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MY 30 DAY READING CHALLENGE

Hi guys, I hope you are all well! In today’s post I will be discussing a reading challenge I will be starting today. It is one of my new year’s resolutions to read at least three times a week. I should add that I do read every day (due to the job I have and my degree I am studying for, but I have set this goal aiming to read as a leisure activity rather than a necessity for work or uni.

The challenge is simple – it is to read at least 20 minutes a day before I go to sleep. I really struggle switching off (both my mind and my phone) at night and I’m hoping this will help to settle my mind so I can drift off into the land of slumber! I will of course be sharing the results of this challenge, how I felt and how well I stuck to it.

In deciding I wanted to pick this challenge for myself I have been researching the benefits of daily reading. They are fascinating, so I thought I would share them with you now!

  • Stress reduction – being able to transport yourself to fictional worlds and characters provides escapism from your day to day life, keeping you in the present and not worrying about the past or future
  • Improved focus and concentration – as I have grown up, due to the increasing popularity of Twitter and Facebook I have gotten used to reading bite-size chunks of information rather than absorbing a lot of information at once. If I don’t change this soon, my focus and concentration will slowly dwindle and I won’t be able to focus on any task!
  • Better writing skills – it is one of my new year’s resolutions to come up with an idea for a book. It is something I’ve always wanted to do, but I consider myself a very un-creative person who really struggles to come up with new ideas. By reading more, it will allow me to find my writing style and maybe come up with an idea for my own piece!
  • Mental stimulation – the brain is a muscle, and needs to be used to keep it from wasting away! By following characters and plots, your memory can be improved, which comes with its own benefits!

Do you have any similar challenges for yourself? Do you already read daily? Are there any other benefits you can think of that aren’t on this list!

Happy reading,
Lucy

Reviews

SCYTHE | Review

My rating: ★★★★★
Goodreads
Amazon
Spoiler free

Hi everyone, I hope you are all well! Today I’ll be reviewing Scythe by Neil Shusterman. The story takes place in a perfect world – mortality no longer exists, so it is up to designated members of society (Scythes) to regulate the population by ‘gleaming’. It follows the story of Citra and Rowan, who are chosen as Scythe apprentices and the events within that community. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I loved this book. I genuinely believe it was near faultless and raised so many questions which apply so neatly to our society.

Plot
This was such an intriguing plot yet one that was so easy to understand. The plot was one that could have gotten very old, very quickly without good writing, but not once was I bored. I read the entire book in one sitting, and kept telling myself ‘just one more page’…. I just couldn’t put it down! This story was honestly non-stop, never giving me a chance to catch my breath before revealing a huge plot twist (which the book was full of, by the way).

Writing style
I really enjoyed Shusterman’s writing style in Scythe and this is most evident in the world-building. The really unique journal formatting at the end of each chapter gave a refreshing, first-person perspective on the otherwise third-person story. The idea of the Thunderhead and the differences between his world and ours came across really easily, and I was not left confused for a second.

Character
The characters in Scythe were incredibly written – I think one of the reasons I found myself so drawn to them is because of their morality, which was left unclear in Rowan especially. There was also multiple characters whose motives were ambiguous, such as Scythes Volta and Curie. Because we were not spoon-fed information about these characters it made it so much harder to tear myself away from the story. We also had such an intriguing villain – one who, according to the laws, wasn’t doing anything wrong. It again raises the question of morality.

Strengths
I could be here all day describing the strengths of Scythe because it is such an incredible book. The foundations set by Shusterman undoubtedly supported my enjoyment – a world so similar to our own, with its own Cloud and yet so different, with immortality and such little crime? It also left me thinking for a long time afterwards; the story raises many theological questions about what it means to be human – is our humanity linked to our mortality? Would we behave the same way if we knew we could live forever? The fast-paced story and the ending events left me satisfied enough, but also eager for the sequel.

Weaknesses
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, Scythe for me is a near-perfect book. The one flaw that comes to mind is some of the established relationships. Because the book takes place over a year, we didn’t see much of the characters getting to know each other which affected how I saw some of the relationships. Hopefully in the sequel, the familial and romantic relationships will be further established which will have a larger impact on me.

Conclusion
To conclude, I thought Scythe was an incredible book. Fast-paced, complex characters and jam-packed of plot twists all taking place in a brilliantly-described dystopian world. It reminds me of a more mature version of The Hunger Games or Divergent – if you loved those books I would definitely recommend this one.

Have you read Scythe or is it on your TBR? If you have read it, what did you think? I would love to know what you thought about Thunderhead if you have read the sequel, is it as good as Scythe?

Happy reading,
Lucy

Lists

ANTICIPATED RELEASES FOR 2020

Hello everyone, I hope you are all well! Today I will be sharing some of my most anticipated releases for 2020. There are too many of these to name, so I have narrowed it down to my top 3. I’ve also given release dates and a bit of information on why I cannot wait to read them when they are finally out!

Blood & Honey, Shelby Mahurin – release 1 Sept 2020

I read Serpent & Dove at the end of 2019 and it ended up being my favourite of the year. I loved the ending and the potential it gave the sequel. Unfortunately we don’t know much about this release yet, but I cannot wait to see where the story goes in Blood & Honey and to return to some of my favourite characters!

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Suzanne Collins – release 19 May 2020

I was the BIGGEST fan of The Hunger Games trilogy when I was younger (we’re talking Katniss life-size cardboard cutout, people). I am so, so excited for this release and I’m really intrigued to see where Suzanne Collins goes with the story, as we know it takes place during the 10th Hunger Games.

Chain of Gold, Cassandra Clare – release 3 March 2020

In similar fashion to the last book, I am a huge fan of Clare’s Shadowhunters books (The Infernal Devices being my favourites so far) and seeing this takes place in Edwardian England it gets me so pumped – as a history student I will take all of the fantasy/historical fiction books I can get!

Do we share any most anticipated releases? Are there any that aren’t on my list you can recommend? Feel free to let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading,
Lucy

Reviews

RED, WHITE AND ROYAL BLUE | Review

Rating: ★★★★
Goodreads
Twitter
Amazon

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well and having a great start to 2020. Today I’ll be reviewing Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. The synopsis asks ‘What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?‘, and follows the son of the American President, Alex, and his ever-changing relationship with Prince Henry of Wales. I absolutely adored this book, giving it a four star rating – and I can’t wait to tell you why.

Plot
I’ll just come right out and say it – this is such a ridiculous premise but in all the right ways (it is fiction, after all)! It reminded me of all of the best parts of a cheesy Hallmark movie. I really enjoyed the simplicity of the two main plot threads that made it really easy to follow throughout. I was never confused, which is always a good thing.

Characters
The characters were absolutely incredible. I personally think they carried the story. McQuiston did such a good job fleshing these out that I genuinely cared about these people and made me want to keep reading. Alex was an especially intriguing character – at the front of it all, he seems a very independent, firm headed and wilful man. While these things are still present at the end of the novel, he has come to terms with overwhelmingly impacting realisations about himself and those around him. I also really enjoyed the short appearance of Catherine, Henry’s mother, towards the end of the book, whose actions genuinely touched me.

Writing style
I adore McQuiston’s writing style. Personally, I’m not one for flowery prose where every second sentence feels like it came straight out of Byron, so this fit my tastes exactly. Also, this book was SO funny. Like, one of the funniest I’ve ever read. As a Brit, reading some of Alex’s perceptions on England and London just made me burst out laughing.

Strengths
This book really holds its main strength in the relationship that was cultivated between Alex and Henry, which had so many undertones and nuances I could genuinely talk about all day. Coupled with this, strong familial relationships were written in such a refreshing, sometimes comical and realistic way and that really made my heart happy.

Weaknesses
So, I’ve gushed about this book for a while now. What next? Why is it rated 4 stars? Well, there are two main reasons for this, but I would like to preface it by saying these are my personal choices, and the way I like to read. First of all, I would have enjoyed more descriptive elements of characters as I like to have a clear understanding of their appearance as I’m reading. Secondly, the plot, for me, was mostly predictable (I guessed the ending of the two main plot threads). But as I said earlier, the plot did not need to carry the story.

Conclusion
There is no-one I wouldn’t recommend this to. It is such a lighthearted and fun read, but an incredibly important one. The true highlights of this piece are the strong relationships (both romantic and otherwise) and the overall message.

Have you read Red, White and Royal Blue? What are your thoughts? I’d love to know what you think!

Happy reading,
Lucy

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MY TBR FOR 2020

Hello everyone, I hope you are all well! In this post I will be discussing my TBR and reading goals for 2020. As this blogging thing is a new venture for me, I am hoping it will give me the motivation to read more. I am already following some amazing blogs and seeing how lovely the community is I cannot wait to get stuck in. I have set my 2020 reading goal to 50 books – I would love it to be more but unfortunately I get so busy with work and school this may be a struggle for me, but I’m going to do my best! So, below is some of the books I cannot wait to get into in 2020; in list format obviously, because I love a good list.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Technically, I started reading this on New Years Eve, but I am counting it on this list because it will hopefully be the first one I finish in 2020! I have only heard good things about this book and I cannot wait to get stuck into it.

Lady Midnight

I have grown up with Cassandra Clare’s writing and adored The Infernal Devices trilogy when I read it earlier in the year. I cannot wait to get stuck into this trilogy – I’d love to know your thoughts on this as I don’t want to set my expectations too high for them just to come crashing down.

Thunderhead

Thunderhead will be read in January as soon as I am able, because there’s no physical way I can wait any longer to find out the rest of this story. Scythe was one of my favourites of the year, and it’s had rave reviews (which is often rare for a sequel) and I can’t wait to get back in this dystopian, oddly-similar world.

The Wicked King

The Cruel Prince was one of the first books I read this year and I fell in love with the world. Although not one of my favourites of the year, I cannot wait to get back into this high-fantasy land and continue the series!

Six of Crows

Over the years, I have heard a lot about this book and for some reason I never picked it up. This year I am going to change that! I think I read somewhere that this has been picked up by Netflix for a series, so I figured this would be the perfect time to dive into this!

To Kill a Mockingbird

This book has always intrigued me, and this year I am definitely going to pick it up! I have seen a few people who studied this in school and I’m really upset that we didn’t! I don’t know too much about it but I am going to try and read more classics this year and this one will definitely be the first.

None of the books on my list are new releases – I’m trying to get the ones that have been on my TBR for a while out of the way so I can enjoy all the 2020 releases! Do we share any books on our TBR? Have you read any on my list?

Happy reading,
Lucy

Lists

MY FAVOURITE BOOKS OF 2019

Hello everyone and happy 2020! I am so excited to start this blog and get to know the community of book blogging better. I thought that a ‘favourites of 2019’ post would be the best way to introduce myself, because what better way to know someone than through their reading tastes! I have narrowed down a list of my favourite reads to my top 5, and I’ll explain a bit about why I loved them all so much. I should also add that these are in no particular order, as trying to pick five was stressful enough!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

When I say TATBILB, I actually mean the entire trilogy, so I am cheating a bit. I have put the first on my list because it was my favourite of all three. I adored this book mostly because of Lara Jean and the deep-rooted, strong relationships of the Song family. So often in romance YA the familial relationships don’t have priority over romantic ones (which is sometimes the right decision), but I feel that throughout this book (and the whole trilogy), Lara Jean never changed who she was to try and please anyone, despite going through many internal conflicts (not just a love triangle, but maturing and doing what was right for her).

The War of the Worlds

This one sticks out like a sore thumb on my list, but I absolutely adored this classic by H.G. Wells. I was initially motivated after seeing advertising for a new BBC adaptation (which turned out to be an absolute disaster… but anyway) and I thought sci-fi, especially written in this period, was extremely interesting, especially as this was one of the first sci-fi books ever written. The way it is written is so reflective and self-aware, and deals with so many different themes – from imperialism to anxieties over the future. As a History student whose favourite period is the one Wells is writing in, its so interesting to see the worries of the British Empire transposed in a piece of fictional literature.

Clockwork Princess

I’ll just come out and say it: this book is the only one to have ever made me cry. I lasted all the way through to the epilogue, and it absolutely broke me! I loved The Mortal Instruments series when I was younger and I picked up the Infernal Devices earlier this year and completely devoured it. I picked Clockwork Princess for my top 5 because of the stunning epilogue. Clare’s writing was also the most developed I had read of her work, and you can really see her literary growth just from the first book. I also loved the love triangle in this – all three characters genuinely loved each other and it wasn’t a ‘Edward v. Jacob’ situation, which made it so much better to read about.

Scythe

I picked up Scythe in December and although I had heard good reviews, I wasn’t really expecting it to be my cup of tea. But I couldn’t have been more wrong! This book deserved a space on my top 5 list because of its world-building and overwhelmingly creative concept – immortality has been dealt with before in fiction, but designated people to kill? And corruption within that order?? It honestly blew my mind. I really enjoyed reading about Rowan as a character – his arc over the book is extraordinary, and his awareness and acceptance of that was so easily written. I cannot wait to read Thunderhead this year as I just know I’m not going to be let down.

Serpent & Dove

Now, I know I said this list was in no particular order, but Serpent and Dove was my favourite of this year. It had so many tropes and character development that I love reading about. Somehow this book managed to contain political intrigue, an amazing romance, complex and morally grey side characters, magic, which is all set in the backdrop of 19th century Paris? Are you joking?? I adored every single character in this and I’m so excited to read the sequel next year. Expect a review of this coming soon as I am nowhere near finished gushing about it.

Please let me know in the comments what you think – do we share any favourites? Have you read anything similar to the above that you would recommend? I’d love to hear what you think!

Happy reading,
Lucy

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Coming soon…

Hello!

If you are reading this, a huge thank you for checking out my blog before its official opening day of Jan 1st 2020! I would love it if you stuck around and followed me on Twitter (@ReadsLucinda) to stay up to date with all the exciting book-related things I have planned for the future.

Happy reading,
Lucy