Wednesday 30 December 2020

2020. That's it, that's the title.

Honestly what can be said about 2020 that hasn't been said already? I have spent a good amount of time throughout this year reflecting on what 2020 has come to be but also more specifically, how it has affected and ultimately changed me. 

I sat down and thought of some words that I could use to describe this year for me: tumultuous, unexpected, challenging, learning, self-care, adapting, being alone, healing, appreciating, perspective, overcoming. Of all these words, I was happy to see that healing and appreciating made the list. 

Yes, 2020 was a difficult year on so many levels, but personally for me, it was also a year of taking the time given back to us and finding purpose for it. It allowed me to slow down and really reconnect with the passions I had been too "busy" for, work towards goals I had put off and most importantly become more self aware of where I was mentality and how best to heal. 

One of the passions that I fell back in love with was reading! And not just that but blogging. Ironic because I haven't posted since October but consistency has never been my strongest suit on here. Oops. I am so, so proud of myself for being able to actually enjoy reading again as well as reaching a total of 20 books. It probably doesn't seem like much compared to many other readers out there but considering the previous years I barely read anything, 20 books is a great achievement for me. I can also say that I read some high quality books that pushed me to think critically, reflect and learn. 

My Year of Reading

These were the 20 books I read this year

Quick Stats

  • 11 were YA books
  • 4 were Middle Grade 
  • 2 were Non-Fiction
  • May and June were my biggest reading months, finishing 5 books in each month. 
  • 6 five star reads
  • 13 new authors
  • I read 4/13 of my 2020 Reading List

My Top Five Books

Final Thoughts

Like I said, I felt like I read some really great quality books, especially with my average rating this year being 4-4.5. It could be that I have an easier rating system but I thoroughly enjoyed every read and they all remain memorable to me. I tried to broaden my range of books, from genre to authors and I want to continue to do so. I'm glad I read books from Australian authors set in Australia as well as discovered new authors that I now want to continue supporting. I wanted to read some classics but didn't get to it, however, was happy to have read some non-fiction. I definitely dropped off reading by the end of the year (October onwards) but doing this review actually makes me quite excited for 2021 and what I will end up reading! 

How Was Your Reading Year?

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Five Shows I've Been Loving Recently

Interrupting our usual Tuesday schedule of Top Ten Tuesday posts, I instead wanted to share what shows I've recently been watching and have to come love. For some time I was rewatching good old comfort shows just as a way to pass time. However, I finally decided it was time to find some new series to get into and I've been thoroughly surprised by how much I've enjoyed the following shows.

1. Raised By Wolves

Source: Binge 
"After Earth has been destroyed, androids must raise children on a mysterious planet. Meanwhile the burgeoning colony of humans threatens to be torn apart by religious differences." 

Hands down, this has been the most bizarre show I've come across. For those familiar with Scott Ridley, you most likely would be aware of his particular writing and visual styles. I, however, have never watched anything produced by him. So yes, I was in for a huge shock, which I loved. The strangeness of it all kept me invested in the show, thinking "surely it can't get worse", and was proven wrong every episode. There's a lot to think about regarding religion, morals, nature vs. nurture and what makes you really human, which I really appreciate. I'm not just consuming the show, I'm actually engaging with the content. I also want to applaud the actresses and actors for delivering incredible performances so far. I cannot wait for season 2!

2. Carmen Sandiego (Season 3)

Source: Netflix 

A master thief who uses her skills for good, Carmen Sandiego travels the world foiling V.I.L.E's evil plans - with help from her savvy sidekicks. 

My girl is back! If you didn't already know, I am an avid fan of the Carmen Sandiego series on Netflix. I did feature it in my "Five Movies & TV Shows That Will Delight Your Inner Child" post and mentioned how much of 12 year old I really am for loving animated series and movies. I find every episode enjoyable, for its adventurous nature alongside learning tidbits about the different countries she travels to, which is essentially the whole point of the Carmen Sandiego franchise. It's a shame that season 3 wasn't as long as the previous ones, however, the show has been renewed for a fourth season so yay!

 Sweet Magnolias

Source: Netflix

Lifelong friends Maddie, Helen and Dana Sue lift each other up as they juggle relationships, family and careers in the small, Southern town of Serenity.

I've only finished the first episode but already I'm in love. I am a sucker for TV shows revolving around small towns and the lives of the people living in it. There's comfort in seeing how these towns people bind together to protect each other but underneath is drama just waiting to burst out and threaten everything they are familiar with. The three ladies, Maddie, Helen and Dana Sue definitely play a large part in me being invested (only after one episode) in the show. I've found their friendship endearing, wanting to be part of this trio and only hope the best for them. Also, the colouring of the show is quite satisfying to the eye, which is an added bonus. If you're a fan of Good Witch, which I am as well (no surprises here), this would be right up your alley.

4. Good Omens
Source: Prime Video

Aziraphale and Crowley, of Heaven and Hell respectively, have grown rather fond of the Earth. So it's terrible news that it's about to end. The armies of Good and Evil are amassing. The Four Horsemen are ready to ride. Everything is going according to the Divine Plan ... except that someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist. Can our heroes find him and stop Armageddon before it's too late?

Based on Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet's novel Good Omens, you'll find Michael Sheen and David Tennant delivering a rather spectacular and humorous performance of a devil and angel trying very hard to stay on Earth - even if it means going behind the back of their "team". I actually read the novel awhile back and would have to say this is another rare moment where the visual adaptation has made me appreciate the book more than what I originally thought of it. I found when I read it that there was a lot going on and it did become hard to keep track of (review here). However, the TV show does a great job in laying out the characters and plot line, making it a lot more understandable. A big part of that is having a narrator walk you through it all. 

5. Criminal Minds
 (too many seasons) 

Source: Prime Video

Profilers who analyse the most twisted criminal minds

This is a re-watch for me. It's been awhile since I've seen the show so I picked up where I left off and then went back to season 1 to do it all over again. If anything, Criminal Minds is very much a guilty pleasure for me, which is utterly strange to say considering how gory and disturbing it is. I managed to binge basically 14 seasons in 4 weeks before my dreams started morphing into serial killer dreams. That made me slow down slightly. Still, I find this show fascinating for seemingly being able to open up the mind of a very troubled person to understand why they commit such crimes and keeping me on the edge of my seat every episode. Of course I am totally aware that this show is overly dramatised and not all cases can be solved in a 45 minute time frame but it makes for a thrilling watch. 

What Have You Been Watching Recently?

Sunday 4 October 2020

Why You Should Read The Firebird Series Now

Series Title: Firebired
Author: Claudia Gray
Publication Years: 2014 - 2016 
I was meant to write this review as soon as I had finished the series, which was just about 2 months ago (if I'm not mistaken). However, despite me wanting to write a raving review, I got stuck multiple times on how best to express how much I adored it all. So I let myself sit with it and really mull over my thoughts. I've finally been able to point out three reasons as to why you should read the Firebird series now.


1. Gray's impressive world-building.
Gray's exploration of parallel universes gave way to some of the most exciting and memorable world-building I have come across. It's already a great feat in my eyes to produce one solid world for a story, let alone the 2 to 3 different dimensions the characters travel to and fro in each book. As I read, I felt like I was being transported into each universe with the characters. I could envision every aspect that made each world uniquely it's own - the experience was vivid and realistic. This alone made reading the Firebird series exceptionally thrilling and fun. 
2. The amount of thinking and reflecting involved.
Setting her story amongst various dimensions also invited a whole lot of thinking and reflecting on my end. There were so many questions regarding morals, how to determine right and wrong, evil and good and whether you could really justify bad decisions if you have good intentions? I love reading novels that force me to really assess each scenario and decision and action made by the characters, because it means I become invested. I put myself into their shoes and think, think hard, about what is ahead.
Moreover, I spent a lot of time reflecting on the idea of multiple dimensions really existing in real life. Obviously, this is taking the tool out of the plot and not really necessary when you're reading, but I found it interesting to take the situations in the book and questions Gray was posing and applying it to my own life. What would I do and how far would I go to save the people I love? Equally, if there were multiple Traceys out there, I would like to hope that they are living healthy and prosperous lives. 
3. Magueritte and Paul's relationship
I wouldn't say I usually read a book purely for the romance aspect, unless it's a romance of course. However, I was very invested in Magueritte and Paul's relationship throughout the entire read. It came down to the idea of destiny. Would Magueritte and Paul, after facing so many difficult challenges and running through different universes, meeting those versions of themselves, still find each other again? Will destiny play it's part in their relationship? That question was deeply embedded in the series. It became hard not to think about and slowly I was caught up in wanting to see them grow, learn about and from each other and ultimately, find the happiness they deserve. 

To read my review for the first instalment, A Thousand Pieces Of You, see here

Favourite Book: A Thousand Pieces of You

Book Ratings
A Thousand Pieces of You: 5/5
Ten Thousand Skies Above You: 4/5
A Million Worlds With You: 4.5/5

Series Rating

Tuesday 29 September 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Quotes I Love

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This is an immensely difficult topic to discuss. For all the books that I have read, I'm sure I like at least 2 to 3 quotes in there, so imagine choosing just 10? In all honesty, it stressed me quite a bit.

Top Ten Book Quotes I Love

Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who'll decide where to go. 

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
"corrode", v.
I spent all this time building a relationship. Then one night I left the window open and it started to rust.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavendar by Lesyle Walton
She spent her days trying to forget the sound of his voice, her nights trying to remember.
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory 
So I wait for nothing, knowing full well that I am waiting for nothing. But somehow I cannot help but wait.
Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman 
And yet, out of the blue, a moment would erupt so suddenly between us that the words I longed to tell him would almost slip out of my mouth.
All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven 
I learned that there is good in this world, if you look hard enough for it. I learned that not everyone is disappointing, including me.

Atonement by Ian McEwan

We go on our hands and knees and crawl towards the truth. 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most people are somewhere in between. 

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

You're mad, bonkets, completely off your head. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are. 

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

There was a girl, and her uncle sold her. Put like that it seems so simple.

No man, proclaimed Donne, is an island, and he was wrong. If we were not islands, we would be lost, drowned in each other's tragedies. We are insulated (a word that means, literally, remember, made into an island) from the tragedy of others, by our island nature and by the repetitive shape and form of the stories. The shape does not change: there was a human being who was born, lived and then by some means or other, died. There. You may fill in the details from your own experience. As unoriginal as any other tale, as unique as any other life. Lives are snowflakes- forming patterns we have seen before, as like one another as peas in a pod (and have you ever looked at peas in a pod? I mean, really looked at them? There's not a chance you'll mistake one for another, after a minute's close inspection) but still unique.

Without individuals we see only numbers, a thousand dead, a hundred thousand dead, "casualties may rise to a million." With individual stories, the statistics become people- but even that is a lie, for the people continue to suffer in numbers that themselves are numbing and meaningless. Look, see the child's swollen, swollen belly and the flies that crawl at the corners of his eyes, this skeletal limbs: will it make it easier for you to know his name, his age, his dreams, his fears? To see him from the inside? And if it does, are we not doing a disservice to his sister, who lies in the searing dust beside him, a distorted distended caricature of a human child? And there, if we feel for them, are they now more important to us than a thousand other children touched by the same famine, a thousand other young lives who will soon be food for the flies' own myriad squirming children?

We draw our lines around these moments of pain, remain upon our islands, and they cannot hurt us. They are covered with a smooth, safe, nacreous layer to let them slip, pearllike, from our souls without real pain.

Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.

A life that is, like any other, unlike any other.

And the simple truth is this: There was a girl, and her uncle sold her.

I'm not going to lie, inserting in an entire passage is cheating the whole "quotes" thing, but this still remains as memorable to me as the first time I ever came across it.

What Are Your Favourite Quotes?

Thursday 24 September 2020

The Waiting List: A Dozen New Releases To Look Forward To In October

The Waiting List is a feature hosted by PrintedWords&, to highlight some of the new, exciting releases for the upcoming month!

October Waiting List

Young Adult

1. Magic Lessons (Practice Magic #1) by Alice Hoffamn 
Genre: Paranormal/Historical Fiction 
Release Date: October 6th, 2020 
Maria follows the man who has forsaken her to Salem, Massachusetts and it is there that she realised she has not only caused herself distress but also cursed her entire family. How can you not want to read this?

2. We Were Restless Things by Cole Nagamatsu
Genre: Mystery/Thriller 
Release Date: October 6th, 2020
Three friends set out to find the truth of how the death of someone they loved happened. 

3. Beyond the Ruby Veil (Beyond the Ruby Veil #1) by Mara Fitzgerald
Genre: Fantasy 
Release Date: October 13th, 2020
Queer, dark YA fantasy. That is all. 

4. Simmer Down by Sarah Smith 
Genre: Contemporary/Romance
Release Date: October 13th, 2020
We're talking food and love all packed into one book? Sign me up right now!

5. Magic Dark and Strange by Kelly Powell
Genre: Fantasy 
Release Date: October 27th, 2020
This made my most anticipated release for the last half of 2020. Catherine has the ability to wake the dead, so that they may fulfil any final actions they could not do whilst alive. However, for every hour they are brought back, Catherine loses an hour from her own. One night, after being assigned a task and enlisting the help of Guy, they stumble upon the body of a boy who is very much still alive. 

Middle Grade

Over the Woodward Wall by A. Deborah Baker
Release Date: October 6th, 2020

7. Cinders and Sparrows by Stefan Bachmann
Release Date: October 13th, 2020

Adult Fiction

8. Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: October 6th, 2020
A family's vacation away from civilisation is interrupted mid-way when a couple arrives at their vacation home claiming to be the owner of the place. With a sudden blackout and no access to technology can the family trust this supposedly harmless couple?

9. Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade
Genre: Romance 
Release Date: October 6th, 2020
I am ultra excited to get my hands on this. I'm not much of a romance reader but to think that the actor of a famous TV series who is also a secretly popular fan fiction writer for the series ends up dating his number fan just got to me. 

10. Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) by Rebecca Roanhho
Genre: Fantasy 
Release Date: October 13th, 2020

11. Come On In by Various Authors
Genre: Anthology 
Release Date: October 13th, 2020 
This also made my most anticipated releases for 2020, combining a number of stories about immigration and what comes with it. 

12. The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss
Genre: Romance 
Release Date: October 13th, 2020
I need Christmas, and I need it now. I'm officially done with 2020 at this point. 

What Are You Looking Forward To Reading?

Tuesday 22 September 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Want To Read In Spring

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

We've stepped into spring here in Australia, which makes me absolutely happy to greet warmer weather and clearer skies. Albeit, we're still stuck inside, but it's nicer sitting in front of a window with the sun shining through rather than feeling like I want to be in bed to hide from the cold all the time. So with this change in season, what books will I be looking forward to reading? Here are 10 books I would love to get through this spring!

Top Ten Books I Want To Read In Spring

1. The Coconut Children by Vivian Pham
Ever since I found out about Pham's creation, I was captivated by the idea of following a first generation Vietnamese-Australian through her coming of age story. To make it better? It's set in Cabramatta, Sydney - a suburb that is relatively similar to the one I've grown up in. How much of myself will I see Sonny I wonder?

2. The Way Through the Woods: Of Mushrooms and Mourning by Long Lit Woon
I bought this book on a whim, liking the feeling, the weight of it in my hand. It could be that I believe Woon has much to offer through her recount of suddenly losing her husband and finding herself not only having to navigate through grief but also being in a foreign country without any family or friends.

3. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
I was lucky enough to win a copy of Clap When You Land and am desperate to get through this as soon as I can. It sounds like a heartwrenching tear-jerker, which both frightens and draws me in.

4. They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera
Ok, what's with me and books with deep and meaningful themes this spring? They Both Die At The End has actually been on my radar for the past year and I finally got my hands onto it. Having read one of Silvera's other books, I expect to also feel so much pain and heartbreak, but also love for the story he brings to life.

5. The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta 
Both the premise of this and its cover come across as equally gorgeous to me. Michael takes us on his journey of self-discovery, learning of labels and how to identify with them.

6. The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R Pan
X.R Pan incorporates a little magic in the form of a mysterious red bird, which leads a young girl, fresh from the loss of her mother, to the country where her family's story started. I've read reviews on how The Astonishing Colour of After depicts strong views and values that are closely associated to Asian cultures and that's a major reason as to why this has made my TBR.

7. The City We Became (Great Cities #1) by N.K Jemisin 
I star the five star reviews and bit the bullet with this one. It's a mix of sci-fi and urban fantasy, which I probably don't read enough of, so here I am dabbling in something a little out of my comfort zone but exciting nonetheless. 

8. Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton 
Another Australian based book that I have been meaning to read. Dalton delivers a contemporary revolving around a young boy named Eli who is attempting to learn and grow in life, whilst being surrounding by environments and people who aren't exactly going to guide him in the right direction.

9. Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer 
I've been meaning to read another Safran Foer novel and of course my ambitiousness has decided to dive right into this hefty sized book. I know absolutely nothing about Here I Am but I don't really mind. Here's to being surprised. 

10. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
I am wholeheartedly in love with Code Name Verity by Wein that I immediately knew I would have to read Rose Under Fire. Wein features strong, independent women to tell stories of friendship that really tug at your heart. I cannot wait to get to this.

What Are You Planning To Read This Season?

Sunday 20 September 2020

Tilly & the Lost Fairytales Changed My Opinion On Its Entire Series

Tilly the Lost Fairytales
Author: Anna James
Series: Pages & Co #2
Publication Date: September 19th, 2019
Add to Goodreads
A magical adventure to delight the imagination. The curl-up-on-the-sofa snuggle of a series from a uniquely talented author.

Tilly Pages is a bookwanderer; she can travel inside books, and even talk to the characters she meets there. But Tilly’s powers are put to the test when fairytales start leaking book magic and causing havoc . . .

On a wintery visit to Paris, Tilly and her best friend Oskar bravely bookwander into the land of fairytales to find that characters are getting lost, stories are all mixed-up, and mysterious plot holes are opening without warning. Can Tilly work out who, or what, is behind the chaos so everyone gets their happily-ever-after?


The second instalment in Pages & Co has proved to be much more enjoyable and memorable. Tilly and Oskar make their return after learning of their wonderful bookwandering abilities. This time they're armed with all the information they need in order to travel in and out of books as safely as possible. Or so they thought. Tilly and Oskar are thrust into an entirely unusual and highly dangerous situation, inviting what I had hoped would happen in the first book of this series - adventure, excitement and intrigue.

As Tilly & the Bookwanderers (review here) had already outlined the world, character and how the magic of bookwandering worked quite thoroughly, I greatly appreciated how little recap was involved in Tilly & the Lost Fairytales. Instead, I was almost immediately transported into the adventure that awaited our duo and enjoyed the pacing of the story. James' writing was also a lot better, in the sense that this time, rather than feeling like I was being told of what was happening, I could visualise each scene, the characters actions and emotions. This led to me feeling as though I was part of Tilly and Oskar's journey, that instead of a duo, I was part of a trio. This was exactly what I was after from this story, and any middle grade novel for that matter. The feeling of being part of a quest with the characters, immersing myself in the challenges and excitement that comes with it. That's really all the fun in reading middle grade stories. 

I thoroughly enjoyed what James brought to this series this time around, flying through the book in one sitting. I've also learnt quite quickly that the Tilly's story is in fact not a stand-alone like I initially thought nor is it a duology, which I told myself was the case. Instead, the Pages & Co series is a trilogy and am eager to get my hands on the latest release, Tilly and the Map of Stories, to be part of Tilly and Oskar's next adventure.

Tuesday 15 September 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Covers with POC & Black Characters

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a Cover Freebie, so I wanted to highlight 10 12 (yes I am cheating) beautifully illustrated covers that feature coloured and black characters. I am loving how the book publishing industry is opening up for owned-voice stories and for non-white readers to see representation of them on covers. Covers are linked to Goodreads

Top Ten Book Covers With POC & Black Characters



There are so many more covers that could go on this list. I had heaps of fun compiling this list. 

What Are Your Favourite Diverse Book Covers? 

Monday 7 September 2020

Talking Personal: What The Last Five Months Have Looked Like

I'm probably not the only one to say this and most likely you're sick of hearing this, but it's absolutely mind-blowing that we are now in September. 

Since my last Talking Personal, not a lot has happened in my own personal life, but more so the world itself. Especially in Victoria. COVID-19 has really reared it's ugly side and with that brings a whole host of emotions, chaos and whatever else that could be wrong this year. Still, I'm trying not to dwell on the negatives. Even if some days aren't as great as others. So what have I been doing?

Well, I got stood down from work, so I've had 5 months of trying to fill out my days.

I re-found my love for reading. I read and read and read and read. So much reading during the months of April to July. It was so enjoyable and pushed me to reconnect with the book blog and booktube community. There's been some great people I've gotten to know because of it! And of course with reconnecting with booktube it means I've been filming videos again. Something I didn't realise I was missing until I restarted. 

I was able to reflect on myself and my goals, including 2020. Yes, this year hasn't turned out the way anyone has wanted it to be. Yet, to be frank, I lost control of the last 2 years of my life and couldn't see a way out. So being able to sit back and really deep dive on who I am and what I want really allowed me to realise that there are some things that will happen out of my control, but what matters is the actions and behaviours that I exhibit within these restraints that work towards goal progression. I am really proud of myself for being able to tick off each goal, no matter how small, in the last few months. It's shown me that I am capable of achieving what I set out to achieve. 

I watched a lot of Korean dramas for a few months, and started a Korean drama review blog. Unfortunately, it's collecting dust at the moment, as I've now moved over to rewatching Criminal Minds. When it comes to TV shows/movies I really cannot multitask or watch different ones at the same time. In line with Korean dramas or Korean culture I guess, is my attempt at re-learning Korean. It hasn't been as consistent as it should be when you're learning a language but I'm getting there. Slowly. 

Still, there's been a lot of eating, lying around and having a terrible sleeping pattern. Alongside getting dolled up for random photoshoots (don't laugh) and then finally, and the most recently, giving myself a haircut. I took scissors to my hair 2 weeks ago and I loved every moment of it. If anything, it means I've learnt a new skill that'll save me some money in the future!


I've been trying to see this as time given back to me. Time, a lot of time honestly, that you wouldn't expect to have until retirement really. I try to ask myself when I'm feeling unmotivated and dejected, how would I feel/what would I think looking back on this time now and how I spent it. Don't get me wrong, this isn't easy, if anything the extension of the lockdown makes it harder to stay positive and motivated. Everyone's feelings are valid. You don't have to be cheerful and energetic everyday. We've been deprived from the things that humans normally thrive on as well as added stressors that make it more difficult. But this is the situation we've found ourselves in. We can only do so much with what we have. It's a matter of what you want to do and how you want to face each day. 

Sending love and good vibes to everyone out there.