The Happiness Tag | In Which I Cheer Myself Up With Happy Things~


As always, I'm late on tags... OH WELL! 
I came across this tag when Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books did it - and honestly, I was hooked! I love anything that makes me happy - and I had to share it! 

List five things that make you happy 

Studying 
This is weird right? But I think it's more the feeling of accomplishment that comes from completing my list of things to study for the night. 

Writing in my diary 
I have a four-year diary, where each page represents one day of the year. It's subdivided into four blocks - one for each year. I love writing in it, because I get to reflect on what happened the year before. Although there are some sad parts in some days, on the whole, it makes me happy because I'm always astounded by how it's been one/two/three years since that event (it usually seems like it was just yesterday) 

Sleeping
I LIKE SLEEP OKAY?? 

Reading
George R.R. Marin once mentioned something along the lines of how a person who reads many books lives many lives, whilst the person who doesn't read lives only once. I like to live many lives, I like to experience the world, and reading lets me do that ^_^ 
If it's a good book, I love reading, and it's really something that can cheer me up! 

TV
I've been watching lots of comedies recently, and they never fail to make me laugh! Always a great pick-me-up on some heavy days. Want any recommendations?? HERE THEY ALL ARE!! :D 
  1. The Office - it's already finished, but it never fails to get me laughing. The diverse set of characters, the wonderful relationships...oh, how I love this show <3 
  2. Modern Family - If you want a family oriented comedy...definitely Modern Family! I love how everything ties together at the end of the episode, how each arc is beautifully tied together in a wonderful conclusion! 
  3. New Girl - The things that the people at that apartment get up to sometimes... :') 
  4. Brooklyn Nine-Nine - HAHAHAHAHA I always thought that cop shows had to be serious, procedural shows, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine blew away my expectations!
  5. The Mindy Project - Mindy is honestly such an inspirational character and person! 
I probably have many more recommendations...but those are just a few to get you started! 

List five songs that make you happy 

Cool by Alesso 
This song has such special memories for me...I don't even know where I first heard it from, but nowadays, whenever I work and this song comes on, my productivity actually increases tenfold - I get so motivated! 


Satellites by Cash Cash 
Just that whole motivational vibe again ^_^ 



Clarity by Zedd 
This song has so many levels of meaning for me. I first heard it in my first year at a new high school, and I was finally starting to fit in, have my own friends, be popular, you know? So yeah, this song just reminds me of that time, and makes me happy ^_^ 


Just The Way You Are by Bruno Mars
OH MY GOSH THIS SONG IS JUST ICONIC, OKAY?? 
Plus that music video is one of the best music videos I've seen :D 


Fireflies by Owl City 
MEMORIES :') And also, I can't help bopping along to the beat~ :) 


I tag...

..plus anyone else who wants to do it! Go off, be happy~! :D Revisit all the things that make you happy by doing this tag, like I did! 

Got any good music recommendations for me? Any nice music videos with a story (those are my fav music videos)? What makes you happy? Let me know in the comments! :) Always love chatting to you guys! 

Keep reading and loving books!
Geraldine


Enjoyed reading this? You should definitely follow me to get more updates! 

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski



The Breakdown


General Info:
     Title: The Winner's Curse
     Author: Marie Rutkoski
     Genre: YA, Fantasy 
     Publisher: Farrar, Straux and Girroux
     Publishing Date: March 4th, 2014

Thoughts:
     Excellent:
          - World-building and politics - so intriguing! 

    Things that could have been better:
         - Characters - just didn't feel real/relatable to me
         - Plot - too coincidental for me to believe in 

Rating: 2.25 stars
Goodreads | Amazon


Initial Thoughts

I've heard so many people rave about The Winner's Curse!  Plus, that gorgeous, gorgeous cover was calling to me. So I decided I had to take the plunge and just read it! 


Winning what you want may cost you everything you love... 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart. 

Characters

Kestrel was very difficult for me to understand. I just didn't feel like I connected with her at all - she wasn't relatable. I feel like this was partially due to the writing style, with the use of third person. The third person format really distanced me from Kestrel, and she was just unfathomable to me. 

Arin was even worse than Kestrel. He didn't make sense. In a normal world with consequences - I feel like Arin would never have been kept around in Kestral's household, with how rebellious he was at times. I felt like his purpose was to be the love interest, and it was very difficult for me to suspend my disbelief that he and Kestrel were right for each other. 

Let's talk side-characters now. I honestly didn't get Kestrel's attachment to Jess? It didn't seem like they were honestly that great friends - we get told they are best friends, but the actions in the novel don't support that, with how little we see of Jess. Ronan was really interesting to read about - he seemed like such a nice guy, and if I read the sequel - Ronan will be one of the reasons that I do so! 

Plot

The plot wasn't very interesting to me. It all felt contrived, it felt like things just happened for the sake of happening. For example, some plot points felt too convenient - highlight for spoilers. I thought that it was just too convenient that Kestrel happened to come by Arin being auctioned off, and Cheat was just REALLY lucky to engage Kestral into buying Arin. 
That being said, whilst I had problems with the plot - I did love the world-building. It was a familiar world to me, easy to grasp hold of, and I enjoyed learning more about each of the groupings - the Herrani and the Valorian. I especially loved reading about the Valorians, because they had such interesting beliefs/morals - women were allowed and even encouraged to enlist. This is so different to our society, because yes women are encouraged to go to combat in our world, but with Valorians, it seems to be more of an expectation. 

Finally, Rutkoski left us in a good spot for the ending. I'm curious to see how everything plays out in the second book, because the ending involves politics, is all I'm saying. And I'm interested to see how Kestrel will maneuver herself out of the spot she's in. 

Writing Style

The writing style wasn't my favourite. For one, there was the third-person format that hindered the character relatability. I didn't feel like I got to know Kestrel very well - it felt like I only knew superficial things about her, like that she likes music, or that she's bad at combat - not her thoughts, her wishes, her desires. I really feel like this is because of the third-person format. 

Furthermore, it seemed like everything was being dumbed down for readers. Sometimes, I felt like Rutkoski was repeating information previously mentioned. Whilst this is good because it reinforces that this information is important and keeps it fresh in readers' minds - at the same time, I feel like there was too much repetition, and it was almost as if Rutkoski was dumbing things down a bit, and I skim read a lot of The Winner's Curse as a result - just to reduce the amount of time I had to spend reading repetitious material. 

Entertainment Value

I kind of did have to force myself to read this book. I was really excited to start, because I heard so much great stuff about it, but I don't know I just didn't get immersed into the world. Nonetheless, it did keep me occupied, and reading for a couple of hours, although I did have to take a couple of breaks because I just wasn't loving it. 

Final Thoughts

I think an English teacher told me once that in order for a book or a movie or a play to be successful, sometimes there needs to be the suspension of disbelief. With The Winner's Curse, I couldn't suspend my disbelief with the plot and characters, and ultimately I couldn't enjoy the novel. The Winner's Curse, whilst easy to read in a couple of hours (even though I didn't fully enjoy it) is an ultimately forgettable novel to me, with little that distinguishes it from other fantasy books and other characters in separate novels. 


Rating




Thoughts in a Phrase 

It's not you, it's me. 

Keep reading and loving books!
Geraldine


Enjoyed reading this? You should definitely follow me to get more updates! 

Conversations: Which Blogging System Do You Use?


Hi everyone! 
This is gonna be a short one today - more mid-semester exams to study for! 
The topic for today is...
Which blogging platform do you use and why? 
But of course, this is a bit of a sparse topic - so there are more prompts below! :) 

I use Blogger, as you all can probably tell. There's honestly no real reason for this - it's just the first platform I came across. 

Why haven't I been wooed by Wordpress yet though? It's too tricky for me. I tried using it once, but it felt like it was too much for me, with so much functionality, so much possible! I could probably spend a week trying to customise a blog with Wordpress. Time that I kiiiind of don't have. 

Blogger wins me over with its simplicity. Even though there are lots of times where I groan and sigh and hiss over how ridiculously simple it is, preventing me from doing more complex things that I would like. But I prefer this simplicity - after all, so long as I have a platform that allows me to post and comment with as little trouble as possible, I'm happy! 

I know this is probably a difficult topic to talk about - not much subject matter for a Conversation as such. So there won't be a link-up - sorry! 
I haven't caught up with you all in ages, I have been a bit AWOL. So...in addition to telling me about your blogging system, tell me about YOU! What has been going on in your wonderful lives? Big events? Birthdays? Blogoversaries? I want to know! 

Keep reading and loving books!
Geraldine


Enjoyed reading this? You should definitely follow me to get more updates! 

Conversations: Which Commenting System Do You Use and Love?


Hi everyone! 
It's been a long time since I've posted! Sorry about that - lots of things happening at uni! But this week, the Conversations post is something I'm very interested in...
Do you use a particular form of commenting system? 

For me, I use Disqus, as you all can see, if you scroll below. 
There are many reasons why I use Disqus. 
As you all know, I HEAVILY emphasise how blogging should be about communication, making friends, etc. Disqus has such a wondeful system to facilitate that - it has notifications, a bit like Facebook, for if someone has replied back to your comment, and all that jazz. It's truly awesome. 
It also looks really good. I'm a huge fan of the minimalist look - it's difficult for me to implement, but it looks awesome! Disqus is pretty minimalistic, so it's nice to have on the blog. 
Then, let's not forget how Disqus can be integrated with pretty much anything. If you're using Disqus, you don't have to make a Disqus account or anything - you can sign in with Facebook, Twitter, and some other options, I believe! So pretty much anyone can comment on your posts, let you know what they think! 
Finally., Disqus is awesome because you get to "thumbs up" comments. Sometimes, I find it's hard to reply back to some comments - you know, the generic ones, that are like "oh, nice post!". But I still feel that obligation to do something, to acknowledge that comment, so instead of spending ten minutes thinking of an adequate reply - I just thumbs up! :) 

To be honest, I can't really think of reasons NOT to use Disqus. The only drawback is the lack of a mobile app - but even then, I think that has been resolved! I just have to play around with some code-y things..which I'll do sometime soon... >.<
Actually, thinking about it, Disqus can be a bit confusing to implement. Denise @ The Bibliolater and I have had many panicked conversations about how to install Disqus and how to keep it working (there was one time when Blogger had changed its system or something, and Disqus couldn't cope o_O ) 

What commenting system do you guys use? Why do you use this system? Can you think of any reasons not to love Disqus - I know I'm very biased! 
I love finding out more about each commenting system - so let me know! :) 


Keep reading and loving books!
Geraldine


Enjoyed reading this? You should definitely follow me to get more updates! 

Conversations: Forgetting Books Is No Big Deal


Hello everyone! 
So the topic for this week's Conversation is..
Do you forget books as easily as you read them?

The short answer? Yes

Let's define what forgetting books involves. For me, it involves forgetting minor things, like a minor character's backstory (e.g. who Ernie Macmillan is in Harry Potter) to more major things, like a major plot arc (e.g. Voldemort dies in Harry Potter) or a main character's name (e.g. Harry Potter in Harry Potter). 

There are some books that are more forgettable than others. For me, these are usually contemporary romance novels... >.< They're my favourite genre, but some of them are just so forgettable. Even the good ones are really forgettable to me. If I had to hazard a reason why they're more forgettable for me than most other books, I'd have to say it's because a lot of the same tropes are reused in contemporary romances, such as the 'I-didn't-see-him/her-like-that-until-now" one, the 'best friend' trope, the 'fake boyfriend' trope, etc. Plus, there's also the fact that it's so similar to my life sometimes, I sometimes mix up my life with the book o_O 

Examples of books like these include...
  • The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West - I only read this on Thursday, but I'm beginning to forget major details. I was trying to write a review for it on Goodreads, and I had to look up what the main character's name was. 
  • Anna and the French Kiss - I absolutely love this book...but I've forgotten everything about it. My sister was reading it the other day and fangirling, but I was like '...o_O Who's Bridgette??" 
  • Paper Towns - ??? All I remember is that there's some super cool girl called Margo and she runs away and the main character (IVE FORGOTTEN HIS NAME) tries to find her with clues I think?? Not 100% sure... Same goes with An Abundance of Katherines - all I remember is a guy who's obsessed with girls that are named Katherine, and he eventually ends up with a non-Katherine girl, I think?? NOT SURE xD 
There are some books that are pretty memorable...but I still forget them. This, I attribute to just my poor memory skills, and a lack of rereads. Or binge-reading. And just time in general, to be honest. 
Some books I'm just plain bad at remembering details about are:
  • Percy Jackson series and Heroes of Olympus series - OH MY GOSH, this is the worst offender. I think it's because I binge read these books. But yeah, I reread these books, and I always finish reading the series within two or three days...and five days after that, I go "...wait. What happened in Titan's Curse? Who's Frank again??"
  • Deltora Quest series - I think this is just because I haven't reread it in a while...but I recently reread the first series, so I'm on track now! Just gotta read the second and third ones... 
  • Skulduggery Pleasant series - HAHAHAHA, there are honestly so many books in this series, that I've forgotten everything past the first three books (which I reread incessantly) 
  • The Mortal Instruments - To be honest, after City of Ashes, I'm not 100% sure on what happened. Valentine was defeated, and Sebastian's the new baddy, that's all I know o_O 
  • Evernight series - okay, this one is pretty bad. I used to love this series, so I really should know more. Bianca and Lucas (I THINK THATS THEIR NAMES) are like forbidden lovers or something because Bianca is a vampire and Lucas is a vampire hunter, and...that's all I remember, folks! There's some ghosty/wraithy stuff going on too...IT'S BEEN TOO LONG. 
But to be honest, forgetting books isn't a huge struggle for me. People ask each other all the time, "If you could re-read a book and experience it for the first time (again), what book would it be?". For me, with my weird ability to forget books, I can just reread a book, and definitely experience it for the first time. 

Here's the link-up! 


If you can't link up, let me (or other people, through their posts in the link up above) know what you are like with remembering books? Are you like me, and you can't remember most books from a specific genre? Do you think it's a good thing to forget books? Any tips for remembering books? Start up a Conversation! 

On an unrelated note, I'm going on hiatus again...
I honestly do this too often! :/ I've been very busy with university (overloading and doing five subjects instead of the usual four), giving love to my new puppy (LIBBY! <3 ), and working at my job. 
AHHH :( 
I'll definitely stop by and comment on everyone's blogs when I can - but no guarantees with anything on my blog, with the sole exception of this feature, Conversations! 

Keep reading and loving books!
Geraldine


Enjoyed reading this? You should definitely follow me to get more updates! 

The Aussie YA Blog Hop | In Which I Cheat and Have Too Many Answers



Although I've lived in Australia for about 10 years - I'm sad to say that I haven't read many Aus YA books until the last few years or so. The #LoveOzYA crew have been instrumental in increasing my awareness of lots of new Aus YA novels, and I've got to give credit to Google - without both of these groups/entities, I wouldn't have been able to answer these questions! 

What I Love About Aussie YA
...can I pick more than one thing? 
I think the great thing about Aus YA novels is how diverse they are. There are so many broad topics that these authors cover, and for a small continent, it's crazy how many great books on so many topics are churned out. 
I also really love reading Aus YA novels and being able to identify with many characters, look at the settings and just go "YES, I know this place!". It makes for a richer reading experience, because then I get to integrate my real-life experiences with what's happening in the novel, and I just have a deeper understanding of the book and what's going on. It forces me to pay more attention instead of skim-reading. 

My Favourite Aussie YA authors
Difficult question! 
Jackie French 
Garth Nix
John Flanagan 
Lynette Noni
Emily Rodda 
...all make my list! I still read some of their books - rereads and new books! 

An Aussie YA book I Grew Up With 
...do I have to choose just one??
Anything by Paul Jennings and Andy Griffiths - their books were ones that I reread constantly as a child. 
Paul Jennings's books were just...creepy and horrifying, and I LOVED IT. 
Andy Griffith's books epitomised LOL and ROFL for me - they were so humorous...and my parents disapproved of his type of humor...so naturally I loved reading his books! 

My Favourite 2016 Aussie YA book 
I really loved reading Akarnae by Lynette Noni, and I was super happy that Noni also published the sequel to Akarnae, Raelia, this year! 

An Aussie YA Debut I'm Looking Forward To 
I actually don't keep up with debuts too often, to be honest. So no answer here... 
If you've got any recommendations though...hit me up below! :) 

My Favourite Aussie YA series 
THERE ARE JUST TOO MANY
Honestly so surprised that not many people know about these series - they both got me reading fantasy, I think! 

An Unexpected Aussie YA Surprise 
I didn't expect that she is an Australian, actually! Thanks Google for letting me know! :P 
But honestly, I used to read Emily Rodda's novels constantly. Like they'd always be at the library, and I would borrow them out and just read. 
Here are a couple of the series that I used to read from her: 
Deltora Quest books - there are four series now, I believe! 
...she's honestly such a prolific writer - I admire her so much! 


An Aussie YA Book I will ALWAYS recommend to others
...once more, do I HAVE TO CHOOSE JUST ONE?? 
I'm not going to choose just one - anything by Jackie French
Jackie French is remarkable with historical fiction. Especially some of her Australian fiction works. Honestly, I never cared about Australian history in history classes at school - but reading her work helped me learn about Australia's history, and it was just so much more interesting when she wrote about it! 
Some of her titles set in Australia - I haven't read all of them, by the way: 

An Aussie YA book on my TBR

It sounds really interesting, and definitely relevant to Australia. We've had lots of debate around refugees and letting them into Australia in the past couple of years - so I'd love to see how Abdel-Fattah writes about it in When Michael Met Mina

My favourite Aus YA bloggers
I actually don't know toooooo many Aus YA bloggers. I used to think that there were virtually no Aus YA bloggers...but I now know one or two, which I'm so grateful for!
This is in any random order! 
1. Brett @ Brett Michael Orr - Brett is not only an Australian blogger, but also a writer, so woo! :D He and I both come from Brisbane, which is epic! 
2. Jean @ Happy Indulgence - Jean also comes from Brissy :D And I love tuning in to her #LoveOzYA segment on ABC Radio! :) 
3. Emily @ Loony Literate - Emily has some of the most gorgeous photos, and her posts are insightful and just a pleasure to read@ 
4. Cait @ PaperFury - no comment. Just check out her blog...and you'll know what I mean ;) 
5. Maddie @ PasoMaddie - honestly one of the friendliest bloggers I know! :) 

Keep reading and loving books!
Geraldine


Enjoyed reading this? You should definitely follow me to get more updates! 

Conversations: I Love My Books!



So, this is a bit of a late post...sorry! 
The Conversations topic for this week is... 
How do you show your love for a book?

We all love our books. I mean, that's why you're here reading this post right? And that's definitely why I have my blog! But how do you guys show that you love a book? Here are a couple of ways that I do...

1. Write a lovely review - Whenever I absolutely love a book, I make sure to write a review on it, and try to force as many people to read it. After all...if no one knows the book, how else will I get to spill all the feels?? 

2. Buy different editions of the book - this applies more to classics and books that get more reprints in general, but I love looking at the different covers, looking at how they vary! 

3. Take lots of bookstagram photos with it - To be honest, I don't usually use bookstagram a lot...but I still take lots of photos of my favourite books! I just don't upload them >.< But what better way to showcase a wonderful book, than by highlighting it on bookstagram? 

4. Binding it with protective film - This only applies to paperback books, but I usually protect all my books from spills, large creases by covering them with stickyback or contact. This doesn't fully protect them from everything, of course, but it does add an extra layer of protection, which lets me sleep better at night, knowing my books are protected! 

5. Writing in it- OKAY, I know this is blasphemy, but I actually kind of like writing in my books. Usually, when I have a favourite book anyway, I have a second copy of that book. And in that second copy, I annotate. I highlight my favourite parts of the book, and I write notes (usually me going "AHHH", and just me spilling out all the feels). It makes for a very...interesting reread session down the track! 

This was a short, more list-y topic this week! I hope you enjoyed it - let me know if you prefer list-like topics or if you like the usual lengthy debate-esque topics we have! 
Also - let me know in the comments or in the link-up, how you show your love for all the books! <3 



Keep reading and loving books!
Geraldine


Enjoyed reading this? You should definitely follow me to get more updates!