As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): Loved it
  • (★★★★): Really liked it
  • (★★★): Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it
  • (★★): Barely finished it

Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews.

Holes by Louis Sachar

9780440414803_mresRating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fiction, young adult

GoodReads rating:  3.95 / 5 (862,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 1/5 – 3/5

Summary: When Stanley is wrongly convicted of a crime and sent to dig holes at Camp Greenlake, he makes friends that help him uncover the truth about the area’s past and his connection to it.

Thoughts: Wow. If anyone knows me well, they know I rarely give out five stars to books. This is my first one of the calendar year and it’s well-deserved. I grew up with the movie and loved it a lot and the story is just as captivating on paper.

Other adaptations: As I said, the Disney movie with Shia LaBeouf (along with many other well known stars such as Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Arquette and Tim Blake Nelson) is well-liked.

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

81MGfnTQ9ZLRating: ★★★★

Genre: Nonfiction, memoir, mental health

GoodReads rating: 3.90 / 5 (165,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 4/5 – 6/5

Summary: 18-year-old Susanna is admitted into a mental institution famous for its clients. During her two years there, she observes her troublesome peers as well as looking inwards at her own problems.

Thoughts: Good, but not great. The book is more conceptual than the movie, obviously, being told from a first person perspective. I was expecting more of day-to-day life in the hospital, but most of her time there was self-reflection on her own psychoses.

Other adaptations: The ’99 movie with Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder has mixed reviews, but I like it enough. Although Jolie won several awards for her performance, the author thinks that the movie is more sensationalized than her actual experience, which can be dangerous when talking about mental health.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

51EXdVtCfkLRating: ★★★

Genre: Young adult, historical fiction

GoodReads rating: 4.13 / 5 (389,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 6/5 – 7/5

Summary: Ten-year-old Annmarie must be brave in the face of danger when Nazis inhabit Copenhagen… and her best friend is Jewish.

Thoughts: This book was fine, nothing exceptional. It’s very short and wish it was longer as I’ve never read a story about WWII in Denmark, only Germany, Poland and France. Just because the characters are so young doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to unpack with the story. However, I understand the audience is for younger people and can’t complain too much.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

x510Rating: ★★★★

Genre: Young adult, contemporary, LGBT

GoodReads rating: 4.33 / 5 (205,000 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 8/5

Summary: Simon’s romantic e-mails between with anonymous male classmate “Blue” falls into the wrong hands and he tries to meet his blackmailer’s demands while coming out on his own terms and keeping his relationship with this stranger and his friends in tact.

Thoughts: I listened to this audiobook for most of my 8.5 hour drive home last week and loved it! The only reason I didn’t give it five stars was because I wasn’t the exact target audience. I could totally relate to Simon with the online relationship (although I always knew who my special friends were) and the portrayal of high school was actually accurate with each character having distinct personalities and emotions. This book is really great for the target audience as it also has a moral of opening up to those closest to you.

Other adaptations: The movie (Love Simon) from the last year is pretty well received and I jumped through it and thought it was not bad, but not great. It’s like the screenwriters were homeschooled in high school and had no idea what teachers are like (I can’t believe they did Buster Bluth so dirty) and the change of Leah’s love interest was a very poor choice. I also hated how they revealed the secret identity of Blue almost right away. One of the best parts of the book was that the author kept you guessing along with Simon. However, Nick Robinson is peak eye candy.

Have you read any of these? Which did you enjoy most?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.

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As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): Loved it
  • (★★★★): Really liked it
  • (★★★): Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it
  • (★★): Barely finished it

Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

51wsPaf2xbLRating: ★★★★

Genre: Fiction, children’s

GoodReads rating:  4.12 / 5 (572,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 14/4 – 15/4

Summary: Charlie and four other kids win their way into a tour of the mysterious chocolate factory of the eccentric Willy Wonka.

Thoughts: I love reading these short beloved tales when I’m a bit burnt out from reading. They’re always pleasant and entertaining and this was spectacular story.

Other adaptations: Both the ’71 and ’05 film were well received. I can’t remember the latter to well but I enjoyed the ’05 one with its music and storyline (followed the book very well) as well as the addition of Willy Wonka’s backstory.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

41un18HtUSLRating: ★★★

Genre: Mystery, classics

GoodReads rating: 4.25 / 5 (627,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 10/4 – 15/4

Summary: When a mysterious host invites an assortment of people with seemingly nothing in common to their private island, guests begin dropping like flies. Who is doing this, and who will survive?

Thoughts: Good, but a bit overrated. I think the more modern mysteries I’m used to have moved the bar higher.

Other adaptations: The ’45 movie and ’15 T.V. mini-series are both well liked. As the mini series is only a few episodes, I might give it a whirl.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

71FNFSVUrkLRating: ★★★

Genre: Young adult, romance, contemporary

GoodReads rating: 4.16 / 5 (315,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 18/4 – 23/4

Summary: 16-year-old Lara Jean has written private love letters to her five past loves, including her current crush and sister’s ex, Josh. One day, all the letters get posted and all h-e-double-hockey sticks breaks loose.

Thoughts: From the beginning, the story wasn’t believable and Lara Jean wasn’t likable. In high school, especially in the later years, nobody really gives a shit who likes who, who’s had sex and all the other things Lara Jean builds up in her mind, but I suppose that’s part of being in high school: a lot of people don’t realize others don’t give a shit and none of it will really matter in a year much less a week. Good idea, meh execution.

Other adaptations: The Netflix series is what started the craze around the story. I watched about half the movie and thought movie Lara Jean was much more likable and relatable, but movie Josh was unbearable, coming back to wondering why Lara Jean went to such extreme lengths to maintain the relationship with this asshole in the first place. Well made and cute movie, but just missed the mark.

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty

61fbkNIiueLRating: ★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, death

GoodReads rating: 4.29 / 5 (12,200 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 23/4 – 29/4

Summary: “[M]ortician Caitlin Doughty embarks on a global expedition to discover how other cultures care for the dead” and “investigates the world’s funerary customs and expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with dignity.”

Thoughts: In my previous post, I mentioned how much I liked Stiff and how I got interested in the topic thanks to Ask a Mortician YouTube channel… well, she has some books, too! Any fans of her videos can clearly hear her distinct and soothing voice and dash of tasteful humor through her written words. This book is so well-written and interesting and makes me really think to what extent I would like to personally attend to the body of my deceased loved one when the time comes.

Have you read any of these? Which did you enjoy most?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.

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Right after my 23rd birthday, I made a 30 things to do before I turn 30 bucket list post.

Now a year later after just turning 24, let’s see what progress has been made…

Lifestyle

  1. Have my own place. I’m still at a place where this isn’t my top priority. Maybe in my later 20s.
  2. Change my surname. My passport expires in 2023 so I will look closer at making that happen in my later 20s as well.
  3. Become totally fluent in Spanish. Obviously still far from it, but I’m getting better at practicing.
  4. Get a car. Done… twice. I got a car in the U.K. in June (2006 Ford Fiesta) and sold it when I left in December. It’s basically impossible to live in the U.S. without a car of your own so I got another car here, a 2009 Honda Civic.
  5. Double my tattoos. At the time of writing the original post, I had four tattoos. I got one in the last year (probably my favorite) and hope to get another big piece on my legs later this year.
  6. Get a dog. It will probably be a while until I can afford a dog and place big enough to house one. In the mean time, I hope to get a smaller, low maintenance pet like a rat, snake or cat.
  7. Read 100 more books. Since May 2018, I’ve read 47 books. I think I’m in pretty good spare to read 50 more in the next six years.
  8. Attend a dance class. For the longest time, I’ve wanted to take a dance class. I’m dismal at dancing, but I find it so fun and would love to learn properly!
  9. See 30 musicals in my adult life. At the time of writing, I have seen 19 with the most recent one being Chess for my birthday. In the last year, I only saw one, The Lion King, for me and Diego’s anniversary. I’ve been spoiled in that all of the productions I’ve seen have been massive, I hope to pick up the pace I can see smaller, local, more affordable productions of musicals.
  10. Complete the Fellowship Quest… because what’s a bucket list without something alcohol related? I’ll have to get on this next time I’m in the U.K., especially as I have a few friends in Hampshire.

Travel

  1. Visit six continents. Three down.
  2. Visit 35 countries. 18 down. 19 down, with Norway being my only new country in the last year.
  3. Do 150 dives. 35 down. I have not dove since my South Africa trip in April of last year, but I look forward to getting about 20 more under my belt with my Thailand trip coming up soon.
  4. Complete the Camino de Santiago.
  5. Go skydiving and/ or bungee jumping.
  6. Visit three more U.S. states.
  7. Take a holiday with one or both my parents.
  8. Go to a music festival.
  9. Spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square.
  10. Visit five national parks either in the U.K., U.S. or elsewhere for that matter! I visited one this last year, Channel Islands, and it was so lovely. Four more to go!
  11. Book an impulsive trip.
  12. Revisit five places. This is new this year, I hope to revisit five places I’ve been before, maybe with someone who has never been. Top of my list are Paris and Berlin.

Career

  1. Be a published scientist. Now that I’m not longer in the world of academia, I’m not sure how practical this is. I love research and hope I can land a job that will help me get published.
  2. Become a dive master.
  3. Publish a book.
  4. Go to a conference.

It doesn’t take a mathematician to notice that my 30 Before 30 list isn’t actually 30 items long. That’s because as it’s so far away, I would like some flexibility to add and edit the items.” – my last year’s post. I’ve added one new goal but hopefully I can think of a few more things to add for next year.

What’s on your 30 Before 30?

Photo by Elio Santos.

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I started out the month with a half day of skiing at Mount High. I got blown out last time I went and got a refunded ticket for the day and as the season was winding down, I had to use it as soon as possible. Although it was relatively warm, the cover was thin and the snow got sludgy as the day went on. I hope I can return next year for a few better days.

I’ve been having a lot of doctor’s appointments recently for travel vaccinations for my Thailand trip and follow-up for my throat problems. As a preventative measure more than anything, I’m getting a tonsillectomy next month, so if anyone has any recovery advice, send it my way!

With the new Avengers film out, I have been working a lot recently, but other than that I enjoy going out, hiking and spending time with family and friends, including a brief visit from my dad and meeting my online friend of over eight years, Chandler!

My birthday was on the 28th and I celebrated with a new phone (thanks, Mom and Dad), going to a few gigs and having a nice meal with my family. After work on Friday the 26th, I drove to Anaheim to see Architects at House of Blues. It was a really good show and I had fun seeing my Brighton boys start their stateside tour.

I stayed at an AirBNB for the night before heading to Ike’s (my all-time favorite restaurant, and I had a birthday voucher!) to fuel up for Back to the Beach festival at Huntington Beach. I parked near the pier, did some sightseeing (there was some kind of VW bus show on the pier) and walked to the concert about a mile and a half down the beach. When I arrived at the festival, I walked around to see the vendors and grab a drink before watching Streetlight Manifesto. It was quite different to see them playing to such a big crowd, but it was just as amazing, if not more so. Besides from all the sand that made it impossible to keep your balance and got everywhere. I did some more hanging out and eating before the main act… Blink-182! They played Enema of the State in whole as well as a handful of other hits. It was so much fun and they sounded great for a couple of old men.

Last but not least, I have been featured in a Meet the Blogger post over at Fraser’s Fun House, so check it out!

April In Review 2018 || April In Review 2017

What I’m listening to: Morbid Stuff by Pup, WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO by Bilie Eilish, Expectations by Hayley Kiyoko, Love + Fear by Marina

What I’m watching: Shazam!, Avengers: Endgame

What I’m reading: Check out Reading Wrap-Up post #06 for what I’ve read this month.

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WLa_jUVATell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Beth, I’m 19 years old and I’m currently on a gap year with a deferred entry to study Politics and Sociology in London in September. I run the blog “A Lovely Cup of Life” and I blog about a range of topics such as lifestyle, travel and mental health, with my main topic being about Bullet Journals. I currently live in East Sussex somewhere near Brighton and I have a ginger cat called Oscar who is 8 years old and the love of my life!

How did you get into blogging?

I was originally blogging on and off constantly between 2015 and 2018. I studied English Language at A Level and one of the exam questions was entitled “Writing about a topical issue.” Essentially, you were given a statement surrounding English Language such as “All Language is biased” or “Technology is ruining the English Language” and you had to write about it. The mode in which you could write in was always specified and it included modes such as a speech, article and of course, a blog post. I found I really excelled in this question and it’s what inspired me to start blogging because it inspired me so much! In 2017, I made a new blog which is the blog I have today and blogged occasionally on it. I then developed a schedule towards the end of 2018 and I have been blogging regularly since.

Tell us about your favorite blog post.

I think my favourite blog post has to be “The Bullet Journal Debate.” If I were to summarise the debate, it’s basically about this idea that doing art in your Bullet Journal is waste of time. I put a lot of time and effort into this particular post as I wanted to talk about it in a professional way. I conducted some questionnaires on my bullet journal Instagram (@bujowithbeth) to see what my followers thought and I felt it added a lot of weight to my post. I’m very proud of it and I still stand by my opinions that I made in that post.

What are you doing when you’re not blogging?

When I’m not blogging, I’m probably doing something like watching Netflix or I’m out at the theatre. (although the latter is significantly less often.) I also use my Bullet Journal during that time as well as prepare for university in September, whether that be making lists of things I need or doing some little bits of preparation in regards to my degree. I’m also probably petting my cat because my cat is my life.

What are some pros and cons you experienced on taking a gap year?

The pros and cons of taking a gap year are probably going to a lot different from my perspective as opposed to other people who may have gone travelling on their gap year. The pros definitely outweigh the cons in terms of my experience on a gap year. A massive pro of being on a gap year is the fact it’s given me a chance to improve my mental health to the point I feel comfortable moving out and going to university. Equally, I’ve been able to have jobs and therefore earn money in preparation for university. Another pro is also being able to spend time with my family, my cat (he’s being mentioned again) and my friends which I’ve enjoyed so much. The only con I can think of is feeling a little bit lonely as all of my friends are either far away at university or they’re home and extremely busy so I don’t get to see them as often. It was more of a con towards the beginning of my gap year but now I’ve grown to accept it in a way and it doesn’t bother me as much!

What are you most looking forward to starting university?

Hmm. There are quite a few things I’m looking to in terms of starting university. I’m looking forward to having some independence and being able to live away from my family (although please don’t tell my parents that!) I’m also looking forward to the degree I’ve chosen to study as it’s two subjects I find extremely fascinating, especially with the current events going on in our world. Finally, I’m looking forward to living in my favourite city in the world. London.

Where else can we find you?

Twitter || Instagram (blog) || Instagram (BuJo) || Pinterest

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic.

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