Dear 2017

Dear 2017,

We both knew that you were going to start off a little differently than usual. I began January in one of the darkest places I’d ever find myself. I was alone, surrounded by people who didn’t understand what was going on, and so treated it like something unimportant and not worthy of attention, this included myself. I had recently become unemployed by my own doing, knowing something wasn’t right but still not wanting to face it head on. I think my family did the same, tried to lighten the mood and ignore all the signs and making it worse. And so, when you rolled around, dragging yourself into fruition, I wanted you to end before you started.

There was no way you, 2017, was going to be good with me feeling like this.

It took so many fights, so many arguments, with myself and with others, and eventually, a week where I just upped and left, to force me to put the first foot forward and in the right direction. I have no shame in saying I went on medication, some small at first and then a little stronger when they just made me feel numb. I think it’s very important to talk about mental health in a way where there’s no stigma. Mental illnesses are one of the most normal things in the world, and they don’t define who you are, despite my grandmother casually telling me that being miserable was a part of who I was (I almost burst into tears when she said this). I knew that I wouldn’t be on them forever, and if I was? That was OK. They weren’t taking away who I was, they weren’t changing me into something I wasn’t, they were helping me find myself again, and for that I will always be grateful.

You weren’t looking so bad anymore, 2017. The sun felt like it was coming out; I was travelling for the first time with just friends. Planning everything myself, visiting places I didn’t think I could visit. Not because of distance or money, but because I thought mentally, I couldn’t achieve something like that. But it meant my bond with friends grew stronger, it meant I could meet new friends, it meant I could be a little friendlier to myself and enjoy things like walking around new cities, trying to speak new languages, and taking as many pictures as I possibly could.

And then, I found myself in a position to get a small, part time job. It was a two minute walk away, without the horribleness of big city customers but instead in a bakery with gorgeous smelling bread and cakes. It was baby steps into, yet again, the right direction.

But, 2017, you weren’t done with me yet, and it turns out it wasn’t the place for me, and I was so afraid once again of this set back that I thought; what if I can’t work again? But so help me God, I was gonna do it, and I landed the work experience of a life time, where the commute nearly killed me and the hamster who I was sharing a room with made sure I got no sleep. In the same month, I wrote 50,000 words of a novel that I’m so persistent on publishing that it sometimes feels like it actually might see the light of day. One day. One day.

It seemed a good thing would happen, and a bad thing tagged along. I came off my meds, but my ex got engaged. I couldn’t handle working in a bakery, but I could handle working at one of the biggest publishing houses in the U.K. 2017, you were full of so many ups and downs that felt like incredible highs and harrowing falls. It all seemed a lot. I learnt how to use social media to learn and to listen, but I also had to cut myself from it because of the amount of information I was receiving in one go. My mental health got a lot better, but my physical health took a hit for it. It seemed like you were taking me across choppy waters with bouts of thunder and lightening above, quite possibly with a broken ore.

But, I want to thank you for getting me here safely, to where I am now. I have better mental health, with better job prospects, burning with creativity and the need to travel.

2018, I want you to be bigger. But please, be gentler.

And Happy New Year Everyone!

Love, Hollie x

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The Best & Worst Books of 2017

2017 is coming to an end, and while I’ve had a fantastic year filled with fantastic books, there’s always that select few that let the whole class down. These are the best and most disappointing books I’ve read in 2017.

Best

Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicles) by Jay Kristoff

I’ve been excited for Godsgrave since I finished Nevernight, sat on a balcony in Bavaria Germany, back in June 2016. I couldn’t wait for it to actually be released, and entered every competition, giveaway, and even emailed the publisher to get my hands on it early. But to no avail. Thankfully, the Netgalley gods blessed me and finally provided a UK e-arc online and when I received that email saying I was approved to read it, I dropped everything to start it. Of course, it was fantastic, and I loved every minute. I then bought a signed hardback and am now sat here waiting for the third book. As you do. My review is here.

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The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

This one did not exist in my life until I saw it as an ARC while perusing through stalls at YALC. There was no queue, no competition, there was just a pile sat there which you could take if you just provided your email address. It was a floppy paperback, which instantly made me want to own it, and I’m so glad I read it. It’s such an epic story that spans generations that no one seems to be talking about. I love it when a book that I knew nothing about surprises me. My review is here.

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

Of course a V.E. Schwab book is going in here. For every year I’ve been blogging, I’ve had a V.E. Schwab book wriggle it’s way into a favourites. I adore her writing, her characters, her magic systems. It’s all so elegant. So, you bet your ass I cried when the finale to The Shades of Magic came out. I bought it at Waterstones, just a few doors down from my then-work, on my break, and snapped a picture of it to mark the occasion. My review is here.

Now I Rise by Kirsten White

I think I gave And I Darken, the first in this series, four stars, which is a bit strange because I absolutely adored Now I Rise. I don’t think I knew what to expect when it came to this series and grabbed And I Darken at YALC last year and have become hooked. It’s a retelling of the story of Vlad the Impaler as a young girl named Lada and her childhood and how she becomes a bloodthirsty ruler, along with her soft boy brother, Radu. My review is here.

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

I mean, is it really an Adam Silvera story if it doesn’t make you cry? History Is All You Left Me is by far my favourite Silvera novel; I cried on the first page. Every line, every part of this book is so beautiful and emotional and so real, I think that’s why I cried a lot. I couldn’t read this in public out of fear of bursting into tears. I don’t know if this will persuade you to read it but hopefully my review will.

Worst

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

This book was such a shame. The hype and marketing for this book was incredible. I saw it everywhere; in ads, in interviews, in people’s tweets just going crazy for it. The amount of people who had already added it to their TBR was incredible. Proofs had been sent out and people were glowing about it. So, I asked for it for my birthday, and read it, and gave it two stars immediately. This book was TERRIBLE. It was boring, poorly developed, and annoying. My review is here.

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Love and Gelato by Jena Evans Welch

Love and Gelato was just a flop. It definitely has the appeal; about a girl who, after her mother dies, goes to live with her estranged father in an Italian countryside villa and learns about the past of her mother. It gave me The Arsonist vibes, but a cutesy summer version rather than a harrowing war-torn country version (like The Arsonist was). But actually, it was just a lot of blah. It was luke-warm porridge left out too long. However, I feel like others would enjoy it, but not for me. And it’s in this list because I was stuck in Italy with it. That’s right, I bought set in Italy while in Italy because I thought I would be all cute but instead it did this to me.

All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

This book was also a shame, but I’m not surprised. I love The Raven Cycle so much. I love how, you may think this an urban fantasy that’s plot heavy, I found it to be an in-depth character study that kind of allowed me to ignore the plot if I so wished. I think that’s what All The Crooked Saints was trying to be too and of course; this is Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style. But it was her writing style x100. It was super confusing. There was so much purple prose and going off on tangents that I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t even review it because what would I review? They were just a bunch of words strung together that I didn’t understand.

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

Now if we’re gonna talk about shame, then this book takes the cake. Oh my God what a SHAME. Most of the time, if a book has LGBT focus, I’ll pick it up. I gotta rep my community and honestly? They just make for better reading, in my opinion. I got super excited about The Love Interest because it was a twist on the spy genre. You know, the spy genre? Coated in misogyny and heteronormativity. But this book was going to be different; about two boys tasked with seducing the same woman only to fall in love with each other. DOESN’T THAT SOUND AMAZING?

Thing is, I read the first page and knew this wasn’t going to be as fun as I thought. I explain why extensively in my review but to sum up my feelings: very, very bad writing.

If you’re looking for more books I’ve adored throughout the years, I have a category on Goodreads called ‘faves’ which you should definitely check out! As for my most hated books? Here’s the category ‘just awful’.

Happy reading!

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