Book Review | Legendary by Stephanie Garber


Title – Legendary.

Author – Stephanie Garber.

Publication date – 29th May 2018.

Publisher – Flatiron Books.

Series status – Second book in the Caraval series.


Synopsis

‘A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister, Scarlett, from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice, but now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever…

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . the games have only just begun.’

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My thought on the book

5 star book review

I didn’t think that any sequel could beat Caraval but honestly this book was so much better than the first. Especially because I have this terrible habit of hating the second book in a series.

It sent me on a topsy, turvy rollercoaster ride that I never wanted to get off. It was surprisingly more magical than the first book. I loved the switch up of the game – it was an interesting change to the format but still had the familiar structure seen in Caraval.

I preferred Tella as the narrator and I didn’t realise how annoying Scarlett could be. Every character I came across – I had no idea who I could trust or whether to believe anything that came out of the characters mouths.

The world building was yet again phenomenal. I could literally feel myself walking down the streets with the characters. I was so absorbed I lost track of time.

If I thought Caraval broke my heart – it was nothing compared to Legendary. This series is that good I want to shout it from the rooftops. If you haven’t already read this series what are you waiting for?


About the author

‘When I’m not writing, I teach creative writing at a private college in Northern California, where I’ve been known to turn assignments into games and take students on field trips that involve book signings.

To help pay my bills during college, grad school, and the breaks in between, I worked as a barista, a waitress, a bartender, a customer service representative for an energy consulting company, and as a sales girl at Bath and Bodyworks. I also spent years working with youth; I worked as a counselor at space themed summer camp, volunteered at a school for deaf children in Mexico, and I took multiple groups of college students overseas to spend their winter vacations serving at youth hostels in Amsterdam. But out of everything that I’ve done, writing young adult novels has been my favorite job.

My debut YA fantasy novel, Caraval is out now (Flatiron Books/Macmillan—US and Hodder & Stoughton—UK). Caraval has sold in thirty foreign territories and the movie rights were picked by Twentieth Century Fox.’

Find Stephanie: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads.

Have you read the Caraval series yet? If so, what did you think about it?

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6 Things I’m Learning About Eating Disorder Recovery

I’ve always been a fussy eater – but it wasn’t until I was around 12/13 years old that I developed an eating disorder. Everyone’s illness is triggered by different things – but mine stemmed from a lack of control in my situation and the things that were happening to me. In 2012 – I started my recovery and although it’s been a slippery slope of ups and downs – I’m doing ok. Here I wanted to share some of the most important things I’ve learned during my Eating Disorder recovery.


Everyone is different – and it’s the same in Eating Disorder recovery. The way in which someone recovers and the time it takes is different for every single person. One of the worst things you can do is compare your recovery to other people’s, easier said than done I know, but recovery isn’t a one size fits all.


You have to work at it everyday. You have to wake up every morning and choose recovery. It would be wrong of me and other people to assume my eating disorder has gone away just because I’m weight restored. The biggest challenge in my recovery has been accepting my body and fighting the thoughts – and this for me is still an on-going process.


Like seriously, I love to eat. For so many years I wouldn’t let myself enjoy food – food was the enemy. There were so many foods I would never, ever touch with a barge pole, let alone consume them. During my recovery I’ve tried so many new foods (with regular encouragement from my best friend).


This is an on-going process but what I believe to be true isn’t always the truth. And it’s important to listen to your loved ones when they’re telling you something. When you’re in that mindset it’s hard to believe the things someone is telling you. Especially when you’re feeling particularly anxious or self conscious about the way you look.


This one is so hard to work with because of the amount of media there is out there telling you what’s good and bad for you. Everything in moderation – that’s what I’ve learnt. One of the things that’s really helped with this is my best friends journey with Slimming World. One of the things the consultant told her when she started was she didn’t have to cut anything out and that you can still eat foods like chocolates and takeaways – just in moderation.


Anyone who develops an eating disorder didn’t choose that life for themselves. Just like any other mental illness like depression or bipolar disorder – the sufferer can not control their eating disorder or how it makes them act. That being said – recovery is a choice and you have to make that choice every single day you wake up to fight another day. However recovery is in no way easy. You have to make a series of choices everyday – to not get on the scales, to follow your meal plan, to not obsess over your body in the mirror. It’s messy, scary and exhausting. But everyday you make recovery choices – the closer you get to a life without your eating disorder. There will be bad days and good days and it’s all about riding the waves. Some days you’ll feel like you’re drowning, other days you’ll be on top of the world, most days you’re just alright. And that’s ok. You’re doing the best you can – keep going.


What are some of the things you’ve learnt in your recovery – whether it’s from an eating disorder or another mental illness?

Book Review | Half Lost by Sally Green

 

Title – Half Lost.

Author – Sally Green.

Publication date – 29th March 2016.

Publisher – Viking Books for Young Readers.

Series status – Final book in the Half Bad series.


Synopsis

‘This is the final battle.

The Alliance is losing the war, and their most critical weapon, seventeen-year-old witch Nathan Byrn, is losing his mind. Nathan’s tally of kills is rising, and yet he’s no closer to ending the tyrannical rule of the Council of White Witches in England. Nor is Nathan any closer to his personal goal: getting revenge on Annalise, the girl he once loved before she committed an unthinkable crime. An amulet protected by the extremely powerful witch Ledger could be the tool Nathan needs to save himself and the Alliance, but this amulet is not so easily acquired. And lately Nathan has started to suffer from visions: a vision of a golden moment when he dies, and of an endless line of Hunters, impossible to overcome. Gabriel, his closest companion, urges Nathan to run away with him, to start a peaceful life together. But even Gabriel’s love may not be enough to save Nathan from this war, or from the person he has become.

Set in modern-day Europe, the final book in the Half Bad trilogy is more than a story about witches. It’s a heart-achingly visceral look at survival and exploitation, the nature of good and evil, and the risks we take for love.’

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My thought on the book

4 star book review

I have no idea how to start this, so I’ll start by saying this book ripped my heart into a million pieces.

This book was definitely my favourite of the trilogy. The whole series was fantastic – though there was a slight book two slump – the finale blew me away. It was super fast paced and it kept me on edge the entire way through.

I have a love/hate relationship with Nathan. He was definitely an anti-hero type of character but I liked him for the most part. It was interesting learning about Nathan’s new powers and his battle to control them. One of the things that drove me mad was the way he pushed his friends away especially Gabriel. I wanted to scream at him that people actually cared about him.

Gabriel was by far my favourite character. He was so supportive of Nathan and I loved the relationship the two of them had.

I hated Celia in the first book but when she came back with the alliance I started to like her more and more. I could never forgive her for what she did to Nathan but I always knew she cared about Nathan in her own weird way.

BUT THAT ENDING THOUGH. SOMEONE TELL ME WHY?

I feel this book brought up some important themes. The main one being darkness vs light. I realised there’s light and darkness in ALL of us and I can‘t think of one person who is one or the other. Human beings were built that way and one cannot survive without the other. In the end, Nathan accepted being a half code and that’s just who he is.

This book was also a wonderful coming of age story. We followed Nathan from the start of his journey. We see him grow as a person, accept himself and stop trying to fight who he is.

The ending was SO FREAKING SAD! But it was perfect. I can’t go into much detail because spoilers – but it fitted the story so well. Even though it broke my heart, it was the right way for the story to end. But SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME PUT MY BROKEN HEART BACK TOGETHER.

I loved the first book – I fell in love with the way Sally Green wrote the book. The first half of the second book was slightly slow but the last half made up for it. Half Lost was definitely my favourite. It blew me away and I felt like the writer grew and her writing got better. I’m so sad this series has come to an end, but it’ll stay with me for a long time.


About the author

British author Sally Green is creator of the Half Bad Trilogy, a teen fantasy series with an adult edge that’s been described as ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four with witches.

Sally Green lives in north-west England. In 2010, she started writing and hasn’t stopped since.’

Find Sally: Twitter.

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7 Things I Wish People Knew About Chronic Illness

I’m sat on the end of my bed, my useless legs dangling over the edge, the pain throbbing though my entire body. This a regular occurrence for me. The simplest things overwhelm me, exhaustion engulfs me and my head spins.

A lot of the time it’s about riding the waves, it’s about trying to find things you can still do whilst unwell. I am a full time wheelchair user and have been unable to walk or use my legs in over 3 years. But I am still me, as everyone knew me before, when my legs walked and my arms could hold weight without giving way – I just need more help now to do everyday things.

Having a chronic illness is hard and it’s sucks, but one of the worst things about it is people that don’t understand. Comments like ‘just get a job’ or ‘get more sleep’ and the countless other comments I’m tired of hearing time and time again are unhelpful and frustrating. It doesn’t take a genius to be respectful and educated about these things.

DISCLAIMER – Remember everyone with chronic illness is different, and these are my own opinions.


1. A good day doesn’t mean my symptoms have gone away.

I am still in pain. I am still exhausted. I am just better able to function and push through to get things I need to get done. The prospect of being unwell for my entire life is terrifying and I don’t know when a good day will come around, so when they do I grab it with both hands and make the most of it. For me, a good day always leads to a flare up but there are things that need to be done no matter what.


2. I am just as entitled as you to have a holiday or a day out.

This one riles me to no end. Even though I have a chronic illness that prevents me from working, doesn’t mean I can’t go on holidays or enjoy a day out. I don’t think people realise how much planning and preparing has to go into these things so I can join in. Just because I am chronically ill doesn’t mean I am completely incapable of doing anything, ever, but neither does enjoying a rare day out mean I’m capable of getting a job.


3. It’s not fun to sit around all day.

This is a big one. It’s not fun or enjoyable to sit or lie down every day. It’s frustrating and upsetting. I would love to be able to get a job but some days it’s impossible to even concentrate on my book or cook a meal, let alone go out to work.


4. Everything isn’t always about my illness, but it also kinda has to be.

I wish things didn’t have to revolve around my illness, but when I’m living with this everyday I have to work around what I can and can’t do. It’s incredibly frustrating but why should I have to apologise for it? I wish it wasn’t this way but it is.


5. Limiting myself and rethinking my goals isn’t the same as giving up.

I’ve wanted to go to university for a number of years but it’s never been possible. I’m now in my 3rd year of The Open University and it’s extremely hard and exhausting but I’m getting one step closer to my goals. I’ve always wanted to attend a campus uni but as that’s not possible I’ve had to rethink my expectations and come up with a solution.


6. I am not ungrateful and I appreciate the sacrifices my best friend makes for me.

I have been blessed with the most amazing best friend who took on looking after me when my health took a turn for the worse. She has been there for me through thick and thin, through the bad, the good and the ugly and I will be forever grateful. I appreciate how difficult it is to have to do so many things for another person and I am grateful for it with my whole heart.


7. I have to learn to appreciate the small victories.

Sometimes the only thing I can do some days is sit up, other days I can go out to the zoo. When I’m so weak I can’t leave my bed, sitting up is a small victory. It’s important to celebrate the big things but also to be proud of the small accomplishments.


What are some of the things you wish people knew about chronic illness?

Book Review | Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

Title – Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief.

Author – Rick Riordan.

Publisher – Disney Hyperion Books.

Publication date – 1st March 2006.

Series status – First book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.


Synopsis

‘Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse—Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena—Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.’

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My thought on the book

4 star book review

This book exceeded all my expectations. I’m late to the Percy Jackson party and I wish I’d read it sooner but I’m here now!

This book started out weird (the good kind) and just got weirder as the story progressed. I loved learning about Greek mythology, I didn’t know much about it so it was interesting. There was a lot of mystery packed in but I loved finding out the situation along with Percy.

Camp Half Blood was so cool! I can’t wait to see where these books take me and I’m excited to learn about all the different places and characters. Throughout the book I was hanging on every word and I had to keep turning the pages to find out what happened next.

There were quite a few different themes in this first book. Percy learned of his true identity as a demigod, where as before he thought he was a bad kid who wasn’t special in any way. Percy learned his Dyslexia and ADHD were normal for demigods. Throughout the book, Percy accepted who he was and continued to discover more about himself and his world.

We also see how much Percy cared about and loved his mother. This kept him going during the tough challenges he faced throughout his quest. We also saw how much he grew to care about Annabeth and Grover.

Percy was a great character who seemed to have the worst but also the best luck. He liked to push his luck especially with the Gods but he developed throughout the book and proved his worth. Although, not without making some enemies along the way.

I was a bit iffy about Annabeth to begin with. I didn’t feel all that connected with her up until they went on the quest. By the end of the book I loved her and I’m excited to see how she progresses in the next book.

Clarisse was a total bully but there’s something about her I liked. I’ve not quite figured that out yet but I’ll let you know when I do! We didn’t get to see much of her in this book so I’m looking forward to seeing what‘ll happen with her in the books to come.

Grover was adorable! He definitely proved himself throughtout the quest. Although he was a bit scatty and nervous he wanted to protect Percy and prove he was brave enough.

I enjoyed this first book in the series and I’m excited to see where these books will go. The characters were all well-developed and the plot was exciting and fast paced. I found the books hard to put down and I hope that carries on in the remaining books.


About the author

‘Rick Riordan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over twenty novels for young readers, including the Percy Jackson series, the Kane Chronicles, the Magnus Chase series and the Trials of Apollo. He is also the author of the multi-award-winning Tres Navarre mystery series for adults.

For fifteen years, Rick taught English and history at public and private middle schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Texas. While teaching in San Antonio, Saint Mary’s Hall honored him with the school’s first Master Teacher Award.

While teaching full time, Riordan began writing mystery novels for grownups. His Tres Navarre series went on to win the top three national awards in the mystery genre – the Edgar, the Anthony and the Shamus. Riordan turned to children’s fiction when he started The Lightning Thief as a bedtime story for his oldest son.

Today, eighty-six million copies of his books are in print in the United States, and rights have been sold into more than 37 countries.

Rick Riordan now writes full-time. He lives in Boston with his wife and two sons.’

Find Rick: Twitter | Instagram.


Have you read the Percy Jackson series? What did you think about it?

Torturous This or That Tag

I was tagged by Luana @ Book Storm Girl and Iris @ Hoard of Books to do the Torturous This or That Tag!

Let the torture begin..


series or standalone
This a tough one (great start Charleigh, great start). Obviously it’ll depend on whether I’m into a book or not. But if I could only pick one for the rest of my life I have to go with my heart and say series. This is because when I love a book, I just can’t get enough of the world and characters and I never, ever want the story to end. With a stand-alone I never feel like I get enough. I think this is worth slogging through a bad series to get to the good ones.


Magic earned. I love magic born too but I feel like with magic earned the character has to work harder to prove themselves and get ready for the fight.


My total guilty pleasure is enemies-to-lovers. I feel like both of these are overdone but I find friends-to-lovers boring and annoying. Mainly because I love friendships that stay friendships and don’t delve into the complicated world of relationships.


Urgh I love both of these! I love a good bit of emotional ruin because it makes me feel absorbed in the story. However hilarious banter really lets me get obsessed with the characters. I think I’ll go with hilarious banter because crying always gives me a headache haha!


I hate hate hate both of these tropes. Love triangles absolutely do my head in, every single damn time! And insta love is so unrealistic and not how it works in the real world. I think I’ll have to go with insta love purely because love triangles cause me excessive rage and I’m more likely to launch my book across the room (sorry books!).


One of the things I super hate about some fantasy novels are names I cannot pronounce so I think I’ll have to go with names starting with the same letter. Although I think I’d get confused trying to separate the names, at least I don’t have to go through the book talking gibberish.


I feel like dead parents are used way too much, especially when the plot is based around them. So I’ll have to go with mean parents purely because I think it makes for more interesting conflict.


I hate a character who doesn’t shut up about how plain they are because it’s annoying and whiny, so I choose supermodel looks.


Faces on covers can work but not always. However typography on covers are always pretty amazing, so I choose typography.


I love both of these! I think it adds interest and realism to the story – like no one is purely good or purely bad in real life. I choose villain turning a little good.


Ahhh this is freaking mean! But I have to go with love interest dies purely because I don’t know what I would do without my best friend.


This is a tricky one! I think I’ll go with awesome writing with a dull plot. If the characters are great and the writing is awesome then I think I could still love the book, whereas if the writing was super bad I don’t think I could read ever again.


Urgh!! Now I was going to say heartbreaking ending. However I’ve rethought about it and I’m going to say cliffhanger ending. Mainly because although I might have to wait an entire year for the next book, at least I won’t have to go through torturous heartbreak (plus a cliffhanger isn’t a concrete heartbreak so there’s that).


Why??!! This question is atrocious. I hate both of these with a deep, fiery passion. But if I have to choose I guess I’ll go with dog-earing the pages because at least it keeps the outside of the book nice and intact. (P.s – this does not give anyone permission to BEND MY PAGES!)


I love the bad boy trope I have to admit. I hate the perfect golden boy trope so this is an easy one. However I will say that bad boys that are bad boys FOR NO REASON are just as annoying, a bad boy with a tragic past and tragic life are the best.


That’s it for the torturous this or that tag. To be honest it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined. Except some questions ripped my heart and soul (like the dog eared pages or breaking the spine for example!).

Bibi @ Bibi’s Book Blog.

Ben @ Ace of Bens

Ellie @ BookAholic Ellie


7 Tips For Writing When You Have a Chronic Illness

I’m a writer, I love to write. I’m always tapping out or scribbling down something. It saved me from a lot when I was a child. When I was scared or alone or hurt, I’d grab my pens and pad and start writing a story. I’d disappear into this make believe land I’d created inside my head. I’d write about things that were so far from reality, that I wouldn’t have to think about real life anymore. The ultimate dream is to write a book and have it published. I dream of walking into my favourite bookstore and seeing my book on the shelves amongst all the books I love to read.

Improving as a writer means discipline. It means finding the motivation from somewhere inside to write. It means writing when you have zero motivation or inspiration. It’s hard to keep that up no matter what but when you feel like your brain is on fire it can feel impossible.

Becoming a good writer takes time and practice, and the only way to improve and learn is by putting pen to paper. I’ve been taking some time lately to find ways to help me battle the brain fog so I’ve compiled some of the tips I’ve found helpful when writing with a chronic illness.


1. Pace Yourself.

Don’t force yourself to do a ridiculous amount of writing everyday. If one day all you can manage is a line then that’s ok – well done you for writing something! Don’t be tempted to burn yourself out if you don’t feel well enough – you might find that forcing yourself to finish that one piece could mean you aren’t able to do anything else for the rest of the week. If you find yourself losing concentration consider taking a break. Grab a drink, go outside and breathe for a while.

2. Write Everyday.

Like I said above – if you can only manage a line, then write a line. The most important thing to remember is to get something down everyday. Keep your brain active, keep challenging the brain fog so you don’t get bogged down. You can even set a reminder on your phone or stick a post-it note on the fridge so you don’t forget.

3. Celebrate Your Achievements.

I think it’s important for any writer, whether you have a chronic illness or not, to celebrate any and every achievement (no matter how small). It’s helpful in maintaining motivation and reminding yourself that you can do this.

4. Stay Organised.

This is important for any writer. Whether you use a bullet journal, a planner or a digital app. One of the biggest things I’ve found when I don’t use my bullet journal is that I become overwhelmed with all my projects and I end up not getting anything done.

5. Always Carry a Notebook.

Whether you use a traditional notebook or a digital app, it’s important to have a place where you can write down your ideas. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve lost great ideas because I’ve not written them down right away.

6. Don’t compare yourself to other writers.

I’m guilty of this myself. Sometimes it’s hard to not get frustrated when you see other writers powering through their novels when you’re struggling to gather the concentration to write anything. But at the end of the day – it isn’t how slow you go, it’s about the end product. I still haven’t found peace with the fact it takes me longer to get stuff done because of my illness (not just in the writing world, but with other things in life too). I’m trying to get better at not comparing myself to others. It’s a work in progress but comparing can be so detrimental in your writing journey.

7. Try Audiobooks.

One of the most important things a writer can do is read. But sometimes when you suffer from symptoms that can prevent you from reading a traditional book or a eBook, you don’t get a lot of reading done. Audiobooks can help because you don’t have to hold a physical book and read the words – all you have to do is listen. Audible can be slightly expensive if you don’t have a lot of money – but here is a free app available on the Apple App Store. It’s hasn’t got the biggest selection of books as it’s free but there are still some great finds on there. Charity shops also sometimes have cheap audiobooks, and your local library should have a decent selection to choose from.

8. Above all else, believe in yourself.

Having a chronic illness (whether it’s a physical or mental illness) is tough going but it doesn’t mean you have to give up your dreams and goals in life. It may take a little longer to get there, but you can still achieve everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Keep going – you’re doing great.


These are my top tips for writing when you have a chronic illness. I hope there are things in here that can help you on your writing journey.

Do you have any tips for writing with a chronic illness? Let me know in the comments – any help will be much appreciated.