April 2017 WRAPUP

I’m back with my wrapup, on time for once! This was an interesting month of reading for me – I read nothing for two weeks and then binge read for the last couple of days.

I read 11 books this month.

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The Summer we Saved the Bees (Robin Stevenson) – 3 // 5 review here!

Half a Lifetime (Judith Wright) – no rating review here!

The Water Babies (Charles Kingsley) – 4 // 5 review here!

Mary Barton (Elizabeth Gaskell) – 4 // 5 review here!

reread The Endless Steppe (Esther Hautzig) – 4 // 5

reread The Story of my Life (Helen Keller) – no rating

Roseblood (A.G. Howard) – no rating (DNF’ed at 60%, but it was a long book so I’m still counting it.)

Life in Outer Space (Melissa Keil) – 3 // 5

reread Throne of Glass (Sarah J Maas) – 3 // 5

The Pause (John Larkin) – 4 // 5

The Anatomy of a Misfit (Andrea Portes) – 3 // 5

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about the books…

Only three rereads this month, which is a lot less than usual! I tried to branch out and read five books borrowed from the library. Most of them were a success, except for Roseblood, which I took too long to read and in the end decided that I couldn’t get through.

My favourite book of the month may have to be Mary Barton, by Elizabeth Gaskell. Stunningly written, it portrays life as it was in Victorian England. *slams recommend button*


in other news…

School has well and truly started back, so we’ll see how much I can appear on this blog. Uni is coming into the assignment season, so that’ll be a contributing factor too.

The holidays were wonderful, and far too short! Only eight weeks to go till the next ones *waits impatiently*

That’s really all I have to say. Not a huge amount has been happening. I live a fairly quiet existence.


April highlights

  • sleepovers with dear friends xx
  • HOLIDAYS!!!
  • starting piano teaching again
  • my binge reading session of last weekend 🙂
  • seeing movies with friends and feeling generally blessed!

img_0581What did you do in April?

Keep smiling, and here’s to May!

Emmeline 🙂

The Water Babies – REVIEW TIME

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The Water Babies, by Charles Kingsley. First read 15th April to 17th April 2017.   4 // 5 stars.

I may have missed a couple of days in this little challenge I set myself … (whoops) so it’s now day four and I’m here to review the Water Babies!

When I found the Water Babies for 50 cents at a book sale, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t read it already! So of course I simply had to pick it up. I finally got around to reading it the other day and was enchanted.

The Water Babies is the story of a young chimney sweep who runs away from his cruel master, and is subsequently turned into a ‘water baby’. While it is never fully explained what a water baby actually is, I worked out from the title that it’s a baby who lives in the water?? So I suppose it’s fairly self explanatory.

The writing style in this book was honestly the highlight for me! It was so delightfully old fashioned, which made the entire thing an absolute joy to read.

What I likeeed:

  • The writing style!! So much perfection and a pleasure to read.
  • Some really adorable characters in there.
  • Honestly it was just really fun to read. The prose read like music and I loved it.
  • There were some philosophical parts in there too. I did brush over them a little, not quite being in the mood for philosophy, but hey, they were there.
  • It was soo funny! I can’t remember the last time I found a book this humorous 🙂

What I didn’t like so much:

  • Just like Mary Barton, this book focused a little bit on goodness as a means for salvation. *sighs*
  • There was a little too much ‘moralising’ in places for my liking.
  • It dragged a tad in places.
  • Ummm… that’s it??

Actually, this book reminded me a little of the story of Pinocchio. There’s a good fairy, training Tom (the naughty protagonist) up. Tom has many adventures, and struggles to find other people like him. And at the end, of course, there’s a delightfully happy ending!

My little Goodreads review sums up all of my thoughts on the book:

An endearing book filled with excellent prose! How I wish books were written like this nowadays *sighs*

img_0581Just a short review for today, but I absolutely adored this book as a little break from heavier things. I can’t believe I haven’t read it before!

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Keep smiling,

Emmeline 🙂

Mary Barton – REVIEW TIME

 

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Mary Barton, by Elizabeth Gaskell. Read 19th April to 23rd April 2017.   4 // 5 stars.

This story is about a young woman and her father, two young men, and the poverty and depression that struck Manchester at the time. There’s also a murder, a chilling plot twist, and a lot of deaths. It’s really quite tragic how many characters are dead by the end, most by easily preventable causes.

One of the things I loved about this book was the fact that there weren’t tonnes of characters to keep track of. Often in classics there are many characters and it can be difficult to keep track of them all; this one, however, had just the perfect amount. There really were very few compared to other classics, and the secondary characters were very much kept to a minimum. Except for one instance where there were two Marys in one room, I was never confused!

This book opened my eyes to the extreme poverty that England – and perhaps the world – was facing. While books like Pride and Prejudice are social commentaries on higher classes of the time, this book really gets down to the nitty gritty. An excellent commentary on the lower class of Manchester in the late 1840s.

I couldn’t help comparing this book to Dickens. I mean, both authors portrayed the lower class in England, and both wrote about the struggle between the classes, and the consequences that followed. However, the true difference between the two was that Gaskell’s characters are all very personal. The book felt like Dickens in its representation of the poor, but the characters were much more personal – all the secondary characters had emotions that Dickens never quite captures, at least in my opinion (but that’s a discussion for another day :)). A personal version of Dickens, then.

The main reason that this wasn’t a 5 star book for me was its focus on goodness as a means for salvation. If a character was at the point of death, they would have absolutely no assurance – they would look back on their life and cringe at the sin it had contained. As a Christian, I have assurance in Christ. Unfortunately throughout many of these old novels, characters – rich or poor – simply do not have assurance of their what their existence after death will look like, because they are under the impression that being good gets you to Heaven.

However, this was but a personal thing, and did not stop me enjoying the narrative in the slightest. It was only really afterwards that I stopped to consider the worldview of the novel, and it was then when I picked up this issue.

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A quick list of likes:

  • Stunningly written!
  • Personal, endearing, believable characters!
  • Its focus on the poor with very few wealthy characters – refreshing I felt!
  • Its treatment of death and human suffering, not dehumanising the poor and making grief something that all classes of life feel!
  • Character development that happens slowly so you don’t notice it!
  • The clever combination of social commentary and gripping plot!
  • The absolutely delicious plot twist at the end which I didn’t see coming despite myself!

And some dislikes:

  • The aforementioned misguided beliefs concerning salvation.
  • The first half of the book was rather sloooooow.
  • Sometimes the social commentary arc overshadowed the actual plot. (although by the latter half the plot was in full swing!)

Overall, then, a thought provoking, well written book that I would recommend to nearly everybody! If you can’t do Dickens, for whatever reason, but still want a view of life as it was in the 1840s, then this one is for you.


img_0581Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865 – goodness, she died so tragically young!) also wrote North and South, which I’ve heard many things about but never tried. Given how much I enjoyed this one, I’m definitely adding her to my list!

Have you read this book, or any others by this author? I’d love to know!

Love, Emmeline 🙂

Half a Lifetime – REVIEW TIME

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Half a Lifetime, by Judith Wright. First read 15th April to 17th April 2017.  No rating.

I’m aiming to (a) review a book every day this week (this being day two) and (b) review every book I read this month! Today’s issue – Half a Lifetime, by Judith Wright.

I had to read this book in preparation for my speech exam, and found it particularly interesting. It opened my eyes to some elements of Judith’s life that I didn’t know/hadn’t thought about before.

It’s always difficult writing reviews on autobiographies, I find. This is because I can’t critique the plot without critiquing a life. This story in particular was exceptionally personal, making my job even more difficult. Perhaps autobiographies aren’t meant to be critiqued, but rather to be pondered on!

Half a Lifetime is the story of one of Australia’s best known poets, Judith Wright. It shows her childhood, her life as a young adult before, after, and during the War, and explores her relationship with the philosopher Jack McKinney.

One of the things I particularly enjoyed about this book was its friendly mixture of storytelling and philosophy. Judith showed the way that her philosophy and worldview was created, and even in the beginning stages of her life she showed how that time influenced her beliefs later in life. I suppose it goes to show that even the earliest events in our life affect our mind and consequently our worldview. For Judith Wright, these events were the mistreatment of the Aboriginal people who worked for her family. It was the illness of her mother which meant she was largely left to herself, free to roam the bush and be told off for being ‘unladylike’ by her family. All of these experiences led Judith Wright to be a campaigner for Aboriginal land rights in later years, spurred on by her personal witness of prejudice.

It’s interesting to me that Judith travelled Europe several years before the outbreak of WWII, and saw what was coming. However, when trying to warn those back home in Australia of the clear future, she was ignored or laughed at. Wrapped in our comfortable bubbles of the things we know (or think we know), we don’t like to peek outside and have a look outside at the things we may not know about, at the future which we fervently ignore. Given the current unrest in the world today, it’s interesting to ponder the fact that even today we refuse to see two steps in front of us.

Yet another thing that fascinated me was how Judith knew very early on that she wanted to be a poet. She was sure of this fact. So when it came time for school, she did wonderfully in English, and not-so-good at maths. She wanted to go to Uni, so she studied several different units in literature and history, rather than a whole degree.

This book was very thought provoking and very personal. The writing style is written in Judith Wright’s unique way; there are commas where there shouldn’t be and none where there should, as well as plenty of run-on sentences. It also has large gaps and silences in places, particularly her university years. Sometimes it jumps ahead a few years, or back, but not enough to make it too confusing. However, all this serves to make it feel more like an intimate conversation than a book!

Would I recommend this book? I’m really not sure. I haven’t really touched on Judith’s worldview, which is a whole topic on itself. I suppose I would suggest reading it if you’re interested in her poetry and what influenced it. It’s certainly an interesting look into one remarkable poet’s mind!


img_0581I am a fan of Judith’s poetry, and so reading this book really was an insight into her whole world. I struggle reading her prose because of the sentence structure, but this book was so personal that I barely noticed the grammar.

Have you read any of her poetry? I’d highly recommend it!

Love, Emmeline 🙂

The Summer We Saved the Bees – REVIEW TIME

SummerWeSavedTheBeescovThe Summer We Saved the Bees, by Robin Stevenson. Read April 11th,    3 // 5 stars.

I read this book for the first time just the other day. We had to be at the library for an hour, so I picked up a book that looked doable (not too long, not too short) and read it!

In this book, Wolf has to go with his family (two twin girls, a grumpy stepsister and her boyfriend, a mother, and a stepfather) around the country to promote the idea that the bees are dying – and that the end of the world is coming. His sister is sick, and he doesn’t want to go.

This is yet another case of me picking up a book in the YA section of the library, and it turning out to be Middle Grade. I didn’t mind though – it was a nice little story that shows how to live in a frankly quite confusing world.

There was something that I particularly liked about this book, which was the overall theme of ‘it is what it is’. Given the premise of the book, ‘save the world at all costs’, this was a nice little surprise that is a lot closer to what I personally agree with, though still (of course) not all the way there.

Additionally, the ending was bittersweet – my favourite type of ending. Reconciliation combined with realism makes for a good book, I feel.

While I never really got into the book enough to really feel on the edge of my seat (more my setting’s fault than the books’), there were certainly some “WHYYYYY are some people so annoying!” moments.

The story arc with the younger sister’s anxiety was good, I felt – it had mental illness representation in younger children, which I feel doesn’t happen enough. However, I am not knowledgeable enough to be able to judge whether or not the representation was realistic or not. I feel like it was … maybe … not really sure … Glad it was there at least, though!

There were some gripes that I did have with the book, however:

  • The characters were a little flat. I found myself wishing that the description focused more on the characters than the setting.
  • (okay this is slightly embarrassing but) It took me a quarter of the book to discover that (a) the main character was a boy, and (b) he was just twelve. I thought he was a she and also at least 16. Either I wasn’t paying attention oooorrrrr…..
  • The description felt very forced in places.
  • There were some odd things and inconsistencies??? In places it didn’t quite feel like they were actually a vegan all-organic family. As someone who knows many people who are actually vegan and all-organic, the inconsistencies were highly obvious to me.

But apart from these issues it was a fun little read that really picked me up for that hour at the library!


img_0581Have you read this book? What do you think of it????

Love, Emmeline 🙂

how to read scarily thick books

 

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You know when there’s a book that you really want to read, but it’s just so intimidating?? Maybe it’s really really long, or is written in a really thick style? Well, I’m here to share some tricks and tips that I’ve picked up over the years.

step one

Take a good long look at the book and tell yourself you can do it! Because you can.

And remember to keep reminding yourself that you can! If you tell yourself you can’t get through it, you’re training your brain to tell yourself that you can’t. Train your brain that you can and soon you’ll find that you have! Read the book! Clearly my rhyming skills are nonexistent right now!

step two

open the book. Sniff it. Get acquainted with it. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with it, so get used to the book itself.

step three

Set yourself a goal. Given how fast you usually read, how much time you have on your hands, and how long the actual thing is, make a goal for a time that you want to have read it by.

When I read Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy last year, I aimed to finish it in two weeks. (fifty pages a day – pffffft totally achievable)

It actually took me … 17 days I think?? BuT because the goal I set for myself was so short and impossible, I was really happy with how I did! I know that if I didn’t have a goal, it would have taken farrrrrr longer to read.

ALSOOOOO … this is about knowing how you work! If you know that you won’t read the book if you set yourself a goal, then don’t set one!! Only set yourself a goal if you think it’ll work! Cannot stress this enough.

step four

Get comfortable! This includes a cup of tea or coffee or vegemite or whatever it is you like to drink, and a cozy little corner to read in. Or maybe it includes a hard little seat on a train on the way home from work or school.

Wherever it is, you need to set apart a time and place to read. Make habits!! Habits are great!

step five

read.

and read.

and read some more.

Basically, you just have to read. There’s no skipping this step. Set apart a little time a day to read it. You’ll get through it. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your progress as you inch your way through an ‘impossible’ book.


img_0581Just keep reading, just keep reading, just keep reading reading reading!! – as Dory would say 🙂

How do you motivate yourself to read long books?

love,

Emmeline 🙂

Top Ten Fandoms I’m In (yay!)

Today I’m bringing to you my Top Ten Fandoms. I’m linking up with The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday, because it’s such a fab idea and I love it!

(and prepare yourself for some yelling & ranting, because I can get very enthusiastic about my fandoms. MY PRECIOUS.)

Without further ado, my top ten fandoms.

  1. Lord of the Rings. 

    I LOVE LORD OF THE RINGS SO MUCH. You have no idea. I’ll have to do a post one day about HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS BOOK because it’s actually ridiculous and I can go on about it for a while!!

    (also this includes pretty much everything Middle Earth related, because Tolkien is just all round amazing.)

  2. Harry Potter

    I read HP for the first time only 18 months ago now, though it feels like a lot longer. I was pretty much in love from the first page onwards. It’s such a wonderful fantasy adventure and I am quite honestly IN LOVE!!

    And who doesn’t love a good good vs. evil tale, anyway??!?

  3. Star Wars

    EXCUSE ME WHILE I CRY. Star Wars was my first fandom that I appreciated as a Fandom and it’s been with me for years – my ‘gateway’ fandom!! The fourth is my favourite, I have a heart for the prequels, number 7 made me cry, and everything about Rogue One makes me happy 🙂

    (except the ending, obviously.)

  4. Sherlock Holmes

    This fandom is in two parts for me. One, my deep and sincere love of the books, which I first read when I was ten and have reread at least six times since so that I now know the entire plot of each mystery and each has an immense amount of nostalgia attached.

    And two – the BBC series, which is all the perfection, essentially. I just can’t. It’s perfect. I can’t fault it. It changes the books in a way that I am (unusually) okay with. This is ridiculous. BUT I LOVE IT SO MUCH OKAY. xx

  5. The How To Train Your Dragon books

    Let me just emphasise that again. I LOVE THE BOOKS. The books were essentially MY CHILDHOOD. I borrowed them every single library visit and devoured them. The movies on the other hand – they’re COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. The movies change EVERYTHING. WHERE WAS CAMICAZI? ALVIN? THE SUITORS?? MY BRAIN IS CONFUSED??!?!?

    (clearly I’m going to have to do a post on this because I have a lot of built up rants prepared 🙂 )

  6. Narnia

    I have a very clear memory of my mother reading me The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was four. Ever since then it’s been kind of … there?? It’s been a part of my whole life, although I’m not obsessed with it. But it definitely deserves an honourable mention. The books are beautiful perfection. All movies except The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe make me cry because they changed too much.

    (The Horse and his Boy is definitely my fave, because of talking horses and watermelons)

  7. Disney/Pixar

    I will be the first to admit that I’m not a crazy Disnerd. It’s not my favourite fandom. That said, I cried during Finding Dory purely because nostalgia??? Tangled and both Cinderellas are some of my favourite movies??? I still watch the old animated Cinderalla because I love it and the new one is pure and utter perfection??? I cried during the trailer for Beauty and the Beast???

    Clearly I like Disney more than I thought 😀

    (I think it’s actually a little like Narnia for me – it’s kind of always been there. So much beautiful. I wish I could sing. *sigh*)

  8. Doctor Who

    I’m kind of a lowkey fan of DW. I know the story line, have watched up to season 7 I think (I’m still planning to finish it though, just hanging out for the holidays!!), and llloooooovvvve the concept/characters. But I don’t know – I watched it because of my friend and I feel like while I love it, it doesn’t have the same nostalgic value that some of my other fandoms have.

    BUT I STILL LOVE IT OKAY.

  9. Classics

    This fandom is basically a combination of all the books that were written before 1899. Jane Austen, John Buchan, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, etc etc etc. Jane Austen was the best writer of ever, John Buchan is down to earth, Dickens makes me nice and depressed, and Doyle is perfect for a good adventure. Then there’re the books like Swiss Family Robinson, Little House on the Prairie (yes i know that was 1935 okay sssshhhh), Coral Island, and so so many more.

    (and then there’s Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, Winne the Pooh … excuse me while I cry from nostalgia.)

  10. Anne of Green Gables

    I love these books to pieces – every single one of them (there are 8). I always say I love the first and the last – Anne of Green Gables is perfection, and Rilla of Ingleside is the best WWI book I’ve ever read. Seriously, the movies don’t do them justice (don’t get me started on the third one ……. urghhhh).

 

img_0581So those were my ten favourite fandoms! I’m absolutely in love with all of them and I just can’t get over their brilliance.

What’s your favourite fandom?? (if you can choose haha)

Keep smiling!!

–Emmeline 🙂

my notebooks – chit chat 2

A slightly un-book related post, but it still has to do with words and pages! I’m going to be showing you all the notebooks I use almost daily, because whhhyyyever not.

Notebooks are some of my favourite things ever. Traditionally as a family we’ve always made wishlists for our birthdays, and without fail from age five ‘notebooks’ have been present on mine.

As such, I have accumulated perhaps too many notebooks over the course of my life. Yet I use them – at least, most of them – almost every day.

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This is my journal. I’ve consistently written in one since age five (this is number six), and it’s honestly one of the best things I’ve ever done. I write all sorts of things in there – hopes, dreams, fears, experience, rants – and no we’re not going to look inside.

Moving right along!

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This is my quotes book. (I did an instagram post on this agesss ago) When I read and come across a particularly gorgeous sentence, or a particularly relatable piece of dialogue, then I’ll write it down in this little book.

I’ve so far collected quite an array of lovely quotes to look back on 🙂

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AHA. Here we have the most exciting of all the notebooks … my story ideas. Inside, it has absolutely no rhyme, reason, order, or any variation of neat handwriting, but it makes sense to me.

Kind of.

I’ve used this to *loosely* draft two of my stories, and I’ve found it much easier than doing it on the computer – there’s more room for scribbles and explanation marks and heavy underlining. That said, there’s no doubt that it’s faster on the laptop.

Now onto the next one …

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This is where I plan my insta posts (tags etc. and when will I ever be organised with this who can know) and my blog posts. I’m planning on using this notebook more for its intended purpose over the next year!

^^^^ explanation: This notebook started out as a whole bunch of random notes that didn’t fit anywhere else. Over a few months it finally evolved to the Social Media book. Hopefully it stays that way!

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I use this notebook for my bible studies – writing down any particular verses that I love, or that stood out to me that day. It’s half full of verses now, and I can’t wait to fill it up completely! I find that writing down the verses helps me to retain them better.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis notebook has seen three outdoor camps (soon to be four) and is full of doodles/ emails/ prayers as well as Bible verses, which just makes it all the more precious to me.

AND LOOK!!! The previous three notebooks are all the same size, and I bought/wasgiventhem over a three year period!! (I love it when these things work out like that??? A gazillion yeses.)

Now for the final one …..

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My diary. I’ve gone through many over the years, but this has been the best one yet. It has a page for each day, and it’s actually perfect. It’s thick without being too heavy, large without being too large, and I’m in love with the cover. It even has a little pocket for stickers.

I also find that I’ve been using it almost every day, and it’s really helped me to be more productive and stay on top of my due dates (to a certain extent). As seen on the right, I’ve put in sticky notes for each due date and because it’s got a page to a day, it really helps me to keep track of assignments and events and things-that-I-can’t-miss.

I love it I love it I love it!!



img_0581So those are the six notebook that I’m currently using almost every day.

What notebooks do you use??

Keep smiling,

–Emmeline 🙂

 

March 2017 WRAPUP

What a busy month I’ve had! Full of school assignments, dramas and general busyness. That said, I did get little inbetween moments to read some delightful books!

I read 16 books this month.

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The Gipsy Queen (Emma Leslie) – 4 // 5

Reread: Walk in My Shoes (Alwyn Evans) – 4 // 5

The Enchanted Castle (E. Nesbit) – 3 // 5

The Time Machine (H. G. Wells) – 3 // 5

The Elite (Kiera Cass) – 2 // 5

The Selection (Kiera Cass) – 3 // 5

The One (Kiera Cass) – 2 // 5

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Nothing in my Hand I Bring (Ray Galea) – 5 // 5

Reread: What Katy Did (Susan Coolidge) – 5 // 5

Reread: What Katy Did at School (Susan Coolidge) – 5 // 5

Reread: What Katy Did Next (Susan Coolidge) – 5 // 5

Reread: Mary Poppins (P. L. Travers) – 4 // 5

Reread: Clover (Susan Coolidge) – 5 // 5

Beastkeeper (Cat Hellisen) – 4 // 5

In the High Valley (Susan Coolidge) – 4 // 5

Kindred Spirits (Rainbow Rowell) – 3 // 5


about the books…

Sometimes it annoys me how many books I reread each month – but at the same time, I do love revisiting old friends that I’ve known for years and years! The What Katy Did series is like that for me. I’ve reread it countless times and haven’t had enough yet.

I finally got around to the Selection series – and let’s just say that I’ll be stopping after the third book. It wasn’t really my kind of series. I disliked the writing style, and honestly, when that happens I automatically greatly dislike the book. Unfortunately this happened with The Selection series. That said, I understand if you like it! It certainly has its good points, and there’s no doubt that it’s a page turner 😉


in other news…

I’ve been rolling along semi-steadily this month. A lot of personal stuff has happened but I’m trying not to let it get to me??? At least not if it doesn’t have to. Sometimes I worry about the fact that I don’t stress over dramas a lot, but at the same time I’m just too lazy to stress. It’s just too much work.

Uni is happening. That’s all I have to say on that. Also, IT’S FINALLY THE HOLIDAYS. That means no more school/math!!! *throws confetti in celebration*

I’m currently trying to put all of the books we own into a database. I’m just using googledocs, because I’m too poor to buy an actual program. It’s working well so far. I’ve been told that we (as a family) should open a library! A far off dream – (but I’m starting by making a database, sssshhh).

I started up my bookstagram account again! I went on an unannounced hiatus because of busy school and no motivation to take photos. But I’m back!!!


march highlights ….

  • Starting to read again!
  • It’s the holidays, aayyyyyy
  • long chats with best friends and remembering how blessed I am to have them xx
  • scavenger hunts in shopping centres with fellow buddies 🙂
  • taking photos for bookstagram again!!
  • not dying/getting flooded from cyclones and intense rain

img_0581What did you do in March?

keep smiling,

— em 🙂