Thursday 24 March 2016


I've often talked about my ridiculously huge TBR pile (currently at 135 books, the shame!) so when I saw Lindsey Rey's Intimidating TBR Pile tag going around booktube lately, I knew I had to join in! I'm not sure if this is going to encourage me to get to these books any sooner, but it can't hurt to try, right?

01. What book have you been unable to finish?
I bought The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton a couple of years ago because quite a few people had said it was their favourite book of that year. Then I tried to read it, and I failed. I tried, I really did! I got about 300 pages in and just couldn't get into it. I liked the concept but it was just overly descriptive, I'm talking pages and pages of description and I found the plot confusing and it just wasn't working out. So I DNF'ed it and gave it away. But then, I saw it on Audible for £2.99 so I decided to get it, to see if listening to it would be more interesting, so it's back on my TBR. I just can't cope with not finishing a book!

What book have you yet to read because...

02. just haven't had the time?
I feel like when I get round to reading the full A Song of Ice and Fire series it's going to be a big time commitment. I read the first two, but then I wanted to read other things, and I feel like it's not a series you can dip in and out of. Once you're in, you kind of have to stick with it and that's just something I don't feel like I have time for right now.

03.'s a sequel?
I read Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight last year and I've been meaning to pick up Heir of Fire ever since but for some reason I just haven't got round to it. This is a sequel that I definitely need to read soon!

04.'s brand new?
I received a proof of Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell from Orion just yesterday so I haven't had a chance to read it yet! It's a psychological thriller set to be released in April 2016 and sounds really interesting so no doubt I'll get to it soon.

05. read a book by the same author and didn't enjoy it?
This is quite a difficult one because if I don't like an author I don't tend to pick up their other works, I guess that makes me pretty judgemental! But when looking through my TBR pile for this tag I came across A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. I read Ulysses at university and didn't particularly enjoy it so I'm not sure why I have this on my TBR but I might read it one day, you never know.

06.'re just not in the mood for it?
This definitely has to be The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddartha Mukherjee. I think you can probably tell from the title why I've not yet been in the mood to read this. I bought it for research for a project at university and also because John Green recommended it as an excellent non-fiction book but I think I'm just going to have to be in a specific mood to read this one.

07.'s humongous?
I really want to read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt but at a whopping 864 pages, this tome is kind of intimidating. But that's what the TBR jar is for, one day I'll pull it out and have no choice but to dive right in!

08. ...because it was a cover buy that turned out to have poor reviews?
I had to look up the Goodreads ratings for this one as there aren't really any books on my TBR that I haven't picked up for this reason. I think Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult was a cover/blurb buy that I bought at a carboot on a whim and it only has a 3.18 rating on Goodreads, but that doesn't really bother me too much, I'll still pick it up at some point.

09. What is the most intimidating book in your TBR pile?
There are quite a few hefty classics on my TBR that are intimidating but in the end I settled on American Gods by Neil Gaiman. This book is intimidating to me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I've never actually read any Neil Gaiman (I know, I should go and live under the stairs right?) and secondly, it seems like not only a lengthy book but a pretty complex one and I'm just scared that I won't get into it. Have you read it? What did you think?

10. Who do you tag?
I tag everyone and anyone who's reading this!

Is your TBR pile as crazy as mine? What's the most intimidating book on your TBR?

Saturday 19 March 2016


Reading: I'm just finishing off The Art of Being Normal for the Girl Gang book club. Check out #GGbookclub on Twitter to read some of my thoughts.

Watching: Season 6 of Good Mythical Morning on YouTube. Since discovering the show last year I've been slowly watching every season. It's great for when my ME flares because they're only 10ish minutes long each.

Planning: a whole bunch of book reviews! I've been sent quite a few books for review lately and I'm on some upcoming blog tours so look out for that :)

Making: WishWishWish's microwave mug cake. So. Damn. Good.

Stocking up on: actually nothing! I'm on a bit of a spending ban right now due to a serious lack of funds and it's going really well so far.

Wishing for: a bit of an upsurge in my health. Things have been really difficult lately and it's stopping me from doing everything I want to do, which is really frustrating. I'm hoping that there will be an upswing soon though.

Enjoying: the brighter days and slightly warmer weather we've been getting. I've even managed to sit outside and read for the first time this year!

Trying: to eat a little better, and a little less chocolate, but it's not working out too well, see below...

Eating: Cadbury's giant buttons and Easter eggs even though it's not Easter yet...I'm a terrible person.

Goal Setting: I'm on a graded exercise therapy programme for my ME and the aim is to get to a point where I'm strong and well enough to start doing yoga regularly, hopefully by next month.

Learning: that it's okay to listen to my body sometimes have those days where I just don't get anything done except resting, and that when I don't listen to my body I get serious payback.

What's been going on with you lately?

Thursday 17 March 2016


Okay so we're already over half way through March but who says I can't still talk about February?! I didn't get a chance to do my February favourites at the end of last month but I figure it's never too late to tell you about things I've been loving right?

01. Casey Neistat.
I know all the YouTube purists out there are going to be annoyed with me for this but I only really discovered Casey Neistat last month, when his 'Snowboarding with the NYPD' video went viral. In case you haven't heard of him, Casey is a filmmaker based in New York who makes daily vlogs along with short films. I'd heard a lot of people talking about him before but I didn't start regularly watching him until last month, and now I'm addicted. Casey's vlogs are incredible in terms of quality and style, his shots and editing are flawless and he's just so damn likeable. If you haven't already, go and subscribe.

02. Beauty and the Geek.
Do you guys remember this show? Such a classic, trashy reality show. Well, recently my boyfriend and I have been rewatching all the seasons on YouTube. Sure, it's super problematic in a myriad of ways but it's great for some mindless entertainment. We're kind of addicted to reality tv at the moment so I'm not sure what we'll do when we've finished this! Leave me a comment with your favourite reality show!

03. The first signs of spring.
I didn't realise how fed up I was with Winter until the days started getting a little brighter and the first flowers started peeping their heads through. I'm relishing every second of the oncoming season and we've already had some warm enough days to sit outside and read, hooray!

04. Primark 'duvet day' top.
I've been getting really cold at night lately, which is strange because I usually get really warm at night if anything. I'm not really sure why, it might be a side effect of some altered medication I'm on but nonetheless I wanted something a little warmer to snuggle up in at bedtime and this primark top is perfect. It's probably the softest piece of clothing I've ever owned and pulling it on after a warm bath might just be the best feeling in the world.

05. Spotlight.
Last month it was my six year anniversary with my boyfriend so we had a little cinema and dinner date and went to see Spotlight. Spotlight is the true story of the Boston Globe's investigative journalist team's investigation into the many cases of systemic child abuse committed by the Roman Catholic church in the Boston area. It doesn't feel quite right to say that I enjoyed the film because it left me feeling indescribably upset and angry, but it really was an incredible film. When the credits rolled I think I sat there for a full five minutes with my head in my hands just taking in everything I'd seen and processing the fact that this is a true story, and a recurring worldwide problem and that was kind of overwhelming. If you haven't seen it, then you really should.

06. Bullet journalling.
Bullet journalling was in my January favourites but I'm including it again here because February was the month that I really got into it. I won't go into it too much because I've done a whole post about it here, which has actually been my most successful post ever! It's basically my perfect planner/journalling system and I've been really enjoying it. I'll probably do another post about my bullet journal when I've been using it for a few more months just to reflect on how it's been working for me, but right now, I'm officially converted.

What was your favourite thing about last month?

Sunday 6 March 2016


The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell.
Published by Quercus.
Release date: 3rd March 2016.
Source: Quercus, UK hardback review copy.

Think you know Charlotte, Emily & Anne? Think again. 
Samantha Whipple is the last remaining descendent of the illustrious Brontë family, of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre fame. After losing her father, a brilliant author in his own right, it is up to Samantha to piece together the mysterious family inheritance lurking somewhere in her past - yet the only clues she has at her disposal are the Brontë's own novels. With the aid of her handsome but inscrutable Oxford tutor, Samantha must repurpose the tools of literature to unearth an untold family legacy, and in the process, finds herself face to face with what may be literature's greatest secret.

Catherine Lowell's The Madwoman Upstairs is a madcap literary adventure that had me completely absorbed from start to finish. It's an interesting mix of genres with a romantic-comedy plotline weaving through the core mystery. Lowell also explores issues of identity and family through Samantha's quest to find out the truth about her ancestors and get to the bottom of her turbulent relationship with her late father.

Although Samantha's characterisation was slightly confused at times, I really enjoyed her inner monologue and often found myself laughing out loud at her sharp, humorous commentary: '"There is one thing I'm curious about,' he said, as we neared what was either the end of the tutorial or the end of time.' 

I do feel like the romantic relationship in the novel was problematic. Samantha is instantly infatuated with her tutor, despite the fact that he is often rude and insulting and shows nothing but disdain for her thoughts and opinions. I found Samantha's obsession with her tutor to be frustrating and felt that it detracted somewhat from the strength of her characterisation and the Brontë plotline. This kind of emotionally abusive relationship is a popular trope in contemporary novels (Fifty shades much?!) but it's just not something I can get on board with.

It was interesting to see an American's perspective of Britain, and at times Lowell perfectly captured the humongous sense of history beneath the paved streets and the oddities and eccentricities of the British people who inhabit them. 

The Madwoman Upstairs offers some brilliant, in-depth literary theory on the work of the Brontës. It is clear that this is a subject that Lowell is passionate about and the novel is a tremendous tribute to their lives and their work. As a former literature student myself, I particularly enjoyed the novel's exploration of authorial intent through the debates of it's characters and Lowell offers some really compelling insight into the line between reality and fiction.

Overall, The Madwoman Upstairs passionately celebrates the enduring legacy of the Brontës and is a captivating and entertaining read.

The Madwoman Upstairs is published by Quercus and is available now online and from all good bookshops.

*I received this book for free from Quercus in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*

Thursday 3 March 2016


It's a brand new reading month so I've put together a few of the books that I'm hoping I'll get to in March! This is a little bit of an ambitious TBR as two of them are library books and actually have to be returned next week, but I'm hoping I'll be able to renew them. As I mentioned in my 2016 goals and resolutions post, I'm hoping to read 85 books this year, which means I need to be reading around 7 books per month. I like to be a little bit flexible with my TBRs for each month whilst still having an idea of what I want to read, so I've pulled five books from my shelves for March. Let's get into it!

The Madwoman Upstairs - Catherine Lowell.
This is my first read of the month and the book that I'm currently reading. It's a contemporary/mystery/romance which is out today! I'll be participating in the blog tour for The Madwoman Upstairs that's taking place this week so keep an eye out for my stop on Sunday!

Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery.
This is my pick for this month's 2016 Classics Challenge because it's just so darn pretty, and I can't keep my hands off it any longer! I've heard people rave about Anne for years so I'm really excited to get into it this month.

If You Find Me - Emily Murdoch.
This book featured in my library haul last month, and I really need to get to it before it's due back! If You Find Me is about two young girls who have lived in a trailer in the woods with their mentally ill mother for as long as they can remember. But one day, their mother disappears and two strangers arrive, changing their lives forever. This premise sounds really intense and interesting so I can't wait to get to it!

Asking For It - Louise O'Neill.
This is a book that I feel like I haven't stopped hearing about since it's release last year, and it's about damn time I got round to reading it. As far as I'm aware, Asking For It is about rape culture and misogyny in a small Irish town. It sounds like it's along the same lines as All the Rage by Courtney Summers, which I thought was excellent, so I'm really excited to get into this one.

The Accidental - Ali Smith.
The Accidental is my TBR jar pick for this month and I'm really happy that I'm going to finally be reading it. I got it for free from my university in my second or third year and it's been sitting on my shelf ever since. It's about a woman who appears on a family holiday and each family member thinks that someone else must know her, when in fact she's a complete stranger. It seems to be about family, communication and intrigue and I've heard a lot of good things about Ali Smith's writing so I've got pretty high hopes for it.

Those are the books I'm hoping to read in March, let me know what you're planning on reading in the comments!

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

Wednesday 2 March 2016


# of books read: 7.
Total # of pages read: 1845.
Genres: 1 YA Historical fiction, 2 YA Fantasy, 2 Graphic Novels, 1 YA Thriller, 1 Classic.
Gender of author: 4 Female, 3 Male.
Nationality of author: 1 New Zealand, 1 France, 1 USA, 3 UK, 1 Canada.


Okay, let's all calm down and forget that it feels like Christmas was about two weeks ago and just be happy that Spring is on it's way. Reading outside is almost possible again! I honestly can't wait.

I managed to read seven books this month which I'm really happy with because it means I'm kind of getting on target for my resolution of reading 85 books this year. I read a mixture of YA, graphic novels and a classic - so let's get going on the mini reviews!

The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan | ☆☆☆☆
This was my TBR jar pick for the month. The Raging Quiet is a YA historical fiction which I first read when I was around 12, before YA was really a thing. It was one of the first non-kids books I'd read, apart from Jacqueline Wilson and I remember loving it at the time. I discovered it again last year when I was rearranging my bookshelves and decided that it deserved a re-read so I placed it on my TBR shelf, where it sat gathering dust, until I picked it up last month.

The Raging Quiet is set in the distant past, I don't think it ever states in the book when and where the narrative is set but it appears to be rural England somewhere around the 15th century. It is the story of Marnie, who marries a much older man to save her family from poverty, and moves away to a distant village where, after her husband's sudden death, the villagers instantly begin to mistrust her. Marnie's only friends are the local priest and an orphan boy who is called 'Raver' by the villagers, but whom Marnie soon realises is deaf. She renames him 'Raven' and begins to create a sign language in which to communicate with him. This leads to accusations of witchcraft from the villagers and a special connection between Marnie and Raven, whose only crime is that they are different.

I was surprised by how much I still enjoyed this book, even years later. The story was still just as absorbing and the setting so atmospheric, although as an older reader I did find the writing to be clunky in places and the narrative slightly uneven. However, I was able to overlook these small shortcomings and appreciate this as a beautiful novel about courage, strength and the trials and pleasures of being different.

In Search of Lost Dragons by Elian Black'Mor and Carine.M | ☆☆☆☆☆
This huge, beautiful hardback is a graphic novel which tells the story of an illustrator and explorer as he travels across the globe in search of lost dragons. It's made up of the notes and illustrations of the explorer, interspersed with maps, news clippings and various other things and is truly a work of art. I shared some of the pages from this graphic novel on my Instagram, so you can head over there to really see how beautiful it is. I really enjoyed poring over each and every page and am desperate to track down more work from these artists.

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang | ☆☆☆☆
This is another graphic novel, which I picked up in my library haul last month. It's a cute story about a gamer called Anda (great name!) who stumbles across the world of gold-farming whilst playing the MMORPG Coarsegold online. It was a really quick read and although I wish there had been more plot to it (I would totally read this as a series!), I absolutely loved the art style and the colour palette was gorgeous. It's a sweet story about gaming, morality and culture-clash and I'd recommend it to anyone.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo | ☆☆☆☆.5
I finally finished the Grisha trilogy! Woohoo! I started this YA fantasy series a year ago with the first two books and only got around to finishing it last month. I was a little worried about this last book as I know so many people were disappointed by it but I'm pleased to say that I really loved it! I thought the ending was perfect! It was well-thought out and really made sense in terms of the series as a whole. There were a couple of tiny character-related aspects that I think could've been tied up a bit better but apart from that I loved it. It was fast-paced, action-packed and really tugged at the heartstrings. Ruin and Rising is a great ending to a great series and I really recommend that you pick it up if you haven't already!

Tinder by Sally Gardner | ☆☆☆☆☆
This is another book that I picked up in my library haul after hearing a lot of bookish people talking about it and I'm so glad I did. Tinder is a YA retelling of Han's Christian Anderson's fairytale The Tinder Box, and unlike the many fairytale retellings (think disney) Tinder recreates the strange and creepy atmosphere of traditional fairytales. It's packed with witches, princesses, wolves and death and Sally Gardner weaves a tale of love, greed, magic and mystery with her hauntingly beautiful writing. The breathtaking illustrations by David Roberts enhance the atmosphere and spine-chilling beauty of Sally Gardner's narrative and together they make a stunning book. I loved this so much and can't believe I have to return it to the library, I'm going to need this incredibly book in my collection!

Moth Girls by Anne Cassidy | ☆☆☆☆
Yet another library book, Moth Girls is a YA thriller about two young best friends who entered a creepy old house on a dare and vanished. Five years later, their friend Mandy, who refused to go into the house with them, is still dealing with their disappearance. Her reminiscence soon starts to stir up disturbing details that might lead to clues about the missing girls.

I absolutely powered through this book in a couple of sittings as I just had to find out what happened. The writing was addictive and the characters were well-drawn and intriguing. Moth Girls is a gripping story with a fast-paced, character-driven plot and I really enjoyed it. If you're looking for a compelling, slightly disturbing mystery-thriller then I'd definitely recommend this.

Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee | ☆☆☆☆
Finally, I finished up my reading month with my February pick for the 2016 Classics Challenge, Cider With Rosie. I won't say too much about this book as I've already done a full review for the challenge which you can read here. Cider With Rosie is a memoir about Laurie Lee's childhood years in the rural Gloucestershire village of Slad and I really enjoyed the sense of nostalgia evoked by Lee's beautiful descriptive prose.

What did you read in February?

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