Dear 2020, It’s About Time You Leave

Dear 2020,

I don’t know why I’m starting with formality when, quite frankly, you’ve been more than a bit of a bastard. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see the back of a year, nor have I been more relieved not to have to ‘celebrate’ on New Years Eve.

There were a lot of plans I made for you, things I’ve been waiting for for a long time. I think it was the same for a lot of people. When the virus hit China I followed what was being said, it was just like the flu right? Some people got really sick but most people were ok. Oh, what a sweet summer child I was.

Then it spread and it spread some more, things started changing, countries locking down. Then we did too, sat in the living room watching a Prime Minister give a ‘special briefing’ we weren’t to leave the house but only until June. I’d make it until June apart from the fear of even taking my bins out, the regular paralysing panic attacks and the lack of work. Then June came and went, this thing still sticking around but it would be fine by September, I’d still go to Paris and then celebrate my birthday. I picked up my wedding dress in a mask and the count down was on, maybe this year could be saved? Nope – cancelled and cancelled, while we also lost 2 more adored pets.

The hitter came, schools reopened, we’d eaten out to help out and then cases are rising again. There are whispers – should we be cancelling our wedding? Hen dos cancelled, another lockdown in November and messages to those we know and love that the wedding is postponed another year – I’ll be a 2022 bride. Another month of hiding at home, this time packing because we have to leave soon. December you tried to kick again – a positive Covid test, days before Christmas and the unexpected passing of a beloved pet the day before the last of 2020.

In short, I’m tired. And I don’t even feel like I can complain because you’d taken so much from all of us. Loved ones, jobs, security, health, comfort. Take, take, take.

While I don’t want to thank you for ‘making me stronger’ or ‘building resilience’ (let’s be honest would rather not have had to deal with these things), I don’t want to forget knowing that I did get through it. That punch after punch I managed to keep my head above water, even if every now and again I got pulled under. I’m leaving this year battered, bruised and limping to the end but I managed it.

So, you can go – I hope what follows is kinder.

Blogmas 2020: The Best & Worst Books Of Each Month!

When I saw Hailey in Bookland doing this idea on her channel I knew it would be a good (and hard) challenge for myself. I’ve read some absolute crackers this year and it’s been an excellent year for releases with some books published in 2020 being in my top books ever category (I’m looking at you, Addie LaRue).

If you want to see everything I’ve read in 2020 then hold tight, it’s coming a little later in the month! At the time of writing this there are 117 books – it’s been a good reading year. Also, it’s worth noting that I DNF books I really don’t like so while these may be the ‘worst’ I read they were still good enough for me to finish.

January

Best – The Only Plane In The Sky

It may seem strange to rate it the ‘best’, it’s such a well written and fascinating book – even if it is about something as heartbreaking as 9/11. This has so many stories of various people who were there, who were with the president at the time and others. A crucial book for learning about something that changed the world so much.

Worst – Sunday’s Child

I was so disappointed but there wasn’t anything memorable about this, I thought it would at least be an insight into a german child’s view of the war but I didn’t really get anything from it.

February

Best- Letters on Motherhood – Giovanna Fletcher

She may now be Queen of the Castle but Gi is also an author and I absolutely love her non-fiction on motherhood. I got this as soon as it came out as I absolutely loved Happy Mum, Happy Baby even though I don’t have any human babies. Before HMHB, I loved watching Gi’s vlogs and blogs and I’m hoping to listen to the podcast in the new year. You can read my review here.

Worst – Fascism and Democracy – George Orwell

I struggle with George Orwell. I read Animal Farm at school and thought it was brilliant, I still do. I tried to tread Homage to Catalonia at uni and couldn’t get through it. Then I thought I should read Fascism and Democracy and it was super short but it could have been even shorter. So much waffle. I think I just need to accept that George Orwell isn’t for me.

March

This was a TOUGH month to pick because there were a few stand outs.

Best- The Gravity of Us – Phil Stamper

I met Phil while we both studied at Kington University as he was undertaking his MA and was so excited to read his book because he’s lovely. The Gravity of Us not only made me interested in space and NASA but it was also really clever in how it was put together and how social media was incorporated. You can read my review here.

Worst – Break your glass slippers – Amanda Lovelace

During Lockdown I got Scribd which meant that I could finish off reading the Amanda Lovelace books that I hadn’t bought yet. I think I’m at a point where I’m just not gelling with her work anymore which is fine – it’s just not for me.

April

I read over 20 books in April, because Lockdown which means I gave you a part 1 and part 2 roundup

Best- The Eve Illusion – Tom and Giovanna Fletcher

I love this series and read the second book in 24 hours, also, while I did see the ending coming it was still super exciting when it did! I can’t wait for book 3, the end of the series, which is due to be released in March next year and my copy is already pre ordered. You can read my review here.

Worst – Lady Stuff: Secrets To Being A Woman by Loryn Brantz

I’m a fan of the cartoons but the book just seemed very repetitive

May

Best- Hold Still – Nina LaCour

This book was absolutely beautiful. There was love, pain and Nina’s incredible writing. I’ve definitely found another favourite author after starting with We Are Okay this year.

Worst – A Quick & Easy Guide To Consent – Isabella Rotman

I got this as an ARC on Netgalley and I couldn’t gel with it. For something that’s meant to be aimed at teenagers it felt quite patronising and a little too young.

June

Best- Bloom – Kevin Panetta

This graphic novel was not only beautiful in all its hues of blue, but it was also a sweet and lovely story that deserves all the love it gets.

Worst – Bantam – Jackie Kay

I wish I could tell you more about this but the fact that I can barely remember anything says it all. Also there didn’t seem to be a great flow to the poems either.

July

Best- Dear NHS 100 Stories To Say Thank You – edited by Adam Kay

I think that Adam Kay is an excellent writer and I recommend This Is Going To Hurt to just about everyone. So in the summer he pulled together a lot of celebrities and high profile people to write about their experiences and thank the NHS, it also raised money to support them. If this year and this book highlights anything, it’s how much it needs to be protected.

Worst – The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

Another unpopular opinion I couldn’t get on with this book and found the protagonist really annoying. It might be because I’ve learnt a fair bit about the LA riots but I just didn’t care for her perspective.

August

Best- The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V.E Schwab

Addie, Addie, Addie you are perfection and I can’t begin to explain how much I love this book. I will be getting a tattoo of the constellation though so that should tell you something. Beautiful, lyrical and I want all my friends to read it.

Worst – All Hail The Queen – Twenty Women Who Ruled by Jennifer Orkia Lewis & Shweta Jha

Now, this isn’t a bad book at all – August was another great month. I think I would have liked more information on the Queens and their lives. This is a book kind of like Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls but more obscure.

September

Best- Finding Joy – Gary Andrews

I came across this on my birthday and picked it up with a curious mind. This is a stunning exploration of grief through art.

Worst – Felix Ever After – Kacen Callender

I know this is an unpopular opinion but I didn’t like this book. I couldn’t get on with the protagonist and found it quite boring.

October

A tough month because there weren’t any books I particularly didn’t like!

Best- Serpent and Dove – Shelby Mahuir

This is one of my new favourite series, a Witch and a Witch Hunter end up married? Umm hello! Also I love Lou, she’s got a special place in my heart because I understand her sarcasm.

Worst – Ms Marvel Vol 1

I think, for a first volume it was ok, but it didn’t have me rushing to get volume 2.

November

Ahh I loved all of the books I read in November – how do I choose?

Best- Blood and Honey – Shelby Mahuir

Although it started slower than the first in the series, I was hooked and could not stop reading, we now have to wait until August 2021 to read what happens next after that ending. At least it’s something to look forward to.

Worst – Homebody – Rupi Kaur

Controversial because I love Rupi Kaur, I just found the first half of this collection a lot harder to get into which is why it’s here, but I still think it’s a good read and I recommend it!

December

I’ve only finished 2 book sso far this month…between Blogmas and moving I’ve hardly read at all! Let’s hope from next week I can change that!

Blogmas 2020 – Giving Myself a Break

Ho, ho, hello!

I think it’s about time I took some of my own advice. If you read one of my most recent posts about how to save spoons over Christmas , you’ll know I said it was important to ask do I really need to do the thing? And be compassionate to yourself. Those are things I haven’t exactly been doing myself.

In the past week we’ve been in the process of moving house (we couldn’t renew thanks to covid destroying the events industry overnight). So, for the time being we’ve move in with family, while other member have taken some of our stuff into storage, helped us out etc. Physically and emotionally it’s been draining.

I initially planned to have most of my Blogmas content written nice and early so I did’t have to much to think about – now it’s the 13th December, I’ve missed 2 days and I was feeling rather shit about myself. I’ve kept my head above water in 2020 just about but now I feel absolutely battered.

While I was worrying that I wasn’t posting I had to stop myself, why was this one of the things I was beating myself up over? Actually, there’s a lot of things on the list I should probably stop being mean to myself about because no matter what depression tells me, most of the time it’s not actually my fault. Global pandemic? Not my fault. Work being tricky because there’s less of it. Also not my fault. Having to leave home because of the implications of said pandemic – you guessed it. Not my fault.

I guess I’m writing this because I know there will be other people out there who are stressed. Who feel like everything is their fault and they could have done better or tried harder. That there are others who will fight anyone who makes their friends and family feel less but are their absolute worst critic.

Here’s the thing, no one is going to die if I don’t write a blog post. A terrible thing isn’t going to happen if I don’t post every day in Blogmas. Basically, I’m trying to give myself a break – which I don’t do often enough.

I hope if you’re reading this and are feeling the same way then it might bring you a little comfort to know you’re not alone.

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.

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.

What I Read In May And June 2020

Am I posting this in the middle of July, yes, yes I am.

After April’s mammoth reading month which featured a part 1 and part 2 wrap up because there were so many books, it felt like I read hardly anything in May and June.

It turns out I was wrong, while I did dip into a lot of shorter reads I’m pleased to say that there was a good mix. I also managed a good number of LGBTQ books in May and June and while the original TBR didn’t happen (surprise, surprise) I will carry on in the coming months.

Let’s get into the books!

I finished ‘I Will Not Be Erased” Our Stories About Growing-Up As People Of Colour by Gal-dem at the beginning of the month. This was a collection of work by people of colour and I learnt a lot about things that I couldn’t experience myself. I’d highly recommend it which is why it was a 5 star read for me.

I was given A Quick & Easy Guide To Consent to review via NetGally and this one wasn’t really for me. I’m not sure if it is aimed at younger readers but it came across as a little bit patronising.

So, Clap When You Land is one of my favourite books of the year so far, I’m almost certain that it will be in my top ten. Beautifully written with a plot that I just couldn’t put down. 5 stars and I’m recommending it to everyone.

I read my second Nina LaCour book, Hold Still and I think I liked it just as much if not more than We Are Okay. It follows Caitlin as she tries to navigate life without her best friend, who she recently lost to suicide. The way LaCour writes is magical and I adore it. Another 5 star read.

I finally got around to reading Nimona and what took me so damn long?! I laughed out loud reading but this graphic novel also has a lot of heart. I got a little emotional at the end as well. Again we have a 5 star read – I know it was a bloody good few months.

I got an early copy of Frankie Comics by Rachel Dukes via NetGalley. This is a must for any cat owner it’s absolutely adorable and I just fell in love with the cuteness of it all.

I really loved The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary last year, it was sweet, funny and really well narrated. So of course I wanted to read her next novel The Switch (and I’ve already added her third to my TBR), I listened to it on Audible as I did the first book and it was equally sweet. You don’t often get perspectives from peoples nans but I really loved it – Eileen was my favourite. 4.5 starts for me.

What Would Boudicca Do was one I’d had for a while and wanted to give a chance to. While I did find out about interesting women it wasn’t for me. It felt like it was trying too hard to be cool and down with the kids. I did finish it but put it into the donate pile. 3 stars for me.

I’ve not read a Monica Hesse book before and thought this would be a good one to start with. They Went Left follows a young woman after she is liberated by a concentration camp and the search for her brother. I appreciated this novel and the story it was telling but the ending really bothered me. That’s all I can say and this was a 3 star read for me.

Read With Pride is the second book in the Paper And Hearts Society series by the lovely Lucy Powrie. This follows Olivia and her fight after her school tries to make it impossible to take out books with LGBTQ characters while at the same time trying to do her best in exams, see her girlfriend and friends… A 4 star read for me!

Another book I’ve been meaning to get to since it came out was The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven who also wrote one of my favourite YA books The Exact Opposite of Okay . A novel about a teen who wants to work out love and will experiment to work out the one formulae she hasn’t cracked so far. This was a strange one that I wasn’t sure of at first but by the end I was crying tears of joy.

If you’re looking for a cute graphic novel with beautiful artwork then do yourself a favour and read Bloom. I read this in record time, sent a message to my friend and they also read it super quickly. It felt so real and also so sweet. 5 stars, of course!

I Moved To Los Angeles To Work In Animation was recommended to me on Scribd and it was well worth it. I enjoyed the illustration, the honesty that Natalie shares and that she also adds in thoughts from other people who work in animation. A great book for people who are interested in Animation and those interested in memoirs – 4 stars.

I haven’t read any Jackie Kay before but have heard about her before. Bantam was one that didn’t quite work for me as it didn’t seem to flow in a way I could appreciate. Also I find it difficult to read accents, particularly in poetry as there is less time to get used to them. Not memorable for me so a 2 star.

I listened to All Boys Aren’t Blue after seeing it raved about everywhere. I’m not sure if it was just the audiobook but I found it a little disjointed. I did, however, learn a lot about growing up black and queer in the US – something I know little about. Overall a 3 star read for me.

Love On The Main Stage by S.A. Domingo was sent to me for review by the publisher and this is an adorable YA novel that is perfect for the summer. It follows sixteen year old Nova as she works the festival circuit during the summer on her family’s food truck. She then meets Sam, a cute American and romance ensues… A 4 star read!

I’ve waiting for Happily Ever After & Everything In Between by Debbie Tung to come out on Scribd and I was not disappointed. This is such a sweet collection and one that I could relate to again. And that ending!!! 5 stars from me.

And there we have it! Are there any you want to read or have read? Let me know in the comments below!

Welcome to the 20s!

Happy New Year! Well that’s it we’re into the 20s!

Going into a new decade makes me feel excited and nervous. Of course a lot usually changes in a decade but this one seems more grown up…it’s the decade that I’ll hit my 30s. I’m going to get married, I plan to hopefully be a Mum and move to a house at some point. Although, I’m not making any solid plans or promises.

That said, I’m taking it day by day, month by month, year by year. I have things I would like to do/ to happen in this decade but I don’t want to put a huge amount of pressure on myself if that makes sense? I’m going to hit 30 and that’s making me freak out a tiny bit because there’s this big idea of everything you should have done.

Anyway, I digress. I’m looking forward to this year, to seeing what happens and trying my hardest!

So, in 2020 I’m aiming to

  • Work on my fitness but also love my body in the process
  • Actually start on my bloody book
  • Be kinder to myself in regards to my mental health
  • Save, save, save for our honeymoon
  • Work hard on my freelance career and projects I enjoy

What are you looking forward to in 2020? Let me know below!

My Hopes For 2020

We’ve done it. It’s the last day of 2019 and we’re about to go into a new decade. The 2010s were full of growing and change, I left school, I left college, got my degree, started my career. The 2020s are also going to be full of change, I’ll be getting married in 2021, this will be the decade I hopefully have children, maybe put a deposit down on a house. It’s a lot.

So, what do I hope for the first year of this new decade? I just want a steady year. Is that mad? I don’t need massive changes and fireworks – 2019 had that for me. I would love to be able to get on with my current plans, pay off the wedding and count down – work on some projects that are interesting. See friends and family and that, to put it simply, is enough for me.

I know that 2021 is going to be incredible and fast paced and brilliant but for 2020? A chilled year would suit me just fine.

What do you hope for in 2020?