August Wrap-Up

08 - august wrapup

Good Evening and happy bank holiday weekend to those of you fortunate enough to be enjoying the last long weekend before Christmas! I know bank holidays are a very British thing, and I also know that my Scottish pals don’t get to enjoy the Late August holiday – but, as I have 4 days off work without any of my holiday allowance being eaten up I thought it was about time I updated you on my reading.

August has been a relatively productive month in that I actually did read a couple of books – and several graphic novels. Much more productive than July which was consumed by War and Peace! August has also been great because I’ve really got back in to gaming – nothing hardcore but it has definitely consumed a lot of my time this month! I’ve been playing a mix of things, but my life has been consumed by a game on my iPad called Battle Cats – yeah. Don’t ask.

On to the reading. In August I read 5 books – 2 novels and 3 graphic novels. One of the novels was more of a novella, but it does seem that in spite of War and Peace being a chunker my love of big ole books has not dissipated because as I write this I’m a quarter of the way through Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. I’m absolutely rocketing through it and I should be done with it by the end of the month (yay for long weekends!)

I am, however, acutely aware that I have not reviewed any of the books I read this month. And that’s for no reason other than I haven’t been in the mood to. However, I am now in the process of writing a tonne of reviews of books that I’ve read in the last few months but haven’t got around to – so September is going to be quite a catch up month and you can look forward to more regular posts from me. Reviews to look out for in the next couple of weeks include:-

  • Lumberjanes – Volumes 1 through to 6 – Noelle Stevenson et al.
  • The Wizard of Oz Graphic Novel series – Eric Shanower et al.
  • The Infinite Loop – Pierrick Colinet
  • Bringing in the Sheaves – Rev’d. Richard Coles
  • Justine – Alice Thompson
  • Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens

08 - september goals

I don’t have a particularly strict TBR for September, but I do have a few books I’d like to get around to. I’m actually going on holiday at the end of the month and visiting family in Scotland, so I’m hoping that will provide some intense reading. Also, it’s between an 8 and 10 hour car trip each way which is absolutely perfect for a long audiobook (or two!)! So, if anyone has any recommendations I’d be more than happy to hear them!

However, I do have a couple of books that I’ve been sitting on and wanting to read for what feels like forever and I’d like to finally get around to them this month. So I’m putting them here for the world to see and hoping it’ll make me finally read them:-

September TBRIt’s quite a varied pile – as you can probably see. A little bit of non-fiction, modern classic, science fiction, and a very literary book. But I think it’s a good pile for me to be picking from as it’s quite varied.

I would also like to read a classic this month but as of yet I haven’t decided what it’ll be. I may find a meaty one to listen to as an audiobook at the end of the month in the car! We shall just have to see.

As I said, if anyone has any recommendations for good, long audiobooks drop them down in the comments because I’m always excited to have a new audiobook!

As always, thanks for reading!

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

05 - may wrapup

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.

July Wrap Up and an August TBR

07 - july wrapup

July was beautiful. It was possibly the most crazy month of my life and I have made so many memories. I was working full time (and managing, something I was scared I wouldn’t be able to do), I graduated, I saw Finding Dory on opening night, and I went to the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I laughed until I was crying, I smiled until my face hurt, I got a sun tan, I didn’t fall over on stage when they called my name, I made new friends, I caught up with old ones, played some Pokemon Go and honestly, I didn’t read all that much. But it was amazing and I don’t regret one second of it (okay, I lie, I wish I didn’t wear the heels for graduation).

But, as this is primarily a blog in which I talk about books, that is what I shall do now. I read 5 books, I’m happy with 5 books. Sadly, there were only a couple that I really loved, most of them were 3* reads. I read in total 1964 pages, which I’m pretty happy with, though I would like to see myself break 2000 again soon as I haven’t done that since April!

My favourite book was Animal by Sara Pascoe, closely followed by The Cursed Child (obviously). Animal was better than How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, and I loved that book. As for The Cursed Child, well, it was glorified fanfiction but what can I say, I’m fanfiction trash.

07 - august goalsThis month I want to read the remainder of the books I wanted to read in July and didn’t. So, that’s The Essex SerpentThe Brinks That Built the Houses, Human ActsThe Adventures of the Busts of Eva Peron, and finally The Last Pilot. So that’s the 5 books I definitely want to read, I would like to get around to another classic this month, and maybe some poetry too.

One thing I definitely want to do this month is keep on top of this blog a bit more, and be a bit more structured. I’ve recently lost my mojo when it comes to what I want to say and do on here and, like I said a few months ago, I want to take this more seriously which is something I haven’t been doing as of late and I want that to change. So, consider that a promise!

I’ve got some really fun things planned this month, I’m going to see Sarah Millican on the 8th, I’m helping some friends move in to their first home together, seeing two of my oldest friends and having dinner. So I think it’s going to be good. Life is feeling good, and that’s a little strange if I’m honest.

Have a lovely August!

Blog: Readers Guilt|| Blogmas Day 22

I haven’t picked a book up for a couple of days and, as someone who talks about reading a lot, this makes me feel guilty. It’s a weird feeling because it’s a completely unfounded notion. Noone is going to penalise me for not reading a book for a few days, noone is judging or actively harassing me but I feel I should be reading when I’m spending my free time doing other stuff. I have two shelves full of books, plus an overspill downstairs. I have so many books that I want to be reading but, right now, I just don’t feel like reading.

I’ve really been enjoying watching TV lately and that’s not a bad thing. I love watching TV, especially with my mum as it’s rare she actually enjoys a show that I do. This past couple of weeks I’ve got my mum hooked on one of my favourite TV shows – Major Crimes. I’ve had a tonne recorded and as she had a day off we genuinely sat and watched 6 episodes pretty much back to back today and it was fantastic. We rarely get to spend time just loafing about watching telly so it’s been really, really great to be able to do that. I also watched The Good Life Christmas special. Twice. 1970s comedy was gold, especially The Good Life, I just love it so very much.

But I have this pressure on me wherein I feel I ought to be reading. The pressure comes from noone but myself, which is why it’s especially annoying, but it’s fuelled by reading goals and targets I set myself. It’s fuelled by watching other people read obscene amounts and wanting to keep up with the best of them. Essentially, I have a reading inferiority complex.

Now, I’ve read 94 books this year and I want to make it to a nice, round 100. Can I do that? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I want to enjoy time with my family, I want to watch TV and make shortbread and sing Christmas songs (badly, I must add, as I currently have the tail end of flu and sound like a 96 year old man with emphysema). What I also know is this pressure I put myself under has me wanting to read less.

So, I’m not reading right now and I’m starting to feel okay about that.

Blog: A Migraine is Not Just a Headache || Blogmas Day 17

I felt like a failure yesterday because I wasn’t able to blog. When I commit to something I intend to see it through so failing to blog on the 16th day of blogmas really had me beating myself up. It’s silly, it’s stupid but it’s the kind of person I am. All because I had a migraine.

I’m still unwell, I’m a little better than I was yesterday but still struggling. It’s taken me all day, in short bursts, to actually write this. I’ve slept most of the last 48 hours and when I’m awake it’s not just a headache, migraines completely drain you of all energy. They affect me by making me feel sick, in combination with the CFS symptoms I was pretty much bed bound for 2 days – needing help to just get from one room to another because I can’t walk straight and every movement had me near tears. It’s like being pissed without any of the fun!

There are so many symptoms that make a migraine more than a headache. Seeing stars isn’t just a myth. My senses all become very sensitive; smells make me feel nauseous. I become really sensitive to touch – both from people and stationary objects, just a blanket is enough to make me uncomfortable. Everything is stupidly loud, every noise is too much. There is nothing worse than being unwell and also being unable to do anything, which is pretty much what a migraine leaves me with. I can’t read, I can’t watch TV or listen to music, I can’t even use my laptop! Sensory overload.

So hopefully normal service will resume soon. Hopefully I’ll feel better soon.

Blog: A Very Good Day

Today was a very good day – in spite of full blown flu – and I just want to share it with the world.

Putting it in perspective, it’s been a really hard few months; I had surgery, my great-grandmother died and it really was a pretty awful start to the year with a funeral and finding out my godfather had cancer (just after losing my grandmother to it). My anxiety has been through the roof, depression has crept back in and I’d not felt that deflated for a very long time. But today just made it all worth going through. Today I saw a little bit of light in amongst all the dark and… I want to share it.

First off, I got an interview. I applied for an internship through the university at The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC, so geeky!) and I’ve got a freaking interview! I applied last minute (genuinely, 12 hours before the deadline) with none of the prerequisite skills and my chances are so tiny but I don’t care, I got an interview! It’s only a week away too. I need some smart clothes now! Any ideas for good interview clothes and any tips you can give me I’d be grateful!

Then I had the hospital. I had my eardrum reconstructed in December. My surgeon took cartliage from my tragus and build me a new eardrum, and remodelled one of the bones in my ear – isn’t that amazing?! My chances for losing my hearing were about 25%. The aim was for it to remain within 10% of what it was – which was around 50% of a normal persons hearing. Normally, there is a slight loss in hearing. My hearing has improved. Damn. I hoped but I never expected that outcome. My hearing test today came back the best it has since I was 11. I personally felt it had improved but I didn’t want to get my hopes up, I thought it might be psychological but nope. Not all in my head!

I got some coursework back too, not going to complain at 79% in some stats. I hate stats with passion. That is a resounding success.

So I am celebrating tonight with pizza because I haven’t wanted to cry because I’m happy for a very long time. I don’t care I have flu. Things are looking up and even if I don’t get the placement and I don’t always get 1st in my coursework… at least I’m going to have my hearing. My hearing isn’t going anywhere! (The pizza, however, has disappeared to the deepest depths of my stomach. OmNom.)

Happy Wednesday!

… Some Time Later

So much for updating this regularly, oh well!

So in the break of my initial post of celebration, a lot has happened. I’ve started university, made a great group of friends, got closer to my old friends, successfully broken my laptop, lost things, found things… It’s all been happening! But now I’m in a routine (of sorts) I thought it was about time I got in the habit of updating this!

University is brilliant – I absolutely love it. I was terrified, that much was clear from my last post, but after about 3 days I met a good group of people and I started to settle a bit. The first week or two of lectures was hard, getting settled in to a routine with buses and the actual material covered in lectures; after practically having a gap year I was both surprised at the things I remembered and the number of basic things I’d forgotten! The main thing is I’m there now, I’m feeling positive and I’m loving what I’m learning. I wake up at 0630 every day feeling excited about the day ahead of me, however much I don’t want to get out of bed at that time. 

I never really considered myself a social person, but I’m actually enjoying being surrounded by people most days. Some days I really hate people as a collective, but I’m lucky in that I have some really brilliant friends who make the collective seem irrelevant. They get me and my crazy and I’ve never been more grateful to a group of people. I’m going out with people for cake and coffee, doesn’t really help my diet but it’s making me happy – I’ve never been this happy to be around people.

I’m developing some very interesting hobbies; in getting on a bus every day of the week I see the same faces, and I know it’s probably weird of me, but to pass time I make up their life story in my head. It seems that every day I see them their lives become more elaborate in my mind, to the point that I’m debating whether to write something for NaNoWriMo about one of the women I see daily who is just so vivid in my imagination now because I’ve practically complied a fictitious life story for her. 

University is truly brilliant though. I can’t remember being this happy, not for such a prolonged period of time. I still have days where the depression sinks in, I still have days where I just want to bubble and cry, but I’m learning to work through them. I’m also having to learn to work through some of my ME/CFS symptoms which flare up – I’m having to relearn my boundaries and limitations, work with my body not against it. To be honest, learning my limits has been the hardest thing for me so far.

Part of me still misses school, mainly the teachers. I like to think that the place remains how it was when I left, everyone I respect so much still there. Reality isn’t as sweet though, people have moved on, it makes me sad to think that there are some people I care about who I might not see or hear from for quite some time because of that – that even though they said they would, aren’t keeping in touch with me. It sort of hurts, but I understand I have to grow up at some point, I have to let go of the past. However many bad memories I had there, I will always have affection for the place. It’s the aspect of relationships with teachers that I miss most at university at present, I miss that relationship I had, the closeness, the way they could read me – right now, though I have amazing lecturers and tutors, I feel that I’m missing something and I think it is just the relationship and trust that I’d built up with my teachers at school.

Right now, I’m just having an ‘omg what am I going to do with my future?’ crisis – right now, 8 weeks in to Year 1 of my degree I decide to have a career crisis. But in some ways, it’s a positive thing, because I’m looking at things I probably wouldn’t have considered a few years ago. Lab work is already getting to me – god knows how I’ll feel about it come the end of year 2!