Blog Goals

| Twitter |

Current: 654 followers

Goal:  2000 followers

Anyone else feel like a bad blogger when they miss Twitter chats? Every single time I turn up about 40 minutes too late because I’ve forgotten again but hopefully this year I will push myself to use Twitter more.

| Instagram |

Current: 490 followers

Goal: 1500 followers

For someone who used to post daily on my personal during high school, my posting is appalling on my blog Instagram. The appalling engagement probably is not helping but I aim to post more consistently at least!

| Bloglovin |

Current: 147 followers

Goal: 1000 followers

There’s not much I can do for Bloglovin, although I’m sure posting bigger and better content wouldn’t hurt. I also want to start using Bloglovin as a way to read more blogs as I’ve really fallen behind this year.

| Pinterest |

Current: 81 followers

Goal: 500 followers

I should probably start using Pinterest as a viable option for Uptown Oracle. I pin a lot of inspiration photos for my photography (not for my blog though) but I rarely post images from my blog. I might start making Pinterest worthy images for each post? If anyone has any tips for Pinterest or blog post’s please link them in the comments!

| Facebook |

Current: 25 followers

Goal: 500 followers

Has anyone had much success with Facebook without purchasing promotions? I feel like I’m running a lost race here, but maybe this year I’ll be able to improve my feed and encourage more followers.

| YouTube |

Current: 18 followers

Goal: 500 followers

I did start my channel this year, and I did post one video but I disliked it so much I decided to start over in the New Year.

Reading Goals

Read 100 Books – This was the same goal I set myself last year on GoodReads and since I only just made it, I decided that I should keep it the same for 2018.

Keep a reading spreadsheet  – I’ve already set my spreadsheet up ready to start on the 1st January! This will give me one place to include all my book info and my quick positives and negatives. I’ve included the genre’s, publisher, page count etc because I want to create stats next year about what I’m reading.

Read more diversely – The spreadsheet idea led me onto reading more diversely. I’ve added columns for whether there’s POC and whether it has LGBT rep within. I’ve also added what country the author is from as I think reading books outside of UK and US authors is important.

Read more ARCS on time – I have a bad habit of requesting too many e-arcs from Netgalley and Edelweiss, and then there’s too many to read in a short space of time. I’ve set myself up so I’m reading books well before their publication date so I can review on time.

Read a graphic novel each month – Even when I’ve been doing my monthly release posts, I’ve forgotten about graphic novels and comics. This isn’t because I don’t like them (because I do!) but it’s just not been a priority. I’ve decided to aim to read one per month, and also add them into my monthly book release posts!

Personal Goals

Finish up my internship – After 6 months working at EA I am loving it. But I do need to finish in July and I plan on working just as hard until the end to prove that I can do this.

Start off final year of university with good grades – I need to put a bit more effort into my university work when I go back for final year. I really do want to aim for a 1st but if it’s anything like 2nd year I might struggle a bit.

Write every day – whether it’s for a specific blog post or just about different ideas I plan on writing everyday. I have notebooks, my phone and my laptop and no excuse not to sit down and write for 20 minutes!

Save for a house deposit – I already have a Help to Buy ISA but I want to save as much money as possible so I can afford a house when I want to buy. This means saving as much as my paycheck before I go back for my final year of uni.

 

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Catarina Agatta is an all round gene-hacking genius. Her father Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist, was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own. Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has died and also brings a message: before he died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

This Mortal Coil (This Mortal Coil #1)

The world building and explanations about the virus and apocalyptic events were really unique to this story. I felt that the people with the virus detonating to spread it was something I’d never read about before. Also, there’s a backwards cannibalistic element for people to become immune to the zombie like virus. This was really out of nowhere, and I was excited to keep reading the book because of it.

Unfortunately, my excitement was marred by too much focus on romance and use of tropes. There were tropes upon cliches upon tropes throughout the book. There’s the male soldier and female rebel romance. There’s an unnecessary love triangle which was highly predictable. The ‘good guys’ end up seeming not as good as we first thought. Even the lead up to the romance seemed to recycle old cliches from other YA books.

Luckily, after all the tropes and romance there is a good plot line and some really interesting twists. Some of them I saw coming, some of them I did not. I was really excited at these times and was fully absorbed into reading. I thin Suvada has done really well at mapping out the story and what the main plot points are. I just think she’s tried to fill too much of the middle with romance elements which don’t lend to the plot. The relationship between characters could have stayed platonic and it would have had the same end goal.

None of the characters really stood out to me. I think this is because the main characters all seem to be from Cat’s perspective and she herself isn’t sure on the people she’s around. With both Dax and Cole she seems to switch between argumentative and friendly very quickly between chapters.

This will be part of a trilogy, which does make me slightly interested. I would like to know how Suvada would actually extend this over two books, but I don’t think I could carry on reading about the romance.

Positives:

+ Creative and unique apocalypse story – the Wrath and the way the virus spreads in particular.

+ Interesting and I didn’t see it coming plot twist.

+ Good world building.

Negatives:

– Predictable love triangle.

– Male soldier and rebel girl romance cliche

– Felt like it borrowed heavily from other books at times.

 

I received This Mortal Coil* by Emily Suvada from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an unbiased and honest review.

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It’s that time of year when we have 5 million celebratory events to go to, presents to buy, trains to catch and friends and family to meet up with. Of course, this is often a festive and happy time of year, but sometimes it can get quite stressful. Have you bought everyone’s presents? Can you afford these presents? Will the train home be delayed or cancelled? Do you have time to pack? Will everyone in my family ask me why I’m single? Will I be able to cook a whole dinner for the whole family? and so on… Overall, the happiness of Christmas can often bring some stress and not much time to deal with it. Here’s some tips to prevent and help stress:

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Get Organised

Creating to-do lists and organising things well will alleviate symptoms of stress. Making lists and checking them off will make sure you know what’s been done and what hasn’t. This will also stop you panicking if you can’t remember what you have left to do.

Budget

One of the biggest stress causers is the excess spend of the holidays. Before you go crazy buying everyone presents, make a list of who you need to buy for, and set yourself a set budget to buy all of them. Also, use the internet to find cheaper prices to fit into your budget.

Moderation is Key

Although everyone loves to stuff themselves over Christmas, remember to still aim for a healthy balanced diet. Eating those chocolates in moderation will help you not feel so sluggish on the 27th. Also, eating healthy leading up to after Christmas will mean you won’t feel as guilty after eating too much on Christmas day.

Get Enough Sleep

The multiple late nights due to meeting up with friends, family and co-workers, not to mention the sleepless night of Christmas Eve can increase your stress levels. Increased stress levels can also disrupt the sleep you do get which leads you into a cycle of being tired. Try to relax as much as possible before bed, and stay away from technology to try and get the best sleep possible when you’re not having late nights.

Learn to Say No

Prioritising your tasks running up to the holidays is important. Saying no and delegating to others is an important part to help you prevent stress. You can’t take on everything this Christmas, so if you have all your family round, ask them to bring some food so you’re not panicking while trying to cook everything.

Keep Active

Keeping active over the winter break is important. Even though it’s much colder and you’ve been overindulging in food, getting your heart rate up is important to keep healthy and reduce stress hormones.

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As the nights get colder and darker it’s time to get cosy and festive. Decorating isn’t just about Christmas trees, fairy-lights and tinsel (although these are wonderful) but re-decorating your bedroom helps to transition you into the colder weather as well. Being unhappy with how your room looks will always make you feel slightly unhappy when you’re looking at it. I know I always feel slightly resentful about the couch in my flat (I rent a furnished flat). Therefore regularly updating your rooms with extras you can change will make you feel happier in the long run.

Bedding

First things first is your bed itself. As the nights start to get colder it is a good idea to get a duvet with a higher tog. You can purchase a new duvet fairly cheaply from Primark or Argos if like me you will be moving house a lot. (I’ve moved 6 times in the past 2 years, and often it’s a struggle to pack everything into the car. My move down to Guildford was without a duvet at all and I had to buy one from Primark!) You could also pay a bit more if you know you will keep it longer and want it to last, or if you want a luxury duvet that contains anti-allergenic properties or is filled with down.

What you have on your duvet is also any important choice. You could go all out festive and bright for Christmas to get into the spirit. You could get Christmassy but still stick to more neutral greys and whites which goes with the rest of your room. Or you could forgo festive decor completely and just go for brighter patterns to lift your mood in the dreary months ahead.

Cushions and Throws

 
     
   

Who doesn’t love piling up loads of cushions on your bed to just fall into? Decoration for your bed can also make your room look cosier and will give you an excuse to crawl into bed to keep warm. You can also get a selection of holiday themed cushions to go along with your christmas decorations! Don’t forget that you can buy just the covers and change them over instead of taking up extra room with more cushions. You wan’t to be cosy, not cluttered as this can cause stress.

Throws are also great to keep you warm and to make you bed look good. I use one of my throws as a blanket in the colder months as my room can get really cold. I also use an electric blanket under my bed sheet to make sure I don’t feel cold while sleeping. I have a second throw over on my couch as well to one cover it up a little and two so if I get cold I can pull it over myself.

Curtains

In order to get more sunlight during the winter, I would recommend putting up some lighter fabric curtains. This will help with SAD as you will start to get some sunlight as soon as the sun rises, it will also (hopefully) help you wake up better as you will see the sun first thing. You can purchase cheaper eyelet curtains that don’t break the bank from Yorkshire Linen’s Range. Eyelet curtains are easy to change over as the seasons change.

 

Who else is re-decorating before Christmas?

 

* This post was sponsored by Yorkshire Linen and contains affiliate links.

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Although the holiday season is a wonderful time of year, a lot of people feel a lot less jolly than expected around this time of year. I know that as soon as the days start getting shorter and I’m walking home in the dark everyday that I’m feeling a lot moodier, unhappier and just not quite myself. This is often an indication of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Fortunately these are mild symptoms and I can function normally in my job and personal life. Unfortunately, 3% of the UK population suffer will full symptoms which affects their everyday lives drastically and affects everyday functions. Whereas 20% of the UK have mild symptoms which often go undiagnosed.

Symptoms of SAD

  • A constant low mood
  • Depression
  • Sleeping too much and experiencing fatigue
  • Gaining weight and food cravings
  • Decreased interest in social and everyday activities

What causes the Winter Blues?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD and the Winter Blues often occurs just as we start to run into the beginning of winter. As the days go shorter we often lack the natural sun light we are used to from the Summer months.

This is said to affect three different things in the body. First is the production of melatonin which is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy. This production is increased with less sunlight. The second is the production of serotonin lowers. This is the hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep and is also a main hormone that is affected during depression. The last thing is your circadian rhythms or your body clock which also affects your sleeping and eating habits.

How do you beat the winter blues?

One of the big factors to try and beat SAD is to get as much light as you can while you can. Get natural light by trying to fit in morning walks or get out of the office at lunch time before it gets dark. You can also try light therapy*. Often your doctor will let you know if you need one, and there’s different types and brightness levels for them.

Changing up your diet can also help. Although eating a healthy and balanced diet all year round is important, you need to think a bit more about which foods will help increase your mood in winter. Eating more good carbs such as whole fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds etc. will help combat the carb cravings often associated with SAD. Mood boosting foods are also important. Most fish has an abundance of lean proteins, omega 3, vitamin B-12 and vitamin D all of which help boost your mood. Other foods that include these will also help. If you struggle to incorporate some ingredients into your diet then supplements may also help. Both vitamin D and fish oil supplements can help.

Regular exercise, whether it’s a brisk walk or a full gym session will help to reduce symptoms of depression. The endorphin released alongside being outside helps to increase your overall mood as well as positively impact your health. The best time to go for a run, walk or hike would be while it’s still light although you’ll still get some benefits if you only have time in the evenings.

Becoming mindful and meditation can help to lift your mood. Being mindful that you’re feeling moodier and less like yourself means you can immediately take action to make yourself feel better. Meditation itself is said to release serotonin and melatonin which helps boost your mood and are two of the main hormones affected by SAD.

Ensure that self care is a priority. When you’re affected by SAD, it’s often difficult to do normal everyday things such as cooking food, sleeping on time, staying awake in the day etc. Forcing yourself to do these things will help you to not fall into a cycle of poor self care and being depressed.

Another thing is to keep in touch with friends and family. Talking to people and taking part in social activities will help you to not feel so alone. Whether you talk over how you feel or not, being around someone you trust will often boost your mood anyway.

And of course, if you’re feeling really rough, it’s always okay to go to the doctors.  They will be able to give you medical advice and prescriptions if needed and will give you a lot better advice than what you can find on the internet.

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