First Chapters – Deciding My Holiday TBR

Book spines - The Magicians by Lev Grossman, The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood, Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor, The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, And I Darken by Kiersten White and I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Way back in January, I was shocked to find myself part of a family-holiday-booking process, something I’ve never done before. And as of right now – the very day this blog post goes up, in fact – I will be on my first holiday abroad. Who’d have thought?

So of course my biggest dilemma for the past couple of months has been trying to decide which books to take with me.** I very rarely read the “typical” holiday reads – contemporaries, romances, crime novels etc – and so there wasn’t a particular mood to go for when plucking books off my shelves. So I decided to follow Hannah’s idea (A Cup of Wonderland), and decided my reads based on the first chapters. I vastly underestimated how long it would take me to read the first chapters of 10 books and started cheating a little by not reading the entire first chapter of some (I mean, some book chapters can be a solid 50 pages long! No thanks), but either way I eventually whittled it down to 6 books, which is hugely ambitious considering I’m a slow reader and will only be there 10 days. But better to be prepared, right?

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(A little bit later than) Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

pile of books thrown down

This is what happens when you’re an indecisive human. You’re at first adamant you won’t be doing any mid year reading updates on your blog or booktube, but then suddenly, somehow, you end up doing two – one on each. I’ve been loving reading/watching everyone else’s updates, so I couldn’t resist really. I was tagged to do this one by Jess over at Read By Jess, and also the Mid Year Check In Tag by Jasmine over at Jasmine’s Reads, so I decided to spread them across the two platforms. Since the Freak Out tag is the longer one, it’s making its appearance on my blog! If you want to check out the other one too – some of the questions are similar but there are some different ones too! – you can click here. But, anyway, let’s have a lil mid year catch up!

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Fantasy & Myths | My favourite books of 2018 so far

High angle showing an assortment of my favourite books of 2018 so far - the covers hidden - and my travel journal for decoration

Apparently, I’ve become a harsher reviewer in 2018. I say this because now we’re in the 7th month of the year, and I haven’t rated any books 5 stars yet. None. Zero. Zilch. Why?? It’s true, I’m reluctant to give anything less than a newfound all-time fave 5 stars, but you’d figure that somewhere in the 35 books I’ve read so far this year, I’d have found one. It seems not.

Despite this, there are a few that have still stood out to me this year and have gotten close to those treasured 5 stars. I don’t think anyone will be surprised to see there’s a theme of fantasy and ancient history. But these four books are the ones currently in the running for my favourites of 2018…unless I miraculously discover a whole suitcase full of new favourites in the next 5 months between now and the end of the year. But here, (a little over) halfway through, we have my current highlights!

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June // Travels, cat thiefs and living in a YA contemporary

Photo of me stood in woodland against a wood barrier overlooking a river

June…has been a busy one. By my standards, at least. To this anxiety ridden introvert who used to need as much time alone as she did around people, this month has been intense. To be honest, my scheduling still is intense, but maybe I’m getting used to it now.

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Where am I at? | A look on my 2018 goals so far

Photo of me smiling, looking off to the left

So we’re halfway through the year, eh? It took me way too long to realise this, though while it seems to have surprised most people, it sounds about right to me. So much has happened and changed since the beginning of the year that I couldn’t even predict, so the months seem like a full year to me already.

That being said, 6 months ago I unintentionally made myself some goals for this year. By now they’re usually long forgotten, brushed into the attic of my mind only to be tentatively brought out again next year with a guilt shrug of “I tried” when we all know I really, really didn’t. And as I said before when so much has already changed this year…well, I’m intrigued to see how things have gone. So let’s have a little look.

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Penguin Moderns: Part 2 | The one where things are lost

Three Penguin Moderns - Till September Petronella by Jean Rhys, Africa's Tarnished Name by Chinua Achebe and The Missing Girl by Shirley Jackson

Back in March I introduced this new mini-review series for the Penguin Modern Classics, a collection of tiny pocket-sized modern classics sold for just £1. Having quite a few of these, I decided to review them in groups of three – and today we finally have the second post, the one where things are lost. Somehow – despite choosing them in a completely random order – I’ve managed to find a common theme for each post so far (the first one being “the death episode”) and today’s is very much about what is lost in their story. So we have The Missing Girl, the lost thing in this book being pretty obvious, Africa’s Tarnished Name, discussing the lost culture and accurate representation of Africa, and Till September Petronella, following women who feel lost in their worlds. What you will find, however, is my thoughts on these books below…

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How Blogging Helped Me Deal With Grief

heart hand

So…we have a little something different today guys. Something more personal, written by a guest, and something I feel the need to help share.

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All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth | Don’t let the rainbow cover deceive you

Inside cover of All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth, photo for the book review

Goodreads | Book Depository

Don’t let the rainbow cover deceive you; this book is far from the happy-go-lucky story you might expect. Following Charlie Calloway in her Junior year at high school, things gradually begin to turn serious as she’s offered the chance to join secret – though dangerous – exclusive society, dubbing her as one of the elite. When things turn darker and a family secret is unexpectedly involved, the mystery needs to unravel for Charlie to know where she stands.

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April & May | Things are looking up (if “up” comes with a dose of “scary”)

A candid photo of me laughing, stood in front of a wall of flowers

April and May, what an intense couple of months you were.

April is barely a memory to me, this mind of mine having blanked the majority of it out due to sheer stress at all times. I know the facts: two essays to write – one of which being completely rewritten a few days before hand in – and an exam to revise for all in the same week. A summer placement to nervously apply for. Grades from previous essays coming back left right and centre. My brain feeling a constant pressure I attempted to keep at bay. But for the most part, it feels almost like April didn’t happen, this weird disconnection taking over and allowing me to run on autopilot. So there’s not much to say on that month (hence the lack of a monthly update back then).

Well, as stressful as April proved to be, I had plenty to look forward to going into May.

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Scythe by Neal Shusterman | Utopia has its problems…

Scythe

Goodreads | Book Depository •

In a world where natural death has been eradicated and immortality is a standard expectation from life, Citra and Rowan are chosen as apprentice scythes – scythes being professional killers chosen to keep the population at bay. Thrown into a morbid world forever testing their morals, we learn about this new world order as we watch the two train for the hardest job of their lives.

Continue reading Scythe by Neal Shusterman | Utopia has its problems…