Books

Quarterly Book Review 2019 #1

It’s a few months into 2019, which means it’s time for another batch of quarterly book reviews! All these books were read between 1st January 2019 – 31st March 2019, the next quarter will be 1st April – 31st June, so an and so forth. Thanks for coming back to carry on the reviewing journey with me! I’ve changed the formatting a bit from last years reviews and added a section about books I’ve read in the set months but haven’t reviewed, and my ‘read so far this year’ total 🙂

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Warcross by Marie Lu:

“Everyone has a different way of escaping the dark stillness of their mind.”

This is the Sci-fi book I’ve been waiting for since finishing the Lunar Chronicles series by Melissa Meyer last year and is a better version of Ready, Player One, in my opinion.

Warcross follows hacker and bounty hunter Emika Chen, who is struggling to make ends meet since her Father’s death. Desperate to make some quick cash, Emika hacks in to the famous virtual reality game, Warcross, during it’s very publicised International Championship. A glitch in the game means she gets caught, but instead of being thrown in jail, she is whisked away to Tokyo by the game’s designer, Hideo Tanaka, to help him solve a problem that could not just affect the game.. but the world.

I was hooked from the first page as someone who is interested in gaming, but the characters and plot kept me reading this title until I was finished in a few days. The characters are all very diverse: Emika is Chinese-American, Hideo is Japanese, one of the team captains is in a wheelchair and two other characters are gay, there is also many characters popping up who are from all over the world.

I really don’t have many faults with this book as I know there is a sequel out, so a lot of the not answered questions will pop up then and any faults should be flattened out.

Pick up this book if you are interested in gaming, sci-fi or like to read fun and thrilling reads.

★★★★☆

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Wildcard (Warcross #2) by Marie Lu:

“You keep solving one problem after another until you change the world.”

Carrying on from the the last book (Warcross), having survived the Championships, Emika is back and she knows the secret behind Hideo’s NeuroLink algorithm. Torn between the betrayal from Hideo, her love for him and saving Tokyo and her friends, Emika teams up with Zero and his gang called The Blackcoats to put an end to the NeuroLink’s plan for the world. As Emika gets to know Zero and the Blackcoats, she realises all is not what it seems.

I was so so so excited to read Wildcard, I finished Warcross back in December and promised myself not to read the sequel until after I received my Kindle for Christmas. Silly move, as I couldn’t remember some plot points from Warcross while reading Wildcard, it seems to me that Warcross wasn’t as good as I hyped it up to be originally, this made Wildcard pretty underwhelming.

Everything that made Warcross special (the Championships, the relationship between Emika and Hideo, the different warcross teams) was missing, leaving a pretty bland book. The one redeeming factor was what we learnt about Zero and his ties to warcross, Zero was the one fleshed out character in the whole novel, his backstory was tragic and you couldn’t hate him as his motives weren’t his fault. I hate to say it, but Emika wasn’t that memorable in this book, she was completely overshadowed by Jax, Taylor and Zero. Hideo became a character that I really didn’t care for either, he could have had a really fleshed out personality but he come off super bland, I felt that the author pushed his past on to us to make the readers like him, but it did the opposite for me.

It’s not all bad though! Marie Lu sets up the Warcross and Wildcard world fabulously, her characters might sometimes be bland, but her world building definitely isn’t. I’ve never been to Tokyo, but I could see the lit-up streets of the city in my mind perfectly, every place the characters visited, every detail that was described is perfectly sketched in my brain.

Maybe if there was more Warcross Tournaments in this second instalment it would have been more interesting and giving more ways for us to see all the main characters more. I’m giving Wildcard 3 out of 5 stars, the world building was amazing and I felt fully immersed in the story, but some of the characters were a let down for me.

★★★☆☆

 

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Whisper Me This By Kerry Anne King:

“It’s funny how life spins, how we go on for long stretches of time and nothing changes, and then all at once, in a single moment, everything is altered.”

Whisper Me This follows the story of Maisey Addington, a women drifting through life as a single mother to 12 year old Elle. After a phone call informing Maisey that her mother is in a coma and her father is being blamed for abuse and neglect, she rushes back to her childhood home to find her father confused and all the family records destroyed. Determined to find out what happened in the lead up to her mother’s coma, Maisey uncovers years of unspoken secrets regarding her mother’s past and a sister she never knew she had.

This novel was a great read, it was an easy story to read and kept me guessing at every turn. The author split the narrative between Maisey, Tony (a paramedic/firefighter that helped Maisey and her father) and Maisey’s mother Leah, through journal entries. This was a great technique as I couldn’t wait to read the next journal entry for Leah as her past is so haunting and sad.

Although Maisey was very flittery and somewhat child-like in the way she acts, which could be off putting for some readers, it’s best to stick with the book as it is made clear around 50% of the way through why she acts like this. Towards the end of the novel she really comes in to herself, she turns in to a brave, caring mother and woman who stands up for herself and her family. Elle was a breath of fresh air, wise beyond her years, but has her head screwed on right, even amongst all the family drama. Tony somewhat bored me, his back story was very interesting but I wanted to know more. Through 95% of the book he is dealing with some trauma from his past, but we rarely get to see past that, it would have been great to see Tony from a different angle than just the caring, damaged family man. Leah was probably the most interesting character as you are introduced to her as an over-baring, control freak who was constantly underwhelmed by her adrift daughter.. but once her real story comes out, she is so much more than that. Greg, Maisey’s ex and Elle’s father, was introduced as a bit of an asswipe, but was soon graduating to complete douchebag status. His character wasn’t in this book to be liked, but he was well written and unfortunately is a true representation of some men and how they treat their partners and children.

Whisper Me This gets a big thumbs up from me as it showcases how women can band together to overcome any problem standing in their way. It showcases a real portrayal of domestic violence, abuse and childhood trauma which is often glazed over in other similar novels. It’s not always easy to read, as some of the scenes are quite graphic, but through all the pain, the author gave us a book that showcased redemption and love too.

★★★★☆

 

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The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas:

“People you’d once die for take appalling paths. It’s not that they become unrecognisable. They become more like themselves. Personality quirks grow more pronounced, and so do values, until you wonder how you ever ignored the differences between you.”

Before I even start with the review I just want to add that the author, Kate Mascarenhas, is a complete genius. Not only did she create a murder mystery that kept me guessing, but she created a story around a concept that hasn’t even been fully understood yet -Time Travel.

The story starts in 1967 where four female scientists build the first Time Machine, unfortunately just before their media debut, one of the scientists suffers a breakdown and is kicked out of the project and the lives of the three other scientists. The narrative then shifts onto the focus of Ruby Rebello and her Granny Bee 50 years after the original events of in 1967. Time Travel is huge and everyone is fascinated with the company that runs the operation, The Conclave. They receive a snippet from the future reporting the murder of an unidentified women which Ruby assumes is a warning that the women is Granny Bee.. but is all what it seems? Another main narrator is Odette a year after the events of Ruby and Bee’s timeline, who discovers an unidentified body murdered in the museum that she works at. Obsessed with finding out what happened that day, Odette immerses herself in to the one place that can solve the murder – the Conclave.

This book blew my mind away as multiple different timelines of the story exist at the same time, therefore multiple different aged versions of the same characters would pop up at the same time too. Although, there were so many characters that sometimes I forgot who they were when they appeared again later in the book, also remembering every action of each aged version of each character was a tad complicated, I had to really concentrate to keep up sometimes. The story was initially a bit confusing as there wasn’t a lot of context to what is going on, however you should stick by it as the story really does come into itself very quickly.

For anyone worried that you wouldn’t be able to keep up with the story, the date of each timeline and whose POV the chapter was from was presented at the beginning of each chapter, which helped a tonne. The author cast a very unique look on an old age question, ‘how would time travel effect our minds?’, which she answered by showcasing how time travel touched each character, whether they were older travellers who have never spent more than a few days in one timeline or those that only time travelled once. The politics of The Conclave was one of the most mysterious concepts in the book, the fact that one scientific discovery turned into it’s own governing body in modern day society was really well thought out.

This book was such a breath of fresh air, it was clever and well planned out, and I have to applaud the author for the brilliant job she did. Not only did she use a very complicated subject matter but she made it somewhat easy for us non-scientific muggles to understand. Kate Mascarenhas created a complex original and thrilling web of a story and I’m glad this book was advertised to me, otherwise I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of this brilliant read.

★★★★☆

 

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Friend Request by Laura Marshall:

“Perhaps it’s simply not possible to truly know another person. When it comes down to it, we’re all alone. Sometimes we don’t even know ourselves.”

It’s 2016 and Louise Williams is living a normal life with her 6 year old son in London, until a friend request changes her life forever. The friend request is from a girl called Maria who went to the same school as Louise, that something tragic happened to, but she’s dead.. isn’t she?

The story alternates between 2016 and 1989, modern day and from when Louise was in Secondary School. In 1989, Maria transfers to Louise’s Norfolk school after rumoured bad events from her old school. Louise and Maria are drawn to each other’s friendship, however Louise’s current, popular friends aren’t having that. Threatened with being alone and an outcasted by her ‘friends’, Louise turns her back on Maria, which causes devastating results. In 2016 Louise and her school friends managed to keep the lead up to Maria’s death a secret, however after Louise accepts her friend request, she receives threatening messages from Maria, or whoever is pretending to be her. Determined to keep her school antics in the past, Louise rushes to unravel the mystery behind her life, her old school friends and what really happened to Maria.

I read through this book in a matter of days, I could have easily read it in one sitting if I didn’t have to work, I was absorbed in to the story from the first page. The greatest thing about this story is that the author made each character very life like, none of them were perfect, they have all made terrible mistakes in the past – some more than others. The ending actually shocked me, it un-nerved me and made me question the people in my life, I really didn’t expect it.

This novel really showcases how you can never truly know someone 100%. Someone who you admire on Facebook could turn out to be faking their whole life, and those who you thought you were closest to could turn out to be something their not. The big lesson in this book is how the past has a funny way of coming back to you haunt you. Haunting, thrilling and very current – this novel deals with many topics that everyone, at some point in their life, has experienced.

★★★★☆

 

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Sadie by Courtney Summers:

“But love is complicated, it’s messy. It can inspire selflessness, selfishness, our greatest accomplishments and our hardest mistakes. It brings us together and it can just as easily drive us apart.”

What a sad and heartbreaking novel –ugly cries-.

This story follows 19 year old Sadie as she travels from town to town to hunt down the man that killed her sister Mattie. While Sadie is away finding Mattie, a journalist for a podcast, West McCray is picking up the clues Sadie left behind and tries to unravel what happened to the girls.

The two perspectives were done so well, with each narrative tying up the each other. Sadie’s account of her journey was through first person perspective, but West McCray’s was written like a script through his podcast. Through West we find out what life was like for Sadie growing up, with an absent father and an addict mother, Sadie’s one true happiness was her sister, Mattie. Their mother, Claire, was rarely around and when she was, she was always bringing home different men – some of whom changed the girls’ lives for the worst.

For a YA novel, the themes of this book are very dark, with sexual abuse, paedophilia and murder being some of the darkest. The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and I would have loved to know what happened next, but this fits in with the harsh narrative of the story so I see why it ended the way it did.

I hadn’t heard about the author Courtney Summers before this title, but I will definitely be checking out more of her work in the future!

★★★★☆

 

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Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers:

“It hurts being on the outside of something so honest. I want it, but I don’t know how I can have it when I’m so angry, and I feel so far from finished.”

Courtney Summers is fast becoming one of my favourite authors, she doesn’t necessary write about nice characters but you still feel compelled to empathise with them.

Regina was part of the Fearsome Fivesome, a clique of girls who stepped on everyone below them to be part of the ‘in crowd’. Known for their love of torturing others, the fivesome were feared by all in the school. Regina was second in command to best friend Anna, until vicious rumours about her and Anna’s boyfriend start going around. Frozen out from the Fivesome, Regina finds solace in loner Michael, as she tries to make amends for her past and the bullying she had a hand in. As the end of senior year gets ever closer, the now Fearsome Foursome’s abuse against Regina gets worse and worse, threatening the new start that Regina is trying to make for herself and her and Michael’s budding friendship.

This book was described as similar to the film Mean Girls, but it’s honestly so much more than that. It shows toxic feminism at it’s best, how young women can turn on each other at a drop of a hat without any real motive. How bullying is rife within our society and how our actions can have devastating effects on those around us.

I usually loathe people like Regina, those who sit back and watch injustice happen just because it makes their life easier. She’s a flawed character, but that is what makes the book so real. All the characters in this novel are so very flawed and can be awful people, but it shows that everyone has a reason for the way they act but that it still doesn’t make it right.

Watch out for more Courtney Summers reviews, there is going to be a hell of a lot more!

★★★★☆

 

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Born a Crime by Trevor Noah:

“Learn from your past and be better because of your past,” she would say, “but don’t cry about your past. Life is full of pain. Let the pain sharpen you, but don’t hold on to it. Don’t be bitter.”

I have to admit that I didn’t really know much about the Apartheid in South Africa, I was born a few years after it was terminated and we didn’t ever learn about it in school. I’ve watched a few Reggie Yates’s documentaries about how bad racism still is in South Africa, but reading this novel really shows still how segregated the country is.

Born a Crime follows the life of Trevor Noah, a young man who was born to a black Xhosa mother and a White Swiss father during the Apartheid. He was the result of a relationship that could have been punishable, therefore having to be hidden during his first few years of childhood. After the Apartheid ended, Trevor and his strong-willed, religious mother threw themselves in to living in the open and away from judgement, making a life for themselves that they always hoped for.

The novel consists of personal essays, not always written in chronological order but each story flowed effortlessly in to the next. Noah covered everything from high school politics, how young men made money in South Africa and family drama, to growing up with an alcoholic and abusive step-dad, racism, religion and love.

Reading Born A Crime was a compelling and often very funny read. Trevor Noah has a way with words, very poetic, yet very humorous as the same time. A must read for anyone interested in history or just up for a giggle.

★★★★★

Other books read but not reviewed:

  • A Court of Wings & Ruin and A Court of Frost & Starlight by Sarah J. Maas – Please read their reviews here
  • Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab
  • Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
  • All The Rage by Courtney Summers
  • The Perfect Child by Lucinda Berry

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge read so far: 14

Thank you so much for stopping by, catch’ya next month!

xox

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It's a few months into 2019, which means it's time for another batch of quarterly book reviews! All these books were read between 1st January 2019 - 31st March 2019, the next quarter will be 1st April - 31st June, so an and so forth. Thanks for coming back to carry on the reviewing journey… Continue reading Quarterly Book Review 2019 #1

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Books, Film, Life, monthly favourites

Monthly Favourites! March 2019

I thought I’d set up a new little series about my monthly favourites for each month, I know I’ve missed two months of the year already but if this is a hit I’ll continue this series in to next year. Every month I’ll list a handful of activities/items/songs/TV shows/films/games etc, that have made me happy. Hopefully you all enjoy!

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  • The Umbrella Academy 

I’ve recently got in to watching Netflix daily now my Sky Q box connects to the software so I don’t have to turn on my laptop every morning and evening. The Umbrella Academy is a TV series based off of the comic of the same title written by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. The story opens up with 43 women all around the world giving birth on October 1st 1989, although none of the women were pregnant earlier in the day. Only 7 of these children are found and adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a billionaire who discovers the children have unique powers and turns them all in to a superhero team. In present day, the estranged siblings return to their childhood home to attend their late father’s funeral. They discover that the apocalypse is imminent and have to try to band together to unearth the secrets of their dysfunctional family and save the world.

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  • Dynasty (2017 Reboot)

Another Netflix show that I binged watched in about a week and a bit (1 and a half seasons). Dynasty follows the lives of the infamous Carrington family, with heiress Fallon Carrington (played by Elizabeth Gillies) being the front runner. Fallon returns back to Atlanta to find her father Blake has married someone half his age and has promoted her to CEO of the family company, the position Fallon has had her eyes on her whole life. With Fallon vying with Cristal for the top role chaos and drama ensues. Dynasty is basically the newer version of Gossip Girl and 90210, with more schemes, more drama and more glamour.

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  • Courtney Summers

This month alone I’ve read four of Courtney Summer’s novels: Sadie, Some Girls Are, Cracked Up To Be and All the Rage. Each book showcases complex issues in today’s society and shows how cruel being a teenager can be – it’s not your average Young Adult novels. I will be getting more of her books in the next coming months, so please watch out for more reviews.

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  • Captain Marvel

I went in to the cinema not expecting a lot, as much as I loved all the superhero movies when I was younger – I’m getting a bit bored of them now. However, Captain Marvel has changed it all for me and I’m quite looking forward to The Avenger’s: Endgame now! Captain Marvel is set in 1995 and follows Carol Denvers as she realises her destiny to become the all powerful Captain Marvel and end the galactic conflict between two alien worlds. The film came with so much action, a banging 90’s soundtrack and a cute cat called Goose, definitely one to go see!

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Katsu curry at Wagamamas
  • Japanese Food

I don’t do New Years Resolutions but this year I’ve been wanting to try new foods that I wouldn’t have dared try beforehand. First up is Japanese food and it’s fast becoming a favourite. To ease in gently I went to Wagamamas and ordered the Chicken Katsu Curry which was mouth wateringly gorgeous! I also tried the chicken and pulled pork gyozas which were lovely too. My boyfriend loves Japanese food and always orders different items every time we go so I get to try an arrange of different things without having to order it, win win. We also went to Yo! Sushi a few weeks ago as my biggest food phobia is raw fish.. luckily that had a lot of chicken dishes on the menu and the most lovely desserts. I did try Salmon Sushi and wasn’t a big fan, but I’m proud of myself for trying it. Wagamamas and Yo! Sushi have a new regular customer in me now.

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On top of Brandon Hill
  • Bristol

Last week me and my boyfriend drove up to Bristol for his birthday, we’ve never been before and it gave me a chance to get used to driving longer distances. Bristol was a beautiful city full of culture, street art and historical buildings – there was so much to see and do. We ended up seeing a few of the locations used to film the TV show Skins (which is my favourite show of all time), like Brandon Hill, Rocotillos, College Green and Thekla. We also went to Bristol Zoo, Clifton Observatory and St Nicholas Market, and visited the shopping quarter which houses the high street and Cabot Circus shopping centre. I will be writing  review of Bristol soon so keep your eyes peeled for that!

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The Dorset coastline is one of the most beautiful coastlines in England
  • Warmer Weather and Lighter Mornings

Spring has thankful arrived, it’s been quite warm and sunny down in the south. I went to the beach on Saturday for a walk and it was amazing feeling the sun’s rays beaming down. Also getting up at 6am to go to Bootcamp class hasn’t been so daunting now it’s light at this time, it’s amazing how much more energy I have and how much more positive I’m feeling.

Thanks for joining me on my first ever Monthly Favourites. Can’t believe it’s already the end of March, excited to see what April brings now!

xox

I thought I'd set up a new little series about my monthly favourites for each month, I know I've missed two months of the year already but if this is a hit I'll continue this series in to next year. Every month I'll list a handful of activities/items/songs/TV shows/films/games etc, that have made me happy.… Continue reading Monthly Favourites! March 2019

Life, World News

What About Toxic Femininity?

First things first, I’m so sorry for being distant from this blog. It was my birthday last month, plus a had a photo shoot and it was my mum’s birthday too.. it was hectic to say the least. I will be gradually getting back in to blogging more regularly from now on, so hi again!

Since Gillette tackled Toxic Masculinity in their advert back in January, there has been huge debate over what toxic masculinity is and how men can stop it in it’s tracks. Gillette urges men to make a point of calling out the detrimental behaviour of other men, to stop the phrase “Man up” in it’s tracks and to just be a better human being to everyone around them. The advert saw an influx of support, with men all around the world announcing that they are going to be better than the men before them, Obviously there was some negativity, including Piers Morgan being the attention nut that he is, but all around good comments from most of the nation.

So let me ask you this, where is our PSA for toxic femininity? Where is our call to arms, as half the population, to treat each other with more respect? We may call out some men for what they do to us, but we never call out the horrendous actions of our fellow females when they treat us badly and how they can treat men too.. and quite frankly, that’s bullshit.

Men may be normally physically stronger, but us females have minds of steel.. and we know how to use them to tear each other down. From the catty girls at school who berate anyone who is different than them, to the women who climb the career ladder to the top to not only stop their fellow female employees from climbing it with them.. but will push them so far down the metaphorical ladder that there is no chance of them climbing back up. Men will come to physical blows after falling out, but their problems will be sorted out after a drink at the pub. However falling out with a woman could ignite months/years of psychological warfare to destroy their target.

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From L to R: Regina George from ‘Mean Girls’, Jennifer Check from ‘Jennifer’s Body’, Alison DiLaurentis’ from Pretty Little Liars and Kathryn Merteuil from ‘Cruel Intentions’ are all examples of Toxic Femininity

 

So how did women (and girls) become what we are today? One word.. Society.

It has been thought since the age of the cavemen, that females would compete with each other to win the attention of the leading male who would go on to produce the strongest offspring. This competition didn’t stop in the millennia after the cavemen. Women are forced to complete with other women to be the prettiest/sexiest/most desirable to everyone else around them, to be the Alpha.

A group of girls whisper to each other then suddenly stop when you walk into the room, when you ask what the secret is, they say “nothing”. Being purposely excluded from a friendship group and not being told what you did ‘wrong’. Blaming ‘women problems’ to get out of doing things, like assignments or getting a day off work. A female co-worker stealing your project ideas and using them as her own. Back handed ‘compliments’ from female friends/body shaming. Not helping another women being bullied or harassed – These are all examples of toxic femininity. Only 2 months ago 15 year old Molly Spencer from Co Durham was brutally attacked by a gang of 15, their female ringleader had been bullying and harassing her for months prior to this event. Women can be just as capable as men for being brutal and violent.

In school I was constantly berated by my female friends for ‘flirting’ with our male friends, they were jealous when they picked me for certain activities like the game Bull Dog (I was very petite and small, so I could easily get passed people to the goal, it wasn’t about the flirting), they had days where they decided to leave campus all together and not tell me and they chose days to ignore me completely. In those moments where they decided to dislike me, I was ostracised and had body shaming terms thrown my way, made even worse by the fact they knew I was self conscious about certain parts of my body.  I started to grow apart from some of my male friends because of this, which in hindsight was bloody stupid as those guys were the best friends I had through school. Same thing happened in College, one girl decided to be toxic and I was her easy target, it’s almost hard to think that one girl can turn a whole group on another member. Even in my adulthood I feel constantly compared to the women around me, it feels as if there is a secret code to always have to compete with others of the same sex – whether that be competing to be the best at a sport, to be earning the most money, have the most expensive materialistic goods, or even having the best partner and life.

70% of women reported feeling bullied by their female colleagues too, with women having other women as targets rather than having male targets (68% to 32%). Women use malicious gossip, rumour campaigns, the threat of social exclusion and disapproval to bully and keep their targets ‘in line’. My manager in a receptionist job I had a few years back was a prime example of toxic femininity who had a serious case of Queen Bee syndrome. She asserted her dominance by making us colleagues perform low grade tasks that weren’t part of our job, like photocopying pages out of a home-ware catalogue for her, as a ‘look what I can afford and you can’t’ performance, or making us do the work of the cleaners even though we weren’t trained for such a task. She would degrade us with backhanded compliments and flaunt her lavish lifestyle to belittle us – I only lasted 5 months in that job, I had enough.

Women may be terrible to other women, but we can be just as bad or even worse to men. There is countless examples of woman using their ‘weak and innocent’ stereotypes against men, whether that is from feigning helplessness in order to get what they want, accusing men (or other women) of being physically/mentally abusive to get the upper hand in divorce or child custody agreements, To throwing the ‘women card’ out there to avoid getting in trouble or getting hit back. There is many examples of women using sex to control men too, often making them feel that they are lucky to be getting any sex in the first place or withholding intimacy to get what they want. Don’t even get me started on the false rape claims too that make a complete mockery of the #MeToo movement and brand every man with the guts to stand up to injustice as a liar. There’s a reason the terms ‘siren’ and ‘femme fatale’ are usually given to women, we are manipulative weapons of mass destruction to not be reckoned with.

1/3 of domestic violence cases are woman against man, it is just vastly under reported. Police in England and Wales recorded almost 150,000 incidents of domestic abuse against men in 2017 – more than double the number reported in 2012. 1 in 6 men will experience domestic violence at the hands of a women, but only one in 20 will seek help. Only last month, BBC Three interviewed 22 year old Alex Skeel, who was physically and mentally abused by his then girlfriend and mother of his two children. His girlfriend Jordan Worth, was the first women to be sent to prison for coercive and controlling behaviour in the UK.

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L: Alex Skeel with his girlfriend Jordan who was physically and emotionally abusing him. R: One of the many injuries Alex suffered

Many women seem illogically invested in the idea that women operate under a different set of standards and practices than men, that we can somehow get away with the disturbing behaviour above just because we have been belittled and put down by men for centuries – but that’s not how it works.

This isn’t a post on how shit women are, or how we are worse than men. It’s just a call to arms of how us women need to do better, just as all men need to do too, no-one is a saint. With good mental health being at an all time low, some are even calling it an epidemic, we need to stop putting all the blame on men and start realising that our behaviour is doing a grave injustice to each other too.

xox

First things first, I'm so sorry for being distant from this blog. It was my birthday last month, plus a had a photo shoot and it was my mum's birthday too.. it was hectic to say the least. I will be gradually getting back in to blogging more regularly from now on, so hi again!… Continue reading What About Toxic Femininity?

Health

Ladies, Get Your Cervical Screening Done

I had my first Cervical Screening done today so I just wanted to do a teeny tiny post to let anyone who is nervous about theirs, know that is is a breeze.

For anyone confused on what a cervical screening is or in their country it’s called something else, cervical screening is a quick but vital test where the cells in your cervix get checked to see if they are healthy. This test can help spot changing cells before they develop in to cancer. This test can also check for HPV (Human Papillomavirus), which is a very common group of viruses (most women will have it in their lifetime) but it can cause some cells to turn cancerous.

The appointment usually lasts about 10 minutes and the test literally only took about 1 minute for me. The nurse/doctor will double check all your details are correct (like name, address and date of birth), she/he will run through some questions with you about birth control, when your last period ended and if you have any problems during of after having sex – it’s a very casual conversation, don’t worry!

The nurse/doctor will then ask you to undress from the waist down and lie on the bed with a sheet over your bottom half. Before the actual test she asked if I wanted to know what will happen before the test starts which was very reassuring and made me less nervous. She showed me the Speculum and how far it will go in, and showed me the soft brush that is used to gather the cells needed.

The nurse/doctor will then ask you to lie back with your knees bend and apart from each other, if you need to change position during the test please do not hesitate to ask, they are very understanding. They then very gently insert the speculum and open it so they can see your cervix, then they use the soft brush and insert it through the speculum and twirl the brush around a few times to gather many cells. After the cells are collected the nurse/doctor will put the cells in the sample cup and close and take out the speculum. If you are feeling uncomfortable or nervous the nurse/doctor can take out the speculum straight away before putting the cells in the cup. They then leave you to get changed again and give you a pad and some tissue in case you have some light spotting of blood (this is totally normal).

My nurse sat me down after just so I could relax for a few minutes after the test and told me that i should receive a letter with my results within 2 weeks. The nurse also advised on how and when is the best time to check my breasts for changes/lumps/bumps which was super helpful as I wasn’t entirely sure of the best way until now! Once I felt good to go, my nurse showed me out of the door and I was on my merry way.

I was soooo nervous before this test but I honestly found the whole thing so easy, and such a relief to have got it done. It wasn’t embarrassing as I thought it would be and the nurse is so nice and even had a joke with me about how she’s seen so many vaginas that they all pretty much blur in to one now.. what a legend. Pain wise, it was a little uncomfortable and a bit of a weird feeling but not painful at all. I feel a slight ache now after the test from the speculum but it’s barely noticeable, if you are worried you can always get a smaller one or some lube be put on the normal sized one. You can always bring someone with you in to the test if you are worried and the nurse/doctor will show you good breathing techniques if you need them.

Currently cervical screening is at an all time low with 1 in 3 women aged 25 to 29 are missing a screening, also 1 in 4 women above age 29 are missing theirs too. 35% of all women researched reported being embarrassed to attend because of their body shape and 34% had concerns over the appearance of the vulva. Can I just say, the nurses/doctors have seen vaginas of all shapes, colours, hair.. yours will not stick out in their mind.

With more than 3,200 women being diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in the UK, the test is more important than ever and could save thousands of lives by one, easy 10 minute test. Please book an appointment when you receive your invite letter, it could save your life.

Please check out the NHS website if you still have questions 🙂

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xox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had my first Cervical Screening done today so I just wanted to do a teeny tiny post to let anyone who is nervous about theirs, know that is is a breeze. For anyone confused on what a cervical screening is or in their country it's called something else, cervical screening is a quick but vital… Continue reading Ladies, Get Your Cervical Screening Done

beauty

What’s In My Make-Up Bag?

I’ve seen a lot of blog posts and YouTube videos on this topic even though I don’t follow a lot of beauty bloggers/YouTubers, so I thought it would be good to give this a go! I’m not a girl who is really in to make-up, yes I wear it every day,  but I don’t have all the go to palettes, lip kits or brushes (even though those Spectrum ones do look crazy pretty!). I like to think of myself as a casual make-up goer, I wear it every day and am partial to a good matte lipstick, but I haven’t practised the art form enough to consider myself a lover. So here it goes, here’s my list of all the products in my make-up bag and a link to where I got them:

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Eyes:

The most staple selection of my make-up is my eyes, I am obsessed with eyeliner. I’ve been wearing eyeliner since I was around 14 and never stopped, a sharp cat eye is what makes me, me. I use Rimmel Scandal’Eyes WTP EyeLiner Black, Maybelline Master Ink Liquid Eyeliner Matte and Nyx Cosmetics Epic Ink Liner in Black. For mascara I have rarely shied away from Maybelline, their mascaras make my eyelashes super dark and super long. The one I’m using currently is Maybelline Colossal Big Shot Mascara. I don’t really use eyeshadow that much as a black cat eye and bright lipstick seem to be enough for my make-up looks, but if I’m not wearing any lipstick I usually use Makeup Revolution Dark Reign Eyeshadow Palette as it’s full of all the dark colours I love, from red, grey, black and brown. I can’t seem to find this palette on the Superdrug website anymore but it can be found on Ebay for pretty cheap.

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Eyebrows:

I’m not a big lover of the ‘Instagram brow’, you know which one I mean. Instead I just fill in any sparse areas with Revolution Precise Brow Pencil in Dark Brown, which does the job nicely. Then I use L’Oreal Brow Artist Xpert in the darkest Brown they do to go over the previous brown so my eyebrow colour matches the make-up. If my eyebrows are being slightly unruly I use L’Oreal Paris Brow Artist Plumper to smooth down all the sticky out hairs.

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Skin:

I have FINALLY found a primer that works with my skin type, hallelujah! So thank you e.l.f. Hydrating Face Primer for actually working well and keeping my eyeliner and foundation stuck to my face.

I’m not a huge foundation person, I only really wear it when I go out somewhere nice and I swap foundations a lot. For foundation I use Revolution Conceal & Define Foundation F4 which I only recently found as I used to use the concealer version of this and thought it was amazing. Before Christmas a lot of the Revolution concealers were out of stock, so instead of my usual I picked up Revolution Fast Base Concealer C4 and really liked it, the sponge makes it easy to dab the liquid where you want it to go. I mostly use it around my eyes as a sort of primer which makes me eyeliner stay twice as long.

Skincare wise, I am not the best at keeping a good skin routine.. I’m trying to change that though! Every time I’m in the bath I use Soap & Glory Face Soap & Clarity 3-in-1 Daily Vitamin C Facial Wash, which I find keeps my spots at bay and also doesn’t make me feel itchy like other facial washes I’ve used previously. I moisturise using Body Shop Mango Body Yogurt which I love as it’s fine and not greasy.. and smells great obviously.

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Lips:

After eyeliner, my make up love is matte liquid lipstick and lip balm. I am a HUGE lover of the classic 50’s pin up girl look.. sharp black cat eyes and a killer red lip is my go to for a night out. I mostly use Jeffree Star Valour Liquid Lipsticks as they dry matte and have a full range of amazing colours. I mostly use the colours Gemini and Checkmate, I can’t find Checkmate on the Beauty Bay store where I buy from but they have Redrum which is similar. When I’m not wearing bright lipstick I use lip balms, my favourites are NIVEA Lip Butter, CoconutNIVEA Lip Butter Balm, Vanilla & Macadamia, they both keep my lips moisturised for hours and also smell divine.

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Body:

As bad for the environment as it is, I love body sprays.. whether that be perfume, sprays or mists. Anything that smells vaguely like vanilla is my go to spray. On special occasions I use Victoria’s Secret So Sexy Perfume which I bought in store, but as the online store is down today I will link it on Amazon here. On non-special occasions and everyday use I shower myself in SO…? Vanilla Milkshake Body Mist, which smells incredible and is very light to wear. Since I could buy my own body sprays I’ve been using Impulse, I mostly use Tease or Rock & Love. I used to love the Charli XCX range as she has a Vanilla spray (surprise surprise) but I think that range has been discontinued 😦

I’m making a conscious effort to go cruelty free soon, after I’ve used up my current back stock, so I’m up for any tips on which cruelty free makeup is the best and also isn’t too expensive!

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xox

 

I've seen a lot of blog posts and YouTube videos on this topic even though I don't follow a lot of beauty bloggers/YouTubers, so I thought it would be good to give this a go! I'm not a girl who is really in to make-up, yes I wear it every day,  but I don't have… Continue reading What’s In My Make-Up Bag?

Music

Don Broco @ The SSE Arena Wembley

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7 months a go, I saw Don Broco and Issues were going to be touring the UK in February and I was beyond excited as they are two of my favourite bands. Not only that but the closest show to us at The SSE Arena Wembley, was 2 days after my birthday.. it was fate.

Just a bit of background info on the bands:

Don Broco are a British rock band from Bedford who have been formed since 2008. The band consists of Rob Damiani (lead singer), Simon Delaney (guitar), Tom Doyle (bass) and Matt Donnelly (drums and back up vocals). The band was originally called Don Loco until they found out a rapper was already using this name, after guitarist Simon broke his wrist during a football match, the band decided to use the name Don Broco as a funny insult to Simon as Rob called him “Don Broke-o”. They have featured at Download Festival, Sonisphere, Slam Dunk Festival and have supported big bands like We Are The Ocean, Enter Shikari and Bring Me The Horizon.

Neck Deep are from Wrexham, North Wales and consist of Ben Barlow (vocals), Matt West (guitar), Sam Bowden (bass) and Dani Washington (drums). They have released two EPs, Rain in July and A History of Bad Decisions, debut album Wishful Thinking and studio albums Life’s Not out to Get You and The Peace and the Panic. Neck Deep won a Kerrang! Award for Best British Newcomer 2014 and for best single in 2018, they also won Best British Band at Rock Sound Awards. They have toured with Hacktivist, We Are the in Crowd and Knuckle Puck.

ISSUES are a 4 piece Metalcore band from Atlanta, Georgia, founded in 2012. The band consists of Tyler Carter (lead vocalist), AJ Rebollo (guitar), Skyler Acord (bass), and Josh Manuel (drums). They have released two studio albums, self entitled ISSUES and Headspace, an EP Black Diamonds plus an acoustic version of the EP Diamond Dreams. They have toured with the likes of Attila, Bring Me The Horizon, Young Guns, Of Mice & Men and played festivals such as Slam Dunk, Download and Reading & Leeds Festival.

ISSUES:

I SETLIST

ISSUES will always be one of my favourite bands to see live, Tyler Carter’s R&B vocals are flawless mixed with the energy from bassist Skyler who was bouncing all over the stage. Opening the set with Hooligans, one of ISSUES stand alone singles, was a perfect choice with it’s DJ-esque music and soft vocals mixed with harsh vocals. During Never Loose Your Flames the crowd turned on their phone torches to sway in time with the soft tune of the song. Mad at Myself was a great closing number, one of their more popular songs with a blend of soft vocals and metal core guitar and drums.

NECK DEEP:

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I’ve never properly listened to Neck Deep before this gig, I got out of the Pop Punk scene just before they burst on to it. However I was more than surprised to see how much they owned that stage and how loyal their fan base was to them, singing to every lyric and cheering through every song. They did a wicked cover of Torn by Ednaswap (and Natalie Imbruglia) and even invited a saxaphone player called Saxl Rose (you can find his YouTube channel here), on to the stage to perform with them for a few songs. The best thing about Neck Deep is half way through their set, a charity who I can’t remember the name of (sorry!), came on the stage to talk about mental health. The public speaker of this charity was amazing and really got the crowd pumped up for a good cause, I always appreciate bands that use their fame for something good.

DON BROCO:

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What a band! As soon as Don Broco came on stage, they owned it. Full of energy and life, all band members were grinning from ear to ear to be performing this gig. Opening up with Come Out to LA, then smashing out all the favourites from their album, Technology, like Pretty, The Blues, Everybody and Technology. Half way through the set a familiar cowboy enters the stage, the very cowboy from the Technology music video banging out his signature moves like his life depended on it, he was also joined by a little army of fellow cowboys.

Even with the new album being the main focus of the set list, it was nice to see Don Broco playing oldies like Priorities, Automatic and Money Power Fame with the same enthusiasm as the newer songs. During their encore, the band debuted their newest single, Half Man Half God, while it’s not one of my favourite songs of theirs, you can’t deny how much of a banger it is live and the crowd was living for it. Don Broco also treated us to their first ever single, Thug Workout, which was released a decade ago now. Ending their setlist was T-Shirt Song, played with as much passion and energy as the first song of the night. The crowd was full of shirtless, sweaty gig goers swinging their t-shirts over their head and shouting the lyrics back at Don Broco – what an ending.

This was one hell of a show that Don Broco put on, full of funny surprises, amazing background graphics, lots of lights and one amazing band. Definitely worth checking out these lads when they come to a town near you!

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xox

Last Gig review: Icon For Hire

*DISCLAIMER – ALL PHOTOS PROPERTY OF DON BROCO & TOM PULLEN*

7 months a go, I saw Don Broco and Issues were going to be touring the UK in February and I was beyond excited as they are two of my favourite bands. Not only that but the closest show to us at The SSE Arena Wembley, was 2 days after my birthday.. it was fate.… Continue reading Don Broco @ The SSE Arena Wembley

Books

A Court of Thorns & Roses Series Review

It’s not often I get to read a series of books in one go, I started with A Court of Thorns and Roses mid-December, swiftly bought A Court of Mist and Fury not long after, then by not even mid January I had finished A Court of Wings and Ruin on my Kindle and A Court of Frost and Starlight came not long after that. This series was an amazing way to close one year and open up another – the intricate world building, fleshed out characters, unreal escapism, this is one of my favourite series of all time. So why not start the first book review of the year with this one! I will be chatting about each book separately – with a plot overview, likes and dislikes (if there was any!), then at the end I will sum up everything in one.

I had A Court of Thorns and Roses on my bookshelf since my birthday and for some reason I was hesitant to read. I’m really glad I ran out of other books and started ACOTAR, it exceeded all my expectations and more. Based loosely on the famous Beauty & the Beast tale, ACOTAR follows Fayre, a young and poor girl from a small village on the edge of a Fae kingdom. Desperate for food to keep her family going over the long Winter ahead, Fayre makes a life altering decision to kill a wolf.. unknown to her this wolf was a disguised Fae and killing one of these creatures comes at a price. Forced into the Fae’s world under the command of a High Lord named Tamlin, Fayre learns of the real reason behind why she is in the new land and how she can help save it.

Sarah J. Maas has an amazing skill of world building, the human realm and the Fae realm were both described so well it was like watching a TV show in my brain. Also the plot was well thought out and I did not expect all the twists and turns this title made. Her characters were quite well fleshed out too, Feyre is a great heroine.. flawed and impulsive, but she seemed very real and brave. Lucien was the comic relief, at first I didn’t think too much of him but he turned out to be a great right hand man for Tamlin. Rhysand was by far the biggest surprise character, introduced as a self-absorbed asshole, but soon you find out that everything he does is for a reason (and I might have a slight book crush him..). The big bad of the book wasn’t a disappointment, she was literally evil incarnated, however I do wish she was around more in the book. The only character that was a bit bland was Tamlin, introduced as a dream-like, handsome, golden haired and skin High Fae.. but that’s all he ever was. He didn’t seem to have as much character development as the other characters, sometimes coming off super perfect for no reason. However I’ve never been a fan of the prince-like male characters anyway, I like the more edgy men (explains my weirdo crush on Rhysand haha), so maybe it’s just me being judgemental! There is a few sex scenes in this book that were described as quite raunchy, but I thought they were pretty tame for a book not quite labelled as YA but not quite Adult Fantasy. Hoping for some more nitty gritty scenes in the next book!

“We need hope, or else we cannot endure.”

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★★★★☆

A Court of Mist and Fury had me crying, laughing and totally absorbed in this fantasy realm. Following the fairy tale retelling theme, ACPMAF was loosely based off of the Greek Mythology tale of Persephone and Hades. Fayre survived her harrowing time under Amarantha’s rule and is back in the Spring Court, but she is not the same girl that went Under the Mountain. Now a Fae with the powers of all the High Lords, Fayre is struggling with the acts she had to commit to survive and free Prythian. Just as life in the Spring Court gets fractured, Rhysand, High Lord of the Night Court cashes in on the bargain he made with Fayre and whisks her to his lands – leaving Fayre to choose what she really wants and how she will save herself and her new life from the evil that awaits.

Normally sequels are never as good as the first, but this second book in the series blew the first off of it’s pedestal. Sarah J. Maas pulled out all the stops for this novel, we get to see more of the other courts and it’s inhabitants and loose ties were flattened out. One of the best things about this book was the new characters that were introduced – fierce Morrigan, mysterious Amren, hilarious warrior Cassian and reserved Azriel. How they all interact together and with Fayre and Rhys was beautiful to read. We get to meet some of the High Lords properly, mostly the Summer Court high lord Tarquin, which made me want to holiday in the Summer Court, it sounded a lot like a city on a beautiful Greek island. The biggest surprise was how stunning the main city in the Night Court, Valeris, was written, it sounds to me like a mix between Amsterdam and bigger towns in England – utterly breathtaking, I want a one way ticket there please. The one thing that will keep you reading though, is the interaction between Feyre and Rhys, oh my, it had me on the edge of my seat with anticipation! ACOMAF did what other fantasy novels don’t, it didn’t glorify controlling relationships. *SPOILER* Fayre ends up with Rhys, not Tamlin, and thank Sarah J Maas for that. Fayre is Rhys’ equal, as he specified many a times in this book and the next, not his subject. Rhysand is everything you want in a male character and more, on the outside he is beautiful, a bad boy and horribly misunderstood. But underneath is a heart of gold, unrelenting loyalty to his friends and court and his selflessness will have you swooning –sigh-.

I moaned about the sex scenes in the last book and hoped for better ones next time, and oh my, did this book deliver. The sexual tension between Fayre and Rhys was unbearable, then it did not disappoint when the moment finally arrived, oh my, it was something else!

I was not a pet, not a doll, not an animal. I was a survivor, and I was strong. I would not be weak, or helpless again. I would not, could not be broken. Tamed.”

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★★★★★

A Court of Wings and Ruin unfortunately was not as good as it’s sequel, don’t get me wrong, it’s still a fantastic novel but with the whole ‘will they, won’t they’ mystery gone the book is a bit more focused on politics and war.

ACOWAR showcases Prythian on the edge of war with Hybern and to get a foot up in the war Fayre returns to the Spring Court to keep tabs on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings. The war challenges loyalties between each High Lord, their courts and unexpected allies.

I’d say around 40% of the book was mostly filler, the stakes only really got ramped up after 50% of the book had already been read. The final battle was the best part of the book, it was heartbreaking to see how war affects people (even mythical faeries) and to what lengths people will go to win, even if it means sacrificing everything. However, although this part of the book was the best, it didn’t go on long enough, everything happened way too quickly. Also, the stakes didn’t feel that high, there wasn’t that many losses and there didn’t seem many consequences to the character’s actions – which makes the book quite unrealistic – even for a book full of magic and faeries.

It’s not all doom and gloom though! The character development of all the main characters is amazing, you really get to see all parts of their personality, backstories and life. It’s amazing to have a book full of strong male leads who don’t overshadow the  woman, the woman fight just as well as the men in the battles, the woman get involved in politics and when one male tries to shut a woman down, everyone shuts them down instead. It’s nice to see some progress in YA novels, woman CAN do most things a man can do, and vice versa. We also get to see all the High Lords together, we get to meet some of their families and courts, and hear some of their backstories – this is what I’ve been waiting for from the last two books. Also, douchbag lord Tamlin *ahem*, I mean High Lord Tamlin, had a nice ending in this book. The ending of the story showed that he isn’t a complete ass, he just has a lot of issues that he needs to sort out and ultimately, he wants Fayre to be happy.

“Light can be found in even the darkest of hells. That kindness can thrive even amongst cruelty.”

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★★★★☆

Last but not least, A Court of Frost and Starlight. I didn’t think I’d like this book as it’ not as nitty gritty as the previous instalments, but actually, it was really nice seeing what normal life is like for Fayre, Rhys and the gang.

A Court of Frost and Starlight carries on right from where A Court of Wings and Ruin left. After the intense battle with Hybern, Feyre, Rhysand and their circle are back in Velaris trying to rebuild the Night Court. The Night Court’s biggest holiday, the Winter Solstice, is finally upon them, but with a big holiday brings a whole lot of drama which High Lady Fayre is determined to overcome.

It was finally so nice to see Fayre interact with the inhabitants of Valeris, we get to see and hear about shop keepers, the Illyrian warriors and the normal civilians of the city. It really brought Valeris to life, and I certainly would want to live there if this story was real life. The best thing about the book, and what made it so real, was how Nesta’s trauma was handled. Nesta seemed to fall in to a deep depression, shutting herself off to her family and drinking herself in to oblivion – which is what can happen to a lot of people.

ACOFAS could have been made in to a proper book rather than a novella as there was so many loose threads still not tied by the end of the book, however Maas included a snippet of the next book at the end of this one that looks like it will tie up some of the story – exciting!

I’m giving this instalment only 3.5 stars as it wasn’t as long as the other novels so it didn’t seem fair to give it a high rating as not much happened.. but it was still a good read and has got me exciting for the next book which seems to focus more on Cassian and Nesta.

“You make me so very happy. My life is happy, and I will never stop being grateful that you are in it.”

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★★★☆☆

I really did love this series, it brought me back to the fantasy/supernatural genre that I’ve been avoiding since I read the Mortal Instruments series a couple of years back. It was action packed, full of character background and the world building was perfect, I felt like I was right there in Prythian with everyone.

Fayre is a strong lead character who had growth throughout the series, she is a great role model for the younger generation and she makes me want to keep fighting the injustices in our world. Rhys is the male lead that all YA novels should strive for: he is loyal, strong willed, fun and ultimately didn’t treat Fayre as a trophy wife, she was his equal. All the secondary characters were interesting in the own way and the author really showcased their back stories and made them real, I am very much looking forward to finding out more about each character in the other novellas she is releasing in the future.

ACOTAR

xox

It's not often I get to read a series of books in one go, I started with A Court of Thorns and Roses mid-December, swiftly bought A Court of Mist and Fury not long after, then by not even mid January I had finished A Court of Wings and Ruin on my Kindle and A… Continue reading A Court of Thorns & Roses Series Review