Fiction Friday: Book Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

Soundless by Richelle Mead

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I’ve had this book for about four years and somehow never picked it up (seriously, what AM I doing with my collection of books? Such a waste).
“Soundless” tells the story of Fei who lives in a village where the people mine precious metals in exchange for food from a mysterious source down the mountain where they are trapped.
When the story begins, people in the village are starting to lose their sight. Once a person loses their sight, there are left to beg for food in the town square.
When their food rations are shortened, the villagers are outraged but try to work harder to mine more metals.
One night, Fei wakes up and realizes that she can hear. But she is the only one in the village who can.
Fei teams up with her childhood best friend in an attempt to obtain more food for her villagers. But along the way, she has to battle treacherous cliffs, corrupt leaders and the fear of her own people.
I tore through this book in one setting (which surprised me because like I said, this book has been sitting untouched on my shelf for years).
I loved the story of Fei and her village and I especially enjoyed the wonder she experienced once she was able to hear.
If you’re looking for a quick fantasy read, this is definitely one to try.



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5 Useful Skills You Pick Up as an English Major

English majors are always portrayed as struggling to find a job. While majoring in English may not be the best idea financially (especially in South Africa and especially now), there are some handy skills you pick up that you are able to make use of in any job.

Graduation
  1. Reading (and actually understanding what was read)- This sounds like something so simple but you would be surprised at how many people cannot read. It’s not that they never learnt or lack the ability. Their minds are incapable of reading and making sense of what it is. As someone who works in Customer Care, this drives me crazy and leads to lots of (unnecessary) back and forth emails. Another perk related to reading is that as an English major you probably developed the skill of speed-reading. Yay you!
  2. Research Skills- Always necessary in any field whether you’re looking for information that is academic in nature or even just information on basic skills such as Microsoft Office.
  3. Effective communication- As an English major, you learn how to communicate effectively via both verbal and written communication.
  4. Working with deadlines- Being an English major means learning how to manage large chunks of work in a short amount of time. Since graduating uni, I always say that deadlines are not a thing for me. It’s now a habit for me to get things done before deadlines.
  5. Understanding other’s point of view or opinion- As an English major you learn that 1) there is never one correct answer and 2) how to see things from other people’s point of view.

Fiction Friday: Book Review- Thorn by Intisar Khanani

Thorn by Intisar Khanani

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Alyrra is a princess with a cruel family who take delight in tormenting her. When a King comes to visit with the intention of marrying Alyrra to his son, Prince Kestrin. No one understands why he wants stupid Alyrra instead of someone prettier with a richer kingdom.
Eager to be rid of her, Alyrra’s family encourage the engagement and plans are made for Alyrra to leave home.
On her way to her betrothed’s Kingdom, Alyrra is robbed of her identity by a sorcerer who wants to kill the royal family.
Forced into the role of a goose girl, Alyrra is pleased to not have to follow the rules of court. Her days are her own and she can do what she wants with them.
However the more time that she spends as a commoner, the more faults she begins to find with the kingdom and it’s twisted view on justice.
It isn’t long before Prince Kestrin seeks her out, suspicious about his wife-to-be and her personality which seems selfish and spoiled (not at all like the “honest” woman he had expected).
As Alyrra learns more about Kestrin and his kingdom, she is forced to make a decision between her old life and new.
I loved that this book was about so much more than romance. Alyrra has to chose to either live the free life she wanted as a goose girl (and risk leaving thousands of people at the mercy of a justice system that does nothing to help them) or take up her role as Princess and make a difference in other’s lives.
However as much as I did love that this was more than romance, I was sad that I didn’t get the happy ending that I expected. I loved reading “Thorn” and devoured it in a day, sacrificing sleep and food to finally get to the ending.
The writing was good and the world building was brilliant and easy to follow.
This book left me wanting more and I really hope that there is a sequel.



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Life in the Time of Corona

My alarm goes off at 5:20AM. I ignore it and drift back to a half-asleep state. It doesn’t matter if I’m late. There’s no traffic. My mother wakes me up at 5:30AM and this time I finally get out of bed.

I stumble to the bathroom with my eyes half-closed and pick up my toothbrush. I brush my teeth with one hand and with the other I check the news sites for anything related to Covid-19.

This is an everyday routine. This is our new normal. When we went back to work three weeks ago, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to adjust after more than a month at home but surprisingly it took me a short while to accept our new world.

I leave home at 6:50AM, careful to ensure that I have a freshly washed mask. Our company provided us with three black ones but I have been starting a collection of infinitely more colourful options.

Once I get to work, it’s time for our temperature check. The drive to work is only twenty minutes but I make sure to arrive early just for the temperature check. The lines can get long and I hate waiting even with social distancing.

The lady checked my temperature, has me sign attendance and then sanitizes my hands. I still have to go in the building and press the button for the lift which still creeps me out. The lift reeks of disinfectant but all the same, I am careful not to touch any part of it.

When I get to my desk, it is either already cleaned or in the process of being cleaned. Desks are cleaned daily and the entire office has a night cleaning with extra strong chemicals (allegedly. I’ve obviously never seen these people but I feel pretty good about our cleaning routine).

I sit down at my desk and use the sanitizer given to us by management to clean my hands again after using the lifts. I start up my pc and make small talk with the staff.

We are all spaced apart on the floor and if anyone is approaching you for conversation, masks are required.

There is a limit on the number of staff allowed in areas such as the kitchen and seating areas (the same goes for stores).

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there’s a pandemic going around. We have adjusted to the rules pretty well.

Life has been going on as normal. Sure you can’t see friends and family nor can you touch them.

But you can go to work, go to the store and almost live your life as normal.

It makes me wonder was I wrong in freaking out when this all started? It has been 3 months since we were first hit with the virus. Our numbers are 20 000+ confirmed cases and 300+ deaths. All things considered it seems like South Africa is handling the virus relatively okay.

Fiction Friday: Book Review- A Heart So Fierce and Broken (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #2) by Brigid Kemmerer

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review (and then abandoned it for like two weeks when I realised Rhen was going to be a small pawn in this big book. Yes, I’m a fickle reader. Also I didn’t really care about Grey. I found him boring. Please note the past tense).
“A Heart So Fierce and Broken” has a brief mention of Rhen and his kingdom before moving on to the two main characters, Grey- who has been in hiding since he found the truth about his magic and Lia Mara, daughter of the bloodthirsty Karan Luran.
Circumstances find Grey and Lia Mara on the run together. Lia Mara wants to reunite her kingdom with Emberfall and believes that Grey is the key to doing that.
Grey just wants things to be the way they were. He has no desire to rule. However it soon becomes clear that Prince Rhen has a viciousness of his own after Lilith’s curse.
Grey can walk away and leave the people of Emberfall in Rhen’s hands or he can stand up and take his place as ruler to the throne.
Like I said before, I had no interest in boring Grey or a book that was obviously going to paint poor Rhen as a villian. I love him and he is amazing. However from the first start of the book it is clear that his fear over magic was going to spoil things for him.
It took me a while to warm up to Grey and Lia Mara but once I was hooked, I couldn’t stop reading.
They are an unusual pair but I loved them regardless.
Three stars instead of five because I had a book hangover while reading this and yes I am still a bit sulky at the lack of Rhen in this book.
I cannot wait for the next book in this series!
#TeamRhenandGrey #TeamRoyalMalesofEmberfall

***
SPOILER ALERT

THAT ENDING!!!
WTF
I AM DEAD.DEAD!



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Fiction Friday: Book Review- Manage Your Money like a F*cking Grown Up: The Best Money Advice You Never Got by Sam Beckbessinger

Manage Your Money like a F*cking Grown Up: The Best Money Advice You Never Got

Manage Your Money like a F*cking Grown Up: The Best Money Advice You Never Got by Sam Beckbessinger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I’ve said time and time again that nothing in school prepares us for “The Real World.” We don’t have a class to teach us how to save, why we should save and how blowing your entire credit card in one month is a bad idea (though most of us have already heard stories about why we shouldn’t do
that last one)
“Manage Your Money Like a F#cking Grown Up” is the book we all need. It is filled with useful, practical advice on money, spending and saving.
There are some lessons in this book that I have had to learn firsthand for myself and others that I won’t have to thanks to Sam Beckbessinger’s advice.
This book is written in normal plain English so there’s no big words that make no sense. This is like sitting down with your older, wiser, more financially mature friend to discuss what you should and shouldn’t do with your finances.
While this book is great for anyone who wants to take control of their finances, I strongly recommend it to people entering their twenties or those who are already in their twenties.
Trust me, this book is everything we wish we knew about money.



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Fiction Friday: Book Review- The Flatshare by Beth O’ Leary

The Flatshare

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


When Tiffy’s crappy on-again, off-again ex boyfriend demands that she moves out of their apartment, she struggles to find a new place. And then she comes across an ad for a flatshare.
Leon works night shift and needs quick cash. His other choices for house guests were eccentric so he agrees to Tiffy’s offer…even though he hasn’t actually met her.
The two of them live together and start a correspondence via post-its (idk I think that is the cutest thing ever). They even build a sort of friendship through their post-it notes despite having never met.
I kept hearing great things about this book so I was really excited to read it.
But it took forever for Tiffy and Leon to meet/move in together which annoyed me. It kind of felt like a chore because I kept waiting for any sort of interaction between the two and I almost gave up twice on this book. But I pushed on and boy was I glad I did.
The agonizing wait for Tiffy and Leon to move in together was simply to build a story about their friends and family. Once I was fully immersed in the story, I got over my irritation quickly.
They have a pretty colourful cast of supporting characters which I always enjoy seeing in a book. I especially enjoyed how unexpected this plot was.
This book was well-written, romantic and oh so cute.
If you’re looking for a light read, I cannot recommend anything better!



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Welcome Back

I really thought by the time I went back to blogging, Corona would be a thing of the past.

But nope, it’s still alive and thriving. It’s just that in South Africa we are now out of lockdown (or quarantine as some people have been calling it).

The president has given us to go ahead for a gradual return to work in certain sectors but things are going to be tough regardless.

The company that I’m working for will be retrenching staff as well as several other companies.

As someone who has seen the struggle of small business owners and those who make their living from the flea markets, I wonder and pray for these people.

Pray for the world, guys.

We need it

Fiction Friday: Book Review- A Throne of Swans by Katharine Corr

A Throne of Swans

A Throne of Swans by Katharine Corr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I received a copy of this book in exchange for a free review. While this was not a title I requested, I was instantly intrigued by the synopsis and started reading (and then purchased the Kindle copy so I could read on the go).
‘A Throne of Swans” begins with Aderyn whose dad passes away, leaving her as the Protector of Atratys. In this world, nobles are able to transform into a bird that represents their family house. Aderyn’s bird is supposed to be a white swan. But she has been unable to transform since the night of her mother’s death where she was ripped apart by hawks. Aderyn survived the attack but has been hunting for answers ever since. Hawks were supposed to be extinct. So who would have attacked her and her mother?
Aderyn’s quest for answers leads her to the heart of the Citadel where her cruel uncle reigns as King. Despite her father’s warnings that she remain in their land, Aderyn knows that she cannot rest or rule without learning the truth about her mother’s death.
Accompanied with a surly advisor (who for some reason I happened to fall in love with at the very first moment he appeared), Aderyn has to navigate court politics and drama all the while hiding that she is flightless- something that could cost her her position as Protector.
From the very first moment I was hooked by this novel. The world-building is incredible, the plot is filled with suspense and the writing is captivating.
If you haven’t already picked this up, do it now. This is a beautiful novel for fans of high fantasy.



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Bookish Confession: I Used to Pirate eBooks

In 2010, I started writing Twilight fanfiction. I was obsessed with the books and movies and desperately needed an outlet for my feelings. So I chose fanfiction. I created an account on Fanfiction.net and made friends with someone to asked me if I had read The Vampire Diaries. I admitted that I hadn’t though I always wanted to. The books were expensive so I never got the opportunity. She offered to send me PDF copies of the books and I agreed.

I loved the idea of pdf books. Ebooks! That you could read on your phone. What I didn’t know at the time was that an eBook was not a PDF file. No, PDF files were illegal and we were committing book piracy. I sent the files to all of my friends.

Once I was done with all the books, I started looking for others. House of Night. Vampire Academy. Blood Bloods. This continued for years. I would read the books and if I liked them, I would save up money for a print copy.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might know that I didn’t have the opportunity to go to the library as a kid as my dad was always busy. So these “ebooks” were great for me.

Sometime in 2012 I stopped reading as I wanted to focus on school. I started college in 2014 and discovered Netgalley. I had a lifestyle blog at the time so I requested books on Netgalley and reviewed them on my blog. It was the same thing as high school. Or so I thought.

I had been reviewing books for a few months when I came across a warning on one of my review copies. “This book is for your eyes and your eyes only. Sharing a copy with anyone else constitutes as ebook piracy.” My first reaction was to laugh. Piracy was for music and movies. Not eBooks. Or was it?

I started Googling and was appalled. I had been committing ebook piracy and I had no clue. I especially had no idea how it affected authors or the book community as a whole. I felt awful.

Fast forward a few years later and I still haven’t purchased print copies of all the books I pirated. Though not for lack of trying. It’s not the same and the damage has already been done but I thought purchasing the books would be some sort of atonement.

I know what I did was wrong and I feel really bad (especially considering how often I review books) but at the same time I feel like there should have been more education on the subject.

Nowadays you cannot mention “free pdf copy” without having someone jump down your throat for it but at the same time there are more avenues to get a book than just the library or the bookstore. Amazon, Scribd and Bookbub to name a few.

For me, there are days where I wonder if I would still be pirating if I hadn’t stopped to read that warning on that one book. I am truly grateful that I did.

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