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Every Book I Read in 2021 | reviewed in 1 sentence (kinda)

Happy New Year everyone!

I’m not one for new year’s resolutions, but the 1st January, without fail, always makes me reflect on how much I want to dedicate my time to this blog, (and now my new Youtube channel), and just generally sharing my thoughts on what I read.

If you have taken the time this year to read one of my blog posts, watch one of my videos, subscribe, comment, message me etc. please know that you have filled my heart with so much joy. I wholeheartedly intend to be present on here much more, and keep up with my one video a week schedule throughout the year.

I’m kicking the year off with a review of every book that I read in 2021, of which I read 26 (not my best but not my worst either). It was a pretty mixed bag of reading for me, with only a small number of 5 stars, loads of 3 stars and a fair few 2 stars too. If you’d like to know my condensed thoughts, check out the video below.

I hope that you have a brilliant start to 2022!

Jen x

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Christmas Book Gift Guide

A couple of weeks ago I asked for your bookish gift requests for specific books or people. I had a few requests on both my last youtube video as well as in my Instagram stories, so I made a video sharing some of my answers and suggestions. Watch below for my suggestions for books to “light a spark”, recently published books that would appeal to a wide audience, books to get you in a wintry/Christmas mood, and more!

10 Books I Want To Read Before 2022 | End of Year TBR

Does anyone else have a nearly-the-end-of-the-year reading crisis when it gets to November? Suddenly I have to condense all of the books that I want to read before the year is up into a list that is ACTUALLY manageable!!

So here we are, my top 10 books that I really want to read before 2022 arrives. It’s a mixture of some more light hearted fantasy, some romance (a rarity for me lately) and finishing the books of one of my new favourite authors

  1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  2. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  3. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
  4. Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson
  5. Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber
  6. An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
  7. A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
  8. When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro
  9. The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
  10. The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jenson

Watch my newest video below to hear all about these books and why I’m so excited to read them…

Can I Write 50,000 Words in November? | Prepping for NaNoWriMo as a “Pantser”

Hello Friends!

It’s that time of year once again where people all around the world try to write 50,000 words in one month, AKA NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)!

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo twice before. The first time I was successful and managed about 60,000 words, but the second time I gave up at around 20,000 when I fell out of love with the story that I was writing. However, something about this third attempt has me a little more anxious than usual. Not because of my schedule or from any concerns about fitting the writing into my day, but because of just how long it has been since I have sustained any writing routine. I haven’t written regularly for about 3 years, so the challenge of 50,000 words is a significant one!

However, I am in desperate need of a way back in to my writing routine. Goals are a source of motivation and inspiration for me, and I am hoping that this target will be a way of propelling me forward throughout the month.

If you are interested in what I will be writing, you can add me as a buddy on the NaNoWriMo website.

If you want to know a little bit more about how I’ll be tackling this challenge, check out my video below where I build my writing desk, bake some writing snacks, and talk about my project plans!

Book shopping in Cornwall #1

Come along and let’s go book shopping! I’m taking you around some of my local spots and their quirky bookshops!

I’ve been living in Cornwall now for about a year and a half. After growing up and living most of my life in cities, it was a culture shock in more ways than one when I moved here. Among many other things, something I really missed was the variety of shops!

When I lived in Leicester, I had about 5 second hand bookshops within a 5 minute walk from my house. In Birmingham, a trip to the city centre would take me to two huge Waterstones. Now, I find that I have to look a little harder!

On the flip side, what you get in Cornwall is unique, quirky and so well loved. And you get an ocean view!

Watch my video below for some of my local favourites – and ones to check out if you’re visiting.

P.S. Let me know in the comments what your favourite/best second hand book find was! Mine was a 70s box set of Lord of the Rings (which you’ll see at the end of the video!).

BOOK REVIEW | Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Title: Beautiful World, Where Are You

Author: Sally Rooney

First Published: 7th September 2021

Genre: Contemporary, Literary Fiction

Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

“…but all that really means is that I love my life, and I’m really excited to have it back again, excited to feel that its going to continue, that new things will keep happening, that nothing is over yet.”

Review

Whilst reading this book, I was reminded of my favourite module at university, which ended up shaping my whole dissertation, area of historical interest and niche in my degree. It wasn’t necessarily the content that was brought to mind, but the style of the teaching. Our lecturer didn’t believe in Powerpoint, so he would read to us his scripted insights from written notes on paper. There was no recording to watch back afterwards and no visual aid to nicely condense things for me. Yet, something about this style made me sit up and listen, pay attention, and work hard to understand.

Beautiful World Where Are You does not read like a nicely condensed presentation of visually pleasing bullet points. Instead, the conversations felt a little confusing to follow, the narration a little distant and ominous, the plot fairly cloudy. Yet I could not put this book down. Sally Rooney tangles you up in her reflections, questions and suggestions, in a way that made me pause, listen, and work at understanding them.

This was my first Sally Rooney book, so I don’t really have her other novels to compare this one to, and I didn’t even really quite comprehend the hype surrounding her writing. I was really glad to go into this book without any preconceived ideas about what it was or would be, and that open mind definitely worked in my favour because this book was a whole lot of things!

To me, it felt like it lay somewhere in between a contemporary novel and literary fiction. Sometimes this meant that I was getting lost in a romantic scene, and at other times contemplating conceptual themes. I felt like Rooney created a story that was authentic and relatable to the millennial experience in a deep and reflective way. Despite the ominous narration, I really felt like I got to see and know the parts of each character that would naturally have been revealed to a friend. Yet I also felt the freedom to pick apart their characteristics with an objectivity that a lot of contemporary novels don’t provide.

I appreciated that Sally Rooney doesn’t shy away from talking about things that she hasn’t quite figured out herself. I feel like she engages the reader to question and search along with her, which created a very invitational feel to the whole book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one, and am sure I will go back and read her other works very soon!

Write With Me | How To: Blackout Poetry

Blackout poetry is one of my favourite ways to experiment with words. It forces me to string together words that seem, at first, awkwardly placed, and form them into a sentence or phrase that I would not have originally thought up.

So what is Blackout Poetry?

A type of poetry that can be created by taking written pieces of text from another part (e.g. a book or newspaper) in order to create your own poem.

What does Blackout Poetry look like?

Here are some examples from Pinterest…

Blackout poetry can look like anything from blacking out most of a page to leave just a few words to pop out, to creating a piece of artwork around your chosen words.

Personally for me, I prefer to black out the entire page and leave the selected words to do the talking.

Why do Blackout Poetry?

  1. It serves a great writing prompt or warm up
  2. It can challenge you to find new ways to describe or say things, using words in ways that you would not normally in your own writing
  3. It can make you read a book that you have read before in a new and unique way. I often find that I pick out new things about a character or theme

What do I need for Blackout Poetry?

This depends on the style you are going for, but some basics are:

  1. A book/magazine/newspaper etc. that you don’t mind defacing (I use cheap copies from charity shops)
  2. A marker pen
  3. A pencil

Want to try this style of poetry?

Why not watch my video below and join me in creating a poem from someone else’s words (in this case, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby).

BOOKSHELF TOUR!!!

The time has come to finally show you my bookshelves!!! After finally sorting through them, reorganising them, and moving them all into one place for the first time in YEARS, I can now show you all of my physical book collection.

Check out my youtube video to see the full tour.

How do you organise your bookshelves?

For me, I generally organise them by genre, and then by how they fit/look on each shelf (as I’m currently a little tight for space!).

10 BOOKS FOR AUTUMN/FALL | Cosy, Mysterious & Reflective Reads

A bookworm’s favourite season is finally upon us. This week has brought rainy grey days and I am so in the mood for a day locked up at home reading, drinking hot chocolate, lighting candles, curled up under blankets, and all of the cosy vibes.

During this season, I find myself gravitating towards cosy, mysterious and reflective reads. I like my stories to be atmospheric, strange, and thought provoking. I enjoy a slightly slower paced story, because I am at home a lot more and have more time to dedicate to the books that I read.

Here are 10 of my suggestions for books that I think are perfect for Autumn.

Check out the video below to see what they are…

Organising my Reading Nook | Reorganising my Bookshelves

I moved into my new home a month ago, and I have finally sorted through my books and created a little reading nook. Watch me create this space on my latest video!

Buying my first home has been a big project, and with so many areas needing so much work, I was determined to create a space without buying anything new or doing any major work at the moment. So I used two bookshelves that I had used previously in different spaces, brought in my cosy green chair, and filled the corner with plants!

I hope you enjoy watching me create this space!