Book Review: Novelist as a vocation by haruki murakami

Title: Novelist as a Vocation

Author: Haruki Murakami

Rating: 4/5 stars

Publisher: Harvill Secker (Penguin Books)


A unique look into the mind of a master storyteller.

In this engaging book, the internationally best-selling author and famously reclusive writer shares with readers what he thinks about being a novelist; his thoughts on the role of the novel in our society; his own origins as a writer; and his musings on the sparks of creativity that inspire other writers, artists, and musicians.

Readers who have long wondered where the mysterious novelist gets his ideas and what inspires his strangely surreal worlds will be fascinated by this highly personal look at the craft of writing.


You don’t have to be an aspiring novelist to read this. If you love Murakami’s writing and want to learn some fun facts about him as a writer, I’d highly recommend!

Murakami may be known for his brief, snappy prose that we all know and love (he even goes in depth about this in his book, what his method is like, which is super fascinating). In “Novelist as a Vocation”, while a non-fiction, his talents in writing truly shines, stemming mostly from analogies about novel writing; its processes, hardships, and triumphs. I made a bunch of annotations in general. They are SO good to read… So vivid and so satisfying, so easy to follow.

There is something very human about this book. The insights he gives are clear and evident in his works. It’s fascinating to see what his thought process is like and, frankly, a bit bizarre to read something so grounded from a man who has the ability to extract unthinkable magic from mundanity.

One caveat: I’d personally recommend staying away if you want to go into “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki” completely blind, but that is the only exception as far as I am aware. Murakami made brief remarks about his books here and there, for obvious reasons…

I can guarantee that this will be a pure delight for Murakami fans 🙂

Thank you so much to Penguin Books for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review ❤


Book Review: Dread Nation By Justina Ireland

Title:  Dread Nation

Author: Justina Ireland

Rating: 5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis:

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.


I Iove a book that’s fast-paced and exciting! I’m not one for action and zombies, but I enjoyed every second of Dread Nation! It felt like I couldn’t catch a break in between these chapters – so much was happening, and the plot just kept throwing in all this conflict that the story does not stop for anyone!

The writing is so charismatic and unapologetic, much like the main character herself. Jane is reckless and brash, yet intelligent and quick-witted. She has such a strong and distinct voice, and paired with an equally kick-ass companion (which, if I were being honest here, is an understatement since Katherine is equally as prominent as the protagonist herself), makes them the iconic duo we all need in our lives. The tension and dynamic between these two girls were done so well. The differences in their attitudes, along with the prejudice that they had to face made me root for them as a team even more. There was also a subtle and fairly brief LGBTQ+ rep within the story (which will hopefully be explored further in the sequel) which was not only refreshing, but so cleverly integrated within this apocalyptic setting where not only is a teenage girl’s opinion often frowned upon, but the freedom to express individuality in general is also very heavily suppressed.

That said, the story was centred around the girls’ friendship and their determination to achieve what they believe is best for not just themselves, but for everyone else around them. Romance is almost negligible in this book, which was another refreshing aspect of the story.

While I was mostly drawn to the characters in the story, the narrative was also heavily plot-centred, thus I am excited to learn more about the world in the next instalment. Hopefully we get to know more about the side characters too! This book seriously has the best of both worlds – a fascinating plot with epic conundrums and complex characters. The history behind the story is also one I’m unfamiliar with, which personally makes the story even more intriguing.

If you’re an action/adventure fan (or even if you’re a fan of neither like myself), I highly recommended picking up this book. There is something for everyone – kick-ass girls slaying zombies. A combat school, dramatic dressing gowns, zombies… it’s super fun and gritty, and let me just repeat myself – this story does not have a stop button. It just keeps going and going and before you know it, you’re 400 pages in and diving into the sequel head first!

If you’re interested in buying Dread Nation, you can click here to shop the book at Book Depository. I receive a small commission if you use the link! 🙂

100K+ Instagram Followers (a loooong reflection)

Hello everyone! This is a pretty overdue blog post as cupsandthoughts actually surpassed 100K+ followers on Instagram more than two week ago!! 😮 😮 What a milestone! I’m still over the moon about it ❤ I really wanted to make a post building up to this incredible milestone because.. well, it’s HUGE!! :’)

This blog post will mostly be a reflection on my Instagram journey, such as how I started, why I started, the changes my Instagram account went through, my thoughts on the community and my plans for the future 🙂 I will also leave all relevant links in this blog post so you can read my full thoughts on some of the topics that I will be discussing today! So without further ado, let’s begin!

How/Why I Started

It all began when I picked up Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins because of a very pretty bookish photo that I saw on Instagram. I remember buying this book with my own money and being super giddy about it because I have NEVER spent my money on books before! It was about 150.000 IDR (~ $10.96 USD/$15.90 AUD), which was a lot of money for 15 year old me. I immediately started reading the book as soon as I got home, and by the time I was finished, I just HAD to fangirl about it to someone.

I did not have any friends who enjoyed reading, so I went through the interwebs to see if I could perhaps search for someone to talk to about the book! I might have sounded super desperate, but finishing and enjoying a book that I bought with my own pocket money felt like some sort of achievement that I just had to share with someone. I came across the same photo that made me purchase the book and saw that the comments were full of people – just like me – raving about how good the book was.

So I started taking pictures of my book using my Samsung Galaxy S3, took WAY too long editing the picture on VSCO, and posted it on my newly made Instagram account called bookishsmaug! I don’t have the picture on my feed anymore (which makes me want to kick myself every single time), but it looked a little something like this:

And that was pretty much what started my account! I posted a ton of photos after, even though I had very little books and only posted photos of the same books over and over again :’) Lots of changes happened! My Instagram account turned 5, my content has changed quite tremendously, the look of my feed went through multiple themes, and most of you may also know that I changed my account name to cupsandthoughts sometime last year (you can read all about why I changed my name here)!

How My Feed Has Changed

My account went through so many theme changes and it’s so interesting to see the fluctuation in colors and consistency!

Here’s how my photos looked like when I first started my account:

Sooo much color! If you guys were wondering, I did not use any filter for the picture in the first column! I started really using VSCO filters when I found out how about Instagram themes! Back then I would always use the HB2 filter on VSCO.

I still love how my photos turned out back then. I worked super hard on each one and tried my very best to keep every photo consistent with my theme! You won’t be able to find any of these pictures on my page anymore sadly. These are just screenshots of some of my old photos! 🙂

Feed change #2:

I then tried to tone down the colors and aimed for a more neutral look! I love how soft it looks! I also started experimenting on flat-lays a lot 🙂

Feed change #3:

This was during my first year in Australia! I decided to change up my filters and make my photos look more ‘clean’ because my backdrops were mainly white. I also had a bed and a small table here, so all my photos either had a table/bed setting.

Feed change #4

I travelled back home twice when I had this feed, so I was trying to match how my photos looked each time I shot them in different settings. It was SO hard and frustrating for me. You can see how inconsistent I am with the editing 🙂 Regardless, I tried incorporating more brown, yellow and red in my pictures because I wanted to create a cozy brown look. This was also when I started using the VSCO filter A6!

Feed change #5

More flat-lays! Not gonna lie, I totally miss this look! I love how warm and autumnal it is. It’s similar to my last feed change, but I feel like this one’s much more consistent!

Feed change #6

Here’s when I first moved into an apartment with my sister! There was potential for a whole lot of new bookish photo set-up, so I definitely went for a broody, dark academia sort of vibe because of all the dark brown furniture that was in the apartment :’) At this point I did not have a bed to take my photos on, so I opt for the tables lying around in the apartment for all my pictures!

Feed change #7

I felt less creative and inspired due to anxiety from my first year of university, so I lost a lot of engagement and posted less. However, things started picking up after my mom came to visit us. I also got a new roommate, which really helped me and my sister financially. I felt this creative slump slowly disappearing and I decided to do yet another feed change! I incorporated more orange here as you can see 🙂 I also got a spanking new marble desk that I used for all my productive-esque pictures!

Feed change #8

Moved into another apartment the next year and found myself liking the orange tones more and more! I also feel like the color orange has a huge association with my Instagram account now because of how often I use orange post-it notes!

Feed change #9 (final)

And here’s how my feed currently looks like! So much light brown and orange tones. I also shoot my photos outdoors more often (i.e cafes, new places) and I love how it looks. I’m not ashamed to admit that I am proud of all my efforts in shooting and editing each photo! Now I mainly use Lightroom to edit my photos, which has been amazing! If you’re interested in my editing-process, you can read more about it here!

How My Content Has Changed

If you went through my feed change carefully, you would see that I was posting less and less book covers/spins and more opened pages and journals.



I’m not too sure what it was that made me go through this change. Perhaps as I grow as a reader, I learn to cherish reading more. I used to read a TON of ebooks back when the prices of books were beyond my savings. I love to highlight certain phrases and write comments on the characters’ dialogues. I guess I wanted to do the same with physical books! But the thought of staining my uber expensive books was just unacceptable. I wanted my books to remain pristine, as if they have never been read before. And even if I no longer have that kind of mindset, I can definitely see why people still do (I just wish people didn’t attack those who write on their books tho :/)!

I did get into journaling before my annotations became more prominent in my feed. This was the first ever ‘journal’ post in my account:

I haven’t touched that journal ever since! xD And it’s funny because I picked up that ‘Scribd’ journal and starting writing my daily entries in it instead. I had a lot going on when I first moved to Australia in 2016, so I guess writing – in addition to reading – was a means of escape for me.

When I first started journaling, I liked to doodle and and make my pages look very pretty.

But I quickly grew tired of drawing and wrote lots instead!

Writing daily entries always made my day. I would get super excited to go home and write a full two-page entry on my day, regardless of how boring it was. Writing felt like such a relief, and I was always grateful for the fact that I now have a platform to share my stories on. Nowadays I don’t share my entries often on my Instagram anymore, but I still write a ton – mostly for content creating – and it seems that it’s motivating lots of people to either study, journal, and/or write!

I still post all sorts of journaling content on my Instagram and finished three journals ever since my first journal post! I’m finishing my fourth one at the moment and will be well onto my fifth in less than a week. 🙂

Apart from journaling, I annotate almost all my books now! I would like to say that they’re for book reviewing purposes, but annotating a book can also be fun even when I do not intend to review them! Some of the best books I’ve read don’t even get proper reviews from me, but they’re brimming with annotations! I remember I first annotated the book Made You Up by Francesca Zappia and had THE BEST time reading and writing in it. It was so much fun to include commentaries on the cutest little dialogue, or even write out some nasty things on some of the most frustrating scenes. I think annotating made me love the book a whole lot more than I would have if I did not make myself write in the book. Ever since then, annotating has just stuck with me.

So I guess that’s how my content is what it is today; filled with written notes and ink stained pages. I love it so much! It represents the kind of reader and writer I am – and I’m proud 🙂 If you’re interested to read more about annotating books and/or journaling, visit these blogposts:

Annotating Books Part 1

Annotating Books Part 2

Journals and Journaling (2019)

How My Reading Habits Have Changed

I’ve already talked about this one in my Year In Reading blog post , but long story short I now read less than 20 books a year (as compared to 2-3 years ago, where I could read about 50+ books a year). I have too much to do for uni and I’m usually too tired to read a book by the time I reach my bed (where I do most of my reading after finishing my work). However, I’m putting less pressure on myself, which has given me lots of freedom in the types of books I read, when I read them, and how long it takes me to finish them. As a result, I enjoy most of the books I pick up AND I don’t fall into a reading slump!

What I Anticipate In The Future

I actually have lots of plans for cups and thoughts this year! I want to make something out of my account, something that you guys can benefit from too! I appreciate all the support that you’ve all been giving me ❤ and I wish to continue growing amongst some of the most amazingly creative people I know. I love this community so much – it’s the purest most wholesome place to be in, and I want nothing more than to learn and create 🙂

Thank you all for being here today! And thank you again for 100K+ followers on Instagram! ❤

Until next time,

xx Cath

The End of The Year Book Tag

Hi Everyone! I thought I’d squeeze in a book tag before the year ends, and what better tag to do than The End of The Year Book Tag? This tag was created by the wonderful Ariel Bisset (you can watch her original video here and her latest one here), so do check her videos out!

I remember being tag-crazed a few years back, and it’s nice to be reminded of what my blog was mostly built out of back in the days :’) Anyways, let’s just jump straight into the questions!

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

Honestly, SO many! I’m a mood reader, so I can pick up a book one day and then start a different one the next day. I’ve started so many books in the past that I still have to finish! Some of these books include Renegades by Marissa Meyer, Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor, Turtles All The Way Down by John Green, The Martian by Andy Weir, and so much more!

Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

I did not have an intended autumnal transition since the end of the year means summer for me (both in Australia, where I live, and in Indonesia, where I am during the end of the year), but all the books that I brought back with me to read happen to be pretty autumnal books! I have two fantasies and a thriller to finish before the end of this year, and they are The Alienist by Caleb Carr, The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White, and Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo.

Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

Y E S !!!!!! Six of Crows #3!!!! I NEED A DATE LEIGH PLEASEEEE

What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

Quite conveniently, I brought back three books I intend on finishing before the year ends, and I’ve already mentioned them, but here they are again (with synopses this time)

The Alienist by Caleb Carr

The year is 1896. The city is New York. Newspaper reporter John Schuyler Moore is summoned by his friend Dr. Laszlo Kreizler—a psychologist, or “alienist”—to view the horribly mutilated body of an adolescent boy abandoned on the unfinished Williamsburg Bridge. From there the two embark on a revolutionary effort in criminology: creating a psychological profile of the perpetrator based on the details of his crimes. Their dangerous quest takes them into the tortured past and twisted mind of a murderer who will kill again before their hunt is over.

Fast-paced and riveting, infused with historical detail, The Alienist conjures up Gilded Age New York, with its tenements and mansions, corrupt cops and flamboyant gangsters, shining opera houses and seamy gin mills. It is an age in which questioning society’s belief that all killers are born, not made, could have unexpected and fatal consequences.

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year?

Ninth House, hopefully! I’m not a fan of it so far, and though I’m only 70+ pages into it, I’ve already put it down several times, so I’m hoping something grabs my attention quick. I love Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology, but so far I’m just not feeling Ninth House. Hopefully I end up loving it though, because Bardugo’s books always take me by surprise.

Have you already started making reading plans for 2020?

Yes! I want to be able to read more books in the new year, but also take my time savoring them 🙂 I mentioned in my Year in Reading blog post that taking time to read is so much better than making the time for it, so I definitely want to slowly go through my TBR pile and discover new favorites along the way!

Thank you for getting to the end of this blog post! Sorry if it’s a little shorter than my usual posts, but I hope it was enjoyable nonetheless! I tag everyone who wants to do this tag 🙂 Be sure to credit Ariel if you decide to do it!

Happy Reading everyone!

Cath xx