BOOK REVIEW: TWENTY-FIVE MEMORIES OF VIGGO MACDUFF by Kate Gordon

I spent a large part of December looking for a Christmas book to read and ended up stumbling across Twenty-Five Memories of Viggo MacDuff by Kate Gordon. I never got around to reading it before Christmas but I did spend my entire Boxing Day devouring it!

Twenty-Five Memories of Viggo MacDuff is the story of a girl torn between two identities: Constance- the girl she was whilst dating Viggo, her smart, charismatic, do-no-wrong boyfriend- and Connie- the girl she was before. It’s a story told almost entirely as reminiscences and memories, over the space of the year that Viggo and Connie were together.

The story starts on Christmas night, a few days after Viggo has broken up with Connie, for an unspecified reason. She’s sat wallowing alone until her best friend, Jed, appears, ready to hear her twenty-five memories and expel Viggo from her system at last. As we hear Connie’s memories, we begin to realise that maybe Viggo wasn’t the perfect boy Connie’s convinced he is and, as their relationship stories unravel, we discover both who Connie wants to be and just how Viggo changed her.

This book is not largely a feel-good story. Connie’s relationship stories are troubling and she spends the book heartbroken and desperate for Viggo back. But somehow, it still made for good Boxing Day reading. Despite the troubling content, it ended up being a story about finding yourself and figuring out who is truly there for you.

I really liked a number of the characters in this story. Constance was a realistic, believable girl and Jed was truly a sweetheart. It was great to read about their friendship and learn more about them, with and without Viggo.

This book was refreshingly easy compared to a lot of what I’ve read lately. It only took a few hours to get through and I still found myself becoming completely engrossed in Connie’s life. Although this book is set at Christmas time, I would recommend it to anyone at any time looking for a simple and heart-warming story.

I am glad I stumbled across this book and am sure I’ll revisit it again next Christmas. For a book that cost me £1.99 on Amazon, this was 100% worthwhile.

RATING: 4/5

If you’d like to read this book, you can buy it right here. (I get a small commission if you use my links!)

The Harry Potter Christmas Tag

Merry Christmas! I was tagged to do this by Gemma’s Bookshelf a few days ago and thought that now would be the perfect time! I hope everyone’s having a wonderful festive season.

It’s your first Christmas at Hogwarts. What’s one book you’ve asked for this year?

My entire Christmas list is books this year, but I’d really, really like Into The Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo.

You spot Hagrid hauling the Christmas tree through the grounds. What is the longest (or heaviest) book you own?

The longest book I own is definitely IT by Stephen King but I’ve never got past the first page…

It’s time for the famous Great Hall feast. What’s one book you can’t read without snacks?

I don’t normally eat snacks with books but, if I did, I feel like it’d be with a cutesy, contemporary read like Anna and The French Kiss.

Well done, you’ve brewed your first Polyjuice Potion. What’s one book you’d change the cover of?

I think it might just be the UK edition of this book that has a cover I’m not a big fan of, but I think I’d change the cover of Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten.

You receive a brand new Firebolt for Christmas. What’s one book you read super quickly?

Anything by Marie Lu. Rebel, most recently, I devoured in a day.

You join Harry for his first proper Christmas. What’s one book you’d love to receive this year?

I’d love to get A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer!

You get hit by one of Fred and George’s flying snowballs. What’s a book you wanted to throw across the room?

In the best kind of way, I wanted to throw We Were Liars across the room. I love it so much but, if you’ve read it, you get why.

You’ve just visited Hogsmeade for the first time. What’s one popular book you haven’t read yet?

I haven’t read a single Sarah J. Mass book yet but I’ve bought them all and have to read them in 2020, for sure.

Congratulations, you’ve been invited to the Yule Ball. What book about Christmas do you love?

My absolute favourite thing about Christmas is dinner with the family! It’s so lovely to see everyone and eat mountains of delicious food.

You find Ron’s deluminator. What’s one book that’s helped you through some dark times?

Whenever I’m upset, I do back to an old favourite. That generally means Warcross or Legend by Marie Lu.

I hope everyone has an incredible remainder of the festive season! Merry Christmas 🙂

ARC Review: GRAVITY IS THE THING by Jaclyn Moriarty

Hi! It’s been forever since I posted a review so I’m sorry for my disappearance. I’ve been stuck in a reading slump for a while and haven’t had anything to post. But that’s finally over. I read an incredible 5-star read and now I’m back! Hope you enjoy this review of one of my top reads of 2019:

‘Gravity is the Thing’ follows Abigail, the owner of a Happiness Cafe and single-mother, through her life in the time following her brother’s disappearance at age fifteen. Ever since the year he vanished, she has been receiving chapters of something called ‘The Guidebook’ from a pair of total strangers, offering a unique view on self-help. After years of searching for him, when she is invited to a retreat that offers to give her the book’s ‘truth,’ she can’t help but tie the two events together and go looking for answers.

Once she arrives, instead of finding her brother or immediately unraveling the truth that she’s looking for, she discovers a group of people with whom she joins a sort-of society and forms a strong bond. There is more to ‘The Guidebook’ than she originally suspected and, as the truth comes out, she finds herself deeply hooked in the process.

This book is so deep and thought-provoking that I already feel like I have to re-read it in order to truly absorb everything that it says about self-help, love and grief. For a book so strongly focused on the whimsical and the metaphorical, it is breathtakingly real. The various stories that run alongside each other (of her brother Robert’s disappearance, ‘The Guidebook”s unconventional group sessions, and Abigail’s best efforts to be a good parent to her young son, Oscar) are all incredibly captivating, and I found myself equally invested in all aspects of Abigail’s life.

Although Robert vanished years before the story begins, so we don’t experience his disappearance as though it is a fresh, new wound, we do experience the grief and loss that Abigail has felt for many years through flashbacks, excerpts from her past writings and present day story-telling. Her character has one of the most unique viewpoints and voices I have ever read in fiction and she is such a likeable, relatable character that I feel it would be difficult not to become invested in her journey and emotions.

The other characters too became surprisingly realistic throughout the novel. When we first meet a number of the other characters with whom Abigail grows close, such as Sasha and Pete, I found them to be somewhat one-dimensional and a little like caricatures. This only made it more rewarding for me when they developed to have their own voices, personalities and even side-stories alongside Abigail’s.

I loved this book. It is incredibly heavy in its descriptions of self-love and growth so at times it wasn’t the easiest book to get through, but its message and writing were both so beautiful and poignant that it didn’t come across as though the author was preaching or trying too hard to educate, which I loved. A number of the endorsements for this book describe it as ‘extraordinary’ and ‘an instant classic’ and, honestly, I agree with them completely.

Rating: 5/5

If you want to pre-order this book, it comes out on January 2nd 2020 and you can get it right here. (I get a small commission if you use my link!).

If you’ve read this book already, let me know what you think! It’s definitely one of my favourite reads this year and I can already see myself making everyone I’ve ever met read it, too…

Avatar: The Last Airbender Book Tag

I have a confession to make: I didn’t watch Avatar: The Last Airbender at all as a child. My friend tried to make me watch a few episodes once and I just didn’t pay any attention. And now, because I’m basic, it’s appeared on Netflix and I’ve binged the entire thing…

I finished watching it about a week ago and I’m still watching Zuko and Iroh videos on Youtube for procrastination every chance I get. So, to turn my obsession into something productive, I found out that this book tag is a thing! Here’s the ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender Book Tag’:

Katara and Sokka: The Best Sibling Relationship

This one was kind of difficult and I really struggled to think of an answer but I think I’ve come up with the best one. Alec and Izzy from The Mortal Instruments are an amazing and super fearsome sibling duo.

Yue: Favourite Star-Crossed Lovers

The first couple that came to mind for this was Cassie and Evan from The Fifth Wave trilogy. I love their relationship and it’s definitely, definitely not meant to be.

Blood-bending- A Book With Unnerving/Unsettling Content

Although this book isn’t one of my favourites, I searched my brain for something I’d read with unsettling content and Beware That Girl is the one I came up with. Both of the main characters have some really dangerous motives and I found this book to be just generally weird.

Toph: A Character Whose Strength Surprised You

It’s pretty obvious from the start of The Cruel Prince that Jude is mentally tough and determined, but she still proves herself to be so physically and mentally strong throughout the series. She isn’t physically as tough as some other characters but she works so hard to protect herself and the people she cares herself that it has to be acknowledged.

The Tales of Ba Sing Se: Best Short Story/ Poetry Collection

A go-to recommendation for me is Slasher Girls and Monster Boys so, yes, I’m going to bring that up again. The stories range from creepy to downright disturbing and I really loved almost all of them.

Kioshi Warriors: Best Warrior Character

I don’t know if she counts as a Warrior but one of the toughest characters I can think of is Laia from An Ember in The Ashes. It’s been forever since I read the first two books (and I still haven’t finished the series) but I really loved how tough she is.

Zuko: Best Redemption Arc

It’s hard to think of a redemption arc that actually compares to Zuko’s because the writers completely nailed it, but maybe a certain genius billionaire from the Warcross duology could also be considered…

Iroh: Wisest Character

I’m going to go super basic for this and say Dumbledore from Harry Potter. I probably don’t have to explain why.

Azula: Best Downfall

For this, the first person that comes to mind is Jonathan Morgenstern from The Mortal Instruments series. This series had so much build up and tension that his downfall was incredibly anticipated, and it actually managed to live up to my expectations.

Appa: Favourite Fictional Animal/Pet

I literally can’t think of any pets in YA! I’ve been through my reading lists and the only pet I can think of is Hedwig from Harry Potter… If you can think of any pets in YA, please let me know.

Aang: Purest Cinnamon Roll

Just because I love this book so much, I’m going to say Sean from Anna and the French Kiss. He’s obviously just a minor character but he’s so small and adorable and the way he reacts to Anna’s problems is really, really cute.

Avatar State: A Stubborn Character/ A Character That Struggles With Letting Go

For a character that struggles with letting go, Mara Dyer from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is the first that comes to mind. She holds a lot of grudges and lets her anger get the best of her a lot but I absolutely love her.

This or That Book Tag

I’ve been doing a lot of book tags lately so I promise I’ll have some book reviews up soon! In the meantime, whilst I’m juggling about six different reads and nowhere close to finishing any of them, I figured that this tag would be pretty fun too.

I first saw this post on Caffeinated Fae’s blog here!

Reading on the bed or on the couch?

Generally, I’d say I prefer to read in bed, especially when it’s cold outside and I can curl up with my duvet. It’s really nice to sit on the sofa by the window with a good book in summer though, so both are good options!

Main character: male or female?

Although I do have a few favourite reads where the main character is a male (*cough* Anna Dressed in Blood), I usually pick up books with a female main character.

Sweet or salty snacks while reading?

Salty snacks, generally Pringles, are my snack of choice. If there’s cake in the house, though, that always goes really well with a reading session.

Trilogies or quartets?

Trilogies! My favourite series is a duology so I generally prefer when book series’ are shorter. I always find that trilogies give you plenty of content without overcomplicating the story, and they’re about as much as my attention span can handle.

Reading in the AM or PM?

PM! I always struggle to read during the day. Plus, a book is always more satisfying if you stay up all night to read it.

First or third-person POV?

I don’t have a problem with either, but I definitely like first-person better. I love getting inside a character’s head (and I’ve never been able to write more than a couple of pages in third…)

Libraries or bookstores?

I’d love to say libraries, but I’m a hoarder. I want all the books and can’t bear the thought of giving them back.

Books that make you laugh or cry?

Probably books that make me cry, because I cry at the majority of books I read. Sometimes it’s happy tears but, usually, it’s really, really not.

Black or white book covers?

Black book covers are stunning. Especially black covers with foil blocking (*heart eyes*).

Character or plot driven?

This one is so tough, but I feel like, if I’ve fallen in love with a set of characters, I could read about even the most mundane things that they do, so I’d have to say character-driven.

Who I’m tagging:

I’m still new and don’t know anyone to tag BUT I’d love to use this post to make some blogging-community friends; feel free to tell me about your blog below or say hi. Also, if you want to do this tag, consider this you being tagged!

How I got a Publishing Internship

I only graduated four months ago so my experience in publishing is insanely limited. I’m still on the hunt for a job, but I’ve now had two internships with the same publishing company and am a lot more confident in my knowledge of the publishing industry as a whole.

I know that I was incredibly lucky to get an internship when it’s so competitive and I thought it might be useful to share my tips on how I did it!

In honour of ‘Work in Publishing’ week, here are my top tips for getting a publishing internship:

Do Your Research

This should be fairly obvious, but you can’t just look up the five most popular publishers and send in random emails to them. Because the larger companies generally run work experience schemes (which you should definitely apply for!), they usually won’t respond to a random graduate asking for work. By all means, apply, but it’s definitely a good idea not to rely on these. It’s important to spend some time finding as many publishing firms as you possibly can.

I found it useful to make a spreadsheet of all of the companies that didn’t refuse cold emails (it’s useless to apply for a company that explicitly states that they won’t respond) and their contact details. Trust me, there are way more publishers than you even knew existed and one of them might be the one that give you a chance!

Check Job Listings

Many places don’t mention internship schemes on their websites, but some do! It’s a long task if you’re going to search the internet for every publisher in a 20-mile radius (especially if you’re looking for work in London!) but it’s completely worth checking every careers page you find. Very few internships are listed on Publishing job-sites, so your best chance is to check with individual publishers on their sites.

If you find one of these internships, apply exactly how they ask you to. Look into their specific titles and imprints and figure out a way to explain that, not only do you want to work in publishing, you want to work specifically for them. I didn’t have any luck with these types of applications, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t! Polish up your CV, write a cover letter that explains why you want to work in publishing and any relevant skills or experience you have, and cross your fingers.

Send Cold Emails

If you have no other leads, this is the most likely way you’re going to get an internship- this is the way I managed it! It’s terrifying to send out copies of your CV to people who have never heard of you and who probably won’t respond, but that’s half of the reason why it works. My boss during my internships told me that she respected the courage I had in randomly applying and that my cold emailing demonstrated a level of confidence that employers are looking for. Obviously, this isn’t a guaranteed way to get an internship, but it does mean that you’re getting your name out as far as possible. I had about ten publishers respond to me and say that they’d put my CV on file, one told me of an internship scheme that they would be running in the near future and another responded offering me a two-week placement.

To get so many responses, I had to email a lot of people. If you’re committed to doing this, your best shot is to send an email to every publisher you can find.

I did a lot of research on how to write a cold email/what to include/who to contact, so here are some of the websites that I found really useful:

medium.com/@justinemoore_85088/from-cold-email-to-internship-with-jason-chen-1cff6d560ae3

roojet.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-cold-emailing-for-internships-or-jobs/

Don’t Focus Solely on Publishers

If you’re looking for some experience in order to get a publishing job, or even if you just want more of an insight into the industry, publishing houses are not the only places you can apply for. There’s an incredible amount of literary agencies around that are equally likely to respond to an email with an internship opportunity that is just as interesting as one in a publishing house. Again, this requires research and persistence, but it’s a difficult industry to get into and applying to a wider range of companies can only increase your chances. Of course, if you’re looking for work in a specific department, this may not work, but if you’re open to any aspect of publishing, literary agents are incredibly knowledgeable about the industry and could provide you with just as much of an insight.

Do Some Extracurriculars

A lot of people are applying for publishing jobs and the majority of them are incredibly qualified. You won’t be the only person that’s sending cold emails or applying to internship schemes so you need to do something that really makes you stand out. I have a couple of publishing-related things on my CV that employers and interviewers have picked up on and taken interest in so, if you’ve got some free time, it’s always worth boosting your CV. The specific things I’ve used to boost my applications are reviewing books, volunteering in a bookshop, completing a children’s writing course and doing a fiction-focused EPQ in college. There are so many things you can do to make yourself noticeable and I’d really recommend going out of your way to try some of them if you get the chance!

Be Patient

I know that this is terrible advice, but it’s important. In such a competitive industry, an internship opportunity might not appear overnight. It’s so disheartening when you don’t hear back, but it just means you have to keep searching for opportunities, checking forums and sending out those emails. If you persist and be patient, I’m sure something will come up; it did for me!

I’d love to know if you found these helpful or if you have any advice to add to the list! Also, please let me know if you’re interested in these kinds of posts and if there’s anything else you’d like to know about publishing internships.

Best of luck in your internship search!

BOOK REVIEW: DOGS (STAGS 2) by M A Bennett

(Thank you ReadersFirst and Hot Key Books for an ARC of this book– sorry it took so long!)

I’ve been excited about a sequel to ‘STAGS’ since I first read it a couple of years ago. The first book ends on quite a dramatic cliffhanger and I was always desperate to find out what happened next.

In DOGS, Greer is finally coming to terms with what happened at Longcross last year. She’s finally realising that she can continue at STAGS and use its prestige to get into Oxford, leaving the dangerous memories of Longcross behind and going on to better things. The fact that she needs to get an impressive grade in Drama and an anonymous source is feeding her the manuscript for a centuries-lost play to direct only seems to add to that.

That is, until she begins to unravel the connection between this long-lost play and the prestigious Order that almost got her killed the year before. And maybe, that this play will help her to unravel something even darker that is happening at Longcross.

This book isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I thought about a sequel for STAGS. It covers everything I would have expected after the revelations about the Order of the Stag, but following the story through an Elizabethan play is not the way I saw the story progressing. Despite this, I found the book to be an incredibly captivating thriller, tying up the loose ends of STAGS and leaving more for a potential series conclusion.

The characters didn’t seem as clear-cut for me as in the first book, and it came across like nobody, even my favourite characters from STAGS, could be trusted. At the same time, it remains confusing for much of the novel who the real villains could be also. M.A. Bennett did a great job of making me question everything I liked about certain characters from the first book, only to circle them back around for redemption as the story progressed.

I really enjoyed this book and will undoubtedly read Book 3 if and when it is released. It’s incredibly impressive that the author took a long-lost play and weaved it so effectively into her own story about privilege and I can’t help but think that M.A. Bennett has even more impressive works to come. I’d certainly recommend this book and, obviously, STAGS if you really wanted to get into the story.

P.S: I believe all copies of this book contain the bonus material at the end and I found this in itself really interesting! There are various pages of information, both fictitious and factual, about STAGS and ‘The Isle of Dogs’ that made the book last just a tiny bit longer and even answered some of the more random questions this book might have left you with.

RATING: 4/5

If you want to pick up a copy of this book, you can get it here! And if you haven’t read STAGS yet, you can get that here.

(I get a small commission if you use my links)