๐ƒ๐ž๐ฏ๐ข๐ฅ’๐ฌ ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ – ๐€๐ง๐ง๐ž ๐Ž’๐๐ซ๐ข๐ž๐ง | book review

๐ƒ๐ž๐ฏ๐ข๐ฅ’๐ฌ ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ – ๐€๐ง๐ง๐ž ๐Ž’๐๐ซ๐ข๐ž๐ง

This is my first read of any of Anne Oโ€™Brienโ€™s work (Iโ€™ve only ever read Philippa Gregoryโ€™s historical fiction books), and I must say I really enjoyed. It goes much further back than any of Gregoryโ€™s books and I learned about a whole new European royal family.

Synopsis:

Devilโ€™s Consort starts out in July 1137 and follows the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, a duchess at 15, then married off to the second prince of France, later King Louis VII for an alliance. Eleanor finds herself in a loveless marriage with a boy king who would rather be a monk.

Quick Review:

I really enjoyed listening to this on BorrowBox, it was well-read and I was quick to get into the story (of which I am completely unfamiliar). I have mixed opinions about the leading characters – but I think that is sort of the point; a monk forced to be king, a duchess forced into a marriage because the law won’t let her remain duchess whilst unmarried, but equally – they are both quite selfish in their own way.

Star Rating: 8/10 โญ๏ธ

Book 31 of 2020

(image is edited as I only had the audiobook version and I’m rubbish at taking photos of my tablet!)

2019 Book Challenge Summary

I did it! I hit my small little goal of 12 books to read in 2019. And not only did I achieve it, I surpassed it (by one book!)

Books Read in 2019:

(All photos are my own from my Instagram @melholdenwrites)

1. Let It Snow – John Green

2. Turtles All The Way Down – John Green

3. Billy and Me – Giovanna Fletcher

4. Doctor Whoโ€™s Time Lord Fairy Tales

5. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

6. Scarlet – Marissa Meyer

7. Wilde Like Me – Louise Pentland

8. Some Kind of Wonderful – Giovanna Fletcher

9. The Keeper of Lost Things – Ruth Hogan

10. Always With Love – Giovanna Fletcher

11. Dolores Claiborne – Stephen King

12. The Christmasaurus – Tom Fletcher

13. The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles Book 4) – Marissa Meyer | BOOK REVIEW

โ€œ๐šƒ๐š‘๐šŽ ๐š™๐šŠ๐š•๐šŠ๐šŒ๐šŽ ๐š ๐šŠ๐š•๐š•๐šœ ๐š‘๐šŠ๐šŸ๐šŽ ๐š‹๐šŽ๐šŽ๐š— ๐š‹๐š•๐šŽ๐šŽ๐š๐š’๐š—๐š ๐š๐š˜๐š› ๐šข๐šŽ๐šŠ๐š›๐šœ, ๐šŠ๐š—๐š ๐š—๐š˜ ๐š˜๐š—๐šŽ ๐šŽ๐š•๐šœ๐šŽ ๐šœ๐šŽ๐šŽ๐šœ ๐š’๐š.โ€ ๐Ÿ‘‘ ๐ŸŽ ๐Ÿ“–

๐Ÿšจ ๐•Š๐•ก๐• ๐•š๐•๐•–๐•ฃ ๐”ธ๐•๐•–๐•ฃ๐•ฅ โš ๏ธ

Quick Synopsis:

The fourth and final book of The Lunar Chronicles follows Cinder and her friends on their crusade against evil Queen Levana of Luna. As with every LC book, we are introduced to a new protagonist, the beautiful and crazed Princess Winter – driven mad by her refusal to use the powers of manipulation every Lunar is born with. Winter joins the fight, accompanied by her loving and loyal guard, and helps begin a revolution against Levana, but will they succeed?

Review:

Itโ€™s been a very long time since a series has drawn me in like this. Despite the last book being 823 pages, not a single word felt unnecessary. The characters develop realistically, there is even a magical version of mental illness, and to top it all off – a lost princess with a cybernetic gun-arm. What more could you want from a book series?

Marissa Meyer has a brilliant approach to this fairytale sci-fi, using every new book to develop her existing characters, whilst giving us a few new core ones to fall in love with. Winter is no different.

In Book 4, we are introduced to Princess Winter; step-daughter to the tyrannical Queen Levana. We see how Winter has become weakened and abused by her step-mother, and yet – despite never using her glamour – is still cherished by the Lunar people.

Marissa Meyer is also brilliant at approaching relationships in a loving yet realistic way. She acknowledges Captain Thorneโ€™s floozy past. She writes of deep first loves, experienced by a petite Rapunzel character (Cress) who falls in love with the mere idea of the Captain.

We see Emperor Kai and Cinder deal with the complications of living on two different planets, and we finally get to see how a red-headed farm girl and her mutant wolf boyfriend cope with the reality of being together.

Ratings:

Overall Series Rating > 5 ๐ŸŒŸ
Book 1 Rating > 5 โญ๏ธ
Book 2 Rating > 4 โญ๏ธ
Book 3 Rating > 4.5 โญ๏ธ
Book 4 Rating > 5 โญ๏ธ

๐“๐ก๐ž ๐‹๐š๐ฌ๐ญ ๐“๐ฎ๐๐จ๐ซ – ๐๐ก๐ข๐ฅ๐ข๐ฉ๐ฉ๐š ๐†๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐จ๐ซ๐ฒ ๐Ÿ‘‘ | quick book review (spoilers!)

โ€™๐’€๐’๐’– ๐’…๐’๐’โ€™๐’• ๐’ˆ๐’†๐’• ๐’•๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’‚ ๐’‡๐’‚๐’—๐’๐’“๐’Š๐’•๐’† ๐’‚๐’• ๐’‚ ๐’•๐’š๐’“๐’‚๐’๐’•โ€™๐’” ๐’„๐’๐’–๐’“๐’• ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’‰๐’†๐’‚๐’…๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’š๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’‘๐’“๐’Š๐’๐’„๐’Š๐’‘๐’๐’†๐’” ๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’š ๐’…๐’‚๐’š.โ€™

Quick Review: 4.5 โญ๏ธ

๐“๐ก๐ž ๐‹๐š๐ฌ๐ญ ๐“๐ฎ๐๐จ๐ซ – ๐๐ก๐ข๐ฅ๐ข๐ฉ๐ฉ๐š ๐†๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐จ๐ซ๐ฒ ๐Ÿ“š ๐Ÿ‘‘


Despite only having read a third of the Tudor & Plantagenet novels, even I can hear the authorโ€™s finality in the way she writes the last book of the series. Another story of sisters hindered by their births being so close to the throne; so hindered by the ambition of others.


Lady Jane Grey – the Nine Day Queen, Lady Katherine – imprisoned for marrying without permission until she died of heartbreak, and the Lady Mary, the most resilient of all the Grey sisters; a born dwarf struggling against life as a courtier.

You can not help but feel sorry for them and for the lengths at wish they suffered just for being cousins to the infinitely jealous Queen Elizabeth I.

๐Ÿ“– Book 26 of 2020 ๐Ÿ“š

๐‘บ๐’†๐’‚ ๐‘พ๐’Š๐’•๐’„๐’‰ – ๐‘บ๐’‚๐’“๐’‚๐’‰ ๐‘ฏ๐’†๐’๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐ŸŒŠ ๐Ÿงœโ€โ™€๏ธ – Quick Book Review

Quick Review: 4.5 โญ๏ธ

I found this take on the original The Little Mermaid really interesting. The author is clearly aware of both the original story, and the Disney adaptation as there are elements of both weaves throughout.

I wonโ€™t spoil it – but I was pleasantly surprised by this retelling, and there were definitely some twists and turns that I didnโ€™t see coming.

I will say that I found the use of a present tense first person narrative a little confusing at times, as the book covers two main characters POV, and also goes back and forth in time. This May be because I was listening to it as an audiobook and there is only one voice actress (who does a brilliant job).

I would highly recommend for anyone that enjoys a mermaid or a fairy tale twisted retelling. Itโ€™s a little bit gory, so I wouldnโ€™t advise for children under 12.

QOTD: how do people take beautiful photos of their tablets and e-readers on IG? I canโ€™t get the glare off mine ๐Ÿ“ธ ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

Book 27 of 2020 ๐Ÿงœโ€โ™€๏ธ ๐Ÿ“–

Read via Borrow Box ๐ŸŽง

๐™ณ๐š˜๐š•๐š˜๐š›๐šŽ๐šœ ๐™ฒ๐š•๐šŠ๐š’๐š‹๐š˜๐š›๐š—๐šŽ – ๐š‚๐š๐šŽ๐š™๐š‘๐šŽ๐š— ๐™บ๐š’๐š—๐š | Book Review

โ€˜๐šƒ๐š‘๐šŽ๐š›๐šŽโ€™๐šœ ๐š—๐š˜ ๐š‹๐š’๐š๐šŒ๐š‘ ๐š˜๐š— ๐šŽ๐šŠ๐š›๐š๐š‘ ๐š•๐š’๐š”๐šŽ ๐šŠ ๐š–๐š˜๐š๐š‘๐šŽ๐š› ๐š๐š›๐š’๐š๐š‘๐š๐šŽ๐š—๐šŽ๐š ๐š๐š˜๐š› ๐š‘๐šŽ๐š› ๐š”๐š’๐š๐šœ.โ€™

๐™ณ๐š˜๐š•๐š˜๐š›๐šŽ๐šœ ๐™ฒ๐š•๐šŠ๐š’๐š‹๐š˜๐š›๐š—๐šŽ – ๐š‚๐š๐šŽ๐š™๐š‘๐šŽ๐š— ๐™บ๐š’๐š—๐š

๐—ฆ๐˜‚๐—บ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜†:

Dolores Claiborne has a story to tell. But not quite what the police had expected. Dolores Claiborne has a confession to make… (taken from the blurb).

๐—•๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ ๐—ฅ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜„: 4/5 โญ๏ธ

A good read if youโ€™re looking to dip into Stephen Kingโ€™s mind without delving into the abyss that is The Green Mile (Iโ€™ve never been brave enough!)

The main character, Dolores Claiborne, spends a long time telling a long story – and every word is necessary.

The book is written primarily in a one-person stream of consciousness, in the voice of a 66-year-old housekeeper and carer from Little Tall Island, Maine.

Stephen King has always been a truthful, visceral author, and he has no problem capturing the voice of an old, troubled woman.

My only qualm was that I struggled to get into it due to the way itโ€™s written, but once you get over the colloquial style – it sucks you in.

Would highly recommend!

Books Are For Everyone | Save Our Libraries

Here in the UK, there has been a lot of talk of libraries closing all over the country. The party line is because they aren’t used much anymore, but I call bullshit on that one.

When I was little, my favourite part of the week was Saturday morning. Every Saturday, my mother would walk me down to the town library and let me pick as many books as I could carry. I was not unlike to Roald Dahl’s Matilda. I couldn’t get enough of what those wonderful words had to teach me.

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As a writer, I am clearly biased when it comes to books. I have spent my life in awe of, crying at, laughing with, and sometimes even screaming at the pages of, books. Books are not just pieces of paper covered in the ink symbols we call the written word, but they are the door to limitless possibilities.ย 

Books can take a shy, introverted child and turn them into a communicative member of society. They teach us something at every stage of our lives: how to read, how to do sums, how to split the atom, how to love, even. Should that knowledge – that soulful education only a good book can give – not be free to all?ย 

There was a time that only those who could pay for literature were the only ones who got to cherish its pages, its knowledge. But libraries changed all of that. They gave everyone the opportunity to learn from, and enjoy books. Are we reverting to the prior? Are we about to steal all that information from the grasps of a child whose parents can’t afford books?

Around 15 per cent, or 5.1 million adults in England, can be described as ‘functionally illiterate.’ย – LiteracyTrust.Orgย 

Do we really want those figures to get any higher? I sure as hell don’t. We are the homeland of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, JK Rowling, Charles Dickens, Stephen Fry and hundreds of incredibly influential authors. Who knows how many more beautiful words could be written and read with the help of public libraries.

Protect Library Services by signing this petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/228742ย 

To Finish or Not To Finish: a Novel in Limbo

I spend a lot of my time sat in the dark as I feed my baby, staring at a picture of a girl in a yellow dress. And now one thing for sure: her story isnโ€™t over yet.

When I started my Masterโ€™s a year ago, I did it with the intention of using the time to work on the sequel to Searching For Katherine (r.2014), which has sat unfinished in my proverbial desk draw for the past three years.

However, three months into my course – I found out I was pregnant. Overwhelmed by work, university and now pregnancy – the novel remained unfinished.

Well now I am on maternity leave, my degree has come to an end, and I have a month-old baby boy – my time is both free and less so at the same time.

Hanging on my living room wall is the original sketch – done by an old friend of mine – of the cover for Searching For Katherine.

It is of Katherine in a torn yellow dress, walking through the forest. I always loved the drawing because it was of a pivotal moment in Katherineโ€™s story; of limbo. She finds herself leaving one hell, with no promise of salvation or safety once she gets wherever sheโ€™s going – but she still takes the journey. And thus, I too am in limbo when it comes to this book.

But now itโ€™s time to come out of the forest and choose a path. Do I scrap the book altogether, and take time as a sign that some books just shouldnโ€™t be finished? Do I pick up where I left off? Or do I start the manuscript again; and embellish it with the things I have learned in life since last writing it?

I always felt a duty to Katherine to finish her story, I still intend on doing so, but perhaps not in the way I originally planned.

I think Iโ€™ll dust off the old hard drive tomorrow and see where we left off, and if there is a story yet to be salvaged.

Goals Changed For The Better | A New Chapter

We all have a plan for our lives, whether it’s short term; ‘lose five pounds’, or long term; ‘I want to have a career in XYZ by the time I’m 30’. We all also know, that life likes to get in the way of our plans.

 

goals (1)

#goals graphic, created with Fotor by @melissaholden94

 

My original life plan (at 16) was as follows:

  • Do A-Levels
  • Get a job and earn money
  • Go on lots of holidays
  • Get married
  • Get a Husky called Jeff
  • Learn to drive
  • Get a big house

…And that was effectively all I wanted from life.

Then, at 18, this was my plan:

  • Go to university
  • Get a degree
  • Get a part-time job
  • Save loads of money
  • Write my first book
  • Go travelling
  • Rent a house with friends
  • Get a tattoo

I did well on some points, and not so well on others.

At 20, my plan looked a little like this:

  • Get a temp job in home town
  • Go do my Master’s in October 2015
  • Graduate
  • Rent a house with Ashleigh
  • Go travelling
  • Pay off my overdraft
  • Save money
  • Learn to drive
  • Write more books

20-year-old Me was ambitious and didn’t plan for other people to affect her life plan. I had to move back home to be close to an ill family member. I had to leave all my uni friends behind and get a job in Bluewater.

Graduates-hats

What I also didn’t expect, was to have graduated my Bachelor’s degree, moved back to the home town I hate, and fall in love with my new ‘supposed-to-be-for-six-months’ job. I ended up with a good, stable job in optics, and didn’t follow the plan. I didn’t start my Master’s degree in October. Instead, I was doing training at work to improve my skill set.

I ended up with a good, stable job in optics, and didn’t follow the plan. I didn’t start my Master’s degree in October. Instead, I was doing training at work to improve my skill set. I also, 2 years in, ended up being promoted to a Team Leader position, and am loving it.

I also didn’t move in with my best friend, because she moved back home to be close to her family, and to look after herself ย – cannot argue with that, really.

Now, at 22 (nearly 23), my plan looks more like this:

  • Save my Student Loans and pay off my overdraft
  • Start my Master’s in October 2017
  • Graduate in June 2018
  • Finish writing Finding Jennifer
  • Move out to my own place
  • Start looking for ‘love’
  • Spend more time with my friends and family
  • Be present in the moment
  • Be positive
  • Blog more
  • Read as many books as possible

Perhaps some of those are loftier than others, but I love all my goals and aspirations the same. I am glad that my priorities have changed because it means Iย have grown and developed as a person, and I’m pretty proud of that.

What are your goals in life, and have they changed over the years?ย