Bookcase Box unboxing

I was so excited to be able to spoil myself with a Bookcase Pop up box – Children of Virtue and Vengeance. So when it arrived earlier this month, it was like a bonus Christmas present.

So please check out the full unboxing below.

This box was everything it promised to be.

The Bookcase team had some difficulty when it came to the books but at the end they delivered as promised and I am super excited to be adding my second signed first edition to my collection

What was in this box?

A signed first edition hardcover book with sprayed edges

A custom art print

A book mark

A spoiler card.

For only R380 (roughly USD25)

Knowing what shipping and these kinds of books go for this was well worth the money.

I can’t wait for my January Sea Kisses box to arrive

Girl, Stop Apologising

With the personal journey I am undertaking this year, I vowed to include more books that can teach me skills to help me achieve this dream. Girl, stop apologising is the best book possible book to kick this journey off.

Rachel Hollis is such a talented author, she even convinced me that I can become whatever I wish. She motivates and enable you to chase your dream, with quick fire tips, well thought out guidelines and positive affirmations.

if you have ever felt shamed for your dreams and ambitions – THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU!

I’m hesitant when it comes to recommending self improvement books, but this one will be on my bedside table for a while.

Focusing on upliftment and attainable goal setting, Hollis gives you steps and guides to help make your dream a reality. And she does this in understandable English. So often these kinds of books are filled with overwhelming statistics and studies that the average Jane (yup, that’s me) find it difficult to follow and lose the plot before the halfway mark.

Every girl, women, mother, daughter, sister, wife should read, listen and live this!

Synopsis

“I believe we can change the world. But first, we’ve got to stop living in fear of being judged for who we are.”

Rachel Hollis has seen it too often: women not living into their full potential. They feel a tugging on their hearts for something more, but they’re afraid of embarrassment, of falling short of perfection, of not being enough.

In Girl, Stop Apologizing, #1 New York Times bestselling author and founder of a multimillion-dollar media company, Rachel Hollis sounds a wake-up call. She knows that many women have been taught to define themselves in light of other people—whether as wife, mother, daughter, or employee—instead of learning how to own who they are and what they want. With a challenge to women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams, Hollis identifies the excuses to let go of, the behaviors to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to growth, confidence, and believing in yourself. 

About the Author

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Rachel Hollis is a bestselling author, TV personality, in-demand speaker, and founder and CEO of Chic Media, the foremost authority on premium digital content for women. Named one of Inc. Magazine’s “Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30,” Rachel uses her infectious energy to empower women to take control of their lives and pursue their passions without fear. Motivational, inspirational, and always approachable, Rachel’s tell-it-like-it-is attitude is a refreshing approach that allows her to authentically connect with millions of women around the world. 

Check out her website

Inspirational characters and what they have taught me

Part of the blog this year will focus on my personal journey. And as such I am going to include lists with things I have learned from my reads, things I loved, things that changed the way I think.

First up I am going to focus on characters that inspired me. And the Authors behind them.

ROMANOV

In this epic historical fantasy fiction, author Nadine Brandes takes us on a journey that the world is familiar with, but she gives it an alternative ending. Anastasia’s story in this novel, taught me you have to do something different if you want a new outcome. Magic is a great thing to have but ultimately choices makes all the difference in the world.

KINGDOM OF ASH

Throne of Glass is an epic fantasy series that has become world famous. With a large fandom and an extreme hype it is easy to get suck into the fluff of the story. But underneath all that is a very strong message. You are as strong or as weak as you choose to be. No amount of torture can take away your fire crown. You are a princess, a queen, you do not yield! Life will throw you curveballs and force you to put up walls, but in the end you choose what breaks you.

THE SELECTION

We all have felt like we have screwed up a situation once or twice, I know I have. America Singer certainly did screw up several times, on a ridiculous scale. But her bravery in the gained her the happily ever after she never saw coming. Even if you don’t have a plan from the beginning you can still have a happy ending, you just have to be open to the possibility

SORCERY OF THORNS

Elizabeth Scriver spoke to my inner bookworm, the introvert that I have been forced to hide through the years on such a personal level, I was moved to tears several times during this book. It contains a strong message – being different and alone is okay, you don’t need the world to accept you in order to be happy. You just have to accept yourself for who you truly are. Whether the world sees your power or not.

A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY

I cannot love this book more than I currently do. With the message your disability/ disadvantage does not define you, Kemmerer shows how even the most challenging situation can be turned to a positive outcome if you decide that you will not be defined by the boundaries the world has put out for you. You define you.

WE HUNT THE FLAME

In a world where judgement is passed on race, gender, orientation, I absolutely love that there are books encouraging you to embrace who you are. To find a place where you are comfortable being yourself. Your gender is not a disability and it does not have to limit your skill or define you. It is most definitely a reason to show the world what you can do!

ENCHANTEE

Not all of us have a glitz and glam lifestyle, and to be ashamed of where you come from is ridiculous, because for most it wasn’t a choice. It is the hand that you have been dealt and need to make the best of. Enchantee has a strong message of embracing who you are and where you came from. And All that glitters is most definitely not gold. It’s alright to want to be seen without all the glamour the world requires.

GRACE AND FURY

Very often things happen that we have no control over, that we are not prepared for – well at least that’s how I feel. The story of the two sister who’s worlds were tipped upside down, reminded me that you can become a victim of your circumstances or victorious. Even if the role you are given is everything you hate, you can walk away stronger, better. Or you can be broken by it. It’s a choice.

I hope this post has encouraged you to view your books with a new appreciation.

Who are some of your inspirational favorites? Share them in the comments section and remember to hit subscribe.

The Selection series

Did you ever dream of becoming a Princess? Did you envision your fairytale starting with Prince Charming and a stunning dress? Well then join me as we travel through Illea and meet the lovely ladies of the Selection.

Queens and Kings and Crowns and Gowns and all the magic one can associate with a Monarchy – well atleast what my mere mortal mind does anyway. This series took on an unique perspective on the “every girls dream” fairytale. Follow the story of the lively redhead, America Singer as she enters the Selection to stand a chance to become the future Princess of Illea.

With an easy to follow narrative, I was blazing through this story, needing to know EVERYTHING! I was hooked from the first chapter. I wound up reading 6 books in two days. I fell in love with the story, the characters and the writing, feeling like I lost a member of my friend circle when this series ended. I honestly pictured myself in the women’s room, sitting amongst the girls and feeling the tension. The emotive language is some of the best I have encountered.

What I loved most about this series is that character development takes place at a realistic pace, and the author takes great care of showing the inner turmoil that her main characters go through. Ever book has minor conflicts, that build into the greater, overarching conflict of the series. This is usually what separate a great series from a mediocre one.

Although the series can be split in a trilogy and a duology, with a novella collection – I highly recommend reading every single one. Even if you are not a fan of the Bachelor (I know I am definitely not) you will still fall in love with this action packed romance.

Synopsis

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined

The Selection began with thirty-five girls. Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon’s heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America’s chance to choose is about to slip away.

“The best people all have some kind of scar.”

Kiera Cass, The One

The time has come for one winner to be crowned.

When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.

Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she’d put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess’s life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can’t escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn’t expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn’s heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she’s always thought.

When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illéa to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.

Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairytale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and soon Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more impossible—and more important—than she ever imagined.

About the Author

She is a graduate of Radford University with a B.S. in History. She grew up in South Carolina and currently lives in Christiansburg, Virginia with her electrical engineer hubby, car-obsessed son, and princess-loving daughter. She is a #1 New York Times bestseller, woohoo! And also a valued customer at my local cupcake shop.

Check out her website

Red Queen Series

I am absolutely biased when it comes to this series, and find myself a firm member of the Victoria Aveyard fan club. This series what got me into bookstagram and fandoms. Opening up a whole new world to me. This is by far one of my most favorite reads and I obviously had to read it more than once.

This series is an absolute epic.

So let’s start the love at the beginning – the COVERS!!! The artist out done themselves. The crowns on each book is unique and so extremely detailed to fit the inside. Every time I see these I just appreciate the effort more and more. Also, where can I buy one of these?! I feel like this is an epic accessory, we should all just start wearing crowns every day!

The characters are love, hate and hate to love all in one. Aveyard has a talent for creating characters that will have you wanting to kiss, kill and marry them. The guys are dreaming and annoying, masculine and irritating, and the girls – let’s just say I enjoyed the catty banter.

This fandom is epic – especially when it comes to memes. I am a fervent member of the Scarlet Guard, hoping to see the amazing sites of Montfort and absolutely wish I could have a conversation with Mare, Cal, Maven and Farley. The fanart is stunning and the quotes are salty.

Plot twist, plot twist, plot twist – Aveyard is the queen of through you off course. Expect the unexpected. This action packed adventure of a country in revolt will have you hooked from page 1. Giving you flashbacks of the Hunger games meet Xmen, this magical system is one of the best thought out I have encountered.

World building that will have you wishing to see these sites. The detail in the maps get more elaborate as the story goes and the world unfolds. Aveyard is not shy with descriptions, making it so easy to see what this world looks like.

Stick through till the end – book 3 might seem tedious, but partner that with the Queen’s Song Novel and you will appreciate the brilliant mind that is Victoria Aveyard.

The Series

Synopsis: This is a world divided by blood – red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

About the Author:

She’s a screenwriter/YA author who likes books and lists. Her book RED QUEEN was published Winter 2015 by HarperTeen at HarperCollins. I’m repped by the incomparable Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. The genres she’s into include YA, Fantasy, Historical, Adventure, Apocalyptic – if people are dying, I’m buying.

Check out her website

Make 2020 your reading year

Welcome to 2020, guys!

Okay, I know this is a late start, but I was so weirded out by writing this post, that I kept putting it off. I’m still shocked that so many of you actually read what I write here, that I was looking for a way to make this post extra special for you!

2020 is going to be a change year for me. I have reached a point in my life where I decided that I get to live my fairytale as well. Yes, all fairytales have bad characters and conflict, but it’s how you deal with it that matters. So throughout this year, my bookstagram account will include some self care tips and activities, focusing on taking care of your mental health, your self respect and self acceptance.

I am also going to attempt 100 books this year. I ended 2019 with a stunning 92 books read, making me believe that I can really achieve the 100. So please root for me!

Keeping track of these goals can get a bit tricky so I decide to pick up Bullet journaling again. Pinterest has been my main source of creative inspiration here – there are so many awesome templates on there to help you get started. I also created a reading journal, to help me keep track of my reviews and stats. I’ve shortened it to about 20 reviews and uploaded it here for you. Please feel free to download and share this.

If you are interested in a different design, feel free to reach out to me. I also have a society6 store with other artwork and designs that I would love you to take a look at. This helps fund the blog and the DIY projects.

Blog-wise, I am amped for 2020. This year will kick off with a bunch of great book reviews, some templates for you to use in book clubs and bookstagram and some really cool DIY stuff. On the DIY side I will be focusing on a few fandoms. If you want to make sure your fandom is on the list, leave me a comment, and I will totally find something cool for you to DIY at home. I will also try to include downloadable step by step guides for you to use.

So here is to an epic 2020 – May your Mondays be short and your Coffee strong.

xxx L

Favorite Book dedications (2019 edition)

One of my favorite parts of reading, is the book dedications. Authors pour blood, sweat and tears into their work and very often readers forget the sacrifice and dedication that can go into a novel. This year I have found so many great dedications that stood out. These ones were some of my favorites.

Seawitch by Sarah Henning
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Rise of Fire Sophie Jordan
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

Do you have a favorite book dedication? feel free to share them in the comment section.

Grace and Fury

If you had the choice between being a rebel and having rights or being a princess and having no voice, what would you choose?

I found myself on the edge of my seat with this read. And even though there are familiar plot twists, I have found myself rooting for them in the end. I honestly might have wound up hating this novel if the plot twists didn’t happen as they did.

Tweeted by Brigid Kemmerer https://twitter.com/BrigidKemmerer

The voices in this novel addresses the topic of feminism and human rights in a fight for survival kind of way. With an unexpected twist to the story, two sister have to find a way to survive their new circumstances and their way back to one another as both are ill suited to their challenge.

I’m a sucker for a monarchy based story, I find it the most intriguing form of politically challenged stories. And this one takes the cake. I have read many novels this year where the underdog overthrows the monarchy and establishes a democracy, that this novel was a refreshing change in pace. I assume the crucial overthrowing will take place in the sequel, if it does take place.

I found myself warring between which sister I associate the most with. Or rather which ones place I’d be willing to take. The conflict is gripping and the ending heartbreaking.

Synopsis

In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.

Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace – someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir’s eye, it’s Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.

Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.

For more on the Author, check out her website

Get your copy of Grace and Fury as well as the sequel, Queen of Ruin today

Reign of Shadows

Have you ever pictured yourself as a hero in a story? What kind of hero would you be? I myself have become quite a fan of the unconventional hero/heroine. And this novel just made me love them more.

A gripping tale of a kingdom thrown into darkness, literally and figuratively, fighting for survival. Two unlikely friends find love, hope and life changing adventures. With secrets being revealed at every turn of the page (okay, almost every turn of the page) you can’t help but getting sucked into this one.

The writing is fun and flourished and so descriptive, which reinforces the story of Luna. ( Vague, I know, but I don’t want to spoil it.) I found the narrative captivating and easy to follow. This is an ideal high school read. Though air on the side of caution if you are a conservative reader, or a conservative parent.

The world building is dark and eerie and makes the tale all the more magical. But beware of the dark dwellers, for if you wander too loudly through the woods, they might find you. The unconventionality of this novel had me excited from start to finish.

A world of darkness. A love that shines

Reign of Shadows, Sophie Jordan

If you liked Hunger Games and the Hazelwood you will appreciate this read.

Synopsis

Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

The sequel is available, so plan a booked weekend and make your way through both.

The impact your mindset has on your current read

Have you ever wanted to enjoy a book so badly, that you ended up hating it?

I have picked up many a hyped book this year and nearly broke down in tears because I was so disappointed. I love most stories and I feel that there is definitely value in all stories. So when I know I would usually love this kind of read, I start looking at why I don’t love it this time.

The answer was a glaring, red flashing light in front of me – Me! My thoughts and mental health space have a big impact on my ability to get lost in a book. My escape from reality had become another challenge to face. But I wasn’t going to abandon the one thing that helped me cope for so long. So had one of the most insightful conversations ever with my husband.

Lucky for me I have a husband that understand my need to fall in love with the book in my hand and he gives AMAZING advice.

The first few times this happened, he encourage me to “park” the read and return to it later. His words were find a book that you fall in love with on page one. Without realising he has stumbled on a very important aspect in reading. Your mood isn’t the only thing that affects your reading pace.

I am not a big fan of DNF (Did not Finish) when it comes to books. I prefer to “park” and return. I treat difficult reads like my car. I read up until the point when I feel I can’t anymore, park and do something else.

Sometimes the something else is an entirely different book. Either way I still finish the book and up until now I am quite thankful for doing it. Often it happens that the book builds to a better end. Every story is unique. I agree not all reads are for everyone, but all stories have value.

If your mind is not ready for a heavy read, your mood is not going to help you get through it. Your mindset will affect how much you get out of the book.

I struggle with anxiety and depression daily. And reading has become such a part of my daily survival. When I hit a reading slump, I plummet into despair, because a great part of my survival strategy is not working for me.

When this happens my husband suggest picking up an additional book. Reading more than one book at a time is not always great if you get completely lost in a story. But when you feel like things are not going your way a reread of a loved novel is just the remedy.

These are strategies that are proving very effective at the moment.

How can your mental space affect your read?

Stories you would normally love can suddenly be draining, boring or predictable. Things that would normally excite you, can now be tedious and repetitive.

The truth of the matter is, not all of the novels you love will be original stories and therefore some elements will be repetitive. That should not affect your ability to fall in love with them.

My methods are part of my personal journey with mental health challenges, and I am open to try different methods. So if you have a really cool trick or a tried and tested method of finishing a book, feel free to share them in the comments.