Travel

Travel Guide: Amsterdam

For ages I’ve been wanting to set up a travel guide series, to chat about the locations I have visited and places I recommend going.. so what better place place to start than my first proper holiday, (excluding places I’ve been on school trips), to Amsterdam, The Netherlands!

We chose Amsterdam as my first holiday as I had never been on a plane before and for lack of a better phrase, I was shitting a brick. Luckily the flight there was only around 50 minutes long from Southampton Airport to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and I only had one mild panic attack so it was all good! As soon as we stepped off the plane I was gobsmacked, the airport was HUGE, was basically like a London shopping centre in an airport. We got a little lost but all the staff there were so helpful and friendly and spoke perfect English. For a city it was relatively cheap to travel, it only cost us around €4 to get from Schipol to Centraal by train and then for a 72 hour pass on the trams it was only €17. In true Amsterdam style, we stepped out of Centraal and walked straight into the Sex Museum which is on the main strip, just a couple of feet down the road from Centraal. The Sex Museum turned us mid-twenty year olds into a teenage, giggling wreck, we just weren’t used to such a liberal display of sex in one place, I wouldn’t say England is a super Conservative country (apart from our Government) but we certainly don’t have Sex Museums next to sweet shops in the center of town!. All jokes aside, the Sex Museum was very interesting for how small it was, there were displays from ancient Greece, Egypt, China and Japan and even a small room which showcased all types of fetishes in Modern Day society… and it only cost €5 on entry. By far the most fun part of this Museum was the best photo opportunity in the city… a giant Penis you could sit on (I couldn’t resist).

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After dropping our bags off at the Air B&B (look up Ilona if you are heading to Amsterdam to stay, she’s amazing!), we headed off to the Red Light District, we kind of had a running theme that day haha! One of the best accidental museums we went to was the Museum of Prostitution – Red Light Secrets, my friend’s ended up getting money off vouchers from their hotel so we got into the museum super cheap. The museums in Amsterdam are really good as they hand you a portable speaker that you can listen to while walking around and you tap it onto specific areas on the walls to hear the next segment of information that corresponds to the area of the museum. This museum really opened my eyes to the oldest profession in the world, it really gave a voice to the Women who work in the district and how tough their job is. There was even a memorial for the victims who have been killed and brutally attacked in the district. As the museum is a converted Brothel, there was even a red lit window where the women used to sit.. was surreal sitting in those seats staring out to the street below you. I highly recommend this museum if you are unsure on prostitution and want to know more facts.

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We weren’t lucky with the weather on our second say in Amsterdam, it was absolutely pants but we still made the most of it! We had tickets booked for the Anne Frank Museum at half 1, so the morning consisted of walking around the back streets of Amsterdam going into all the shops we could and taking in the all sights of the canals. Again, we got relatively lost and made it to Prinsengracht just in time to try out the local pancakes (which were incredible and came in a million different combinations) before heading in to the Museum. The Anne Frank museum was something else, at some points I felt very emotional.. it didn’t help that I read her diary before coming to Amsterdam so was already very emotionally invested in her story. I didn’t know they built a museum onto the side of the house so we spent ages walking in circles trying to find the house when you have to go through the entrance to the museum instead. The house was so authentic, the museum really tried to keep any pictures on the wall and certain furniture in the exact same place it was while Anne and her family were living in the Annex. One thing to be careful of though is the stairs.. Christ were they steep! I’m only 5ft 2 so walking up those stairs was like walking up Everest, had to half go up on my hands and knees. Around the corner to the house is the Anne Frank statue, while we were there someone very lovingly put down some tulips in front of it.. I got a bit emotional at that too!

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One thing we were all told to do while in Amsterdam was to go on a Canal Cruise. We went with Lovers Canal Cruises as they were right outside the Anne Frank Museum and was relatively cheap for what you get out of the experience. We travelled all along the canals, and stopped to see all of the sights.. from where the Mayor of Amsterdam lives to floating island of bikes. The cruise gave us headphones that we could plug into the boat and listen to while on route, this was really good as we got so much information out of the trip! We even managed to get in some geeky shopping that day by visting A Space Oddity and Henk Comics.

On the third day we ended up travelling outside of Amsterdam to see the beautiful Dutch countryside, and boy it did not disappoint! The Netherlands is a very flat country so the views when travelling are phenomenal, you could see the canals for miles and also the lovely dutch cottages in the distance. We travelled from Amsterdam to Edam, then to Edam to Hoorn and then back.. all for only €10! Edam is a beautiful, idyllic town just north-east of Amsterdam which is mostly famous for it’s cheese. The town was quite small and only took an hour or so to walk around but the views were incredible. Many canals run through Edam and there is many places to sit and look at the boats passing by.

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Another thing I ticked off my bucket list in the Netherlands was seeing a windmill and we got lucky enough in Edam to see one! It wasn’t a working windmill anymore as the blades were all tied up and it’s now someone’s home but it was still awesome to see.

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Next we travelled even further North to a town called Hoorn as it was a lovely day and it is located right on the coast. Hoorn has an amazing, long high street with many shops, cafes, restaurants and has a great view out to the Markermeer sea. We ended up sitting at a little beach just outside of the main high street for a couple of hours as the sun beamed on us.

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It only took about 45 minutes to get back to Amsterdam bus terminal from Hoorn and as it was our last day and night we had one more tourist thing to complete from our list… the I Amsterdam sign. Whenever I have stalked Amsterdam hashtags on Instagram, I have come across people sitting on the sign and as someone that can’t say no to a good photo opportunity we ended up staying there taking photos for an hour. The sign is located outside of the Rijksmuseum in Hobbemastraat next to a giant fountain and a huge park. There is a little play park for children (or for adults if you are like us haha) next to the sign too. The visit there really rounded off an already amazing day! That evening as it was our last night, we accidentally found a tap and dine bar to have some celebratory drinks. Honestly I recommend everyone should go to The Waterhole Tap & Dine on Korte Leidsedwarsstraat, the food was lovely and there was beer on tap that you could pour yourself. The bar was decorated beautifully with music legend’s portraits hanging on the walls, but the best thing about this bar was the wonderful waitress Jolanda. She was so friendly and interested in our lives and even requested that we get a free shot each downstairs in the club.. what a legend!

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Amsterdam was the most wonderful city and was perfect for a first holiday, it has really ignited a passion in me to travel more and see the world.

“I left my heart in Amsterdam, where I could dream and nights were long” – Nothing But Thieves.

I hope you enjoyed this little guide, if you have any questions about Amsterdam or can recommend other places to visit in the Netherlands then please comment below!

xox

Life

The Unique Blogger Award

Thank you so so much to Audra @ audrasbookblabbing for nominating me for this award! It was very much needed after an up and down week this week. I was very unsure on starting a blog to begin with as I don’t have a main topic of discussion, I just write whatever I am passionate about in that moment, so I thought that might hinder me.. but being nominated for an award has made me realise that being unique is good!

Rules:

  • Display the award!
  • Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
  • Answer the questions they’ve written for you!
  • Nominate 8-13 bloggers and give them three questions in the spirit of sharing love and solidarity within our blogging family! 

    1. What’s one thing you really like about yourself?

     

    Although I’m sometimes moan about it, I do quite like my empathy.. there’s a lot of awful people in the world, if more people were empathetic then maybe the world would be a better place. Physically I like my eyes, they are a really odd shade of blue which is different. 

     

    2. What is your biggest Pet Peeve?

    I am terrible and actually have quite a few haha! One of them is when people aren’t open minded, by all means have your own opinion but don’t shut down everyone around you that has a different opinion than you. Also another one that is slightly more silly is that I hate it when people buy dogs to only want to dress them up and carry them around in prams and handbags.. actually makes me cringe.

    3. Who is one person you really want to meet?

    I don’t really have an ultimate hero I’d love to meet, but it would be awesome to meet Tim Burton, he has such an interesting mind (and I kind of want to see if he still has the Nightmare Before Christmas set so I can go and have a look hehe).

Here’s my list of awesome bloggers who deserve this award: (I’ve only only done 5 instead of 8 as I don’t actively follow many blogs at the moment, that will change!)

 

My questions:

  1. What’s your favourite TV show?
  2. What’s your biggest passion?
  3. If you could choose one thing to change in the world, what would it be?

 

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy writing out this award as much as I did!

xox

Health

The Body Positivity Movement is the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

First things first… I’m back! I went on my first holiday 2 weeks ago, so I took a month off this blog to put all my energy into that. I had a blast and I will be writing up a post about what I got up to in Amsterdam very soon!

I wanted my first post since being back to be something I’m super passionate about, so I thought what better time to talk about the Body Positivity Movement (BOPO) on social media (mostly Instagram as that’s where you will mostly find me). For anyone who read my post about Disordered Eating, you will know I fell into the rabbit hole of self-loathing while looking at seemingly perfect Women and Men online with their washboard abs and perfect life. For years I felt pressured and struggled with fitting in to the social standard that is presented to us and it’s only been the last year that I have started to see past all that… and I thank the Body Positive Movement for guiding me out of that rabbit hole.

It all started last year when I found an article online talking about a woman called Megan Crabbe (also known as @bodyposipanda on Instagram), Megan had a long battle with Anorexia, Bulimia and yo-yo dieting but found peace when she discovered the Body Positive community on Instagram. She has since amassed a great following from flaunting her amazing and healthy body online to show us all that all bodies are different and beautiful. Megan also released a book called ‘Body Positive Power’, which is a self-help book with a witty and fun edge… It is on my list of books to read so will write a review once I read it! I instantly followed Megan and throughout the next year started following other BOPO influencers.

Apparently Khloe Kardashian, one of the most followed celebrities on social media thought it was a good idea to write an article titled '5 Hacks to Look Thin AF in Your Pics'. According to Khloe looking 'thin AF' shows people that you have a 'sick bod' and gets 'your Insta comments to blow the f*ck up'. Nothing like teaching millions of your young fans that being as thin as possible will make you more beautiful AND more popular! So in response, here are my 5 Hacks to Not Giving AF About Looking Thin in Your Pics! 1. Remember that we've all been sold the idea that thinness = happiness by multi-billion dollar corporations that first taught us to see our bodies as 'flawed' 100 years ago, and after realising they could make a shit tonne of money from it, never stopped. Say diet cultureeeee on 3! 2. Remind yourself that your body doesn't exist for the viewing pleasure of other people, since you're not an inanimate object up for display, you're a living, breathing, multi-dimensional human being and how your body looks is the least important thing about you. *Flash!* 3. Realise that most of the 'thin AF' pictures you compare yourself to have been Photoshopped to hell and back and aren't attainable for any living human anyway! Smiiiiileeeee! 4. Always wear whatever the fuck you want and pose however the fuck you want and angle your camera however the fuck you want. Fuck flattering. 5. Stop following people who promote fatphobic nonsense and make you believe that looking 'thin AF' is something you need to aspire to. Seriously. Thanks for the tips Khloe, but I've had enough diet culture already for a lifetime, so you can keep them. I'll be over here looking chubby AF and being 100% cool with that. Byeeeeee. 💜💙💚🌈🌞 #RevengeBody

A post shared by Megan Jayne Crabbe 🐼 (@bodyposipanda) on

Another influencer I swiftly followed after discovering Megan’s account was Christie Begnell (@meandmyed.art) who spreads self-acceptance and information around Eating Disorders through her art, I found that I learned a lot through Christie’s art and it helped me understand what I went through with disordered eating. Other influencers I highly suggest you go and follow are Milly, Connie and Charli. I’ve just bought Charli’s autobiography about her struggles from Anorexia to the beautiful, fiercely real model she is today, I think I will add this into a review with Megan’s book too! BOPO is becoming more well known, with celebrities like Presenter and actor Jameela Jamil who has created a movement on Instragram called I Weigh to showcase how everyone’s value goes beyond our looks, please check it out and even submit your own picture, I will be doing that tonight too!

Low self esteem is at an all time high, activists are calling it an epidemic and with cuts to Mental Health services, average waiting times for initial appointments sometimes being over 17 weeks and the ever increasing numbers of people suffering silently to Eating Disorders, we need this Body Positivity Movement. Diet culture has no signs of stopping and it doesn’t help that well known celebs are promoting articles on quick weight loss and tips to look thin (Khloe Kardashian, I am looking at you!). Every post, every article and every brave person standing up and saying, “This is enough!”, is influencing society into becoming an accepting community for all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. I began this journey with unfollowing every account that made me feel bad about myself and filling my feed up with people that inspire me every day. If I could give any of you some advice, please do yourself a favour and unfollow the accounts that is crippling your self esteem, its not worth it just to be in the loop. Put on your favourite outfit and take a selfie with your amazing and real beauty, be happy in yourself and spread that love online to other’s that are struggling.

One day I’d love to be able to call myself a Body Positive influencer, I am slowly coming to terms with presenting my real self online and spreading the body positive message to everyone I can.

Thank you for reading ❤

xox

I couldn’t find the original article I read about Megan Crabbe, but here is another good article about her and the amazing work she does.

Life

24 Things I’ve Learnt in 24 Years

It was my birthday last week, I’m now 24.. which is nearly a quarter of a century old, my mind is blown haha. I saw some people on Youtube doing a ’20 pieces of advise for 20 years’ videos, and it got me thinking about what I’ve learnt in my 24 turbulent yet exciting years. Maybe in another 24 years when I am 48 I can make a new list of the things I’ve learnt then and compare:

  • Just because someone is a friend, doesn’t mean they are a good one. If a friend is causing you more stress than happiness, it’s time to let go.
  • Go to every gig, festival, event you humanly can, you will make amazing memories and meet some fantastic people.
  • Don’t stay in a job that makes you unbearably unhappy, it’s best to earn less money and be happy than be minted but sad.
  • Don’t feel guilty for getting closure for something that happened in the past.
  • Don’t let anyone dictate your decisions, you will ultimately regret it.
  • Save, save, save. As soon as you have some spare pennies, save it into a Savings Account in the bank, it’s surprising how even the smallest bit of change can add up.
  • Treat yourself. Buy yourself that new CD, that taster session of a new sport, that new flavour of ice-cream etc – as long as it doesn’t break the bank it’s worth it.
  • If you can’t love yourself, learn to accept yourself… you are doing the best you can, and you are worth it.
  • Social media likes aren’t everything.
  • Don’t stay in an unhappy/unhealthy relationship, amazing things may happen once you leave.
  • Stick by your morals, be proud of them.
  • If you feel you need help, don’t ever be afraid to seek it.
  • It’s okay to dream but don’t let those fantasies take over real life.
  • Be passionate about issues close to your heart and educate others about them.
  • Never stop learning.
  • Find a hobby or hobbies and put your all into it/them.
  • Don’t let the miniscule things get to you, you won’t remember most of these problems in 1, 5 or 10 years.
  • Surround yourself with people that bring happiness, substance and laughter to your life, choose your tribe.
  • Don’t get caught up in other people’s drama, it will soon become your drama too.
  • Not everyone is going to like you, and you won’t always like other people either. Trust your instincts on others though.
  • Read… whether that be fiction, educational books or magazines. Reading is great for stress free downtime and can make you smarter.
  • Drink more water, it maintains regularity within the body and can also boost your immune system.
  • Get your nose pierced, dye your hair stupid colours, wear clothes out of your comfort zone.. you don’t have to keep any of these things but you might discover something you like.
  • Never be ashamed of your past, those experiences have made you the person you are today and these experience give you the ability to educate and help others in similar situations.

Thanks for reading, let me know what you’ve all learnt in your years on this Earth!

xox

 

Life

My Sensitivity Isn’t a Curse, It’s My Superpower

I somehow stumbled onto this website and it got me thinking about the one thing I considered to be my worst trait.. my sensitivity.

http://foreverconscious.com/are-you-an-empath-or-just-highly-sensitive

I’ve always thought of my sensitivity as somewhat of a curse. Just like the quote from Spiderman “with great power, comes great responsibility”, my sensitivity is special but has got me into some bad situations in the past. For me, it was just another thing added onto the pile of shit that has made me even more different than everyone else around me. It’s been the reason I lost friends, it fractured past relationships and it has made watching a film without crying near impossible!

I’ve always felt everything so deeply; sadness is overwhelming, anger is consuming but happiness has always been transcendent. But one thing I have always loved about this sensitivity is how empathetic I am. Empathy, according to Google, is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another and an Empath, according to the link above, is a person who is capable of feeling the emotions or physical symptoms of others even if they themselves are not going through the same situation or events. I always thought I was weird for being really in tune with others, even people I’ve met once seem to open up to me about their thoughts and feelings. I’ve never minded people talking to me about their problems, I openly tell my friends that I’m always here if they need a vent.. but sometimes I do get so overwhelmed by other people’s troubles that it starts to negatively affect me. Too much negative energy does get me very down and very exhausted.

But this year I’ve started to feel more positive about myself, I’m slowly starting to turn my negatives into positives, starting with my inner sensitivity conflict. “It is estimated that around 15-20 percent of the population is highly sensitive and another 2-3 percent of the population are empaths.” Isn’t that amazing? I’m part of something that is uncommon in other people, I’m starting to realise that being different isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some people are super in tune with animals, others have a knack for making beautiful gardens, some are brilliant artists… but for me my superpower is my sensitivity. With all the horrid things happening in the world and all the evil people, I think the world needs people with special abilities to spread some happiness and help others.

Thanks for reading! Comment below what your real life superpower is, I’d love to know 🙂

xox

Piercings & Tattoos

My Piercings & Pain Ratings

One of my biggest passions is piercings, even though I don’t have a tonne. I started getting pierced more when I was 17 (when I didn’t need permission from a parent to get them done haha!), then every year or so I got a new piercing. I’ve always taken it quite slow with getting pierced, I make sure my previous piercing is completely healed before I even think of getting another.. healing two piercings or more at a time is something I cannot be dealing with. While my Daith is still healing, I thought I’d make a list of my piercings and their pain ratings to help any of you that may be thinking of getting a certain piercing.

Ears:

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First I’ll start with my right ear as I have some different piercings on each ear. My first piercing was my lobes, which I got when I was 10 years old, they were pierced with a gun (which wasn’t great, but no-one pierced lobes back then with needles 😦 ). I was a HUGE baby when I was young, and I don’t think I even flinched with any of my lobe piercings. There was a slight sting but it was over quick so I didn’t really process them.. Pain Rating: 2/10

My next piercing on this ear was my scaffolding piercing, I had this done when I was 17 for free as my Mum knew the Piercer. Not going to lie, this piercing was no walk in the park.. the Piercer first pierced the top of my ear then the bottom and thread the bar through after that. Unfortunately I had a really heavy handed Piercer who wasn’t delicate when threading the bar through.. this was probably my most painful piercing by far. I think if someone else pierced me I wouldn’t have found it so bad. It was quite temperamental to heal, somedays it wouldn’t hurt then others I would lean on it in my sleep or my hair would get wrapped around it which made it flare up again. Pain Rating: 8/10 

The newest and final piercing I have on this ear is my daith piercing (situated through the piece of cartilage in my outer ear). Unlike a lot of other people I didn’t get the piercing to cure migraines, I’ve just always thought it was pretty. I went to Southampton shopping for the day and a local piercing studio there was doing 2 for 1 piercings, so I got this and my friend got her scaffolding done. This wasn’t the most painful piercing I have had done but it was very uncomfortable, this area has very thick cartilage so it was hard for the needle to go through. I’d say it was more pressure than pain, and it’s so worth it as the piercing is gorgeous. Healing has’t been too bad as I don’t knock it, is abit awkward to wear earphones at first though. Looking at a star shaped ring to go in once it’s healed. Pain Rating: 6/10

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I’ve already written about my lobe piercings above so I will start on my helix piercing (piercing in the upper cartilage of the ear). I think my helix piercing was one of the easiest piercings, barely felt any pain apart from a little sting. The only problem I had when healing this piercing was that I kept leaning on it in my sleep for a few weeks after I had it pierced and kept catching it on my hair. Planning to get another helix piercing on top of this one soon though! Pain Rating: 4/10

I have this piercing in my other ear too but I was covering it in the picture, oops.. but the next one I got done was both my tragus’. The tragus piercing is located in the front of the ear canal (the little nubbin poking out slightly), was actually a breeze to get pierced too. There is less nerves in this part of the ear so doesn’t hurt as much, although it is quite thick so I found it was more pressure than pain again. They took a while to heal as most cartilage piercings do and I’d be careful inserting ear plugs etc. Also I do have the habit of sleeping on them weird and them becoming a bit achy even though I’ve had them pierced for 3 years, might not be the same for everyone though. Pain Rating: 5/10

The last piercings I have on my ear are the double forward helix, which are the two piercings just up from the tragus. I had the first piercing for about two years before the second as it did take quite a while to heal as it’s in a thick bit of cartilage. As far as pain goes, the first one hurt worse than the second.. not sure if I was just having a sensitive day or not, but it sucked. The second one wasn’t too bad at all, the healing for that one was worse than the first though, I kept knocking it so it was getting irritated. I also accidentally bought a bar too big for the hole so it got infected.. but it’s been great since I got the purple curved bar put in. Will hopefully get a third piercing on top of the second so it will be a triple forward helix soon! Pain Rating: 7/10

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One of my favorite piercings is my belly piercing, I think I got it in October 2011.. I only remember that as England had a weird, late heatwave so we all went to the beach. I can’t actually recall the pain of getting this piercing, I can’t remember it hurting that much, only a pinch like most piercings. The healing process was a tad annoying as I always wear high wasted jeans and shorts so I kept rubbing the piercing, I started to loosely wear a plaster over the bar which helped a tonne and it healed super quick. Pain Rating: 3/10

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Now for the only facial(ish) piercings I have. I got my tongue pierced first nearly 3 years ago, I’m lucky my boyfriend came with me as I nearly bailed on getting it done as I was so scared! Luckily the initial piercing of my tongue surprisingly didn’t hurt much, was only a pinch and some pressure.. kind of felt like pushing a needle through a marshmellow. The healing process wasn’t too fun though, I struggled to eat anything for about 3 days and nearly fainted at work as I couldn’t eat anything but mash potato haha! I’ve heard soup is great to have while healing a tongue piercing but unfortunately I wasn’t a big of soup. Although the first 3 days sucked, after that it healed super quick, I remember eating McDonald’s (carefully) on the fifth day. The only problem I have now is that I sometimes swallow the balls on the end of the bar.. I have to remind myself to always tighten them up after meals. Pain Rating: 4/10 (piercing), 7/10 (aftercare).

My last piercing is the septum which I’ve had pierced for just over two years. Again, I’m lucky my boyfriend came with as a nearly bailed on getting it too haha, kinda funny too as he now has his septum pierced and I went with him to get that. The initial piercing wasn’t the best, as the nose is so close to the eyes, mine watered like crazy. It didn’t hurt too bad, was more of a sting than anything and some pressure in my eyes. This was probably one of the easiest piercings to heal, it was easy to clean and I mostly wore it flipped up so I could hide it from my parents and work. The only thing that sucked about this piercing was the smell, I can imagine all piercings smell as they heal but as this was right in my nose I could smell it alot.. this went away quite quickly though and I made sure I gently cleaned my nose with warm water and a cotton bud. Pain Rating: 5/10

My next piercings I’m hoping to get are my last forward helix piercing, to make the triple forward helix and one or both of my rooks (images below):

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Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about piercings or could tell me what to expect from getting my rook pierced then please feel free to comment!

xox

Books

Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge

2017 was a good year for reading, I went into the year not expecting to whizz through as many books as I did, I only put my goal at 10 books to start. As the year went on a upped my book goal to 15 books, then 20, 25, 30 but finally landing on 32 when it got to end of October/beginning of November, finally finished my last book of the year just before Christmas at 35 books! I surprised myself. I’ve always loved reading but never found the time for it in the last few years, but now I’m in a routine with reading I am thoroughly enjoying my me and book time and will continue to try up my reading count every year.

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I’ve lived many lives and read many stories last year, so I’d like to share the stories that captured my heart and some that I think others will enjoy:

The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare:

This series was the first set of books I read in 2017, I got the box set for Christmas as it was a bloody good bargain. I read all 6 books from January – the beginning of April as I prefer to read books part of a series all together.. although I do have one confession, I watched the City of Bones film before I even heard of the books a few years ago and absolutely loved it. This series is a Young Adult Fantasy series revolving around 15 year old Clary Fray who gets thrust into the world of the Shadowhunters, warriors who banish Demons from Earth, and unlock secrets to her past. All in all, I did really like this series, for me I really started getting into the series from City of Glass as events started to get super interesting. I wanted to give myself a break from the Shadowhunter world but I might look into reading the Infernal Devices trilogy this year.

★★★★☆

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough:

13 Minutes follows the story of Natasha and Becca during and after the event of Natasha’s near death drowning. I don’t want to give a way too much of the story by going into a detailed synopsis of the plot but I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was a good breather to read a more true to life YA fiction after reading Fantasy for 3 months straight. This book has many twists and turns, although it was somewhat obvious who was involved in Natasha’s near-fateful drowning half way through, it didn’t make the story any less interesting and shocking. I would definitely go back and re-read this book maybe some time this year.

★★★★☆

Faceless by Alyssa B. Sheinmel:

This is one of the very few books that had me gripped within the first couple of pages, Faceless follows the story of Maisie after a freak accident leaves her with a partially destroyed face. Maisie receives a face transplant instead of a skin graft and journeys through the rest of the story dealing with her identity. This book was amazing, it was heartfelt and taught me a lot about identity and how we perceive ourselves, I really think everyone should give this book a go.

★★★★★

Countless by Karen Gregory: 

Everyone has a handful of books that changed their life.. Countless is one of mine. I picked this book up accidentally while looking for another book, was somehow like fate found me. This story follows teenager Hedda who is gripped by an Eating Disorder she calls ‘Nia’ while she finds out she is pregnant. Following this shocking reveal, Hedda and Nia then call a truce until the baby is born. Karen Gregory did an incredible job telling Hedda’s story, it was utterly heartbreaking but so very powerful. I loved that Countless didn’t end entirely happy like most books, but there was hope, it felt real and raw. Stories of Eating Disorders are most of the time ended on a super happy note, the character often suddenly beats their ED and it’s happy ever after.. but Karen Gregory did her research and knew that wasn’t the case. Just do me a favour and pick up this book if you want a real, emotional but still hopeful read.

★★★★★

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill:

Only Ever Yours is marketed as The Handmaid’s Tale meets Mean Girls, it takes place in the future where females aren’t birthed naturally, they are manufactured instead. However these girls (called eves) are purely only created for male pleasure.. they either become wives, concubines or teachers to the newer generation of eves. Only Ever Yours follows the life of final year student frieda (the lower case ‘f’ is on purpose) who is trying to finish the year as one of the higher ranking eves to better her chance of being chosen as a wife. However frieda’s best friend isabel starts acting strangely and this sets of a chain of events that has consequences for all the eves. Louise O’Neill is fast becoming one of my favourite authors, she told a haunting and powerful story of society’s never ending pressure on Women. After finishing this book I was left with so many questions about the fate of the characters, I wish there was a sequel but maybe it’s best we never find out as life for these girls isn’t very happy, even after they leave school. A must read for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale wanting a more modern twist.

★★★★☆

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer:

The Lunar Chronicles is made up of 4 books (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter) and is basically futuristic fairy tales. The series starts with 16 year old Cyborg mechanic Cinder who is considered a mistake and a burden by society and her adopted family. However she is considered the best mechanic in New Beijing which draws the attention of Prince Kai, this sets of a huge chain of events including a plague epidemic, a vengeful Queen of the Moon, biologically enhanced super soldiers and a legacy waiting to be unearthed. I really loved this series which shocked me as I’m usually not a Sci-Fi type, but the characters were very well thought out and the story was super engaging. I couldn’t put down Cress and Winter, I finished both stories in a few weeks! Recommend to Fairy Tale lovers who like modern (or futuristic) re-tellings.

★★★★☆

After the Fire by Will Hill:

After the Fire follows the story of Moonbeam that starts during a police raid of the cult she has been living within. The story is told through Moonbeam telling the FBI all about the cult through flashbacks leading up to the police raid. It’s an absolute chilling read, and is actually loosely based on the true events of the Waco Seige in 1993. After the Fire really sucks you in and questions everything you know about faith and loyalty.

★★★★★

I hope some of you found some books you’d like to read, if anyone has any recommendations then please feel free to comment!

xox