Bookish Beginnings: My Childhood Reads

Ask most readers who grew up in the late 90s through the early 00s to talk about books that shaped them as a reader and I can guarantee a large number of them will give you a dissertation length ode to Harry Potter and how much it changed their lives. I will readily admit that I am one of those people. The boy Wizard entered my life at the age of 10 and I can hand-on-heart testify that he irrevocably changed not only my reading life but my life in general.  

However in any readers life there are going to be a plethora of books that laid the foundations for their reading journey. Those books that they were introduced to when they were too young to realise the little squiggles on the pages were called letters and that together they formed words. Those books  they clutched close to them, shining a torch on their shiny white pages as they read under the covers; long past bedtime. Those books that acted as kindling to their own wild, youthful imaginations. Those books that when thinking of the title, illustrations or just a characters name bring forward memories of childhood so strong they can smell the varnished wood of the local libraries bookshelves, picture the colour of their childhood bedroom or hear a parent berating them for being late to the table for tea because they just needed to read one more page. 

I recently read Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan. It is lovely book which takes us on a journey through Mangan's childhood reading, talking us through the seminal books that shaped her as child and continue to have an important part of her life as an adult. Whilst reading Bookworm I was sent on a whimsical nostalgia trip, mention of authors such as Enid Blyton, Frances Hodgson Burnett and Richard Scarry had me reminiscing out loud to my long suffering boyfriend about my own bookish beginnings, waxing lyrical about the stories I adored as a young child. 

I honestly cannot remember a time when books and stories have not been a huge part of my life. Whilst my family never had a long held tradition of reading aloud or stories at bedtime, I distinctly remember being encouraged to read. My Grandma would take us to the library at the weekend, there would always be time made for my reading homework and I was one of those children who longed for it to be bedtime just so I could hide myself away under the covers and escape to whatever fictional setting I was currently enthralled by. 

Most of my strongest childhood memories, especially when it comes to books, centre around the long Summer holidays of my Primary School years. The Summer holidays have an almost mythical quality to them when you are child. Six weeks to those who are unencumbered by time restraints or responsibility seems like an almost impossibly long time and I would greet them with an excited anticipation. I was a very imaginative child who loved to play make believe. My brain would be abuzz with ideas for new imaginary worlds I could bring to life with my sister, creating story lines we could follow. These worlds would be so vivid in my head that inevitably I would also write them down. 

Anthropomorphic tales of woodland creatures living in villages secreted deep in dense forests were a particular preference of mine when it came to reading and writing. Between us, me and my sister owned an unseemly amount of cuddly toys, some of which were amongst our most treasured possessions. It was those cuddly animals that my woodland tales were based on. I can still picture the map I created of their little village in my head now. It was called Primose Wood, all of the animals lived in tree trunks and it had a market square where most of the inhabitants sold their wares as a way to make a living.

Two of my favourite books back then were my collection of Foxwood Tales by Cynthia and Brian Paterson and Pookie by Ivy Wallace and I firmly believe that those stories, amongst other such as Old Bear by Jane Hissey and Paddington Bear by Michael Bond were the reason my imagination was so strong growing up. The Foxwood Tales centred around a trio of young animals called Harvey Mouse, Rue Rabbit and Willy Hedgehog. The stories were quaint and followed them on their little adventures in the village of Foxwood. They were very important to me because they allowed me to imagine a world in which my beloved toys came to life. Pookie by Ivy Wallace was another book which furthered my obsession with stories about animals going on adventures. First published in 1946 the story centres around a little white rabbit called Pookie. He is different from all of his brothers and sisters not only on account of being white in a family full of brown rabbits but he also has wings, which are an annoyance because they don't appear to work. The first book in the series tells the story of Pookie striking out on his own to find his fortune. Oh how that little white rabbit captured my imagination! I would sit up night after night reading Pookie, Pookie and his shop and Pookie in Neverland. 

As I got a little bit older I found myself moving away from stories about animals. As I mentioned earlier my Grandma would take us to the library at the weekends and we would spend a couple of hours perusing the books, colouring and playing with toys. On one such Saturday afternoon trip I was determined to find a good book. I had, of course, enjoyed many of the books that I had borrowed up until that point but this time I wanted to find something that would be worthy of that prestigious title: a favourite. Well, the stars aligned and that day I took home The Sailing Ship Tree by Berlie Doherty. The book is about four children named Dorothy, Walter, Tweeny and Master George and centres around their lives on the estate of the 'Big House' by the Mersey in Liverpool. Dorothy and Walter are the butler's children, Tweeny is a little maid and Master George is the son of the wealthy owner of the 'Big House'. To say I loved this book would be an understatement, I think I borrowed it from the library quite a few times. It inspired a whole range of role playing games and I even wrote a story based on Walter for a writing exercise at school (which I still have.) Reading The Sailing Ship Tree lead me to inhale The Malory Towers stories, reach for my Mum's What Katie Did books and lit up my imagination to the point where my favourite game was to pretend I was a girl called Ethel who had been sent away to boarding school. 

It was at this point that I started yearning for longer books. I begged to be allowed to move on from the banded reading at school so that I could have free reign on the extended reading shelf. I can't remember exactly where or when I came across The Prophecy of the Gems by Flavia Bujor but it must have been at school. My memory seems to recollect it being in the last year of Primary School but the publication date in the copy I now own states it was published in the UK in 2004 which would mean I was in the first year of Secondary School. Either way I remember seeing this bright pink and white hardback book on a shelf and being immediately drawn to it. I had, by now, found Harry Potter and was well on my way to becoming a full fledged Potterhead, so fantasy was the flavour of the moment. Up until then I had almost exclusively been reading books set in the past about whimsical children going on little adventures within the confines of their home/school and their immediate surroundings. Being introduced to fantasy fiction expanded my reading horizons exponentially. The Prophecy of the Gems is about three girls called Jade, Amber and Opal who are part of a prophecy that means they must travel to a kingdom called Fairytale to help defeat an evil that is threatening to spread. If the books I had been reading previously about quaint country life and idyllic boarding schools had sparked my imagination, this book positively set it on fire. I was entranced by the magical rules and laws, the fantastical settings and the wide ranging quest the girls were sent on. That book along with Harry Potter, opened up another level of reading to me that I did not know existed and it is a trajectory that I am still hurtling along to this day. 

Nowadays the writing has somewhat fell by the wayside, lost because my confidence dampened as I got older, as I began to doubt my ideas or realised that were certain rules that I had to adhere too. My unquenchable thirst for books and the faraway lands they can take me to, however, is still there. There were some wilderness years. Where, as an impressionable teenager, I quietened my love of stories because they weren't cool. Regret for the lost years where I could have been inhaling book after book without the hindrance of a job or other responsibilities is something I still dwell on and I often wonder what jewels I have consequentially missed out on now that I don't have those wonderfully long summers to fill. 

Happily I did find books again. Through my Mum's small collection of what is so sometimes sniffed at because it is 'women's fiction'. Through the required sometimes laborious but often wondrous reading lists set for me by my lecturers at University. Through ignoring said reading lists and reading other stuff instead. Through finally being allowed to read freely upon graduating. Through finding Tumblr and Twitter and being introduced to books I would never have heard of otherwise. And now through being a bookseller and being lucky enough to spend my working week surrounded by books. 

I will leave you with one of my favourite quotes that I think sums up my feelings perfectly: 

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” - Stephen King. 

What books were your favourites growing up? Are there any that you feel have shaped the reader/person you have become? Let me know in the comments!

Reader Problems Tag

Hello! *steps out of the wilderness* When I started this blog a couple of years ago I had grand ideas of what it would become. However, I think I got too wrapped up in what I thought it should be rather than just letting myself enjoy it. So, here I am again, hoping to actually enjoy posting on here. No schedule, no expectations. It will mostly be book related but there will still be 'life' posts from time to time. To kick us off I thought I would do a tag, because everyone loves a tag! I originally saw this on Hannah's (A Clockwork Reader) YouTube channel. Enjoy! 

1. You have 20,000 books in your TBR, how in the world do you decide what to read next?
Ahh the quandary that lies in front of every bookworm all over the world. Most of the time I just go with what I am feeling at the particular time. I do usually have some form of idea of the books that I want to get to next; be that either new books, books I have been meaning to read for a while or proofs. However it can be hard to keep a list of priorities when you have so many books to read. Two things that pretty much guarantee that a book will be my next read is if it is an anticipated read (either from a favourite author/series or something new I have been waiting for) or if I am reading the series. I have a habit of binge reading series (especially YA) so I nearly always read them back to back.

2. You're halfway through a book and you're just not loving it. Do you put it down or are you committed? 
I used to persevere when I wasn't enjoying a book. I used to have the notion that if I had picked the book, paid money for it etc. then I should finish it because there was obviously something that drew me to it in the first place. I can gladly say that I have left all of that in the past. There are just too many books to give time over to reading ones we don't enjoy! If I'm not enjoying a book I will give it two or three chapters to see if it improves but if it doesn't and still isn't grabbing me I will put it down. I don't necessarily always put a book down with no intention of going back to it, it might just be a case of 'right book at the wrong time' - although I do generally know if a book just isn't for me.

3. The end of the year is coming and you're behind on your reading challenge, do you try to catch up? And if so, how?
If I am honest I try not to let it get bother me too much. It's just a number after all. However I am close I will try to get to it by maybe reading a few short books or books that I know I can read quickly. When going back through my Reading Challenges on Goodreads I have actually more often than not missed the goal by a few books or more. Now this may be partly down to me not recording things properly (as with 2017 - I know the challenge fell by the wayside) but it is also down to me just not reading enough books. In the past this might have bugged me but nowadays I am more bothered about reading books I enjoy and actually want to read rather than the number I have read.

4. The cover of a series you love do not match, how do you cope?
Ergh. This does bug me if the publishers decide to change the design half way through. It obviously won't put me off buying the rest of them but it does irk me that they won't match when on the shelf. Same goes for when the size of the books changes. Sometimes publishers will do some of the series in the normal paperback and then change to trade paperback size. WHY?! I know it shouldn't bother me because books are to be read and enjoyed but I also like them as aesthetic objects so in that sense I can't help but be annoyed.

5. Everyone and their mother loves a book that you do not. Who do you bond with over your shared feelings?
I don't think there is necessarily a need to 'bond' with anyone over not like a book. I would never go out of my way to shout about a book that didn't live up to the hype for me because everyone has their own tastes and opinions. However if someone asks what I think of a book I will be honest. This has happened with The Perks of Being a Wallflower on many occasions. I just didn't like it. I have 'bonded' with other people who didn't like it either but most of the time people are amazed it was a book I gave up on after only 80 pages. But, as I said, each to their own.

6. You're reading a book in public and you're about to start crying. How do you deal?
I have done this a few times! As well as gasp, laugh and smile like an absolute lunatic. I do a lot of my reading on the bus on the way to work so unfortunately there is not a lot I can do when a book makes me feel all of the emotions. I do try to reign it in slightly but sometimes I will be so wrapped up in a book that I will forget everyone else around me and just react (especially if it is written by Sarah J Maas) It is always the sign of a good book if it can suck me in so much that all thought of decorum is forgotten about.

7. The sequel to a book you loved just came out but you've forgotten what happens. Are you going to reread it? 
This is a tough one because ideally the answer would be yes I would reread it but the reality is that I don't have time to be rereading books!! I am, however, pretty good at remembering what has happened in a series/the first book so a quick look at the synopsis usually does the trick!

8. You do not want anyone to borrow your books, how do you politely say no when someone asks?
Luckily I don't know many people who ask to borrow my books! The only person who does tend to borrow them is my sister and she is usually very careful with them so I'm not too bothered about letting her.

9. You have picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over this reading slump?
Young Adult fantasy is always the way to go for me when I am in a reading slump and it is more often than not a new series that will do it. At the end of 2016 I was beginning to slip into a pretty big slump, nothing I was picking up was grabbing me. It was frustrating because I had only been a bookseller for a few months so I should have been lapping up being surrounded by books. What I think happened instead is that I was overwhelmed. Sarah J Maas was my saviour (and continues to be my Queen) I picked up the first Throne of Glass book and then basically inhaled the five books available in three weeks. Just recently I experienced the same thing and this time I picked The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and then went on to binge read the four books over the course of a month.

10. There are so many books coming out that you are dying to read, how many do you end up buying?
Erm. . . all of them? I have zero restraint when it comes to buying books, especially those that I am eagerly anticipating. I have got slightly better when it comes to impulse buying but the list of books I am anticipating and will buy as soon as they are published just keeps growing and growing. Put it this way, we are not even half way through 2018 yet and I already have a steadily growing list of 2019 releases that I cannot wait for.

11. After you purchase all of these books that you're dying to read how long do they sit on your before you get to them?
It depends. Some of them will honestly sit on the shelf for years unread. And that is not because I don't want to read them (The Bone Season I am looking at you) it is just that for whatever reason I don't always get to them when I probably should. Some books I will read straight away, a new book in series or by a favourite author for example. I do need to get better at prioritising books but as soon as I set myself a reading list I immediately want to deviate from it.

The Reading List | January 2016

I know I know it is basically the end of February and I am ONLY just getting around to writing about the books I read in January. It's because I am an independent blogger who don't need no schedule (which I 100% do, I am just SUCH A PROCRASTINATOR). Bad blogger vibes aside I thought I would still share the books I read last month because I am planning on making this a monthly feature. As you can tell I don't have the time to sit and write a separate review for all the books I read so I thought I would put them all together in one handy reading list so you guys can see what I've been reading.

January was a good reading month for me. I read five books and each they were all completely different from one another. My Goodreads Reading Challenge is to read 50 books this year and I feel I've made a really good start!

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

In Life After Life Ursula Todd lived through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. In A God in Ruins, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy – would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband and father – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have. 
- synopsis from Goodreads

I must admit it took me a while to get used to the almost meandering style of A God in Ruins with future events being intermingled with the present story being told. It is a remarkable feat on Atkinson's part that those little tidbits and references to future events are so seamlessly mixed in. A God in Ruins made me feel as though I were listening to a story being told, with little anecdotes being interspersed with musings about the future.

Atkinson has this knack of creating characters that crawl into your heart, nestle there and then refuse to budge. In Life after Life, Teddy is the golden boy of the Todd family. Sylvie's favourite, the boy hero headed off to war. A God in Ruins takes Teddy and weaves him a tale of love, loyalty and stoicism. I can't think of many books that I have read with a middle aged/elderly man as the main character (if I have read any at all) but Atkinson does so well to portray the way in which Teddy holds on to his values and the way he thinks the world should be. 

I had high expectations for A God in Ruins after reading Life After Life and I am happy to say that it more than lived up to them. 
Rating: 4 stars

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.
Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia. 
Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?
synopsis from Goodreads

I picked this book up purely based on its cover. It is such a beautiful book that I could not resist buying it. I had no idea what the story was going to be about when I started reading but I can assure you that it wasn't the story I got. 

This book certainly wins the award for being one of the most bizarre books I have ever read. That being said, the plot didn't actually feel that far fetched. The story starts off feeling very much like contemporary teen novel. Aza is ill and the only person she feels really understands her is her best friend Jason. It all felt very John Green up until the point Aza started seeing ships sailing in the clouds and began to feel like birds were talking to her. 

What follows that is a rip-roaring, completely fantastical adventure in ship that sails above the clouds. Whilst some of the elements did feel a little bit too out there and some things could possible have done with little more explaining. Headley does a very good job in keeping the plot coherent. There's a lot of references to the state the world is being left in and it could pose questions about the environment in a new way that teenagers may access easier due to Magonia's fantasy setting. 

Rating: 3.5 stars

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine

You are cordially invited to attend the Grand Opening of Sinclair’s department store!

Enter a world of bonbons, hats, perfumes and MYSTERIES around every corner. WONDER at the daring theft of the priceless CLOCKWORK SPARROW! TREMBLE as the most DASTARDLY criminals in London enact their wicked plans! GASP as our bold heroines, Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lilian Rose, CRACK CODES, DEVOUR ICED BUNS and vow to bring the villians to justice…
synopsis from Goodreads

Before picking this book up it had been a while since I had read what would be classed as a Middle Grade book. Working in a Secondary School library means that I mainly read YA titles. It was refreshing to pick up Clockwork Sparrow because it was such a fun read. 

Woodfine has captured the essence of what I imagine department stores were like during their heyday. Sinclair's is described so richly that I felt like I was there whilst reading. The elegance and the opulence of the many floors filled with products for the wealthy to fawn over cemented the book in it's era and almost added an extra character to the story. 

Sophie and Lil were brilliant written and it was great to read about strong, young women who were determined to do the right thing and set the record straight. Their friendship and the little group they formed with Billy and Joe has created the basis for a wonderful series that provides adventure and escape for children and adults alike. 

Rating: 4.5 stars

The Last Summer of Us by Maggie Harcourt

Limpet, Steffan and Jared. Three best friends crammed into a clapped-out rust bucket of a car on a whirlwind road trip to forget their troubles and see out the end of the summer. But no matter how far they drive, they can’t escape the hidden secrets and slow-burning romance that could upset the balance of their friendship – perhaps forever.
synopsis from Goodreads

The Last Summer of Us was on the nominations list for this years Carnegie Medal so, of course, I was interested to pick it up and see what it was all about. I will admit that even though I do read a lot of YA fiction, I don't tend to pick up contemporary titles. I am drawn more towards the fantasy/supernatural so it was a change for me to pick up a book about three normal teenagers. 

Harcourt did well to capture the dynamics in the trio. Having a trio made up of two boys and a girl was an interesting take and I think that their friendship was portrayed well and quite realistically. The shifting tensions between the three of them as they learn more about the situations they find themselves in created a great canvas on which Harcourt could explore the ways in which friendships can change, even in the smallest of time frames. 

I wasn't blown away by the story, it was a simple road trip story with some emotionally charged moments that stood out. I would recommend it to anyone who was looking for an easy contemporary YA. 
Rating: 3 stars

There Will be Lies by Nick Lake

In four hours, Shelby Jane Cooper will be struck by a car.
Shortly after, she and her mother will leave the hospital and set out on a winding journey toward the Grand Canyon.
All Shelby knows is that they’re running from dangers only her mother understands. And the further they travel, the more Shelby questions everything about her past—and her current reality. Forced to take advantage of the kindness of unsuspecting travelers, Shelby grapples with what’s real, what isn’t, and who she can trust . . . if anybody.

synopsis from Goodreads

The thriller parts of the story worked really well. At any point in the story you are not sure who to believe and whether or not Shelby is finally being told the truth. Lake builds up to the twists and turns brilliantly and even though I figured a few of them out, the way he weaved them into the story was clever. Shelby wasn't a particularly likable character, something about her jarred with me and I can't put my finger on why. Of course she had led a very sheltered life and that may have been why she was so bitter, but still there was something I didn't like about her. 

The problem I had was the way in which Lake used the Native American mythology to move the story along. Shelby's progression throughout the novel became dependent on her entering 'the dreaming' and working her way through some sort of quest she needed to complete. I'm still not entirely sure why Lake decided to use that narrative device and I'm not sure it worked. If the story had moved along with the mythology I think I would enjoyed it a lot more than I did. 
Rating: 3 stars


Have you read any of the books in my January reading list? Let me know in the comments, I love to talk about books!

Letters from the Library

My last 'Letters from the Library' post came at the beginning of the last academic year and I was in a little bit of a limbo period, not knowing where I would be at the start of the current one. I had gone for a job as an Assistant Librarian in another school but I was unsuccessful. Luckily the school I was at very kindly agreed to let me stay on and I spent most of the six weeks holiday working my way through a huge to do list, which included rearranging the library.

Me and the Librarian didn't actually end up working together too much over the six weeks as we both used our annual leave at different times. I did find it difficult to work from a list that she had created without her there to answer any questions I had but I feel like I did a good job. I do admit to feeling a little despondent over the summer. Although I was really enjoying work at the school, the placement was only designed to last year and then I was meant to move on. Every other person who had completed the placement had moved on after the initial twelve months and I hadn't. A part of me felt like I had failed. I did have to keep reminding myself that three out of the four people who had gone before me had actually moved on to different sectors. School librarian jobs are not ripe for the picking, especially in the area in which I live, so the job hunt was always going to be an arduous process. So I picked myself up and pledged to get as much out of continuing at the school as possible whilst still searching for a new job.

In the end it turned out to rather a good thing that I didn't move on.

The last week of the summer holidays was actually the first time throughout the whole summer that the Librarian and I were able to work with each other for more than one day. We had the last week set aside for getting the new display backings up and doing any last minute tidying and rearranging that needed doing.

All was going smoothly until we decided to put the display backing up. The display boards in the library are not easily accessible and in order to get to this particular one we were required to climb up on to a bench. It was whilst I was stapling away at a border that I head a huge clatter and turned round to see the Librarian on the floor clutching her wrist.

A trip to A&E and a five hour day spent in hospital later and it turns out she had broken it.

Which meant that for the foreseeable future I was going to be running the library. This wouldn't have been too much of a problem if it weren't for the fact that I was going to Florida for two weeks, a holiday that had been booked before I got the job.

This meant that for the first three days of the new school year I was racing round like a headless chicken trying to put things in place so that the library would not burn to the ground in my absence. This process was frustrated by members of the SLT being very unhelpful and basically telling me it wasn't my problem. There may have been a little bit of truth in there, they were attempting to sort out cover etc. but I still felt that I needed to be kept in the loop. The students were at the top of my priority list and I made sure that there were facilities available for them to return books as I knew that there would be many who were worried about over dues whilst the library was shut. I also made sure that staff knew the library was going to be running a limited service but to email me any queries they had so that I could attend to them when I got back.

I then jetted off to Florida and had the best two weeks I have had in a while and luckily came back to a functioning, if somewhat disorganised, library. It was then that I realised that I needed to step up to the plate and keep the library running as normal as possible. Of course there were things that I couldn't do because I didn't have access to the Librarians emails or documents but I did my utmost best to do everything that needed doing.

It was a rather tiring time if I am honest but I did enjoy the challenge. I tried my best to make sure all the classes that were scheduled went ahead and for the most part I kept the library open at break times so students could use it. I fielded questions from staff, kept the website up to date and I did it with almost no help whatsoever.

I think that is the one thing that made it such a stressful time, not having support from SLT. I had a glimpse into what it is like for Librarians who work on there own and don't have much support from higher up. It is not a walk in the park believe me.

But I did it and when the Librarian came back during the second week in November she thanked me for keeping the library running. It took up until the week we broke up for Christmas to catch up on everything that had been missed or forgotten whilst she was off.

That's when this little story takes another turn.

I got a new job!

It was all rather rushed as I went for the interview and was offered the job three days before the Christmas holidays began but as of tomorrow I will be working in a new school. What is most exciting about this new job is that I will be running my own library!

I have done it, I have managed to land myself my dream job!

It is not going to be without it's challenges. The library is in dire need to an overhaul but I am confident that I will be able to turn it around. I will be working as a solo Librarian which is a little nerve-wracking but I will tackle it head on. I had a meeting at the school last week and I got the most supportive feeling from everyone I met. The English and Literacy team can't wait to work with me, the Head Teacher is fully on board and there have been talks of a good budget to get the library back up and running.

I also have such a fabulous network of people that I have met on Twitter. Librarians such as Leanne, Alison, Hilary, Rachel, Elly, Jo and Cazzle who have welcomed me into their little community on Twitter and have helped/encouraged me so much already! I know I'll be OK with them around.

I have a big job on my hands but I cannot wait to get started. I have so many ideas buzzing round my head and it is going to be so rewarding to see how my passion can help build a fantastic school library.

I'll be updating mine and the libraries progress on here so if you want to follow my journey keep your eyes peeled!

Get to know me - 25 questions

Seeing as I have been blogging semi-regularly for the past couple of weeks (we shall ignore the fact that The Wednesday Wishlist has not happened for 3 weeks . . .) and the fact that I am getting a small but steady stream of views now, I thought I would let you guys know a bit more about me. I found these questions after browsing a few blogs and I thought it would be fun to answer them!

What is your middle name?
I don't have a middle name as such. What I do have is a hyphenated first name. Although I go by Callie about 90% of the time, my actual name is Callie-Hannah. I will tell you something for nothing, growing up with that name was not fun. Whilst I can now appreciate that it is a unique name and I do love it, when I was younger there were times when I wasn't so keen. For example, my sisters names is Emily (well Emily-Jo but she goes by Emily), so when it came to getting stuff with her name on it, it was a breeze. She got EVERYTHING, stationery, headbands, stickers; you name it she got it. Me? Well I got stuck with either Hannah or a blank line where I had to write my own name. For someone who ADORES stationery, not being able to have my name on pens and notebooks at the age of 9 was heartbreaking. The struggle was real guys. 

What was your favourite subject at school?
English. I have always loved studying English, although my 'on this day' posts on Facebook may suggest otherwise with the sheer amount of moaning I did about writing essays for it. It is a subject I immediately had a natural affinity for. I enjoy the literature side more than the language side (grammar you say? *hides*). I think it helped that, for the most part, I had amazing teachers for my English lessons. At GCSE I had Miss Brice who introduced me to Jodi Picoult and lent me her River Phoenix DVDs. She could be quite harsh sometimes but she really pushed me and I thank her so much for that. I also had Mr Bray at GCSE and then again at A Level. This man will forever remain one of my favourite teachers. He was a fountain of knowledge and it was always quite easy to send him off on a random tangent if we didn't feel like doing work. I give him so much credit for me doing well at A Level because of how interesting he made Shakespeare. He would literally walk around the class performing King Richard II, which was quite an entertaining sight. What's interesting is that I didn't originally study English at university. I think I had become a little over saturated with it after GCSE and A Level. As I went into my second year I realised I missed it and picked it up alongside Creative Writing. I then eventually dropped Creative Writing and became a single honours English Literature student. I didn't look back and although my degree was hard I enjoyed every minute of it. 

What is your favourite drink? 
My favourite non-alcoholic drink would be Vimto. I could literally IV that stuff. My favourite alcoholic drink is definitely a jager bomb. Oh man I love myself a jager bomb (even more a jager pint). I know for a lot of people Jagermiester is the devils drink but I LOVE IT. It does get me drunk but not stupidly so, that would be Sambuca (which I also LOVE). The only thing I don't like about jager bombs is the furry feeling it leaves in your mouth the next day *shudders*. 

What is your favourite song at the moment? 
Sorry by Justin Bieber. That song is my jam, some serious car karaoke goes on when that gets played on the radio.  

What would you choose as your last meal? 
This is so tough because I love me some food. If I had to choose I would go for my ultimate comfort food meal. Corned beef, mash potatoes, peas and a whole load of gravy. All of that mixed together makes for one heavenly plate of food, especially when you need a good pick me up. 

What was the last thing you bought? 
I treated myself to a Happiness Planner for 2016. I have been wanting a planner for quite a while but couldn't find one that suited what I wanted. What I love about the happiness planner is that it combines a daily planner with a journal. It focuses on your goals and mindfulness as well as helping you keep your schedule in order. I also need to be more organised, especially as there may be some big things happening next year.  I so am excited for it to arrive! 

Favourite Book of all time? 
This is almost an impossible question for a book worm to answer. On an old book blog I used to have I wrote about five books that have impacted my life, I might re-post that on here at some point soon. If I had to choose a book from that list it would have to be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Harry Potter has shaped my life in every way possible. I was introduced to the series by my year 5 teacher. She read POA to us in class and I fell completely in love with the Wizarding World. If you want to know how much Harry Potter means to me I wrote this post last April. POA is my favourite book of all time because it changed my life and introduced me to something that would prove to play such a pivotal role in the way I grew up. 

Favourite Colour?
I have a few colours I'm quite partial to and it does depend on what context the colours are in. I love purple, burnt orange and rose gold but my absolute favourite is raspberry

Do you have any pets?
Yes, we have two mini lop rabbits called Crumpet and Waffle and they are adorable. 
Favourite Perfume?
I would have to say Marc Jacobs Daisy. It is the one perfume I always ask for birthdays and at Christmas. It's got such a fresh and fruity scent which I love. 

Favourite Celebration?
Definitely Christmas. I love the whole process of it. I love buying presents, seeing all the decorations, the music, family time and, of course, the food. Everything always feels so cozy and homely at Christmas. I also love the fact this year I get a whole TWO WEEKS off work because I work in a school. Having two weeks to just chill is amazing. 

What is your relationship status?
I have been with my boyfriend Adam for four years. We are hoping to buy a house next year (fingers crossed), we are so ready to have our own space!

What is your favourite country? 
I'm not a massive 'travelling' person, I am very much a home bird. Spain does have a special place in my heart because I have been going on holiday there since I was 18 months old. My family found a lovely little town called Los Alcazares and I have been on holiday there four times now. I instantly feel at home when we go because we are so familiar with it and I always feel relaxed there. 

Do you speak any other language?
I took German at GCSE and got a grade D. I would love to be able to speak another language, Spanish being on top of my list but I just don't have the time to commit to it!

How many siblings do you have?
I have one sister called Emily who is 21. 

What is your favourite shop?
New Look without a shadow of a doubt. At any given time if someone asked me where my outfit was from I can guarantee that at least two items will be from New Look. I just think it offers good quality clothes at really affordable prices. I could literally spend a whole months wages in there if I had the chance. 

Favourite Restaurant?
I mostly eat out at chain restaurants and I guess my favourite would have to be Nando's. I know that isn't very original of me but I do love a good Nando's!! If we are going away from franchises there is a pub in the town where I live called The Newdigate which does really good food. 

When was the last time you cried? 
The other day. I am currently on the hunt for a permanent job and I let the frustration of it all get to me a little too much. 

Who are your favourite Bloggers? 
I have only recently started reading blogs regularly but three of my current favourites are Hannah Gale, Career Girl Daily and Bethany-Georgina. Hannah and Bethany both seem like the kind of girls that I would really get on with. Their posts are full of personality and I love how varied their content is. Career Girl Daily is good for motivation and making you realise that you can do whatever it is you think you can't. 

Favourite Film?
Finding Neverland. Oh gosh I love that film, it makes me feel nostalgic and I cry every time I watch it. Kate Winslet is my favourite actress, her and Johnny Depp are fantastic in this film. Aside from Harry Potter it is the one film I put on if I'm feeling down or just need to relax. 
Favourite TV show?
Gogglebox. I don't know why I love it so much, I just do. It is a genius concept and so very British. What makes me laugh is me and my boyfriend always watch it together and we do exactly what the people on the show do! My favourite people on there are Scarlett, Sandy and Sandra, June and Leon and Steph and Dom. It makes me laugh and cry all the time. What's also great about it is the fact I get to watch quite a few shows through it without actually having to watch them!

PC or Mac?
At the moment I own a HP laptop. I am not an Apple product fan and I never really have been. 

What phone do you have?
I have a Sony Xperia Z3 and I love it. It has a 20 megapixel camera and it has quite a large screen which is great for watching YouTube videos!

How tall are you?
I am a mere 5ft 3in. Good things come in small packages you know!

Can you cook?
If by cook you mean shove things in the oven/microwave/frying pan and not burn them, then yeah I can cook. 

A Wintery Day Out

Earlier this year me and my boyfriend Adam had a conversation about the fact that we hardly ever doing anything at the weekends. The only time we would actually go out was if we were going for a meal (which happens A LOT, we love our food) or if we were going shopping. Whilst having a mooch round a shopping centre can be fun, it is not something that can be done all the time. Who has the funds for that? I ashamed to say we failed in making our weekends more fun for the most part. Most of the time we would stay curled up in bed watching TV and just do nothing. Now, I admit sometimes that is heaven after a hard week at work but I couldn't help feeling that we were wasting our precious free time wasting away the hours watching copious amounts of TV. So, after Adam asked me if I wanted to do something different this weekend, that is exactly what we did. Better late than never right?

We decided to go the Christmas market at Kedleston Hall. The hall dates back to the 18th Century and sits in sprawling, beautiful grounds. It is always nice to have a walk round a Christmas market because you are sure to find at least one present to tick off your list. I managed to pick up a gift pack of beers for my Dad from Derventio Brewery, a local brewery based in Derby. That's another thing I like about Christmas markets, they support small, local companies. I am sure my Dad is going to love his gift! Unfortunately I didn't manage to get any pictures of the stalls that were there, there were just too many people! We did, however, have a walk around Kedleston Hall and I managed to snap the lovely photo above. I love how grand old mansions are!

It was a blustery and quite rainy day and Adam did not have suitable shoes on for walking on the muddy grounds so we didn't have as much of a walk around as we could have. I, however was armed with my trusty winter coat, my favourite boots, two pairs of socks and my gloves so I was quite happy to walk around. We did have a little wander, looking at the Church and the gift shop. Kedleston Hall does have a second hand bookshop but unfortunately it wasn't open (I think Adam let out a little sigh of relief). By this time our stomachs were beginning to grumble so we decided to find a pub for some food.

After driving round looking at mahoosive houses (a girl can dream right?) we decided to eat at the Markeaton Hotel, it was very festive inside and I was extremely appreciative of the fact we managed to snag a table next to a lovely cosy fire. Eating out is a speciality of mine and Adams, a habit which does border on the ridiculous sometimes (this was my FOURTH meal out of the week) but what can I say, we loves our food.

I was feeling some proper comfort food so decided to go with the streak and doombar pie. Ohmylord look at the pastry goodness on that! The pie itself was very heavy on the doombar but it was OK. It came with cabbage, green beans and mashed potato which is my FAVOURITE combination of veg and potatoes so my tummy was very happy. Adam had the sausage and mash and left all his greens (tut, tut). We sat in the warmth for quite a while chatting, mainly about how to rob a bank so we could afford one of the mansions we had drooled over earlier.

I finished off the day by making Adam drive me to Costa so I could get myself the mother of all hot chocolates. Seriously Costa's Black Forest hot chocolate is the tastiest hot drink I have ever had in my life. The fact that it is only part of their festive menu means that I drink a rather unhealthy amount of it throughout December. Isn't my little penguin cup adorable? Also, this scarf, I love it! New Look have a beautiful selection of scarves at the moment, I want them all!

After our very festive and food filled day we spent the evening at my house, watching football snuggled up on the sofa. I will admit that a Pizza Hut delivery did happen, but eh it was the weekend after all!

Did you do anything nice over the weekend? Do you have anything festive planned? Let me know!

The Wednesday Wishlist #2

If, like me, you spent a HUGE chunk of your formative years playing the Sims then you also might have thought yourself an AMAZING interior designer. You would spend ages building houses, downloaded a ton of custom content and decorating them to your hearts content.

I spent soooooo many hours creating and decorating dream houses, they were all colour coordinated and perfectly suited to the families I decided to move in.

Unfortunately adult life now gets in the way of my Sims marathons and I haven't been able to unleash my inner interior designer for a while.

This blog post is not about the Sims. I promise.

What is exciting though is that there is possibility I will get to decorate MY VERY OWN HOUSE next year. Yep. If all goes well me and my boyfriend will be purchasing our first house together at some point next year,

My inner interior designer is ridiculously excited about this.

As you can imagine I have been pintresting my little heart out, creating boards for all my interior dreams.

So for this weeks wishlist I thought I would focus on the items I would love to have in my living room (as that is my favourite room to design in my head). Here's praying they are still available next year!