Reading Recap: Blanca & Roja, The Wicked King, Mary Renault

The words 'reading recap' in a white brush script over a blue patterned background, with the words 'at twist in the taile' and an illustration of an open book below.

Hi everyone! I haven’t written a books-related post in like…A Good Time. (By which I mean a very long time.) Perhaps because recently I have read more non-fiction books for school which don’t lend themselves as well to blogging. However, I’ve been on a very  good streak for books in the last month, so I wanted to share a few mini-reviews and a small TBR with you!

Cover of Blanca & Roja. Abstract illustration of a swan turning into petals and the title in fairy-tale font.

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

This book has affirmed yet again that McLemore writes some of the most breathtaking YA fiction I have read in recent years. I can’t believe I didn’t read this sooner. The writing is so poetic and beautiful, and I fell in love with all four of the characters — the book features two Latinx sisters Blanca and Roja, who fear the family curse that one of each sister will be turned into a swan, and two other characters from the town, Yearling and Page. (I don’t want to reveal too much! ‘Tis so hard!) Personally, it was just so incredibly wonderful for me to read a story with a trans character who uses both he/him and she/her pronouns. Basically, I adored the cast, the relationships, the writing — it was just THAT GOOD.

Cover of The Wicked King. A side view of a crown splashing down and sinking into the water. The title is half-submerged in water.

The Wicked King by Holly Black

I’m not going to lie, I had a pretty limited memory of what happened in the previous book when I picked this up. But it was all good! Although I very much enjoy all the political intrigue, I’m more than happy to let it just pull me along without trying to figure out what’s going on, who’s behind this particular event. I also give it to Holly Black: she is very good at writing this hate/love relationship dynamic. I don’t want to spoil too much (again) but, like, I NEED the next book.

Cover of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. A person wearing red lipstick, red nailpolish and a green shirt with a low neckline poses. Her eyes and the rest of her face cannot be seen.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I am SO glad I finally got to read this book! It came on sale on the UK Kindle store so i was finally able to get hold of it. And like…WOW. I loved the form of it — how it used present day narration from a journalist, Monique, looking to interview the famous movie star Evelyn Hugo, as well as Evelyn’s own words to Monique and newspaper headlines from the events Evelyn was describing. I was drawn in so completely to Evelyn’s story. I really needed this book at a time when I needed an escape from everything in my life. . I’m definitely interested in Jenkin Reid’s new book, Daisy Jones and the Six, which sounds like it further develops the form used in Evelyn Hugo. Also, just to say, it was way better than The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

Cover of Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault. Gold and black geometric patterns with illustrations of men on horses at the side.

Fire From Heaven & The Persian Boy by Mary Renault

These are the first two books in Renault’s series about the life of Alexander the Great, covering up to his death at the end of The Persian Boy. I’m talking about them together because they are technically part of the same series, but in truth they felt more like standalone novels that just happen to follow on chronologically. The first book is written in a 3rd person narrative that switches from person to person — sometimes a little jarringly during a passage, though that could be my eBook format — whereas the 2nd is in the 1st person, exclusively from the point of view of Bagoas.

But, anyway, even if they are somewhat fictionalised, I found them both to be a very interesting and immersive introduction to Alexander the Great (and this period of Ancient History in general because I didn’t know much about Ancient Greece or Persia!). Also, I think Renault gives a good take on Alexander’s potential romantic relationships that isn’t just ‘these 2 bros are VERY close friends’ whilst also not transposing modern ideas of sexuality too much? (I mean, it’s hard for me to say. But I’ve read some books with extremely bad takes, so, it wasn’t that.)

on my tbr

There are several books that I’m looking forward to reading at the moment: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan, which I FINALLY managed to buy as an eBook, I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver (non-binary main character!!! by a non-binary author!!), and Baker Thief by Claudie Arseneault which I picked up from the Gay’s the Word bookshop in London. Also so many more books! But these are the fiction ones that I’m planning to pick up in the very near future.

have you read any of these? do you have any recs for me? i’d love to hear!

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Monthly Mixtape #13: Ethereal

A cassette tape with the words 'monthly mixtape' in a brush script above and below.

Hi again, and welcome to Monthly Mixtape, a music feature created by me, Eve @ Twist in the Taile, and Evi @ Adventuring Through Pages. Here’s how it works: each month, we give you a one-word prompt, and you make a playlist. We welcome you to interpret the prompt however you want and with whatever music you’re into.

Please link back to the original Monthly Mixtape prompt whenever you make a playlist. We welcome you to use the title image for your blog post if you wish. You can create a playlist in response to any of the previous prompts as well if you like. The next Monthly Mixtape will hopefully be up in the first week of June! And this month’s prompt is…

#13: ethereal

Add or view playlist links HERE

*whispers* I would love to see some more playlists from other people! I don’t think we got any last time so it would be really nice to see some this month.

A foggy view of rolling hills which blend into the background. The text 'ethereal' in white in the centre.

listen on spotify

geyser – mitski
handmade heaven – marina
born to die – lana del rey
saint claude – christine and the queens
pendulum – fka twigs
extrasolar – baths
i saw you in a dream – the japanese house
k&f thema – apparat

I’m really feeling this month’s playlist! It includes some artists I haven’t listened to in a while. In a previous draft I also included some very good clarinet music but it wasn’t fitting, so HOPEFULLY in the future. Are there any music releases you’re enjoying/looking forward to at the moment? I’ve been listening to Lizzo’s new album Cuz I Love You and I’m also pretty darn hyped for new Carly Rae Jepsen music this month. It’s all go here.

 

GCSE Spanish and Modern Language Revision Guide

The text '#evestudies modern languages gcse revision tips' over a photo of a notebook strewn with coloured pens.

¡Hola! Bonjour! As GCSE season approaches, I’d like to share another revision tips post. I am, in fact, currently revising Spanish so this is very relevant to my daily life.

I know many people take modern foreign languages for GCSE, whether that be Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, or anything else. Revising for languages can seem intimidating, and so I’m here to provide you with some starting points. I also want to reassure that you do not have to be completely fluent to achieve the grades you want at GCSE, or to communicate with people from another country. It’s all a matter of taking small steps to get there, wherever ‘there’ might be for you.

So, for some context I took Spanish GCSE and am now taking it at A-Level. Although this will be based on my experience revising for Spanish, I also believe that many of the strategies can be applied to other modern languages too. These are the strategies that work best for me, but as always keep in mind that all our brains work differently so if a certain method doesn’t work for you then it’s not a problem! You can try another!

The GCSE exam is split into four parts, so it makes sense to split your practice into four broad categories: reading, writing, listening, and oral. 

However, before it comes to practising these skills, it’s important to revise the foundations of the language — grammar, vocab, and subject content. I prioritise basic grammar (such as being able to use verbs in different tenses) and vocabulary over everything. Both of these central pillars are important in EVERY aspect of the exam.

But how exactly can you revise these elements of the language? My favourite resource for studying up on grammar is languagesonline.org.uk. (They also have French, German and Italian) Before doing anything else I like to go through the most important tenses to refresh my memory. If you struggle with figuring out how to form a tense I would definitely recommend spending some time looking at the present, preterite and future. You can do a few exercises each day and then come back to them later. With languages, I find that spreading out your practice often helps it stick in your memory more than trying to cram everything in during one concentrated session. I also used the Viva Edexcel grammar and translation workbook for Spanish which is excellent.

There’s just too much vocab to learn — how can you make a meaningful start on it?  Of course, learning vocab throughout your course will prove very useful. But it’s OK, there’s still time! Instead of attempting to work from the whole 1,500 word vocab list for the entire GCSE (or whatever it is), I went through the textbook and created a Quizlet set for all the words that I didn’t know and thought were the most important. This left me with three sets of 100-200 words which grouped the modules together. I love Quizlet because whenever I’m on the train, waiting in the lunch queue etc I can revise a little bit of vocab and get just that little bit further.

I know that many people (myself included) find language orals very nerve-wracking. The degree to which you prepare your oral answers is up to you — in the new exam board we did, they penalised us for sounding too prepared which I absolutely understand. However, if you’re not confident I’d advise doing at least a little practise of some questions, especially for the roleplay, even if that’s practising improvisation. (Which in the end is better for learning to speak the language!)

I did prepare some answers, but tried to focus on learning content I might have to bring up, like where I did my work experience, rather than on the language. I do think it’s a decision you have to make based on your experiences and fluency in the language though.

I would absolutely recommend trying to listen to some non-exam-based Spanish because I found that it really helped not only my listening but my speaking. By forcing me to ‘think’ more in Spanish rather than constantly translating and thus not speaking so well. In particular, I like the Notes in Spanish podcast and News in Slow Spanish. This could also include TV shows or Youtube videos — hopefully there’s something you’ll find interesting.

Finally, speaking in the language with your friends is a fun way to not only be building up your language skills but also having fun! Even if it’s not the most beautiful complex language, I find that talking to my friends is a very relaxed atmosphere where I can build up my confidence.

So, to recap some concrete strategies you might use whilst revising, you could be:

  • Going through the textbook, noting down important content and unknown words
  • Going through grammar on languages online or in a grammar workbook
  • Revising vocab on Quizlet
  • Doing a mock oral card, recording yourself and listening back
  • Going through the oral answers and speaking them to yourself or someone else
  • Doing practise listening/reading exercises from the textbook
  • Building up listening skills by watching TV, listening to podcasts etc.

I hope you find this post useful, and good luck with both your exams and language learning. 🙂 You can also check out my other revision tips posts for GCSE Music and GCSE Science.

are there any languages you’d like to learn? I have SO MANY! do you have any tips for revision for language gcses, or learning languages in general?

Monthly Mixtape #12: Grow

A cassette tape with the words 'monthly mixtape' in a brush script above and below.

Hi again, and welcome to Monthly Mixtape, a music feature created by me, Eve @ Twist in the Taile, and Evi @ Adventuring Through Pages. Here’s how it works: each month, we give you a one-word prompt, and you make a playlist. We welcome you to interpret the prompt however you want and with whatever music you’re into.

Please link back to the original Monthly Mixtape prompt whenever you make a playlist. We welcome you to use the title image for your blog post if you wish. You can create a playlist in response to any of the previous prompts as well if you like. The next Monthly Mixtape will hopefully be up in the first week of April! And this month’s prompt is…

#12: grow

Add or view playlist links HERE

I did actually remember to put a new link this month so hurrah for that. (You are allowed to put links in there! Or indeed make playlists at all!) Can we talk about Carly Rae Jepsen’s new singles? Because I am really in love with them. I think I might like them more than Party For One. I mean, I enjoyed that and it’s definitely a bop, but these are more my thing.

A field of yellow flowers with the text 'grow'.

listen on spotify

roots – orla gartland
everything goes (wow) – broods
want you back – haim
juice – lizzo
now that I found you – carly rae jepsen
coloring outside the lines – misterwives
grow – conan grey
first love/late spring – mitski

Have you been listening to any new music lately? Like, me, are you also excited for new music from Lizzo, Carly Rae Jepsen AND Orla Gartland? I really am so excited. Thank you to the universe for blessing me with today. I am also very much looking forward to spring because I NEED SUNSHINE IN MY LIFE. (And not just a weird 2 days of sunshine in February). Hope you enjoy! 🙂

GCSE Music Revision Tips

The text '#evestudies gcse music revision tips' over a photo of a notebook strewn with coloured pens.

Hi there! Do you take Music GCSE? Then this post is for YOU! Please imagine me pointing at you like in one of those posters. Okay, no, for real — I’m currently in Year 12, having taken my GCSEs last year, and one of the most frustrating things was being the first group to take the course in almost all my subjects. There were very few resources or guides available, and even the teachers didn’t really know what to expect from marking.

Unfortunately I don’t know exactly how they marked my exam, but I was really happy with my music result as I got a 9 (A* equivalent). I thought it would be useful for me to share some of the resources, methods and ti[s that worked for me. This post is going to be focusing on the written exam — I took Edexcel GCSE, which is the one where you have 8 set pieces and the exam is worth 40% of the total mark. But if you’re taking another exam board then the techniques will be similar. Do feel free to check out the other posts in my #evestudies series too.

It’s really important that you figure out what works best for you, though — I know you’re probably sick of people saying it but all of us work in different ways and what works for me might not work for you.

The three main areas that I would focus on for the written exam are learning the features of the set pieces, developing musical theory/analysis skills and practicing exam technique. I’ll be going through them one by one.

#1: features of set the set pieces

Firstly, learning the features of the set pieces. Although this does tie into developing your analysis skills, since you have to be able to write about the features, a lot of it really is just getting familiar with the pieces and memorising features. The amount of memorising versus being able to analyse music on the spot will vary on the piece; for example, there’s a lot more to remember about the classical pieces in terms of the names of forms, particular techniques and genres, whereas for a work like Release (a fusion) it’s more about being able to talk about the changing dynamics and texture from the extract that they give you.

For every set work I created a grid of features with the headings Structure, Tonality & Harmony, Instrumentation, Texture, Melody, Tempo, Rhythm and metre, and Other. I filled them in with all my notes from lessons, then the features from the textbook, answers to practice questions we did in class and from any other sources I could find. This was my main source of note-taking.

The ‘Other’ section usually covered things particular to that section of study; eg in the Bach and Beethoven context about the development of the harpsichord to the piano and how that affected Romanticism, or the significance in the plot of Defying Gravity. I’ve put all my typed notes up on a Google Drive if you want to take a look or use them for your own revision.

It’s really important that you know the difference between these elements because in the exam the question will usually ask you to talk about one or a few of them. Even if you say something valid, if it’s about a musical element they didn’t ask for then you won’t get a mark. There’s a good BBC Bitesize Guide on it here. Really get used to the kinds of features and words that you see coming under each musical element.

For this section I would VERY strongly recommend using the Edexcel GCSE Music Student Book. We got given it as our textbook for the course and it was so useful — it goes in depth into the features of each set work and also has a bit about composition and performance at the start. I also found annotating the anthology with the blank scores in is extremely useful. That’s is where I wrote all of my notes from class. At the start of my revision session, I would follow the score as I listened to the piece. You can also listen to all the pieces with the scores at the same time on Youtube.

Additionally, Edexcel actually have a support guide for each set work which covers the musical features in detail. I only discovered this like a day before the exam and I got really stressed out about the amount I didn’t recognise — so remember that these are probably more in detail than you’ll be asked for!

#2: musical theory and analysis

Secondly, developing musical theory and analysis skills. This definitely does overlap with the previous section. However, it will also help you with the unheard piece you have to answer questions on. As I said, it’s extremely important you become familiar with the different musical elements you might be asked to talk about and what kind of things you can say for each one. In class we made a mindmap of what you can talk about with each heading and it was great

For example, for rhythm you could think about: does this have lots of fast rhythms? dotted notes? triplets? is there a repeated rhythm? is it syncopated?

If you’re talking about texture, there are some great words you can use: monophonic (only one line of music, there’s only moments of these in the pieces), polyphonic (lots of different equally important lines of music) or homophonic (everything else). You might also say it has a fugal texture (the Bach), or a thin or thick texture.

You might have to go into further detail and talk about the effect this has, for example the triplet rhythms at the start of Star Wars give it a military and heroic feel, or a thinner texture might feel more intimate. It doesn’t have to be a whole English essay though.

Honestly, I found the unprepared listening section pretty difficult, especially if it asks you to give a chord or something. But you can sometimes use your powers of deduction to figure it out. The best way to develop your musical theory technique is to practice…which brings me nicely on to my final point.

#3: exam practice

Finally, practicing your exam technique is key. You can know a million musical features and still be stumped about how to answer a question in the exam. I know there aren’t that many past papers online which sucks. At school we used selections from this and this set of papers which seemed to work OK. Use the official Edexcel sample paper well.

This doesn’t just need to be actually doing exam questions; it might be thinking what questions they could ask you whilst revising and the analysis you might do. For the fusion they do enjoy asking about what genres the works ‘fuse’ so that’s always a good one. I personally like playing the pieces to someone else, and stopping it as we go through so I can explain what effect a particular feature has.

Also, this might sound simple but remember to read the question! I’ve been told that a thousand times but I misread the 12-marker at the end and had to frantically change my answer which I do not recommend. To practise for the 12-marker, you can go through the wider listening in the textbook, you can pick a piece in the same genre as one of the set works to get more practise.

PHEW! This really was a long post! I hope these tips help you and good luck with your exam and all your coursework. Remember to take breaks from work and take care of yourself as well. 🙂

Monthly Mixtape #11: Harmony

A cassette tape with the words 'monthly mixtape' in a brush script above and below.

Welcome again to Monthly Mixtape, a music feature created by me, Eve @ Twist in the Taile, and Evi @ Adventuring Through Pages. Here’s how it works: each month, we give you a one-word prompt, and you make a playlist. We welcome you to interpret the prompt however you want and with whatever music you’re into.

Please link back to the original Monthly Mixtape prompt whenever you make a playlist. We welcome you to use the title image for your blog post if you wish. You can create a playlist in response to any of the previous prompts as well if you like. The next Monthly Mixtape will hopefully be up in the first week of March! And this month’s prompt is…

#11: harmony

Add or view playlist links HERE

OK, my playlist this month has kind of a strange energy but I love it a LOT. I started off basically picking songs with harmonies that I’m obsessed with and it grew from there. Like there are just certain bits in a song where I listen over and over because it’s SO GOOD. The first time I fully listened to The World’s Best Kisser and it got to the section with the drums it was Woah. It was very difficult for me to find an album picture to represent the specific feeling of listening to a great harmony haha.

A bunch of deep red flowers with the text 'harmony' in script font.

listen on spotify

the world’s best kisser – darwin deez
on a level – tove lo
killer queen – queen
good friend – emily king
when the chips are down – original cast of hadestown
hot knife – fiona apple
human – dodie
making time – georgie west

I’m really loving some new discoveries Emily King & Hadestown — the album that the song When the Chips are Down is from which is a folk-jazz musical about Orpheus & Eurydice. I KNOW. SAME — in addition to my wonderful friend Georgie West’s new album. It’s such a BOP, guys.

I look forward to listening to more of your wonderful playlists! Thanks Miriam @ Shadowriverdaleharley for the great playlist in response to our last prompt Beginning. 🙂 Enjoy!

 

 

January Favourites!

The words January Favourites over a purple watercolour splash.

I say ‘January favourites’, but really I mean ‘favourites over the winter period up till now’ because I haven’t done a recap in ages and also I have no concept of time so can’t remember when exactly I did stuff. It’s all good!

Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse I am late to the party on yelling about this movie online but please know that it was SO GOOD and I enjoyed it SO MUCH. I just adore all the Spiderpeople. Although I love a number of superhero characters, most superhero movies (except for the more recent Black Panther & Spiderman: Homecoming) are somewhat likeable but still kind of…meh for me. I guess I’m just not that really into blowing things up? Spiderverse represented exactly the kind of joy, excitement & wonder that I want to feel when I’m watching a superhero movie. I can’t wait to watch it again.

Foreign Objects by Georgie West I have been extremely blessed by music this month, oh my goodness! This album is so gorgeous and brings so many different things — soft guitars! great lyrics! surprising harmonies! straight up tunes! beats! — whilst still being cohesive. You should definitely check it out ASAP,

Human EP by Dodie I love all of the songs on this EP so much!! Aah! I especially loved getting to hear a produced version of She after all this time. :’)

The Inheritance  I saw this play at the start of this month and it was a real Experience. Despite its length it was, somehow, extremely watchable, perhaps due to the excellent acting. As time goes on I’m beginning to feel as though I perhaps liked it more for that experience than for the play itself? It was just so good to be present in an audience of many other LGBTQ+ people, immersed in a queer story. But it wasn’t perfect play, and I was frustrated by the way it presented a very particular white male cis experience of being gay as The Definitive Queer Experience. I’m glad I went, though.

Catullus I…am into poetry again? It’s so nice to be back? I got out a book of Catullus from the library with parallel texts (is that how I say it? where it has translation on one side and the original Latin besides) and it was GOOD. Even if I was confused by some of the translation choices.

BBC Les Mis Okay, I’m probably going to have to write a whole post on this one because I have some…Opinions… But honestly I’m overall enjoying it. I see many people in the online fandom getting angry about it and I totally get that, but I like watching the show despite its issues.

Company  I was lucky enough to see a few excellent shows this holiday, one of which was the Sondheim musical Company. This version was reimagined to see the wonderful Rosalie Craig playing Bobbie in the main role. I hadn’t actually listened to Company before seeing this so it was wonderful to go in and be like…OH this is so good and it’s going to be a new obsession. Also the production was really nice!! What good lighting!

It was so great to do a recap post again! Somehow I’ve managed to find the time among the swathes of schoolwork that I am once again consumed by. Over the holidays I seemed to have forgotten how much it really was. Coming up on the blog this month I have the next edition of Monthly Mixtape and a GCSE music revision tips post so look out for those! 🙂

have you watched/read/listened to any of these? how was your january? are you looking forward to anything next month?

 

 

 

Monthly Mixtape #10: Beginning

A cassette tape with the words 'monthly mixtape' in a brush script above and below.

Monthly Mixtape is back! We took a little break from Monthly Mixtape but we are BACK and READY with a rebrand. If this is your first time here, Monthly Mixtape is a music feature created by me, Eve @ Twist in the Taile, and Evi @ Adventuring Through Pages. Here’s how it works: each month, we give you a one-word prompt, and you make a playlist. We welcome you to interpret the prompt however you want and with whatever music you’re into.

This time around we’re going to be trying a new style of prompt! Instead of giving a definition this time we picked a broader theme (because you know, new year and all, I do like a bit of renewal). Please do let us know what you think of it 🙂

Please link back to the original Monthly Mixtape prompt whenever you make a playlist. We welcome you to use the title image for your blog post if you wish. You can create a playlist in response to any of the previous prompts as well if you like. The next Monthly Mixtape will hopefully be up in the first week of February! And this month’s prompt is…

#10: beginning

Add or view playlist links HERE

I had a lot of fun making this playlist! I kind of decided to go for a bit of reflection by picking songs about the past and also songs that I listened to obsessively some time ago. Is it a law that I am drawn to include a Mitski and Ted Leo song for every playlist I make? I guess so. There’s something in there about using the past to make a new beginning… But anyway. I hope you enjoy.

Sunlight streaming out through a tree in the mountains. The word 'beginning' in a script font.

listen on spotify / youtube

this year – the mountain goats
someone new – darwin deez
if i’m being honest – dodie
every time i hear that song – brandi carlile
old friend – mitski
plea from a cat named virtute – the weakerthans
new year’s day – u2
biomusicology – ted leo and the pharmacists

I’m looking forward to listening to more of your wonderful playlists! And if you fancy sharing any music recommendations or what you’ve been listening to lately, I’d love to hear it. (I’m not gonna lie, I’m still obsessed with Thank U, Next; I’m sure it’ll be coming to a Monthly Mixtape soon haha.)

My 2018 in Books

The text 'My 2018 in books' on an old-fashioned illustrated banner, over a spread of open books.

Can I let you in on  secret? I first wrote ‘2017’ instead of 2018 when drafting this post. I think that gives you a good idea of what’s going on with my brain haha. You can also check out my 2017 and 2016 in books if you are so inclined.

overall summary

So this year I read exactly 100 books, meeting my Goodreads reading challenge. This is a bit less than other years, and I think that’s a combination of a) not reading as much due to being more busy and b) reading denser books that take a longer time to read. It also does include a lot of comics, perhaps contributing to the fact that I’m about 10,000 pages lower than previous years according to Goodreads. Ah well! That’s life!

The longest book I read this year was, unsurprisingly, Les Miserables, which I reread over the summer. (I would by far recommend the Donoghue translation over the Hapgood which I read first time already.) Les Mis was also the most popular book I read, and Attis by Tom Holland the least popular at 16 other Goodreads ratings.

favourites

It was so difficult for me to pick these! I realised that I’ve actually read SO MANY good books this year, oh my goodness.

I honestly can’t believe I read Autoboyography by Christina Lauren in 2018 because it feels like an absolute AGE ago. This book just really took me in and pulled at my emotions. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore was another book that got me extremely invested, and like all her other books I adored it. I can’t believe I haven’t picked up her newest yet! I was so excited to read I Was Born For This and it didn’t disappoint, bringing me a whole new set of characters to love. I loved Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman so much and I’m incredibly excited to read more of her work (I also loved her second book Summer Bird Blue! I just had too many books already!) I also devoured A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi and WOAH. Also, the cover is so pretty oh my goodness.

My second lot starts with the Hawkeye comics, which I’ve reread about 4 times since I first picked them up and continue to absolutely delight me. The art is just SO GOOD and I love Kate and Clint SO MUCH. Far From the Tree by Robin Benway absolutely blew me away with the characterisation and story (and also can we just appreciate a beautiful cover). I very recently finished Run, Riot by Nikesh Shukla and it was so gripping and powerful. A Thousand Perfect Notes by CG Drews was very different but also very absorbing; it felt like a book that spoke to my childhood self but also one that current me loves a lot. . Finally, We Are Okay by Nina LaCour was a nuanced and beautifully written book that really got me feeling those emotions.

hidden gems

The Summer of Jordi Perez and the Best Burger in Los Angeles by Amy Spalding is an EXTREMELY cute and excellent f/f rom-com and I adored it. Noteworthy by Riley Ridgate is about cross-dressing and accapella which is an extremely rad combination. Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison Evans is a short queer novella that I loved very much and I have reread because I sometimes I just gotta read a happy trans story to get by.  I’m putting Attis by Tom Holland here more for the experience than to actually recommend it, because it was so difficult to find that I ended up going to the British library to read it? But it was VERY RAD and surreal. I also feel like it represents the fact that recently I have got…very into Classics I guess? Finally, Indigo Donut is a beautifully written story about belonging, family and growing up, set in London, from the wonderful Patrice Lawrence.

There are so many books that I’m excited to read in 2019 — but I shall leave that for another post!

have you read any of these books? what were your favourite books of 2018? anticipated reads for 2019?

2018: Year in Review

2018 year in review.jpg

Image description: The text ‘2018 year in review’ over a firework.

We’ve almost made it through 2018! Hurrah! Let’s DO THIS THING. This year feels like it’s been one of the longest years of my life. The other day I genuinely thought that something I did over summer happened in February, so I guess it’s like 2 years have passed instead of 1? Like, what even. Anyway, I’m here with a good old yearly recap post, because I do like to be able to have this as a point of reference and it’s fun to see everything I’ve done over this year. (If I can even remember them.)

Looking back at 2018

  • Firstly, let’s recap my 2018 goals. Doing things with love? I mean, KIND OF. I do think that I’ve spent more time on friendships and on making new friends which is great! And I’ve also met some wonderful internet friends in real life! (This ties in with my other goal about meeting friends.) I’m getting better at looking critically at the things I love but I definitely have a long way to go with that process.
  • Caring for myself… Well, GCSEs sucked a LOT, I have to say. That whole experience and the culture of public examinations is still negatively affecting my mental health now. The first half of the year was really difficult for that reason and I haven’t always been amazing at taking care of myself, but part of that includes letting myself off for that, too? I’ve literally tried to block out all of that because it was just grim, tbh.
  • However, I can say with certainty that have enjoyed so much amazing art this year! From excellent books to theatre to new TV shows I’ve started… it’s been a great one. A big part of this has been helping out with the sixth form musical at my school, where I worked as the sound operator. I was so proud of that production, and although it was stressful, I had an amazing time and I know that it’ll stay with me forever.
  • I have also for sure experienced new things: I got my first job! I travelled to South America with Guides! I went to prom! I did make it through my first public exams! I started sixth form! I got my nose pierced! I DMed for the first time!
  • I want to expand on starting sixth form because Year 12 has been FULL. ON. I’m studying Maths, Spanish, History & Latin and I’m really glad that I picked those subjects. (Especially Latin because I’m maybe enjoying it the most and it was a last minute switch from Chemistry.)
  • I blogged much less in the second half of this year. My stats are NOT thanking me, lol, but sometimes that’s the way life goes. I do have a whole bunch of post ideas so I REALLY hope I can get some more posts up.
  • One thing that I actually was good at keeping up was my bullet journal. I’m so glad I put in pictures of what I was up to from throughout the year because it was really nice to remind me when I looked through.
  • Also, I took my last ever clarinet exam which was kind of trash but THANK GOD IT’S OVER. Now I just have to spend another 6 months re-learning to love the clarinet after that deeply stressful experience, I guess.

Looking ahead to 2019

  • I’m going to turn 18!! WHAT! I’m just going to make that its own bullet point in itself because I don’t feel like I’m ready to be a legal adult at all.
  • I want to do some preparation for my future: learning to drive, improving at cooking, maybe applying for uni/deciding what I’m going to do keeping on with my job.
  • More blogging! I miss it a lot! I’d like to blog at least once a month.
  • In addition to blogging, I want to continue with theatre tech, because that was really fun and fulfilling this year. In summer I’m going to be helping on a production at the Edinburgh Fringe which I’m super excited about! I hope to make the most of that experience!
  • Again, I want to better take care of myself. Some concrete ways I’m going to do this are making sure I exercise, getting back into meditation, keeping a regular sleeping schedule and allowing myself to sometimes just hand in work that’s good enough, if not perfect.
  • I want to use my time on the internet and my phone in better ways. Spending a lot of time mindlessly scrolling social media has been REALLY bad for my brain. Instead, I want to spend more time interacting with people and building relationships.
  • I would like to come out as non-binary to more people? Maybe? And also to just tell people when they misgender me because people still do that a lot but I feel awkward correcting them (even though it’s not my mistake). Also, to just not read the transphobic articles that cross my path because they do not exactly help.
  • I’d like to listen to more new music, since I love finding new bops and I didn’t get that much opportunity to do so in 2018.

I’ll probably think of something really good after I’ve posted this but, ah well. That’s how it goes. I hope you enjoyed this focus on my personal goals.

how was your 2018? do you have any goals or resolutions for 2019?