HELLO TWENTY EIGHTEEN | CHALLENGES AND BLOGGING PLANS

It takes me a week to properly think about my New Year’s resolutions, or challenges (I don’t do resolutions – they’re too resolute and solid and therefore impossible!).  It takes me a few days to feel the year out, I think. The first week of the new year hasn’t been anything particularly spectacular or different. Other than a step-up in my dissertation research, and more exams and study, the first half of my 2018 looks like it’s going to be much like 2017 in it’s day-to-day-ness. (And then we don’t think about the after-graduation half). When I make goals before the new year has even begun, I run the risk of creating a list of goals that don’t fit into my year. ‘Write a blog post every week’ doesn’t fit into my year. I’ve trialled writing a little bit of my novel in a journal every day so far this year. I wanted to write a couple of pages a day. ‘A couple of pages’ doesn’t fit into my day, every day. A few lines, however, does.

So these are the goals I have settled on. The ones that feel like they can be carried along with me through the day-to-day of my 2018:

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☆ Write every day – I plan to write something each day towards my novel, in a little notebook. Be that one sentence, or one piece of dialogue, a description, or a character’s thought. This is more manageable some days than opening up my laptop and following a chronological outline. So far, I’ve managed to write at least something each day all week. One day that was a few pages, another day it was three sentences. I’m hoping that this will keep me in my characters’ heads and their stories all year, even if I don’t get the chance to finish a typed-up novel.

☆ Read a broader range of genres – I don’t have specifics for this. I just want to give anything and everything a try, rather than my usual go-to’s

☆ Post on my blog at least twice a month – Twice a month doesn’t sound a lot, but posting even once a month has become a challenge for me over the last few months. I posted a lot less on here over November/December due to some intense deadlines (final year problems!). So I’m making a plan to post at least twice on here each month this year. And in the months where I’m not suffocated by essays, hopefully that will be much more!

☆ Combat feeling guilty for relaxing – By this, I mean that, rather than working 9am-11pm (that’s seriously what I was doing Monday-Saturday for the last few weeks of last term), I’m going to stop after dinner and read for an hour, or write for fun for a few minutes, or even just make myself a hot chocolate and listen to music. And I’m going to challenge myself not to feel guilty for doing it!

☆ Read my Bible more – my goal every year is to read my Bible every day, which is still my goal, but I am very bad at doing this. So I’m just going to carry on trying to read it more.

Those are my five challenges for the new year, bookish and otherwise.

Have you set any challenges or New Year’s resolutions this year? What are you hoping to achieve/challenge yourself to do?

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Where Did The Dystopian Fiction Go?

Last night, I finished a Brazilian Netflix show called 3%. It hasn’t been advertised much at all, and I haven’t heard a single person talking about it. I found it after scrolling aimlessly through the sci-fi section a few times. It didn’t look like anything amazing, but I read the word ‘dystopian’ and something inside of me cheered a little. Dystopian – I hadn’t read or watched anything from that genre for a while. And it got me wondering…where did YA dystopian fiction go? Continue reading “Where Did The Dystopian Fiction Go?”

Reading Year in Review | 2016

2016 was the first year in which I set myself a goodreads challenge. I was feeling quite optimistic about it, despite having only finished 33 books in 2015. So I set myself a challenge of 50 books for the year, which has been a manageable number for me in previous years. I’ll say from the outset: I did not achieve this goal. I failed to counter in just what a busy and hectic year 2016 would be. So I’m not as upset with myself as I was this time last year, because I know that I have had an amazing year, and that reading just couldn’t take priority to some of these things.

But, just as I did in 2015, I am doing another Reading Year in Review, where I analyse the books that I have read in the year, in a little more depth! I’ve also added another couple of categories to talk about in this year’s edition!

Continue reading “Reading Year in Review | 2016”

‘I Like “Girl” Books’ | The Problem With Gendering Books

I was recently looking through my bookshelves to pick out some of my favourite YA fantasy novels for a blog post, when I noticed something that grabbed my attention: they were all written by female authors. I quickly began to look through my other YA books, and suddenly realised that the vast number of books that I owned within that genre, were written by women. At first, I thought that perhaps I was just subconsciously picking books written by women because they appealed to me more, as a girl. However, when I looked around at my books from other genres, within adult and children’s literature, those were dominated by male authors. That is, with the exception of the romance novels! This got me thinking about the problem of gendering books.

Continue reading “‘I Like “Girl” Books’ | The Problem With Gendering Books”

BOOK DISCUSSION | Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (SPOILERS!)

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It is books like this that made me start blogging. How can a human being read a book like this and keep all of their thoughts and emotions inside, without someone to explode with excitement to?

EoS begins with Aelin and the gang heading to Terrasen to meet with Darrow and some lords, to try to rally some support. But what is a Sarah J. Maas book without some despair to start off the story? Rejecting her claim as rightful Queen, they deny her her throne and the support she needs for war. But by this point in the series, Aelin has become so strong in herself, that she completely brushes this off, continuing on her journey, and calling in the large number of debts she has earned for herself over her assassin years. Remembering some of that Celaena swagger was a delight to read in this book!

Continue reading “BOOK DISCUSSION | Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (SPOILERS!)”

BOOK DISCUSSION | Gathering Darkness (Falling Kingdoms #3) by Morgan Rhodes (SPOILERS!!!)

THIS BOOK THIS BOOK THIS BOOK

The feels from this book.

Please bear in mind that I am writing this pretty much straight after finishing the book, on a Monday night, when I should probably be sleeping. But ya know…priorities = talking about this book. Otherwise sleep is probably not an option!

This book was absolutely amazing and I gave it 5 stars. If you want to check out the NON-SPOILER review then click here, but if you have already read the book and want to know all my SPOILERY thoughts then keep on reading!!!

Okay, so let’s start with a quick summary of what happened in this book…

Magnus becomes even more bae.
Cleo is a scarily good liar but we love her for it.
Lucia is one dumb girl, like seriously come on girl! She gives me the creeps though.
Jonas is a pathetic rebel leader. Where would he be without my new fave, Felix?
Lysandra is badass!
Alexius is strange and untrustworthy and I didn’t like him.
Nic and Ashur tore out my heart.
I would like King Gaius dead please.
Amara needs to be dead too if you don’t mind?
Please stop killing the characters I love though!
Or the feels will start killing me!

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Now the super fast summary is out of the way, I’m going to assume you know what happened in the book, and go into all details and fun stuff…

I am a Magnus+Cleo shipper, and this book certainly did not disappoint! The tension between these two has just been growing and growing! As soon as Magnus rescued Cleo from execution, I was just waiting for one of them to admit something! Magnus is by no means a changed man by the end of this book, but I think as a reader we begin to relate to him on a much more emotional level. As his feelings for Cleo visibly grow, I think he does become a little softer. It does say a lot of Cleo though, that she can see past Magnus’ harsh outer shell, his evil family, and what he has (in part) done to her family, and still have feelings for him. I don’t think even by the end of this book she knows those feelings are fully romantic, but they definitely have some feelings and I need to see how they play out in the next book!

“Magnus had come to a horrible realization. One that he knew would cause him nothing but pain and suffering from that day forward.
But there was no changing the truth of it.
He had fallen in love with her.”

I liked how most of the romantic pairings seemed to be going in this book, with the grand exception of Lucia and Alexius! I really liked them together in Rebel Spring, but their relationship made me so frustrated in Gathering Darkness. He was just so off from the beginning, and the fact that Lucia didn’t really question him at all, and after about two weeks was all ready to elope and marry him…she is clearly a very sad and lonely girl. She really needs a good friendship, and I was really hoping that Cleo could have been that for her. I honestly thought that she would tell Lucia the truth about her ring and telling Jonas about the Kindred, and that they could have somehow worked together. But then I forgot I was reading a Morgan Rhodes book where nothing really works out for the best does it?

Jonas was my least favourite character again. His chapters are by far my least favourite of all. They’re not bad at all, he just really annoys me. He is a bit useless. On the one hand, I like that the rebel leader is not the physically strongest character, despite probably having the best motives, as it makes for some interesting character dynamics with other characters around him (like Lysandra and Felix). But mostly it just annoys me. I still don’t think he has quite grasped how serious his role is, or how much planning needs to happen to pull of a successful rebellion. I really hope that in future books he comes out of himself a bit, because at the moment I feel that he isn’t really a character without the other characters around him!

Prince Ashur and Princess Amara were probably my favourite characeters in this book, even more so than the main four. When Ashur turned on Nic near the end of the book, I was frantically searching his characeter for some way he could be good, but I was not expecting what actually happened at all! I think the ‘flashback’ of Ashur’s plans completely shocked me, but in a very good way. I recovered from my surprise and was just happy. And then he dies!!!???? Why are you doing this to my heart, sad book!?

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That scene brought me close to tears, I was so upset and shocked. I feel like Morgan Rhodes saves all of the plot-twists for the last 50 pages of the book so they all happen at the same time and we can’t cope with it all and cry until we can get to the next book.

I want to talk about that final scene though! Lucia manages to take Melania’s power and kill her, and feels creepily satisfied at doing so – I mean I know Melenia was evil but at the moment I feel like Lucia could become worse. I like Lucia as a character, and I really want to root for her, but her decisions were so stupid in this book. I have no idea what she and the newly awakened god of fire (Gathering Darkness at it again with the random plot twists) are going to do together, but I am very interested to see where it will go, and what side Lucia will choose by the end.

I just ended up finishing this book with a bajillion questions: How will Magnus regain favour with his father, King Gaius, after killing Cronus, freeing Cleo, and failing to return with Lucia? Will his feelings for Cleo change his actions at all? Will Jonas and Felix re-unite together? How will Nic deal with Prince Ashur’s death? And who one earth is supposed to be the main villain now?

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Thank you Thank you that Frozen Tides is already out! At least I can put all of my feelings back into reading the next book!

 

Book Discussion: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas (SPOILERS!)

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This is going to be the most fun book review I have ever written. I don’t even have a plan for it, and I’m literally just going to write this out how it comes to my mind, but I have so much to talk about with this book.

First of all, this is a SPOILER book discussion.DO NOT READ THIS IS YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK!

If you want the non-spoiler review, you can check that out here!

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Okay so in ACOTAR, I was kind of Team Tamlin. Not because I loved Tamlin. Actually, Tamlin was my least favourite of the male characters in the book, while Rhysand was my favourite. The reason was because I believe in fairytale happy endings. And Feyre literally killed herself out of her love for Tamlin Under the Mountain. She LITERALLY DIED FOR HIM! So a huge part of me wanted them to live happily ever after, because after all she had put herself through, out of her love for him, surely they were meant to last forever.

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But then again, I understood the Rhysand x Feyre shippers, because I LOVED Rhysand and I loved the scenes with them together. But I didn’t want to think of poor Feyre going thrugh all of that and then not living happily ever after with Tamlin.

But this book just threw it at me…Feyre going through all that she did, was important for her self development, far more than for any love. Because from the very beginning of ACOMAF, it is so blindingly clear that Feyre and Tamlin are both such different people than they were in ACOTAR. And although Feyre truly (and I do believe she truly did) loved Tamlin…she loved him as human Feyre, who had lived a life of hunger and poverty and lack of love, and wanted love and protection. After the things she had gone through, she no longer wanted such protection: the now-Fae Feyre needed to be a protector. All at the same time as Tamlin had seen the woman he loved die and come back to life in front of him, and believed that showing her love would be to protect her and keep her safe. He just goes about it in a kind of twisted, jerk-y way. I mean, the scene where he locks her into the house had my head raging…

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Sarah J. Maas is so good at describing emotional pain (I mean that in the best possible way!), and I so completely felt the pain Feyre was feeling. After so long not feeling anything, this becomes the point that anger and despair actually come to her, and it is such a powerful scene. Tamlin, I know you wanted to protect her but COME ON! You don’t lock the woman up and imprison her! You don’t make her wear dresses when she feels constantly uncomfortable in them! You don’t resign her to wedding planning when she has literally just saved your entire country from Amarantha and is clearly capable of so much more! You don’t tell her there is no such thing as High Lady, when you are just feeding her lie after lie to stop her becoming your equal, all to protect her.

I think the thing is, Tamlin loved, and I think still loves, Feyre. But, when he loved her before, it was out of trying to woo her to save his people. And now there wasn’t an imminent threat to his people, there was no rush or challenge in it any more. I think he just forgot that he needed to try any more. But that was just what Feyre needed.

I got closure of the Feyre x Tamlin reletionship being over, and I actually really appreciated it. In so many series, the female character (it is usually a female character, I’m not stereotyping here!) falls madly and deeply in love with the first male that shows them any love and kindness, and this love carries until the end of the series. And this is actually annoying because it is usually their first love too, and how many people’s first love is their true love? I mean, obviously that does happen, but it is annoying to read about all the time. So I really appreciated this book for shaking that up!

Which nicely brings me on to Rhysand…

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Rhysand Rhysand Rhysand. Why are you not a real person? It’s not actually fair. I think he has actually become the number one book boyfriend after this book. It’s official…in the completely fictional sense, of course *not really because it’s real in my head though*

When Rhysand interrupts Tamlin and Feyre’s wedding…

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He just sort of swaggers in:

“I whirled, and through the night drifting away like smoke on a wind, I found Rhysand straightening the lapels of his black jacket. 
“Hello, Feyre darling,” he purred.”

I mean, reading back over this scene now is so emotional and gives it so much more significance, knowing that he knew they were mates (which I’ll get onto in a minute!). And later on in the book, when he tells her that he would have let her be wed, had she not been desperately, silently pleading in her head for someone to get her out of it. Rhysand would have let the marriage go on if she had been happy. He was going to sacrifice his love so that she would be happy.

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Basically, Rhysand is the best. I had so many favourite Rhysand and Feyre scenes, but these are some of them: *emphasises the ‘some’ because if she were to give them all we would be here for hours*

1.The moment where he wakes her after a nightmare (which is significant because Tamlin never did and he was sleeping in the same bed!)

“Hands – there were hands on my shoulders, shaking me, squeezing me. I thrashed against them, screaming, screaming – 
“FEYRE.”
The voice was at once the night and the dawn and the stars and the earth, and every inch of my body calmed at the primal dominance in it.
“Open your eyes,” the voice ordered.
I did.”

2. The scene where Feyre is describing the paintings she did for her sisters in her home.

“Rhys’s voice was raw as he said to the floor, “What did you paint for yourself?”
I drew out the fifth, moving to the sixth before saying, “I painted the night sky.”
He stilled.”

I guess this scene only feels all the more significant to me after finishing. Because when he later tells her that it was him who sent those images through her mind, not knowing who she was, or where she was, but knowing that she was somewhere safe and could hold onto that image he so loved…

Which brings me onto number three…

3. The mating-bond-acceptance scene! AKA best, most emotional scene I think I have ever read. Rhysand tells Feyre his story, and he is so raw and honest and open and I literally sobbed

“If you were going to die, I was going to die with you. I couldn’t stop thinking it over and over as you screamed, as I tried to kill her: you were my mate, my mate, my mate.
But then she snapped your neck.”
Tears rolled down his face.
“And I felt you die,” he whispered.
Tears were sliding down my own cheeks.
“And this beautiful, wonderful thing that had come into my life, this gift from the Cauldron…It was gone.”

“And I said, “You love me?”
Rhys nodded.
And I wondered if love was too weak a word for what he felt, what he’d done for me. For what I felt for him.”

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But besides from all of the main characters, this book’s cast of side characters was so fantastic.

Along with Rhys and the Night Court, come his inner court:

Cassian – Basically, the sarcastic, funny, strong but loving character that everyone loves

Azriel – The quiet, reserved character who clearly has so much depth left to unveil

Mor – Possibly my favourite female character in this trilogy. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her. She is powerful and strong, and knows she can inflict so much pain, and yet she is kind and loving, aware of those around her, and restrains from inflicting such pain.

Amren – Who I’m not fully sure about yet. She was certainly interesting, but also a little creepy. But we apparently find out her story in book three, so I am reserving judgement!

And of course there is Nesta and Elain. Elain I still liked, Nesta I am struggling with. I get that she is hard and cold but still loves those close to her, but I just really find it difficult to connect to her. But the next book is probably going to break that because…

NESTA AND ELAIN ARE NOW FAE!!!

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I did not see that coming at all! I think at this point I was skim reading a little (which I always do when it comes close to the end of the book, because I am always desperate to get to the ending to find out what happens – I’m impatient, I know!) and I had to re-read this whole scene again, because my brain was so confused.

So now humans can just be made into Fae by being put into this liquid?

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But my reservations about that aside, it really does make the ships a lot easier because…

Nesta and Cassian are going to happen. THEY ARE!!!

And Elain and Lucien ARE MATES…well, I kind of saw that one coming actually…

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…and I kind of like it.

So I’m leaving my review there because I could go on for hours and hours about my feelings on this book. So I’m going to leave you with probably my favourite quote/moment of the whole book…

“Welcome to the family, Feyre.”
And I thought those might have been the most beautiful words I’d ever heard.”