December Wrap Up

December Wrap Up

December was both busy and calm. I know that sounds weird but it was busy because I was trying to get Christmas presents together and I was trying to tie up a few things ready for the Christmas break but it was also calm because December was the only month of 2018 where I haven’t done any studying because I finally passed all my exams. It has been a hell of a year and I won’t lie, I have really struggled but once I put in as much effort as I could, I finally had the results I needed back.

Because I had no exams to revise for, it meant that I was able to read a little more. Ok, it’s not much in comparison to some peoples monthly reading totals, but I’m happy that I managed to read this amount after being in a slump.

With December, I hosted my first readathon, End of Yearathon and I had so much fun. I’m really looking forward to hosting it again with Amanda next year, although it’ll be running from the 26th December – 31st December in 2019, as opposed to 26th Dec-1st Jan like it ran this year!

I did manage to reach my reading goal for the year, which was 40, but only just. I did want to read more in the region of 70 books, but that just wasn’t happening with exams all year.

Monthly reading total: 5 ||  Books this year: 41

It would have been a reading total of 6 for the month, but I ended up going to a friends house for New Years fairly early in the day and so I had to leave the last 40 pages to be read on New Years Day! The plus side of that is that it meant I’ve already added a book to my Goodreads 2019 challenge!

Reading Goals for Last Month:

  1. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  3. The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner
  4. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
  5. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee
  6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Uh…ok. So I read two books from this list in December. That is a little shameful but what can I say? I struggle to stick to monthly TBRs. I do want to get better at sticking to them but I do struggle as sometimes I’m just not in the mood. That being said, I have made a TBR for January.

This Months TBR:

  1. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon – I am planning to pick this one up, but don’t think I’ll finish it until February, which is fine! As long as I pick it up, I’ll be happy as it’s one big chunky book!
  2. Enchantee by Gita Trelease – I picked this one up in the first few days of January, so should have this one finished by the end of the month!
  3. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak – I’ve been wanting to read this one for years, but have never got to it. Is this January going to be the one? Who knows?
  4. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee – I read A Gentleman’s Guide last month so would like to get this series finished!
  5. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor – This was one of the best books I read in 2018 and just ever, so I want to start my year off right by reading this one.
  6. Saga Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan – I think I may have to re-read the first one as I can’t remember that much of what happened but I’d like to read this one.

Not on this list, but a book I am sure I will pick up is The Wicked King by Holly Black because I read it during End of Yearathon and really enjoyed it.

So that’s my wrap up and January 2019 TBR. Let’s see how we do!

What books are on your TBR for January?

What Vicky Did: Harry Potter Studio Tour

I know this post is super late, but I’ll be totally honest. I found it in my drafts and I have no idea why it was never posted!

For my birthday this year, I booked tickets for myself and my boyfriend to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour! Myles isn’t really a Harry Potter fan at all but I used the fact that we were going for my birthday to drag him along. This was my fourth trip to the tour and Myles’ first. With the exception of the second time I visited the tour in June 2013, every time I’ve visited there’s been something new. This time was no different. The last time I went to the studio tour was December 2016 which was just before the addition of the Forbidden Forest was announced. It looks like they’re extending it as there was a lot of construction on the site so I’m sure that I’ll be taking another trip to the studio tour once that’s been added (maybe Hogsmeade village?).

Now I don’t want to spoil the tour for anyone who hasn’t been, but I will be including my own pictures from the tour. There’s currently a Goblet of Fire feature running until September so we luckily got to see that too!

As I visited for my birthday, I was able to open the doors to the Great Hall, starting off the tour. I have been waiting to do that for 6 years since my very first trip so it was so lovely to be able to do that! After that, I took in all of the new props and sets that had been added since my last trip! We actually managed to get round the tour in record time (for me). I guess after four times, you’ve seen most things already but that doesn’t take the magic away at all. I really just love being at the Studio Tour and think it’s such a perfect day out. I could honestly just go back every week!

The Forbidden Forest was added to the tour in 2017 which was after my last trip so this part of the tour was completely new to me. I was unsure of where they would base it but they put it in a good place that flowed well. At the entrance to the Forbidden Forest, they had Hagrid with his lamp waiting to welcome you amongst the trees so that you can meet Buckbeak and the spiders.

Fun fact about the spiders: once I’d finished (embarrassingly) screaming at the shadow of a falling spider and my boyfriend had finished his little ‘I can’t look at it’ speech whilst trying to squeeze behind me past Aragog, one of the tour guides let us into a little secret! The spiders are quite hairy but the hair on their bodies is actually from shaved coconuts that have just been stuck on. It makes them much less scarier when you look at them knowing that!

After we made our way through another set, we came to the Backlot Cafe where we grabbed a Butterbeer and some Butterbeer ice cream. I feel like I’m one of the only people that doesn’t actually mind the Butterbeer. Myles didn’t really like it but never mind! Once we’d finished our Butterbeers, we then went outside to see some of the other sets. I thought I would never see the inside of Privet Drive since I thought they’d only had it open for an event put on previously (Philosopher’s Stone tour edition, I think) but it was open and ready to invite us inside! I was so happy to see that we could go for a wander into No. 4, Privet Drive and see all of the flying letters in the living room.

We then went through the usual sets after that and not a lot has really changed, except for the entrance to Diagon Alley which now has a hat wall leading into it, but things do change – every time I go there’s something different!

After we finished the Studio Tour, we spent a little bit of time in the shop. I already have quite a bit of Harry Potter merchandise and I am rapidly running out of space in my bedroom so it was probably best that I didn’t really buy anything. We did, however, buy some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. I’m not the biggest fan of jelly beans anyway but thought it would be fun for Myles and I to try them. We sat and ate a few in the car park before trying a vomit flavoured one. I actually had to spit it out in the car park because otherwise I was literally going to vomit but Myles powered on like a trooper and ate all of his.

I really enjoyed going to the Studio Tour and I always just feel like I’m in one of my happy places whenever I visit. I love getting my fill of Butterbeer and seeing all the sets, especially when there have been new additions. Hopefully we’ll find out if they’re extending it or not and what they’re adding but whatever it is, I know I’ll be going again!

No matter what happens, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome me, whether it’s by page, screen or studio tour.

Blogmas 2018: Bookish Goals for 2019

Blogmas 2018: Bookish Goals for 2019

Wow, it doesn’t seem that long since I wrote my Bookish Goals for 2018 post. What with us coming to the end of Blogmas, and the end of the year, I thought it best to present to you my goals for 2019.

2018 has been a fairly decent year for me. At the beginning of the year, I went to Iceland to celebrate 5 years with my boyfriend. I saw Taylor Swift and Ed Sheehan live. To be honest, I feel like I’ve mostly just cruised through the year. I’ve had some ups and downs at work and I’ve done the final level of my AAT qualification (hopefully I’ve finished it now) with some fails but other than that, I’ve not done anything life changing.

As you may have seen in my November wrap up post, or on my Twitter if you follow me, I lost my little Casper rabbit on the 18th November. It will be my first Christmas and New Year without him and I’m super sad I won’t be able to see him again or give him his Christmas treats. I live in comfort knowing that he was a happy bunny and that we gave him a decent life during his short time with us.

In terms of reading, I feel like I’ve disappointed myself this year. After reading 60 books last year, I really wanted to read 75 in 2018 but didn’t quite get to that…or anywhere near it.

  1. Read 30 books – In 2018, I set my goal at 40 books and that’s because I knew I’d be studying. I’m due to start another qualification in 2019 that is harder with more pressure so I’ve lowered my goal down to 30 for 2019.
  2. Continue to buy less books – This is something I really need to stick to in 2019. I want to start saving so that I can look to move out in the next few years, so buying less of everything, including books is definitely something I need to do!
  3. Finish series I’ve started – There are so many series that I’ve started that I want to finish. I think I might make duologies that I’ve started a priority as they’re quite quick to finish. But we shall see. I really would like to just marathon a series so that I can finish it, but depending on how long a series is, sometimes you need a break!
  4. Keep up with a reading journal – In 2017, I did a fairly decent job of keeping up with my own reading journal but this year, I have completely fizzled out. I want to start it up again so to motivate myself, I have bought a new notebook to start afresh and some new pens!
  5. Blog more consistently – Posting every day for Blogmas has been tiring and I’ve found coming up with ideas difficult at times but it’s really put into perspective for me how important posting consistently is if you want to grow your blog. Because of this, I want to blog more consistently and just plan my posts better in 2019.
  6. Get involved with the book blogging community more – I would love to increase my interaction with my followers and with bloggers that I follow. Comments are so nice to receive so I’d like to give some out.
  7. Reach 450 blog followers – In 2018, I managed to reach 300 blog followers which I was not expecting at all and it’s all thanks to you guys. In 2019, I would really love to continue to grow my blog and reach 450 followers!

Those are my goals! What goals do you guys have for 2019? I’d love to know what your resolutions are, whether they’re bookish or not!

Blogmas 2018: Jingle Bell Book Tag

Blogmas 2018: Jingle Bell Book Tag

I was tagged to do the Jingle Bell Book Tag, created by Richard, by Ashleigh over at A Frolic Through Fiction. I thought it would be fun to do one last tag before Blogmas is over!

“All I Want For Christmas Is You…” | What book do you want to see under the Christmas Tree?

I know that I am getting Vicious and Vengeful by V. E. Schwab but I’d love to see The Poppy War under the tree. I asked my boyfriend for this one so I’m really hoping I get it! This is the first Christmas that I haven’t asked for loads of books, mostly because I have a very extensive list of books that I need to get through!

“Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time…” | What book that you have read this year have you enjoyed the most?

I’ve enjoyed quite a few books this year but I particularly enjoyed Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. I’d fully recommend that book. It’s a fantasy with plenty of action and it’s quite fast paced.

“It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” | Which book has the most festive look to it?

Definitely my copy of A Christmas Carol. It is quite chunky and has several Christmas stories in it. I’ll only be reading one this year which is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, but maybe next year I’ll read another one from it!

Elf | What book unleashes your inner child?

Probably Harry Potter. It’s not that it exactly releases my inner child but it does remind me of being younger as I grew up with the movies and the books. I do actually want to re-read these books in 2019 but we’ll see about that!

The Grinch | Your favourite villain…

I don’t know if I really have a favourite villain. Can I say I don’t have one? I genuinely can’t think of a villain that I like. I think Harry Potter has quite a few villains but I wouldn’t say that any of them are my favourite! The one villain I do hate is Umbridge!

The Holiday | Name your favourite TWO couples…

Ok, obviously Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell from Stalking Jack the Ripper. I’d probably also say Lazlo and Sarai from Strange the Dreamer as I’m still reading that one. I’d also say Simon and his partner (not saying because I feel like everyone who hasn’t read this needs to read the big reveal themselves) from Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I know that’s three but I’m still deciding between the last two!

What book would you like to give as a present to your followers?

Right now, I’d probably gift Strange the Dreamer as that’s the book I’m currently reading and enjoying! I’d also gift Stalking Jack the Ripper, although that’s not very festive but it is a favourite of mine and I want to push it into as many peoples hands as possible!

I tag:

Kate @ Reading Through Infinity

Beth @ BooksNest

Hollie @ Hollieblog

Kirsty @ The Bibliophile Girl UK

Mia @ The Cosy Reader

Blogmas 2018: Five Books to Read Before the Year Ends

Blogmas 2018: Five Books to Read Before the Year Ends

With just over a week left of 2018, I thought I would list out 5 books to read before the year ends. These books were not all released in 2018, but they are books I would definitely recommend. You could even choose one of these to fit one of the challenges for End of Yearathon if you’re joining in on it!

  1. To All The Boys I’ve Love Before by Jenny Han – This contemporary is a very fast read and it’s so cute. The movie came out on Netflix in August so once you’ve read this one, you can watch the movie!
  2. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – I absolutely flew through this book. The writing is great, Simon is a good character to follow and just the storyline of this book is fab. I really enjoyed this one and it can definitely be read in one sitting!
  3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – This book is a little longer than the previous two, but it is a compelling and important read that I think everyone should experience. I don’t know about you, but I usually fly through contemporaries so this one could definitely be read quite quickly.
  4. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi – A 2018 release and again, longer than the first two books but it’s a really great fantasy that is definitely worth reading. I fully recommend this book!
  5. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – This book is a last minute winner of 2018 for me. This is easily one of the best books I’ve read. It’s taken me a little longer than I wanted to read it, but I feel like it’s just so amazing. It’s magical and the writing is lovely.

What books would you recommend be read before 2018 is over?

Blogmas 2018: Five Disappointing Books of 2018

Blogmas 2018: Five Disappointing Books of 2018

I’ve not read many books in 2018, but I have still managed to pull together some books for this list. When looking through my list of books read this year, I realised that there haven’t been many that I really loved. I am wondering if this is due to the fact that I’ve had a fairly slumpy year, or if the fact that I’ve read quite a few disappointing reads is the reason that I’ve actually been in a slump! Hopefully 2019 will be a much better reading year!

These five books were all disappointing for varying reasons.

  1. The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill – I was expecting a gorgeous story from this one, but ended up being quite disappointed. It was a feminist retelling of The Little Mermaid which I was excited to read but it just felt like it lacked so much.
  2. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli – We’d already met the main character of this story in Simon so I was expecting to end up liking Leah more after reading her story but I just didn’t find her to be that likeable still.
  3. A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas – There is no link for a review for this one as I felt like it just wasn’t worth reviewing. I was excited for this book as it follows the events of A Court of Wings and Ruin but it seriously lacked any sort of storyline. It was more as a ‘Two months later’ kind of thing but it just didn’t add anything to the series.
  4. The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross – This was a big disappointment. Riding off the back of the hype of Beauty and the Beast last year, I think this book may have come out in the wrong year for starters. This book was a big disappointment and I just found it difficult to get through.
  5. Hamilton and Peggy! by L. M. Elliott – I was so excited to read this one as I went to see Hamilton in London this year, so I was really in a Hamilton mood, but this was just so boring. I was intrigued to see how the story of Hamilton and Peggy would be told as there’s not much written or explored regarding their relationship, but this just did not capture my attention at all.

What was the most disappointing book you read this year?

Blogmas 2018: End of Yearathon TBR

Blogmas 2018: End of Yearathon TBR

With just under a week to go until the start of End of Yearathon, I thought I’d tell you guys what’s on my list of books to read for the readathon!

End of Yearathon is new for this year and is starting on the 26th December and running until the 1st January 2019. It’s up to you when you start on the 26th December, it could be midnight or it could be when you wake up. This readathon is meant to be about getting in those last few books before the year is up but it’s also meant to be fun!

I’m super excited to be hosting my very first Readathon and am really hoping to read all of the books that are on my TBR.

For End of Yearathon, I’ve based my TBR around the challenges we’ve chosen. Here’s what I’m planning to read!

Read A Book Released In 2018

  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – I pre-ordered this book and yet I still haven’t read it. I definitely want to read it before 2018 is over, especially since I’m going to the Holly Black and Cassandra Clare signing in February 2019!

Read A Book With Christmas Colours On The Cover

  • Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James – This book has both gold and red on it, and if you look underneath the dust jacket, there’s even a little bit of green! This is a children’s book so it should be a relatively fast read…I hope!

Read A Book In A Series

  • I’m going with Victoria Schwab’s Vicious for this one because I know that I am getting this one for Christmas, but also because I know that it is a series I can finish off fairly quickly as it only has two books!

Read A Book With More Than 400 Pages

  • I received an ARC of Enchantee by Gita Release in the post this month and it’s a book I’m super excited for. I didn’t want to go for a book that completely oversteps 400 pages as I want to make sure I get through all of the books on my TBR, so this one is definitely a good pick.

Read A Book Released Before 2018

  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – This book now has two other books in the series and I am still yet to read it, as per usual. It’s on my Winter TBR so this is the perfect opportunity to read it as it’ll knock it off my Winter TBR and it’ll complete a readathon challenge!

BONUS BOOKS:

I received Saga Volume 2 & 3 for my birthday in July but haven’t read them yet. If I do get chance, I would like to re-read Volume 1 before reading both Volume 2 & 3.

So that’s my TBR for End of Yearathon! I hope plenty of you will be joining us for this – I’m excited but nervous to see how it will go! There will be reading sprints throughout the readathon, so make sure you follow both myself and Amanda on twitter for those!

Are you joining in on our readathon? What do you plan to read for it? Let me know below because I’d love to know what you guys are reading!

If you’re doing your own blog post on your TBR for End of Readathon, make sure you link me to it as I’d love to read it!