The Dylan Thomas Prize: Eye Level by Jennie Xie

For this blog I’m pleased to be a part of the Dylan Thomas Blog Tour. Launched in 2006, the annual Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize is one of the most prestigious awards for young writers, aimed at encouraging raw creative talent worldwide. It celebrates and nurtures international literary excellence.

The £30,000 Prize is awarded to the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under. For this I was offered the change to read Eye Level by Jennie Xie – which I received in exchange for this post.

I’ve never read any of Jennit Xie’s poetry, she’s a new to me poet and I was very impressed. This collection has hypnotising description, in which you can see the scene unfold in your mind. The collection is very much about the self, finding your place and who you are.

I’m not sure how old Xie was when she wrote this but I get the impression of someone in their early 20s and because of this, I deeply connected to some of the poetry. Such as the following line:

“Months of medium-rare insomnia.

Wine makes me confuse

elation with clarity, and so I traverse

the night market, my purse empty.’

It was also interesting to see the way in which Xie describes her travels, places I have been to myself and those I only have to imagine. Her description is rich in its detail but doesn’t spend too long focusing on one thing.

Ultimately this is a collection that will make you look at yourself and the world around you. I highly recommend this for anyone who’s working themselves out, which really I guess we all are. I gave this 4.5 stars and look forward to reading more of her work. I wish her the best of luck for the prize!

My Top 10 Highlights of 2018

My Top 10 Highlights of 2018

We made it to the end of 2018 – wooooooo! It’s been a weird year of up and downs, but I’ve learnt a lot from it. I wanted to share with you just 10 of my highlights from 2018, it was hard to whittle them down! If you’re looking for my bookish favourites of the year you can find those here.

paramore - couple - 10 years - relationship - growing up

Paramore

We kicked off the New Year with another trip to see Paramore, our 4th time together. As you can see Ali still doesn’t want to smile for pictures. Despite how it looks we had a great time!

Becoming A Published Poet

Finding out I was being published and then recieving the final product! I’m a published writer!!! I wonder what I can publish in 2019…

London Book Fair 2018

Visiting the London Book Fair

I was invited to attend the London Book Fair as a blogger with my Mum. It was something I wanted to do for a while and it was an interesting day, even if I did feel a little like a deer in headlights.

Hammies

One became…three. I said no more and then Ali and I went to Pets at Home and we saw our little guys BB & Artoo. I’m now a hamster Mum x3 and I absolutely love my little buddies. They really keep me company when Ali’s away.

YALC

I got to go to YALC! A whole day of being around book people, buying books and it was magical. I also got a pretty impressive book haul, which I’m still making my way through. Hopefully I can finish tme all before next year!

Going freelance & starting my business!

I’d been toying with the idea of going freelance for a few months but thought it was something I would never be able to do, until I had to! I’m now living life as a freelancer and absolutely LOVING it!

Six The Musical

Musicals!

I saw not one but two new musicals this year which I didn’t realise how much I missed! When I was younger I was a total musical nut, I even wanted to be a musical theatre actress when I grew up (more on that in another blog).

I loved Heathers enough to see it twice and I’d happily see Six again when it moves back to London. I’m looking forward to getting more shows in 2019!

10 year anniversary

We made it to 10 years! I’ve been lucky enough to spend the past decade with this wonderful human. He’s pretty great.

Disneyland!

I got to go to Disneyland!!! DISNEYLAND. I loved it so much I wrote not one but two blogs. You can read the first one here and the second here.

I Read 115 Books!

After setting my Goodreads goal at 50 so that I didn’t feel any pressure, I managed to double it and then added some! I read some really amazing books (and some not so amazing books).

There are more things and people that I haven’t had a chance to add but here’s to hoping I have an even better 2019!

Twenties: A Poem

Twenties – a poem.

‘When it’s not your day, your week, your month’

That’s what they sang in Friends.

That’s what your twenties were meant to be like.

I’ll tell you it’s not my day –

I hope it’s not the same for the bloody decade.

 

I’m trying to find a flat,

that won’t bleed me dry.

Trying to make a living and save,

but my car just died.

 

I’m pretty damn fed up,

with the lies we were told.

Get a degree, you’ll be so much better off,

Really pal? I’ll get a mortgage when I’m a 40-year-old.

 

Some of my friends are getting married

Others of them have kids.

Meanwhile, I have alcohol and cheese

as the basics in the fridge.

 

If my twenties are the best

I want a refund.

I’m almost halfway through

so, when does this get fun?

 

 

 

Book Review: [Dis]connected Poems & Stories of Connection and Otherwise – Amanda Lovelace; Nikita Gill; Iain S. Thomas; Cyrus Parker; Sara Bond; Yena Sharma Purmasir; Trista Mateer; Canisia Lubrin; R. H. Swaney; Pierre Alex Jeanty

Disconnected

 

Wow, wow, wow this is an incredible connection. Going in I expected more poetry than short stories but in the end, I thought these were some of the best short stories I have ever read. There was a real sense of variety despite the connection they all share and the collection itself.

This is a collection that tackles so many different issues from grief to family. Real life issues to fantastic fantasy. I truly believe there is something in this collection for everyone and being able to get a sneak peek of this was brilliant, I haven’t stopped recommending people pre-order this and make sure that they get their own copy. I truly, truly fell in love with this.

Some of my favourites were Nikita Gill’s Parietal Eye, Cyrus Parker’s Where The Sea Meets the Sky, Sara Bond’s Terra Firma,  Yena Sharma Purmasir’s Ultra and Amanda Lovelace’s Small Yellow Cottage on the Shore. Each of these are so different and yet were perfectly chosen to fit next to each other.

It might sound like a broken record but it is hard to convey just how beautiful these stories are. Unlike many other collections I have read, I could not put this down. Each story and author wrote such compelling tales I had to read the next one, and the next and the next. Some were incredibly creepy, inspired by Edgar Allen Poe, while others used Mythology and Mermaids. Each could individually capture something within me.

I gave this collection 5 stars. I literally picked it up because I recognised two incredibly brilliant poets and ended up finding even more, that I would like to read further.  I really have to sing the praises because this completely knocked me for six and I didn’t know much going in.

Thank you so much to Netgalley and the publisher for this copy for review.

September Book Haul!

September Book Haul

A birthday and no self-control means a September Book Haul! Yay! So these are the few physcial books I’ve picked up in September, I’m now on a ban…who am I kidding there’s too many amazing

Let’s get started with some of the amazing deals I got on Amazon. First up Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I keep hearing about this author and when they were £2 each I thought it was worth a go. I will report back.

Next up My Purple Scented Novel by Ian McEwan. This is absolutely tiny but I really loved Nutshell and wanted to read something else by McEwan without a huge time commitment. I also picked up Survivors: True Stories of the Children of the Holocaust by Allan Zullo, this was on offer and I want to hear the stories that these people have so it is never forgotten.

Kick-Ass poetry by amazing women? I’m sold which is why I bought She Is Fierce by Ana Sampson. It had Sylvia Plath in so it has to be good. Next up another poetry collection, I Hope My Voice Doesn’t Skip by Alicia Cook who is known to use music within her poetry – I’m really looking forward to this one.

I’d heard a lot about this. What Would Boudicca Do? by E.Foley & B.Coates takes women from history and modern problems, how would they deal with it? This looks really fun. Next up I pre-ordered The Guilty Feminist by Deborah Frances-White, I’ve heard a lot about the podcast and ones I’ve listened to have been great.

I’m trying to savor the Saga series so I went ahead and ordered Volume 6 and Volume 7. For my birthday I got Three-Martini Lunch by Suzanne Rindell in a mystery book package, New York, 1960s let’s give it a go. I also picked up Fierce Fairytales & Other Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill on the recommendation of my friend Sarah. Who am I to say no to feminist fairytales?

Another birthday gift was My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Nagata Kabi. This is manga that I keep seeing again and again. I ordered Vengeful by V.E Schwab ages ago thinking I’d read Vicious before…that didn’t quite go to plan but HOW BEAUTIFUL! I was also sent a copy of The Witches of St. Petersberg by Imogen Edward-Jones as part of an upcoming book tour. I didn’t want to know too much about it before going in but keep your eyes peeled!

My final two books I also got at birthday gifts, I’ve really wanted to try some Leigh Bardugo and so I didn’t just get one, I got two for my birthday! Lucky, lucky gal!

Well, that’s all the books I got in September! Now I just need to get through them all…wish me luck! Are there any you’ve read and would recommend or any on your to-read list? Let me know in the comments below!

July Favourites!

July hasn’t been an easy month! I recovered from my cyst, found myself redundant and well, I think that’s enough to knock anyone BUT there are still things to smile about and here are some of my favourites.

 

Books 

This month has been a small reading month, but varied. I’ve picked up poetry, a graphic novel, non-fiction and one fiction novel. Of course, you’ll get my full wrap up soon!

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Getting Better  

You probably saw that I was in hospital in June with a suspected burst ovarian cyst, I got these beautiful flowers from my Grandparents while I was recovering.

Night Out 

I got to spend a great (sober) night out for one of my besties birthdays! It isn’t often I go on a night out so this one was definitely needed, even if I was back home in bed by 11.30!

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Becoming a published poet! 

I am a published poet! I still can’t quite believe it but I hope it’s the first of many.

 

Pop Vinyls!

Three new Pops came this month, two I’d pre-ordered from Australia the Basilisk and Tom Riddle and Amy Pond, my favourite Doctor Who character. I don’t buy these as much anymore, even though I love them, so when I do I get really excited!

 

Lottie and Ed July 2018

House Sitting! 

I spent 10 nights house sitting for my parents with these little monsters. I might not have slept but they were great for cuddles when I lost my job.

 

YALC! 

I finally got to go to YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) this year! It was so incredible, I’m writing not one but TWO blogs for you guys this week. Keep your eyes peeled!

What I Read in June!

Well, I may be a little late but what would my website be without a monthly reading round-up? I read 15 books in June, I know! This was down to a mix of having a lot of time at home in the evening, being really poorly and just loving what I was reading. This is going to be a long one so let’s go.

First up was my YA Feminist fantasy with Moxie, teenagers, Riot Grrls and taking on sexism it got 4 stars from me. Next, I tried two ARCs I received, one a graphic novel called Maggy Garrisson and a poetry collection called Grabbing Pussy neither of these ones that I enjoyed and both got 2 stars. Then on to another ARC, Chloe Coles’ Bookshop Girl, a genuinely sweet novel I gave this 3 stars.

I’d been listening to Open on Audible for a long time and finally finished it this month with a 3 star rating, an ok book but I don’t think there was much new information in it. After this another ARC poetry collection, Glimmerglass, unfortunately, it was only a 2 star read for me. Then things picked up with the incredible Tyler Johnson Was Here, an incredible novel based on the Black Lives Matter movement 5 stars. Then an incredible collection for the victims of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, this was such an emotional read and 5 stars.

I listened to 30 Things Before 30 which I needed in my life if you’re in your 20s and wondering what on earth you’re doing read this 5 star book. Then we went on to possibly my favourite book of the year so far, Eve of Man by Giovanna & Tom Fletcher I read this in a matter of hours, 5 stars. I also gave a novel I’ve wanted to try for a while a go, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I don’t quite know why but I loved this and now I can’t wait to watch the film too – 4 stars. I was also sent a copy of Convenience Store Woman, a quirky new novel which I gave 4 stars you can read my review here.

My final poetry collection of the month was Everything All At Once by Steve Camden this was such an amazing concept it goes through a week in a secondary school it. An excellent idea and one to get excited about 4.5 stars. The next novel broke my heart a little bit, Girl Made of Stars looks at sexual assault, family and relationships and hallelujah we had a bisexual main character. This was a 5 star read, absolutely incredible. Finally this month I read a memoir called Surviving The Angel of Death by Eva Mozes Kor, a tough but needed read which also got 5 stars.

 

What did you read in June, let me know in the comments below!