Searching for Inspiration?

Inspiration always seems to be one of those things that ebbs and flows. When you don’t have it, sitting down to write even fifty words suddenly seems like an impossible task. When you do have it though… what a feeling it is. You feel as though you just have so much that needs to be said, and for me, it’s as though I can’t get it all out of my head quickly enough and transform into something tangible and real.

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Starting this new year at university (my second year) has brought with it a mixture of emotion in terms of inspiration. I am simultaneously met with the trepidation that comes with having taken a break from reading academic texts and knowing that soon enough I’m going to have to string my understanding of them together into something coherent, and feeling as though I’m ready to throw myself into really building a solid creative foundation for myself. I’ve decided that I am going to run for a role on the student newspaper, and writing it here means that I have committed and I can’t let the opportunity pass by. I’m holding myself accountable to this blog to make sure that I actually do it. I’m also becoming increasingly focused on thinking about the direction that my blog is going to go in in the foreseeable future, and the changes that I am planning on making. So, while I feel as though I have so many projects and ideas bouncing around at the moment, I also feel deeply inspired just to write and wanted to write it here while it still causes me to feel genuine excitement to open up a document and let the words run.

For this post, I wanted to share some of the places that I get inspiration from, and some of the tasks that I set myself to ensure that even if I’m in the middle of a creative slump, I know where I can pick back up again from. Continue reading “Searching for Inspiration?”

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The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner: A Review

I feel like it takes a particularly talented sort of writer to set their story in a small town; you begin to realise very quickly that the characters are going to run out of things to do. That means that your story requires characters who need only exist to keep you captivated… and that is exactly what Jeff Zentner has in The Serpent King.

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“Dill is a misfit in his small, religious Tennessee town. His dad is in prison for a shocking crime, and his mom is struggling to make ends meet. The only things getting Dill through senior year are his guitar and his fellow outcasts, Travis and Lydia.

Travis is an oddball who finds comfort from his violent home life in an epic fantasy book series. And Lydia is like no one else: fast-talking, creative and fiercely protective. Dill fears his heart will break when she escapes to a better life elsewhere. What Dill needs now is some bravery to tell Lydia how he feels, to go somewhere with his music – and to face the hardest test of all when tragedy strikes.”

Genre: Contemporary YA

Year of Publication: 2016

Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd

Page Count: 372

Spoiler-Free Review: Yes


Before I started reading The Serpent King, I’d heard people saying that this was a heavily character-driven novel – but this is never off-putting to me. Taking this further, though, Zentner does the one thing which I always feel is risky in contemporaries but usually seems to work in fantasy: he flicks between three perspectives. It always seems like a risk because you have to contend with the possibility that one character is almost inevitably going to be more interesting than another. With Dill, Lydia, and Travis… this just wasn’t the case. Each character had such a distinct personality that still blended perfectly with the others and made me pleased to see that their perspective was back on the page.

Continue reading “The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner: A Review”

Reflection: August 2018

Here we are, over halfway through the year and past the month that traditionally constitutes a lot of reading for me. BookTubeAThon ran into August so several of these books I’ve mentioned a fair bit already, but I did manage to finish another couple on top of the ones I read for the readathon!

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BOOKS READ

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (1937)

I decided to read this book as my BookTubeAThon choice for a book with green on the cover, and I’m so glad that I did. I didn’t have much luck with my first book of the readathon, so it was definitely a good idea to pick up something that I already knew I loved just to make sure that I didn’t lose my motivation or momentum. It’s been a couple of years since I last read The Hobbit but I often rewatch the films, so I was excited to remind myself of how much of it correlated to events that take place in the films and how much differs (hello Legolas.) I feel like I constantly go on endlessly about my love for Tolkien’s writing, so just know that The Hobbit, as always, didn’t disappoint!

My rating: 5/5 stars Continue reading “Reflection: August 2018”

Strange Secrets by Mike Russell: A Review

Mike Russell gets his message right when he labels everything as “strange.” It’s definitely the best way of describing this collection of short stories…

“Discover the mystery of the two-headed rose and many more Strange Secrets in this new collection of extraordinary stories by Mike Russell. ‘It can’t be real.’ ‘But it is.’ Strange Secrets invites you to discover the magical and the marvellous. Startlingly inventive and constantly entertaining, these unique, vital and vividly realised stories will take you to places you have never been before.”


Genre: Surreal fiction (is that a genre?!)

Year of Publication: 2018

Publisher: Strange Books

Page Count: 156

Spoiler-Free Review: Yes

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The premise of Strange Secrets is that we are presented with a series of eight short stories, each of which doesn’t directly relate to one another but ties in with the common theme of strangeness. We never know quite what is real and what is not, and Mike Russell takes us on a journey through situations where we are left questioning everything. Continue reading “Strange Secrets by Mike Russell: A Review”

A Literary Trip to Edinburgh

In the middle of July, Emily and I finally embarked on our trip to Edinburgh after having had it planned for several months and waiting eagerly for it to arrive. After a six-hour train journey we made it: the sun was shining and so much waited to be explored. By no means is this post going to be an exhaustive list of everywhere we went, but I thought it might be fun to do something a little different, and document everything related to literature that we did and saw whilst there!


Arthur’s Seat

Climbing Arthur’s Seat was undoubtedly the number one thing I wanted to do during our visit to Edinburgh, and it was so worth it. Arthur’s Seat is literally what the name suggests – the supposed location of the legendary King Arthur’s castle in Camelot. Given the prominence of Arthurian literature in the medieval period, I felt justified in including this in the literary category of our trip! The views from the top were mesmerising and had everything you could possibly ask for: mountains to one side, city to another, and sea to the last.

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Tom Riddell’s Grave

Although I knew that J. K. Rowling had taken inspiration for many of the names in Harry Potter from a graveyard in Edinburgh, I always assumed it would be somewhere on the outskirts, rather than right in the very centre. I was so glad that I was wrong! We decided, then, that it would be worth taking a quick detour to Greyfriars Kirkyard in order to see some of the gravestones for ourselves. If we were in any doubt that we were in the right place, we would definitely have been aided by the sight of a guy drifting around the graveyard dressed as Dumbledore leading a bunch of tourists! Skipping past that, and gravestones showing the likes of Scrimgeour and Moody, we headed for the most famous: the grave of a man named Tom Riddell. Evidently, this is the one that many people head for, because a path had been set up right to it. It’s so interesting to think that a man would go down in history purely for providing the name for someone else! Continue reading “A Literary Trip to Edinburgh”

Reflection: July 2018

I didn’t finish a huge number of books in July, but I’m going to blame this on the fact that I began Dragonfly in Amber at the start and Diana Gabaldon likes to write 900+ page novels with tiny font (but I’m not complaining!) I also had a few events on, which I will get to in due course! Due to these things, I finished two relatively short books this month, although both varied dramatically in pretty much every single way possible.

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BOOKS READ

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle (2005)

This is the second of Eckhart Tolle’s books that I have read, and one that largely builds upon the premise set in The Power of Now, which I finished reading last month. To my surprise, I actually ended up enjoying this one even more, and taking more from it. While the first book was focused on tuning in to the present moment, A New Earth uses this to demonstrate how we can recognise the ego in ourselves and live our most authentic lives.

According to Tolle, it is through the dissolution of ego-motivated attitudes and actions that we will be able to create a new, more sustainable Earth, both in terms of human happiness and the physical effects that we are having on this planet. He also emphasises that everything we need to begin awakening is already within us; it is a case of unlearning what we have been conditioned by, rather than learning something new. I loved this. Once again, these ideas resonated deeply with me and I found myself covering this book in highlighter and annotations. Continue reading “Reflection: July 2018”

BookTubeAThon Diary: Day Seven (05/08/18)

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General thoughts: The moment has finally arrived where I can no longer use the readathon as an excuse to spend every spare second of my day reading. BookTubeAThon 2018 has drawn to a close, and I have had the best week. I read more this week than I have in a long while (and my Goodreads goal is looking all the healthier for it,) I interacted with so many new readers and bloggers, and I managed to keep up with posting a blog post every single day. For me, that’s what BTAT is all about.

Today I finished reading Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett, and I really enjoyed it. Although I’m sure you could say that there were some clichés in the novel, I do think in some instances it is quite hard to avoid them. Bennett kept us guessing throughout as to the outcome of the problems that Zorie was facing in the world outside of her campsite, which meant that there was always a continuous feeling in the back of your mind of wondering how things were going to possibly work out when she returned to “civilisation.” Zorie and Lennon themselves were both characters that I was undoubtedly rooting for, and their relationship was one that I really enjoyed seeing explored with all the revelations that came along with it. The beautiful setting, also, provided the perfect background to do that in. Overall, I would definitely recommend it as the ideal read for summer, as although it does have some darker themes running throughout, at its core it’s all about love, with a few stars thrown in here and there. Continue reading “BookTubeAThon Diary: Day Seven (05/08/18)”