5 Things I’ve Learnt From Being At University

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Today’s post is not particularly bookish. Soz guys. While I’m at university, as you’re already starting to see, my posts are probably just going to get more and more random. I barely have time to write, which sucks, and trying … Continue reading

Free Ebooks: LUSH – S.L. Baum

Once again we visit the pile of books virtually stacked up on my kindle, and this time I wasn’t so bowled over.

LUSH is set in a dystopian/utopian esque world in which one’s entire future is controlled. Children from the age of five a brought up in a government run school facility, in which girls and boys are kept entirely separate and memories of their younger lives are repressed. At the age of seventeen, the two sexes are reunited once again, under close supervision, during which time they undertake a series of tests which not only determine the career path they are best suited for, but also whether or not they are fertile. After this they are released into society, to start training for their new career and to try and secure a marriage contract, have children etc etc. The story follows Bluebell, aged seventeen and member of a family which dates back to the founding council, as she goes through the integration process and what follows. Except Bluebell is special (obviously). Instead of being branded merely fertile or infertile, she is instead Lush with life – a status which sets her on a path in the public spotlight, and which leads her to discover some of the darker secrets of her family.

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And I think this is where my problem with the the book lay. I never really understood what ‘Lush with life’ actually meant – whilst I assumed that it was meant to imply that she was super-fertile of something, it was just never really explained beyond it being really great. What did she add to society, other than a few more children? What did it mean biologically? Historically? I don’t know. i can only assume that it will be explained in one of the next book in the trilogy. There may also have been some personal bias involved related to memories of my father mocking my now Cardiff based sister for her increased use of the word ‘lush’  since going to uni. I just cannot take the word seriously. But I’m fairly sure that’s just me.

Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not actually a bad book. I just wasn’t thrilled by it. Much of the story was fairly generic, and I could predict what was going to happen in a ‘just get on with it already’ kinda way rather than an, ‘oooh I can’t wait for that to happen’ one. I do want to know what happens, but I’m not sure if I’m invested enough to pay for the next two books in the series. I’m still on the fence about this one guys.

~ Becca x


Take a look yourself:     UK     US

(something weird happens when I try to access the US link – I think it’s because I’m in the UK, but I’m not sure, so sorry about that)

I Don’t Know Anymore: TV and Stuff, because my brain is dead.

I really seem to struggle to read when I’m at university. It may have something to do with the fact that, seeing as I spend at least 5 hours a day trawling through piles from the library, trying to put together some semblance of an essay, my desire to read in my spare time decreases hugely. But I think I also feel that when I’m not working I should be doing something useful with my time; making the most of the short amount of my life I’ll spend at University. So instead of reading I’m doing two sports and still attempting to have a social life… Hmmm.

I do find though that there are some places where I am just more comfortable reading. At home I read partly because I live in a fairly suburban-esque area and there’s basically nothing else to do, but also because, curled up on my bed, or lying on the sofa I can really lose myself in the book. Before they downsized, I used to really enjoy reading at my Grandparents house as well – reading was actively encouraged and my Grandfather used to buy us books every christmas and every birthday, which meant that every time we visited it was basically a three day readathon for the whole family, interspersed with a few countryside walks. It was also a really big house, that always seemed really quiet so it was perfect for reading. Bliss. Beaches are also fantastic to read on, if you can cope with propping yourself up on your arms for that long; again, I think it has to do with not needing to be doing anything else. You’re there to relax anyway, so spending hours reading in the sun is amazing, and if you want a break the sea is right there. Being in Oxford I do really miss the beach.

Here however, I wish I read more. Instead I just seem to watch TV – I use it to wake up in the morning, before my brain has had time to fully engage, while I drink my tea. SO i thought I’d let you in on what I’m watching at the moment, seeing as I don’t seem to be reading anywhere near as much as I should.

100The 100: 

Based off of a book that I still haven’t got around to reading, season 2 has just started and it’s great. Well, I think so – my boyfriend says its one of the worst things he’s ever watched and will barely let me even put it on if he’s in the room. Spoilsport. If you don’t already know, its based after earth was made unliveable, due to radiation, and 90 or so years later, a group of children are sent down to try and repopulate it. Only they have to deal with what was left behind. It’s very dystopian, very post-apocaliptic, with a bit of an iffy love-triangle, but Clark is badass, and it’s really fast paced. I have no clue where this season is going to go, but with a whole bunch of new people introduced I’m really excited. I also can’t wait to see how the power dynamic changes now that the adults are on the ground, because the kids have all the knowledge and I don’t think the grown-ups will adjust very well. Worth a watch, and I might even try and read the book at some point soon.

reignReign:

Here we have a period drama based around the life of Mary Queen of Scots, starring Adelaide Kane. I say period drama loosely though. It’s more like Gossip Girl set in Tudor France, with an indie soundtrack, chokablok with The Lumineers, Imagine Dragons and the like. I think one of my favourites was a cover of Lorde’s Royals done on violins as one of the ballroom dances. Again, just starting it’s second season, it’s full of intrigue and magic, plots and the romantic chaos that you expect from such a show. It’s fairly predictable and everybody seems to die, but it’s still fun and I’m getting addicted.

The OC - Ten Years LaterThe OC:

I decided to start watching this a couple of weeks ago, and my lord does it make me feel old. Originally released in 2003, the outfits and the music definitely dates it. It’s a fairly typical teenage high-school drama, set in California, from which stars such as Rachel Bilson and Mischa Barton originated. There’s drama every episode, like, seriously, no one has that much drama in their life, it’s ridiculous. And yet somehow everything always seems sunny and happy at the same time. It’s not as good as One Tree Hill. And I’m not even sure how good One Tree Hill is now that I’m no longer 15, but The OC does make for some adequate half-asleep, background type watching, so why not. I’ve got 4 seasons to go…

So I guess that was kind of an update? I don’t know – I feel as though I haven’t been reading enough to talk about new books, and my brain is dead from nearly 4 hours of sport so I’m too lazy to actually think up an interesting post. So you’re stuck with some ramblings and the shit I’m currenty watching on TV. I have pretty bad taste in TV… Oh well. Maybe next week. In actual updates though, I have given up on The Program, finally, in favour of Shadow and Bone, which is sooooo much better. I’m already half-way through and I’ve barely put any time into it. Review to follow. Probably….

~ Becca x

The Pages of Inspiration

So life feels a bit hectic at the moment, and actually spending time sitting down to blog feels like a luxury. But I always knew going back to Oxford would be busy, and it’s nice not to have the pressure of needing to finish books now, especially since I’m still under half-wiy through The Programme. I’d been reading it in the gym a lot, but now that training has started again, I’ve been spending time at the Sports Centre and not the gym so progress has been slow. It’s okay so far. I’m not enthralled though – I have no desperation to pick it up and a lot of the time have been opting to continue my Gilmore Girls marathon instead. All of the characters feel quite superficial but I’m not sure how much of that is deliberate. I’m also not sure the story has really got going yet though, so I’m not giving up this soon. I’ll keep you posted.

I’ve spent a lot of the last week or so, beginning to look up DPhil’s for post-graduate study, which, by the way, is terrifying. It means I have to write a bunch of personal statements for various applications, which got me thinking. Here in the UK we have to write a personal statement in order to apply to university, and I remember my Oxford one from four years ago. in it I say that I fell in love with my subject due to a series of children’s books, and looking back, I realise how important books can be in inspiring us, or showing us avenues that we hadn’t previously thought of. The books I was then referring to were the Roman Myteries series by Caroline Lawrence. I read the lot, even though by the time the last ones came out I was basically already going off to university. If you haven’t read them, they’re about 4 kids who are detectives in Ancient Rome and get in to all sorts of trouble and it’s very overblown and it’s great. The thing I really loved though was how accurate it was. Not the characters or the plot, granted, but the world it was set in, which was not only extremely believable but, as a now Classicist, surprisingly similar to the real Ancient Rome. There was even a bibliography in the back. It first introduced me to the details of archaeology and of the classical world and I instantly fell in love. Even now, starting my Masters degree, and having renounced as much Roman stuff as I can in favour of Greek, I owe where I am to those books. They started my love for my subject and they still have pride of place on my bookshelves: all 18 of them.

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It’s amazing how important books can be to us. In inspiring us, or making us want to travel (Daughter of Smoke and Bone made me desperate to go to Prague), or even make us want to act or be a certain way, almost encouraging us to be a better version of ourselves, if you will. Whilst many of us, myself included, read for escapism, we shouldn’t forget the huge impact that books can have off of the page as well.

Do you have any books that have influenced you, even just a little bit? Or is there a book that is more important to you than any other because of what it means to you in the real world? Let me know, while I go and plow my way through this packet of chocolate malted milks…

~ Becca x

Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins

Awwwwwwwwwwww. Awwwwwwwwwww pretty much says it all. I genuinely contemplated just typing aw for 500 characters but that probably doesn’t improve anyone’s day. Except maybe mine. Seriously though, this book it cute. It somehow manages to be a pretty damn good portrayal of teenage relationships, at least in my experience. Anna and the French Kiss follows Anna, a 17 year old from Atlanta, who has been sent to boarding school in Paris for her senior year, alone. Leaving behind her best friend Bridge, and her potential love interest Toph, she is initially reluctant to open up to the most romantic city in the world, but after making friends and developing a connection to heartthrob, Etienne St Clair, she begins to feel at home. Unfortunately for Anna, St Clair is taken.

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This book basically reminds me of watching the romantic lives of a lot of my friends at Sixth Form. People fight, they confuse lust with love, characters are underhanded, Anna likes St Clair, who is dating Ellie, but likes Anna, but won’t bloody do anything about it. Anna’s new best friend likes St Clair. Frankly everyone likes St Clair. It’s just St Clair who has no bloody clue what he’s doing. It is a complete and total mess for most of the book. But the thing is, that’s why it’s so believable. 17, 18 year olds who have no clue what they’re doing, are full of hormones, and are still working out who they are make mistakes. This book is full of mistakes. But it’s also endearing. It’s cute, and funny, and it makes you squeal. I particularly liked the fact that, even when they do make mistakes, there’s no real animosity. As friends, after the initial reaction, they forgive each other and move on. They support each other. Which is healthy. And which more people need to read about, because I’ve seen, and unfortunately read about, enough friendship groups (thankfully not my own) where arguments mean taking sides, and rumour spreading, and not talking ever again because of some petty disagreement. Eurgh. The only thing I wasn’t really down with was the whole cheating thing. It was mild, and cleared up pretty quick, but it still wasn’t really okay. The not okayness was at least addressed by pretty much every character aside from Anna herself though, which for me was important. Because yes, teenagers make mistakes, but I’m glad Stephanie Perkins isn’t outright condoning it.

Which brings me on to Anna herself – I can’t say I’m her biggest fan. Frankly, she’s irritating and self-centred and whiny. But that doesn’t mean that I found her a bad character. She’s not always irritating and self-centred and whiny. I don’t think her character really changes throughout the book, but she does have other traits which appear at various points. She’s funny, smart, persistent, dedicated to her schoolwork, hardworking, she supports her friends, and she tries to be the best person she can be. She even realises when she’s being whiny and self-centred and usually goes to apologise eventually. So she’s definitely a nice, well rounded character. Just if we met in person, I don’t think I could cope…

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I also loved the setting. And whilst I imagine that the Parisian location is a draw for a lot of people, it was actually quite a surprise for me. I visited Paris when I was about 12, and I hated it. I am not a city person. And Paris was just, burgh – people were rude, it was busy and dirty and so many pigeons and it smelt weird, and I didn’t much like the food (which might actually say more about where we ate than French food as a whole – I have nothing against French food. it rocks). But I did not enjoy it at all. I often find that books make me open up to places, they make me aware of another side of a place, see it’s beauty in a new way, see it’s magic. Daughter of Smoke and Bone made me desperate to go to Prague; The Chalet School to Vienna, and Anna and the French Kiss has started to make me re-evaluate Paris.

~ Becca x

P.S – I absolutely adore the current covers for this series. I have no clue why, I just think they’re absolutely gorgeous.


The standard Amazon links:     UK     US

The Liebster Award

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I was nominated for the Liebster Award by AppleTaile. We haven’t known about each other for very long but that means nothing in the blogosphere. Thank you for the nomination! Also go and check out her blog because it’s great.

I’m also following the rules set down by 52lettersinthealphabet, with the same change in that I don’t know enough blogs to nominate, so ALL OF YOU are nominated. Go ahead and consider yourselves awarded. And do it.

The rules are:

1. Link to and thank the blogger who nominated you
2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator gives you

3. Tag 11 other bloggers who have 200 or less followers
4. Ask the 11 bloggers you nominated 11 questions and let them know you nominated them!

Anyway, here are the questions:

1. Do you dog-ear the corners of pages in the books you read, or does the idea make you scream?

Yes, so badly. I have a habit of folding over corners of pages containing quotes I particularly like, with a mind to go back and write them don when I get a chance. I inevitably never do end up writing them down, but if you go through my bookshelves you’ll get an insight into my brain just by looking at the folded pages. I also am that annoying person who leaves books open on their spine to mark my page. My best loved books are in the worst condition. But in my opinion a book is there to be loved, not sit in a display case…


2. When you eat, do you save the tastiest food until last or eat it first?

Most of the time I leave it until last, unless it’s something like ice-cream that will melt or taste awful cold. I made the mistake of leaving my halloumi until last once and cold halloumi just isn’t the same.  I remember my mother and my aunt having an argument over this at the kitchen table once though, so it apparently doesn’t run universally in my family.


3. Do you prefer fountain pens, gel pens, biros, or felt tips?

I like the concept of fountain pens, and I love the feel of them as they write, but I’m left handed which means I get the decision between horrendous wrist pain, or blue ink smeared absolutely everywhere. Same problem with gel pens. Which means biros for day to day life, and felt tips for everything I want to look good. Stabilo fineliners are my favourite but they cost a fortune, and you can’t buy the purple ones individually. (For some reason I choose to write in purple).


4. Do you watch any long-standing TV programme?

I’ve watched Doctor Who since Eccleston. I also religiously watch Teen Wolf much to the dismay of my boyfriend, but I don’t know if that counts as long-standing.


5. If you were having a surprise party tomorrow, what cake or dessert would you make?

Betty Crocker’s Devil’s Food Cake. Partly because it’s amazing and partly because I am actually capable of making it.


6. Do you have a lucky number? If so, what is it?

I wouldn’t say I have a lucky number. If I’m ever asked my favourite number I always say 4, but I have no clue why.


7. What’s your typing style? Can you touch type?

I type fairly quickly, but I still look at the keyboard a lot. I can type without looking, and tend to finish words as such, but if I try to touch type whole sentences I end up thinking about it too much and start making mistakes. So kinda? I feel like touch typing is fairly redundant in my generation now anyway, as everyone types pretty fast, having spent our entire lives connected to the internet.


8. Do you like to buy aesthetically pleasing products? Do book covers affect the books you buy?

I am a complete sucker for pretty things. I buy half of what I do based on aesthetics, including books, which means I have a lot of books on my shelf that look nice but are completely unread. On the other hand I’ve also found some really amazing books because of it, like Throne of Glass, usually as my 3rd of Waterstone’s 3 for 2. I also buy wine based on how aesthetically pleasing the label is, but that’s a topic for another time…


9. What’s your favourite kind of sandwich?

I tend to eat wraps so I don’t really eat sandwiches much anymore unless they’re grilled, so either a tuna melt, or a croque monsieur. Fried brie, bacon and cranberry sandwiches are also amazing, but are a heart attack in a pan.


10. Which season do you like best, and why?

I am a summer child. I always feel happiest in the summer, especially by the sea when your skin ends up part sweat from the heat, part salt from the wind. I really hate being cold, but I’m also not a fan of wearing massive coats if I can avoid it, as it feels too bulky. Which is an issue because college haven’t turned the heating on yet so I have to wear thermals. I always feel like I like the idea of winter, but after a few days of enjoying it, the novelty wears off and I am reminded that in Britain winter = rain. Summer all the way.

11. What would you summarise the meaning of life to be, in less than 3 sentences?

42? I don’t know; I don’t think I actually have a serious answer. Be happy? Do what you love? I feel like I haven’t lived enough to have found it myself yet… Come back to me in 30 years and I might be able to tell you (although probably not). (Totally not less that 3 sentences).

 

My questions are:

1. How do you organise your bookshelves?

2. In what kind of apocalypse do you think you are most likely to survive?

3. Are you are city or a country person? Why?

4. If you could live in any fictional world where would it be?

5. Write a haiku?

6. Who has influenced your perspective the most in life?

7. Do you prefer to buy your books in bookshops, at second-hand stalls or online?

8. If you could marry any fictional character who would it be?

9. Favourite Starbucks drink?

10. Are you a Christmas Jumper person?

11. What are you most looking forwards to?

 

I’m going to nominate Bookw0rmtales – and all of you!

 

~ Becca x

When in Oxford: A Bookshelf Switch and Termly TBR

So this is what Oxford looks like today:

Ox 2 Ox 4

Still as beautiful as ever, if very very wet. And yes, I am finally back. I spent my morning today training to be a consent workshop facilitator, which basically involves leading discussions on consent and the culture surrounding it. Discourse surrounding sexual abuse and consent is incredibly important if we want to break the culture of victim shaming and ‘Blurred Lines’ to quote the incredibly awful Robin Thicke song. Without talking about these subjects, the bad becomes normalised, and incidents get brushed under the carpet; we act as if, by not talking about them, they cease to exist. And that got me to thinking about the role consent plays in books. *Spoilers* In Anna and the French Kiss for instance, she asks Etienne to kiss her – clear consent, even if I have other issues with that particular scene. In Crown of Midnight, Celaena is clearly consenting to her escapades with Chaol. All of which is great. But I think that there is more to be said on how consent is explored and portrayed in books. This post is not where I want to do this – it’s far too big and important a discussion and so I want the chance to go home to my bookshelves and do a bit more research before plunging into the topic headfirst. If I’m going to talk about it then I think it’s important to do it properly, and I don’t feel in a position to do that yet. But I did still want to mention it here to start to get people thinking, especially with the huge importance the conversation on sexual abuse is currently playing within the YouTube community. If you don’t know hat I’m talking about, go and look it up, as a lot of people have great things to say. So this may be just barely touch on the idea, but I do want to come back to it so watch this space, and if you know of any books in which consent is a particularly big theme, or for that matter, a minor one, please do send them my way.

What I did want to do with this post is actually far more trivial, so sorry to disappoint anyone who was hoping for an in depth discussion of what I learnt this morning. You’ll have to wait. Moving back to Oxford means that I had to leave my bookshelves behind. *cries* For the next eight weeks of so, I will be swapping fantasy and dystopia, for these:

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And for anyone whose ever actually read Arrian back to back, you’ll know that a ten page description of troop layout and battle tactics is far less enticing than it is in YA fiction. I did, however, allow myself a few escapist reading books. So without further ado, here is my termly TBR:

THE PROGRAM 0719_LOThe Programme: Suzanne Young

I’m already a fair few chapters into this and it seems okay so far, I’m not completely enthused by it, but it still has time to woo me. It’s set in a dystopian-esque world in which teen depression, leading to suicide, has become an epidemic. In an attempt to cure it, the government instrumented a therapy known as ‘The Program’, but those who go through The Program don’t come out the same. Oooooh dramatic. Tbh, I’m just waiting for the main character, Sloane, to get thrown in already.

calamityThe First Book of Calamity Leek: Paula Lichtarowicz

I think this is about cults? I don’t know. I’ve heard it’s weird but the cover is pretty.

cressCress: Marissa Meyer

I loved Cinder, I loved Scarlett. I hope I love Cress. The entire Lunar chronicles are retellings of classic fairytales in a futuristic society. Cinderella is a cyborg. Red Riding Hood is in love with a mutant wolf man. And now we get Rapunzel – I can’t wait.

shadow-and-bone_hi-res-677x1024Shadow and Bone: Leigh Bardugo

I bought this book because I kept hearing so many good things about it. I bought it without actually reading the blurb though… So I’ve just gone and read the blurb and apparently it’s about an orphan who gets thrown into the world of the elite and has to save the kingdom. There also appears to be a love triangle between her childhood friend, and a potentially evil guy called the Darkling. Because god knows we all need more love triangles. But yeah, I’ve heard good things about it, so maybe there isn’t a love triangle after all… I’ll let you know.

What are you all reading this Autumn?

~ Becca x

Monotony and Changing Times

This summer I have made more blog posts than I have in the entire year I have been writing this blog, but looking back, they are all reviews. 100%. Which for a book review blog sounds about right. Except when I actually got through and read my blog, I want something else. To be honest, I want to write something else – review after review after review is beginning to get a bit monotonous, and you know, that is pretty much the entire point of Goodreads. And Amazon review. Basically we don’t need another site for that.

That isn’t to say that I regret writing so many reviews. I think starting a blog can be hard and daunting, and sometimes you need something basic until you can work out exactly what it is you want to explore with your newfound platform. Writing reviews has allowed me to establish how I like to write, the voice I like to use – through it I have been able to work out where my comfort zone is, and in what ways I want to go beyond it. What I’m saying is that sometimes, monotony is good. It is the monotony of going to school everyday, learning the same subjects and half the time being bored out of our minds that gives us the skill and the knowledge to be able to go off to work, or university, and be able to become our own people. It is the monotony of practice, whether in sport or music or any area of life, that gives us the opportunity to take a skill in our own direction. It was the monotony of learning to read – tracing letters over and over from a Letterland worksheet; the increasing weirdness of yet another Biff, Chip and Kipper book, that shaped our love of books today. Monotony is important. But only if you then choose to do something with it. You have to choose to build.

everybody biff chip kipper

I go back to university next week and, as seen last year, Oxford isn’t really an environment which allows you a lot of free time to explore your own bookshelves. I spend most of my time in a library anyway, so to be honest when I get back to my room, my desire to read anymore isn’t particularly high. And to be honest, once I take extra-curriculars and having any semblance of a social life into account, I just don’t have time. I’m going back as a Master’s student this year as well, which means the work will be harder, more intense, and at this point I have no clue how my time will have to be divided. Which means reading will probably have to take a backseat. I think the same idea goes for a lot of people going away to university, whether as an Undergrad or a graduate. Change is daunting, but it isn’t something to be afraid of.

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So I’m going to use the opportunity to make a few changes here. I’m still going to write reviews. I love reviewing books – it’s basically just an opportunity to rant and fangirl wildly – but I want to explore other things too. I have no clue what, probably just more ramblings like this (I don’t even know what this is) but yeah. Change y’all.

~ Becca x

HEIR OF FIRE IS AMAZING

Why I loved Heir of Fire, and wish I loved The Assassin’s Blade.

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Because I did. Love Heir of Fire I mean. It was so good. I don’t want to say too much, because if you haven’t read it YOU NEED TO GO AND READ IT. So much world building; we finally get to see why everything is the way it is, both in terms of the role of magic, and in term’s of Celaena’s past. New characters – Manon is especially interesting I think because I don’t really know what her motives are going to be yet, and I’m just really really hoping Sarah J. Maas doesn’t just decide to make her completely good and moral by the end because I think there is just so much more that can be explored there; I’m trusting her though as she hasn’t let us down with anything else. Celaena especially develops as a character throughout the book, not only because we do get to understand her backstory, but also in the decisions she makes, and the way she views herself, once you get past the angst in the first half of the book (I mean, completely understandable and deserved angst, but still angst of the highest degree). And Rowan and Celaena. Oh my god. Yes. So much yes. For the first time we get a Throne of Glass book where romance isn’t one of the main story arcs, and as much as I loved watching Chaol and Celaena up to now, the platonic relationship between these two was absolutely wonderful, and so, so needed. It’s the relationship I wanted between Paige and Warden in The Bone Season, and it made me SO HAPPY. And then the ending – beautifully brutal. I can’t bear to wait a year for the next one.

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Which makes me think that I should actually try and finish The Assassin’s Blade, as a good was to get my Celaena fix during the wait. But the thing is, I really struggled with it. I don’t know why, but I ended up putting it down half-way through, having taken a good month or so to get there, and just never had the desire to get pick it up again. Which makes me sad. I feel like I couldn’t connect with Celaena in anywhere near the same way as I do in the actual novels, and it just felt clunky and rushed and I don’t know. It put me off so much that I actually went across London to Foyles so as not to have the novella that came as bonus material in the Waterstones editions. If anyone has any ideas how to make me like it I will love you forever – I am determined to try it again soon, but in the meantime, I’m going to sit here and think about Rowan.

~ Becca x


Buy it, buy it – no, seriously, go buy it:     UK     US