20 Things I’ve Learned in Twenty Years

You may argue that I haven’t experienced enough to write a post like this and at the young age of twenty, I have nothing important to share however I completely disagree. I’ve experienced and struggled with a few of life’s bad cards like mental illness, bullying, wavering relationships, however, I’m lucky enough to have been dealt some seriously good ones too. I’ve been blessed with a network of support and love from friends and family, and with a solid plan for the present and the future. I’m currently studying one of my passions at university, all whilst living with five flatmates who I adore and who all put up with my bad jokes. Back home, are my family, high school friends and childhood memories all of which welcome me with open arms and a warm hug whenever I decide to visit.

I’ve learned a lot over the years whether its lessons from my parents or things I’ve discovered on my own and I wanted to share a few of them with you. I hope these words of wisdom can inspire you and encourage you to create your own list that you can look back on in years to come as a reminder that we’re always growing and to never stop learning.

  1. Everything happens for a reason and things might not always go to plan but don’t panic.
  2. Be Kind to everyone, sometimes the smallest of acts can brighten someone’s day.
  3. Time alone is time well spent.
  4. It’s okay to cry, we all have our down moments.
  5. Hard work pays off but don’t overwork yourself.
  6. Celebrate and appreciate the little things in life.
  7. Sometimes it’s okay to be selfish and to put yourself first.
  8. Confidence is key.
  9. Loose lips sink ships (that’s one for you dad!).
  10. Don’t ever give up on something that means the world to you.
  11. Love. Love with all your heart. Love yourself, love your family and love your friends.
  12. You’re not going to be the best at everything and that’s okay.
  13. Never be ashamed of the kind of music you listen to.
  14. Be spontaneous, sometimes the things that aren’t planned are the best.
  15. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  16. Say yes to new experiences – adventure awaits you.
  17. Don’t rush love. It’ll happen when it happens.
  18. It’s okay to have high standards, especially when it comes to boys.
  19. Take as many pictures as humanly possible.
  20. Laugh as much as you can because laughter is the best medicine.

Tomorrow I’ll turn 20 and I’ll admit it’s scary how fast time has gone, and as my friends keep reminding me, that twenty is only halfway to forty. However, I can’t wait to see what the next twenty years have in store. I see my twenties as an open book, a blank page, a new chapter and I’m excited and intrigued to see where it leads me, fingers crossed it’s a place where I’m happy.

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Why Read the Classics?

Even though I’m a literature student, I never truly appreciated the classics and just saw them as set texts in high school across the globe, but how wrong I was. Now that I’m studying at degree level I’ve been able to read so many more classics and study them in great depth which in turn has sparked my appreciation and love for them. Classics have this pre-constructed view that they’re these boring, irrelevant and lengthy novels that make no sense, but instead, they are literary masterpieces that have been crafted to perfection, with each detail having a deeper meaning to what it appears on the page. Admittedly there are a few classics that I’m not a No 1 fan of, such as Hard Times by Charles Dickens but I wasn’t expecting to love every single one and that’s fair enough.

We use the term ‘classics’ for books that are treasured and admired by its readers who have fallen in love with them and I’d love to see more people discovering and enjoying classics. So, here’s the part where I force my new found love for classics on to my readers and followers by suggesting a few of my favourites and favourites of my fellow housemate’s favourites. I recommend you just give one of them a go as you might just be surprised at your reaction and level of enjoyment!

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – I myself haven’t yet read Harper Lee’s brilliant novel however when I asked others about their opinion on the novel they couldn’t stop praising it. It was my sister and close friend who I asked about the book, and it’s interesting as both of them aren’t huge readers but both of them absolutely adore it. So if you’re looking at a book to ease yourself in with, then I reckon you should start here!
  2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – One of my all-time favourite classics because I am in love with the era and everything to do with the roaring 20’s! I love the glitz, the glam and all the extravagant parties, and I swear I was born in the wrong era!
  3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – This one is a little more challenging but is certainly worth the read because it is pure brilliance. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy are two of my favourite literary characters and I wish I had a romance like theirs! Even if you don’t want to read the book, just watch the film as it’s such a classic tale!
  4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelly – Hollywood has sadly butchered this book and this is a clear a case where the book is far better than the film. The concept, the characters and the prose all come together to make this classic tale a masterpiece.
  5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre is the quintessential Victorian novel. It is not beloved simply due to its age or progressiveness or pretentious nature, but because at its heart it’s a damn good book. Lyrical, emotional, and captivating, Brontë makes you beg and plead sweet, emotional reprieve. And the best part is that you delight in every moment. Brontë made my emotions work for that happily ever after with the irresistible OTP: Jane and Mr. Rochester.

Most Anticipated Fall TV​ Shows

Fall TV

Fall is one of my favourite seasons of the year, all the cosy jumpers and scarfs, hot drinks from Starbucks and the changing autumnal surroundings and finally its one of the busiest television seasons of the year, with the return of TV favourites and debuts of new ones! So I thought I’d share a few of my favourites and maybe help you find your next binge worthy show..!

  1. Riverdale: Season 2 – 11th October. I was late to the party with this show and I’m so glad that I finally caved and binged this show because it has everything you would want from a TV show; mystery, romance and of course a bit of drama!
  2. The Shanarah Chronicles: Season 2 – 11th October. I have been waiting for this show to return for soooo long, and I swear I’m one of the only people who watch it! Any fellow fans out there? Again I’m in love with this world and all of its characters and I just hope that season is just as good as the first!
  3. Once Upon A Time: Season 7 – 7th October. I still have mixed feelings about the return of this show because of the whole new curse and return of only a few certain characters, however I’m going to be hopeful and go into this show with an open mind. Colin O’Donoghue and Lana Parrilla we’re two of my favourite characters so I’m glad to see them return and I’m already loving thier new charatcers as well as all the new ones!
  4. Outlander: Season 3 – 10th September. I understand that we’re on the fifth episode now but I had to include it on this list because it’s one of my favourite TV shows and we’re not too far ahead, so you can catch up! This show has exceeded my expectations and every episode leaves me impatiently waiting for more because it is just so brilliant. If you watch any show on this list please let it be Outlander and I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed!
  5. Stranger Things: Season 2 – 27th October. Finally, this show is returning to our screens and around Halloween as well, which leads me to hope that this next season is going to be spookier and more mysterious than the first! The trailers and the episode names already have me shaking with excitement and I can’t wait to go on another adventure with this loveable bunch characters!
  6. The Walking Dead: Season Eight – 22nd October. I used to be a fan of the Walking Dead but I lost track and it all got very confusing, however, it is something I have considered getting back into (because I haven’t got enough shows to watch already!).

Daughter of the Burning City – Amanda Foody

I received this book Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve fallen in love with this book and it’s magical and mysterious characters and storyline! Right from the very first page, we are transported to the wonderful yet dark world of Gomorrah and I didn’t want to leave it. At the beginning of the year I read ‘Caraval’ by Stephanie Garber and I’ve been obsessed with books about festivals, circuses, and carnivals ever since and this book was perfect. It had everything I wanted and more! The concept is what got me really excited and interested in this book; a girl with no eyes who can see and create illusions that are being murdered!

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smouldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival as an illusion-worker, creating illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show. But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed until one of them is murdered. Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

Usually, when I read books regarding a murder I turn into Inspector Clouseau and I end up figuring it out. However, this time I literally had no idea who the murder was and I think it was because I was so captivated by the festival and its characters that I didn’t have a chance to analyse every detail.

Foody has created a cast of bizarre yet wonderful characters especially Sorrnia’s illusions, all with their unique and quirky appearance and talents that I began to fall in love with, and it wasn’t until they were starting to be murdered did I realise how much I had begun to care for them despite the fact that they weren’t real! Sorrina as a protagonist was so determined, strong and compassionate and I’m in love with her and Luca as a couple. He’s witty, arrogant but at the same time kind and lovable.

 

I’ve fallen in love with this magical yet dark mystery adventure and even more so with its unique characters and storyline. If you’re looking for a detailed and mysterious fantasy book then this book is perfect for you, and like me, you’re not going to want to put it down!

Lord of Shadows – Cassandra Clare

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

I know this review is seriously late but I’ve only just gotten over the ending! Lord of Shadows was one of my most anticipated reads of this year and I am happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed. The sequel to one of my favourite reads of last year had everything and more than the first book in the series; more action, more adventure and more heartbreak. We are once again transported to the shadowhunter world and I loved how the story moved around more and to different locations, featuring previous favourites like Alicante, LA, more of the Faerie Realms and my favourite London and Cornwall.

This book focuses more on the all the other wonderful characters Cassandra Clare has created and it was really enjoyable to read from different perspectives and learn more about all the characters especially Dianna. I certainly wasn’t expecting her backstory but I’m loving the transgender representation and all the other gender and sexual representation in this book! Emma and Julian will always be one of my favourite fictional couples and some of my favourite characters to read about! At the end of the last book, we were introduced to Kit Herondale and I loved seeing his character develop and adapt to life as a Shadowhunter. His relationship with Ty is perfect. I love how Kit understands Ty’s autism and how they have both helped each other grow and come out of their shells, if they don’t become parabati then I’ll be gutted!

I finished this book on the plane and I had to hide the stream of tears from the people around me because then ending broke me! How could Cassandra Clare do this not only to her characters but her readers? The last 50 pages was a whirlwind of emotions, hatred towards characters like Annabel and Zara, panic and worry towards all of my favourite characters yet happiness towards Helen who was finally reunited with her family. After this ending, I need the third book in this series as soon as possible so Cassandra Clare if you would like to send me an ARC closer to the time that would be amazing!

If you haven’t already guessed this book deserves all the praise it’s been receiving and more than 5/5 stars. Once again we are thrown on intense and edge of your seat journey which readers will have no choice but to love! If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t yet read the outstanding Mortal Instruments series, then what are you doing, go and pick up the first book now! I can guarantee that you’ll enjoy it.

Wonder – R.J. Palacio

I found it really hard to write this review which is ironic because I’ve fallen completely and utterly in love with this story and its inspiring characters. Wonder is a beautiful, humorous, life-affirming story that may just change its readers because of how positive its storyline and characters are, I know it certainly changed me and there are only two other books that have ever done that.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

The message is clear, not to judge people based on their looks because what truly matters is everything underneath, your personality, emotion, humor etc and August is a perfect example of this. I loved his honesty, humor and overall positivity and I did find it hard when he was bullied but that’s life and there will always be someone who is just downright cruel. However, I loved seeing different characters discover how amazing August was and by the end of the book I was a complete and utter state!

I also wasn’t expecting this book to have so many different perspectives but all of them worked beautifully with each other and it was really interesting to see characters different and honest reactions to August. Without these different perspectives, I don’t think this book would have been so real and its clear that it’s not a story just about August. It was Via’s perspective that really hit me hard because it was so relatable and honest. Going to different school and not wanting to be known as the ‘girl with the brother with a facial deformity’ is understandable but despite this, she never lost her love and support for her brother. That right there is beautiful and it certainly did tug on a few heartstrings!

This book deserves all the praise it has been receiving and certainly deserves to be read by all as it is just incredible. I’m really interested to see how they’ve adapted it to film and I already have high hopes just from the trailer and the casting. I highly recommend you read ‘Wonder’ because it really is a beautifully honest story that needs to be shared.

5 Tips for New Net Galley Users

If you haven’t heard or signed up for Net Galley then you’re seriously missing out as it’s such a great service that is perfect for us bloggers! For those who don’t know Net Galley is a service that enables publishers and authors to upload books to its website prior to publication and allows “professional readers,” such as reviewers, to request copies. I’ve been a member since 2015 but I’ve never used it as much as I should, however now that I’m a student it’s perfect as it allows me to request and read books in exchange for an honest review.

I wish I’d read a post like this before I signed up as it’s such a new and exciting process and in order to get the most out of it, it’s best if you know the in’s and out’s before making some key mistakes like I did. So here’s a list of my top 5 tips for getting the most out of Net Galley! Enjoy!

1. Don’t go crazy with requesting books – Everyone does it, and that’s okay however you’ve got to be careful about meeting deadlines for reviews. I remember getting so excited about receiving ARC’s that I went mad with my requests and later ended up being very overwhelmed! The key is to only request a couple of books a month and to also downloads then asap as they are archived after a certain date.

2. Try to keep your reviewer rating above 80% – You are more likely to be approved if your reviewer rating is above 80%, so it’s really important that you keep on top of your reviews. However, this isn’t always the case as my current rating is 67% and I’ve recently been approved for some exciting new releases.

3. Take advantage of the ‘Read Now’ books – This is a perfect way for new members to build up their approval ratio which in turn makes it easier to get approved for other books. Find a title that sparks your interest then review them and post your feedback! It’s as easy as that!

4. Be honest with your reviews – Honesty is always the best policy, however, you have to remember that authors are people just like you and me and no one ever wants to read a horrible review. If there were elements that you didn’t enjoy, then try the classic sandwich format in which you give positive feedback, then negative, followed by another positive. It doesn’t feel too critical then, it just shows you’re honest. Also, it’s always good to just put a disclaimer at the start of your review, just disclaiming that you received that book from Net Galley. I just put something like ‘I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review’.

5. Don’t take rejection personally – I remembered being really offended when I was first rejected but there are so many different reasons for being rejected and most of them can be avoided easily. Don’t request a book if you’re not in the publisher’s region, that there is an automatic rejection however not to worry as there are usually other publishers in your region promoting the same book! Sometimes the publishers have a limited amount of ARC’s available so once they hit their limit that’s it. This only happened to me a couple of weeks ago, but it’s important that you don’t get discouraged!