Review | To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

At the turn of the twenty-second century, scientists make a breakthrough in human spaceflight. Through a revolutionary method known as somaforming, astronauts can survive in hostile environments off Earth using synthetic biological supplementations. They can produce antifreeze in sub-zero temperatures, absorb radiation and convert it for food, and conveniently adjust to the pull of different gravitational forces. With the fragility of the body no longer a limiting factor, human beings are at last able to explore neighbouring exoplanets long suspected to harbour life.

Ariadne is one such explorer. On a mission to ecologically survey four habitable worlds fifteen light-years from Earth, she and her fellow crewmates sleep while in transit, and wake each time with different features. But as they shift through both form and time, life back on Earth has also changed. Faced with the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten those who have left, Ariadne begins to chronicle the wonders and dangers of her journey, in the hope that someone back home might still be listening.

Title: To Be Taught, if Fortunate

Author: Becky Chambers

Genre: Sci-Fi

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

You always know what you’re getting with a Becky Chambers book: amazing new worlds and technologies and beautifully written people and emotions. It’s the best parts of hard Sci-fi and contemporary all rolled into one. She is forever on my list of auto-buy authors.

I was the tiniest bit apprehensive when starting this novella because I’d only ever read full novels from Becky Chambers before so couldn’t be sure if she was just as good writing in a shorter format. A lot of people assume short story writing and novel writing are basically the same, but that is definitely not the case, and I worried that the loss of time to develop the characters as amazingly as she usually does would really hinder the book.

Well I shouldn’t have been worried one bit!

To Be Taught, If Fortunate has slight ‘The Martian’ vibes, in that it describes all the complicated science in a way that I think makes it accessible to a lot of the general public, even if you aren’t that into science (though if you aren’t into science at all, then why are you reading Sci-Fi…?). It has just enough detail to be accurate, but enough general description and comparisons to be easily visualisable while reading. I especially loved the description of the spiral “grass” on the second planet.

It’s written in an interesting way: the book is supposed to be a report or message sent from the ship back to Earth, and you aren’t sure until the end of the book whether the message is an S.O.S, or research notes, or what. Even with the limitations this style can bring, she still manages to bring the emotion and effects of space travel and isolation to the foreground so we really care about the crew.

It’s very sad that this book is as short as it is, I think I could read 1000 pages of Becky Chambers’ writing and never get bored. The new concepts, the colourful worlds, the three-dimensional characters, there’s nothing that she does poorly in my opinion.

The ending is one of my favourite kinds in Sci-Fi: one that makes you think and decide what you think would happen next. This book asks the big questions and I love it for that. This is for sure a book I’ll recommend to any of my friends, especially my fellow sci-fi readers.

Invictus by Ryan Graudin Review or I completely lost track of the time!

Time flies when you’re plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

[Disclaimer] This review is of an Advanced Readers Copy so some things may have changed in the final version.

This book made me realise an important thing: I’ve missed books about time travel!

Ever since the Time Riders series by Alex Scarrow, I’ve been waiting for something to fill that void. This book is that book.

Just to start with something that I really loved about it (not time travel related) was the fact that there are multiple female main characters in this book, and they’re all such distinctive independent characters without falling into that ‘tough as nails’ basically having no personality apart from badass trope.

One girl chalks her hair every colour under the sun and fancies the mathematician/programmer type guy on the ship while also adoring her pet red panda. One is a mysterious loner who tags along on their missions and who seems to know far more than she’s letting on. One is a quiet medic who is in a relationship with the main character but doesn’t let that define her and who is inquisitive as hell.

Basically, it wins hands down on female character representation for me. I love them all!

At first glance also, the plot doesn’t seem too complicated, but when you break it down it actually has a lot crammed into it without feeling too bulky or info-dumpy. Things that happen are explained nicely so you don’t need to know quantum physics to get it, but you also don’t feel talked down to. Overall, a nice balance.

One thing I did find though: This book was a little too easy to put down.

Now, I’m not sure if that was just me at the time, or if the book didn’t pull me in enough to leave me wanting to find out what happens next enough. I mean, I put this book down at around 80 pages for months before picking it up again, that doesn’t lend itself to the label of ‘page-turner’.

However, this got better throughout the book, and though it didn’t ever get quite as magnetic as a lot of other books have been with me, it was still hard enough to put it down that I finished it easily within a week once I got going. This only knocks off one star for me from the rating, not too bad.

I really enjoyed this book: the evil characters were understandable and bad enough to be a threat but not cartoonish, female diversity, racial diversity (to a certain extent), a likeable but flawed main character, drama, and time travel thievery! There’s a lot to like about this book.

It left me happy and wanting to read more from Ryan Graudin, which is all I can ask of a book really!

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ember Burning by Jennifer Alsever Review or Cabin in The Woods really took a different turn

Senior year was supposed to be great–that’s what Ember’s friend Maddie promised at the beginning of the year. Instead, Ember TrouvE spends the year drifting in and out of life like a ghost, haunted by her parents’ recent, tragic death.

At home, she pores over her secret obsession: pictures of missing kids– from newspaper articles, from grocery store flyers– that she’s glued inside a spiral notebook. Like her, the people are lost. Like her, she discovers, they had been looking for a way to numb their pain when they disappeared.

When Ember finds herself in Trinity Forest one day, a place locals stay away from at all costs, she befriends a group of teenagers who are out camping. Hanging out with them in the forest tainted with urban legends of witchcraft and strange disappearances, she has more fun than she can remember having. But something isn’t right.

The candy-covered wickedness she finds in Trinity proves to be a great escape, until she discovers she can never go home. Will Ember confront the truth behind her parents’ death, or stay blissfully numb and lose herself to the forest forever?

[DISCLAIMER] I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

This was a fairly tricky review to write; I loved this book, or at least the feeling it gave me, but it also had some issues.

I’ll start with the good stuff since I don’t often do that on here apparently!

The plot reminded me of those standard books you used to read as a kid/tween. Very much a loner girl finding a magical land and some new friends (one cute but brooding boy omg!!) and who is the only person who can solve the mystery lurking beneath it all. That part was warm and fuzzy and let me just sink into the book like an old friend.

It was also quite quick and easy to read, a good palate cleanser between books that strain your mind and make you think (I love those, but sometimes my tired brain just can’t take it!) and Ember was quite a relatable character for the most part, her background was dark enough to explain how much she had gone off the rails, but with that spark of interest in her old things still. I loved a scene where her and another main guy just bounce science facts off each other for a page or two, it made me smile.

But there were parts to it that made me leave the story for a little while, like I was pushed out of the film running in my head. It made it a little jarring to stay in.

For one, the speech was a bit stilted and unrealistic. One minute a character will be calmly talking down another, and the next they’re flying off the handle in a rage out of nowhere. I thought I knew one guy’s personality a lot, then he’d go and do something completely out of character.

A fair bit of the plot is left to the background for a while too, like we don’t know a huge amount about Ember’s family or life and we don’t get to see much before she’s thrown into the mystery of Trinity. I’d have liked to see some more of her daily life, a little more school and interactions before Trinity happened. Also, this would have made the changes after her visit much more obvious and make her leaving mean more to me at the beginning.

I also quite disliked the magic plot device of the notebook Ember had been carrying around with her for almost the whole book. It felt like the information in that book would have made sense a lot earlier to her and helped her solve a few of the mysteries much earlier in the book too. But instead the dramatic reveal and piecing together of information later on just felt a bit frustrating to me.

However, the creepiness of the mystery really kept me hooked! It wasn’t obvious, or easily guessed (for me at least), and gave the book a good dark feel to it which paired well with the backstories of the poor main characters.

The ending was just creepy enough for me to be excited about the next book too. Not every book has to be amazing or super complex for me to enjoy reading it, and this book was overall quite an interesting and unique idea. Also I’m a sucker for creepy books every now and again!

That’s why I’ve ended up giving this book 3 stars, and might even be picking up the sequel soon.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Daughter of the Burning City Review or A Serious Problem with Second Hand Smoke

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

I genuinely enjoyed this book, it was one of those ‘ooh I can’t wait to get back to reading that!’ ones, but not because it was the Best Book Ever, more because it was cosy and warm. And when there’s snow everywhere right now in the UK, you need some cosiness and warmth if you can get it.

To be honest though, the first half of the book was a bit slow going. There wasn’t a huge amount of drama or gore in the murders that are the focal point of the book, and just a lot of wandering around Gommorah.

I felt like Sorina was easily convinced; her opinions seemed to flip to match whoever she was talking to at the time which made her seem a little like a pushover, but then when she gains some confidence and attacks out of nowhere this then just makes her seem a bit unstable.

It was also ‘LGBT’. I put those in quotes because it felt more like LGBT-lite than actual LGBT+ representation. People who were gay or Bi (like the main character) just kind of had it mentioned a few times and brushed over like it was no big deal and didn’t affect anything.

Now, I know that it’s almost the goal to have this be the case, that someone shouldn’t have to ‘come out’ and everyone should just be able to like anyone no matter who they are, but it felt a bit like a checklist of representation than actually meaning it. Also, with the universe in the novel being so strongly ‘religious’ in the book’s own way, with the up-mountainers so strongly against Gomorrah and the ‘sins’ within, I wondered why this never came up as an issue and could have added more to the depth of the book if it had.

I mean, I did love how one of the main characters was strongly Demi-sexual and this was done quite nicely for the most part. Though it was seen as almost a ‘freak’ attribute at times, at least this LGBT+ representation was given some adversity and so got the chance to defend itself a little.

Also, one thing that bugged me: how Sorina doesn’t know the names of anyone in Gomorra.

I mean, I understand not knowing people personally or having many friends, but even at school when I stuck to my small group religiously, I still knew the names of pretty much everyone in my class and maybe a fact about them. You spend enough time near anyone and you pick up the details.

However, one thing that made me want to keep reading and ultimately made me love it enough to give it 4 stars was the mystery.

The murders and who is doing them, in some other similarly-themed books, can be done very quickly and mostly relying on the main character being super slow and ignoring BIG clues so that the reader has almost guessed it by the end of the book.

This book doesn’t do that, at all. The characters talk through their problems and mysteries a lot, so much that I completely followed it all and knew all the clues they knew and still had no idea what was going to happen at the end.

The big twist was a surprise and the whole solution was only remotely guessable towards the very end of the book. And I love when that happens! I get to run through all of my own theories with the characters doing the same as I go, and still get the satisfaction of the answer without the frustration of waiting for the characters to get where I had already been chapters before.

The romance was a nice slow burn too, ignoring the quick physical attraction Sorina is too prone to having, it didn’t feel rushed or unrealistic. And the ending felt well wrapped up and complete, with me putting the book down at the end with a smile.

Overall it was a lovely read, with a few thorns, but hopefully Amanda Foody’s next book ‘Ace of Shades’ is just as good, with even fewer thorns for me to be picky about! Would absolutely recommend for a fun read.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) Review or That is an excessive amount of stabbing.

“A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

I recently finished this book and gave it five stars. But now, after giving it a few days, I think it actually deserves four stars.

The main reason being: not a huge amount happens in most of the book. There’s some relationship drama (romantic and friendship), a little bit of mystery, learning a new language, a murder, and some rush at the end to finish the book with a bang.

Now don’t get me wrong, I loved what happened in the book, but the pace made it a bit too easy to put the book down and not need to get back to it in a hurry. There’s a lot of exposition and a bit more figured out about the King and the drama surrounding him, but nothing really gets resolved, and I felt like the riddles that Celaena solves only took so long in order to drag out the plot the book actually had in order to fill out a novel.

The book itself kind of gives off vibes of a sequel film – not quite as good as the first, less character building, and just feels like a filler till the next film comes along.

I don’t know if that’s partly because I’m a big fan of the structure of a competition in a book and how that forces the pacing and keeps me interested, and this book moved outside of that structure into a free-er style, but it just felt like it was meandering a bit.

Now that I’ve stomped on this book enough for one review, and of course – given the four star rating – you still know I really liked the book, I’ll move on to the positives!

Celaena is still one of my favourite characters in fantasy novels recently. She’s hot-headed and stubborn but also very confident and driven. She’s a three-dimensional character with even more hidden depths that get revealed in this book, and it’s nice to see more of those for women to look up to. (Yes, even with the whole ‘assassin’ thing!)

Also, the fight scenes are written really well in these books – which you’d hope given the main character does it for a living – they’re not easily rushed, they’re full of details but not boringly so, they’re dramatic and well-described. I know exactly who is stabbing who and where without reading it through 50 times to check.

Overall, I would absolutely recommend this book, and will be getting the sequels myself to continue the series, but make sure you push yourself through the slow bits, it’ll be worth it in the end!

(On a side note, I’m still waiting for more of the advertised characters to arrive like Manon and Rowan, but I’m told these only happen in Empire of Storms?? This feels like so far in the future, and I don’t know how they get into the books and are well-rounded enough given the speed of these books so far… maybe they speed up? Anywhoo, I’ll keep not-so-patiently waiting.)

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Hero at the Fall (Rebel of the Sands #3) Review or sand, sand everywhere, but not a drop to- yuck.

When gunslinging Amani Al’Hiza escaped her dead-end town, she never imagined she’d join a revolution, let alone lead one. But after the bloodthirsty Sultan of Miraji imprisoned the Rebel Prince Ahmed in the mythical city of Eremot, she doesn’t have a choice. Armed with only her revolver, her wits, and her untameable Demdji powers, Amani must rally her skeleton crew of rebels for a rescue mission through the unforgiving desert to a place that, according to maps, doesn’t exist. As she watches those she loves most lay their lives on the line against ghouls and enemy soldiers, Amani questions whether she can be the leader they need or if she is leading them all to their deaths.

[SPOILERS] potentially if you haven’t read the first two in the Rebel of the Sands series.

I usually find that the final book in a series is a risk. What if they don’t end like you want them to? What if they leave you wanting too much more that you just end up resenting the series for being over rather than enjoying it?

So when I started Hero I was both excited to finally read more about Armani’s universe and life, but also nervous that I’d built it up too much in my head and it wouldn’t live up to that.

But really, there was only one thing that I didn’t like about it, and so that’s why I’m dropping off half a star in my rating to 4.5 stars: the beginning was a tiny bit too slow for me.

And that’s it. That’s all I could find to dislike about Hero.

The rest was fast-paced and interesting and heartbreaking and all the feelings you’re supposed to feel when you read a good book.

People died, and others survived, and plenty of people were different at the end. And that was so good to read.

I also think the storytelling feel of these stories really adds so much to them and gives them a whole new level. You get to step back from the plot for a second and unravel a character and how they got to that point, then jump right back in. You get to read about how everything turns out in a fast pace but while also feeling like you’re still there with the characters.

It gives it a homeliness that I don’t usually get with the books I read. Like someone is reading it to me instead of me reading it in my own head.

Though I do remember struggling with Traitor to the Throne to get back into the characters and remember who was who, I can’t really say if this book would have had that issue too because I read it so much sooner after finishing the previous one. However, I think the characters were all so individual and clear that I don’t think I’d have struggled for long.

It was also nice to have a change of pace and scenery. From Traitor where Amani spends most of the book in one location to Hero where she roams almost the entire way across the desert again, it was an extreme shift that I loved. Both got to show a different side to Amani and the map in the front of the book helped so much in keeping track of her and the other members of the rebellion.

Overall, I loved this story and the characters, and I’ll miss them all so much. This book made me actually cry at points, which takes a lot for me, and at other times I found myself smiling just because of one particular paragraph.

It was a rollercoaster of emotions and a lovely read. I’ve never been more satisfied at the end of a trilogy before. Alwyn Hamilton has an amazing and unique voice and I hope to read a lot more from her in the future.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Determined to read my TBR – a promise to myself

I’ve spent far too long recently thinking “oh god I can’t wait to read that book, and that book, and that book…”

Well finally, I’m actually going to do it! And to show myself that I will, I’m going to list some books that I’ve been saying I’ll read for far too long. I’m going to make a promise to myself to actually get around to reading them.

To be fair, one or two of these are more modern releases that I put on this list just so they don’t become one of those “oh I meant to read that!” books and thus continue my cycle.

Anywhoo, without further ado, here is my list: (click on the titles to go to the goodreads page for each book.)

Invictus – Ryan Graudin

This will be a common theme in this TBR list, but I actually started reading this book and then just…never finished it. I only reached around page 100 and then couldn’t go any further and honestly, I couldn’t say why.

I was in a book slump and a not so happy period of my life, so just couldn’t get in to much, but then I never picked the books I dropped during that time back up afterwards and I’ve been meaning to for so long.

Besides, a book about time travel?? That just sounds like something I’d love!

Before She Ignites – Jodi Meadows

You’ve guessed it, this is another book that I started during a book slump and never went back to.

Now seems like a great time to pick this on back up, especially since I read The Last Namsara recently and it got me into such a dragon obsession for a while. What better to keep that going than another book about dragons?

I loved the Incarnate series by Jodi Meadows, so I’m sure that I’ll love this book just as much. Now I just need to read the thing!

Golden Son – Pierce Brown

This is the first book on my list that isn’t one I gave up on! Instead, this book is the second in a series that I’ve been “meaning to buy” for a while after completely loving Red Rising, the first in the series.

I do this a fair bit, but with this series I actually managed to find the next two books after Red Rising in a charity book sale recently, so of course I bought them!

Therefore, I’ve got no excuse to finally continue this awesome series. Bring it on!

Daughter of the Burning City – Amanda Foody

This book is one I got in a book subscription box, FairyLoot’s July 2017 box, thought sounded so cool, and then just never picked up.

I mean, I love circus or carnival based books so much, and this has that and powers and mystery and so much more, why wouldn’t I love it?

So I’m finally going to get to this, and then Amanda Foody has a new book coming out this year called Ace of Shades so I’ll be looking forward to that even more I’m sure!

Solitaire – Alice Oseman

Alice Oseman is one of my sister’s absolute favourite authors. Not only because her writing is so good, but also because she has so much representation in her books, races, sexualities, personalities, they’re so full!

So of course, since she’s bringing out another book this year that sounds so great, I can’t let myself stay so behind on her books!

To be honest though, this book sort of scared me when it first came out. I struggle with anxiety and depression, so reading about someone having so much stress/depression around the same time I was having the same felt a bit too much for me at the time. And ever since then that residual fear has kind of stuck to this book and made me hesitate when picking it up.

Well I refuse to be scared any more, and I’m putting it on my list!

The Cruel Prince – Holly Black

This is slightly unique in this list. I recently got The Cruel Prince in my January Fairyloot box and also from a Goodreads giveaway so… I have two copies! But also, it’s a much newer book than any other one on the list, not one I’ve been meaning to get to.

Even so, I think this deserves to be on here just so it doesn’t get left behind, because it’s a faerie book and by Holly Black who I absolutely love. Besides, it’s my list, I can do what I want! (So there.)

I’m looking forward to this.

Crown of Midnight – Sarah J. Maas

And finally! Drumroll… Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas.

I read Throne of Glass, the first in this series, a while ago and re-read it recently with the sole purpose of starting Crown of Midnight.

Unfortunately I was in a bad book slump at the time and I just couldn’t get past around page 90 before I admitted defeat and put it back on the shelf.

Well now I’m trying again! Out of my book slump and determined to finish this and get on to the later books in this series.

I’ve heard so much about this series and the characters in it that I can’t wait to get to know them all and understand everything I see on the internet about this series finally!

And that wraps up my TBR list. I’m thinking I’ll give myself a couple of months to get through these to really make sure I have time, barring anything dramatic happening it should be fine.

So… wish me luck! Let me know if you’ll be reading any of these alongside me, I might need fellow people to obsess with.

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson Review or Not-as-much-kissing-as-expected

A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can’t abide. Like having to marry someone she’s never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.

I’m generally bad at being mean about things, especially books. I like to imagine the author writing them and then get sad if I don’t like the writing because my imaginary (and I’m sure the real) author worked so hard to get it out to people!

But that only explains my three star rating for a fairly meh book overall.

It had so much promise: the first daughters with ‘the gift’, the running away from an arranged marriage, the assassin and prince both arriving on her doorstep and her not knowing who is who! That all sounds pretty exciting, and a lot of the things I like reading about when I want a comfort read.

But it wasn’t executed particularly well for me. There were lots of times when things were told and not shown, especially when new chapters started. A lot of ‘I turned up there because this happened and then this did, and so here I am.’ Like, I want to see all of that, to feel the reactions of the characters and to know more about how they handle every situation. To bond, basically.

In saying that, this book somehow also managed to overstay its welcome in certain scenes. It’s not like I want daring sword fights to the death in every chapter, but almost half a book being just ‘I settled into this town and then two guys show up’ was a bit much. I think I was 300 pages in when something really happened to drive the plot forward.

I did however love the main character, Lia was so nice and exactly how I thought a rebelling princess would be. Unfortunately I wanted to see even more of this too. Just a bit more in the palace showing her rebelling in little ways leading up to her wedding day would have really rounded her out I think, and shown the contrast between how she was expected to be and who she wanted to be in the town she escaped to much more.

Only once the plot starts moving forward in the last third did I really get what I wanted to see in her. More fire and emotions and her really coming into her own.

Oh, also, there was one scene that I almost laughed at. *Minor spoilers* here for those trying to avoid them.

There’s a scene where the Prince and his crew are talking about Lia and finding out more about her through the Prince and his description. This, to me, sounded much more like a stereotypical ‘girl chat’ than any conversation I’ve heard before. He goes all mushy all of a sudden, out of character, and then literally goes ‘and the kiss…’ *deep sigh* And his friends go ‘It was that good??’

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had that level of stereotypical girl talk with all of my best friends, even when we’re being especially gossipy! It threw me out of the story a little and seemed jarring in terms of the Prince’s character.

Overall, I still think this book is a good easy read, if you don’t mind ignoring a lot of plot issues and being flexible with your character development, and I might even read the second book in the series in future if I run out of books I can just read for fun and turn my brain off during. (You need those every now and again, to escape daily stresses.) But, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to all of my friends.

P.S. Though look at that gorgeous cover! If anything, it’ll look good on your shelves.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Finding a new way

So these past few months out of University have at least taught me one thing: There are many ways to get what you want out of life.

And that’s without actually getting there myself yet.

My goals were this:
1. Write. It doesn’t matter if it’s books, articles, this blog, whatever, just write.
2. Be happy in whatever job I end up in.

I thought to get those things that I’d have to be a professional writer, or editor or something. But what if I can be a data analyst and freelance article writer? Or work in finance within a publishing company whilst writing as a hobby?

There are are so many possibilities to do what you want in life. Even if it seems like there’s only one path.

Hell, my mum thought she was going to be a doctor, failed her A-levels, did a zoology degree that she hated, then went into computer programming and now works in finance. And she’s very happy with how her life turned out.

I mean, there will be people like my dad who knew what they wanted and went down the straight path to it. But others will take more of a spaghetti junction kind of route. Yes, we might take a bit longer, but we still get there, and the journey might be super stressful, but it also might be far more fun.

Right now I work part time in a shop. Is it what I want to do for the rest of my life? No.
Is it a good job that helps me earn my keep at home and stops me from going stir crazy? Yes.
And besides, I knew the first job I got out of university wasn’t going to be my lifelong career.

I just hope that the route to that will be a hell of a lot of fun, and I’ll love it when I get there.

(Apparently I’m also a novice motivational speaker on the side, who knew?)

What writing three positive things about myself a day taught me.

I’ve been trying to be happier recently.

It’s not that I’ve been depressed or even particularly sad, just not particularly happy either.

It might be one of those things that just happens when you’re thrown out into the real world and things don’t go quite as you expected. Or maybe it’s just a residual sadness from being rejected from so many jobs, especially the most recent one which was one I really wanted to do.

But really I’ve been feeling just not good enough.

Not good enough at writing, not even good enough at maths which is what I got my degree in. Really it didn’t make much sense.

So I was told by someone that writing a few things down each day that are good about yourself can help you to shift your mindset. Help you to see yourself in a better light, and really just try to not focus on just the negatives.

On day 1 I found it fairly easy: I always have a few things I like about myself stored away in case someone asks me about it. Usually my eyes, my butt, and my general politeness and niceness. So that wasn’t too hard.

On day 2 it started to get harder. I made myself write down something different each day so I would have a long list of positive things about myself when I was done. (This was only for a week).
But I found that I struggled a bit once my go to ones were gone. I had to dig a little deeper to think about what was actually good about myself. It actually felt more rewarding afterwards because of that I think.

In the later days it got even harder, but occasionally I’d hit on a vein of myself that I didn’t realise I thought was good and that would be a bit easier.

When I had the full list I read it through again. I realised a few things about my list:
It was mostly things about my physical appearance, as if I judged that much more highly than I judged personality traits, or things I did for others. I realised my perception was skewed, and I needed to fix that.

But I also realised that I hadn’t put down ‘good at maths’ or ‘good at writing’ in the list at all. Do I not think that they are positive things about me, or do I not think that I am good at them?
It makes less sense to think that about the maths, I have physical evidence to back up that I’m good at it. But I’ve never really got proof of my abilities in writing, just some compliments from people who have read the stuff I write.

Maybe I need to work on that more. Get myself some proof of my abilities and then maybe I’ll believe it.

But I do know that I really need to work on my self image. I need to believe in myself more.

It ended up being a very positive experience for me. Maybe it could be for you too?
Thank you for reading.