An Amateur’s Guide to Travel Essentials

So I had a real talk with myself about whether or not I was going to make this post.

After starting my Amateur Guide series, I had often thought about what other travel related posts I could write. I still feel a bit too amateur to really go into specifics about things, and only feel comfortable telling you what I have learned from travel rather than being the ~travel guru~. That being said, I’ve already learnt so much from the little travelling I’ve done. And so I wanted to share with you my travel essentials; things I’ve realised I need, things that have been so helpful, and things I’ve forgotten in the past and seriously regretted!

When I think about packing for a trip, I just want to have a little cry. It is honestly the most boring thing you can do when it comes to planning a trip. I love figuring out where I’m going, where I’m staying, learning the basic phrases in a new language. But packing? It’s not my cup of tea. I’m bad at it, and I’m very forgetful and often have to buy things while I’m already there. It costs to forget stuff, so before I even think about putting something in a suitcase, I start a list.

Continue reading “An Amateur’s Guide to Travel Essentials”


Top 5 Wednesday // Fave Character Names

I don’t know if it’s me, or if it’s a writer thing, but I have a weird thing when it comes to names. I love them, but I’m also extremely picky. When it comes to choosing names for my characters, it’s like putting new shoes onto them. Some feel too big, others too small. They may just not fit right, and we’ll have to take some others out for a spin.

But sometimes, and this often happens a lot, there is THE name. The one that you only need to try once, and you know it’s perfect. A name is a part of a person’s identity, their personality, in real life and in fiction. One name can describe a thousand things about a character, and I use them often for symbolism and metaphors. I feel I like a simpler name as opposed to some of the ones often used in fantasies, the ones with too many symbols. I ain’t so big on those. So, without further rambling, here are my top 5 character names!

Simon Snow
(Carry On/Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell)


So I love this book already, but when a name just works, it’s fantastic. Simon Snow sounds like a superhero name; Marvel and DC love to alliterate the first and last names of their characters and honestly, I get it. It does sound heroic, and considering Simon is the chosen on in Carry On, I don’t blame Rainbow Rowell for choosing something so simple and comic souding.

Blue Sargeant
(The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater)


Despite it being a popular colour, Blue’s name is significantly odd. The only character I know with the same name is Bloo from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and that’s only because the character was a blue blob…a literal blue blob. But Blue Sargeant is nothing but ordinary, a psychic amplifier with a psychic family who goes to hunt Welsh Kings with her friends (and one in particular who likes to call her Jane).

Victor Vale & Eli Ever
(Vicious by V.E. Schwab)


Along the same vein as Simon Snow, Victor Vale and Eli Ever are best friends turned enemies, both with supernatural powers that ultimately, make them one superhero and one supervillain. But the question is, who is who in this tale of the grey between good and evil. This wasn’t my favourite book by V.E. Schwab, but I definitely saw it’s appeal. I was very hopeful in the outcome of some things, but they just didn’t happen. I’d give it a read anyway because it’s a very interesting deconstruction of the superhero genre (and because the names are great!)

Jaxon Hall
(The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon)


I don’t know if it’s just me, but a two syllable first name with a one syllable last name just always fits perfect for me. It sounds like someone important, with a name that’ll be spoken through microphone or on plaques. Jaxon Hall is the king of the criminal underground in The Bone Season (or, at least in my eyes). He’s mysterious, charming, and ruthless, with a name that no one forgets, especially not after what happens in The Mime Order…

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme created by gingerreadslainey.

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TTT // 10 Of My Most Recent 5 Star Reads

TTT is Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

After having a browse of my Goodreads shelves, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am super frivolous when giving out 5 stars. While trying to upkeep the reputation of stone cold bitch, I am also super empathetic. I hate giving out middling ratings like 3 stars; what can an author do with that? How they improve on a rating that basically translates to “Eh.” And then, there’s the lower ratings, which I only really give if I have strong negative feelings about a book.

But, apparently, I’m easily impressed, so we don’t need to worry about that. Here are my 10 most recent 5 stars and why I gave them 5 stars.

The Sky Is Everywhere & I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

I read tumblr_o4p7rgh8n11tymrywo1_540The Sky Is Everywhere recently whilst in sunny Spain. I wasn’t feeling too well, so while the family went off on a full day’s trek, I stayed in the villa and read this book in one sitting on the roof. I felt like I wasn’t in Spain anymore, but in California, with the characters, feeling the things they felt (I told you I was empathetic). The writing will leave you completely enamored. Jandy Nelson is a genius with the written word.

I’ll Give You The Sun was my first dip into the wonderful world of Jandy Nelson, and it was rec’d to me from a lovely person at YALC (who I understand was just trying to sell me books, but I’m sure also love the story, so I trusted them). What I’d be opening the page to, I did NOT expect. Gosh, if I thought Rainbow Rowell was a fantastic contemporary writer, then Jandy Nelson is up there with her, battling it out for top spot in my mind. Every character is vibrant, flawed, and uuuuuugh.


A Darker Shade of Magic & A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schagoswab

After getting A Darker Shade of Magic purely on a whim, from the first chapter I knew I was in for a good’un. ADSOM is full to the brim with delicious descriptions of character, of setting, and even of costumes. Every character is rich in personality and flaw and you end up loving every single one, regardless of their level of evilness (which sometimes can make you love them more anyway).

I didn’t have to wait for A Gathering of Shadows for long (oh, the joys of getting into a series late), and was once again blown away from the sheer detail and imagination put into these books. Just give them a read, and you’ll become obsessed.


11250317The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

This was a library book pick that I had no idea about. I’m not a big fan of historical fiction, and I’m not too fussed about Greek Mythology. I picked this up on a whim and ended up crying at 10pm on a Saturday night while listening to Death of a Bachelor by Panic! At The Disco. Oh, the symbolism. Get ready for your heart to literally triple in size. I wrote the review for this not ten minutes after reading it because I could just not keep my thoughts inside.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black20958632

I’ve just been recently disappointed by Holly Black with The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, but this book was beautiful. A metaphor for growing up, along with faeries and magical creatures and cute LGBT+ love. It mixes fantasy with real life contemporary so much so that it makes it look normal to have faeries living in the forest near your house.

The Dreadreamthievesm Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys was fine. The Dream Thieves was something else. Who knew I could find interest in a book about cars when I don’t give two shits about ’em? Book 2 in The Raven Cycle is the most popular I reckon, because Ronan Lynch is a precious sinnamon roll. Kavinsky, the book’s antagonist, is also a rich and developed, fucked up character who makes everything more interesting. I read this whilst on a week off from work whilst also taking part in Nanowrimo. Honestly, just read it.

Landline and Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Here she is, the light of my life. There is not a Rainbow Rowell book I havencarryonhotchocolate‘t liked yet. Apart from Fangirl, which as 4 stars, I’ve given RR 5 stars for all her other books. Landline is the most recent one I’ve read, an adult contemporary about juggling life when it’s at it’s busiest. It was so perfect, so much so that I read on the bus; a very dangerous thing for me to do.

Carry On was one for the best books I read in 2015. When you read a passage, and you have to put the book down and stare into space and bask in it, then you know you’re on to a corker. Raimbow Rowell is fantastic at character heavy stories, and Carry On is a great example.

Six of Crogrishaandcrowsws by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo has literally become the queen of my bookish heart. Every story she writes captures my attention so easily and so quickly. I received Six Of Crows as an ARC through work, and so got to read it a few months before it was released. The Grisha Trilogy is one of my all time favourite series, and I was concerned that Six of Crows might not be of the same caliber. But it is, and so much more. It’s grittier, more feisty, and rag tag team of misfits is my jam. I bought the fancy hardcover version and went to get it signed by LB at a talk she did, where she gave thoughtful and insightful answers to each and every question. She and her writing are who and what I aspire to be.

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