Saturday, 31 October 2015

2015 CLASSICS CHALLENGE: DRACULA


Dracula by Bram Stoker
My rating:☆☆☆

A young lawyer on an assignment finds himself imprisoned in a Transylvanian castle by his mysterious host. Back at home his fiancée and friends are menaced by a malevolent force which seems intent on imposing suffering and destruction. Can the devil really have arrived on England’s shores? And what is it that he hungers for so desperately? [summary from Goodreads]

When I discovered this classic:
This is another classic that I think I've always been aware of but never thought to read until I caught sight of it in a charity shop. I admit that the amazing cover design definitely drew me in to actually buy it and discover the story.

Why I chose to read it:
I bought it in August with the idea of reading it for this month's classics challenge as it seemed a perfect Halloween read. 

What makes it a classic?
Although Bram Stoker didn't invent the idea of the vampire he definitely defined our modern interpretation of vampires, and Dracula (published in 1897) has inspired endless works of horror since. Whilst reading I realised how little I knew about the actual story and history of Dracula so I did some research on the book, it's inspirations and it's reception upon publication. It's interesting to note that readers of the day considered it just another enjoyable adventure story and it didn't reach it's current iconic status until film versions started to appear. It is now considered to be amongst the greatest works of gothic horror and since 1931 the book has never been out of print.

What I thought of this classic:
On first picking up the book I was surprised to find that it is an epistolary novel that is comprised of letters, journal entries from various people and newspaper reports, that, pieced together, tell the story of Count Dracula's invasion of Britain. I think I expected it to be an entirely first person narrative but the epistolary style is actually quite typical of the gothic genre and makes the novel seem more believable even in it's most far-fetched moments. I enjoyed dipping in and out of different characters' perspectives and seeing all the seemingly disparate pieces come together at the crux of the novel.

The overall narrative was well-constructed, quite fast-paced and exciting. I enjoyed the plot as a whole and would have rated Dracula higher if it weren't for my next point.

The one thing that irked me throughout the entire novel was it's intense sexism and celebration of the patriarchy. The novel is obviously of it's time in that respect but the representation of women as damsels who are weak and need constant protection is still pretty enraging. Even the strong female presence in the novel, Mina Harker, whose wit and bravery are essential to the progression of the narrative is ultimately diminished because of her gender. At one point one of the male characters remarks in surprise that, because of her intelligence and conscientious actions, Mina 'has a man's brain'. And when it comes down to taking action at the crux of the novel, the same male character forbids Mina to take part, as 'it is no part for a woman [...] her heart may fail her'. Without spoiling anything, the women in the novel can be categorised as either; pure and innocent but ultimately weak, or sexualised, violent and evil - either way they are objectified. This book encapsulates the problematic depictions of Victorian women and it just really pissed me off.

Ignoring the above (although how can I?) I did actually objectively enjoy the book and think that as a work of gothic literature it is pretty brilliant although in terms of gender representation it's apalling. I do think it's definitely worth reading to gain an insight into the origins of modern horror.

Will it stay a classic?
Definitely. The continued iconic status of the vampire in pop culture is rooted in this novel and I imagine that as long as the idea of the vampire is continually recreated in modern literature, television and film, people will come back to the original classic to see where it all began.

Who I would recommend it to:
Horror fans and anyone interested in gothic literature. 

The 2015 Classics Challenge is hosted by Stacey of Pretty Books and you can find out more about it here.

Happy Halloween! 
Have you read Dracula? What did you think?

Friday, 30 October 2015

OCTOBER FAVOURITES



Sadly, blogtober is nearly over but that means that it's time to reflect on everything that's been making me happy throughout this busy, changeable, blustery month.

I've been so busy with blogtober that I haven't really had a lot of downtime to indulge and enjoy things as much, but over the month I've taken note of the little daily things that have been making me happy so that's what I'm sharing with you today.



01. Primark cosy blanket
I mentioned this blanket in my Autumnal Haul post and it's probably the best thing I bought this month. It's been making my days and nights super cosy and whether I'm frantically writing blogposts or curled up watching Netflix, you can be sure I've been snuggled under this blanket. It's so gorgeous and soft and such a bargain so head to your local Primark and get one before they're all gone!

02. SunBeamsJess' Vlogtober videos
I've loved watching everyone's vlogtober videos this month but I've been particularly enjoying SunBeamJess' vlogs. I stumbled across her main channel at the beginning of the month and was instantly charmed by her down to earth personality and amazing style, I was so pleased to see that she was doing vlogtober and I've been hooked ever since. It's been really nice to see university life through her eyes and it's making me nostalgic for my own uni days, especially as she's studying English Lit like I did.

03. Lush The Comforter shower cream
I freaked out when I found this little beauty on a trip to Lush Nottingham earlier this month as I thought these new Comforter shower creams were exclusive to the Oxford Street store - apparently not! This is my absolute favourite scent by Lush so I'm really happy to have it in shower gel form and I'm now wishing I'd bought a bigger bottle!

04. MUA Heaven and Earth eyeshadow palette
I've had this palette for so many years, I don't even know when I bought it, but I rediscovered it this month when looking for orangey/coppery eyeshadows, as I was craving more autumnal makeup looks. This palette contains 12 eyeshadows in varying warm shimmery shades. In my opinion it's a pretty good dupe for the Naked one palette, the shadows are all nicely pigmented and blend smoothly, and at only £4.00 you can't go wrong. I've been using this pretty much every time I've worn makeup this month.

05. First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser
This month I noticed that I was running out of my beloved First Aid Beauty 'Ultra Repair Cream' moisturiser so I decided to pick up the First Aid Beauty 'FAB Faves to Go' kit which contains the Ultra Repair Cream, the Facial Radiance Pads and the Face Cleanser. I've had this kit before and I think it's such good value for money and a great introduction to the brand. I've got really sensitive skin so I'm careful about skincare products but all of these are great and so gentle on my skin. I particularly love the cleanser as it's so great for a second cleanse or a morning cleanse in the shower - it's just so gentle and hydrating, it doesn't leave my skin feeling tight at all. Give this kit a go if you're looking for some pretty affordable but slightly higher end skincare!

06. Rimmel Exaggerate lip liner in 'East End Snob'
I didn't realise how much I loved this lip liner until it unexpectedly ran out earlier this month. The only bad thing about it is that you can't tell when it's going to run out so I had an upsetting moment half way through using it one day when it just wouldn't turn anymore! As the days went on I realised how much I was missing it so I had to go out and buy a replacement. It's just the perfect liner to wear under pretty much any lipstick to emphasise the colour and increase the wear-time of the lipstick. I absolutely love it and now know I can't live without it!

07. Soap and Glory Supercat eyeliner
I've never really been one for liquid eyeliner because I've never found a really good one before, it always just took too long and ended up messy or wonky - so I kind of gave up. I'd been hearing people talk about the Supercat liner for years but never bothered to pick it up until I was casually browsing Boots one day this month and feeling a bit spendy. Well, I bought it and let me tell you; I'm in love! It's seriously the easiest eyeliner I've ever used, it's really easy to do a thin or thick line and takes about 30 seconds and then doesn't budge all day. I've been wearing it most days since and I'm definitely a liquid liner convert.

What have you been loving this month?

Thursday, 29 October 2015

ON MY SHELF BOOK TAG


I've got another fun book tag for you today! The On My Shelf tag was created by Iain Broome over on YouTube and has been replicated many times since by some of my favourite booktubers. I was recently watching Sanne from BooksandQuills do this tag and decided I would give it a go myself. The premise is that you are given sets of two random numbers and you correspond the first number to that number shelf in your book collection and the second number to that number book on that shelf. You then share your thoughts on that book or a particular memory you associate with it. The idea is that every book you own has it's own story and this tag gives you the chance to talk about books that you might not have otherwise. At the end of Sanne's video she provided some numbers so those are the ones I've used here! Let's go...


Shelf 1, Book 3: Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding
This is my adult fiction shelf and this copy of Bridget Jones' Diary actually belongs to my Mum I think, but I seem to have commandeered it. It's pretty battered and beaten up, I think that's because it made the rounds through quite a lot of people before ending up on my shelf. I remember watching the film when I was a teenager then instantly wanting to read the book, which at the time I think I was disappointed by. I'd quite like to re-read this to see if I like it more now that I'm older.

Shelf 2, Book 8: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
This is my classics shelf and the book is the copy of Great Expectations which I studied for my English Literature A-Level, so it's pretty battered after being thrown around in a school bag and thumbed through many times. It has a lot of post-its marking particular pages and is filled with notes written in pencil, some of the notes are helpful but there are quite a lot of doodles of personified vegetables for some reason - I wasn't always the best student haha. I quite like these lime green Penguin Popular Classic editions as they're simple and pretty cheap but they look great together on a shelf.



Shelf 6, Book 1: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
This is quite possibly my favourite shelf - my Harry Potter shelf! And the first book on this shelf is the new UK Bloomsbury edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. I have the original UK editions that I bought when they came out, but they kind of belong to the whole family so I decided I wanted to buy my own editions and I absolutely love the new ones. The cover art is beautiful and they all have foil stars dotted on them - they're just amazing. I have read this new edition and I think I'll be re-reading the series every year from now on.

Shelf 8, Book 15: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
This shelf is my second YA shelf and the book is the beautiful yellowy-lime edition of Eleanor and Park. I'm pretty sure I got this for either my birthday or Christmas last year from my parents because I'd read Fangirl and loved it. I love this book!

Shelf 3, Book 24: Crushes, Cliques and the Cool School Trip by Karen McCombie
This is my children's/tween shelf, I say tween because back in my day YA didn't really exist as a genre and there were books for slightly older children instead, so I wouldn't really class some of the books on this shelf as YA. This book is part of a series I used to collect when I was younger called Ally's World, which follows the eponymous thirteen year old Ally as she navigates all the usual teenage issues. This is one of the later books in the series and was published in 2004, when I was a teenager (yeah I'm old). I remember really loving this books when I was younger as they were the closest to YA I could get my hands on at the time - I think there might even have been a bit of kissing *gasp*. Today's YA is so different, so much more diverse and covers issues that were taboo when the Ally's World books were released so I think it might be interesting to go back and read these to see how I feel about them in comparison to new YA.

So that was the On My Shelf tag! It was fun to look at some books I haven't picked up in a while, but it was interesting that I've actually read all of those books - there are a lot on my shelves I haven't read yet!

If you're reading this, then I tag you! Your numbers are: 4 and 7, 9 and 12, 1 and 5, 10 and 16, 7 and 1.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

T5W: HALLOWEEN RECOMMENDATIONS



It's Top Five Wednesday time again! Top Five Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Lainey over at GingerReadsLainey and you can check out the complete list of Wednesday-ers here. This week's topic is celebrating the season with 'Halloween recommendations'.

I haven't read very many books that really scared me so I just chose a handful of books that I've read that are creepy or a little spooky. All of these books are perfect Halloween reads and some of them will probably have you sleeping with the lights on.



01. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.
This isn't so much scary as downright disturbing. I don't really love this book, purely because it really kind of disgusts me, but I guess that's the point. I have a very strong stomach and I'm not shocked easily but whilst reading this there were times when I had to just put the book down and walk away and remember that there are still good things in the world. It is really excellently written and will probably freak you out so I'd recommend it if you think you can handle it!

02. Horrorstör by Grady Henrix.
This is a very recent purchase and I haven't quite finished it yet as I'm gradually reading it over Halloween week, but what I've read so far has creeped me out quite a lot. It's a terrifying tale set in an Ikea-esque furniture store where strange goings on have been happening whilst the store is closed, so several employees are tasked with spending the night at the store to investigate - creepiness ensues. This book is really clever and I absolutely love that it's designed to look like a furniture catalogue with just small hints of terror.

03. Dracula by Bram Stoker.
This is probably the original Halloween classic so I don't think I need to explain what it's about. I won't say too much here as I'll be reviewing it for the 2015 Classics Challenge later this week, but I'm really enjoying it so far and it's surprisingly very readable and engaging!

04. The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe.
This little book is part of the Penguin Little Black Classics collection and it's definitely worth the 80p. It's a small collection of Poe's short stories and it's perfect for a quick read before bed on a dark, stormy night. These stories are all I've read of Poe's work and it definitely had me intrigued and eager for more creepiness.

05. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.
You're probably familiar with the film, which I found genuinely terrifying, but you might not have read the book it was based on. The book is quite different from the film and although whilst reading it didn't seem quite as chilling, I found that afterwards I couldn't stop thinking about it and I did actually have to sleep with the lights on as I was jumping at every creak outside my door. This is relatively short too - so great if you're looking for something quick this Halloween!

Those are my top five Halloween book recommendations! I'm looking forward to finishing up Horrorstör this week as my creepy read but I might not be reading it too late at night!

What are your top book picks for Halloween?

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

HALLOWEEN NETFLIX SUGGESTIONS



If, like me, you're forgoing the shrieks and thrills of a night out this Halloween and instead choosing to curl up under a blanket with some spooks and chills then these Netflix suggestions might just come in handy.

01. Dexter
Dexter is one of my favourite tv shows of all time, it's edge-of-your-seat intense and so addictive! It follows quiet and unassuming blood splatter analyst Dexter Morgan, who moonlights as a serial killer who only targets murderers. It's definitely scary at times and it's a really good one to marathon.

02. American Horror Story
The great thing about American Horror Story is that it's an anthology series which means that each season is in a completely different setting with totally different storylines so you don't have to watch them in any particular order. I started with Asylum but my personal favourite, and the scariest in my opinion, is Murder House. 

03. Scream
This is a new Netflix original series which is a loose sequel of the classic horror film franchise. A cyberbullying incident leads to a murder which stirs up memories of a crime spree from the town's past. It's a clever, self-aware slasher series centered around a group of teenagers with a whodunnit mystery at the centre. Definitely one to have you hiding behind the blanket.

04. The Babadook
The Babadook is a terrifying psychological thriller which favours real stomach-dropping horror over tired jump scares. Troubled widow, Amelia, is finding it impossible to deal with her son Sam's intense fear of monsters but when a creepy children's book turns up in the house, Sam's obsession begins to turn sinister. I'm not the biggest horror film fan but I thought this was brilliant and so different from anything else I've seen. It'll have you sleeping with the lights on for sure.

05. Zombieland
This one is for those of you who prefer laughs over scares but really anyone will love this comedy-horror. I hesitate to even call it a horror but it does have zombies in so I guess it counts. Zombieland follows an unlikely group of zombie apocalypse survivors as they try and make their way in the new world and decide what to do next. This is one of my favourite films and I could watch it over and over. It's pretty hilarious and Woody Harrelson is just excellent.

As I said earlier I won't be going out for Halloween so I'll most likely be snuggled up with Netflix or a spooky read. If you prefer reading over watching then look out for tomorrow's post on my top five Halloween book recommendations!

Do you have any Halloween plans?

Monday, 26 October 2015

ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE BOOK TAG



It's getting close to Halloween so I thought I'd do the zombie apocalypse book tag! I don't usually do Halloween nowadays but I'm kind of obsessed with zombies year round. They're definitely my favourite Halloween 'thing'. I love zombie films and The Walking Dead is one of my all-time favourite tv shows, so this is the perfect tag for me!

This tag was created by Nathan Hale on YouTube and basically the idea is to pick five books and using the questions provided, pick your fictional character zombie apocalypse survival crew.

The Rules: 
Pick five of your favourite books and write the name of the books on pieces of paper. Put the pieces of paper in a bowl and pull one piece of paper out to choose your first book. Open the book to a random page and the first name you see will be the answer to question one. Use the same book for question two, but turn to a different page. Pull out a second piece of paper to choose your second book, use this book for the answers to questions three and four. The third book will answer questions five and six, the fourth book questions seven and eight, the fifth book questions nine and ten. Then you have your survival crew!

My books:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

My zombie apocalypse survival crew:
Book: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
01. Who is the first person to die? 
Neville! This kind of makes sense but also makes me really sad!
02.Who is the person you trip to get away from the zombies? 
Umbridge. This is the perfect answer even though it was completely random *cackles*.

Book: Crown of Midnight
03. Who is the first person to turn into a zombie? 
Dorian. Meh, this kind of sad but I'm not actually that bothered, does that make me terrible? haha
04. Who is the person that trips YOU to get away from the zombies?
Celaena. That shady bitch, she probably had her reasons though, she's much more of a survivor than me.

Book: Fangirl
05. Who is the idiot of the team? 
Cath. Which makes absolutely no sense.
06. Who is the “brains” of the team? 
Wren. Which equally makes no sense. Stupid random page picking.

Book: The Knife of Never Letting Go
07. Who is the team’s medic? 
Ben. This kind of works, I can see that.
08. Who is the weapons expert? 
Manchee?! Hahahaaa, this is hilarious, let's give the dog all the weapons!

Game of Thrones
09. Who is the brawler? 
Jon Snow. He's an excellent fighter in the books so I'm glad to have him on my team!
10. Who is the Team Captain?
Catelyn. I'm actually a big fan of Catelyn and she's fair and makes tactial decisions so that's fine with me!

This was such a fun little tag, I love doing things like this! If you're reading this then I tag you!

Which fictional characters would you have in your zombie apocalypse survival crew?

Sunday, 25 October 2015

BOOK COLLECTION ORGANISATION



I am a book collector. I collect books, always have, always will. And I refuse to feel guilty about that.

In my mind, there are two extremes on the spectrum of book collections. One is the hyper-organised, meticulously categorised, aesthetically harmonious collection. This usually has a cohesive theme and carefully curated editions.

The other extreme is the (organised?) chaos of a maze of books, piled precariously on any available surface, filling every space. It's a mish-mash of shapes, sizes, genres and editions, lovingly interspersed with bric-a-brac, sometimes bookish, sometimes not.

I love the idea of both of these and I think that my collection falls somewhere between the two. My books are rigorously categorised; first by genre, then author, then chronologically. But I also have a fondness for knick knacks: framed photographs, snowglobes, painted buttons and teacups. My shelves are a reflection of my personality, not only of my taste in books but of my obsessive tendencies, my sentimentality and my slight eccentricities.

I recently reorganised my collection because I got a new bookcase and I'm still in the process of arranging everything just how I want it. My various bits and pieces of random things are slowly making their way back onto the shelves, so the above photos are actually an unusually tidy representation of my collection. If you'd like me to do a bookshelf tour, with exactly how I organise everything, then please do let me know.

Is your collection big or small? Organised or messy? I'd love to know!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

LIFESTYLE: AUTUMNAL HAUL


Following on from Thursday's post about how I unashamedly love autumn, today's post is a little haul of all the autumnal things I've been buying lately. So grab a cup of tea and get your purse out because this is a good one...

My first stop and the thing that started all this was that treasure trove of unnecessary ephemera Home Bargains. The place was packed with Halloween bits and pieces so I decided to pick up a few things to decorate my room. I picked up a Wickford and Co. 'Halloween' candle, which smells delicious and burns really well, a little light-up Pumpkin and a Halloween tealight holder for my bookshelves and best of all: two sets of battery-operated Halloween-themed fairy lights (orange pumpkins and white bats) for only 49p each!

When on the hunt for cosy autumn things, you can always rely on Primark. They have a great selection of scarves at the moment for only £5 so I picked up this lovely tartan one which will look great over a black coat. I couldn't resist the orangey-brown (it's coming up a little more orange on the photo than it is in real life) faux-suede skirt with the gold zip detailing as it was only £8! These types of skirts are everywhere at the moment and this one's a bargain and fits like a dream. I wore it a few days later and got so many compliments from random people, which is something that never happens to me. But my absolute favourite thing that I picked up from Primark is the super-cosy faux-fur blanket that's serving as the backdrop to the above photo. It's a lot less garish than most faux-fur blankets and it's ridiculously cosy - I've been curled up in it non-stop ever since.

An autumnal haul wouldn't be complete without a scarf and boots and I'm so happy with the ones I picked up for this season. The black and white patterned snood was an early birthday present from my mum, it was £12.99 from H&M and I've already worn it so much, it's ridiculously snuggly. Last but certainly not least are my favourite things in this haul: the dalmation print chelsea boots from Asos. I absolutely live in boots from September through April and these are a great addition to my tiny collection. They're just a little bit smarter and jazzier than normal ankle boots and I'm so in love with them.

So those are the things I've been picking up this season, I'm now trying to avoid all shops because there are just too many lovely things around and my bank balance can't handle it!

What have you been buying lately?

Friday, 23 October 2015

HOW TO DEAL WITH READING SLUMPS


The first few weeks of October were so weird for me reading-wise. I'd been enjoying reading so much and reading so successfully all year that I didn't see the reading slump coming and when it hit I just didn't know how to break out of it. I finished a short book at the beginning of the month and then there was a gaping, almost three week slump where I barely read anything at all. I was in such a funk and felt so disappointed in myself for not reading and it took a long while for me to realise that it was okay not to read.

Being bookish people and being involved in the book community through Twitter, blogs and booktube, we sometimes feel like we have to be reading constantly and finishing 10 plus books a month, and that just isn't the case. It's okay not to read if you don't feel like it, and my number one tip for getting through a reading slump is just that - don't read.

The worst thing you can do is force yourself to pick up books just because you feel like you should be reading, it'll just force you deeper into a slump and might even put you off reading those books later because you'll associate them with that awful, slumpy feeling. Just accept what's happening and let the slump play out naturally until you feel excited to read again.

Sometimes experiencing a reading slump can even be a good thing, as you might find yourself drifting towards other activities and finding something new to enjoy until your reading mojo comes back. During my slump I actually found myself doing things that I hadn't in a while - I coloured in my Johanna Basford colouring book and I started watching a new TV show. Then when Dewey's readathon came along I actually felt excited and ready to read again, moreso than I had in months, and that was the greatest relief.

When you read a lot, reading slumps are naturally going to happen now and then and the best thing you can do is just accept it and ride the wave. It won't last forever and you'll come out the other side ready to kick some reading butt again!

Have you ever experienced a reading slump? How did you deal with it?

Thursday, 22 October 2015

I LOVE AUTUMN AND THAT'S OKAY


I love everything about autumn, and I don't care if that makes me 'basic'.

It's become a bit of a cliche for bloggers and anyone with an Instagram account to freak out the minute the leaves start changing and everything becomes 'fall' this and 'autumnal' that. And because the internet is partly fuelled by rage, this causes a lot of people to criticise anyone who's fully celebrating the season and label them as 'basic'. Do you love cosy jumpers and Ugg boots? You must be basic. Are you excited about your first hot chocolate or pumpkin spiced latte? Ugh, you're so basic. Are you instagramming autumn leaves and pumpkins? BASIC.

It's definitely a trend to criticise people for enjoying something and sharing that enjoyment online. But you know what? There's plenty of reasons why all of us 'basic' people are excited.

An honest to goodness, no-filter, no-edit, autumn sunset. So beautiful.


This time of year is beautiful and fun and full of possibilities. The visible changing of the seasons is pretty breathtaking; the leaves put on their colourful outfits, the sunsets get more intense and waking up early to misty morning light and a hint of frost on the windows is lovely.

The cooler weather means that getting dressed every day is so much easier and a lot more fun. I always think that autumn and winter are the best times for style. In the UK in spring and summer, you never really know what the weather's going to do; it could be freezing rain one minute or blazing heat the next. But with the colder months you know where you are. This is the time of year where the cosy fabrics and rich colours come out to play. There's nothing better than layering up with jumpers, scarves, coats and boots - more elements to an outfit means more chances to create a great a look, all whilst keeping warm and snuggly.

As the nights start closing in earlier and colder, it's the perfect excuse to stay wrapped up indoors. As much as I love gamboling around outside, I LOVE indoors. There's a reason why man created indoors - and autumn is the perfect time to celebrate it. In summer I feel guilty for choosing to spend time inside with a book or my laptop but come autumn, snuggling on the sofa with a roaring fire, a blanket and a Netflix spree is the best way to spend an evening.

For me, autumn brings with it the anticipation of exciting things to come. I'm an autumn baby, so I've always loved this time of year; it means celebrations, cake, presents and spending time with loved ones. Then as soon as my birthday is over it's time to start looking forward to Christmas - and what's not to love about that?!

Autumn is probably my favourite time of the year, I'm incredibly excited about it and guess what? That's completely okay. It's important to remind yourself that it's okay to be ridiculously enthusiastic about things - in fact, it's better than okay, it's wonderful. There's always going to be people who put you down for being too into things and therefore being 'basic'. But at the end of the day, who's going to end up happier - the person who's unashamedly enjoying life, or the person who's putting people down on the internet? I think you know the answer to that.

I love Autumn, and I love that I love autumn. Bring on the season!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

T5W: AUTHORS I'VE DISCOVERED THIS YEAR


Welcome back to Top Five Wednesday! Top Five Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Lainey over at GingerReadsLainey and you can check out the complete list of Wednesday-ers here. This week's topic is 'top authors you've discovered this year'. I haven't done one of these in a while and they're one of my favourite memes to join in with as I love reading what other people chose for the topic!

For this topic I had a look back at all the books I've read this year on my Goodreads 'read' list and found out that although I have read quite a few new authors, I haven't really read multiple books by them so I can't for sure say that they're some of my favourite authors! So I just decided to choose some of the authors who I read for the first time this year whose books I enjoyed the most, even if it was just one book. So here we are, in no particular order:

01. Sarah J. Maas.
After all the Sarah J. Maas hype that's been buzzing around the book community for the past couple of years I finally gave in to the hype and decided to read Throne of Glass, and boy am I glad I did. I loved Maas' writing so much from the very first few pages that I hadn't even got half way through ToG before ordering the next two books in the series. Her writing is fast-paced and exciting and her characterisation in the ToG series so far is really strong. I love the world that she's created and I know I'll want to keep coming back to it. I've now read Crown of Midnight too and I know I'll be finishing up with the series and probably reading A Court of Thorns and Roses and anything else she puts out.

02. John Burnside.
I've talked about The Dumb House quite a lot on this blog already so I don't think I really need to go on about it again, except to say that it was truly excellent and it hooked me so much that I'm determined to read more Burnside. This is an example of why I'm so glad to be in the book community because without the buzz that went around about The Dumb House in the summer then I might not have ever discovered John Burnside.

03. Leigh Bardugo.
This pick is similar to Sarah J. Maas in that I put off picking up the much-hyped Grisha trilogy for so long until I finally gave in at the beginning of the year and I wasn't disappointed. Again, I love Leigh Bardugo's writing, particularly the descrptive elements that really draw you in to the world that she's created. I think the world-building in the Grisha series is pretty excellent and I can't wait to get back in to it by finishing the series and then getting in to Six of Crows.

04. John Wyndham.
John Wyndham was an author that I'd been aware of for a long time but never read anything by. I was encouraged to get hold of The Day of the Triffids by watching Jean's videos, as she's a Wyndham fan and I finally got around to it earlier this year. Despite not having read much science fiction, I absolutely loved The Day of the Triffids and I have since picked up a few more Wyndham books and am planning to get to them soon. If you're looking to get in to science fiction then Wyndham is a pretty good way to start.

05. Michael Crichton.
Having loved the Jurassic Park films since I was younger, I was always aware that they were books first but I hadn't even been inclined to pick them up, until earlier this year when Jurassic World came out. I loved the film and for the first time, I decided to find out where this all started by picking up Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I loved the book, and would even say that it's better than the film. If you liked the films but want more science, more action, more dinosaurs, more character development - just more everything - then definitely pick up the book. I'm definitely looking forward to reading The Lost World and will probably pick up some more of Crichton's books in the future.

So those are the top five authors that I discovered this year! It was really fun to go back and look at the authors that I've read this year and see how many new author's I'd actually discovered. I was pleased to find that although I do read a lot of old favourites, *cough* Patrick Ness *cough*, I'm also pretty good at expanding my horizons with new authors.

Have you discovered any new authors this year?

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

TBR PRESSURE

For today's blogtober post I thought I'd discuss TBR pressure; the stress that can be brought on by having 'too many' unread books on your shelf.

I feel like every time I post a book haul, I talk about how guilty I feel for buying new books when I have so many unread ones, and I've already mentioned on here how I've had people ask me why I want more books when I already have so many that I haven't got to yet. So the pressure of the physical TBR pile is definitely something that I'm familiar with.



I think the reason why I feel this guilt and pressure is because I feel like the amount of unread books on my shelf is just kind of ridiculous and overwhelming. The above photos are of my three shelves filled with unread books (yep, that top one is double stacked). It's pretty visually overwhelming and sometimes having that many books literally looming over me doesn't feel so great.

When I was rearranging and cataloguing my books earlier this year, I made a physical TBR list on Goodreads, which I keep up to date every time I read a book or buy a new one. So according to that list, my physical TBR is currently standing at a whopping 122 books. That just seems like a lot. According to Read it Forward's TBR time calculator it's going to take me one and a half years to read all of my unread books, and that's only if I read 80 books a year and don't buy any more books, which obviously isn't going to happen.

But the thing is, I actually LIKE having a lot of unread books. I like having a wide variety of books to choose from and I like knowing that they're there for when I want to read them. I like collecting books and I like seeing them on my shelves. So why do I feel so guilty?

When thinking about this post, it occurred to me that I've always had a lot of unread books, I definitely had almost as many before I started blogging. This is because I've always gone to a lot of used book fairs and charity shops, bulk buying books for small amounts of money, and receiving piles of books for birthdays and Christmas. But the guilt thing is relatively new, and I think I might have figured out why.

Since I started reading book blogs and watching booktube and seeing people post monthly wrap ups of ten or fifteen books or talking about #0by16, I've slowly started to feel this pressure surrounding my TBR. I came to realise that I'm definitely not reading books as fast as I'm buying them. At the end of some months I've felt disappointed in my myself for not reading much, because I don't feel like I'm getting my TBR down at all.

I need to remind myself that reading is supposed to be fun, not a chore. It's supposed to be something I enjoy and look forward to, and I really shouldn't be putting pressure on myself to be reading a certain number of books or to only have a small amount of unread books.

It's okay, I'm not going anywhere (*touch wood*), I have the rest of my life to read all these books. I know that I'll get to them all at some point and I'm going to keep collecting books and having a big TBR to choose from.

Do you have a lot of unread books? Do you feel stressed out by it? Let's talk about it in the comments!

Monday, 19 October 2015

DEWEY'S 24 HOUR READATHON WRAP UP

At the weekend I participated in Dewey's 24 hour readathon which, in the UK, took place from 1pm on Saturday until 1pm on Sunday. I did post an update on how I was doing with the readathon on Saturday night, which you can read here in case you missed it, but I thought I'd do a full wrap up post to tell you how much I read and my experience of the readathon in an hourly breakdown. 

In anticipation of this post I made sure to write hourly notes on my progress during the readathon. which looking back on, become quite delirious at around the 1am mark in the early hours of Sunday. But I'll do the best I can with them haha!

My readathon adventure

Hour 1: I had my book, my snacks and an exceedingly cosy blanket ready so I started the readathon right on 1pm. I started with my first book Crown of Midnight and managed to get 55 pages read despite some Twitter distractions caused by readathon excitement.

Hour 2: Lunch break time! I stupidly forgot to have lunch before the readathon started and staying energised seemed important for my reading stamina, so a break was in order.

Hour 3: Back to reading, I got 49 pages read this how with minimal distractions. Progress!

Hour 4: I got distracted by Twitter and had fun cheering other readers on with their reading instead of getting mine done. No reading happened this hour, whoops!

Hour 5: Having read only 104 pages of my book I was already feeling a little slumpy so decided to get some fresh, blustery October air and take my dogs for a walk before continuing. This did the trick and I read 10 pages on my return.

Hour 6: I settled down properly with my book again and read 48 pages this hour with not much distraction. I was on to page 162 of Crown of Midnight and absolutely LOVING it.

Hour 7: I read 21 pages this hour and took a break to eat dinner with my parents.

Hour 8: I was absolutely dying to get back to Crown of Midnight and got 23 pages further before hitting a major feels point in the novel. I proceeded to cry (I NEVER cry at books, this is a big deal) and had to head to Twitter to find someone to fangirl with.

Hour 9: I managed to drag myself away from Twitter and get back into the book and read a whopping 71 pages this hour. Crown of Midnight started getting super intense and I managed to avoid all distractions.

Hour 10: No reading happened this hour, I decided it was about time to write my update post before everyone who might read it fell asleep. Also some major snacking happened this hour.

Hour 11: While my parents headed to bed I decided to settle myself in to a night of reading by running a bath and diving further into Crown of Midnight. I read 71 pages this hour which took me to page 348 of the novel with the end in sight.

Hour 12: After my bath I did actually plan to get ready for bed and get straight back to reading but I'm not exactly sure what happened. My notes are kind of blank for this hour, I think I was just in a pit of feelings about Crown of Midnight and distracted myself with some YouTube videos.

Hour 13: I think some reading happened this hour but my notes aren't exactly clear how much further I got, it was 1am and I was starting to get a bit crazy.

Hour 14: I finally finished book one of the readathon! Crown of Midnight was incredible and intense and I loved it so SO much. 

Hour 15 through Hour 22: At about 3am, with 418 pages read, I decided to finally call it a day and get some sleep. I woke up just before 11 and I was so ridiculously tired that all I could do was lounge around in bed, no reading happened.

Hour 23: After I'd forced myself to wake up a bit, I realised that the readathon was nearly over, so at the end of hour 23 I decided to pick up my second book, Dracula by Bram Stoker, and read four pages.

Hour 24: I only managed to read 11 pages in the final hour because I was just too sleepy and food was calling my name. I finished up the readathon having read a grand total of 433 pages! 

Total # of books finished: 1
Total pages read: 433

I'm really happy with how I did in the readathon because for most of October I've been in a pretty hideous reading slump, I've barely read anything and I was getting a bit worried that Dewey's would just be more of the same for me. I think that this readathon was just the thing I needed to get me out of my slump because it reminded me how much I enjoy reading and got me excited about picking up books again. Reading 433 pages in 24 hours is a lot for me, especially with how this month has been going, so I'm really pleased and proud of how I did!

Did you take part in the readathon? How did you do?

Sunday, 18 October 2015

ACTUAL BLOG LOVIN'


Today I'm actually in the middle of readathon-ing for Dewey's 24 hour readathon so I thought I'd pre-schedule a simple little post to celebrate some of the blogs I've been loving lately.

01. Girl Lost in the City
Emma Gannon is a digital journalist, social media maven, author and excellent blogger. Her blog is kind of a lifestyle blog; it's a wonderful mish-mash of culture, film, books, travel, fashion and everything else in between. The reason why I love her blog so much is because of her brilliantly written discussion posts. I just find them so relatable and on point and I don't think I ever skip over her posts when it comes up on my Bloglovin feed.

02. The Quiet People
Beth is a book blogger with a sharp wit and a beautiful writing style. Her blog features reviews, discussions and tags that come complete with lovely photographs. I also find her posts to be insightful and funny and always well worth a read. If you're not already following her then after visiting her blog, you will be.

03. Dorkface
I stumbled across Jemma's blog earlier this month and spent the entire night reading it; it's safe to say I fell head over heels. Dorkface is a lifestyle blog that's all about creativity; this is clearly reflected in the snazzy (yep snazzy is definitely still a thing) design, beautiful photography and Jemma's Etsy shop. Her writing style is chatty and unpretentious whilst also being smart and funny - a wonderful feat. Reading her posts feels like catching up with a friend over steaming mugs of tea and delicious cake, it feels like comfort and coming home. To me, Dorkface represents everything I love about lifestyle blogging, and Jemma will always have a fan in me.

04. Paper Fury
Cait is a book blogger who really stands out to me for the quality of her discussion posts. They are always on-point, well researched and intensely readable with an excellent use of hilarious gifs. As much as I enjoy book reviews, discussion posts about bookish issues and the book community are the ones that stay with me and have me pondering things long after I've closed the page. Cait writes wonderfully and her posts are always brilliantly funny. I also really admire her blog design and graphics - that girl has skillz.

05. Holly Pocket
Holly is a book and lifestyle blogger whose posts give me a little jolt of joy every time they pop up in my feed. She's been posting every day this month and I've been loving every single one! Her writing is clever and friendly and her varied content will always keep me coming back.

Which blogs have you been loving lately?

Saturday, 17 October 2015

DEWEY'S 24 HOUR READATHON UPDATE



Today's blogtober post is just a little update on my progress with Dewey's 24 hour readathon! Apologies if this post is a load of rambling nonsense, I've been reading for almost 9 hours straight *goes cross-eyed*.

We've just finished hour nine and I'm still on my first read, Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas. I've read 277 pages so far and I'm super proud of myself!

I started off strong at the 1pm start time here in the UK and read roughly 50 pages an hour for the first few, taking frequent breaks for Twitter distractions and snacks! My reading slowed down a little mid-afternoon as I took the dogs for a walk and kept getting distracted by Twitter and such but I got back into it this evening and have been going strong ever since. I'm making sure to take regular short breaks and I think that's really helping.

My plan for tonight is to get some more reading done whilst having a lovely Lush bath (the comforter  bubble bar is my life-saver right now). Then depending on how far I am in Crown of Midnight I might either finish that up or switch over to my most recent purchase Horrorstör by Grady Henrix, for some spooky late-night reading before bed.

I'm not sure how late I'm going to stay up, I'm not going to torture myself and if I feel like sleeping then I definitely will. I'm not someone who does well without sleep and I tend to need excessive amounts just to function. So I'm just gonna see how it goes. 

Tomorrow's plan (if I wake up early enough) is to finish up Crown of Midnight and move on to Dracula by Bram Stoker. I've got a non-readathon-related post scheduled for tomorrow but I'll be doing a full readathon wrap up on Monday, so keep an eye out for that.

I've been tweeting all day over at @sarahs_chapter and I've really been enjoying interacting with other readers, I personally think that's one of the best parts about readathons, the community is so wonderful and supportive! 

Make sure to follow me on Twitter to keep updated with my readathon thoughts and let me know if you're joining in too!

Friday, 16 October 2015

SEPTEMBER BOOK HAUL



Welcome to my September book haul!

I did so well with buying less books last month, I'm actually really pleased with myself! I think it's because I bought a ridiculous amount of books in August, so I knew it was time to calm down a little. So let's get into the books:

The Dumb House by John Burnside - £6.47, Wordery.
I absolutely had to get my hands on this creepy classic after hearing Jen Campbell and Jean from BookishThoughts both raving about it. I absolutely loved it and you can read more of my thoughts on it in my September reading wrap up post. This would be a perfect spine-chilling read this month for Halloween.

Being Me by Pete Kalu - received from HopeRoad publishing in exchange for honest review.
I was kindly contacted by the lovely PR people from HopeRoad and was asked if I would like to review Pete Kalu's latest YA novel, Being Me. I am fully in support of the #weneeddiversebooks campaign so of course I jumped at the chance to read and review a book featuring a diverse YA character. I hosted the first day of the Being Me blog tour last month and you can read a guest post on gender roles in YA from Pete Kalu along with my review here.

Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas - £6.48 and £6.56, Wordery.
Before I'd even finished reading Throne of Glass last month I'd already ordered the next two books in the series as I knew I wanted to continue on. I haven't started Crown of Midnight yet but I'm planning to get to it this weekend!

All the Rage by Courtney Summers - received from Macmillan Children's Books in exchange for an honest review
The lovely Leanne at Macmillan kindly sent me an advanced proof of All the Rage by Courtney Summers which is due out in the UK in January 2016. As far as I know All the Rage is the story of Romy, who is assaulted by the sherrif's son and is branded a liar when she speaks out, but when it happens to another girl Romy questions whether she should stay silent any longer. According to the synopsis this novel 'examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them'. This is a gorgeous proof with such a striking cover, I think the final cover is different but I just love this one so much. It really gives a sense of the violence that is far too often inflicted upon women. I'm really excited for this book and I'll probably read it closer to the UK release date so I can review it properly.

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler - £3.99, Sainsbury's.
I picked this up when I spotted it in my local Sainsbury's because I knew that it had been longlisted for the Man Booker prize. I started reading it that night and absolutely fell in love with it. Family sagas are one of my favourite ever genres and this one really drew me in. You can read more of my thoughts on it here.

So those were all the books I acquired last month, I only bought four so that's a huge improvement on last month's fifteen! I'm doing really well this month as well because I'm anticipating the possibility of getting some books for my birthday next month, so exciting!

Tomorrow I'll be participating in Dewey's 24 hour readathon so don't forget to keep up to date with my progress on Twitter @sarahs_chapter!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Thursday, 15 October 2015

DEWEY'S 24HR READATHON TBR



Lately I've been in such a reading slump, I've barely been reading at all and I'm just not motivated to read. So I've made quite a last minute decision to participate in Dewey's 24 hour readathon which I'm hoping will jump-start my reading and get me excited about it again!

Dewey's 24 hour readathon is basically what it says on the tin and this round is taking place (mostly) on this coming Saturday 17th October. However, this readathon is slightly different from others as instead of just starting at midnight wherever you are there is a universal start time so everyone can start reading together! To find out when the start time is in your country you can click here, and then click here to sign up!

As I'm in the UK the readathon will be starting for me at 13:00 on Saturday and continuing through until Sunday at that time. I definitely won't be staying awake for the full 24 hours because I think that would actually be impossible for me, but I'm planning to dedicate all the time I can to just reading. I'll be updating my progress on Twitter (@sarahs_chapter) so make sure to follow me on there to keep up!

As the readathon is only 24 hours I've just picked two books that I'm hoping to have a go at during that time and maybe I'll finish one.

The first book I'm going to be picking up is Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas. I read Throne of Glass last month and really enjoyed it so I'm looking forward to continuing with the series. I'm also hoping that picking something YA and fast-paced will help get me out of my slump and will be quite an easy read.

The next book I want to start during the readathon is the classic that I've chosen to review for this month's 2015 Classics Challenge. I thought that this would be a suitably spooky ready for October and I know a lot of people really love this book so I'm excited to get into it.

So those are the books that I'll be reading this weekend for the readathon, don't forget to follow me on Twitter for updates and keep an eye out for my wrap up next week!

Are you participating in the readathon? Let me know!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

FAVOURITE FIRST SENTENCES

In my opinion the first sentence of a book can really affect the rest of the reading experience. It sets the tone and mood of the book and can affect your decision whether to continue reading - there's a lot of pressure on that first sentence. This blogpost is celebrating some of my favourites, those sentences that really hook you in and make you want to keep reading.

I've picked all of these for different reasons; nostalgia, intrigue, humour, loveliness, creepiness, and one of these is actually the first couple of sentences as I just couldn't resist the hilarity of it. I'm not going to explain these or give you any more plot information as I think that the sentences speak for themselves and will hopefully intrigue you enough to pick up the book. So let's get into it...



"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling.

"It's a weirdly subtle conversation. I almost don't notice I'm being blackmailed." - Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.



"The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say about anything.
'Need a poo, Todd'" - The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.

"In the golden half-light of a midsummer's evening, the sort where any kind of magic can occur, and often does, in the midst of a party held in a wild and rambling garden, stood Pierre, teetering on highly unsuitable heels, surrounded by a symphony of overripe roses." - The Man with the Dancing Eyes by Sophie Dahl



"No one could say it was my choice to kill the twins, any more than it was my decision to bring them into the world." - The Dumb House by John Burnside.

"When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere." - The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Have you read any of these books? If not, do these sentences intrigue you?

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

MY BOOK WISHLIST

No matter how many books I have, I always want more. Some of my not-so-bookish friends have asked me why I want more books when I've already got so many that I haven't read yet (my physical TBR is at 117 books at this point, but that's a whole other post), and my answer is that collecting books makes me genuinely happy and I know that I'll get to them all someday.

I've been keeping lists of books I want for quite a long time now. I would take note of books I was interested in all the time and these lists used to be scattered through notebooks, on random pieces of paper and on my phone. It all got a bit hectic and I wanted a better way to keep track - and make the lists easily shop-able *guilty grin* - so I decided to keep an online wishlist. I originally had my wishlist on Amazon but then they changed their free shipping policy to over £10 only, stopping me from just buying one book at a time, so I moved on to Wordery.

I stumbled upon Wordery by accident when using a price comparison site and couldn't believe that I hadn't heard of it before. Most of their books are cheaper than Amazon (some by a large margin) and on top of that they offer free worldwide delivery, with no catches! This is by no means a sponsored post I just wanted to talk about how obsessed I am with this website. I've since created a wishlist with them and the wonderful thing is that they will email you when the prices of your wishlist items drop.

I thought that today I would share some of the books that I'm currently lusting over but haven't been able to justify buying yet. I have shared my Wordery wishlist with my mum and boyfriend though, so hopefully I might get some for my birthday next month! There's actually currently 34 items on my wishlist so I'll just talk about the ones I'm absolutely desperate for!


Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
I read the first two books in the Grisha trilogy earlier this year but I STILL haven't finished the series and it's driving me mad. I just never got around to buying Ruin and Rising. And that means that I can't really get Six of Crows yet because I want to have finished the original Grisha trilogy before reading it, and I'm absolutely dying to read it! I'm really really hoping I get these two for my birthday and if not I'm going to order them straight away because I NEED THEM.

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
I've been wanting to read Robin Hobb ever since I first heard Sam from Novels and Nonsense mention her in a video absolutely ages ago. Since then one of my best friends has read this series and really enjoyed it so that makes me want it even more! In her wonderful author exploration video on Robin Hobb, Sam recommends that you start with Assassin's Apprentice and continue on from there. I'm dying to get into more adult fantasy so I really want to check this one out!


Vintage Classics Bronte series
I think my lust for these just explains itself, I mean just look at those covers! I'm currently collecting the Vintage Classics Austen series, which is equally beautiful, and now Vintage are releasing a Bronte series on November 5th! I can't wait to get my hands on these beauties as I love collecting gorgeous books and I haven't actually read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall yet so I'm looking forward to that.


You by Caroline Kepnes
So many people have been talking about You on blogs and booktube and I really want to get my hands on this creepy thriller. It's written in the second person which is something I've never experienced whilst reading and I think will make it extremely creepy. I'm really intrigued by this one!

Saga: Volume One by Brian K. Vaughn
This graphic novel series gets so much hype and I've heard that it's deservedly so. From little snippets I've seen the art looks beautiful and the space-opera narrative sounds really interesting.

Monsters by Emerald Fennell
This recent release from one of my favourite publishers Hot Key Books is an adult novel which as far as I know is about two children who are a little too intrigued by a recent murder. I love books that are scary or have disturbing elements so I'm really interested in this. It's had excellent marketing from Hot Key and has received some really great reviews. The narrative sounds like nothing I've read so this is definitely one of the most anticipated books that I can't afford right now. Hopefully soon!

So those are some of the books I want most at the moment! As I said earlier these aren't the only items on my wishlist and you can check out the rest here, it might give you some ideas for your own wishlist or present ideas for someone else!

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