Book Reviews, Books, Feminism, Of Pens & Paper, Self-empowerment

BOOK REVIEW: Hunger

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

From the bestselling author of Bad Feminist: a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself

I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.

In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her own past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.

With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved—in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

TRIGGER WARNING: child rape, fat shaming

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Hunger is a book completely unlike anything I’ve ever read.

Roxane Gay’s latest memoir is a raw, poignant, heartbreaking and completely unforgettable tale in which she talks about how she was raped when she was twelve, and her never-ending struggle with body image afterwards.

I can’t really write much of a review for this, because it’s someone’s life story, but I’ll do my best.

Side note: I’m not going to summarize the entire story, just the main points of it.

We start with Roxane as a child. A few paragraphs of her family, likes, dislikes, appearance, etc. Then we learn how she was raped by a boy she thought she was in love with, and who she thought was in love with her too.

From then on, Roxane starts eating and eating. The phrase “comfort food” is applicable here – she eats to make herself bigger, to hide herself from the outside world. She moves to a boarding school, and when she comes home she’s much fatter than when she left (sorry, I don’t know the exact weight). Her parents try to get her to diet when she’s at home, but when she gets back to school she undos all of the work.

After school, we see her various jobs, as well as her relationships with both men and women. And always, always her constant struggle with her weight. She doesn’t become anorexic, but she does become temporarily bulimic… you have to read the book to find out more.

The writing is just on flique (is that the phrase?). It’s told slightly detached from the reader, and yet it still manages to convey Roxane’s emotions perfectly, and at the same time tell her life story.

I’ll warn you: it’s not a happy ever after.

Roxane didn’t finally change her mindset and “lose those three hundred pounds she’s always wanted to lose!”

There was no incredible trainer who helped her achieve her dreams.

She’s still fat (I’ll be honest), she’s still never fully recovered from the rape (but who recovers from a rape?) and she’s still eating… I’m pretty sure it’s the same.

And she hasn’t come to terms really with herself yet, but the book ends with this quote:

I was broken and then I broke some more, and I am not yet healed but I have started believing I will be.

I think that that’s beautiful. And not because she could lose some weight, but because she knows it’s possible to heal from the traumas in her life, and that she can repair herself, and try to move on.

After all, if life one must move on, for if we all never recovered from losses and traumas in our lives, where would we even be?

I’m telling you, if I ever meet Roxane Gay in person, I’m actually going to bow to her. She is completely and utterly an incredible person, and she deserves complete respect.

*applause*

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Book Reviews, Books, Discussion, Of Pens & Paper

3 reasons why I didn’t finish THE HANDMAID’S TALE

For those of you who don’t know, about a week ago I picked up the book The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I’ve seen it all over the internet, and people are saying it’s brilliant, revolutionary, etc. So I ordered it from the library, and began reading it-

Wait! I’ll give you the synopsis first.

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead.

She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read.

She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge.

But all of that is gone now…

I will admit that I was pretty intrigued by the description. And I’ve seen five-star reviews everywhere I go, which doesn’t hurt. Then I ended up starting to read this, and not finishing it.

So today’s post will give you three reasons why I didn’t want to finish this book.

The writing was very bland and unemotional.

I get that this is the way the story is meant to be written. But I wasn’t a fan – it felt extremely bland and boring. I was trying not to put the book down, because it was one of those books where I had to actually tell myself, “Right, you’re to read the next bit.”

We’re not really given much of a backstory.

We’re told what happened to America (sort of) as the story goes on, but at the start, please expect to be extremely confused. We don’t really get much of a background story (on anything) for about the first ten pages or so.

(Note I could have miscalculated. I’m not bothered to hunt out the book from wherever I left it last– oh s*** it’s a library book. I actually will have to find it once I finish writing this. Keep reading)

It is extremely boring.

Quite honestly, nothing actually really happened. I mean, bits and pieces of what previously happened are given, but nothing happens to Offred, or anyone around her. It’s like just watching a ordinary woman go about a boring day in her life.

BUT…

Don’t get me wrong; the book wasn’t completely terrible. The whole idea of the future America was a brilliant one – I just think it could’ve been executed a little better.

More importantly, this book also reminded me of the privileges I have. Even though I am a girl, I am white, straight, cisgender, and live in an area that has never been touched by a terrible war (unless you count the 1916 Rising).

And I am so, so grateful for that – I plan to use my privileges in the future to help those who aren’t as privileged as me, and maybe help the world somehow.

In the comments...

  • Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale?
  • Watched the show/film?
  • What are your thoughts on the idea of this particular futuristic America?

Of Pens & Paper (1)

 

 

Book Reviews, Books, Feminism, Of Pens & Paper

The WONDER WOMAN 3-in-1: book + movie reviews + tag

People, it’s here! That Wonder Woman 3-in-1 I mentioned in this post!

Are you pumped?

You should be.

BRING IT ON!

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For this book, I think we need to do a good old-fashioned pros-and-cons type of review.

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  • FEMINISM. Feminism. Feminism is all around. Diana objects multiple times to Jason’s control over Alia, and she also observes how many seem to more dominant in the mortal world.
  • Diana – oh. my. gods. She is just perfect. And her oblivion to mortal things such as Google!
  • Badassery – Diana literally kicks Jason’s ass in that first fight
  • Alia – she is an absolutely wonderful soul.
  • Nim – could a better bi character exist? apart from Nina Zenik
  • The writing is snappy and fast, making it easy to get invested into the story.
  • No one scene drags out for too long – the story is constantly flowing with new plot twists and turns
  • And dude(tte), that cover. Oh. My. Goodness.

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  • Jason – at the start I was actually hoping for him and Diana to get together, but then [select to read spoiler] he became such an asshole after betraying Diana and Alia (excuse the language, please) that I wanted him to jump off a cliff.
  • There isn’t really much of an ending to the story – it feels slightly rushed, as if Leigh had an urgent deadline but was trying to give her readers the most she possibly could. So I’m hoping and praying there’s going to be a second book, although #unlikely.
  • There isn’t really much… depth to the story. I mean, we get a basic idea of the characters and what they’re from, but otherwise, we don’t see that many strong emotions, or deep backstories.

So all in all, it was an enjoyable, quick read, pretty two-dimensional and not particularly deep, but I still love the strong feminist theme throughout the novel.

(but can we please have a sequel, Leigh, pleeeeeeease)

4 stars

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And now after my book review, we’ve come to the Wonder Woman movie review!

But first, a small disclaimer: I saw this movie a couple of months ago, therefore my review will compose of a paragraph with my thoughts, and then – lots of GIFs. Lots.

Anyway.

Diana is the same kick-ass heroine in the movie as she is in the book. She takes no crap from anyone, fights for women, and is quite naïve about the mortal world.

However, we do have a central focus of the romance between her and Steve Trevor – I wasn’t exactly a big fan of it, but admittedly they worked well together.

I do love the setting during WWII, though. Diana’s shock at seeing so much death and violence was a huge part in my adoration of the film – I confess I may have shed several tears while watching. The film is so raw and poignant, and completely unforgettable.

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I do love to have a healthy portion of gifs in a blog post 😉

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And now, finally, the tag! Although: I wasn’t actually tagged to do this by anyone, but I literally don’t give two figs.

So let’s do this!

WONDER WOMAN: YOUR FAVOURITE BADASS FEMALE CHARACTER.

I would say Diana, but I figured I had to throw in my girl Lada from And I Darken

FANTASY ISLAND: A BOOK SETTING YOU WANT TO ESCAPE TO.

This is unquestionable – Themyscira. It sounds absolutely incredible. Although it’s all-girls… I probably would end up wishing for some male company at one stage, I’d say.

LONDON: A HYPED BOOK THAT LET YOU DOWN.

Definitely Now I Rise by Kiersten White. I was so looking forward to the sequel of my Dracul babies, and instead- you know what, just read my review.

STEVE TREVOR: A BOOK THAT HAS A BEAUTIFUL COVER AND A GREAT STORY.

Oh, definitely Spellbook of the Lost and Found. The story is absolutely incredible, and I mean, look at that cover:

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LASSO OF TRUTH: A BOOK THAT YOU HATED.

Twilight. No discussion.

WONDER WOMAN’S SHIELD: A BOOK SO SAD YOU NEED A SHIELD.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I cry every single time I read that scene. YOU KNOW THE ONE.

ARES: A VILLAIN THAT IS SCARY BUT YOU CAN’T SEEM TO HATE.

Kaz Brekker from Six Of Crows – we all know he’s a notorious villain, but honestly, who can hate him?

THE AMAZONS: A BOOK THAT YOU WISH HAD MORE / BETTER LGBTQIAP+ REPRESENTATION.

I wouldn’t say more, exactly, but maybe The Conqueror’s Saga (Kiersten White) could represent Radu better. His sexuality seems quite minor, and shoved to one side, so I want more of his rep.

JUSTICE LEAGUE: WHAT SUPERHERO BOOK FRIENDS DO YOU TAG?

People, I have an entire superhero league of the whole bookish community. So whoever’s reading this, I tag you. And yes, you can say that I actually tagged you. Indirectly, but I still did nevertheless. 😀

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A last GIF. Because (a) Wonder Woman and (b) GIFs. Need I say more?

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P.S. Would you mind clicking the “LIKE” button on this post? I know that you and others are reading my posts, but I would appreciate knowing if you actually like what I’m writing!

Blogging, Of Pens & Paper

NEWBIE BLOGGERS: tips

Welcome, rookies, welcome.

I assume you’ve clicked on the header because you want to know more about how to kick some ass with your 5-follower blog.

You’re in the right place 😀

Today I’m sharing 5 tips I wish I had known when I started blogging, that probably would have made my life a whole lot easier. Keep reading for more!

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Well, I actually did know this tip, and apply it. And that is to POST REGULARLY.

POST REGULARLY.

Will I say it again?

POST REGULARLY.

I’ve seen countless bloggers who waltz in with a fancy-looking blog. They write a great post, make graphics, promote the blog/posts, interact with other bloggers… et cetera.

But… that’s it.

If you’re lucky, they might post once a week. If you’re not… well, it’s probably once every few weeks.

Do you know why posting regularly helps you?

Because when a reader reads one of your great posts, and like it, they’re going to want more. So in all likelihood, the might check back in a couple of days to see if you’ve written anything new.

If you have, you can probably bet they’ll click the “follow” button.

No new posts?

Buh-bye.

Posting regularly also helps you to attract a consistent audience – even if you only have twenty followers, you can build on those twenty followers until they know how fabulous your blog is. Then they’re likely to spread the word!

And I know that this works myself – whenever I’m not posting regularly, my likes and pageviews go down. But when I’m consistent with content? Pfft. Everyone else is left behind in a dust cloud.

However! This tip can be a tricky one:

You shouldn’t post simply because you feel you have to. I’ve noticed that if Ipost simply because I “should” my writing isn’t as snappy and good as it usually is. So post… when you feel inspired.

(although try to feel inspired at least once a week)

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i.e. Interact with other bloggers.

Something I’ve only recently come to realize is that no matter how often a blogger posts, it’s sometimes how they interact with people that counts.

I mean, you can be sitting there churning out a post every single day (or more often!), but if you’re not liking/commenting/following other people’s stuff, it isn’t going to make much of a difference.

I’m not saying you have to spend every minute of your spare time on others’ blogs, but make a rule like this if you want:

For every post I publish, I have to like and comment on three other posts.

Try and tell me how you get on! You could be surprised at the difference that it makes.

I was going to put this first, but I had other priorities…

Anyway, editing is absolutely crucial to a professional post. There is nothing else that irritates me more than seeing posts with spelling mistakes, bad grammar, and punctuation errors.

So please, make use of that spellcheck feature at the top of the post editor.

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Also, see how short you can make your post!

To be more precise, see where you can cut down on what you’ve written. Few things are worse than reading a paragraph of long, descriptive sentences only to find out that tomorrow it’ll be raining.

Bullet points are especially useful, or divide up different topics within your post using graphics.

Bonus tip: read your post aloud to see if it makes sense, and you’re not rambling on.

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Nothing says “professional-looking blog” more than a good logo and some nice post graphics.

So why not head over to a graphic designer/photo editor like Canva and start designing some graphics for your blog? They don’t take that long to make, and can make the world of a difference to your blog.

And remember! Always watermark your photos/graphics so people don’t steal them.

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This is so, so, basic, but the amount of book blogs I’ve seen with names like “Polly Reads” or “Annie’s Book Blog”… just. NO.

I’m begging you, take ten minutes out of your day and come up with a creative name that will really make you stand out from the crowd.

Some tips on thinking of a name:

  • What words have the same first letter as your name? e.g. Annie – ant, amazing, apple…
  • What words go well with your name? e.g. Betty’s bookshelf!
  • Can you make a play on a name that is already take?
  • Or what things are related to your niche? e.g. Bookshelves & Paperbacks (hi, Aimal!)

In the comments...

  • Share your #1 tip for newbie bloggers!
  • Can you say you’ve #triedandtested these tips?
  • Which of these tips do you think is the most important?

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Books, Coffee? Let's Chat., Of Pens & Paper

LET’S TALK (what i’ve been doing + coming soon)

I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve written a chatty/casual/coffee-talk post, so I’m here today with a “let’s talk” type post.

Some things I’ll be discussing:

  • my personal life (a few little bits)
  • my internet life
  • my reading this month
  • what’s coming for Of Pens & Paper

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Of course, there’s been school. And homework. Which by the way has been awful – so much! Not to mention the tests we’ve been getting every single week…

However, on a brighter note, this weekend I’ve been redecorating my living space! I’ve been inspired by the whole Bohemian/hippie/witchy style recently (being an avid fan of the occult – no, I do not worship Satan) and so have started trying to create a similar look.

I’ve been trawling through Pinterest for some inspiration, and have made a (private) board with ideas I’d like to try, mostly involving sticks. 😀

Also, I’ve been trying to find where I can get crystals/gemstones that aren’t too expensive. So if you know of an Etsy store, website, etc. please let me know!

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I’m sort of disappointed with my reading so far this month – just looking at the date now, I realize that the month is almost over, and I’ve read x books.

However, Wonder Woman: Warbringer has arrived from the Book Depository! Gaze at the beauty:

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And… erm… I may have finished it already. #guilty

So maybe September was a “restful reading” month.

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And September was also a “restful Goodreads” month, because I was barely online at all! Time just seems to fly between school, homework, music, (try to do some) blogging, and trying to get outside for some air. But I’m not too worried about Goodreads, because I’m really just trying to keep track of my books.

Blogging has been pretty higgledy-piggledy this month – I tend to get a coupel of posts out at the start of the week, but by Thursday I’m just too tired to bother. Please bear with me until I get this whole time-management thing sorted out, and I promise you’ll get more regular posts.

Thankfully, though, I’ve actually been more active on Pinterest this week! My account has been sadly lying dormant for a while, but I’ve revived it and changed up my profile a bit – new photo, aesthetic board names, as well as some new boards!

Here’s a sneak peek:

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(if you’re looking to follow me or see my profile online, click here)

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So what’s coming this week? And the weeks to follow?

Here’s a quick preview of what’s headed your way!

  • The Wonder Woman 3-in-1: book review + movie review + tag (1)
  • DISCUSSION: religion (2)
  • BOOK REVIEW: The Handmaid’s Tale (3)
  • MINIMALISM: decorating your space (4)
  • A monthly “Let’s Chat” (5)
  • A monthly Diversity Bingo update
  • Another giveaway?! (6)
  • My skin story (7)

(1 )This’ll take a while to write, so it’ll be the last one to come, but it’s my most anticipated!

(2) In which I discuss my own beliefs + my view on others.

(3) I’m still reading this, though, but you’ll definitely get a review!

(4) Learn how to be a minimalist while still attaining a beautifully decorated space.

(5) You’ll get my life updates, reading statuses, coming-soon, etc. Basically like this post!

(6) I know my last giveaway was only a few weeks ago, but I’ve been thinking of doing another one… so stay tuned for more details!

(7) I haven’t had fully clear skin for years. And this blog is mine, so I want to occasionally share something that may resonate with my readers. I’ll talk about my own story, and what I do to (try) clear out my skin.


So if you’re starting to feel pumped about my future content, make sure to click SIGN ME UP at the sidebar so you won’t miss any of my new posts!

And by the way – would you mind clicking the “LIKE” button on this post? I know that you and others are reading my posts, but I would appreciate knowing if you actually like what I’m writing!

(if you don’t, leave a comment telling me what type of posts you like, and I’ll try to write something tailored to that!)

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Psst! Looking to take your blog to the next level? Sign up for my FREE blogging ecourse here!
Books, Of Pens & Paper

5 YA book recommendations for a rainy day

Yup, you guessed it…

It’s raining!

And what does this mean?

Book recs for rainy days!

I guess there’s really no need for an intro or anything, so we’ll jump in!

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Wintersong (Wintersong, #1)

 

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

I actually first read this one rainy day at home – I finished it within a couple hours and it was so… rich. The writing was absolutely gorgeous, the setting was beautiful, and the story completely captivated me. And you know… a fabulous cover doesn’t hurt either 😉

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Spellbook of the Lost and Found

 

One stormy summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and jewellery, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something bigger; something she won’t talk about.

Then Olive meets three wild, mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel and Rowan. Like Rose, they’re mourning losses – and holding tight to secrets.

When they discover the ancient spellbook, full of hand-inked charms to conjure back lost things, they realise it might be their chance to set everything right. Unless it’s leading them towards secrets that were never meant to be found . . .

This is one of my favourite books ever, which is high praise since I only discovered it this year. SOTLAF is set in Ireland, about several different teenagers as they discover a spellbook and cast the spells from it. Then things go missing, strange beings appear, and hearts change… plus some of the girls are bisexual. Need I say more?

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And I Darken (The Conqueror's Saga, #1)

 

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.

Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.

Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.

The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she’ll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.

This whole book is just – unreal. LGBTQIA+ representation, ethnic diversity, feminism, badassery, love, sibling love… the list goes on. And because it’s so dark, it’s a great one to read while it’s raining!

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Obviously, read Lady Midnight first. But it’s you’ve read LM, now’s the time to bring out LOS. Because

a) It’s long. You need time for this.

b) It’ll break you. So you need time for tears.

c) Several times you will stop reading out of sheer amazement. And then try to digest what was written. And rainy days are perfect for that.

Generally? 99.9% of the characters are awesome (COUGHzaraCOUGH), the story will hook you immediately, and there is so. much. diversity. It’s awesome.

(of course the ending will also make you want to cry in the fetal position for several hours, but we’ll ignore that)

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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

 

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international best seller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home – and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up

 

Marie Kondo’s unique KonMari Method of tidying up is nothing short of life-changing—and her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has become a worldwide sensation. In Spark Joy, Kondo presents an in-depth, illustrated manual on how to declutter and organize specific items throughout the house, from kitchen and bathroom items to work-related papers and hobby collections.

User-friendly line drawings illustrate Kondo’s patented folding method as it applies to shirts, pants, socks, and jackets, as well as images of properly organized drawers, closets, and cabinets. This book is perfect for anyone who wants a home—and life—that sparks joy.

I’m not being specific with the exact books, simply because you need to read both books she’s written. The first one, The Life Changing-Magic Of Tidying Up, isn’t brilliant. However, it will get you started on decluttering. Her second book Spark Joy is a much more in-depth tidying encyclopedia.

Why I say read these on a rainy day: they’ll make you want to start decluttering immediately!

In the comments...

  • What are your go-to books for rainy days?
  • Have you any recommendations?
  • Have you read any of the books mentioned above?
  • If so, what are your thoughts?

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Books, Of Pens & Paper

#DiversityBingo2017: SEPTEMBER UPDATE

For those of you who don’t know, a few weeks ago I decided to take part in #DiversityBingo2017. And I know it’s late in the year, but I pride myself on being a fast reader – so I took the challenge.

Today’s post is going to be a little update on how my reading for the challenge is going – how much I’ve read, what I’ve read + my thoughts, and what’s left to read.

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If I Was Your Girl – Meredith Russo (romance with a trans MC)

I haven’t read any books that have a transgender person as the MC, so I was pretty excited to read this. I wasn’t disappointed! Although IIWYG was a little unrealistic at times, it still provided a unique insight into the struggles of a transgender girl. As a bonus it was also #OwnVoices, so I knew that what I was reading was most likely from experience.

Six Of Crows – Leigh Bardugo (SFF with disabled MC)

Need I say anything (apart from “best book ever”)?

The Diary Of A Young Girl – Anne Frank (practicing Jewish MC)

I’m still not sure if this will apply to the square for some people, but at any rate, Anne Frank was a practicing Jew. And I know she’s dead, and that this wasn’t exactly a novel, but I’m still counting this. I think that everyone, at least once in their life, should try reading Anne’s diary. It will be hard, and might make you cry, but all the same, you must read it. Poignant and unforgettable.

When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon (Indian MC; #OwnVoices)

The only reason I finished this book was so that I could write a comprehensive review – which you can read here.

History Is All You Left Me – Adam Silvera​ (neuro-diverse MC; #OwnVoices)

Well, technically I DNFed this, but since I made it past the halfway mark, I’m counting it. Click here to read my full review.

And I Darken – Kiertsne White (retelling with MC belonging to LGBTQIA+)

I think it’s pretty obvious who our LGBT character is – our little baby Radu ❤ Although I was pretty much there for Lada… either way, And I Darken is one YA book you definitely have to try! Badassery, feminism, swordfighting, diversity… it’s all in there.

Queens Of Geek – Jen Wilde (bisexual MC; #OwnVoices)

This was pretty cheesy and fluffy, but nevertheless, the diversity of the characters was amaazing. And it’s set in the space of a weekend, which makes it a quick and easy read. Click here to read my full review!

Under Rose Tainted Skies – Louise Gornall (MC with an invisible disability)

Wow. This is the best book I’ve ever read about mental illness (is that the phrase? I apologize if it isn’t) – Norah has major struggles with agoraphobia. Read all my thoughts here.

The Forbidden Wish – Jessica Khoury (west Asian setting)

This was purely a romance, with the only diversity being in the setting, but nevertheless it was a fun read. Click here for my review!

Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi (Arab MC; #OwnVoices)

Hands down one of my favourite books in 2017 (so far). Raw, poignant, perfectly illustrated and told, this is one book you need to read immediately. Click here for my review.

Seven Ways We Lie – Riley Redgate (pansexual MC; #OwnVoices)

This was absolutely stunning. The characters, plot, layout, writing… all incredible. Read a short review here.

All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr (visually impaired MC)

One of the two main characters, Marie-Laure, is blind, so I thought this would be a fitting novel for the challenge. Unfortunately, it was extremely boring, and I ended up DNFing it. But again, I got past the halfway mark so I’m counting it. Anyway, the chapters from Marie-Laure’s POV were interesting to see life through the POV of a blind person, so I’ll give the book that.

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini (contemporary world arranged marriage)

Every. Single. Time. I read this, the end makes me sob. But it is so, so, so good. Incredible. Raw. Unforgettable. i.e. You need to read it.

The Sun Is Also A Star – Nicola Yoon (immigrant or refugee MC)

My review for this is pretty short, so instead of repeating everything I said, I’ll give you a link: this link.

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Image result for Every Day - David LevithanImage result for Homegoing - Yaa GyasiImage result for Dumplin - Julie MurphyImage result for The Tidal Zone - Sarah MossImage result for Kindred - Octavia E. ButlerImage result for The Inexplicable Logic Of My Life - Benjamin Alire SaenzImage result for Wintersong - S. Jae JonesImage result for Akata Witch - Nnedi OkoraforImage result for Of Fire and Stars - Audrey CoulthurstStill AliceImage result for Push Girl - Chelsie Hill bookImage result for Purple Hibiscus - Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieImage result for The Girl From Everywhere - Heidi HeiligImage result for The Hate U Give - Angie ThomasImage result for Every Heart A Doorway - Seanan McGuireImage result for Little & Lion  - Brandy ColbertImage result for The Lacuna - Barbara KingsolverImage result for Rain Is Not My Indian NameImage result for I Am Malala - Malala YousafzaiImage result for Shadowshaper - Daniel José OlderImage result for Deaf Child CrossingImage result for She Wore Red Trainers - Na’ima B. Robert

*I’ve actually already read Wintersong and The Hate U Give this year, but I wanted to reread them in honour of the challenge.

In the comments....png

  • Are you participating in Diversity Bingo 2017?
  • If so, name a few books that you’re really excited about!
  • If not, have you read any of the books mentioned above?
  • What are your thoughts?

Of Pens & Paper (1)

I hope you enjoyed reading my September update for #DiversityBingo2017! I’m planning to do a monthly update as far as November, and in December I’ll wrap it up!

See you soon ❤

Minimalism, Of Pens & Paper

MINIMALISM: Travelling Light

When it comes to minimalism, there’s one question that many people ask:

How do I travel with as little as possible?

I’ve decided that the best way to cover this question is to show you two things:

  • What to do before you travel
  • How to pack like a minimalist

I’ll start with the “before you travel” aspect.

Before you go.png

The most essential step to travelling minimally is to plan in advance what your travel plans will be. I recommend taking a small notebook, or making a Word Document and list all of your trip information. Here are some things you should have in your notebook/document:

  • [if required] Flight details
  • (check-in/take-off times, airport, seat number, terminal number)
  • [if required] Bus details (take-off time, bus number, bus station)
  • Trip details (what you have planned while you travel e.g. sightseeing)
  • Accommodation details (hotels, guesthouses, friend’s addresses, etc.)
  • Food (e.g. restaurants)
  • Packing list
  • Other personal details

Are you wondering what writing this list will accomplish? Well, it’s simply so you have a plan. Because if you only know your flight/bus and accommodation details, it’s hard to pack without knowing what you’ll do during your travel.

If you’re stuck for what to do while you’re away, Google is there to help! Just type in “what to do in [destination/country/city]” and something will come up.

Once you have your travelling plans (and only then) you can go onto packing!

Packing Minimally.png

CLOTHES

Whenever I’m away for a weekend (typically two or three nights) this is what you’ll find in my bag:

  • T-shirts (x3)
  • Black leggings (x1)
  • Other leggings (x1)
  • Shorts (x1)
  • Underwear & socks
  • Dress/fancy outfit (if I’ll be going out) (x1)
  • Toiletries bag

Really, for a weekend trip that’s all you need. Minimalism has really made a difference in the amount of clothes I pack for trips, and I have to say one thing: I haven’t ever brought too little. The amount of clothing I bring every single time I’m away is perfect, and ideally you would try to do the same.

If you’re one of those people who always packs a full suitcase and ends up wearing not even half of what you bring, I dare you: try to bring only the basic necessities. You’d be surprised at how much easier it is to travel with less stuff!

BEAUTY & HYGIENE

Don’t go overboard with the makeup. If you can get away with going au naturel, please do, but if you can’t – bring only the bare essentials. And only one of each product! You don’t need three lipsticks, whatever you might think.

Also, use travel-size toiletries! I cannot stress this enough. Do not lug around 1-litre bottles of shampoo with you. And a lot of beauty products are universal, so don’t panic if you forget your face mask – you can probably buy it at your destination.

Remember too, that a lot of hotels/B&B’s will provide essentials like soap and towels. Hotels also often have those small bottles of shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom.

If you can, bring a comb instead of a hairbrush, as it will take up less space in your toiletries bag. #bigbrushproblems But if you need your hairbrush, try seeing if you can purchase a smaller one, or even see what’s lying around your house?

PACKING TIPS

  • Don’t bring more than three pairs of shoes, at the most. Shoes are awkward to pack and weigh down your bags.
  • Make sure to fold your good clothes (e.g. suit) neatly – or if you can, carry them separately in one of those dry cleaner’s bags to protect your outfit from getting creased or dirty.
  • I’m begging you, DON’T BRING TOWELS. Almost every single place of accommodation will provide you with towels, and there’s no need to bring something that takes up so much space.
  • Don’t go overboard with the comfy clothes either. If you’re able to survive with one t-shirt, please do.
  • Also, you can always hand-wash small items such as underwear and socks! Sure, it may not be as good as a washing machine, but leave your little pieces to soak in the sink for an hour or so, rinse them, and allow to dry.
  • When choosing your carry-on bag (or handbag if everything’s carry-on), go for something on your back. Believe me, I’ve been there with that annoying shoulder bag that’s constantly in the way as you rush around the airport. A small, smart-looking backpack like one of these can do the trick:

Image result for backpack

Of Pens & Paper (1)

I hope you enjoyed reading this! Let me know in the comments if you’re more of a minimalist traveller, if you’re someone who always packs things “just in case”! 😉

And have my tips helped? Let me know!

See you soon ❤

 

 

Book Reviews, Books, Of Pens & Paper

BOOK REVIEW: History Is All You Left Me

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

WIN_20170703_17_08_31_Pro_LI

I have come to the conclusion that my heart is a lump of stone.

Why?

I’ll tell you the exact emotions I felt while reading this book:

  • Nothing

No, wait! Edit that list:

  • Boredom
  • Happiness at the reprensentations

And I honestly feel terrible. But I’ll break  my problems down into categories to make them easier to understand.

PlotWriting

You know, I really didn’t have any problems with anything, unless you decide to count the plot.

See this?

[blank empty space]

That’s the plot of this book. As in, non-existent.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely loved the diverse representation, and the fact that Griffin was dealing with grief made this book also relatable. However, just because you have some good diversity does not mean that you can simply have no plot!

Literally nothing happened in the story. Well, Griffin ran away to Califonia with Theo’s boyfriend Jackson, and Griffin also started being friendlier with Jackson.

Anything else?

Pfft.

I gave up on this because I was feeling extremely frustrated with the non-existent plot – I’ve been trying to make time to read this throughout the week and feeling very bored while reading.

D

There are two reasons why I plugged away at this book:

(1) It’s on my TBR for Diversity Bingo 2017 (which is going pretty okay, thanks)

(2) The diversity within the book was brilliant

I mean, the characters themselves are your basic teenage American boys, but they’re gay, and suffering from depression. #diversepoints

The only thing I would’ve liked a little more of would have been friendships – Theo and Griffin are in a friend circle with another boy named Wade, but when Griffin and Theo break up, Theo becomes pretty cold towards Wade.

So there could have been improvements. But you know, no book is perfect.

However, the grief representation was brilliant. It’s been a few years, but I can remember when my grandparents died. It felt like I would never stop crying, and I know that the book has brilliant representation of this.

(I’ve used the word “representation” too many times, I think, but anyway)

C

I can’t say that Theo was really my favourite character. In fact, I can’t say that I particularly liked the characters at all – we know next to nothing bout Jackson, and Theo & Griffin’s stories seem mainly focused on their relationship, instead of their actual personalities.

I think Adam Silvera would’ve done well to give the characters a bit more depth, instead of just grief and romance. Don’t get me wrong, I love the representation of the grief and the romance, but a little more of the personal stuff would’ve been nice.

I’m not going to say much more, other than this:

  • The diverse representation was awesome
  • However, the plot was non-existent
  • And the characters needed a little more depth
  • So I ended up DNFing this
  • But nevertheless do not regret reading what I read

And I’ve seen the rave reviews and wonder if there’s something wrong with the Reading part of my brain. Still, I’m content with what I read, so maybe you should give it a try and see if you like it!

Of Pens & Paper (1)

Hope you enjoyed this! I’m starting to get more posts out this week, so make sure to click the FOLLOW button at the sidebar so you get emails whenever I publish a new post.

See you in a few days! ❤

For Students, Minimalism, Of Pens & Paper

MINIMALISM: being an educated minimalist (minimalism at school + uni)

I figured this would be a fitting post to write, considering that school has started by now for almost everyone – and indeed university?

In this post I’ll share some simple tips & tricks for you to be as minimalist as you can when it comes to education – schoolbooks, stationery, and so forth.

Schoolbooks.png

Schoolbooks are pretty much inevitable in these years of our lives. Ideally, everything would be digital in this day and age, but while a lot of schools are doing that, not everyone can.

But you do have options…

Find out if your school/uni has a book rental scheme. I know that in a lot of school around Ireland (not sure about unis, though) the pupils just have to pay a fee at the start of the year, and they can rent textbooks from the school for the year, which they then give back when school is finished.

This is not only good for minimalism, but also for your pocket, because I know how expensive a lot of textbooks are.

Try sharing books with classmates – arrange to sit next to each other, and use one book between two. I know this isn’t feasible for everyone, but it can be worth a try as it’s easier on your pocket and schoolbag.

If you do buy all of your schoolbooks, why not keep them at school only? You can take a photo of the page you need for homework with your phone and then just delete the photos when you’re done.

It may seem pointless, but this clears up clutter from your home, and you can’t forget any books at home. This is also easier for your back as well, because you don’t have to lug around heavy textbooks.

Stationery.png

When it comes to stationery, it’s not that hard.

Obviously, try to go digital – this eliminates the need for stationery at all! If your teachers allow it, use a site such as Evernote or Google Docs to take class notes and write assignments. I know that for mathematics and physics/chemistry/biology it may not be as easy, but in subjects such as languages, history, or geography, it’s feasible.

If you can’t go digital, however, your best bet is to just have a few staples when it comes to stationery. For example:

  • Red pen for titles
  • Black pen for subtitles
  • Blue pen for content (x2)
  • Coloured pen (e.g. green, purple) for important words/phrases
  • Highlighter
  • Correction fluid
  • Pencils (x2)
  • Eraser + sharpener
  • Ruler (and maths set if required)

This may not seem exactly minimalist, but when it comes to stationery, you can’t really go completely minimalist.

However, for the pens I recommend these really basic ones (the Bic 4-in-1):

Image result for bic 4 colour pen

This means you don’t have to hunt around for four different pens, and it’s much easier to just carry the pen in your pocket from class to class.

Other Supplies.png

So let’s be honest: do you actually need all those little extra supplies you have?

  • Paper clips
  • Staples
  • Stapler
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Sticky notes
  • Page flags

And so forth. Are you actually using these on a regular basis? Keep in mind that the less you have, the easier it is to clean + organize + stay tidy.

Now is the ideal time for you to start an organization system in your locker. Do you really need all the notebooks, papers, folders, etc. that are shoved in there?

I recommend keeping two folders – one for worksheets/homework assignments/etc. and the other solely for tests/exam papers. Make sure also that you only have the papers from this year only, unless you need to keep your tests from last year for a reason.

It’s a good idea to take five – ten minutes every week to quickly run through your folders and check for any useless/unwanted papers, and get rid of them. You can also use the opportunity to organize any new papers you have, rather than just shoving them somewhere and not being able to find them.

As for what kind of folder? I recommend using one like this:

Image result for folder with plastic sleeves

As you can see, the plastic pockets aren’t detachable, so they won’t be falling out.

Of Pens & Paper (1)

I know that this wasn’t exactly minimalism, but nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed reading this and got a little knowledge from it. In the meantime, stay minimalist, and I’ll see you soon!