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…

What I Read In February 2020

What I Read in February 2020

February may be a short month but that didn’t stop me reading. I did find myself in a little bit of a slump in Feb, I think because I read so much in January my brain needed shorter reads. So, here they are – have you read any of them?

On my trip to Brighton I found a copy of Renée Watson’s latest novel What Momma Left Me and I couldn’t leave without it. This is a story about a young girl who’s life changes after the death of her mother. It’s about family, secrets and finding your place in the world. This got 4 stars from me.

Next I picked up an ARC from Netgalley that I was granted. Sincerely, is a sweet collection of poems that was written as part of a proposal. A lovely concept with some sweet poems and a 3 star read for me.

Another NetGalley ARC I received, The Voice Of My Mind, came next and this one just wasn’t for me. It was also a poetry collection (I’ve been pretty into them this month) but I just couldn’t connect with the tone of voice. A 2 star read for me.

I read Always Here For You as part of a book tour I took part in, you can read the post here. This is for younger teenagers and looks at who you’re really talking to online and how young people may find themselves in this situation. A good read that would do well in schools. 4 stars from me.

This Soul Estranged was sent to me by the author for free in exchange for my thoughts. I enjoyed this collection and felt that I could connect with the poems and the tone of voice. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next. A 3 star read for me.

Next up another Netgalley ARC, this time it was a graphic novel/information type book. A Quick & Easy Guide To Sex and Disability was a really interesting read and had a good message. I would be interested in a longer guide but obviously that doesn’t match the title! A 4 star read for me!

I got an ARC copy of Diary of a Confused Feminist while working over Christmas but only just got around to it! I wasn’t sure at first because I felt super old (I’m 10 years older than the protagonist eeek) but the second half of the book I was hooked. If you like Holly Bourne I think you’ll like this. Another 4 star read for me.

A bit of a light read (note the sarcasm), Fascism and Democracy is super short but I thought it was incredibly relevant in today’s world. Now, I’ve read a bit of Orwell before and I stand by my earlier assessment that his non-fiction work is long winded. That said, this had interesting ideas and was good to see it through the lense of the 1940s while Hitler was in power. 3 stars from me.

I received an ARC of What Kind of Girl and also bought a physical copy because I really enjoy Alyssa Sheinmel’s way of writing. This looks at domestic violence in young adult relationships. It’s pretty heavy and there’s also details about mental illness and methods of self harm so know that going in if that’s something you struggle with. Another very well written book. 4.5 stars from me.

I also read Letters On Motherhood incredibly quickly because it was such a sweet and wholesome read. In this Giovanna writes letters to her three sons, her husband, parents and herself about motherhood. While I don’t have children I fell in love with this collection and felt it was so honest about the highs and lows. A great read.

I read the poetry collection Surge for a post that you’ll find out about soon! It’s a collection that looks at race in Britain starting with the New Cross Fire, also known as the New Cross Massacre in which 13 young black people were killed. Political, personal and a new perspective this is a really interesting collection. 4 stars and you’ll find out more about it soon.

And finally I picked up a copy of You’re Crushing It by Lex Croucher which I’ve been meaning to get to for ages. It’s a quick book which made me laugh out loud more than a few times while reading. It was a 4 star read for me and a nice pick me up.

And finally, thanks to the extra day in the month I also finished A Danger To Herself and Others also by Alyssa Sheinmel which I’ve had on my TBR for a while. It’s an exploration of mental illness and it can be quite a tough read but another excellent book. This got 4.5 stars from me.

I haven’t listened to an audiobook this month – for some reason I’ve struggled getting into them but I’m sure I’ll come out of that soon. Did you read anything good in February? Let me know below!

Book Review: The Perfect Dress – Louisa Leaman

Ah, The Perfect Dress one I wouldn’t normally pick up but in the end a fantastic feel-good read.

I’ll be honest, I picked this up because I myself am going to be buying my wedding dress soon (eek!) and it seemed like a fun book with a bit of mystery and intrigue added in as well as not being too taxing while reading. I was all of that and more. I completely and utterly fell in love with the character of Fran and only wanted the best for her throughout.

I didn’t expect the fantastical element to it, the magic that is felt by Fran as she encounters each dress. I wanted to know so much about the brides of the past, the dead grooms that Fran is so fond of and more than anything, I wanted to see Fran happy! It was clear through the way in which Fran was written a lot of research was done into dresses, the history behind certain dresses and their place in fashion history, in fact, I really want to hunt down a few books on wedding dresses through the ages for my own research!

While Raph did give me Mr Darcy vibes and there were a few times I wanted to shake some sense into him I think that he was needed in this book. His scepticism and past really added to the novel and kept it from being too overly sweet the whole time – which I did adore but I also thought he was a good balance throughout.

This novel is an uplifting and fun read that I would recommend to anyone looking for a pick me up. I also found that I couldn’t put it down, I came to really care about Fran and Raphael, who they were and their relationship. I think the only thing I would change is to make it longer! To get to know more about them separately, particularly Raph’s relationship with her younger sister.

Overall I gave this 4 stars a really enjoyable read.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

So, What Was It Like To Work In A Bookshop?

So, What Was It Like To Work In A Bookshop?

At the end of 2019 I got to tick off a teenage dream of mine – I got to work in a bookshop. Yes! Almost 10 years after my work experience in the local bookshop I was offered a 6 week contract over the festive period – woo! So, did it live up to my expectations? What was it like to work over Christmas? Keep reading and all will be revealed…

Being surrounded by books all day every day was wonderful and dangerous.

I spent a fair amount of the money that I earned in the shop on more books. I also go ARCs and trades from other booksellers. Ali wasn’t best pleased that I’m now in need of another bookshelf but he knew who he was moving in with!

Also my mental ‘to buy’ list is even longer.

Regular customers are the best

The absolute best and generally really nice people who loved recommendations, which leads me on to my next point…

Giving recommendations was so much fun

Probably my favourite part of the day, which I got to do a lot. I particularly liked the challenge of someone who had read a lot. I even managed to get a few people to pick up YA books who wouldn’t normally.

Kids still read – a lot

And I love it. One of the departments I helped most with was Kids and Young Adult. So many people say that kids don’t read and I’m here to tell you that they really, really do!

As with anything there are readers and people who prefer other things. There was nothing that warmed my heart more than a kid telling me about their favourite books and what they liked. I also loved the challenge of trying to find books for people who ‘don’t really read’.

Sometimes you will get asked baffling questions or comments and you question the majority of the human race

I once had a friend who was asked if they sold sports equipment…in a bookshop. I also had a lot of people telling me their conspiracy theories about Greta Thunberg. Trying not to react was the haaaaardest thing. So hard.

The people you work with make or break the job

I’ve worked in retail before, from the age of 16 up until I was 19 I had some retail jobs and I didn’t really enjoy them. Some of them I’d go as far as to say I couldn’t stand BUT this was completely different.

As I write this I still talk to a lot of the team, I go in regularly and they all know I miss them like mad. They’re an incredible team of people and I’m pleased that they’re still my friends who I can go and bug and they can’t escape haha!

There are parts of your feet that you don’t know exist until they are throbbing in pain

Oh my goodness my feet. Shout out to Sketchers because before I started wearing them (thanks Nanna!) I was in horrific pain with not just my feet but my ankles and my knees because of Hypermobility.

Even after I started wearing them I would come home at nice and my feet would throb. There were a lot of baths, a lot of painkillers and a lot of wincing.

People can be arseholes for no reason

Most of the customers we had were lovely people, then you got some who treated you like you were stupid or were just generally unpleasant. I had someone shout at me because they hadn’t found the book they wanted and I was daring to go home (literally had my coat on and was getting a lift home). I had another person throw a tantrum because they ordered something too late. Some people were just rude because…people.

It’s a physically tough job

I have so much respect for my friends who work in the shop who do it say in day out. Anyone in retail actually. Physically it’s an incredibly demanding job, mentally it can be too and a lot of people in retail do a lot of work for not a lot of pay.

Would I recommend it?

Mostly, yes I loved my time there. I do think that, in general the people in the store every could and should be treated with more respect because they literally keep the business going! They’re also human which is forgotten.

Book Review: Full Disclosure – Camryn Garrett

Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

When this book came up on NetGalley I was intrigued because it was a new concept for YA, in terms of books I had read. Personally, I’d never read anything with a young character who has HIV and those I want to read are set in the 1980s.

There was also a lot of representation throughout. Simone’s Dad’s are gay, she has friends who are Asexual, Gay, etc. There are characters who are biracial, there’s definitely been an effort here to be inclusive to a wide range of people which I hope will be appreciated.

This adds another voice to young adult literature and one that isn’t filled with a lack of hope. Simone is a young woman who is HIV positive but she’s also smart, she’s actively trying to work out how to live her life to the fullest, including sexual relationships.

The aspect of sex and teenagers was handled really well too, it was open and honest. Teenagers are curious about sex, they want to know about it and just because someone has HIV that doesn’t change anything which is well conveyed.

Additionally, there are some really great and supportive relationships in the form of family and friend and they all are pretty real, not just left to the side while the focus was all on Simone.

This was a 5 star read for me an an excellent new voice that I think it needs to be put into schools, given out in whatever PSHE/Health classes are called now and generally shouted about. An excellent book and really well thought out.

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

My 7 Top Tips To Read More

My 7 Top Tips To Read More

I have had a lot of messages recently about how much I read and how on earth do I read so much. Partially, it’s because I’ve been posting my reading updates on Instagram (don’t forget to follow me here) with everything I finish and so far, so good for 2020!

So I thought why not pop it in a blog and share with you guys how I get through an average of 100 books per year.

Read short books to get you in the swing of things

There is no point in starting War and Peace if you’re not a regular reader of you’ve been in a bit of a slump. Shorter books are a great way to get into a story and feel a sense of accomplishment that you’ve finished a book!

Read what you enjoy!

Love romance books? Go for it. Think YA is incredible? I agree? Or maybe you want to read about farms in the 1800s? You do you. There can be a lot of snobbery over what people read but, honestly, it’s no one else’s business if you enjoy it.

Join a Book Club

I took a chance, joined a book club and met some of my closest friends as well as being introduced to some of my new favourite books like A Winter’s Promise.

Book clubs are great to encourage you and introduce you to books that you might not have tried otherwise. Also the good ones also have sweet treats, just saying.

Absorb books in the best way for you

Hardback, paperback, ebook, audiobook – they’re all ways of enjoying a book. Some people enjoy listening and get more from it.

Take a book with you wherever you go

This is where the Kindle app is great because you’ve always got a book on you as long as you have your phone and you can get books for as little as 99p!

Or just put a read in your bag so if you get delayed/ are waiting for something/ have a quiet lunch break and are in the mood to read.

Set time aside to read

Whenever works for you but if you really want to read make time for it. For me, it’s normally in the evenings so I can get away from screens and chill out.

I also used to use any time I was on a train or bus because the only other thing I could do was sit on my phone. I’d probably read a lot more if I didn’t have my phone…

Goal orientated? Set that goal!

If goals work for you – set one. Even if it’s 1 book for the whole year or , if you’re completely mad like me, 100 books. I love having a goal and tracking them on Goodreads and it really motivates me to keep reading when I’m in a slump.

What I Read In December 2019

What I Read In December 2019

December was a funny old month, I thought I hadn’t read anything and then all of a sudden I browse my Goodreads and realise I’ve actually done pretty well in a super busy month.

So here’s what I read in December!

The Perfect Dress – Louisa Leaman

This was a sweet but intriguing read. I haven’t read a book about weddings for a long time but as I’m starting to try and find my own it seemed fitting that I would read this novel and I’m so glad I did. Romance, history, intrigue I absolutely adored this book! A solid 4.5 stars from me

I was sent this by the publisher in exchange for an honest review which is coming soon!

Tunnel of Bones – Victoria Schwab

The second in the Cassidy Blake series and another that I had to keep reading at every spare moment I had thanks to my Secret Santa (thanks Izzy!). Even more creepy than the first and made me just want to read more, the 3rd novel in the series comes out this year and I am SO here for it!

Break The Fall – Jennifer Iacopelli

You guys are going to want to read this when it’s released because it’s bloody incredible. This is focused on an abuse scandal in the USA gymnastics team (similar to what we have unfortunately seen recently). A stunning debut with incredible chronic pain representation. 5 star read without a doubt.

Love Her Wild – Atticus

I’ve been intrigued by this collection of poetry for a while, partly because it’s a hardback poetry collection and partly because it has beautiful images. It’s very short and some wouldn’t consider it poetry but I thought it was beautiful. 4 stars from me.

Journey to The Rise of Skywalker: Allegiance – Ethan Sacks

This was ok, but that was about it for me. I understand they couldn’t give much away before the films release but I just didn’t care much for it so it only got a 3 star rating from me.

The Truth About Magic – Atticus

The third collection of Atticus’s work, although I thought it was the second. I wouldn’t say this was hugely different to the first but I still found it very enjoyable and a great book to dip into. 4 stars.

Drawing Europe Together – Various

I got this from my friend Charissa for Christmas and it was a lovely, although slightly sad read. Beautiful illustrations and wonderful ideas. 4 stars.

This is How You Lose the Time War – Amal El – Mohtar & Max Gladstone

I’m going to put it out there that most of the time while reading this I had no idea what was going on through a lot of the book but I adored it. Beautifully written and full of a strange kind of love but so, so wonderful. If you don’t mind me confused while appreciating great writing then I’d definitely read this one. 4 stars from me.

Did you get much reading done in December? Let me know what your favourites were!