my family. We’re not religious but like to get together for any occasion that we can make fun. So, for now, the egg hunt has been postponed but I did get a special delivery.

Apparently the Easter Bunny does delivery now, who knew? But I am very thankful for the bag of goodies that arrived on our doorstep for me and Ali to enjoy.

Not going out meant that I could spend the whole day reading and cracking on with the Easter Readathon – my first one! And it was definitely a great one to start with. While I didn’t tick off all the tasks I think I did pretty well. So – what books did I get to and finish? Well, since you asked so nicely…

Day One & Two

On day one I started Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan, a novel about a group of teenage friends who want to do more to support women’s rights in their school. I think this would work maybe for a younger reader who is looking for inspiration on setting up a feminism club or similar. For me though it didn’t do anything new or memorable.

This was a 3 star read for me and was 1 book down!

At the end of day 1 I also started one of my most anticipated reads for a WHILE…

Day 3

The Eve Illusion - Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

I got an ARC of The Eve Illusion which is the follow up to Eve of Man which was a 5 star read for me back in 2018 and while at first I had to really remind myself of what had happened at the end.

As much as I want to rave about it I can’t say much without ruining the first book for those of you who haven’t read it but once again I couldn’t put it down. Also, this gets darker but in the very best way.

Beneath The Sugar Sky - Seanan McGuire

I also finished listening to Beneath The Sugar Sky, the third installment of the Wayward Children series – I’ve actually got through all three in lockdown so far and I’m pretty sure I will have listened to all five by the end of the week…

This was a 4 star read for me, another excellent addition and I wouldn’t advise listening on an empty stomach.

Day 4

Today was probably the hardest day, I didn’t finish anything although I did start Before The Coffee Gets Cold and The Love Hypothesis so that’s a start!

Overall, I’m pretty happy it’s definitely kick started my reading mojo again and I’m sure I’ll be back on it tomorrow, starting with the 4th Wayward Children book to listen to…

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Eighteen - Reading The Time Away

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Eighteen – Reading The Time Away

As I mentioned in my last blog, I decided to take part in the Easter Readathon! Five Prompts, four days and me. As of writing I’ve finished one book, Watch Us Rise, and I’m 60% through my second and I think that’s pretty good going, especially seeing as I struggled to get into the reading mindset today. While I woke up early my brain needed frequent breaks – one of which made me very proud of myself.

I’ve been struggling a lot with going outside, something I touched upon in previous blogs because of anxiety and panic attacks. I wanted to get out in the sunshine but taking our normal route made me feel uncomfortable because it’s around and through a big park…which meant idiots. Lots of them.

Now, we don’t have a garden. You can bet if we did I would have been sat there with a pile of books and a large glass of something depending on the time of day. What we do have, however, is a little bit of grass to the side and behind our building. I decided it was a good test of my levels right now and made sure I could get some air.

It worked! I managed to sit out for about an hour and not once did I have any kind of panic attack. People ask but why do you have them? I wish I could tell you. Anxiety and panic attacks are rarely logical – that’s the most frustrating thing.

Coming back inside I sat down and read, and I mean really read. I got through almost 50% of The Eve Illusion in a few hours and felt my superpower coming back. My mountain of books I haven’t read now seems like a challenge rather than a guilty secret.

This reader is back guys!

Beneath The Sugar Sky - Seanan McGuire

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Seventeen – Easter Readathon

Two bookish posts in one day!? I know, I’m spoiling you all. So, after seeing over on Kate’s Twitter that she is hosting an Easter Readathon I thought why not join? I’ve never seriously done a Readathon before and I think now is a great time to try…because I have no other obligations what so ever -yippie!

So how does it work? The Readathon runs from 12.01am on Friday 10th and finishes at 11.59pm on Monday 13th April. You can find more info and Kate’s post here, make sure to give her a follow too!

As with most Readathons there are prompts, for this one they are:

[Image description: Post reads Easter Readathon 2020 Prompts 1. Read a book that gives you Spring Vibes. 2. Read a book about new beginnings. 3. Read a book that’s under 250 pages. 4. Read a book with yellow or green cover. 5. Read a book involving family/friends.]

I’ve had a look and I’m going to try and complete the challenges – but if I get a load of reading done that’s absolutely fine with me!

Read a book about new beginnings

The Eve Illusion – Tom and Giovanna Fletcher

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this today and while I can’t say too much as it’s a sequel there’s definitely some new beginnings in it.

Read a book that’s under 250 pages

Beneath The Sugar Sky - Seanan McGuire

Beneath The Sugar Sky – Seanan McGuire

Ok so *technically* I started this before the Readathon started and it’s an audiobook BUT I’m desperate to finish it!

Also reading about a candy land over the Easter weekend? That seems too good to pass up.

Read a book with a yellow or green cover

Watch Us Rise – Rene Watson

It’s on my April TBR and I really enjoyed the last two Rene Watson books that I read and they were quick reads so I’m hoping this will be a fast read.

Read a book involving family/friends

Crescent City – Sarah J. Maas

Ok it is a STRETCH but this is, another one I’ve already started but I’m really into. Also, do I think I’ll finish this over the next few days? No, no I don’t. That said, it’s started to get interesting.

Read a book that gives you Spring vibes

This is one I need a few recommendations for – please leave them below!

Are you joining in? Also leave your suggestions down below!