My favourite blog posts of September 2019!

It’s that time again 😀 This post isn’t going to be as long as usual since I’ve been too busy to blog hop (I feel like a broken record these days). Thankfully, I am changing jobs again soon so I should get some of my dedicated blogging time back!

Anyway. Here are some posts I’ve loved this month! ❤

favourite blog posts of the month


favourite reviews

Callum wrote a fantastic review of Frankisstein by Jeanette Winterson.

Anda reviewed The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo and reminded me why I loved it so much.

Jules reviewed The Kingdom and made me add it to my TBR.

Clara created some stunning aesthetics for her recent five-star reads.

Jenna reviewed Salt Slow, which I am desperate to read.

Kal wrote a brilliant review of Rules for Vanishing and added it to my ‘want-to-read’ shelf.

Marie wrote a wonderful, moving review of Darius The Great Is Not Okay and added yet another book to my never-ending wishlist.

Destiny gave a great breakdown of the stories in the Wonderland anthology, which I’m currently loving!


favourite discussions

Kelly shared some of her tips for fitting blogging into a busy schedule.

Jenn debunked some Instagram myths in this super helpful post.

Sha & Mandy asked the important question ‘who are book reviews for?’

Margaret discussed how book blogging keeps her inside her reading comfort zone.


other fun posts

Annemieke shared her book recommendations based on the Hogwarts houses.

Beth shared ten books she loved that were outside her comfort zone. I always love how Beth formats her TTT posts!

Rae & Jenny recommended ten cosy books to curl up with this Autumn.

Olivia created her own scale for the levels of Harry Potter obsession.

Rachel shared an awesome four-part series asking YA authors which books they would recommend to their teenage selves.

Cristina took on the daunting task of organising 8 years of Goodreads shelves.

Kat shared her fantasy clothing haul and it was the cutest, most original post ever!


I hope you all find something you love in these posts! And I’m so excited to see everyone’s October content!! xsignature (2)

Music Monday: Circle of Life (The Lion King)

Happy Monday lovely people! I’m back with a little bit of Disney for you this week 🙂

The Circle of Life was composed by Elton John and Tim Rice for the 1994 animated film The Lion King. It also features in the long-running theatrical show and in the recent live-action remake of the film.

Have a great week everyone!

 

 

 

‘In The Absence of Miracles’ spoiler-free review!

Hello my dears 🙂 Today is my stop on the blog tour for In The Absence of Miracles and I have a spoiler-free review for you!

Thank you to Orenda Books for providing me with a free ARC.

in the absence of miracles


synopsis

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again. With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood. For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover. For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence. Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.


my thoughts

It’s difficult to know where to start with reviewing this one. I suppose the first thing to say is that it is DARK. This book certainly won’t be for everyone. But it is marvellous in that it shines a light on a subject which is not often spoken about, so for that I applaud the author.

I will be totally honest: I got off to a rocky start with this one. It was very much a book of two halves for me. The book begins with very little introduction, throwing us into the lives of these characters with hardly any preamble. Some readers might like that but I couldn’t help feeling a little thrown. I also noticed quite a few errors (like names changing within the same scene and other mistakes that really should have been caught in editing). Of course, I was reading an ‘uncorrected proof copy’ so hopefully these things will not appear in the final copy. And I don’t mention them to criticise, only to point out why I had a tricky time getting into the book at first.

However. Even in spite of the rocky beginnings, I could NOT put this book down. I was so gripped. It was slow to develop but with each new revelation, I felt myself being pulled in deeper and deeper. And the payoff was well worth the wait. The second half of this book was in another league.

Now as I’ve mentioned, this book is DARK. And it is a double-edged darkness that you can’t escape no matter which way you turn. Things become extremely visceral. In truth, this book was not what I expected and it isn’t the kind of thing I would normally choose to read (books are my escape from life’s pain, I don’t like to bring myself more hurt if I can help it). But as I’ve already stated, I can definitely see the value in telling this story. I just hope that the final book features trigger warnings because I think people need to know what they are getting into.

Overall, I would be hesitant to recommend this one due to its challenging nature but I know that there are readers out there who will really connect with it!

in the absence of miracles


If you’re interested in hearing what other readers thought of In The Absence of Miracles, make sure you check out the other stop on the tour! x

In The Absence of Miracles BT Poster.jpg

‘Bloodlust and Bonnets’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! I’m delighted today to be wrapping up the blog tour for Bloodlust and Bonnets, a fantastic graphic novel by Emily McGovern!

bloodlust and bonnets


synopsis

Set in early nineteenth-century Britain, Bloodlust & Bonnets follows Lucy, an unworldly debutante who desires a life of passion and intrigue—qualities which earn her the attention of Lady Violet Travesty, the leader of a local vampire cult.

But before Lucy can embark on her new life of vampiric debauchery, she finds herself unexpectedly thrown together with the flamboyant poet Lord Byron (“from books!”) and a mysterious bounty-hunter named Sham. The unlikely trio lie, flirt, fight, and manipulate each other as they make their way across Britain, disrupting society balls, slaying vampires, and making every effort not to betray their feelings to each other as their personal and romantic lives become increasingly entangled.

Both witty and slapstick, elegant and gory, Emily McGovern’s debut graphic novel pays tribute to and pokes fun at beloved romance tropes, delivering a joyous, action-packed world of friendship and adventure.


my thoughts

Ok, I have to say it. Emily McGovern has the exact same sense of humour as me. This graphic novel made me laugh out loud! It’s all very tongue-in-cheek with lots of silly jokes and I just honestly loved it. This humour is honestly what made the book for me; every joke landed perfectly and McGovern was able to make me giggle with just one tiny detail in her drawings, like a raised eyebrow. I seriously had so much fun reading this.

The characters were brilliant. Lord Byron’s pomp was utter perfection and he totally stole the show for me. His scenes had me in stitches. I also loved the casual inclusion of a non-binary character, and the sentient castle and psychic eagle were further highlights. Trust me 😉

In terms of the illustrations, I really liked McGovern’s style. The drawing had a simple, blocky technique to it (I say simple but I can’t draw to save my life so I have so much respect for people who can!) As I’ve already mentioned, I could feel the emotions radiating off the pages even when all that changed were a couple of pen-strokes.

I also really loved the vibrant colour scheme! You can see in my photograph below how bright and bold the cover is and that was consistent throughout the book. It really made the illustrations pop and I thought it was fabulous.

Overall, there’s not much more I can say about this one because I think it’s best to just dive in and experience it for yourself! If you’re into things like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or other satirical takes on Regency era stories, then definitely consider picking this one up! It would be a fun, fast read for the spooky season 😉

bloodlust and bonnets.jpg


If you’d like to see more reviews of this book and Q&A’s with the author, check out the previous stops on the tour! 

Bloodlust and Bonnets BT Poster

Music Monday Double Feature: Shut Up & Dance/We Are The Champions

You may have noticed that I’ve been quieter on the music front recently. Work has taken over my life a little bit in the last month but I’ve finally been able to sit down at my piano and get some recording done.

So imagine the anxious crisis I had when I made my comeback last week and not a single person acknowledged it.

Except. I didn’t hit publish properly! So now that I know I’m not unloved, just a numpty, I’m giving you last week’s video as well as this week’s! Enjoy my lovelies 😉 ❤

 

Alex’s Alphabeticals: I

Hello beautiful people! I hate that I haven’t been able to put out much content this month and I’m trying really hard to rectify that (I’m genuinely struggling to balance everything right now and I hope you all know how much I appreciate you sticking around while I try to figure it out!) Anyway. That’s my obligatory apology out of the way 😉 Here’s the next instalment of Alex’s Alphabeticals!

As always, if anyone else wants to jump on board, here’s how to participate!

  1. Credit/link back to me so I can see your posts!
  2. List your favourite Authors, Books and Characters beginning with a certain letter of the alphabet
  3. Do as many or as few letters as you want

Simple as that! Some people also add on Series, which you are welcome to do if you wish 🙂 The point is to have fun!

And just as a heads up, this was the most difficult letter for me so far so this list will be shorter than usual!


Authors beginning with ‘I’

Eowyn Ivey

I don’t know if I can call an author a favourite when I’ve only read one of their books? But what a book it was. If you haven’t yet read The Snow Child, get it on your winter reading lists.

21433795_154490435135425_2160495741049503744_n

Washington Irving

Again, I wouldn’t actually call Irving a favourite author but I didn’t want this section to be completely empty!! And he did write some cracking little stories that are perfect for the upcoming spooky season…


Books beginning with ‘I’

I Will Not Be Erased

This collection of essays from Gal-Dem was such a powerful and important read, and very accessible for non-fiction. I had the privilege of reading this collection earlier in the year and wholeheartedly recommend it!

I’ll Be There For You: The One About F.R.I.E.N.D.s

This was a recent read, again non-fiction, that I really enjoyed. It was great fun to get some of the behind-the-scenes details about one of my favourite tv shows!

In Bloom

The sequel to Sweet Pea, this was just as hilarious as its predecessor. Honestly, the humour is DARK but you can’t help rooting for psychopath Rhiannon.

If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller

I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to read this acclaimed meta-fiction – and ended up enjoying it much more than I thought I would! It was a hilariously clever literary romp.

translated books.jpg

Incubus

I always think of this as a ‘guilty pleasure’ book but you know what, screw that. Despite the raunchiness (I’m not a romance reader), I loved the setting and the whole Gothic atmosphere of this one. This book seems to get slated a lot but I really enjoyed it!


Characters beginning with ‘I’

Inigo Montoya

“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” If you didn’t say that with an accent, we can no longer be friends. Seriously though, is that not one of the greatest quotes of all time?

Ichabod Crane

I’m cheating slightly here because the hero of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is nothing much to shout about… in the book. But the character in the tv show that’s based on the book? He’s wonderful.

ichabod crane.gif


Series beginning with ‘I’

I don’t believe I’ve read any series beginning with ‘i’!



Have you read any of these books or authors? Who would be on your list? Was anyone else a fan of Sleepy Hollow?! Let me know in the comments! x

signature (2)

‘Radio Silence’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! Last month, I discovered a new-found love for contemporaries and this one has definitely earned itself a place in my heart! Want to know why? Of course you do… 😉

radio silence


synopsis

Frances Janvier spends most of her time studying.

Everyone knows Aled Last as that quiet boy who gets straight As.

You probably think that they are going to fall in love or something. Since he is a boy and she is a girl.

They don’t. They make a podcast.

In a world determined to shut them up, knock them down, and set them on a cookie cutter life path, Frances and Aled struggle to find their voices over the course of one life-changing year. Will they have the courage to show everyone who they really are? Or will they be met with radio silence?


my thoughts

This book, you guys. The hype you’ve heard? Believe it. This is an incredible book that I feel so many people will relate to.

First of all, let me talk about these characters. Frances is MY PEOPLE. She is a nerd girl who studies hard and doesn’t really like partying; she’d rather be at home watching Studio Ghibli films or listening to her favourite podcast while creating fanart. I relate so much to her. Honestly, this is the first book I’ve come across with a girl working hard in school and pushing herself to do her absolute best in order to get into university. Thank you Alice Oseman for making me feel SEEN. Also, I am HERE for Frances’ wardrobe choices.

The other characters are equally brilliant. Everyone felt so real; I genuinely felt like I was reading about an actual group of friends, and I wanted so desperately to be a part of it. Their dialogue was realistic of how young adults would actually speak and I just genuinely loved the dynamic between them all. Oseman captures teenage life in Britain SO freaking well; so many aspects of this book were my genuine experience growing up and I loved seeing it represented in these pages. For example, when Aled mentions the drunken bouncy castle? This is something I did in my student days!

And I have to give a mention to Frances’ mum. What an absolute gem we have been blessed with there. Why aren’t there more parents like this in books?! Seriously, she is amazing.

This is such a book of my heart, I can’t even. I haven’t read many books set during sixth form/A levels when everyone is trying to figure out their life and where they want to go to university (if anywhere). Again, massive shoutout to the author for making me feel so validated; I so appreciated the message that university is not the be-all and end-all! I’ve mentioned in the past that I felt somewhat pushed into going to university and it ended up being a very traumatic time in my life, so now I genuinely want to thrust this book into the hands of every sixth-former who is struggling to make the decision.

Finally, I want to say how nice it was to read about a platonic relationship. This book is proof that you don’t need your two main characters to be falling in insta-love to create a fantastic read.

I was genuinely sad when I reached the final page of Radio Silence; it’s a book I never wanted to end. Please, if this is anywhere one your TBR, bump it up the list. Everyone needs to read this one ❤

radio silence


Have you read this one? What are some of your favourite contemporaries? I need more! x
signature (2)

‘On The Come Up’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! I’ve got another review for you today (there was a time when I couldn’t read fast enough to consistently put out reviews and now I feel like I’m never going to catch up!) So let’s get straight on with business, shall we? 🙂

on the come up


synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.


my thoughts

Angie Thomas was always going to be under pressure after her first novel The Hate U Give was such a global success. Though I tried hard not to compare her sophomore novel to her debut, it was difficult to keep them completely separate. However, I’m delighted to say that On The Come Up is another fantastic read!

Thomas excels in writing strong characters. Bri is a total badass; I loved that people tried to change her but she remained true to herself and stood up for what she believed. The rest of the cast of characters also felt fully realised, with understandable motives and human flaws. I thought the mother-daughter dynamic that Thomas portrayed was fascinating to read.

This is definitely a very character-driven novel. I found it a little difficult to picture the setting at times but there were moments (like the rap battles) when it was really vivid! And speaking of the rap, Bri had mad skills. Angie Thomas could definitely be a rapper if she ever decides to take a break from writing novels 😉

It was also lovely to see a few nods to THUG throughout the book; I love it when authors set their books within a common universe. Hopefully this is something that Thomas will  continue – I will take all of the Easter eggs please and thank you!

As I said, it’s really difficult to not compare this book to its predecessor and I would say that THUG just slightly has the edge because it is such a powerful Black Lives Matter story. However, On The Come Up stands up well in its own right and I definitely recommend it if you enjoyed Thomas’ first book or if you’re a fan of contemporaries in general!

on the come up.jpg


Have you read either of Angie Thomas’ books? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

Mental Health Musings: How to cope when you feel the world is on your shoulders

Let’s get something straight right away. There is definitely a part of me that is writing this post for myself. Because more and more frequently, I am experiencing the crushing pressure of LIFE and I need to get better at dealing with it. I am by no means perfect and indeed, I find it difficult to take some of the advice I’m dishing out in this post. But hopefully, having all of these tips in one easily-accessible place will remind me that I’m capable of more than I think. And hopefully, the same will go for you!

A small disclaimer before we begin: while I do have a degree in psychology and I am currently studying for my counselling diploma, please do not take my words as gospel. I am more than happy to talk to anyone who wants to reach out to me but please don’t use me as a replacement for your GP ❤

coping when life gets on top of you


Say ‘no’ to things

say no.gif

Getting my most hypocritical advice out of the way first. I absolutely SUCK at saying no. I have been a people-pleaser for as long as I can remember and I will consistently put other people’s needs before my own. I’m starting to realise that this is not healthy and that I can’t help other people if I don’t take care of myself. Sometimes you just have to say no to that blog tour, no to that overtime, no to that social obligation. We are not machines; there is a limit to how much of ourselves we can give. It is so important to make time for yourself (and not feel guilty about it!!)


Make lists

to do list.gif

If, like me, saying no to things doesn’t come easily for you, then make sure you keep yourself organised. I could not function without my daily to-do lists. In fact, I’m so extra that I now have multiple lists for different categories (blogging, studying, adulting, etc.) Sometimes, I can feel totally overwhelmed by everything I need to do and if I don’t get it out of my head and onto paper, I feel like I will explode. I usually make a list before bed of everything I need to do the following day (choosing high priority items from each of the wider category lists). It helps me the following morning to have my tasks already written out in front of me.


Break it down

break it down.gif

As I just mentioned, my to-do lists are these days separated into different categories. However, there are times when this can work against me; seeing EVERYTHING written down in this way can panic me if I’m not having a mentally strong day. When these feelings hit, I try to focus on small steps at a time. Yes, my to-do list may say that I have an essay to write but I might break that down further and say that all I’m going to focus on for now is writing the introduction. I might have 10 book reviews to write but today I’m only going to focus on writing one. Taking things in smaller chunks can make them a little more bearable. And this advice doesn’t just apply to the lists but to life in general. If it makes you anxious to think of everything you’ve got to do in a week, change the way you think about it! Just take it a day at a time. Or an hour at a time if you need to go even smaller. Looking at the big picture can be overwhelming and you don’t need to scare yourself with it unnecessarily.


Take care of your body

goldblum sleep.gif

If your mind is in turmoil, then try to care for your body instead. Be kind to yourself – I’m not suggesting you go for a 4-mile run or book a full-body massage (unless you’re up to that, in which case go for it!) I know I certainly couldn’t face anything like that on days when even getting out of bed is a struggle. You need to be gentle with yourself. Get the rest you need, even if that means sleeping later in the morning or having an afternoon nap. (Again, this is something I struggle with as I always feel like sleeping is not a productive use of my time. But it is so important! Sleep is when the body repairs itself and if you are physically rested, your mind will be in a better position to face the challenges of the day). Try to drink plenty of water and eat little and often. Make sure you take your medication. Brush your teeth, have a shower or a bath. And try to get some natural light if you can.


Talk to someone

talk to dean.gif

It is so important to tell someone how you are feeling. Going back to the people-pleasing, I will very often bottle up my emotions and keep them locked away inside because I feel like people will be upset if I tell them the truth and I don’t want to be that burden on them. But if you aren’t honest with people about what you’re feeling, then they can’t help you to get through it. You will have to continue pushing through alone. And trust me, that’s hard. If you have the courage to tell one person, then that one person may be able to lighten the load for you in ways you wouldn’t have imagined; they may offer you advice that you never would have thought of by yourself or they could brighten your day unexpectedly by sending a message to check how you are. The more people you let in, the more support you have to fall back on.



I hope these tips can help some of you if you feel like you are struggling. The main point I want you to take away is that you don’t have to be on top of things all the time – you are allowed to rest! I’m hoping that by writing this post I’ll have got the message through to my own brain as well.

There may be times when you feel you can’t cope with everything life is throwing at you, but know that it will eventually pass and just try to be gentle with yourself while you go through it all. You are not alone and you can survive this. signature (2)

‘The Secrets We Kept’ spoiler-free review!

Hello my lovelies 🙂 Posting for the second time today, as it is my turn on the blog tour for The Secrets We Kept, a fabulous debut that was sent to me by Hutchinson Books, an imprint of Penguin UK!

the secrets we kept


synopsis

A BANNED MASTERPIECE

1956. A celebrated Russian author is writing a book, Doctor Zhivago, which could spark dissent in the Soviet Union. The Soviets, afraid of its subversive power, ban it.

But in the rest of the world it’s fast becoming a sensation.

TWO FEMALE SPIES

The CIA plans to use the book to tip the Cold War in its favour.

Their agents are not the usual spies, however. Two typists – the charming, experienced Sally and the talented novice Irina – are charged with the mission of a lifetime: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago back into Russia by any means necessary.

A BOOK THAT CHANGED HISTORY

It will not be easy. There are people willing to die for this book – and agents willing to kill for it. But they cannot fail – as this book has the power to change history.


my thoughts

This is such a fabulous debut! I can definitely see this one taking off. Apparently, the movie rights have already been sold and I can see why; I could definitely see this one playing out on the big screen!

Prescott’s writing is confident and assured, with a lovely effortless quality. I devoured this novel in huge chunks because it was just so easy to keep reading. I actually can’t remember the last time a book kept me up so late at night. I feel like the word ‘captivating’ can be overused in book reviewing but it is genuinely the perfect word to use for this book.

The detail in this book is superb and it is clear that Prescott did her research. Despite having never read Doctor Zhivago myself, I never felt like I was missing out on anything because the author brought me into the story of its creation so perfectly. This book really does demonstrate why literature is so important.

As well as the main espionage plot surrounding the secret publication of a banned book, The Secrets We Kept also features various sub-plots, all of which felt well-developed and tied together really nicely. I particularly enjoyed the charmingly bittersweet f/f relationship which was included, as well as the details about Soviet Russia and the Iron Wall.

Overall, this was a fabulous read that I’m really glad I took a chance on. It is slow-paced but never boring and definitely worth a read if you consider yourself a book lover!

the secrets we kept


If you’re interested in finding out what other readers thought of this one, you can follow along with the blog tour!

FINAL The Secrets We Kept BT Poster


The Secrets We Kept is out on September 19th! Will you be picking it up? x
signature (2)