Spotlight: Ten Organisational Tips From Professional Organisers + Giveaway

Do you want to be more organised this year? Well keep reading and you might actually achieve it.

Top Ten Organisational Tips

1. Knowing who you are is the key to organization mainly because if you’re pretending to be someone else, it’s hard to remember where that pretend person put something!

2. Change is hard, so be honest about organizing tasks. People who never hang up their coats in a closet, probably never will; get a coat rack and call it a day.

3. Perfect isn’t real. Magazine perfection is styled by a professional whose job it is to make everything perfection for the millisecond it takes to snap a photo.

4. No shame, no blame! You liking clear, spotless surfaces doesn’t make you OCD (it’s not a personality disorder), it’s your personality type.

5. Later Box It. When you can’t part with a useless item, store it away in a box and revisit that box in a few months (a year), whatever you missed keep, whatever you forgot … dude, let it go.

6. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Change is hard (see #2!) so if storing TP right next to the toilet works for you, do it, but for heaven’s sake try to make it look nice—unless you live alone on Antarctica then who cares.

7. Organizing at its core is about retrieval. Period. Can you easily find and get things when you need them. Everything else is an argument about aesthetics.

8. One-step solutions are golden. Hanging up your coat is a five-step process whereas popping it on a hook is one-step. Light bulb (at least it was for us!)

9. Be loud & proud. So, you write important To Do’s on your hand in a pinch. Who cares? Don’t apologize, defend it and tell any scolds where they can go.

10. There’s no best way to organize—just the best one for you!

Their book

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Stressing over the mess? Discover YOUR personal organizing style—and stay organized forever!
Organization isn’t one-size-fits-all. Different people need different solutions. Fortunately, Katie and Kelly McMenamin—the organizing gurus behind PixiesDidIt!®—have found the key to making organization stick, with strategies that work for every personality.Whether you’re OCD or a little less fastidious, Katie and Kelly will help you discover your organizational style, using unconventional approaches or sticking to what already works. Along with personality-based solutions for every space in your home, they offer advice on solving strife between different “PixieTypes.” So you can keep the stuff you love . . . and the peace!

Author Biography

Katie McMenamin and Kelly McMenamin are sisters, professional organizers, personality-type experts, and founders of PixieDidIt! Their business is an outgrowth of buttoned-up hedge fund analyst Kelly spending 30-odd years trying and failing to get her messy older sister Katie, a writer, to be more organized. Countless fights ensued until they had an idea: What if there is more than one way to organize? Today, they spend the bulk of their time organizing for clients, writing for their website, and giving talks on how to organize according to your personality type. Kelly lives in NYC with her husband and three sons and Katie lives in their hometown, the Land of Champions, aka Cleveland, OH, with her husband and three daughters.

Giveaway:

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js” target=”_blank”>1 Finished Copy of ORGANIZE YOUR WAY (US Only)
 
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Review: Paper Princess (The Royals #1) by Erin Watt

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From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone.

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals. He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees.

Goodreads

Published: 4th April 2016

I completely binge read this during my exams so if I fail, it’s on you Erin Watt.

Okay so let me begin by saying that this was the trashiest piece of crap that I have ever read but I have also never been so addicted to a series in my life.

So let’s start from the top:

It was trashy af

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This book was so trashy guys. So in the book, Ella gets swept up and put in her new guardian’s home. Her guardian just so happens to have five boys. Two of which she ends up sleeping with in a matter of days.

I was just amazed by that alone.

Not to mention all the weird crap that the Royal boys do including threatening to rape her at one point. Like what even?

It was so sexist

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The novel, as you would probably expect, was really sexist. Ella was just constantly this damsel in distress that needed to be protected by her big, strong, hunky brothers. GAG.

I mean, for a girl who spent her life fighting for survival in places like a strip club, you would expect her to be able to take care of herself better and to not depend so much on the men in her life.

This brings me to my next point.

It read like fan fiction

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Okay as a girl, even I will admit that the whole damsel in distress thing and the guy being all protective and sweet is a very appealing idea. In my head. Trust me when I say that while most girls have this fantasy, no one actually gets that in real life.

If you somehow have a man who takes care of you like you’re absolutely helpless and who only wants to cuddle and take care of you instead of his own needs, you’re probably not in a very healthy relationship.

Which is actually why I think everyone goes crazy over these books while also admitting that it is literary trash. Because even though none of us will ever admit it, the book basically takes everything we daydream about as girls and puts it into a book.

I mean Reed was selfless to the point that it was unrealistic. Ella was helpless to the point that it was annoying. But still these books sell like hotcakes. Something must be up, no?

What was with the incest?

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I talked about this with Tina who insisted that Reed and Ella hooking up was fine because technically they were not related. But I always found that a bit strange. I mean technically Ella is their sister now. Even if it’s not by blood, she lives in the house and they now kind of share a father.

To me, it was incest and I didn’t get why no one, especially Callum, had a problem with it. Even the kids at their school acted like it was fine. That was just plain weird.

Yet, it was still so addictive

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However, after everything I’ve just said, I’m still giving this book a damn high rating because screw it, it was so addictive. I fell in love with the whole story and the characters (annoying and stupid as they were). I really just enjoyed this book and it was the perfect escape.

I mean it really felt good to have a book that wasn’t so politically correct you know?

Nowadays authors just want to be politically correct with gender equality and never portraying a woman as unable to do something a man can do. While that kind of thinking is obviously what we need as a society in the real world, sometimes it’s nice to let go of that for a bit in a  fictitious world.

So if you need a light read to binge, this series is 100% for you. I know I particularly enjoyed it because I was so stressed with my exams and assignments that this book was just a really good way to destress because it didn’t require very many brain cells.

My-Rating-4-Stars

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Review: Close Your Eyes by Nicci Cloke

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Southfield High School is oh so normal, with its good teachers, its bad, and its cliques. But despite the cliques, there’s a particular group of friends who have known each other forever and know that they can rely on each other for anything.

There’s the twins: Aisha, rebellious, kind, and just a tiny bit worried about what the hell she’s going to do once this year is over, and Vis, smart, quiet and observant. Then there’s Remy, the loudmouth, and Gemma, who’s more interested in college boys and getting into the crap club in town. And then there’s Elise: the pretty one.

But at the start of Year 11, when the group befriend the new boy, Elijah, things start to change. The group find themselves not as close as they used to be.

Until one Tuesday, when the students are trapped inside the school building. And one of them has a gun.

Close Your Eyes is the story of a school shooting which, through interviews, messages and questionable actions, asks: Who is truly responsible?

Goodreads

Published: 23rd February 2017

Before I start this review, I would like to invite you to watch the following video if you have not.

 

This novel felt like the expanded version of this video. Where you’re so busy paying attention to the main character that you forget to look around. Okay I’ll stop before I give away too much.

This is a spoiler-free, plot-loving space!

Pros

The unique way the story was told

The story was told through the use of interview transcript, forum and text messages and then bits of narrative. It was honestly very interesting and I really liked it. It broke the monotony and it just made it a lot more fun to read.

It also helped the reader to see things from different perspectives  which was cool.

The plot twist

About in the middle of the book, there is an epic plot twist and then the other half of the book is spent explaining how that twist makes sense. Honestly guys, the plot twist alone is the main reason why you should read this book. It was epic. It really was. You will completely not see it coming.

The well-developed characters

In the book, we have a group of friends and different points of view but what I liked about the book was that they were all equally well-developed. They were all very well rounded characters and each of them were important to the story and were treated as such.

I think a lot of books tend to sometimes neglect certain supporting characters but in this book, everyone was given almost equal treatment which is why the plot twist was so much more satisfying.

The characters were also all flawed. What I liked was that they were so human that even though they tried to do good, they sometimes slipped and they sometimes hurt each other. It was like I could totally imagine them as real human beings in the real world which I liked a lot.

Cons

It was draggy

One of the biggest, and really the only, problem that I had with the book was the fact that I felt like a large part of it was really dragged out especially in the first half of the book.

I found it very hard to get hooked onto the storyline and I found myself putting it down many times in favour of another book. It was only when it hit the middle mark that things started to pick up and then all of a sudden the pace just switched and everything happened so fast and then it was over just like that.

Consistency is what I like people!

Overall

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. I personally have always enjoyed books about school shootings because it gives you this inside look at what would eventually drive a person to doing something so heinous, so this book for me, was incredible.

In fact, I’ve read and watched a couple of school shooting things in the past like This Is Where It Ends and I’ve watched We Need To Talk About Kevin (the best school shooting movie you will ever watch I swear) and I have to say that this was the most unique and the most notable.

It was really fantastic and everyone needs to read this. And yes, I know I say that about loads of the books that I read but I’m dead serious okay.

Trust me.

*An advanced copy of this book was provided to me to read and review by Pansing. However, all opinions are my own*

My-Rating-4-Stars

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Unboxing: The December Book Boyfriend Box 

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Let me just start by saying that I know this unboxing is coming late. I am aware of that. It’s just that the box arrived quite late because of where I live and by the time it had come, I was swamped with assignments and exams and life was so hectic that I just had no time to sit down and write it.

I did unbox it on my Instagram though so if you were following me (@twentythreepages) you might have seen it on my story.

But since the Book Boyfriend team very kindly sent me a box, I wanted to still put up a full review. So here it is:

We Are Tornados By Michael Kun and Susan Mullen

It’s the summer of 1982, and for Scott and Cath, everything is about to change.

Growing up across the street from each other, Scott and Cath have been best friends for most of their lives. Now they’ve graduated high school, and Cath is off to college while Scott stays at home trying to get his band off the ground. Neither of them realized that their first year after high school would be so hard.

Fortunately, Scott and Cath still have each other, and it’s through their letters that they survive heartache, annoying roommates, family dramas, and the pressure of figuring out what to do with the rest of their lives. And through it all, they realize that the only person they’ve ever wanted to turn to is each other. But does that mean they should think about being more than friends? One thing is clear: Change is an inescapable part of growing up, and we share unbreakable bonds with the friends who help us navigate it.

Goodreads

The book that came with this box was We Are Tornados by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen.

It’s a young adult contemporary book and it looks so good!

I’ve actually heard so much about this book before it was even published and I’m sure it had a lot to do with the gorgeous cover. Anyway, this is a hardback copy (you guys know I have a soft spot for hardbacks) and I literally can’t wait to start reading it.

A Signed Book Plate

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Inside the book, I found a signed bookplate by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen, the authors of the featured novel. So that was really cool. I’ve actually only ever gotten one other signed postcard so this was cool.

Other Cool Paper Things

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In addition to the signed book plate, there was a postcard with a playlist from the book, a handwritten letter from Michael Kun and Susan Mullen to the Book Boyfriend subscribers, a card with readathon dates, a postcard with February’s theme on it and a signed postcard by R.S. McCoy, the author of Blossom and The Beast.

Literary  Tea

The next thing in the box was a packet of tea from the First Edition Tea Co. The tea was Pride and Prejudice themed and it was a citrus-y type of tea that honestly tasted amazing. As tea goes, I never really get how they can be literary except for the packaging but I thought this was super cute.

A Jane Austen Notepad

Next, we have a notepad with a Jane Austen quote on it as well as some blue roses. It’s absolutely gorgeous and I have literally fallen in love with it. And the best part is that it goes perfectly with the next item in the box.

A Feathered Ink Pen

In the box, there was a plastic quill pen that is actually a ball point pen. Mine was gold though I think some people got different colours. Regardless, how cute is it? I can’t wait to use it to write on my notepad.

Pride and Prejudice Soap

Now this was my absolute favourite part of the entire box and I have to say that I could smell this soap before I even opened the  box and after that, all I wanted to do was to sit there and sniff this beauty.

So in the box, I found a lavender soap from The McBath. They do really natural soaps with quotes on them. This quote was obviously from Pride and Prejudice. The soap was lavender and it had little exfoliating things in them.

Now usually, I hate bar soaps but with this one, I have been absolutely obsessed and I’ve been in love with it since receiving it. I use it almost everyday actually.

A Literary Coaster

The final item in the box, and another favourite, was this cute coaster. It’s a solid coaster with a page from a book in it. What I really like about it is that it is very sturdy and will not spoil if you put a cold drink down. It’s very durable and I love it. It looks gorgeous on my night stand.

So there you go! Everything that was in the December Book Boyfriend box. I apologise that this is coming late but guys, Book Boyfriend literally have the best boxes that I have ever received. They really provide you with value for money. I mean just the hardback alone is worth the price you pay.

If you would like to find out more or to order your own box, visit The Book Boyfriend’s website. Their June box will be going on sale on April 12th. You can also use my special discount code, ’23PAGES’, to get 10% off of your first box at checkout.

Once again, a huge thank you to The Book Boyfriend Box team for sending this treat my way!

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Review: A List of Cages by Robin Roe

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When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…

Goodreads

Published: 10th January 2017

I took an abnormally long time to finish this book because I kept putting it down for something else. That’s not to say that the book wasn’t good. Just that it wasn’t entirely gripping and at times it felt like it had been all done before.

Pros

Extremely heartwarming

The book in itself was very heartwarming. I loved the whole big brother  looking out for a boy that they used to foster thing. It was very sweet and I loved that.

The plot twist

I liked the twist at the end. While I think in a lot of ways, it was very expected, it also had that element of surprise when you realise that what actually happened didn’t really happen.

I’m trying to be vague so I don’t spoil anything but I think I’m doing a bad job at it.

Okay moving on.

It was relatable

The entire book was very relatable especially to me because I have ADHD. I really enjoyed reading a book from that perspective. It actually gave me a lot of Fish In A Tree vibes.And you guys know I loved Fish in A Tree.

I really related to a lot of the struggles that Julian went through including all his feelings of inadequacy and like he was always a third wheel. I think honestly anyone could probably relate to Julian in many ways.

Cons

Unrealistic

My only problem with this book was the fact that it was really unrealistic. At times, certain things about Adam just didn’t seem real. I mean yes, there are good people in this world. But a boy as popular as Adam, taking such an interest in a boy that essentially got placed in his home and who his mother is obsessed with, was just strange. I would have expected at least some jealousy on Adam’s part. Or at least some slip up or some flaw.

I didn’t expect wholehearted devotion to Julian which is what we got.

Overall this was a very heartwarming book that was unfortunately rather unremarkable. The writing was good. The storyline was strong. But this story has been overdone.

*An advanced copy was provided to me to read and review. However, all opinions are my own.*

My-Rating-4-Stars

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Review: These Foolish Things by Yeo Wen Wei

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A wife returns home as a stowaway spirit in an umbrella to find that her husband has remarried…

Goodreads

Published: 2015

Okay this is my first time reviewing a local book as well as a chapbook so bear with me as I try to not give away any spoilers.

This chapbook follows a woman who has died as she travels as a ghost back home and to her husband.

It was a very quick read (obviously) but it was so powerful and amazing. I really loved the poetic language that was used.

In particular, I loved the plot twists. It’s like you believe you are going in one, very predicable direction. But somehow, even in a story that is only a handful of pages long, there still manages to be a handful of plot twists.

I also liked how much of Singapore was injected into the story without it being overbearing. There were just subtle things that were very uniquely Singaporean that really made the story special.

Chapbooks like these are normally given away for very cheap or sometimes even free at book sales so if you do see one this #BuySingLit weekend, make sure you grab it.

This is just one of a larger collection of stories. The full novel is entitled These Foolish Things & Other Stories.

Before I go though, I just want to remind you guys that #BuySingLit kicks off tomorrow so don’t forget to check out all the cool events. In fact, there’s going to be a poetry reading on one of the trains in our country tomorrow and I’m most likely going with a friend and I can’t wait.

I hope to see some of you there!

*A copy of this book was given to me to read by the NBDC. However, all opinions are my own*

My-Rating-5-Stars

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#BuySingLit

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What is the #BuySingLit Campaign?

#BuySingLit is a campaign to get Singaporeans to read more local literature. Through book sales, book signings and events, the National Arts Council is hoping that more Singaporeans will take an interest in local literature so that we can push our authors up and encourage more people to write.

How Does HYPE Magazine Fit Into This?

If you guys have been following me on my other social media, you would know that I spent the last five months (my final semester) working with the editorial team to put out the February 2017 issue of HYPE magazine.

Now the unique thing about this issue is that it coincided with the #BuySingLit campaign that most of the major local publishers, authors, editors and the National Arts Council are backing right now.

So of course we did a whole huge spread on SingLit in the magazine.

I was privileged enough to be assigned the cover story of our SingLit feature with another writer and because of that, I ended up organising the interviews of nine differnt local authors with our team of writers, I organised each of these author’s individual photoshoots (logistical nightmare, I swear), I organised and planned the HYPE cover shoot with these authors and in the end, thanks to a flaky writer, I got to take over the individual interview of Daryl Yam.

I’m pretty proud of this okay don’t begrudge me my spotlight 🙂

What about the National Book Development Council?

A while ago, The National Book Development Council reached out to me. They wanted to send me a press kit as well as to host a giveaway.

In the press kit, they sent me some local reads as well as a press release about all the events that will be taking place.

I will be reviewing some of those books in the days to come to get you psyched for #BuySingLit so keep an eye out for that.

The Giveaway

The giveaway ended up being put in HYPE magazine so look out for that also if you live in Singapore and want to win $100 worth of #BuySingLit vouchers. There will be five winners and you can spend that money on our local literature at the book sales. Very cool stuff.

Till then, don’t forget to check out #BuySingLit’s Facebook page. You can find out all about the events that are happening over there.

And of course, come and support our local authors especially if you live in Singapore. I know we Singaporeans can sometimes have a bit of a stigma against local books. We never think that they are good enough especially compared to international books but I’ve had the immense pleasure of reading some local books as of late and I have to say that they are actually really good.

Some of our local authors can really go head to head with some of today’s most popular international authors but the only reason why they are not topping charts is because their very own people, us Singaporeans, refuse to support them. And that is honestly so sad. I don’t know about you but I want to see a Singaporean author on the NYT bestseller list one day. It just will never happen if we don’t lend them our support and promote and rave and recommend their books.

So because of that, over the next few days, I will be putting up some reviews of local books that you can check out and hopefully that will inspire you to get some local books either from the sales or online (if you live overseas).

Till then, keep reading!

Photo credit: #BuySingLit

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Tag: 15 Weird Questions

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Hi guys! So It’s another day and another tag because quite frankly I am way too busy dealing with exams and final assignments to blog. I’m actually about a week away from finishing my polytechnic life forever so that’s exciting.

So I basically decided to pull out an old draft and post that instead of just vanishing for weeks.

So anyway, I thought it would be cool to do the 15 weird questions tag because I love weird questions. I mean I think you only really know a person when you ask weird questions because then you really get to the nitty gritty of a person.

What’s a nickname only your family calls you?

Cams

What’s a weird habit of yours?

I bite the skin on my fingers. I know. It’s weird and gross and often painful but yes.

Do you have any weird phobias?

I have a phobia of swallowing pills. It used to be every single pill but I’ve gotten a lot better and now I can swallow small pills. I still have to crush quite a number of pills though.

What’s a song you secretly LOVE to blast & belt out when you’re alone?

Oh my there’s so many! Strangers Like Me by Phil Collins, Halo by Beyonce and I Want It That Way by the Backstreet Boys to name a few.

Quite honestly most of my music is either Disney or 1980s or way too indie for anyone else to enjoy.

What’s one of your biggest pet peeves?

People who are rude and inconsiderate. Also people who are not punctual and responsible.

What’s one of your nervous habits?

I bite the inside of my left cheek sometimes till it bleeds. I developed that habit when I went for my first MRI and I was about to have a nervous breakdown while I was trapped in that noisy machine  for what seemed like hours.

What side of the bed do you sleep on?

Well I sleep on a single normally but when we are on holiday or anything I always sleep on the left or the side that is next to the window.

What was your first stuffed animal & what was its name?

I don’t know what my first stuffed toy was but the first one I remember was a blue rabbit that my dad got me. It had a name attached to his foot but I forgot what it was.

What’s the drink you ALWAYS order at Starbucks?

The key to my heart is knowing my Starbucks order. So it’s a tall chocolate chip frappuccino with one pump of hazelnut, one pump of mocha, extra java chips and whipped cream. Never forget the whipped cream and I’ll hate you if you get me anything more then a tall.

What’s the beauty rule you preach.. but never ACTUALLY practice

Using toner haha! I used to religiously use toner twice a day and I swore by it but somehow I just got lazy and now I tell everyone about toner but I don’t actually use it anymore.

Which way do you face in the shower?

The shower head side.

Do you have any ‘weird’ body ‘skills’?

Not really.

What’s your favorite ‘comfort food’/food thats ‘bad’ but you love to eat it anyways?

Instant noodles.

What’s a phrase or exclamation you always say?

Oh my God.

Time to sleep- what are you ACTUALLY wearing?

An oversized t-shirt and long pants that are probably oversized as well.

So there you go. A very weird tag I must say.

Anyway, I hope you guys don’t mind that I probably will disappear for the next week. It’s my final week then I’m done and I’ll be back here with loads of exciting content.

Till then, love you guys loads!

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Review: The Aquaria Chronicles by Melanie Dixon

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In the near future, Aqua Marsden, a med school dropout with a fascination for marine biology, is learning how to exist in a city devastated by the effects of bleed—a deadly blue organic substance that suffocates and kills everyone in its reach. When a bad outbreak of the bleed causes Aqua to lose contact with everyone, she must hunt for safety with her new friend, Mark. Out of options, they must discover how to breathe toxic air and find Aquaria, a large marine research facility hidden under the city that could hold the key to humanity’s survival. Aqua may have given up saving humanity through medicine, but perhaps she can discover the cure for bleed and save Aquaria.

Goodreads

Pros

The Plot

I liked the story idea. I think it was quite fresh and interesting. I liked how zombies were brought in even though they were seemingly not related to the bleed at all. I thought it was good. I also really liked the plot twist at the end. It turned a seemingly dull and boring book into something that was worth it in the end.

The Setting

Much effort went into describing the surroundings and I enjoyed getting to picture this gorgeous underground aquarium home. It really was spectacular in my mind and I really liked that.

Cons

The Odd Plot Distribution

Quite honestly did not know how to title this section.

Okay anyway, I felt like the book was just very lopsided. So obviously the main idea behind the book is the blue bleed and the zombie apocalypse right? But most of the book is just them hanging out in the aquarium home and eating and cleaning fish tanks and it was like the outside world just stopped existing. There was no action at all. Rather it was just like they ate, they worked, they slept, they fell in love. Like what.

I’m sorry but that kind of ‘I did this then I did that’ style of writing was terrible. In fact, End Blyton’s boarding school stories had more action then this.

Very little attention was given to the real problem at hand which was the zombies basically and I just couldn’t understand why. I mean it was a good plot until it turned into a giant sleepover with like four people because God forbid you try to develop any other characters.

Which brings me to my next point.

The Lack Of Supporting Characters

Why were there no other characters?! Literally there was an huge research facility that was supposedly full of people but you hardly heard of them? How did Aqua and Mark not make other friends besides Derek and Joyce?

You would get random mentions of the fact that there might be other people in the facility but besides that, I went through the novel believing that there were like 10 people in the whole place.

The Dialogue

One of the things that I just couldn’t stand in this novel was the way that the characters talked. Let me give you an example of an exchange between Aqua and her best friend Heather.

“Am I ever. At least I don’t have to worry about this year, as I switched my application to marine biology without her knowledge.”

I mean who on earth talks like that in real life to their best friend? Or anyone for that matter?

“Aqua! I heard strange noises. Are you okay?”
“Yes, while you were perambulating away, I was being attacked by a zombie!”

Who on earth, after using a hammer to nearly kill a man, uses the word ‘perambulating’??? Not to mention that Aqua wasn’t in the slightest shaken up about the fact that she killed the guy. Anyone would have been so panicked but no. Aqua is totally calm. So calm in fact that she can use the word ‘perambulating’.

“Well, I’ll teach you, but right now our safety is of paramount importance.”

This was said as they were having bleed rain down on them and they were panicking and trying to get into a room. Who uses the word ‘paramount’ when they are in a panic?

“Aqua? What is it?” Derek asked me with great tenderness. He sat on the edge of my bed.
“My Mum is dead!”
“Oh no! What happened?” he asked.”

It was just very formal, stilted and sounded a lot like how I used to write dialogue when I was doing my primary school English essays.

The Ignorance

Okay so I hate to do this but I got really annoyed at how ignorant the characters were.

“I felt momentarily guilty for not asking about whether the physically challenged were welcome here, but obviously they were, as Joyce grabbed one of Mark’s bags to help him out.”

This was an actual quote from the book. I mean obviously the physically challenged are welcome in the bunk that will save them from the bleed! Are they not human?

“I hadn’t even considered that a disabled person would still be able to swim”

I just felt like there were so many instances in the book where the characters would say something and it would sound so horrible and like they were putting down people which I hated.

“I finished two years ago, in the gifted programme.”

“You mean the retards”

“It appeared that prejudice was alive and well, even in someone disabled. Did it matter if I was a retard? They had a name for everything nowadays. I might have suffered a bit of ADHD when I was younger, but I was doing better now.”

At one point in the book, Aqua tells Mark that she was in the gifted programme in high school. Mark instantly responds by calling her a retard. The book went on to elaborate that by calling her a retard, he meant that just because she had a learning disability, she was a retard.

I have a learning disability. I grew up getting treated differently during exams in school yet I graduated with a single digit ‘O’ Level score. Are you calling me a retard? Are you seriously going to sit there and call me a retard?

Honestly why include a disabled character and a character with a learning disability if you have such an agenda against them and you’re going to spend the whole book hating on them?

I mean some of the things were just mean. Like when Aqua had to share a room with Mark and Joyce told her that she was going to find a room with wheelchair access and that it would have to be on the ground floor. Instead of being grateful, that little twerp gets annoyed that Mark’s every need needs to be thought through and that she isn’t getting a good view from her room.

I’m not even joking. Ugh.

The Dreaded Insta-Love

Honestly, this was worst then insta-love. This wasn’t just insta-love. This was insta-love on steroids!

She meets Mark and instantly she assumes that he is in love with her (he is of course because every guy you meet is instantly infatuated with you. That’s so realistic). Then she meets Derek and she assumes the same thing. Then of course there’s so much premature jealousy coming from Mark towards Derek. UGH. I cringed through every exchange between them.

To put things into perspective for you, Derek takes Aqua out for lunch after about three days of knowing her and instantly they are flirting and he tells her that he wants to snuggle with her. The very next day they go out for lunch again and he kisses her without warning and asks her to be his girlfriend. And she says yes. Gosh I wanted to punch them both.

I have a friend who had a boy ask her to be his girlfriend after like one date and seriously, that is a major major major red flag. It is not cute. It is not endearing. It is creepy af and no sensible girl will ever say yes in real life.

Overall

I don’t know. There was so much potential in this book but the execution was just so poor. I really wanted to like this but I was cringing through majority of it and rolling my eyes at the other bits.

The book needs work. That much is obvious. I mean there are so many thing that just outright don’t make sense and the book clearly needs to be fact checked.

I mean this was said by Aqua during a fire drill.

“But then my stomach contracted. What about all the sea creatures? The whales, the dolphins, the fish? What about the electric eels? Was there any plan of evacuation for them? Or would they just all burn?”

She was worried that the fish would burn. Oh gosh.You think a fish could burn? Really? With all that water you worry about the fish burning?

“If there’s really a fire, what happens to the sea creatures?” I asked Stephen.

He pondered. “I don’t think there has ever been a plan. I think most of the tanks are water and air tight. Hopefully we could get a fire under control in time to save them.”

“Well, when this is over, we will have to have a chat with Stephen. These animals are important, and we can’t lose even one of them. Their lives are as valuable as ours,” I said to him.”

Bless her heart that girl is truly stupid.

So yes. It was a good plot but lacked a lot of the very basic things that make a book a book like sense and proper direction and buildup.

My-Rating-2-Stars

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Q & A with the Author of Riven: Jane Alvey Harris

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Which Reality Would YOU Choose?

Seventeen year-old Emily’s dad is in prison for securities fraud and her mom’s strung-out on pain meds, leaving Emily to parent herself and her younger brothers and sister. She’s got things mostly under control until a couple weeks before Dad’s release, when voices start whispering in her head, and Gabe, the hot lifeguard at the pool, notices the strange brands engraved on her arm…the ones she’s trying desperately to hide. Emily doesn’t know how the symbols got there or what they mean. They appeared overnight and now they’re infected and bleeding. She’s pretty sure she’s losing her mind.

Stress, insomnia, and her wounded egos drive Emily to self-medicate, which has to be why the nightmares from her childhood have resurfaced, why they’re commandeering her conscious even when she’s awake. It has to be why the fairytale creatures she created as a little girl insist they need her help.

Triggered by the return of her childhood abuser and unable to cope with reality, Emily slips completely inside her elaborate fantasy world. She’s powerful in the First Realm, maybe even more powerful than her attacker. It would be so easy to stay there, to lose herself in enchantment…to lose herself in love. But something sinister lurks in the forest shadows. Emily soon discovers her demons have followed her inside her fairytale. They’re hunting her. With the help of the Fae, she frantically searches for the weapons she needs to defeat her greatest fears and escape back to reality before the man who tortured her can prey on her younger brothers and sister, too. Time is running out…

Goodreads

Published: 25 August 2016

Hey guys! Today I have something really special. Jane Alvey Harris has just released her latest novel ‘Riven’ and today, I have her here on my blog for a short little interview with her about the novel.

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  1. What inspired you to create Riven and the My Myth Trilogy series?

Honestly, when I began writing Riven, I was just looking for relief. I was struggling through a really dark time in my life and was doing therapy with an amazing counselor who encouraged me to write. I didn’t have a synopsis or even an outline; I was just writing scenes from my head and connecting them together. It took me a couple years to get the first draft out and even longer to realize what the story was really about.

Somewhere in the middle of undoing myself in therapy, the narrative in my writing transformed. It matured from a pretty fairytale to a hard-hitting, issue-driven documentation of a survivor’s journey to make peace with her wounded egos and achieve self-acceptance. It was dark, but it felt important. More than that, in the act of weaving my tale I realized I was laying my hands directly on the tattered pieces of a buried map leading to rich interior landscapes I’d never acknowledged or explored before, because I considered them ugly, worthless, and humiliating.

It was about this time that other people in my life began sharing their long-guarded accounts of abuse with me. I was overwhelmed by sorrow at their suffering, but also inspired by their confidence in me, which helped me understand I wasn’t alone. With the help of my therapist and my editor, who both prompted me to dig deep and tell the real story, I gained new purpose, new confidence. I learned that I was brave, that I was strong. I realized that my writing might actually help others who struggled.

2. Your main character, Emily, is a seventeen-year-old who finds herself in difficult circumstances. What is her situation in the story and how did she get there?

The story opens at the end of July, the summer before Emily has to repeat junior year of high school. Her dad’s been in prison for ten years, and her mom, a school teacher, becomes increasingly dependent on prescription pain meds. She loses her job and basically stays in bed all day, relying on Emily to parent her two younger brothers and younger sister. Still, Emily thinks she’s got things mostly under control. But as the date for her dad’s release from prison gets closer, Emily’s stress levels increase exponentially. She finds herself unable to cope with her reality and slips into a fantasy world she created as a little girl.

 3. What are the main themes in Riven and how are they developed in the story?

Riven is all about hard hitting social issues, including mental illness, feminism, and rape culture, to name a few. But the main theme is one of self-acceptance. My goals were to illustrate the damage that buried guilt and shame have on the psyche and demonstrate how acknowledging personal truth is the first step in healing from trauma.

4. There are a number of fantastical elements to Riven, including the imaginary world of the First Realm. What role does fantasy play in the story, and how is important to the development of the book’s characters?

Okay, this is juicy stuff. First, like Emily, many victims of childhood abuse use fantasy to escape a reality they can’t cope with. Not only is it key in the backstory, as a plot device, and in Emily’s growth throughout the book, it also adds layers of depth which engage readers on different levels.

Fantasy keeps the readers on their toes, too. Emily is an unreliable narrator, to say the least. She questions her own sanity, and as her stress increases throughout the first half of the book, she starts to self-medicate. At times, she’s unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality. The reader experiences this fracturing along with her, catching glimpses of the past, and is sometimes plunged into the fantasy First Realm without warning. Ultimately, it’s up to each reader to decide what is really real.

Mixing fantasy elements with gritty contemporary realism also adds action, adventure, and gave me the perfect opportunity to play with some really gorgeous settings. I’m a huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. On one hand, fantasy is whimsical and innocent. It lightens some of the darker themes of Riven. On the other hand, juxtaposing the ethereal with horror heightens poignancy of tragedy and psychological distress.

Most importantly, it is through the world of imagination that Emily is able to envision herself as a powerful individual. She creates a Realm where she’s able to accept and forgive herself.

  1. Much of Riven is based on your own real-life experiences. How does your personal story inform the novel and, more-specifically, Emily’s character?

Well, Emily basically has my personality. The book began as a love story to my three children, (Jacob, Aidan, and Claire, who you’ll meet in the book) at a time I was very vulnerable in my life. So, if the strength of the sibling relationships seems super-real, it’s because that’s really them, and Emily is really me. Lots of the dialogue I’ve taken directly from real life. While I don’t claim all of Emily’s experiences, I will say they are true, a combination of stories and experiences which have been shared with me, along with a healthy dose of my dreams and imagination.

  1. Riven deals with serious issues for teens, including abandonment, drug use, cutting, and sexual abuse. How do novels like yours help survivors and supporters with awareness and solutions for these issues?

Issues like these continue to be such a huge problem, because they make people uncomfortable and because they’re difficult to talk about. It’s easy to sweep the topic of childhood sexual abuse, and the many destructive behaviors which result from it, under the rug, because it just isn’t comfortable. The vast majority of survivors never reveal their experiences because of guilt and shame. How can we heal if we hide? My hope is that telling this story will help to normalize people. Not just victims of abuse, but anyone who struggles with negative self-image.

While I wrote Riven to be as entertaining and immersive as possible, my main purpose was to shed light on darkness and ugliness that don’t have to be life sentences of suffering. There is hope. There are resources. There are networks of supporters waiting to help. My dream is that Riven and the My Myth Trilogy will spark discussion and help people heal, while calling the rest of us to action as supporters. If we educate ourselves and abolish buried guilt and shame, we can end the cycle of abuse.

7. Are you working on the next novel in the series and, if so, what can you tell us about it?
Yes, and I’m SO EXCITED! The second book in the trilogy is called Secret Keeper. While Riven deals with the nature of legitimate victimhood, Secret Keeper is all about what comes next. Self-acceptance is just the very first step in recovery; Emily still has to do all the work of telling her truth in the real world if she wants to protect her siblings. And what happens when you speak that kind of truth? How do people react? How do you stop being a victim? How do you protect yourself from repeating the cycle of abuse? The pendulum swings in the completely opposite direction from victim in Secret Keeper, though not necessarily in a healthy way. There’s a lot of bad-assery afoot. I’m having a blast writing and meeting new characters, and I know readers will love them!

Book Trailer

RIVEN, Official Book Trailer from FILM 14 on Vimeo.