July Wrap Up

So I am home from Asia and have written a couple posts about Japan and Korea and the rest will be up eventually. Sadly I was back to work and it’s crazy busy because it’s the height of summer and everyone wants to come to Skye, I blame Outlander.

I start uni in August which is so scary because it’s a whole new course with people I don’t know and it’s completely out of my comfort zone but I’m super excited at the same time. I saw my flat a couple weeks ago and it’s so pretty and I’m going to love living there I think.

I’ve been super out of the blogging community because I have a lot going on with work but if there’s a post you feel didn’t get enough hits or you just want me to read leave me a comment.

I’m getting closer to 500 followers and I’ll be doing a giveaway when I hit that!

Books I read this month:

Mature Content by Megan Erickson and Satino Hassell
Glutton for Pleasure by Alisha Rai
Trade Me by Courtney Milan
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (reread)
Hold Me by Courtney Milan
So Right by Rebekah Weatherspoon
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee
The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Books I reviewed this month:
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
See You In The Cosmos by Jack Cheng
Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Haven by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Winger by Andrew Smith
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

Books I bought this month:

Trade Me by Courtney Milan
Hold Me by Courtney Milan
Prom Queen Perfect by Clarisse David
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
So Right by Rebekah Weatherspoon
The Awakening of Ren Crowne by Anne Zoelle
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern
Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb
Seed by Lisa Heathfield
Persuading Austen by Brigid Coady

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A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Honestly if you loved ACOMAF don't even bother reading this because it's about 500 pages of waffle and not much else. I was so hyped up for this book when I finished ACOMAF because I had no idea what was going to happen, but then there was a lot of discussion in the community about SJM and her lack of diversity and I gradually felt less and less excited. But when the book came out and arrived at my door I was still anticipating what would happen and how it would end.

And the end was good. The last 150 pages or so were really enjoyable. It's just a shame that the majority of the book prior to that was just a lot of nothing. I love Feyre and Rhysand but there was just so much couple stuff from them that did not need to be there. I found myself rolling my eyes a lot. I feel like Maas has the kind of style that after a while begins to feel pretty repetitive. You seem to notice the same phrases used a lot and whilst it's good to have a grasp on your own style you need to find a balance.

Maas began to pair up everyone as it was coming to a close and for some reason a lot of mainstream fantasy writers do this. They can't bear to have single characters left. What I did find interesting though was that there was unrequited love from one of the guys as Mor comes out as being a lesbian at the end of the novel, or it read like that but I was a bit confused as to what she considered herself. If you consider this a spoiler fight me, people's sexualities are not spoilers. And whilst I was glad that she wasn't straight it kind of felt like Maas was doing it just for the sake of it.

There is a character in the book who is bi though he is not one of the main 6 it's still good to have representation. But I saw a lot of comments on how he as a character was too stereotypical of bi people as he slept around a lot and had threesomes and I completely understand the criticism but that doesn't mean it's not ok to be bi and sleep around. The problem is that Sarah is not bi herself or at least hasn't came out as bi so for her to have a character with that stereotype as opposite to an own voices author writing from experience is harmful.

Something I was quite glad of in this book was that Maas had clearly listened to criticism a little bit and had clarified that the Illyrians were not white and had darker skin. Obviously it's a bit too late on that front but at least it was mentioned at some point. Just a shame it was in the final book and people might have given up on the series before this point.

I still loved the characters they still felt true to themselves and I loved seeing Feyre grow into her powers more and feel better about herself and her place in the Night Court. I also enjoyed getting to see characters from different Courts are the previous 2 books had mainly focussed on Spring and Night. I liked getting to see the different personalities and attitudes cultivated by living in different places.

Honestly I don't think I'm going to buy the next 3 books in this series as I just don't have an interest anymore. Which makes me sad because ACOMAF was so good but oh well.

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Asia Travel Blog #2 – Korea

So if you know me you know I love Kpop, Korean beauty and just general Korean culture so Korea was my most anticipated part of the trip. If you missed my last post about Japan click here.

Upon landing in Incheon we found our way to the train to the centre of Seoul and were sat next to the 2 most annoying Canadians on the planet, I wanted to put my head through the window so that was the best welcome ever.

Our hotel was in Jongno-gu so it was really straightforward to get to off the metro, thankfully. The hotel itself was super nice and we couldn’t believe the price we got it for, considering it had a Jacuzzi in the room and a computer.

First on the to do list was heading to Myeongdong and seeing how many Kbeauty shops there really was. And I was not prepared. I did not expect to see the same shops 5 times on one street each. And every single company had a buy one get one free deal going on for face masks and various other things. Overwhelmed is an understatement to say the least. Some guy who worked at Etude House even stuck out his hand so Joanne could test out lipstick on him instead of herself, which was wild.

For dinner we had some famous Korean fried chicken. We had wanted to get Korean Barbecue but nowhere we could see had chicken and neither of us are fans of pork and beef, so I was sad about that.

 

Waking up on our second day Joanne had a migraine so I went out to explore on my own as I didn’t want to waste any time and I knew Joanne wouldn’t want me to just hang around. I first headed to Jongmyo which was the shrine of all the royalty. As it was Korean Memorial Day the place was pretty quiet and definitely had a bit of a weird air to it.

I then headed to the Bukcheon Hanok Village which is probably the most photographed place in Seoul besides the Palaces. I got a little bit lost as I was in the right area but wasn’t sure where to find the parts I’d always seen pictures of but then I found a tourist info place and was able to find my way. But first I was hungry so I went and grabbed some Bibimbop (that’s bibimbap with no meat). It was so good, I just love bibimbap so having actual Korean Bibimbap was 10/10 and the shop I got it in was really cute.

The actual Village was so busy with young Korean kids dressed up in Hanboks taking photos as if they were residents of the village. And the hanboks were super cute, some were just standard ones and some were embroidered so nicely. But aside from that the village was really cool, it was so interesting to see how houses used to be and I couldn’t imagine how expensive rent would be for the houses. I went for some patbingsu at a sweet cafe in the village and it was bigger than my head so I couldn’t finish it but it was so good.

Next I went to the The National Folk Museum which was quite a sweet open air museum with some reconstructed buildings to show what village life used to be like. Then I went to the Gyeongbokgung Palace which was the main Palace of Joseon (Korea before it became North and South). It has been burnt down a few times so isn’t the original buildings all the way through but there is constant work to restore it to the way it once was. If you ever go to Seoul you should make this your number 1 priority because its so serene and unbelievable that it’s in the middle of Seoul because you can’t hear any noise.

Joanne woke up and felt a lot better so joined me at the Palace. After quickly showing her some of the things she missed we headed to the COEX which is this insanely huge mall in Gangnam. My main reason for going here was because it has SMTown@COEXartium and I desperately wanted to go there to see what SNSD merch I could find. I spent way too much money and never took a picture of it and it’s currently still in the mail to me (which is kind of terrifying). I then went into a book shop which sold CDs as well so bought more there. The other awesome thing about COEX is that it has a library in the middle of it.

 

The next day it was pissing down so I had to google some things to do on rainy days in Seoul. Off we toddled to the National Palace Museum which was actually really interesting because I never really learnt much about Korean history. One thing that stood out to me that Korea were quite eager to embrace Western cultures which a lot of East Asian countries were against.

We left the museum earlier than we expected so we walked to Myeongdong as we wanted to go to a Cat Cafe but we knew places didn’t open very early there. It was a longer walk than we thought and we got very wet, but got to see some cute policemen with golf umbrellas. Of course the cafe didn’t open for another hour anyway so we wandered about a little more, found another place to buy some CDs. Nature Republic had this amazing deal: buy one set of 56 face masks and get another set of 56 free so of course we went halfers and bought them.

The cat cafe was the sweetest place ever, it was pretty cheap compared to the ones we have in the UK as well, considering it was 9000 won for entrance and a drink. We met a group of people from Liverpool whilst we were there who started talking about going to a dog cafe which we were kind of interested in too but we wanted to do something else first so we didn’t keep awkwardly bumping into the same people.

I’d read about this place called Common Ground which was a shopping centre made out of shipping containers. However information on where it was was scarce so we got a little lost on the way due to orientation confusion. It was pretty cool to navigate through and it was all indie shops, sadly there wasn’t really anything for either of us to buy though as it was all Asian sizes and even the large wouldn’t fit my thigh.

Eventually we headed to the dog cafe. They had the dogs split up into small dogs and big dogs but thankfully we could move between the rooms to our heart’s content. And you can bet I gave my love to all the dogs. There was 3 corgis! The cutest miniature poodle ever immediately jumped in my lap as well. The staff just let the dogs do what they wanted which was a bit weird to see when the dog’s started getting a bit aggro but I know how that’s better for the dogs themselves.

We flew to Jeju Island the next day and Gimpo Domestic airport was an experience I can tell you, every single flight was running late and every single person was running late. I hate being less than 2 hours early for my flight so I was feeling a bit stressed out by everyone.

Jeju was not what I expected, I think we were staying on the wrong side of the island as I thought it would all be golden beaches. But as we were only staying for a night we couldn’t stay too far from the airport. The Guest House we stayed at was nice and homey and was easy to get to once we got off the horrendous bus journey. Honestly, you should take a bus in Jeju, I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared for my life.

The one night we were there we walked a lot, first we tried to find a beach, which we couldn’t. Then we tried to find an ATM that would accept my card, which we couldn’t. And then we tried to find the place called Noodle Street, and we did.

So since we couldn’t find a beach that night the next day we endeavoured to get to one. Which Joanne managed to find a way to using her inherited navigation genes. Another horrendous bus journey and we found a beach and sat there for 2 hours. Somehow there was free wifi there too so I spent the majority of my time there watching the live results of the UK General Election.

I think I will need to go back to Jeju and see the south side of the island and explore the Sex Museum.

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Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

Thank you to edelweiss and for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If this book isn’t on your TBR now add it because it’s so adorable and funny.

Tash (pronounced Tosh) is in love with Leo Tolstoy, the dead author. She makes a web series based on Anna Karenina with her friends playing the roles and sees little buzz until one day a big youtuber posts about the series and they receive instant online fame.

So Tosh comes to the realisation throughout the book that she is asexual, now I’m not ace so I can’t tell you if the representation is good and not problematic but it felt like it was. It felt accurate to what I know about asexuality from my friends and the experiences they’ve had. If you are ace and have read this book and think it isn’t accurate please let me know.  I would also say that there is a warning for aphobia from other characters.

I really loved the parts of this book which focussed on the web series. It reminded me of the time when I binge watched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and how much I loved them. It made me want to read Anna Karenina so I bought a copy, I probably won’t read it for a long time but I own it now.

I loved Tosh I found her so relateable, her anxieties read so well and were completely accessible to me despite having different anxieties. I loved that she was vegetarian, I never read books with veggie MCs, and so many people these days are veggie or vegan that it was just really nice to read. She was also Buddhist which is another thing that doesn’t feature in books much.

Something I really loved was that you get to read about youtube creators in a way that felt real, a lot of the time you read a book with youtubers in it and there is no mention of the amount of work that does into it but this book spoke about that a lot. It spoke about the stress of constant creation and relying on people to be there when you need them to be and also how hard it is to be in the limelight.

I loved that the MC ended up in a relationship with someone who was happy to be with her, there wasn’t any weird feelings from his side about her being ace, he didn’t try to pressure her. He liked her for her.

There was some really good side character representation as well which I absolutely adored.

I hope more people read this book because I haven’t seen much hype about it but it’s so worth the read.

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Winger by Andrew Smith

I really don’t know how I feel about this book still and it’s been 2 months since I read it. There was some really interesting commentary on teenage boys, a hilarious main character who was also subtly homophobic and I was never sure how I felt about him, and some odd representation. I originally picked this up because its about private school kids playing rugby and I thought hey that’s something I haven’t seen in YA and I love rugby so let’s give it a go. What this book turned out to be was something I didn’t really expect.There are a couple of triggers I should warn you about, casual homophobia, violence, casual sexism, anything you can think of a teenage boy being gross about, and a gay character dying, which some would consider a spoiler but I feel like you should be warned because it could be upsetting.

Ryan Dean West is stuck in the dorms where the troublemakers go after messing around the previous year and his roommate is somewhat of a bully. He has to get through the school year despite being so much younger than his classmates and stuck without his friends in his new dorm.

Ryan Dean is your classic teenage boy. He thought sexist and homophobic stuff and at times was really unlikeable but he was also absolutely hilarious and I was so unsure reading his POV how I felt about him.

There were some illustrations throughout the book which I found quite funny and a good break from the writing at times.

What I would say is that I found the rugby parts quite accurate but I found the Americanisms surrounding it jarring. But maybe that’s just me because I’m so used to European rugby but at times it felt like they were playing a mixture of Union and League which are completely different games and it sometimes felt off. I also just can’t imagine private school kids in America playing rugby.

I’m going to talk about the ending here so if you don’t want spoilers stop reading and go to the part which says end spoilers.

The ending really threw me off. I’m still not sure how I feel about it now. It brings an interesting discussion about people’s attitudes to gay people and it shows that as much as someone can be loved in a group of friends there’s always going to be someone who isn’t happy with them as a person, but I also feel like did Joey really have to die. Was that necessary? Could Smith not have just left him really badly hurt? Why did he have to die? In media right now there’s a big furore over writers killing off gay characters for the sake of furthering the plot, and whilst this novel was written a few years ago, Bury Your Gays has been a thing for a very long time. I also think it was very sad that a guy who was closeted was the one that did it, it shows a lot about the world we live in and how progressive we think we are when stuff like this still happens in the real world.

End Spoilers

I think I wan to read the sequel but I’m really not sure. I plowed through this one and it was a fun read like 80% of the time but I don’t know I’ve got so many books to read. But I also want to know what happens.

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Asia Travel Blog #1 – Japan

So you may or may not know that I was away for the whole month of June backpacking through cities in East Asia with my friend Joanne. We went to Tokyo, Seoul, Jeju Island, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Phuket and Bangkok. We had some very interesting adventures, saw a lot of weird people and ate some amazing food so I thought I would write a few blog posts detailing our adventures.

We landed in Tokyo at around 8 in the morning and our hotel didn’t open check-in until 3 o’clock, neither of us had slept on the flight so we just wanted to nap but instead we dropped off our bags and went for food. Now you know I’m a vegetarian and have been since December but I knew going to Asia it would be difficult to find veggie food, because of course there was a language barrier but vegetarianism isn’t a big a thing in the cultures as it is over here (apart from the countries that have a strong Muslim population. So I had a pork curry, I didn’t eat the pork as I generally don’t like pork but the sauce was so good.

Then we went to Ueno park which was a 20 minute walk from out hostel and was super pretty but there was some weird drunk people there and it was a very interesting experience for the first day in Japan. Then we went back to the hostel to check in and have a nap. The hostel was really nice and I would definitely recommend it. So if you’re ever in Tokyo 1 Night 1980 Hostel is a good capsule hostel.

The next day we went to the Palace Gardens, but they were closed, which you will notice is a theme of the experience. Then we decided to walk from the Palace to Ginza to see Tokyo station, which has some French architecture then we headed to the Kabukiza theatre. We went to the museum that is part of the theatre which has some things you can try on or test noises to see how they did the theatre. Part of our ticket for the museum included a 3 minute watch of the show which was really interesting. We didn’t want to get a ticket to the full show because they were crazy expensive but we wanted to see what it was like so that was worth the money.

We headed back to a more central area and found a Sanrio shop where I spent a lot of money on stationary without realising because I was still kind of jet lagged and the currency conversion confused me. After lunch we headed to Shibuya and got a bit confused along the way because we got out of the train station at the wrong place so we spent half an hour wandering around not sure where we were. But we managed to get to the Scramble Crossing, which you honestly will not understand how crazy it is until you go on it. I have never seen so many people cross a road in my life. And it’s every single crossing as well, it’s not like every now and again there’s a build up, there’s just so many people.

Before going to Shibuya we had stopped off at a place called the Second Hand Books Street and honestly it’s just something you can’t even imagine. Every building has a second hand shop and there’s so many books. Not only that there was a few that had English books and I was expecting like some well loved Dan Brown novels but no, there were these HUGE first/second/third editions of classic, people’s bind ups of essays, histories. Things you couldn’t even dream of owning because they’re so expensive and it was incredibly surreal to see something like that so far away from home.

We walked up to the top floor of Shibuya 109, not really sure why, but just to see what was going on in there and to say we did it. We saw some really interesting clothes and accessories but nothing I could pull off. We also spent some time in an arcade where I played Mario Kart as an actual racing game and I was freaking out.

The next day we went to the Tokyo SkyTree which is the world’s tallest tower. We didn’t go up it because it was super expensive and there was a viewing deck at the Government Metropolitan Building which was free so we felt like that was a better idea. In the SkyTree complex was a Studio Ghibli shop which was super cool though it only really had stuff from Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbour Totoro, It would’ve been cool to see other items but hey ho. We also stumbled on a Pokemon store which was incredible and we spent a lot longer in there than necessary, and I spent more money than necessary. Then we went on a walk to go to the Sumo Museum but found it was closed (see the theme?) so decided to walk to Akibahara. We did a lot of walking this day because there was a couple of places on lines of the metro that we didn’t have tickets for and didn’t see the point in paying more just to go to one place. We realised we made a mistake when we checked our health apps on our phones and discovered we’d walked 36000 steps.

We couldn’t be bothered to walk the whole way to Akibahara because it was a lot further than we thought. So we skipped to going to the Meiji Shrine which was insanely busy and very idylic. There was a wedding having it’s photos taken when we were there which was really cool to witness as they don’t smile in their photos, but there was so many tourists taking photos of it and being annoying it made me a little bit mad.

Shinjuku was next so we could go to the Government Metropolitan Building. We got lost because Shinjuku is an absolute mess of a place. We also didn’t realise how far the building was from the station and ended up walking really far again. But the views were phenomenal, you can’t even see the end of the city it’s so vast.

After this we headed to Tokyo Bay to see the Rainbow Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. We took the monorail across the Rainbow Bridge to Bay. We walked around the shore bit where there was a bunch of malls and hotels and where the Statue of Liberty was. There was also a viewing area for the bridge, which was incredibly disappointing because it wasn’t rainbow at all. We also witnessed a couple on a date taking more selfies than you can imagine and some middle aged American man trying to chat up some young Indonesian women, very badly.

We ambled over to Palette Town to see the rainbow ferris wheel which was definitely more rainbow than the bridge. Then we stumbled into another arcade which had a lot of penny drop machines. I found a coin in a machine and put it in and like 10 came out so I just kept playing. Then a guy came over to us and gave us a huge tub of coins because him and his son had to leave. We ended up playing for somewhere around about an hour without spending any money. And these coin drops were on a whole other level than the ones I’m used to, there was like an arcade game as part of it. I had no idea what was going on but I had fun.

The Sunday was the day we chose to go to the first of the Asian Disneys. As we only gave ourselves one day for Disney we decided to go to Tokyo DisneySea as it’s the only park of it’s kind. It was such an aesthetically pleasing place as I love the sea. All the groups who were there were all dressed matching so they knew where there friends were or just because they were trying to be cute and it was adorable. We went on most rides though it was a little bit busier than we expected. They have this whole popcorn thing there where they had like 7 flavours. I tried caramel, pepper and salt but I wasn’t really interested in trying curry flavour or tomato and basil flavour. I discovered that Japanese people absolute adore the Disney bear: Duffy. I had never even heard of Duffy before this but he was EVERYWHERE. My only problem with the park was that it was hot and not enough rides sprayed water on you. Tokyo Disney also still runs on old school fast pass where you have to go to the ride and get your fast pass which stressed me out and most of the rides which were busiest ran out by 11/12.

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Haven by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Thank you to netgalley and for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If you want a steamy summer read with some characters who aren’t your typical romance book types then this is the book for you. Our two main characters are a chubby Grenadian American woman and a bearded mountain man and their chemistry is just so good.

The book kicks off with our MCs meeting when Claudia is on a camping weekend with her brother and her brother gets murdered by a serial killer and Claudia is running away from the same fate and finds Shep who rescues her from the murderer. When Claudia tries to get back to her real life after the horrible events she can’t stop thinking about Shep.

Now obviously based on that synopsis you can tell that there are some triggers with this book. Claudia’s brother is murdered and Claudia herself nearly meets the same fate and is attacked so whilst it isn’t gone into too much detail, if you are triggered by these kind of things I would be weary, especially as it is continuously mentioned throughout the novel as Claudia is still dealing with the trauma. BUT the way the author dealt with that trauma throughout the book was really respectful I thought, and I felt like the way she wrote how Claudia dealt with the grief and trauma was really real and believable.

The erotic parts of this novel, which there were a lot, were so steamy. I had to make sure I read this book when I was in bed as I knew if I read it in public I would get very uncomfortable. There was some exhibitionist aspects in this book which I haven’t read much of in erotica and my god it got me a bit hot and bothered. There’s also a lot of bdsm parts of their relationship, which from what I’ve read Rebekah Weatherspoon includes of lot of her books, which were really good to read, as I find bdsm in books can be really awkward if the writer doesn’t know what they’re doing.

I loved the characters in this book, I need to get myself a Shep because they way I imagined him was just so perfect. And Claudia was just such a good person to read the POV of, I felt like she made a lot of decisions that I would.

So, yeah, get this book because god damn it’s so hot.

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