The Vicious Cycle

I couldn't find a photo of my university
building so have one of my routes I have to walk.
University is up there with one of the best decisions I have made in my nineteen years on Earth. And also the worst.

Don't get me wrong. I've learnt and honed skills; lost friends, gained friends and then lost some again;  I've learnt so much about writing in theory and craft; and I've also found out just how frustrated I get, when I'm not reading or blogging.

You see, sometimes blogging can be a vicious, frustrating cycle. And no matter what happens I will always come fighting my way back. And it always comes in stages.

The best way I could describe it is by going through the academic structure that I've been following for close to two years.

It's mid-September; I've packed my clothes, kitchen supplies and have chose the books I'm going to struggle to get on the train. I get there and then have an entire week of social enduced anxiety and so I catch up on reviews from my summer reading binge and finish reading even more books.

By November I've run out of prewritten posts. The most I've read is may 200 pages of an epic fantasy and the most I can report on is books sent to me in a haul. Reading week round the corner means that I have a week off, and instead of reading, I have four different deadlines of four different stories to
Taken from my Insta-story, I really do
pick David Tennant over most other
things.
contend with. A few weeks pass and I've just been blobbing away. It's now got to a point in the year where it's just so much easier to click onto Netflix and Amazon Prime and watch an episode of Doctor Who or Lucifer, rather than sit down for ten minutes and read.

And then the three weeks off for Christmas kicks off and I realize I have twelve books I want to read before the end of the year to reach my Goodreads goal and I binge and binge and binge, not leaving any time to write reviews as I go along. Before long I'm back to where I am prior to the winter holidays: writing for assignments, post-less, a TBR longer than an A4 and usually dying for a McDonalds.

Grades come back, they're what they need to be. But, then I get competitive with myself. It repeats for the second semester, with myself pushing even harder to get an even a higher percentage. I read less and less and then BAM! Nothing. For it's the summer, there's not much to do- so I get bored.

By this point, I haven't posted anything in perhaps over a month, maybe stretching on three. I don't know where to begin, do I write a wrap up of the numerous short stories I've read? Or what books have been piling up on my desk? Or do I try coming back with a book tag?

Earlier this year I said on Twitter that I wanted to get back to blogging regularly. To me, ACityofBooks, is an online reading diary. I want to document the things I am reading. I planned out some ideas, and then had ten pages of a sitcom with a five page bible to write and edit (that I got a First on?!) and then two-thousand words on my novel opening. University life laughed at me, as nothing got done.

I will get there eventually, maybe a once a week structure will have to be put back into place.

Top 5 Wednesday| I Don't Just Like SFF Books

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly blog group that come together to discuss that weeks topic. The idea was first curated by the wonderful Lainey at GingerReadLainey and is now run by Samantha over on ThoughtsonTomes. 

If you wish to participate, either on your Blog or Booktube channel then, please, join the group on Goodreads for all the relevant topics.

This week topic is on the other Fantasy and Science fiction media we consume and love. 

I'm keeping this in no particular order except my number one choice. The others are a hub-bub that I couldn't pin down.

1. Doctor Who (1963- Present)

It interesting how this is my number one, as my distaste for Steven Moffat and his time as Executive Producer forced me to stop watching for a few years. But its the Russell T Davies era (2005-200that really holds dear to my heart. Its what I grew up loving in all its camp, cheesy and cliched glory. David Tennant obviously being 'my' Doctor and my constant ongoing rewatch that I haven't grown tired of in the 10-12 years since they first aired.


2. Being Human (2009-2013)

If you've only watched the US remake than, please, go and watch the original UK version (it has Aiden Turner in it, if that helps you make up your mind). This was my first exposure to the supernatural, vampire and werewolves, world that has stayed with me and probably because of the fantastic humour. A rewatch over Christmas really cemented this into a favourite.

3. Blade Runner (The Final Cut)

Oh, that pesky cult classic!
But there is a reason that its so popular, it helped create and define a sub-genre (tech-noir). The themes that are explored, the way we are still left questioning and arguing answers 30 years on from its theatrical release.

4. Black Mirror (2011- Present)

Is there anyone left who hasn't watch Black Mirror? 
I remember watching it back when the first series aired on Channel 4 and knowing it was somewhat popular. Then it got picked up by Netflix and BOOM! everyone has seen it.
What I love about this is its an anthology series, so I can very easily dip in and out of it and not have to commit to another episode to find out what happens next. 

5. Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014)

I'm currently playing my first run-through of Inquistion but I'm loving it! The only other game in the Dragon Age franchise is Orgins. And although I love that one, I might just love this one just a bit more.



BLOG TOUR| The Bitter Twins

The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy #2)
Jen Williams


UK Release: 8th March, 2018
UK Publisher: Headline

Add to Goodreads


REVIEW| The Ninth Rain (Book One)

I received an early copy from Headline for an honest review.  You know if I had issues I would express all qualms. 

REVIEW

Usually I would post the synopsis for the book with a little disclaimer for spoilers. However I'm not going to do that. I don't want to give away anything about the ending of The Ninth Rain, nor where we start The Bitter Twins. That's better left for you to discover.

What I will say is that The Bitter Twins takes us back to the aftermath of the events of book one. Where stakes are high, a lot of questions are in need of answering and I just want to drink more wine than Tormalin- which, is a large feat to beat.

As much as I love reading these great big tomes, I get really restless as a reader. I could be absolutely sold to a story and bitterly attached to the characters but no matter what, I'll start getting frustrated and pick up another book.

The entire time I was reading this I was enthralled, engaged with the direction the author was taking it. I would read for 10 minutes between an assignment, put it down again and find an excuse to pick it straight back up again. I even stopped playing Dragon Age: Inquisition to read it! 

The plot, although thoroughly engaging, is a slow burn, but it is Williams' dialogue and characters that makes her books worth every moment you're invested.  Her characters are in a way family familiar. They're odd-balls that I wouldn't have any other way, as they go through their own personal journeys. We see how as the as the plot progresses, they to, change in a believable and justified manner. 

Dialogue is something I mentioned in my review for book one, the bar already set too high I thought it would be impossible to maintain it. Williams' obviously disagrees and surpass that bar I internally set.  The events of The Bitter Twins, is rather dark and hard to read, yet Williams' has found a balance with her characters' interactions and banter that keeps you reading. Lightening the mood without taking away from the events in those 600 pages. 

It is Williams' blend of traditional classic fantasy and sci-fi that pushes The Winnowing Trilogy into a grey zone that gives this book its edge. It's fantastically executed and just works!

Format: Paperback
RRP: £14.99

GET YOUR COPY:

| WATERSTONES | AMAZON UK

Top 5 Wednesday| A Full English and I'll be Fine.

And we're back! Haven't done a Top 5 Wednesday in a while- so HELLO!

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly blog group that come together to discuss that weeks topic. The idea was first curated by the wonderful Lainey at GingerReadLainey and is now run by Samantha over on ThoughtsonTomes. 

If you wish to participate, either on your Blog or Booktube channel then, please, join the group on Goodreads for all the relevant topics.

This week we have been given a freebie to pick our own topic. I'm choosing to do a topic that from a few years ago: My top 5 book hangovers. All in good fun, as my I'm currently making my flatmate suffer with her hangover. 

Of course, I'm terrible and the only ranking is based on which ones I choose first.

1. Strange the Dreamer
Laini Taylor

Everyone has raved about this book for the best part of a year. If you haven't read any of my previous blog posts, than you have yet to see me go all gooey and gushy about this one. Is there a T5W topic that I have not applied StD to?

2. Good Omens
Terry Pratchett; Neil Gaiman

I'm basically naming all time top 5 at this point. I've read this one at least four
times now, and every time I'll sit there after and just not know what to pick up next. I've now learnt that the best way to follow up a reread is just to read one or two Discworld books. 

3. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
Becky Chambers

This hangover didn't last too long. Just for the rest of December and into the new year 2016-17.

4. Godsgrave 
Jay Kristoff

I was umming and erring about whether to put Nevernight or Godsgrave on this list and went with Godsgrave for this one reason: I finished it, I read that cliffhanger, that cruel ending and just cried in my Nan's living room. It was the first and only time my Nan has ever seen me cry over a book. I then went on to my Nan going through my unread books and picking out my next read, because I couldn't shake of this beautiful monster of a book.

5. City of Lost Souls
Cassandra Clare

Knew ol' Cassie Clare would be on here at some point. I must have read this just after it had first been release, and we all know how it ends... and we all know how long we had to wait for the conclusion to the series. I didn't touch another book for months after finishing this one.

REVIEW| Unconventional

Unconventional
Maggie Harcourt


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Synopsis:

Lexi Angelo has grown up helping her dad with his events business. She likes to stay behind the scenes, planning and organizing...until author Aidan Green - messy haired and annoyingly arrogant - arrives unannounced at the first event of the year. Then Lexi's life is thrown into disarray.

In a flurry of late-night conversations, mixed messages and butterflies, Lexi discovers that some things can't be planned. Things like falling in love...

Review
The Cover

I can see what they have done with the cover design, paired using the blurb quote of "fans for Rainbow Rowell" being explicitly placed on the cover. It works so your eye travels along the path to see the title of the book, and then the next thing you register is the name of a bestselling author and so your hooked.

Also, it's like that trickery used by movie poster designers, to trick our brains into thinking that the thing being advertised is similar to another popular film that you might have liked.

Overall, pleasing colour scheme, clean cut lines and simple, graphic artwork working well to attract that audience it's targeted for.

The Content

This book was adorable. A book that I didn't think would have been my cup of tea, at all really, and it took me entirely by surprise. I would say that the marketing team got it precisely right- the UKYA's answer to Rainbow Rowell book.

The romance between Lexi and Aiden was adorable, and the play on the love to hate trope that really got my interest and left me gripping every page. The writing was accessible and I finished this in only a few hours during a read-a-thon.

Although this book was fast paced, I did feel there was a lack of substance. Which sometimes is something that we all need when we're reaching the cusp of  I read this purely for these reasons and still absolutely enjoyed it for what it was. A cute romance. And every fangirl reader's dream. Falling for the cute young guy who wrote your favourite book.

I found myself laughing out loud a few times and having a silly giggle, which is always how I prefer my YA contemporaries.

Also, if we could get more cameos of young-adult authors, I might read more contemporaries.

BOOK HAUL| February 2018

Compared to last month this seems like child's play. That being said, I need to read and get purging again. My shelves are starting to look a bit hectic.


Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha #1)
Tomi Adeyemi


**Sent for Review via Macmillan's Children **





The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy #2)
Jen Williams

** Sent for Review via Headline **

WRAP UP| February 2018

Books carrying on into March:

  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (I AM SO CLOSE TO FINISHING)
  • Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
  • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
  • The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams

Books and stories I finished:


The Courtship of Mr Lyon
Angela Carter

I read another short story from Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber short story collection.





Kings of the Wyld (The Band #1)
Nicholas Eames

I loved this one! I have one complaint and that was in Eames' representation of women. They were rather the enemy of every situation- like no thanks.
Although, the second book in the series is following a female protagonist so we'll see how I feel after that one and if I'll read book 3.


Good Omens
Terry Pratchett; Neil Gaiman


I didn't realise what my top 5 books of all time really were until I felt the deepest grandest desire to reread this one. This is so much fun to read, and what a dream team?! Gaiman and Pratchett- this book envisions exactly what you would think that would be.




I'm Starved for You
Margret Atwood



It was alright. Nothing really stuck out at me. But, it did leave me wanting to pick up one of her novels and try out more of Atwood's writing.
The Waking Land (The Waking Land #1)
Callie Bates


I participated in the blog tour with Hodder & Stoughton with this one, but I wasn't to enthralled  by it and probably won't be picking up the sequel anytime soon.

You can read the full review here.

The Quantity Theory of Insanity
SHORT STORY READ: The North London Book of the Dead
Will Self

I thoroughly liked the concept and execution of this one.  Quite a lof of London-centric humour that I liked, even though quite a few people in my class didn't get from not being familiar with it.
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