What’s this? What’s this?

What’s this? What’s this? There’s colour everywhere
If you’re not now singing What’s This? from The Nightmare Before Christmas then I simply don’t know what to tell you.

But yes, what is this you may ask, is it a blog post, Emma? Yes! Is it a triumphant return to this blog? Have we kissed COVID-19 and working from home and a worldwide pandemic that only showcases global inequalities more? Are things back to some kind of ‘normal’? No! Far from it! But I have decided that I would like to re-focus and, perhaps, re-prioritise reading again.

As I mentioned in my last post way back in May 2020, COVID-19 and the subsequent work-from-home mandate shook up every part of my routine. As an extremely introverted person, people assumed lockdown would be fine for me. It wasn’t. The little social interaction I previously got from having to get up and get on a train and go to work five days a week in an office was removed from my life entirely and I realised very little remained in my life. Every day since then has felt like a groundhog day and, I’m not going to sugarcoat it, 2020 and 2021 have probably been some of the worst years of my life, an opinion that I know isn’t uncommon. Will 2022 be any better? Well I just don’t know, I hope so, but I’m not an optimistic person as a rule, especially when us all getting through this relies on humanity and compassion and common sense which, I think we all suspect, is hard to come by in some camps.

So, I don’t know what 2022 will bring, or if it will be any better, I don’t know if my anxiety or depression will get worse, or if I’ll learn to manage them better, but what I do know and can control is the fact that I would like to read again. And I would like to talk about my reading on this blog because I think that will help me. Maybe it will also be mildly entertaining for anyone reading it too? I hope so. So you might see some reconstruction going on whilst I figure out a fresh layout and graphics and way of doing things, a bit of a Spring clean but in December, because that makes total sense to me.

So, until my next post (when maybe I’ll feature some of my favourite books that I did manage to read this year), please stay safe and well and keep reading.

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Reading in the Time of Corona

2020 has not been a great year for reading so far. It just has not been in my priority. Between bereavement at the start of the year (expected, but still shakes up the routine), feeling overwhelmed with work and then, the big one, COVID-19, 2020 is not going to be a very good reading year.

This blog has been practically inactive, and you’ve probably noticed the lack of at the very least my monthly wrap-up posts, though I did manage to perk up in April to take part in the OWLs Readathon, which I’m really glad about. I still watch BookTube, but to a lesser extent than I used to and it all feels a little unsteady at the moment anyway. I still participate in Lauren and the Books’ low-key reading evening ‘Cosy Reading Night’ every so often. But I’m just not seeking out readalongs and readathons with quite as much gusto as I used to.

It’s easy to blame coronavirus. Every other part of life has been disrupted by this pandemic, so why not reading? At first, I actually felt a strange sense of detachment and guilt when it came to this. Because I’m an introvert who was told to stay indoors, to work from home, to not see people… surely that should be my jam? But, no, what it did instead was ruined the work/life balance, made creating any sense of routine difficult, obliterated pre-set ‘reading time’ (i.e. my commute and lunch breaks), and made all the days blur into one.

Surprisingly, I think it’s the last one that’s actually the reason why I haven’t been reading very consistently. Nowadays, three days can pass before I realise that I haven’t so much as touched a book. And, for me, a perpetual book nerd and someone who very much identifies as a reader, this has been the most shocking thing.

At first I felt a sense of guilt about it. Because I was seeing all these people on social media who were tearing through books, who (in that sense only) were “thriving” in lockdown because it meant they spent their times consuming as much culture and as many exciting stories as they could, to educate, to distract, to enrich the mundanity of life under lockdown. Or they had picked up a new hobby or were learning a skill, teaching themselves piano or I don’t know card tricks. They had found a way to turn something that sucked into a time to keep their chin up and do something.

I felt guilty – why wasn’t I like them? Why wasn’t I finishing books? Why wasn’t I watching more TV even? Why wasn’t I brushing off my very rusty Spanish skills?

And then I realised, the thing I have been doing is that I’ve been writing more.

When I spend any amount of sustained periods of time indoors, I start to spiral – my housemate can attest to this – and my mental health takes a nosedive. And we’re talking BC here – before Corona. I know part of this feeling is pure guilt, guilt that I am in a comfortable position in life and yet I’m not… living it, but rather choosing to stay inside and wallow and not do anything with my weekend, even if I know I do need to recharge. I’d say at least once a month, if I didn’t make weekend plans (even if those plans were just to go out to breakfast), I would spiral into that weird dissociative thinking where I felt like I didn’t… exist because I had spent all weekend indoors and hadn’t interacted with the outside world at all. It wasn’t true disassociation, because I could pull myself out of it immediately once I started to feel like shit, but I do have the tendencies of it.

So you can imagine how, COVID-19 necessitating that the world go into lockdown and stay safe at home is… a lot. But I’ve been surprised that, aside from a few blips, I’ve just accepted it. Because I am able to safely remain at home, I can still work from home and don’t have to go out and risk my health and that of my family to go to work on the frontline, I am in an enormously privileged position. All I need to do is stay at home and that thought used to terrify me because of my mental health but honestly? I’ve been slightly surprised by myself.

And I think that, for me right now, writing is my way of putting something out into the universe. My way of asserting a claim to being present and existing… because I’ve been indoors, sure, and I’ve not interacting with anyone other than my housemate, but I’ve also created something myself. For now (and I do hope it is only for now), reading feels too passive for me personally. I desperately love consuming stories so I desperately hope that my love (and my habit) of reading will come back to me, but I need to stop beating myself up if me and reading are taking a break right now. I need to be happy that I’ve found that, for now, writing is my way of existing and that is the thing that ultimately helps significantly more with my mental health.

So maybe 2020 isn’t a reading year. Maybe I won’t succeed at any of my reading challenges. Maybe I won’t blog all that much. Maybe I won’t finish that TV show I’ve been meaning to watch nor that book that’s sitting half-read on my bedside table. But that’s ok. Because to say 2020 is proving unprecedented is an understatement right now and maybe just existing (in whatever shape that takes, be it writing, be it reading, be it rewatch TV shows) is more than ok.

Because, if nothing else, this is a time to be kind to yourself and to stay safe.


I hope you’re all doing ok and are staying safe and well as much as you can in these very stressful and uncertain times. If you are reading, what are you reading right now? I weirdly chose to ignore all the people who told me not to and read a book about a pandemic during a pandemic and found it incredible (Station Eleven if you’re wondering) and strangely… comforting, in the weirdest of ways. If you’re not reading, what are you watching on TV? Or have you picked up a new hobby? Or have you been able to spend more time with your family at home? Or how are you filling your days? Please do let me know in the comments below!

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OWLs Readathon 2020 | Progress Report #1

If you saw my previous blog post you will have seen that I’m taking part in this year’s OWLs Readathon 2020! Since my reading has been slacking a lot so far this year, this magical readathon came at exactly the right time and I am so excited to be joining in on all the fun at Hogwarts. (If you don’t know what the devil I’m talking about, have a look at my Sign Up post or the readathon website for more details.)


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OWLs Readathon 2020 | Sign Up & TBR

So, the world might be metaphorically on fire but there’s one thing assured and that’s that G of the Book Roast has yet again outdone herself to bring all us Harry Potter lovers the OWLs Readathon 2020! For those unfamiliar with the concept, I could never explain it as well as she can, so go check out her announcement/TBR video or the readathon website if you’re curious!


Essentially, the readathon is based around sitting your OWL examinations with each subject representing a reading prompt, and the subjects you need dependent on which career path you wish to go for. (This is then complicated by some NEWTs later on in the year, but let’s not stress about that set of exams yet!) In previous years I have gone for the career of Charms Professor because that is definitely my vibe if I existed in the Wizarding World. This year, I’ve decided to mix things up a bit – but not too far out of my wheelhouse because let’s be realistic here – and aim for the Librarian track.

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The New Normal

Well. What a time to find myself itching to blog again. It’s safe to say that the world is more than a little bit scary and confusing right now and, you know what, I don’t really want to dwell on that here. Because you probably don’t need another person’s opinion or think piece on the matter. Suffice it to say, I’m working from home for the foreseeable because I’m fortunate to work in an industry, and for a company, that can work remotely and I am very grateful for that.

Truth be told, I’ve found myself in a bit of a lull anyway due to a mixture of personal circumstances (we had a family bereavement at the start of the year) and a general lack of reading and blogging (the two are definitely a vicious, connected cycle). The upshot of this has meant I’m six books behind my Goodreads reading goal for the year and I don’t even want to look at how my other yearly reading challenges are going.

Despite all this, I want to be more mindful of how I spend my time and set proper time aside again for reading and blogging.  Not having a commute or a proper reading lunch break any more (I know, I need to work on that) in the last week or so has really illustrated to me how much I relied on those designated reading times built into my usual daily routine. Whilst I’m trying to create working routines whilst working remotely, I might as well try to include more specific reading time in my schedule! And I want to stop finding excuses for not reading or not blogging – specifically I want to stop worrying too much about everything needing to be perfect or original before I hit ‘post’ on a blog post I’ve been drafting. Because, right now, the world is far from perfect and it has been great to see the online book community come together even more than usual to keep each other safe and sane in this ever-evolving, scary situation the world finds itself in.

So, what have I been reading whilst the world is (metaphorically) on fire? Well, I’ve mainly been reaching for comforting things. Mainly due to watching Drinking By My Shelf’s reading vlogs where she read The Princess Diaries series and A Series of Unfortunate Events in 24 hours (a phenomenal feat, to be honest), I decided to re-read the first The Princess Diaries book by Meg Cabot and it was a lovely exercise in nostalgia. Mia is such a dramatic 14-year old girl and I just loved it. So fun, so funny, made me facepalm at her questionable teenage decisions – what more could you want from a trip down memory lane in the form of that book? (Thanks to Disney+ arriving in the UK at the exact right time I’ve also indulged how much I love the films and rewatched the first one because Anne Hathaway is a delight and Julie Andrews, a national treasure.)

I also won a giveaway on the author Lucy Parker’s Twitter, where I won ebook copies of her London Celebrities series, so I had to re-read the first book, Act Like It which I listened to on audiobook last year and adored. It’s such a fluffy and fun contemporary and is based on the antics of actors in the West End and involves fake-dating so, obviously, I love it. I highly recommend it, and the audiobook is fantastic and on Scribd for anyone with a subscription.

In a not-at-all comforting vein, I’m also currently reading Libba Bray’s The Diviners, mostly via audiobook thanks to the chilling and perfectly pitched narration from January LaVoy. It’s set in 1920s New York but has a heavy occult/paranormal bent and I absolutely adore the vibe of the book. I cannot believe it has taken me so long to finally pick it up (I’m kicking myself so much) but I’ll be sure to continue on with the series once I’ve finish up this first book.


So there we have it – this is the New Normal, I guess, but in the meantime I’m going to return to books and blogging to help maintain that sense of normality in what will hopefully be a temporary world.

How is everyone? Please check in and say hi in the comments and let me know how you’re doing! What was the last really great book you read? Looking forward to any books being published soon? What are you reading at the moment? Let’s chat books!


20 Books for 2020

If you know me at all, you know I love a good to-do list. The only way I semi-function at work at the moment is because my work diary is just a to-do list for each day and nothing is more satisfying than ticking a box once you’ve finished something. A colleague at my previous job even put tick boxes on my ‘sorry you’re leaving’ card because they reminded her so much of me.

It therefore stands to reason that I quite like a good ‘to read’ list too. Except, here’s the thing – I don’t do great with monthly TBRs, unless it’s for a readathon that has specific challenges, because it’s simply too much restriction and my brain is oddly stubborn and goes ‘well let’s read the exact opposite of that instead!!’. (Really helpful, thanks brain.) But, longer term ‘to read’ lists? Those I can do… which brings me onto the theme of today’s blog post…

Is it a really a nice round number of a year if you don’t take advantage of it by putting together a numerically-matching list of books to read in the next twelve months? I don’t think so, so with that in mind I have put together 20 books that I want to read in 2020. These are backlist primarily and a mix of some of the longest-standing books on my TBR and the ones that I just really feel I will be in the mood for in 2020.

  1. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  3. If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
  4. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
  5. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  6. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  7. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
  8. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  9. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  10. The Diviners by Libba Bray
  11. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  12. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  13. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
  14. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  15. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  16. The Prestige by Christopher Priest
  17. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  18. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  19. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  20. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Yes, I am really going to hate myself later considering the amount of books of 500+ pages on this list but we are starting off 2020 with reckless positivity! We shall see how long that lasts…

Do you have a similar lists of book you want to read this year? Do share it below in the comments, I’d love to hear what books you’ve got on the docket for your reading year!


Review | Tweet Cute by Emma Lord [Blog Tour]

Tweet Cute_CoverTitleTweet Cute (2020)
Author: Emma Lord
Publisher: St Martin’s Publishing Group
Imprint: Wednesday Books
Read: 20th – 26th December 2019
Genre: young-adult; contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account. Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time. All’s fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built. As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate — people on the internet are shipping them?? — their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.” (Synopsis from publisher)

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Wrap Up | December 2019

Welcome one, welcome all, to my December Wrap Up! Yes, it’s a little late, but it’s nowhere near as late as November’s wrap up was so I think we can count that as a win, right?

December was somehow simultaneously a stressful and uneventful month. As I mentioned in my November Wrap Up, we’re having building work done at our house which means that we’ve moved into my housemate Liz’s parents’ house whilst it’s being done. I’m so grateful for their hospitality but, you know how it is, at some point you just want to get back to your own house and home comforts.

Going back to my parents’ place for Christmas was good but the festive period didn’t feel all that festive because my grandma is really unwell in hospital so that’s made everyone a little bit unsettled. Still, it was nice to have a break from work, and now I’m writing this on the eve of having to go back to work tomorrow, I’m jealous of past me who had the holidays ahead of her. Still, let’s see what I got read in the final month of 2019, shall we?

In December, I read a total of 8 books 7 fiction and 1 non-fiction – and 1 was a re-read (marked by *). This amounted to 1826 pages in total.

In terms of format: 4 were audiobook, were paperback, 1 was an eARC, and 1 was an ebook. As for genre, 2 were classics, 2 were children’s, 1 was dystopianwas YA contemporary, 1 was non-fiction/memoir, and 1 was contemporary romance.

Onto the books themselves…

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Wrap Up | November 2019

Welcome one, welcome all, to my November Wrap Up! ‘Emma,’ you may be saying, ‘it’s 23rd December, why are you only just posting your November wrap up?’ Well, that’s a good question and to be perfectly honest, I don’t have a decent explanation or even an excuse. November felt like a blur, as did December for that matter, and it was mostly mildly stressful at any given moment.

A large part of this is because the building work started at our house in the back-half of November, work which has rendered the entirety of downstairs a no-go area – to the point that we ended up moving out to Liz’s parents house, thank god for their hospitality! In the middle of that, it was Liz’s birthday and we went to London for a couple of days to celebrate. We saw Hamilton (again, but for one last time with the cast we have come to know and love!) and Phantom of the Opera and it was great. We also went to The Science Museum, a place which I have somehow managed to never go into despite going to London a whole bunch of times, and saw their From Ciphers to Cybersecurity exhibition which was really good and would definitely recommend! Because we can’t stop/won’t stop, we also managed to somehow squeeze in visiting Dishoom twice in one day. Sorry/not sorry.

In food-related happenings, we also celebrated Thanksgiving courtesy of Liz’s godparents and, guys, frozen pumpkin pie is INCREDIBLE, it turns out. Imma need that recipe and maybe I can try making it once we have a fully functioning kitchen again!

As far as books went, reading was a bit a lot rocky this month. I was still in something of a reading and blogging slump (and I think one doesn’t help the other) and my motivation was just very low, what with everything else going on in the house. So, this will be a very short wrap up, you’ll be pleased to know.

In November, I read a total of 2 books 2 fiction and 0 non-fiction – and 1 was a re-read (marked by *). This amounted to 851 pages in total.

In terms of format: 1 was hardback and 1 was an audiobook. As for genre, 1 was children’s fantasy, and 1 was literary fiction.

Onto the books themselves…

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