Friday, 20 January 2017

30 Before 30: Three Years On!

It's my birthday! And that means it's time for me to watch 11 hours of the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings, have a look at my 30 Before 30 list and do an update. I updated it when I turned 21, then again when I turned 22, and now I'm 23! *gulp*! That's not early-twenties anymore, that's just twenties. Next year I'll be 24 and that's mid-twenties. To distract me from this revelation, on with the list...

Some of the photos on my Instagram over the year!

1. Complete Pokémon.
Pokémon Yellow was re-released on 3DS for the 20th anniversary but I haven't got it yet. Honestly, haven't been playing that many video games. I need to get on this in 2017 since it's probably one of the easiest to complete on this list. I may buy it for myself as a birthday present!
2. Write a Novel.
Do 10 beginnings count as one? I need to work on finishing projects this year.
3. Earn at least a 2:1 in my degree.
Working on it!
4. Do a 365 photo a day challenge.
I've mentioned every year, this is one for later in my life when my life is more interesting.
5. Copy the 'Three Men in a Boat' trip.
Not yet! Although at least with my procrastination, there's less risk of being exploded by a WWII bomb!
6. Take a plane on my own.
7. Start a Podcast.
Remember how 2016 was awful? This idea got delayed because of that. It's hard to do a podcast when all your hosts are having a hard time in their personal lives. Fingers crossed for 2017!
8. Learn to drive.
I think I just decided what I'm going to do with my birthday money. Time to take that test.
9. Write a will.
10. Own The Walking Dead #1.
I might just buy a reprint and be done with this.
11. Host Christmas.
12. See my brother get married.  
13. Go to Vegas with my oldest friend.
14. Make a quilt.
I have a few patterns ready, I just need some fabric and time now.
15. Own a Hyundai Ix35.
16. Own a collection of mugs that all have meaning.
I'm counting this as done although I'm still collecting. I have an amazing collection at the moment that are all lovely and mean so much to me. 
17. Get back into Archery.
Something I love about these updates is that this list can grow as I do, and I no longer wanted to 'start a small business'. But something that I've wanted to do for years, and clearly need an extra push for, is getting back into archery. So it was time for this to change.
18. Review 200 books. 
I recently finished reading my 200th book, so I'll have finished this goal when I write up my reviews for my January reads. I can't quite believe it. I thought this was going to take me all ten years if I'm honest. And all the reviews so far are here!
19. Road trip the UK.
20. Go to SDCC.
21. Grow a bonsai tree and keep it alive.
Last year I had just bought two little saplings that were still alive but not growing. One did end up dying, but the other is finally growing and looking more alive! You can see him in the background of some of my blog pictures here and here. This is in progress!
22. Travel Europe on a train.
23. Cosplay.
24. Go to all the places Ashley wants to bring me to.
25. Learn to crochet and make something.
I learnt to crochet so long ago! I did start a project in 2016 though, a nest-bed for my cat, but I haven't finished it quite yet.
26. Keep bees.
27. Cut my hair and donate it to the Little Princess Trust. 
I did this last year, and I'm thinking of doing it again in 2017 because my hair has grown long again. It's such a worthy cause and I'm not exactly doing anything with my cut-off hair!
28. Learn German.
I had a weird 30 credits that I needed to take to complete first year because of changing universities and one dealing in 40 credit modules and the other in 60. I saw a German class and knew I needed to take it. It's been amazing, super helpful and I feel like I'm finally getting my head around the language! Enough that I'm hoping to read a book in German this year
29. Visit the German Christmas Markets. 
I visited Köln/ Cologne in December 2015, that you can see here! It was such an amazing experience that I actually went to München/ Munich in December 2016, that I posted about here! German Christmas Markets really are magical.
30. Act.
I didn't put this on last years list because I thought it would come across kind of silly, but I've actually been going to acting classes since April. My confidence has built up, at least enough to put it on this list publicly. We'll see!

Four out of thirty- but with six on the way of being done. I'm feeling a lot better about this list then I was last year. Progress is fun.

Do you have a 30 Before 30 list? What's on it?

Monday, 16 January 2017

2016 in Reading!

Apart from how I did with my reading goals from 2016, this is the only post I'm going to do about my reading in 2016. You all know what I read! I showed you every month. I just like to go over my statistics and hand out my favourite book of the year award! So in 2016, I read 61 books! 5 more books than I read in 2014, but 19 less than I read in 2015! Although at around 19,000 pages, I only read 2,000 pages less. It's strange how the length of book can really effect things like that.

This year there were 12 books I rated 
I rated 19 books as 
I rated 15 books as 
I rated 14 books as 
And 1 book as 

My average rating was 3.4 which is another reason two of my 2017 reading goals are to stop delaying and say goodbye to my comfort zone. I'm sure if I read books that I know are challenging, but probably amazing, my average rating will go up and I'll have a better reading year! That being said, I did read some phenomenal books and here are my favourites...

Third place goes to... Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen by Alison Weir
I wrote a whole review about this book back in July, a couple of weeks after I finished the book actually. Any book that takes me a month to read and isn't given up on is a good book. It's very rare I don't mind slow-reads. I fell in love with Katherine of Aragon and Alison Weir when I read this book, and the next book in this series is basically my most anticipated book of 2017!

Second place goes to... The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
Surprised, huh? Expected this to be number one? I loved The Fellowship of the Ring with as much devotion and amazement at Tolkien's genius as anyone would expect from someone who spends every birthday watching 11 hours of the extended edition movies. I was all set to put it up there in first place and call it a day, when I realised that as much as I loved it, I loved another book slightly more...

My favourite book in 2016 was... If You Go Away by Adele Parks
This is just such a beautiful novel. Even with my rave review back in October, there's a hundred more reasons why I adored it. I could talk for days about the growth of the characters, the honesty and brutality of its depiction of war, the slow-burning development of the relationships. This novel melted my icy heart with the love story, and I haven't met a story since that has wrapped my feelings so tightly around its pages.

What was your favourite read from 2016?

Friday, 13 January 2017

My 5 Reading Goals for 2017

I love the beginning of a new year and setting goals. There's a lot of hope involved and I think we all need some of that right now. Since reading is a big part of my life, I wanted to have some reading goals that were separate from my general 2017 goals. And I wanted to leave them more vague and open-ended because I find them a little more inspiring, they can be taken different ways, and I've already been looking for different books to fit the challenge. So here are the 5 goals I have...

1. Stop delaying.
When I first started reading again, after a long health-related slump, I looked at a lot of the books on my shelf that I wanted to read and decided to save them for later. I'll read them later. I'll get to them after some practice. I'll read them once I get a grip on reading again. That mindset was a fair idea back then, but it stuck around. I still find myself putting off certain books that I know I want to read right now, books I'm ready for. I just finished my 200th book since starting reading again! I know how to read and it's time for me to stop delaying. This year, I'm going to read what I want to read, when I want to read it.

2. Goodbye comfort zone.
A lot of the books I delayed are actually outside of my comfort zone which is where this goal comes from. I didn't want to challenge myself too much back then, but now I'm looking at these books with a new perspective. I'm ready. So goodbye comfort zone and hello classics, non-fiction and even longer books. I'm not saying that I'm going to completely give up my cosy crime series, but it's time for me to push the boat out and see how far I can get on open water.

3. Read a book in German.
And what is more out of your comfort zone than a book in a language you don't speak, eh? I'm currently learning German and I'd like to read at least one book in the language this year. I'm thinking The Thief Lord, or Herr der Diebe by Cornelia Funke. I loved that book as a kid and since I have the English copy I can just flip between the two when I get confused. And, y'know, it was originally in German so extra points for that. This is probably a goal for later in 2017 though!

4. Replace.
Kind of borrowing from my 2017 goals with this one but I felt like it fit with my reading goals because I do want to link my book buying with, not only how many books I'm letting go of, but how many books I'm reading. My current thought is that I'll bring in one book, for every ten that go out or read. Also, and this isn't explicitly to do with reading but more the potential of reading. I have a lot of books on my Amazon wishlist and I've been doing Books I Want to Buy and Why posts about them for a while, that need a clearing up. Something has come over me in 2017, my tastes have changed and my shelves need to reflect that!

5. Read 80 books.
This is my first year making a Goodreads challenge that's going to be an actual challenge. I managed 80 books in 2015 but not in 2016, so now I want to see if I can get back to that. I'm both excited and nervous about this, I want it to push me to read more but I don't want it to stop me reading longer and more challenging books. We'll see! After all, it's just a challenge on a website. Not the end of the world.

What are your reading goals for 2017?

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

6 Reading Goals for 2016: One Year On!

It has been exactly one year since I posted up my 6 reading goals that I had for 2016 (I love when that happens), and I thought before I put up my 7 for 2017, that I'd go over how I did last year. I did a how-I'm-doing at the 6 month mark but quite a bit has changed since then on some of these goals. Some I did good on, some I didn't. Much like my 2017 life goals, my reading goals are going to get a shake-up this year because somethin' ain't workin'.

1. Read a couple Non-Fiction books! 
I read Green River Killer, a biographical graphic novel, Hot Feminist by Polly Vernon and Fredrick Nietzsche's Aphorisms on Love and Hate. So I'm not counting this as a complete success, but I did alright. Strangely enough, so far in 2017 I've read a feminist essay, another biographical graphic novel and a semi-biographical set of short stories. Maybe 2017 will be the year of non-fiction. *knock on wood*

2. Read a book over 600 Pages!
Although I read it in audiobook form, American Gods by Neil Gaiman translates into 635 pages so I'm counting this one. Also, not a huge amount of books are 600+ pages! My copy of The Fellowship of the Ring is only 530. I'm counting this as a success but not one that was much enjoyed, American Gods wasn't my jam.

3. Read a couple classics!
This is a recurring goal and a bit of a recurring failure for me. Although maybe less so this year? I read Dr Faustus by Christopher MarlowThe Burial at Thebes by Seamus Heaney (Antigone by Sophocles) although they were both required reading. And I'm counting The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien too. I'd like it to be a longer list next year though.

4. Get rid of some books!
Eh. Okay, not really. Although I have a new outlook in 2017 about replacing things I've grown out of and this definitely includes some of the books on my shelf. Some of the unhealthy-perspectives-teenage-girl-drama needs to go.

5. Complete some of the unfinished series on my shelf!
Not even close! Apart from finishing the Harper Connolly series in August, which I started in April, I didn't finish a single series. Although, I did give up on a lot of series. It was time to finally admit that I'm never going to finish the Princess Diaries series, for example.

6. Read 16 books!
My number-loving heart is pleased with the 61 books I read. But, if I'm honest with myself, I'm a little sad that I didn't do as well as I did in 2015 when I read 80. That's why I made an honest-to-goodness Goodreads challenge this year. But more on that, on Friday when I'm talking about my 7 reading goals for 2017! 

Did you set reading goals for 2016? How did you do?

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