Sometimes you plan to take a break, but sometimes life just happens. I had planned to take some time off from my blog to develop my image style and plan some regular features, and hopefully develop a regular schedule to share my thoughts. I had therefore hoped to maybe take a couple of months away… not over a year and a half.
I feel I don’t really need to explain too much of my 2020 absence, a combination of mental health, a global pandemic and the increased pressure of my job (financial aid caused by hardship) all piled on to stop any motivation I had briefly considered after an initially better start to the year.
But 2019 was not a great year for myself and my family. Without going into a great deal of detail, from February 2019 my Dad’s health started to take a turn and he began progressively losing a great deal of weight and his appetite, which in turn starts to impact on a great deal of your life. Despite the amazing work of the NHS, we didn’t get a diagnosis until July, and by August he was an inpatient in the hospital. After a few close scares and a period of time in both critical and intensive care, he underwent open heart surgery and an extensive aftercare plan. Following his release from hospital in October, thankfully his health started to improve.
In January 2020 we had the amazing news that what was thought to be a life limiting illness was in fact a slightly incorrect diagnosis due to some obscure symptoms. So this year briefly looked like it may be off to a good start, until it wasn’t.
We were lucky, and I can only thank the amazing UK NHS for this and everything they did for my Dad. I am aware that many people who could potentially read this will have been through similar events and may have not been so lucky, and to those who presently have ill family members in hospital that they may not be able to visit due to COVID, my deepest thoughts are with you and your loved ones. Alongside my full-time job and daily hospital visits/looking after my Dad, my own mental health took a dive, so anything that wasn’t pressing, didn’t get done.
I am hoping though that I should now have slightly more free time to begin blogging (although I am trying to organise a house move, preferably before October/November of this year). And find somewhere to take pictures with better lighting than my current room.
Well, logically it is about time I started reviewing books again. I have been reading (although at a dip from where I started in January/February of this year), and I also want to include the occasional movie/TV series wrap up. Again, cinema trips have been adversely affected so I haven’t been as efficient at watching films, but I am hoping that once I’ve moved, I can at least make use of Netflix or NOW TV a little more.
Alongside wrap ups, TBRs and reviews, I am also looking into what other features I may want to use, with credit, or create. Right now I will be starting simple, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to look at evolving or improving going forward.
For those who didn’t know, Friday 24th – Sunday 26th July should have been YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention). I have previously been twice, and despite some gripes in relation to accessibility for other attendees and how certain competitions have been run, I have thoroughly loved the event.
I have also typically returned with way too many books, shoulder ache (from carrying books) and some variation of sun burn or a cold. This would have been my third year attending, (which will now be 2021), but thankfully we still got to access some of the great YALC features (such as panels and competitions) online.
Samplers for Bloomsbury, Walker and Usbourne books were made available on Netgalley, so for anyone interested, I would recommend checking them out as soon as possible. (It could also be a way to improve your review ratio). Most of the publishers are also planning to make virtual panels available on YouTube, so definitely check them out if you are interested.
My ARC success was significantly lower this year, (my competition luck is not great, but my ARC with purchase rate is pretty good). Although Walker books did do a physical sampler competition which came with a copy of The Mermaid, The Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (due for release in September 2020). I therefore am definitely looking to read this for review before release day.
Did you ‘attend’ #AtHomeYalc 2020? What did you think?