Podcasts I’m Loving!

It might seem like everyone who is anyone has a podcast. At the beginning of the year I started listening to podcasts on my journeys to and from London so I could feel like I was doing something while squeezed like a sardine on the train.

I started trialling a few podcasts and currently I have 4 that I’m listening to and waiting for each new episode! So, here are the podcasts I’m loving.

Ctrl Alt Delete with Emma Gannon

Emma’s is the first podcast I really got into after attending an event she hosted with one of my favourite authors, Jodi Picoult. The event itself was a podcast and I liked the way that Emma was and the types of questions that she asked.

The podcast was created in the run up to the release of Emma’s book of the same name and looks at our relationship with the online world. There are over 100 episodes that I’m slowly making my way through and there have been some really interesting guests that I would never have come across otherwise.

Find the podcast here.

The Try Pod with The Try Guys

If you haven’t seen the Try Guys on Youtube ummm where have you been? They’re absolutely hilarious and the last year has been a RIDE after they broke away from Buzzfeed and started their own company.

This is a fairly new podcast but I find myself laughing so hard when I’m listening to it. They’re pretty random at times, give questionable advice in the best way possible and are what you need in your life.

Find the podcast here.

Doing It with Hannah Witton

Another new podcast with one of my favourite YouTubers, Hannah Witton! Hannah is known for talking about sex, relationships and, more recently, living with a stoma. It has the same name as her first book and Hannah has just her second book The Hormone Diaries, it’s a great combination of the two.

While there are only a few episodes I’m really into them so far. Hannah’s clearly trying to get a really varied group of people to talk about their experiences.

Find the podcast here.

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink with Scarlett Curtis

I found out this existed with the start of the second season (is that what you call them?!), with the goddess that is Mindy Kaling. I love this, it’s a great extension of the book which I was a huge fan of. I can’t wait to go through all of the previous episodes and devour them!

Find the podcast here.

What are your favourite podcasts? Let me know in the comments below 👇🏻.

Book Review: Prince Charming (Royals) – Rachel Hawkins

It isn’t every day that your older sister is set to marry a member of the royal family, but that’s the position that Daisy and her family find themselves in – and she wants no part of it. She’s happy with her florida life, her mermaid red hair and staying out of the paparazzi’s way. But, when a whiff of scandal comes for Daisy she’s shipped off the Scotland…and it’s just the beginning of a royal rollercoaster.

I picked this up at YALC last year, but didn’t get around to it until earlier this year and I’m kicking myself for waiting that long! This is a light story but one that is a lot of fun and has a healthy dose of romance. When I bought my copy the novel was called Royals, this has been update this year to Prince Charming, with a new cover to die for.

First things first, our protagonist, Daisy, is an absolute delight. She’s hilarious but also glaringly normal – which is why you relate to her so much. There’s no rule book on what to do if you become in laws to the royal family or how to get on with the aristocracy when it’s a whole different world – I know I would struggle!

When Daisy meets the younger royals and their friends, Prince Seb, Monty and the rest of the ‘Royal Wreckers’ is when the fun really begins. As Monty is instructed to teach Daisy the royal ropes, he finds his work cut out for him. Daisy doesn’t fit the role of the traditional lady, but it’s because of that she can teach them a thing or two.

I really enjoyed seeing the relationship between Daisy and her older sister Ellie evolve throughout the book. It’s clear at the start they are very different people with different priorities but they need each other – even if they don’t always see it. I wish we saw more of the sister relationship in YA, this is part of the reason the novel really stood out for me.

I gave this 5 stars, this was an absolute joy to read. It had the perfect amount of romance, comedy and royalty for me to enjoy. I’ve recommended this to a lot of people and I will continue to. Keep an eye out for my review of the next book in the series (!!) following the roommate of Princess Flora.

My First Smear Test!

This year I got a letter I’d been waiting on. It was time to book my smear test, also known as a cervical screening. The letter came a little earlier than I expected, about 6 months before my 25th birthday. There wasn’t a question in my mind that I was going to book it as soon as possible.

Now, you’ve probably seen the adverts, you might have even got a letter and you’re a bit nervous. That’s normal but a little bit of embarrassment/feeling uncomfortable for a few moments could save your life.

So, to keep the conversation going I knew I was going to write about having my first smear test. Of course, I didn’t take a camera in to get the gory details, nobody needs to see that unless they’re a medical professional! Either way here’s my experience and answering any questions you might have.

So what happens?

After getting your letter you need to book an appointment, I had mine with a practice nurse, you can request to have a woman if that makes you more comfortable. The only thing you need to make sure of is that you’re not on your period/have just finished it and you can’t use Lube for 24 hours before I think. You get a handy leaflet with everything in it so take a read of that.

What happens in the appointment?

During your appointment you’ll chat with your nurse/doctor first about what’s going to happen, to make sure you consent and let you know the process for results. You will then be asked to go behind a curtain, take off your underwear and sit under a sheet.

Then comes the bit people are a little embarrassed about. It’s worth keeping in mind these people see so many vaginas, yours probably isn’t anything special (sorry!). Then they will use a tool called a speculum to open your cervix which can feel a little uncomfortable but try to relax as much as possible. Then they’ll use a little tool to get some cells from your cervix. It’s over in less that 2 minutes.

Can I have someone come in with me?

Yes! You can have someone in as a chaperone to make you more comfortable, just tell your doctor or nurse.

What about after?

I felt a little discomfort and had a little bit of bleeding but nothing major. I did go and get myself a treat after because, c’mon I did a good thing!

Now, where I live there was a backlog so I had to wait 4-6 weeks for my results. Hence why this blog is late – I wanted to make sure I knew my results before writing about it. Mine came back fine BUT as a note, if you do have abnormal cells this doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer – but there will be further investigation to check everything!

So, there we have it. My first smear is done and dusted and I won’t be having another for 3 years! How did you find your smear test? Let me know in the comments below!

The Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag 2019

As of the morning of 1st June I had read a total of 47 books this year, according to Goodreads I’m 6 books ahead of schedule for my 100 book goal (although, really I’d like to get 120). I feel like that’s a good variety to post the Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag! I also did this tag last year and it was really fun. So let’s see what I’m loving this year.

Best Book Of The Year So Far

So far I think it’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo! I know I’m so late to the party and I actually read Daisy Jones & The Six first but Evelyn is my favourite.

I listened to this on Audible and the narration was absolutely perfect, I was listening to it every waking moment and got through it super quickly and now I recommend it to everyone.

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

Red,White and Royal Blue is probably my most anticipated read of the summer. I’ve been watching everyone in the US raving over this book and I am so desperate for my copy! An LGBTQ romance with a royal element? Gimme, gimmie, gimmie!

Most Anticipated Release Of Autumn/Winter

I loved P.S I Love you and the fact that there is going to be a follow up made me so happy. So, of course I’ve ordered Postscript by Cecelia Ahern which comes out the day after my birthday. Seems like a good start to turning 25.

Biggest Disappointment Of The Year So Far

I hate this questions but it has to be The Mermaids Voice Returns In This One by Amanda Lovelace. I loved her previous 2 poetry collections in the series The Princess Saves Herself In This One and The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One and I love mermaids but this just seemed rushed to me unfortunately.

Biggest Surprise So Far

Your Heart Is The Sea was sent to me by the publisher and I’ve read Gill’s poetry before and it was okay but then this came in the post. This is the first collection I’ve felt a deep connection with, I felt like this was written for me. I related to every page and really hope to read more of this from Gill in the years to come.

New Favourite Author

Taylor Jenkins Reid

I’m obsessed with Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books. I got through 2 full novels and a shorter story within a matter of weeks. The characters are so alive and lived within my head for a long time after I finished reading.

So, I’m slowly making my way through all of her books and I’ll be watching her social media for her next amazing book, although as Daisy Jones came out not so long ago I know it’ll be worth the wait!

Your Newest Favourite Character

There is no character that jumps out as my new favourite so far!

A Book That Made You Cry

The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton is about a man who spends decades in prison not only for a crime he didn’t commit, but could not have been involved in at all. His only crime was being poor and black and this was a tough read. A beautifully written book that broke my heart.

A Book That Made You Happy

Are you ready for one of the CUTEST books you’ve ever read? Heartstopper by Alice Oseman made my heart so happy it’s a really sweet graphic novel about friendship and love. So, so, sweet.

The Most Beautiful Book So Far

Out of books I’ve read it’s Five Feet Apart not only is this a beautifully written (and emotional) book, this cover is absolutely beautiful it’s such a delicate design too. Love, love, love it.

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

Book Review: The Paper and Hearts Society – Lucy Powrie

Tabby Brown is tired of trying to fit in. She doesn’t want to go to parties – in fact, she would much rather snuggle up on the sofa with her favourite book. It’s like she hasn’t found her people …

Then Tabby joins a club that promises to celebrate books. What could go wrong? EVERYTHING – especially when making new friends brings out an AWKWARD BUZZING feeling all over her body.

If you’re a big fan of YA in the UK you might join in on UKYA chat hosted by none other than Lucy Powrie so when we found out she was publishing a book of course I preordered it. THEN I got super lucky and was granted an advance reader copy through Netgalley (thank you to Lucy, the publisher and Netgalley) and I’m so glad I did. Welcome to the Paper and Hearts Society.

Since Tabby moved in with her Grandma making friends hasn’t been at the top of her priority list. Who needs friends when you have books, right? It’s only after going to the library she finds a leaflet for a new book club and decides to take the plunge. While fighting with her anxiety and past experiences. Lucy writes about anxiety so well, there are few books that have such good representation.

This is truly a book about friendship and finding your way. Overall it is a sweet read and has a very diverse group of characters, although I have to say it doesn’t seem forced. It simply represents young people today and the lives they may have.

I will say that at first I wasn’t sure if I was the ideal reader at the old age of 24. I could take a guess at some of what was going to happen and I felt a little too old but the more I read the more I fell in love with the book and characters. It didn’t matter I’d work some things out ahead of time I just wanted more.

Also a huge shout out, which I sent Lucy a DM about, to the love for Sylvia Plath throughout the book. I am a HUGE Plath fan, The Bell Jar is one of my top books of all time, her poetry was incredible and it is so rare to see Plath mentioned in YA. So, on a personal note I really enjoyed seeing that and I feel it gave great insight into Tabby and her character.

I gave this 4 out of 5 stars a solid first novel and I’m really looking forward to reading the next books in the series. A huge congratulations to Lucy! Thanks again to Lucy, the publisher and Netgalley for this opportunity.

What I Read In May 2019

May turned out to be a pretty good reading month, even if I was a little slower with some of my books. I got through a total of 7 books this month, 1 audiobook, 5 physical books and 1 ebook.

I read a fair few books about the Holocaust this month, I don’t know why. I picked up Questions I Am Asked About The Holocaust by Heidi Fried, a short read that answers questions that are commonly asked after her talks. A great start if you want to find out more about the Holocaust.

The Cut Out Girl was one of my audiobooks this month. Again it is based on the holocaust and the live of a young woman who was hidden multiple times and the impact that this had on her and the rest of her life. A really harrowing read and from a perspective I haven’t read about before.

I also read White Rose which was a pre-order, this tells the story of Sophie Schroll and the White Rose Society. The society was a part of the nazi resistance and this was a really interesting way to tell their story as it is written in verse.

Every month I try to add to my poetry collection so I wanted to try Lang Leav as there is quite a collection of her poetry in my local bookshop. I picked up Love Looks Pretty On You, I liked it – however I want to read more of Leav’s work before making a decision on how I feel about her poetry.

I was sent How Not To Lose It : Mental Health Sorted by Anna Willamson to have a read during mental health week. This is aimed at younger readers and I think it would be a great book for all 11-14 year olds to have access to. It answers a lot of questions about mental health that young people have but might not know how to address.

My next read was one I have been so excited to read and that’s The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucie Powrie. Lucy runs UKYA Chat and is absolutely lovely and I was gifted an early release copy – it turned out to be such a sweet and uplifting read. Admittedly, at 24 I wasn’t the target audience but I really enjoyed the development of the friendships and all the bookish references!

And my final book for May was The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life And Freedom On Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton. I was also granted to be for review by the publishers and wow was this emotional. He spent nearly 20 years on death row for a crime he was in no way connected with. I felt angry, upset and frustrated with the lack of justice. A really interesting read.

What did you read last month? I’d love to hear your recommendations below!

Book Review: Voices Of Powerful Women by Zoe Sallis

Voices of Powerful Women is a very unique book. A range of questions are asked to powerful women, some of them you will know, others you might not. For me, there were quite a few I didn’t know but I still got a lot out of their responses. Featuring politicians, environmentalists, humanitarians, entrepreneurs, musicians, artists, actors, world leaders and Nobel Peace Prize winners there is a real variety.

When I requested this on Netgalley, I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t really want to know too much. Reading the opinions of successful women? Of course, I would want to read it. While it took me a little to get into the format when I did I flew through it, although I did take some breaks to look up the women in more detail.

I will say there are some voices in the book that didn’t seem to add much, Yoko Ono being one of them. I felt her answers didn’t really add anything to a wider conversation, it was usually only a sentence or two. Whereas other women seemed to give really thoughtful and insightful.

This would make a great resource for anyone who is doing a little bit of soul searching. I know it made me really question the world around me as well as the answers I would have given to these questions if they were asked to me.

To give you an idea of the kinds of opinions and the women you will read from when reading this book, the following women contributed; Isabel Allende, Christiane Amanpour, Maya Angelou, Hanan Ashrawi, Joan Baez, Benazir Bhutto, Mary Kayitesi Blewitt, Emma Bonino, Shami Chakrabarti, Jung Chang, Kate Clinton, Marie Colvin, Marion Cotillard, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, Carla Del Ponte, Judi Dench, Shirin Ebadi, Tracey Emin, Jane Fonda, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Dagmar Havlová, Swanee Hunt, Bianca Jagger, Nataša Kandić, Kathy Kelly, Martha Lane Fox, Dame Ann Leslie, Professor Wangari Maathai, Mairead Maguire, Mary McAleese, Soledad O’Brien, Sinéad O’Connor, Yoko Ono, Mariane Pearl, Kim Phuc, Paloma Picasso, Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, Paula Rego, Louise Ridley, Mary Robinson, Jody Williams.

Overall, I gave this 4 stars. This was a really intriguing read and when I finished I felt empowered by the words I had read as well as the women whose voices I was reading. A really excellent collection would recommend.

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