28 June 2018

June Playlist

Last month I almost had too much to talk about when it came to new music. June is a slightly different story, but there are a couple of new releases amongst old favourites. The launch of Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino had me blasting some older Arctic Monkeys songs and I've been listening to more of Rex Orange County too. Apart from discovering the entirely wonderfully song Don't Delete the Kisses by Wolf Alice, I've been on a bit of a '60s and '70s binge, because what else would you expect from me? This playlist is a bit all over the place but I hope you enjoy listening to some truly great tunes ~



24 June 2018

My Favourite Books of 2018 So Far

Now that we're six months into the year, I thought it would be a great time to talk about the books I've loved most so far. My best reading month was definitely January - I read the most books, and three of them are featured here. If you'd like to see what I read in the future, follow me on goodreads. From the best in young adult fiction to modern classics and everything in between, here are my favourite reads of 2018 so far.

It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne
A lot of young adult fiction tends to be extremely repetitive, sometimes cringey and also tends to focus on romance. Holly Bourne has always been one to subject norms when it comes to teen romances and incorporates feminist ideals into her books. The main character, Audrey is studying the rom com genre at school and through her research finds endless cliches when it comes to people falling in love. She doesn't expect to fall for Harry, a typical bad boy who makes zombie films. But she soon finds out that not all romances are like the movies - it's awkward, painful and confusing. Perfectly written for a younger audience, this was funny, realistic and at times pretty surprising. If you want to read something easy and entertaining, but are sick of typical love stories I would definitely recommend this.

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
Sometimes if I read a book over just a day or two I end up loving it a lot more. This is one of those books that's best read quickly because it intensifies the story. While I didn't expect to connect with it much, it has become one of my favourite reads because of the way it explores different topics - sexual assault, race and privilege. Visiting her home country from the United States, a rich woman gets kidnapped in Haiti and undergoes the toughest couple of weeks while her wealthy father refuses to pay ransom. There's a lot to this story, and it really makes you think about the world but also personal relationships. It's extremely intense and absorbing; almost making you feel like you were there in the situation yourself. I don't think An Untamed State is very well known, but it's definitely my favourite novel from Roxane Gay.

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney
Conversations With Friends is a book about friendships, relationships, love, pleasure and purpose. Frances is a twenty-one year old aspiring writer who performs spoken word poetry with her best friend Bobbi. Melissa, a journalist who discovers their work and writes a story about the pair, is married to actor Nick, who Frances eventually starts an intense affair with. Slowly she starts to lose control of these relationships, becoming self-destructive and unhappy. Read like one big conversation, this book was surprising, incredibly thought-provoking and like nothing I've ever read before. While reading this, I couldn't help but notice how incredibly raw and real the characters are; at times they are not at all likeable, but I really enjoyed this aspect of it. I never expected to fall in love with this book, but there was something so intriguing and different about it.

P is For Pearl by Eliza Henry Jones
This is by far one of the best young adult books I've read in a while - I devoured it in a couple of days and just wanted more. P is for Pearl is a slow-moving, yet addictive read that draws you in really fast. It explores topics such as mental health and grief in such a simple yet amazingly poignant way. Gwen, who was called Pearl by her now dead mum, lives in a small, seaside town in Australia. She runs along the beach and hangs out with her two best friends, Loretta and Gordon to try and forget about her mum's death. But when two intriguing siblings move to the town, she realises that people aren't as they first appear and that like her, everyone has a story to tell. This was another surprising book as I never expected to connect with it so much. It's really easy to read, but is complex and authentic.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
This book is extremely popular and I can definitely see why. A girl called Lydia goes missing in a small town in Ohio, but her family doesn't know how she died; all they find is her body in a lake. The book goes back in time as we find out more about her parents and what previously happened in Lydia's childhood. What I loved was how it showed that we all keep secrets; husbands and wives, fathers and daughters, mothers and sons all struggle to understand each other. Everyone will find a way to relate to this addictive and emotional book.

Will you read any of these?


18 June 2018

What I've Been Watching

I have been obsessed with crime documentaries lately and it's become a slightly unhealthy obsession. *Cue lying awake at night thinking someone is about to murder me* But I can't help being fascinated by it all. It does mean I need some light relief afterwards, so I have been binge-watching a few sitcoms and indulging in some good old reality TV - I can't help it, it's my guilty pleasure. There's a real mix of shows here, but I can't recommend them enough!

Evil Genius

Netflix are doing amazing things in the true crime category. Once I had watched one episode of Evil Genius I was entranced and pretty much didn't stop until I had finished. It starts in 2003, when an attempted bank robbery in America made news headlines across the country. But there's more to it - the crime suddenly turns into a very public murder. The man who was killed was a pizza delivery driver who had a bomb attached to his neck, but it wasn't clear if he was coerced into it or he knew the plan all along. This show was really intense and engaging. It's also pretty sinister so I would recommend watching a comedy afterwards!

The Staircase

Just when I thought Evil Genius was good, The Staircase comes along. This show was actually aired back in 2004, but there's been an update to the story which means three new episodes have been added. In 2001, Michael Peterson's wife was found dead at the bottom of a staircase. He claimed she had fallen down the stairs, but the medical examiner ruled she had been beaten to death. Much like Making a Murderer, it goes into the American criminal justice system and why it could be flawed. It goes into detail about the evidence that was found and also how some of it was possibly tampered with. The defence lawyer in this show is amazing and I'm convinced Michael Peterson is innocent. Out of all of these suggestions, I would watch this above anything else - it's so interesting!

The Office

Call me crazy but I had never watched The Office until very recently. I've started with the US version as I've heard it's better, but I'll definitely get around to watching the UK version too. This show is the perfect thing to put on in the background or at the end of a busy day when you want something lighthearted and fun. I don't have much more to say about it because I'm sure everyone has at least heard of it.

The It Crowd

I'm sure I've mentioned it on my blog before, but I'm a big fan of The It Crowd. This month I found myself rewatching it because it gives me such a comforting feeling. I finished it really quickly and was surprised how short the seasons actually are. I wish the show was longer, but I guess all good things must come to an end - there is going to be a US remake though, which I'm a bit skeptical about! If you've never watched this show, I'd highly recommend it - it's so easy to watch and my fave Richard Ayoade is in it.

Love Island

It feels a bit silly putting this here, but I thought I'd mention Love Island. It's genuinely one of my favourite shows - yes it's trashy and at times problematic but it's such a good watch if you take it light heartedly. This year there's actually an Australian version too, so I've been alternating between watching that and the UK one. New Zealand has it's own version, Heartbreak Island, and it's legitimately the most cringe thing I've ever watched! I'll stick to the original show, thanks.

Have you watched any of these?


4 June 2018

May Reads

I'm finally getting round to reading some of my most anticipated books of the year, and it's always interesting to see if they live up to the hype. May was a pretty good reading month for me - all in all the books I read had some dark themes but managed to present important messages. If you've been looking for something new to read, maybe one of these will appeal...

Almost Love by Louise O'Neill
Louise O'Neill is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. Her books explore some incredibly dark topics and are always told in an incredibly realistic, gripping way. Almost Love is about toxic relationships and learning to find worth in yourself. When Sarah starts seeing Matthew, in secret, she gets addicted to being desired by him and believes love is supposed to hurt. She distances herself from her friends and family, and is on the verge of losing her job - slowly she starts sacrificing everything to be with him. I found this book refreshing because we don't see enough unlikeable women in fiction - we're much more accustomed to tolerating male anti-heroes. I think what I like most about Louise O'Neill's books is how she doesn't always present a happy ending, as that's not always real life. Here we have a woman trying to navigate life and her relationships - she may make bad decisions but real people screw up and make mistakes. This book really doesn't sugarcoat love and romance, and I think for that reason it's an important story.

I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman*
Radio Silence became one of my favourite books, so I was thrilled to get my hands on Alice Oseman's latest release. This one is about Angel Rahimi, who is obsessed with a pop-rock trio of teenage boys, The Ark, who are incredibly famous. It also follows the perspective of the group's frontman, Jimmy, who is transgender and suffers from anxiety. The two are unexpectedly thrust together and it turns out they can learn something from each other. This book explores modern teenage life and on the other hand the effect fame can have on someone so young and vulnerable. The themes in Alice Oseman's books are always incredibly fresh and interesting - I loved seeing the perspective of a band member, one that it is rarely portrayed. Diversity in books is also so important, and I love how different religions and genders were represented here. However, I didn't so much enjoy the actual plot line of this because I found it pretty farfetched and too jumbled. I loved the idea of this book more than the actual story, but in saying that I still think it's worth a read as it explores really important and interesting themes.

Honor Code by Kiersi Buckhart*
I love reading books about boarding schools, but this one explores the darker side of those institutions. Starting off like any young adult book, I didn't think there was anything too special about it to start off with, however once the main storyline gets underway I found myself captivated. Starting her first year at Edwards Academy, Sam is determined to work hard in order to get into Harvard, but her dream is sacrificed when something terrible happens to her on campus. I've read a few books about teenagers who are sexually assaulted and silenced, but I found this one was pretty realistic to what would happen to victims in real life (the sad reality). Despite being somewhat mundane at the beginning, it really picked up speed in the second half and had a surprising twist at the end. This story opens up discussion and shows how rape victims are harassed and silenced, and sometimes due to power and privilege, justice isn't served.

*Review Copy

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