book review

Recent reads: Giant Days & Dear Evan Hansen!

Happy Sunday, bookish friends!

Today I am reviewing a couple of the books I’ve read recently! Both books are in fact novelisations of pre-existing stories that have been told in another format (the first being the novelisation of a musical, and the second the novelisation of a musical!) I was going to call these ‘mini reviews’, but I realised that what I call ‘mini’ is not actually all that mini… I tend to get carried away with my thoughts haha. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy these ‘mid-length reviews’ of two books I have recently enjoyed!

Giant Days by Non Pratt


Giant Days is the novelisation of the comic book series of the same name by John Allison. I haven’t read the graphic novels so I am not really sure how the two formats compare, but I have seen quite a few Goodreads reviews from fans of the comics who have been disappointed by this novelisation. Having no comparison, I actually really enjoyed the novel, although I had some issues with it.

The story essentially follows three friends  – Susan, Esther and Daisy  – in their first term of university. Each girl has their own storyline: Susan is trying to avoid a boy from home whom she has some *history* with, Esther is trying to befriend a goth girl from her course whom she idolises but who isn’t actually very nice, and Daisy has joined a yoga society which may or may not be a cult! Although there are storylines, this book didn’t really feel like it had a plot. It’s a slice of life kind of story, which is okay as I enjoyed reading about the lives of these girls, but I can see why this type of story probably works better as a graphic novel.

I found this book very funny, and I really enjoyed all three of the characters. That being said, these characters in some ways felt like caricatures. They were all very quirky, and their dialogue was whip smart, but they didn’t feel all that much like real people. I felt like they had been written to be entertaining first and foremost, and that stopped me from connecting deeply with any of them. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as their antics were very amusing, but it meant that overall I was purely entertained by the novel, rather than wowed by it.

Nevertheless, I did think the novel covered some important topics relating to university life, namely the ups and downs of choosing and making new friends, finding somewhere you belong, and trying to forge a new path for yourself at university. Although it explores these topics through far-fetched, comedic storylines, I still found there was wisdom to be drawn from them.

I’d love to give the comics a try at some point, so if you have read them, please do let me know what you thought of them!

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich


(Trigger warnings: anxiety, depression, suicide)

Dear Evan Hansen is the novelisation of a musical of the same name. I’ve never watched the musical Dear Evan Hansen, but I have listened to the soundtrack a lot, and I absolutely adore the songs and their message.

The story follows a boy named Evan Hansen who has severe anxiety. His therapist asks him to write a letter to himself every day, beginning with the words ‘Dear Evan Hansen’. When a boy called Connor gets hold of one of Evan’s letters, and later commits suicide, Evan’s letter is found with Connor, and Connor’s parents wrongly assume that Connor wrote the letter to Evan, and that they were best friends. Anxious, confused and lonely, and not wanting to upset Connor’s parents, Evan finds himself going along with the lie. He finds himself drawn into the fold of this grieving family,  feeling like he belongs somewhere for the first time in his life. And, as he begins to feel a connection to this boy he never knew, Evan decides to start ‘The Connor Project’, a movement designed to remember his ‘friend’, and reassure others who feel alone that they are not.

I have a huge emotional connection to the soundtrack, but I didn’t find the novelisation had quite the same impact on me. There are some emotionally empowering and emotionally devastating songs in the musical that honestly give me chills, and the message that everyone deserves to be remembered and recognised, and that nobody deserves to be alone and forgotten is a big theme. This message was definitely in the book, but I didn’t feel it came across as strongly as it does in the musical. It didn’t stir me up in quite the same way. Nevertheless, there were some things that got me, especially the representation of Evan’s anxiety, loneliness, and struggles to fit in – I thought they were very relatable, well-written, and at times heartbreaking. I also found a particular scene between Evan and his mum extremely moving, and it made me cry, just as its musical equivalent did.

It’s a hard story to ‘enjoy’, because you spend a large part of the reading experience feeling uncomfortable and conflicted. Obviously what Evan does is very wrong, and the more time he spends with Connor’s family, and the deeper he gets into the lie, the more nauseous you feel about what he is doing. Yet at the same time, you also find yourself feeling desperately sorry for Evan. It’s heartbreaking when he starts to feel this connection to Connor as somebody he perhaps really could have been friends with, but now never will. He’s so lonely, and the only friend he has is essentially imaginary (as he never really knew Connor), and that just made me want to comfort him, despite how problematic his actions were becoming.

I felt that the ending of the story was a bit rushed, and I wish that the fall out was explored in more depth, but I thought the very ending hit the right emotional notes, and I think overall it was a good, if imperfect, book, which has earned a place in my heart. The story is one that makes me realise I am not alone, and helps me towards starting to accept myself, especially when told in its musical format. I definitely recommend listening to the soundtrack before you read this book, as I think you will get even more from it if you do. I would love to see the musical on stage someday!

Have you read either of these books, or consumed either of these stories in their other formats? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!

Lots of literary love, Jess! xxx

discussion post

Self-care tips for book bloggers

Hello, you lovely people, and a happy Friday to you!

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been struggling with blogging recently, and with reading too. I’m feeling burned-out and tired, which prevents me from enjoying reading as much as I normally do, and as for blogging… that feels impossible.

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A lot of the way I’m feeling is due to my anxiety, but all of us can feel this way at times, regardless of mental health issues, because book-blogging, though we love it, can be stressful and overwhelming.


Sometimes we find ourselves drowning in a sea of ARCs, and, although ARCs are an honour and a privilege, drowning isn’t fun for anyone.

Sometimes we have a million things we WANT to read, but can’t, because of all the books we HAVE to read, so we spend hours staring at our shelves in a state of panic, not reading anything at all.

Sometimes, we don’t want to read, and we just want to watch Netflix, y’know?

All of these things make it pretty damn difficult to keep up with our blogs, and feel calm.

But, there are lots of little things we can do to help ourselves when we feel like we’re crumbling under this pressure.

Those little things are small, but vital, acts of self-care.

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As somebody who suffers from anxiety and depression, I have come to appreciate just how important self-care is when I’m feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and exhausted. Self-care can be anything from scheduling time for relaxation, to saying ‘no’ to things when I’m not feeling well enough to do them.

But looking after yourself is important no matter what the state of your mental health might be. Putting yourself first is not selfish, it’s not weak, and your health is entirely more important than your blog, at the end of the day.

If you are finding book-blogging stressful and overwhelming in any way right now, here are some self-care tips (with a bookish/blogging slant) that you might find helpful. 😊


Get into a blanket/onesie/cosy get-up of you choosing, surround yourself with snacks and beverages, turn off your phone, ignore your loved ones(!), and spend some quality time with a book. Reading a book just for fun – one that you have no intention of reviewing – removes all pressure from your reading experience.

If you decide, afterwards, that you want to review the book, you can, but go in telling yourself that this is for pure enjoyment, nothing more, and you’ll find the whole thing so much more relaxing.

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Learning to say no is extremely important if you are feeling overwhelmed. It is okay to put yourself, and your health, first.

It’s okay to say no to review requests, and if you have ALL THE ARCS stacked on top of you, Buckaroo stylee, however tempting it may be, DO NOT, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, REQUEST ANY MORE. It’s extra pressure that you don’t need right now, and that book will be there waiting for you later down the line, once it has been released, and you actually have the time and energy to read it.

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I know, I know, this sounds like sacrilege. But, similarly to being approved for a bunch of ARCs you don’t have the time or inclination to read, having lots of unread books on your shelf can be really overwhelming if you’re feeling low. And, if you’re buying more books every week, no matter how gloriously shiny their covers may be, you’re just adding to the problem.

Ban yourself from buying books, and focus on reading the ones you’ve got. If you don’t feel like reading any of them at the moment, do something else – it will be healthier for you to watch a bit of TV, or have a relaxing bath, than try to struggle through a book you’re not into, feeling increasingly guiltier about it with every page. And, if you want to treat yourself to a pick-me-up,  you can always spend your money on something other than a book; chocolate, wine, bubble bath, stationary… basically comforting things that you don’t have to read.

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So, if you find yourself drawn to a bookshop, wrench yourself away; you’ll feel far better about yourself, and your shelves, if you do.


As book-bloggers, we constantly feel pressure to read the books that EVERYONE is talking about. But we don’t HAVE to read them RIGHT NOW if the pressure is getting to us. Those books don’t have a sell-by date. We’ll get to them when we’re ready.

Re-reading an old favourite book instead can be a real treat, and there is no pressure involved, because we don’t need to decide how we feel about the book, and what star rating to give it – we already know we adore it, and that it will do our mental health the world of good.

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Book tags are fun, and approx. a million times less pressurised than writing a book review where you have to analyse the crap out of everything.

If book tags are too much for you right now, that’s absolutely fine, but if you sit down and give one a go, just for fun, you might find yourself getting back into the swing of things.

Plus, book tags generally contain more gif-usage and more fangirling than reviews, both of which are highly efficient at boosting your endorphin levels. FACT.

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This is easier said than done – I beat myself up constantly – but remind yourself that NOBODY IS JUDGING YOU EXCEPT FOR YOURSELF. Nobody is looking at your blog and thinking ‘what a failure, she never posts anymore, compared to I, superwoman, who whacks out a post every day of the week.’

Superwoman is too busy doing Superwoman to notice, so you just do you… whatever you have to offer is enough for now, and makes you Superwoman/man in my eyes.

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Take a hiatus if you need one. You can announce it, if that makes you feel more comfortable, but if you don’t want to, there is no shame in going off-road for a while, without telling anyone. YOU DO NOT NEED TO EXPLAIN YOURSELF.

The blogging community isn’t going anywhere, and you will not be forgotten, but if you’re worried about disappearing, you can always keep in contact with everyone by liking or commenting on their posts (which is a lot easier than writing your own when you’re feeling burned out.)

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This is not related to books or blogging, but if you are feeling low, basic things can feel impossible, let alone keeping up with a hobby. Eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, getting some exercise, and breathing fresh air are all vital, and do as much good for your mental health as they do your physical health.

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I hope these tips have been helpful, and that some of them work for you! 😊 Do you have any self-care tips for when you’re feeling overwhelmed? I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend filled with books and cake!

Gif credit: Giphy

discussion post

Book-blogging with anxiety (a post containing virtual hugs, and kittens.)

Hi guys! I’ve been thinking about posting this for some time, and as today is World Mental Health Day, it seems like the right time to throw these thoughts out into the blogosphere. I have a tendency to feel like I’m alone in how I’m feeling, but the truth is, lots of people within the book-blogging community struggle with mental health conditions, so this is me reaching out and saying that if you yourself feel that way, you are not alone.

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I’m not sure if I’ve ever explicitly said so on my blog, but I suffer from depression and anxiety. Sometimes the way I’m feeling gets in the way of blogging, as you can probably tell from how sporadic a blogger I’ve been over the past few months. I’m trying at the moment – it’s very hard, but I’m trying – to convince myself that I should NOT feel guilty about this.

Book-blogging can be stressful at the best of times, and I know I’m not alone in all of the anxieties I experience with this hobby. I LOVE blogging, I love the community, I love discussing books with you guys and fangirling and being part of something so awesome. But there are so many stresses and struggles that sit alongside the good stuff, which are only amplified by anxiety and depression, and I know I’m not alone in this:

I can’t be the only one who sees how many books another human is reading and reviewing per week and feels stressed that it’s been two weeks and I haven’t finished a single book because I can’t concentrate right now

I can’t be the only one who gets panicky because it’s been more than a week and I haven’t replied to my blog comments because I’m overwhelmed, and what if everyone thinks I’m rude and ignorant and lazy


I can’t be the only one who worries that I’ll be forgotten because I haven’t posted anything in ten days and I don’t know when I’ll be able to because my brain is full of fog and just picking what to have for lunch is a challenge right now

I can’t be the only one who sees other bloggers giving advice like ‘you should try to blog every day, or a least 4 times a week’ and wants to curl up in a little ball of unworthiness because I am clearly not trying hard enough

I can’t be the only one whose heart starts beating faster when somebody says they want to read a book I’ve reviewed, because what if they hate it? What if they never trust my opinion again? And worse still, what if they find it problematic and get offended by it and hate me for encouraging them to read it?

I can’t be the only one who gets anxious when everyone around me is reviewing a new release and I haven’t even read it yet, because reading books is hard when you’re so tired you’re barely alive


And I certainly can’t be the only one who thinks what I’ve written is a pile of crap when my stats aren’t very good. That I’m a big fat failure full stop.

In fact, I know I’m not the only one.

I’ve decided it’s high time we stopped feeling so guilty. Blogging is supposed to be enjoyable, but sometimes it’s really hard. Sometimes, anxiety and depression can make blogging feel like climbing a mountain. But it’s okay:

It’s okay if it takes us two weeks, three weeks, a month, to read one book.

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It’s okay if it takes us a while to get back to people who’ve commented on our posts – they’ll understand. They won’t throw rocks at us.

It’s okay if we don’t blog for a month – everyone takes hiatuses.

It’s okay not to blog every single day. It’s enough that we’re getting up and getting through the day. We matter more than our blogs, at the end of the day.


In fact, it’s perfectly okay to do something OTHER than blogging when we get home from a mentally exhausting day at work/school/other gruelling reality thing. It’s okay to binge-watch something on Netflix instead of reading. It’s okay to get into bed at 9.30, even if that is earlier than our Granny retires to hers.

It’s okay if we like a book and somebody else doesn’t – everyone has different opinions, and nobody is going to throw rocks at us for expressing ours.

It’s okay if we don’t review a new release; we can read and review whatever we want, it’s our blog! And we don’t even HAVE to review a book – we could just read it for fun and not worry about it. Nobody is going to throw rocks at us if we don’t come up with 1,000 sparklingly witty and insightful words about Empire of Storms. (In fact, nobody throws rocks in the book blogging community full stop. We’re all lovely human beings.)

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It’s also okay if we don’t get a gazillion views on one of our blog posts. We’re blogging because we enjoy it, and stats don’t matter. Oh and while we’re at it, our blog is not crap, and neither are we.

Basically, it’s okay to give ourselves a break. STOP BEATING OURSELVES UP. We deserve to be happy, and blogging isn’t going anywhere. It’ll still be there when we feel up to it again. And so will all the wonderful people in this community, who understand, and may even feel the same way. 🙂

Much love to you all and hope you have a lovely week. And if any of the above is familiar to you, I am always here for anyone who needs a virtual hug right now.


Image source: Giphy


August Haul and the Discombobulating World of Book Blogging

Since I started this book blog, approx. 1 month ago, I’ve gained a (modest) number of followers (thank you, beautiful people!), followed some brilliant blogs, had to google who-why-when-where-and-what the terms TBR, book haul, and DNF mean (#shameface), been baffled by the vast number of people talking about Summertime Madness, received a nomination for a Liebster Award, and all in all, had a crazy but lovely introduction into the world of book blogging.

It’s been a while since I last posted because I’ve spent all week prepping for a job interview.

The role (which I really, really want!) is in a different department of the publishing house I currently work for, who, FYI, added the word awesomesauce to the dictionary the other day.

So, to look on the sunny side, even if I don’t get the job, at least I will have had the incomparable experience of getting to use the words ‘Manspreading’, ‘Hangry’ and ‘Wine o’clock’ in a job interview! 🙂

Anyway, back to the book haul (which I’m getting the impression is basically just people bragging about the books they’ve acquired over the past month, and I’m totally game for getting in on!)

Here’s what I’ve added this month to my crazy-long TBR…

***To have and to hold***

I only bought one physical book this month, which was this amazing adult colouring book by Kerby Rosanes:


I guess this one doesn’t really count, as I’m not going to read it, but look how pretty it is! Apparently nowadays it is completely NOT-lame for grown-up people to get squealy and excited over the art of keeping your sparkly gel pen within the lines. I’m loving the adult colouring trend, and I’d really recommend this as a mindful, calming activity if you’re one of those people who can never get their brain to stop buzzing. It’s good for winding down, and much healthier than staring at screens before bedtime (which I’m naughtily doing right now).

***Digital love***

I went on a bit of an Amazon spending spree this month. My Kindle haul goes a little something like this…

Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows Book 1) – Kim Harrison


Some urban fantasy to fill the Mortal-Instruments-shaped hole in my life while I (im)patiently wait for The Dark Artifices to hurry up and come out already.

Uprooted – Naomi Novik


So, basically, I bought this because it’s about wizards, and it’s set in a creepy forest. Nuff said.

Long Lankin – Lindsey Barraclough


Discovered on another Amazon trawl for creepy-reads. Can’t wait to read this one.

The Death House – Sarah Pinborough


Reviewed earlier in the month.

Cuckoo Song – Frances Hardinge


If a blurb mentions a creepy china doll, I’m pretty much sold.

The Owl Service – Alan Garner


This book gave my mum sleepless nights as a child. It sounds pretty tame to me, but I’m curious enough to give it a go.

Close Your Pretty Eyes – Sally Nicholls


Adding to the creepy-pile. Note to self, Thesaurus the word creepy, stat.

Am I Normal Yet? – Holly Bourne


My most recent review (and probably my favourite book of the month!)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews


From the reviews I’ve read, I gather this is a bit of a Marmite book. Looking forward to deciding whether I’m a lover or a hater.

Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neill


I saw Louise speak on a panel at YALC, plus this book sounds incredible. Definitely intrigued by comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale.

Royal Wedding – Meg Cabot


Review coming soon!

Made You Up – Francesca Zappia

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I’ve wanted to read this ever since I discovered the author’s blog. I’m fascinated by blogs about the writing process, and I loved the way she wrote, so when I heard about the book I knew I had to read it!

‘Soulmates’ and ‘The Manifesto on How to be Interesting’ – Holly Bourne


I downloaded both of these after finishing ‘Am I Normal Yet?’, and am so excited to read them.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han


I’ve heard a lot of good things about this one, and every person under the sun seems to have reviewed it. I read the opening paragraph and now I’m all-in too.

Know Not Why – Hannah Johnson


I bought this based on the hilarious opening chapter – props and £s to any book that can make me laugh out loud that quickly.

So, that’s my August haul. Although, the month isn’t over yet… I’ve set myself the challenge of reading all of the Throne of Glass books before Queen of Shadows comes out, and I only own the first one, so it’s a mighty good job pay-day occurred recently. But apart from these two essentials, I’m banning myself from any more book-buying…

…until September. 😉


The Liebster Award


Sooo, I’m super excited because I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award by thegalaxialword (who has a brilliant blog, please do check it out!) Thank you so much for nominating me! 🙂

The Liebster Award is an awesome award project which is designed to give recognition to book blogs with less than 200 followers, and bring the blogging community together/get everyone discovering new stuff!

The rules:

1) Display the award, and acknowledge the blogger who nominated you

2) Answer eleven questions the previous blogger set for you

3) Give eleven facts about yourself

4) Nominate from 5-11 blogs (with less than 200 followers) that you think are deserving of the award

5) Let the bloggers know you’ve nominated them

6) Come up with eleven questions for your nominees to answer!

So, here are my answers to the questions:

1) Why did you start your blog?

I started my blog originally as a place to flail and whine about the stresses of job hunting/being an adult, but went 2 years without really posting anything. I then decided to start the blog up again as a YA book review thing, because I probably read around a gazillion (mostly brilliant) books a month, and I want to thrust them at everyone I know! Also I went to a workshop on ‘Book Blogging for Beginners’ at YALC (the Young Adult Literature Convention that was held at Comic Con in July) and was really inspired by the bloggers who came to speak – it sounded like so much fun, and I’d been meaning to start one for ages, so that gave me the kick up the behind I needed to get started 🙂

2) Do you ever have trouble writing posts or maintaining your social media accounts?

I am notoriously appalling at replying to Facebook messages, but so far I haven’t found it difficult keeping up with blog stuff. Then again, I’m new. I may be weeping into and/or buried beneath a ginormous paperback mountain in a few weeks time, who knows?!


I procrastinate over most things, even things I actually want to do. It mainly involves spending hours making iTunes playlists, and trawling Amazon for new stuff to read (even though I have about eleventy-billion books waiting to be read on my already diabolically messy bedroom floor). I have given up asking WHY JESS WHY, and accepted procrastination as part of my personality. That’s self-actualization, people.

4) Any book recommendations?

I love dystopian YA (who doesn’t?), so I highly recommend the Unwind series by Neal Shusterman. With an original (and frankly terrifying) concept, characters you will really care about, and no way on earth you can label it a carbon copy of The Hunger Games (why do blurbs always feel the need to do that?!), it’s well worth a read.

5) A book that has made you cry – like, legit cry.

I wrote a post on this recently, so I won’t cop out and list any of those again, but one book which made me bawl like a baby was Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. It is pretty bleak in places (PREPARE yourselves), but it’s incredible, and one of my favourite classics of all time. The BBC adaptation with Gemma Arterton and Eddie Redmayne is also amazeballs. (No, actually, never let me say that word again, I can’t pull it off.)

6) A book that has made you laugh so much you cry – like, legit cry.

The Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella. I have read and re-read them all countless times, and they still make me laugh. Becky Bloomwood is the most hilarious invention, especially whenever she is trying to justify buying something ridiculous, or coming up with an elaborate crazy lie by spouting any old crap that pops into her head. I relate to her deeply.

7) Favourite author?

CASSANDRA CLARE (author of The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, The Bane Chronicles, etc.). I am so obsessed with the world she has created and the characters who occupy it, and I am way, way, way too excited about The Dark Artifices to the point that I am furiously wishing a chunk of my life away (Why isn’t it March 2016 yet? Why?)

Also, as you can see, she signed my copy of The Bane Chronicles at YALC, and there may have been squealing. And there was definitely fangirling.

8) Biggest book peeve?

I won’t name and shame any offenders, but my biggest book peeve is probably when a female character has virtually zero hobbies or interests besides finding/keeping the boy they are obsessed with (sometimes by compromising who they are in the process). Girls are not vacuous love-zombies with no room for anything but boys in the space where their brains used to be. Why oh why do some authors think that they are?!

9) How many books do you read a month, on average?

I mentioned the figure of a gazillion in one of my earlier answers, but around 8-10 is probably more accurate.

10) Do you write?

I’ve written lots of short stories, and I have started writing around 5 different YA novels, although I am yet to finish one, because I suck at picking one thing and sticking to it. However, the one I’ve written the most towards, and the one I know I will see through to the end, is the first book I ever started writing. I am so in love with it, and constantly paranoid that someone else will come up with the same idea and write it first. So that’s spurring me on right now. Watch this space.

11) What’s your hidden talent?

I can identify songs almost instantly, from 1 or 2 seconds of their intro. It’s a very useful skill and will get me far in life.

And now, here are 11 facts about me…

I studied English Literature at uni

I work in publishing

My favourite time of day is wine o’clock…

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures because most things I like are embarrassing anyway

I can’t go a day without spilling something down me

In the words of Bella Swan, guys: I fall down a lot…

I am ridiculously arachnophobic to the point where I am so paranoid about seeing spiders that I sometimes have sensory hallucinations of them landing or crawling on me

I have an all-consuming obsession with Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries

I am allergic to everything (like everything… animals, plants, beauty products, chocolate cake. That last one’s the worst.)

I have photos and postcards of Paris all over my wardrobe door and walls, because it’s my favourite place in the world

My friends at work got me a One Direction Minion cake for my 23rd birthday. It was the best thing in the world ever. Not even ashamed.

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Okay, so now for my questions for the nominees…

  1. What’s your favourite thing about book blogging?
  2. Which five books would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island all on your lonesome?
  3. Who is your favourite author?
  4. Who is your biggest book crush?
  5. If you could be any character for a day, who would it be and why?
  6. If you could slap any character upside the head, who would it be and why?
  7. Which books have you struggled with/given up on?
  8. Which book series would you most recommend?
  9. What was your favourite book as a child?
  10. What is the essential factor in whether or not you’ll enjoy a book?
  11. Pick a favourite line or quote from a book.

And finally, here are my nominees for the Liebster Award, who all have fantastic blogs you should definitely be reading:






If any of the people I’ve listed have already been nominated, or have more than 200 followers (because it’s super hard to find stats on WordPress sometimes!), then I’d just like to say, I enjoyed your blogs all the same 🙂