Currently, I Am… | #10

Hi, friends! Ah, I’ve missed you. It’s been almost a whole month since I’ve shown my face on my lovely little blog, but it’s definitely been well deserved. The first few weeks of 2017 were filled with coursework and university deadlines, so The Rose Quartz had to take a bit of a backseat. Don’t worry though, I thought about you every day!

After that, I had a few days of beautiful nothingness and relaxation with Matthew, before me, him, his brother and his girlfriend went off for a 4-day bender to Butlins for the Giants of Rock festival. That, I tell you, was flipping fantastic and I’ll be talking a lot more about that the next time I’m around! We saw some incredible bands and some really impressive musicians – it was mind blowing, really. As well as enjoying lots of music, the nearby beach was just beautiful. We spent a lot of time walking around and taking pictures – you know what I’m like.

Butlins Minehead

My “Currently, I Am” series is always a great post for when I return from a pretty long break. I haven’t posted one of these since November, just after Trump managed to find his way into an incredible, ridiculous position of power. Coincidentally, this one comes just after his inauguration and the reinforcement that his new found power is taking America down a horribly familiar, slippery slope.

Anyway, let’s not talk politics. Let’s have a bit of a catch up!

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Currently, I am feeling

…oh, well, a lot of different feelings actually. I’m gunna quickly take you through them, otherwise this could go on for a very long time. I’m feeling excited and nervous about my wedding day – I get married in November and there’s a lot of exciting plans to be made! I’m feeling anxious, unprepared and lost with regards to my future career prospects – I’m graduating in the summer, with no passion for my degree or field of work in any way. I’m feeling tired, because sleep is alluding me – that’s probably because of all these FEELS.

Dan Feels Gif

Currently, I am watching

…Daredevil S2. We recently finished Jessica Jones too, which was unbelievable. Kilgrave is one of my all time favourite villains! He’s easily Marvel’s best on-screen baddie. His ability to manipulate people, simply by talking to them, is a really clever way of avoiding “not-another-fight-scene”. Daredevil is also picking up. The first season started off incredibly dull, picking up towards the end. The second season started a little slow too actually, but it quickly sorted itself out and now me and Matthew are both really enjoying it.

Since my last catch up post, Westworld finished too. That was one of the best bits of television I’ve ever seen. Highly, highly recommend.

Currently, I am reading

…The Great Gatsby. Can you believe I’ve never read it? I also recently read Tim Burton’s The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories which was a super interesting and super quick read. It’s worth it though. The title story was one of the longer short stories/poems in the collection and it actually made me feel pretty sad. Poor, Oyster Boy.

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How have you been? What have you been up to recently?

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You can read my previous post here.

Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills

My Year in Review #2/3 | Books and Films

Last year, during my first installment of ‘my year in review’, I was going through a huge book dragon phase. I spent a lot of free time with a book in hand, a cup of tea in the other and a kitten on my lap – as you can imagine, those were delightful months.

This year, I only read 5 books… I know I shouldn’t be, because I had way more important things going on, but I’m pretty embarrassed about it! I absolutely love reading and I would consider myself pretty well read, but 5 books!? Outrageous (okay, not that far, but you catch my drift). So, instead of simply having a look back on what I read, I’m going to briefly review my year through film and books.

My Year in Review 2016 TV Film and Books

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Books:

What books did I read in 2016?

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
  • Fear of Falling by S.L. Jennings
  • The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Random Riggs

My favourite read:

This is really tough. On my Goodreads, I gave The Sense of an Ending, The Girl with all the Gifts and Miss Peregrine’s House for Peculiar Children all 5/5 stars. They were absolutely incredible, completely unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

The Sense of an Ending left me speechless for a very long time. It made me think about life, time and mostly about memory – it’s not something you consider a lot, but our memories are very fragile and can quite easily be manipulated by time. The Girl with all the Gifts was one of the best books I’ve ever read and it left me completely in awe of the author’s talent. It was ridiculously clever – a lot of real-life science was kind of flipped on it’s side to create the whole “what if?” With a completely unexpected final twist, I would read this again in a heartbeat. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was really wonderful too. It was on my to-read list for a very long time and it did not disappoint. The characters and the use of time were definitely highlights for me. I didn’t actually know it was part of a series, but there you go! I can’t wait to read the sequel.

Fear of Falling was a bit of fun, a bit of trashy writing but enjoyable. You know the type. However, I was a little disappointment with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I think I read it when I was very, very young so I counted my recent read of the book as my first time. It was not how I remembered it at all. I’m completely invested and in love with Lewis Carroll’s universe and everything Alice related will be forever loved, but the book itself left me a little deflated. Of course, Carroll’s writing and whimsy is absolutely beautiful, I just wanted more.

Full book reviews: 

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Film:

Total number of new films watched: 26 (half of which were watched over the Christmas period!)

Highest rated films: 

  • X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
  • Chicago (2002)
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016)
  • Skyfall (2012)

Lowest rated films: 

Sausage Party (2016) – This was one of the worst films that I have ever seen. It was stupid and not remotely funny. I kid you not there was a full on animated food orgy to end this disaster of a film. Just… what…

Suicide Squad (2016) – So much potential, yet such a disappointment. The director could quite easily have been replaced with an A-level film student with a handout of $175,000,000 and the differences would be minimal.

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Special mention: HBO’s Westworld (2016) was one of the most extraordinary pieces of television I’ve ever seen. I’m finding it hard to put the series into words, so I highly recommend any sci-fi fans to just watch it. You will not be disappointed.

Considering the year I had, that’s a pretty good haul of books and films! I read some absolutely incredible novels and I even reignited my huge (and pretty sentimental) love for film. That sounds like a good thing to me.

What was the best book you read this year? Did you watch any great films?

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You can read my previous post here.

Currently, I Am… | #9

Being back at university is weird! I feel like I have both no free time and lots of free time, you know? As illogical as that sounds, it’s pretty accurate. Yes, I could technically stay in my pyjamas all day and play games, but as a final year student that’s not going to lead to good grades or any sort of rise in self-confidence. I’ve been staying late at university a lot recently, hence the lack of attention I’ve been giving my beloved blog. Once I’m home, sitting in front of another computer screen has been one of the last things on my mind. As you can imagine, a computer science degree involves a lot of screen time.

Anyway, hi friends! Let’s have a bit of a catch up.

Currently, I Am Catch-Up

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Currently, I am feeling

…lots of things, which is generally a good thing! I’m feeling busy and a bit stressed but that’s nothing I can’t handle. I had a wonderful birthday weekend, I’ve had some great marks in my university work from this semester and me and Matt are in full-on wedding planning mode! So, despite the stress, I have lots of good stuff going on.

On the other hand, there’s this giant black cloud hovering above me. The recent news, the terrible news, that Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States rattled me to the core. It’s terrifying that this joke of a human being – this monster, racist, homophobic, sexist, rapist – could possibly be granted any sort of power. Yet, here he is. Stay safe.

Currently, I am watching

…well, I’m in the middle of watching quite a few things at the moment, but they all got left behind! Me and Matt started Stranger Things, which we were loving, but after maybe three episodes we got distracted and busy. When Westworld aired, we super excitedly started watching that too. Then, we got busy again… We’ll catch up eventually, I promise.

Currently, I am playing

…Skyrim! I recently bought Skyrim remastered for the Xbox One. It’s my favourite PC game of all time, so having the chance to play it on an updated console with achievements is just a no-brainer. It’s fantastic, obviously.

Currently, I am excited for

…the first thing that comes to mind, our wedding. I’ll be covering this in a post of its own some time soon, but me and Matt recently set our date, booked the venue and put down a deposit. It’s our dream venue. I’m also pretty excited for Christmas, obviously. I’ll be putting the Christmas tree up soon!

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So, what are you most excited for? Do you have any good news?

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You can read my previous post here.

What Should You Read This Halloween?

Whether you like it or not, the shops are already plastered with Halloween decorations, costumes and countless different types of Trick or Treat sweets. Soon enough, all television stations will be showing something spooky too – it’s pretty hard to avoid.

You gotta believe me here, it’s practically impossible to ignore. I spent 20 years of my life trying to avoid anything that was Halloween related. I never dressed up. I didn’t watch scary TV shows. I didn’t go Trick or Treating. Most years, I just used to head up to my bedroom and put nice, happy movies on so things like The Exorcist didn’t accidentally start playing straight after something I was watching. This happened to me once and I never, ever recovered!

This year, although I’m still a massive scaredy cat, I’m trying to embrace Halloween. I still don’t think it’s a holiday with a point, but if I can dress up in costume, wear face-paint and bake spooky looking treats then sign me up.

Guess what!? I’m even going to a Halloween party!

What Should You Read This Halloween?

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On top of all that jazz, I’m going to step up my reading game and create a themed book list – the theme, Halloween. How did you guess?

Here are six books that I think would be perfect for a Halloween read:

Misery by Stephen King:

“Paul Sheldon. He’s a bestselling novelist who has finally met his biggest fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes and she is more than a rabid reader – she is Paul’s nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident. But she is also his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house.”

The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey:

“Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her ‘our little genius.’

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh. Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

The Girl with All the Gifts is a sensational thriller, perfect for fans of Stephen King, Justin Cronin, and Neil Gaiman.”

You can read my review of The Girl With All The Gifts here.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley:

“At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.”

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories by Tim Burton:

“From breathtaking stop-action animation to bittersweet modern fairy tales, filmmaker Tim Burton has become known for his unique visual brilliance – witty and macabre at once. Now he gives birth to a cast of gruesomely sympathetic children – misunderstood outcasts who struggle to find love and belonging in their cruel, cruel worlds.

His lovingly lurid illustrations evoke both the sweetness and the tragedy of these dark yet simple beings – hopeful, hapless heroes who appeal to the ugly outsider in all of us, and let us laugh at a world we have long left behind (mostly anyway).”

Dracula by Bram Stoker:

“The aristocratic vampire that haunts the Transylvanian countryside has captivated readers’ imaginations since it was first published in 1897. Hindle asserts that Dracula depicts an embattled man’s struggle to recover his “deepest sense of himself as a man”, making it the “ultimate terror myth”.”

The Completely Tales of Edgar Allen Poe by Edgar Allan Poe:

This single volume brings together all of Poe’s stories and poems, and illuminates the diverse and multifaceted genius of one of the greatest and most influential figures in American literary history.

The Raven:No poem has ever received the kind of immediate and overwhelming response that Poe’s “The Raven” did when it first appeared in the New York Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845. It made Poe an overnight sensation (though his great fame never brought him much wealth) and the poem, a powerfully haunting elegy to lost love, remains one of the most beloved and recognizable verses in the English language.

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Will you be reading anything over Halloween this year?

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You can read my previous post here.

-Morgan

Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills

How Technology Has Changed the Way We Enjoy Books

As a massive fan of both books and technology, the physical versus digital debate is something I always consider before starting a new book. Generally, I have a physical and a digital copy of the books I read, so which one do I choose? For me, that depends on what I plan on doing! If I’m planning to travel a lot, then a digital copy will be way handier – I can open up the Kindle app on my phone and it takes up no extra space. If I’m cosy at home, then I’ll always read a physical copy. There’s nothing like it.

Cassie, who writes at Cultural Coverage, has written and shared a guest post which delves deeper into how technology has changed the way we enjoy books. With us both sharing a love for technology, entertainment and all things books, it’s a pleasure to have Cassie on the blog!

How Technology Has Changed the Way We Enjoy Books

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Aside from the obvious screen time versus page time, there are major ways book lovers benefit from how the technology age has transformed the written word.

From tablets to apps, there are more ways than ever to make books enjoyable, and armed with a little tech advancement and a few tools, these five points are sure to convert even a hard-copy-only reader into a digital lover.

  1. A Variety of E-readers Means a Choice of Features

The world went wild when Amazon’s Kindle released. Would this be the end of hardcover books? Are our eyes going to suffer from all the screen time? Is it really possible to download whatever we want to read instantaneously?

While the answers didn’t upend the publishing world completely, they did change things. Now instant access to literature is possible, our eyes have learned to adjust, and there are still plenty of hardcovers out there for the masses. E-readers have branched out considerably. Some are waterproof, such as the B&N Nook GlowLight Plus. Some are incredibly lightweight and easy to travel with, such as the Amazon Kindle Oasis. Others have new features like ad-free reading, integrated lights and a streamlined design.

  1. Indie Writers Get Exposure

The internet and all its book lovers have really made the indie writer huge in the last twenty years. From chapter-by-chapter writers such as Hugh Howey and his book “Wool” to global best-sellers such as E.L. James and “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the day of the publishing-house-only rule is long gone. Now writers can self-publish online, and readers can discover them even if they’ve never signed a book deal.

Websites such as Blurb help writers of travel, cookbooks and even magazines self-publish and then provide the books for sale on their site in the staff picks section. Blogosphere platforms such as Tumblr and Reddit are also great places to discover the next up-and-coming talent, all for free.

  1. Audiobooks Offer More Entertainment

While the audiobook is nothing new—CDs and cassettes have long been in rotation—they have become more convenient and accessible. From Audible to Amazon, there are a million choices for readers who are looking to listen their way through the next great classic.

Not only do the voiceovers offer endless entertainment—Harry Potter is even more popular since Jim Dale took to reading the series—they can also enthrall readers who are commuting or who are too tired to stare at a page by giving them new ways to become a part of the story.

  1. Apps and Online Tools Enhance the Reading Experience

New tools also help to discover new books and authors, keep track of old books and transfer downloads from one device to the next, so here’s the shortlist of must-haves for the avid book lover.

  • Goodreads: It’s all in the title. This huge online resource for book reviews is number one in letting you express your opinion on your last read and get started with your next one.
  • Shelfie: This app works like an online library where you can organize books you have and even download free (or reduced price) e-books to carry around in your pocket.
  • Scribd: Scribd is for the reader who is spending more than $10 a month on new reads. At $8.99 a month, the app has over a million titles to choose from and unlimited access to them. It’s perfect for on-the-go readers and digital nomads.
  • Camp NaNoWriMo: This online program is great for not just book lovers but writers as well. The name “camp” harkens back to childhood summers, and this online guide to getting your first work into print offers the same kind of fun with daily writing goals. Well-paced and full of resources, Camp NanoWriMo is the go-to for budding novelists.
  • ExpressVPN: A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is great for readers who love their devices and download e-books a lot. From protecting your reading device—be it tablet or e-reader—from security breaches to allowing you to navigate international texts even if they have a geo-location block, VPNs like ExpressVPN are the perfect aid to any online reader.
  1. Free Books Mean Greater Accessibility

It’s no secret the book industry is an expensive one, but since websites have discovered the beauty of self-publishing and the end of copyright, many books are available to the masses completely free of charge.

Websites such as Project Gutenberg provide free e-books for download, and Google Books provides titles on their website e-reader free of charge (with the added help of Google Play, where those inclined can peruse their buyable titles), which means you can get going on a new book without a visit to the library (although I still encourage you to do that!).

From great applications that organize books we’ve read to devices that allow us to take whole libraries on the go, technology has had a major impact on the way we read, and the good news is it means great reads aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. So tech up, and go consume great works of art!


About the author: Cassie is a self-diagnosed bibliophile and tech guru always on the search for ways to get written words out into the world and especially into her ear. Working on a novel of her own, she hopes one day to publish and join the ranks of the great like Twain, Gaiman and Morrison. She wishes you happy reading!

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What do you think? Do you prefer physical or digital copies? Either way, there’s no denying that technology has absolutely revolutionised the way we enjoy books.

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You can read my previous post here.

-Morgan

Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills

101 Things in 1001 Days Update

It’s been just over a year since I first took on the 101 Things in 1001 Days challenge. I was inspired to do this after having a bit of a ‘bucket list’ nosey on the Day Zero Project’s website. After trawling through wonderful things I’d love to accomplish, I craved a way to document it all. Because I’d just started a wee blog, I thought that would be the perfect way to do so. I was so pleased. A year later, I still am.

The 101 Things in 1001 Days challenge motivates me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. If I’m at a loss on a weekend, unsure of what to do, I’ll have a look through my list and aim to tick one of the items off. I do this a lot! I may have spent the entire Sunday afternoon watching rubbish TV and re-runs of friends but, instead, I’d end up working on a new Pinterest craft project or baking a cake.

101 Things in 1001 Days Update

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It’s been a while since I posted any progress on the challenge. My last update was in February and it’s been slow and steady since then.

So, let’s break down what I’ve managed to tick off in the past 6 months!

Read a Comic Book or Graphic Novel:

After eagerly awaiting the release of the new Torchwood comic book, I quickly snapped one up. I was really, really looking forward to reading my first comic book and because it’s the start of a new series I knew I wouldn’t be jumping into an already established story. I’m a massive Torchwood nerd too (give us season 5, please!) so you can only imagine how excited I was.

Simply put, I didn’t like it. It took me about 2 minutes to read. I got to the end and was just like “is that it?” Sure, the story was intriguing and I’d be inclined to see where it goes but each issue is £4! I can’t see any value for money there. At least I managed to tick something off my list.

I think I’d probably enjoy graphic novels more than comic books. I’ll try one of those next.

Film:

Me and Matt have watched a few films since my last update, but nowhere near the amount I would of liked. We saw “Love, Rosie”, “Inglourious Basterds” and “The Great Gatsby” – all three of them earned themselves a solid 7/10 stars (as an average of mine and Matthew’s score, anyway). We also watched the final part of The Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay Part Two, and rated that an 8.5/10. It was a great adaptation.

Katniss Everdeen

Professionally Cut and Coloured Hair:

My red hair is long gone and I’m now a very happy brunette. I absolutely love my brown hair. It was the first time I’d ever had my hair professionally coloured and it was a disaster! I had to fix it myself with a £2 home box dye. It looked so much better with a home colour than it did at the hairdressers. I know, I was shocked too. So was my bank balance.

Finish My Mandala Wall Art:

This project is one of my favourite accomplishments from the 101 Things in 1001 Days so far. I spent a lot of time working on this and I’m absolutely over the moon with the results. Once me and Matt decided to decorate our bedroom, I thought it would be a nice touch to hang something of my own on the walls. To highlight the theme of our newly decorated room, I chose mandalas.

I think they’re beautiful. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being proud of them! The effort, time and detail I put into these will be a lasting memory, for sure.

Finished Mandala Wall Art DIY

Go on a Hike:

This was another wonderful thing to tick off my challenge. Although it fell on a pretty sad day, me and Matt had such a lovely time in Keswick. We hiked 9 miles around one of the lakes and, as you can imagine, the views were stunning. I’ll never forget them.

Books:

In the last 6 months, I read 3 books. Ouch. That’s terrible. I also started another 2 books but I didn’t manage to finish them. It would coincidentally fall across a hard time or a terrible day at work and I’d just lose all love for it. Luckily, I’m on the right side of that dark patch in my life and I hope to see the back of it completely in the future!

I read “The Sense of an Ending“, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “The Girl With All The Gifts“. I also reviewed all three, so I’ve linked their reviews just in case you’d like a read! If I had to choose, I think The Girl With All The Gifts was my favourite.

Exciting news! I started reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child last night too. I’m a little bit in love, so I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m sure I’ll adore it.

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I hope you liked this post, because I did! Writing “catch-up” posts like this is such a great way to recognise all of the amazing stuff you’ve been up to.

What amazing things have you done in the last 6 months or so?

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You can read my previous post here.

-Morgan

Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills

June

Considering June is pretty much the epitome of summer, it’s been such a rainy month. I’m a little disappointed I couldn’t get my tan on (okay, I lie, I just burn…), but I’ve honestly been too busy to even think about doing anything in the hypothetical sun! It kind of worked out for the best though – the closest I’ve had to a weather related disaster is my daily trip to the bus stop on my way home from work. Will I get caught in the rain? Is that a storm? Hail?

Anyway, enough about the weather. June’s been okay! It started off brilliantly but got worse and worse before crashing to an absolute monster of a day today. I’m definitely glad to see the back of this month, that’s for sure. July is bringing me lots of exciting things to do (including local holidays, graduation, birthdays) so I’m going to put this month behind me and just carry on!

On the bright(er) side, my blog picked up a lot this month. The first half of the year was a bit tough for me, and my blog definitely suffered but I feel like that’s finally taking a back seat. I’m loving the interaction that I get from you guys – I really hope you know how much your likes, comments and love means to me. It makes this blog so much more special.

June Monthly Catch-Up

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So, what did I get up to in June? (If you missed last month’s monthly catch-up, you can find it here):

PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENTS AND MEMORABLE MOMENTS:

  • Me and Matt had a lovely day out with my parents at the beginning of June. We went to the seaside for patty and chips and then went for an amazing ice-cream at Mr Moos.
  • I upgraded my mobile phone! I’m now the happy owner of a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and it’s amazing.
  • I had my first ever blood test and I was super brave. Seriously, I’m still super proud about that.
  • Me, Matt and his family went up to Keswick in the Lake District. On the 1st anniversary of his dad’s sudden death, we spread his ashes in one of his favourite spots.
  • Britain voted to leave the EU. What a horrible, horrible day that was. Honestly, I’m nervous as fuck about the future.
  • Matt got his results from university, and will be graduation with a 2:1! I’m so proud. He called his graduation robes a “dress” last week and properly made me giggle.

ENTERTAINMENT:

  • Me and Matt started watching Love Island – we both loved last year’s series so we thought we’d give it another go. We missed an episode a few weeks ago and never managed to catch-up though… oops.
  • I’m still loving Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. I don’t see that changing any time soon!
  • Me and Matt started and finished the new season of Orange Is The New Black this month. It was a fantastic season, way better than season 3. I’m overly looking forward to the next season though because they left it on an insane cliffhanger!
  • I read two absolutely amazing books this month: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes and The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R Carey.
  • Game of Thrones finale. Seriously. Wow. The two final episodes are, without a doubt, two of the best episodes of television I’ve ever watched. Incredible.

BLOG:

I’ve loved so many of this month’s posts! What a great month for my blog.

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How was June for you? What was your favourite moment?

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You can read my previous post here.

-Morgan

Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills