Friday 29 April 2016


Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
My rating: ☆☆☆☆.5

Anne, an eleven-year-old orphan, is sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm and proceeds to make an indelible impression on everyone around her. [blurb from Goodreads]

When I discovered this classic:
Anne of Green Gables has always been on my radar, when I was little I used to confuse it with Little House on the Prairie for some reason but I know I've always wanted to read it. Part of me wishes that I'd read all these children's classics when I was actually a child because I know that I would have loved them in a way that's a little more difficult to capture as an older, more critical reader.

Why I chose to read it:
I've got to admit, this one was definitely down to the cover. I mean look at it. This is the Puffin in Bloom edition and it's absolutely beautiful. I also have A Little Princess in the same edition which I reviewed for last year's classic challenge. I'm determined to collect the whole Puffin in Bloom set and I received this one for my birthday last year.

What makes it a classic:
I honestly think what makes this book a classic is it's eponymous character, Anne. She is charming, playful, dreamy and just full of spirit. I think that Anne is what most young girls aspire to be like or wish to have as their best friend - you just can't help but love her. 

What I thought of this classic:
Anne of Green Gables is a fun and heartfelt rural idyll with a cast of unforgettable characters. I think it's the perfect children's classic in that, although relatively lengthy for it's demographic, the chapters are short and episodic - Anne is always up to some new adventure to keep the reader engaged. As an older reader I did find it dragged slightly as the plot was fairly predictable, but I can't really fault the book as I am not necessarily the intended audience. I absolutely loved L.M. Montgomery's writing in her more descriptive passages, the rural setting was dreamy, atmospheric and utterly absorbing. I also thought that the characterisation was excellent and I truly grew to love Anne and her new family and friends. Overall, this is a beautiful children's classic and I can't wait to read the rest of the books in the Anne series.

Will it stay a classic?
Absolutely. It has been a staple on many children's bookshelves for over a hundred years, selling over 50 million copies and translated into over 20 languages. With the continued release of new and enticing editions such as this one I hope that it will remain an important children's classic. 

Who I'd recommend it to:
Younger readers, perhaps aged eight and above (with appropriate guidance). Fans of the rural idyll. Anyone who is willing to fall for a plucky heroine with small town adventures and big dreams.

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

Have you read Anne of Green Gables? What did you think?

Sunday 24 April 2016


Reading: My tenth book of the month (I know, right?! Madness) which is If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch. It's beautifully written and character driven - dreamy.

Watching: RuPaul's Drag Race returned for season 8 last month and my boyfriend and I have been LOVING it.

Planning: all kinds of trips which I'm determined to be healthy enough to enjoy.

Making: Not exactly making, but I've been enjoying spending time flexing my doodling muscles in my bullet journal so much (there might be a sneak peek up on here soon...ooooh...).

Stocking up on:
swimwear, or I've been attempting to. Why is every bikini and swimsuit out there so unflattering?! If you have any recommendations for swimwear for plus size/fuller busts then please let me know!

Wishing for: the opportunities I'm seeking to work out in my favour (ooh secrets).

Enjoying: the warmer weather. Sitting outside, reading and feeling the sun soak into my pale-hermit skin has been absolute bliss.

Trying: to get better at commenting on others' blogposts! I've been clearing my Bloglovin feed every day and commenting on every blogpost I read, feels good.

Eating: Well I finally finished up my Easter eggs *sadface* so now I'm attempting to eat a bit healthier. Smoked salmon is my jam right now.

Goal Setting: My goal is to be able to move out with my boyfriend in the coming months, it just really needs to happen and I'm determined to do everything I can to make it possible.

Learning: about SEO and DA and upping my blogging game, I want to know ALL THE THINGS because every time I learn something new it feels awesome. If you have any posts about these things then please send me links, I'd love to read them :).

What's been going on with you lately?

Friday 22 April 2016


Surprise! I bet you weren't expecting a wrap up this early in the month, were you? Nope, didn't think so.

For some reason this month I've been an absolute reading machine; and I've already managed to read quite a few books so I thought instead of doing one giant wrap up at the end of the month I'd split it into two easily-digestible chunks.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery | ☆☆☆☆.5
First of all, will you just look at how beautiful this Puffin in Bloom edition is? I absolutely adore these little hardbacks and I want to collect the whole set. Anne of Green Gables is one of those classic children's books which you're just supposed to read and I admit that I was nervous to read this because it's so many people's favourite book. Well, I needn't have worried because I really loved it. It drew me in right from the beginning and it was just such a light and comforting read. L.M. Montgomery's writing is so lovely and it really immerses you in Anne's rural idyll. I can't wait to carry on and read the entire series!

The Big Lie by Julie Mayhew | ☆☆☆☆
What if the Nazis had won WW2 and successfully invaded England? Julie Mayhew answers that with The Big Lie; an alternative YA historical fiction dystopian set in present-day Nazi England. Jessika Keller is a thoroughly-indoctrinated good girl with a bright future ahead of her of national ice-skating followed by being an upstanding, strong wife and mother to continue the 'Greater German Reich'. Her best friend and neighbour, Clementine, isn't so submissive. She is outspoken, radical and downright 'dangerous'. Will Jessika choose her beloved country or her best friend?

This premise had me hooked from the outset and Julie Mayhew's contemporary Nazi England was chilling, shocking and utterly compelling. I just couldn't put it down and it pretty much blew me away. The only thing that let it down slightly was that the final third was a little flat compared to the gripping and explosive first two thirds, but I still loved it. 

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert | ☆☆☆
I picked up Big Magic from the library after hearing quite a buzz around it both on book blogs and social media. I'm up for reading anything to do with living creatively so this seemed like the perfect book for me. When it comes to non-fiction, especially psuedo-self-help books, I'm pretty open minded, I've read enough books of this type to be prepared not to agree with everything the author says and to pick and choose what I take away from it. That's what it was like reading Big Magic. I really enjoyed the fact that Elizabeth Gilbert doesn't put too much emphasis on traditional forms of creativity (i.e. writing, painting etc.); she maintains that living a creative life means a lot of different things to different people and she offers anecdotal examples from people she has known as well as herself. The one thing that I did have an issue with, in that I just didn't quite get it, is that Gilbert proclaims creativity to be actual, literal magic. She approaches creativity in a very spiritual way that although I'm open to, just doesn't really work for me. Overall, I enjoyed reading Gilbert's thoughts on creativity but I just didn't get all that much out of it. But I wouldn't discourage anyone else from reading Big Magic, as I think everyone will interpret it differently.

Calm by Michael Acton Smith | ☆☆☆☆
A few weeks ago I was contacted by Penguin Random House and they asked me if I would like to take part in the re-promotion of Calm by Michael Acton Smith. Of course I said yes and you can read my post about Calm and practicing mindfulness here. It's a beautifully presented book with some really helpful ideas on how to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life and I really enjoyed poring over all the detail in every page. I think this book would be an extremely helpful introduction to someone who's never practiced mindfulness as it really makes you stop, think and take a breather.

Psycho: Sanitarium by Chet Williamson | ☆☆☆
Earlier this month I was kindly sent an early e-copy of Pyscho: Sanitarium by Chet Williamson before it's release on 12th April by Canelo books via ED pr.  This is the authorised sequel to Robert Bloch's original Psycho and follows Norman Bates during his time in a hospital for the criminally insane. It's a creepy, fast-paced murder-mystery thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat. I seem to read ebooks quicker than physical books anyway but I just couldn't put this down and had it finished in a couple of sittings. It was slightly predictable but I enjoyed it nonetheless and it's made me really want to watch the tv series Bates Motel!

You by Caroline Kepnes | ☆☆☆☆
I was clearly still in a thriller mood so I picked up the much raved about You by Caroline Kepnes. I've heard so many people rave about this on booktube so I just had to read it. You is a stalker-thriller told from the point of view of the stalker, but the interesting thing about this book is that it's told in the second person:
"You walk into the bookstore and you keep your hand on the door to make sure it doesn't slam. You smile, embarrassed to be a nice girl, and your nails are bare and your V-neck sweater is beige and it's impossible to know if you're wearing a bra but I don't think that you are."
- which is so creepy it's unreal.
This book freaked me the fuck out. It's so twisted and messed up but it's so incredibly written that at times Kepnes actually had me sympathising with the stalker - not okay! The plot was perfectly paced and it was so intensely gripping, when I wasn't reading it I was thinking about reading it, I literally couldn't get the story and the characters out of my head. This book was so brilliant that I probably would've given it five stars but I think it was just a bit too messed up even for me, the girl who watches murder documentaries back to back. That's how creepy it is. You should really read this if you haven't already.

So those are the books that I read in the first half of the month and I'll be back again with part two of my wrap up soon!

What are you reading right now?

Friday 15 April 2016


We're half way through April but it's never too late for monthly favourites, right? Today I'm going to be sharing the things that I was loving in March!

01. Galaxy Golden Eggs.
I blame Alice Anne of Annie Writes Beauty for this as she encouraged everyone on Twitter to try these little golden eggs of deliciousness. I don't even want to think about how many packets of these I consumed in March and then my sister went and bought me the giant Galaxy golden eggs Easter egg and my obsession is still lingering!

02. The return of Rupaul's Drag Race.
Last month the iconic Rupaul's Drag Race returned for season eight and I was in my absolute element! My boyfriend and I have loved this show for a long time now and we have a tradition of each picking a queen who we think is going to win each season and the one who goes out first has to buy the other a present. Ah, the little things. Anyway, I'm absolutely loving this season and my pick is Thorgy Thor (only because my boyfriend got to pick first and picked Bob the Drag Queen - the clear winner, but we'll see). We're about half way through now and I'm going to be so sad when it's over for another year.

03. Catching up on How to Get Away With Murder.
My boyfriend got some annual leave last month and we spent an awesome few days snuggled up under the duvet reading and catching up on our favourite shows, including How to Get Away With Murder. Season two was just as good as season one and if you haven't watched this show yet then you're seriously missing out!

04. Reading in the sun.
Spring is started to peek it's head out and we've had a sprinkling of sunny days here and there and a couple of times it's even been warm enough for me to sit outside and read! Reading outside in the sun is one of my favourite things ever and I'm so glad that we're getting to that time of year again.

05. Front Lines by Michael Grant.
I only read four books last month and Front Lines was my stand-out favourite of the bunch. You know when you've read so many pretty-good books for months and then you read one that's fantastic and you remember what great writing really is? That's what it was like reading Front Lines. I was like 'yes, this is what I've been looking for!'. It's a really great alternative historical fiction set in a WW2 where women are called up to fight alongside men in the US army. The characterisation is excellent and I'm so glad that this is the first in a series - I can't wait to read more!

06. Rimmel Kate Moss lipstick in '05'.
Just like the last few months, I didn't wear a lot of makeup in March, but when I did I found myself reaching for the Rimmel Kate Moss lipstick in '05'. I did a big makeup clearout last month and vowed to wear what I have more instead of just reaching for the same thing over and over, and that led to me rediscovering this lipstick. It's kind of a bright-but-not-too-bright berry-ish pink and it's just super flattering and long-lasting.

07. Easter eggs.
Need I say more? Towards the end of last month and well into this month my diet consisted of a lot of Easter eggs. For some reason I seemed to get quite a lot of eggs from various people and I've been loving every single bite. Why does chocolate taste so much better in egg form?!

What were some of your favourites last month?

Tuesday 12 April 2016


The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson.

Published by David Fickling Books.
Release date: 1st January 2015.
Source: I bought it myself.

Two boys. Two secrets.

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl.

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan. 

When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…

My rating: ☆☆☆☆.75

Today I'm here to talk about the first Girl Gang book club pick: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson!

The Art of Being Normal got so much hype in the book community last year and it's been on my mental TBR since it's release but it wasn't until it won the vote for the first #GGbookclub book that I took the plunge and bought it. I was immediately absorbed right from the first chapter and although I could've easily read this book in two sittings I found myself dragging it out over the course of a week because I just didn't want it to end!

I don't know whether this is a reflection on me or the book publishing world at large (probably both) but I'm pretty sure this is the first novel I've ever read which features a transgender character, let alone as the protagonist. When I realised that it was actually quite a shock. I've read a lot of books and I do read quite widely, but clearly I either don't read widely enough or there is a gutting lack of representation of trans people, or non-cisgender people generally, in literature. I'm pretty sure it's a mixture of both. The popularity and the very existence of The Art of Being Normal is a tiny but positive step in the right direction.

I felt like the book dealt with the issues of gender and identity without ever feeling too preachy or melodramatic. These issues are firmly embedded into the characters' lives but we also see them dealing with everyday issues that, to the characters, seem like a huge deal at the time; like struggling with maths homework, crushes and detentions. The characters' voices felt very authentic and I made an immediate connection with both of them, something I often struggle with in multi-perspective novels.

The plot moved smoothly and I never felt that the story was dragging. I do kind of wish the side characters had been fleshed out a little more as they did feel a little under-developed but I understand that could've detracted from the journeys that the main characters were making throughout the novel.

Although most of the book felt quite light, even whilst dealing with some deeper issues, I found the bullying scenes to be a shocking punch to the gut. I believe that this was a deliberate effect by Williamson and it was spot on in giving even just a small idea of the abuse and violence that trans people often suffer. Some of these parts were really difficult to read and I know that the anger and upset that I felt is just a fraction of what people who actually deal with these issues go through in our society.

Despite the more difficult, but necessary, scenes, The Art of Being Normal is delightful, funny and uplifting, with characters that are still with me weeks after reading. It's a great introduction to trans issues whilst also being a playful and witty novel with a warm heart. I sincerely hope that the success of this book is a step towards gender and sexuality issues being covered more widely in YA.

We're going to be discussing The Art of Being Normal in a twitter chat on Thursday 14th April at 8pm using #GGbookclub - I'd love it if you joined in!

Sunday 10 April 2016


The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi.
Published by Atom books.
Release date: 7th April 2016.
Source: Atom books via ED public relations, UK paperback review copy.

Book Depository

Everything Alix knows about her life is a lie–at least according to the mysterious young man who’s been stalking her. But could her dad really be a bad guy at the helm of an organization that covers up the deadly wrongdoings of some of the country’s most rich and powerful? Alix has to make an impossible choice between her father and the young man she’s not only falling for, but who’s asking her to blow the whistle on the man who raised her. Could someone you have loved and have known for your whole life actually have the heart of a killer?

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the newly released YA mystery-thriller The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi! I'm super excited to share an extract from The Doubt Factory with you today and I've no doubt that you'll be just as hooked as I was after reading it! So without further ado, let's dive right into the extract...

Extract from The Doubt Factory

“Who are you?” she asked. “How do you know my name?” She could see herself reflected in his mirrored lenses.

It made her feel small. More like a little girl than a grown woman: brown hair French-braided, Seitz school uniform with its prim blazer and skirt. He’s tall, she thought inanely.

“You want to know who I am?” he asked, and there was so much sadness in the words that she was struck nearly speechless. She felt even more horribly aware of her school uniform.  It was as if she was looking at someone who had seen the entire world. Not like she’d seen Paris or Barcelona on vacation, but more like the Bastille or the slums of India. And here she was, in all her naïveté, trying to grab hold of that. It took all her will to press him again.

“What’s all this about?” she asked. “What’s 2.0?”

The guy’s expression was so different that she almost wondered if she’d grabbed the wrong black guy in the crowd. It reminded her of how Cynthia complained about people not being able to tell her and Alice Kim apart. Improbably, Alix heard Cynthia’s voice in her head—Alice is Korean, for Christ’s sake.

“You’ve got questions now, don’t you?” he said, and abruptly the heavy sadness disappeared and the brilliant smile was back. The same boisterous, knowing smile that she’d seen twice before.

A new explosion went off, right among the parked cars. Alix ducked instinctively.  Smoke enveloped her, wild and thick and yellow, hiding everything from sight. Suddenly the stranger grabbed her. Hard and tight.

“Hey!” Alix tried to knee him in the balls, but he must have turned away because all she hit was thigh. She struggled against him for another second, then changed tactics and let herself be pulled close.

She bit him.

She heard a satisfying yelp of pain, but to her surprise the stranger didn’t let go. Instead, he spun her around and wrapped his strong arms around her, pulling her into a tighter embrace.

“Should have known you’d have some bite to you,” he murmured in her ear.

The amusement and play were back in his voice.

“You want to see how much bite I’ve got?” she asked. She tried to twist free again, but he was ready for her now. He had her pinned against his chest. She rested, gathering strength. Looking for a chance to hurt him again.

The stranger chuckled. His breath was hot on her cheek.

“How about we call a little truce?”

 “Why? So we can go for coffee?” If she threw her head back fast, she could hit his face with the back of her skull. She might crush his nose if she was lucky.

“You want to know what this is all about?” Alix stilled, suddenly alert.

“Are you going to tell me?”

The smoke was thick around them. Alix could hear cops shouting and people running, but all of it was distant.  She and the stranger were in a bubble of smoke, separate from everything around them.

She was suddenly acutely aware of how closely he held her. She could feel the rise and fall of his chest as he panted, the exertion she’d put him through.  He was holding her so tightly she could feel his heart beating.

“What’s this all about?” she asked.

“Ask your father.”


“Ask your father. He’s the one who knows all the secrets.” He shoved her away abruptly.

Alix spun to pursue, but he was lost in the smoke. Everything was shadow forms.

By the time the smoke cleared, he was gone, as if he’d blown away in the wind.


About Paolo Bacigalupi:
Paolo Bacigalupi is a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist, a 2015 Edgar Award Nominee and a 2015 Locus Award Nominee. His novel The Windup Girl was one of the most celebrated SF debuts of all time, winning both the Hugo and Nebula awards. He lives in Colorado with his wife and son and is available for interview.

The Doubt Factory was released on the 7th April 2016 and is available now online and at all good bookshops!

Tuesday 5 April 2016


Practicing Mindfulness on #CalmDay

1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue in the UK each year, and even if you're not one of those people, stress is something that everyone encounters every single day.

You've probably seen the word 'mindfulness' popping up a lot lately; in articles, on social media, in conversations with friends and colleagues. It's supposed to be a way of calming and quieting the mind and focusing on the here and now rather than stressing about what's to come. But how often do you actually practice mindfulness?

In today's hectic, constantly switched-on world we want to be able to do everything, be everywhere and Instagram and Snapchat our way through it all, and practising mindfulness becomes just another thing that's added to our never-ending to-do list.

Yesterday I received this lovely little 'Keep Calm' care package from Penguin Random House to celebrate #calmday in honour of Calm by Michael Acton Smith. Calm is all about bringing mindfulness to the masses and showing how everyone can achieve calmn in everyday life, no matter how hectic it gets.

Calm is a mixture of Wreck This Journal, a coffee table book and pure brilliance. It's designed to help you learn about and practice mindfulness in a fun and creative way. Calm is definitely one of the most beautiful books I've ever owned, it's filled to the brim with creative design, gorgeous typography and stunning photographs.

What I love about Calm is that it's designed to be read in a non-linear format. You can pick it up and flick to any of the pages to learn a little about meditation, do a mindful activity or get some creative inspiration. It's perfect to sit down with for just five minutes to bring a little calm to your day.

As someone who is managing a variety of mental illnesses as well as ME, mindfulness is something that is helping me every single day. I practise it to manage pain and fatigue and to quiet my anxious mind. Like any skill or sport, mindfulness is something that needs to be practised and honed in order to make a positive impact on your life. Calm is a wonderfully easy and enjoyable way to fit this in to daily life and I really think it's going to help me on my mindfulness journey.

What do you do to keep calm? Comment below or tweet using #calmday to share your calm experiences.

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

Sunday 3 April 2016


# of books read: 4
Total # of pages read: 1287.
Genres: 1 adult contemporary, 2 YA contemporary, 1 YA historical fiction.
Gender of author: 3 female, 1 male.
Nationality of author: 3 USA, 1 UK.

I'm back! I've been a little bit absent around here for the last month but I'm not going to make excuses or apologise because you know, life happens! And the important thing is that I'm here now and I've got lots of posts planned so you should probably stick around :)

March was an only-okay month for reading, I had a pretty bad month healthwise so I didn't get as much read as I wanted to. But that's okay because I really enjoyed the books I did read!

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell | ☆☆☆
As the blurb says, The Madwoman Upstairs is about Samantha, who 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.' I reviewed this for The Madwoman Upstairs blog tour early last month and you can read my full review of it here

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell | ☆☆☆☆
This is a novella that was released for World Book Day last month and as it's Rainbow Rowell, I obviously had to get my hands on it! Kindred Spirits is about eighteen year old Star Wars-obsessed Elena, who decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, for four days. Only she didn't expect to be just one of three people in the line, to have to pee into a collectable cup or to meet a kindred spirit. This story lived up to all that I've come to expect of Rowell's writing, it was funny and cute and completely absorbing. You don't have to like Star Wars to read this, you don't even have to know anything about Star Wars, you should just go for it. After all, its' only 62 pages!

Front Lines by Michael Grant | ☆☆☆☆☆
This was by far my stand-out favourite book of the month. Front Lines is the first in a new series of YA historical fiction set in an alternative WW2 where women are fighting along with men. It follows several women from different backgrounds who enlist in the US army and their journey through training and deployment to the front lines. Grant's writing and characterisation is truly excellent, even with the multiple perspectives I felt like I knew each character so well and was equally involved in each of their stories. I love historical fiction, particularly set in WW2, so the concept was completely fascinating to me and I just couldn't put it down. I'm so so glad that this is going to be a series because I can't wait to find out what happens next to the characters!

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson | ☆☆☆☆☆
The last book I finished in March was The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson. This is the Girl Gang book club book for this month! The Art of Being Normal is a YA contemporary from the individual perspectives of teenagers David and Leo, who form an unlikely friendship but both are holding secrets. I absolutely loved this book and you can definitely expect a review to be up very soon! I'll be hosting the first #GGbookclub twitter chat on Thursday 14th April at 8pm, where we'll be discussing The Art of Being Normal, so make sure to join in!

What was your favourite read of last month?

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