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2019 Wasn’t What I Expected

2019 was not what I expected (1)

I had so many ideas for 2019.

I wanted to read loads of classics, I wanted to fill my time with reading. I wanted to finish my book, edit it, query it, get an agent. I wanted to travel to places, meet author friends, explore more corners of the country.

Most of that didn’t happen, and that’s okay.

I didn’t waste the year. I learned many new things. I read books that thrilled me, and made me imrpove as a writer. I worked hard on getting the 70k words I wrote, I got a health diagnosis to hopefully make 2020 even better. Towards the end of the year, I grieved a loss.

But most of all, I grew.

2019 shaped my view of what I want 2020 to be, and what I can do when I put my mind to it. It shouldn’t matter how many books I read, only that I’ve read books. It shouldn’t matter that I haven’t travelled the entire world, only that I’ve made time to learn about it and maybe, even, discover things closer to home. It shouldn’t matter that I didn’t suddenly explode into publishing, only that I kept writing even when my heart was broken.

I’m a big dreamer, and I dream big. So if I falter at hurdles when nearing those dreams, I berate myself. “I didn’t get such and such because I wasn’t realistic enough.” What the hell IS realistic? There are billionaires with 500 or more houses, THAT’S not realistic. And “If only…” is the worst beginning to a sentence. As people give power to words said aloud, there’s also power in the unspoken words you think to yourself, too.

“If only I was taller.” “If only I’d been able to finish that draft by March.” “If only I was able to go there.”

Well you’re not, and you aren’t, and you didn’t, so what is this helping?

It’s a big lesson for me to actually brush that “if only” aside and focus on what I *am* and what I *did* do, or what I *can*.  Everything else doesn’t matter. It’s the belief within myself, the intention I put behind actions, and not beating myself up that I only read 40 books instead of 45.

It’s almost important to let go of things – and people – that don’t align with my highest good. If I feel anxious around friends when I should feel at ease, if I feel uncomfortable doing something other people seemingly have no problem with, that’s a sign to reassess and sometimes even walk away. 2019 taught me to listen to my gut instincts, and trust that I have the power to bring in better things that raise me up rather than bum me out.

Similarly, this post didn’t go the way I figured it would go — I think this is possibly my first journaling attempt by the sounds of it XD — but I’m thankful for the lessons I learned this year and hope to put them into practice in 2020.

Saying it now, 2020: Clear vision, clear heart, and a lot of hope.

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T5W – Spring Reads!

Since it’s the first day of spring (in this hemisphere!), discuss books that remind you of spring, or genres you reach for in the spring, or books you plan on reading this spring!

Like Sam, T5W organiser, I also consider March – May as Spring. I know it’s not technically correct, but that’s how it feels in England.

I don’t really have “spring” books or books that make me feel springy, simply because I mostly delve into Fantasy which never seems to have seasons other than winter or summer.

Today I wanted to focus on my physical TBR pile, however there is one book on here that I can’t help but wanna devour immediately:

AURORA RISING

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The only new release I’m putting on this list. I have it pre-ordered and I’m so excited!

TRAIL OF LIGHTNING

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I started to read this, then trailed off because I was too cold / ill / had to read Leviathan Wakes so I could watch the Expanse. But it’s definitely an atmospheric start and I can’t wait to continue.

ABADDON’S GATE

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This one’s apparently a slow starter, and not as fast paced as the first two, but it’s definitely a series I want to continue reading if only for Bobbie and Avasarala alone.

PASSENGER

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I got this from the library and it’s due back on the 6th April so…. quick??

WICKED DEEP

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I’ve had this since Christmas, and I really wanted to read it when it was warm cause I get the feeling it’s gonna creep me out

 

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King of Scars – Review (spoilers!)

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3.5*

No wait, 4*

No wait….

This is such a hard book to rate!!

I loved it… but I was also disappointed by it

Let me explain.

When we were told we were going to get a Nikolai book I figured this was going to be a Nikolai book which centered on him battling with the demon inside and trying to rule his kingdom, with his sass, wit, and genuine charm coming to the fore. It ended up being a Zoya, Nik, Isaak, Saints, Nina, Fjerda, Leoni, Hanne book with everything and its children happening and veeeeery little Nikolai.

The standout star here was Zoya. Let’s be real. I didn’t like her in the Grisha trilogy, as I suppose we weren’t meant to, not until the last book because of her tryst with Mal (remember him?). But in this duology I have a feeling she’s going to shine.

I love Zoya and Nikolai as separate characters and as their friendship. But it feels like there’s no natural sexual chemistry between them, I didn’t get any “zing!” vibes from them at all. So when it was thrown in that they started feeling flashes of *something* about each other, it felt just like that – flashes of it thrown in, for a romance subplot that we don’t need.

Having two strong characters in their own, both of the opposite sex, doesn’t mean they HAVE to get together. I adore them both as friends cause we hardly ever see a leading man and a leading woman as just great friends in fiction. And yeah, to be honest, I can see Zoya’s jealousy of Nikolai’s impending marriage being rooted in the friendship changing. Not in the “but I want you instead!” jealousy.

Zoya was definitely the stronger character and while I understood why Isaak’s chapters were there I just… didn’t care. We didn’t have enough time to see this impending war intrigue because we switched to a scene in Fjerda then we were in the Saints place, then we were over here, and then Nina was being flirty, and then we went back to Zoya…. It never felt like we had time enough to sit down, settled in, and absorb the feel of the place.

Nina… the thing with Nina’s chapters are like they belong in a different book. I don’t see any correlation between her and the story which centers on Nikolai. Also – CHEATED. I wanted good, honest to god interactions between by girl Nina and my boy Nik. Nikolina? Ninolai? Whatever, I wanted to see them hopelessly flirt with each other.

I will read the second book – of COURSE I will, the Darkling has literally returned for some reason – but while there was a lot to love (Zoya! Nikolai’s lines! Tolya and Tamar! Ravka!…. omg that’s it!) I was deflated.

What are your thoughts?! Have you read it?!

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Hyped 2019 Releases You Don’t Care About – Top 5 Wednesday

SHADY

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Okay well I’m gonna keep this honest. Because I’m like that. Also it might not even be shady, but prepare yourselves!

I went to THIS LIST and read the first page or two, looking at the synopsis in order to make my decisions, cause I only really know most of what I want to read, not what’s universally hyped.

For example, I went on some top SFF lists of 2019 and I wanted to read all of them. So I went to Goodreads instead!

And I found….

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I haven’t read the first one. So how can I be hyped for the second? LOGIC no shade here

Nothing against this AT ALL but the way the description is supposed to tell me to read it, I just don’t feel that pull. It sounds very run-of-the-mill YA. While I’ll pick it up I’m not hype.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Read it already. It wasn’t the book, it was me. I just didn’t like it. The pace was way too fast for me to drink in the atmosphere of what should have been a gloriously creepy Beauty and the Beast retelling.

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I read Margaret Rogerson’s Enchantment of Ravens, and while it was nice it was just… fine. I didn’t see anything amazing there. And while this is another standalone of hers, and different story wise, I’m not particularly interested in it.

Blood Heir (Blood Heir, #1)

Ok so trying not to be shady but the synopsis of this was SO LONG. I was like “I already don’t care.” Blood heir, and something else I’ve already forgotten. I seriously think some books are done a disservice by the people who write their synopsis / blurbs.

What do you think?! What books are you hyped for, what don’t you wanna read?

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Have a book? Need it proofreading or editing? I’ve got 2 slots available this month for full proofreading and editing services. All info here: Cover to Cover Edits

 

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Most Anticipated 2019 Releases – Top 5 Wednesday

— Pretty explanatory. If you can’t narrow it down, give your selections for only the first half of the year or even just for winter 2019

IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

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this is seriously a no-brainer, because Leigh Bardugo could write something about the phone book featuring Nikolai and I would buy it.

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I er, already read an earlier version of this (squee!). Perks of being in PitchWars with talented author friends! A powerful book that will have you shipping and fangirling and generally absorbed into the twisty world of Carolinia.

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I am so excited that I’m going to be part of the blog tour for this book! AND I got an ARC! Look out for my review early next year ^_^

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I NEED. TO KNOW. HOW THIS ENDS.

I NEED IT. YOU CAN’T LEAVE ME ON THAT ENDING, KRISTOFF.

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REINCARNATED KING ARTHUR BUT SCI FI. QUEER AUTHORS. CAN I GET A HELL YES PLEASE. I am trash for everything King Arthur and I’m hype for this.


 

In need of critique? Proofreading? Editing? I offer various packages over at Cover to Cover. Simply email for more info, and to reserve your place 🙂 

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On Writing: Heart vs Soul Books

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I had a discussion the other day with a darling CP of mine, all about the concept of Heart and Soul projects.

Dividing books into categories isn’t exactly new, I know. Even Neil Gaiman has said he feels his books have genders. But my stories seem to stem from one of two places: Heart or Soul.

The first book I ever wrote was a Soul book — it had to be, since I spent 10 years of my life writing it — but the one after was a Heart book. I didn’t love it any less, but it didn’t take a piece of me. It was almost MUCH quicker to write! It didn’t require me to bleed into the pages, or encompass my every bit of being. It took me half an hour to outline it, and then about 12 months to write it, on and off.

Soul books drag me into their depths and refuse to let me out til I’ve written them. Even when I get the idea they haunt me, giving me slivers of information at random moments. I could be eating my dinner, suddenly be gripped by a plot solution, and have to find some paper to write it down (this happened recently).

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy writing or reading the Heart Books any less! Heart books tend to be an important story, one I want to read as much as I want to write. I knew that particular Heart books could live happily on shelves and in reader’s hands. It’s just different in feeling as I’m writing them.

Soul books, of which I am currently writing two, require a bit more from me. I usually dwell over their concept for 6-12 months. They require deeper concentration, twistier plots, settings and characters and dialogue which, if you held it up to anyone to view, would be an accurate preview of what I’m made of. Yes it might be dark, and twisty, but it can also be bright, humorous, alluring.

Not that I’m saying I’m the most alluring person when I’m nibbling my 20th jaffa cake and sobbing over edits, but you get the idea.

I find it easier to put the ideas I have into these two camps because then I know what to reserve more of: time or energy. Heart books require more time than energy, as I can force myself to sit down and write them even if I feel a bit tired.

With Soul Books, they require a lot of both.

It can also prepare me for the content–am I about to write a dashing adventure with themes and emotions that mean a lot to me? Or am I about to write something seeped in atmosphere and character that I simply can’t stop thinking about?

I’ve had Heart books which made me cry. The ending of the last one still gets me. It means so much to be able to read the end of the MC’s journey.

I’ve had Soul books which I laugh at and absolutely enjoy writing. The current WIP brings me joy with one character and the absolute one liners he delivers, and the friendships thrill me.

But they will always be different. One side will always be that touch more personal, and scoop out a slice of my soul to bare to the world.

In short: my Heart books tend to be lighter – my Soul books tend to be deeper.

Do you have any way of categorising your stories? I’d love to know!


 

In need of critique? Proofreading? Editing? I offer various packages over at Cover to Cover. Simply email for more info, and to reserve your place 🙂 

 

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Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Want to Read Before 2018 Ends!

–Halfway through the year, and it’s time to evaluate our reading goals and take a look at our TBRs for the second half of the year!

You mean aside from the *counts* 19 (!!!) books I have in my TBR pile?

I have many. Many many MANY books I want to read before 2018 reaches its end.

1. UNDEAD GIRL GANG

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I pre-ordered this months ago but instead of May, it’s turning up at the first part of July and I AM READY FOR IT!!! Give me the wiccan latinx teen, who raises her mate from the dead and goes to find their killer YES

2. VENGEFUL

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Vicious is one of my favourite books, so of COURSE I want to read the sequel! Victor Vale and Sydney are two of my favourites and I have a feeling I will love some of the women she’s introducing in the next one.

3. DEVIL’S THIEF

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I read The Last Magician earlier this year and my friend got me an ARC from BookCon of this. Soon as I get it, I will devour it!

4. WHAT IF IT’S US

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Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli are two juggernauts of queer teen fiction and everyone I know is hype af for this. I will buy it as soon as it’s out.

5. THE POPPY WAR

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I recently listened to 88 Cups of Tea interview with RF Kuang and her book sounded so wonderful I want to read it as soon as I can. But I need to get to those 19 books first, so… maybe for my birthday?

PRIORITIES ON THE TBR LIST I WANT TO TACKLE:

Forest of A Thousand Lanterns, Invasion of the Tearling, Coldest Girl In Coldtown.

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April 25: Favorite Fandom Items

 Whether it’s something you own or something you are lusting after, what are some of your favorite fandom items/merch/memorabilia? Your picks don’t all have to be from the same fandom!

Bookmarks

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I have a LOTR and a Six of Crows bookmark and I LOVE THEM. I got them free, but there’s nothing better than seeing quotes from my favourite books when I’m reading something new. It re-affirms my love of reading.

Clothes / T-shirts

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I adore, ADORE, clothes and t-shirts with fandoms. I want an Ursula one, a Captain America one, I already have a Hulk one I designed myself, Placebo, MCR, Muse, Tornado Chasers, Arwen, Smeagol, Harry Potter, lots of Broadway shows, but gooodddddd I need more.

Scarves

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I received a LOTR scarf for a secret santa last year and I ADORE it. I love my scarves, it just seems to add to my look, so I adore prints that are from my favourite media.

Anything Candle!

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I ADORE candles in the first place but there’s nothing as satisfying as sniffing candles based on the Dregs, or Slytherin House, or places in the books… it’s a good job they’re a little bit expensive or else I would spend everything I had on them.

Bags

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I’ve had a slight obsession with bags since I was little and had to choose satchels for school, but I regret that I haven’t had ANY fandom bags. It’s my ambition to own a disney villains one and a LOTR one, but there’s also the supernatural one with pentagrams on it, and I need more money.

HONORABLE MENTION:

Funko Pops, Phone cases, Prints, Laptop covers

 

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TOP 5 WEDNESDAY – Favorite Teachers/Mentors

March 28: Favorite Teachers/Mentors

 Typically, we read about our protagonist being taught by someone wiser than they, whether is it is a teacher as we know them or more of a supernatural/magical mentor. Talk about some of your favorites! 

Image result for mcgonagallPROFESSOR MGCONAGALL – Harry Potter

Yeah I know technically we’re not allowed, but fack it. I love McGonagall, she deserves to be on this list for “Have a biscuit, Potter” ALONE. Fierce woman needs this top spot.

 

 

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CHRISTOPHER WOLFE – Ink and Bone

A highly enigmatic teacher, doesn’t want to be there but fights tooth and nail for what he believes in. Also he has an adorable husband/partner/I’m not sure if they’re married, but that relationship is amazing and real. He was the best part of the book IMO.

 

 

 

 

Image result for baghra grishaBAGHRA – Grisha Trilogy

This grumpy, acidic woman was so amazing and multi-layered. I enjoyed her presence in the books so much. The little nod towards her in the Language of Thorns via the Darkling made me well up.

 

 

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MR WEDNESDAY – American Gods

Ok so slightly unreliable mentor? But an important guide all the same. The way he teaches Shadow and brings him out of the depths is really fun to read, and the fact he’s so unpredictable makes him extra dynamic.

 

 

 

 

GANDALF THE GREY –  LOTR

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ULTIMATE WIZARD.

I prefer him to Gandalf the White, but his sacrifice and gentle pushing of people in the right places is just… textbook mentor.

 

 

 

 

 

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All The Crooked Saints – Review

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TITLE: All The Crooked Saints

AUTHOR: Maggie Stiefvater

BUY:

RATING: 4*

ABOUT: Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle.
Here is a thing everyone fears: what it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect

REVIEW: I got this in ARC form from my dear CP and all around lovely woman Kelly ^_^

This is gonna be a tough one to review, like. Really.

Before I started my review I read some on Goodreads, particularly the 2* ones, and I have to say I can see their point re: manic pixie dream girls, weird phrases, things that don’t make sense. I get it. While I adored the writing there were some things I could have done without. And I’m not entirely blind to the anger from some of the Latinx community on Twitter about the subject matter or treatment of their language.

While I don’t know enough about those issues to contribute meaningfully to that particular conversation, I recognise many people found the concept of this problematic. I can see why, since it was a very Latinx-centric book written by a non-Latinx author, and it had a sort of “People of Colour As Magical Beings” trope. It may have worked just as well without the Latinx history placed in it, so I’m not sure how that contributed, and I believe it would have held a much richer tone if written by an actual Latinx author — however I can’t deny I still love Stiefvater’s writing and this was a delightfully weird, eccentric story which gave me all the Big Fish vibes.

I read this as though I were directing the adaptation, because it’s the sort of creepy, atmospheric story I would love to visually portray myself, if not write like in the future. I saw everything like a vivid picture in my mind with The Mood clear on the page. Everything was vivid, and while I admit I skipped some of the descriptors (I had an ARC, so it wasn’t really the finished product – not sure if anything majorly changed) and history, I was still bowled over.

One thing I noticed with Stiefvater is that her books take me about 70-100 pages to understand the rhythm. Then I get into it. But until then I tend to read 40 pages, put it down and read an ‘easier’ book, then come back to it later.

As for the characters, some of them weren’t really needed IMO but I definitely prefer Beatriz to Blue, and she is now one of my favourite literary characters. She was practical, and reasonable, and had a lot of emotions she had to bury because everyone told her she was practical with no emotions – so she wanted to fit into that expectation. And I get that, having been told that for a while when I was younger by others, simply because I didn’t show them all openly on the surface.

While a lot of the emotional stuff was surface level and it didn’t go deep as I wanted I still appreciate the craft that was there, and the atmosphere really made it up for me. I will remember this book for the atmosphere and visuals of the place, and Beatriz, the rest may fade a little.