Monday, 25 May 2020

I Didn't Complete the Readathon and That's Okay

Hi everyone! I hope you've all had an excellent bank holiday weekend :) It's just been the same old weekend as always for me, but I know many of you are very glad to have a break from work. I'd love to hear all about how you spent your bank holiday (despite lockdown making our days pretty uneventful, or mine at least!). 

So as you guys can tell from the title, today I'm writing a follow up to the last few bookish posts I shared on my blog. They were all about a readathon I was taking part in, and well... I didn't end up completing it! Oops :D But instead of beating myself up about it, I thought I'd share my thoughts about how I am looking at this positively. Enjoy reading! 

In case you haven't read my previous posts about the reading challenge, let me tell you all about it. It's a readathon that you can join in all year round, so if you're feeling inspired or looking for something to keep you busy during the current quarantine situation (don't listen to the government, you should still be staying indoors, if you can help it!), then definitely do the EstellosaurusReads 3 week, 4 book readathon! The reading challenge was set up by my amazing friend Estelle, over on her booktube, aka. book-themed YouTube channel. Go give EstellosaurusReads a follow! The rules of the challenge, as the name suggests, involve reading four books over a three week period, one from each of the following categories: a historical fiction, a non-fiction, a re-read & a book about the apocalypse (which is very fitting right now!). If you have read a book from one of these categories before and decide to give it another read, then you could tick off both for example, the non-fiction and the re-read books together, if that makes sense :) I however wanted to challenge myself to read more, because I was so behind on the Good Reads challenge I set myself for 2020!

A photo showing a shelf of books, with an owl plush, a funko pop of Gimli and a Lego fairy

So, what happened? 

Like with most of these kinds of things I decide to partake in, I always begin really determined and motivated. I get off to a great start and am very hyped about the challenge, but then eventually, life gets in the way and my enthusiasm ends up dwindling. It doesn't matter how much I love whatever I am trying to do, it's a struggle for me to keep it up. And this is most attributed to the fact that I live with several chronic illnesses, which mean my daily experience changes and whereas one day I can feel energised and ready to throw all my attention at something, the next day I can wake up feeling dejected, riddled with pain and it's a struggle to pull myself through the day. Who can relate? When it comes to my love for reading, don't get me wrong, it is a passion of mine; I love books! I adore getting lost between the pages, and many a difficult day throughout my life has been spent ignoring the outside world and getting drawn into a captivating story. Unfortunately, sometimes this just isn't possible. I just can't muster the mental strength it takes to pick up a book I'm supposed to be reading, and even if I do manage it, my concentration will often be almost non-existent and the intrusive thoughts I suffer from can mean that I can't detach myself from the negativity, and therefore I cannot get engrossed in the words on the page. 

Right now, so many of us are feeling crappy. And to be honest, I didn't expect to feel the way I do, considering I'm introverted and I have social anxiety, so staying at home is usually my happy place. Even when I'm looking forward to something, it's a challenge for me to fight the urge to cancel plans last-minute. But, I have started to feel trapped. I guess that it's different when you are forced to stay home VS getting to make that decision yourself (even if it can feel like your anxious wreck of a brain is usually the one making the decisions for you). It's tough enough being drained of energy due to my chronic illnesses, but then there's all this piled on top of that. Basically, it's tough af to get things done at the moment, and I'm sure lots of you will be in the same boat! 

Thus, I have been really up and down with my reading, and this all began practically as soon as I started the readathon. I re-read a favourite children's classic of mine, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. You can check my review here, if you're interested. Everything was going well. Then I started the non-fiction, and had opted for a topic that I don't usually read because I wanted to really challenge myself and learn something new in the process, however in hindsight, I shouldn't have done that whilst taking part in a challenge because I know my ways! I really couldn't get into it, and although there were some interesting parts, I was finding that I didn't want to pick up the book and it became a chore. 

A photo showing a selection of novels: a little princess, the handmaid's tale, jane eyre, alias grace, vox

I started to get irritated at myself and this didn't help either. I was irritated that I wasn't compelled to finish the book, and then the annoyance was making it even more difficult for me to do it. Living with mental illness really is like walking around with a storm cloud hoovering above your head sometimes! I found that I would get negative feelings about myself every time I thought about the book. By the time I finally convinced myself that I wasn't giving up and could come back to the non-fiction book, I didn't have much time left... 

I started reading Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace, for the historical fiction category, and I loved it! It was exactly what I wanted to be reading. It consumed my mind in the way that you want a book to, or I do anyway! I want to be thinking about the book after I put it down, find myself throughout the day puzzling over questions and theories I have developed, and struggle to put the book down to get boring adulting stuff done. But this novel is a good size and so it got to the end of my three weeks and I hadn't completed the challenge. With this came more negative thoughts, and that ruined my reading experience for a while. Oh, the joys of an overcritical mind! 

Last week, after giving myself a much needed rest, I picked up the book where I'd left off and all was great again! I've finished it now, and I very much enjoyed it :) Although I have my opinions, both positive and not, but this isn't a review post, haha. Since then, I have felt very motivated to read. I am almost finished with another book, The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, and oh my gosh, I'm obsessed!! Next, I will be FINALLY be reading Christina Dalcher's Vox :D So, in my opinion, the challenge has had a positive outcome. And even though I didn't complete it, as a result of taking part, I have been able to make additions to my Good Reads challenge and have had new stories brought into my life. Now, I don't want to stop reading! I am even now looking over at The Neverending Story with hungry eyes :D 

A photo showing a shelf filled with books, and also two figures, a fairy and Gimli from Lord of the Rings, and an owl plush toy

Something that I really like about Estelle's readathon is that I can have another go at any time! And so, I am planning on trying again later in the year, maybe when things are much improved with regards to the pandemic, or when I've gotten used to things! With the way the people in charge of running my country are going, I feel like it's only going to get worse, but let's not get into that... And this time around, I'm going to stick to a non-fiction topic that I know I will enjoy, like nature or psychology. I might try to go back to the book that initiated a case of readers-block in me at some point, now that there's no time constraint looming in the back of my mind. Even if I only read a page a day! It's not THAT boring, but I have discovered that a close look into the ins and outs of life as a barrister in the UK is not my thing. Although, at least I've added to my bank of random knowledge to pull out during a pub quiz! You never know when you might require a snippet of seemingly unimportant knowledge. haha. 

Anyhow, all in all, I enjoyed that the challenge lead me to read A Little Princess again, since I'd not read it for close to eight years and it was interesting to look at the book after having gone though some more life experience. It's always fascinating to see how you'll interpret a text in a future read, and discover how much your tastes or thoughts around a particular subject may have changed over time. It was a lovely nostalgic read and it got my imagination cogs turning, so to speak, which is always fun! As I said, I have been reading more over the last two weeks and that is also thanks to the readathon. So even if you don't complete a task that you start, especially if it's a challenge, then all was not in vain. You can still get something out an experience that you tried, even if that's just knowing what not to do again :)

I'll stop typing away now because Bastian, Atreyu and the Childlike Empress are calling me, and I have a mighty need to get lost in their adventure once more! This was a very wordy, chatty, whatever you'd call it type of post but I hope that it was still an interesting read, nonetheless. I hope that if you take anything away from it, that it's a reminder to not put yourself down for trying. It can take a lot to have a go at something, and we all have things going on in our lives that can interrupt our plans, but that's okay (albeit frustrating). Be kind of yourselves!

Thankyou for reading!

Have you been reading lately? 
Got any recommendations (or suggestions of books to avoid)? 

I'm also interested to know whether you just enjoy reading posts like this? 


Monday, 18 May 2020

Fox Leap! Haul & Review

Hey lovelies! I hope you are all well, and that you're looking after yourselves during these stressful times I wanted to bring a little brightness into your day, especially since its been so overcast today... (well, it has been pouring it down in the North West of England anyhow), by showing you guys some of the most gorgeous pins ever!! So if you are a fellow collector of pin badges or just enjoy all things pretty, then you're going to love this post :) 

I have had my eye on a fantastic online store called Fox Leap! for quite some time, after first having it brought to my attention by my awesome blogger friend Natalee from over at There Might Be Coffee. Ever since, I have absolutely adored Fox Leap's artwork and it makes me smile whenever some of it pops up on my feed over on Instagram. Sophie, the artist behind Fox Leap!, creates the loveliest art; her style is so adorable and unique *all the heart eye emojis*. All of her fanart and original characters have these big eyes that make your heart melt, at least that's the affect they have on me! 

A photo of a purple and white striped paper bag with a logo sticker on featuring a fox for the shop Fox Leap

I noticed back in April that Fox Leap! was having a sale and so I jumped at the chance to finally get myself one of Sophie's beautiful pins. I wanted the Kovu and Kiara pin, since The Lion King 2 is my all-time favourite Disney movie & I barely ever see any merch of the characters, but it was unfortunately sold out. I instead opted for my second favourite Fox Leap! pin :) 

So, which character did I choose? 

A photo of an enamel pin by FoxLeap! featuring Scar from Disneys Lion King

Scar, of course!! This devious, sarcastic lion is my No.1 Disney villain; he has been since I was around 5 years old. I think he's hilarious and even though I should 'hate' him, I just can't! Who else loves Scar?

This 'Be Prepared' pin design is just so stunning! LOOK AT IT!! I really love that Sophie chose to design the pin after this scene because I am such a big fan of the song! Each time I see my new pin, I instantly want to start singing :D Jeremy Irons' version is obviously marvellous, but I always think about the performance from the Broadway musical, which was the first ever musical theatre show I went to, back in 2013 with my mom, so of course, it's a memory I hold very dear to my heart. The fact that this pin makes me reminisce about the musical will mean that it will forever remain one of the most beloved pins in my entire collection! 

Here's what the pin looks like when tilted in the light (if that makes sense!)... 

Super bright & eye-catching!! I am in love with the colour scheme :) Black and green are my favourite colours so it's hard for me not to adore this pin based on the colouration alone. But there are so many more things I love about Fox Leap's Scar pin! 

I have mentioned many times before on my blog that pins with gold outlines aren't really my cup of tea, even though I'll admit that lots of pins do look lovely being gold-plated and so I have several like this in my ever-growing collection, however, in general, I'd prefer a pin with another coloured outline/plating. And so as you can imagine, the fact that this Be Prepared pin is backed in black is one of the details that drew me to it. It really love the outline colour, and how it can be subtle yet still shine just as nicely in the sunlight as any gold-plated pin can! 

Another feature of this pin that I love is the shape... I think it just has a very unique structure to it and your eyes are instantly drawn to the yellow and green smoke, and then to Scar's big eyes. They are super cute! Who can resist a chibified version of a baddie, though!? His little smirk is so endearing, too. Oh my gosh, I can't express how delighted I am with the entire design of this pin! Sophie has really captured the unique look of Scar's mane, which is another thing I love! And those swirls/wisps of smoke look super cool, don't you think? 

It's so awesome how the colours change depending on the angle and lighting. I can't wait to wear this pin out and about (eventually!) and show it off! 

You may have noticed the little sneak preview of another pin in the photo above ;) And that's what I'm going to talk about next. Sophie was amazingly kind and gifted me the loveliest pin, and I have been super excited about showing it to you guys!! 

A photo of beautiful blue fox enamel pin with flowers and leaves, by FoxLeap!

Ta-da!! HOW STUNNING IS THIS PIN!!? Just look how intricate and detailed the design is. I was so wowed when I opened my package and found this little cutie inside!! I can't get over how beautiful it is. THANKYOU so very much, Sophie, for sending me your Silver Fox* pin!! ^.^

If you guys didn't already know, a silver fox is a colour variation of the Red Fox, where instead of having bright red/orange fur, the fox looks black or very dark grey. If you've been following my blog for a while now, you'll probably know that foxes are one of my most loved animal species, and so I was over the moon to receive a fox pin!! Fox Leap!, as the name would suggest, has created several gorgeous foxy pins, so definitely go check them out if you are a fox lover like me! Talking of foxes, how brilliant is Fox Leap's logo!!? It makes me super happy... especially because of its huge, floofy tail! I can just imagine a real Red fox sleeping in a meadow full of summer flowers when I look at the logo! 

A photo of a enamel pin by FoxLeap! of a blue fox with flowers and leaves surrouding it. it has a glittery tail and paws.

So, what is it about this pin that I adore? 

Where do I start? haha :D I love the boldness of the colours, they are striking! There's also so much to look at, from the detailed facial markings, to the pointy pink ears, to the leaves in the background, the flowers & the glittery tail and paws. You can definitely see how much attention to detail has gone into the design of this enamel pin! 

I'm not sure if this makes much sense to anyone other than myself, but the Silver Fox pin really reminds me of a mountain! Let me explain... the tail makes me visualise a snow-capped mountain, and the surrounding blue makes me think of photographs I've seen of Japan's Mt. Fuji against the backdrop of a cool evening skyline. The blossoms represent sakura/cherry blossoms for me, and the leaves could be the forests surrounding the mountain. This pin makes my imagination run wild and that makes me love it even more! 

Despite the pin having a gold outline/plating, I actually don't mind it because I feel like it really helps to make the colours stand out more. They are vibrant and wouldn't look as pretty on a black or silver plated enamel, in my opinion. The gold has a lovely warm shine to it, and could totally be the sunset for my mountain! :D Oh, and another element of the design I love are the fox's green eyes, because it's almost like they are reflecting the leaves. So pretty!

A photo of two beautiful enamel pins by FoxLeap, one is Lion Kings Scar and the other is a blue fox

Anyhow, those are the two new pin badges I got from the fabulous Fox Leap! I am very impressed with the design and overall quality of them, and I loved how nicely packaged they were. The backing-cards were lovely, and I don't know why but I just think it's wonderful when I receive items in paper bags. I guess it subconscious;y reminds me of getting pick'n'mix sweets or something! Is anyone else a sucker for paper bags, or am I just weird? :D

Before I finish up today's post, I just wanted to let you all know more information about the pricing of my new pins. As I said earlier, I got the Be Prepared/Scar one on sale, during which it was only £6.40. It's usually £8, which is a great price for such a brilliant pin, although I love a good bargain, haha! All of Sophie's pins are £8, but you can get yourself a foxy pin from her website for only £6.40 at the moment. The P&P for me in the UK was £1.50, so altogether I paid £7.90, which I was very pleased with. The package arrived pretty quick as well, considering all of the corona-related delays going on. 

I'd love to know which of the pins is your favourite and why, guys! I hope you all enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing about these gorgeous products! I will certainly be shopping from Fox Leap! again in the future. They even have a monthly pin club on Patreon, where, for just approximately £9 a month ($15 for international backers) you can get a pin, a vinyl sticker and a mini print, and I'm so tempted to sign up! A big thanks to Sophie for kindly gifting me the fox pin... I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! I hope you have a wonderful week, everyone! 

Thankyou for reading!


Have you been buying any new pins lately?

Do you have a favourite species of Fox, or Disney character, or both?
Let me know in the comments!

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