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Thursday, 29 September 2016

I'm not going to lie - for me online dating is a godsend.

I can be notoriously shy when I meet people for the first time, and find I often need to have a drink in my hand (and some dutch courage) before I can approach a guy to talk to him.

Tinder, Plenty Off Fish..sites like that help a hell of a lot. They remove the stuttering and mindblanks I sometimes get when I talk to a guy, and allow me time to think of a decent response and think of what to say. They allow me to show my best side, both personality wise and physical, and although I always try to use photos that best represent me, it removes that slight self-conscious side I my mind sometimes taps into on a night out when I see girls prettier then me.

But I also have a love/hate relationship with online dating and find it's a vicious circle to find myself in. 

Sometimes I'll use it to scroll through endlessly when I'm bored and after some attention as, deep down, I really hope/believe that if I were to meet someone or the one, it wouldn't be online. 

I'm a hopeless romantic you see.

Don't get me wrong, I've met many a great guys on Tinder and the like, but I can't help but feel if I were ever to get married, I wouldn't want to explain mine and my future husbands meet-cute moment to be that we met online.

So then I decide to take a break from online dating for a bit - a week or so - to get myself out there more, properly.

But, for what?

Me and my friends go out to a bar or to eat and everyone is on their phones. No one has proper conversations anymore and I can bet that half the people in any establishment at any given time is already flirting or swiping away on Tinder/POF/OK Cupid/Badoo/etc/etc/every other bloody online dating website out there.

So what's a girl to do? Give up and give in and accept that this is how dating is done now? Or take a break?

In the long run, I don't bloody know.

But short term, I know that I'm feeling exhausted with online dating. Not that I'm some online hussy or anything, but I just feel like it's been so long since I've been 110% single.

Of course I don't count talking to people online as not being single, but for the purpose of this post, when I say I'm giving up dating, I mean I'm giving up the opposite sex entirely for a while/for a month.

I can't remember the last time I wasn't seeing/talking to/flirting with/snapchatting/dating someone. At any given time of day, I - like pretty much every other girl - have a conversation going, whether that's on POF, or arranging a date etc. 

And I'm getting fast fed up of having to participate in the same boring conversations over and over about what I do, where I live etc.

I'm also fed up of receiving unsolicited dick pics too.

really don't understand the point of them. How do guys expect us to react upon receiving them?

Do they expect us to reply 'whoa, I'm so impressed that I'm going to set this as my phone background and drop everything RIGHT NOW and come see you so you can have your wicked way with me?!'

But I digress.

I want - I need a break and so I'm going to take one.

For the next 31 days (at least, maybe even longer) I am giving up online dating and all that comes with it. This means deleting Tinder and the like, and no more flirting. It means no more taking part in casual conversation when a f*ckboy decides to pop up again, and definitely no dates.

It sounds easy, but I know it's going to have its challenges.

I don't think I'm going to find it hard not using apps like Tinder or flirting, but I do think I'm going to struggle when people I've liked/may currently like might pop up and initiate conversation - I'm going to find it hard not to give in to it.

I also think I'll struggle during those times like Sunday afternoons or Thursday evenings, when people are busy and I have no one to talk to, really. It's these times that boredom kicks in and I find myself swiping on Tinder or flirting with someone - nearly always out of boredom, and more often than not, because I like the attention.

Everyone likes attention and if I go for a few days without it, that's usually when I tend to succumb back to the weird and wonderful world of online dating.

A friend recently shared this article with me, and it really hit home.

Although I would like a relationship, until I meet what I feel is the right person, I am guilty, like everyone else, of agreeing to nearly every part of this article. I'm happy to flirt aimlessly on Tinder when I'm bored, and I'll even go as far to complain about the many conversations that go on and on and on without an end result in sight and without a guy actually wanting to meet in person.

But nine times out of ten, unless we're really getting along, there's still a big percent of guys that I have no intention of dating either. I'm happy to chat and flirt and for it to not go anywhere and quite frankly I'm fed up of it.

The article states:

"We “talk” and we text, we Snapchat and we sext. We hangout and we happy hour, we go to coffee and grab a beer – anything to avoid an actual date. We private message to meet up, we small talk for an hour only to return home and small talk via text. We forgo any chance of achieving real connection by mutually playing games with no winner. Competing for “Most Detached”, “Biggest Apathetic Attitude”, and “Best at Being Emotionally Unavailable”, what we end up actually winning is “Most Likely to Be Alone”."

- and this is just one of many parts of the article that I wholeheartedly agree with.

Here are my rules:

- no dating apps or websites. I have already deleted POF and Tinder
- no real life dating/flirting
- no sex (eek!)
- no flirting with f*ckboys or previous interests. This is going to be tough, because it's hard to differentiate between flirting and just talking. If an old flame pops up (which they often do when I least expect it), I'm either going to have to not reply or tell them outright that I'm on a no-dating challenge. Of course, this could lead to some awkward conversations, especially if they insist they just wanted to say hello.
- and, obviously, no falling in love ;)

So here goes my 31 (hopefully 31 plus!) days of giving up on dating and the opposite sex altogether - and yes, I will be blogging about it.

I'm hoping I can last until Christmas, which is of course the worst time to give up on the opposite sex, but for now I'm setting myself a challenge for the month of October and then we'll see how I get on.

I start on the 1st, of course.

Wish me luck and I'll see you on the other side..

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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

When people think of cocktails, they tend to consider them as summer drinks. Long, warm evenings sipping a mojito is possibly one of the best things about summer. However, when the sun goes down, the rum seems to get hidden away. In fact, winter is the best time for a cocktail! Especially if you get the right one. This cocktail recipe roundup is filled with warming, festive cocktails perfect for those colder nights. 

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Food & Drink | Cocktails

You can’t put together a list of winter cocktails without including an Irish Coffee. If you want to make it even more seasonal then add a little bit of spice in there too! This is a really warming cocktail, that will give you a boost of energy when the winter nights draw in. What’s not to love? You’ll need coffee, sugar and whiskey to make this one. Just stir them all together and add some whipped cream on top, with a little bit of cinnamon for the perfect cocktail. 

Yet another perfect winter cocktail. It just makes you think of Christmas markets and woolly gloves, right?! This mulled wine is something you can make in the slow cooker and leave all day, to get some incredible flavours coming through. If you don’t have time (and want to cheat) you can also get mulled wine spices in the supermarkets. Put them in a pan with some wine - and a dash of rum - then leave to simmer before serving. 

This thick and creamy cocktail has a little bit of spice, and a whole load of chocolate. If you’re looking for something that’s just like a warming chocolate milkshake then this is your cocktail! The nutmeg gives it a nice Christmassy feel and the brandy will certainly warm you up as it gets colder. Oh, and it’s got cream in it, so what’s not to love?! 

Like it or not, it’s definitely getting closer to Christmas. If you want something a little bit unusual to serve to your guests then try this Candy Cane infused vodka. It’s really easy to make and can be bottled up to give as guests too. Not keen on candy canes? You have to try Werther's Original infused vodka instead; it’s creamy and delicious! 

Who said that rum has to be reserved for summer mojitos on the beach? This pumpkin and pineapple spiced rum cocktail brings together a little bit of autumn and a little bit of summer. What could be better than that? It also has a pinch of cinnamon in it, to spice things up a little. This is one cocktail you won’t be able to put down.  

These are just a few of my favourite winter cocktails, although there are plenty more! Which drinks are you planning on rustling up, to keep you warm as the nights draw in? Let me know!

*Please note this is a collaborative post

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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

I promise this is my last post related to Reading Festival! I thought it would be fitting to end my posts about the music festival with a playlist, especially since my last post was all to do with the new artists and music I discovered at the festival in August.

So I've put together a playlist of all the best songs I feel my favourite artists played over the weekend. Except for Biffy Clyro, who I really wanted to see but didn't have the chance to. I don't think Animal Style was actually played during their set - in fact, I'm not sure it was even out then - but I love it so I had to include it.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Reading | Reading Festival | Music Festival | New Music

And yes, the playlist is supposed to look messy and ripped on purpose - it's part of the effect! 

Listening to songs such as Words Don't Come So Easily by Lower Than Atlantis, Alone Together by Fall Out Boy and Holding On To You by Twenty One Pilots were definitely the highlights of my weekend.

Words Don't Come So Easily is one song that I listened to a few times on the drive there and fell in love with it immediately, so discovering this band and this song for the first time then seeing them perform it live was great!

Alone Together has always been a favourite song of mine by Fall Out Boy - it's just one of those songs that require you to sing your heart out. It's such a heartfelt but upbeat song, and seeing them perform this on the main stage to thousands of people was amazing.

And of course every damn song performed by Twenty One Pilots was such a great experience for me. Holding On To You is a massive favourite of mine, it's just so lovely and fun to sing along to, but I didn't know if they'd perform it or not. Because I'd never seen them live or had any idea about their set lists, I had no idea what songs they would and wouldn't play. I've not really been sure of their biggest hits over here either, so it was a pleasant surprise when they sung this, especially as it's not been released as a single.

And I'd really recommend checking out The Wholls, VANT, Rocky Nti and VEXXES, as suggested in my previous post.


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Sunday, 25 September 2016

When I make the effort to leave my phone alone and really concentrate, I actually really enjoy a good documentary and in recent years, they've become more and more popular.

Shows like Making a Murderer and Louis Theroux documentaries have almost drawn a new crowd to the world of documentaries. Years and years ago, a documentary to me would be the type of thing my nan would watch late at night - usually an hour special about a gory unsolved murder from years ago, but nowadays people will even watch documentaries instead of movies during those Netflix and chill dates.

Here are some documentaries I believe are worth a watch and that are quite easy to follow, too. Because I do believe some documentaries can be a bit overwhelming and can throw too much at you, especially if you have a short attention span - which is perhaps why I have yet to get past the third episode of Making a Murderer!

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | TV | Documentaries

I've blogged my praise for this hour long special before, and even now I'll recommend it to friends. It's all about two female twins who run into oncoming traffic along the motorway and moments later, are up and walking as if nothing happened. When the police arrive, they try to run again, even hitting an officer with brutal force and running again into oncoming traffic - if I remember rightly. The fact that one gets run over by a truck and is absolutely fine afterwards - and so afraid of police that she runs into oncoming traffic again - is probably the least weird thing of the documentary. It's super interesting and filled with twists.

You've probably heard a lot about this case what with the documentary recently airing and although I have yet to watch it, I've heard good things about it. The documentary is all about the unsolved murder of six year old JonBenét who was found murdered in the family homes basement. There are loads of really curious parts of the case that are looked into in this documentary, such as the fact that the house and basement was searched thoroughly before the body was found during a second search of the basement, and telling 911 calls. I actually only really heard about JonBenét for the first time a few months ago when I discovered a bizarre conspiracy theory that her death was actually faked and she grew up to become Katy Perry.  The whole case is kind of disturbing, and it's really sad that it's never been solved, nor has the family got any justice for the loss of their child. 

I've watched a few documentaries based on the Amityville murders and ghost stories over the years (and read about the subject vastly) but this is one of my favourite documentaries. I find the whole legend fascinating - the murders and the ghost stories that followed them, plus the spooky ghost photo of the little boy. I haven't watched this documentary in a good few years but I always remember it to be good and think I'll be watching it again over Halloween this year.

I saw this in the cinema a few years back and didn't really understand it until I watched it a second time once home. If you haven't seen it, I'm not going to give a lot away, but it revolves around a family who seemingly accept the return of their child that had gone missing years earlier. Despite the fact that there are obvious changes, such as his eyes being a different colour, the family welcome him regardless. Of course all is not as it seems, and this documentary will keep you thinking until the very end.

There's actually so many 9/11 conspiracy theory documentaries floating around the internet that it's hard to choose just one - or even find the time to watch many - but this is one I particularly remember being fascinated by. Now, I'm going to find this hard to explain as I understand that 9/11 is a very sensitive subject and we'll probably never know the truth, but I am also adamant that there is so much we don't know about what really happened that day, and this documentary really helps you understand that. There's so many questions that need answered, like why a news reporter suggested a third tower (the 7th tower) collapsing before it was showing any signs of collapse and how the towers fell in such a way that it looked like it was due to demolition. Of course, 9/11 is one of the biggest conspiracy theories and after watching this documentary, you'll likely find yourself falling down a deep, dark hole of theories, but I do think it's worth watching even just to open your mind a little bit. 

All of these documentaries can be found online and on YouTube (and I believe that The Imposter can also be found on Netflix) now - apart from The Case Of: JonBenet Ramsey as it's only just aired but will likely be online soon. 

I think it's important to delve into documentaries now and then, even the conspiracy theories because even if you don't believe them, it's important to open your mind and question things now and then. 

Why not watch one with friends and see what their thoughts are? 

Are there any documentaries you can recommend? Let me know!

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Friday, 23 September 2016

It's been an scary few days for me - in terms of movies, anyway.

On Wednesday night, my friends and I went to see the new Blair Witch film, which was petrifying in it's own.

Then, on yesterday, I had the opportunity to see Train to Busan, the highly anticipated South Korean horror movie.

I couldn't wait to see it, especially it's a zombie flick too.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Movies | Movie Review | Train to Busan | Zombies | Zomie Flick | Gong Yoo | Ma Dong-seok | Jung Yu-mi | Kim Su-an

The general premise is that the zombie apocalypse is upon us and the film focuses mainly on the character of Seok-Woo, and his young daughter, Su-an. The two don't have the best relationship - Seok-Woo is divorced from Su-an's mother, and he often works long hours, missing out on pivotal times in his daughter's life.

When Su-an insists on going to see her mother in Busan, Seok-Woo eventually gives in and goes with her. But even during their journey to the train station, it's obvious that something is going on. Although they don't know what yet, and even though we as the audience know it's clearly zombies, the anticipation is already building.

Train to Busan to me was like Snakes on a Plane meets World War Z.

It's a dramatic roller coaster of emotions over the course of two hours and I spent an hour and a half of that time on the edge of my seat, occasionally jumping and sometimes shouting at the characters. 

The action just did not stop. Every time we thought a character was safe, at least for a while, we barely had a moment before another challenge made itself known and we were suddenly subject to that tension once more.

But, the action didn't seem like too much, either. The whole film was fast paced and exciting, but there were some heart-to-heart moments and some witty one-liners to break it up.

We were lucky enough to have a few minutes here and there for our heart rates to return to normal, but overall the whole film was action packed from start to finish.

It certainly wasn't boring.

It was realistic in a way that had me kind of scared to get the train to go home afterwards. The idea of zombies on a train (like snakes on a plane!) works so well because there really is no escape. 

We've all learned from horror movies that when a zombie approaches you have two choices; fight or run, but on a train there is nowhere to run to!

What's interesting as well is that the zombies were fast, and there were a few elements these zombies showcased that other zombies didn't.

It seems fast zombies is just the norm these days.

And these zombies were genuinely scary!

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Movies | Movie Review | Train to Busan | Zombies | Zomie Flick | Gong Yoo | Ma Dong-seok | Jung Yu-mi | Kim Su-an

What I loved about the movie as well was that it had a lot of heart and there were plenty of messages to learn, too. It very much touched upon the subject of whether you'd put yourself or someone else first in danger, or in a life-or-death situation.

It seems so easy to say you would sacrifice yourself for someone or to help someone else, but of course things are a lot different when zombies are involved. Sacrificing yourself means essentially getting turned into a zombie and helping spread the virus further.

There's also the point of the main characters - Seok-Woo and Su-an. Seok-Woo would do anything for his daughter - but is sacrificing other people for her safety right or wrong?

It's a tough one, and this film definitely left me thinking.

I must also point out that Kim Su-an who played Su-an was an amazing actress - despite being just ten years old! She was one of the best actresses in the entire movie and I was thoroughly impressed by her.

In conclusion, Train to Busan is without a doubt one of the best horror movies from 2016. The action does not stop and you will spend the whole time on the edge of your seat, silently cheering on each character. 

It has actually been a very long time since a film has had that kind of effect on me and I would recommend that if you're looking for a good movie to see for Halloween, it should be this one.

Train to Busan will be released in the UK on the 28th of October - just in time for Halloween.

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Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Even though I loved the weekend, If I had to talk about one downside of Reading Festival, it would have to be - for me - the type of crowd that came along with the inclusion of dance tents.

And if you take the time to look at some of the comments shared on the festival's 2017 event page - used to voice opinions on what bands should be on the roster for next year and other feedback - you'll quickly see that I'm not alone.

Within the first week or so of the festival ending, there was largely a big debate about whether or not dance tents should even be at a rock festival and what type of crowd these particular tents brought.

Here are my thoughts.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Music | Music Festivals | Rock Music | Rock | Dance Music | Dance | Debate
Credit: Kennerdeigh Scott

First and foremost, Reading is a rock music festival. It may not be as 'heavy' as festivals such as Download and Hellfest for example, but it's certainly not a pop festival like T In The Park or Bestival. That said, I believe it's a nice 'in between' festival - more pop punk, than anything.

Despite it being a rock festival, I did enjoy the dance tents. I felt they provided variety and also something else to do when the headline sets were over. I was surprised to find that come 10pm or 11pm, all major sets had finished.

This meant that for those of us who wanted to keep partying or who were in the mood for a dance, could do so by visiting the dance tents.

However, I can very much see why people disliked the idea of having dance tents there, mostly because Reading is not a dance festival. 

If you look it from the other side of things - big dance festivals like EDC or Creamfields don't have 'rock' tents, because everyone gathered there is there to essentially just dance.

Reading Festival for many people is like a stomping ground for all things familiar. Without wanting to pigeon hole, at the festival, you'd expect to find all types of people but also people especially with similar interests to you - perhaps a similar fashion sense and most certainly with a love for rock music.

So it does seem odd that you could rock up to Reading Festival and camp next to someone who, when striking conversation with them, claims they're most excited to see some DJ you've never even heard of.

Variety is nice - but is it really necessary to add dance tents to a rock festival when dance fans already have festivals like EDC and Creamfields to satisfy their needs?

Off course it was great for people who liked both kinds of music.

The thing is, there was also a LOT of people who were obviously there just for the dance music.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Music | Music Festivals | Rock Music | Rock | Dance Music | Dance | Debate
Credit: Mark De Groot

I'll admit, a lot of the time walking round, I was quite surprised at the crowds the festival had welcomed. There were so many groups of young lads quite obviously on a 'lads on tour' vibe, f*cked off their head on drugs, shouting out stupid things and, even more annoyingly, chanting out very stupid chants.

Of course you'll get people like this everywhere - whether you like rock music or dance music or anything else.

The biggest thing that really ticked me off - and other people - was when crowds of people came into the sets of rock bands and shouted out silly chants loudly or just entered the tent out of boredom to drink. 

The most annoying part for me was when I finally got to see 21 Pilots and during pivotal moments of their set, like when there was quiet for us to enjoy the atmosphere between songs or an emotional moment during a particular moving song, it was ruined by people suddenly and loudly inappropriately chanting out things like 'WHOOP THERE IS'

You know the chant. It's the same chant that people sing on every night out for no reason. And I didn't mind hearing the chant in the few times I did go into the dance tents. I didn't mind hearing the chant every minute or so on the walk from the camp and towards the arena - I got it, everyone was in a good mood and singing together.

But what I did mind was when it happened inappropriately in some of my bands favourite songs. It didn't ruin their set and it didn't ruin their songs - but it was incredibly annoying and I believed there was no need for it.

If I'd gone into the dance tent and heard a silly chant, I'd have no room to complain.

I wouldn't go to EDC and start a mosh pit (which some people see as dangerous) in the middle of a dance set - so I struggle to be okay with the fact that people come to Reading and start dancing and singing dance chants in the middle of a rock bands set.

Now, I know it's just a chant, but this is the strongest example I can think of. It wasn't just a stupid chant. It was also people coming into the tents when my favourite bands were playing and chatting loudly, swigging beer whilst off their face and not enjoying the set.

But at the end of the day, I can't put this behaviour just down to the inclusion of dance tents.

So, to conclude my opinion, I think dance tents are a good idea and that they offer a bit of variety, but I only welcome them when they don't distract from the vibe of the festival. If it continues to be a thing where dance music takes over Reading Festival, I'll be highly disappointed. There's festivals like EDC and Creamfields for that, and it would be a huge shame to see Reading lose it's heritage and history as a rock music festival.

Although, saying that, Die Antwoord aren't exactly rock but I'm a massive fan of theirs and loved their set!

I took my question to Facebook once more, and here's some of the responses I got.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Music | Music Festivals | Rock Music | Rock | Dance Music | Dance | Debate
Credit: Kennerdeigh Scott

Of course we should have a dance tent, SOPHIE was one of my fave acts of the weekend. People who say we shouldn't have a dance tent are the same people who say there shouldn't be grime artists there. - JJ Ward

For me personally at the grand old age of 40, I loved the dance tents. My son who I took for his first festival experience loved the rock music and I loved the dance aspect so for me, there was something there for all tastes and everyone is happy. If you don't like something, you don't have to watch it. - Jessica Chatters

Reading has a place for dance tents! It's expanding to different types of music so everyone can listen to something they like there. People keep saying it's a rock festival but times have changed and it's become a festival all sorts of people can enjoy. - Ellen Owen

I have varying views on this. I have been attending Reading or Leeds since 1994. I now go with my son who is a huge rock music fan. Reading/Leeds has always been an alternative rock festival and I am disappointed to see anything other than those genres on the mainstage. What annoys me the most is that you don't hear any of the dance fans offering to open a rock tent at Creamfields and give up their main stage to acts such as Biffy Clyro in the name of diversity! - Kay Norman

I love dance music and didn't mind it to a certain extent, but the tents seemed unecessary. I was there to enjoy rock music - not dance music - and I didn't enjoy the vibe some of the crowds brought with them - Briony Kenyan

Reading has always and should be a rock festival with phenomenal bands who have headlined in the past such as My Chemical Romance or Green Day, and it should focus more on that. The dance tent has a place but should be less focused on. - Ben Rist

Reading Festival should have a dance tent as its a festival that incorporates many different tastes. But I really feel as if the dance music should be kept to its tent and not the main focus of the festival. - Niamh Degregorio

It's a rock music festival with a lot of heritage in that music genre. There are plenty of other music festivals for dance - Creamfields for example. However, I don't see a problem with the dance tent, just keep the dance music there as it doesn't extract from the idea of the festival. Just stop the 16 year olds starting mosh pits and chanting 'whoop there it is' - Robbie James

So there we have it. Although many people are for dance tents, many people also agree that the dance attitude should be kept in the dance tents and that there is a time and a place for such silly chants.

What are your thoughts? Let me know!

And, please note, I loved Reading Festival and this is not at all a complaint - just a debate from both sides!

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Monday, 19 September 2016

2016 has been an okay year for me travel wise. 

Although I didn’t exactly get to go to any ‘cultural’ or ‘exotic’ places that might constitute as travelling, I did get to go to a few new places such as Ibiza, and, in the UK, Reading. 

However, it’s time to start looking ahead and recently, there’s definitely some places that have tempted me for 2017. 

Here’s some places I have added to my travel bucket list for next year. 

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Travel | Bucket list | Lisbon | Amsterdam | Mexico | Croatia | Edinburgh

I have a friend that hails from Lisbon and she goes back every summer. On her return, I always find myself growing jealous of all her tales of the beautiful city and her crazy antics! On one hand, it sounds like an amazing place for partying - not in the sense that it’s filled with super clubs or on the same level as, for example, Ibiza - but in the sense that it’s just a place for good time with friends. I imagine welcoming bars and low-key nights spent drinking until the am, leaving me with memories to last a lifetime. Plus, it looks so pretty. 

Croatia has actually been on my list for a couple of years and now that I’ve done the obligatory party holiday in Ibiza, I feel like Croatia is a more grown up option. I have the feeling it’ll offer me the same party opportunities, but on a much more sophisticated level, with plush greenery, oldy worldy towns, white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. A few friends have even mentioned taking a boat/cruise holiday there, so that’s definitely an option for summer 2017.

I know, I know. I’ve been saying about - and trying to visit - Mexico for at least a couple of years ago but it’s never worked out - not through lack of trying mind! The first time I booked with Trek America, I had to change the dates because I was just starting a new job. The second time, enough people didn’t sign up for the tour so it was cancelled. Hopefully third time is the charm and I have just put my deposit down for January. I’m really hoping that it goes ahead. If it does, I have exotic jungles and ancient ruins to look forward to - and some really gorgeous weather. Still, my deposit is down now and it’s now out of my hands - eek!

I went to Amsterdam a couple of years back and have wanted to return ever since. There was so much we didn’t see on our trip there originally, and I also feel like we know enough about the city and how to make our way around that returning for just a long weekend would be enough time to do and see everything I want to. There’s also this kick-ass theme park called Efteling which I would love to visit - it’s based all around folklore and looks magical as well as thrilling. It’s not far from Amsterdam, so I’d love to do a slightly longer weekend to the Netherlands to incorporate both in 2017.

Closer to home - and perhaps a bit more realistic - would be a long weekend in Edinburgh. I visited there a few years back for like, one night and the afternoon and it was amazing. I fell in love with the place instantly. I’d really, really love to visit over NYE, but only if I had a boyfriend. So if I meet someone special in 2017, that’ll be my NYE plans. If not? I’ll go in any time of year, but most likely still winter (hopefully).

There are of course plenty of places I’d love to visit in the UK also (Canterbury still! And Blackpool again please!) but I think as long as I keep an eye on my money and save, a few places on this list are doable. Mexico is already booked, and my friend is always inviting me over to Lisbon so a cheap long weekend there could definitely work. Soon I’ll be looking into Croatia for my summer holiday, and I’ll be keeping Amsterdam or Edinburgh in mind for a winter weekend away for my birthday!

What’s on your 2017 travel bucket list? Let me know! 

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Saturday, 17 September 2016

I've definitely been getting back into reading lately.

I was always a book worm growing up and more often than not, I have at least one book on the go. But up until recently, I've struggled to find books I've been really excited to read. I'm not sure why - maybe I just haven't had the time to really research or haven't stumbled across any titles.

However, since moving into my nans, I've had a lot more time on my hands, mostly because she doesn't actually believe in the internet. I have now sorted some internet for things like job hunting and blogging, but it's only a limited amount which means I have no time for Netflix binges anymore!

This means more time for reading! There really is nothing better than a good, gripping book.

One of my favourite things in the world is curling up in a chair or bed with a cup of tea and reading, especially when it's getting late and I'm so tired but simply can't put the book down because it's just that gripping.

Over the past month or so, I've found quite a few books I really want to read. I've added books to my 'to-read' book fast and steady over the last few weeks, so I thought I'd share some of these titles with you all.

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I saw this advertised in a magazine lately and the cover immediately caught my eye. It's described as a story that sees One Day meet The Time Traveler's Wife and tells the story of 
Róisín and François who meet in Antarctica. The Comet Seekers revisits the character, only when a comet is visible in the sky above them, and explores the way their paths cross as they lead separate lives. I really enjoyed both One Day and The Time Traveler's Wife, and something about this book seems like it has just a bit extra with a magical or 'destiny' twist revolving around comets, so I'm really excited to hopefully read this soon.

This story actually sounds quite similar to The Comet, in that it's a slow burner, focusing on the distance between Tes and Gus, following a day spent of criss-crossing paths on holiday. For the next 16 years, Miss You follows their separate journeys as we discover if the two will ever meet again. I like the sound of this book because I feel I'll be able to relate to it just that bit more. Everyone remembers a summer love or the hope of a fling between someone who has caught your eye on holiday, back when you're a teenager. It will be interesting to read the characters stories as they grow up from 16 year olds on holiday and turn into adults.

I don't even feel like I have to explain this one - everyone loves Lindsey Kelk and I've been a big fan of her writing for years and years now, ever since I first received a copy of I Heart New York free with a magazine and couldn't put it down. This is a new one from Lindsey in that the chapters alternate between the voices of Liv and her boyfriend/ex Adam. I love this idea - it's definitely a new venture for Lindsey and I'm really intrigued to see how the story comes across with focusing on two different people in one single relationship. It'll be interesting to see how events are looked at and received completely differently from the opposite sex, and I'm hoping it'll live up to the standards of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, which took on a similar approach but was written by two authors instead of one.

I wasn't sure what to make of the movie adaption of this story. I watched it because I love Anton Yelchin and I loved the premise to the film as well as the oddball and intriguing film to it. Some parts I didn't like so much though, such as the character of Odd's girlfriend Stormy, who had the weirdest vovocabulary ever. Still, I feel like perhaps the film just did not do the book justice so I really want to read it. It's also part of a series, so if I love this book, I've got plenty of sequels to keep me going for a while. I'm surprised I haven't stumbled across these novels before because they do seem right up my street. 

At first look, this seems like a zombie novel, but having read some reviews, I see it's more a horror novel and that it is based around journalism and the political ramifications of a wide-spreading disease - as well as zombies. Well, I'm well overdue a new zombie novel to read and I love that it focuses on the political side of what can happen after such an apocalypse - it means it's perfect to help as research for my own novel.

These are just some of the books I've added to my to-read list lately, but of course they're only some of many. The list is endless, but these five are ones I'm particularly looking forward to right now.

Have you read any of these? What novels are on your to-read list? Let me know! 

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