Interesting Tudor/Stuart Books

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If you know me well, you’ll know that one of my favourite eras of history is the Tudor period, and the Stuarts as well. Recently, I’ve been reading lots of books on those historical times, particularly the famous Kings and Queens. Here is a list of my recommendations if you’re also interested.

These books are in no particular order.

1.

The Tudor Court Novels by Philippa Gregory

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Widowed and alone in the avaricious world of the Tudor court, Katherine has to sidestep her father-in-law’s desire for her and convince him, and an incredulous Europe, that her marriage to Arthur was never consummated, that there is no obstacle to marriage with Henry. For seven years, she endures the treachery of spies, the humiliation of poverty, and intense loneliness and despair while she waits for the inevitable moment when she will step into the role she has prepared for all her life. – from Goodreads.com

Philippa Gregory is perhaps one of the most famous historical novelists. I haven’t read the entirety of the Tudor Court novels, only from Katherine of Aragon to Kateryn Parr, as the series continues onto Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. Although their historical accuracy has been questioned many times, the scandal and political intrigue make these books excellent page turners!

2.

The Tudor Treasury by Elizabeth Norton

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This history begins when the dynasty was secured by the plotting of Margaret, the mother of Henry VII, who returned from exile to take the English throne. In time, a 17-year-old prince was crowned Henry VIII, ushering in a golden era that would gradually darken as the king broke away from Rome to establish the Church of England and dissolve the monasteries. – from Goodreads.com

This non-fiction book was a bargain buy from The Works. I got it for £3 and absolutely loved it. It’s a great resource book, but also if you want to get clued up and read from front to back, it’s not too long and very easy to digest. Everything is simply written to help you absorb the facts of a dynasty that lasted over a hundred years!

3.

The Royal Diaries by Katheryn Laksy

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A series of twenty books published by Scholastic Press from 1999 to 2005. In each of the books, a fictional diary of a real female figure of royalty as a child throughout world history was written by the author. – from Goodreads.com

Elizabeth, Mary, Anne Boleyn, in fact, all of Henry’s six Queens… the list goes on! Katheryn Lasky has written them ALL, which I find completely overwhelming and admirable. These books, in particular, are fantastic for children, as they highlight the day-to-day routine of the era and also inject facts about the Queen’s lives throughout.

4.

Mary, Queen of Scotland and The Isles by Margaret George

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Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles is the story of a woman born to rule a nation — and the glorious pageant of love and tragedy that followed in her wake. Mary’s beauty inspired poetry — yet her birthright engendered hideous treachery and terrible, bloody murder. This novel is Margaret George’s magnificent recreation of the life of one of history’s greatest legends. – from Goodreads.com

This is one of my most recent reads, and certainly the biggest. My copy weighs in at a hefty 880 pages. (Although it’s not quite Les Miserables or War and Peace, both over 1,000 pages). This book chronicles the life of Mary, Queen of Scots from her birth to her death. It’s written so beautifully that you skip through the pages easily, and doesn’t feel as heavy as it looks. It’s a definite must-read for those wanting to know more about Mary’s life.

So these are my recommendations for most interesting Tudor/Stuart novels. Do you have any you’d like to recommend to me? Let me know in the comments!

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Mary, Queen of Scots in Edinburgh

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My trip to Edinburgh in October 2016 was one of my favourite holidays I’ve been on so far. My friends Brendan, Dan and I spent a week in the Scottish capital and had so much fun looking around the city. There was plenty to do for Harry Potter fans but I also wanted to look at the Mary, Queen of Scots sites, as I’m also a huge fan of her era of history. For those of you who also are thinking of travelling to Edinburgh to see the sites of Mary, Queen of Scots, here is my round-up of places to visit.

1.

John Knox House, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh

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(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

One of Mary’s greatest rivals was Protestant minister, who famously opposed Mary’s rule in Scotland, not only because she was a Catholic but also because she was a woman. The house itself tells the story of Knox’s life as you go through the museum, and you have the added knowledge that Knox also lived there for a period of his life. The biggest highlight is the ceiling in his bedroom, which is original.

2.

Holyrood Palace, Horse Wynd, Edinburgh

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(c) Dan Luxton

When Mary returned to Scotland after spending time at French court with her then-husband Francis II of France, she took to Holyrood Palace and married again, this time to her cousin, Henry, Lord Darnley, who also had a claim to the English throne. At Holyrood, you are able to see the chairs which Mary and Darnley sat, their beds and chambers. You can also see the spot where David Rizzio was murdered, which still has a shade of blood-red on the floorboards.

3.

Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh

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(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

Edinburgh Castle is where Mary gave birth to her son James VI, fathered by Darnley. In the castle, you can see Mary’s apartments and the side room where she actually gave birth. You can also see the Scottish crown jewels which are held in the castle. Like most historical landmarks, the castle is open to the public and is a popular tourist attraction.

4.

Linlithgow Castle, Kirkgate, Linlithgow

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(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

Linlithgow is only half an hour from Edinburgh and was where Mary, Queen of Scots was born to James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise. At aged six days old she succeeded her father and became Queen of Scotland. Now, Linlithgow is virtually in ruins. The windows are open to the wind and when we visited the palace had extensive repairs being done to the exterior to keep it open to the public. In the grounds of the castle, there is a statue of Mary to commemorate this area in her history.

Are you fans of Mary, Queen of Scots? Do you want to visit the historical sites of Scotland? Let me know in the comments!

Promises and Wishes: 2017 Edition

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(Me in January and December of this year)

Once again, we find ourselves at the time of year where nostalgia and reflection overcome us! Every year on Christmas Eve, I round-up my yearly achievements and set some goals for the new year. To say I made a tonne of progress is an understatement!

Here’s my list from last year:

  • Learn to drive.
  • Go abroad again.
  • Visit Stonehenge.
  • Write another book.
  • Go and see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child again.

Let’s see how much I achieved:

Learn to drive.

Erm… the less said about that the better.

Go abroad again.

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(Dan, Brendan and Me)

Does going to Scotland count as going abroad? Some might agree, some may not. I didn’t use my passport, let’s just say that. But going to Scotland has definitely satisfied some of my wanderlust and has also given me the travel bug. In fact, Dan, Brendan and I are planning to go away in 2018 as well. We got to see a lot of Harry Potter and Outlander sites as well as some historical ones, particularly to do with Mary, Queen of Scots. (More on that later!)

Visit Stonehenge.

Nope. Didn’t happen.

Write another book.

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Yes. NEARLY. I did CampNaNoWriMo this April and managed to write fifty thousand words of a first draft for a book titled The Elementals. I also re-wrote another draft of my mystery novel Losing Lola. A 100k word count for 2017 ain’t bad!

Go and see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child again.

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Well, yes, Part Two anyway. I had a ticket for Part One but I couldn’t get the time off work, so I could only go and see Part Two, which I loved. Good job I knew what happened in Part One!

So, three out of five! Not too bad in my opinion.

Now, here’s my list for 2018:

  • LEARN TO DRIVE.

I really, really need to get around to doing that. Really, really.

  • USE MY PASSPORT.

As I said, Brendan, Dan and I are thinking about going on holiday again together in 2018, and there are a few European cities on the list so who knows!

  • Get into full-time work.

I’m already working part-time in schools which I’m absolutely loving. Ideally, I’d be looking to move into a full-time teaching assistant position. Let’s keep those fingers crossed.

  • Write another book.

If I could write a book a year. I’d be happy with that. I’m aiming to do NaNoWriMo 2018 and have an idea still developing in my mind, so I’m sure this would be an achievable goal for me.

  • Read 100 books. 

I’ve read 100 books the last two years and I really want to keep this number up, even if I’m going to be trying to get into full-time work. Reading is my greatest passion, and I want to keep my favourite hobby going at all costs!

So, let’s see what 2018 brings! What’s on your bucket list for this year? Let me know in the comments!

Most Anticipated Films of 2018

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2017 was a big year for film, but more about that in a few weeks time. I want to talk about the upcoming films of 2018 that I’m looking forward to seeing.

1.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

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Release Date: 26th January 2018

Young hero Thomas embarks on a mission to find a cure for a deadly disease known as the “Flare”. – from IMDb

Ever since The Scorch Trials adaptation came out, I’ve been waiting and waiting for The Death Cure to drop. Unfortunately, due to the star Dylan O’Brien being injured on set, the release date was pushed back nearly a year! We’ve had a three-year drought since the second movie was released, but now it seems like we finally will be getting the third movie in the franchise! Hurrah!

2.

Avengers: Infinity War

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Release Date: 4th May 2018

The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe. – from IMDb

We have been building up to Avengers: Infinity War for years now. Every Avengers film that gets released, there is some reference or credit scene that pieces the puzzle together for the final showdown for the Avengers. With an all-star cast and most of the characters coming together, this is set to be an amazing film!

3.

Mary, Queen of Scots

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Release Date: 2 November 2018

Mary Stuart’s attempt to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England, finds her condemned to years of imprisonment before facing execution. – from IMDb

As you all know, I love Mary, Queen of Scots (thanks to Reign, tbh) and I’m fascinated by her and her place in history. Reign interpreted Mary’s life very differently to the biography I recently read by Margaret George, so I’m excited to see what take director Josie Rourke has on her life.

4.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

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Release Date: 16th November 2018

The second installment of the ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ series which follows the adventures of Newt Scamander. – from IMDb

I have to preface this selection. I WAS excited about seeing the second Fantastic Beasts movie. Then, I heard that the studio had chosen not to re-cast Johnny Depp in light of his domestic violence against his then-wife Amber Heard. JK Rowling posted a very vague response to his continued involvement in the franchise, and whilst there may be legal injunctions to prevent her from speaking about certain things, the fact remains that Grindelwald had another face (Colin Farrell) for ninety percent of the first Fantastic Beasts film, and it would be easy to re-cast with another actor and write into the script that Grindelwald had changed his face yet again. Contractual obligations can be broken, for example, Kevin Spacey was fired from House of Cards due to sexual abuse. It can be done. Anyway, we’ll see what happens between now and when the film is released. But as of right now. I’m not happy.

5.

Mary Poppins Returns

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Release Date: 25 December 2018

In Depression-era London, a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, along with Michael’s three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Through her unique magical skills, and with the aid of her friend Jack, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives. – from IMDb

The original Mary Poppins film is one of my absolute favourite films of all time. I adore it. It fills me with so much joy, and when Saving Mr. Banks came out a few years ago I loved it even more. Now, Mary Poppins Returns, with Emily Blunt in the title role, (perfect casting by the way), and Lin-Manuel Miranda as a chim-chiminy cheerful chimney sweep, I can’t wait to watch this film next year and have the Mary Poppins legacy live on!

So these are the movies I’m looking forward to in 2018. Are you looking forward to any of these? Or have I missed a few good ones off the list? Let me know in the comments!

Recap: The End of #PLL As We Know It

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Please be aware that there are spoilers for Pretty Little Liars in the post ahead.

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Ever since my last Pretty Little Liars post I have been constantly theorising, ready for the end of the show, which was confirmed to finish after its seventh season. From the first episode, titled Tick Tock Bitches, the PLL train steamed ahead with ten episodes before breaking after the mid-season finale, leaving a string of shocking cliffhangers in its wake.

The beginning of season seven begins with Uber A on the hunt for Charlotte’s murderer, despite Hanna having confessed to killing her and having been kidnapped as a result. Not only are the Liars trying to #SaveHanna, but they’re also trying to figure out who is behind the Uber A game. There has been so much confusion surrounding whom identifies as whom, as Uber A has since been disclosing their texts as AD. There had also been much talk of an Avenger, but this only seems to complicate the matters more. Ever since the Uber A story line was introduced in the second half of season six, everyone has become a suspect, but at the beginning of seasons seven, Alison DiLaurentis was looking particularly shady. Is Ali texting the Liars to avenge her sister’s murder, and believing her friends had something to do with it? Meanwhile everyone in Rosewood is pointing fingers and suspecting Alison as the killer instead. Or is it someone else entirely? Someone completely outside of the Liars’ circle.

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But it’s not too far into the episode that things start getting a little bit strange. Inside the shed, where Hanna had been kidnapped and locked up by Uber A, she is visited in her dream by Spencer who sings her to sleep with the same lullaby that pops up throughout the series Hush Little Baby. Of course, this began to raise suspicions as dream-Spencer was seen without her usual fringe, and that specific lullaby had been previously linked to Mona and Mary Drake, Alison’s aunt and Jessica’s twin sister, leading us to believe that perhaps one of them was posing as Spencer with the help of the masks that have been ever so popular this season.

Mary Drake has been another interesting character that has been introduced this season, but the trouble is, we can’t seem to figure out which side she’s on, and neither can she. First she tortures her niece Alison to insanity, then decides that Elliot Rollins, her co-conspirator and Ali’s husband, has gone too far and withdraws from the revenge plot. Then, after Elliot apparently screws her out of the Carissimi Inheritance that was promised to her, we can’t decide whether or not she’s telling the truth. It seems she’s around to help the Liars, but doesn’t let on how much she knows or what else she’s up to, except that she has recently bought the Lost Woods Resort, which has always been a place of much speculation since the beginning of season one.

As the episodes progress, and the Liars decide to rescue Alison from the clutches of her husband, but the plan to break Alison out of Welby goes dangerously awry. Elliot kidnaps his wife from the institute and drives her into the woods before her friends can get to her. Luckily, their car is followed by the Liars who are able to keep tabs on their whereabouts. When Ali makes a run for it, trying to escape her cruel husband, Hanna runs Elliot over and kills him, and rather than explain the rabbit hole of confusion and lies, the girls decide it’s best to cover up the murder and dig a grave for him in the woods.

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The girls are quite obviously falling back into old habits, and that’s not the only element that has resurfaced. Cue Mona, Queen of all things crazy and dangerous, come to save the day and help the Liars cover up their mistakes. Mona stops the Liars from getting themselves into trouble and helps them stage a narrative that shows Elliot had skipped town, once the news of his shady behaviour comes to light. Mona, time and again, has proved herself useful with her high intelligence and skills she used as the Original A, making sure the Liars stay out of trouble.

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She also found an unlikely accomplice in Caleb, who also has gone to great lengths to keep the girls safe, so when Caleb disappears and days later a sighting of “Elliot Rollins” has been reported, it’s hard not to conclude that he’s masquerading as the sketchy doctor to help fuel the girls’ cover up. There was even a scene that showed Caleb and Mona’s synchonicity, leading fans to wonder whether the two have been going undercover together longer than we thought.

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But it’s not only Mona who has come back from episodes past. One of the fans most loved characters, Jenna, arrives back in Rosewood with Noel Kahn in tow, and their arrival unearths more information about Elliot Rollins, who appears to have stolen the identity to protect who he really is – Archer Dunhill, his initials conveniently being AD, which is the latest pseudonym that Uber A has chosen. The Liars think they have it all figured out, as Jenna is still harbouring some venomous feelings towards the girls, until Jenna and Noel start making friends with the Liars’ long time fr-enemy Sara Harvey, and begin acting even more shady than usual. But when Sara Harvey turns up dead in that bathtub, and who had once been the girls number one suspect, it seems that everyone is running out of ideas as to who could be behind A Mask.

In the sixth episode, the ante was officially upped as the Liars uncovered the bombshell that Mary Drake had a second child whilst she was in Radley, which sent the PLL Army into free fall. To clarify, Mary Drake gave birth to Charles, who was adopted by Jessica and Kenneth DiLaurentis and transitioned when she was sixteen years old. Then Mary had a second child, also with an unknown father, and their identity was paramount to the Uber A story line. I had my own theories as to who the second child could be, and top of my list was always Spencer Hastings, who had a lot of similarities to Mary, and the fact that the DiLaurentis’ and the Hastings’ families had always been so entwined.

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Another character near the top of my list was Lucas Gottesman, who had been playing an important, and yet unseen role in the beginning part of the series. We never really knew too much about Lucas’s family, and he could have been a biological Drake, avenging the death of his birth sister Charlotte, which would give him motive to go after the Liars if he thought they were involved in her murder. Emily and Hanna were staying in Lucas’s apartment, which could easily have been bugged, as like Mona, Lucas managed to use his high intelligence to make millions of dollars. Hanna had even been driving Lucas’s car when she hit Elliot/Archer, and Lucas had also convinced her to go into business with him. Lucas has always been a passionate, if not, intense character with his ties to the A Team from way back in season one and two, and Marlene did confirm that the second half of season seven would come full circle.

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Hanna has also had a difficult season, and raised suspicions when theories of the second child started circulating. Could Hanna have been the second child? Maybe. Her likeness to Alison was very strong, coupled with the fact that Ali told Hanna the story about the evil twin, and her mother Ashley was then visited by the same little girl ghost on Halloween. Hanna’s father Tom had never been that interested in Hanna, and this season Hanna was even kidnapped by AD, so things were beginning to make sense – but it was all one big red herring to throw us off the trail.

The last person to have been accused of being AD and Mary’s second child was Noel Kahn, who had been shady from the moment we met him. Noel’s farther oversaw the adoption of the second child, leading the Liars to believe that it was the Kahn family who adopted the baby. Noel was even involved in the Dollhouse with Charlotte/Cece, after Emily and Spencer found a thumb drive with CCTV footage of the Dollhouse on it. Having said this, even after seven seasons, it’s still unknown as to what Noel Kahn’s role in the PLL End Game is, or what secrets Ali had on him, but at last in the tenth episode titled The DArkest Night, the second child was finally revealed.

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Spencer was confirmed to be Mary’s second child, and Charlotte/Cece’s sibling, seconds after Spencer was shot by Uber A/AD and Mary sung the Hush Little Baby lullaby to her, the same one that was sung to Hanna when she had been kidnapped. In my opinion, it was a little bit obvious that Spencer was Mary’s child, but that might only be because I spent A LOT of time theorising. As I said at the beginning of this post, the mid-season finale dropped a whole load of reveals including the fact that Alison was pregnant and Noel Kahn was killed… decapitated in fact…

So with what we know now, let’s look to the finale ten episodes of season seven, and examine how this crazy story could be tied up. I’m confident that the last ten episodes are going to begin with guns (literally) blazing.

One of my favourite theories so far, the calls back to the original That Night of season one, is that Alison was pregnant when she decided to fake her death and leave Rosewood, and that Beach Hottie was the father. I believe that Beach Hottie was Darren Wilden, which was why he was so interested and invested in her whereabouts, and makes sense why Cece then killed Wilden to stop him going after Alison. With the presence of Eliza, the little Amish girl, I think it should be considered that Eliza is Alison’s daughter, especially so because in the book series of Pretty Little Liars, Wilden’s character is Amish. This plot may have transferred over from the original source material, with Alison seeking shelter with Wilden’s estranged family to take care of the child. This would also tie in nicely as to why Alison was so fearful of seeing the Wilden mask when Elliot and Mary were driving her to insanity.

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I still truly believe that Melissa killed Charlotte for telling Wren about Bethany, but as to who could be Avenging Charlotte, at this point, is something I’m wondering about a lot. I think she also killed Sara Harvey, who was originalling trying to avenge Charlotte’s death. I believe Sara was close to revealing the murderer to the Liars, believing Spencer was in danger as she wasn’t Melissa’s biological sister. Obviously being family is a really strong motive, especially those trying to avenge Charlotte, hence why Mary and the second child (now Spencer) were really high up on the list. Another motive would be Charlotte’s love interest, hence why Elliot Rollins was a suspect, but now that he’s dead, someone else could be taking that role, but who? Wren? Charlotte and Wren have obviously been in contact for far longer than their recent phonecall, revealing Bethany’s killer. And why would Charlotte bother to tell on Melissa to Wren? Was it because she was jealous?

Another favourite theory of mine is that Alison DiLaurentis has been behind the A Game the whole time. From the moment she planned to leave Rosewood up until now, Ali might have been pulling the strings, maybe with Charlotte or not, but I think that would be pretty cool if Freeform can pull it off. Regardless, this coming April all of our questions will be answered and, hopefully, we will finally know everything! Do you have any theories that you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!

25 Facts About Me

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Want to get to know me better? Want to know the facts behind the display picture? Here are twenty five facts about me.

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  1. In 2015, I read roughly 80 books.
  2. I’m left-handed.
  3. I can fold my tongue in half width ways. 1458657629148
  4. I am a Virgo, as are my mother and grandmother. (But I have a Cancer ascendant and a Pisces Midhaven.)
  5. I’m the opposite to Harry Potter. I look exactly like my mother but I have my father’s eyes.
  6. I have double jointed arms. 1458657247989.jpg
  7. My favourite authors are John Green, JK Rowling, Dorothy Koomson, Laurie Halse Anderson and E Lockhart.
  8. I have a record player, and I love to listen to my parent’s old LPs.
  9. My favourite era of history is the Tudor dynasty.
  10. I love scented candles, some of my favourites are cinnamon and caramel.
  11. I queued up at midnight to get my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
  12. I am an avid fan of musicals. Favourites include, Billy Elliot, Wicked, Jersey Boys, Legally Blonde, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, RENT, Sweeney Todd, and more.
  13. I am a published poet, and have been published in print and online.
  14. I love a band called The Maine and I am a huge fan of Paramore and Fleetwood Mac.
  15. I have a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Winchester.
  16. I wear glasses full time.
  17. I have written a novel titled The Last Four Years.
  18. I have two tattoos.
  19. I have visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, FL and the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford.
  20. I love journaling and scrapbooking.
  21. I have three piercings. My nose, my ear lobes and my labret.
  22. I am a Hufflepuff and a Ravenclaw. A Huffleclaw.
  23. I am a stationary fiend!
  24. I can play the drums and the piano to a basic level.
  25. I love to highlight, write in, deface and dog-ear my books. I say they’re well loved.

Hope you enjoyed these facts about me and let me know down in the comments if you want to see more.