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    September TBR

    september tbr.jpgI think I top the list on the Guinness World Records for saying I’m going to read [insert any book title here] and never following through.

    The reason for this is because I am undeniably a mood reader. I can never make a list of books that I want to read and follow it in order, especially without buying more books in the meantime and ending up reading them instead.

    I thought it might be slightly helpful to make a list of books that I plan to read over September, a list that leaves a little room around the edges to whack random books I come across in there and fancy reading that day. I can read this in any order, and can also read books that aren’t on this list. Sounds fair, doesn’t it? We’ll see how it goes…

     

    The Greater Freedom by Alya Mooro

    I’ve been making a conscious effort to not just read the standard white female fiction authors recently so I have added this new release to the list first. This is a topic that I definitely don’t know much about, so I’m really excited to get stuck in.

    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

    This has been sitting in my bookcase for years and now my brother has finally realised I have his copy and has asked for it back. He will forget again though, so I’ll use that opportunity to finally get around to reading it. Plus it would mean I can scratch another book off my ‘100 books to read’ poster.

    The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

    Another book on the ‘100 books’ poster, this was recommended to me by a friend recently and I was so intrigued by it that I went straight home and ordered it for myself.

    The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

    This book isn’t even released yet (don’t worry, I’ve had it on pre-order since the day it was announced) but it already taking proud place on this list. I am a major fan of The Handmaid’s Tale and Atwood in general, so I’ll be diving straight into this when it arrives in the post on release day (10th September).

     

    Are you any good at sticking to your TBRs?

     

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    A Graduate’s Guide to the University Essentials

    university essentialsThe fact that I can even call myself a graduate now is a truly disgusting fact.

    The past four years of my life studying my undergraduate degree have absolutely flown by, and every so often it pops into my head that I am the proud owner of an actual DEGREE. I definitely don’t feel old enough or mature enough to call myself a graduate. That is a thing that adults can say, not me. When I was in high school, the idea of finishing university seemed an absolute lifetime away. The people in the years above me who were at university seemed so much older, even though it was only a couple of years. And now that is me. WEIRD.

    So, whether or not I choose to believe it, I actually am quite qualified to give some advice on the university front now. I’m actually returning to university in a few weeks to begin my masters in Creative Writing (which I am incredibly excited about). Clearly I wasn’t ready to give up that student lifestyle yet.

    Here are a few of my top tips for those of you heading to university soon, or even just hoping to become more organised in your day-to-day life.

    UNIVERSITY

    • Depending on your course, a mini laptop – the most useful thing that I purchased was a super cheap small laptop for taking to lectures. This only really works if you are far quicker at typing than writing like I am, but I found it invaluable when it came to taking notes. My main laptop was far too heavy and big for dragging around with me. The true dream is buying myself a MacBook that is ideal for carrying around and also a decent size for watching Netflix in my bed, but I certainly don’t have that kind of cash lying around right now after my adventurous summer in Fiji and Australia (more on that to come).
    • Travel mug and water bottle – not only will you be saving the turtles and whatnot, but it will also save your precious pennies. A lot of places now give a discount on your much needed caffeine if you bring your own travel mug so I try to never leave home without one when I’m heading to uni.
    • Sticky tabs for marking books – as an English Literature student, this was particularly helpful for me for marking quotes and important points, but I am sure it would be equally helpful for other subjects if you want to remember a page that might be useful for an essay or a topic to go back and study later.
    • A planner/diary – I could not function without my planner. It comes absolutely everywhere with me because I am a forgetful person that would forget where I am meant to be and when and when my next essay is due.
    • A different notebook for each class – if my laptop was out of charge and I had to actually write my lecture notes for once (the horror) I always hated writing them in a notebook that was full of other things and would end up with everything all mixed up. I can only imagine my stress levels if I hand wrote my lecture notes every week. Even if you are like me and plan on typing in lectures, it is definitely worthwhile having a notebook for each class too. I often preferred writing notes in workshops and seminars, probably because of the type of degree that I did.
    • One Drive (or some other type of cloud storage) – after forgetting my pen drive in a library computer for the millionth time, I finally moved on to using an online storage system for all my notes and essays. It turned out to be the best idea, especially because I was working off so many different computers – my small laptop for lectures, my bigger one in the flat, the library computers – and this meant that I always had the most up to date version of any document with me at all times and could access simply by logging in. It is also a bit of reassurance knowing that it is backed up somewhere that won’t be lost if you lose an external hardrive or your computer crashes and breaks. I personally like One Drive, because I have a Hotmail email account and therefore didn’t have to make a new account on anything. There are plenty other options though, such as Google Drive and Dropbox.

    HOME

    • Photographs for your wall (and washi tape if you aren’t allowed to put things up, because it isn’t as sticky as cellotape or blue tack and therefore doesn’t leave a mark or take the paint off when you take it down to move out) – this will help if you are feeling a little homesick and want to be able to look at fun school memories, and also helps to liven up otherwise pretty dull and boring student accommodation. You could also use Command strips to hang a frame or a small mirror on your wall – just be careful you don’t hang anything too heavy or it will fall off during the night (for some reason never happens in the daytime when you are out) and make you think someone is breaking in.
    • A green plant – this sounds like a ridiculous thing to include on this list maybe, especially so high up, but I bought a cheap little aloe vera plant in IKEA a couple of years ago for my bedroom and it is still going strong. There is something weirdly calming about having a plant sitting on my desk when I am doing [no] work?? Do not ask me why, but it works.
    • Hanging storage for your wardrobe – the easiest way to create extra storage without adding to the clutter of your room.
    • Drawer dividers – this keeps everything neat and tidy and makes it much easier to find things. I bought cheap ones in IKEA and found them especially helpful in underwear and sock drawers. (A whole section for those comfy period pants!!!)
    • A sharp knife – not for harming your flatmates when they once again ‘forget’ that it is their turn to take the bins out, but instead just making life easier when cutting onions and bagels aka the essentials.
    • Student cookbook – trust me, you will use this a grand total of two times, but it is useful as a sort of reference guide for the very basic things which you never realised you needed to know before rather than for actual recipes – it transpired that I didn’t even know how long to boil an egg for.
    • Coat hangers – sounds a ridiculous addition to this list, but you won’t realise how many of these you actually need. University accomodation will provide you with roughly three, if any at all.
    • Door stop – one of the most essential things to bring with you if you are moving in to shared accomodation with complete strangers, at least for the beginning while you are still getting to know everyone. Your flatmates are far more likely to come and say hello if your door is open, rather than closed off to everyone (literally and metaphorically). Doors in these flats are usually fire doors that slam shut when you let them go.
    • Earplugs – first year students are notoriously inconsiderate of your 9am classes.
    • Casserole dish – make yourself a big pasta bake or a lasagne, portion it up and freeze it and you have enough food to last a week.
    • Playing cards – for drinking games of course.

    If you can think of anything that was useful to you during university then please share your wisdom below.

    I will update this list any time I think of anything new myself, so make a mental note (or just, you know, take the easy option and bookmark the page or something) to check back later.

    Good luck! I hope you love this new experience every bit as much as I did.

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    10 Ways To Save Money At University

    rawpixel-570908-unsplashBeing a student is an expensive business. It is also probably the first time in your life that you have had to completely fend for yourself, and you suddenly realise how difficult it is to be responsible with your money. I can guarantee you that if you haven’t already, you will go a little crazy on the spending with your sudden freedom from living at home, only to go food shopping and have a little cry in the fridge aisle at the price of a block of cheese.

    Whether you are just starting university and haven’t got much experience yet, or are a couple of years in and still haven’t got the skill down, here are some tips for how you can spend a little bit less (and leave yourself with more to have FUN with). . .

    1) Loyalty cards for supermarkets – if you drive, you can also swipe them when paying for petrol

    Sure, it usually takes quite a while to actually save up enough points to get any money off, especially when you are just shopping for one, but you are buying the food anyway and it isn’t making any difference whatsoever. It’s silly not to.

    2) Walk that extra bit further to get to an Aldi or Lidl

    The amount of money that you can save by going to Aldi or Lidl if you have one near you is crazy. I had never been to one before moving to Glasgow because it’s not convenient at all to get to one where I’m from, and I remember being so shocked at how ridiculously cheap everything is without skimping too much on quality. In fact, there are a lot of things that I actually prefer the Aldi version of. When I bring my overflowing basket to the checkout, it never adds up to as much as I estimate in my head.

    3) Invest in a good travel mug and take your coffee with you from home 

    Shops like TK Maxx are perfect for these kind of things, and so are little coffee shops around your campus. Those double-walled ones are great because they keep your drink warm so long and you can sip away the whole lecture. The same goes for bringing a water bottle with you! (And you’ll save all those sea turtles while you are at it)

    4) Or, if you really must buy a coffee out somewhere, still bring your own re-usable cup with you

    Most places now give a discount if your bring your own, so if you are buying it regularly, this little saving will really add up. Places SHOULD also fill your water bottle with tap water for free if bring it with you and ask very nicely.

    5) Free Microsoft Office

    Don’t pay for your Microsoft Word package! Students can get the full Office package through their university. Just search ‘Microsoft Office student’ and log in using your student log in.

    6) Batch cook and freeze into portions

    You can also save money by cooking larger portions of whatever you are having for dinner and putting the rest in the freezer in portion-sized boxes. I like to use little random boxes like plastic takeaway ones for this because they are the perfect size. Batch cooking means that you can often use up all of your ingredients rather than them going off if you cook it for just one dinner. I particularly enjoy this cheesy broccoli pasta bake. I use frozen broccoli instead of fresh broccoli because you never need it all, and it tastes just as good.

    7) Charity shops

    They aren’t like the ones in your tiny little hometown. Charity shops in cities are goldmines for amazing bargains, whether it is clothes or little knickknacks for your room.

    8) Don’t buy food out after the club 

    Stock up on the types of things that taste delicious when you have some alcohol in your system (I’m talking chicken burgers, mozzarella sticks, the works) and just wait till you get home after a night out to cook them rather than spending a fortune while you are out and then not eating half of it because you ordered a ridiculous amount that sounded like a great idea at the time. Of course, safety first please!!! I have the scars on my arm to prove that oven trays are very warm things to drop onto yourself when you are too drunk to be cooking!!! NO COOKING IF YOU ARE TOO WRECKED. LEARN FROM MY BAD BAD CHOICES.

    9) Book bloggers: ARCs are your friend!

    Sure, this only works if you have the time to write the review on them too and do all the work that comes along with review copies, but it will probably satisfy your craving for reading anything but your course reading list.

    10) Flat money jar 

    My flatmate and I have the perfect system for buying shared items for the flat, such as milk, toothpaste, and anything else that we don’t need two of at any time. We keep a jar in the kitchen and both put the same amount of money in, e.g. £20 each or whatever we can afford at the time, and any time either of us buy a shared item we take the money back out the jar for it. This means that we are halving the price equally each time, and neither one of us can end up buying more of the shared things than the other if we try and fail to do it evenly. And no chasing people for half the cash! It would seem silly to ask them for 50p for half the milk, but if you were the one that kept buying it, it would really add up. As long as you both (or all, I’m saying both because I live with just one other person) always put in the same amount whenever it needs topped up, it’s the fairest and cheapest way to do it.

    I hope this helps! If you have any money-saving tips of your own, whether you are a student or not, please feel free to share them below.

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    5 Things, lifestyle, list, personal, student

    5 Things: What To Do When It All Gets A Bit Much

    I have had this blog post sitting in my drafts for a while, and this week seemed like the perfect time to pull it back out. There were no words in it, just the title so I could come back to it. Writing this introduction after I have finished writing the rest of the post, I can safely say that one of the things that I can to when it all gets a bit much, is write. So I guess that goes with number 5.

    We are halfway through week 2 of semester 1 of year FOUR of my degree. This is my last year at university, my honours year – also known as the year. This is the year that everything rides on, and every grade counts towards what level of degree I am awarded with at graduation next summer.

    If you have finished a degree yourself, you will know that that is a LOT to think about. It is constantly at the back of my head, and has been all summer, but it is just in the last couple of days that it is has really hit home. I was awake until the small hours on Sunday night stressed out my mind at the pressure of it all. I don’t want my last few years to have been a total waste of my time, and I don’t want to be disappointed with my degree next year when I know I could have done so much better if I had just put the work in.

    A lot of this is probably geared towards university stress, t least in my head it is because that’s what I am stressed about, but you can apply it to your own personal situation.

    Maybe this blog post is just as much for me as it is for you. We can all be little balls of stress together. (Or should I say LOVELY CALM PEOPLE together after we all read this blog post???) Read more

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    30 Questions To Get To Know Me

    Well that’s a large photo of my mug to start us off, isn’t it.

    HELLO. It has now been nearly a month since I posted on my blog, and like I said on Twitter, it was beginning to feel like the longer the break became, the more stressful it was.

    I am also back at university now and officially a FOURTH YEAR Honours degree student. I honestly can’t believe. Where did the time go?! How can I really be nearly DONE?! The pressure has really been mounting up, especially the past week. I am perhaps even a little bit too overwhelmed. I think the weight and importance of it all has suddenly hit me all at once and now I am like, “SHIT I need to get my act together,” whilst also simultaneously letting Netflix auto-play the next episode of Jane the Virgin.

    This is a post that I had saved in my drafts, nearly complete and ready to go for a rainy day. Well that day is today (although, actually, it isn’t raining). Now that I have come to terms with those first week jitters (almost), I am hoping to get a little bit better with my time management and motivation and get. shit. done. Encouraging words are welcomed!!! Please!!!

    I came across this list of questions while reading a blog last month (sorry I have forgotten who! I will update this if I remember, I knew I should’ve put the link in this post while I was still on the page).

    I have been blogging a few months now, so it must be about time that you knew something about me other than the fact that I quite enjoy a good book and a good glass of pink gin and lemonade. Turns out, there are a few other almost interesting facts about myself. Who knew. Read more

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    10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started University

    Oh, uni. Supposedly the best few years of your life. You are meant to make tons of lifelong friends, become a responsible adult and find your ~true self~.

    What isn’t in all the handbooks is the ridiculous stress you will find yourself under and the several pounds in weight you will put on from endless takeaways, nights out, and lack of mum’s good cooking.

    The start of the next university year will soon be upon us, whether you are returning after a long summer off, or just heading off for the first time.

    I am about to enter my fourth and final year, and I can’t believe that is even a sentence I am able to say yet. The time has absolutely flown in – I am 100% not ready for whatever comes after this period in my life. While university – and education in general, for that matter – is not for everyone, it is for me. I have had the most amazing time at university, met the most amazing people that I can call some of my best friends, and grown immensely as a person. My confidence has absolutely soared and I can now strike up a conversation with just about anyone, and voice my opinion where I would have before kept quite and very much to myself (mind you, I still make my mum phone and make my dentist appointments for me. We can’t all be perfect). It was definitely the right choice for me after school, and I want it to keep going forever (ok, maybe not forever, but a couple of years longer at least). For me, the stress of essays and exams and assignments is totally worth it for what I am getting in return.

    As you may or may not know, I am studying English, journalism and creative writing. I also wrote a post on my top tips for studying this at uni (and also WHY you should study it) which you can read here.

    That said, there are a few things about university that turned out a little different to how I expected. I think you leave school with such an image in your head of what university is going to be like, but there is really no preparing yourself completely until you actually there and experiencing it.

    Luckily for you lot, I have compiled a very handy list of a couple of tips and tricks so you are that little bit more prepared.

    Good luck in your next adventure! It will be a blast.

    THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE STARTING UNIVERSITY


    1) You don’t HAVE to join a load of societies. There are other ways to make friends.

    2) It is actually not that big a deal if you aren’t legally old enough to drink yet. You aren’t the only one, and there is always parties to attend. The student union will usually let you in too, as long as you don’t try and buy alcohol or are seen getting other people to buy it for you (read behind the lines here). I was 17 for the entire first half of my first year at university, and I still have friends, don’t I? I still had fun. Yes, it is VERY ANNOYING, but there is nothing you can do about it (apart from get fake ID or borrow your friend’s but that’s always risky and doesn’t often work).

    3) There are some VERY different people out there. Most likely including your flatmates. But there is also your people out there too. People that you didn’t know that you needed in your lives, and didn’t know could even exist. I met my best friend Fiona the first day we moved into student accommodation and were randomly placed in the same flat. Fast forward three years and we are living in a private rent, just the two of us, and have almost merged into one human being. I would never have thought it would be possible to find someone who is literally ME in blonde-hair-and-excellent-eyesight form.

    4) No one cares what you look like when turning up to lectures. Especially 9am ones.

    5) And therefore yes, you can go to your lecture wearing that outfit you grabbed off your bedroom floor after wearing it out the night before. No, no one will notice, or give two shits. My friend once bought me coffee from Starbucks to congratulate me for pulling it off with ease.

    6) Also, no one gives two shits if you walk into a lecture five, ten, FIFTEEN minutes late. They aren’t all looking at you. They are looking at your delicious coffee in a jealous rage, wishing they made themselves late waiting in line for one too. They want to rip it from your fingers.

    7) You won’t love every single day, or every single class. But don’t let that put you off, because maybe the next class you take the year after will be OH MY GOD THE BEST HOUR EVERY WEEK YOU HAVE EVER HAD.

    8) You will feel lonely and down sometimes.You will have off days, and that’s okay. You might even feel like quitting. But the feeling may pass, so give it time. 

    9) Your dinners will never look like they do in the photos of your many student cookbooks. Nor will you ever use those cookbooks after the first month. Or week. Ok, fine. I haven’t opened it at all.

    10) It might be nerve-wracking and utterly anxiety-inducing, but it is SO MUCH FUN.

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    books, currently reading, fiction, list, recommendations, WWW Wednesday

    WWW Wednesday #1

     
    WWW WEDNESDAY is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words
    After randomly coming across Books and Sensibility on Bloglovin and deciding to follow Jess’s blog, I also spotted a blog post titled “WWW Wednesday”. It had a cute little graphic and so I clicked on it, to find it was a lovely little weekly post with a very simple idea behind it, and I knew I had to start doing it too.
    THE THREE W’S ARE:
    • What are you currently reading?
    • What have you recently finished reading?
    • What do you think you will read next?
    CURRENTLY READING
    I am currently reading I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson. It was specially written for World Book Day 2018 and focuses on a fourteen year old girl with severe cerebral palsy. She can’t walk or talk or communicate at all, but her mind is completely intact. She can see and hear everything happening around her, something which she says people often forget. She relies on her family and her carer for everything, and knows all sorts of secrets about everyone. These are harmless, until someone tells her a secret that changes everything. I am really enjoying this so far and I love how unique the perspective is!
    RECENTLY READ
    I have just finished reading A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. I have always said I’m not much of a fantasy gal, but this has totally changed the game for me. I don’t want to say too much on this subject right now because I am planning on doing either individual reviews for the books or a series review once I have read Wings and Ruin. If you follow me on Twitter, you will know how much I have been raving about this series recently and how much I feel like I have missed out on by not reading much fantasy romance till now!
    READING NEXT
    Carrying on from that, I plan on reading book 3 in the ACOTAR series, sooner rather than later. I also want to read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng which has had a lot of hype surrounding it recently, and The Party by Elizabeth Day.
    What are you reading at the moment?
    *****
    Help a fellow book gal out – shop your TBR list on Book Depository using my affiliate link here. Thank you so much! Will pay back in long rambly blog posts and overly enthusiastic book reviews.
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    8 Of The Best 99p Kindle Bargains

    Writing this post has somehow just managed to cost me £6, because apparently I am incapable of compiling a list like this without buying every single book on it minus the two I already owned. It was even originally titled ’15 of the best Kindle ebook 99p bargains’ until I realised the trend and had to stop midway for the good of my bank account. I am the worst for rationalising my purchases by saying that they were only a couple of pounds so it is no big deal. But those few pounds add up when you spend them all the time.

    Whether you are going away on a relaxing beach holiday soon, or simply enjoy the amazing heatwave we are having at the moment, there’s no better time to stock up on some books for your kindle as when there are some crackers reduced to just 99p each. I definitely didn’t need any more books after just buying a box load of paperbacks in the two for £7 deal on Amazon, but I couldn’t help myself (and I’m telling myself I’ll be thankful of it when I have ‘nothing to read’, as if that ever really happens) (also see above paragraph on excessive spending).

    I have tried to keep the list as varied as possible so that there is something for just about everyone. There is the LGBT+ novel that everyone has been talking about lately by Becky Albertalli, as well as one of my favourite books of all time in The Secret Life of Bees. Shadow and Bone is one for all you Sarah J. Maas fans out there (me included now as I have just finished book 1 in ACOTAR), and the hilarious Sarah Millican offers a non fiction option if you like biographies. If you like more of a thrill, then maybe The Missing is more up your street, or The Cows if you are looking for something heartbreaking, yet somehow still witty and entertaining.

    Have you read any of these books already?

     

    THE COWS by Dawn O’Porter
    THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kidd
    THE MISSING by C. L. Taylor
    HOW TO BE CHAMPION by Sarah Millican
    PIN FOR LATER
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