July 2019 || Wrap Up

July 2019 || Wrap Up

July came and went so quickly! I’m not sure if it’s because I had both my birthday and YALC to look forward in the middle and end of the month, but the month just flew by and now it’s August already. Time is moving way too quickly this year!

I won’t lie, the first half of July was fairly boring as I just worked and studied. oh, and I started packing for YALC at the beginning of July because I was excited but also because I wanted the books I was taking down with me out the way. As mentioned already, it was my birthday on the 19th July so I had the day off work for that as it was on a Friday this year. Any excuse for a day off work and I’m there. I went to Bletchley Park with my parents and then went for a meal with my parents, sister and boyfriend. It was quite a nice day, despite the fact it rained for the majority of the day. It was really interesting to go to see where the Codebreaking in WW2 took place, especially as one of my final year University essays for my History degree was based on Bletchley Park.

After my birthday, I then headed down to London for YALC on the Wednesday afternoon. I was staying with my friends Amy, Christine and Melissa and we decided earlier this year that we would go down a day earlier than usual so that we could go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour on the Thursday. This was my fifth visit to the tour but the first time seeing the new Gringotts expansion. It was such a fun day but it was also the second hottest day on record in the UK so I was very thankful for aircon in the tour. It was then YALC for the rest of the weekend and then I returned back home on Monday.

YALC was extra special for me this year as I met three members of the cast of Harry Potter. It’s been 10 years since I became a full-on Potterhead and so it’s really quite fitting that this is the year I finally got to meet some of the cast. I had my Philosopher’s Stone signed by both Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) and Devon Murray (Seamus Finnigan) but I also met and shook hands with Jason Isaacs as Sammy got her book signed by him too. Just honestly, what a time to be alive.

So onto reading! July was an exceptionally good reading month for me, despite the fact I don’t really feel like I read much at all. I ended up reading a total of 8 books which is unexpected but also something I am very happy about. I know I won’t be reading as much as I did n July this month due to an upcoming exam but I already knew that would be the case anyway. I do have plans to read 4/5 books though, but we shall see. Like I said, I have an exam and that is my priority this month! I wonder if I can count my text book towards my Goodreads goal…

Monthly Reading Total: 8 ||  Total Books Read In 2019: 40/30


Reading Goals for Last Month:

  1. S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett
  2. We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
  3. A Girl Called Shameless by Laura Steven
  4. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

What I Actually Read:

  1. S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett ★★
  2. Book Love by Debbie Tung ★★★★★
  3. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh ★★★.5
  4. The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh ★★★.5
  5. Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia ★★★
  6. Heartstopper Vol. 2 by Alice Oseman ★★★★★
  7. Becoming the Dark Prince by Kerri Maniscalco ★★★★
  8. A Girl Called Shameless by Laura Steven ★★★★

This month I almost read every single book on my TBR. I was so, so close but missed out by one book although I am 100 pages through it so I guess not all is completely lost. It’s annoying because my TBR for July actually wasn’t that big but I did end up reading a lot of shorter books instead because that’s just what I fancied. I’m also finding We Hunt the Flame to have quite a long start up which is why I didn’t complete it this month.

July TBR:

  1. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
  2. Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff
  3. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  4. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

I’m participating in N.E.W.T.’s this month which I have never done before. I didn’t actually complete my O.W.L.’s in July, however I have given myself the benefit of the doubt as 1.) I was only one book away from completing them 2.) Had started the book before the end of July and 3.) I was away for YALC for 5 days and so that was 5 days out of the month for me as I don’t usually read anything over the YALC weekend!

What was your favourite read of July? What books are on your TBR for August? Are you participating in the N.E.W.T.’s?

WWW Wednesday || 31/7

WWW Wednesday || 31/7

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted Taking on a World of Words that I thought would be fun to get involved with. It involves answering three WWW questions about recent reads.

I was away from Wednesday to Monday for YALC this week so I haven’t actually read very much this week! The last two years that I’ve been to YALC, I’ve always ended up in a slump so I’m hoping that won’t be the case this year as I do feel more motivated to read however, I did pick up some illness from YALC so haven’t done any reading since I got back because of it! Let’s hope this next week is better than the one just gone!

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading We Hunt the Flame still. As I was away last week, I didn’t read anymore of it. I’ve also picked up Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and a graphic novel due out later this year called Mooncakes!

What did you recently finish reading?

I finished A Girl Called Shameless by Laura Steven on the train to and from London. I saved it especially for my journey down and also managed to get this one signed at YALC.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I really don’t know at the moment. I’ve got a couple of books on my August TBR but need to sit down and look at it properly so that I can plan my N.E.W.T.’s TBR. I also have an exam coming up in the next 3 weeks, so my TBR is really dependant on what I think I’ll actually be able to read whilst also revising for my exam!

What are you reading this week?

How I Organise my Reading Journal

How I Organise my Reading Journal

I recently wrote a tweet asking if anyone would be interested in an updated reading journal post and response was fairly overwhelming and positive so here I am. I wrote a post back in 2017 about my reading journal at the time and whilst my lay out hasn’t changed that much, I’ve found that the way I am keeping track now has improved since and it is prettier.

Please don’t judge me for my lack of creativity because I am definitely not the most creative person (despite the fact I did Art at GCSE) and my handwriting isn’t the best so apologies in advance for my bad presentation skills but ya know, I’m working on it. I want to have prettier journal spreads as I definitely feel like they encourage me to use my journal more.

So planning my journal. Well, I’ve gathered my ideas for my journal over the last few years and if I’ve seen anybody else using or doing something in their journal that I like, I’ve added that to my list of inspiration. Of course, when I started creating my own reading journal over 2 years ago now (I tried to keep one in 2016) I had my own ideas but if I do see someone doing something I like then I definitely will incorporate that.

So the picture as this post header is the front page of my reading journal. It’s quite simple because I don’t use it that often but I did add a little open book sticker which I bought on Etsy from LondonGifties a little while back. I’m actually looking to buy a new planner for next year as the pages in this one are fairly yellow but that’s something I’ll be looking into ready for 2020 as we’re half way through the year and I don’t want to waste my current planner.

So the next pages you see when you open my reading journal is my Series to finish page. This includes the series I want to finish this year and the Shadowhunters books, which I want to try and tick off more books from because man, there are a lot.

As you can see, I have these boxes next to the books which I just mark off when I’ve read the books. I’m hoping to see the majority of the series on these pages completed by the end of 2019.

After my Series page, I then have my ‘Books Read in 2019’ page and my 2019 Goals. As you can see, I’m filling in the boxes on my ‘Books Read’ page so I can keep track of my reading throughout the year.

On my 2019 goals page, I’ve only got a few goals for the year but as you can see, I’ve already been able to fill in the heart next to 30 books so I’ve completed that one already! I then just have a few other goals for 2019 that I haven’t got to yet but hopefully they should all be complete by the end of the year.

In June, I made more of an effort to work on the spread and I’ve definitely used it more, updating it every time I’ve finished a book. This is the first month I’ve had a proper theme and although it is fairly subtle, I really like it.

As you can see, I have my TBR on one side and then listed all the books I read in the month on the other side, including a total at the top for the full amount of books read.

For June, I decided to go for a rainbow theme for Pride month and I really love how it looks. My spreads can alway be better, but I’m fairly happy with how it turned out because it’s the first month I’ve started to really put more effort into my spreads.

I am working on my spreads every month and definitely want to keep improving with them. I’m already planning to add a favourite books of the month section. As you can see, I’ve already done my July spreads but I’m planning to make August sun-themed because it’s Summer! We’ll see how that goes..

For my July spread, I decided to make the spread cover two pages rather than one. As you can see, on the left side, I have a page for my blog posts where I can record which ones need to go up in the month. On the right side, I have my TBR. I have since added to it with my O.W.L.’s TBR, but it’s including two of the books from my TBR anyway. On turning the page, you’ll just be able to see a list of the books I’ve read at the end of the month. That also takes up two pages, which I know I won’t fill with just my books read so I’m thinking of doing a mini reflection on the month including my favourite book of the month, least enjoyed book of the month, etc.

So that’s really it with my reading journal for the moment. Like I said earlier, I’m trying to improve my spreads as I want to be able to look back at the end of the year and enjoy looking at the books I’ve read and the page designs. They’re definitely improving every month so that’ll also be nice to see at the end of the year.

I’d be really interested to hear if you use a reading journal and to see how you lay it out. I’d also be super happy if you do find any of this useful or if you’ve taken inspiration or ideas from this, so do please let me know!

Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

 

 

Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

Author: Holly Jackson

Pages: 432

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Published: 2019

Source: ARC from YALC 2018 (Also bought)

Rating: ★★★★★


The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?


I heard about A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder just before YALC last year and heard that there would be early copies available. As the genre of this book is YA mystery, I knew that I had to get my hands on it and I was one of the lucky lot that did. It took me three days of chasing Holly down to get this but it was absolutely worth it. As it wasn’t out until May this year, I decided to not pick it up until closer to the time of its release. I know, I know, I had a copy so early that I had the opportunity to read it before everybody else but I just wanted to read it closer to its release date.

I read this book a few months back now over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend actually, which was in April. It’s taken me a little while getting to review it but that absolutely isn’t a reflection of how much I enjoyed this book. In fact, I read this book in 5-6 hours and that should give you more of an idea of how much I enjoyed this book. It is definitely a 5-star read but if I could, I would give it more.

Thoughts

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder follows Pippa as she does her final year project on the murder of And Bell, a girl from the same small town as Pippa, Little Kilton. Pippa believes that Sal has been wrongly accused of her murder and starts her own investigation into the case where she ends up discovering some dark truths.

As this book hadn’t yet been released, there wasn’t a lot of hype surrounding it and so that meant I went into it without the opinions of others which I quite liked. It meant that I could go into this book with little to no expectations and see how much I really liked it. As I mentioned earlier, I read this book in 5-6 hours and pretty much in one sitting. That is how much I enjoyed it. There was so much suspense and I just really wanted to keep reading to find out more. It was an exciting and thrilling read that I throughly enjoyed.

The writing is mostly told from Pippa’s perspective, but there is the inclusion of forms like Pippa’s final year project form and other things like that which help to break the book up but also help to tell the story a little bit more as you are given factual information. I quite liked Holly’s style of writing and found that in this book, it was quite fast paced and consistent all the way through, both having helped me to read this book so quickly.

In this book, we follow our main character Pippa who ends up focusing the majority of her time on this project, with the help of Sal Singh’s younger brother, who is desperate for answers. I quite enjoyed Pippa’s character. She’s a straight A-student with a few friends and a good family around her. She is an easily likeable character and very good at investigating into things further, being able to see things that others may not. She’s also a compassionate character but can get frustrated at times when trying to get answers in uncomfortable situations. Pippa does get a bit consumed with the project as the book goes on, but I think that the reader also becomes that way inclined as, like Pippa, you want answers. I quite liked Pippa’s family who were quite supportive of her.

I also quite liked Ravi, Sal Singh’s younger brother. Pippa has a lot of dealings with him throughout this story as he looks for answers about his brother and you can really sympathise with him and his family in this book, as they feel shut out from the Little Kilton community after their son and brother has been accused of murder.

This book was just so full of suspense and it’s just so, so good. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is such a great addition to the ever growing YA Mystery genre, a genre that I have been loving over the last year and have been eager to find more books that come under it. This is also a UKYA book which is great as I definitely want to make an effort to read more books by UKYA authors.

Final Thoughts

I would absolutely recommend picking up A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. It’s full of twists and turns and I read it so quickly. It really does capture you from the first page and it doesn’t let go of you until its ended. We definitely need an expansion of the YA mystery genre and this is such a great addition to it which I really do wish more people would pick up. It is such a thrilling read and a solid debut. I am most definitely looking forward to seeing more of Holly’s writing in the future.

WWW Wednesday || 24/7

WWW Wednesday || 24/7

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted Taking on a World of Words that I thought would be fun to get involved with. It involves answering three WWW questions about recent reads.

I’ve been waiting literally all year for this weekend coming and it’s almost here! I’m actually heading down to London today ready for YALC this weekend. But first, I’m going to the Harry Potter Studio Tour for my fifth visit, but it’s my first going with friends. I’m so excited! I went almost exactly a year ago for my birthday, which you can find my post on here, and since, they’ve added the Gringotts Bank section so I’m really looking forward to seeing that.

So, I’m away from today and then I’m going back home on Monday morning, so I doubt I’ll actually get a lot of reading done but I’m planning to read on the train to and from London, so at least there’s that!

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading We Hunt the Flame which I wanted to have read before I went away for YALC but I was so busy this weekend just gone what with it being my birthday! I’m also reading A Girl Called Shameless by Laura Steven as the author will be at YALC this weekend so I’m reading it on the train down to London.

What did you recently finish reading?

I’ve not finished anything this week, sadly!

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m planning to read either Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid or Nevernight by Jay Kristoff which will be a reread for me! Of course, it depends what I pick up at YALC as there might be books I get there that are more of a priority!

What are you reading this week?

Review: The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Review: The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

 

Title: The Kingdom

Author: Jess Rothenberg

Pages: 352

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Published: 2019

Source: ARC (I received a copy from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review)

Rating: ★★★


The Kingdom is a place where technology helps dreams come to life. Formerly extinct species roam the park, and twelve beautiful ‘Fantasists’ – half-human, half-android princesses – entertain visitors and make wishes come true. But this fairytale ends in murder, and now Ana, one of the twelve Fantasists, is in the dock after finding herself experiencing emotions and romantic feelings against all her programming . . .
Told through court testimony, interrogation records, film footage, eye-witness accounts and fragmented flashbacks.

You may think you’ve heard of The Kingdom before, well you probably have but it’s wearing a different cover. The US edition and the UK edition do have different covers that are quite different to each other. The US edition looks fairly different, as you can see.

I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t have much of an idea of what The Kingdom was about prior to reading it other than what I got from the blurb. What intrigued me was the fact that the plot is told via various methods with court testimonies, interrogation records and flashbacks being the main methods used. I find books that are set out this way to be fairly quick but also that they keep you guessing!

Thoughts

In this book, we follow Princess Ana who is a Fantasist which means she is half-human, half-cyborg. It follows her mostly through the flashbacks that make up the majority of this book. As already mentioned, the book is also told via court testimonies and interrogation records as there has been a murder. Through these different ways of story telling, we find out a lot of information about The Kingdom itself and it’s Fantasists.

This book hasn’t had a big hype around it but I definitely feel like all the reviews I have seen of it have been really positive, so I was a little disappointed to find that I just didn’t love it the same. However, I do think that’s more me than the book itself. Sci-fi isn’t usually a genre that I read that much of, especially books that are set in Space or books set in a very technological future which is the section of Sci-fi I would definitely group this book into.

The writing of this book was interesting. As mentioned a few times now, it’s told via various different methods and that made it quite a quick read. I think my favourite parts of the book to read were the court testimonies and interrogation records. I did also like the flashback scenes because they offered more information but I did find some of them to read a little bit slow at times. The writing was quite easy to read though and the pacing was fairly consistent through most of the flashback scenes. Of course, the shorter interrogation records and court testimonies read much faster.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really connect with the characters of this book. It’s odd because I felt like the characters weren’t really human at all, what with the fact that they definitely felt more programmable rather than capable of feeling things. Although, I did feel like the systems started to get overridden over the course of the book. I guess the thing is, I didn’t really care all that much for Ana, the main character. Throughout this book, she is learning new things about the world all the time, despite never having seen it. Some of her sisters are also the same, what with learning the truth about a world that they have never been able to see. It was interesting to see the characters learn about things, but at the same time, I did just feel like I didn’t really care about the characters all that much.

The world was quite easy to get to grips with. The Kingdom, to me, was a more futuristic version of Disney World, what with a Castle and the monorail, it was definitely giving me Disney vibes and so because of that, I found it quite easy to imagine the setting. Because I had his image in my head, I did like the world because I do like Disney World. The setting is quite important to the story because it is where the majority of the book takes place, save for the court and interrogation sessions.

The themes of this book are quite clearly technology and how it could advance, but also the uglier side to it and the humans that create it. This book does show both the good things that could come of it and the bad. It’s interesting in that respect because The Kingdom is something that could realistically become a reality in our ever-changing and ever-growing, technological world.

Final Thoughts

I’m still not sure The Kingdom was quite the book for me, but I know that lots of people have really enjoyed this book and so I know that the book isn’t really the issue, it’s just that it’s not really my kind of thing. I would recommend it if you are into Disney and books with futuristic vibes as this definitely has both of those.

How to Get Yourself Organised for YALC

How to Get Yourself Organised for YALC

Being organised for YALC is fairly important to making sure you see every panel you want to attend, meeting your favourite authors and getting all your books signed. Last year was the first year I was properly organised and for me, it worked incredibly well. It is fairly simple but quite effective and this year I’ve been trying to think of ways to improve it but genuinely, it’s a good system that I’m absolutely doing again this year and I’ve already began the organisation process.

So to help myself become more organised, I created three separate notes on the Notes app on my phone, each note representing the days of the con (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). I then pulled up the YALC site which has the programme for the weekend on it (you can find the 2019 programme here). The programme is split into Friday, Saturday and Sunday so using these, I then wrote on each note which author’s I wanted to see, including the times.

As you can see from the note to the left, I wrote in the books I wanted to take by each author. This is really helpful for in the evenings as it means I can organise myself really quickly for the next day rather than stressing or potentially forgetting which books I need to take with me.

I then wrote down the Panels that I wanted to attend. This year, I’m not sure I’ll be attending that many panels, if any at all, as I personally prefer browsing the stands and speaking with friends, but who knows!

Now onto the next section, ARCs. This isn’t a section that you can do every year at YALC. Last year I was able to do this thanks to this blog post put together by some fantastic bloggers (Check out Jenniely’s blog for it this year). I can’t even explain how helpful it was to have this available to us prior to the weekend. Having this list meant that I was able to get even more organised as I could make sure I was where I needed to be for when ARCs went out, or for when raffles and competitions were going on.

Thanks to the blog post, I was able to research many of the books that were being given out prior to the event so I could make sure I was only really going to the books I wanted. In 2017, I came back with so much stuff that I genuinely struggled to get it all home so I wanted to be more selective in 2018. I’m definitely going to be even more selective this year and make sure I only pick up books that I really want or I know I will definitely be interested in and pick up.

When organising myself for the ARC drops, I made sure to include the times, the booths and the book so that I was fully prepared. I actually copied all the information about the books I wanted from the blog post onto one big note and then separated that one out onto my individual day posts.

As well as ARCs on the blog list, there was also mentions of samplers that were going out. I’m not sure if I’ll be adding this section in for 2019 as I don’t really read samplers that often. They are nice to have and can be really useful if you’re unsure whether to buy a book and want a taster for it, but I do find that I end up picking them up and then not reading them and they do take up space in my case which I could be using for more books. But, just because I don’t really want to pick up samplers this year, that doesn’t mean that you can’t see how I organised for them last year.

As you can see for last year, I had a separate section for samplers and I did end up picking up quite a few. I mean, this sampler list is just from Friday. I do believe I picked up all the samplers on this list and (contrary to what I said earlier), I did actually read quite a few of them.

Throughout the weekend, you’ll probably pick up all of the samplers that you want, but it can be nice to spread them out which is what I did over the weekend so that I wasn’t carrying a tonne of samplers round on just one day.

As you can see at the bottom of this picture, there is a heading for Finished Copies and that’s because My Kinda Book were doing a giveaway for Three Dark Crowns which I was able to get a copy of. It’s useful to note down the times of when finished copies are being giveaway.

As well as the ‘Finished Copies’ heading, last year I also had a heading for ‘Other’. This is because My Kinda Book had a small event where you could have your lips done in a funky design and they were giving away cupcakes. If you know me, you’ll know I’m a sucker for just food in general, especially book themed food so I just had to note that down as something that was happening.

So that’s how I organised myself last year. This year, I am organising myself fairly similarly. I am aware that another YALC 2019 Ultimate Guide shall be going up within the week of YALC, so once that is up, my notes for each day will absolutely be updated to include any ARCs, samplers or other things going on.

To the left is what my Notes for each day currently look like. As you can see, I’ve separated out which books I need to take from the authors just because I do have multiples for some authors so it’s easier to look at it in a list like this. Other than that, my organisation system has stayed the same as last years.

I really hope that you’ll find this useful is you’re struggling to get organised for YALC. There’s still plenty of time to get organised and please feel free to use this system. It’s so handy as everything is on your phone which you’ll need anyway for any tweets that the publishers put out about any giveaways!

Don’t forget to check out my post from last week where I share my YALC top tips!