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!

Celebrating Birthdays In A Long Distance Relationship

Celebrating Birthdays In A Long Distance Relationship

On your birthday you want to celebrate with the people who love you most, right? But that’s not always possible. My birthday falls in mid September (next week by the way), which is optimal touring time, meaning that it’s very hit or miss whether Ali will be at home. So, I’ve had to adapt to the fact I’m usually not with him for my birthday – but that’s okay!

FaceTime Calls

I get to see Ali’s face when he’s away and while he’s normally not the first text or call when I wake up (I am very OTT when it comes to my birthday and wake up stupidly early) – he makes sure to call me during the day.

If we can’t do that because the internet is shoddy then we’ll have a good catch up call.

Relying on Gifts Arriving On The Doorstep – Or Waiting Until You See Them

Not one for that much forward planning (sorry babe), then presents on the road are a good idea and Amazon Prime is even better. I’ve waited laying on the floor of my parents house because I knew Ali was getting my gift delivered there. It was a speaker and it’s still one of my favourite gifts.

The other option is waiting until we’re together and going to get something, which I actually quite like doing because it’s just nice to spend that time together.

Making Alternative Plans With People You Also Love!

Just because my Fiancé isn’t around doesn’t mean my birthday has to suck. While I don’t enjoy us being apart on any special days, I do have an amazing support network around me.

On the day I normally hang out with my family and see a few friends and then the closest weekend to my birthday I get a load of friends together to go to the pub and they are in charge of me for the night. On my first birthday without Ali at home my friends also made me a hangover kit, which was much appreciated the next day.

Allowing Yourself Time To Feel A Bit Down About It

There will be a moment each and every year where I miss him and I let myself miss him. I’m human and he’s one of my favourite people in the world. Normally this is before I go to sleep, but that’s also ok! I’d be slightly more worried if I didn’t miss him at all.

Making Up For Lost Time When You Can!

My 25th Birthday I had Ali at home and we made the most of it with a trip down to the seaside, some lunch and just time together which was really nice. It might not have been a crazy adventure but it made me so happy.

Have you had a long distance birthday? How did you make it more special? I’d love to know!

Why You Should Join A Book Club

Why You Should Join A Book Club

Last year I did something a little out of my comfort zone

Now, I’ll admit, my first book club I was so nervous. I’d been to one in my town before and it wasn’t great I didn’t gel with most of the people there and as far as I know it didn’t continue. On the day in question I was in the middle of a horrific flare causing me to get the time wrong and turn up half an hour late.

You are literally there to talk about books

Chances are if you’re looking at going to a book club then you like books. I don’t know about you but if you’re a total bookworm like me that alone is a reason to join. No one rolls their eyes when you get super excited about a new release or despair at a lackluster ending.

It’s a great way to meet new friends

I’ve met some of my closest friends in book club. I was already a regular at my local book shop but since joining the club I’ve made best friends that I now don’t know what I’d do without. I also ended up getting a job over Christmas and I only knew about it because of my visits!

You can explore reads you might not have picked up before

Book clubs are meant to show you new books you might not have read. We always vote on a range of books in a kind of knock out round system, the book with the most votes wins.

Thanks to the club, and my friend Maddie, I found a new fantasy series I adore The Mirror Visitor, starting with A Winter’s Promise which is an incredible book that you all need to read!

It gets you out of the house

I’m an introvert, I love nothing more than being left to drink lots of tea and stay in on my sofa in the evenings. Basically, I needed a reason to go out and see other people that didn’t rely on alcohol or spending a lot of money. This was the perfect excuse to get out while not being too out of my comfort zone.

It’s Fun

I have so much fun every month, we have snacks, I get a large cup of tea talk about the book with people. We don’t always stick to the chosen read, it’s perfectly normal for us to go off on a tangent here or there and sometimes I even go to the pub afterwards. It’s a nice feeling.

Are you part of a book club? I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading and if you were able to carry on virtually! Let me know!

The Only Goal I Have For The Rest Of 2020

The Only Goal I Have For The Rest Of 2020

Like many of you I started 2020 with some goals. I wanted to get fitter, slim down, get my wedding paid early so I didn’t have to worry about it at the end of the year. I wanted to work on my writing, carry on building my career, so many things.

Well, I don’t know about you but most of those goals went down the toilet from April. We have, collectively, gone through a major trauma as human beings. There aren’t many people who will end this year and go wow, what a great one. 2020 will go down in history…and it’s only August!

Whether you’ve been furloughed, lost your job completely, have been trying to home school or have been working the whole way through all of us have had challenges that we didn’t see coming or couldn’t have planned for. Funnily enough global pandemics which lead to entire countries locking down for months isn’t covered in any training course I’ve been to or exam I’ve ever taken.

A lot of things have also been taken from us they might be big things like not being able to attend the funeral of a loved one, missing out on meeting a newborn who you’ve loved since you found out they existed. It might have been something smaller – being able to hug your loved ones (this one I really struggled with) or going for a coffee with friends without anxiety taking over.

I’ve made no secret of the fact I’ve struggled a lot with my mental health, sometimes it feels as if I’ve got over one hurdle only to slip and fall at the next. It’s not a nice feeling. For me, personally, I’m sad about the big and the small things – I couldn’t take my sister with me to pick up my wedding dress, we’re wondering if the wedding we planned will happen, we’re moving at the end of the year as a result of the pandemic. It’s a lot, it really, really is.

I know I’m in a fortunate position. There are family and friends around me who are supporting in any way they can, we’ve managed to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. That said something has to give – which means I only have one goal, one expectation of myself for 2020.

To get through it.

After everything, for all of us, that has to be enough. So I am giving anyone reading this the nudge to let go of what you thought 2020 was going to be about. It’s not easy, I know, I’m awful at letting things go but we should normalise it.

One day, one hour, one minute at a time if you need to.

Just keep going.

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.