Chat With a Grammar Nazi Serial Killer by Ryan Suvaal Review

I received this copy for review however, all my opinions are honest.

Given that it’s such a short story I can’t really review it the way I reviewed other books on this blog and therefore I will keep my thoughts concise and straight to the point. This is a no-spoiler review!

I couldn’t help but enjoy this story for what it is: a funny, interesting dissection of the human brain and how we operate when we’ve been wronged. Throughout the story the serial killer is blunt and straight-to-the-point, she doesn’t seem remorseful at all except for the little clues of her humanity which he sprinkles during her conversation with Corrigan.

I quite enjoyed the dialogue because how straightforward it was, probably due to the interview style. I also enjoyed the prospect of the story – the dark web interview was interesting and the main character is funny and unashamed which makes for a fun to read protagonist.

Although I do find it ironic that there are quite a few spelling and grammar mistakes throughout this short story given the prospect of the plot.

Overall, I definitely recommend giving it a read!

With love,

Sonny xx

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Exhaustion

I always joke around with my friends that exhaustion is a powerful drug. You know that feeling when your body is just so, so heavy that you can barely move? Or when your head is so full and your eyelids are constantly ready to drop that you can’t focus? You lose motivation to do things that you love or even things you don’t love but have to do anyway. So you end up procrastinating, spending hours watching YouTube and then even more hours trying to catch up on whatever work you were supposed to do and then your sleep schedule is all out of wack and maybe your diet is too and this keeps on going until you break down.

That’s not healthy. It’s definitely very common, sure, but it shouldn’t be. We live in a society in which we rarely stop to rest and when we do, well, we think about all the things we have to do when we get back to work. How exactly is that rest? It’s not. It’s tiring and exhausting and it doesn’t help anybody in the long run.

Now, picture your body and mind as a machine – it works perfectly when it’s out of the box and it serves you well for a while but after that, the wheels start rusting and you might need to do some work on it to restore it to its original form. That can take the form of what we now know as self-care which can be of many types but is mostly advertised as bubble baths and scented candles. Others like to say that self-care doesn’t have to be all bubble baths and candles and meditation which is fair enough, not everybody responds to these things in the same way and doing something pretty mundane can easily trick us into thinking about work so what do you do when the bubble baths don’t work and going for a walk just doesn’t seem feasible? You go back to the basics.

I finally finished the first semester of my second year of university. I started the month of September excited and ready to go to university and do my best then bad things started happening one after the other, ultimately snowballing into a massive depressive episode which lasted for the past three months or so. This semester has been exhausting, to say the least. I missed a bunch of classes because I was exhausted. I didn’t do some of the reading because I was exhausted. I focused on less important things to make myself and my anxiety feel better. I procrastinated and tried to catch up and it just didn’t freaking work because I was and still am exhausted.

My arms and my brain ache as I’m typing this blog post, that’s how freaking tired I am. I sat down to write for one of my stories and I just couldn’t gather the energy to think about this whole other world full of energetic and diverse characters. I feel like there’s this fog clouding the inside of my skull and a cold well inside of my chest and I honestly don’t know how to repair any of those things in a way that will still get me the results I want. I keep saying that I’ll get my shit together, that I’ll figure a way out but I never do because, in the end, there’s rarely one answer to all of our problems. Sure, I can buy a new planner and sit down to write my new year resolutions and goals or I can clean my entire room until it sparkles but that’s just a band-aid solution to the bigger problem which is the fact that I strayed so far from the basics that not even bubble baths and planners can help me feel like a well-rested, well-adjusted member of society.

I aspire to a great life, we all do. I want to live comfortably, to travel and to… uh, well, I don’t know what else I want because I’ve been stuck in this loop of exhaustion and trying to fix things with band-aids that just won’t hold things together. I’ve been so caught up in fixing the petty stuff that I forgot that the world is not just the small bubble that I created around me, that in fact, it’s an ocean of dreams and ideas and opportunities for learning and adventure. I can only describe this as walking around with my eyes closed because this is how I’ve been living my life for the past twenty years or so. I want to open my eyes and finally feel that fire in my chest, instead of an empty, cold well and I want my vision to be clear so I can fully understand what I want from life and effectively work for it without getting so exhausted (we’ll get exhausted no matter what, after all, but it should never get this bad) that I end up procrastinating and covering it up with a dumb band-aid. Now, mind you, if bubble baths and planners work for you then that’s great! I thought they worked for me too and in a way they do but for me, to fully recover I think I need to get back to the basics.

What are the basics you ask (you probably didn’t)? Eating a healthy, balanced diet (keep in mind that I’m not talking about your weight-loss diets, but diet in general) at specific times of the day, drinking enough water, sleeping eight hours per night, getting enough sun, etc. I don’t do these things even though they are the bare minimum, basic things everyone should do. I make a healthy meal plan I never follow and I say I’ll go to sleep early tonight but I never stick to it even though these things have been proven to make me feel less exhausted. Instead, I slap on a band-aid by taking a bubble bath and getting right back to procrastinating.

Now, I’m not here to tell anybody what to do. In fact, during these three months, I realized that although I started this blog with good intentions, it turned into something I don’t enjoy. Sure, I like music and what not but this is not what I want to do with this platform. Instead, I’m putting this out there as a form of self-care. I am writing my thoughts down and working through them as I type the words and if this is inspirational to anyone then it is, if it’s not then whatever, it helps me.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this long word-vomit. The short version of it is that these past few months have been very difficult for me and I have finally found a solution to the problem which is to go back to the basics. Work on setting up a strong foundation for myself and then go from there, or at least that’s the plan – I’ll keep you updated.

I am planning to revamp this blog during the winter holiday which means new content and possibly a new look. I want this blog to be more ‘me’ and less every other lifestyle blog out there so I’ll work hard on that over the next few weeks! Thanks again for reading and I hope you’ve had a great week!

With love,

Sonny xx

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Chrome Extensions I Find Useful

Inspired by Rowena Tsai’s video (I’ll link her video at the end of this post) on the Chrome extensions she finds useful, I decided to take a look at my own extensions and how I use them to boost my productivity. Now, I realize that this blog post might be a bit niche but as someone who is constantly using her laptop for all kinds of things; university, this blog, writing and reading, I like geeking out about things that make my laptop work better. So while I learnt about a couple of extensions from Rowena which I began enjoying as of late, I am not going to talk about those because I don’t have a well-developed impression of them.

The first extension I find useful is Grammarly. I have been using this extension for a while now since college actually. I have always been proud of my spelling and grammar, especially because English is not my first language, however, we all make mistakes and as someone who studies literature and whose passion is writing stories, Grammarly is so helpful. Grammarly is an extension which corrects your spelling and grammar mistakes and tells you why your original text is wrong.

The second extension I find useful is Forest. Forest is an extension that blocks sites you don’t want to utilise (such as YouTube, Netflix, Twitch, etc.) for a specified amount of time. When the timer goes off you have a pretty tree in your little garden and coins which you can spend on more pretty trees. If you decide to use the sites that cause you to get distracted anyway, you tree dies and leaves an ugly dead tree in your little garden. This is especially useful for me when I’m reading for my classes, writing assignments and writing for my stories. Whenever I run out of ideas for my stories or the reading material is giving me a headache, I immediately run to YouTube so this extension is super useful to keep me focused and on track.

The third extension I find useful is AdBlock which is pretty self-explanatory. I personally find it hard focusing on articles I’m reading and even when I watch videos because ads are constantly blinking in my face. Not to mention all the ‘indecent’ ads that pop out of nowhere.

Lastly, the extension I’ve had for the longest time is Momentum. I don’t really use this one is for productivity reason but rather because it looks nicer than the usual Google search bar and all the bookmarks under it. It also has a to-do list and really beautiful pictures so that’s a bonus!

So here it is, my favourite Chrome extensions! I hope you found these useful or even just a little interesting. Thanks a lot for reading and make sure to check out my last blog post!

What are your favourite Chrome extensions, do you even use extensions?

With love,

Sonny xx

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Using YouTube for Escapism + 3 Favourite Youtubers

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          Like many other people, I too, am obsessed with YouTube. It started sometime in 2011, this obsession of mine and changed slightly over the years. I am the kind of person who is so awfully aware of everything I do and why I do it so I realized that the reason why I started watching YouTube back in 2011 was because it was so new and interesting, the connection between creator and viewer seemed personal. Then every YouTuber and their mother started putting out merch, they started doing weird tags and challenges and there was no creativity on YouTube anymore. Of course, I don’t really mind or care that these YouTubers turned their channels into businesses, everybody has to make money, but personally, I am not a big fan of tag videos or the Q&A format. But the more I watched YouTube the more I grew accustomed to this content and started watching it mindlessly. Watching the same content over and over made it easy for my brain to switch off and use YouTube as a form of escapism. It was no longer relatable, just a way for me to stop thinking for a damn minute.

          Again, I am a very painfully aware person. I know I use media as a form of escapism and that it really doesn’t do much good for my mental health, but that’s the fun part of being a teenager/young adult, I grew up mindlessly watching content I didn’t care for without realizing that this is a habit that will be so hard to kick. I started being interested in the idea of self-improvement back in college. I was having a hard time focusing and being generally happy and I just wanted to feel good about myself for once so of course, I went to YouTube. I looked up basic words like self-care and self-improvement and I spent hours, days and weeks just mindlessly watching these videos. They were different from what I was used to, British YouTubers doing absolutely nothing but showing off. These videos were inspirational and made me want to become better, but as I said earlier, using YouTube as a form of escapism is a habit that’s very hard to kick. I had to actively think about my reasons for watching these inspirational videos and motivate myself to get up and put them into practice.

          I’m not going to lie and say I completely changed. I didn’t, I still watched YouTube mindlessly (I binge watched Dan and Phil’s Undertale series at least 10 times, not to mention all the Sims 4 let’s plays I’m still obsessed with) and I will probably always do that to some extent. But at the same time, I learnt to take a step back and spend some time in the present. I started following YouTubers whos content matched my goals and slowly started changing my routines, habits and outlook for the better.

          Without further ado, these are my three (current) favourite YouTubers. I will link all their channels at the end of this post.

Kalyn Nicholson

          Kalyn was one of the first lifestyle YouTubers I followed back in college and I can safely say that she honestly changed my life for the better. At first, I watched her content because I was desperate for a change but slowly came to love her personality and her outlook on life. She began changing her content last year and now makes videos on spirituality, being happy yet she still makes those lifestyle videos I originally fell in love with. She makes videos like ‘coffee talks’ (as videos and podcasts) which are basically advice videos, rosé rambles where she talks honestly about her life, GYST videos which are basically videos of her getting her sh*t together and so many more. She makes me want to travel and allow myself to be in touch with my spirituality. 

          Content: Lifestyle, spirituality, personal development

Rowena Tsai

          I started watching Rowena sometime last year when I was going through a slump. As I do, I found one of her videos in my recommended section and I completely fell in love with her message. She’s not militant, in fact, I like how she’s not afraid of her own slumps yet she always gets back up. Rowena is that person who’s videos I can watch and they instantly make me feel less shitty about myself. Plus her voice is very calming.

          Content: Self-care, personal development, life advice

Madeleine Olivia

          Madeleine’s videos are my latest obsession. I started watching her two months ago when I went fully vegan and I haven’t stopped since. Madeleine’s videos focus on veganism made easy, minimalism, self-care and living an ethical life. Basically all the things I aspire to be good at. She helped me a lot in feeling more comfortable as a vegan, I don’t cook very well but she made everything so easy. I have also started watching her minimalism series and while I really like the idea, I am also a bit of a maximalist (is that even a thing?)

          Content: Veganism, Minimalism, Ethical Living

          So here it is, an explanation of how I used YouTube and social media as a form of escapism and how I’m working on changing that as well as my top three favourite YouTubers. Feel free to let know who your favourite YouTubers are and make sure to check out my last blog post which is a list of my seven favourites Monsta X songs. Thanks for reading and have a lovely day!

          With love,

          Sonny xx

 

Kalyn Nicholson’s Channel

Rowena Tsai’s Channel

Madeleine Olivia’s Channel

 

 

Hogwarts Houses Study Tips: Slytherin

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Hi and welcome to the last instalment of my Hogwarts Houses Study Tips series. This time around I’m going to talk about my own house (once again sounding way too geeky) which is the house of Draco Malfoy and Merlin himself. Slytherins are known to be resourceful, fraternal and careful. We’re brave but smart at the same time so we’re good at discerning when it’s worth being brave and when it’s not. I genuinely do think that Slytherins are a mixture of all the other houses.

In this post, I am going to talk about ways in which a Slytherin (and anyone else, really) can use any means to achieve their ends.

Slytherin

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Resourceful

Fraternity

Preservation

Use any means

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My first tip is to use any method that is useful to you. Everybody learns things differently and so making use of different resources will not only allow you to discern which study method works best for you but it will also allow you to gather more information and get a deeper understanding of the subject you’re learning. You can do this by trying out different learning styles such as mind-maps, reading out loud or teaching the material to other people or simply by using your school’s library. I personally like to use websites like JSTOR which is a digital library created in 1995 which I can access through my school’s website. I also use ebooks and articles I find in my school’s library and by using all these sources I can make sure my notes are extensive and detailed.

Work with others

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This is where the idea of fraternity comes into play. Slytherins are mostly seen as selfish and mean but I genuinely think that’s because nobody really likes Slytherin. It’s a mode of self-preservation, I presume. However, I think that the fraternity within the Slytherin house is a very strong one and so I imagine in the Harry Potter books groups of Slytherins studying together in the common room until the early hours of the morning. I think that working with others is useful because it allows people to share information and further solidify their learning by teaching the material to others.

Take care of yourself

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Self-care is such an important thing and a lot of people either forget about it or don’t do it properly. Self-care won’t work if you’re not in the right headspace for it – you can put on a face mask and soak in a bubble bath but if your head is swarming with anxieties and worries, well, you’re not getting the best out of your self-care routine. To me, self-care means ridding myself of all worries and just caring for my physical and mental health. I have an entire list of self-care activities which you can check out *here*. Some of the ways I practice self-care are things such as meditating, walking outside without listening to music (I always have my earphones in my ears so this is a big improvement for me), tarot reading and working on my bullet journal/kpop journal. These activities are awesome because they allow me to rid myself of everyday stressors and just live in the moment, something I struggle with.

So here it is! The last part of my back to school study tips. I had so much fun writing this mini-series so thank you for reading and I really hope the tips are useful! Feel free to let me know how you study and what works for you. Also, make sure to check out my last blog post which is a list of all the TV/literature tropes I hate.

With love,

Sonny xx

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To Do – Year 2 of University

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As the start of the second year of university is approaching, I’m realizing that even with my 5 months of holiday I didn’t prepare enough. This happens to me all the time, I am, after all, a master procrastinator. I spent the first month recuperating from the first year of university, the second and third applying for jobs and the fourth hanging out with friends. As my summer holiday is coming to an end, so is my sense of peace, calm and my composure.

I am freaking the f**k out, internally.

So what do I do when I’m freaking the f**k out internally? I make very detailed plans on how to get my s**t together. Yep, that’s right, I make plans. I write to-do lists and wish lists and I write paragraphs all about the things I want to achieve and by doing these things I manage to collect my thoughts and put myself together again. I started doing this a couple of days ago and now that I am done, I think I finally have a sound plan of what I should do to be completely prepared for my second year of university. (I’m making myself sound like a real f**k up, aren’t I?)

So here it is, my to-do list. Feel free to use this for yourself and improve on it!

What went well and how can I improve?

The first thing I plan to do is figure out what went well in the first year of university and how I can improve in the second year. I write it all down and talk about how specific things affected my physical and mental health as well as the grades I got at the end of the year. This allows me to really think about the things I need to change and in the end, the changes I will make will be beneficial in the long run.

Finish all my reading, complete with notes

This one is a bit of an obvious one. I want to finish all my reading, or at least as much of it as I can before the year starts so that I don’t have to struggle during the semester. Instead, I can focus on re-reading the material and getting a deeper understanding of the subject and the analysis.

Refine note-taking methods

I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but the way I make my notes affects the outcome of my studies a lot. My note taking style changed a lot from secondary school when I had 9 different subjects (the way I took notes for maths was different from how I took notes for English) to college when I did 3 subjects to university where I only do 1. In the first year of uni, I struggled to find a note-taking system that worked for me and I only found something that worked decently by the end of the year and so I want to perfect my note-taking style by the time I go back to uni.

Refine assignment steps

I’ll explain. Whenever I have an assignment due, I take specific steps to complete that assignment. I write it down in my calendar with an earlier due date than what’s actually assigned, I write down everything I need to do to complete this assignment and then I break everything down into a very detailed plan. Or at least I try. This method is so long and tiring that I almost never did it. Instead, I procrastinated a lot and ended up rushing some of my assignments because of it. I suggest looking up some blog posts about it (I’ll upload mine very soon so stay tuned for that.)

Lunch ideas + budget

I go to university in a very expensive area which means that buying lunch every day would break the bank *very* fast. I only go to uni three to four days a week and some of those days are very short so I don’t bring food to school, but when I do, I want to bring something from home. This didn’t work out well in the first year because I made all these plans and came up with super fancy recipes that never worked out. I didn’t bother preparing my lunch the night before because it was too time-consuming and so this time around, I want to figure out a meal plan that’s affordable, simple and nutritious. I might even make a post about that! Similarly, making a budget is very important because let’s be honest here, we’re students and we’re not made of money. By making and sticking to a budget, I can afford everything I need and even things I want.

Stationery!

I personally don’t have to buy any new stationery since I make digital notes and I have enough stationery to last me a couple of years but going stationery shopping is not only fun and exciting because it’s a great way to start the new semester, but it’s also a great way to infuse some fun into this long-a*s to-do list.

Plan out outfits

If you’re anything like me, you’re too lazy and disinterested in fashion to care how you look in a 10AM lecture. Make-up be damned, right? Well, that was my attitude for the entirety of the first year and I have to say that half the time I felt like crap because of it. It’s not like I showed up to class in my pyjamas or anything, it’s just that after a night of studying and surviving the rush hour, I just couldn’t be asked to cake my face with makeup – it was tiring. You know how we all feel pretty when we put effort into how we present ourselves? Not for others, of course, but when we dress up for ourselves! I want to invest more time into feeling comfortable going to class but putting effort into my appearance at the same time. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a hoodie and jeans (which is probably how I’ll dress after the first two weeks) and I’m not going out to buy a whole new wardrobe. Instead, I’ll look through my closet and come up with 7 interchangeable outfits that I can put together real fast the night before. That way I get to be lazy and cute at the same time!

Make a playlist!

This one is a bit silly but hear me out. To me, music is a thing that makes me so happy, it calms me down and it puts me in the right mood for anything. I am that person that makes a playlist for anything. I have a playlist that I play during autumn, one that I play when I walk the dog, one that I play when I’m taking a bubble bath, etc. Going back to school, be it secondary, college or university or hell, even going back to work after a nice, relaxing holiday can be difficult and draining. Doing little things to perk ourselves up like a celebratory cupcake, a new playlist or reading a cheesy novel might sound silly, but they’re not. Anything to get us through the day, right?

So here it is, my to-do list for my second year of university. This post turned out to be so long but I think it’s important to put it out there, maybe as a form of inspiration, maybe for you guys to marvel at how much of a mess my life is. Either way, thanks a lot for reading and feel free to tell me how you prepare for a new beginning! Make sure to check out my last blog post which is my August playlist.

With love,

Sonny xx

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Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review

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          Given that I have finally started my own bookstagram (Instagram for books), I decided it would be awesome to keep some sort of a diary with all my bookish thoughts. Goodreads could suffice, of course, but I’m not really fond of leaving reviews on Goodreads so here I am, with the first of the many book reviews to come. I will try my best to post a review for every book I read, but I am sure that more often than not life will get in the way so I’m not making promises that I cannot keep (much like my monthly TBRs).

          The first book I am going to discuss is the first book in the Raven Cycle series; Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I have tried reading Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater before and it just didn’t work out for me so I was a little apprehensive when all the big booktubers (youtube for books) started raving about this series. After a while, I bought the book and after even more time I decided to read it. (One of the) best decision of my life! This book was not necessarily a roller coaster nor did it make me fall in love with our leading lady but here is why I enjoyed it so much:

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          “There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

          It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

          Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

          His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

          But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

          For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.” (Goodreads)

 

Themes

          I really enjoyed all the themes portrayed in this first book and I think they were done really well but I will only focus on my favourite three. The first one is the supernatural/witch elements of this novel. I am all about magic, crystals, tarot reading and psychics myself which in turn made me love this aspect of the book. I thought it was done beautifully – the psychics in this book didn’t have all the answers all the time and they weren’t all-powerful witches that had no flaws. I also like the fact that our main character is not as gifted as the rest of her family – it’s a step forward from the perfect protagonist we see in a lot of literature.

          I also like the way domestic/child abuse was represented in this novel in a respectful and realistic way. Maggie Stiefvater didn’t make Adam the hero that saved himself and his family nor did she make him come across as a character that can’t move forward – instead, she wrote him somewhere in the middle which I think is very realistic. I like the fact that he’s flawed too and the way he handles the abuse is not conventional or how people expect abuse victims to handle their traumas.

          The last theme I enjoyed was the portrayal of wealth or lack of it, to be exact. I love that none of the characters are stuck in their own little bubble. Instead we have characters like Adam who is insecure about his lack of wealth to the point where it affects his thinking and behaviour, we have Blue who is slightly bitter about her financial upbringing but is proud of herself nonetheless, Gansey who doesn’t want to be like his father but ultimately is, Ronan who really doesn’t care much and Mr Whelk who is obsessed with wealth. I think the variety of opinions on wealth and the way each character handles this subject really made this book a good read for me.

Reception

          I mentioned reception a bit earlier in the post but I will expand more on it here. I am the kind of person who doesn’t like hype – books/tv shows/bands that are too hyped put me off. I’m not entirely sure why maybe because I don’t want to be disappointed but that’s just how I am. I am, however, trying to change that. I tried reading Fifty Shades of Grey after being put off by the hype and I still hated it, but hey, I’m trying. With Raven Boys, everyone and their mother was hyping this book up and I just lost interest in trying it out. After a while, I was walking through Foyles, saw this book and picked it up. It then took me another year or so to actually read it. Moral of the story? Don’t let yourself miss out on things because they are too hyped! Make your own opinion!

Point of View

          This is something that put me off the book at first. Personally, I enjoy writing in third person omniscient while mostly focusing on one character. This book does a similar thing but instead of sticking to the same point of view throughout, it switches POV every chapter. This would normally be fine, only the names (Gansey, for example) confused me so much at the beginning that I had a hard time reading it. After learning the characters and their weird names and the action started picking up the pace it became easier to enjoy this point of view.

Imagery

          This is a very important aspect of reading for me. One of the reasons why I absolutely adore reading and even chose to study literature at university is because I like the imagery behind the words. Raven Boys really didn’t disappoint when it came to imagery! The descriptions weren’t overwhelming but were still very expressive and easy to visualise. This, in turn, made the action scenes truly breathtaking and deliciously overwhelming.

Star Rating out of 5: ★★★★☆

 

          So here it is, my first book review on this blog – how exciting! I just want to put this out there that these are purely my opinions and everyone is entitled to their own opinion! Thanks a lot for reading and make sure to check out my new bookstagram (@marbled_reads on IG) as well as my last blog post which is all about Hufflepuff study tips!

With love,

Sonny xx

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