Sunday 31 January 2016


A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr
My rating: ☆☆☆☆.5

One summer, just after the Great War, Tom Birkin, a demobbed soldier, arrives in the village of Oxgodby. He has been invited to uncover and restore a medieval wall painting in the local church. At the same time, Charles Moon - a fellow damaged survivor of the war - has been asked to locate the grave of a village ancestor. As these two outsiders go about their work of recovery, they form a bond, but they also stir up long dormant passions within the village. What Birkin discovers here will stay with him for the rest of his life . . . [blurb from Goodreads]

When I discovered this classic:
I actually discovered A Month in the Country in a really shallow way. I was browsing around the internet for pretty books and discovered the Penguin Essentials collection, and decided that I needed all of them. I wrote down a few of the prettiest looking ones (not knowing what most of them were about) and asked for them for Christmas in 2014. This is one of the books I received, and I don't regret it all because LOOK HOW PRETTY.

Why I chose to read it:
Well, I'd had it for over a year and I thought dang, it's probably about time I read that. Also it's nice and short and I wanted to ease myself in to the classics challenge this year.

What makes it a classic:
I honestly think the fact that it was nominated for the Booker prize and won the Guardian Fiction prize in 1980 speaks for the merit and value of the book whilst the fact that it was chosen for the Penguin Essentials collection in 2014 speaks for it's endurability.

What I thought of this classic:
I was so pleasantly surprised by this lovely little classic. I really didn't know what to think going into the book as I didn't really know what it was about from reading the blurb, but what I found was a nostalgic look at post-WW1 rural England and a wry, slightly haunting commentary on the human condition.

A Month in the Country is a mix between a character study, a rural idyll  and an examination of life after war. For such a short book it's surprisingly complex without ever being tiring or boring. It's definitely character-driven rather than plot-driven and I sometimes find that quite refreshing. It's nice to slow down and be thoughtful sometimes rather than rushing through a fast-paced thrilling plot.

As a born and bred countryside girl, I always appreciate rural settings in novels, and A Month in the Country, with it's beautiful rural Yorkshire backdrop, doesn't disappoint. The descriptions of the landscape are atmospheric and nostalgic and evoke a sense of calm and contentment. This evocation is made even more powerful by the brief, contrasting references to life during the war; references to trenches, battles and shell-shock. As the narrator, Tom, says: 'there might be something to be said for seasons in hell because, when we'd dragged ourselves back from the bloodiness, life had seemed brighter than we'd remembered it'.

The narrator, Tom Birkin, is a Londoner, and it is therefore interesting and often humorous to observe this rural community from an 'outsider's perspective. He notices all the quirks of the characters, the etiquette, the routines and the traditions and comments on them with a distinct dry humour and sharp wit.

A Month in the Country is ultimately a reflection on life, the meaning of it and the pointlessness of war. It is a celebration of the small things, a reminder to appreciate these golden years and to seek beauty in all things.

Will it stay a classic:
As long as it remains in print (particularly in beautiful editions like this one) I can imagine it will continue to be picked up, read, and enjoyed by many generations. I think that despite it's definitive period setting, it has something to offer to every reader.

Who I'd recommend it to:
Fans of the rural idyll, people who enjoy thoughtful character-driven stories, anyone looking for a short but lovely classic.

The 2016 Classics Challenge is hosted by the lovely Stacey of Pretty Books and you can find out more about it here.

Will you be joining in with the 2016 Classics Challenge?

Thursday 28 January 2016


All the Rage by Courtney Summers.
Published by Macmillan on 28th January 2016.
Genre: YA Contemporary.
Source: Macmillan.
I received this book for free from Macmillan in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive? [synopsis from Goodreads]

My review: 

Before I get onto my thoughts on the topic, I'm going to talk about the book as a novel. I can't exactly say that I enjoyed it, because I was burning with sadness and sickness and rage throughout, but it really is an excellent book.

Summers' world building is absolute. Grebe is small-town middle America, it's a world away from my tiny village in the English countryside, but I felt like I'd been there, like I was there. I was oriented in the setting completely. Between Summers' words and media representations of this kind of place, I could imagine Grebe exactly. I could hear the small-town gossip spreading like wildfire, feel the claustrophobic encounters of a small population and see the prejudices of local law enforcement.

Courtney Summers' writing is sharp, as it needs to be to tell this story. Romy's voice is sharpened, hardened, it's so real and so strong, and it's the realness that makes the things she deals with so infuriating and heartbreaking. As a reader you are inside Romy's head, thinking things as she is thinking them. She sometimes has sudden thoughts, knee-jerk reactions that she can't control, harsh or bitter thoughts that she is then surprised by. But acknowledges that these are her true feelings. I related to that. I often have instant, reactionary thoughts that I'm shocked by; shocked by how hurt and damaged and bitter my thoughts can be.

One thing I would say is that the blurb is a little misleading. All the Rage isn't really about Romy's decision on whether to speak out, it's about what happens after rape, when a survivor is still a victim because of rape culture. Romy is stuck, both physically and emotionally. She is unable to move away or move on, because the town and the people are a constant reminder of what happened to her and because how could she possibly move on from something like this? Especially when justice isn't being served.

This could be anyone's story. This story has happened, is happening and will keep happening, until rape culture no longer exists. Until we stop victim blaming and teach people not to rape instead of teaching people to not get raped.

It's not just the rapist, it's the enitre communities that let this happen. That overlook rape and abuse and ruin lives. And the flawed justice system that prevents justice from being served. It's a whole system that distrusts women. Rape culture tells society that women can't be trusted and manipulates women into blaming themselves if something happens to them. All the Rage is filled with examples of everyday sexism, the casual and frequent comments from the patriarchal society that perpetuates and feeds into this damaging belief system. The important thing is that Romy questions this; 'I wanted to ask what she meant by unladylike', and therefore as a reader we too are encouraged to question things.

Romy is a victim, in the literal sense, but she's not a 'victim', she's not a damsel, she's not an oversimplified stereotype. She is a human - with beauty and flaws and personality and love and anger. She's real. She's me or you. That's the scary part, the real part; that she could just as easily be me or you, she might be me or you. Her story could be anyone's, and that's fucking horrible and all too real.

As I read All the Rage, I felt sick and angry and admonished. My hands were clenched with shock and disbelief and rage. So much rage, for the injustice and the horrible truth of it. It is this rage which made me want to shout about this book from the rooftops, to shout 'we need to talk about rape culture'. All the Rage opens up the conversation, lessens the taboo and will hopefully open people's eyes to the reality and the injustice that is happening now, all over the world.

Have you read All the Rage? What did you think? Come and join in the conversation on Twitter, using #TotheGirls2016.

Saturday 23 January 2016


Reading: I just started How Not to Disappear by Claire Furniss.

Watching: all the YouTube videos that I didn't keep up with over the festive period/early January.

Planning: more book posts and reviews! The bookish content has been lacking around here lately, but don't worry, I've got a lot of ideas for more bookish delights! If there are any bookish posts that you'd like to see or you have any other suggestions then please comment and let me know!

Making: a TBR jar filled with origami stars. I'll be doing a post on it soon so keep an eye out for that!

Stocking up on: washi tape and fairy lights. I've become a bit addicted to eBay and can't stop buying really cheap bits and bobs. I bid on a bunch of stuff and didn't expect to win all of it, and now I'm expecting 20 rolls of washi tape to arrive in the post. I need to stop.

Wishing for: some brighter days so I can take more blog photographs! It's so dark lately that it's almost impossible to take any decent photos and it's driving me crazy!

Enjoying: the feeling of a fresh start that the new year brings. Everything still feels kind of shiny and new.

Trying: to get on a regular sleep schedule and to wake up earlier. The medication I'm on, mixed with chronic fatigue, means that I seem to need 10+ hours sleep to be even remotely functional and over the holidays I got into a bad pattern of going to bed and getting up really late. I'm gradually trying to ease out of this into a healthier, more productive pattern.

Eating: all the chocolate from Christmas. It's become a full-blown addiction, I really need to scale back on the chocolate.

Goal Setting: I want to read 85 books this year so I've set a goal to read at least seven books a month. I'm not sure that's going to happen but I'm going to try!

Learning: that just because I feel okay for a couple of days doesn't mean that I should do ALL OF THE THINGS. It just leads to a crash that involves splitting headaches, sickness and intense muscle pain - not good.

What's been going on with you lately?

Tuesday 19 January 2016


This is a new kind of post for me, and one that some people might find a little bit strange. I'm basically going to be showing you my rubbish. Yep! It's a product empties post!

I actually really enjoy reading these posts and watching these kinds of videos because seeing what someone has completely used up means that you're getting their tried, tested and true opinions on the products. I've been collecting these things for a while as it takes me an absolute age to use anything up and to be honest with you I just want to get them out of my room and throw them in the recycling already! So let's dive right in...

The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil (200ml).
This is my holy grail for removing makeup and it lasted a crazily long time. I bought it in autumn 2014 and finished it up just before Christmas 2015, using it pretty much every time I wore makeup. That's seriously impressive. You only need a tiny amount, it removes every single trace of makeup and it doesn't irritate the sensitive skin around my eyes. I ordered another one before I'd even run out of this because I honestly don't think I could live without it.

Mitchum 48hr unscented Antiperspirant & Deodorant (41g).
Okay, I know it's a bit weird that I'm showing you my empty deodorant, but I have a reason. TMI time: I'm a sweaty person. I sweat quite a lot and the sweat goes stale and that equals stinkyness. Which no one wants. It's something I've always struggled with and I'd never really found an antiperspirant that truly worked, until I discovered this one. Before that I'd tried so many, including the Mitchum roll-on (it took WAY too long to try, nobody got time for that), and I've finally found one that keeps me fresh and dry all day long - hallelujah! It's the cream stick one, which I much prefer to sprays or roll-ons because it doesn't dry out my armpits - I have notoriously dry skin- and keeps them hydrated but sweat-free, yay!

My Little Beauty Masque Réparateur (100ml).
This miraculous little hair mask came in a My Little Box subscription sometime last year and I loved the crap out of it. I haven't used that many hair masks but this one was amazing. I'm really sad that I can't replace it because it really was awesome.

Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in 'Eastend Snob'.
I spoke about this in my 2015 non-bookish favourites post so I won't go on about it too much here, but basically it's an awesome lip liner that I can't believe I actually used up - I never use up makeup! So this felt kind of like an achievement, and a real testament to the product.

The Body Shop 'Chocomania' Body Butter (50ml).
This is a miniature of the Body Shop body butters which I'm pretty sure I got in a sale last year for £1,50 and it really does smell like chocolate, I wanted to eat my own legs after using it. I think I prefer these tiny pots as I never get through the big ones and I end up getting bored of the smell. I'd repurchase this again if I didn't have about a thousand body moisturisers to use up.

The Body Shop Tea Tree Cool & Creamy Wash (100ml).
This is another one that was mentioned in my 2015 favourites and it's my go-to face wash for when my skin is playing up. It sorts out redness and spots without drying out my skin and I love it! I do seem to get through them rather fast though so I'd like it if The Body Shop did a huge size.

L'Oreal Super Sleek Shampoo (250ml).
I swear there used to be a L'Oreal shampoo called EverSleek but then I couldn't find it anywhere so it seems it's been replaced by this? I loved the EverSleek and this formula doesn't seem to be quite the same so if anyone knows anything more about this then please let me know. What can I say? It's a pretty good shampoo, it gets my hair clean but doesn't do anything amazing. I'm still looking for my perfect shampoo and conditioner so if you have any recommendations then let me know!

Balance Me Pure Skin Face Wash (50ml).
This is a travel size of the pure skin face wash that was free with Glamour magazine sometime last year. This is my favourite everyday cleanser and I've been using it for a few years now. It's super gentle, removes makeup, doesn't dry out my skin and just leaves it feeling great. I've since got my hands on another full-size one of these and I just love it. If you're looking for an all-round all-purpose everyday cleanser then this is your best bet!

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream (56.7g).
This is another one that was in my 2015 favourites. I got this last January in the First Aid Beauty Faves To Go Kit and it's only just run out. Granted, I am sometimes a bit lazy with my skincare routine and don't always remember to use it but that's still pretty good going! It's a really great all-round moisturiser, it might be a bit heavy on oilier skin but for my dry, sensitive skin it's perfect.

Batiste Dry Shampoo in 'Eden' (200ml).
I don't really know why I'm putting this in here, you know what dry shampoo is, you know that Batiste works, even if it is a bit powdery and chalky. I'm lazy and I also only wash my hair once a week because of fatigue and chronic pain so it's handy and I'm going to keep buying it whenever it's on offer.

Do you like 'Product Empties' posts? Or do you find them weird and unnecessary? Please let me know!

Monday 18 January 2016


#RYBSAT is a readathon that was started by Miranda from Books101, you can watch her announcement video for #RYBSAT round 7 here.

RYBSAT stands for Read Your Bookshelf-A-Thon, and the idea is to pick a spot on your bookshelf and just read from there, seeing how many books you can get through in a week. It's a really casual readathon and it's particularly satisfying because you can visually see your TBR pile going down. The readathon will be running from the 19th to the 25th wherever you are in the world and you can join in and update your progress on social media using #RYBSAT. This is the third time I've participated in this readathon and I'm really excited to try and get through some books!

This time around I've decided to tackle the huge pile of recently acquired books that sits on the shelf next to my bed, mainly because I'm afraid that it's going to topple over and crush me in my sleep, but also because I'm actually really excited to read them!

Now let's be honest, it's not very likely that I'm going to get through all twelve of the books in that pile in a week so I'm just going to focus on the tippity-top section.

A Month in the Country - J.L. Carr.
This is on the pile because it's actually my pick for this month's 2016 Classics Challenge hosted by Pretty Books so I really need to get to it. I don't actually know what it's about but the cover's pretty and that's good enough for me! Keep an eye out for a review later in the month.

On the Beach at Night Alone - Walt Whitman.
I was actually meant to be reading this for #BoutofBooks and #TBRTakedown but I didn't - readathon fail. So I'm going to actually read it for #RYBSAT - readathon save.

How Not To Disappear - Clare Furniss.
This was actually sent to me by the ridiculously lovely people at Maximum Pop Books because I didn't receive anything in the #MPSecretSanta over the holidays and they wanted to give me a gift themselves - so sweet! This looks to be about Hattie, whose best friends have abandoned her over the summer, and Gloria, her great-aunt who is in the early stages of dementia. Together, the two set out on a roadtrip of self-discovery. It sounds right up my street and the reviews look promising so I'm really excited for this!

Isla and the Happily Ever After - Stephanie Perkins.
This is the third book in Stephanie Perkins' YA contemporary romance series and I think this will be a great, light and easy read for later in the week.

Ruin and Rising - Leigh Bardugo.
I really don't think I'll get this far down the pile but it'd be great if I did! Ruin and Rising is the final book in the Grisha trilogy which I started last year. I hope I get to this so I can finally read Six of Crows.

The Opposite of Loneliness - Marina Keegan.
I'm definitely not going to be able to get to this but hey, let's be optimistic. The Opposite of Loneliness is a posthumously published collection of essays by Yale graduate Marina Keegan. It looks really interesting and I'm hoping to get a lot out of it.

So those are the books I'm going to attempt to read this week for #RYBSAT! I don't know how far I'm going to get but it's always worth trying. You can keep up with my progress on Twitter and Instagram, if you're also participating in the readathon please come and say hello!

Will you be participating in #RYBSAT? Have you read any of these books? Let me know!

Sunday 17 January 2016


Instead of doing my usual monthly favourites post in December, I thought it'd be nice to say goodbye to 2015 by wrapping up my non-bookish favourites of last year! I just wanted to talk about the beauty, skincare and lifestyle bits that I really enjoyed last year, and hopefully you might find some good recommendations in there!


Foundation: Rimmel Lasting Finish 25 hour nude in 'Ivory'.
I discovered this foundation about half way through the year and have been wearing it pretty much constantly since, it's a really good medium coverage that stays on all day.

Concealer: Maybelline The Eraser Eye in 'Light'.
A lot of people were going on about this on Youtube so I picked it up part way through the year and haven't looked back. It's the only concealer I use now and the only one that will brighten my intensely dark circles.

Bronzer: The Body Shop Honey Bronzer in '02'.
I've been using this for quite a long time now (as you can see by the picture, it's almost finished!) and it's basically my holy grail bronzer. I'm super pale so most bronzers look ridiculous on me, but this is perfect. Pale people: this is your bronzer!

Blush: Rimmel Lasting Finish Soft Colour blush in 'Santa Rose'.
This is the best neutral blush I've ever used, it's a little bit pink but not too much and just gives a nice healthy glow, and it lasts all day, perfect!

Brow product: Mac matte eyeshadow in 'charcoal brown'.
I've been using this non-stop for my brows for a couple of years, I've hit pan on it but there's still so much left! It's just the perfect subtle but buildable brow product.

Eye primer: Mac Pro Longwear Paint Pot in 'Painterly'.
This has been my go-to eye primer since 2014 as I have such dark eyelids so this creates such a good base for eyeshadows and just generally brightens my eyes, you could definitely wear this on it's own for a neutral look.

Cream eyeshadow: Maybelline Colour Tattoo in 'Creamy Beige'.
I've always loved the Maybelline Colour Tattoo's as they're ridiculously quick and simple, you literally just stick your finger in it (or a brush if you're super hygienic and fancy) and blend it out. It looks like you've made much more effort than you actually have. I particularly like the 'creamy beige' shade as it's a great neutral.

Eyeshadow palette: Urban Decay Naked Basics 2.
I'm so boring with these neutral eyeshadows aren't I? I love a glittery/smokey eye as much as the next girl but let's be honest, most of the time I want to stick to my lovely warm neutrals. The Naked Basics 2 is a little cooler than the original and I think the shades are just more wearable for me.

Eyeliner: Soap and Glory Supercat.
This is the best liquid eyeliner that I've ever used, it's ridiculously easy to apply and is a pretty bargain price. If you don't already have this then go and get it immediately.

Mascara: Benefit Roller Lash.
The one pictured is a sample size but I've managed to make it last a damn long time. This mascara is great for separation and lengthening and although I love it there are plenty of great drugstore mascaras so I won't be buying the full size when this runs out.

Lipstick: Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet in 'Frambourjoise' and 'Plum Plum Girl'.
2015 was the year that I became brave enough to wear bold lipstick, and it's all down to the Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvets. I'd tried quite a few bold lipsticks before that but I often thought I looked ridiculous and I was always worried about them smudging or having to reapply them, but none of those things are a problem with these lipsticks. Unlike most liquid lipsticks they're not drying on the lips at all and they last all day, through eating and drinking, without smudging or fading at all. I love these two shades in particular and wear them all the time now! I just feel a lot more 'put together' with a bold lipstick on, and even better that I don't have to think about it at all.

Lip pencil: Rimmel Exaggerate in 'Eastend Snob'.
Before 2015 I'd never used a lip pencil but then I saw a lot of people recommending 'eastend snob' as an all-over lip colour and an alternative to Charlotte Tilbury's lip cheat pencil in 'pillowtalk'. So I picked it up and ended up wearing it so much throughout the year. It's just really easy and quick to apply and looks neutral but polished. I'm on my second one now so that speaks volumes as I never use up makeup!

Tool: Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge.
This has actually changed my makeup-life! I'd heard about beauty blenders and sponges before and I was like 'yeah yeah I don't need one.' But then they were on offer in Boots, and I bought one, and it was incredible. It makes foundation look completely flawless and it's amazing for blending in concealer and patting over the base to blend in bronzer and blusher. I definitely think it's worth having at least one of these!

Eye cream: Ren Active 7 Eye Gel.
I have really dry, flakey skin around my eyes and I also suffer from blepharitis (a gross eye disease that usually only happens to old people - lucky me!) so using eye cream is so so important for me so I don't constantly look like a freaky puffy scaly monster. My eye area is so sensitive and I've reacted to a lot of eye creams in the past and this is the only one I've come across which actually works and doesn't burn the skin around my eyes.

Moisturiser: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream.
This is the best moisturiser! As I said I have quite dry, sensitive skin and this is just so so hydrating and not irritating, I love it, and my skin loves it too. It's also brilliant as a body moisturiser for dry patches.

Cleanser: Body Shop Tea Tree Cool & Creamy Wash.
This isn't my everyday cleanser (that goes to the Balance Me Pure Skin Face Wash) but this is my favourite go-to cleanser for congested or spotty skin. It sorts out any issues straight away and is really gentle and hydrating unlike a lot of spot-busting products.


TV programme: Rupaul's Drag Race.

Rupaul's Drag Race is a reality show where drag queens compete to become America's 'next drag superstar', and it's incredible. I first discovered it in 2014 whilst procrastinating from uni work and my boyfriend and I watched the first season in less than a week. Then we went quite a long time without it but for some reason started watching it again last year. Needless to say we became addicted and watched all seven seasons. I'm now desperate for season 8 and I don't know how much longer I can wait!

Podcasts: Serial, Criminal, Ear Biscuits, Dear Hank and John.
2015 was the year I discovered podcasts. I know they've been around for a REALLY long time, but I'm just late to the game okay? I started out with Rhett and Link's Ear Biscuits, where they talk to lots of different Youtubers and 'internet people', and I just love Rhett and Link so this one was always going to be a winner for me. But the others listed above are all amazing!

Youtubers: Good Mythical Morning, SunbeamsJess (+ ExtraSunBeamsJess), Lily Pebbles.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, the Youtubers listed above are my out and out favourites of the year (not including booktubers because this is supposed to be a non-bookish favourites)!

Candle: Pintail candle in the scent 'White Lily & Silk'.
Guys. GUYS. I've found my perfect candle. I know, big deal right? Well it is for me. This is my ultimate candle scent. It's fresh and awesome and fills the room and lasts a long time. I love it so much I asked for a bulk pack of them from ebay for my birthday. You need to get on this.

KitSound Mini Buddy Speaker.
I bought this from Amazon at the end of 2014 but didn't really use it much until mid-late last year. It's got such great sound quality and is awesome for playing music from my phone or watching a film on my laptop. It's USB rechargeable, ridiculous value for money and I love it.

My final favourite of 2015 has got to be blogging. Although this is technically bookish, as I blog about books, it still counts as it's honestly changed my life. I don't know what I would have done or how I would've coped for the last year without blogging. It's given me a purpose, opened up so many opportunities for me and best of all I've met some amazing people through it. I'm honestly so so grateful to every single person who reads or comments on a post or follows my blog, you're all incredible and I'm so thankful. I can only hope that my blog will continue to grow throughout 2016 and that I'll keep loving it throughout the year!

Bloody hell! That was A LOT of favourites. If you read this whole post then you get a medal, it's in the post. Thank you for reading and make sure to leave me a comment if you've found anything in this post helpful!

What were some of your favourites of 2015?

Thursday 14 January 2016


Instead of doing a 'what I got for Christmas' post I thought I'd show you the twelve books that I was lucky to receive for Christmas, because books are the best gifts right? I've got a permanent Wordery wishlist as long as my arm so I think most people went off that but there were a few extra thoughtful books from some people. So without further ado, let's get into the haul:

Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo.
Although I actually haven't finished The Grisha Trilogy, I've desperately wanted Six of Crows (which is set in the same world) since it's release last autumn. This was a lovely, unexpected gift from my boyfriend's dad and I want to get to this so badly but I feel like I have to read the final Grisha book first.

This is Where it Ends - Marieke Nijkamp.
This wasn't actually officially released until January 5th so I was really surprised when I unwrapped it on Christmas day as a gift from my grandparents! I've already gone on about this book so much lately and I've done a full review of it here if you're interested.

Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood.
This was a thoughtful present from my mum, it is the first in a series and it's actually quite strange because I read the second book a few years ago thinking it was a standalone (which it can be) so it will be nice to actually start the series properly! As far as I'm aware it's a post-apocalyptic adventure romance, and I can't wait to get into it.

The Opposite of Loneliness - Marina Keegan.
This is a posthumous collection of essays by Marina Keegan who tragically died five days after graduating from Yale. After her death, her last essay for the Yale Daily News 'The Opposite of Loneliness' went viral and eventually this book was put together from her many writings on hope, uncertainty and possibility. It was such a thoughtful gift from my boyfriend as he knows that I really enjoy non-fiction and I'm really looking forward to reading Marina's work.

Monsters - Emerald Fennell.
This was another gift from my grandparents, and its a delightfully disturbing YA mystery/thriller by Emerald Fennell and published by the awesome Hot Key Books, who are probably my favourite publishing house. I read this at the end of December and reviewed it in my monthly wrap up, which you can read here.

Isla and the Happily Ever After - Stephanie Perkins.
Another wonderful unexpected gift from my boyfriend's dad, Isla and the Happily Ever After is the final novel in a series by Stephanie Perkins. These books are just really sweet YA contemporary romances and I think this is going to be lovely when I want something light to lift my mood.

A Sky Full of Kindness - Rob Ryan.
This was a ridiculously thoughtful gift from my wonderful sister and I was so happy when I opened it! Rob Ryan is one of my favourite illustrators, his paper-cut work is incredible. This little book is the story of two birds on the adventure of becoming parents for the first time, told through beautiful paper-cut illustrations. I've already read this and reviewed it in my December wrap up which you can read here.

Red Sky at Night: The Book of Lost Countryside Wisdom - Jane Struthers.
I'd been looking at this book every time I saw it in a bookshop for the last year but could never really justify buying it so imagine how happy I was when my mum gave it to me for Christmas! She'd noticed that I'd been looking at the book and thoughtfully decided to get it for me. It's a non-fiction book with lots of snippets of information and folklore about the traditional British countryside. It's the kind of book that I'll be dipping into now and again and it's just a really lovely one to have.

Uprooted - Naomi Novik.
First of all, LOOK HOW PRETTY! Ahem, now that we've got that out of the way, this beautiful book was a present from my wonderful boyfriend and apart from being in love with the cover, I'm really excited to read it! As far as I know, it's a YA fantasy about magic and dark forces, with elements of Beauty and the Beast - it's so up my street it's ridiculous. I'll definitely be getting to this one soon!

In Search of Lost Dragons - Elia Black'Mor and Carine.M.
Again, so pretty! I saw the lovely Sam from Novels and Nonsense talk about this book last year in one of her book hauls and it's been on my wishlist ever since. I really wasn't expecting to get this as it's kind of a collector's book so it's pretty expensive but my ridiculously generous grandparents got it for me for Christmas! In Search of Lost Dragons is a journal-style book that follows a reporter and illustrator's journey across Europe to the east, in search of dragons. It's packed full of beautiful illustrations and I honestly can't stop looking through it.

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes.
My mum bought me this because she's been telling me to read it for the longest time and I just haven't got round to it, but I guess now I will! It's an adult romance that apparently will destroy you emotionally. So that sounds like fun!

Cider with Rosie - Laurie Lee.
I'm not sure what made me want this classic but I've been after it for quite a while, particularly in the beautiful Vintage Classics edition. I'm kind of obsessed with Vintage Classics. Cider with Rosie is about Laurie Lee's childhood growing up in a remote Cotswold village, just after the first world war, as the blurb describes it 'a timeless place on the verge of change'. I think I'm going to absolutely love it and will be reading it as part of this year's Classics Challenge hosted by Stacey of Pretty Books.

Phew! And there we have it, the twelve wonderful books I got for Christmas. I'm honestly so so grateful for everything I received this year, everyone was so generous and I didn't expect this many books at all! I'm really really excited to read all of these and hopefully it'll keep me from buying books for a good while!

Did you get any books for Christmas? Which is your favourite?

Tuesday 12 January 2016


I know, I know! We're almost two weeks into 2016 and I'm still going on about 2015. Although January is a fresh start I also think it's a good time to reflect back on the past year and I'm going to be doing that today by looking at my reading statistics for 2015. I'd been thinking about doing this post for a while and then I read AJ of Read All the Things' '2015 infographics' post, which inspired me to make my own infographic to sum up my year in reading!

So, without further ado, I present to you a whole bunch of stats in pretty pastel colours:

There we have it! I read a lot more female than male authors this year, without making a conscious effort to, which I'm pretty surprised and pleased about - power to the ladies! I'm also happy about my balance between reading adult and YA books and the fact that I read 10 classics last year! The one thing I am a bit concerned about is that I seem to be reading US and UK authors pretty much exclusively, that really needs to change this year.

This post was so fun to do, even if it did take far too many hours to collate the data and make the infographic! I think it'll be really fun to look back at this in a years time and see how my reading statistics for 2016 compare. I definitely want to make an effort to read authors from more diverse nationalities and I think it'll be interesting to see if my tastes in genres change over the year.

I don't know if anyone except me will be interested in this post but I think it's important for me to keep a record of these things. I hope you at least found it a little interesting!

Monday 11 January 2016


*drum roll*...WELCOME TO THE 2015 BOOK AWARDS!

Well, not really. This is a tag created by Bookadoodles over on YouTube and basically I'm going to be talking about some of my favourite books from last year in award show form. I wanted to do this instead of a 'top books of 2015' post because I think I'd just have such a hard time choosing books and this way I can talk about the reasons why I loved different books! There are a lot of categories, so grab a cup of tea and settle in for the show!

Favourite female main character: Celaena Sardothien, Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas.
This was such a hard one to choose! Special mentions also go to: Nimona, Nimona - Noelle Stevenson and Anne Elliot, Persuasion - Jane Austen. But in the end I just had to go with Celaena, because I'm pretty sure I've never encountered such an awesomely badass but almost completely relatable female main character before. Celaena is strong, both physically and emotionally, she's confident and funny, she's no damsel in distress but she's not an emotionally-barren ice queen either. I love her love of books and food and working hard and doing the right thing. She's inhumanly skilled and dangerous but she's just so human at the same time, and I love her. I only read Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight last year but I'm really excited to carry on with the series and see how my feelings for Celaena fair in 2016.

Favourite male main character: Baz, Carry On - Rainbow Rowell.
There was absolutely no contest with this one. Carry On was one of my favourite books of 2015 and Baz was one of the main reasons for this. He's just everything I want in a male main character, he's all snark and sharp wit and arrogance and beautiful crippling emotions and I just can't handle it! I don't want to say too much because I don't want to spoil you if you haven't read it, but pick up Carry On asap and fall in love with Baz like I did.

Best plot twist: Throne of Glass series - Sarah J. Maas.
Again, I'm not gonna say much because of spoilers but this series man. It just takes you on a rollercoaster and puts your heart in a blender and then throws it around a lot. It's just a lot okay?

Best book cover: This is Where it Ends - Marieke Nijkamp.

I know this is technically a 2016 release but I read it in 2015 so it counts okay?
I mean, come on. Just look at it.

There were a lot of great covers in 2015 but this one just snuck in right at the end of the year and stole the show with it's simplicity and it's violence and it's sad beauty.

And that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Best female sidekick: Jennifer, Attachments - Rainbow Rowell.
I know this seems like an odd choice but Attachments was such a pleasantly surprising read for me and ended up being one of my favourites of last year, and when I thought about why I released it's because there was such a brilliant and honest portrayal of female friendship behind the main love story. Jennifer and Beth's friendship was hilarious and lovely and just so real and I haven't been able to get that out of my head. Yes, they discussed men but it wasn't the main focus of all their conversations. They talked about their lives and random things and I loved reading their conversations so much. There aren't enough strong and positive female friendships in literature so this is a shout out to Jennifer, and best friends everywhere, what you do is important, keep it up.

Best male sidekick: Kenji, Shatter Me series - Tahereh Mafi.
I kind of had a hard time thinking of this one but then I remembered Kenji. Of course! He was such excellent comic relief from all the angst of the Shatter Me series but he also had his own story with a deep background and he was just a wonderful friend throughout. I love great portrayals of friendships!

Best plot/world: Carry On - Rainbow Rowell.
I so nearly chose the Throne of Glass series for this but Carry On just pipped it to the post. I think Rainbow Rowell's world-building in this was excellent, especially for a standalone novel. Although I love the traditional fantasy worlds of sword and sorcery I couldn't help but fall in love with Rowell's modern day world with an undercurrent of magic. There were spells and mint Aeros, dragons and Google, and I just love how the two worlds intermingled. I also really really loved the magic system in this book, it was just so different from anything I've yet come across. In Carry On spells are called 'magick words' and are usually phrases with cultural or historical roots and their strength is based on the significance of the words or phrases in current society. So there were a lot of catchphrases, proverbs and song lyrics which not only added humour but as a former linguistics student I found really interesting.

Best book to movie adaptation: The Martian.
Okay so this is kind of cheating as I haven't actually read the book yet, but it's still a book-adaptation and the film was incredible! It was probably my favourite film of 2015 and I can't wait to see it again on DVD.

A writer you discovered in 2015: Sarah J. Maas.
I've already gone on about the Throne of Glass series enough in this post so I'll just say that I'm really glad I discovered Sarah J. Maas last year.

Book that would work in animated form: Nimona - Noelle Stevenson.
Nimona is a graphic novel so it's pretty easy to imagine it in animated form but I'm basically using this category to let you know that I absolutely adored Nimona and it was my favourite graphic novel of last year.

Best action: Monsters of Men - Patrick Ness.
How could I write a 2015 awards post without mentioning the Chaos Walking trilogy?! I finished up this series last year and the final book, Monsters of Men had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I just couldn't put it down and it was so shocking I was constantly audibly gasping, screaming and yelling - I'm pretty sure I freaked out my boyfriend whilst he was trying to play video games. If you haven't read this series yet, then what are you doing? Sort it out!

Favourite novella: The Tales of Beedle the Bard - J.K. Rowling.
This was kind of a tricky one as I didn't read many novellas in 2015 apart from The Tales of Beedle the Bard and the Penguin Little Black Classics, and I guess J.K.Rowling won out as always!

Best historical fiction: Burial Rites - Hannah Kent.
Despite this being the only historical fiction I read (I think), it was definitely the best. Burial Rites floored me. It was so unexpectedly brilliant and atmospheric and beautiful, the characters were so finely drawn and the setting was so breathtaking - it just drew me in completely and I wasn't ready to leave at the end of the book. Check out my December wrap up post for a more detailed review.

Best standalone: Carry On - Rainbow Rowell.
I think by now it's pretty obvious that this was going to be my answer. This book is just awesome okay and you need to right it immediately if not sooner. If you like books with magic and feelings and monsters and kissing then you need to read this. If you don't like any of those things, well, then, you should probably still read this. Get to it!

*send off music starts playing* and that's all folks! Well done if you made it through that and you're still with me. I think it's going to be really fun to look at this post this time next year and see how my answers and feelings have changed. Also, I hope that you managed to get a few book recommendations out of this, all of the books mentioned are definite favourites of mine and I'd honestly recommend every single one of them.

But for now, thank you and goodnight!

Which book wins your 2015 ultimate book award?

Saturday 9 January 2016


# of books read: 5
Genres: 1 Middle-Grade Fantasy, 1 Adult historical novel, 1 YA Contemporary, 1 YA Thriller, 1 Picture Book.
Total # of pages read: 1431

December turned out to be a pretty good month for reading! My reading was a little slow in the beginning of the month because I was just super busy with preparing for all the festivities but after Christmas I just couldn't wait to get started on all my new books, so I read quite a bit in the last week! I think this was one of my most successful months in terms of enjoyment as I rated nearly all the books I read at five stars, so I'm pretty happy with my reading overall! So let's have a look at what I read in December...

The Land of Stories: Beyond the Kingdoms by Chris Colfer | ☆☆☆☆
This is the fourth book in The Land of Stories series so I can't say too much about it apart from it's a modern twist on fairytale re-tellings. I love this series so much, even though it's middle grade I would definitely recommend it for all ages, my mum has read these books too and really enjoyed them. It's just a really heartwarming yet exciting series and this book was a great sequel, I can't wait for the next one to be released!

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent | ☆☆☆☆☆
This was my TBR jar pick for December and I'm so so glad I read it last month! I honestly didn't know much about this book going in and didn't know what to expect at all and it was such an unexpected joy that I loved it so much. Set in rural Iceland in 1829, Burial Rites is the story of Agnes, who, having been charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. That synopsis sounds strange and depressing but even though it is dark in places, the writing is so beautiful that it just drew me in and completely captured my heart. Kent's writing is honestly some of the best I've seen in a long time, it's beautiful and lyrical and so intensely atmospheric that you feel completely submerged in the world of the novel. Agnes' story is dark and heartbreaking but also wonderful and grounding, and I just think that everyone needs to read this. It's the perfect winter read so pick it up now!

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp | ☆☆☆☆☆
I was so so excited to receive this on Christmas day, as the official release date wasn't until January 5th, so unwrapping this was such an amazing surprise. This is Where it Ends is a character-driven YA contemporary about a school shooting, told from four different perspectives over the space of fifty-four harrowing minutes. I've already done a full review for this book, which you can read here.

A Sky Full of Kindness by Rob Ryan | ☆☆☆☆☆
I finished This is Where it Ends late at night and was basically sat in a pool of tears and didn't know what to do with myself so I decided to pick up another Christmas gift - A Sky Full of Kindness by Rob Ryan. This beautiful book tells the story of two birds who are about to become parents through a series of intricate paper cut outs. Rob Ryan is known for his paper-cut illustrations and he's one of my favourite artists so this sweet little story was just the pick me up I needed after the incredible trauma that was This is Where it Ends. 

Monsters by Emerald Fennell | ☆☆☆☆.5
I decided to carry on with the theme of dark and disturbing reads by picking up Monsters by Emerald Fennell. This is a YA thriller about two young people with an unsavoury interest in murder on a summer holiday that neither of them will forget. Told from the perspective of a twelve year old girl, Monsters is darkly comic and just generally pretty messed up, but in an unsettlingly enjoyable way? The writing, characterisation and world-building were all excellent and the only reason I gave it 4.5 stars instead of 5 is that I felt that the ending just wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, it just lacked a little something. But it was still an excellent read and I'd highly recommend it.

So those are all the books I read in December! I finished out the year having read a whopping 83 books so I'm really pleased with that! Coming up tomorrow is my 2015 book awards and statistics post so look out for that!

What did you read last month?

Tuesday 5 January 2016


This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp.
Published by Sourcebooks on 5th January 2016.
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: a gift from my grandparents for Christmas.
My rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Synopsis: 10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won't open.

Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival. [synopsis from Goodreads]

My review:
This book was one of my most anticipated releases of 2016, so imagine my joy when I unwrapped it on Christmas day! Somehow my grandparents had managed to get hold of an early release copy for me and of course it was the first book I picked up after the Christmas festivities had settled down. I read This is Where it Ends in two intense and emotional sittings and let's just say my mind and body really weren't ready for the rollercoaster that is this book.

Given the novels sensitive subject matter it doesn't feel quite right to say that I enjoyed it but the writing, plot, character development and pacing were all amazing and it was definitely one of my favourite reads of the year.

Taking place over the space of just fifty-four minutes, the plot is fast-paced without ever feeling rushed. Nijkamp takes the time to go into each of the characters' backstories in a way that doesn't feel forced and flows well with the present-day narrative. With multi-perspective narratives, I usually struggle to fully connect with each character but that definitely wasn't a problem with This is Where it Ends. Each of the four character perspectives had their own unique voice and I was desperate to find out what was happening to each one of them, to find out what they were thinking. In just a few short pages I found myself intensely invested in every single character, even the ones whose perspectives we don't read from - the other students and the teachers.

My heart was in my throat the entire time and I had to keep closing the book to take deep breaths and calm down. This is one of those books that just gets to you, that settles oddly in your stomach and lingers in your mind for a long time afterwards. Days after finishing the book, some of the most haunting passages are still with me and I can't stop thinking about certain moments.

This is Where it Ends is such an incredible and incredibly important book and a surprisingly wonderful debut for Marieke Nijkamp. I look forward to seeing what she has in store for us in the future.

Have you read This is Where it Ends? Are you planning to? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday 3 January 2016


It's January and that means a brand new year for reading! If you read my 2016 resolutions post then you'll know that I've set myself the challenge of reading 85 books this year, so I thought I'd get a jump on my reading and join in with a couple of January readathons.

Both TBR Takedown and Bout of Books take place this coming week; from January 4th through January 10th so I'll be doing both at the same time.

Bout of Books is a relaxed readathon with no TBR challenges and the goal is to just read as much as you can and have fun doing it. There's going to be all sorts of daily challenges and giveaways throughout the week so it's best to keep up with everything using #boutofbooks on Twitter.

TBR Takedown is hosted by Shannon from leaninglights (check out her readathon announcement video here) but various people will be hosting sprints, challenges and giveaways over on Twitter so make sure check out #TBRTakedown for updates. There are seven TBR challenges for this readathon but there's absolutely no pressure to stick to these, it's all about just having fun. I'm going to try and complete as many of the challenges as I can just so I can tick a few books off my TBR and I'm going to be incorporating a couple of challenges into some of the books because I think seven books in a week is way too ambitious for me!

So here are the seven challenges and the books I plan to read for them:

- Read a book from your most recent book haul.
I was lucky enough to get the beautiful In Search of Lost Dragons by Elian Black'Mor and Carine-M for Christmas and I'm beyond excited to read it. It's a fully illustrated story of an intrepid illustrator and reporter who travels across Europe and through the Middle East in search of dragons. It's kind of journal-style with snippets of newspapers, notes, local folklore and it's absolutely packed full of beautiful fully-painted illustrations. I'm going to be featuring this book a lot on my Instagram so head over there to see inside.

- Read a book that's been on your TBR Shelf over a year + read a FIRE color book (Fire colours such as shades of red, pink, purple - the lucky colours for 2016.)
I got A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr for my birthday in 2014 and haven't got around to picking it up yet so now's the time. I really don't know much about this at all except that it has a beautiful cover and was nominated for the Booker prize in 1980.  It's also relatively short which is great for readathon-ing!

- Read a book outside your comfort zone + read a non-novel item.
For these two challenges I'm going to be reading On the Beach at Night Alone by Walt Whitman. This is from Penguin Little Black Classics range and is a selection of verses from Whitman's Leaves of Grass. I've tried to read Leaves of Grass before and found it quite challenging and just didn't manage to get through it. I'm hoping this little selection will open me up to Whitman a little bit more.

- Read a first book in a series.
The series I'm hopefully going to be starting this week is the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, beginning with Cinder. This series has had so much hype and the first book has been sitting on my shelf for months but for some reason I haven't started it yet. Hopefully I'll love it!

- Read a sequel in a series.
This is kind of cheating because it's the book I'm already reading but this week I'm going to be continuing on with The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas, which is the selection of Throne of Glass novellas. I've decided to read this series in the order of publication and this came out before Heir of Fire, so I'm treating it as a sequel.

So those are the books I'm planning to read for the #Boutofbooks and #TBRTakedown readathons. I'll be posting frequent updates on Twitter and Instagram, so make sure you're following me on there to keep up and let me know if you're readathon-ing too!

Will you be taking part in either of these readathons? Let me know!

Saturday 2 January 2016


Like most people, I've never been very good at making and sticking to new year's resolutions but I decided that today I'd share my thoughts on a few of the things I want to focus on this coming year. This is definitely not going to be a long list because I really want to put everything I've got into working on these few things; it feels good to have clear priorities. Whether I'll achieve these things is another story but it's nice to start the year with goals in mind.


2015 was my worst year yet for physical health. I've been struggling with my health for years, particularly with fatigue. But after a pretty serious viral illness that started in February last year my physical health was at an all time low and I was finally diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalopathy (or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). 2015 was spent struggling and coming to terms with things and I really want 2016 to be the year where I start getting to a place where my illness isn't a huge roadblock to getting on with the rest of my life.

After being on a waitlist for many months I've finally been accepted to begin a course of treatment at my local hospital at the end of January. I'm not sure exactly what it involves but hopefully it will help me learn how to manage my illness and start taking steps to getting better.

I'm far from hating my body but I've definitely put on quite a bit of weight in the last year and I know that's partly down to my illness but it's also to do with my lifestyle and diet choices. I want to slowly start building more exercise back into my routine and eating better. Having ME means that strenuous exercise often has a negative effect on my health but I'm hoping that with pacing and time I'll be able to start doing more gentle exercise like yoga and pilates, along with the everyday walks I do already. Hopefully this will not only speed up my recovery but also help me lose some of the extra weight that I'm not too happy with.

As I mentioned, 2015 was an extremely difficult year in terms of my physical health and that meant that I've been unable to earn full time since February last year. I want to get my health to a place where I can start working again at least part time. I'd really love to work in a bookshop. It's been my aim to work in the publishing industry for a long time, but since I don't want to move to London and couldn't physically start a publishing career yet, my goal right now is to be a bookseller. I just want to work with books and be surrounded by people who love books as much as I do.

Until I'm able to physically go out to work I want to find a way of earning from home, whether it be through my blog or doing some other freelance work. I really have no clue where to start here so if anyone has any knowledge or tips about working from home please let me know in the comments or email me.

2015 was the first year that I particpated in the Goodreads reading challenge. I set myself a goal of reading 65 books and far exceeded that, finishing the year with 83 books read. This year I'd like to do even better than that and I've set myself the goal of reading 85 books.

Earlier this year I was fascinated by Anna of Vivianna Does Makeup's venture into creating a seasonal capsule wardrobe. I've since read Unfancy, the blog that started it all, from start to finish and really want to do this myself. Last year I got rid of an entire wardrobe's worth of clothes but I still feel like I've got so many clothes that I don't really like or wear. This year I really want to create a small seasonal wardrobe filled with things that I really love and want to wear every day. If this comes to fruition I'll probably do a post about my experience so let me know if you'd like to see that!

So those are the handful of ideas that I want to work on this year. I think it'll be really interesting to look back at the end of 2016 and see how far I've come.

I love reading goals/resolutions posts so if you've written one yourself please link it in the comments!

What are your new year's resolutions?

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