Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Fifty-One – Things I Want To Keep

I know my last few lockdown posts have focused a lot on struggles that I’ve had in particular. I think it’s a pretty accurate representation of where my brain has been for a little while. We’re over 50 days in now and that is a long time to go without being able to hug your family or friends, right?

That said, when people talk about going back to ‘normal’ I think there are a few things I’d like to keep, a few positives that I’ve found and enjoyed. I hope I can carry these forward and I think other people are thinking along the same lines.

Having time to enjoy as a couple

While the entire sound industry shutting down is not ideal in the slightest it has meant that I’ve had Ali home for a long time. Normally I’m used to him working until late in the night or going away on tour.

We’ve had time to curl up and watch films together which is just really nice in itself. He might need to drag me off of my laptop to do it but it is calming. I know that he will go back to work, and I want him to because he loves his job but I think I’d like to make sure we spend the time differently.

Catching up with old friends

I’ve found myself talking to people I haven’t in a while and I’ve realised how much I’ve missed their company. While I can’t see my little introvert self meeting up with people all the time when we’re allowed it’s nice to catch up and see how people are doing. I want to do more of that.

Making weekends less digital

I don’t need to have my laptop or phone on to catch messages and emails about any potential work at the weekend so they’ve actually become a lot less digital. They’re for reading, sleeping and maybe writing some blogs if I feel up to it.

I’ve really enjoyed just using the weekend as quiet time for me and my brain to just log off for a bit, particularly when I wake up and have some quiet.

Going for walks when I can

It’s not always possible for me to go for long walks, depending on my pain levels but it has been quite nice to go out for a little walk to my local parks. Obviously I won’t be going it in the winter when it’s pissing it down but while the weathers nice I quite enjoy it.

Is there anything you’d like to keep after lockdown? Let me know below!

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Forty-Eight - It's Ok To Feel Frustrated

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Forty-Eight – It’s Ok To Feel Frustrated

It’s been a little while since my last Livin’ La Vida Lockdown post, mostly because I needed some space after feeling like giving up. Also, I wanted to mix it up little bit because I have other things I want to talk about too!

The longer this goes on, the more often I find myself prone to bouts of frustration, anger and upset – particularly after last night’s speech by the Prime Minister. I think we’ve gotten to the point where it doesn’t matter who you support politically, we just want some clarity. Most importantly we want to feel safe and protected, which I don’t right now.

While I want to keep the blog positive, I also want to be realistic. I am frustrated and worried. I can’t help but think, when will I next be able to see my family and friends? When Ali will be able to get back to some kind of sound work? Are the people I love safe? Will my wedding go ahead?

If there was a lockdown for 3 more months just to keep people safe of course I’d follow it. Asking those questions and feelings of frustration don’t take away from that, but we’re still allowed to miss and want things. We’re human.

While we might be used to a ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ spirit, you’re still allowed to feel what you feel and miss smaller things that might be silly to others.

It’s also ok to question those in charge and what they’re doing. We are allowed to disagree with decisions that are being made and have been made in the past. Do I think they should be considering sending the little ones who don’t understand social distancing back to school? Absolutely not. Do I think this has been handled well? Not really when looking at the approaches other countries took.

Let yourself feel what you need to feel to get through and remember you’re not alone.

Bite Me: The Twilight Reread

Bite Me: Announcing The 2020 Twilight Reread

Let’s take it waaaaay back to 2008. I’m 13 years old, I’m seeing this boy that I kind of really like and there’s this film called Twilight being advertised everywhere for later in the year. It’s one of my friends favourite books and so I buy a copy, and then the next and the next and the next. The cute boy is still my boyfriend in December and takes me to see the film of one of my new favourite series of all time. 

To say I was a Twilight fan wouldn’t be accurate. To say I was a Twihard would be bang on. Those books took over. I had the posters, the soundtracks, the movie books. On a family holiday to the states in 2009 I went to Hot Topic and let myself loose coming home with pin badges, a hoodie, patches and a limited edition record. I fell hard. 

When the Bree Tanner book came out I went and picked up my pre order and read it in a day. While I gave up on the films after Eclipse, the books have always had a place on my shelves (although it has been dangerously close to being donated multiple times)…and now we have Midnight Sun. 

Now, most people read the leaked versions online but I didn’t, if it wasn’t meant to be published I didn’t want to read it. So I don’t really know what it was like, the quality, how different it was etc.

As a 20-something woman I know Twilight is problematic but I can’t lie and say I didn’t love that series. As a teenager I adored it and so did millions of us. Did I find the imprinting thing super weird? Yes, yes I did it was and still is beyond bizarre, more than a bit creepy and I’m still not ok with that element.

I read an article this morning that wondered if we would see Edward’s behaviour highlighted as toxic and not ideal. I don’t know if we will but it’s going to be interesting to see this in a post me-too era.

With Midnight Sun coming out in a matter of months(?!) I thought it would be the perfect time to get around to that Twilight reread I’d been considering. Of course I’m going to take you guys along for the ride and a new bookish series on the blog appropriately called Bite Me.I hope you’ll join me because I am damn nervous about rereading a book that meant so much to me as a teenager.

Are you going to be reading Midnight Sun? I’d love to know!

P.S That boy I kinda liked? It’s the one I’m marrying, if you hadn’t guessed. 😉

What I Read In April 2020 – Part 2

Welcome to the second part of my April reading wrap-up. Will I do as well in May? Who knows? I’m hoping to focus on some longer books on my physical TBR. Missed part 1? You can catch up here.

Let’s get on with the next reads.

As part of the Easter Readathon I also read Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, a Japanese short novel about time travel. It can be quite an emotional read. I thought it was interesting, it was a 3 star read for me.

I then wanted to pick up a few more graphic based books to make me laugh which lead me to All My Friends Are Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John. This is a quick flick through and quite funny – a 3 star read for me.

I also found the Sarah’s Scribbles books by Sarah Andersen after really enjoying the first one. These are short cartoons but I found myself laughing along and seeing myself in them. Big Mushy Happy Lump was a 4 star read for me and Herding Cats was a 3 star.

All My Friends Are Still Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John I found was better than the first volume and really came into its own.

Next up number 4 in the Wayward Children’s series, In An Absent Dream this follows Lundy and her story. I found this one a little slow to start with but still enjoyable and worthy of 4 stars.

Us by Curtis Wicklund is a really sweet collection of sketches that he drew over a year of him and his partner. A really sweet and quick read – 3.5 stars.

Ok, so Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire was amaaaaaazing. Another look at Jack and Jill in a different light and that’s all I can say but I loved it and it was a solid 5 stars.

I got an ARC from Netgalley of Love Your Body by Jessica Sanders and illustrated by Carol Rossetti is a wonderful book about body positivity and diversity. Beautifully illustrated and with a great message – I can’t wait to get a physical copy.

There are cartoons of Lady Stuff online so I thought I might as well give Lady Stuff: Secrets To Being A Woman by Loryn Brantz a go. It was quite repetitive and not that memorable, a 2 star read for me.

Debbie Tung’s Quiet Girl In A Noisy World – Debbie Tung made me feel seen. It was very much like reading my life, particularly the working situations. I love Debbie’s illustrations and I *think* there is another one coming out soon about relationships – I hope I can get hold of it in the UK.

I also picked up another Christina Lauren audiobook and adored it. Roomies is set in New York, it has music and arts and romance and everything was just perfect. The little musical theatre geek in me was squealing with happiness. Is it any surprise it was a 5 star read for me?

Last but not least, I won a copy of Noelle Stevenson’s The Fire Never Goes Out in Kate’s Easter giveaway. I’d seen it recommended and the illustrations looked great. Plus, I’m interested in memoirs from late teens/early twenties. This is a great read and looked at creativity, depression and identity – a 4 star read for me. It also made me finally order a copy of Nimona.

And that’s that! Over 20 reads – have you read any of them or do you want to? Let me know in the comments below!

What I Read In April 2020 – Part 1

Posting my what I read post within the first few days of the month? Who am I? April was a funny old month, wasn’t it? The outside was pretty terrible and it was demanded we stay home. It turns out staying in for an entire month can do wonders for your reading – who knew.

I read over 20 books this month, most of them are short because my concentration has been shot but overall I’m past half way on my Goodreads goal. Woo! Because there were quite a few I’ve separated this into 2 blogs. It might be a long one so let’s get going.

The first book I finished this month was With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo. It’s about a teenager with dreams of becoming a chef but she’s also a teenage Mum and trying to work her way through life for herself and her daughter. I LOVED this book, it was quite chill but had beautiful writing and I was cheering Emoni on the whole way. A 5 star read.

Next up, I got Scribd and realised there was a LOT of poetry on there so I downloaded To Drink Coffee With A Ghost by Amanda Lovelace. This was an ok read, there were some good parts but they’re starting to become very similar and merge into one…

I also read To Make Monsters Out of Girls by the same author and honestly I read it a month ago and I can’t remember much about it at all apart from the fact that it’s about a toxic mother daughter relationship. 2 stars.

After hearing about Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire on BookTube a LOT and I finally had access to the audiobook. At first I was very confused and it is a very strange novel but also it’s so good. I needed the next one straight away (I ended up listening to the whole series in a few weeks and I can’t wait for the next one). It’s all about children who come back from magical worlds. It was a 4.5 star read for me.

And go on to the next book I did – Down Among The Sticks And Bones! Jack and Jill are probably my favourite characters in the series but they’re not entirely likeable. I just find them and their world fascinating. In this book we learn more about them and it’s probably my favourite of the series – 4.5 stars!

Next up was Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan and was for the Easter Readathon. I’ve had this for a while and not got around to it, it’s about 2 high schoolers who want to start a women’s rights group. This was an ok read – there are some really important points but overall, for me, it was just ok. A 3 star read.

The third installment of the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire – I told you I got through them! Beneath The Sugar Sky was a really odd one, I enjoyed it but this is about a land of nonsense. Another 4 star read and a return from a few past characters.

I was also lucky enough to get an ARC of The Eve Illusion by Tom and Giovanna Fletcher, the second book of the Eve of Man trilogy. Oh this was so worth the wait and so, so good. I read it in a day and then ordered the physical book.

Discovering Debbie Tung’s books made me SO happy. Book Love is one for book lovers and I want to buy a copy for all my bookish friends because it’s so true but also adorable.

I also finally got to read Heavy Vinyl Vol 1 and damn I loved it. Good representation and I can’t wait for volume 2.

That’s the end of part 1 of what I read in April! Have you read any of these? I’d love to know your thoughts below or catch me on Twitter! Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for part 2!

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-Eight - The Week I Wanted To Give Up

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-Eight – The Week I Wanted To Give Up

Well, what a bloody week. It’s definitely one that deserves a large gin…or three. I think this has been the toughest week for me, mentally. Literally as soon as I woke up on Monday this cloud of sadness was above my head. I couldn’t think and all I could feel was my foggy brain and a tidal wave of emotions. I have been SUPER fun to live with (sorry Ali).

This was the first time where I just felt like giving up. I couldn’t focus on anything, I didn’t have that much work to do and everything just felt pointless. I’m pretty sure the weather didn’t help as I noticed a LOT of people mentioning a dip in their mood.

I’ve always had a thing about wanting to to be doing something productive most of the time. I’ve mentioned before that I find it hard to relax and switch off which I’m working on but when I’m not in a great mental state it goes out of the window. To feel useful I have to be doing something, right? I know I’m not alone in this.

That was until Wednesday afternoon, all my calls were done and Ali decided we were going to start our Marvel marathon whether I liked it or not. He got pillows, the duvet and put on Disney Plus. We ended up spending the next 6 hours watching Captain Marvel, Captain America and Iron Man before eating burgers together. Thursday was pretty similar.

Today was much better and I knew it as soon as I woke up. I just felt more capable getting out of bed. There wasn’t a struggle to get dressed and showered. I grabbed my laptop and made a to do list. I think I’m getting through.

Whether you’re someone who’s had dealings with depression before or these are new feelings it’s hard and it can feel so completely overwhelming. Everything and nothing feels too much.

Needless to say I’m not giving up but I wanted to write this to be honest. Because there will be people who are also struggling and feel bad because of it. There will be people who can’t be open and honest with people at home about how they’re feeling for whatever reason. I wanted to say it’s ok. It is ok. Next week is another week. We’ll get through this.

Book Review: The Black Flamingo - Dean Atta

Book Review: The Black Flamingo – Dean Atta

A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.

*I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am applauded.*

This book is definitely a coming of age novel with a twist. I, personally, have never read a book about how someone becomes a drag queen. Personally, I think it is an amazing creative art form and the make up skills? Damn.

A few people I know have pushed back from reading this because it’s written in verse, which I understand. When I read my first novel in verse as a teenager I didn’t get it BUT now I see it as a really creative way of telling a story. If you’re new to novels in verse this is a great place to start because it flows so well and it’s easy to just read it and forget because you’re so absorbed in the story.

This is a story about finding who you are, about balancing expectations and family with your own truth. It looks at the LGBTQ community and drag but I think this could speak to anyone who has struggled with working out who they are and who they want to be. I could relate because I also started to work myself out at university and found confidence I didn’t know I had.

The story also follows Michael’s realisation that he is gay and what this meant for him as well as his crushes, relationships and the like. I’m pretty sure all of us can relate to teenage crushes.

The poetry within the pages were absolutely beautiful! Also the flow from around the middle to the second half seemed effortless, even though I know it must have taken a long time to put together.

This was a 4 star read for me, incredibly interesting, well written and, for me at least, very original in both the way it was written and the story it told. I will say that towards the beginning I struggled a little bit, particularly with Michael’s younger years but found as he got to university I could relate.