The Briefest of Updates

Hello lovely readers, today I just wanted to check in to say hi, and reassure you all that I’m still alive. I’ve had quite a few people find my blog in the last few weeks I’ve not been posting and just wanted to say welcome to you, and also say hi to the people who have been reading since thestart. 

I’ve not been reading lately. Where most people have summer sprints and love nothing more than sitting out in the sun with a good book, I’m the exact opposite. When that sun comes out and it starts getting warmer, the last thing I feel like doing is reading. 

In the last couple of months I’ve read only Stay With Me and some of War and Peace. And I’m okay with that. I’ve already reached my goal on Goodreads of reading 50 books. 

I will be back reading soon, of that I’m certain, and I will be reviewing Stay With Me eventually, and War and Peace when it’s finished. I’m thinking by the start of August normal service will resume. 

Anyway, I am now off to spend a day catching up with one of my best friends and anticipate buying some new clothes in Joules, maybe a bath bomb in lush and generally treat myself. Though, I haven’t bought books in a while and maybe feel a haul coming on!

Thanks for reading, and thanks for sticking around! 

May Wrap Up

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It’s been a very long time since I read enough in a month to warrant a wrap up – but being off work sick for the majority of the month has meant that I’ve got a lot more reading than usual under my belt. Books are the only thing that have kept me sane this month, so I thought it a good time to reinstate wrap-ups. I’m hoping they’ll become a regular thing again, because I do have a very nice spreadsheet with lots of data on, and it seems a shame not to share it!

So, this month I read a total of 19 things – which is insane. It doubled my total books read this year. 10 of them were graphic novels – I read Volumes 1-4 of Lumberjanes and also started reading the Marvel interpretations/graphic novels of The Wizard of Oz. I found they’ve been a really good distraction on bad days when I can’t focus on too many words or big plots but still want to feel like I’ve been achieving something. I’m still not sure if I’m going to do full reviews of graphic novels, or wait until I’ve finished a bulk of them and do more mass-reviewing. Let me know what you think would be best!

Of the 11 other books, it was a really good mix between literary fiction, short stories, non fiction, classics, and even a couple of kids books! I really enjoyed everything I read this month aside from The Seamstress and the Wind. My average rating was a whopping 3.7 – and as someone who is an eternal 3* reviewer that was quite impressive for me (taking out the graphic novels it’s 3.6 average). As for pages, I read a massive 4658 – which for me is boggling. The last time I read that much was July 2015 (according to my spreadsheet) – given the place I was in then compared to now, I don’t know how I’ve done it!

My favourite books this month, by country miles, were My Cousin Rachel and Crime and Punishment. I really can’t wait for next month for more du Maurier and also starting another Russian behemoth of a book – War and Peace. I can’t wait to get started on that tomorrow for the readalong that Ange & Yamini are hosting (Goodreads group can be found here with links to all the information).

Next month is looking to be another tough one – I’m still not back at work, I’m still signed off but I’m looking at maybe doing a phased return, which would be a much better balance for me all things considered. I’ve got a lot of life-things happening next month – my baby sister is 21, I’m going on holiday at the end of the month, and I am HOPEFULLY getting a tattoo (health permitting!)

I’m not going to do a TBR, because alongside War and Peace I have no idea what I’ll be reading. I will however probably do a holiday TBR closer to the event!

I hope you all have had a wonderful May & that your June is full of sunshine and books.

Thanks for reading!

Blog: Happy International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibromyalgia Awareness Day! (or a not so happy day if you’re me)

May 12th marks the day on which Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia (FM) are actually recognised. For those who don’t know what either of those conditions are, they’re multifaceted conditions which cause extreme (chronic) fatigue and also muscular/joint pains, which cause impact on daily life and inability to carry out seemingly benign or simple tasks. Everyone presents with different symptoms, different levels of pain and ability – they’re most certainly conditions on sliding scales, and it’s a scale that can slide in either direction at any time it chooses.

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On Not Reading and Not Giving a Damn

I didn’t pick a book up for the best part of 4 months towards the end of 2016. For a while, that really irritated me, it aggravated me, but then I realised that the time I used to spent reading was being filled with memories (and some really bad TV) and I was happy for the first time in a long time.

The back quarter of 2016 was hard for me. I put not reading, not having the motivation to, entirely down to the fact that after nearly 8 years struggling with depression I was put on antidepressants. It was a turbulent time, my attention span dropped and every day was spent just focusing on getting to the next one. Not many people realise how bad my depression got, even my own family don’t know the true extent of it. And while when I had bad periods before I would lose myself in a book, I chose to lose myself in other things this time – time with friends, positive experiences, making plans. I threw myself in to living and I really can’t feel anything but happy that I have friends and family that supported me through some of the toughest months of my life. They dragged me out of bed, they made me go out and live my life. Gave me reason to keep going.

Looking forward, I’m positive. I have a good job, with great people. I have amazing friends. And I’m excited to start reading again. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for me.

So Happy 2017 folks.

Normal, bookish service will return shortly.

Blog: Life, University + Everything

So, this is pretty much a ramble – and an excuse – as to my lack of presence on here for the last couple of weeks. I’ve not picked up a book for nearly 2 weeks. Not properly at least, I’ve read a few pages here and there but I’ve not been able to completely lose myself in a book. I just have no time to read right now, not for pleasure, and it’s really getting me down because I don’t feel like I’m getting that escape I so desperately crave.

I started my third, and final, year of my undergraduate degree on the 21st of this month and I’m really loving it so far but I’m already stupidly stressed. Primarily because I’m president of the Chemistry Society and the stress of organising freshers events is insane – freshers was so much more fun when I was taking part rather than organising it! But also, research projects are intense. I’ve been working on my project for a few weeks now but suddenly it’s become a lot more scary with all these meetings about it and actually organising getting in to labs to complete it.

I study Natural Sciences – it’s a multidisciplinary degree and I’m majoring in biochemistry/biophysics. My research project has me reengineering enzymes to make them more effective for use in animal feeds and it’s really, really interesting. I love what I’m doing. The research has me stupidly busy, reading for pleasure has gone on the back burner but I really feel that this is what I’m meant to do. I’m enjoying it to the point that I’m looking at doing a PhD after I graduate next Summer which is insane but, oddly, feels right. The thought of doing a 100000 word thesis and four more years at university don’t phase me whatsoever, in fact the thought of it has me giddy with excitement! I just have to get through the 10000 word dissertation this year and actually get a PhD programme. My current project supervisor actually has a fully PhD opening up and I am determined to get it – I just have to beat other people, who are probably more qualified than me, off with sticks.

But, while I love science, I just have no time – or energy – to read which is bringing me down. I need to work out a routine in which I squeeze reading in and make time for it. I think when I’m in the habit of getting up early again and reading on the bus, I will feel much better!

Anyway, I hope I’ll be picking up books again soon, rather than research papers and that I can post on here a bit more. I have a few books I want to read in October and I also want to read the Man Booker shortlist in it’s entirety so I’m hoping that’s motivation enough. In the meantime, I’m sorry for lack of updates but I think I have a reasonable excuse.

So I Fell In Love With A Bookshop…

I love a good bookshop. Especially a beautiful little independent one, nothing can quite compare to the love you feel when you walk in to a bookshop. In particular when you know that it has been built from the ground up on nothing but love and passion – a massive chain is brilliant for sheer volume but a little independent place just has a completely different emotional feeling when you step over the threshold. I apologise in advance for the sheer length of this post but I just can’t seem to stop myself from typing – I just want to share every detail of this experience because it was just so perfect and I seriously just cannot stop myself talking about this bookish Narnia like place I have stumbled upon (when looking for Lidl, incidentally).

There are a couple of favourite bookshops that I have in the city centre, but I am always on the look out for more and over this summer I have discovered a couple – none really amazed me – until last week. Last week I discovered an absolute gem of independent bookshops. Kett’s Books. This little book shop is a beautiful place; I could very easily have spent hours in it on that first day (and maxed out my overdraft). I just love it, I love the story behind it and yes, it’s happened, I’ve fallen in love with a bookshop.

Kett’s Books is a community bookshop; for anyone who doesn’t know, it just means that any profit goes back in to the community. It’s run by the community, for the community in the town of Wymondham, just south of Norwich city centre. I’m so happy I found it because it stands for so many values I believe in. I suggest anyone who lives in the Norwich/Norfolk area seriously check it out because it’s a really amazing place!

Now, on to my (lengthy) story…

My first experience in this shop I can comfortably call my most joyous shopping experience of my life. I hate shopping, truth be known, unless it involves books. I walked out high – I’m not sure if it was the book fumes or just a combination of the warm-fuzzies, a beautiful book in my possession and possibly one of the best literary conversations I’ve had in a long time. Whatever it was, I was bouncing off walls and being told to stay away from caffeine because I was positively hyperactive after this shopping experience.

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In the Summertime!

So, Summer is here (and to be fair, it has technically been here a while) and I finally feel refreshed enough to start my onslaught of Summer blogging! Over the next few weeks I’m planning a variety of things, including a few hauls of various shopping expeditions (including books, clothes and cosmetics) and a number of reviews. Anyone who knows me knows I love talking about things I love, so reviewing books, cosmetics, places I’ve eaten, places I’ve shopped, it comes easy to me. I also want to talk about general stuff and things that I want talk about, so expect some of that too.

I’m going to aim to do something twice a week. This is my goal to myself this Summer and I am going to do everything in my power to stick to said goal! 

So, while I’m off composing my first Summer 2014 blog post, I beg you to not hold your breath – you might suffocate in the wait. But hopefully, soon, there will be a few posts in succession and I’m hoping they’ll be a mixture of many things. 

…T Minus 12 Hours

So it’s about 12 hours before I’ll be getting up for my first day of university! Eep. I can’t believe how quickly it’s come around, I really can’t. I’m so nervous about it, but really excited too. This is a new chapter, an exciting chapter and I’m just really looking forward to it. I do, however, sort of dislike being a local student this weekend, people have been moving in to halls and meeting people, going out, getting used to the campus (eating Haribo apparently, too!) and I’ve basically been sat in my house, in my onesie, annoying anyone who will give me a chance to!

My last week of freedom has been quite eventful. Tuesday I had a prizegiving evening, I didn’t win anything, I went to get a hog roast and some folders for uni from K (who I don’t quite know how to thank. I gave her brownies and I’ve promised to spoil her impending child, but I don’t even think that is enough!) K is amazing, really, she gave me 3 years worth of organic chemistry work. Notes on practically every aspect of my degree I was worrying about in 6 completely full lever arch files (and I love a lever arch) – it has taken a little bit of the worry from my system, I have to say.

Thursday I went in to the city after my SW group, mainly to get a cup of tea with my nanny. I found this beautiful little teashop, not far from where my sister works, that uses mismatched china and tea leaves and it’s just absolutely beautiful inside (The Teapot in St Gregory’s Alley, Norwich for anyone interested in teapots and china cups or just a cheap place to get a really nice pot of tea/cup of coffee!) and I knew from the second I walked in I had to take my nanny, my other grandmother will love it too and I intend to take her out for a day when she is off her holidays! Anyway, the rain poured and I walked home. It was miserable but I had a great day, I really did.

I went out Saturday, again with my nanny, but with my sister and we went down to the coast for a day. We usually go in the summer holidays, but one thing and another we ended up leaving it until the weekend before I started uni. It was a really lovely day and I even spoiled myself by having an icecream (lemon meringue. Yum <3) – I had been so good all day, resisted the temptation of doughnuts and fish and chips, we had Spud-U-Like for lunch (which was yumsk), so my treat to myself was icecream and boy did I enjoy it. So yes, lovely day at the beach, I didn’t win ANYTHING on the 2p machines though, which sucks. =(

This week has been stressful and quite turbulent though, really. However fondly I’m talking of the good memories I’ve made, there were some that weren’t so good. Emotionally I’m all over the place, a lot has happened and it’s left me drained and hurting. Hurting quite a lot actually. Friendships hurt more when you’re older, you become more involved, emotions become entwined; so when things go tits up it hurts ten times more than it did when you were 8 or 9 and someone ‘stole your friend’. I don’t think I need to elaborate much more than that, I don’t want to elaborate much more than that because it’s not fair on the other person involved in the situation. But I will say that I’m lucky I have the friends I do to see me through this ‘breakup’, one to distract me with Harry Potter and Criminal Minds chat, one to come to my house and eat biscuits (well, snack-a-jacks) with me and let me cry all over them, and most of my friends who don’t even know what the hell has happened but have just made me happy by saying something they didn’t realise would make me such a difference. I’m appreciating the small things in my friendships right now, counting the people that make me smile. I couldn’t get through each day without the people who make me smile and I’m feeling very blessed that I have so many people who do that in my life.

Tomorrow is Day 1 of the next chapter and I’m really ready for it to begin now.

I’m Going To Uni!

I’m still coming down from the high of Thursday. Having woke up at 5am, I honestly thought it was going to be the hardest 3 hours of my life waiting for Track to update. It was raining, I’d had anxiety dreams and I just didn’t want to get up – I saw it all as bad omens building up to the inevitable rejection. I feel so blessed that I have wonderful friends, Sophie was awake at 6 and managed to keep me company online until just after 7 (when she went back to bed).

It was at 7 that I started the incessant refreshing on UCAS – I thought it would be futile as Track wasn’t supposed to open until 8. But half past 7 track let me log in and I saw something that I never thought I’d see.


I just really can’t believe it – even now, 3 days later, I just keep falling in to a fit of giggles out of the sheer shock of it! My whole life, as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to go to university. When I was 8 I remember university first being mentioned at school – it all seemed so far away and crazy to even have to think about it, but I did and I knew I wanted to keep learning. At that time, I wanted to be a surgeon, I was in my Holby City phase. However, a lot happened, between that day and this, my heath deteriorated and improved two or three times – the thought of university seemed more and more unlikely as the years went on, I abandoned the dream of becoming a doctor  but I never gave up on the ultimate goal of university – but it became more of a dream than a distinct possibility. I admit I gave up hope, something I said I’d never do.

I’ll be the first to say my grades were pretty shocking, given how well my AS year went (I finished on BBB – though maths I was 3 UMS off of an A) – but I’m grateful I came out of that year with good grades, given how abysmally Year 13.1 and Year 13.2 went – I’m not proud of my end results (well, the B in chemistry I am most certainly over the moon with; biology I can live with and maths just breaks my heart a little, knowing how much time and effort my teachers put in to me) but I’m proud that I persevered on through the shit that was high school. I’m proud of what I achieved as a whole. Achievements aren’t just letters on a page, they’re what you feel inside. I know I did my best in my exams; the ultimate goal was reached and right now that’s all that matters and I’m looking towards the future.

I could never have done this without the support of the people around me; amazing friends and family. There are so many wonderful people who I just feel so blessed to have in my life. They’re responsible for me being able to do this. They’re the ones that got me through my exams, through the tears and sleepless nights worrying!

As of the September 26th, I’m an undergraudate. That’s scary but exciting, it’s a whole new adventure beginning, a whole new phase of my life – more importantly it’s a fresh start for me – and I can’t wait!