Posts By: Vlora

Impromptu Reading Marathon and Abs

March 12, 2016 books, miscellaneous 16

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What’s New?

I know, I know. It seems like we’re back on the whenever-I-feel-like-it blogging schedule of last year, but I’M ALIVE AND WELL HELLO LET ME HUG YOU. I haven’t had tons of energy for blogging lately, but I’ve been reading loads. I’m very active on Goodreads at the moment, so if you feel like running commentary find me there! In actual news, I’ve been applying to universities all over the UK for my MA. I have no clue how realistic it is that I’ll get in (my grades are fine, but these universities want A LOT of stuff for the fact that you have to be filthy rich to attend). During the process of doing this, I have learned to appreciate German universities, simply because they’re free. I mean seriously 9k for a year PLUS stupidly expensive living expenses? I don’t compute.

The Shiny

It seems I bought a lot of books the last few weeks, but I have also been reading a lot, so there. Of course I could have been reading the books I already have, but where’s the fun in that? Pictures all courtesy of Goodreads, because I bought all of these for my Kindle.

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A Gathering of Shadows

February 29, 2016 books, reviews 4

a gathering of shadows book cover on reviews and cake

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

from Goodreads

I tried out at least five different beginnings to this review, because I can’t find any words to convey how much I loved this book. Since I really liked the first book in the series, I preordered this one and started reading shortly after it was delivered to my Kindle around midnight on its release date. Victoria Schwab usually writes great beginnings, but I think this might have been my favorite one yet. It has a very Pirates of the Caribbean flair to it and there’s trickery and action and cleverness and basically yes, please. However, as I read on I was all prepared to give the book a mediocre rating. I didn’t love Lila, because it felt too much like she was only written to be badass if you think that killing people and acting inconsiderate is badass. I liked returning to this world, but the story dragged a tiny little bit. But… then I got sucked in again and I freaking loved every single thing about it. Let me tell you why.
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Do You Use Your Blog For Job Applications?

February 24, 2016 discussion 12

Talk To Me

is a no-nonsense discussion feature on this blog. No-nonsense means I’m too lazy to make it look pretty. It’s exactly what the title suggests: I’m going to pose a question or tell you my own opinion about something, and I want to know what you think about it! Obviously feel free to write up your own post on the topic and link it in the comments.


Everyone who runs a blog, no matter how big or small, knows that a lot of work, time and discipline goes into it. Depending on your blogging style and your niche, you’ll have to at least think about the following points to varying degrees:

  • content production: how often do you post what, how polished does it need to be and when do you have the time to actually write it?
  • social media presence and marketing: do I need to get pinterest even though I’m more comfortable on twitter? Does it make sense to create a facebook page for my blog? Will people actually follow me? Whether we play the social media game or not you win or you die; there is no middle ground, most bloggers have thought about this at one point or another and a lot of bloggers spend huge chunks of time devoted to their social media presence.
  • platform: should I go self-hosted or use an existing platform? If I go self-hosted, how much do I have to pay? Should I learn some code myself, or should I dish out for a customized theme? Do I need to know Photoshop to make a blog banner? Can I just use a free theme?
  • networking: how much time do I have to reply to comments and comment back? Can I approach bloggers who have a bigger following than I do without making a fool of myself, or will they think I’m a total dork?

These are just a few of the points that can face you when you run a blog. Of course it is always your decision how much time you put into your blog, but creating and maintaining a blog consistently takes a lot of discipline and creativity. It can, however contain personal information, informal writing, or controversial opinions, which is why I’m interested: do you put your blog on your CV if you have one, and if you don’t, would you put it on your CV if you had a blog?
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The Hateful Eight

February 22, 2016 movies, reviews 1

It’s that time of the year again: movie aficionados all over the world scramble to watch the movies nominated for this year’s Academy Awards. I have to admit I’ve only seen a couple of the contenders so far, but The Hateful Eight was one of them.

I did manage to catch an English showing of The Hateful Eight, because there was no way I was going to watch a crappy dubbed German version of it, but I didn’t get to see the 70mm version. If you haven’t been following movie news, Tarantino, in an effort to put all other movie nerds to shame, filmed The Hateful Eight in Ultra Panavision 70, a format that hasn’t been used for decades, which basically means that you get a wider and much more detailed image. Since most cinemas don’t have the equipment to show the movie in this format, there was (is?) a roadshow featuring the movie in its original format and in a slightly longer version. Since I couldn’t go, I can’t say whether it’s worth it, but I have to admit the whole procedure of dressing up and making a proper night out of it appeals to me. Plus, I imagine you get to be pretentious and wax poetic on the vivid colors and crisp image of the movie in Ultra Panavision 70, as opposed to the much inferior digital version, while gesticulating with your wine glass. Ah, one can dream.
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How to Finish Your Project

February 19, 2016 fun, miscellaneous 16

No idea how to finish that project you should have been working on for the last three months? As a chronic procrastinator, I have some handy tips for you. Here’s my ultimate guide for finishing your project. Guaranteed to work!

  1. Remember that new show everyone keeps telling you about? You should start watching it.
  2. Your parents always told you, but it took you this long to realize that a clean house really is a clean mind. This is the perfect time to become a cleaning monster and vacuum, scrub and dust every surface you can find. Daily.
  3. YouTube has more than one billion users. So many people can’t be wrong – it’s time to check back and catch up on your subscriptions, your suggested videos and that one cat video you watched three years ago and then couldn’t find anymore. Look for it now, what’s more fun than a quest?
  4. Made it to the library to work on your paper? Phenomenal, take a break. You deserve it. Put on The Great British Bake Off, get yourself an actual cake from the cafeteria and kick back to appreciate the fine art that is turning boring ingredients into something magnificent. If one of your friends stops by, lecture them on the importance of breaks. People say they do their best work when they’re under a bit of stress, but they’re clearly wrong. Stress is unhealthy. So is your cake, but at least it’s delicious, and it’s more for your soul than your body anyway.
  5. You know where dust collects? On lamps. Get yourself a chair, dismantle that lamp and make sure there’s not a fleck of grey left anywhere.
  6. It’s time to be social. Reconnect with those old acquaintances from school you haven’t seen in ten years. Look for pen pals. Hell, why not be bold and sign up for those dancing classes three times a week you thought you didn’t have enough time or skill for. You have to make the time.
  7. What’s the opposite of procrastination? That’s right, productivity. The law of logic dictates that being productive means you’re not procrastinating, so if there’s project you’ve been waiting to realize, you should do it now. No time like the present. Who knows, it might even become profitable, and who could tell you you were wasting your time then?
  8. Now that you’ve spent so much time on YouTube, you should start thinking about making your own videos. You might have to think of a name and a concept and yes, you will have to learn how to film and edit from scratch, but it’ll be worth it. Just make sure to be consistent in your upload schedule. Twice a day should suffice for now.
  9. Just shove a pizza into the oven? Not you. You suddenly decide to start living healthy and make the pizza from scratch. And by from scratch I mean you not only make your own dough, you grow your own freaking wheat. Tomato sauce? Well, better wait for the right season to harvest the sweetest tomatoes, because a subpar tomato sauce is not a tomato sauce you are going to subject yourself to. Clean away those old pizza cartons while you’re at it.
  10. You know what you need? A pet. Yes, you’ll have to walk your dog several times a day, but you’ll be more energized for it. And think of all the cuddly love you’ll receive. That should be sure to boost your spirits and give you the strength needed to finish your project.
  11. In fact, why not add another addition to your family? A baby is a project much more important and fulfilling than the one you’re working on.
  12. Unless you want to focus on your career right now and don’t think a baby fits in. That’s fine, but you should really put in some extra hours at work to get ahead. Not getting paid as much as you were hoping? Apply for a second job. But remember: Make the money, don’t let the money make you.
  13. And haven’t you always wanted to experience a different culture? You’re young and free and if you’re not you’ll want to feel that way again. Be daring and move to a different country. It’s important to expand your horizon.

And if all else fails, start writing lists and post them to your blog. There, I’m sure that was helpful to everyone involved.


You’re Not Even Prepared

February 7, 2016 miscellaneous 16

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What’s New?

Goooood day, blogglings. I have been informed that I said I’d be back in February and it is now one week into the month without a post from me. All I have to say to that is well… yes, BUT I never said I’d be back on the first of the month, so it’s really not my fault if you don’t read the fine print.There was no fine print. Also, when am I ever early to something, give me a break. One week is still fashionably late. Now two weeks, that would have been rude. To make up for the fact that you had to live without me, I decided the best way to celebrate my reappearance would be with some baking pictures. Never let it be said that I don’t put the cake in Reviews and Cake. Sometimes. But first things first.

I’d ask what you’ve all been up to, but obviously you can’t answer me now, so there’d be an awkward pause, kind of like when you send someone a recorded message on whatsapp and ask them a question before you realize they can’t reply and then you have to keep speaking as if you weren’t just expecting an answer. Just me? Ah, well. I’ll tell you what I’ve been up to in the last month then. Brace yourselves; it’s an exciting list. Many adventures were had.
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See you in February!

January 13, 2016 psa 12

Yo blogglings,

As I have to pretend to be an adult for the next 2,3 weeks, I will take a brief hiatus until the end of January, so I can finish my university assignments. I’ll be around on twitter, goodreads, and probably in your comment sections. Check you later, gator.


Sweetgirl: Atmospheric Writing and Clever Characters

January 10, 2016 books, reviews 2

I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A long history with drug addiction means this isn’t the first time Percy’s mother has disappeared, but that doesn’t make Percy worry any less. When she receives a tip on where to find Carletta, Percy braces the oncoming snowstorm to get her mother home. She doesn’t find Carletta, but she stumbles upon Jenna, a neglected baby, and has to brace the biting cold, her almost-step dad’s sarcasm and the gun-wielding drug dealers on their heels to get Jenna to safety.

Sweetgirl isn’t what I’d usually look out for in a bookstore, but the description caught my interest, so I requested it on Netgalley, and I wasn’t disappointed. After the bad luck I had with ARCs at first, I’m kind of amazed that this is my second five star ARC in a row. Mulhauser’s writing is clean and atmospheric and will weave a web of icy roads, gritty characters and a spark of hope around you. It’s rare that an author’s writing really immerses you into the setting of the book, but this is one of those cases. I felt like I was trudging through the snow storm with Percy and Portis, but – more impressively – I felt with the “villains” of the story. From Percy’s perspective, I had to fear them right along with her, but once I got into Shelton’s head, I understood what made him tick – at least a little.
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We Have a Radio Show!

January 9, 2016 books, fun, miscellaneous 12

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What’s New?

I did my first live radio show yesterday! Remember when I did an internship with a local radio station this summer? I have a show there now. It’s on every four weeks and I’m doing it with a friend of mine. If anyone happens to speak German (or wants to listen to some good music) you can listen to the show we did today for a couple more days. There were some slight technical errors the first couple of minutes it was totally not my fault, but after that it went alright for our first show!

After the show I went to dinner with a friend I hadn’t seen in six months, and then I came home and amused myself by singing My Heart Will Go On really loudly (as one does). A few minutes later I realized my roommate was home after all and heard the whole thing. Naturally, I pretended to be on the phone, though I’m not sure why badly singing My Heart Will Go On to someone else would make it any less weird. Other than these exciting going ons, I have a lot of university stuff on my plate and will go and work on that now. Or, well, maybe tomorrow. You know the drill.
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Attachments As In E-Mail Attachments

January 8, 2016 books, miscellaneous, reviews 2

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.

Hey, at least I got the title pun without someone pointing it out to me this time. I love wordplay, but I suck at it. Let’s not talk about the Cinder->Cinderella debacle of 2015 (yes, I know 2015 was literally a week ago, but it sounded good). Anyways, ever since Fangirl, I’ve been reading my way through Rainbow Rowell’s books and when I heard Attachments was an epistolary novel it rocketed to the top of the list (by which I mean there were two of her books I hadn’t read yet and I read this one first).

Attachments is the kind of book where I can understand if someone gives it a low rating …I just disagree. Literally nothing happens for about 90% of the book and the ending was a bit out there for me, BUT it’s also this really sweet story about cyberstalking and befriending people much older than you. Wait no, let me rephrase that. What I mean to say is, the book is as slice-of-life as all of Rainbow Rowell’s other books, so either you like that kind of writing or you don’t.
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Top Priority Writing Projects

January 7, 2016 miscellaneous, writing 9

I’m doing this again, because I thought it wouldn’t hurt to set some writing related goals for this year! Also, I like replying to questions I can actually answer as opposed to Why do we exist? or Is this term paper you’re writing the same term paper you told me about last summer? Fine, I can answer that last question BUT YOU WON’T LIKE THE ANSWER, MOTHER. Ahem. Let us commence.

What were your writing achievements last year?

I almost won NaNoWriMo! It was SO CLOSE. I mean what’s 30.000 words in the grand scheme of things, right? I also wrote some term papers and stuff.

Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?

The book I started last November! I have 20.000 words, and I’m totally not considering starting something else NOPE NOT ME. And my bachelor thesis
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Happy New Books!

January 3, 2016 books, miscellaneous 12

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What’s New?

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all had a smashing start of the year. I spent New Year’s Eve super low-key watching movies with a friend and watching the fireworks from my window, because I had to study the next day and because I’m a rebel and go out on Sundays rather than when everyone goes out because clearly that would be boring I tell myself. I was very productive yesterday, which I’m hoping will continue throughout the year (I know what you’re thinking, BUT YOU CAN’T PREDICT THE FUTURE). I planned to do the same today, but one of my friends returned from a semester abroad, so I didn’t get much done. Wish me luck for the next few days!

The Shiny

I got some books yesterday as a reward for my productivity, but they haven’t arrived yet. I wonder what I should get myself if I ever finish the term paper I’m working on if I get books after one day. Feel free to leave suggestions below. I also got this book, because it was a super cheap Kindle deal and I’ve been wanting to read something by Melissa Keil for ages.

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Shit I’m Going to Do in 2016

December 30, 2015 miscellaneous 16

Last year around this time I wrote a post called The End Is Near: 2014 Accomplishments and 2015 Goals, in which I set some goals for 2015. Now is the time to see whether I actually accomplished any of them. Let’s take a look!

The Moment of Truth

In 2015 I wanted to…

…do well in university

You know what? I’m gonna give myself a check on that one. I procrastinated so much I could write my dissertation on it and I would have done better if I had studied harder or studied at all, BUT overall my grades were between good and really good, so I’d say that’s a mission accomplished. Now I only need to do well on the things that actually count towards my bachelor grade.

…want to work or intern during the lecture free times

I have two major lecture free times a year, in which I’m supposed to write term papers, but don’t have to be at university for seminars. I have to admit that I didn’t do much during the first one, but I did an internship at my local radio station during the second one and also have been working at an office 1-2 times a week since May, so I’ll give myself a check for that one too.
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What a Year! Moving On.

December 29, 2015 books, miscellaneous 17

I thought I had plenty of time to do this and then I realized submissions close in a day and it’s almost New Year’s Eve. I’ll be doing a more personal wrap-up post in a bit, but this is my bookish year. I made some questions up, deleted some and changed others, because it’s the early hours of the morning and there are tv shows I have to watch.

Reading Stats

Number Of Books I Completed: About 35 + some fanfiction.

Number of Re-Reads: None yet, but I’m listening to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as an audiobook every night before bed, so probably 1 before the year ends

Genre You Read The Most From:

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Speed Typing Test Review (How Fast Can YOU Type?)

December 29, 2015 discussion, fun, miscellaneous, writing 15

Help. There are so many more productive things I could be doing. But Kristen asked me whether I’ve ever done any typing tests in the comments of my speed reading test review, so you know what I’m doing for the next hour. I’m much more confident about my speed typing abilities than my speed reading abilities, but we’ll see how it goes. Please no one link me to anything that looks like a test, survey or buzzfeed quiz in the comments after this though, because I will have to forward my university expulsion letter and a bucket full of my tears to you.

If you know me, you’ll know I did my research and totally didn’t pick out the very first test that came up when I Googled “typing test”. This test prides itself on being able to tell your “true” typing speed in 60 seconds (I wonder what a false typing speed would be) and is preset to give you a text from Aesop’s fables, but you can choose different texts to copy. I chose Space Cowboys, because that sounded a lot more fun.

I got 64 words/minute with 1 error, so 63 words per minute. I wasn’t sure if quotation marks and such counted as errors and the fact that the test always colored the next word I had to type blue distracted me a little even though it was supposed to be helpful (my brain is weird and confused but loveable, like Kirk from Gilmore Girls). The test says between 60 and 80 words per minute is fast, but the next level is “pro”, so you know I had to try it again. I left it on Aesop’s fables this time and got 77 words/minute with 2 errors, so still fast, but 5 missing to be a pro. I, um, got competitive with myself then. I chose Baseball Rules and typed 85 words with one mistyped word, so an adjusted speed of 84 words per minute, which officially makes me a PRO. YES, MY LIFE GOALS ARE COMPLETED.

You know I had to use this gif.

I also switched to German once and got a science-y text on musk deer (WTF) and typed 68 words/minute with 51 mistyped words and an adjusted speed of 0 words per minute. Um. I don’t quite know what happened there.
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Shoulderpads and Interventions

December 27, 2015 miscellaneous 2

Holding Out for a Hero Victoria Van Tiem on Reviews and Cake cover

A funny, bitter-sweet romantic dramedy set to an 80’s soundtrack.

The problem with first love is that it never truly dies.
Libby London fell in love in with the 80s, came of age in the 90s, and now, in the 21st Century, she’s completely falling apart… Her New York City fashion sensibility is more ‘vintage tragedy’ than ‘retro babe’ and might just be what’s holding her back in all matters of life and love…

At least that’s what her well-meaning friends think. They’ve staged a #80sIntervention in an effort to bring Libby bang up-to-date. But how do you move forward when the one you love holds you in the past? Between her dreaded birthday party, friend’s madcap ambush, and being forced to relocate her Pretty In Pink thrift shop, Libby’s nearing the end of the rope… If her therapist isn’t quick, it could be a literal one.

I know I said I’m not really doing ARCs, but since I have a Kindle now and I’ve been reading more ebooks my #1 reason is invalid, so I figured I might as well try this netgalley thing the cool kids have been talking about. I requested Holding Out for a Hero in exchange for an honest review (thanks Pan Macmillan) and now it is my duty to pester you until you read it too, because it’s wonderful!
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Dashing Through the… Mud?

December 26, 2015 books, miscellaneous 14

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What’s New?

Meeeeeeerry Christmas, everyone! And of course the token but heartfelt if you’re not celebrating have a merry time anyway. And if you absolutely detest Christmas, I hope you have successfully locked yourself away and will be happy to hear that it’s safe to come out again tomorrow. At least we’re having the warmest December since the beginning of time, so Grinches can rejoice at the lack of snowpeople and snowball fights. Okay, since we started recording the weather, but it’s almost the same thing.

Yes, there’s a seasonally appropriate Hogwarts gif for every occasion.

We had a more or less stressless Christmas Eve (which is when food and family and presents happen in Germany). Yesterday was more of a fuck-off-world-please day for me, so I mainly spent it reading, but today we had raclette and guests and did I mention raclette? I think my favorite time about the winter holidays specifically is that so many of my friends who are usually distributed across the world, or at least the country, are home for the holidays, so I can see them. I don’t have to work next week, but I do have to speedily produce a 20-page essay, so we’ll see how that goes. I’ve also been vlogging again, because what’s more interesting than one random person’s life.

I'm so good at wrapping gifts. At least the deformity keeps the mystery of what's inside alive?

I’m so good at wrapping gifts. At least the deformity keeps the mystery of what’s inside alive?

Me and my cousin Jenna. As you can see I'm the one who got the fashion sense.

Me and my cousin Jenna. As you can see I’m the one who got the fashion sense.

The Shiny

I was all prepared to say I didn’t get anything this week sadface emoticon, but then I realized I bought four books. Oops. I found a voucher from 2013 and one from this year, so I went to town. I know, party hard.

All The Bright Places, Firewalker, Conquest and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

On the Blog

Aaand we’re back to a list with one bullet point. I swear I wanted to write up more posts; I just…didn’t.

Tune of the Week

It’s gotta be something Christmassy this week! I really like this version of All I Want For Christmas Is You (the good part starts at 0:43).

Any cool presents? Funny accidents? We almost burned down the house because the décor caught fire. Like that, but less dangerous and more funny.

As always, I’m linking up with Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and the Sunday Post hosted by the Caffeinated Book Reviewer!

stacking the shelvessunday post


Speed Reading Test Review (How Fast Can YOU Read?)

December 22, 2015 books, miscellaneous 15

I used to think I’m a fast reader.

In class, I was always among the first to finish a text. I read constantly at home, so it made sense that I’d be a speedy reader, right? Then, a couple of years ago, I was rudely awakened when I read the same text as someone else and they finished before I was done with the first quarter. A little later, I stumbled upon the Staples Speed Reading Test, and it confirmed my deepest fears: I’m a slow reader. DUN DUN DUN. I’d excuse myself by saying that English isn’t my mother tongue, but I read more in English than in German these days, so …I can’t.

For no particular reason at all, I decided to write a review of some of the speed reading tests my quick Google search yielded. It’s 1 am. I should probably go to bed.

The Staples Reading Test

ereader test
Source: Staples eReader Department

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Christmas and Cookies!

December 20, 2015 books, miscellaneous 12

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What’s New?

Good day, my Christmassy friends. I hope you’re having a wonderful time! Christmas is my very favorite holiday, because it’s like a fifth season and it goes on for weeks. What’s better than a holiday that literally lasts an entire month? Friends come home, almost everyone takes at least some time off and there’s great food, reading, cheesy movies and lots of sparkly decorations. Basically, it’s perfection.

At the moment I’m writing this, I’m listening to BBC Radio 1’s rock show and lounging in my comfy Christmas pajama bottoms (they say HOHOHO and also LOL and for some reason there’s a cat emoji involved – I’m not sure what the designers took, but I’m loving it) and I’ve spent the day recovering from a hangover wrapping Christmas presents and watching Elf (how the FUCK does Zooey Deschanel look so different just because she has different hair!??). I wish you all a great Christmas week and fantastic holidays! And if you’re not celebrating Christmas, I wish you a phenomenal non-Christmassy week. Here’s some of my Christmas cookies. I think they’re pretty handsome if I may say so myself!
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Do You Review A Lot of Books You Didn’t Like On Your Blog?

December 17, 2015 books, discussion 26

Talk To Me

is a no-nonsense discussion feature on this blog. No-nonsense means I’m too lazy to make it look pretty. It’s exactly what the title suggests: I’m going to pose a question or tell you my own opinion about something, and I want to know what you think about it! Obviously feel free to write up your own post on the topic and link it in the comments.


Bloggers, I have a question for you! Recently, I realized I mainly review books, movies and TV shows that I liked, so there’s a much higher percentage of favorable reviews on my blog. Naturally, I was wondering if you do the same, or if I should make more of an effort to share negative reviews as well.
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