Always and Forever, Lara Jean – Jenny Han

I read the entire book on the plane journey back from my holidays and attempted to hide my tears from everyone else on the plane but failed miserably and ended up going through passport control with puffy red eyes and having to explain to the lovely lady who checked my passport why I was in such a state! Lara Jean is one of my favourite contemporary characters and we’ve been on such a beautiful and emotional journey with her throughout the series but I agree with Jenny Han it’s time her story ended, for now anyway…

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding. But change is looming on the horizon. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

Lara Jean is still the goody-two shoes she always has been but also experiences some great character development, as she becomes a lot more confident, flexible and welcoming to new options. She’s changed so much since the first book and I’m glad we’ve been able to see her become such an incredible young woman. This was very much a coming of age story, and I loved seeing Lara Jean take her first steps on her own exciting journey and a new beginning. As per usual, the relationships in this book are perfect and Han cleverly gives us a balance between Lara Jean’s relationship with Peter (which just melts my heart and is one of my favorite relationships in YA contemporary novels) and her relationship with her family which again is just so darn cute!

The ending was simply beautiful and just had me in streams of tears, a wonderful conclusion to an equally wonderful series. I’m going to miss all the characters and if you haven’t started this trilogy, I highly recommend it. Thank you very much, Jenny Han for creating such incredible characters and for sharing your story that I’ll love forever.

Thank you for everything Lara Jean,

A x

Holiday Book Haul – June 2017

I’m off on holiday to Greece soon and I wanted share some of the books I plan to read when I’m away! When on holiday I normally read a book a day which is a readers dream. But this year we’re going for two weeks and I think taking fourteen books in my suitcase is a bit excessive so I’ve limited myself to seven! All of the books I plan to read on holiday will be reviewed so keep your eyes peeled for lots of book review in the near future! 

One of us is Lying by Karen M. McManus – I am so excited to read this book as it’s described as a cross between The Breakfast Club and Pretty Little Liars, two things I absolutely love! I haven’t even read the first page yet and I’ve already tried guessing who the murderer is. One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide. I love mystery thrillers and books that make me think and this book I think ticks both these boxes! 

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas – FINALLY! Another book I’ve been dying to read forever and now I finally have the time to sit back and read it! I’m looking forward to seeing more of Rhysand and Feyre because I know a lot of people ship them and from some of the fan art that I’ve seen of them, makes me want to ship them too! 

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas – I couldn’t not bring the third book in the series as I’m sure as soon as I finish the second book I’ll be dying to read the third! 

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han – This series never ends and I’m so happy about it because this is such a cute and lovley series. I’m planning to bring lots of fantasy books on holiday and relised that I needed a cute contemporary to change things up, so why not pick something I love that is Jenny Hans wonderful series ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’. Lara Jean is such a perfect protagonist who I love reading about and if you haven’t picked up this series yet then I highly recommend you do!

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – I was standing in Waterstones and saw this book, next minute you know I’m at the checkout buying it raving about how good it sounds! Every night brings horror to a different family in the land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen year old ruler takes a new bride every night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it’s a terrible surprise when Shahrzad volunteers to become his bride but she does it with a plan to end this madness once and for all. But all is not what it seems and she may be beginning to fall in love with a murderer…

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – Leigh Bardugo is one of my favorite authors and this series is pure wonder! The first book left us on such a cliff hanger and I can’t wait to jump back into the world of Grisha! Everything about this series is amazing from the characters and the action. If you haven’t picked up this series, then stop what you’re doing and read it now!

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare – I don’t have much left of this book so hopefully I can finish it on the plane journey. So far I am really enjoying it but I’m not looking forward to the ending as knowing Cassandra Clare she’s going to leave us on a cliff hanger and begging for the third book!

Life as a First Year Student Midwife

This last year has been equally the best but hardest year of my life. At the end of August 2016 I started training to be a Midwife, something I had worked so hard to be able to do. There are many misconceptions about Midwives and Midwifery, most people seem to think that all we do is catch babies, or alternatively drink tea, eat cake and cuddle babies. Admittedly during the year I have done all those things, but that barely skims the surface of what we do. Midwives look after women throughout the whole of their pregnancy, running long antenatal clinics and answering hundreds of phone calls of anxious women. We can take blood and give injections. We are there during labour and birth. We also look after women and new born babies for a minimum of 10 days postnatally, among so much more. We are the ultimate feminists.

Obviously this isn’t something one can learn from a textbook, my university year was split between time at university to time on ‘placement’ when we’re out in the real world, learning on the job, this is a 50/50 split. Before I went on my first placement I was at university, this time in the year was probably the most ‘normal university’ experience I had. I moved into uni halls with 5 other midwives, I participated in freshers week and I attended lectures. It took me a while to get used to the new way of learning, suddenly so independent and I had to get my head around referencing! I met so many new people and made friends for life. At this point, the thought of actually becoming a midwife didn’t really seem real, it only clicked when we were given our uniform… this was such a proud and exciting day, we looked grown up and professional, I think my mum actually cried when she saw me in it for the first time.

It soon became time to go out on our first ever placement with the community midwives, nervous was an understatement, none of us felt ready, even though we had been learning basics for 8 weeks, we all felt like we knew nothing. In hindsight we did know nothing, but that was how its meant to be, the bulk of learning is on placement, as scary as that is. My first day was on Halloween, I distinctly remember this because all my friends at ‘normal university’ were out on the town that night, whereas I was in bed at 8:30 utterly, utterly exhausted! At first I found placement tough, I was working full time (which I wasn’t used to coming straight from school) and learning every second, I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted every day. Luckily I loved every second. I found everything I was learning fascinating, I was gaining new skills every day and pushed out of my comfort zone constantly! believe me when I tell you this degree is hard work, so much so I feel as though if you didn’t absolutely adore the career, the degree and the qualification would be unobtainable. There were times on placement where I felt lonely, even though I saw people everyday at work, I barely saw anyone outside of work and my family, and even when I had time to myself there was uni work to be completed and obviously recovery from the previous week, there is no time for a social life when training in midwifery, but that is a sacrifice I’m willing to make!

As the year went on I gained so much confidence in my skills, so much so I was given a lot more independence. The days of observation were over, I now felt like an asset to the team. My favourite part of the job is undoubtedly the people you meet and the lives you influence. It is honestly the best feeling in the world to know that you have influenced someone’s life in such a positive way. As humans we can tell when people are genuine and it is the best feeling in the world when someone says thank you with all their heart, so much so we can see it in their eyes. We often get cards and gifts for the kindness we show, but the best gift is that look they give you when you say goodbye.

These have just been a few of my thoughts throughout the year, I could have written so much more! I truly adore midwifery, as tough as it is, it is most definitely worth it. It’s been the best year of my life and I look forward to another 2 years of training and my whole career ahead of me.

The Crown – Kiera Cass

How I’ve missed this series! It’s been over a year since I’d read ‘The Heir’ so I had forgotten most of what had happened, the only thing I remembered was that Eadyln was a total and utter bitch, but I’m pleased to say that I loved her development and character so much more in this book. Like all the books in the series, this was such a nice and easy book to read and I will admit that I’m a little upset that it’s over because it was such an enjoyable series and journey. Out of all the books, I think this one has to be my third favourite with ‘The Selection’ taking first place and ‘The One’ taking second, and I just wish it was longer because there was still so much I wanted to explore and see develop.

When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illéa to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realises that she might not be content remaining alone. Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairytale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and soon Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more impossible—and more important—than she ever imagined.

Like I said in ‘The Heir’ Eadlyn was such an unlikable character but her development in this novel was so enjoyable, she learned to put others before herself and importance of doing things for the greater good – she grew up. We also see Eadlyn break into the world of politics and I enjoyed the fact that this book was more about a selection and was able to once again see more of the world Cass has created. Throughout the majority of the novel, we never know who Eadlyn is going to end up with because it could be anyone! The romance in these books is always spot on but I wish we saw more of the different relationships and more dates with the boys!

Overall, I thought it was a great improvement from ‘The Heir’ and I’m really sad to see this series end because they’re all such nice and easy reads which I fly through. If you haven’t read this series yet and are a fan of the bachelor or looking for an easy read then I highly recommend you pick this one up and I’ll link my review to the first book in the series here.

Studying English Literature at University: A Year in Review

As I sit down to write this post, I’m starting to feel lots of different emotions. I am over the moon that I’ve finished all my assessments and exams but I’m also really sad and quite scared as it only feels like yesterday that I was moving into my room. When I speak to people about their University experience they always mention how quick it went, and I totally agree with them, I don’t know where the time has gone but thinking about it I’ve met some amazing people and already done so much in my first year! We’re going to split this post into two because both of us have had very different University experiences, as I’m doing English and Eleanor is doing Midwifery and believe me when I tell you she’s got so much to share, I always love hearing about it when we have our weekly Skype calls!

Anyway, for those of you who don’t know, I’ve just finished my first year at Chester University studying English Literature. My course was split into four modules, Studying Literature, Approaches to Literature, Contemporary Literature and finally Poetry.  Studying Literature involved looking at classics, like Hard Times and Northanger Abbey which I enjoyed to some extent but I much preferred Contemporary Literature and reading works by McEwan and other contemporary authors. Approaches to Literature is where I studied Harry Potter and the Hunger Games and involved looking at them through different theories and approaches, but now I can’t look or read those books in the same way as I did before; I’m constantly analyzing them! Finally, my Poetry module is pretty self-explanatory and although it was my first pick I absolutely loved it and my tutor who has helped me discover my hidden love for poetry.

One of the best things about this course is being able to read and study a range of texts across different periods as well as being able to find and discover authors you never knew you loved. I’ve also been able to meet a load of people who share the same passion for English as me and even found a few people that love YA novels and authors like Cassandra Clare and Sarah J Maas. For me, being surrounded by all these people can be a bit intimidating especially on the first day when we were asked to share the last book we read. I remember everyone saying something really intellectual like, ‘Great Expectations’ or ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ but when it came to my turn I admitted that the last book I read was some trashy romance novel which I loved. I didn’t care that it wasn’t impressive I just wanted, to be honest, and plus it made a few people laugh which is a great ice breaker.

This year has been absolutely amazing, I’ve been able to learn so much, read loads of book and meet so many lovely people who I can’t wait to start my second year with! If you have any questions in regards to University or starting an English degree feel free to comment down below, I would be more than happy to answer them!

May 2017 Wrap Up and June TBR!

Last month, I was bombarded with essays galore and exams so I didn’t have much time for reading and the books I did read were mainly re-reads for revision. I only read four books last month by two different authors, them being Ian McEwan, whose work I absolutely adore and Francesca Haig, who was a lecturer at the University of Chester and someone I had the pleasure of interviewing a few months ago.

Now that I’ve finished University I can’t wait to read as much as possible and catch up on all the books that I still haven’t read. I finally got my hands on ‘Lord of Shadows’ by Cassandra Clare, ‘A Court of Mist and Fury’ by Sarah J Maas and ‘The Crown’ by Kiera Cass all of which I plan to read this month! Recently I’ve also really got back into the Shannara Chronicles and decided to start reading the books because I need to know what’s going to happen in season 2! If you haven’t yet watched the show yet I did a blog post on all the reasons why you should go and watch it which I will link here!

The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig – I was given the honour of interviewing Francesca a few months ago but we mainly focused on her poetry which is absolutely stunning and I highly recommend you check out. Anyway, she used to be a senior lecturer at the University of Chester until she wrote her first YA dystopian novel ‘The Fire Sermon’! It was from meeting her and the fact that she used to teach at my university which encouraged me to pick up her book but that did mean I went in with high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed! I found the concept of having an Alpha and Omega with the lifeline connection really interesting and made the plot and the relationship between characters more complex.

The Map of Bones by Francesca Haig – I fell in love with the first book in this series but when it came to the sequel, I was sadly disappointed and saw myself at times skim reading a few chapters, nevertheless, there were many parts of the novel that I enjoyed especially the fact that even from the first page we are thrown back into the action. Francesca Haig once again throws you into a world of conflict, betrayal, hope and despair and likes to keeps the reader on their toes as the plot thickens – every time I think I know what is coming she throws me a curveball.

Atonement by Ian McEwan – My all time favourite McEwan novel because it is just so beautiful yet heartbreaking and always leaves me in tears. I didn’t really mind re-read this for my revision and it gave me another excuse to watch the film again too! I did a review on the book a while ago, and if I had to recommend any McEwan book then it would be this one!

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan – I read this book five times for my revision and I know it so well I could probably recite the first page for you. When I first read this book I will admit that I didn’t love it but after studying it and seeing it through different perspectives, I was able to see how brilliant it really is and notice things I didn’t pick up the first time reading it.

Places I Want to Visit Because of Books

I finish University in a week, which is terrifying but that then leaves me with three months to do whatever I want and I am desperate to use this time traveling to different places. This then got me thinking about real places I want to visit because of books and I thought it would be nice to share my list and find out what places you guys would love to visit too!

Paris – Anna and the French Kiss

I was lucky enough to go to Paris for my 18th Birthday and I’ve always had a deep love and passion for the city and French culture. Everything in Paris is just so beautiful and I remember visiting places they talked about in the book, like Point Zéro outside Notre Dame which is where all the distances in France are measured from. It is because of its beauty, culture, and history that I am desperate to visit Paris again and visit some of my favourite tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, and Notre Dame. I wrote a blog post about my trip so feel free to check that out here!

Amsterdam – The Fault In Our Stars

If everything goes to plan this year I should be going to Amsterdam early next year with some University friends. Whilst there we plan to visit all the historical places such as Anne Franks House and of course I’ll visit the iconic TFIOS bench and ride a bike around the city because it is such a beautiful and fun city with hundreds of places to explore.

Scotland – Outlander

Mine and Eleanor’s dream is to one day do a trip up to Scotland and visit as many places as possible that feature in the TV show because we love this show sooooo much. I need to visit Jamie’s home, Lallybroch, Castle Leoch and finally, the stones at Craigh na Dun and maybe I’ll be transported back in time to find my own Jamie Fraser!

Hawaii – Everything, Everything

A place I probably won’t be visiting for a while yet, but Hawaii looks absolutely stunning and one day I hope to go swimming and snorkeling in the sea there because it is just so blue and clear. The whole island looks like a magical paradise and I can already picture myself lying in a hammock drinking a large cocktail or glass of wine!

New York (In Winter) – Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares

New York is at the top of my bucket list destination wise and is a place I one day wish to visit with my mum and sister especially in the winter with all the Christmas decorations and lights. I’m a country bumpkin but I’ve always found big cities to be really magical and wonderful place despite the masses of crowds and traffic! I’d be a typical tourist and would want to do all the touristy things like visit Central Park and the Empire State building.