2019 Literary Resolutions

This is a month and a bit way too late because I forgot I had the draft of this post sitting and waiting for me. So here it is, way too late.

I’ve found making New Years resolutions motivates me, even if only for two months; January and December. So here are my literary related resolutions for two thousand and nineteen.

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my top 10 reads of 2018

At the beginning of the 2018 I had the goal of reading 20 books in 2018. I managed 12 to my disappointment and surprise. Disappointment that I didn’t reach a goal, but surprise at how difficult it was to fit reading in and how much I did accomplish. That being said I loved nearly all the books I read and ordering these was sooo difficult. So from what I read in 2018, here are my top 10.

10. Warcross by Marie Lu

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genre: science fiction / contemporary

rating: 3.5/5

overview: Warcross isn’t just a game for some, it’s a way of life. People play the  augmented reality game in their daily lives, some to escape the ordinary world and others to make a profit. The story follows Emika Chen, a teenager struggling to make ends meet. She works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. One day, she takes a risk and glitches herself into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships for everyone to see. Instead of being arrested she becomes an overnight sensation and offered a place in the games with a twist.

The thing was drew me into this story was the writing. I remember distinctly thinking that the first chapter is exactly everything a first chapter should be. It got be intrigued, kept me reading, set up the story and made me like the main character Emika. The story contains lots of twists that I didn’t guess as well as a slew of interesting side characters. The actual game of Warcross was very interesting as well as the way augmented and virtual reality worked. Also how Emika actually used sort of code to hack into things instead of the stereotypical ‘type at computer for ten seconds and suddenly you’re in’.

9. When Dimple met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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genre: contemporary

rating: 4/5

overview: Dimple wants nothing to do with her parents traditions. Sure, she respects them but if they truly wanted her to find the “Ideal Indian Husband” they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers… right? Rishi on the other hand is a hopeless romantic. Rishi and Dimple’s parents set the pair up without Dimple’s knowledge with Rishi on a quest to woo her. When it all doesn’t go to plan, hilarity ensues.

I really liked this book and both main characters. Sometime’s you’ll read a multi POV book you’ll only like one POV and hate reading through the other. In this I liked both perspectives. The book also is somewhat funny, a notable scene near the beginning making me laugh out loud. Dimple and Rishi’s relationship developed quite naturally to me, or at least as natural as a YA contemporary can be. Don’t be deceived by how ‘low’ it seems on my list, I really liked this book.

8. Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

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genre: adventure

rating: 4/5

overview: Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president’s son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie’s dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. Maddie tells herself it’s okay. She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full. Until Logan shows up and an assailant appears out of nowhere dragging him to some unknown fate with only her to rescue him.

I should preface this by saying I love Ally Carter books. They’re full of action and mystery and are younger YA (probably because of the lack of swearing and other things). I really want more people to fall in love with her stories. Her Gallagher Girls series is possibly my favourite series ever, but I might make a separate blog post about that another time.

I loved Maddie and Logan’s dynamic and this story. It’s truly the kind of story you don’t find in movies enough. Ally Carter really knows how to write page turning gripping mysteries and adventures and this book is no exception. The book has satisfying plots, nail biting action and characters you’ll become attached to.

7. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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genre: contemporary

rating (at time of reading): 5/5 | rating (now): 4/5

overview: When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. After this meeting they pair up on a school project to see the wonders of their state and make discoveries about themselves and the world around them. Only with Violet can Finch be his true death inclined self. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

I’ve included my rating change to demonstrate how this book made me feel. Because boy did this book make me feel. I became so invested in Violet and Finch’s lives and relationship as it blossoms because of this project. This book ticked all the boxes of a YA romance contemporary and ticked them well. I don’t usually feel sad for characters like I did with this book. But the story is so gut wrenching I don’t know how it’s possible not to. I will acknowledge upon further exploration that some parts may be problematic. It’ll be interesting to see how the story is responded to when the movie comes out sometime next year.

6. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

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genre: dystopian

rating: 4/5

overview: When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control. Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones: an orange with the ability to control minds. When she’s broken out of Thurmond and goes on the run she meets a group of other kids like her all on a quest to find East River, a safe haven for kids like them.

I read this early in the year and loved it. It’s a series and I really have to read the next books but haven’t gotten around to it. Alexandra Bracken’s writing is so brilliant I could easily have analysed it for a school assignment. One quote in particular I wrote down at the time because of how good it was: the night stained the skin under her eyes like bruises. Ugh! How beautiful is that? This book is also gripping, which a book so thick desperately needs to be to retain the readers attention. Although the trend of dystopia has passed I still love reading dystopia and thoroughly enjoyed this book. Of the five colours and their powers I’d want to be a blue (telekinesis) or orange (mind control).

The film also came out this year which was possibly the most accurate book to movie adaptation I’ve ever seen. However, by being so faithful (and dystopian years after the trend) it damaged its ratings from those who haven’t read the books. Which sadly means a sequel is unlikely. Which is annoying when it ends like the book.

5. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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genre: contemporary

rating: 4.5/5

overview: On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day

I read this book over one day which I highly recommend since it is set over one day. This made it more immersive and gripping. That seems to be a general theme with these books: they were all gripping. This book in particular made me feel a way I never have when reading a book. I felt nervous the whole time, in a hopeful yet worried way. You read the book knowing (or thinking) that they’re both going to die at the end. This is a tension tactic that worked the best I’ve ever read. It made me think about life and death, the meaning of it all and what I’d do if I only had one day left. Which are topics I generally enjoy psyching myself out by thinking about. Fun stuff.

4. One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

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genre: contemporary mystery

rating: 4/5

overview: On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Brownwyn, the brain. Addy, the beauty. Nate, the criminal. Cooper, the athlete and Simon, the outcast and creator of the schools notorious gossip app. Except before detentions end, Simon’s dead. The next day he planned to post revealing posts about each of the others, which makes them all suspects in his murder. So pay attention and you might just solve this.

Honestly this book took me two attempts to get into, but once I was in I read it within half a day. It has everything you’d want from a contemporary with a side of mystery: plot twists, suspicious characters and complicating clues. It’s one big puzzle and I loved it. I constantly went between the four characters trying to pinpoint who it was. I want to reread it for that reason to find all the little clues I missed. The book is also becoming a tv series by E! at some point which will be exciting. I really hope it does the story justice.

3. Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein

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genre: psychological thriller

rating: 4/5

overview: Ash Carmody has been traumatised since childhood, when she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away from a carnival. At the time nobody believed Tash, and she has since come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real. Now fifteen and mute, Mallory’s never spoken about the week she went missing. As disturbing memories resurface, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. And she realises Mallory is the key to unlocking the truth about a dark secret connecting them. Does Sparrow exist after all? Or is Tash more dangerous to others than she thinks?

I picked up this book on a whim at my local big w and on it’s release day unknowingly. The tag line ‘a beautifully crafted psychological thriller you can’t put down’ drew me in. And the tag line wasn’t wrong. This was the first psychological thriller I’ve ever read and made me want to find more to read. The characters are realistic, as is the setting. It’s almost so realistic it’s scary, making you think it really happened and isn’t a story. It’s set in Australia (where I am) and incorporated enough Aussie slang to be interesting and not make me put it down. Overall I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone 16+ and also recommend you don’t read it at night. Like I did. Wasn’t great jumping at every noise as she in the story walked around in a spooky(ish) house.

2. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

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genre: contemporary

rating: 4/5

overview: Eleanor and Park is the story of two sixteen year olds who fall in love over school bus rides, cassette tapes, comic books and phone calls. They’re both misfits in their own way. They’re smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

I had to include the US cover in comparison to the UK/AUS cover I own. I held off reading this for years because I was hoping I’d find the US cover in stores because I love it’s style so much. Alas I didn’t, bought the AUS cover and read it within a day. I really liked this book and the main characters of Eleanor and Park. The book was paced so well and the romance grew in a natural way. It had plot twists and a lot of heart wrenching moments. Usually I hate romance in books (and irl) and especially books focused so heavily on it. Yet I really loved this book. I know I was in the right mood for it when I read it which helped it reach number two on my list!

1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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genre: contemporary

rating: 5/5

overview: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Finally, my number one book of the year: The Hate U Give. Gee, I love this book. It’s possibly my favourite book ever, or at least in the top three. Everyone says the story is so important and they’re not wrong. This perspective of the world and of events that are truly happening around the world today is so necessary. It opened my eyes to a perspective I’m not shown beyond tweets and the news. Angie Thomas’ writing style is also great, keeping me engaged and making me read it in two sittings in one day. Starr is likeable and flawed in such a human way. I’m also obviously so excited for the movie which is only coming out in Australia January 31st to my frustration.


So those were my top 10 reads of 2018! Hope you enjoyed.

What were your top few or top 10 reads of 2018? Did you achieve your reading goal if you set one? Was any of your top reads on my list? Comment below!

Have a great day

~ Cel

A year of finishes: what I accomplished in 2018

Looking back on 2018 is a strange experience. It was a busy year for me so I thought it would be worthwhile to reflect upon here.

Finishing my first first draft

Top of my list had to be this. It took me six months of after school writing to complete. At a nice 90,000 words I left the story. What made this so special, other than being my first every first draft, it was a full length version of the first story I EVER wrote to somewhat completion. In middle school I wrote a lot of stories, many being left behind after a dodgy chapter or two. This story, Water (not final name obviously), was something I wrote on good old Wattpad. I believe I updated it weekly, each ‘chapter’ usually ranging between 500-800 words. I didn’t plan much, if anything, of that story instead writing as I went. Currently that story still remains online with 2,000+ reads all together, although the version my computer now holds is very different. I used that story as a vague skeleton for what it is now: one of my most proud accomplishments.

Finishing high school

I had to add this seeing as it was such a pivotal point in my young life. It wasn’t scary for me like everyone says. I found it strange, peaceful in the end and perfect timing. By those final weeks I felt ready to move, to be released into the ‘real’ world. The whole time people would ask us how we were feeling about the transition and it took me until the final day to find the right response. I felt uncertain, and still do, about what comes next. But it feels right and I’m ready to see how my life is about to change.

Obviously 2018 seemed to be a year of finishes, but I know 2019 will be a year of firsts.

july writings

July is camp nanowrimo and once more I signed up. My goal has been to get through 60 pages of revision and writing on my fantasy series, nicknamed Water (that isn’t the final name). When starting I was nearing the end of sweeping through my first draft with the goal of sending it to my friends once I wouldn’t cringe at the idea of them reading it.

I fixed up the first chapters (condensing three into one), changed one characters speech pattern and added in a few foreshadowing details. Then, I moved it into word from google docs and sent it to my friends. Which I only truly took in that other people would be reading my words once I’d clicked send.

This thing is nowhere near being completed, and I’m aware of that, but sending it off was daunting. I have since then received one message where my friend informed me of her predicted ships. I’m awaiting the moment they finish it with gleeful anxiety.

Once I’ve received some feedback and I’ll dive right back in as well as possibly starting the sequel. I know, I know, starting to write the next one may e a bit crazy but it’s been nearly a year since I truly wrote and I’m itching to jump back in.

How are y’all stories going? Are you doing camp nanowrimo?

– Cel

I FINISHED DRAFT 1

The day I was waiting years for finally came. On February 7th at 8:46pm, I finished the first draft of my fantasy novel!

At 90,000 words I typed the last word, leaning back against the creaky office chair I’d borrowed. The last two chapters were written in such a flurry I’m expecting to find a lot of mistakes when I get to editing. By the end my cheeks were red, my shoulders tight and heart racing as fast as my main character. I got myself writing those last few paragraphs on film, having set up my iPhone as I realised I was nearing the end. No, I’m not going to insert that here though. It’s too crazy a thing to show anyone for a couple of years.

The feeling that resonated throughout me when I finished was amazing. I was expecting to get up and run around the house, exclaiming “I did it! I did it!”. Instead, I sat back and stared at the screen, a grin slowly growing on my face. I breathed out a sigh of relief and was filled with a buzzing high that is only now slowly disappearing. I felt so proud, exhausted and excited all at the same time.

I have reason to be, I suppose, having written 90,000 words at sixteen in six months (July 31st – Feb 7th). Between assignments and wifi problems, I did it. Yet for some reason, despite my high, I don’t believe it. Maybe I will when I start editing.

Speaking of which, I printed it out! I emailed officeworks two nights later and received it the next day after school.

I saw the notification as I walked out of the school and my friends burst into a choir of cheering and squeals. My two dear friends truly have been my biggest motivators throughout this, and they’ll be the first to read it once I iron out the main problems.

Anyway, that’s where I am right now. It is just a first draft, but in a way it’s the start of something I’ve been wanting to do for years.

What are you currently working on? Leave a comment down below!

– Cel