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2 July 2020

June Favourites: A Monthly Roundup

 Hello Readers & Friends,

As we come into month 4 of lockdown, I've struggled a lot this month. I struggled with reading, and finding motivation to do anything at all really. I was on the very last run of my 9 week couch-to-5k programme and fell, spraining my ankle so badly that I had to get crutches and was sofa-bound for a while, which made me even more lethargic and angry. I still can't exercise and am feeling both restless and lazy all at once :( I'm hoping next month (my birthday month!) I can start exercising again and will feel more positive in general. 

June Book Roundup:

 So last month was my best month and I read 12 books. This month was comparatively shite, and I only managed to read five books. But Battle Royale was giant at 640 pages, so counts as two, right?!

Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick **
Heir of Fire by Saraj J Mass ***** (review to come)
A Forget-Me-Not Summer by Sophie Claire ***
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami ***** (review to come)
The Clapback by Elijah Lawal


Malcolm in the Middle - Streamed

This month Steven and I have fallen for Malcolm in the Middle all over again. This was one of my favourites at school, and we've been streaming it online every night and crying with laughter. I think it's so underrated! I used to fancy Reiss so much when I was at school, I guess I was into that badboy trope even then hahaha! Steven and I have been laughing at how much we're similar to Hal and Lois now. 


Battle Royale was a phenomenal read, one of the best books I've read in a while. It was pacy and page-turning and I really enjoyed it. And, I'm just gonna say it - it's so much better than Hunger Games! I wont say too much as I have a full review coming soon but I really recommend this to anyone who can handle a little gore. 


Tik Tok

I caved and joined Tik Tok, after discovering BookTok was a thing. I'll upload mini reviews here, it's convenient as a side-sister to Youtube I guess as it only takes two seconds to make a video! Follow me over there! 


I rediscovered how much I love sketching and painting and bought myself a new sketchbook to play with. I've found it really relaxing to do this in the evenings with Gilmore Girls in the background. Let me know if you'd like a sketchbook flickthrough or anything else - I'm no artist but I enjoy doing it!


I Love Betsy - Honeymoon in Vegas

Our dog is called Betsy and we discovered this song. Naturally we've been playing it on repeat and singing it in her face every chance we get, and now it's stuck in my head 90% of the day.

 How was your month?
Love, C x 

1 July 2020

Book Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J Mass

Hello Readers & Friends,

Today I'm reviewing the third book in the Throne of Glass series, Heir of Fire.  You can see my reviews for book 1, Throne of Glass, and book 2, Crown of Midnight, here and here. I feel like whilst my feelings for the first two books were exactly the same (first 100 pages sucked and were a bit fluffy, last 200 pages were incredible), this book really stood out and I could see Mass really develop in her writing. I gave this book 5 stars and really, really enjoyed it.

The plot wasn't overly confusing, although I did have two questions and if anybody has the answer then please let me know!
- Celeana was meant to be off on this mission to kill people for the king. At the very start of the book she was (kind of) kidnapped and taken away elsewhere, and the entire book for her is spent in this other location, training. How is it that news never reached the King that his Assassin was missing?! I kept waiting for a scene where Chaol would hear she was missing and go crazy but it just...never came!
- If magic is gone, how does Dorian have it? Perhaps this was explained somewhere but it's kind of confusing and I think I must have missed it.

So moving on from my two confusions, I felt that Celeana's character finally begun to feel really, really 3-dimensional and deep. I feel by this point that I really know her well, and I understand how she reacts to things and why. She's been through a lot and you can see it starting to rip her apart, but aren't damaged characters the most fun to read? I think so.

I really like the struggle she has as she trains and tries to grow her skills, I find it super realistic which is something that again, makes it all feel more real. Nothing is easy for her, which makes her all the more likeable as a heroine. Her character development is just phenomenal.

We meet a couple of new characters, including Rowan who I find interesting. His storyline in this book was very, very similar to Chaol's in book 1 (the reluctant trainer) but I like that she's got this close male friend with no romantic interest, as I was getting tired of all the romantic interests she was accumulating! I find Rowan a little scary, which is probably part of the attraction towards him as a character. He's unpredictable, but you spend the whole book hoping for the best from him.

Another character we've met who I am OBSESSED with and would LOVE to see a side series about is Manon, a ruthless Blackbeak witch who is struggling against being who she wants to be and who the clan want her to be. I was completely entranced by every chapter she had, they were actually my favourites in the whole book. Can't get enough of her storyline. I also found that having these side-stories made the book feel like it went really quickly, I was always wanting to tuck back in to see what was happening to who.

Overall the tone of the book felt a little more adult, much darker and exciting than the last two books.
I absolutely loved it!

In fact, it bred some new concerns for me about my own books. I'm due to do a video update on my first fantasy book, Enmity, but reading the character of Celeana who has many similarities with my main character, Maia (fire-wielding power and unwanted leadership) has made me reconsider a lot of my story. I don't want people to compare Maia with Celeana, and having such a popular and well-written character up against my own makes me nervous. I'd never want someone to read my book and think that I did a Battle Royale on Throne of Glass, so I am definitely going to relook at my own books now.
Stay tuned for that update!

C x

28 June 2020

Writing Playlist & Sudio Headphones

Hello Readers & Friends,

Today I'm sharing a playlist I've made!
The reason for this blog post is that I was kindly contacted by Sudio and asked if I wanted to try out some of their headphones. I am strangely anti-apple, and so haven't been able to jump on the earpods trend, so I was excited to be able to test out an alternative.

I went for the TOLV model in black, because I liked the little rose gold detailing. I liked the white as well, but didn't want them to get grubby! They connected really easily with Bluetooth and I've used them so many times now without having to recharge yet - so far so good!

I get anxiety about walking around with headphones on, I know it's weird but I have to know what's happening around me at all times! So I don't walk around with them in, but I have braved up and used them on some runs and it's really been great. At first they kept popping out so I messaged the guys over at Sudio who suggested I try out one of the different size caps - your headphones come with lots of different size buds to try. I found a size that fits and now they're snug and comfortable and don't fall out for the whole run.

I've also found using them in the house useful. While Steven and I are both working from home and taking breaks at different times, it means I can listen to music or watch a TV show while he takes a call without me causing background noise, and I honestly don't even notice they're in. I also have my conch and tragus pierced in my left ear and it STILL doesn't fall out, which I really thought would happen.

Anyway, the lovely people at Sudio gave me a code: CALLIE2020 which you can use if you decide to treat yourself to a pair for 15% off. I'm tempted by the over-the-head pairs as well, as I love having big headphones. We'll see... Maybe I'll take the plunge!

So in the spirit of listening to music, I thought I'd share a relaxing acoustic playlist which I've been listening to while I read and write.

Let me know what you listen to when you're relaxing!

C x

*This is not a paid advertorial. I was kindly gifted the headphones but all opinions are my own! 

Book Review & Race Talks: The Clapback by Elijah Lawal

Hello Readers & Friends,

As a result of the BLM movement I decided to make the move to read one educational race book per month, and The Clapback is my first for June. Hopefully this means the race conversation (at least on my channels!) will be consistent and keep on happening, rather than just a blip as a result of a trend.

I gave this book four stars - I struggle reading non-fiction and this one in particular is heavy on the stats and number shares, which is obviously necessary to reinforce it's points but I found I could only read a chapter at a time before my brain was ready to burst! This is obviously personal though, if you're used to reading educational text you'll probably breeze through this.

The Clapback: Your Guide to Calling out Racist Stereotypes does exactly what it says on the tin. Each chapter focuses on a different topic and stereotype, and it dissects the origin of the stereotype, modern-day instances and explains why it's so harmful to help you combat someone you hear using it.

I will admit as a half-white woman it was uncomfortable to read some parts, but that's a good thing, as it shows how much I was learning. We're not meant to be comfortable hearing about all the things our ancestors did against black people, and when we're learning about how false and harmful things we ignorantly believed to be true are, it's normal to feel guilt at just how stupid we've been! It's all a part of the learning process, and as we learn we can better ourselves and fight better for our allies.

The last chapter notes a difference between racism and racists. You can be a part of racism without being a racist, whether it's singing along to rap songs that use slurs or falling for repeatedly-used stereotypes without questioning them, and I'm very much a guilty party when it comes to these things. It was very eye-opening for me, but rather than dwell on past mistakes it's important to look forward and use what I've learnt to speak up and out against any other prejudice that I may see happening.

Particularly when I was at university, my friendship group was made up of a lot of black people and jokes were made that I can now see were unacceptable, though we didn't realise at the time. To be clear as well, even the black people were making some of these jokes, in the same way that I joke about my 'asian eyes'. During that time at university, I dated a Caribbean boy for a few years and I always remember when we went on holiday and he laughed and told me 'black people can't swim, I'll just sink!' At the time, I hadn't heard this stereotype before, but this book explained the origin of that myth - which I don't think he even knew! It was just something he had heard and repeated - and this is exactly what the book teaches us not to do.

I think this book does a brilliant job of using humour to keep such a horrible topic light, Elijah is a funny and relatable guy and it hurts to read about some of the racism he himself has experienced.
This book covers everything, and I think it's a great jumping-off point for anybody looking to educate themselves on microaggressions and systemic racism.
The chapters are: Identity, Sport, Police, Sex, Food, Work, Targets, Drugs, Dance, Dating, Immigration, Language.

It's also very important to mention that this book is written by a British author! So while many Brits sit around and say 'it doesn't affect me, it's all happening in America,' whilst he does use American examples, most of his studies are British, and pertain to the UK in particular, so it really hits home.

I'll very quickly touch on most of these and what I took from them:

Identity hit me the hardest, as a mixed-race person myself. It really made me question who I am, why I so often make jokes about my race, and how comfortable I feel in myself. As a result of this, I bought a ton of Japanese books to learn more about my culture. It was a very philosophical chapter, I really enjoyed it a lot.

Sport discusses the stereotype that black people run faster, and can't swim. It goes into the sciences behind these two topics, and the origin of the stereotypes, as well was why they are so harmful. It explains why 'positive stereotypes' such as black people are faster, or better dancers, are also harmful when we might not think they are.

Police is a hard-hitting chapter which obviously dissects police states, police brutality and the murder of many black people as a result.

Sex looks at the stereotype that black men are well endowed, and the festishisation of black men. It also looks at negative sexual portrayals of black women.

Food explains the origin of the stereotypes that black people love fried chicken and watermelon. I think this is probably one of those stereotypes everybody perceives as harmless and uses for the basis of jokes (we've all seen the Water-melowne! Vine video), but the story behind them is actually horrible and illustrates how harmful it is when these stereotypes become normalised.

Work looks at the treatment of black people in the workplace, and institutional struggles.

Targets of course is dissecting the idea that black people are unfairly targeted and why - this overlaps with police a lot, naturally.

Drugs again overlaps with police, but it looks at why black people are associated with drugs, stereotypes to do with Rastafarians etc, and dispels them all using credible UK statistics.

Dance examines the 'positive stereotype' that black people are great at dancing. Whilst looking at this, it shares a lot of positive cultural traditions which was really nice to learn about.

Dating is all about interracial dating, why many black people feel they should not date outside of their race, and the struggles they face when in an interracial relationship.

Immigration was also super interesting for me, as both of my parents are immigrants. It looks at the stereotypes associated with being an immigrant, why these are so harmful, and why politics is working against us right now. (As if we didn't already know, *coughTrumpcough*).

Language looks at the use of the word n*gger, it's origin, and why it's not okay for white people to use it, even if we're singing along to Kanye West Goldigga. I found this chapter really was a great lead-on to the conclusion as it reinforces everything we have learnt in the book so far. This chapter is when the concept that you can take part in racism without being a racist is explained, which was uncomfortable, but necessary to hear. It's always hard to think that you have unknowingly contributed to racism in your life, but now that I've learnt so much from this book it is easier to stop this cycle and begin being better at being actively anti-racist.

Overall, I found this a great first book to start my educational journey and I can't wait to start the next one.
My next read for July will be Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. Feel free to read it alongside me and we can discuss at the end of July!

C x

**Despite being a Hodder book, this review is 100% unbiased and I paid for this book with my own money, I did not receive it through my job and all views are my own and not affiliated with Hodder in any way.