Sunday, 31 December 2017

Looking Back on 2017

I'll be completely honest, 2017 has been one of the most draining years for me, both mentally and physically. Along with my mental health deciding to go on a lovely vacation to Downward Spiral, I've had a few other health problems that have combined together to truly kick my backside this year. And it's been exhausting. Because of that, 2017 has also been my worst reading year since I started my blog. Whilst I usually breeze past my reading goal of 50 books with ease, I barely even managed half of that in 2017.

I may not have read much over the past twelve months, but I have discovered some amazing stories along the way. Two of my most important reads have been The Hate U Give, which taught me so much about the everyday racism that exists in our society, and Vanilla, which finally provided me with a wonderful asexual main character. I'm hoping to make a video very soon on my favourite books from 2017, so be sure to keep an eye out for that!

One of my biggest regrets this year is the lack of bookish events I've been able to attend. I usually love going to signings when authors come to my local city because it doesn't happen too often! So whenever I get the chance to meet an author I admire, I go for it. In previous years I managed to pluck up the courage to go to events completely alone, and even ask questions during talks. But this year, my anxiety got the better of me. One of my lowest points was giving up my ticket to event I was really excited for. I was supposed to go to a group author talk and signing which included one of my favourite UKYA writers, Melinda Salisbury, who I've never had the chance to meet before. Despite how much I wanted to go, my anxiety got the better of me and on the day I decided that there was no way I could face going alone. So I ended up staying at home and beating myself up about it. That's one of the things that really sucks about anxiety. Even if you've done something plenty of times before, and you're usually okay with it, you never know when you're going to not be okay. That day was one of those times for me.

So it's safe to say my blog has taken a huge step back this year. But despite all of that, I have managed to make a few good, bookish memories. My lack of reading meant that I couldn't post reviews very often, so instead of forcing myself to read when I wasn't motivated, I went in search of other blog post ideas. A few months ago I decided I wanted to write about my favourite local places to buy books. After weeks of getting up the nerve, it actually got me out of the house, with my camera, asking for permission to photograph pretty bookshops. With all of the setbacks my mental health has caused this year, I was immensely proud of myself for going out there and speaking to strangers for the sake of a blog post! It might not have seemed like much, but to be able to write that post was such a huge deal for me, so I'm allowing myself a little proud moment.

In other book related things from this year. YA GIRL FINALLY GOT TO VISIT THE HARRY POTTER STUDIO TOUR. For someone who is constantly too broke to travel further than my nearest city, being able to get up to London and visit the Studio Tour has been a complete impossibility for me. As someone whose life has quite literally been shaped by Harry Potter, it's been devastating for me to not be able to go!

But a couple of weeks ago, my amazing best friend, Rachel from Rachel's Really Random Reviews, offered to take me with her on her annual birthday trip to the tour. SO I GOT TO GO. Despite literally having a panic attack the night before, I managed to get through it all. Needless to say I took approximately eight million pictures, so I fully intend to write a blog post about it soon! 

After the year I've had, I can only hope things get better in 2018. Imagine things actually going my way for once? A wild thought. But there are a few tentative goals that I have in mind.

  • The one thing I want to do most is really get back to my reading. I've hated being so detached from my blog and the book community in general. I'm hoping so much that I'll be able to pick up more books in the months ahead.

  • I'd like to work on more original blog posts. I mostly only ever post reviews and blog tour posts, so there isn't much variety. Whilst I love doing all of those things, I like to think there are other ways that I can talk about books too. Hopefully, I can work on doing just that in 2018.

  • I'd also love to work on incorporating my photography into my blog some more. Going out and picturing a few places for a blog post has gotten me inspired to do more posts that allow me to mix my love of photography with my passion for books.

  • Getting more involved in the blogging community is something I'd love to try over the next year. Despite being around for almost seven years now, I still feel like I haven't really found my place. Whenever I'm on Twitter, I see so many wonderful bloggers and book lovers who I'd love to chat but my anxious self is too scared to reach out. Everyone seems to have their own friendship groups in their own little corner of the community, and it's hard not to feel like I'm on the outside looking in sometimes. So I'd love to try and get more involved with bloggers in 2018. (Hello lovely bloggers reading this, PLEASE COME AND BE MY FRIEND, I'M NICE I SWEAR. I'm just terrible at establishing communication.)

  • My final goal is to stop putting pressure on myself with regards to reading. Last year, I was guilty of comparing my blog to others and wishing I was able to find better opportunities. I really need to not let things like that get to me. It shouldn't matter what I read, whether or not I can get the latest book everyone is talking about, whether or not I can go to certain events. I can't change those situations, so why bother focusing so much on them? I need to just focus on doing my own thing and being content with that.
After 2017, it's a little difficult to feel optimistic about the coming year, but I'm trying my best. There are so many little things I'm looking forward to, books I'm excited about, design changes I want to learn how to make on my blog. I want to take part in NaNoWriMo again and really throw myself into a story I'm passionate about, regardless of the fact that it will probably never be read by anyone but me.
Thinking back over the year, I've noticed so many book bloggers having a pretty crappy time lately. Bloggers I've loved have gone on hiatus due to a variety of reasons. Now is one of those times when I feel like the community has to pull together more than ever. To my fellow bloggers: STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR BLOG. It should be something you do because you love it. If you feel like it's giving you more stress than enjoyment, don't be afraid to take a break. Focus on yourself first, and then rebuild your motivation later. Your blog will be there for you no matter when you're ready to properly return to it.

So, my fellow book lovers, how has 2017 treated you? Tell me your favourite books & memories. Also, what are your goals for 2018, if you have any? What bookish things are you looking forward to? Please feel free to let me know in the comments, or on Twitter


Saturday, 9 December 2017

Bookish Bargains: My Fave Places to Buy Books in Liverpool

With Christmas fast approaching, it's time to remember that there is no better gift than a book. (I mean, there are plenty of other gifts, but the ones I'd prefer these days aren't things that can be bought, like housing, financial stability, equal rights, that kinda thing.) For anyone in or close to the Liverpool area, there are plenty of exciting bookshops around to go adventuring in. Whilst we do have an undeniably amazing Waterstones store, I want to talk about some of my favourite independent bookshops in the city, places that offer discounted and used books for amazing prices.

News From Nowhere

You don't even know how happy I was to find this shop. Never before had I found a place filled with such an amazing range of diverse books. News From Nowhere is a not for profit women's collective that stocks empowering books on all kinds of subjects, as well as encouraging social change. 

You can find books about so many amazing topics on the shelves here! I'm also completely in love with their young adult section because I can usually find specific books I really want to read but can't find anywhere else. 

It also holds a special place in my heart for being the shop that stocked the collection of short stories I was featured in a few years back! (Me, finding a little story I wrote in an actual shop? That happened.) Be sure to check out their website to read more about the causes they support and their general awesomeness.


So I'm a little biased because I've been volunteering here for over four years, but it really is one of my absolute favourite places to hunt for and buy books! The store on Bold Street focuses mostly on vintage clothes, vinyls, and books, so there are a huge amount of amazing reads on sale.

We have all sorts of genres in stock, from fantasy, crime, and contemporary fiction, to art, music, and history. We also have a great reference section, with plenty of education books that would probably cost a small fortune if you were buying them brand new. Obviously, my fave shelves to lurk around are the young adult novels. 

We've had plenty of new releases donated to the store just a couple of weeks after their release. One of the best bargains I've found was when I was lucky enough to come across the hardback edition of The Art of Being Normal just a week after it first came out. I'd really wanted to read it but couldn't afford a copy, so I was beyond thrilled when I found it for £3.49! If you're in the area, make sure to drop by. We're friendly, I promise!

Bluecoat Books

I came across this place accidentally last year. It's tucked away inside the Gostins Building on Hanover St. Since I don't pass by there too often, I never even knew it existed until I actually went inside when I was sheltering from the rain one time.

It's a cute little shop with some great deals on books. The selection of classics they have on offer is amazing, and their prices are up to around 40% off retail price a lot of the time! There's also a great children's and YA section too. I have an extra bit of love for this shop because they also have an art supplies section, so I can stock up on books and watercolour necessities at the same time. What more could I want?

Henry Bohn

My absolute favourite place for vintage books, Henry Bohn, is a cosily small bookshop on London Road. I can get lost in here for hours, browsing through the many shelves and stacks of secondhand books. 

There's a fantastic selection of classic literature, biographies, poetry, and history, along with a children's section and a fantasy corner! Organised isn't the word to describe Henry Bohn, but the lack of order only adds to the charm of the place. 

The majority of the classics I own came from this shop, including my E.M.Forster shelf. They're half falling apart but I love my battered, old copies! It's also one of my favourite places to do a spot of book photography.

Kernaghan Books

Part of The Bluecoat, I stumbled across this shop last year, and I'm so glad I did! Again, this is another shop that focuses mostly on vintage books, but it has something to offer for everyone. 

What I particularly love about this place is the Penguin Classics shelves. I'm a sucker for an old Penguin. The staff here are super friendly and when I first bought a book here, I had a lovely conversation with the wonderful man who served me. He taught me a thing or two about the publishing of Penguin books back in the day!

As someone who suffers a lot with anxiety and is often nervous about shopping, I was so happy with the comfortable atmosphere within this shop. There are definitely some hidden treasures on the shelves here.

So, there they are! My personal faves when it comes to book shopping in Liverpool city center. All of these shops offer a great amount of books at low prices, something which I am super grateful for because I am mostly constantly broke. There are a few more shops dotted around that I haven't had a chance to visit yet, but when I do, I'll be sure to update this list. Did you enjoy this post? Also, would you be interested in more posts like this one? I don't get to travel much, but there are a few more local places that have great bookshops to talk about! Let me know in the comments.

What are your favourite places to browse for books in your area? 


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