Posts By: Vlora

Morally Ambiguous Characters and Magical Writing

December 15, 2015 books, reviews 6

a darker shade of magic on reviews and cake

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.

A Darker Shade of Magic has been on my to read list for ages. I heard about it a couple of times, and I follow Victoria Schwab on twitter, so I kept reading about parallel worlds, magic, and pirates. I read and reviewed Vicious, her adult book, and now I finally got around to this one. And let me tell you – I was intrigued from the start! I think the first few chapters are the strongest of the book, because they’re such a great introduction to the world and the characters of A Darker Shade of Magic. The writing just felt magical (unrelated to the book’s subject) and, like with Vicious, I found it very cinematic. Worldbuilding at its best!
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Working in Publishing as a Cougar: Younger

December 10, 2015 recs, reviews, tv shows 2

TV Show Thursdays on Reviews and Cake

Welcome to TV Show Thursdays, where I discuss TV Shows, review episodes and give my commentary on anything TV Show related!


Today I want to talk about Younger. I just recently discovered this TV show when I was looking for something fun and new, and I binge watched the entire first season in a day. It focuses on Liza, a 40-year-old who pretends she’s a 26-year-old college graduate with a history of charity work in India to land a job in the publishing industry. She moves in with an artist friend in Brooklyn, gets herself a younger lover and makes friends at her new place of employment. Liza is played by Sutton Foster, who TV show geeks like me might know from her time as the leading character in Bunheads, the show co-created by Gilmore Girls maker Amy Sherman-Palladino and Lamar Damon that was sadly cancelled after just one season.



A huge reason why I like this show is that it’s set in the trendy New York publishing world bookish dreams are made of. It being a TV show it’s not as realistic as it could be, but all the book references are fairly awesome. I’m still waiting for the book blogger mentions, but maybe next season. More than that, almost all the important characters are women, which is a nice change from most shows. The show isn’t groundbreaking and it portrays millenials like a parody of themselves, but it’s fun to watch, and if the premise sounds good to you, I’d recommend giving it a chance!

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What I Learned During NaNoWriMo 2015

December 9, 2015 miscellaneous, writing 6

November, or as some writers know it “that crazy month where you ditch life and try to write a book in four weeks”, has come and passed and selfless person that I am I’d like to share some insights with you (fun fact: I once wrote “insides” instead of “insights” in a university essay and didn’t catch it while proof reading, so now I’m always worried it’ll happen again and people will think I want to share my innards with them – I do not).

So first things first: I didn’t win. It pains me to admit it, but since I so cockily declared that I Bet I Can Write a Book, I figured I should share my failure with you and explain to you why it wasn’t actually a failure. HOW CONVENIENT, you might think and you would be completely right, but keep an open mind. Generally, I mean, not in relation to my fake failure, you may judge me on that all you want. It never hurts to keep an open mind, does it? Look at Aberforth and his goats – some might wonder why JK Rowling chose to include bestiality in her books, but never explicitly mentioned Dumbledore was gay in the text, but to those people I say keep an open mind; maybe Aberforth loved his goats more than Dumbledore loved Grindelwald and clearly love is more important than taking over the world is what I say to deflect attention from my devious plan of taking over the world (fun fact number two: Sometimes I wonder whether what I’m writing is inappropriate or only makes sense to 0.2 out of a hundred people. That’s usually the stuff that I keep).



Before I grace you irritate you with more weird Harry Potter humor, let’s take a look at the things my first NaNoWriMo experience taught me!
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How Often Should I Post?

December 8, 2015 discussion, miscellaneous 8

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.


Topic

There’s a lot of blogging advice out there when you look for it, and I usually ignore most of it, but this has me stumped. How often should I post? To be honest, I usually just do as I please, which means that sometimes there are 7 posts a week (okay, admittedly not that often) and sometimes there aren’t any for three weeks. I think it’s important not to get stressed about it when it’s a hobby, because it should be fun, but I do get itchy when I haven’t posted something in a while. I agree with most advice out there that it’s important to be somewhat consistent, but that still leaves the question of frequency.
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Ten Feel Good Movies For When You Need Some Light Entertainment

December 7, 2015 fun, miscellaneous, movies, recs 6

I was looking for posts on feel good movies earlier today, so I figured I’d just make one of my own. When I need some distraction, I tend towards the light and entertaining, and I could write a whole essay on why these kinds of feel good movies are just as important as all your dark, critically acclaimed epics, but I’ll give you this list instead. Feel free to add to it in the comments; I’m always looking for recommendations! These are some of my very favorites, the créme de la créme of movies that bring a smile to my face.

What a Girl Wants

The classic modern day Cinderella story set in London’s royal society, starring Amanda Bynes as Daphne Reynolds, a girl from New York who is trying to figure out who she really is. I’ve watched this movie too many times to count when I was younger, and I still enjoy it now. My memory isn’t usually good enough to quote movies, but I can mouth the lines to this one.


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ALL THE BOOKS

November 29, 2015 books, miscellaneous 7

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What’s New?

Good things that happened this week:

  • dancing and free cocktails
  • fun times with friends
  • new creative ideas

The Shiny



I caved and bought a Kindle Voyage, so obviously I had to fill it with things. Lots of things. All of them have been on my to be read list for a while now though. I have to admit, it’s a bit of a struggle to decide whether I want to buy books on my Kindle or physically now. Forget that whole what’s better debate (it’s literally the same content) the real problem here is that I want to read them on the Kindle, but I ALSO want to ogle them on my shelf.

cinder cover marissa meyer on reviews and cake mortal heart by robin lafevers cover on reviews and cake dumplin by julie murphy cover on reviews and cake

And then there was this. One of the perks during Patrick Ness’s Save the Children fundraiser were signed copies of Alexandra Bracken’s Through the Dark, a collection of short stories set in the world of her The Darkest Minds series. I love that series, but I couldn’t buy the short stories before, because they weren’t available in Germany. I was planning to get the book anyway when it was released, so this was perfect!

Through the Dark by Alexandra Bracken cover on Reviews and Cake

Yes, I have books instead of hands now. Kind of impractical, but I’m making it work.



I didn’t think I was getting a copy, because I didn’t get an e-mail notification when they were sent out (there was a limited number), so imagine my surprise when I went to the post office to ostensibly pick up a boring university book and got this instead!


On the Blog

Tune of the Week



The song that’s been used in about a million fan videos of every TV show ever… Enjoy.

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

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Favorite Harry Potter Moments

November 26, 2015 books, fun, miscellaneous 14

I’ve been indulging in my Harry Potter addiction again recently, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite moments of the books/movies with you. I haven’t reread them, so this is a non-comprehensive, random list, but I thought some of you might enjoy it. :)

1. When Hermione hits Draco

I’m generally a very non-violent person, but there’s just something so satisfying about Hermione losing her shit and backhanding Draco. I think she slaps him in the book, but punches him in the movie? Either way, it’s glorious.


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Are We Targeting The Wrong Audience?

November 24, 2015 discussion 16

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.


Topic

This post is inspired by a discussion about why reviews receive less comments than other posts on These Paper Hearts. In it, Stephanie raises the question of whether we are too focused on catering to fellow bloggers instead of readers who don’t have a blog themselves. As this is something I’ve been thinking about myself, I thought I’d start a discussion.

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Snow and Capitalism

November 22, 2015 miscellaneous 10

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What’s New?

This week I’ve spent some time at the university library not getting any work done; went to work where I did actually get some work done, because they pay me for it and apparently money is a stronger motivator than my self-development (who would have thought? Oh right, capitalism); and met up with some friends. NaNo is still on hold and will probably continue to be so, because I didn’t make that much progress on my term paper. In unrelated news, it was snowing today, so apparently winter is a thing now. More importantly, Christmas chocolate is a thing now! I mean, technically I’ve been seeing Christmas products in stores since August, but this is the time when I start to actually acknowledge them.


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The Martian

November 19, 2015 miscellaneous 6

This is just a quick movie recommendation post to tell you YOU NEED TO WATCH THE MARTIAN.




I know this was a book first, but I haven’t read it yet, so I can only talk about the movie, which is BRILLIANT. I liked Matt Damon in Interstellar, but I mostly went to see this movie because nothing much else was on at the time. I almost DIDN’T watch it, because I wasn’t in the mood for something too serious. Boy, would I have missed out.

The Martian is serious in parts, but it’s also really frickin’ hilarious. It’s exactly my kind of humor, and basically I want to be friends with Mark Watney. The premise is that a mission on Mars goes wrong and someone (Mark) gets left behind and has to survive all by himself. I was worried it might be slightly boring to watch a movie with a character who can’t interact with anyone, but nope nope nopity nope. It’s funny and uplifting, and I’m in love.

If you have the chance to watch The Martian do yourself a favor and don’t hesitate! You can thank me later.

Have you read the book? Watched the movie? Planning to watch it?

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Why I Read Young Adult

November 17, 2015 books, discussion 20

See? See! I’m not only telling you why I DON’T do stuff. Today you can get another unwanted and unasked for insight into how my brain works. Aren’t you excited? I know I am.



I’m 22, and I love reading Young Adult. I’m pretty confident that’s not going to change anytime soon. It’s not the only thing I read, but I think it’s safe to say the majority of books I read are classified as YA. I know a lot of people already outlined their reasons for reading Young Adult as an adult, but I’ll contribute to the discussion, because I feel like it, and because some people still view YA as lesser.
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NaNoWriMo Week 2 + Snippets

November 16, 2015 miscellaneous, writing 2

My week two writing process was very… mercurial. You’ll see what I mean. I did write words though, so I decided to share some snippets in between my daily recounts. Everything subject to change, obviously.



Day 1:

I challenged myself to write 5.000 words today. I needed 3.700 to make up for not writing over the weekend, but 5.000 was a prettier number, and I like a good challenge. Actually I hate a good challenge, and I’ve been struggling all day, but- OMG I DID IT. I procrastinated all day and didn’t really start writing until late evening, and it’s exactly 3 am now, which isn’t ideal, because I need to get up and go to work at 8 am, BUT SCREW IT I ACTUALLY DID IT. I’d like to thank the academy, my family, my writerly friends, and, most importantly, the progress bar in the Scrivener project and session target tool that turns from red to green as you reach your target word count and makes writing seem like a mini game I am 97.6% convinced it’s the reason I’ve been reaching my goals so far. Word written: 5.211

Alex sat down on her bed to put on a pair of tights, swearing when her fingernail caught on the silky material. “I swear these things are made to torture people.”

Allie looked over her shoulder at where Alex was fighting with her tights. “I’m pretty sure they were used during the Spanish Inquisition. Who needs an eyeball scraper when you can use tights?”

“An eyeball scraper? Sometimes you scare me,” Alex said. She was finally happy with the tights and stood up to smooth down her dress. She had still been wearing her make-up when Allie arrived, but she added some dark red lipstick to round out the look. Allie beamed at her in the mirror.

“Thank you. I do try.”

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We’re live in 3… 2… 1…

November 14, 2015 books, fun, miscellaneous, writing 10

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What’s New?

Me and my friend Verena (she blogs in German, but I’ll link to her blog anyway, because you can look at her drawings) are going to have our own radio show soon! As you might or might not remember, I did an internship at a local radio station this summer, and I decided to ask whether I can do my own show. I convinced Verena to join me, because I thought it would be more fun together. We worked on a concept last week and presented it at the monthly meeting yesterday. They all voted yes, so we’ll be going live for an hour every four weeks starting January. I’m really excited about it, because I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun, and it’s good practice if I want to do something radio-related after uni. In other news, I’m still doing NaNoWriMo, although slightly less successfully. I’m a bit stuck in my story, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out and persevere.

I also edited my England vlog, so if you’re interested in seeing what I got up to, you can do that here. I know, you’ve been waiting with bated breath.


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Happy Endings Are …Underappreciated?

November 12, 2015 fun, recs, reviews, tv shows 4

TV Show Thursdays on Reviews and Cake

Welcome to TV Show Thursdays, where I discuss TV Shows, review episodes and give my commentary on anything TV Show related!




Happy Endings is one of the most underrated shows I’ve ever come across. No one I know has ever heard of it, let alone watched it, so it’s one of those I’m-the-only-person-in-my-fandom situations. I started watching it without realizing there were only three seasons and was completely dumbstruck when it suddenly ended. Still, there are three seasons, and they’re worth watching, so I’m giving it a shout out here.

What it’s about

You know how every TV show featuring an ensemble cast of friends gets compared to Friends? And how there are so many of them? Well, there’s a reason: a lot of times they fail, but when they work, they work (see: HIMYM). Happy Endings is one such show. It starts off with Alex and Dave at the altar, ready to get married. Only things don’t go according to plan, because Alex runs out on him, jeopardizing not only her relationship with Dave, but the entire dynamic of their clique. (Isn’t clique such a nineties word? I’ll keep it in here just because of that. And because I can’t think of another one at the moment, but psht.)
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Why I Don’t Go To The Library

November 10, 2015 books, discussion, fun, miscellaneous 19

This is sort of a companion post to Why I Don’t Review ARCs. I know it sounds like I’m just trying to be contrary, but I promise it’s more than just a leftover pseudo-rebellious streak from my teenage years. I think.

Let me start this off by saying I love libraries. I think libraries are one of humanity’s greatest inventions, and I spent about 90% of my childhood in one. For a couple of years, we had a library right next to our school, so it was basically get up -> go to school -> go to the library -> read -> go to bed, rinse and repeat. Then the library moved ten minutes away, and I had to walk up a hill to get there. Pretty sure that’s the most continuous exercise I ever got, which is saying something because it was a pretty short walk. I should look into gyms again.

So why haven’t I owned a library card in years and years? Well, my dear reader, much like Voldemort’s soul, the reason comes to you in seven parts. (If you’re asking what the eighth one is, it’s probably you.)

1. I’m lazy.

This should come as no surprise to you. I mean I’d have to actually leave my house and who wants that. Then I’d have to haul approximately fifteen books all the way to the library to return them and another fifteen from the library home. Why so many? BECAUSE BOOKS ARE SHINY AND I NEED OPTIONS. Like, seriously, they’re free no matter how many I take, so why limit myself?



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Strange Dates and Face Tattoos

November 9, 2015 miscellaneous 12

I’m supposed to write 5.000 words today, so I thought what better way to accomplish that than to …write a blog post that does absolutely nothing for my word count. If you’re new here, don’t worry; this is normal behavior. Well, for me.



I’ve always wanted to participate in the Beautiful People link up, but I wasn’t actually writing much, so there wasn’t much of a point. I am doing NaNo this year though, so MY TIME HAS COME.

1. Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?

Errr… both? It’s kind of too early to tell. I had very little expectations to begin with and the few things that I do have semi-worked out in my mind won’t be an issue until later in the book.

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

Dammit, you’re gonna make me share snippets? That’s not fair. Fine, here you go.

It was going to be great. No, it was going to be phenomenal. It was going to be the best date she had ever been on, and there was nowhere she would rather be at the moment. – a delusional character

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NaNoWriMo Week 1

November 8, 2015 miscellaneous 4

Day 1: Took me a while to get going (read: all day), because I was tired as hell this morning and realized I should have plotted more in advance, but I managed to reach the daily goal in the end. I had about 2500 words before I started, but the project completely changed from what I had in mind when I was first writing it a few months ago, so I had to rewrite the entire first chapter and change up the rest. I’m counting the rewriting, so I actually did okay on my first day. Words written/rewritten: 2733.

Day 2: It’s actually going well! I only really started writing in the evening, but I’m always tired in the mornings, so it’s probably for the better. I finished my rewriting and then kept going to add more words to the story. I really got into it the last couple of hours, but it’s almost 2 am, and I have to be at work tomorrow, so I’ll stop here. Words written/rewritten: 2505



Day 3: I’m kind of amazed I actually reached my daily goal today. I had to work during the day, and then I went to a friend’s place to write, but I was struggling with my (non-existent) plot, so I had to go back to the drawing board. I still need to plot more, but I actually managed to persevere and reach my word goal back home. I thought for sure that I would have to settle for less, but somehow I pulled through. It is 2 am now though, and I have to get up early tomorrow, so I’ll log off now. Words written: 1670.
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She Needs to Sort Out Her Priorities

November 6, 2015 miscellaneous 14

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What’s New?

Writing has first priority at the moment, so I’m more or less ignoring everything else. I went to work, obviously, because money, but university is a mess. I haven’t had time to write my term paper, which wouldn’t be that horrible if it weren’t for the fact that I have no clue how late would be too late to hand it in. I also dropped a lecture, but I don’t feel bad about that, because I wasn’t that interested in it, and I replaced it with a three day seminar in January, when I will hopefully have more time to attend to mundane matters like getting my degree.

The only other interesting thing I did this week was to work on a radio show concept with my friend Verena, who got roped into the whole thing, because I thought it would be more fun together, and I had no clue what to do on my own. I think we came up with something good, so let’s hope it gets the green light next week!

I’m off to visit a friend for two days, which means I probably won’t be able to write, but I’m looking forward to the trip!
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Why I Don’t Review ARCs

November 5, 2015 books, discussion, miscellaneous 25

Quick confession: part of the reason I started this blog was because I read that book bloggers receive ARCs, and I thought that was so cool. Now I quickly grew out of this, because I love blogging, and I realized I couldn’t care less about ARCs, but still hear a lot about ARCs, so I thought I’d address the subject.

Here’s why I don’t read ARCs:

1. I live in Germany, but I read books written in English. There are more than enough book bloggers in English-speaking countries, so it doesn’t make sense for publishers to send me ARCs.
2. This could easily be remedied by requesting ebooks, but I prefer print books, so that’s not an option for me.
3. I’m the moodiest mood reader in the history of moods. If I had a list of ARCs to read, it would just feel like work instead of fun.
4. I, um, kind of like book shopping. Would I like for books I’m genuinely interested in to randomly appear at my doorstep? Certainly, but I really don’t mind ordering them myself either. It can be costly, but money spent on books is never a waste of money in my head so that’s fine.
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Could You Be A Better Chosen One Than Simon Snow?

November 3, 2015 books, reviews 2


Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

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