Looking Forward

So, it’s been 18 months since I reviewed a book. It’s been the best part of a year since I read a book. The blog has been on hiatus officially since January last year. But I’ve decided to actually give this another shot. I miss reading, I miss interacting with the bookish community. Last year I decided that I needed a break, that it was just too much pressure. I had to stop watching booktube, I had to stop reading reviews. I had to just stop because I feel like I lost what reading was about for me. But then our family had a few bereavements and I just didn’t pick up a book for 6 months. Looking back, I think a “year off” from reading, from reviewing, has absolutely been the best thing for me, but I want to get back in to it again. So hi, welcome. Hello. Nice to see you again.

Last year wasn’t the best year. For anyone. While we were all in the same storm, how we were hit by it varied, what things we had going on around us varied. For me 2020 was a proper shitter (see my last post) but it was also full of moments of light, I found new hobbies and picked up old ones. I learnt how to drive (last test in Norwich before March lockdown) and I bought a car in May. I BOUGHT A CAR! I’m now officially 2 years in remission with fibromyalgia, bad days have been few and far between. I’m off all medication (save for my antihistamines) even though my mental health tanked. And I learnt to make focaccia.

So rather than reading, what have I been up to? I replayed my favourite video games (Horizon Zero Dawn, Lego Harry Potter, Subnautica, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and lots of The Sims). I started playing Animal Crossing, then stopped, then started again.

I became obsessed with podcasts – All Killa, No Filla has been a fun one and I genuinely love the community built around that podcast. Honestly? It’s in part down to them why I’m reading again. I’ve also really, really enjoyed We Are History with Angela Barnes and John O’Farrell – something that may become obvious in some of my reading for 2021 as they have recommended so many good books that I can’t wait to get my hands on. In a similar tone I’ve enjoyed You’re Dead to Me which is hosted by Greg Jenner (author of Dead Famous which is on my TBR and will hopefully be read early 2021). I’ve enjoyed Fingers on Buzzers with Lucy Porter and Jenny Ryan (from the Chase) which is all about quizzing. And if I need cheering up I’ve resorted back to My Dad Wrote a Porno which never fails to crease me.

I learnt to love myself and be unashamedly me. I’ve addressed some things in my past that have been weighing me down a lot more than I thought, and have been working through them. I feel more confident, and braver, than I think I ever have. I’m both terrified and excited about the next steps and what the future holds but I think whatever comes my way, I’ll deal with it.

Reading has been something on the backburner, something for ‘later’ – books will always be there after all. But now I think I’m at a point were I’m ready to start trying to get in the habit of reading again. Because it is a habit, and one I need to get back in to my daily routine. I’ve set my goal for the year low – 25 books – and I want to actively start reviewing again. I may even dig out a few reviews from last year that I wrote and just never shared – Girl, Woman, Other being one. I can’t wait to explore 2021 in books, and share that with you.

Blog: Spring 2019 – A General Update

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Hello again, and welcome to a wee chatty post on my corner of the internet. It’s been quite some time since I checked in with you all – and a lot has changed for me in the last few months, so it feels an appropriate time to do that! So, below the cut there is a 500 word update where I’m talking Fibromyalgia, the Wellcome Prize, Book Slumps, Theatre Trips, Language Learning and lots of other random stuff.

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Blog: January 2019

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Hello chums and happy February to you all! I hope this blog finds you all well and settling in to 2019 nicely!

Today it’s a wordy post as I’m going to be talking about my January highlights, this isn’t going to be solely book related but will instead include a general overview of January with some of my favourite things. Hopefully a little more interesting than a blow-by-blow account of all the things I read and the statistics of it all. But if you don’t give a toss about reading this, that’s also fine. Bookish related posts will resume tomorrow with a Wellcome Prize 2019 introduction!

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Blog:- Hello 2019| General Update & Bookish Goals

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Hello and welcome to a new look on Ashleigh’s Bookshelf. After a rather long hiatus, I decided the best way to get back to blogging, and excited about it, was to give the blog itself a bit of a facelift. So, here we have it. It’s purple and inspired by my tattoos in that it’s watercolour-y in theme and I hope you like it! It’s still in progress, and if you have any suggestions or feedback just drop me a message.

The reason there weren’t any posts for the last 3 or 4 months of 2018 is simple – I wasn’t reading. After a few really good months over the Summer my reading motivation just slumped, my reading consisted of Harry Potter fan fiction and I’m not ashamed in the slightest. I bought a PS4 and have rediscovered a love of gaming (Tomb Raider mainly). I’ve been watching movies, drinking wine and making memories with friends. For me, the last few months of 2018 were some of the happiest I’ve had, and before I knew it it’d been 3 months and I hadn’t picked up a book.

Looking back on my reading in 2018 one of the things which I found most rewarding was reading the Wellcome prize longlist – something I hope to do again this year. The longlist is released next month and I actually can’t wait! I’m going to be more about balance this year, as I feel that it’s something I almost conquered towards the end of 2018 and that I want to carry forward. I’ve decided to be less about quantity of books and more about quality and the value they add to my life, so my goals for this year are:-

  • Read one book a week
  • Read more non-fiction
  • If you don’t like it, DNF it.

And reading is going to naturally take a backseat when I’m focusing my time on other things too. For a long while all of my free time was used reading, but I’m enjoying having that variety in my free time and it means I’m enjoying and appreciating things more!

As for the blog – reviews will happen when books are read, I may also do monthly updates again- games I’m playing and movies I’ve watched as well as books.

But for now, I will say goodbye and we shall speak soon!

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Hiatus Be Gone!

Well hello there my lovely readers, and what a time it’s been since I posted last. The Wellcome Book Prize announced a winner (literally, the one book on the shortlist I didn’t give a damn about – I’m miffed), I booked to see a couple of my favourite authors in conversation (Becky Chambers and Ali Smith, for anyone interested), I’ve been to the theatre, I’ve caught up on TV, become even gayer and I haven’t picked a book up in nearly 2 months.

In fairness, I have been rather unwell, but that’s neither here nor there. It did mean however that I wasn’t in much of a reading mood. That’s changed now. I picked up a book for the first time yesterday and it felt blooming marvellous!

So, expect normal (or rather, normal for me) service to resume on here.

In June I am reading books solely published by Salt. I’ll discuss that more in another post in a couple of days, I just wanted to post today to say thank you to all the wonderful humans among you who actually subscribed while I’ve not been about. It means a lot that even my older reviews are garnering attention still. And thank you to those who have stuck around!

300 Subscribers!|| Blogmas Day 18

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Hello my lovely subscribers, all 300 of you!

Today is a brief one, it’s been a long old day and didn’t have anything prepared/scheduled – but in a way that’s a good thing because while I was at work I hit 300 subscribers. So today I’m thanking all 300 of you who have taken the time to read, comment and subscribe over the last few years.

Seriously, thank you so much. Every like, every follow, every comment means so much to me. I know 300 people isn’t a huge amount to most, some of you guys probably have 10 times that amount of subscribers, but it’s a huge amount to me.

This blog started as an outlet when I started university, I never intended for it to become a place where I reviewed every book I read over the course of the last 3 years. It was an online diary for a while, it still is sometimes, but it became so much more to me than that. It’s still an outlet, but for a very different part of me – the creative part of me, the part of me who wants to find like-minded individuals as my Real Life sorely lacks in bookish types.

Because of this blog I have had some amazing conversations with amazing people. I have found other bloggers, read books I wouldn’t normally read, and importantly I’ve found my voice. I feel like my voice and opinion are valid, it’s given me confidence both online and in the ‘real world’.

So, thank you to every one of you who has subscribed, liked, commented, anything because it means the world to me.

 

Identity Crisis?|| Blogmas Day 15

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So today it’s a bit of a late one, and not really book-oriented, because I’m not having the best of days.

The last few days I’ve definitely been having a bit of a wobble (primarily due to my GP not seeing my anti-depressants as an urgent prescription and thinking it acceptable to make me go 3 days without them. They still haven’t done the prescription, but I have enough for a week from the pharmacy, and I can kick up a fuss on Monday if I still don’t have my repeat). However, that isn’t what I want to talk about today (as the rainbow in the header may indicate).

The other week, while on holiday, my friend made an offhand comment about how her dad misunderstood something I put on facebook (he misunderstood my “omg I’m going to be a bridesmaid” post as “omg I’m getting married”). And that she was proud of him because “He congratulated you even though if you were getting married, we all know it’d be to a woman.”

Thinking about it, I realised I’ve never actually ‘come out’. I’ve never felt the need to. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my sexuality, I know I prefer women, I just never felt the need to actually go and label myself. But do I need to tell my friends I’m gay? (or more gay than straight, or as I told my mother when I was all of 12 years old “not as straight as a ruler”).

I feel like I’ve lied to them, which is stupid because when I started uni and met them I never hid myself away. I was always 100% me. I make jokes about myself like “Doc Martens and a plaid shirt, you must be a lesbian!” at least twice a month, I frequently make references to particularly nice looking women, rant about the heteronormativity of the institution of marriage, talk very passionately about my favourite fictional lesbians, and regularly update them on LGBTQ+ news.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly think I’m hiding in Narnia.

I told my mum I was (at the very least) bisexual when I was 12 – as I said above. It was a result of a pretty problematic set of circumstances as to why, involving a much older girl taking advantage of me (and it wasn’t just me, as I came to find out). My parents were cool with it, never told me it was just a phase or any of those cliche things. From what I recall, my actual ‘coming out experience’ with my parents was positive – it was so long ago, and the circumstances around it are those I want to forget, meaning I have sort of blurred it in my head.

But, 12 years on, and with a whole new set of friends around me do I actually need to do the whole coming out thing with the words “hey, guess what, I’m gay(ish)?” or is what I’ve already done – just being me, hella gay, and rocking it – enough?

So, if anyone ever wondered what going 3 days without antidepressants did to you, it is this. It makes you unable to sleep and have anxiety attacks over things people probably already know. It makes you question your whole identity, bring up trauma you thought was long behind you and question your entire existence.

Thank goodness for pharmacists and emergency prescriptions.

Blogmas 2017 || Blogmas Day 1

Well hello there. It’s been a while hasn’t it? After promising myself (and you) that I’d have a catch up in October, I started with good intentions and they fell by the wayside – as did my reading. But I want to change that in December – not only updating you with my reading but also generally blogging about life, the universe and everything. So, in a nutshell, I’m doing Blogmas!

Blogmas is great fun, and I really enjoyed it when I did it in 2015, so I want to do it again! I want it to help me fall back in love with blogging because I always seem to fall down towards the end of the year.

What will I be writing about? Well, I’ll probably do a few tags that have caught my eye over the last few months, discuss my favourite books of 2017, talk about my holidays (including my first solo adventure!) and my tattoos that I’ve had this year. While this is a blog for bookish goodness, I think introducing some variety in the content will encourage me to both read and write more.

So, if there’s anything you’d like to see on the blog feel free to suggest things – I need more ideas, that’s for sure!

As always, thanks for reading & we shall speak again tomorrow!

 

August Wrap-Up

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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

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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!