Methods to Madness

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So I started trying something new this week. That something being that I have started to handwrite my blog posts up.

This is for a couple of reasons.

1) I own a lot of notebooks and a lot of them are blank.Which kind of defeats their purpose.

2) My handwriting has reached a new level of awful and I am trying to semi pull it back.

Like I said I haven’t been doing it for all that long, however I can tell that it might actually be the way forward for me.

If it wasn’t obvious, I’m kind of in some kind of blog rut. This has been for a few reasons as well. One, I’m trying to write The Thing and two, the fear of the blank page is real. When you have almost nothing in your head and you don’t quite know where you’re gonna go that black blinking curser on that white blank screen is a lot. It’s daunting.

When you can come to that blank page and know that you’ve got a shit ton of black ink on some lined paper it’s a lot less terrifying.

It also means that I can write my ideas down faster. Pen and paper is more immediate, once I go to that with something it’s easier for it to flow with me and I get a more solid picture of what the idea is trying to be. I kind of forgot that this was the case with me.

I find also that it helps me regulate my damn rambling. I can physically see how much space a post is gonna take up when it’s scrawled onto some paper. It eliminates the chance of me just getting lost in a thought and the sentence running on for decades. Don’t get me wrong, it still happens (it might very well be happening now) but when I’ve already written it I can see what maybe needs to go and I can see where the messy parts are that need to be tidied up. I’ve been really bad at self-editing almost any post that has gone up in the past couple of months because when it’s on the screen I just miss things.

When you gotta transfer it from page to screen you catch a lot more. Which means that posts from here on out will actually probably be less messy. And also it means that the post gets actually written a lot quicker, because it’s there and I’m a quick typer.

Like I said, this has been a new development, which is mostly why my posting schedule this week has been kind of off. But I’m feeling like this will make things clearer for me and will help regulate my schedule that way and I can finally feel like my blogging mojo might just come back. This place has felt a bit like a behemoth recently, but I’m starting to feel like it’s my space on the internet again.

And also, seriously I really need to use those blank notebooks again…(and I still can’t title for shit)

Parentheses count: 2. See you tomorrow!

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Re-Reads

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I am not big on re-reading. I literally don’t do it. I read a book, sit with it for a little bit and then move on to the next one. It’s not thats books don’t stick with me enough that I want to re-visit them and have them reveal new things to me, it’s that when I go to read something again I’m just worried about all the new things that I’m not reading.

So I don’t re-read. Not unless I originally did not finish the book and am trying again so need to remember what the hell is going on. However for some reason a part of me has been thinking about all the books that I kind of want to read again because they keep playing on the back of my mind and the urge is getting stronger and stronger.

So these are the books that I’m itching to re-read.

Harry Potter – JK Rowling

Yes, really. I’ve been like super in my Harry Potter feelings recently and for some reason they are starting to drive me slowly insane. I have all the books just sitting next to my bed (this includes a box set of the normal ones, 3 illustrated ones and the first two in Hufflepuff editions, oh and the box set is still in the cellophane…) and so it kind of feels inevitable. I’ve wanted to do this for a few years now, next year might be the year.

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

I think about the opening line of this book often. Also it’s a murder mystery, so I feel like once you eliminate having to figure that out I feel like it’s going to reveal new depths to me that I just didn’t see before. There were already so many layers to it on the first read, I can only imagine what another would do.

The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

We all know how I feel about this book. I’ve only read it once from start to finish. I have re-read the Circus parts, but the rest of it remains somewhat of a mystery. Not in a legit sense, but in some kind of way. This book is so beautiful and I love it so much and I want to go back into the world that was created.

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

This book broke my heart multiple times and it never really put it back together again. But it’s such a great book and again one of those books that just has so much to reveal that I want to get involved in.

Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman

I mean there are so many books on here that are also on the books I’ll always recommend post that I wrote. It’s probably not a coincidence. I love those books, I got that from one read which says all you need to know. This one made me view London in a totally different way and I loved the way it took things that I knew well and tilted them some way. I loved Richard and his journey.  I would love to go back to it and do it all over again.

Those are the books that feel most pressing when it comes to wanting to re-read them. It has also just dawned on me that I also own multiple copies of all but one of these books…oops.

Parentheses count: 1. See you tomorrow!

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The 16 Week Plan

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I literally had a whole different post written to go up today and then I talked to my brother for hours last night and it got thrown into a whole new light and I realised it was kind of bullshit and the fact that I was struggling all day to write the post in the first place should have been a damn sign. So this post is happening instead.

There are now 15 weeks left of the year. I know this because I counted and for some reason I keep seeing a countdown to Christmas on my Twitter and that’s indicating how much time is left of the year. The point is there’s 15 weeks left of the year and I’ve got myself an accidental 16 week plan (because this started last week), which is what this post will now be about.

1) Gain Weight

This was gonna be the post then the more I wrote it the more I realised I was borderline risking falling back into some old habits just for the opposite problem that I’ve had before. I’ve started tracking my food intake again, just so I can have a genuine understanding of my day to day food intake so that I know for sure that I’m hitting a surplus because that’s what I need. Hitting a surplus eating clean(ish) is fucking hard. I didn’t hit what I was supposed to be hitting once last week. Which is sign enough that I need to adapt my approach and go soooo slow and steady instead. It’s easier to do and means that I won’t fall back into some shitty old habits because I don’t actually have to do anything differently for the most part. I have my current weight, I have my goal weight, I know how much I need to gain over a certain period of time (this also came from that conversation that I mentioned earlier). I’m not weighing myself religiously in fact to be honest I’ll probably only do it once a month just as an FYI for myself. I’m not really making any huge changes with this, but I am going to focus it a bit more for the last part of the year.

2) Tweak my skincare

A little. I’ve said it beofre that for teh most part this is under control. And it is. However winter is coming and so some adaptation is needed. The funny art is that I’m adding a regular exfoliator to my skin care routine once a week, as well as a detoxifying something or other. Probably a mask. Just small things to really give my skin the best chance of living its best life. I’m in a really good place with my skin now, but just want it to be tad more.

3) FINISH THE THING

I know that this is an overall goal of mine. However Novemeber is rather terrifyingly fast approaching and that can only mean one thing. Nanowrimo. Which I am kinda of gonna cheat with this year. I have The Thing. I’ve started The Thing. I’m feeling like I’ve got something going with The Thing. And so I’m going for that first draft. It should be roughly 70-80,000 words by the end of it. November especially seems like the best time to wrap that up, so then I have the rest of the year to take a damn break from it.

4) Other Writing Shit

This is ambiguous here, but to me this makes perfect sense.There is some other writing shit that I want to get done.

5) Self Care

I’m not bd at this. I have no choice but to be mostly on top of it. I’ve kind of let if slip a little bit and I’ve noticed the difference in myself My anxiety exists at about 2 usually these days, but the past couple of months it’s been at an 8 and I’ve just kind of stopped using the methods that I learned in therapy and instead have buried my head in the sand. But I need to buckle down with it and get it back under control. I know what I need and should do and I need to get better at doing it again.

And that’s my 16 (15) week plan that will work in conjunction with my other goals for the year (which are mostly under ‘control’). I feel oddly motivated right now for the first time in a while to actually kick my ass into gear and own the next few months.

Parentheses count: 5. See you tomorrow!

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 35 – A Darker Shade of Magic

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I have been putting off this review because when I think about this book I become acutely aware of the fact that I do not own the other books in this series and I want them. No, I need them.

This story remains very unfinished and I need to know what it is going to happen. However, for now I do not have them and so I just have to make my peace with that.

If it wasn’t obvious, I very much enjoyed this book.

I love anything that is set in London and this one had 4 (kinda) and they were layered. Literally.

And they were all so glorious and all had their own stakes and I am just very much in love with the whole world and the way that magic weaves throughout them all and how it’s stronger in some places than others and all that jazz. I loved the fact that Holland and Kell were a rare breed and how they were kind of against each other but because they were effectively kin they had to kind of orbit one another.

Their kind of friendship that wasn’t necessarily a friendship was one of my favourite things about this book. The relationship between them was so complicated and the way that they were kind of two halves of the same coin but one was taken in by the family and the other was bound to them. The way that they circled each other throughout trying to battle with this new element of magic that is just thrown into there.

Kell was a great character to live with for a little bit. He was so complex and had so much depth that has only just begun to be explored. I kind of wanted to know a bit more about his relationship with his ‘brother’ before Kell tethered himself because it just kind of didn’t feel like something that had a lot of roots in it before it happened. However I am excited to know how that will play out moving forward because there is no way it ain’t coming to bite him.

Delilah was such a great character. I loved her from the get go. She was such a badass and also hella mysterious which I loved. The relationship that she formed with Kell sure was something and the slow way that developed was great. I also loved getting to see the Londons through her eyes because she was seeing them for the first time too and that perspective was kind of lost when it was from Kell’s POV because he was just so used to them. I loved how she came into her own over the course and the narrative and the way that she interacted with magic. She was the perfect partner to Kell throughout this and it was such a well developed duo.

I liked how the story was so contained and yet also felt high stake. And also those Twins. Damn, those twins. They were such great villains especially because they were almost like the unseen shark for a lot of it and then they came out of the woodwork being so delightfully dark and twisted. It was brutal towards the end and it was everything that I could have hoped for and more.

I picked this book up because I had a feeling that it would be right up my street and it was and I am happy that it was. It was just the perfect combination of everything that I wanted it to be and more. And look, I really don’t know how long I’m gonna hold out with not buying the rest of the books…

4/5 stars

Parentheses count: 1. See you on Monday!

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Bonus Book Review – Vicious

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These reviews are coming out of the order that I read them in, mainly because I cannot get my brain to form words when it comes to the other one, and also the more I think about it the harder it gets to convince myself that I don’t need the second book in the series.

This one is less hard to talk about because I know that the second one is on its way into my life at some point later this month.

The book I am talking about is Vicious.

I loved  this book. It was everything that I hoped it would be and more. Which is odd because I don’t really think I had any expectations when it came to this book because I had none. I bought it because the cover was pretty as fuck.

Then I read the blurb and was like ‘damn, it’s superhero-y’. But also it’s called the Villains series and so my interest was very much piqued.

The structure of this book gave me life. I love things that aren’t necessarily chronological. Don’t get me wrong, I love an A-B, but also give me a well written non-chronological timeline. This had that in abundance. I loved the contrasts that this created and how it weaved all together into the ending.

Which I am going to get to first (kind of, I guess structure was first). The ending. I am still low key kind of reeling from that ending. It was just so perfect. (Also, this applies to the actual ending pages of this book, but I’m mostly still reeling from the second to last chapter). You know throughout the whole narrative that you are dealing with two men who are very intelligent, like intelligent enough to know how to kill themselves and then bring themselves back to life (with the help of someone else), however there is a part of you that kind of doubts that Victor does have any idea what his plan actually is when it comes to Eli, especially when you throw into the equation Serena who basically has the whole town under her control and on Eli’s side. However, when that plan comes together, my God. I am obsessed. It was just so clever. Victor managed to hit him where it hurt and I lived for it.

Victor himself was great. The way that he almost became a self-fulfilling prophecy in his villain status because Eli had positioned himself as a ‘hero’. He was so complicated as a character because he wasn’t a nice guy. Like really, he wasn’t. The ego on him was insane and ultimately his downfall in the start. It was hard not to root for him and I like it so much when there is something so intrinsically not good about someone, but they are the better of two evils. Give me an anti-hero.

And give me a villain who thinks he a hero. Seriously. I didn’t even hate Eli, I found him fascinating. I found that God complex of his so fascinating. He was so complicated and I was just fascinated by the way that he worked and the fact that Victor could read him like a damn book. His ‘superhero’ origin story was just so deliciously twisted and I lived for it. His self righteousness and the position that he thought he deserved and had ‘earned’ and the hypocrisy on him was just so good I can’t quite put it into words how much I enjoyed. And his ending. My gosh his ending. The full circle moment of it all.

I loved Sydney and Serena. The way that they circled around each other. The way that they were somehow intrinsically entwined with one another throughout. They were crucial and they were the perfect representation of what happens depending on the people who surround you. I also loved the relationship that Sydney and Victor had and how it completely contrasted the Eli and Serena one.

Special shout out to Mitch for apparently owning a large part of my soul because when Serena started working her magic and I almost thought it was going to end badly I felt some kind of way. Which I should have seen coming because when I thought he died the first time I also felt some kind of way. Mitch was such a tragic backstory in the end and I also liked how loyal he was to Victor. I thought it would be to his detriment but it turned out not to be.

I could keep going on about all the layers to this books. Rewriting narratives, going more into the God complex, the notion of EOs in general, Schwab’s slight fascination with what could be in reach beyond death (I only thought about that as I was writing the City of Ghosts review when I remembered that Cassie kind of died and then came back seeing ghosts). The list goes on and on. I just have a lot of feelings about it all because I loved it so much.

I am so happy that I don’t have to wait too long for the next book because I am so fascinated by these characters and where the story is going.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It is the best kind of story, with the best kind of storytelling and it’s just so good. So good. I love.

4/5 stars

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What’s In My Gym Bag?

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For whatever reason I’ve found myself drawn to the idea of doing this post for a while, and well you gotta follow those instincts sometimes.

I workout on the weekends now. I mean I have for months but they used to be afternoon classes, now they’re morning (kinda, Sunday is 12:45). This basically means that I have the rest of day to mooch around and I don’t wanna do that a sweaty, sweaty mess so as such I have acquired myself a weekend gym bag full of all the essentials.

Which is what will now come below:

Body Wash – Let’s just start with the basics. I am currently all about foaming body washes because they require less product, I don’t have to worry about them lathering properly and they work just fine with just my hands. I used to use a Nivea one, but my current one is a Dove one with argan oil and all that good stuff in it and that has quickly become my favourite. The only issue I have with these is that if for whatever I somehow drop them on the shower floor then the whole canister is fucked if it breaks. This happened to me with one that I had used a grand total of twice. The pain was real. But shout out to a Glamour magazine trial for introducing me to this total game changer of a gym bag staple

Face Wipes – I am a sweater. It’s gross. It literally drips off me sometimes, even in workouts that you don’t think are going to be that bad (this happened to me last night, it’s usually my least sweaty workout of the week, but it was weirdly really hard and hot yesterday and I was doing standing kickbacks watching the sweat fall off my face and drip into a puddle on the floor. All that oversharing to just basically say that following a workout where I still have the rest of the day to live I want to make sure that I don’t have sweat clogging my pores. I do my full morning skincare routine before I leave my house, but then I just clean it again with a face wipe to make sure that the sweat doesn’t do my skin so dirty. I’m currently using Garnier Micellar Oil ones, but to be honest I use any, but I do like these. They might get a repeat buy.

Moisturiser and Sun Screen – I just pop these in there after I’ve finished my full routine before I leave. To compensate for the fact I’ve cleaned my face and also because I’m all about that sun protection.

Deodorant – Duh. Again, I just chuck my day to day one in there. Still using Native (just about finished the Fig and Honey one, which I think I hated all things considered). Still not caring about the fact that in a relatively full changing I do have to rub any excess in to minimise the whiteness under my arms.

Leave-In Conditioner – This is a new addition because I continued to keep doing my hair dirty by just ignoring it for days. I talked about my fave new gym bag essential in this post here.

Body Lotion – Again, I talked about my current one in this post. It’s pretty much coming to an end, so I will replace it but currently I haven’t done that and so I will need to switch it out temporarily. Which I will do with a Frank’s Body one that I have just acquired. Which I have only used once so far and really like because it’s super thick and creamy and to be honest my skin desires that kind of hydration so hard after I’ve showered post-workout.

Protein Shake – So this is in my bag any time I work out because I am still trying to get on that gains train. Which means that obviously it would be in that weekend gym bag of mine.

Tiger Balm – Again this exists in my bag almost all the time because I got weak ass wrists and they hate me. This stuff does work wonders.

And that’s what is in my weekend gym bag.

Parentheses count: 1. See you tomorrow!

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Bonus Book Review -City of Ghosts

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This book right here signals the start of my obsession with V.E/Victoria Schwab.

This was the last book of hers to enter my life, but I started with this one because it’s the shortest and yeah I’m back to being just behind schedule for this damn reading challenge of mine.

The first thing about this book that hit me was the fact that the moment I started reading it I started getting all these autumnal feelings. It probably has something to do with the fact that there was talk about ghosts and in theory Halloween is fast approaching (not even in theory, this is actually almost imminent) and so all things autumn are acoming. I am not mad about it, this is really my time to shine (I just get to unearth all my jumpers, which behind my sportswear takes up the most amount of space…).

Given the age range that this book is aimed at it is not super challenging to read or anything (again, I needed that because this girl has a reading challenge to think about at the back of her mind) but it is super readable. Schwab has a writing style that I knew instantly I was going to get on board with for her other books.

I really liked this book as a whole, mostly because I really liked the concept of it. There was a perfect amount of confusion and intrigue that came with Cassidy’s gift (if that’s what you want to call it). This confusion came into play perfectly when she met someone who was similar to her and also seems to know what she is doing with it. And I liked the interaction between them and how there was always a slight tension between them that existed but was forgotten when help was needed.

I really loved the setting of this book. Like so much. It had that slightly gothic feel to it and that really added to narrative of the story as a whole. Also I love the fact that the set up of this series means that it is going to dot around to different cities and you can get a feel for the  supernatural in other countries. But back to this one, which is set in Scotland and therefore is kind of gothic. It led nicely to all things spooky, especially when they were underground in the catacombs and shit went down. I just really enjoy it when story and setting marry together perfectly.

Moving on to characters. Firstly, I liked Jacob. I liked the reveal that he was a ghost. I liked the fact that he was just tethered to Cassidy in some way and the way that they interacted with one another. It felt like such a great friendship even though there were still secrets that needed to be revealed to one another. I am also interested to see how it develops and I knew that I was invested in this friendship when I worried that Jacob as a ghost would not be able to do Trans-Atlantic travel.

Cassidy herself was great. I mean she had some annoying traits, but they can be expected when the main character is a child who is still finding her way in the world. Also, I don’t know if it’s the adult in me but every time she ran off and away from her parents I found myself just getting stressed for the parents wondering where the hell their daughter got to. I found the relationship that she had with her parents interesting just because you could sense the element of frustration that she would have when it comes to almost following in her parents shadow.

I really enjoyed watching Cassidy become more confident in herself and her surroundings and her ability. I also loved the fact that she lived her life with a camera and how that was a saviour.

One thing about Little Miss Red, the supposed Big Bad, she was kind of better in theory. But she was still a good villain for this first book.

I enjoyed this book. I am excited to see what the second one might bring and the adventures of Cassidy and her ghost best friend. I’m interested to see how she develops and also what crazy new stories her parents manage to discover.

3/5 stars

Parentheses count: 3. See you tomorrow!

 

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