A 5-Day Trip To Rome 2019

In September, I travelled to Rome with my boyfriend for the first time, and I can honestly say that it was one of the most beautiful and eye-opening experiences that I’ve had so far.

Rome is a city that has always stood out to me for many reasons. For one, it’s always looked so so beautiful (turns out, it’s even more so in real life!), and secondly, it’s a city that is full of culture and history, and I knew that I would come away feeling breathless and enlightened.

I can confirm that I did leave the country feeling both of those things and more. I was undoubtedly tired – if you ever go to Rome, be prepared for a lot of walking! But I would happily suffer from aching feet all my life is it means I get to explore the beautiful cobbled streets and small neighbourhoods again.

So here’s what we saw on our trip to Rome.

Our First Evening

So we landed in Rome Fiumicino airport – also known as the Leonardo Da Vinci airport – and it took us just under an hour to get to our Airbnb, located in Roma Nomentana, which was pretty good going. We selected our BnB because it was in a local area away from the bustle of the city centre so that we could experience true Rome without so much of the tourist traps. The first thing that captivated us was the clusters of pastel-coloured flats, each window accompanied by a pair of dark green shutters, some with small balconies, a few of which shelving potted plants, some buildings even had ivy twisting up the walls. It looked quaint, and the streets were quiet as it was a Thursday evening.

Admittedly, we did get lost. But when we finally found our BnB – a basement apartment tucked away on a small street – we dumped our bags and listened to our host Luigi’s restaurant recommendations as we were both starving (we almost missed our flight so did a runner and missed our chance to grab some food!).

He suggested The Trap, a small restaurant that was cheap yet so so good. As it was not a tourist place, there were no English translations, so the waitress had to help us work out what some of the dishes were, but she was lovely and willing to answer all of our questions. However, I misheard her at some point, because I ended up ordering a pizza that had streaks of ham adorning it – and I hate red meat! Whoops. I tried it anyway as I felt bad but still wasn’t a fan. So my boyfriend picked the ham, while I ate the rest, which was one of the best I had on our holiday. My boyfriend thought the same about his pizza too.

Once we were stuffed, we headed back to our BnB for the night.

The Colosseum, Palatine Hill & The Forum

We woke early the next day and got the metro into the centre of Rome. Our first stop was Castel Saint’ Angelo as we needed to collect our Roma Passes from the tourist info point just outside (highly recommend getting one of these if you’re going to Rome). This was easy to find, and the Castel itself looked so intriguing that we visited a few days later.

So, once we collected our passes, we were off to the Colosseum.

The only thing is, it takes 40 mins approx to get from Castel Sant’Angelo to the Colosseum, which usually is fine for my boyfriend and I as we don’t mind walking long distances. But, Rome’s streets are quite uneven, we weren’t 100% sure of the route, and it was 27 degrees. So it actually took us longer to get there than we anticipated.

However, this walk also presented us with its advantages, as we got to see more of Rome than we would have if we got a bus or taxi. It was so beautiful, diverse, and the architecture was breathtaking. You could see snippets of Rome’s history on every street, the remains of the buildings and constructions that showcase the city, spanning across centuries.

We spotted the Colosseum a few miles out, the top of the curved infrastructure peered out to us over the central courtyard and the herds of huge tourist groups wearing walkie talkies attached by a green cotton string, all blocking the way. After a long walk, it sure was a delight to see the Colosseum at last.

The Colosseum

After an hour’s wait in the skip the line queue and navigating through security, we were finally walking inside the Colosseum. And I’m struggling to find the words that explain how incredible and insightful it was, so I’m just going to leave you with some photos.

Palatine Hill

Palatine Hill was a refreshing place to visit, as, other than the remains of Ancient Roman palaces and houses, there were old vineyards, gardens, and fields stretching around the marble and stone buildings, a nice break after the bustle of the Colosseum. It also gives you the chance to take in some of the most beautiful views of Rome itself.

The Forum

The Forum was high on my list of places to visit, but I can safely say that we spent more time there than I imagines as it is bloody massive. It’s one of the few sites where you can feel history coming alive as you walk through the ancient remains of temples and palaces, including Nero’s. Our feet were screaming by this point, but it was so extraordinary that we had to explore every corner here.

After an incredibly long day (35,000 steps on a scorching day!), my boyfriend and I got a train back to our BnB for a quick nap before getting dinner at a local restaurant nearby.

The Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel

Seeing how busy the queues were for the Colosseum, we knew we had to get to the Vatican early. We had booked tickets for 11.30, so we initially set our alarms for 7 (shower, food, train into town, queues) but didn’t get up until eight something whoops. Where our BnB was a basement flat, the lights were dim, and it was dark and cosy inside, making getting up early quite a challenge throughout this holiday!

When we were back into the Roman centre, the first thing we did was hunt for a coffee shop (we lived off coffee during our time there). We found a small one on a little cobbled street slightly out of the central piazzas that were quiet that morning. After conversing with the charismatic host, we sat down outside with a cappuccino and pastry each.

This is one of my favourite memories of Rome, as the warming sun was still fresh and slightly crisp, and sitting there observing the daily life of Italy was just so charming. In a way, I didn’t want to leave for the Vatican!

But I’m so glad that we did, though. The Vatican Museums are breathtaking, full of a wide variety of art collected from around the world across centuries. My favourite was the tapestry room, where intricate religious scenes were sewn and hung from one end of the dark room to the other.

And let’s not forget about the Sistine Chapel. Standing underneath Michaelangelo’s infamous ceiling was undoubtedly an unforgettable experience.

The only negative thing I have to say is that the Vatican is so overcrowded – we were all huddling along like eccentric penguins, stretching their necks to see the architecture and artwork. I will admit that it did take away from the experience for me as it made the tour more tiring, and, as a very impatient person, I did get frustrated at the tour groups who kept stopping in the middle of the walkways!

Castel Saint’ Angelo

After the Vatican, we were both starving, so gave in and stopped at a tourist trap restaurant (we promised ourselves we’d try and avoid as many of these as possible!) located around the corner which the worst moment of the holiday in all honesty. The coffee wasn’t right, and our sandwich fillings only covered half the bread.

We wandered around the city, which was becoming insanely busy as it was a Saturday. The sky started to turn burnt orange, and the buildings lit up. We noticed more tourists emerging and being targeted by the salespeople on the streets and felt excited by how busy it was. After discovering a few small areas that we hadn’t seen before, we found ourselves by Castel Saint’ Angelo and decided to use our Roma passes and explore.

This is by far one of my favourite moments of our holiday. After walking through the labyrinth of winding staircases, stately rooms, and ancient structures, we reached the top of the building. We discovered that there was a small cocktail bar – ten tables at most – that provided views overlooking the city. The river curved underneath the bridges, places that we hadn’t seen illuminated by the setting sun, and St Peter’s Basicillia towered over it all. It was breathtaking. We ended up staying there for hours (it was European Heritage Day, so sites remained open until 9/10 pm), drinking an Aperol Spritz while watching the sun fade into the river while the moon slowly took its place. It was beautiful, and it allowed us to see Rome in its full vibrancy – many shops were still open, the toys that salespeople were selling flashed neon lights, the sounds of conversations merging into the air. I teared up at the sight!

After finally tearing ourselves away from the view, we headed down to the ground on the hunt for food.

The Pantheon & The Trevi Fountain

Sunday had a bit of a lazy feel, as we hadn’t planned anything for this day – we were going to explore the things we’ve noticed but hadn’t had a chance to look at yet. We had our first lie-in, drank our 34738th cups of coffee for our time here, then headed out to grab lunch (pizzaaaa) and see the Pantheon.

The Pantheon

If you’re an Assassin’s Creed fan, I’m sure you can remember climbing this temple and purchasing it in the game – I did, and I didn’t know much about the Pantheon other than the game, so I was looking forward to learning more about it. We had attempted to visit this monument the night before as it was open later for European Heritage Day, but we got there just as it closed, so it became our priority this morning.

Now, if you go to ever go to Rome, make sure the Pantheon is at the top of your to-do list. Because wow.

When we turned the corner, the ancient temple loomed over Piazza Della Rotonda, so the square was a hub of activity as touristy restaurants lined the square and an incredibly long queue made its way around, all waiting for to see the Pantheon. The building itself is an architectural marvel – constructed in 120AD after the original burnt down, it’s survived wars and earthquakes, and so the unique structure stands.

The Trevi Fountain

After wandering around, buying gifts for family, and stopping in the Lindt cafe, we headed off to the Trevi Fountain.

Like the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain made my boyfriend, and I gasp as we turned the corner. Its fantastic marble depictions of sea horses, mermen, and the water crashing into the base of the fountain come together to personify the sea itself. I thought we’d only spend a few minutes there, but we ended up staying for around half-hour as there were so many intricate details to marvel at.

Our BnB Date

When planning out this trip, my boyfriend and I decided that one night we wanted to stay in and cook our own food using fresh Italian ingredients – we cook pasta a lot, so we wanted to do so but in the most authentic way possible. So we purchased fresh pasta, parmesan, ingredients for a tomato sauce, and even a loaf of bread to make garlic bread (I also popped into a bookshop!). I just wanted to share a few photos of this because it tasted so good, a vast difference compared to what we make at home. We even styled up the table with a rose we’d purchased the day before and prosecco (Italian prosecco tastes 1000x better than the stuff we get back in the UK, FYI).

An Italian Picnic In Villa Borghese

My boyfriend’s friend’s girlfriend is Italian, so we arranged to meet her in Rome (there were a lot of ‘friends’ in that sentence :L ). She took us to Villa Borghese, armed with a suitcase of food (not exaggerating), we laid out a picnic mat and tucked into the food and drink that she and her family had prepared for us – Italians certainly love to please!

We had cannelloni, tiramisu (the best out of our holiday), small almond parcels (never found out what they were!), and wine. It tasted amazing, some of the best food we had during our entire trip. She explained some of the things that we had noticed throughout our stay, such as a few cultural differences that took us by surprise, the constant harassment of salespeople, public transport, and just caught up with what was going on with our lives.

Afterward, we walked around the park – a refreshing break from the bustle of the city – and my boyfriend and I rented a boat on the enchanting artificial lake.

A bookstall we passed on the way to Villa Borghese

Once we said goodbye, we wandered around the surrounding high streets and then headed back to our BnB to get ready for dinner.

Our Final Night In Rome

Again, I wanted to take a moment to share our meal this night as it was our final night in Rome, and we went all out with our food.

We dressed up – as in he wore a suit and I wore a dress – and went to a more expensive restaurant in the city. We originally wanted a three-course meal, but as it was a Monday evening, everything closed earlier (10 pm), so we had a bottle of prosecco, calamari and pasta course each. One of our best meals out of our holiday. Then, after the restaurant closed, we wandered the uneven back streets, taking in the quietness of it all, and bought gelato at one of the 478394732 gelato places in Rome. I had tiramisu and Nutella! We ate in front of the Pantheon, then got a bus back to our BnB.

The morning after, we packed and stopped at a coffee shop near where we stayed, our wheelie cases announcing our entrance. It was nice to end in Nomantana as we got to savour calm, quaint Italy with its sunset-coloured flats, motorcyclists weaving their way through the school traffic while drinking cappuccinos that tasted better than what we had in the centre. Feeling tired and slightly blue about leaving, we got on the train to the airport and started our journey home.

23 Things That I’m Grateful For

I’m the type of person who is just not willing to settle. I have a sort-of plan for my future, and everything I do contributes towards that. When I start something, I’ll keep going until I’ve mastered it, become confident in it, then move on to the next challenge and utilise my newly-found skills. So, I try really hard to remind myself to be grateful for the things that I already have.

I say that like it’s a hard thing to do, but that’s because it is. I’m always looking for the next best thing (I sound so horrible when I say that!). So this blog is my reminder of every amazing thing in my life.

  1. I can read

There are so many adults and children – particularly women – who cannot read and do not have access to books. I’d hate to live in a world like that, as reading is an essential skill and books are one of the best things in life.

2. I can write

For same reasons as above.

3. I work for myself and make my own money

My first job, I was in the last year of secondary school and it was a paper round. I made hardly any money from it (£10 a week at most) and I absolutely hated the job but loved the fact that I had my own money to spend on whatever I wanted. I’m now even more grateful to be working on creative projects and making progress with my career goal, and, even though right now is not what I plan on doing forever, I’m happy to actually have a job that I enjoy.

4. I have ambition

As I said earlier, I know what I want to achieve in life and I have a rough idea of how I’m going to do it. Without a goal in life, I’d feel lost and like everything is pointless. I’ve known people who don’t have any particular aims or goals and are content working in a job that doesn’t mean much to them, who’ll then go home, watch TV and go to bed ready to live the same day over and over. Ambition is what pushes people to break out of that cycle and do something that they love, and I’m so so grateful to have it.

5. Creativity

Because I would not have achieved half the things I’ve achieved without it, nor would I be able to push myself further.

6. My ever-growing pile of books

Books inspire me to write, try new things, stand up for what I believe in, and pull me up from the ground whenever I feel like I’ve fallen.

7. The forest

Or any nature in general. While I love cities, it is the forest that inspires my writing, my book photos, and helps clear my headspace when needed.

8. The internet

Without it, my job wouldn’t exist neither my bookstagram account, and I wouldn’t be able to have my work published on different sites for people to see. Without the internet, I’m not sure where I’d be!

9. My confidence

Ok, so I’m not 100% confident yet. But I’m so so much better than what I used to be. I never had many friends and I had strict parents so I never went out until quite later than everyone else did – guess I just never learnt to socialise properly. There are still times when I’m barely speaking as I have no idea what to say, or I’d rather just hang back and listen, but I’m definitely speaking out more than I used to.

I remember putting off starting this blog and my bookstagram because I didn’t want people to read my writing or hear my opinions. And when I started my Insta, I refused to upload any pictures that showed my face. I didn’t introduce myself until about six months after starting my account as I didn’t want anyone to know anything about me.

Now, I still stutter and panic while my face turns into the colour of a tomato whenever I have to stand in front of people and speak, and I still don’t know what to say to people who I haven’t long met, but I now ask for help when I need it, can book appointments on the phone, and confidently tell people what I like to do without apologising for it. So yeah, I’m quite proud of myself.

10. I had the chance to go to university

I say this because it was during uni that my confidence really grew. It had to, else I wouldn’t have made any friends!

But it’s not just that. University is disgustingly expensive, and I know that there are so many young people who would love to go but can’t afford to. So I’m incredibly thankful for the amount of crippling debt I now have (which I probably will never pay off), as it meant that I got to further my education and expand my skills.

It is also because of university that I got to experience many new things. I lived without my parents, rented two houses, went on so many day and nights out (I held owls for the first time ever!) I joined societies and tried out new activities, learned to balance my work without my parents there to help (even though many of my deadlines were completed in the early hours of the morning they were due, whoops), realised exactly how much drink I can handle (a very important skill in my opinion, even if I ignored it most of the time), took up work experience with a magazine company, and I tried a long distance relationship for the first time (and we’re still going strong insert sunglasses emoji)

Without university, I would not have done even half of those things.

11. My mind

Ok, so this one is going to sound so stuck up, but I’m grateful for my mind’s ability to wander away and take me places with my thoughts, then come back again to this world with new ideas. To me, our minds are weapons, and I love that it keeps me thinking, dreaming, and helps me overcome any obstacles that I encounter.

12. Our generation

Our generation are currently fighting for so much. Equality, our planet, better working lives, mental health awareness. We’re working to for the houses, we want despite the rising prices, the kids that we’ll have once we’ve found a steady job and a suitable living space, we’re starting our own businesses, we’re working to make a difference in our world.

I love that I’ve witnessed movements such as #metoo and Black Lives Matter, the climate change protests. I love seeing us all take a stand, especially now that Trump and Johnson are in power, abortions have been taken away in America and there seems to be violent acts committed everyday. I am therefore thankful for the progressive thinkers who emerge from the hate and controversy and encourages us to do the same.

13. Water

For when you’re tired, hot, on the move, too drunk/hungover, sick, having a bad skin day…water fits every situation. And there are many out there in the world without a clean water source which affects their health.

Plus, that moment when you wake up in the night parched and neck a whole glass like it’s come from the Garden Of Eden itself is one of the best moments ever.

14. Cheese

Put this in because I’m writing while I’m hungry. And cheese really is the best food there is, especially when it’s on a pizza.

15. The fact that I’m not as self-conscious as I used to be

I used to shave my legs as soon as I saw one hair. I would never leave the house without make up. I wouldn’t even take my make up off before I went to bed because I hated the way my eyes looked without it.

At school, I received a few comments about my looks. I have tight tendons in my legs, so I walk funny, and I once heard two girls standing behind me trying to work out why I ‘walk funny’. A few years later in secondary, the same two girls were sat behind me in class laughing at how hairy my neck was. There was another time when we had to do an activity with cameras in class, and a boy took a photo then took the mick out of my smile. Girls would find it strange that I did my make up in the toilets and take it off at the end of the day, because I wasn’t allowed make up at home. I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was 18. All of these things made me so so self conscious, and I’d constantly be worrying about what I looked like.

Now, I wear dresses even if I haven’t shaved my legs. I can leave the house without make up and my curly hair on show. I don’t care that I walk funny and I’m not afraid to smile. I don’t cover up my spots.

I’m not perfect. I hate when my stomach is bloating or I worry if I feel too hot and get sweat patches. I worry that my hair looks greasy when I know it isn’t. But I’m nowhere near as bad as I once was, and I know that I’ll get over the remaining insecurities that I have. Because they’re normal – everyone has them.

16. The people who didn’t believe in me

As mentioned earlier, in school I was surrounded by comments and remarks about my appearance. Well I was also judged for what I wanted to do in life.

I remember the first time I told someone I wanted to be an author. Her exact words were ‘Have you ever written a book?” and when I said that I had, she snorted and said “Right,” and didn’t want to speak anything of it.

After that, I stayed quiet about my dream career. When I told another girl that I loved English, she said that it’s a pointless thing to be good at because ‘we can all read, what else do you need?”

One of my English teachers gave me a target grade lower than the rest of the class because she wasn’t sure if I’d improve by the end of the year (guess what – I did).

There have been many other comments in between and after that. And there have been many that weren’t just about writing and reading. The first memory that comes to mind is when I was in a group for a Science project (one of my worst subjects) and I had an idea, and the response was ‘Shut up Chloe’ and that I was being annoying. That was the first time I had spoken up, as I didn’t really understand anything else about what we were doing.

But these comments made me determined to prove people wrong. All these comments just add fuel to the fire, as I’m too competitive and stubborn to let them get to me. So to all those people, thank you.

17. The people who did believe in me

While I was motivated by the ones who didn’t believe in me, there were still moments when their words did get to me and I broke down. Without the people who helped put me back on track, my boyfriend, my friends, family, etc, I think I’d spend at least a week hiding away too afraid to do anything as I’m scared it won’t be good enough. I need those people around me to keep me going.

18. Coffee

Because I wouldn’t have got through uni without it, nor would I be able to get a train at 7 everyday.

19. Summer

I write this because it’s just started pouring down with rain, accompanied by thunder and flashes of writing. I hate the cold with a passion. Autumn is my least favourite season – it’s pretty, but cold, rainy, I don’t like wearing 5054789 layers and I most certainly do not like pumpkin lattes.

Sunny weather, longer days, summer dresses, beer gardens, picnics and writing outdoors. Now that’s what I get excited for.

20. The things I got to do before technology took over

Being a 90’s baby, my childhood consisted of days out in the woods, Haven holidays in the UK, Disney films, books and cheesy pop legends like Backstreet Boys. My youngest sister listens to songs about getting high, doesn’t really have any hobbies, and won’t let us sing happy birthday to her until she has had a photo taken. And she hasn’t watched every Disney film that exists.

That’s not a childhood to me.

21. A cup of tea

Especially in my favourite mug, brewed to perfection.

22. Sleep

Because 90% of adult life is spending the day thinking about your bed.

23. The little things that can really make my day

Someone’s reaction when they receive the perfect present. Making the train just before it leaves. Lazy Sunday mornings. Feeling proud of something I’ve done. Comfort meals and chocolate when I’m having a bad day. When I realise my period has finished. The times when my friends make me laugh so much I can’t breathe. Seeing my boyfriend. Shoes that don’t give me blisters. Catching the scent of my favourite candle. Baths. Having something to look forward to. And so much more.

So that’s me. Tell me about you – what are you grateful for?

Why The Order Of The Phoenix Is The Best Harry Potter Book

Whenever you ask someone what the best Harry Potter book is, it’s usually Prisoner Of Azkaban. Now, I’m not saying it’s a terrible book – I can see why some deem it the most significant. It’s a lot darker compared to the first two Harry Potter books, the characters come into their own, whereas in the previous two they are still finding themselves and their way around the wizarding world, and we meet Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather and a key character in the series.

But, Order Of The Phoenix speaks more volumes for me. While many say that it’s a challenging read – I mean it is 766 pages, a vast amount compared to Philosopher’s Stone (223 pages) – and that it’s not as fun as the previous installments in the series, I personally liked it because of those reasons. Order Of The Phoenix is a major turning point for Harry and his friends, so it only fits for the book to carry a different tone.

So, here are just some of the many, many reasons why Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix is the best book in the Harry Potter series.

It contains one of the most significant moments in the series

Think back to the prophecy made by Professor Trelawny to Dumbledore:

“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…”

— Professor Trelawny

This quote is spoken during Trelawny’s interview for the position of Divination teacher at Hogwarts, and while Dumbledore was giving the interview, Snape overheard the first part of the prophecy which he then reported to Voldemort. This resulted in James and Lily Potter going into hiding once Dumbledore warned them, but, after trusting Peter Pettigrew with their location, Voldemort killed them while trying to kill Harry. After this, one of Voldemort’s aims was to find out the end of the prophecy.

He believed that the last part of the prophecy would tell him how to kill Harry, and so a large part of the Order’s work was to prevent this from happening. In the end, Voldemort never got to hear the rest of the prophecy, but Harry did, which also led to Dumbledore’s explanation of why Voldemort is so obsessed with him. This conversation was one of the big moments that we had been waiting for – after reading the first four books and waiting for the reason to be revealed, it finally happened, setting up the premise for the last two installments of this series. The Harry Potter franchise rests on that explanation.

The Breaking Down Of Harry Potter

Ok, I’m not saying that Harry’s meltdowns are a good thing because they’re not. However, it makes him a more relatable character and gives him depth.

There are many darker themes throughout this novel, and truths are revealed about a handful of characters which shows them in a new light. And one example of this is James Potter.

During Harry’s Occlumency lessons, he watched James act like an arrogant bully towards Snape when they were at Hogwarts, a glass-shattering illusion for Harry, and readers everywhere, as a character who we thought was a hero wasn’t all that we thought he was.

This can even be said for Dumbledore. As Harry grows throughout the series, his relationship with Dumbledore becomes slightly strained and frustrating, especially in this book when he abandons Harry during one of the worst years of his life. Because of this, he then feels more alone than ever and is thus vulnerable to Voldemort.

These revelations throughout the book, mourning for Cedric, the pressure of leading Dumbledore’s Army, the death of Sirius and that fact that, at the end of the novel, Voldemort is still alive and well, all add up to this feeling of hatred in Harry. It all comes together as a weight that makes him feel alone and like nothing more than a pawn in an extremely dark game.

We’ve all experienced these feelings (obviously we’re not being hunted by the darkest wizard of all time, but you get what I mean), so to see our hero break down, constantly feeling tired and broken, can kind of create a somewhat reassuring feeling inside us readers. Like Harry comes to realise at the end of the novel, we are not alone, even though it feels that way sometimes.

Realistic Themes

Yes, this is a book set in a wizarding world, but several themes are incredibly relevant right now.

One of the most central themes is the abuse of power, as illustrated best by the most hated character in the wizarding world: Professor Umbridge.

It is clear to see that Dolores Umbridge loves power more than anything else. As she rises from the Defence Against The Dark Arts professor to a leading role in Hogwarts, she continues to exert her authority in cruel ways, even going as far as firing Trelawny (until Albus Dumbledore intervenes).

She, along with the Ministry, uses Voldemort’s return as a campaign for continuous political power, worrying that if everyone sides with Harry and Dumbledore, people will attempt to overthrow the Ministry. The fact that Fudge has that much control that he succeeds in creating an active campaign against Harry that detriments the public’s safety without anyone realising, apart from the few people who do, is terrifying, and shows the extent leaders will go through to maintain their power.

Another theme that features strongly in Order Of The Phoenix is the rise of youth activism. Right now, our generation is protesting against global warming, unequal rights, causes that will significantly affect our future. In the book, Dumbledore’s Army rises against the restrictions that the Ministry imposes by practicing defensive spells and learning to defend themselves against the dark forces that roam free. It was a protest against Umbridge and her tight reign throughout Hogwarts. They fight for what is right.

Through this, J.K Rowling is teaching her readers to not settle for injustice. And, going by the movements that our generations have created such as #metoo and Black Lives Matter, her readers are listening.

It Shows That J.K Rowling Stopped Messing Around

The first three Harry Potter books were fun and light-hearted, full of wizarding delights, owls and Quidditch games. The way that death is treated in these books prove this; Quill’s death was nowhere near as saddening as Cedric’s death in The Goblet Of Fire, as Quill was a villain. We all loved Cedric. It broke us, as it suddenly took away the belief that the good characters will survive.

Rowling then decided to really rub it in by killing Sirius.

Harry had only just found the family that he had wanted all his life. His father figure, someone to look up to. He was Harry’s chance to escape the Dursley’s home. So Rowling decides to rip all of that to shreds.

The fact that she does this just as a small glimmer of happiness is entering Harry’s life tells us that no one is safe, evil, or not. It is from this point that we started to worry about our favourite characters.

Secondary characters come into their own

As mentioned earlier, in Prisoner of Azkaban, we see Harry, Ron and Hermione come into their own after spending the first two books sussing out the wizarding world.

Well, in Order Of The Phoenix, more of our favourite characters came into the spotlight. Moody, Tonks, Lupin, Fred, and George (to name a few), all become prominent characters. We learn more about Ron’s parents and how they’ve previously battled Death Eaters and are ready to do it again. We get an insight into Snape’s life, turning him into more of a three-dimensional character. Harry’s relationship grows with these characters, which they all benefit from.

What is your favourite Harry Potter book?

The Town Of Books: A Literary Guide To Hay-On-Wye

Hay-On-Wye, aptly named Britain’s ‘The Town of Books’ is a reader’s paradise. It seems to be immune to the dying-bookshop trend, as it has 21 bookshops filled with rare editions, recent releases, poetry, and so much more.

I’ve visited twice now, my bank account crying both times, and I can’t wait to go back and add to my reading pile. It’s just a never-ending world of books, and I never seem to walk away from there feeling like I bought everything I wanted – there are always more books to discover!

My favourite bookshops in Hay-On-Wye

Hay Cinema Bookshop

So this bookshop has 200,000 books!! Renovated from a restored cinema, Hay Cinema Bookshop contains every genre you can think of, non-fiction titles like art, music, history and zoology, stunning editions of classics and even a few rare finds. It’s the longest established bookshop in this little town, and you can see why it’s been so successful. I actually got lost in here; my sister came in to find me, and suddenly we had no idea where the exit was, wandering around and just finding more bookshelves – I encountered so many more sections that hadn’t explored yet, so I will definitely be returning soon!

Richard Booth’s Bookshop

Richard Booth, the self-proclaimed ‘King of Hay,’ is known for partly setting up Hay-On-Wye’s second-hand bookshop success. He opened his bookshop in a building that was previously a fire station, purchased books from the deteriorating libraries in America and used them as the beginning stock of the newly opened Richard Booth’s Bookshop. The shop has a quirky atmosphere, comfy seating, and three floors rammed with wooden bookshelves and displays. There’s also a cafe and cinema, but I am yet to take a look at these.

Addyman Books

Addyman Books is divided into three separate shops throughout Hay-On-Wye, and each one caters to different tastes. This one, located on Lion Street, is painted in a beautiful blue colour with intricate patterns that made it feel so luxurious, and the floorboards creaked, and it just smelt of books (obviously), and oh my god I didn’t want to leave. There is a small room dedicated to Penguin Random House, with elaborate shelves filled with vintage Penguin Classics. I had never seen so many vintage Penguins in one place before!

Addyman Annexe

The second out of the three Addyman bookshops (I still need to visit the third – Murder & Mayhem bookshop), it can be considered to be one of the more insta-worthy in Hay-On-Wye. This particular bookshop isn’t just about celebrating the stories told through the written word, but it also celebrates the beauty that books themselves have. The books are organised by colour, and there are little reading nooks dotted throughout the shop.

The best thing about this place, though? The sign outside stating that Kindles are banned.

Hay-On-Wye Booksellers

Hay On Wye Booksellers is one of the most memorable bookshops in this small town, and that is partly due to its unique style. It has a vintage appeal – black and white wood panelling, two floors of wooden-shelving and a little swinging sign; it certainly stands out from the rest of the street. The books range from well-known bestsellers, rare editions, and beautiful covers, you will definitely need to set aside some time when visiting this one. There are sofas and plenty of space to move about, so you’ll feel right at home.

Green Ink Booksellers

Green Ink Booksellers is the newest bookshop to open in Hay-On-Wye, joining the town of books in 2018. I love that in a world where bookshops are becoming a dying trend, there are exceptions like these that give hope for the future of bookselling. The outside of the shop is beautiful: painted in a vibrant teal and gold lettering for its name, you really can’t miss it. The shop focuses on history, philosophy, and literature, spanning over two levels. If you go down the creaky steps, you’ll find editions of memorable classics – an entire shelf dedicated to Enid Blyton was the highlight for me.

The Bookshops I still need to visit

The thing with Hay-On-Wye is that there are just so many bookshops, each requiring a decent amount of time to look at every bookshelf, that it’s impossible to see them all within one or two visits. There are still a few bookshops I need to see, such as:

Murder and Mayhem

This bookshop sells exactly what the name says. Filled with solely crime, thriller, and horror books, it’s high on my list for my next trip to Hay-On-Wye. As the same owner runs it as the Addyman bookshops, I have high expectations.

Poetry Bookshop

It’s strange for me to put this on my list as I don’t love poetry that much. However, as it’s the only bookshop in the UK dedicated solely to poetry, I am curious to see what’s on offer. There are a few poets that I like (Christina Rossetti is my favourite!), so I might surprise myself and find some hidden treasures hidden amongst the shelves.

Honesty Bookshop in Hay Castle

There is a bookshop on the castle grounds!! Hay Castle is currently under construction, so it’s closed until 2020. If only I had realised that Honesty Bookshop is still open! Definitely need to go back soon. This bookshop consists of open shelves against the walls of the castle grounds and has been there since the 1960s. There is a payment box there, all books are £1, and all money goes towards the castle. It’s a beautiful idea that allows you to read a book and enjoy the small bustle of the town centre, and I cannot wait to see it for myself.

Other Things To Do In Hay-On-Wye

Hay-On-Wye is the town of books, but there are other places to see for those who aren’t so interested in the bookshops (probably those who have been dragged there against their will – apologies to my boyfriend). What makes Hay-On-Wye so sweet is that there is nothing but independent shops and eateries – not a single branded in chain in sight (Other than a small Co-Op and Spar).

Here are other places of interest:

Hay Castle

Right now, as I mentioned earlier, the castle is closed for renovations until 2020. This beautiful building is under threat – the walls are collapsing, there are signs of extreme deterioration, the Norman Keep is severely unstable. However, part of the grounds themselves are still open, and they are lovely to walk around if you need a break from all those bookshops.

Independent Shops

Bookshops aren’t the only shops available in Hay-On-Wye. As we walked around the cobbled streets, we found CD and DVD shops, antiques, shops selling costumes, crafts, fudge, anything you can think of.

Another notable store

Another shop that I visited that deserves a mention in this post is Bartums & Co. It’s a beautiful stationary shop that spans across two floors and supplies a range of stationery and writing instruments, such as fine pens and calligraphy, pots of ink and quills, high-quality paper and notebooks, office supplies, bookmarks, letter writing sets, files and folders and so much more. It even smells like an old, traditional stationary shop – it’s a writer’s haven!

On the second level, there is a desk with paper and different types of fountain pens and ink so you can see which pen is right for you. I came out of there with a new bucket-list bookmark (lists all the must-read books of all time) and a letter writing set, but I also almost came out with a set of temporary book tattoos, a new notebook, and a handful of pens. I had to be stopped as by the time I had reached this shop, my bank account was crying…

Eateries in Hay-On-Wye

I have to admit, I wasn’t blown away by the selection of eateries in Hay-On-Wye, but that’s because I couldn’t see that many to choose from, so I’m sure there’s plenty there to find.

For lunch, we went to a cafe called The Shepard’s Parlour, which served freshly made sandwiches, ice cream, soups, and more. The iced coffee was amazing, and my mozzarella sandwich tasted lovely. Will be returning to try the cakes though!

We went to the restaurant at The Three Tuns, a pub with a cute little courtyard at the back, fairy lights running along the wooden staircases. It was an Italian menu, I had crab tagliatelle, and it tasted delicious. However, the brownie was the best part of the meal by far!

If you’re a bookworm, you NEED to visit Hay-On-Wye. It’s a book paradise, filled with rare treasures and well-known favourites for half the price you would expect to pay at Waterstones; safe to say, you will never want to leave.

(I recommend going once you’ve been paid though – your bank account will be very empty after your visit!)

Why Jo March Is My Favourite Little Woman

SPOILERS AHEAD

When I first started reading Little Women, I didn’t expect to fall in love with Jo so much. I certainly didn’t plan on her becoming one of my favourite literary characters ever, along with Cathy Earnshaw and Elizabeth Bennet. The moment when I realised how much I’m going to like Jo was during the first part of the novel; she wrote a play for her sisters to act out on Christmas Day – I used to boss my sisters around when I was little as we put on performances for our parents, so it was undoubtedly a relatable scene!

So after that, my admiration for Jo continued to grow as the novel went on. Here are a few reasons why she is the best little woman, and certainly an unforgettable character.

She’s determined

One thing that I love about Jo is her determination. She’s determined to help her mother see her husband when he falls ill at war, so she shaves her hair off to sell it (even if it was not needed.) She is determined to see her novels published so she can send money home for ailing Beth. But that’s not the only reason why she writes. When reading the book, you can see her dedication to her stories, keeping herself away in her little corner of the attic, wearing her specific writers’ clothing (more on this later).

When she sets her mind to something, no can stop her from doing it.

She’s ‘masculine’

Throughout the novel, Jo often wished that she ‘was a boy’ and would swear, whistle, ruffle her skirts. She’s blunt and opinionated and can be clumsy, as shown by her setting her dress on fire while warming herself up. She struggles to remain within the domestic sphere, feeling angry when she can’t fight in the Civil War alongside her father.

One of my favourite scenes from the novel is when she and Amy call upon their neighbours, and Jo purposely shocks Amy with her erratic behaviour. Jo hates making calls (customary for women at the time) and so decides to have a bit of fun. When Amy tells her to be ‘calm, cool, and quiet,’ she says no more than a few words at a time. When Amy said she should speak more with the ladies, Jo is over the top and silly. Amy stops caring what Jo does, so she goes and plays with the boys, making a mess of her best dress. I found the whole scene hilarious as it’s Jo’s way of rebelling against the high-class, feminine tradition of making calls. She refuses to fit in and act a certain way – and if that means causing a scene, then she shall create a scene.

She’s relatable

Majority of the time, when you ask someone who your favourite character from Little Women is, the answer will be Jo. So I think that that’s because she is so ahead of her time, and so we can relate to her more.

As mentioned earlier, she doesn’t attempt to fit in with society’s rules for women; she instead embodies a strong, different type of femininity that I think applies to today’s gender ‘roles.’ She’s independent, chases her dreams and continuously works to better her talents. She accepts who she is, instead of whom the world wants her to be, and allows herself to grow and move forward, realising that she does love Bhaer.

She was considered to be imperfect because she was not a stereotypical woman, and that’s why she is a loved character. Her unladylike ways are flaws to her, and there are times throughout the novel when she is unhappy that she is not the proper lady. However, she accepts these ‘flaws’ and continues to do what she believes she needs to do. You just can’t help but be inspired by her.

She’s a writer

As a writer, I couldn’t write this post without including Jo’s literary talents. My favourite parts of Little Women are the scenes where Jo puts on her ‘scribbling suit’ and gets to work, isolating herself for hours.

What I love is the significance of writing for Jo – it plays such a massive part of her life. Her skills develop through the book as she regularly devotes her time to her craft, in her own private writing space, something that I wish I could have!

Writing is also a necessary act for Jo in a way. She’s a fiery character with lots of energy, and writing helps her release that energy and produce something that becomes extremely successful. It was also her way of letting go of her struggles, such as losing Meg to Jon, or the pressures of society to become the women she despises or Beth’s death. Her emotions are expressed through her words – I remember almost crying at the poem she wrote about her sisters and herself towards the end of the novel.

It is partly through her writing that Jo learns to be herself. When Jo tried to live as Beth did, Jo was not herself. Her mother persuaded her to write something, anything, it led to Jo’s writing success, and her creative energy that everyone adored returned.

Six months on

It’s crazy to think that I started this blog six months ago. I haven’t posted on here half as regularly as what I intended, so I think that’s why I feel a bit strange writing this, as if it’s my baby and I haven’t been looking after it the way I should be. But I’m still happy with it so far, and I love writing for it.

I never really wanted to post so much personal stuff on my blog, simply because I’m not that soppy and just get on with things instead of reflecting on them. But recently, my lack of writing has become so frustrating that I’ve settled for writing whatever comes to my head, and my post Finding the time to write was born. Turns out, I loved writing it, and since then I’ve been more open to posting random thoughts that come to mind.

It’s weird to think that my bookstagram started as a portfolio, a way to show my skills in social media. But it’s turned into something that I love doing, that I love looking at again and again. My blog started as a follow of this, when I realised how annoying it was to have so many thoughts that wouldn’t fit in an Instagram caption. It took me a month to create it, as I was too picky with the designs, and wanted each post to be perfect.

While I still have that picky mindset about the website itself (especially since starting my job for an SEO agency), when it comes to the blogs however, I don’t really care about making sure they’re perfect. I just do what I want to do and if a lot of people read it, then that’s incredible. But, I’ve stopped living with the fear of my latest post not reaching high standards and a large number of traffic, because this blog is only six months old.

I’ve always had a plan about my life, where I want to be and how I’m going to get there. I set myself high standards, and beat myself up when I don’t achieve them. I think that’s why my novel has been taking so long; I’d write three sentences then spend a good fifteen minutes at least trying to think of better wording and check I’ve properly built up whatever it is that I’m writing about.

But now, I write in my notebook before my laptop, so I can just scribble words down and edit them later. I’ve got so much more done in the past couple months than I did last year, and that was when it was my dissertation. I’ve still set myself a deadline, but I’m not worrying too much about it being perfect. And that’s also how I feel about my blog.

So, who knows what it’s going to look like six months from now? It might be the same, or I might have changed it all completely. That’s what I find exciting about all this – watching my blog grow and grow.

“Don’t worry about it”

How many times in your life have you heard the phrase ‘Don’t worry about it,’’ or been told ‘not to worry’? I’ve heard it a countless number of times.

The thing is, I am a worrier. I always have been. I worry about the work I have; I worry that people don’t like me. I worry that my novel will be turned down by every publisher on this earth. I’m always wondering what would happen if I don’t finish that guest blog from last week, or if I forget to keep in contact with the people I freelance for? Or what if we don’t save the planet in time, or what if one day my boyfriend wakes up and suddenly decides that he doesn’t like me anymore?

I think I was told not to worry by pretty much everyone when I was applying for grad jobs near the end of uni. Whenever I mentioned that I had applied for 478783 jobs so far, but no one had got in contact, “don’t worry about it” was the go-to response. And I hated it. I never really knew what to say, as it was frankly a stupid thing to say to someone in that type of situation. We all worry about not having a job. Our lives depend on one; we literally cannot live without working at some point in our lives. When you’re searching for a job, you have every reason to worry, and we all know that. So what’s the point in telling us not to?

I feel that way with any situation. We all worry when something we’ve been working on for years doesn’t amount to anything. Imagine how stressed Tolkien would have been (presumably) sending Lord of the Rings to a publisher after spending an entire ten years (!!) on it? There’s always a slither of doubt creeping into the back of our minds, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Even if we push it away, it’s still there.

Yes, some things don’t require as much worrying as others – there’s a difference between panicking over losing money and whether your hair looks good, but that’s up to use to be brave and just accept that that horrible little voice is right. Because sometimes, your hair doesn’t look good. No offence to anyone, but we’ve all been there.

The super cool product that you’ve spent aaaages making might actually be nothing but crap. You might not be as good at drawing as you think you are. Your novel might get rejected. That’s life.

We all consider these sorts of things, and that’s OK because that encourages us to work even harder. It’s your motivation, proving that dark voice wrong. And if you didn’t, that’s OK too, because you would have learned from that and got on with your next project – and it will always be even better than the last one.

So next time you’re about to tell someone not to worry, don’t. Yes, comfort them, make them feel better, let them know that they are doing an excellent job, but don’t tell them not to worry. Because if they stay super chill all of their lives, they are left with this false sense of security as nothing is going ever going to go drastically wrong. And when it does, they’re in for a shock.

Books that should be in every library

This post was inspired by The Librarian, in which the protagonist is a children’s librarian. Throughout the book, so many children’s’ books are mentioned and how amazing they are. It made me think about books that have impacted me, and why they should be read by pretty much everyone on this planet. I’ve tried to stick with children’s books, but it’s turned out to be an even split between them and adults books. It was so hard to leave any out!

Let me know which books you would include in this list!

To Kill A Mockingbird

It’s a heart-wrenching book that oozes powerful themes such as racism, prejudice, adolescence, cruelty – ideas that are still relevant today. The life lessons that Atticus preaches (and practices himself – one of the many reasons why he is the best character in the novel) are just priceless.

Alice in Wonderland

It’s not hard for a child to become wrapped up in Lewis Carroll’s fantasy world of Wonderland. It’s a whimsical yet incredibly-crafted tale in which Alice gradually learns to see things in different perspectives. The book is filled with charming and memorable characters whom Alice doesn’t judge, but she accepts that each one is different, even if she is taken back by this whole new world at times.

Carroll also comes up with some beautiful, relatable quotes. Here are two of my favourites:

‘Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality’ – Cheshire Cat

You know what the issue is with this world? Everyone wants a magical solution for their problem and everyone refuses to believe in magic.’ – Mad Hatter

I feel that it’s worth reading this book for statements like this alone.

The Great Gatsby

Another adult book, but seriously, if you haven’t read The Great Gatsby yet, why the hell not? This book provides a timeless insight into society and the people who are part of it, even if Fitzgerald’s novel is set in the 1920s. The issues explored are still relevant today. It’s a love story, a rags-to-riches tale, a warning of corruption and money. Also, yes, it’s 10000x better than the Leo DiCaprio film.

The Secret Garden

There’s just something magical about The Secret Garden that keeps you entice for pretty much the rest of your life. Whenever the title pops up, you instantly think of the thousands of roses, the determined character of Sarah, who learns to take care of herself and eventually discovers the magic of the natural world. Also, you cannot forget about Martha, the Yorkshire servant who is possibly the sweetest character in the novel. It’s a different kind of book in which the goodness of seemingly unlikeable characters is revealed without the guidance of adults.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

No matter how old you are, I think that every person alive should read this book. Anne was an extraordinary girl with a good way of thinking. Through her diary, not only do you get a first-hand account of the effects that WW2 brought, but you also experience her adolescence, her perseverance to get through this haunting period and her desire to live life the best way that she can.

For me, the most saddening thing about her life is that Anne died only months before the camps were liberated.

Harry Potter

I feel like pretty much 90% of the population has read the Harry Potter books, so in this case, I’ll keep it short. This isn’t just a story about wizards and witches; it’s a tale of bravery, friendship, and childhood – there are so many life lessons hidden amongst the magical tale. It amazes me that someone could conjure up a world as intricate as this, so many details that create this illusion that there really is a Hogwarts nestled in Scotland.

Macbeth

I think that everyone should read a Shakespeare play at least once in their lives. Not just study it, but actually read it. And not only because of the supernatural elements that make it a perfect read for autumn. There are so many themes throughout this play that have captured readers since the dawn of time – thirst for power, the meaning of life, and what lies within people’s hearts. The characters themselves are based on real people, And, most importantly, behind the fancy language, there’s a fast-paced, enticing story!

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice isn’t just a love story. It explores the stereotypes that people are constantly faced with – it’s literally about people who are proud and prejudiced. Characters judge each other thanks to influences around them, and they find that they’re wrong, once they’ve taken the time to actually get to know each other (if you’ve read this book, you’ll know that it’s not that simple, but it’s the best of way to explain it without any spoilers!). It’s a message that can still be applied today.

Wuthering Heights

I couldn’t write this list without featuring one of my all-time favourite books. Wuthering Heights is great because the characters in this are flawed; Heathcliff is cruel and horrible, and Cathy is selfish af. But yet, Heathcliff loves her anyway. I won’t call this book realistic because it most certainly isn’t and dark as hell in some parts, but the fact that you can’t decide on which character to like as your opinion of them changes throughout the story is something that we should learn to expect in real life. That, and Bronte’s writing is brilliant.

review: The Librarian

SPOILERS AHEAD

I have been procrastinating with this review a lot, simply because, as sad as I am to say it, I was a little disappointed by The Librarian. I’m not saying that it’s a bad book, I still enjoyed reading it, but it’s not my favourite and definitely not as exciting as I thought it would be.

I loved Salley Vickers’ message throughout this book – libraries matter. I agree, I used to love going to the library when I was little, I still carry my first ever library card in my purse! I volunteered at the library for a few summers before I went away to uni, helping out with the Reading Challenge, organising events for families while encouraging children to read. So Sylvia’s plan to bring the children’s library to life resonates with me. It’s what made me buy the book. It was lovely to read how the children of East Mole acquired an interest in reading and fell in love with the children’s classics that Sylvia recommends, and reading about the beauty of children’s books:

‘Maybe [ . . . ] it’s because children’s authors can write about magic, other worlds, and be taken seriously’

The library also proves to be a catalyst for Sylvia. The theft of Tropic of Cancer from the restricted section, a dissatisfied boss and neighbour, an affair with the doctor – whose daughter regularly visited the library when Sylvia was working – risk Sylvia’s good-heartedness and her career.

I liked that there were so many different characters in this novel, all with a range of personalities. I found it interesting that Sylvia never quite fits in with each one, there’s always some sort of difference between the characters she engages with.

What I didn’t like about the book was how jumpy the narrative was. Not in terms of plot (although the last chapter jumps ahead about seventy years, something that I found unnecessary), but in terms of scenes and conversations. Usually, the speech is written without stating who’s saying what (which isn’t a problem as it’s easy to follow on’ but Vickers does not include the movements that the characters are making at the time. An example of this is when speaking with the doctor (I’ve completely forgotten his name, oops), he suddenly changes conversation by asking ‘Why are you laughing?’ This changed the narrative for me, as I had no idea that Sylvia was laughing – it was not indicated anywhere in this section – and I was not imagining her that way. So it took me out of the novel slightly. (disclaimer – I don’t have the book with me at the moment, so if that is not the exact speech, I apologise!)

This is not the only instance when Vicker’s writing put me off – I personally found some of the descriptions quite flat and plain at times. I was unable to paint a clear image from her words during some scenes, which is the most important thing when it comes to writing for me.

Finally, I really wasn’t a fan of the time jump at the end. I felt too disconnected from the characters (granted this is 70 years on, so they were different, but it was like they were complete strangers), and I just didn’t find much point to it. Once it mentioned that Sylvia had married (someone who we never met) and passed away, I wanted to put the book down. I felt like, after spending so much time with this lovely character, I would have liked a bit more detail on her husband and family life.

The Librarian is definitely not the worst book I read, and I loved so many aspects of it, the story itself was sweet. But I personally could not get on with Vicker’s style of writing. This book has been quite successful, so it appeals to other readers, clearly, but it just wasn’t for me.

8 things that made me happy this month

March was a pretty good month – it usually is anyway because the weather is slightly warmer and sunnier and we’re even closer to summer, but this time it was really really good.

New books

I bought myself two new books this month which always makes me happy. The first one was The Bear and the Nightingale, which I have heard so many good things about, and Enchante, one that I had never heard of before but sounded interesting, and the cover is beautiful! It’s set during the French Revolution and I’ve never read a book that’s set in that time period, so I’m excited to start reading it.

 

 

I met Katherine Arden

The advantage of working in Cheltenham is that I am close to a Waterstones five days a week, and I can easily fit their events into my day. I spent my work break last week queuing amongst the bookshelves, clutching The Bear and the Nightingale, praying that I would have time to meet Katherine Arden. I did, even if it was for only five minutes, but she was lovely, and I wish I had more time to speak to her properly. She took the time with everyone she talked to, making an effort to get to know her fans, which I thought was so lovely of her. Many authors tend to take a sign-and-go approach to book signings, so it was lovely to see someone who chilled out a bit more.

I had an awesome review at work

I had my three-month review on Friday, and I felt proud of myself. I’m doing really well, and I know my targets for the next three months – I’m looking forward to improving myself and coming out with even better results.

Tried a Costa-Kinder Bueno Concoction

Hot chocolate is one of my go-to drinks at Costa, and now that they’ve released the white hot chocolate, it’s all I seem to be drinking. One of the girls who works in one of the Cheltenham branches suggested I add a hazelnut shot to it because it tastes like Kinder Bueno, and she wasn’t wrong. It’s not sickly, not too sweet, yet still satisfies my chocolate cravings. I order a medium size and it’s gone in about three seconds every. time. I highly recommend.

My Instagram is taking off

I wrote in a recent post that I hadn’t loved my bookstagram really, which is a shame as it’s what led me to create this blog and I have such fun with it. However, I’ve been going out quite a bit and taking lots of photos, plus with new books to take pictures off, and I think I’m back on track.

Just a quick note to say, thank you to those who are following me, I’ve made so many friends across different countries, and if it weren’t for you guys, I wouldn’t have started this blog.

I’ve read the most books this month compared to the beginning of the year

January and February were quite slow in terms of reading. Jan was about reading His Dark Materials series (reviews here and here – I did read all three, just haven’t written up my thoughts on the third installment whoops) and in February I got hardly any reading done.

However, this month, I’ve read books such as The Familiars, The Silence of the Girls, The Librarian and right now, The Bear and the Nightingale. Reading these types of books as well have provided me with so much inspiration for my writing, both novel and blog, and I love it. March has been a productive month for me.

 

 

I’m going to Rome!!!

My boyfriend and I booked a holiday to Rome in September, and I’m already so excited I think I might explode.

I took my place as ruler of the Seven Kingdoms

HBO revealed that six replicas of the Iron Throne have been placed in different locations across the world – turns out the first, the Throne of the Forest, was in Puzzlewood in Forest of Dean. On Saturday we went for a hunt through the forest, and after TWO AND A HALF HOURS of waiting, I was crowned Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. An epic way to end the month.