Everything I’ve been doing during the lockdown besides reading

I originally thought when the UK Lockdown started that I would be so productive. My job always hindered my ability to really focus on my shop and now with that out of the way (I was furloughed) I had an abundance of free time to really focus on new designs, products and pushing my shop. I also figured I would get SO MUCH reading done, spend hours on my blog and take lots of photo.

Since what else is there to do all day?

Well it’s actually been very easy to not read at all when you are busy..

Being ill

Just to get this out of the way I did contract coronavirus with my boyfriend so I spent about a week and half doing nothing but binge tv and sleep!

Taking more time for my friends

My friends and I regularly text but I have spent more time video calling them all in the last few weeks then I have in years.

Baking

I got into the habit of baking something every week. I’ve made “Healthy” brownies, Banana Bread and Cinnamon and Nutella Cake. I’ve always loved baking but quite frankly I’ve not been very good at it so it’s nice to bake something that doesn’t end up being a total disaster. Not that all my bakes were perfect, one of my cakes deflated completely!

Playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons

I am SO grateful for the timing of the new Animal Crossing as it’s definitely provided a welcome distraction. This game is so popular I’ve seen people drop £300+ on a Nintendo Switch (if they could find one as they were out of stock everywhere) just to get involved. Animal Crossing allows me to be creative whilst also succeeding goals and completely simple, peaceful tasks, plus the graphics are adorable. Now if all the villagers could stop doing yoga and weightlifting and making me feel bad about playing for 5 hours straight that would be great.

Exercising more

I luckily invested in a Cross-Trainer right before the lockdown and I have been going on it everyday (except when I was ill). I try not to leave the house unless it’s food shopping or the post office ( particularly after I was infected) so the cross-trainer has been a god send.

Watching reality TV

Honestly this is probably what I have spent most of my time on and it’s so bad but when I am stressed it helps me. When my boyfriend and I got coronavirus it hit him a lot harder than it did me and I genuinely thought he would need to go the hospital but I was worried he wouldn’t be able to. It was a very stressful time and with being sick myself I found it easier to shut my brain off and get invested in other people’s drama for a while.

Let me know how you have been keeping busy during this lockdown!

How to Bookstagram: Your questions answered.

To be honest I don’t get a lot of questions about my bookstagram. I have a reasonably well-grown account and I’ve been lucky enough to use my account to grow my own small business. I wouldn’t say I am well-known within the bookish world by any means but I wanted to do a Q+A to share how I got started. So I did ask you guys for questions and some of you did respond so here goes:

How did you grow your bookstagram? Did you start off slow or did it gain quicker than expected?

Growing my bookstagram definitely started off slow. I started in August 2017 and I had 900 followers by January 2018. After that my followers started to shoot up when I was invited into a Bookstagram pod group. They are quite popular on bookstagram as a way of beating the algorithm. My account definitely benefited from having 10 people comment on my posts daily and it also helped me as I was commenting on their posts everyday.

Now I know that interaction is key to growing an account and you definitely need people to be engaging with your content just as much as you need to be taking the time to comment on other people’s posts.

The bookstagram group I joined was actually how I met one of my bookstagram besties Sammy! and still exists today.

How did you find your theme? And what inspired you to have it as it is now?

So I’ve always used a vintage paper background from my scrapbooking days as a backdrop in my photos. I discovered I was better at flat lays than any other kind of photo and using potpourri as a prop happened when I saw other people using dried flowers and I got confused.

These three basic elements have inspired nearly every photo I have done since. I have gone through many different phases on my bookstagram but I would say my potpourri art pictures have been some of my most popular posts.

I love using bright colours and colour matching so I stuck with the rainbow of potpourri for a long while until I decided to change it a few months ago.

I’ve always admired to the out of focus, creamy, simple yet sometimes extravagant posts I see on some of my favourite accounts and so I decided to use less rainbow potpourri and more natural looking elements. My inspiration for this was out of a desire to make my photographs simpler to take. The potpourri artwork was lovely but the clean up was horrendous and time consuming.

What are some ways to gain a loyal following?

I think a loyal following can be quite hard and I am not even sure I’ve managed it myself. I can go months without really engaging with my followers at all despite posting everyday and this doesn’t help to build relationships. I do see some people taking the time to post and comment on my stuff, and I have my book friends who will DM me but I am not nearly as engaged as I would like to be.

So I guess being someone who takes the time to reply, takes the time to go onto other people’s profiles, like their pictures, replies to stories and responds to DMs. That is how you will get a loyal following.

What do you think attracts others to your profile?

Haha I honestly wish I knew as I would definitely focus on that. I am just myself. I can be ranty and opinionated, or be sharing personal stuff, sometimes I’m posting a new design or I’m shouting about an amazing event I went to.

I guess that just clicks with some people.

Top ten favourite book covers in 2019

You aren’t supposed to judge a book by it’s cover but I can’t help it when books looks this good. I can honestly say I’ve bought four of the books in this list for the cover alone without having an idea what the book was about. I blame it on my designer background but I just really appreciate beautiful artwork and I can’t resist a gorgeous cover.

Here are my Top Ten Favourite books covers in 2019. Note: I haven’t put these in any order as it’s impossible to rank them!

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Deep light by Frances Hardinge

Synopsis: On the streets of the Island of Lady’s Crave live 14-year-old street urchins Hark and his best friend Jelt. They are scavengers: diving for relics of the gods, desperate for anything they can sell. But there is something dangerous in the deep waters of the undersea, calling to someone brave enough to retrieve it.

When the waves try to claim Jelt, Hark will do anything to save him. Even if it means compromising not just who Jelt is, but what he is . . .

I genuinely had no idea what this book was about until I copied and pasted the synopsis for this blog post. I got this beauty for Christmas with the gorgeous orange sprayed edges.

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Stormtide by Den Patrick

Synopsis: Book Two in stunning Scandinavia-inspired fantasy trilogy The Ashen Torment.

I’m deliberately NOT posting the synopsis for this book as it’s book two and we all know the synopsis for sequels spoils the crap out of the book before. I bought this book as I was attending VoyagerCon and was investing more in adult fantasy.

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The Binding by Bridget Collins

Synopsis: For a Bookbinder’s trade is like no other. In the house set deep in the marshes, Emmett learns the skills to make exquisitely beautiful volumes, every one as unique as the last and each holding a dark and peculiar secret: a person’s most unconscionable memories. And to Emmett, they whisper in the darkness. Then one day he discovers a book with his own name on it and is forced to choose between forgetting and the dreadful, tantalising promise of remembrance.

Conjuring a magic all of its own, The Binding is a richly imagined story of boundary-defying desire and prejudice wrapped in layers of enchantment, enigma and stunningly evoked detail. Peopled by fully-fledged characters that live and breathe from the book’s pages, it is a novel to fall in love with.

This book wasn’t on my radar at all until I started seeing other people’s copies arrive. I looked for the purple sprayed edged edition after the release and I couldn’t find it anywhere Later on I saw some on someone’s story so ending up reserving it from one Waterstones and getting it sent to my local Waterstones. If I had bothered to check my local Waterstones first I would have seen they had some in stock so I didn’t need to go through so much effort!

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Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff

Synopsis: The third book in the Nevernight Chronicles

Again I am not posting the synopsis as it will totally ruin the Nevernight series for you. This book was without a doubt my most eagerly anticipated and brutally disappointing read of 2019. You can check out my full review on my blog. Still love the cover though.

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Descendent of the Crane by Joan He

Synopsis: Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own. Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

I got this beauty in an illumicrate box and I am so glad I did because I am weak for sprayed edges.

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The True Queen by Zen Cho

Synopsis:
The enchanted island of Janda Baik, in the Malay Archipelago, has long been home to witches. And Muna and her sister Sakti wake on its shores under a curse, which has quite stolen away their memories. Their only hope of salvation lies in distant Britain, where the Sorceress Royal runs a controversial academy for female magicians. But the pair travel via the formidable Fairy Queen’s realm, where Sakti simply disappears.

To save her sister, Muna must learn to navigate Regency London’s high society and trick the English into believing she’s a magical prodigy. But when the Sorceress Royal’s friends become accidentally embroiled in a plot – involving the Fairy Queen’s contentious succession – Muna is drawn right in. She must also find Sakti, break their curse and somehow stay out of trouble. But if fairyland’s true queen does finally return, trouble may find her first . . .

I picked this book because the author was at YALC. Originally I thought this book was the sequel to The Sorcerer to the Crown so I convinced myself I didn’t need The True Queen because I didn’t have the first one. However my friend Emily and I decided to look on ebay for the Hardback of Sorcerer to the Crown and found it. So we took it as a sign to both buy The True Queen and Sorcerer to the Crown and get The True Queen signed.

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House of sacrifice by Anna Smith Spark

Synopsis: The third Empires of Dust novel

This book is a sequel so you know the drill by now. I bought this one for the same reasons as Stormtide. I was attending VoyagerCon and decided to buy the entire series after seeing this cover for the final book on Twitter. I was deliberating between paperback and hardback before my friend Sammy decided on hardback for me. I got them all signed at VoyagerCon and I can’t wait to read them.

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The Cerulean by Amy Ewing

Synopsis: Sera Lighthaven has always felt as if she didn’t quite belong among her people, the Cerulean, who live in the City Above the Sky. She is curious about everything–especially the planet that her City is magically tethered to–and can’t stop questioning things. Sera has always longed for the day when the tether will finally break and the Cerulean can move to a new planet.

But when Sera is chosen as the sacrifice to break the tether, she feels betrayed by everything in which she’d been taught to trust. In order to save her City, Sera must end her own life.

But something goes wrong, and Sera survives, ending up on the planet below in a country called Kaolin. Sera has heard tales about the dangerous humans who live here, and she quickly learns that these dangers were not just stories.

Meanwhile, back in the City, all is not what it seems, and the life of every Cerulean may be in danger if Sera is not able to find a way home.

I absolutely love everything about this cover and I didn’t know anything about the plot until now. Unfortunately it’s not a book I own..yet.

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Spin the dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Synopsis: Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.
And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

This book was very popular on bookstagram this year and yet somehow I still don’t own it.

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The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees

Synopsis: The waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the very edge of her backyard. But when she reaches out to touch it, the forest vanishes. She’s desperate to know more–until she finds a peculiar boy who offers to reveal its secrets. If she plays a game.

To the Witch, the forest is her home, where she sits on her throne of carved bone, waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives and asks her what she wishes for, but the Witch sends him away. And then the uninvited guest returns.

The strangers are just the beginning. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a truth more treacherous and deadly than either could ever imagine surfaces. But how much are they willing to risk to survive?

I really don’t know anything about this book I just stumbled across it when I researching this blog post. However it has witches in and I’ve always loved stories with witches.

Comment your favourite covers below ♥️

VoyagerCon 2019: Definitely no YA romances to be found here

I went to VoyagerCon last night at Waterstones Piccadilly. When the event was announced I’d just been on an adult fantasy buying binge so I had books by 3 of the 6 authors to get signed. I will tell you right now though after meeting and listening to S. A. Chakraborty I’m regretting not buying and bringing her books. I met up with Steph, Sammy, Emily, Bethany and Daphne. We sat right up at the front which screwed us later when they started signing from the back.

My favourite panel was definitely Myths and Legends with R. F. Kuang and S. A. Chakraborty who were hilarious and had such interesting insights. When talking about writing different cultures Rebecca said she struggled to write white people in her book which is an interesting reversal of the norm. She also discussed writing about cultures she is a part of and said that while her book represents China as she experienced it not everyone agreed. In this instance she said she didn’t like this kind of gatekeeping as just because her experience doesn’t exactly reflect other Chinese people’s doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I could not agree more with this.

The next panel was with Anna Stephens and Anna Smith Spark who discussed Bad Ass Women. I loved Anna Smith Spark’s viewpoint on women not needing to be violent and warriors to be badass women. Her little anecdote about how the first page of her goodreads reviews for “A court of Broken Knives” is filled with pissed off readers who thought it was a YA romance had the room creasing. She guessed this happen because she’s a woman and her book has Court in the title. Anna Smith Spark also talked about how she got into writing and was open about the fact she has Aspergers which I loved. I have experience with Aspergers in my own family so I’m always in awe when I see someone with Aspergers doing public speaking and basically killing it.

The last panel was with Den Patrick and Patrick Newman who played a DND type game with the room. They handed round a sword to audience members who got to make a choice on how they would deal with various monsters and situations the authors described. All the monsters were also from the books of the authors at the con which I thought was a nice touch. This was so much fun and had some hilarious choices like selling Anna Stephens soul and looking a man up and down and saying “I’ve seen bigger and better”.

After the panels there was the signing. I brought 2 books for R. F. Kuang, 3 for Anna Smith Spark and 2 for Den Patrick. My first signing was with Anna Amith Spark. We got chatting about Aspergers and she recommended a book series to me with an Aspergers character who just is and it’s not about his struggles or anything. Which we both agreed is the best rep. I also said the boiling blood of a dragon killing someone was a nice touch and not one I had considered before. She was lovely and wrote messages in all three of my books.

I then went to Den Patrick and chatted about his game and how it reminded me of DnD. He told me to tweet him my favourite character when I’ve read the books.

Lastly I went to R. F. Kuang. I said I loved what she said about Altan being abusive and trash in her panel. AGREEE. In her panel she also said she’s a sucker for teacher pupil relationships and I said I’m the same. I love Rin and Jiang’s relationship and she wrote a little spoiler in one of my books for me saying “Jiang will be back”. I then gave her my Poppy War inspired metalmark from my shop and she loved it and said she never gets swag. We then took a photo together which honestly I hope never surfaces because I can’t imagine I look good with my shiny nose and been up since 5am dead eyes. It was so nice though another girl in the signing for Shannon next to me said she loved my metalmarks and I was honestly like is this real life?

So as usual I had an awesome time with Steph, Sammy, Emily and Bethany.

What nobody could tell me about book blogging: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

This post has probably been done loads before but I wanted to offer my perspective.

When I started my bookstagram I was a student and had plenty of free time. My account grew pretty quickly in a year as I had loads of time to take photos and I was posting twice a day. Now my time is EXTREMELY limited I am really feeling the pressure and I have become much more aware of negative behaviours that I adopted and how using social media everyday can have a big impact on your life.

Don’t worry this post isn’t going to just focus on the negative, I want to highlight the good parts about book blogging too and please remember this post is filled with my honest and frank opinions that you may or may not agree with.

Here’s what nobody told me about book blogging both good and bad:

Social media stats are important

Social media by design is very competitive because everything is quantified. You are literally told in numerous different ways how many people like you, how many peopled like your posts even how many people said Happy Birthday to you. In social media world this literally all ads up to how many care about your existence and how many don’t or at least it can feel that way.

Everyone says book blogging isn’t about the likes BUT everyone gets down about lack of engagement and losing followers just as much as they get excited and celebrate hitting X amount of followers. Your social media stats can make you feel great or like crap and this can be hard to deal with everyday.

Social media stats matter in book blogging, the bigger your account the more likely you will receive arcs from publishers, be chosen as a rep for book boxes and get all the fun perks of a huge following that you see other accounts get on a DAILY basis.

I’m not going to tell you what to do with this information but it’s just a harsh truth of book blogging that you will care about how big your accounts are and you will feel pressured and sad when you don’t grow as fast as your friends or you start losing engagement because you couldn’t post for a while.

The FOMO is real

You will see people get amazing proof copies and special edition books and book boxes everyday and eventually you will want to be part of that. My bank account has taken a SERIOUS hit since I started book blogging and my advice is this:

Try not to get sucked in.

I am saying this as both a past rep for book boxes and someone who sells book merch. Merchandise and beautiful covers are GREAT but your bank account won’t think so, so try and limit yourself. Don’t think you need loads of book merchandise to be a book blogger because you don’t and DON’T think it will increase your following/engagement.

I’ve drastically cut down on the book boxes I buy this year because I find myself with drawers of stuff I’ve bought and no where to put it and honestly most of it is random stuff I don’t need. I have lip balms and hot chocolates and face masks and iron-on patches and tea towels that I am never going to use.

Don’t try and keep up with the accounts who are getting it for free. Try to be really discerning and focus on merchandise for books YOU LOVE.

ARCS are great but..

Don’t convince yourself you’re going to read them all and keep requesting more. You won’t. I don’t now. This relates to the FOMO because when I see a beautiful exciting new release available I want it too. But then it arrives and it sits on my shelf and I start feeling pressured because I KNOW I don’t have time to read them all but it doesn’t stop me from requesting more?

It’s vicious cycle and can be addictive to be recognised and rewarded for all your hard work with an ARC but if you feel like you have too many it’s time to re-evaluate.

I feel very lucky I made the friends I did

For a long time I felt very lonely book blogging. It felt like nobody really wanted to have a real conversation, comments were made just so I would return the favour. People only followed me so I would follow them. This changed last year when I was invited to a group chat and ended up meeting a few of the girls on there at YALC later that year. At YALC me and two of the girls really hit off and have spoken and met up in London since.

I think you do eventually manage to make friends but in the beginning it feels like you are sliding into people’s DMs and being like “Hey wanna be friends?”.

Location is everything

I am a book blogger in the UK and I know I am extremely PRIVILEGED to have access to the publishers, arcs, and amazing bookshops like Waterstones and Goldsboro that we have here. But even in the UK there is an extremely limited amount of ARCs to go around compared to the USA and when the majority of bloggers are American you start to notice.

Also I may live in the UK but most of the fantastic blogger events and signings happen in London during the week. I am a 4 hour train ride away from London and can’t exactly hop down that after getting home from work at 18:30. They friends I made on bookstagram can see each other once a month while I can manage about every 3-4 months. It’s hard not to feel left out.

You will definitely feel limited and frustrated by your geographical location.

The algorithm is god

I would love to be one of those accounts who can post once a week and get thousands of people liking and commenting but I’m just not that popular. So I have to post once a day  or run the risk of disappearing altogether and that is a tremendous amount of pressure when like I said I’m out of the house for at least 12 hours everyday.

I often resort to re-posting old pictures. It sucks but it’s far better than the alternative and I can’t always make myself come home and spend half an hour taking one photo.

The only thing you can do is stop caring and focus more on your mental and physical health instead.

Meeting and speaking to authors you love is the best

I have tweeted at Jay Kristoff quite a few times now and when he’s responded or laughed at my bad jokes and I think this is unique to the publishing world. Writers take the time to speak to us, like our posts, share our artwork, appreciate our designs and laugh at our bad jokes.

Book blogging gives you the opportunity to speak to the people you admire most and crack banter with them. That makes it totally worth it.

The struggle is real: Finding a job after graduating

I don’t think I will ever be able to describe properly how completely soul destroying it is trying to get a job. Not even a graduate job. Not even a well-paying job. Just A job. When I left University after 4 years and 2 degrees I couldn’t get any job at all. I’m not sure if I will be able to describe what I went through properly but I’m going try.

This post is a message to try and comfort those who are still looking, to warn those who still have it to come and share what I learnt from my experiences.

My first ever job was at University and I remember being absolutely crippled with anxiety I nearly didn’t go to the interview at all. It was just a summer position that looking back I ABSOLUTELY needed as I never intended to live at home again, but at the time it didn’t feel that urgent. The job interestingly turned out to be my worst nightmare. An upbeat sales pitching role where you had to be great at small talk and good at convincing people to part with their money. Weirdly I was rather good at it. I spent two summers there before I graduated and moved away to do my masters.

My masters degree was kind of my way of hiding from the world. I wasn’t ready for a real job and I was scared to try and get one. But in doing my degree, the sheer workload actually completely flipped my way of thinking and by the end I was DYING to find a job and never wanted to go back to University again.

University did make one thing very clear to me. Without work experience I was screwed unless I got lucky. So after applying for many graduate positions and internships I did manage to find a small unpaid internship at a great community interest company back home in my local area. I guess it worked out that the company focused on mental health conditions which I was very familiar with. They were looking for a Marketing Internship and I happily took it up knowing this was the vital experience I needed. Right? Wrong.

By the end of my internship I had graduated from my Masters and I was broke. I hadn’t been able to get ANY part time sales assistant or other roles to do alongside my internship and I had exactly zero money left. This is where the privilege of staying with family really showed, without them I would have been living in a box. Even living with my family and not paying anything I still was forced to apply for Job Seekers.

I won’t ever forget the day I rolled up the Job Centre and joined the queue of people waiting to go inside. I was embarrassed but also weirdly full of pride. I had a degree and I was here? I didn’t think I belonged there but life has a way of humbling you like that.

One of the worst days in my whole claiming Job Seekers experience was when I got offered an interview down in London. I didn’t have any nice interview clothes for a marketing role in London though and so the Job Centre gave me some vouchers that could be used in certain stores. One of them was Matalan. So off I popped to my local Matalan to start trying on outfits and…nothing fit. I’m quite short and big and all the skirts were too tight and too long. I ended up completely breaking down in the dressing room to my sister on the phone and sacked off the interview completely.

It was this time I wasn’t just angry with the world but also specific family members. These family members had the means to support me rather than me having to degrade myself at the Job Centre but they chose not to. I knew with an absolute certainty I would rather send money to my siblings than them ever having to go experience signing on at the Job Centre.

The second worst day of my JSA experience was when I had to go sign on..on Valentine’s Day. This made me acutely aware I didn’t have anything in life and I cried all the way home. I finally managed to stop claiming JSA when I got a part-time position at Poundland. I thought I would be their temporarily while I applied for my dream job. I thought wrong.

By the time I started working at Poundland I was in deep with book blogging, I’d started my Etsy shop and was growing my bookstagram and posting on my blog. I was determined to show that I used my own initiative and had continued to do stuff relevant to my degree and interests even while unemployed. I was also volunteering one day a week at the same company I interned for doing their social media. After 4 years of University I had some idea of what I wanted to do but book blogging showed me what my dream job would be – publishing so I started to apply.

At first I didn’t hear anything but then one day I got an interview as a Marketing Executive at Hodder & Stoughton. It was then I thought dreams really did come true. I swapped shifts at work and went all the way down to London and guys I was DYING inside. I was so nervous I just sat in the huge glass lobby praying I didn’t look as anxious as I felt. Despite this I thought my interview had gone really well and I remember telling my friend I would cry if I got the job as it was my dream.

I didn’t get it. Not enough experience they said.

I had two more interviews in publishing and didn’t get those either. I went down to the London Book Fair for their seminars on how to get into publishing, I showed my CV to recruiters, I spoke to some people already employed in publishing to try and improve my cover letter. Nothing worked.

I continued to work at Poundland and apply for jobs every week. I had a few more interviews but never for publishing again. I worked at Poundland so long I got promoted to Store Supervisor. This made me feel a bit better, I hadn’t been stuck in a dead-end retail job. I had been promoted and given more responsibility. Surely this would help me to get a job? No.

At this point my life had started to change. I met someone and the idea of moving away to London became more and more distant. I developed new dreams of working for myself and creating my own business focused on book merch. I just needed to get a job. A good job that would enable me to save. I thought being Store Supervisor would be okay for a while.

But then things at Poundland started to go downhill. My manager basically hated me, she didn’t think I worked fast enough and at this point I was still on probation. I was terrified I’d be forced to take a demotion or be fired and I was scared how this would look to employers. One week I got the flu really bad and I was completely bed bound, I knew my manager would be pissed but I couldn’t move. I phoned in sick and she was not happy as she was “on her own” and was now going to have to do a longer shift. I got off the phone and cried. I was so stressed I just started applying for jobs even though I was ill.

I ended up getting an interview at a company that I didn’t really understand. That weird pride humiliation hit when I realised I’d be interviewed by a girl I knew at college. You see she had left university before graduating and yet here I was still looking for a job whilst she had been in marketing for 2 years. I went to the interview, at this point I was used to never getting the job so I didn’t really plan ahead on what would happen if I did get offered the role. I was given some tasks to do at home which I spent hours on every night for a week before submitting and the next week I got a phone call offering me the role. My now manager was concerned about the commute but I was so grateful for the position I told her a bus ride wasn’t going to stop me.

Nearly a year after I started what I thought would be a temporary job at Poundland I got to finally hand in my notice. I was so excited to be able to show to her that she was wrong and guys Karma is definitely real because less than a month later the entire store closed down. She had treated me so badly I was pretty happy she would be out of a job. She was a terrible manager.

So now I’m working as a Marketing Executive. I get up everyday at 5:30am to get my bus at 6:30am. I arrive at work for 8:30am and finish at 5:00pm to get home by 6:30pm. I am at work essentially 12 hours a day. This was the job I had waited for, I had worked so hard for but guys I am tired. All the time. When I’m not working I’m trying to design stuff for my shop, take pictures for bookstagram, write blog posts, read, see my boyfriend, see my friends, see my family and I am exhausted. You can’t have everything in life but it was bitter sweet finding out the job I had wanted for so long is affecting my physical and mental health.

I just want this to be clear. I was MISERABLE claiming job seekers, my soul was completely destroyed working in Poundland, my Manager hating me was just another kick while I was down and now I am tired all the time and this is actually the best place I’ve been since leaving University.

This job challenges me everyday but at least I know that I’m growing as a person and an employee. I get to use my mind and my creativity and that’s better than mindlessly shifting stock around a shop floor. But I also know I can’t continue doing 12 hour days indefinitely, something will have to give eventually.

I don’t think I did anything special to finally get the graduate job I was looking for. I was in the right place at the right time and really I just got lucky. Lucky my manager made me so upset I applied for just about any job I found, lucky that my workplace needed someone quickly and lucky that pretty much everyone else in the running didn’t want the role.

It’s just luck guys and some people are luckier than others.

 

 

Book Review: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I’m in love with these sarcastic sociopaths and arseholes ♥️

I just finished Aurora Rising and I HATE to say it (but I will anyway) I enjoyed this a lot more than Illuminae. If (like me) you committed the most heinous of crimes and found Illuminae a bit slow…(SORRY SORRY OKAY). Maybe you thought it only really livened up when A.I.D.A.N was introduced (Everyone loves a bad boy). I PROMISE you will have no such issues with this book.

The mystery surrounding Auri will keep you reading till the very end and if somehow you find yourself losing focus the group dynamics are sure to keep you entertained.

My thoughts on each of the characters:

Tyler: Good guy, good looking likes to do the right thing. Supposed to be all about the rules but I think he only learned them all so he could break them.

Scarlett: Sassy bad bitch twin sister of Tyler. Not so good with the killing in cold blood but can offer you a sarcastic comment and empathy when you need it.

Cat: Another bad bitch whose hopelessly in love with Tyler. The voice of reason in the group for the most part.

Finian: Poor broken boy who is just wants to be loved but makes it really hard by being a massive d**k. He’s probably my fave.

Zila: The “sociopath” of the group. Likes to calculate the odds of dying whilst being shot at. She definitely has more to her than meets the eye and I can’t wait to find out more about her back story.

Kal: The space elf. Real good at the killing, needs to work on the romance.

Auri: Pulled out of cyro with a nasty habit of killing people and not remembering it. The entire story centres around her and where she comes from.

Aurora Rising is GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY X LOTR X MISTBORN and I HIGHLY recommend reading.

Rating: 4/5 stars

That book series I recommend to everyone.

It is criminal some of the books that get completely ignored compared to some that make millions. I think everyone has that one book/book series that they absolutely adored but no one has ever heard of.

For me that book series is Amelia Peabody’s Murder Mysteries by Elizabeth Peters and I recommend it to pretty much everyone all the time.

This series spans an epic 19 books and roughly 30 years but I promise you, you will never get bored. If I had to describe this series I’d say it’s a bit like The Mummy meets Downton Abbey but any nice garden tea party is ruined by a murder.

The series starts in 1890s and is mainly set in Egypt and England. To describe the whole series is difficult without spoilers but there’s a lot of in-depth Egyptology, archaeology and a whole lot of crimes committed.

My reasons why you should read this series:

Egyptology/History

The author had a PHD in Egyptology guys. If you LOVE archaeology, ancient history or and Egyptology in general then picking up these books is definitely worth it. There’s a lot to be learnt even if the focus isn’t on modern day but how it was done at the turn of the century.

Romance

This series has hands down two of the best romances I’ve ever read. The kinda romances that are equal partnerships. If you love romance then you can definitely pick up this series.

The perfect book boyfriend

When you think ideal fictional man most people come up with Rhysand or Will Herondale etc etc. Everyone is wrong because the best example of the perfect book boyfriend is in these books.

Mystery

If you love guessing who dunnit? And why these books are perfect for you. There’s always some crime being committed by someone or other. Trying to guess who the murderer is, is one of the best parts about reading this series.

Let me know if you do decide to buy this series or your thoughts if you’ve read it already

My most anticipated releases of 2019

I am the first one to admit that I am horrible at keeping track of new releases. I basically live under a rock and I usually don’t know a book is publishing until it hits the shelves. But I realised for this year I am actually aware of several releases a few of which I’ve already pre-ordered. However this might have something to do with the fact most of them are the biggest releases of the year for fantasy/YA but we will ignore this fact.

The first and most obvious is…

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Aurora Rising By Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff

I risked my job two days in a row to pre-order the pretty sprayed-edged Goldsboro edition of this book and I’ve got my Illumicrate subscription ready to go for May. Now full disclosure I’ve only read Illuminae which I loved but I’m pretty certain I will love this book too. I was lucky enough to receive an arc a few months ago which I’m planning to read a bit closer to the release date. Not that this book needs much hyping, I myself was hooked from this line alone:

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.”

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Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff

This list does not exist without Darkdawn. Nevernight is one of my favourite fantasy series of all time and I CANNOT WAIT to find out what happens to Mia. For me the final book in a series can be hit or miss but I am reasonably confident Jay Kristoff won’t disappoint with this conclusion. Unlike another book I read recently *cough* Queen of Air and Darkness *cough*. I have two copies of this book on the way and YOU KNOW I will be refreshing like mad for the Illumicrate special edition Darkdawn box.

“Hogwarts but with violence and sex”

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Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

This book is the first in a new trilogy and I actually don’t know much about it. I’ve heard it’s dark fantasy, there’s a forbidden romance and I’ve seen some references to The Darkling. Whose one of the best morally grey villains ever so I’ll definitely be reading this.

“Prepare for a snow frosted, blood drenched fairy tale where the monsters steal your heart and love ends up being the nightmare”

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The last Hours: Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare

Story time: The Infernal Devices series is by far the best Shadowhunter trilogy. The only downside to reading these books IMO is that you have to get through The Mortal Instruments series to understand them. Then along came The Dark Artifices series and I was BLOWN AWAY Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows was amazing. Until Queen of Air and Darkness came along and basically recycled the plot of The Mortal Instruments whilst focusing way to heavily on Clary, Jace and the gang. So technically out of the 12 books I’ve read written by Cassandra Clare I’ve only loved 5 of them. Not great odds.

HOWEVER, The last hours trilogy is set in Edwardian London and is set after the events of The Infernal Devices series so I am HYPED. My favourite characters Will Herondale and Tessa Gray will be back, I get a beautiful old London setting to relive and BONUS: Clary and Jace aren’t even born yet so there is no way they are gonna be popping in.

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Ninth House By Leigh Bardugo

I am going to be honest here and tell you I have absolutely no idea what this book is about but it’s Leigh Bardugo and it looks dark and broody. And we all know that Leigh Bardugo does DARK and BROODY very well indeed. This is adult fiction and it sounds like it’s gonna be urban-fantasy but I am excited to read something a bit different.

“Welcome to a world of secret societies and the occult”

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We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

I’ve seen this one a lot on Twitter and it’s definitely one of the more hyped YA Fantasy releases. I’ve got my eye on it as I don’t often read fantasy inspired by Ancient Arabia and this book just looks magical. I’ve also seen an enemies to lovers situation which is 100% my weakness.

“People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.”

Comment below any books I have failed to mention that you think I should be looking out for this year.

 

 

Blog Tour Book Review: Skylarks by Karen Gregory

Today it’s my stop on the bookstagram tour for Skylarks. I recieved a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was so happy to be asked to take part in my first tour and I hope you pick up this book.

Synopsis

When she was little, Joni used to have dreams that she could fly. But these days her feet are firmly on the ground – they have to be when money’s tight and her dad can’t work and the whole family has to pull together to keep afloat.

Then she meets Annabel. Annabel is everything Joni isn’t, and yet there’s a spark between them. Though Joni barely believes it at first, she thinks they might be falling in love.

But when Annabel’s parents find out about the relationship, it’s clear they believe there are some differences that are impossible to overcome.

My thoughts..

Skylarks is a bitter sweet, coming of age, contemporary romance novel that tells the story of two girls from seemingly opposite worlds, learning they have a lot more in common than they would have thought. I don’t usually read contemporary fiction, but I’m glad I decided to step outside of my comfort zone for this book. I found Skylarks has a certain charm and I could not put it down, to the point I was literally reading it in the street walking home.

While I felt like this book was at times too black and white, there was a lot of uncomfortable truths in the portrayal of Joni and her life. I think Joni’s frustrations and feelings towards Annabel’s privileged life are relatable even for those not in Joni’s circumstances. On the other hand it is easy to assume that someone with lots of money must be happy, that they lead carefree lives without the burden of worrying about money. This book showed the prejudices that can exist on both sides.

Where this book dropped a few stars for me was in the cliched portrayal of the rich girl who can’t cook and loves to ride horses and the poor girl who doesn’t want charity and is not at all embarrassed about where she comes from. Often times Annabel and Joni felt like caricatures, as the story strayed into all too familiar and often stereotypical territory. Joni had siblings, Annabel was an only child. Joni’s house was filled with happy pictures of family times despite being poor, Annabel’s house only had super snazzy posed family photos. Annabel’s family was obsessed with grades and coming first, Joni’s parents just wanted her to do her best.

Despite this the portayal of Joni, her life and insecurities was in many aspects painfully real. This book was bitter sweet for me as even though it is in a way a light and flurry romance, it goes some way as serving as a reminder that their are real people, who are living Joni’s life and that their ending is not always so happy.

Rating: 3/5 stars