April 2020 Round-Up

Hello and welcome to my April 2020 round-up! I honestly cannot believe it’s the end of April already and we are all stuck inside watching the weather through our windows. This is not how I thought 2020 was going to go, but I’m trying to make the best of the situation. I’ve been writing daily for Camp NaNoWriMo and making pom-poms like there’s no tomorrow. There is something incredibly therapeutic about winding wool round and round and round, especially while watching one of my favourite movies like Burlesque. Back to the books, I’m struggling to read as much as I did before, but I try to read a little each day, even if it is only a couple of pages. I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed, so thanks for bearing with me while my blog posts are very sporadic. I will try to get some book reviews up soon!

Top 3 novels I read in April

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

What I liked about it: the unique format, the drama, the way she writes about music

What I did not like about it: Nothing that I can think of.

My favourite character: Camila. What an amazing woman.

Position in series: 1/1

Genre: Historical fiction, music

Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

What I liked about it: sassy misfit crew, aliens, lots of sarcasm, the action and excitement

What I did not like about it: my heart exploding

My favourite character: Tyler or Zila. I didn’t realise how awesome I think Tyler is until I actually considered it.

Position in series: 1/3

Genre: young adult, science fiction, fantasy

Dust by Hugh Howey

What I liked about it: an incredible conclusion to the Wool trilogy, the worldbuilding, the unravelling of the plot

What I did not like about it: DEATHS.

My favourite character: Jules. I would die for that woman. Amazing.

Position in series: 3/3

Genre: science fiction, post-apocalyptic

Poetry of the month: Wild Embers by Nikita Gill

What I liked about it: emotional and empowering

What I did not like about it: that it wasn’t longer!

My favourite poem: For Her

Genre: poetry, feminism

Special mention: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Why: this book means more to me than I can put into words. It has saved lives and reminds you that at no point are you alone. You can get through than this. There is more to life than your mental illness.

Genre: nonfiction, mental health

And that, folks, is my April in books. For a full list of everything I read in April, check out my goodreads which I try my best to keep up to date! I hope you’re all well, even if you’re feeling unmotivated like I am. Wishing you and your families all the best, and if you ever want to talk you can reach me through my contact page here, Instagram here or twitter here.

February 2020 Round-Up

So here we are again. The end of a month, where I round up my favourite books of the month/ scream into the void hoping it will choose the books for me. Since it is a leap year so February has an extra day, and also because I can do whatever I like on my blog, I am going to give my favourite book from this month, followed by a few more which were awesome

THE WINNER – QUEEN OF NOTHING BY HOLLY BLACK

Let me have everything I ever wanted, everything I ever dreamed, and eternal misery along with it. Let me live on with an ice shard through my heart.

Holly Black, Queen of Nothing

What I liked about it: everything. Jude. Cardan. Faeries. Humour and beauty. Plot twists galore. AN epic conclusion to this trilogy.

What I didn’t like about it: it’s the end of the series 😥

My favourite character: Jude all the wayyyyyyyy. She’s so badass and powerful and unashamed of wanting power.

Position in series: 3/3

Genres: young adult, fantasy, romance

THE OTHERS THAT I LOVED

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

What I liked about it: murder. It is set near where I live. Andie just straight up ignoring everyone who tells her what to do. The tension. The mixture of formats including transcripts and case notes.

What I didn’t like about it: I did not know there’s meant to be a sequel released this year. Also, the sequel hasn’t been released yet, which is very upsetting.

My favourite character: Andie. She just does what she wants but in a nice way.

Position in series: 1/3?

Genres: crime, young adult, contemporary, mystery, thriller

The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne

What I liked about it: the emotions. The contrast of past and present. More emotions. The slow unravelling of the story.

What I didn’t like about it: I have mentioned three authors on this page so far and they’re all called Holly. This is beyond confusing.

My favourite character: Amelie, my poor sweetheart.

Position in series: 1/1

Genres: contemporary, young adult, romance-ish

It’s Not OK to Feel Blue and Other Lies

What I liked about it: honest, diverse, emotional, easy to read because it’s made up of lots of short pieces.

What I didn’t like about it: Sometimes I got a bit confused because occasionally a sentence would be in massive letters to emphasise it. But that’s probably just me.

Genres: nonfiction, mental health

Pride, collected by Juno Dawson

What I liked about it: A range of genres, easy to read and lots of adorable LGBTQ+ relationships

What I didn’t like about it:  It wasn’t long enough

My favourite character: Can’t remember her name but the girl with the phoenix

Position in series: N/A

Genres: LGBTQ+, short stories, anthology, poetry

And so that concludes my February roundup! February has seemed a very, very long time, and I don’t think it’s just because of the extra day. With three family birthdays, a hospital appointment, college, half term, two new piercings, a couple of cinema trips, a museum trip, a talk from Mary Beard and 17 books read, I’m definitely ready for some rest and relaxation in March. Preferably with more reading time. I hope you’ve all had a good February, and I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to.

It’s Not OK to Feel Blue Review

It’s Not OK to Feel Blue, edited by Scarlett Curtis

It’s Not Ok To Feel Blue and other lies is a vast collection of writings from various celebrities and activists on mental health. It includes personal anecdotes, poetry, song lyrics and even an illustration. With such a diverse array of minds with a variety of experiences with their mental health, there really is something for everyone.

I think anyone who reads this would take away something different from it depending on who you are, how your mental health is and what you need right now. I will attempt to explain what I thought were the best bits, but I highly recommend reading this for yourself.

This book did cause me to have a minor existential crisis, when I realised I have no idea what I want with my life. That being said, the collection is overall hopeful and quite inspiring, with statistics used sparingly and only when very relevant. It wasn’t a bad existential crisis, it just really made me consider areas of my own life. I found reading other people publicly sharing their experiences quite liberating, as they addressed the shame and stigma around sharing your own mental health problems. The contributions were funny at times, heart-breaking in others, just filled with so much honesty and vulnerability.

The book addresses mental health in conjunction with cancer, being a woman, race and class among other things. It is not simply personal experiences, but also how to be an LGBTQ+ ally and what you can do or say to help when a friend or family member is struggling with their mental health. This is not just a book for those with mental health problems, because everyone has mental health and as a whole society could do with talking about it more.

So read this book. Talk to someone. Cut out toxic things in your life. Make a change, one baby step at a time. Ask your friend if they’re truly okay. Things can, and do get better.

If you want to find out more or need some support, I’ll link a few websites below that are for general mental health but if you are looking for something specific a quick google will often bring one up, especially if you don’t live in the US or UK. If you have any questions or just want to talk, feel free to contact me 🙂

UK

Childline , Shout , Mind , Time to Change , Young Minds , SANE

US

National Alliance for Mental Illness , To Write Love On Her Arms , The Trevor Project , Mental Health America

Proud Review

Proud compiled by Juno Dawson

Proud is an awesome collection of unapologetically queer short stories and poems accompanied by artwork. There is a badass and powerful introduction from Juno Dawson herself then several intros from various publishing people. The collection is joyful and sweet and a celebration of pride. I’m going to give a mini review on each piece, some of them very short indeed because I don’t want to spoil anything.

We start with Dive bar, an evocative poem.

Then comes penguins, about Cameron, who is trying to come out and the gay penguins at the local zoo. I felt so bad for Cameron this is the nightmare coming out scenario since he kept getting interrupted, but also it was quite funny. So so cute

On the run follows a gay couple who are on the run after winning the lottery. It made me happy, strange but sweet

The phoenix’s fault is more fantasy based, where the emperor is looking for a wife and any woman over the age of 16 with a phoenix can apply. My thoughts were: BEST FRIENDS GAY PHOENIX DRAGON AMAZING. You want anymore and you’ll have to read it.

As the Philadelphia queer youth choir sings Katy Perry’s ‘firework’… was the thoughts of various members of the choir, quite funny.

Almost certain is about an anxious girl who loves music.  Orla is relatable, her room is her sanctuary and her parents are amazed when she goes out on a Friday night. Coming out anxiety is very relatable. So cute and sad

The other team is about a football team with a trans guy. I love the sense of camaraderie and team spirit and acceptance.

I hate Darcy Pemberley is a gay, modern Pride and Prejudice. Lizzie is absolutely savage, and I need a movie like this.

The courage of dragons is the story of a non binary person coming out at school. Dungeons and dragons themed with nicknames for their queer gang and a legendary quest involving prom.

The instructor was a girl getting driving lessons to impress the girl she has a crush on from an eccentric driving instructor. So so so so so cute.

Love poems to the city is a girl who writes love poems campaigning for gay marriage rights in Ireland. It was pretty cool.

How to come out as gay was a poem. Beautiful.

I really enjoyed this collection. It made me smile and I felt at home. There are so many books only with heterosexual characters, it’s nice to have one with mostly queer characters.

My writing: an introduction

Hello everyone!

Like a lot of readers, I am also a big fan of writing my own stuff, and I definitely want to talk about both writing and reading on my blog so I thought I’d start with an introduction before I throw you in the deep end with my ramblings.

I have two main types of writing I do: fiction and poetry.

I have always wanted to write a book, and it is one of my dreams to have a novel published. I always have loads of random ideas swirling around my head, as well as my phone notes which are full of random words and sentences which popped into my head, and when I found out about National Novel Writing Month 2019 (NaNoWriMo) I impulsively decided to start writing the YA fantasy novel that had been hanging around my head for a couple of months. I unadvisedly decided to do this the day before NaNoWriMo started, with literally just a couple of plot points, one character and a vague sense of the world. I did the young writers challenge and set my goal as 30,000 words in November, which sounds like a lot and honestly, I’m still shocked that I completed it!

NaNoWriMo is great, and I would highly recommend it if you just want to take the plunge and start writing, but you feel like something has been holding you back. For me, I basically built the world, characters and plot as I went along. This was good in some ways, since I wasn’t worrying over whether I was sticking to a non-existent plan, but definitely had some downsides since I kept (and keep) forgetting details and what I had named my characters. I set myself the goal of writing about 1000 words a day. Some days I wrote more, and some days I wrote less but it averaged out and I completed my goal. One of my main motivations was the goal count bar chart on the homepage of the NaNoWriMo website, which allowed me to track my progress in a very satisfying way. It had lots of other features as well, but I mainly focused on inputting my word count each day.

After NaNoWriMo ended I kept writing, albeit a lot less. It’s very hard to find time every day to write, especially around Christmas! In the new year I returned to sixth form college and since I have the habit of spending lots of time in the library, I started writing a bit more again. I had no idea where my first novel was going to end, but I came to realise my ideas were certainly not going to fit in one book. On Friday (January 31st) I finished my first draft, realising that my story had come to a natural conclusion in its first part. I now have a first draft of 73,000 words, so the next step will be editing. I’m going to leave it for a week to give myself a modicum of objectivity, then print it out and begin the edits. Scary. That pretty much sums up my novel’s journey so far, apart from that short interlude a few weeks ago when I had a great idea for a different novel and spent a couple of days noting it down, before forcing myself to return to the first story because I was so close to the end it would be ridiculous to stop now.

So, what about poetry? I am a big fan of poetry, especially as I’ve gotten older. My favourite type of poetry is probably haikus, mixed with spoken word poetry. My favourite poetry is either on nature, or social issues such as being LGBTQ+, feminism and diet culture. I used to write poetry whenever inspiration struck, but I wanted to get into a more regular poetry writing habit, so I now write a haiku every evening, just to keep myself going. This does mean that some of them are completely terrible and will never see the light of day. My poetry tends to be very personal, written with lots of emotions especially when I’m sad or angry.

To conclude, I like writing. Thank you for reading about my writing, and I hope it was interesting. If you have any questions or queries about writing or reading or anything feel free to email me or get in touch over social media, and I would love to hear what kind of writing other people do!