Holidays Book Haul

Every year since I started university I come home for Christmas but this year was special because I got to come back for a whole month!! A month of free food, no exams or uni work and constant DOGS! Utter bliss. I managed to see so many friends (and in fact a friend from Edinburgh came to spend a few days with me and my folks over Christmas which was nice) and I bought some books. In the sales. Because I have very little self control (read literally none whatsoever). I only bought 6 though! So maybe I’m getting better in my ripe old age?

(All book cover images were taken from google because my camera was being mean to me.)

Continue reading “Holidays Book Haul”

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2017 Literary Goals

2016 has been a trying year. Much has happened in my personal life (and in the wider world) and sadly the majority of it has been bad. It’s hard to carry on with the things you love when you can think of nothing other than the bad stuff going on (or it’s hard for me anyway). Unfortunately I didn’t read much in 2016 and, even worse, I didn’t track any of my reading so I don’t really know what I did and whether I read what I wanted to. 2017, hopefully, will be different. And so, with this in mind, I made some goals for the coming year. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with them! Here’s to next year, hopefully it’s better than last year.

Goal #1 – Listen to at least 6 audio books. 

I’ve had an audible account for a while now and I’m racking up the audio books, but I haven’t actually listened to any for a while. I used to listen to them at the gym but then I discovered some amazing podcasts and they pretty much took over my life. I’d like to get back into listening to audio books, and hopefully one every two months will be a more than achievable goal.

Goal #2 – Keep up with reviews.

Reviews aren’t just fun for me, they’re actually pretty helpful. I like to read but unless I become obsessed with a book it can be hard for me to remember everything that happens and what I like and dislike. If I write it all down in a review I can look back on it in the future and know what I did and did not enjoy. I also know that reading reviews can be helpful for others when they’re deciding whether to pick up a book and I love being able to guide people into finding books they love. Hopefully I’ll be doing far more reviews this coming year so watch out for them!

Goal #3 – Start a spreadsheet to track my reading and read a wider variety.

Like I said before, I didn’t track my reading at all this past year and so I really have no idea what I read. In 2017 I may go a tiiiiiny bit overboard in the opposite direction – I’ve created a huge spreadsheet to document my reading. It has around 26 columns from title, author and date published all the way through to various forms of representation. I’m tracking a lot. It may end up being too much, and maybe half my columns will lie unused for most of the year, but I think it’s important to me to try and get all of this information down. It also ties in to the goal of wider reading. I want to read a wider variety of authors and characters (not just straight white teens written by straight white adults), I want to read more genres and get out of my comfort zone, and I really want to read more non fiction. Hopefully by charting all of this information I can really see whether I’m being more diverse and, if not, I can change things up so that I am.

Goal #4 – Participate in the POPSUGAR 2017 Reading Challenge AND the Book Riot 2017 Read Harder Challenge. 

I’ve never really done a reading challenge like this before, but I figure it may help me expand my reading a bit (and so ties in nicely with my previous goal). I probably won’t be able to read a separate book for each part of each challenge, but hopefully I will for most of them! I’m aiming to complete the Book Riot challenge fully, and complete the main section of the POPSUGAR one. I may not get onto the “Advanced” section for POPSUGAR but here’s hoping! If you guys are interested in these challenges you can find the Book Riot challenge here and the POPSUGAR challenge here.

Goal #5 – Read (at some point this year) THESE specific books.

I usually don’t make lists of books I “HAVE” to read within a certain month/year because it puts pressure on to just “get it done” and then I might not enjoy them as much as I would usually. There are certain books I really want to read this year so I really hope I’ll find time for them at some point in 2017. They are:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – yes I still haven’t read it (not my fault, my copy was delivered to my parents home not my flat and this is the first time I’ve been back to my family home this year) but I need to. I. Need. To.

The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman – I started this book a while back but I never finished it and now I’ve forgotten most of it. Hopefully at some point this year I can restart it and actually finish it this time!

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – Jodi came to do a talk about this book in Edinburgh and my flatmate and I went along. It was brilliant! She had great insight and her talk was beautiful. I can’t wait to get the chance to read this one.

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser // Bad Food Britain by Joanna Blythman // The Shape We’re In by Sarah Boseley – these all fit under the same category really, but they’re all factual books about the food industry that I’m really interested to read and see how accurate and unbiased they are. I haven’t really read much about the food/diet industry but it’s a field that does interest me so hopefully I’ll get my teeth into these three this year.

Do you guys have any reading goals for 2017? Mine aren’t very specific (apart from the last one) but hopefully I’ll get back into reading for pleasure and interest this year and it’ll be a great year! Here’s hoping, eh?

 

 

 

We’ve had a face lift!

Hey everyone! I’d been quite sporadic with posting for quite a while (I’ve been having a lot of personal problems and I’ve been in a reading/blogging slump for quite a while) but hopefully that’ll change soon. To commemorate my new ideas and renewed vigour for blogging, I have changed the look of my blog! Woo! It’s still just one of the free WordPress ones (I am but a poor human bean) but I really like the colour scheme and fonts. The blog image of a typewriter is also from the WordPress arsenal and I think it’s both beautiful and does a good job of summing up my blog (and my life if we’re being honest). I may change it to an image that I’ve taken myself in the future, but I’m still undecided. I love this image enough to stick with it for a while yet.

I don’t really know why I’m making this post. I don’t want it to be another “don’t worry I’m back for real” post because they seem to be the death of me. All I can say is that I’m getting on with my life the best I can, I have honestly missed blogging and I’m excited to get back to it, I have more ideas for blog posts now but still no schedule but then, life’s really too short to spend it on a schedule anyway. I want to thank all of you who were here before, and all those who will return. My blog is primarily for myself but when others recognise my work or talk to me about shared interests it really warms my heart. So thank you for that. And here’s to the many productive months ahead.

Don’t forget to follow me if you’d like, read my latest post (a spoiler-free review of the film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), comment on my posts (I do so love hearing from you guys) and follow my new (and hopefully more active) book instagram secretlybeautifulbooks (you can also follow my personal instagram – alliej_xoxo – for sporadic selfies and food porn). See you in the next post .

Film Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

I went to see Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (known forevermore as MP because who has time to write out huge titles?) on Friday but only just got around to doing a review – hopefully my memory has survived! Anyway, this review has a bit of a disclaimer at the start. I have read the book, although admittedly only the first in the series. Yes, the film is a bit different to the book. HOWEVER, this review isn’t about the book, and it isn’t a list of similarities and differences (I can do both of those things in separate posts if people are interested). When I go to see a film, I watch it FOR THE FILM. Not so I can sit there with a checklist noting down every tiny deviation from the book it was based on. Books and films are different mediums, and they require different things. In my opinion anyway, there are very, very, VERY few books that can be turned into successful, ENJOYABLE films simply by getting actors to recite all the words in the book. They are different art forms and I like to treat them as such. Obviously everyone has their own opinions on the topic and no one opinion is the “right one”, we’re all just different and have different views on the subject. Yay diverse thinking! But when I went to see this film, I put my liking of the book to one side and just concentrated on the film as a film. The people who work on films work just as hard as writers to create their chosen piece of art, and I think they deserve from me, an avid consumer, at least the courtesy to watch their film for what it is and not just write it off because it isn’t a carbon copy of the book.

So, the TL;DR for this disclaimer is this: Yay books! Yay films! However, there will be no books in this review. ONLY FILM. And with that, on with the show!

Continue reading “Film Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”

Bout of Books 17 – Sign Up and TBR

Hello all!! Yes, I’ve been away for months now. I didn’t choose to abandon you all – I had a few personal problems I was trying to focus on and blogging took a back seat (an understatement really – blogging was being dragged along on a piece of string behind the car really). But things are better now and to celebrate I’ve decided to throw myself into reading with my first ever read-a-thon!! This is super exciting for me. I chose the Bout of Books read-a-thon because it seemed less intense than some other read-a-thons (which is good for my first one) and because it’s starting tomorrow, 22nd August 2016! If you don’t know what Bout of Books is, here’s the official blurb from their website:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 22nd and runs through Sunday, August 28th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 17 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

Sounds fun, right? I’m very excited for this, and I’ve set up a little TBR to share with you guys. I might not get through all of my list (in fact it’s really highly unlikely) but I’m going to try my best! My TBR is split into three sections: physical books, kindle books, and audio books. Continue reading “Bout of Books 17 – Sign Up and TBR”

What Will I Be Reading While Travelling? Carnegie Prize 2016

I love reading and I love stories, and as most people say, nothing can ever quite match the feeling of holding a book in your hands, feeling its weight, hearing the crinkle of a turning page (bonus points if the book has beautiful pictures or something else that enhances the reading experience even more). However, they can be a bit…unwieldy, and never more so than when you’re going on holiday. I suppose they’re a bit hard to store if you have so many books and not enough spare shelves or corners. With this in mind, kindles (and other e-readers, although I’ve only ever owned and used a kindle) are also awesome. I’m taking a kindle with me to Paris this week, and in preparation I bought some new books (because I didn’t have enough or anything…) – sticking to a theme, I bought the Carnegie Prize 2016 shortlist. The entire shortlist. Let’s all say a quiet prayer for my poor bank account, eh?

There are 8 books on the shortlist, and they cover various different themes. I’m aiming to have read them all by the time the winner is announced on the 20th June. Here’s a brief description of all 8 titles – the link to the Carnegie Shortlist 2016 web page is here. Continue reading “What Will I Be Reading While Travelling? Carnegie Prize 2016”

I’m Back!

Sooooo…it’s been a while, huh? Almost half a year if we want to be specific. I’ve been so busy and stressed the past few months, but now that everything has died down for a while, I realised just how much I miss blogging. It’s been so long but now I’m back and (hopefully) I’ll be around for a very long time yet.

So what’s happened since I last posted? I went to London for a few days (which was amazing), my birthday was in February (which was also amazing) and I had my end of year exams (which were…exams). I bought myself a new camera for my birthday – a Nikon D3300 – which I’ve been getting to grips with. It’s my baby and I love it so much. I think I’m getting rather good too!

This summer’s exam period was one of the worst, most stressful I’ve ever been through – makes sense seeing as the stakes are getting steadily higher. I really hope I’ve done well though – I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

And now for the most exciting news of my year – I’M GOING TO PARIS!!! On Friday, actually. I’ve never been to Paris before (in fact, I’ve never been to France unless you count docking at Calais on a school coach trip to Germany) and I could not be more excited. I’m going with one of my best friends, and we’re spending the weekend at the Bite Me I’m Famous convention in Paris, for the TV show The Vampire Diaries. Then we have until Wednesday to sightsee. We want to go to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, and the Notre Dame cathedral. I want to go to the Shakespeare and Co bookshop and the graveyard where Oscar Wilde is buried, and my friend wants to go to the huge department store. It’s going to be so exciting!!

I leave you now with promises that I will return shortly, and a plea for help. I’ve compiled a little list of cheap-to-cheapish cafes and restaurants that we can eat in when we’re in Paris, but if any of you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them!! Comment below with suggestions. Speak soon!