How I Write My Book Reviews [Short Guide]

Hi everyone! I’m back again today with a long-awaited blog post/guide! This one has been much requested for a while, and while my answer to this question is often very short and straightforward, I thought I’d make a dedicated blog post anyway to really show you guys how I go about writing my book reviews!

Just a little disclaimer: I am no professional book reviewer/critic! I write my book reviews for fun, and I also do it because I think it can help people decide on whether they should pick up a certain book or not. I think this post would be great if you’re looking to write personal book reviews but don’t know where to start 🙂 But if you’re looking into the book reviewing industry/guides on writing scholarly book reviews, this post may not be very helpful, so please keep this in mind when you read through this post!


To start, here is my book reviewing process in three steps:

  1. Book annotations and comments of my thoughts
  2. Compiling all my thoughts in a journal + generally discuss plot, writing, characters, and overall thoughts
  3. Type everything out on my blog and finalise

Step 1: Book annotations and comments of my thoughts

You guys know that I love to annotate my books, and that is pretty much the root of my book reviewing process! I think having written my fresh thoughts down while I read a book can really help with writing book reviews, so annotating your book and writing comments on the specific features of the story as you go will really help you remember what the book is about as well as your thoughts on it.

I also get questions on how I annotate and what it is exactly that I annotate about, and I have a full blog post on how I do that here. But in short, I write pretty much anything that comes to mind when I read certain phrases and paragraphs of the book! It could be a comment on the author’s writing, the characters, how funny a certain phrase is – literally anything! Every annotation counts, no matter how insignificant you may think it is 🙂


Step 2: Compiling all my thoughts in a journal + discuss plot, writing, characters, and overall thoughts

Now that I’ve got my annotations down and I’ve finished reading a book, I would usually compile all my annotations into a journal! Since I write out all my book reviews by hand, they always start out very long and messy, but this is personally great for me because I think it’s better to have my raw thoughts on paper before finalising them on my blog 🙂 And if my annotations have not already done so, I would make sure to cover my thoughts on the book’s plot, writing, and characters. These three narrative features are what I often focus on when writing reviews, because I personally believe that these three can either make or break a story! Here is a whole list of all the book reviews I’ve done in the past. Note that not all my book reviews cover these three points, but you can see that my newer book review posts (2020 onwards) have a more organised structure that goes over the three points! Feel free to make comparisons to my all book reviews – old or new! Maybe some of them can inspire you to write book reviews in some other way 🙂

I won’t go into depth on how I talk about each feature, but I basically just write out what I like and dislike about the book. Anything that stands out/is important to point out is good to cover as well. Honestly, my number one tip is to just write your reviews the way you yourself would enjoy reading one from your favorite book blog! 🙂 Spending too long on a review and looking up all the right words to use could (personally) really take the joy out of a book AND writing your book review. So just write naturally and you’ll have yourself a banger of a book review!


Step 3: Type everything out on my blog and finalise

Once my journal pages have been filled with my book review, that’s when I’m ready to type it out on my blog! I tend to just blindly type out what I’ve got on paper to my blog. This saves me so much time, rather than having to edit as I go. When I have a huge blob of text typed out, I’m ready to finalise the whole thing and edit out any grammatical mistakes! This is a great time for me to go through the three narrative features I covered (divided into – in most cases – three paragraphs), my final thoughts, and concluding recommendation. At the very end, I also tend to make comparisons to other books with similar features, so it helps people narrow down their interests and pick up a book based on another book that they’ve enjoyed in the past 🙂 And that is pretty much it!


Thank you for reading through this blog post! I hope it has helped some of you out in writing your book reviews 🙂 Once again, this is one of many different ways to go about writing a book review, so please take my three steps with a grain of salt! It’s good to just reference from this post and find your own rhythm in writing out book reviews. You’ll find that it gets much easier the more you do it, so long as you start somewhere!

I’ll see you guys again in my next post 🙂 Take care everyone!

xx Cath

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A Pocket Thermal Printer – short Review for poooliprint!

Hello again everyone! Today I am back with a review, but since I’ve done a ton of book reviews in the past, I thought this time it’d be great to do a short review of a product! 🙂 Recently I was sent a pocket thermal printer from Poooliprint, and it is essentially a portable printer that connects to an app on your phone so you can print any image you want! The printer shoots out inkless (black and white) prints, and you can use them as decor for your journals, planners, notebooks, phone covers, walls.. anything you can think of! Here is a little unboxing and preview of the pocket printer 🙂

It’s definitely a very simple and functional printer that adds a little more life to your pages! It’s small enough that you can carry it around with you, it does not take up too much space when you leave it on your desk, plus it looks adorable! The printer comes in different colors too (I got mind in yellow, but they also come in pink, green, and blue)! Here is the link to Poooliprint’s Instagram page, where you can also find a ton of planner/bujo ideas that can inspire you to spice up your pages using the pocket thermal printer! 🙂

Here is a short video on how I use the printer and the printed images for my planner!

Overall I am very pleased with the printer! It’s everything I expected it to be, and I am just obsessed with the cute design of the printer! It makes me super happy whenever I look at it on my desk, and it cannot be any simpler to use! It’s a great journalling companion, and I am excited to use it in other ways 🙂 I think this printer is a great gift idea to journal/planner enthusiasts as well, or anyone who likes decorating in general!

If you were looking to purchase this pocket thermal printer, feel free to use my code CUPS15 at checkout, or click on this link so the code can be automatically applied! 🙂 Thank you so much to Poooliprint for sending over the printer and for sponsoring this post! 🙂

Until next time!

Cath xx

Anxiety, Stress, Privacy… Let’s Chat!

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all been well 🙂

Today’s post is going to be a little different to what I usually write on here, but I’ve made it a goal to be more vulnerable and honest on this platform so thats what I’m going to be today!

I’m at one of those points in life where I start questioning a bunch of things – my career, my future, my habits, mindset, and lifestyle. Honestly, whatever you can think of, it’s probably been at the back of my mind. But today, I’ll be touching on what’s been contributing to my anxiety and mental health lately, and I choose to talk about them on here because I think these feelings are mutual to a lot of you as well.

I’ve had lots of people reach out to me to talk about their mental struggles and asking for help to overcome them (and please, if you ever need a friend to do so, I’m always here, and my DMs/emails are always opened to all of you), so this brief moment of vulnerability is my way of implying that you are not alone, and that we can all get through this together! 🙂

I also hope to relate better to all of you once I reveal some personal things about myself on here ❤ Thank you all so much for giving me the comfort and reassurance to be (more) myself here on social media 🙂 ❤ It means the whole world to me!


Let’s start with anxiety.

I can admit that I’m a very anxious person in general. Pretty much anything that spurs up anticipation gives me the jitters! It could be adapting to a new environment, making new changes, working, ordering at the counter, getting on the bus, arriving late, and so many other little things. I don’t talk about it often only because it has a lot to do with my personal life, but behind all the “aesthetic” pictures on my feed, I am an anxious person with overtly anxious thoughts. A lot of these thoughts stem from the uncertainty of everything in my day to day life. I also worry a ton, and there’s just so much going on in my mind that the overwhelming feeling has the power to glue me to one spot and prevent me from doing the things that could actually help eliminate these worries. The best way I can soothe my thoughts is mostly through journalling, or having an intimate heart-to-heart with a friend or family member. 

The most prevalent anxiety-inducing thought to me at the moment has a lot to do with uni and my career. To give you guys some context, I have just finished my bachelors degree in science (engineering science) and am pursuing a postgraduate degree in professional engineering (specialising in environmental engineering). I am due to graduate at the end of 2022 but am thinking of extending my degree, and what this means is that instead of taking a full load of units in one semester (which is equivalent to 4 units), I would do, say, 1-3 units instead. Most people do this so they can allocate more of their time for a part-time job, internship, extracurriculars, or just take a breather in general. The main reason I’ve been thinking about extending my degree is so I can have more time for myself.

Here’s a bit more context on studying engineering in my university: The ‘traditional’ engineering career pathway is that you finish your masters and go straight into – if not an entry-level position) – a graduate program for 1.5 – 3 years before you get offered a full time job (granted you perform well enough in your graduate program). While it all sounds very prestigious and rewarding (because in a way your full load of study is being paid off by working straight after you graduate), it really does take a toll on your mental health (I mean, even the mere thought of it sounds daunting!). So after much debate and consultation with a few people, I am considering extending my degree. I know some of you guys are probably thinking; well, that should be an easy decision to make. I mean, taking a gap semester or gap year is super common. But ‘stalling’ to graduate and get a full time job to earn a full time income is still very much stigmatised (at least in my culture it is), so while it might seem like a no brainer to extend my degree, it’s still a very difficult decision to make personally.

Anyways, that’s the mini debate I’m currently having with myself. I am obviously very privileged to be able to even have these options to start with, but an obstacle is still an obstacle, and you have the right to feel stressed out when you come across one!

I’ll keep it at that for now, but if you guys are interested in reading more about my studies/career in general, let me know and I’ll make an update on this 🙂 And if you guys have any questions at all, feel free to let me know so I can explain a little further in a separate blog post!


Now let’s talk stress. To keep things short, I consider myself independent in my day to day life. I live away from my family and am currently supporting myself, which is fair to say that uni and grades aren’t the only things that I need to worry about. I have bills to pay, work to fulfil, loved ones to spend time with, and myself to take care of. While I am blessed and grateful to have this platform and do what I love doing as means of supporting myself, I do not think that my ultimate end goal is to blog and create content for a living (at least, not for now it isn’t)! I’d dip my toes into engineering as a full time career first before anything else 🙂 And as a student, I want to get as many work experiences as I can get to build my career. This can be quite difficult to achieve if I don’t prioritise my work well enough, which is why not having enough time for everything is the root of my accumulating stress.

In between uni and blogging/freelancing, I am also keen on taking up some extra part-time work in order to gain some new skills. On top of that, I’d like to also be more consistent in creating art and update my online shop once a month. All that being said, I’ve got a lot on my plate, which means some sacrifices would have to be made.. so again, things may change in the future for me, but for now, I’d just like to be frank and say that all that gold is not glitter, so whatever you see on social media – no matter how beautiful and glamorous an IG story/post/reel looks – you do not know the reality of the content creator’s life, so be mindful of your words and actions, and always keep an open mind (+ be kind to one another! ❤ ).


Now let’s talk privacy. This is probably the most obvious ‘issue’ on my platform, and funnily enough, I’ve never actually properly talked about it on here before!

By now, you would all know that I run my accounts with a faceless identity. This is due to several reasons:

  1. I am a relatively private person in general
  2. I want to remain as professional as possible. I do not want people and potential employers to judge me based on what I look like. Rather, I’d prefer to be judged based on the blog posts I’ve written and the people I’ve helped in the community, which brings me to my third reason:
  3. Not revealing my face would prove just how effective my content really is, and how much they really mean to people, because then you know that the people who are following me are engaging with me because of the content I create and NOT because of what I look like.

In short, I’d just like my content to stay as authentic as possible for myself and for everyone else who appreciates it. I do not want negative people in my life to tarnish this community that I’ve grown to love and cherish so much (I’m not saying that it’s bound to happen, but it is a possibility). So for now, I’d like to keep this community and my real life separated so I will always have a place to escape to when real life is just too much to handle. Plus, I do believe that I still have the power to help and inspire people even if I don’t reveal what I look like. I love talking to you guys about uni, careers, mental health, and life in general, and I’m very grateful that so many of you have trusted me with your personal stories even without knowing what I look like. This just goes to show that you can still empower people, thrive, spread positivity, and have a voice on a platform where a majority of your audience do not know what you look like 🙂

However, that does NOT mean that I will NEVER show my face online. I definitely do see myself revealing it to you all one day 🙂 It could be in a week’s time, a month, a year… I’ll never know, but I’ll do it when I’m ready to!


Aaaand that concludes my whole blog post! Wow, that was way longer than what I’d initially liked it to be, but I hope you guys enjoyed reading it! May this be the start of a long line of personal blog posts to come, and I hope you guys learned something new about me that you can relate to 🙂 As always, feel free to reach out to me when you need someone to talk to. I am always happy to lend an ear!

Thank you all for reading and being here with me.

Lots of love, Cath

My Favorite Books of 2020

Hello again everyone! Honestly, where has the time gone?! I cannot believe it has been more than five months since my last blog post. So much has happened, and I’ve been so tangled up with life that I could not find the time and energy to finish a book or plan for a new blog post. Nonetheless! I’m back now with my annual ~favorite books of the year~ blog post, and I’m excited to share with you guys my thoughts on these amazing books! Please let me know if any of the books on this list made it as your favorite read of the year as well 🙂 Enjoy reading!


The Diviners by Libba Bray

Synopsis:

SOMETHING DARK AND EVIL HAS AWAKENED… Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. Evie worries her uncle will discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer. As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho is hiding a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened…

Thoughts:

I love my atmospheric books so much, and listening to The Diviners on audiobook was po-si-tutely the best decision ever! The narrator is so charismatic, I flew through the 16 hour audiobook (equivalent to 500+ pages) in just three days! The Diviners is a ghost mystery/thriller set in 1920s New York, and the audiobook was just the perfect creepy and jazzy mash! I had chills listening to this at night, yet there were times where I wanted to throw on a flapper dress and dance the night away in a speakeasy! I am soooo stoked to read the sequel soon. There was never a dull moment in this book. From the writing, the characters, the delicious burn of the romance and mystery.. everything was just absolutely brilliant!


Aurora Burning by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Synopsis (From the first book, Aurora Rising):

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

Thoughts:

Aurora Burning was a very much anticipated read of 2020, and it absolutely blew my expectations out of the water! There were so many plot twists and amazing character development, I absolutely devoured the whole story. The first book ended in such a painful cliffhanger, but this one was just full-blown torture. I NEED ANSWERS (and the third book) asap!! (i’ve got a full book review of Aurora Burning here if you want to read more about it, but in short, the series is sarcastic, a little angsty, intense, and soooo much freaking fun!)


Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Synopsis (From the first book, The Shadow of The Wind):

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals from its war wounds, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

Thoughts:

After finishing The Shadow of The Wind, knowing that this book existed was literally a godsend. It follows my favorite character’s history and it’s the most hauntingly beautiful story ever written. I have so much love for the author’s writing, and pairing that with a whole dedicated story of a beloved character?! An absolute masterpiece. The book is raw and provocative.. but it’s also playful and vivacious, just like the character. If you haven’t already read The Shadow of The Wind, please do. The story, writing, and characters all leave such a huge impact on the reader. (p.s. my full review of The Shadow of The Wind can be read here!)


Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

Synopsis:

t all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward. Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity.

Thoughts:

Another raw and relatable story of a girl who suffers from anxiety and OCD. The book was just impeccable, and regardless of the tangential plot-line, I was still immersed in the writing and practically devoured the whole story. I’m so grateful to know that such a book – one with a character and story that’s so relatable and hits very close to home – exists. Hats off to John Green for effortlessly putting into words how our thoughts and anxiety can make us truly feel, and for showing us that – although it might seem like it – we are all not alone. I hope to read more books like this in the future (and as always, if you guys have any similar recommendations, please leave them down below!). If you want to read my full review of this book, feel free to do so here!


The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Synopsis:

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.

Thoughts:

Painful, beautiful, and soul crushing. I’ve been putting off reading this book for the longest time because I know just how tragic it’s going to be, and yet I still finished it with my heart feeling like it’s been trampled on countless times and completed demolished. I remember just clutching the book against my chest so tightly upon reading the last page and feeling so numb, empty and sad 😦 Nonetheless, it was a beautiful book with characters that you just can’t let go of. The writing is poetic, and the story is dark and gripping from the very beginning. It was just.. absolutely amazing. If you want to read more about my thoughts on this book, feel free to check out my review here!


Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

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.

Thoughts:

This book was SO much fun! The main characters (duo rivals) were absolutely unmatched, and hands down one of the best pair of protagonists I’ve ever come across! The concept and writing is super refreshing, and overall everything was just so cleverly and originally done! I had a blast reading this, and it’s definitely one of the more memorable books I’ve read in 2020! I could also really see a film being made for this book. It’s just fantastic with sooo much action, wit, and spunk! ❤

Sinners of Saints/All Saints High/Boston Belles series by L. J. Shen

Order of the series is from left to right, and top to bottom

Synopsis (From the first book, Vicious):

Emilia

They say love and hate are the same feelings experienced under different circumstances, and it’s true. The man who comes to me in my dreams also haunts me in my nightmares. He is a brilliant lawyer. A skilled criminal. A beautiful liar. A bully and a savior, a monster and a lover.

Ten years ago, he made me run away from the small town where we lived. Now, he came for me in New York, and he isn’t leaving until he takes me with him.

Vicious

She is a starving artist. Pretty and evasive like cherry blossom. Ten years ago, she barged into my life unannounced and turned everything upside down. She paid the price.

Emilia LeBlanc is completely off-limits, my best friend’s ex-girlfriend. The woman who knows my darkest secret, and the daughter of the cheap Help we hired to take care of our estate. That should deter me from chasing her, but it doesn’t. So she hates me. Big fucking deal. She better get used to me.

Thoughts:

This year I discovered a NEW new adult author and I have since been sooo obsessed with her series! If you all know me, I am an absolute sucker for a good enemies to lover story, and discovering Shen’s series was like striking a gold mine. Her books are E/L galore, and I devoured 11 of her books this year, 8 of which belong to these three series here! These books are angsty, steamy, hilaaarious, packs a punch, and just so much fun overall! The characters are complex and unique, and the stories are all impactful in their own ways. I love how relatable the issues explored were, and there’s just something for everyone in these series. We have female characters that are independent and strong-willed, and male characters that are vulnerable. There is also so much love and family dynamic weaved together in the chaotic obstacles that these characters go through. I just.. ugh! Shen is amazing, and her books are hands down one of the most well-written new adult stories of all time! A top recommendation if you’re into angsty, yet meaningful enemies to lover stories!


Aaand that concludes my favorite books of 2020! What are some of your favorite books this year? Do let me know in the comments! One of my goals this year is to put up more blog posts, so I’m excited to be talking to you guys more often on here. 🙂 I hope you all have a wonderful and safe new year! Take the time to unwind and relax with a good book, and remember to always be kind to yourself, especially at a time like this ❤ Take care!

Lots of love, Cath

Starting out an Online Shop!

You may or may not know, but I’ve just recently launched an online shop called my thoughtful space! I sell mostly stickers and printables, but I’m also planning on putting up some more paper goods in the future like bookmarks, art prints, and possibly ephemera bundles (it’s a pretty farfetched dream for me, but I’ll get there)! Anyways, since then I’ve been getting lots of questions on things like my creative process, getting inspired, and how to start an online shop in general!

In this blog post, I will be getting into the nitty-gritty of starting an online shop 🙂 This post probably won’t be as in-depth as I’d personally like it to be since I myself am still experimenting with the whole structure and system of my online shop, so I’ll just be going through some of the more general questions and advice on starting an online business.

Take note that I’ve only had this shop for three months, so I’m not the most experienced person you can refer to about these things, but hopefully this post can be helpful to some of you in some way!


MY CREATIVE PROCESS

Digital art

I’ve been getting a bunch of questions on the softwares I use to make my stickers, and I use the app Procreate on my 10.2 inch Ipad! The stylus I use is the apple pencil, and I use it for all my digital drawings! These three are my basic digital art essentials 🙂 I highly recommend getting them if you’re thinking of making stickers for your shop (or if you’re just thinking of trying out digital drawing in general)! You will need to get used to the features of Procreate, but it’s an AMAZING app since It’s super practical and efficient!

Inspiration

In terms of inspiration, I draw things from literally everything! Nature, music, books, people, places, conversations… you name it! I remember referencing one of my first digital art from several iconic book covers that were displayed at the front of my local bookstore.

I’ve also referenced my own pictures in the past (as narcissistic as that sounds) for an art! :’) Here’s how it turned out:

Pinterest and Tumblr are also amazing sources for inspiration! Literally anything that inspires you should also be the things that make you want to pick up a pen and start drawing!


So, Where Do I Begin?

Niche

Okay, so you’ve got your ideas down. Now what?

Start by deciding on a niche and narrow down your target audience. You might be excited about opening up a shop and all, but try to limit your products when you’re just starting you. A rule of thumb to go by is to sell products that you would buy yourself! Don’t just sell things that won’t bring in any value to you or your shop.

I also do NOT recommend churning out multiple products at once (when you’re just starting out and have a small audience). Put your effort and energy into making a few pieces that you’re super proud of! Additionally, you will need to think about the amount of time it takes you to create a design. For example, I take about 8 hours to complete a sticker sheet (rough sketch, outline, coloring, design), so I make sure to dedicate a day or two within a week to create new designs for my shop updates (which happens every month).

Tools

Since I own a ‘paper goods’ store, I produce all my stickers and prints using a printer and a sticker cutting machine! I’ve had the printer for several years now, and it’s a (old) Photosmart series 5520! It’s an inkjet printer, and it’s important to consider the supplies you’re getting that would suit the machines you have at home (eg. sticker paper specifically made for inkjet printers would NOT suit laser printers)!

As for the sticker cutting machine, I have the Silhouette Cameo 3! I was lucky enough to score one secondhand and have been using it for all my die-cut and kiss-cut stickers 🙂 The Silhouette Cameo also comes with its own software that you can use to trace your drawings! You can definitely start out by hand-cutting all your stickers/prints though 🙂 It just takes more time to do so, that’s all!

The Silhouette software was a pain to work with at the beginning, but going through a bunch of Youtube tutorials can definitely help you get started!

I still do recommend doing your own research when it comes to printers and other machinery that you may use to create your products! 🙂 If you’re using printers, keep in mind that laser and inkjet printers may produce different quality products! I also recommend looking through videos on the Silhouette machine and Cricut machine to compare their functionality and see which suits you best!


Setting up your shop

Platform

So you’ve got your designs and products ready. That’s great! Now it’s time to decide where you want to sell them! 🙂

Personally, I use Squarespace. But a majority of small business owners start out with Etsy! I’ve done a bunch of research on various platforms, and to me it seems that Etsy would the best choice in the short run (while getting a personal domain in websites like Squarespace is better in the long run).

Etsy has allocated fees every time you list a product on your shop and whenever you make a sale. The startup cost for Etsy is definitely much lower than Squarespace (the commerce plan is about $300 AUD a year). However, I went with Squarespace anyways because I was able to redeem a 50% discount by using my student email! So I only paid $150 AUD for the first year and am now loving having a website all to myself ❤ A part of me did regret a little for not choosing Etsy to begin with, but I am grateful to have the freedom to customise my shop and make it personally mine 🙂 I do still plan on putting my products up on Etsy one day though, just so I can garner a little more exposure online!

However, I’ve also heard a little bit about Etsy having high fees for small business owners who are making a relatively higher amount on the platform. That, and the fact that once you’ve established a store on Etsy, you are under their policies and guidelines, so you have little power over your own shop (I highly recommend checking out lilynzt’s youtube video on why she decided to leave Etsy).

I guess it goes without saying that each platform has their pros and cons. Nonethless, you should be doing your own research (!!!!!) and see which one suits you best! Starting out an online store can be super risky, but it all comes down to taking that leap and actually starting. Whether you think you’ll be making a mistake in choosing either platforms, at least you know you’ll be learning something! 🙂

Marketing

This is where things get a little more challenging. The downside to having your own platform (apart from the pricey startup cost) is the difficulty to market your products.

If you’re starting out from scratch, consider gaining an audience before you set up your products. For example, you can set up a personal Instagram for your shop and showcase your art there before selling your products! Show people what you have to offer and excite them by promoting your items! Even if you’re using Etsy to start your shop, while the platform does its part to market your products on their own platform, you’ll also need to take the responsibility to garner attention from people who are NOT on Etsy!

Product trial

Testing out the quality of your products is probably one of the most aggravating obstacles I’ve ever come across in starting out an online shop. There is SO much trial and error to be done, and it honestly pains my heart to see SO much paper and ink go to waste just so I find the right settings for my stickers.

Nonetheless, practice makes perfect! You just have to be really patient with the whole process! If you’re like me and are working on everything from the production to the service all by yourself, you need to understand that things will take time 🙂 Be kind to yourself and do all things with love. You CAN and you WILL produce beautiful arts and products, no matter how difficult things may seem!

Shipping

Last but not least, you’ll have to think about shipping!

This year has been particularly challenging in terms of shipping due to the high volumes of mail and scarce flights all over the world. Please check with your local post office to see if there are certain mail restrictions and/or updates on the countries that you’re planning to ship to! If you’re selling products in packages rather than envelopes, be mindful of tracking as any outbound parcels may have the tendency to get lost in the mail. Always remember to consult a staff in your post office if you have any questions! Pandemic or not, it’s good to stay safe and provide your customers with the best possible service!


And that’s it folks! I hope you found this blog post somewhat helpful 🙂 For those of you who’s supported my shop in the past, you have my eternal gratitude ❤ And for those who have just started out their small business, let me tell you that it is WORTH IT. The feeling of receiving an order notification is just unbeatable :’) While it may take time to grow your shop, every little step counts!

You are all talented and wonderful creatives! Best of luck and have the best time creating ❤

xx Cath

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.

Review:

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! 🙂

My Top 4 Reading Habits [2020]

Hello everyone! I’m back today with a post that covers all my reading habits! I thought it would be fun to go through my personal habits as a book blogger with you guys since I get asked about my reading lifestyle multiple times. This short post will hopefully give you guys a bit of inspiration on how to read books more efficiently, improve your relationship with reading in general, and perhaps integrate books and reading into your busy work life on a daily basis!

1. Setting The Scene

I like to get immersed in my surroundings, just like I do in the stories of the books that I’m reading! Lighting a candle, sitting in a park, or reading at a cafe can really enhance your reading experience! Look for a comfortable spot at home, make some tea, snuggle in your coziest outfit and get down to reading! Creating a lifestyle out of it could perhaps cultivate a reading habit. Make it something that you prioritise and look forward to everyday! Associate positive things with reading and you’ll find nothing but joy when you pick up a book!

2. Consider Annotating Your Books

If you guys know me long enough, you would know that I annotate my books (dog ears, highlights, etc), but for the longest time I’ve considered annotating taboo and did not dare to “damage” my books by writing in it or dog-earring any pages. I found my love for annotating a couple years back and ever since then, reading has felt so different to me. I realise that I’ve been holding myself back this whole time by keeping my thoughts to myself, . Writing in my books has allowed me to openly interact with the story and connect with the characters better. Now I bring a pen and post-it note everywhere I go. It’s a real game changer, you guys! Not only does it improve your reading experience, annotating actually helps you understand the stories better because you’re actively engaging with the book rather than passively reading the words. Plus, you get to read through your annotations in the future if you decide to pick up the same book again in the future! It’s always good fun doing this ❤ (more on annotating books can be found in this blog post)

3. Different Modes of Reading

It goes without saying that many reserve a huge amount of time in a day to sit down and read a book, and this does not have to be the case! For example, the first thing you can do in the morning (instead of going through your phone/social media) is to take the time to read! If you can’t normally focus on a physical book, consider trying out audiobooks! You can even put it on while you go through your morning routine. Leave it on for 30-60 minutes everyday for the rest of the week and you got yourself a solid reading habit!

I for one am able to listen to an audiobook while I’m working on a blog post, running errands around the city, commuting, or when I’m drawing on my Ipad for work! Sometimes I can finish a whole audiobook if I’m creating content or drawing all day! It’s literally killing two birds with one stone, and it’s amazing!

Additionally, ebooks are also great if you’re constantly busy at home and only have time to read when you’ve wrapped everything up at night. I like to save ebooks for my nights, preferably right before going to bed. I’m always way too tired to read a physical book at night (and when I do find the need to pick one up, I can only go through so many pages before my eyes fail me and I start dozing off). In this case, ebooks are great alternatives as they are lighter in weight and, personally, are easier on the eyes. Transitioning between these three formats can really boost your reading game while still keeping up with your day to day schedule and tasks!

4. TBRs Aren’t Always Your Friends

Having a set pile of books that you’re determined to get through will only pressure you. It’s great to have a selection of books to choose from, but don’t let it get to your head that those are the ONLY options you get to have. Personally, I’d suggest picking a book based on your mood and not from your set TBR pile. In full transparency, I’d recommend dropping TBR piles completely. You don’t want to treat reading like a chore and force yourself to read for the sake of proving to yourself that you can get through a pile of books in a short period of time, or fulfilling a monthly challenge. Reading should NOT come with any pressure. They’re just books, and you’re meant to enjoy them!


Thank you so much for getting through this fairly short post! I hope you enjoyed it and/or found it somewhat helpful 🙂 Please feel free to ask me questions down in the comments, or message me personally! My DMs are always opened ❤ Take care everyone 🙂

xx Cath

Book Review: Camp by L.C. Rosen

Title:  Camp

Author: L.C. Rosen

Rating: 4/5 stars

Release date: May 28th 2020

Publisher: Penguin

Goodreads Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim – who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.

This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ – buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.

But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself how much is he willing to change for love. And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?

Review:

I don’t think I’ve ever picked up a queer novel in my life. I’ve definitely come across queer characters in various novels, but I’ve never read a book that was centred solely on the LGBTQ+ community, much less with a premise that’s entirely focused on a queer space (in this case, a queer summer camp)! That said, the characters and rep in this novel were so refreshing! The novel is super short and fast-paced, but being someone who’s not too familiar with the themes of the LGBTQ+ community, I learned a lot.

I have to admit, the premise of the novel didn’t sound too enticing when I first read the blurb. Summer camps aren’t exactly my thing, and the romance sounded way too cheesy for me, but I thought I’d give it a shot because I’ve also heard amazing things about the author’s voice in his stories.

I’m so glad I was wrong about the premise. Camp Outland sounds like an absolute dream. Spending a summer in a camp where you can just be yourself and hang out with wonderful people, participate in theatre and share stories at night together in a cabin sounds absolutely amazing. The stories and conversations shared between all the characters in the novel were all so heartbreaking, but important nonetheless

This book delves into the exploitation of toxic masculinity, queer stereotypes, and even the discrimination that arises from within the people who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. This book made me so angry and sad and frustrated, but it also made my heart swell with happiness. I ached for Randy (who went with the name ‘Del’ for the most part of the novel). Just reading about how he felt the need to change a crucial part of his identity for a crush was so painful and sad. In contrast, Randy’s friends were a delight to read about. Every character was absolutely loveable! They were brash and disappointed by Randy’s decisions, yet they always tried their best to support him whenever needed. I really appreciate the sexual transparency of each character and how distinct their voices were, which was a huge contrast to the fake shell that randy was hiding under throughout the majority of the novel.

The only reason why I docked down a star was because some parts of the novel were a little predictable. The romance was indeed cheesy, and I did not particularly like Hudson. He said a lot of nasty things, and though there were crucial reasons as to why he said them and made up for his actions, I’m still aggravated by his behaviour. Nonetheless, I was still rooting for Randy, even though his plan was nothing short of absurd.

That said though, none of it undermined the concepts highlighted in the novel, which are of gender conformities, toxic masculinity, and ultimately being unapologetic for being yourself. I was mostly excited to read about the side characters in the novel who were having a blast being themselves and doing what they love to do with the limited time they have at the camp. At the end of the day, I was just sad to read about how Randy wanted so badly to give up what made him feel happy and free for someone else. It’s just so not worth it 😦

One last thing that I thought that was worth mentioning was the promotion of safe sex in the novel! There was a normalcy within the premise where necessities were provided just in case anyone wanted to have safe and consensual sex in the camp, which is a big YES from me. I just love the positivity and support of the camp so much.

If you’re looking to read and learn more about the LGBTQ+ community, Camp has it all! It’s light, enjoyable, important, meaningful, and heartwarming. Definitely recommend picking this one up ASAP!

If you’ve read this book, please let me know your thoughts! Otherwise, thank you so much for reading my review! I also wanted to thank Penguin Teen Australia for sending me a copy of Camp in exchange for an honest review!


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

NON-SPOILER Book Review: Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Title:  Aurora Burning

Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Rating: 5/5 stars

Release date: May 5th 2020

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Goodreads Synopsis for AURORA RISING (no spoilers)

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

Review (no spoilers):

Aurora Burning blew me out of the waters!! I had high expectations, and the book gave me so much more than what I wanted! If you guys didn’t know, Aurora Burning is the sequel to Aurora Rising (you can read my review of Aurora Rising here), a story that follows Squad 312 – a group of misfits that’s forced to band together to save the galaxy. The first book was a wild ride, and the sequel? Even wilder! There are so many twists and turns, so much action and crazy escapades! The best part of the book is definitely the characters. Each one of their voices are so distinct. Jay Kristoff once mentioned that he always starts with the characters when he’s writing a novel, and this series (so far) is strong proof of that statement!

The plot and world-building are amazing, yes, but the character development takes the cake. I’m not quite sure how to put this into words, but everyone in the book is always so in character. The authors just hit the mark whenever a character – any character really – says or does something. There is always the right amount of pride, arrogance, wit, sarcasm, hope, joy… all the characters are just so well thought out, and they have the quirkiest most distinct personalities. I could have someone read out a random line by one of the characters and I can guarantee that I’ll know exactly who said it!

It’s admirable how the authors are not only able to flesh out the characters, but create suspense and develop the plot and story on top of that. I would probably go as far as comparing this series to Six Of Crows (mostly for the squad trope and multiple perspectives), but in space! It’s also less gritty and much more lighthearted. If you’re looking for an action-packed series with a great set of characters and a fast-paced Sci-Fi story, I cannot recommend The Aurora Cycle series enough!

If you’ve read this book, please let me know your thoughts! Otherwise, thank you so much for reading my review. I also wanted to thank Allen & Unwin for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review!


If you’re interested in buying any of the books from The Aurora Cycle series, you can click here to shop the book at Book Depository. I receive a small commission if you use the link! 🙂

Book Review: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Title: Renegades

Author: Marissa Meyer

Rating: 4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis:

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies — humans with extraordinary abilities — who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone… except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice — and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

Review:

Marissa Meyer has such a knack for story telling. I swear, she can do it all. Amazing characters, great suspense, chemistry, a thrilling plot.. the list goes on! Renegades, just like her other books, does not stray far from the world of action and villains. What I liked most about the book was the empathetic perspective of our narrator. We jump back and forth from a 3rd point of view following Adrian (a renegade) and Nova (a villain), and we get a taste of both sides of the equation, which gives the audience the chance to understand where both sides are coming from (in terms of action and justice), which was done so well! I love the concept of morality, especially when we really dive into those morally grey characters with twisted pasts and layers about them.

I think the most charming aspect of the book was the friendship/chemistry between the characters – romantic or not! There is SO much diversity within both the hero and villain realm. I was expecting an epic superhero saga with kick-butt characters and cool powers, but Meyer manages to subvert my expectations by also weaving through so many important contemporary elements – friendship, loss, love, the essence of a family and a home, just to name a few. All the characters are so loveable and unique. The team we closely follow have some of the most charming characters. Their stories make them all memorable in different ways and it gives them so much depth, you can’t help but root for all of them!

We also get this sort of back and forth narrative where only the readers are aware of both the MC’s secret identities, which was new to me – but also VERY fun and entertaining! The banter and awkward interactions between Nova and the Renegades team were undeniably adorable! Friendship or not, their special bond – and Nova’s inner hate-love conflict – were so fun to read about. But overall, I think the book is just that: pure fun and charm. It’s nothing too solid, but it’s there, in preparation for what is probably going to be a much more complex and morally challenging sequel (which I’m SO ready for, because WHAT WAS THAT ENDING?!!!).

Nonetheless, I loved every moment of it! Meyer never fails to create such amazing stories (with even more amazing characters, which was quite obviously my favorite part of the book ❤ ). I cannot wait to read more about them in her next books (it’s a trilogy, and I am SO stoked to know what’s going to happen next!). I highly recommend picking this series up (if you haven’t already thought about doing so)! 🙂


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

Influential Books That Made Me The Person I Am Today

Hi everyone! I was inspired to discuss about all the books that has shaped me to be the person that I am today after seeing Whittynovels’ video! I thought it’d be fun to do the same, so I’m bringing together six books that have been influential to me in lots of different ways!

Full disclaimer: These opinions are mine and mine only! People are entitled to their own opinions, so please respect what I have to say about each book! This is in no way a “recommendation” blog post 🙂 Just know that these books have all left really positive impacts on me, and that could be due to a) reading the book at the right place and at the right time b) having a very personal connection to the characters/stories.

Alrighty! With that out of the way, let’s get into the books!


Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

This book was the reason why I joined Bookstagram in the first place! I was about 14 years old when I finished reading the book, and I immediately needed to talk to someone about it! You won’t see the picture anymore, but my very first Instagram post was of a very saturated picture of this book right here! That’s six years ago now, and I still look back to that memory fondly ❤ I don’t have the same feelings for this book than I had six years ago, but the memory is still there! Honestly, things may have gone so differently for me if I decided to read this book at a different time. I cannot imagine my life without Bookstagram :’)


The Witches by Roald Dahl

If you read my Get To Know The Blogger blog post, you will know the cheeky little story of how I first got into reading! Long story short, I was sick and could not get close to anyone for two weeks (feels like a major déjà vu moment at this point in time haha), so I opted for one of the many books that my mom has constantly nagged me to read – one of which was The Witches by Roald Dahl! I had the BEST time reading this book. I was SO invested in the story, the adventure, and just the general outlandish charm of the quirky art and narrative! I think I might have devoured two more Roald Dahl books in that 2-week period, but I can’t say for sure – I only vividly remember reading and absolutely loving The Witches. It is also the book that got me into reading and eventually made me the reader that I am today – one who has a soft spot for immersive reads and fun tales ❤


The Lunar Chronicles Series by Marissa Meyer

I remember moving to Australia for high school and was ecstatic about going to school SOLELY for the fact that they had a library with a huuuge range of options. I have just finished Cinder before I went abroad and was super keen to pick up Scarlet when I had the chance. It took me pretty much the whole school year to complete the whole series, and that was because I could not always borrow the books I wanted (they were really popular among the student body!). But that did give me the chance to savour my time with each book. This series was also what got me through all of high school, especially the first year I was in Australia! They were the perfect escape to my (then) dark year, and it has remained a favourite to this day ❤


Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Made You Up was the first ever book I annotated! I remembered getting REALLY lightheaded and shaky when I used my permanent ballpoint pen to highlight my first sentence :’) I was highly against annotating back in the days because I saw annotations as “stains”, and I definitely did not want any “stains” getting near a book that I bought using my own pocket money! Of course, that has all changed. I now annotate every single book I read, whether it’s one word, one sentence, 50 pages… I basically write on my books and dog-ear the heck out of my books whenever I want, and honestly? It feels amazing. I know there are lots of people out there who don’t agree with me (believe me.. I still get quite a few negative comments whenever people see me dog-earing my books or bending the cover flaps until it creases), but embracing this freedom on books has been a major change for my reading experience. I find that I connect with the characters more and even understand why authors use certain words choices, sentence structures, etc. I have to give my kudos to Made You Up though, because that book was SO good that it made me WANT to start annotating, and has definitely made me the reader and book destroyer lover that I am today! ❤


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Literary Fiction is evidently one of my most favorite genre to date, and I have The Night Circus to thank for that! I love my atmospheric and immersive literary stories, and Erin Morgenstern has managed to pave the way for me as I got older and started reaching out for “heavier” reads. It’s the best feeling ever when you find yourself falling for a genre you never thought you’d get into, so thank you Erin Morgenstern for showing me how beautiful this genre can be!


Off-Campus series by Elle Kennedy

Ahh, the world of New Adult romance. I found that some of the most influential books are the New Adult books that I read very recently. Of course, this is subjective. I am fond of these books because I relate to the problems that the characters in this genre go through. The series that first had the biggest impact on me was the Off-Campus series by Elle Kennedy. That series hit home SO HARD, and I couldn’t get enough. The series has put into words emotions and struggles that I haven’t been able to voice out for the longest time, and ever since then, my university days have been filled with endless New Adult romance. Sure there’s lots of smut involved, but honestly it just makes it so much more fun! You get a genre that’s meaningful, honest, funny, sexy, angsty… it’s a genre made for everyone, and no matter where you stand in the genre, I think there’s a New Adult book out there for you that will definitely leave a mark on you.

I’d also like to give a special shout out to the Sinners of Saints series and Fall Away series for being there for me during my hardest and darkest times. Truly, this genre is a godsend. But of course, my kudos goes to the Off-campus books – the ones that started it all for me! ❤


And that’s the end of my list! I hope you all enjoyed reading my short but impactful list :’) Let me know some of your influential reads! Take care everyone x

xx Cath

Book Review: The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Title: The Song of Achilles

Author: Madeline Miller

Rating: 5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis:

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.

Review:

Well, what’s there not to love? The romance, the writing, the character development, everything was pretty much flawless from start to finish. I’d honestly hate to contribute to an “overhyped” novel, because I don’t want to raise your expectations any higher than the hype already has. But honestly, this book deserves all the love and more!! I went into this book fully knowing of its tragic and heartbreaking elements, the very ones that make this book so loved in the book community, and yet, I still felt it. Felt the aching pain and attachment for the story and the characters. With that said, The Song of Achilles is a book that will definitely leave a mark on you. After reading the last page, I swear I could hear my own heart beating against my chest and feel the painful throb on my temples. However, no tears where shed. Maybe it was because I devoured the second half of the book in about three hours instead of taking my time to ease the momentum of the story a little? Perhaps that could have contributed to my painful yet numbing state that I was in by the time I finished the book (seriously, I closed the book and just stared into space for ten minutes waiting for the pain in my chest and my head to subside). Either way, this is a story that I know will stay with me for a very, very long time.

It’s amazing how the author is able to integrate such strong character arcs and yet still create such a luscious narrative on the world of Greek Gods and wars. The pacing is appropriate, the story is intense, the writing is poetic, and you root for the main characters. It’s a story filled with reckless decisions, and you ache for so many characters, no matter their prominence in the book. The emotions and hardships portrayed in this novel is truly palpable, and while some parts of the book are painful to digest, you just can’t stop flipping those pages. It’s an addictive roller coaster ride.

I don’t know about you guys, but I normally do not remember the names and roles of every single character in a story, more so characters with long and unconventional names. But for some reason, that is not the case with The Song of Achilles. I remember most of the names and roles, and even got some of their family trees memorised! I was that invested in every single one of the characters and their stories. It somehow felt like I had a deep connection with all of them, no matter how ruthless or misogynistic some of the characters may be. It surely goes without saying that the writing and characters of the book are what stands out the most. The bond between the main characters is so tangible and raw. Following their beautifully written story since the beginning makes you care so much. WAY too much! Personally, this book gets a 5/5 stars from me, and perhaps you will feel the same way if you were also truly invested in the characters, just like I was. I think to really enjoy the novel, you need to immerse yourself in the book completely, because it’s a feelsy story, I tell ya!

HIGHLY, highly recommend picking this book up if you haven’t already thought of doing so! ❤


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