Try a Chapter | Choosing My Holiday TBR

Folks, I’m (what feels like) finally heading off for a little bit of a summer holiday. I’ll be heading to Barcelona, somewhere I’ve somehow never visited before now despite holidaying in Spain with my family since I was 18 months old (!), and I cannot wait, it’s going to be so much fun! We don’t have too much planned – the only thing we’ve booked in advance is the tickets for La Sagrada Familia so we’re mainly planning to take it easy and wander about, soaking up (hopefully) some sun and all Barcelona has to offer. As I type this, I am deep in the midst of packing, but I’ve taken time away from my suitcase to address something very important in the packing process for a bookworm: deciding which books to take with me.

I don’t know how much reading time I’m going to get, but I do know I am holidaying with people who understand wanting to read, regardless of where you happen to be in the world. So, I need to pick out my holiday TBR. As we only have hand luggage, I’m trying to limit my book selection, and rationalise the fact that we’re only away for 5 days so I don’t actually need to take more than 2 books. I saw Ashleigh from A Frolic Through Fiction do a “try a chapter” challenge in order to pick her holiday TBR, and I thought it was a brilliant idea to pick out what books you’re actually in the mood for, rather than the ones you just think you’re in the mood for. So, with that in mind, here are the contenders that I’m going to try out…

holidaytbr.jpg

Continue reading

My 2018 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #2

As you may have seen if you’re been around the blog for a while, I do check-ins for my yearly resolutions as a way of keeping me accountable to more people than just myself. At the end of the first quarter of 2018, I posted my first check-in, and here we are today with my second quarterly check-in for the months of April, May, and June.

For those who care to have an in-depth reminder of my 2018 Resolutions you can find that post here. Now let us examine how I’m doing now we’re halfway through the year…

READING GOALS

1. Complete Goodreads 52 Books goal

Verdict: On Track
I stand at 45 out of 52 books read for 2018 so, unless something major happens, I should comfortably make my goal to read 52 books. Depending how industrious I’m feeling I may even up the challenge goal/resolution once I get to 52.

2. Complete Around the Year in 52 Books

Verdict: On Track
At my last check-in, every single book I’d read at that point in 2018 had also completed one of the Around the Year challenges. That isn’t the case now since I’ve been doing some readalongs and readathons that don’t necessarily tally with the challenges. However, I’ve also had a pretty good quarter in terms of the number of books I’ve read so I’ve made good progress nevertheless with the Around the Year challenges. I’ve now ticked off most of the easy ones and have 18 challenges remaining so, with some forward planning, I should be able to complete this goal too.

3. Finish off the books in a series I have yet to read

Verdict: On Track
Although I haven’t actively been participating in Anna’s #SeriestoFinish2018 challenge (I feel so guilty about this), I have subconsciously been trying to force myself to get to sequels and finish off series, or at least get as up-to-date with them as I can. Case in point: I recently finally read the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes and am planning to pick up the newest book A Reaper at the Gates this month. I also only have one Winner’s trilogy book left, which is progress so… I’d consider this kind of a win?

4. Finish War and Peace and read another Russian classic

Verdict: Failing
Well I still haven’t finished War and Peace. Believe me, I know… I know it’s getting ridiculous now. However, in this quarter I have re-read all my weekly posts from during the War and Peace Newbies Readalong, so I’ve refreshed my memory of the plot and am ready to tackle the last 200 or so pages of Tolstoy’s tome this month in fact. After that I think I might try to finally make it through all the pages of Anna Karenina, again, I’ve tried multiple times but I always stall for some unknown reason, but that likely won’t be until near the end of 2018 since I have other readalongs and readathons planned over the summer/autumn.

Continue reading

My 2018 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #1

Last year I did quite well with my yearly resolutions, I think, in part, because I regularly “checked in” with them and had a look at how I was doing. Since it worked so well (not to blow my own trumpet) in 2017, I’ve decided to carry on that tradition into 2018 so this is the first of my Quarterly Check-in posts. I’ll have a look at each of my 2018 Resolutions and see how I’ve fared in the months of January, February, and March.

For those who care to have an in-depth reminder of my 2018 Resolutions you can find that post here. Now let us examine how I’m doing three months into the year…

READING GOALS

1. Complete Goodreads 52 Books goal

Verdict: On Track
I’ve managed to read 17 books already this year which Goodreads informs me is 6 books ahead of schedule – go me! If I carry on at this pace all year (which seems unlikely given some exciting holidays planned and a desire to read more classics), I should easily surpass my 52 books target. Fingers crossed?

2. Complete Around the Year in 52 Books

Verdict: On Track
As it stands, every single book I have read thus far in 2018 also completes one of the challenges for the Around the Year Reading Challenge. This is because I’ve been mindful of what books I’m choosing to read and, mostly, because the Reading Challenge is quite adaptable. That being said, once I start whittling the challenges down I am sure it will get harder to match a book to a challenge and I will instead find myself doing it vice versa, i.e. I’ll be picking a book to read that matches a challenge rather than finding which challenge matches the book I’ve just read!

3. Finish off the books in a series I have yet to read

Verdict: Failing
I am definitely failing quite supremely at this because I haven’t given it a moment’s thought after impulsively signing up for Anna’s #SeriestoFinish2018 challenge back in December. I’m feeling very guilty about my complete lack of participation so I hope to get back on the horse, so to speak, and concentrate on finishing off some of those books in a series.

4. Finish War and Peace and read another Russian classic

Verdict: Failing
Until earlier this week, I hadn’t even thought about picking up War and Peace again, even though I know every week is a ticking clock of me retaining any memory of what happened in the first 1000ish pages of this behemoth of a book. I only have about 300 pages left to read so I really need to get to it, it’s not even funny anymore. I won’t let myself move onto another Russian classic either until I’ve defeated this one so I really need to make this a priority – I’ve said I will in my recent Spring TBR post so I’m pretty much duty bound to now.

Continue reading

London Trip 2017 | Day Four aka Breakfast, Sightseeing, and Art

Welcome to the fourth and final post in my wrap up of my (not so) recent trip to London  – you can check out the incidents of day threewhat I got up to in day two or take a look a day one. It’s took me far to long to get to the point of talking about the final day of a four day trip but here we are, it’s the home stretch now!

And we started the day off extremely strongly – with breakfast at Dishoom. I’m pretty sure I saw the rec on Twitter at some point, as one of the unexpected perks of following A LOT of London-based publishing people is that you see a lot of yummy-looking food which become instant London restaurant recs! It’s also quite possible I Googled too… because I’m thorough like that. Anyways, the point is, before we got to London I knew I wanted to try Dishoom for breakfast/brunch to see if it lived up to the hype. Reader, it did. Not only did it live up to the hype, it far exceeded it and, in fact, I fully intend to try to work another Dishoom breakfast trip into any London itinerary in the future. It was just that good.

Continue reading

London Trip 2017 | Day Three aka Parliament and HAMILTON!!

Welcome to the third post in my wrap up of my (not so) recent trip to London  – you can check out what I got up to in day two here or take a look a day one here. What has inspired me to finally write up this, you may ask? Well, it just so happens that this very day I (yes I, not someone else) managed to bag some tickets to see Hamilton in the West End again in October! So it seemed about time to talk about the first time I was lucky enough to see the musical during my trip to London back in December 2017. Let’s see how Day Three of my London trip went, shall we? Let’s indulge nostalgia…

Day Three dawned bright and not so early and (not ashamed) we ended up eating leftover Dominos pizza as breakfast. We’re adults, we can make those kind of decisions, ok? We lazed about a bit, not going to lie, but knew we had to make it across to the first destination of the day by 11am – the Houses of Parliament tour – so we finally got up and got dressed and got ready to leave.

As soon as we stepped outside the hotel, I realise one very key thing – it was a shit weather day, there’s no two ways about it. I came very close to a hissy fit on the morning before we’d even got to Westminster because it was very cold and the weather had decided to do what I would call “horizontal rain”. Lovely. So instead of walking along Embankment, we plumped for hopping on the Tube at Tottenham Court Road (via Pret, naturally) and hopped off at Westminster. When you get closer to the River Thames, the wind gets stronger and that makes for a very miserable and very squidgy walk over to the Palace of Westminster.

We arrived at Westminster in plenty of time so we decided to take refuge in Westminster Abbey’s gift shop for a little while, and Liz managed to buy her Gran a nice postcard whilst we were in there. Then, scarves and hats donned, we headed back out into the driving rain for the mercifully short walk over to the Palace. As we approached the security gates at the visitor entrance I quickly realised that I’d been pissy about the rain but at least I didn’t have to stand out in it all day like the security guard did. We’d barely even said hi and started to make chit chat with him when he said “ah, it’s fucking freezing, I hate it” in an extremely broad Scottish accent. Nothing like a bit of weather-based banter to bring together nations, eh?

Continue reading

My 2017 Resolutions | Final Review

Greetings folks! Today I bring you the last of my check-ins on my 2017 Resolutions – the final review of how I did with my goals this year. Around this time last year, I set some resolutions or goals for 2017. It’s something I try to do every year and every year, without fail, I forget my goals unless I keep them on a handily placed sheet of paper or, as is this year’s case, in the front of my bullet journal. This year I also did quarterly check-ins to keep myself accountable – click to peek at my first quarterly check-in, my second quarterly check-in, and my third quarterly check-in – and it turns out regularly checking in on the progress of your resolutions might actually help you achieve them. Who would’ve thought it?!?

Before I decide upon my 2018 resolutions, I thought I would do a final review of how I did in the final quarter and for the year overall!

Continue reading

London Trip 2017 | Day Two aka the snow taketh with one hand and giveth with the other

Welcome to the second post in my wrap up on my recent trip to London – take a look a day one here if you haven’t already.

After a double musical day of emotional musicals, I think both Liz and I were happy at the prospect of getting out of theatres and heading out of London for our planned activities on Sunday but, as you will see, things didn’t go quite as planned. I know how to do suspense, don’t I?

We woke bright and (reasonably) early, excited for our day at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Watford, and donned our Harry Potter related clothing, also bundling up with scarves and gloves after a quick peek at the snow (!) falling outside. Sunday mornings in London are weird, to say the least, because there are so few people on ordinarily busy streets and the snow was also good encouragement to stay indoors if you could. Even so, the snow wasn’t settling as the ground was already wet, so we decided to walk the twenty-minute walk to Euston. I wouldn’t presume to speak for both of us but I believe that we quickly regretted this decision to walk when Liz discovered her Vans weren’t quite as waterproof as we first hoped and my Chelsea boots, whilst pretty, had no grip to speak of on the soles. This makes for a very interesting walk on slippy streets.

Continue reading

London Trip 2017 | Day One aka “Do you hear the people sing?”

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting London for a long weekend of musical theatre and sightseeing! I feel extremely fortune to be able to see some many wonderful sights and I’m sure anyone who follows me on Instagram is bored of hearing about this trip but, for posterity’s sake, I thought I would do a quick travel diary on this blog to preserve the memories.

The entire trip was planned way back in January of this year for one very important reason – Liz and I managed to grab Monday night tickets to see Hamilton when it opened in the West End. We were both very excited, but it was January, and the tickets for the show weren’t until December. Even so, we started planning with gusto and decided to make a weekend out of it in the capital city. I’m so glad we did as it turned out to be a wonderful weekend full of sightseeing and musicals.

Luckily, Liverpool to London Euston is a short 2-hour train journey and we managed to nab early tickets which meant we got the train tickets very cheaply too – result! So Saturday morning rolled around, our suitcase was all packed, and thanks to a very kind lift to the station from Liz’s dad we were off on the 10 o’clock train zipping towards London. When we got to Euston plumped for a walk to the Travelodge hotel in Covent Garden since it was about 20-minutes away and it seemed a more appealing prospect than battling the Tube with a suitcase in tow. So, we headed off for Covent Garden. One of the reassuring things about trying to locate a hotel in Covent Garden is that, since it’s a major tourist spot, it’s handily signposted everywhere, and I vaguely remembered that, to get to it, you had to walk through universityland (aka UCL and SOAS) until you started to hit some of the more borderland theatres. Luckily, Motown the musical has opened up in a very gold and shimmery theatre just around the corner from the Travelodge so we definitely knew when we’d arrived in the right place!

Continue reading

DC/NYC Trip 2017 | “Getting There is Half the Fun”

“Getting there is half the fun”… or so the saying goes, and to paraphrase the Ed Byrne joke: “If getting there is half the fun, surely getting home is the other half, you’re having no fun on your holiday, go somewhere else next year”. Well, for once, getting there was indeed half the fun for me. Until this year, I had never travelled outside of Europe before, I had never been on an plane for longer than 3 hours, I had never travelled with anyone other than my family – my recent trip to DC and NYC with my friend/housemate, Liz, back in September changed all three of those statements. Because my memory is terrible, I want to keep a record of all the things we did on the trip, from the interesting to the mundane, and since I have a blog, it seems the perfect place to record said memories before I (inevitably) forget most of them.

Disclaimer: If you’re here for useful travel tips, you’ll be disappointed, go find an actual travel blog. If you’re here just because you read my book blog anyway, I can promise some mentions of books amongst all the tourist things and self-indulgent musings.

Because getting to DC was a relatively painless journey, but interesting (at least to me!), for posterity’s sake I kind of wanted to record even the “getting there” because it was a new experience and, in some ways, genuinely fun. Don’t worry, in future blog posts, I fully intend to cover the actually interesting bits of the trip, maybe with some added photos because I took a lot of those. So if that’s your bag, stick around for my not-so-intelligent insights!

Continue reading