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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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!


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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Wrap Up | October 2019

Welcome one, welcome all, to my October Wrap Up! October proved to be a strange sort of month. I’d hit something of a slump, life-wise, reading-wise, blogging-wise, and I’m still not entirely sure I’ve climbed out of that slump and got back on track. (The fact that I’m only just posting a wrap up and it’s already nine days into the next month speaks to that idea.)

October was also my birthday and I celebrated in a relatively low-key, but typical, way by going to eat food (yum yum Mowgli Street Food was a hit) before watching Les Misérables as the musical is touring the UK and stopped by Liverpool. Having already seen Killian Donnelly’s Jean Valjean in the West End, me and Liz jumped at the chance to see him reprise the role on the tour, and we’re SO glad we did as the musical was fantastic. They’re trying out new orchestrations and staging on the tour and I’m pretty sure those are the changes they will be making to the musical when it reopens in the West End in the newly refurbished and renamed Sondheim Theatre. (Let’s be real, no one is going to refer to it as that who has known it as the Queen’s.)

So, for all October felt a bit slump-y there were definitely things of note in the month. I also managed (somehow) to get a few books read.

In October, I read a total of 4 books 4 fiction and 0 non-fiction – and was a re-read (marked by *). This amounted to 1289 pages in total.

In terms of format: were paperback and were hardbacks. As for genre, 1 was a graphic novel, 1 was dystopian, 1 was literary fiction and 1 was fantasy.

Onto the books themselves…

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Wrap Up | September 2019

Welcome one, welcome all, to my September Wrap Up! As you may be able to tell from the dismal amount of blog posts on here and the books I read below, September was not the greatest of months. I can’t really pinpoint why this might be, it just was a bit… flat for me. I was on holiday for the first week or so of the month (which is actually when I read the books I did read in September) with my parents and that was chill and mostly fun but then when I got back to Liverpool, I just didn’t really want to blog or read. It coincided with me rediscovering the joy that is forum roleplaying, so any words I was consuming or writing was mostly in that arena.

Then, at the very end of September, Liz and I met up with our good friends from university in London as we went to see a couple of shows I had really been looking forward to – Waitress and the Les Miserables Staged Concert. Both were INCREDIBLE, for very different reasons, and I now have both of their soundtracks stuck in my head pretty much constantly. Let me tell you, having both I Dreamed a Dream and Bad Idea rolling around in your head makes for the weirdest of mashups ever. (I also now have a huge crush on the Dr Pomatter we saw, David Hunter, who reminded me of John Krasinski a little. No one is surprised by this crush, least of all me.) Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend but now that I’m back, the fact that it’s October (WTF?!) is sinking in, slowly but surely. Expect all the panicky ‘it’s almost the end of the year!’ posts to follow in due course… But, for now, let’s see what I read in September, shall we? (It won’t take long to recap!)

In September, I read a total of 2 books 2 fiction and 0 non-fiction – and were re-reads (marked by *). This amounted to 736 pages in total.

In terms of format: were eARCs. As for genre, 2 were historical fantasy. (This might be the simplest set of stats I have ever had to put together. Maybe I should have reading slumps more often? I jest, please do not repeat.)

Onto the books themselves…



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Wrap Up | August 2019

Welcome one, welcome all, to my August Wrap Up! You may have noticed that this wrap up comes to you a little late. We’ll just ignore that fact, ok? Ok! At the start of September I went for a much-needed holiday to Mojacar in Spain with my parents – it was just a week of nice weather, walking along the beach, and eating food which is basically all I wanted out of a holiday, to be honest! It did mean, however, that I’m now woefully behind on blogging. I had already hit something of a slump in terms of inspiration in the latter half of August – it was only really NEWTs check-in posts that kept me going at all – but now I’m back I feel refreshed and hopefully ready to be excited about blogging again. But before we can move on we need to look back at August and see what I read!

In August, I read a total of 7 books 6 fiction and 1 non-fiction – and were re-reads (marked by *). This amounted to 2366 pages in total.

In terms of format: 2 were hardbackwere paperback, 1 was an audiobook, and was an ebook.

As for genre, 1 was a graphic novel, 1 was YA fantasy, 1 was YA romance1 was a thrillerwas fantasy, 1 was contemporary/romance, and 1 was non-fiction/memoir.

Onto the books themselves…

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Wrap Up | July 2019

Welcome one, welcome all, to my July Wrap Up! July was an interesting month. There was an important conference I had been building up to at work for months which turned out to be not as terrifying as I worried it would be but it was still A LOT, especially when it came to getting over it (I came back with definite conference flu). As a result, my reading was quite disrupted in the first half of the month whilst I worried about that conference and whilst I attended it. The conference was held in Edinburgh so me and Liz made a weekend of it before it started up and I got to show her some of the sights of a city I love visiting (and maybe one day wouldn’t mind living in).

Thankfully, my reading picked up in the latter half of July when I realised I needed to get reading or I would fail The Book Junkie Trials spectacularly! I am pleased to report I did reach the Bookie Grail but, as for the Reading Rush, I slightly failed that since I was a day late with finishing my TBR. Even so, I’m glad I took part in both of these readathons, and they helped to pull me out of what could have been a reading slump post-conference/Edinburgh. Let’s get onto the books themselves…

In July, I read a total of 12 books 11 fiction and 1 non-fiction – and were re-reads (marked by *). This amounted to 2998 pages in total.

In terms of format: 1 was a hardbackwere paperbacks, 2 were audiobooks, and were ebooks.

As for genre, 5 were graphic novelswere fantasywas YA paranormal, 1 was YA fantasy, was contemporary/romance, 1 was a classic, and 1 was non-fiction.

Onto the books themselves…

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Wrap Up | June 2019

Welcome one, welcome all, to my June Wrap Up! June was a bit of a mixed bag month. Reading wise, I ended up deciding to take part in two readathons – A Game of Booksathon and Simsathon – despite the fact that I knew full well that I had a couple of holidays booked over half of the weekends in the month. You would think I would have realised that, for all I aspire to read on holidays such as these, I never do. And I was true to form and didn’t. That put me a little behind where I originally hoped to be with the two readathons but I won’t beat myself up about it too much because I made up for it a little bit in the second half of the month when I read, read, read to try to get some more challenges done for both of the readathons and I really did have such fun on both my holidays.

Firstly, me and Liz (and our other friend Cathy) visited our university friend Sarah in the town she now lives – Cardiff. Despite the fact I now live in Liverpool (and am therefore not far at all from the Welsh border), I’d never been to Wales until then. I know, I know, it’s crazy to think but I hadn’t ever had the reason or opportunity to do so. It was a lovely long weekend, we mostly just chilled out and hung out and we went for a walk in the Gower Peninsula which is just… stunning. Then, for my second little holiday, I went to the Scottish Highlands with my group of friends from school and it was just lovely. Our Air BnB was wonderful and so huge and my friends Kate and Tom brought along their gorgeous dog Daisy so many a petting of Daisy was had – and it made me feel a lot better. (Guys, I need a dog.) We went on a couple of walks, visited a castle (it was the place they filmed that Highlands episode of Downton Abbey for any Downton fans in the house), and generally just hung out and played a lot of boardgames (Obama Llama, Chameleon, and Scrawl now firm favourites). It’s also made me realise that I really do actually like going on longer walks and I should make an effort to get out more and do it more often, especially considering I don’t live far from arguably one of the most stunning National Parks – the Lake District.

But enough about me realising I hope to someday genuinely fulfil my aesthetic of walking boots, a dog, and the Lake District, let’s see how my reading went in June!

In June, I read a total of 8 books 8 fiction and 0 non-fiction – and were re-reads (marked by *). This amounted to 3272 pages in total.

In terms of format: 2 were hardbackwas paperback, and were audiobooks.

As for genre, were fantasywas middle-grade/children’swas romancewas YA contemporary, 1 was YA fantasy/mystery, 1 was YA fantasy/paranormal, and 1 was historical fantasy.

Onto the books themselves…

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Wrap Up | May 2019

Welcome one, welcome all, to my May Wrap Up! May brought with it the very first readalong I’ve ever hosted, of Les Misérables which I called #MiserablesMay (aptly, I think). As always with these long readalongs (see: War and Peace and The Count of Monte Cristo), I was behind pretty much every day of the month, but I still enjoyed reading and writing weekly progress posts. Plus, it’s nice to be able to tick off a book that, for years, I’ve said I’ve practically read because I’d skimmed a bunch of it and then closely analysed various passages for my undergraduate dissertation. It’s nice to be able to definitively say I’ve read Les Misérables from cover to cover. I’m sure I’ll do a proper review of it at some point but, for now, I’m just revelling in not having to read 60+ pages of a long French classic every day to keep up with my own readalong. Of course, true to form, June brings me participating in two readathons at the same because, apparently, I never learn. But, first, let’s see how May’s reading looked (spoiler alert: I’m pleasantly surprised I managed to read anything else on top of Les Misérables):

In May, I read a total of 7 books 7 fiction and 0 non-fiction – and were re-reads (marked by *). This amounted to 3278 pages in total.

In terms of format: 1 were hardbackwere paperbackwere audiobooks, and was an ebook.

As for genre, were YA fantasy/mysterywere contemporary/romancewas fantasy, and was a classic.

Onto the books themselves…

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