Let’s Talk – I’m Stuck

Hey my wonderful followers, I think if you’ve been following me for some time now you probably have noticed that my blog has got a little bit stagnant. And there’s a lot of reasons for this as my blog has gone through such an upheaval in the last year and I just don’t have the time I used to have and its making me sad because I used to love spending so much time on my blog.

This time last year I was just working for my parents getting ready to start my teaching course and I was so excited. Flash forward to December and the teaching course was not what I was expecting, my gran died and I wasn’t getting any of the support I desperately needed from uni. So as this continued to February I just couldn’t do it anymore because I was miserable. I was on the highest dose of anti depressants I’d ever been on, I didn’t have time to read let alone blogging and it was honestly just awful.

Since then I’ve had a couple of jobs and feel like my mental health is getting back to where it should be through routine and not hating what I’m doing and I feel much more even. But, and thats a big BUT, I just haven’t been able to get my love for blogging back. I’m back into reading and I’m really happy with where I’m at with my reading but I’m struggling so much with my blog.

I’m not happy with how I’m running things but I don’t know how to change it up. I’m trying to have my blog more for reviews and my youtube for general bookish and life things. And I like having them separated like that, but what I’m struggling with it that I can tell my reviews aren’t great and my engagement isn’t great and I’ve not been very good at looking at other people’s blogs and I’m trying to get back to that.

I just feel like I don’t know how to review anymore, I actually dread some of the reviews I write because I don’t know what to say . I don’t know how to make people want to read my reviews. And I need help.

So basically this is me asking my wonderful followers for some feedback. If you’ve followed me for a while what parts of my blog do you like and what don’t you like. If you’ve been in a similar situation, what did you do?

I feel miss blogging and the community and I just feel stuck and it’s making me sad.

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Final Draft by Riley Redgate

Thank you to Amulet books and netgalley for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! I was so glad I was approved for this because it was definitely one of my most hyped books.

Laila is a teen writer and her English teacher is her biggest fan. She is forever giving him her new stories and he tells her how much he adores them. Until her teacher gets in a big car accident and she gets a substitute. To start Laila is excited as the new teacher is also an award winning writer, but she is very hard on Laila and this causes her to struggle with not only her writing but her identity.

The main character of this story is pansexual. Do you know how much that means to me? Laila really struggles with this part of herself as she has been raised to believe that girls should be ashamed of their sexuality. This is said on page. And this is the first time I’ve actually been able to comment on sexuality representation from an experienced perspective and I’m so happy about this. I absolutely adored the representation. I wish this book had been around when I was younger because I think I may have realised I was pan much sooner than I did. She also is plus size and has anxiety, so I related to Laila so much to be honest. And if you consider yourself to be any of these things I would thoroughly recommend reading it. Laila is also half Ecuadorian, but obviously I can’t speak on this representation. However it was plainly obvious that the author wanted to make this an important part of the novel. All throughout there is discussions over being mixed race and being Ecuadorian, and not knowing where she fit in. I’ve never read an Ecuadorian MC and I found that so refreshing. I did try to find a review from an Ecuadorian person but I could not, if you know of any let me know!

This book is sapphic, but I don’t want to spoil that for you. However the one thing for me that let this book down for me and meant it wasn’t a favourite was that the romance was just a little too subtle for me. I kind of didn’t recognise it happening at all until about 70% of the way in. And that might be great for you! That might be the type of romance you like. I’m more of a heavy hitting romance type.

The narrative of this novel is very much internalised, there is a lot of Laila’s struggles with her writing, her friendships and her anxiety. Sometimes I struggled with reading the book because of this, not in a bad way but it could get heavy occasionally and I wasn’t quite in the mood for that.

As this was my first Riley Redgate novel I wasn’t sure what to expect, and whilst people were hyping it up, I was pleasantly surprised (I have trust issues with hyped books). Now I need to catch up on all Redgate’s books!

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Contour by Meg Harding

Content warnings: homophobia, biphobia (i think), transphobia

Jamie, also known as Roxy is a huge beauty youtuber, who takes no nonsense. He’s gained a lot of fans through his very blunt attitude but he’s not been so lucky in love. And then he stumbles on an instagram account, owned by a fit model who owns a gorgeous dog, Tyler. They DM back and forth and things get serious real fast.

So Roxy reminded me a bit of Jeffree Star but if JS wasn’t an absolutely terrible human. And it was so good to read what I want him to be as a character. Using your social media presence for good. I say Roxy because Roxy and Jamie are 2 completely different characters. Roxy I didn’t care much for but Jamie was my absolute fave he was so self conscious and just so scared to let anyone in. And then Jamie was so instant on getting Jamie out of his shell as the part of him that isn’t projected on thousands of people’s screens.

I just loved that they connected over instagram. It felt like looking into the lives of the influencers/youtubers that I follow. The way it was written by Harding really made me feel like the characters were actual people.

The writing was super addictive. I think I read this really quick. I felt so invested in this relationship and when things were going well I just wanted to read more of them and when things weren’t going so well I wanted to read more until things were good again.

There was some really nice friendships in this and I loved that there was a lot of discussion over blurring the gender binary lines. Jamie is both feminine and masculine at the same time, and it’s super important to him. And Tyler is so accepting and I just love it.

 

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Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Content warning: anxiety, a situation that is reminiscent of outing that could make you uncomfortable

Eliza creates a very popular webcomic, no one knows who she is though. Everyone just thinks she’s a loner, and her parents don’t understand how big her comic is. Then the biggest fanfic writer for the comic transfers to her school and they get on so well, but even he doesn’t know who she truly is.

I’d heard a lot of hype about this book prior to reading it and honestly it did not let me down in the slightest.

This story was in a similar vein to stuff like You’ve Got Mail, which is one of my fave rom coms ever on the planet so I was so happy reading this. Not only was there a really sweet romance but there was a lot of representation of anxiety and as someone who struggles with  anxiety the representation felt so spot on for me. I was reading it, just feeling so represented and I started crying a few times just because it was so spot on.

Ok, so of all the characters I think my favourite(s) were Eliza’s brothers. They were messy like little brothers can be but they also really understood her. And when everything goes awry they’re the ones to explain to Eliza’s parents how out of it they are. I also just really loved Eliza and Wallace. Together and apart they’re just such wonderful characters. They’re so passionate and awkward and it balances out so well.

This is one of those books that I just loved so much that I don’t know what to say? I just want everyone to read this. And I want to buy this book when I have the money to as I read this from the library. If you have the opportunity to read this you should, unless you’re worried that the content may hurt you, in which case ask me about the content :).

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I Believe In a Thing Called Love by Maureen Goo

Since reading this book I’ve started watching K-Dramas so I kind of wish I’d read it now because I think I would’ve liked it even more.

Desi is the kind of person who always has a plan. But she doesn’t have a plan in romance and she wants to be with a boy. Then she starts to watch K-drama and develops a game plan to follow the steps of a k-drama to get the boy.

One of the biggest things I saw people complaining about in reviews prior to reading this was that the whole premise was silly and irrational and blah blah blah. But I think these people have forgotten what it’s like to be a teen to be honest. When I was a teen I had a crush on a different boy every week. This was before I realised I was a flaming queer. I wouldn’t have put it past myself to do something similar to be honest.

I really enjoyed this book, like it was super cute and perfect for the mood I was in (doom and gloom after quitting my future). I gave it 4 stars on goodreads, and I think the one thing that stopped me from giving it a 5 star rating and becoming one of my faves was the ending, like I felt like the resolution was a bit lacklustre, and I wanted just a little bit more from it.

What I really loved about this book was Desi’s relationship with her dad. I love both my parents equally but there’s definitely times that I’m more of a daddy’s girl, especially during my teen years, and it was so nice to see that kind of relationship in a book. I loved that their relationship really grew when Desi started watching dramas, like they really bonded and it just made me happy. It made me happy that this was shown in the novel, not just the relationship aspect. I also loved her relationship with her best friend who tries to tell her it’s all a bad idea but is still there for her when things start to go south.

Desi was a really interesting girl to read as well. She’s so goal driven so is adamant to follow her list even though she sometimes she knows what she’s doing is wrong. It was really interesting to read a character like that because I could see parts of my young self in her. I’m very stubborn and I’m not that kind of person now, but when I was a teenager I definitely did things I knew were wrong because I’d made the decision I was doing it.

I hope that I can read Maurene’s new book The Way You Make Me Feel sometimes soon because I really enjoyed her writing and think she can only get better.

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The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Sorry for the lack of post on Monday but my laptop was getting repaired and I hate oing posts on mobile.

Ok so basically fake dating is one of my absolute favourite tropes so this was a very fun read for me.

I’m really sorry I can’t remember if there are any content warnings, but if there’s anything you’re worried about let me know and I’ll find out for you!

So Gia’s boyfriend breaks up with her on the night of her prom (what a douche) and she panics because none of her friends believe she had a boyfriend in the first place so she sees a guy in the car park and asks him to be her date for the night. And by some weird bit of luck he says yes. Soon they develop a mutual agreement of being each other’s dates for events that they need to pretend to have someone for.

To start with this book is very much a white rich people problems book. Honestly I found myself rolling my eyes a lot for the situations involved because they were so trivial. However that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy reading it.  Whilst I thought the situations an decisions were a bit ridiculous it was so easy to read and entertaining.

In terms of our main characters, Gia really annoyed me. I can’t remember why but I remember her attitude at the beginning really bothering me. But her character development was really good. There were some really bizarre female friendships on Gia’s side of things. She fell out with a bunch of her friends and they didn’t act great towards each other, however she also found a new friend who really helped bring out the good in her. On the other hand we have Hayden who was my absolute favourite boy and I would die for him.

This book is kind of your classic contemporary teen romance. Some kids acting silly and getting into ridiculous problems, but it’s important to remember that it is teens and teens are unpredictable and unreliable and I feel like books like this are often more connected to teens than ones that are more deep. But that’s just me.

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Permanent Ink by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

Content warnings: sex, substance abuse, arrest, alcoholism, age gap, s&m.

As the cover suggests, Permanent Ink contains a Daddy and tattoos. And I am a big fan of both concepts. Poe is a mess, he doesn’t know where he’s going in life and only cares about tagging. Until he gets arrested. Then his dad helps him get a job in a tattoo parlour and thats where he meets Jericho, the gruff older man who Poe is instantly head over heels for.

I read this after Off the Ice, and I liked it but because Off the Ice was so good for me this was a bit of a disappointment. Not that it’s bad in anyway but when you go from one of your new fave books to a book by the same authors that doesn’t quite live up to it you just feel a bit meh. I think this paled in comparison simply because I didn’t feel quite as much of a connection to the characters.

I really loved the relationship between Poe and Jericho. They respect each other and work hard on keeping each other’s trust. Poe wants to be better for Jericho and Jericho wants to help a kid he sees a lot of himself in.  I think Jericho is a stand out for me. he’s just such a sweetheart. Whereas Poe is a bit of a knob at times and I didn’t like him sometimes and wanted to smack him. I did however love that Poe is bi. Too often m/m romances are just 2 gay guys and it made me happy to see a lil bit of diversity in that respect.

The age gap works really well, both characters are really aware of it and try to work around it and make sure there is 100% consent and nothing’s dodgy. The language in sex scenes kind of bothered me. Mainly because I don’t really like dirty talk, and I was just uncomfortable, I just cringe. So y’know be aware if you also don’t like dirty talk.

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May Wrap Up

Hey everyone, how has your May been? Mine’s been pretty chill, I’ve mostly been working, but it’s nice to just have a good routine now after everything being so hectic. I went to see My Favourite Murder live, which was amazing. I also booked my flights and hotel for YALC. Who is going to YALC? We should meet up!

I’ve not been reading much this month as I’ve been busy/not in the mood/watching Kdramas. I always intended to watch Kdramas, but I’ve never really had the time to watch something with subtitles as it requires concentration but now I can so my reading has kind of fallen by the wayside.

This month I read:

The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
North to You by Tif Marcelo
Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X. R. Pan

This month I reviewed:

Did I Mention I Love You? by Estelle Maskame
Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski
Off the Ice by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

This month I bought:
Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett (Fairyloot)
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Solitaire by Alice Oseman
On the Rocks by Sawyer Bennett
His Cocky Valet by Cole McCade
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Blood Promise by Richelle Mead
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
The Royal Trade by Erin Hayes

Videos I posted this month:

Get Ready With Me
May Fairyloot Unboxing

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Off the Ice by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

Content warning: homophobia, teacher student relationship, sex

Tristan is a pretty famous hockey player but knows his career won’t last forever so in between practices he is working on getting his degree. What he doesn’t expect is for one of his classes to be taught by a very attractive professor, which could stand to affect not only his schooling but his career.

I read this book pretty soon after I quit uni and it was honestly the perfect book for that period of time. Expectedly I was in a bit of a funk and whilst this didn’t pull me out of it, it definitely was a bit of a release.

As someone who was training to be a teacher the concept of teacher/student really grosses me out unless it’s like this book in which its 2 adults close in age who can consent or stuff like grad students who assist undergraduates.

I think what I really loved about this book was the characters. Neither Tristan or Sebastian wants anything to happen to begin with but their attraction to each other is no joke. I fell in love with them as they fell in love with each other. They were just so easy to read.

There was also a lot of discussion throughout about gay guys in sport, and being in the closet etc. Whilst the authors aren’t gay sports stars it felt like they did a lot of research and put a lot of care an attention into it. This has made me more interested to read books from these authors because they obviously put a lot into their work.

I’ve read a lot of romance novels of late as I haven’t been super in the mood for fantasy or anything between going from quitting uni to working night shift to now having a 9-5 job things were a bit of a mess and now they’ve settled down I am getting back into more heavy reading. This book was a definite stand out for me in the mix of romance novels I was reading.

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Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski – Could’ve been cute but was let down with poor language and characterisation

Content warning: Ableism, homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia

Meg and Linus are queer best friends, who love Star Trek and each other. As they start their senior year things start to change in their lies, some for the good and some not so good. This is your classic coming of age story but from 2 queer kids.

So basically I just did not give a flying toss about Meg. The book is all about her and Linus’ friendship but I just wish it had been only from Linus’ POV. Yeah it’s great to have a half sapphic half m/m novel, but she was just infuriating. Whereas Linus is a small bean who just needs to be protected. Now I’m a fan of anti-heroes and unlikeable characters as it brings something different to the table but this was more a case of she was just an annoying character that you could tell the writer wanted to be likeable but did not come off that way.

The language use in this book is not great, there’s a lot of casual ableism, and some transphobic language too. Linus is fat, and whilst it’s not shown necessarily as a bad thing it’s also got a couple of moments where the way he’s regarded by the author is less than positive. Like it was nice to read a contemporary with a fat boy but it felt a bit rocky.

Despite this, as my only trigger is death, it was an easy read for me. And it was nice to read a contemporary of this type. But I just expected more really.

In terms of the plot, I felt like at times it dragged a bit, the book is short but with Meg’s story line it kind of felt like pulling teeth. Linus’ story move a much steadier pace but I would’ve liked to have it continued and have some more about his life.

I was glad this was a library book rather than a book I purchased because I think I would’ve been annoyed I paid for it, but it was an ok light read and was good for the reading mood I was in at the time.

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