September/October/November Wrap-up

Okay so, I’ve fallen behind on my monthly wrap-ups, partly because I have been super busy and partly because I have read embarrassingly little recently (due to the being super busy). But I would like to catch up/ read more… Which I should be able to achieve, bring on that Christmas break, yay!

September Books:

1) Soulless By Gail Carriger 

I first read this book quite a few years ago now, and then I bought the second in the series, Changeless, but never got around to reading it. But after I finished Gail’s Finishing School series I wanted to give this series another go. So I re-read Soulless, and I loved it as much the second time.

Vampires, werewolves, Victorian London, robots and afternoon tea, what more could you want in a book really? I love Alexia Tarabotti, she’s got the right amount of sass and sexiness for a pretty kickass protagonist, but still keeps her womanly charms. I love any character who likes tea as much as I do. Also her and Lord Maccon melt me! Can’t get enough of those two.

5 stars!

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2) Changeless By Gail Carriger

Second in the Parasol protectorate series. I won’t say too much as it may spoil the first one… But I will say I didn’t love it as much as the first! Was a little disaapointed. The storyline was really good and gave a deeper insight into the world (which is useful for the next book) But it just lacked action for me, not a whole lot really happened in it.

3 stars

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3)The Year of Saying Yes By Hannah Doyle

I really really loved this book. We looked into the romance genre in my genre class at uni, and we had to read a Mills and Boon novel, which would literally almost turn you off the genre forever. But it’s books like this that make me keep reading them. Ones that aren’t just about some girl obsessed with some guy. Okay to be fair the protagonist is obsessed with some guy, but she has way more going on in her life and that is addressed. She has a torn relationship with her sister, she has a bestie who is struggling with alcoholism and she is working her way up at her amazing magazine job, which btw, totally makes me want to become a feature writer…

‘The year of saying yes’ article is so inspiring, why should we stop ourselves from doing things instead of taking on new challenges. I’ll definitely be thinking of this book when I make my new years resolutions this coming new years.

5 stars!

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4) The Songs in our Hearts By Chantal Gadoury 

Chantal reached out to me asking to review this book. Unfortunately I couldn’t bring myself to write a lone review post for this book, as honestly I have nothing positive to say about it.

The story was very dull, nothing really happened. The characters were uninteresting, especially the protagonist, and I really didn’t care about her relationships with any of the other characters.

I think the only good thing I could say is that it has a pretty cover?

1 star

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October Books:

1) Shut Eye By Adam Baron

Okay so Adam is one of my creative writing tutors at uni. He asked us to read his book for our crime genre lesson. I guess I never really read much crime, but I did end up enjoying this book. The whole ‘who done it’ thing is quite exciting, and honestly if you told me you knew in this book, I would not believe you. Totally blindsided.

It has even inspired me to write crime for Adams class this year! I will be doing mine about Jack the Ripper… So watch out, I may share some day.

4 stars

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2) Blameless By Gail Carriger

The third book in the series did make up for the second. I still loved the first best, and neither have compared to it really. But I will say this one had more than enough drama to make up for the slight lack of action in the previous one.

4 stars

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November Books:

1) Tell No One By Harlan Coben 

Another book I had to read for my genre class, this one was for thriller week. This book was so good. And honestly I don’t think Coben is the most poetic author, but he knows how to play with a reader! Too many twists. I love how he gave us a tiny teaser of something happening and then left it hanging. He asks us questions on the first page we don’t learn the answer to until the last, he almost made me become one of those people who read the last page at the start…

4 stars

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2) Uprooted By Naomi Novik 

So I usually love anything fantasy/fairy tale related so when my friend told me about this it was immediately added to my amazon basket. I loved the opening, the foresty atmosphere was right up my street and I was so excited to explore this world more. But my one issue with it is that everything happens a bit too fast. We go straight into action and there isn’t much chance to reflect on the world that we’ve entered, which is a bit of a shame because it seems incredibly interesting. I want to learn more about Jaga and the history of the world, but we didn’t really get to.

My biggest criticism is that I want more please. Thank you.

4 stars

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Okay I am caught up on my wrap-ups! I will try to do my next ones every month and hopefully I will manage more than 2 books a month from now on.

 

Charlotte.

 

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Bucket List One- Disneyland

So earlier this year I read ‘The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart’ and it inspired me to write my own Bucket list- or more a ‘Before I turn 30’ list. One of the things on this list was to go to Disneyland, and I’ve now achieved that! Woo 1 down, 9 to go.

I was going to make this post a highs and lows of my trip but honestly, apart from waiting in line for 2 hours for big thunder mountain and having to escape out the fire exit because I was desperate for a pee, there weren’t really any lows. So I’ll just go through some of my highlights.

Firstly I’d like to mention the hotel we stayed in, it was far from 5*, but literally a 20 minute bus ride to Disney. We paid €2 both days for the bus and it was pretty frequent. Had a bakery beside it for a bite in the morning and a fast food place if you don’t manage to grab dinner at Disney (which we didn’t the first night, that light show!) It was called Residence Du Parc, Val d’Europe and was reasonably priced for all the amount of time we actually spent in it.

I think I was in awe the first day we went. Even the entrance is magical. Next time I go (which yes there will definitely be a next time) I plan on having the money to splash on a Disney hotel, because how beautiful do they look!

I think we all had to stop every like 20 seconds to take pics because everything was beyond cute. Between the two days we were there I’d say we probably spent approximately 2 hours taking pics of/with the Castle. But honestly, no regrets, it deserves that much attention:

Here’s a list of the rides we went on in Disneyland:

*Teacups- Because they were named after the Mad Hatter and we love tea

*Buzzlightyear laser blast- This was so much fun and I 100% could make it as a Space Ranger

*Hyper Space Mountain- I hate Roller-coasters, but this almost changed my mind…

*Pirates of the Caribbean- Not so much of a thrill ride, but it looks so so realistic inside. Honestly think I made eye contact with at least 5 pirates

*Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril- We spent the entire queue asking each other if it went upside down… It went upside down – remove your Minnie ears

*Phantom Manor- Not as spooky as I would have liked and they only said the instructions in French so if I was meant to be solving a mystery I have no idea what it was…

 

The second day we went to Disney Studios, then back to Disneyland in the evening and then to Disney Village for dinner. I think we weren’t expecting much from the Studio side, but honestly it was adorable. That Walt and Mickey statue was too much for me 😦

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Here’s a list of the rides we done on that side:

*Tower of Terror- Took me a while to realise, but I loved it. Terrifying but also super cool. I had my bag on the floor and it literally came up to my waist as we went up and down!

*Rock’n’roller coaster- Loopy roller-coaster? Nope from me. Still convinced I wasn’t strapped in tight enough

*Studio tram tour- Sort of cool, sort of quick. Think they could add more around the actual tram part, not that much to look at

Along with the rides, we also met quite a few characters, yes 3 grown women waited in line to meet Mickey Mouse, and they played cartoons while we waited and we loved it!

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As fabulous as Mickey was, he does not compete with this woman,

How majestic does she look!? And I actually met her and she actually spoke to me. Well she asked me why she wasn’t on my ears and told me she thinks Merida is okay for a Princess, so I think that makes us friends right?

She also told the mother of the child in front of me that it was child abuse to let her wear an Aurora dress and that she will not meet her as she is probably asleep.

Second highlight meeting- JACK

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I will be his Sally any day, he was amazing! Literally walked just like him as well. I don’t want to spoil the Magic, BUT I 100% know they changed the actor playing him as we were waiting in line, and I am so glad because this one WAS Jack, the other one was an actor dressed as him.

We also met Daisy and Goofy, and I can now say I was attacked by a dog at Disneyland.

As well as going on rides, meeting characters and spending all our money in the gift shops, we also watched the Parade and the light show.

The Parade was cool, but you either need to be at the front or on your dads shoulders to be honest. Hard to see the characters and dancers on the ground. But you can still see the larger floats which look pretty great. I hate that Merida was not represented and I love that Rapunzel and Belle got carriages and the other Princesses had to walk.

The Disney Illuminations show was honestly something else. We ran from Buzzlightyear to catch the start and I’m so glad we didn’t miss anything. It was so so magical and emotional. I do wish I had grabbed a popcorn (which btw is amazing, do not go to Disneyland and not buy popcorn, you’d be missing out so bad) but it was still entertaining minus the snacks. And I do like how they played one song in French and one in English. It’s nice to hear both languages.

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Overall it was an extremely amazing trip and I would love love love to go back. Was very upsetting passing by Disneyland on our way to the train on the last day 😦

I would like to thank my sister and my cousin for coming with me on this trip! And for actually making it happen. We had a few ups and downs but can’t think of anyone else I would have wanted to go with! Love yous xxx(see if you actually read my blog…)

 

Charlotte.

Penmarks

As the beginning of my third year of uni approaches, I thought I’d share a little something I wrote in second year. Quite sad I have no poetry modules for this year, but the previous two years did bring back a passion of mine that I thought I had lost, so I am grateful for that.

This poem is called, ‘Penmarks’ and it is basically about the life of a writer. I have taken/twisted a few classic quotes from other famous writers and authors, see if you can spot them!

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She released her untold story.

She had pen marks on her hands

from bleeding on a page, reciting

‘You can make anything by writing.’

She had pen marks on her arms.

Every face she saw became a line,

as ‘You can make anything by writing.’

She was an amateur who could not quit for

every hand she touched became a line and

many things could ignite her imagination.

She was an amateur who did not quit

and she became a writer just like herself.

Many things could ignite her imagination,

it will get you everywhere.

She became a writer just like herself

and being a writer she was no longer sane.

‘Imagination will get you everywhere’ she recited,

but you aren’t a writer unless you are writing.

Even being no longer sane

to tell your tale you must write it.

You aren’t a writer unless you are writing

or bleeding on a page.

To tell your tale you must write it.

Release your untold story.

 

Charlotte Dodd.

Allerleirauh- Review

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‘Once Upon a Time…

In the kingdom of Tranen, a king makes a promise to his dying wife that he’ll only remarry a woman who possesses her golden hair. In time, the king’s eyes are turned by his daughter. Realizing her father’s intentions, Princess Aurelia tries to trick him by requesting impossible gifts: dresses created by the sun, moon and stars, and a coat made of a thousand furs. But when he is successful, Aurelia sacrifices her privileged life and flees her kingdom, disguised by the cloak and a new name, Allerleirauh.

She enters the safe haven of Saarland der Licht, where the handsome and gentle Prince Klaus takes her under his care. Hoping not to be discovered by her father’s courtiers, Allerleirauh tries to remain hidden under her new identity when she finds unexpected love with Prince Klaus, even though his arranged marriage to the princess of a neighboring kingdom approaches. Risking everything, Allerleirauh must face her troubled past and her fears of the future along her journey to self-acceptance in this triumphant retelling of the classic Grimm Fairy Tale.’

 

 

The first time I came across this Fairy Tale, was in Kate Forsyth’s novel The Wild Girl. Dortchen Wild, the wife of Wilhelm Grimm tells it to him, as A Thousand Furs. I thought it was a tragic and beautiful story and I used reference to it in my poem The Wild Deer.

When I seen Chantal Gadoury post about her novel I was so excited to check it out, I pre-ordered it straight away, although it’s a shame I didn’t get a hard copy as it has the most stunning cover!

It was nice to get a deeper insight into the Fairy Tale characters. As much as I love Fairy Tales, it’s much harder to connect to the characters with the distant voice generally used. Not that Aurelia story is easy to connect with, but it is easy to sympathize with. She isn’t always completely likable, as at times she can be slightly passive, but she is brave enough to bring her request for the dresses and the cloak to her father, and it was her own idea to attempt to burn them.

I generally thought that this was a well thought out retelling. I love the original story, but it’s great to go your own way with a story, there’s no point keeping it the exact same. Something I’d like to accomplish with my own retellings as well.

Unfortunately I did spot a few spelling and grammar issues in it, which was a bit disappointing because it did take me out of the magic of the world. I’ll forgive these mistakes, as we all make some mistakes. I definitely do in my writing.

Overall I would give this book 4 silver Starry dresses!

 

Charlotte.

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August Wrap-up

Ah how appropriate this image was for this month as I finished such an amazing series. Of course that’s how I felt when I started Cinder, now there’s less happiness as it’s over. Would love to get to read them fresh again, but oh well, I’ve read them and now I will recommend them, and I can always reread them 🙂

I read the Following 5 books this month:

1) What Happened to Goodbye By Sarah Dessen

I had been seeing so many people posting about Sarah Dessen books, so I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and try one. No idea if this was the best choice or not as I really wasn’t sure where to start with her, she has a lot of books!

I wasn’t disappointed, but I’m also not rushing to read another Sarah Dessen book. That’s not to say I wouldn’t, but I can’t see her making the top of my TBR pile. I think I went through a phase over summer of reading romance books, but I guess once I went out of that and read Stalking Jack the Ripper, I ended the cycle. I imagine there will be more of these phases again, and maybe I’ll even try another Sarah Dessen then.

This book was an easy read, a lot of family drama to keep it interesting. The idea of reinventing yourself every time you move is also interesting. Although I did think it was slightly underplayed, the characters seemed to act like it was a big deal, but I just don’t feel like we seen enough of it. I mean the title ‘What Happened to Goodbye’ was a message a boy from McClean’s past left her, yet we learn nothing about him and see nothing of that life? I think if you are going to introduce this kind of story line you need to commit to it a bit more.

Overall I’d give this book about 3.5 stars.

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2) Fairest By Marissa Meyer

I would probably have finished The Lunar Chronicles a few months ago, but I unfortunately left this book in my uni house, so had to wait until I got back. I didn’t think it was super clear what order to read them in, as I had assumed I should jump straight from Cress to Winter, but then I read on Meyers website that she wrote Fairest first and she would recommend reading it first, so I listened to her, she is all knowing of Lunar Chronicles.

Anyway, I thought it was great. Most sci-fi/fantasy books have a villain, but we don’t always get a deeper insight into them. Of course, I don’t think this book was to make us sympathetic towards Levanna, but there’s always a reason behind the villainy. In spite of the hardships we learn that she faced, I don’t believe anything would have been different. Had she not had unloving parents and an evil sister, she still would have been evil herself. Her decisions have little to do with her disfigurements, this is seen through the scenes of her speaking out at Royal meetings, whereas the actual Queen stays quiet. Levanna truly thinks what she is doing is to help her people, but it only benefits a very small number of her population. She doesn’t care about anything but power and having it. Although it is clear she did really love her husband, she mistreated him (plus had him killed…) and there is therefore no way to sympathise with her.

5 STARS.

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3) Winter By Marissa Meyer 

Winter is very strange. It’s weird because, I think she is my least favourite of the Lunar Chronicles girls, but Snow White is one of my favourite fairy tales, and I’ve even used it for my own retellings. So I’m conflicted. It’s not that I dislike Winter, I just like the other girls better. I suppose the others are just more relatable? Winter is a difficult one, Princess of the Moon, adored by all, going crazy from her lack of use of powers… None of these things relate to me. I say this as if Cinder isn’t a half lunar, half cyborg and Cress didn’t live in a satellite in space. But in spite of those things, both those girls just seem more human than Winter.

Of course my feelings towards Winter, do not reflect my feelings for the book itself. I absolutely adore how she jumps between everyone’s story. It adds so much suspense, because you think something might happen, and then have to wait 3 or 4 chapters for her to return to those characters! 

Another 5 stars!

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4) Stars Above By Marissa Meyer

Such a cute collection of stories! Of course all much more upbeat than the actual books, which was slightly disappointing, but I suppose she couldn’t put too much drama into short stories, since we’ve already seen the end of Levanna.

I also love how she added ‘The Little Android’. As much as I enjoyed getting more insights into the book characters lives, it was nice to have a story of someone else living in this strange world that Meyer created. 

Of course this is another 5 stars! Loved this series so much, 100% recommend.

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5) Allerleirauh By Chantal Gadoury

I first came across the fairy tale ‘Allerleirauh’ when I read ‘The Wild Girl’ by Kate Forsyth. I then went on to read the Grimm’s version, and I even reference it in my own poem ‘The Wild Deer’ (posted under poems here). So when I seen that Gadoury had wrote a version of it I had to check it out!

However she has asked if I could write a review of it, so I will post my thoughts in a full review on here, to follow!

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Charlotte.

July Wrap-up

July wasn’t a massive reading month for me, but I did manage to get through 4 books and start a fifth. Those books are as follows:

1) Melody’s Key By Dallas Coryell

I won’t say too much about this one as my previous post is a full review of it as I was asked by the author to provide a review. This was an interesting read with a beautiful musical theme throughout. Although there were also some problems that I struggled to overlook, but you’ll have to read my full review to find out what they were…

Overall I would give this book 3 stars

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2) Our Chemical Hearts By Krystal Sutherland 

I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t have that high of expectations as it was just something I bought for my kindle to avoid having to carry books around while traveling. I was very pleasantly surprised and would give this book about 4.5 stars (because it wasn’t 100% perfect but pretty close).

I actually found the main character Henry Page very relatable, which isn’t something I usually experience with male protagonists, but his struggles as a writer are similar to my own. I also find his need for Graces attention and his understanding that his feelings are wrong refreshing, as these are not always things presented from male characters.

I would definitely recommend giving this book a read if you are a fan of the not so happy ending romance… Also it might be a slight tear jerker at times if that’s your kind of thing? To me it was like a mix of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park and Jesse Andrews Me and Earl and the dying Girl. 

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3) Penelope By Rebecca Harrington

So I won’t lie, I did pick up this book because I thought it was the book of the Christina Ricci film. When I read the blurb and realised it was not, I still bought it anyway because it didn’t sound awful and it had cute animated animals on the cover.

After typing it into Goodreads and reading some of the reviews, I was slightly skeptical, because they were mostly extremely poor, like 1 star max. However it was a sunny day in Ireland, I was out catching some rays and in a mood to give it a chance. So I did, and I don’t think I discovered a book that was a 1 star read. It certainly wasn’t a 5 star either, but I’d like to give it more than 1, so I’m going to settle with 2.5 stars.

The general synopsis of the book is that Penelope is going off to college and struggles fitting in a bit. Some of the criticism this book seemed to get is that Penelope was passive and boring, and yes I will confirm that is true. I usually can’t stand a passive protagonist, but I usually read books where more things happen. This book however is very slow paced, nothing major really happens, it really is just about a shy girl who goes to college and struggles to fit in. So in that way I don’t have a problem with Penelope being passive and boring, because this book is about her finding her way and towards the end it really does seem like she is going to. I was almost sad this book ended after just one year of her college experience because I really began to have faith in Penelope, and I sort of think that was the point of this book?

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4) Stalking Jack the Ripper By Kerri Maniscalo

So I really loved this book, and I also watched loads of serial documentaries with my sister over summer so I don’t know if I should be concerned about my new interest or if I should consider becoming a crime writer? We will see what happens…

Audrey Rose is a fierce fierce lady, and I love the thought that women like her existed in Victorian times. She was way ahead of her time and made my inner feminist cheer a little (a lot).

At points I found the book slightly predictable, but I think that is a risk of any crime book, of course we are going to suspect every single character. My main issue was that we found out who the killer was, because I was annoyed  that didn’t happen in real life. However after I thought about it more, I actually think Maniscalo is a genius, because of course in real life the ripper very well could have been found and covered up exactly as she has wrote! My inner ripperologist was also going crazy reading this. So if you are interested in unsolved crime, or crime, or historical fiction at all, read this!

5 stars!

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*I also started reading What Happened to Goodbye By Sarah Dessen, but as I read most of it in August I will include it in my August wrap-up instead.

Charlotte.

Melody’s Key- Review

Synopsis of Melody’s Key by Dallas Coryell

“His eyes settled on her…piercing green embers of flame that revealed the ferocity of his pain and passion, yet still shrouded him under veils of ever deepening mystery that made every ounce of her ache to unravel him.” 

Tegan Lockwood’s dreams were dead, sacrificed on the noble altar of duty before they ever had a chance to live. Her entire existence was disappearing into the abyss of apathy as she labored her days away keeping her family’s struggling business alive. There would be no emotion, no color, no beauty in her life. That is, until a mysterious visitor begins to draw her out of the darkness of her past towards something that will challenge the boundaries of her world, and unlock the most deeply held secrets of her heart.

 

 

Firstly I’m going to start with the parts of this book that I enjoyed, as there were quite a few of them.

  1. Tegan’s character. I think she is one of the most well rounded characters I’ve seen come to life in a novel. She had very believable character traits, her anxiety and her crazy reactions to Mason, cause sometimes boys can be dumb and girls get very upset, just like Tegan. It’s not that I necessarily like Tegan, or find her a character I would love to be besties with, but she was very real and I dig that.
  2. The love letters! Omg the thought of finding a true hidden love story in my attic… How fascinating would that be? I love how Tegan researched and explored the story, because it’s exactly the kind of mystery I would love to solve myself.
  3. The setting. Lymington sounds so incredibly beautiful and its made even more amazing by Coryell’s gorgeous descriptions.
  4. The musical aspects. As a musician himself, Coryell entwines his love of music throughout the whole story and its beautiful. I love how dedicated both Mason and Tegan are to their music and we also get to see an insight into the industry which is pretty cool.

 

And some of the aspects of this story that I didn’t love/ needed some work on:

  1. As lovely as most of the descriptions are, unfortunately the dialogue was mostly pretty cringe and not overly representative of how people actually speak to each other. Also having the book set in England it’s not a good idea to have your English characters use American terms such as ‘jerk’ and ‘frat boy’, and I don’t really think I’ve ever heard an English girl call her father ‘papa’ either.
  2. One issue I did have with the whole ‘broken dream’ theme in this novel, is that in Britain you can pretty easily get a loan to go to university. Maybe Tegan couldn’t go to the States to the uni she wanted to go to there, but her dreams were by far not dead and she would have had many many options available to her. However the theme did seem to work more with Mason.
  3. I loved the letters and the romance of Jonathan and Violet, but it wasn’t in it as much as it could have been. I would have enjoyed going on the journey of discovery with Tegan, but we are just told about the discovery she already made.
  4. Generally one of my biggest issues with the story is actually a compliment to the author, as overall I just wanted more! I wanted more with the letters, I wanted to see more of her family’s interactions, more of the guests staying at the house and mostly I wanted more Simon, how were we never told who his mystery lover was?? I want answers.

 

Overall once I got into this story I really enjoyed it, the romance was well developed and who doesn’t love a happy ending? Also going back to the musical aspect, when reading the lyrics to all the songs I thought they were a little cheesy, but they become much more beautiful when you hear them sung, so if you do read this book, definitely give Dallas Coryell’s YouTube channel a listen as well.

 

Charlotte Dodd.

June Wrap-Up

Realising I need to post on here more I thought it would be a nice idea to start posting my monthly Wrap-ups. Just little reviews/thoughts of the books I read each month. 

I read the following 7 books this month:

1) Always and Forever Lara Jean By Jenny Han 

I would give this book 5 stars, as I think it was a brilliant end to a brilliant series. The conclusion to Lara Jeans story was not as simple as she had planned and its good to see characters face challenges and see them grow. She was not passive and did not sit down and let others dictate her future, as would be expected of a sweet girl like her. She redefines what it is to be a young woman in this modern society and I think that’s very powerful. It’s sad to see her story end but nice to imagine for yourself what the future holds for Lara Jean, I imagine it has great things in store and many more challenges for her to face, and conquer.

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2) The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight By Jennifer E.Smith 

I would give this book about 3.5 stars. It was a sweet, quick read, but not a lot really happened in it and it was slightly too predictable. It was set over the course of one day which I do think is an interesting technique, but not really explored to its fullest potential here. However I did enjoy how the author included some flashbacks of the characters childhood to provide some context for the relationships being presented. 

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3) The Summer I Turned Pretty By Jenny Han

I would also give this book 3.5 stars. After reading her ‘To all the boys I loved before’ trilogy I thought I would try out Jenny Hans summer trilogy. However I think I had my expectations set too high from reading such a brilliant series. The Summer I Turned Pretty was a good book and an excellent little summer read (I read it by the pool in Mallorca), but for me it just wasn’t as good as her other series, so I don’t think I will read the rest of the books in this one. 

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4) Everything Everything By Nicola Yoon

I would give this book 4.5 stars, just because book number 5 on my list was better…I think I grew instantly obsessed with Nicola Yoon. Her style of writing is modern and innovative, possibly a little weird at times, but hey, ‘It’s okay because weirdos rule the world.’ If you don’t love Maddy, there’s something wrong with you. Her story is beautiful and heart-breaking and she wants the world and she deserves it. 

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5) The sun is Also a Star By Nicola Yoon

This book is definitely a 5 star book! Like I said, I gave Everything Everything 4.5 because I think Nicola Yoon outdone herself with her second novel. Unlike Jennifer E.Smith, Yoon has taken the one day storytelling technique and smashed it. Of course she throws in a lot of context chapters and switches perspective, but it’s playing with these narrative techniques that make her such an interesting author. Like Lara Jean, I think that her characters redefine the youth of our time and its so important to showcase smart girls who love science and sensitive boys who love poetry, and demolish gender and racial stereotypes, things Yoon has so far done in both of her novels. I’m unbelievably excited to see what she gives us next.

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6) After You By Jojo Moyes

I would give this book 3.5 stars. It was definitely not as good as Me Before You, but the reason I am glad that Jojo Moyes wrote this book is that it is important to see the aftermath of a tragedy. Coping with loss is a difficult thing and people have many different ways of dealing with it. Having Louisa join a group for coping with loss demonstrates the different ways characters dealt with the loss of their close ones, and showed a variety of types of grief. There is no shame in Louisa taking her heartache as hard as the people who lost their long term partners or relatives. Loss is loss and its important to realise that everyone struggles on their journey to overcome it.

Another part of this book I loved was Louisa’s mothers journey of self discovery! Really shows there’s no age limit to finding yourself.

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7) The List By Joanna Bolouri 

I would give this book 4 stars. It was funny and liberating, and although it was predictable, Bolouri takes a twisty road to the inevitable. It’s not straight forward boy meets girl, it’s more like boy knows girl for years and takes an adventurous sex list for him to get girl. There’s absolutely no shame to this story and the list that Phoebe creates. It’s fun and it’s modern and an easy enjoyable read. (Although I think we should have seen more text messages rather than emails, to make it slightly more fitting to modern times.)

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Charlotte Dodd.

Brave- A Sestina

I wrote the following poem as part of my efforts to try different poetic forms and in honour of my favourite Princess, Merida. Writing in form is a good way to discipline yourself into writing poetry, but I must say the sestina is one of the most difficult I have tried.

A sestina has 39 lines, 6 stanzas and follows a pattern of repeating the last word of the 6 lines in the first stanza. I found it easiest to start out by selecting the 6 words I would be repeating. I chose the words, ‘rides’, ‘wings’, ‘heart’, ‘arrows’, ‘river’ and ‘destiny’ as I felt they were words that represented Meridas story. The last stanza has only 3 lines, but must still include the 6 words. The following is the pattern of repetition to follow, (easiest if you label the words as you go)

  • Stanza 1: A, B, C, D, E, F
  • Stanza 2: F, A, E, B, D, C
  • Stanza 3: C, F, D, A, B, E
  • Stanza 4: E, C, B, F, A, D
  • Stanza 5: D, E, A, C, F, B
  • Stanza 6: B, D, F, E, C, A
  • Envoi A, C, E OR B, D, F

 

Here is my attempt at this form:

Brave

Through the highlands she rides,

soaring as if she had the wings

of a bird. Her family close in her heart,

she dashes through trees, fires arrows

into the sunset and leaps over the river,

always searching for her destiny.

 

Some tried to keep her from her destiny.

Never mind, for on and on she rides

like the ever-flowing river,

relentless as an eagles wings.

She sets her own course by firing arrows.

Her hair as unruly as her heart.

 

You can almost spot the glow of her heart

as bright as the wisp leading to her destiny.

But what does she aim for with her arrows?

Where does she go when she rides?

Does she look to the wings

in the sky or the tails in the river?

 

Just as they cannot control the river

or the wildness of her heart

neither can they clip her wings.

They made her and therefore her destiny

they must watch. Watch as she rides

away, following the aim of the arrows

 

that they gave to her. Arrows

they shaped for her by the river.

Her mother bear may run beside as she rides,

like a quilt, she is stitched into her heart,

but she must go alone on her destiny,

to discover the limits of her wings.

 

And soon she will find her wings.

They will grow as strong as her arrows,

always continuing in the direction of her destiny.

She will avoid the sky and the river.

For she will go her own path. Her heart

guiding her as she rides.

 

Still shooting arrows as she rides

on. Wind beneath her wings. Her heart

revealing a destiny as clear as the river.

Charlotte Dodd.

‘The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart’ -Bucket List

‘The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart’ by Anna Bell isn’t usually my kind of book, but everyone needs a little romance book every now and then right? Plus when you are feeling a little broken hearted and see that title, you gota read it. It was basically like a self help book for me.

I did feel like there were a few grammar issues and switching of tenses at points, but I can forgive Anna Bell those, cause this book was kind of adorable. I think we’ve all been Abi at some point. So focused on keeping someone in our lives that we lose ourselves a little, and forget to value the things we love. She was a great character. Although quite a simple ‘I love netflix and naps’ kind of girl, she was far from a passive character. In spite of her motivations being to win back a man, she was actually quite a kick-ass lady, as was her bestie Sian, which is something I love to see in books, especially non-fantasy ones.

Some parts of the book were of  course pretty obvious, I knew from the start that she would win him back but she wouldn’t want him anymore cause she would finally find herself etc. But I will admit when she met Giles and his two male friends I did assume her new love interest would be the single Doug, and also, FRAN, I so didn’t see it until way too late. I love how she mixed in her work life with the dramas of her love life, it really grounded Abi as a character, and having a successful career and her own home made her even more of an inspiration.

My favourite part of the story was of course the list. And I absolutely adored, ‘Abi’s Guide to Bucket Lists’, which I also think was very smart of Anna Bell to include.

Abi’s journey read as great fun, but it is a better idea to make your own list, so I thought I’d have a try at mine by following her guideline.

*First she suggests picking 2 or 3 travel destinations

1. Go to Belgium. So firstly she suggests a European city break. A few years ago snapchat put up a story in Ghent, Belgium and I just thought it looked like the most wonderful place and have wanted to go since

2. Go to New York. She also suggests picking a once in a lifetime trip. I’ve always wanted to go to New York, I’m a big sex and the city fan and If I never get to drink a Manhattan in Manhattan I’ll be very upset

3. Go to Paris. My third choice is sort of a copy of Abi (Well of Joseph I guess?) But Paris is definitely on my list, I’ve read so many books and watched so many films set there, and I think it would be fun to do it in a day like Abi and Ben

*Her next list suggestions are about picking up new hobbies

4. Learn to swim. I go on and on about having mermaid hair and how much I’d love to be one, but I’m terrible at swimming. It’s definitely something I’d like to improve/ master and become a real mermaid…

5. Take a dance class. I love dancing and have always fancied taking a class

6. Learn Irish. This is something I’ve wanted to do for awhile, I did take a class once but chickened out before the first test and never finished, but I’d like to try again

*Her next suggestion is smaller trips you could do in a day

7. Climb Slieve Donard. I’d also like to steal the Highest peaks task from Abi, but I’d like to start closer to home

8. Go to Disneyland. I’m like a massive massive Disney fan and I haven’t been to any of the parks, I wouldn’t even be picky about which one, any would do, but I need to go. Maybe my Paris trip could last more than one day…

*Lastly Abi suggests adding some life goals to your list

9. Write a novel. It’s my dream. Sometimes I think I won’t be able to do it as I rarely finish anything I start, but I’m gonna have some faith in myself and hope I can tick this one off some day

10. Have my book be part of someone else’s library. This one sort of depends on number 9. But I love bookstagramming so much and it would make me happier than anything else if one day someone was hashtagging my book in their bookstagram posts

 

I of course don’t plan on having these done in as short a time as Abi done hers, but it could maybe make a good ‘Things to do before I’m 30’ list.

Thanks for the Inspiration and the pretty cool book Anna Bell! I’d recommend.x

Charlotte.