The best and worst of what I read, watched and listened to in 2018

Over the Summer and into Autumn 2018 I really feel like I found more of a work/life balance I’m happy with. And it’s resulted in some fun things! Mainly some actual, guilt-free time to myself to read books, listen to music and watch new TV series/films.

Christmas kind of messed with that balance but hey, that’s what you get when you work in marketing at a restaurant.

Anyway, I miss the days where round-ups like these were the done thing on my blog so I’m bringing them back. I’m thinking of making it a more frequent thing, but starting with this more annual round up.

(Please excuse the ~autumnal~ photos – I actually started writing this post in early October and never published it but I really like the photos so didn’t want to waste them hehe).

Going forward, I’d like to do them ad-hoc, as and when I have enough I want to write about. They’ll include different things based on how I’ve spent my time – sometimes they might include recipes, other times they might just be books, sometimes they might be a mixture of 10 different things. Don’t worry, they won’t all be as long as this one.

They won’t include EVERYTHING because lol I could write a bastard thesis if that were the case. More a quick glance at the highs and lows. Or, if something was plain average and I want to tell you it was plain average, I’ll tell you about it’s plain average-ness.

Loosey goosey, baby. Loosey goosey.

Let’s crack into it.

Books I read

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

I picked up this book on a whim from a WHSmiths at Liverpool Lime Street train station after a particularly long day at work. I recognised the cover from Charlotte’s Instagram Stories so I picked it up to waste some time on the journey home because I fancied reading a real life book instead of working. I didn’t have massively high hopes, but I was intrigued after reading the back cover. And honestly? I loved it and would 100% recommend picking it up as an easy-to-devour read. It’s not the most sophisticated book I’ve ever read and it’s kind of ~YA cheesy~ throughout most of it, but MAN did I enjoy it. It’s filled with likeable characters you can root for, twists that I genuinely did not see coming and I finished it in a few short sessions.

Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton

I’ve seen mixed reviews on this book and I understand, and agree with, all of them. Whilst I was reading it, I found it incredibly unrelatable. Although I’m born and bred Leeds (not London) and never went to boarding school so it’s hardly surprising. Throughout the first half I found Dolly Alderton’s younger self irritating beyond belief. To the point where I almost stopped reading it. She portrays herself as exactly the type of ~young person~ I usually hate. Egotistical, reckless, arrogant and self-absorbed. But, by the end of the book? I couldn’t be more on the other end of the spectrum. I found myself totally rooting for Dolly, getting to know her through her stories and I felt genuinely proud, of someone I don’t even know, by the end of it. If you’re into memoirs, you’ll probably really enjoy it. If you hate her in the first half of the book, stick with it – she’ll change your mind. It was a really easy read, helped with the short chapters mixed with recipes, anecdotes and letters. Would make an excellent holiday read.

The Muse – Jessie Burton

I so wanted to love this book. I really enjoyed The Miniaturist (although I found the ending incredibly disappointing) and I was hoping The Muse would have a similar vibe. But (yes, there’s obviously a but) this was one of THE most boring books I’ve ever read. I found myself having to put it down for breaks, I was two thirds of the way through before anything of actual substance happened and I just had to physically think about whether I even finished it or not. (I did finish it. The fact I could remember this, however, kind of brings my point home). The fact it jumps from one story to another was confusing at the best of times, the twist at the end was fairly decent but was too-little-too-late and the book would have benefited massively from being 300 pages shorter. Wouldn’t recommend to anyone unless you’re looking for something to help insomnia.

Lullaby – Le├»la Slimani

Quite simply one of the most disappointing thrillers I’ve ever paid money for. I wish I hadn’t paid money for it. To be fair to Slimani, I don’t think the fact the book is translated into English from French helps – the writing didn’t flow at all and felt almost jerky in places. The book starts at the end of the timeline, then jumps to the beginning to fill in the plot. This would have been a great structure, had I not forgotten what happened at the beginning by the time I got to the last chapter. I had to go back and read the first chapter again once I’d finished because the book finished so abruptly – incredibly unsatisfying. And the plot? Meh. It could have been a really great book, but it just fell flat in too many places for me to enjoy it. Would not recommend.

Harry Potter

Okay, after a few lows I had to finish on a high. I have something to admit… I’ve never actually read Harry Potter 1-5 myself. My Dad read 1-4 to me when I was a kid, I (for some reason) skipped the last half of 5 then continued to read 6 and 7 not long after they came out. I know. Terrible Harry Potter fan. Whilst we were on holiday this year, I decided now was the time I was going to finally sit down and properly read them and BOY am I glad I made that decision. I completely rediscovered my love for the series and it’s taking all my willpower not to just start them again from the beginning straight away. Never have I known a series of books to so successfully transport me somewhere before. There’s only one word to describe them and that word is magical.

Things I listened to

And That’s Why We Drink

The best podcast I’ve discovered in a long time. I binge-listened to the first 60 episodes or so, then caught up and was resigned to listening weekly. If you’re into the paranormal, true crime or anything else along those lines I guarantee you will adore this podcast. It’s dark but littered with humour thanks to the chemistry of it’s hosts, Em and Christine. I couldn’t recommend it enough.

Peaceful Piano

Peaceful Piano is a Spotify playlist I discovered towards the end of Summer 2018. It’s what it says on the tin – a collection of peaceful piano pieces – and it’s wonderful. I listen to it when I’m reading on the train, when I’m in the bath or when I want to relax. It’s magic, honestly.

Dancing Queen by Cher

Cher releasing an ABBA covers album was one of my highlights of 2018. So much so, Joe and I bought tickets to her tour later in 2019… Never thought I’d say that! It’s pure, undeniable, shameless pop with a dance twist only Cher could pull off and honestly? Love it.

Welcome To The Neighbourhood by Boston Manor

Boston Manor were a new discovery for 2018 and their second album, Welcome To The Neighbourhood, is everything I want out of life. To put it very simply, it’s absolute fucking genius. They’re proof that good, British rock/pop-punk is coming back and I’m here for it. If you’re into With Confidence, Neck Deep, State Champs, Can’t Swim, any other band even remotely in the rock/punk/pop-punk genre or any band in any sub-genre you’ll probably love it. Listen to it.

RITUALS by Deaf Havana

Honestly? Probably my favourite album of 2018. I can’t think of one single thing wrong with it. The contrast between the upbeat melodies and the downbeat lyrics is something to really wrap your head around when you listen, and really shows of the depth of the album. It’s catchy as hell and you’ll want to listen to it on repeat for days. It’s so the opposite of where Deaf Havana came from whilst still keeping some of their core sounds. I cannot fault it. A masterpiece, in my opinion. And I am HERE for the 80s vibes, too.

Films I watched

A Quiet Place

I’d been waiting to see this film for ages after missing it at the cinema. Although, with that said, I’m never usually very good in horror/thriller movies (thanks, anxiety) so I probably wouldn’t have gone to the cinema to see it regardless. I’m actually mad at myself for this, because I bloody loved it. It was the perfect balance of creepy-but-not-scary, there were enough jump scares to keep you tense without them existing for the sake of it and the concept/plot is simply genius. If you haven’t already seen it, do.

Mamma Mia 2

I fecking loved this film. I laughed, I cried, I sang along, I cried some more. (Seriously, though – it pulled my heart out of my chest and stomped on it right in front of me and I forgot tissues). Cheesy as FUCK, but I’d never expect anything less. And Cher as Donna’s Mum was a casting decision worthy of awards. I’m counting down the seconds until the DVD release so I can have a Mamma Mia binge afternoon.

IT

As I’ve already said in this post, thanks to my anxiety I’m terrible when it comes to horror films. I don’t watch them because I’ll lose sleep for weeks. I have, however, got better at watching them over the last year or two and can manage in slightly less disturbing films. After everyone was raving about IT, I was intrigued. I made Joe watch it with me on a Saturday afternoon (ain’t watching a film about some crazy demon-monster-clown-thing in the dark) and I was actually a little nervous. I think where I struggled was people had, in my opinion, hyped it up too much. It was a great film, don’t get me wrong, but I finished it feeling a bit “is that it?”. I think I, ironically, wanted it to be a little scarier? Just a little. I can’t put my finger on it, but I felt a bit “meh” after watching.

Annihilation

I can’t put into words HOW annoyed I was with this film. I was dead excited to watch it – the trailer looked amazing, the cast was brilliant, I’d heard a lot of great things and it looked super up my street. And the worst part? It was PURE BRILLIANCE. Until the end. Where it just fell completely flat. Open ended in a bad way, trippy for the sake of being trippy and, quite honestly, just a massive disappointment. Gutted.

Kubo And The Two Strings

One of the best films I’ve ever seen, no exaggeration. The animation is beautiful, the story is wonderful, I didn’t see any of the twists coming. Rach recommended this to us and I couldn’t be more grateful, because it was flawless. I don’t really have any words except I think everyone should be made to watch it. Simply breathtaking.

I’d love to know what you think about posts like this and whether you’d enjoy regular updates? Big round-ups or individual topics per post? I’ll try, as a rule, to not make them this long on the regs, obviously.

Also, please recommend me things! Books! Films! Music! Recipes! Anything you’ve loved recently, leave in the comments or let me know on Twitter/Instagram – I’d love to keep this conversation going and you all give the BEST recs.

Peace out x

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