Monthly Wrap-Up ft. 2019 Plans

2019 - new year - resolutions

I can't believe I'm saying goodbye to 2018. It's cliche to say time has flown, I know, but seriously: where has the time gone? What happened? I feel like I was writing my 2018 wrap-up just the other day.

2019 is bringing a lot of changes in my life. Some I'm excited about; mostly, I'm just nervous and apprehensive. But 2018 has been an awful year for my anxiety and depression, and I'm not sad to see the last of it. Hopefully, things will turn around in 2019. Or with God's strength, I'll simply cope with whatever comes my way. 


Happy New Year everyone <3 Thank you for supporting my blog for yet another year. All the best for 2019 Xx


Blog Posts

Book Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely
5 Reasons To Read TO KILL A KINGDOM
Greek Gods Book Tag!
Bargain Books Warehouse Sale
Book Review: Long Road To Mercy
Life Update: The One With Bookmail
Book Review: Wundersmith
Book Review: Dracul
Romanticised Abuse: Damon & Caroline - TVD
My Top 5 Books of 2018
My Top 5 Movies of 2018
Book Review: Evermore


My favourite book this month was easily Dracul!

2019 Plans...






I need to get a job, and I'm hopeful that something will come up in 2019. Actually, I know it will. I have a number of places in mind that I can apply to, and I'm gonna do just that. Wish me luck!






I don't eat unhealthily, but I could still eat better. This year, I want to make more of an effort to cut out sugar and fatty foods. 






I'm hoping to finish my GED exams by May, and then I'll officially be done with school. What comes after that, I'M WORKING ON IT OKAY IT'S STRESSFUL SO DON'T ASK.

This is a must. I need more friends ;) 


Thanks to my MacBook issues towards the end of year and my procrastination issues earlier in the year, I haven't written a book in 2018. I have done a lot of prep, though, and I did finally download Scrivener. In 2019, I will get at least one book finished.

Maybe.

I have been exercising for a while now, but in 2019 I want to push myself further and get stricter about my workouts. 






I'm going to get my learner's and my driver's license this year. I'm so nervous, but I know it'll give me great independence and I need that. Driving will come in handy, apparently ;)







Social media can be toxic, and it does not help my anxiety or depression. I need to cut down on how much time I spend on it, specifically on Instagram.


Blog News!

I'm making a few changes to my blog as of 2019. I'll be expanding my niche, and sharing posts to do with mental health, lifestyle, and topics along those lines, as well. I want to get more personal, more practical, and dig deeper.

There'll still be lots of book reviews, the occasional movie review, and romanticised abuse posts.

Hope you enjoy the new posts!

Please Note...

You may have noticed - on my blog or your own, if you use Blogger - that the GFC followers widget has been causing trouble. Sometimes it doesn't show up, sometimes it messes with your spacing...it's just a general pain. The reason: Google is gradually phasing it out. At some stage, it'll become inactive.

So! I encourage you to follow my blog either on Bloglovin', or via email subscription. Or both ;) Because there'll come a time when the GFC gadget won't be used anymore.






What are some of your 2019 resolutions? Are you glad to see the last of 2018?

EVERMORE (Everless #2) - by Sara Holland

evermore - sara holland - books - everlessEVERMORE - Sara Holland
Published: December 2018 - HarperTeen.
Genres: Young adult / fantasy / romance
Pages: 368.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Fantasy violence.
Format: eBook.
Source: Borrowed.

Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: not only are the stories true, but she herself is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress. The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head.

And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago.

Jules must delve into the stories that she now recognizes are accounts of her own past. For it is only by piecing together the mysteries of her lives that Jules will be able to save the person who has captured her own heart in this one. 


I loved Everless, and I've been excited about Evermore for a long time. I buddy-read with the lovely Di, and our feelings about this sequel were similar.  Keep a look out for her review!


I truly love Sara Holland's writing, and I can't wait to read more of her books. There were a few times in this novel where I thought she was leaning towards over-description, but overall I just loved it. It's easy to read - Holland has a lovely way with language.

The plot starts with breathless action and emotion. It's unpredictable, the stakes are high, and Jules is on the run. I was hooked from the very beginning. It's so engaging. 
However, after that initial "wow", things start getting slower.  Jules is still compelling and so are the many flashbacks that start intertwining with the present plot, but the story isn't action-packed anymore. It's all very safe and leaning towards mediocre. It's like Holland didn't know how to top the fantastic first few chapters. So instead, she drags everything down to a compliant level.
I also think a number of incidents and details could have been executed better, because compared to Everless, Holland appears to lose momentum. It's a big pity.


 We've all lost people. Remembering their stories won't bring them back... People forget in order to survive."  

I have to lie. Maybe that's what love is made of. Maybe it's what allowed me to hold onto the Sorceress's heart for centuries." 


Jules is a terrific heroine. I adore her passion, her incredible drive, and her impulsiveness. Yes it makes for some messy decisions, but that's human. She's human. She never stops trusting her instincts, and she's not afraid to rush into something she believes is worth it. I loved that.

In Book 1, Liam was easily one of my favourite characters, and his relationship with Jules was probably the best thing about the book. But in Evermore I found it lacking. He doesn't have much agency, he's cut down to little else but a love interest, and his relationship with Jules isn't enough of a slow-burn. Things happen too fast, and he needed an actual purpose in the narrative.

Another thing I loved about Book 1 were the many female friendships. But here, Caro and Ina's appearances in the story are minimal and Jules and Ina hardly spend a solid moment together. Their relationship is great, but let's actually see more of it please! Same for Caro and Jules: their dynamic is awesome and Caro is a formidable heroine, but in Evermore Caro and Jules' interactions are limited to brief flashbacks and the odd confrontation at the beginning and end of the story. They needed more page time together; the book desperately needed it.




Evermore benefits from its unstoppable heroine, knockout beginning, and powerful final twist. But Holland fails to build on the strong aspects of Book 1, and delivers a weak story as a result. It's enjoyable, but it could be so much better. 



← Everless

My Top 5 Movies of 2018!


I have watched 44 films this year! Most of them haven't been great, but some have been wonderful. I've really watched a variety of movies, watched many outside of my favourite genre (action thriller), and I plan to be even more adventurous in 2019.

My Top 5 Books Of 2018!


I read 169 books this year!! 25 were for books for school, and my overall goal was 110; I'm just happy to have completed my goal.
169 is the most books I've ever read in a year. To be honest, I'm not actually sure how it happened. 169 seems crazy. You can check out my year in books HERE, on Goodreads.

I always try to pick 5 favourites at the end of this year, and looking at my total, this year it was hard to decide. But I managed, so check out the list below!

Romanticised Abuse: Damon and Caroline - THE VAMPIRE DIARIES


Our goal is to raise awareness and draw attention to romanticised abuse in films, books, etc, in order to fight it
- Join us! Start posting whenever you want.
- Share examples of romanticised abuse you've seen in books or films - doesn't even have to be a whole book or film; simply one scene is enough, if there's an instance of romanticised abuse in it.
- Please link to my blog as the original creator.
- This is not only about romanticised abusive relationships. It is about romanticised sexual assault, rape, and harassment, as well.
- Please consider the following statement a trigger warning: this blog series explores and draws attention to themes/incidents of abuse in fiction. I will discuss sexual assault, abusive relationships, and rape. I will infrequently explore those topics in depth as the fictional example requires it. Please read on with care. These subjects could be triggering.

DRACUL - by J.D. Barker and Dacre Stoker

DRACUL - J.D. Barker and Dacre Stoker.
Published: October - Bantam Press.
Genres: Adult / thriller / mystery / Gothic horror / historical fiction.
Pages: 512.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Infrequent scenes of gore, gruesome descriptions, and many disturbing, violent incidents.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Penguin Random House SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. I voluntarily read & reviewed this copy. All thoughts are my own.
It is 1868, and a 22-year-old Bram Stoker has locked himself inside an abbey's tower to face off against a vile and ungodly beast. He is armed with mirrors and crucifixes and holy water and a gun - and is kept company by a bottle of plum brandy. His fervent prayer is that he will survive this one night - a night that will prove to be the longest of his life. Desperate to leave a record of what he has witnessed, the young man scribbles out the events that brought him to this point - and tells an extraordinary tale of childhood illness, a mysterious nanny, and stories once thought to be fables now proven true. 

WUNDERSMITH (Nevermoor #2) - by Jessica Townsend

WUNDERSMITH - Jessica Townsend.
Published: November 2018 - Hachette.
Genres: Middle grade / fantasy / adventure
Pages: 467.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Mild fantasy violence.
Format: ARC paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. I voluntarily read & reviewed this copy. All thoughts are my own.

Wunder is gathering in Nevermoor... 

Morrigan Crow may have defeated her deadly curse, passed the dangerous trials and joined the mystical Wundrous Society, but her journey into Nevermoor and all its secrets has only just begun. And she is fast learning that not all magic is used for good. Morrigan Crow has been invited to join the prestigious Wundrous Society, a place that promised her friendship, protection and belonging for life. She's hoping for an education full of wunder, imagination and discovery - but all the Society want to teach her is how evil Wundersmiths are. And someone is blackmailing Morrigan's unit, turning her last few loyal friends against her. Has Morrigan escaped from being the cursed child of Wintersea only to become the most hated figure in Nevermoor? Worst of all, people have started to go missing. The fantastical city of Nevermoor, once a place of magic and safety, is now riddled with fear and suspicion... 


If you love Middle Grade, or even if you don't, you need to read this series! It's lovely.


Townsend's writing is fabulous. Her style is beautiful, and there's so much great humour. It's heartwarming in every way. The plot isn't as tight or fast as Nevermoor, but it's still an entertaining, if not predictable, story; overall, I still enjoyed it. The ending is also satisfying, which I appreciate.

My only big issue with this series - particularly this book - is its similarities to Harry Potter. I just wish the author would take more risks and break into her own. She plays it too safe and seems to be relying on Rowling's ideas. Wundersmith reminds me so much of the Philosopher's Stone  - the story arcs are incredibly similar, what with the gang of friends, the Wunder identity, the ominous threat of Ezra Squall, and Morrigan's relationship with the villain mirroring Harry and Voldemort's - and it's disappointing. Frankly, it's a waste of Townsend's skill as a writer. 

The characters are wonderful. Morrigan is so endearing and relatable, and I love how many new characters we get to meet in this sequel. They're all so diverse and well written. I especially love all the great friendships, particularly the one between Morrigan and Hawthorne. Juniper's fatherly relationship with Morrigan is also so sweet.
There are just so many healthy, lovable dynamics.




Wundersmith isn't as brilliant as Nevermoor, but it's still a beautifully written tale with delightful characters and friendships. Think Harry Potter for younger readers :) 



Life Update: The One With Bookmail


Guess what? My MacBook officially died and as a result I was off the blogosphere for weeks. It was frustrating to say the least. But thankfully I got a new one, managed to save all my data, and here I am. And I swear if something goes wrong with this one I'm throwing it through a window. 



I can't believe how close we are to Christmas! I usually don't post a lot around Christmas time, but because I have such a backlog of reviews etc etc, I'm afraid you're gonna be seeing quite a few non-Christmasy posts ;) But I need to get everything posted before the end of the year, so yeah.


Are you looking forward to Christmas? I am, and I'm also not. It's stressful, kinda lonely, and yet at the same time I am excited to see family we haven't seen for a while and go to church - I love church especially at Christmas time.



Received these beauties recently...



I didn't love Renegades, so I'm a bit hesitant about Archenemies. Hopefully it's better than the first book!

Cecelia Ahern is one of my favourite authors so I know I'll love Roar. It sounds magnificent. And that cover is so cool :)

Dracul is another book I was excited to read, and actually I've already finished reading it. Review is coming soon. It's a brilliant book.

The Wild Folk looks so sweet and fascinating. I'm interested to see what's about.




These books are my haul from the Bargain Books Warehouse Sale <3




What's some bookmail you've received recently? Have you read any of these books? 
Are you excited for Christmas? 

LONG ROAD TO MERCY (Atlee Pine #1) - by David Baldacci

LONG ROAD TO MERCY - David Baldacci
Published: October 2018 - Macmillan.
Genres: Adult / thriller / contemporary
Pages: 404.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. I voluntarily read & reviewed this copy. All thoughts are my own.

‘Eeny, meeny, miny, moe . . .’

It is thirty years since FBI special agent Atlee Pine’s twin sister, Mercy, was taken from the room they shared as young children. Notorious serial killer Daniel James Tor, was caught and convicted of other murders, and while there’s no proof, Atlee believes he knows what happened to Mercy. Tor still resides in a high-security prison in Colorado. Assigned to the remote wilds of the western United States, Atlee has never stopped the search for her sister, and, wracked with survivor’s guilt, she has spent her life hunting down those who hurt others. She will always ask herself, ‘Why her, and not me?’. Now, Atlee is called in to investigate a case in the Grand Canyon when a mule is found dead with strange carvings on its body, and its rider missing. She knows about killers and perhaps understands them better than any profiler in the FBI, but it soon becomes clear that she will need to put her skills to the ultimate test in this investigation.

It seems that Atlee will now have to confront a new monster. And face the one of her nightmares.


I've read one Baldacci book before, and while I didn't love it, I was eager to try this one because of the promise of a kickass action heroine. The novel sounded great. 


I enjoy Baldacci's writing and his dialogue is always fast and terse. It's entertaining. But one thing I cannot stand is how he always falls into the trap of info-dumping. The first chapter, especially, is literally all info-dumping. It's excruciating to read. I'm here waiting for Atlee to confront the man who took her sister, and between their sparse exchange we get heaps of her backstory and his. That's not what you want in a first chapter!  It also would've been nicer to have Atlee's backstory seamlessly shown throughout the rest of the story, instead of exposited...

The plot is epic. The pace is quick, the action is constant, and everything is always on the go. In many ways, the novel is like a classic action thriller film: it's over-the-top, the situations are often cliche action thriller givens, and it's larger than life. But I think that's fine. Yes you have to suspend disbelief, but it's obvious that Baldacci is having tons of fun and it's easy to be swept away with him. It's a romp of an action thriller.


Justice. It wasn’t about the greater good. It was about what was right and wrong on an individual basis. Person by person. Because if you neglected the people, the idea of a greater good was a pipe dream created by those whose idea of the “greater good” almost always tended to favour themselves and people like them.”


Atlee is a female Jack Reacher. She's built like a fighting machine, she's no nonsense, and she's stronger than most men. She's larger than life, no doubt about it. But while I loved seeing her hold her own and being badass, I also wish she'd had more flaws. She's rather one-dimensional. The other characters often put her on a pedestal, and more than once Baldacci mentions how "incredibly strong" she is. It's eye-roll worthy. It's also a trait I find annoying in both male and female characters.

The secondary cast are strong, too. They're given enough dimension to be interesting, but at the same they're also forgettable as soon as you close the book.

My favourite part of the story, by far, is the relationship between Atlee and Carol. Their female friendship is so healthy, they always have each other's backs, and I loved seeing Atlee respect Carol. So often the "tough girl" puts other girls down if they're not as masculine as she is, but here Atlee clearly values Carol's intelligence. Both women bring a lot to the story and it's so wonderful to watch them interact.




Long Road To Mercy is a swiftly moving action thriller that pulls out all the stops. A larger-than-life heroine, strong female friendship, and frequent action makes this book read like a classic action movie.

The Bargain Books Warehouse Sale!


Hi everyone! It's been ages since I posted (I have a full update post coming on Sunday) but today I'm excited to share with you an event I recently went to.


Bargain Books is one of the main book retailers in South Africa with 79 stores all over our 9 provinces. Their stores are absolutely beautiful, their selection of books is diverse, and it's always painful when I have to leave without buying anything :(


Earlier this year Bargain Books hosted their first Warehouse Sale. I didn't go because #broke, but I watched the Instagram videos and wailed over all the photos that the bookworms were sharing. Then, Bargain Books announced that they were going to host a second sale, from the 17th to the 20th of December. Of course, I immediately started saving so that I could go.

To my surprise and delight, I was then invited to join other Cape Town bloggers at the early access Pre-Sale!! It was held last Friday, from 11am to 3pm, and we were each given a R500 voucher to spend. I literally couldn't believe it, and that was before I even walked into the warehouses.

Two warehouses. Books in every direction. At first I was so overwhelmed because where the heck do you even start?! So many books, so many aisles, so much to get through! For a moment, you feel like you're drowning. But at least I'd written out a list of books to look for before I arrived. It kept me on track, lol.


It turned out to be an amazing day. I got to hang out with some awesome bloggers and bookstagramers - some I'd met before, others I was excited to meet for the first time - and spent hours pushing my trolley through these aisles of books books books books. It was book heaven defined. Thank you so much to Bargain Books for this incredible opportunity. Here in SA, we don't usually have big book festivals or bookish events like we're always seeing happening in the UK or US, but with this Warehouse Sale we now have a super affordable experience for bookworms of every age. Personally, it's one of the highlights of my year.




Details are below:

Prices: 

Paperbacks: R60
Trade paperbacks: R80
Hardcovers: R100

Books are all in impeccable condition. 

Where:

10 Mymoena Crescent, Athlone Industria 2, Cape Town. 

What: 

Literally every genre. There's a ton of YA, a ton of Adult, and lots of children books, as well. There's also plenty of non-fiction.   



Check out the photos below! I have tons more, but since it takes like a million years to upload them, you can see the rest on my Instagram stories ;)




I'm the one with glasses and denim jacket ;)




If you live in Cape Town, you can't afford to miss this event. The next sale is in March and it promises to be every bit as wonderful as this one was. 
Thanks again, Bargain Books! I had the experience of a lifetime. 


Have you ever seen so many books in one place?! Do you have any big sales or annual bookish events where you live?

Book Tag: Greek Gods Book Tag!


Thank you to Genni for tagging me for this book tag. It's been a long time since I did one, and this looked great, so I thought why not!


Rules:

- Link back to Zuky HERE so she can read your posts!

- You can use your own graphics (like I have) or copy Zuky's. If you use mine, please credit me.

- Tag however many people you want!



Your Favourite Book


I have so many favourites! But I do love The Good Daughter <3 It's extremely underrated, and yet a real masterpiece. 




 A Badass Female Character


Nina from Six of Crows is a badass all the way. So is Inej, but in a different way. Nina's got sass, spunk, and she doesn't take things lying down. She's unashamedly herself and is always prepared to fight for her friends.




Your Favourite Nonfiction Book


I read Jackie After Jack a few years ago and absolutely loved it. It's so incredibly compelling and interesting.



A Book You Adore And Recommend Everyone Read


I feel like I'm constantly recommending Letters to the Lost. If you haven't got the message yet, GO READ IT RIGHT NOW.




A Beautiful and Groundbreaking Book


All The Hidden Truths is powerful, profound, and utterly heartbreaking. It's a story following the lives of three women directly affected by a school shooting, and while it's not an easy read, it is so so so important.



A Book You Sped Through


Here and Gone is an INSANE thriller. I simply could not put it down.




An Evil Book You Wish Didn't Exist


Well this is easy. Fifty Shades of Grey shouldn't even exist. Romanticised abuse? No thanks.




A Beautiful Cover


Cecelia Ahern's books always have the most elegant, classy, and feminine covers. I particularly love the soft pink and white on If You Could See Me Now. It's simple, but beautiful.





Your Favourite Debut


Something in the Water is definitely one of my favourite debuts. What a stunning thriller it is. 



I tag...


- Angela 


And whoever else wants to participate, please go ahead!