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!

…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!