Catcher by Kalyn Nicholson Review (spoiler-free)

          It’s safe to say that Kalyn Nicholson is my favourite YouTuber – ever. I’ve been watching her content for a couple of years now and she has blossomed with her audience which I find beautiful and poetic in a way I think Kalyn appreciates too. So when I found out that she’s writing a book, a futuristic book about a girl who meets her dream boy, literally meets her dream boy I was instantly interested. I am a writer, my favourite YouTuber is a writer, this is amazing, right?

          I waited until her book came out, I even waited for it to go on sale and was bummed out when she delayed it. Then I got it, read 23% of it in one night and stopped until yesterday when I read the whole thing in one sitting during a readathon. This is not to say the book is bad or anything. For a debut novel, it’s actually quite good.

          The story of Carson and Grey is set in the future in a utopian society. Carson was four years old when she lost her baby brother in a car crash and due to her parent’s strict upbringing, she grew up very sheltered – except that she started dreaming of a boy she named Grey at four years old. It’s her 18th birthday and she is hoping to make it to Yorker, her dream university in the big city but her parents aren’t having it then a fire breaks out and engulfs her childhood home and she is relocated to the big city by her uncle, Char. There, on the first day, she meets Grey in a coffee shop called Koze and the story goes from there.

          To start with the characters, the first time I read it I began noticing the lack-lustre main character and the fact that I don’t like her parents and even her best friend, Mina. It took me ages to get through that 23% because nothing was happening to these characters. It felt like I was reading one of Kalyn’s morning routine videos (which are great in video form) rather than reading a fantasy romance that was meant to make me fall in love with the characters. Nothing truly made me didn’t care for Carson. Heck, I even forgot her name throughout the book because she’s simply not a character I care about. She does her morning routine and feels crappy about being held captive by her parents but she has no insightful thoughts and ideas, she has no set morals that drive her. In fact, nothing drives her throughout the book, she’s mostly going through the motions and letting everyone walk all over her.

          The more I read about these characters the more I realized that I don’t like them – Carson is boring and easy to walk all over, her parents are forgettable until the end of the book when they become despicable, her uncle Char is probably the most interesting character thus far and Mina, well, she had potential but we didn’t get to see it. I quite liked dream Grey and I liked Hale with his sarcasm and asshole-like behaviour because it woke Carson up, it made her snap back and be interesting. I think the thing that bothers me the most about Carson is that she feels like an insert-character to the point where I could almost picture Kalyn as Carson.

          I also disliked the songs at the beginning of the chapters, the repetition of basic words like “portal” and “kissed” and the few spelling mistakes throughout the book. Not to mention that she threw us into this new, futuristic utopia with no explanation. What’s a portal? What’s a lift? It took me a while to understand that a lift is a futuristic version of a damn car.

          On the other hand, I really enjoyed the storyline, even though nothing really happened at the beginning of the book. I liked the pace of the book and I liked the way Carson discovered things in a digestible way. And that twist, oh that twist was SO GOOD it blew my mind and made me shiver and it made me love the story despite the lacking characters. And if we’re really being honest, one of the things that Kalyn did really, really well is the way she described the dream sequences, those are the parts that really made the book enjoyable. It made me see the world she built as I was reading and it made me fall in love with Grey just as much as Carson did.

          In conclusion, Catcher is a good book. I gave it three stars on Goodreads – one for the storyline, one for Grey and one for THAT TWIST that still makes me shiver when I think about it. Sure, the characters are lacklustre but they can be improved in the second book which I’m looking forward to, especially knowing that Kalyn is taking writing classes.

          Anyway, have you read Catcher? What did you think about it and if not, are you going to give it a try?

          Thanks for reading!

          With love,        

          Sonny xx

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(GIFs ARE NOT MINE, CREDIT GOES TO WHOEVER MADE THEM!)

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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(GIFs ARE NOT MINE< CREDIT GOES TO WHOEVER MADE THEM!)

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

 

 

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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