Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Counting Down 20 of My Favourite Harry Potter Moments


The first Harry Potter novel was published on June 26th, 1997 and now it's 2017 - 20 years since J.K Rowling has blessed us with one of the best things to have ever been produced.

In honour of its 20th year anniversary, I wanted to share my favourite moments of the series. I honestly thought it was going to be hard to make up a list of 20, but it was harder to not go over!

20. Harry visits Diagon Alley for the first time 
This was pretty much the first time both Harry and readers are introduced to the world of Magic, and boy was it magical. From Gringotts to Olivander it was such an amazing experience.

19. "Weasley is Our King"
No, not those times Ron was terrible at being Keeper, but when he completely shut down Slytherin and helped Gryffindor win the cup. Hell yeah is Weasley Our King.

18. Exposing Rita Skeeter 
At the end of Goblet of Fire, when Hermione discovers and exposes Rita for being an illegal Animagus to eavesdrop on people's conversations, I felt such a deep satisfaction. Serves her right for being such a mean person.        

17. Molly and Fleur see eye to eye 
Fleur’s ferocious approach to telling Molly that she doesn’t need Bill to be “pretty” for her to love him and Molly’s offering of Aunt Muriel’s tiara was such a perfect way for each to accept the other.


16. D.A classes 
Reading about Harry’s self taught Defence Against the Darks was about the only thing that got me through the whole Umbridge ordeal.

15. Hermione and Ron's kiss 
I’m sure we were all waiting for this moment to happen *cue fireworks*

14. The twins leave Hogwarts 
Oh man, when it comes to Fred and George, one of their best moments is playing an impressive amount of pranks on Umbridge and her brigade before leaving Hogwarts. Did anyone say drop the mic?


13. The Yule Ball 
AKA Hermione and that dress, her hair and pissing Ron off for thinking he owns her. You go girl.

12. Harry catches the Remembrall
Cast your mind back to Philospher’s Stone and the moment when Harry zoomed off on his broom to rescue Neville’s remembrall after Malfoy takes it, which then leads to him being part of the Gryffindor Quidditch team.

11. Escaping Gringotts 
There were so many parts of Deathly Hallows that I loved, but the moment that the trio mount the dragon, cut it loose and then fly it out of Gringotts is epic.

10. Troll in the castle 
Wingardium Leviosa. The start of the friendship and knowing that Ron is capable of many things, despite what he thinks.

9. Dobby is freed 
You cannot have read Harry Potter and tell me this wasn'y one of the most touching moments ever. EVER.

8. The Quidditch World Cup 
I’m choosing this more because I wish it was an actual thing to attend. Also because it opened up the world to Quidditch and the rest of its culture a lot more.


7. "Not my daughter you b#@!*%" 
Yeah that moment. With Molly and Bellatrix. It was especially satisfying for me because of how Sirius died and to have Bellatrix experience the exact same thing. I’m sorry but karma is a *bleeeeeep*.

6. Kreacher's tale 
I find this to be one of the most memorable and bittersweet moments. 1) Because there was so much humanity and compassion when the three of them learn about what he has been through and 2) Kreacher is an absolute gem after he reconciles with Harry.

5. Hermione slaps Malfoy 
Enough said

4. Snape's memory 
Learning about Snape’s role in Harry’s life, finding out about his love for Lily. So many tears shed. “Always"

 3. Harry's Patronus 
This is one of my favourite Harry moments in general - when he discovers that its not his father, but himself he makes the Patronus appear and gets rid of the Dementors. That whole time travelling aspect just makes so much more sense and is so cleve by tying it back to this moment.

2. The truth about Sirius 
There’s no surprise this is in my top 3 considering Sirius is my favourite character. You learn so much about him as a person - the loyalty, resilience and courage he has.


1. Harry finds out he's a Wizard 
Without this moment there would be no story. Harry gets to escape the Dursleys and start a better life, Hagrid give Duddley a pigs tail and just seeing someone who's happy to know Harry exists is really heartwarming.

What Is Your Favourite Harry Potter Moment?

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Friday, 23 June 2017

The Waiting List: July Releases

The Waiting List is a feature hosted by PrintedWordsAnd, where I list some upcoming releases for the month that I'm most excited about! 

Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon - July 4th
Twins, Robin and Sarah, have been estranged for years. Both their lives are now in disarray and we witness their upbringing and the moments that have been brought them to where they are now.

What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum - July 11th
Popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker strike up a friendship that lead to investigating the accident that causes Kit’s father to die. What they find might test the strength of their friendship. I’m more intrigued to see if they can keep the relationship as a platonic one rather than moving into a romance. 

All the Ways the World Can End by Abby Sher - July 11th
Lenny starts a list of all the ways the world can end, after she feels like her life is falling apart. This coming of age contemporary just makes me feel like it’ll be humourous and touching all at once.
The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson - July 11th 
I am all for family mysteries, especially ones that stem from generations before and somehow link up with present day. When Leia heads home to sort out some family issues and announce that she’s pregnant, she soon discovers that theres more that’s been hidden than what she’s expected.

The Breakdown by B.A Paris - July 18th 
Cass is haunted by the image of the lady in the car she drove past one night, the lady who was killed. She seems to be forgetting everything, but that lady. 

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Footy - July 25th
16 year old Sorina is born with the gift of creating illusions, and uses her skills in the Gomorrah Festival. Her illusions may seem lifelike, but they’re still not real. Until one of them is murdered. Sorina must find out who the culprit is and how they killed someone who doesn’t even exist. 

What Are You Excited For?

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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Diversity In Books: What You Need To Read & What I Want To Read

When I was doing my research for this post, I realised that I barely, if ever, read any novels with diversity. I'm actually so embarrassed by that. Diversity is important, we talk about being unique and to celebrate our individuality. Yet, there is little reflection of this in our literature, and that's not acceptable. Only recently have I started to notice that YA authors are writing from POC/Non-Caucasian point of views, or including them and LGBQT characters in their story. It should be a norm to have stories that involve people from different races, sexuality, genders etc. because that's life realistically. 

I want to share with you guys 5 books to read if you want to look for something with diversity, but also 5 books I want to read myself this year. 

5 Books You Should Read

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini 
-- POC lead --
Alongside themes about family, loyalty, guilt and redemption, The Kite Runner is a huge eye opener on the turmoil occurring in the Middle East that has and is still affecting the people living there.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan 
-- LGBQT --
I'll admit it, I rarely read LGBQT books, but this one is in my top five reads and for good reason. Besides being such a great coming of age story, Green and Levithan explore sexuality and how confusing, scary and exciting it can be at such a young age.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
-- Race/Female Leads/Mental Health --
This was one of the first novels I read in high school that explored racial discrimination and the impact it had on people's daily lives. It also had such empowering female characters, hands down one of those reads that have left an impression on me, even to this day.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
-- Race --
Lee's novel is one of those that I implore people to read. TKAM speaks volumes on racial discrimination, humanity and respect. Even if you don't read any of the other novels on this list, please read this one!

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
-- Race --
For younger readers, Noughts and Crosses, is the perfect read. It's an alternative universe where the blacks are superior to the whites. It's such a powerful love story that depicts the harm when we treat people differently.


5 Books I Want To Read

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alice Saenz
-- LGBQT --
I've told myself to read more LGBQT novels this year, and up first is this story about Aristotle and Dante who are drawn to each other as friends, before discovering much more about themselves and their relationship.

The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
-- Race/Feminism --
Published in 1982, this was a controversial novel addressing coloured women and their life in rural Georgia. It's been censored due to its content, but I can just tell that this will be a profound read.

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
-- Race --
Technically this is more of a crime/mystery novel, but the murder centers around a "racial firestorm", so I'm intrigued to see how the depiction of segregation and discrimination is conveyed.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, recounting his daily life. One day, his friend and himself are confronted by the police and soon Justyce finds himself under attack by the public for the truth about what happened. I'm not surprised to see that this soon to be released YA novel is addressing coloured people and their encounter with law enforcement, after the rise in deaths that have occurred in the US, so I'm holding out to see how this one will go down.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This has been a super popular read in the YA community now, and much like Dear Martin, it explores police shootings of coloured people and the effects it has on the community.

What Diverse Novels Would You Recommend?

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Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Aesthetically Pleasing Book Tag


The Aesthetically Pleasing Book Tag is really to look at aesthetically pleasing books. The amount of times I've made a cover buy is actually ridiculous, but I'm super excited to do this tag and share with you guys some of the books on my shelves that are absolutely gorgeous.

This tag was created by Book Syrup on YouTube, check it out here.

Best Colour Combo 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
This takes the cake for matching my favourite colour, minted green, with the cutest pink!


Best Typography 

Peter Pan by J.M Barrie
Just look at it. That calligraphy and the colouring. Dead.


Best Simplistic Cover

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
How ironic that Uglies comes out as the prettiest.


Best Endpages

Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull
It's so simple, and yet so elegant.

Best Map 

Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
I'm not a huge fantasy reader so this was really hard to choose, but I do like these illustrations.


Best Naked Hardback

Dorothy Must Die Series by Danielle Paige
I found these two so creative for having the protagonists silhouettes on the front.


Best Back Cover

Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas
Boss as Calaena.


Best Chapter Headers

The Fairyland Series by Catherynne M. Valente
This series has the cutest chapter headings!



Best Illustrations


I was so close to choosing This Monster Calls but cannot overlook the illustrated versions of Harry Potter.



Best Spine

Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling
I'm cheating but this edition of Harry Potter put together makes the Hogwarts Castle, and you cannot tell me that is not pretty.



Best Cover On My Shelves


I couldn't decide so now I'm featuring both of them. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the entire series even, just has such a haunting cover and the feel of it is nice - it's like a velvet material. Alice in Wonderland is just eccentric and so apt for the story.

Feel free to do this tag and leave a link below so I can check out other covers and possibly go through a cover buy binge - as per usual. 

What Are Your Favourite Covers?

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Thursday, 8 June 2017

Let's Talk: Am I Outgrowing Young Adult?

Since finishing Three Dark Crowns, I’ve began to really think about how my reading style has and is continuing to evolve and what that really means for me. In my review for TDC, I stated the writing was somewhat juvenile for the content that was within the novel. However, considering that it’s been almost 3 months since I’ve read any type of book, I wonder if maybe, instead of TDC being too “young” for me, it’s the actual genre of Young Adult instead. 

To cover my reading journey briefly, I started off with middle grade novel around the grade 4/5 mark, before moving onto adult fiction in high school. I did read a few YA novels, including Twilight, but was never fully immersed in the genre, much like I am now. In fact, before starting blogging/booktube, I never realised how expansive this genre was and just how many readers loved YA. So instead of transitioning from MG to YA and then to Adult fiction, like typical readers, I somehow found myself reading less Adult and more YA by the end of Year 12 up until now. 

There is definitely nothing wrong with that. Age shouldn’t be the dictator around what genre you should be reading. I still love reading middle grade and currently my bookshelves are stacked with 80% YA novels. However, because of my commitment to this blog and the community that I’m involved in, even if it’s not as much as I hope I’d be, I’ve constantly just explored YA and in some ways have now found that I really don’t know much else. There did come a time when I felt a little embarrassed by the fact that I was only reading YA. I felt like I couldn’t say I that I was well read, considering I don’t read a lot of classics, rarely ever read non-fiction, and only know of the adult fiction authors that I’ve grown to love.

         

These days, I’ve started to venture back into the adult fiction realm, especially novels that have been listed for awards and such. I think the biggest reason for this is because, as I get older, my beliefs and morals are maturing. Being able to read novels that can convey ideas and values, whether I agree or disagree with them, forces me to think and leaves an impression. I want to be able to read something of value, something that I know I will remember and can share with others, instead of reading purely just to read and hit a number of ‘x’ amount of books. There are definitely YA novels out there that can deliver on this front. However, I do know that for the intended audience (albeit so many different age ranges read YA) the ideas that are explored in them, are those that I think I've come to grasp with, hence why I think that I might be outgrowing YA. 

I write this post not to say that I won’t be reading YA anymore. Let’s be real now, of the 80% that’s on my shelf, I’ve read probably 60% of them. But that I’ve come to realise that my reading taste is changing and will continue to change. I want to see that change reflect in this blog, and be able to discuss and share with you guys the different reads that I've discovered. I do want to say though, that you should never feel obligated to read a genre because you think it’s what people want from you. Never feel ashamed of what you’re reading either. There is no law to dictate that you should or shouldn’t read something. Happy reading guys!

How Has Your Reading Taste Changed? Is It What You Expected?


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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

9 Books To Read Before They Hit Our Screens

We've hit mid 2017 and already we've seen so many book to movie adaptations been released on screen. Before the year ends there are a few I'm excited to check out, as well as early 2018.

2017




Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon 
Release Date: July 6th (IMDb)
Starring: Amanda Sterling, Nick Robinson
This was one of those YA novels that caught everyone's attention so quickly. Maddy has a rare disease, making her allergic to the world. She has never left her house. One day when a new family moves in next door, Maddy spies Olly, and her life changes forever.
Everything, Everything is already out elsewhere, but won't be in Australian cinemas until July.

A Monsters Call by Patrick Ness
Release Date: July 27th (IMDb)
Starring: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones
Conor's been expecting the monster from his nightmare to visit it at night. Instead, he's faced with a different type of monster - a monster that is wild and ancient, and it wants the truth from Conor.
Much like Everything, Everything, A Monsters Call was also released earlier in the US. This was one of those reads that have stayed with me. 

It by Stephen King 
Release Date: Sept 7th (IMDb)
Starring: Bill Skarsgard, Owen Teague
I already know I'm not going to watch this. However, I do know that this is one of those releases that will have everyone on their toes, waiting with anticipation. 


Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Release Date: Nov 9th (IMDb)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench
The Orient Express leaves just after midnight. By morning, millionaire Samuel Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed multiple times and the door locked from the inside. There's only a limit time to find the murderer before they strike again.
Definitely on my to read list, and with a cast list like that, I am expecting big things.

Wonder by R.J Palacio 
Release Date: Nov 30th (IMDb)
Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson
I am pleasantly surprised but also super excited that this is being made into a movie. Wonder is a special and touching novel about August who has a facial deformity, being able to attend school for the first time, but struggles to show his classmates that he may look different but he is very much just like them. 

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman 
Release Date: Dec 26th (IMDb)
Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer
A 17 year old boy meets his parents friend one summer, sparking an attraction that leads to obsessions, fears, fascination and desire. The two experience something that neither are prepared for, especially when facing extreme consequences. This is another surprise addition to this list. Call Me By Your Name was something I read when I was really young, maybe a little too young, but I still remember how it relayed such an innocent tone mixed with a little sensual tension, which was new to me.



2018



Ready Player One by Ernest Cline 
Release Date: March 29th (IMDb)
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Mark Rylance
Wade, like many others, prefers to live his life in the virtual utopia Oasis. When the creator of Oasis releases a quest, with an ultimate prize on the line, Wade fights through Oasis in order to come out as the winner.
If there was one movie that I am most excited for it is this one! The fact that Steven Spielberg is the director as well, just makes it so much more perfect. 

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven 
Release Date: TBA (IMDb)
Starring: Elle Fanning 
Theodore and Violet couldn't be more different. Theo constantly thinks about dying, Violet tries to live her life to the fullest. When they meet, both try to balance each other in an attempt to get closer. 
Again, another YA novel that has received immense love. I wasn't as impressed while reading this, but hopefully the movie will do a better job at conveying mental illnesses. 

Ophelia by Lisa M. Klein 
Release Date: TBA (IMDb)
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Naomi Watts, Tom Felton 
Re-imagined story of Hamlet, through Ophelia's eye. 
I never even realised Ophelia was well known. I picked this up in high school when I was studying Hamlet, but never finished it. This might give me reason to. I mean Tom Felton is in it so for sure will watch it.

Which Adaptation Are You Most Excited For? 

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Sunday, 4 June 2017

Why I Found "Three Dark Crowns" To Be An Average Read

Title: Three Dark Crowns
Series: Three Dark Crowns #1
Author: Kendare Blake
Publication Date: September 20th, 2016
Add to Goodreads | Buy from The Book Depository 
In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown

Review


There were two things about this book made me really excited to read it. One, it's written by Kendare Blake, whom I've heard some great things about and two, the premise read like such a dark and suspenseful tale - perfect for me. I'd have to say now, I honestly don't know how I finished it. Three Dark Crowns really tested me. My biggest issues were the writing, the characters - both their arcs and relationship development - and the plot progression. 

I found that the writing didn’t suit the context of the novel. The story had some very adult content, but the writing came across really juvenile. I don’t know whether it might be me outgrowing Young Adult, or the fact that it read a lot younger, but it didn’t feel right - especially when I was reading those explicit scenes. It just didn’t read as a great novel, and this also created a problem with the characters' development. Pretty much all of them came across as flat, with no progression or an interesting arc. I struggled to connect with any of them, and have absolutely no attachments. Their relationships with each other also weren’t developed in a relatable way. Blake tells us of how close characters are with each other, or how their relationships are suppose to be, but doesn’t show any of it. We’re suppose to believe that’s how it is, but I couldn’t see it at all. Fair warning there’s insta-love, which I think needs to go in YA books, but also a really strange way of introducing toxic relationships but not really exploring it properly. Instead, I felt like rather than frowning on infidelity, it made it seem okay, which frustrated me the most when reading. 

I do think that Blake built a somewhat solid world, with powers that were intriguing to learn about. The pacing picked up close to the end, which help pushed me through the rest of the story. I really did want to know what would happen at the end - the concept is still one that I think is most unique, compared to other YA reads. I really wish that Blake had focused on that more: the politics between the three sisters, the history behind the battles, and how this set up affect the people. Instead, there was too much romance that I felt added no depth to the already lacking plot. 

Three Dark Crowns was an average read to me, with no outstanding characters and okay writing. In saying that though, the ending did give me hope that maybe the sequel will be more of what I expected of this series, so I will be checking out the second book. 

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Friday, 2 June 2017

How I Plan My Blog Posts For Each Month

Seeing as I’m getting back into blogging again after the month away (read here if you want to know why), I wanted to share with you guys what I do before my blog posts go live. 

I work quite a bit and find that if I’m not on top of organising and scheduling I tend to panic and stress. There are times when I love being able to just write and have it published, without the whole process of what I’ll describe below, but on the whole I love that I’m on top of my posts and know that I have content being produced every week. 

Tools
Kikki.K Planner | iCal 

Plan When To Write
I won’t go into my planning system much (I’ll be writing about that in another post) but yes, I do use two different planners to plan for my blog. It may look excessive, but the reason I switch between a paper and digital planner is because each has its own purpose. I use iCal to plan out the month and my Kikki.K planner to plan out the week in detail.


At the end of the week, usually Sunday, I begin to prep for the following week. I tend to go through what I’ve planned for the week and see if the posts I’ve lined up are still what I want to post or if I have to change things up. Then it’s a matter of deciding when I’m going to start writing them. 

Draft
Recently I’ve changed over to using Evernote to draft. Originally, I was using OneNote but I prefer Evernote’s preface and know how to use it better. I've set up different Notebooks for the different "series" I have on the blog. I also like being able to highlight sentences/words, which I do when I find phrases feel awkward or don't read as well, to change later on. Checklists and reminders are great as well, if I’m in the middle of a post and need to remind myself to search something up later or put a due date for when the post needs to be up.


Sneak peek of a post coming up

At the top of my drafts is where I just dump all my thoughts before I start to write, especially when I’m writing a review. I try to put down all my initial thoughts of a novel right after finishing it so when I go back to write the review I know what I originally thought compared to at present. Also means I won’t forget things, which has happened before.

Finishing Touches
Once that’s all done it’s onto proofreading - or try to, sometimes I just never get around to it - and adding graphics or images to the post. I use Canva mostly for my banners and PicMonkey for putting images into rows to fit the post. A good example are my Top Ten Tuesday posts, where the images are evenly spaced out and have text underneath. I’ve tried the Pro versions for both but think the free versions are just as good. They both have mobile apps as well, which I really like for on the go editing. 

I copy everything over to Blogger, add my share buttons and any other links necessary then schedule! 

How do you guys plan out your posts? Which tools do you use?

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