My Holiday TBR!- Ireland 2017

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As I’ve begun packing for my upcoming holiday – I fly out on 1 July eep!!- one very important thing is coming with me… my Kindle. As a booklover, there was no way I was leaving the country without a few books to while away my transit hours. And due to a rather strict luggage limit on the tour I’m going on, my trusty kindle has taken one for the team.

I don’t usually do TBR’s, purely because of my hot and cold reading patterns, but Holidays are always big reading times for me. I also get a kick out of seeing what books people take with them on holiday- it says a lot about their personality style.

Here are the books i’m taking with me to Ireland;

  1. The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales 

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By all reports this is a silly, slightly trashy read which is heavily inspired by genre fiction. Some hate it, some love it. The ones who love it sold me. I wanted something quick and easy to read that would amuse me on a plane ride. This seems to fit the bill. It might be stupid, but I cant wait to test it.

2. Wintersong by S Jae-Jones

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I stumbled on this one by accident as it popped up in my recommended books on goodreads. A reviewer promised heavy references to Labyrinth and that’s all they had to say! The power of the Voodoo was too much and it came into my hands quickly and easily

3. Dawn Study by Maria V Snyder

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So I’ve been looking for this book in bookstores for the last few months and haven’t been able to find it. It’s the latest (and appears to be the last) book in the Chronicles of Ixia which I’ve been hooked on since 2015. When I saw it on the Amazon store I was so giddy I squealed with delight. I really hope this is as good as the rest of the series!!!

4. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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Buzzfeed promised me this book is hilarious. I’m hoping buzzfeed isn’t lying to me. I wanted a comedy book to balance out my reading list. I wanted a cross section of different options to read. I’m also always down to read some diverse fiction.

5. A Conjuring of Light by V E Schwab

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I really enjoyed the first book- V E Schwab has magical writing abilities and, lets be honest, everything she touches is gold- and when the second book popped up in popular on Amazon, I just kinda went for it. It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have a dystopian fiction on my list.

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Beauty and the Beast Book Tag!

Beauty and the Beast Book Tag- Undecided Bookworm

So like most people, I’m Disney trash. And I live for the new Beauty and the Beast. When looking for blog inspo, I lighted on this tag. I just had to do it.

“Oh what a guy, Gaston!” A villain you can’t help but love-

Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes Novels. Both via the on-screen adaptions and the original book adaption, there’s just something weirdly fascinating about Moriarty. I am not validifying his crimes or saying he is not- at times- despicable. I think that’s why I like him; he’s weird, more than a little bit psycho but our resident friendly megalomaniac

“Here’s where she meets Prince Charming” Your OTP-

I have a lot of ships. Like a lot. And sometimes my OTP changes depending on what I read and loved recently. But my all time fav OTP (Canonical here) is probably Elizabeth/Darcy. Common yes, but I just cant even with those two.

“I want so much more than this provincial life” A character destined for greater things. –

So. Many. Of. My. Children. Deserve. More!!! A constant pet peeve of mine is characters destined for far greater things than they’re given time for. There’s so many, so I just picked the first one which popped into my head which is Manon from the Celena Sardothian series by Sarah J Maas. Amirite?

“Be our guest!” A book that made you hungry.-

The Hunger Games. Ironically. Probably because Food is such a sacred thing to both Katniss and Peta that when they actually get the food, you kinda feel like you’re eating it with them. Case in point, Catching Fire at the Victors Ball.

“Beauty and the Beast” Opposites attract.

DUDE! Again, way too many options here. I live for opposites attract. LIKE LIVE. Purely because I’m reading the series at the moment, I’ll whack in Jamie Fraser and Claire Beauchamp/Randal/Fraser from the Outlander series. The best opposite attracts pair who are destined to be together!!!

“But there’s something in him that I simply didn’t see” A character who is more than they appear-

Once again, too many. But to settle on one for now, let’s go Rhysand from the ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ Series. To avoid spoilers, that is all I will say.

“I was innocent and certain, now I’m wiser but unsure” A book that changed you in some way-

Little known fact, the first book I read that wasn’t a middle grade fiction was actually Romeo and Juliet. It had a massive impact on me and cemented both my love of reading, but also my love of theatre. I’ve been obsessed with Shakespeare ever since and have gone on to perform in several Shakespeare plays. This book changed me a lot, and while it’s not my favourite of the Bard’s works, it holds a special significance for me.

“Kill the Beast!” A book you picked up because of hype. –

I’ve picked up many a book due to hype, some good, and some not so good (literally see all my book reviews). In the spirit of positivity, one of the best ones I picked up that was worth the hype was Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. This book was SO FANTASTIC it’s literally insane. i am trash for this book. I’ve literally recommended it to three different people over the past two months (only one of whom has read it since). Do yourself a favour and get your paws on this book.

“I’ll never shake away the pain” A book or moment that always makes you cry-

Can I name literally all of the Harry Potter Series? No? Well tough luck, the whole damn series makes me cry.

“How does a moment last forever” A book that you’ve loved since you were little.-

Funny story, one of my favourite childhood books was a random book that no one seems to have ever heard of. My gran owned it and I used to insist on having it read to me every time we stayed at her house. It went missing sometime when I was a teenager, and I’m still devastated to this day. The book was called “What a Pest” and if anyone else has read it, please raise your hand so I can bond with you.

 

I tag literally everyone. Please do this if it tickles your fancy. Leave your blog link below so I can check it out and give you some love.

 

Credit to the Book Nut where I originally found this tag. And credit to Amber Elise from Du Livre as the original tag owner

Book Unhaul- Best Places to Get Rid of Old Books

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If you’re like me, your bookcase is less #shelfgoals and more “oh my god where can I fit this book I just got, I’ve got no space!”. My book shelf frequently spills out onto my floor, and periodically, much to my distress, I do a book cull.

Book culls seem scary for bibliophiles, but trust me, it’s sometimes sorely needed and almost cathartic.

A few weeks ago, I accepted that I needed to purge my bookcase. There were things on there from when I was 15 that I had read and wasn’t particularly fond of, and some things I was just never going to look at. So I went through and culled.

It wasn’t a particularly big cull- I did a huge cull about 2 years ago- but was a sizable portion; I can get all my books into my book case now, even if they are double layered.

I realised that there may be some people who are keen to purge, but either don’t know how/what to give away, or where to give them away too. So here are some of my tips that will hopefully help you with your endeavours;

What to Get Rid of- Book Purge

There are some rules of thumb that you should always use when doing a book purge, and some categories/identifiers you can use to select books to purge;

  1. Did you really enjoy this book when you read it?
  2. Does this book carry a lot of memories for a particular place/time/person?
  3. Was this book a present from someone special?
  4. How long has this book sat on your shelf for?
  5. Be brutally honest, are you ever going to read this book?

If you answer yes/not long to most of these, then this book should probably stay, unless you’re intending on really de-cluttering. If it answers to more than 2 no’s (if it’s no to question 5 it should definitely go) then you should probably put this in your “get rid of” pile.

Will it be hard to get rid of most of the books? yes. I’m not going to lie and pretend that it isn’t. But just keep in mind that just because you are parting ways with this book, doesn’t mean this is the end of the book’s life; think about how much of an impact this book could have on someone else.

A book purge isn’t the destruction of books; it’s just identifying the books you should pass on to someone else.

 

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Books should never be thrown away, unless you physically can’t keep the pages in the binding anymore. I am a strong campaigner for book re-homing. Given how expensive books can be, and how precious they are, it’s important they live a few different lives with a few different people.

I’ve always given away books; I like to pass on the magic to someone else who would enjoy them as much, or more, than me.

So, you’ve identified the books you no longer want/need. So now where do they go? There’s so many different options or ways to go about this, but here’s a few for those who aren’t sure where to start.

Give them to your friends

After my recent purge, there were quite a few books which I thought my friends might like, so I put up a Facebook post listing the books I was giving away, and a picture of the books and their titles and conditions. I got a fantastic response from my friends, with most wanting the same series. I ended up giving away 5 of the books to one of my friends who is very excited to have them.

Never take for granted the power of friends or social media!

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Sell your second hand books

There are lots of websites or small indie bookstores around the world who offer to buy your second hand books for you. A quick google search will show you multiple places to do so in your area. Try to go for reputable companies and make sure you check what prices they on-sell them for and the condition of the books that they ask for, to ensure they’re not taking you for a ride. Some examples I’ve heard of are AbeBooks.com, Thriftbooks (very highly recommended). If you’re an Aussie, the are lots of smaller organisations that Australian based who are keen to buy second hand books; i.e. BerkelouWbooks. A lot of university/Alumni bookshops also offer similar services.

If you happen to have a very popular/hyped/new/rare book that you would like to sell, you might have some luck on places like Ebay, Gumtree/Craigslist, buy/sell groups on Facebook.

Give your books to a women/children’s shelter

There are so many people that have it so much harder than we do, and as domestic violence and homelessness rates rise around the world, it’s important to do all we can to support our fellow human beings. While you may not be able to give cash/donations to organisations like this, you can give old clothes or books.

Ask around/google for some local shelters, and get in touch with the organisation/charity group running them to see if they are willing to take books (most shelters love book donations). The difference that a book could make in someones life who rely’s on these shelters is immense.

Give them to a Charity Shop/Charity

This is my favourite way to pass on most things I don’t want i.e. clothes, CD’s etc. Books definitely falls under this category. I like choosing what store/charity I give the books to, and knowing that someone who may not normally have to buy books at retail price can purchase my books. My books are pretty much in new condition (I’m extremely fussy with my books), and I love having something to physically give to a charity. I’m so privileged to lead a comfortable life and if I can give to a charity that can help ease the strain in someone else’s life, i’m down. The money the charities make from the book sale will go to something worthy; the books have a double impact, not only being available to others for their enjoyment, but also helping another group of people at the same time.

My favourite charities to give to in Australia are Lifeline, the Salvation Army and the St Vincent De Paul Society. Do your research though, there might be a local charity which may catch your attention as a local cause.

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So there’s some ideas of what you can do with your old books you no longer want. Leave me a line in the comments if you try some of these out or you personally recommend one of the methods. I would love to hear from you.

Here’s a little picture of the books I un-hauled 😉

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The Harry Potter Spells Tag

So I’m big Harry Potter Trash (if you’re new here and haven’t worked that out yet), and when I was looking for some blog inspo and stumbled upon Dreamland book blog‘s answers for this tag, I couldn’t resist.

I’ve had a bit of a rubbish last four weeks so anything to get me back into the swing of things is good. And Harry Potter is always like a soothing tonic.

So, I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.

The Harry Potter Spells Tag

  1. Flagrate / Writing Charm – A Book that you found interesting but would like to re-write.

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Give it to me… no just GIVE IT TO ME AND I”LL FIX IT FOR YOU! Damn it this book could have been so good! And it bloody sucked. I’d be happy to re-write his to fix it and make it better.

2. Alohomora/ Unlocking Charm- A first book in a series that got you hooked

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Dude everyone saw this coming. I was already technically hooked after seeing the first Tv series of Outlander, but this book just signed on the dotted line and sealed the deal. This book just speaks to my soul, and has somehow convinced me to read 5000+ pages of the series. I’m serious Outlander trash.

3. Accio / Summoning Spell- A book that you wish you could have right now

Dawn Study (Soulfinders, #3; Study, #6)

This book, the next installation in the study series (which I have fawned over a lot on this blog) was published in January this year…. DO YOU THINK I CAN FIND IT ANYWHERE?! I’m so annoyed. I’ve been to 3 different book stores multiple times this year and hunted for it… still cant find it. I couldn’t find it in my usual online book haunt and i’m so frustrated! I need this in my hands so badly!

4. Avada Kedavra / Killing Curse- A killer book

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Dude, DUDE! This book is soooooooo good. Like I’ve recommended this book to my best friend, her boyfriend, and multiple others because I bloody loved it. This book is killer in more ways than one. The Australian excellence in this book is stunning (i’m so proud) and the story is so good its insane. This book got a little bit of hype in booktube, but it should have gotten so much more because this book is an innovation! A Master peice! Go get yourself a copy of this book.

5. Confundo / Confusion Charm- A book that you found confusing

Anything ever written by the Bronte sisters.

6. Expecto Patronum / Guarding Spell- Your spirit animal book

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This book is honestly so close to my heart. I saw so much of myself in Cath it scared me. I adored this book because it treated the pop culture fandom community so well; Rowell is so respectful, understanding and never cheapens the culture. She doesn’t apologise for us, rather she takes time to cement the fandom and show how important it is. Cath isn’t made to radically change to get a boy. Shes still herself by the end of the book, she’s just a stronger version of herself. This book is an inspiration and I adore it.

7.Sectumsempra / Dark curse- A dark twisted book

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You don’t realise until you really get stuck into this book how dark it is. It seems – especially the first third of the book to be a silly, bumbling steam punk sort of story. But before you know it, this has taken a twisted turn on the train to nope-ville. This book scared the crap out of me, and i’ll fight anyone who challenges the fact of this book being dark; you didn’t read it properly or fully understand it if you didn’t. Approach this classic carefully. And while I definitely think people should read it, keep safe and keep wary.

8. Protego / Protection Charm- A childhood book connected to good memories

The Lion the witch and the Wardrobe is quite a dark book for children, but I adored this book as a child. It was the first book I cried for, and the first book to make my heart ache, but lord was it good. This book evokes warm fuzzy memories of reading it snuggled on the couch with my mum and sister. And of going to see the stage play in my best outfit. I still am very fond of this story and may always be.

9. Expelliarmus / Disarming Spell- A book that took you by surprise

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This book really took me by surprise. It was so not what I had expected- I read the bio totally incorrectly and expected a very different story. I loved that this took me by surprise though. It was dark, full of adventure, payed homage to the Roman culture and really demanded respect. Tahir is such a talented writer and this book deserves every iota of praise it gets.

10. Prior Incantato / Reverse Spell- The last book you read

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This book was good; I enjoyed it a lot, but I don’t know if it was as froth worthy as some people made it out. It’s a good complex story with a beautiful world that has been expertly constructed… I just wish we spent more time to get to know the characters. Character building may come into the sequel of this book, so I don’t really want to give my final verdict until I’ve read the sequel. But I did like this book. A very different taste from Schwab; different from her usual style but just as good.

11. Riddikulus / Boggart Banashing Spell – A funny book you’ve read

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Sarah Andersen is a gift to human kind. This isn’t technically a book; it’s a bind up of a lot of her comics in one place. It’s so funny though. Andersen’s humour lies with her relatability and her parody of real life situations. She celebrates awkwardness and the little things in life. Her style is quirky, original and adorable. She’s one super talented human being.

12. Sonorus / Amplifying Charm – A book you think everyone should know about

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This book came to me as a discounted book that was an overstock in a little bookshop my friend works at. I almost forgot about this book until I was hunting through my shelves looking for something to read. I picked it up purely because it looked like a quick read, and I liked the cover. Dude I was wrong. This book is a gem. Alternate history and dystopian fantasy collide in a beautiful mix with lashings of romance, mystery and suspense. This book is fantastic. More people should be reading this. I don’t know why this book has got zero attention. The less you know about this story going in, the better, so i’m going to have to get you to trust me on this one.

13. Obliviate / Memory Charm – A book or spoiler you would like to forget having read

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Look I’ve already said enough on this book. It doesn’t deserve any more of my time to be honest. Review

14. Imperio / Controlling Curse – A book you had to read for school

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You know how in school you were forced to read books you hated, then were forced to continuously study and assess them for assignments? This was it for me. I detest this book. I know this will offend a lot of people, but i’m sorry I cant pretend to like this book. What is the point of this book other than showing how terrible people can be to each other? It’s not glamorous, it’s vulgar and petty. Wealth and privilege is liberally wasted in a way that’s not excusable or redeemable. The characters are either dull, two dimensional or superfluous and the “morals” are questionable at best. 10/10 do not recommend.

15. Crucio / Torture Curse – A book that was painful to read

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I struggled with this book. The Mary-sue main character coupled with the painfully obnoxious story line made my teeth ache. I can’t believe this is what is fed to the hungry YA crowd these days. Aveyard struggles with Fantasy as much as character development. I will give Aveyard this though, the plot moves quickly (perhaps a bit too quickly) and she does have a few good moments of suspense. The twist could be seen coming a mile away (she does the same thing that’s been done by every man and his dog) and I had no patience to even deal with the fact that her publishers were stupid enough to give her a second book.

 

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I tag literally everyone who sees this.

Mischief Managed.

6 Years on; Success, adult Life and Old Classmates

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Much to my horror, I had a bit of a realisation this year. It’s been 6 years since I’ve been at High School. 6 years. That’s just plain ridiculous.

It feels like just yesterday I was furiously studying for university, feeling the pressure of my 17 years of life, and wondering what the hell I was going to do with myself post school. That final year is built up so much and yet ends so dramatically; for something that has such a small ripple in your adult life, it’s something that tends to hang around you a lot.

I’ve changed a lot; the 17 year old Ashleigh wouldn’t recognise the current almost 23 year old sitting in this office chair. I didn’t follow 17 year old Ashleigh’s goals, nor did I even stay with 17 year old Ashleigh’s friends. 17 year old Ashleigh was shy, woefully insecure and so clueless about what she wanted. She was willing to let her friends and peers walk all over her, because she was ‘nice’ and didn’t have a spine. She was in love with an unattainable and unhealthy dream.

I was definitely a University person. High School was a dark time. I didn’t fit in; I liked the course content but hated the peers. University was my coming of age. I learned more about the world and myself in those three years than I had bargained for. I miss University; I really enjoyed my time there.

In the years since High School I’ve earned a University Degree, travelled overseas, went back to College to get a Diploma, and got a full time job in an area I never even thought of 6 years ago. I learned to be ambitious. I learned how to love. I learned that boys are clueless, and that if you find one who makes you laugh, he should probably stick around.

I was a ugly duckling. And now i’m a swan.

Don’t get me wrong; I never lost my baby fat and I still haven’t been able to work out what to do with my hair, but I’m pretty damn happy with where I am personally.

Success of course is relative. What I count as success doesn’t match others. Just as what I have achieved isn’t the same story as my classmates.

Like I mentioned, I didn’t really like my classmates in High School. The limited strong connections I formed with some people, shattered soon after leaving School as we left to pursue our own interests. In high school, you’re thrown in tiny rooms with people who are so different from you, that in the real world, it would never work. You’re with each other because you have to be. It’s either stick together, or go alone.

Going alone is a scary thought, and one 17 year old Ashleigh was not brave enough to make.

I haven’t kept in contact with anyone since high school; a combination of choice and physically loosing touch with people. But there is Facebook, and Facebook- the devil that it is- allows me to see if others in my year have found success too.

Some have

Some haven’t.

The some who have, I’m proud of. They did it! They’ve made it past all that awful indecision and self-finding and have carved their own niche into a very full world. They’ve demanded the world take notice of them, and I’m so proud of them.

There’s the fashion stylist, styling models, rich clients and national celebs. One is a successful body builder who tours local competitions. One is a very well loved personal trainer who has started her own active-wear line. Another has arguably started one of the best up and coming hair salons in the region; he’s got a successful franchise of 6 stores and is opening new stores in Sydney each time I check in on him online.

Another has written a book. And that book is the inspiration behind my post.

Keaton never struck me as someone with a love for the written word. I don’t know if it was because I was always wrapped up in my own head, or because I just didn’t know him that well. We rotated around the same groups, and had similar friends, but I can’t say I ever sat down and had a conversation with him. In Keaton’s defence, it was because I was determined to make myself invisible and small, and not due to any fault on his part.

When I saw a few months ago he had secured a publisher for his book, I was surprised. A) that someone had so much motivation to break into such a closed market, and b) because I had no idea he was a writer. I instantly knew I had to get my hands on a copy of this book when it came out. Success is so hard won that it should be celebrated; if Keaton needed an audience, I was happy to volunteer my time.

I’ve always admired writers. Partly from being a book addict from birth, and the other half because writing was always a hobby and a pipe dream. Since I was young, it’s been one of those unachievable dreams of mine to have a story published. And Keaton had done it.

I followed the progress of the book closely, and after a great deal of searching to find a copy, I managed to get one not long after it was released.

It was a small book, but one that had obviously had a lot of time and care poured into it. Every choice was deliberate and well thought out. His writing was economical, frank and showed such an astounding amount of self-awareness and acceptance that I couldn’t help but be awed.

Keaton’s got this adult thing figured out.

Keaton’s book is a life-coaching style of non-fiction which calls on the reader to focus on their inner knowledge and inspires them to change their behaviours to better their chances. To put it simply, Keaton wants to help his readers get where he is; happy (or working towards it) and on the right path.

Keaton doesn’t claim to give you the secrets of life; rather he guides you to the right path to find the right tools to find them. A lot of the comments he makes and questions he raises has come at a time of my life where I was also asking them of myself. This has been an immense comfort to me.

I am very proud of Keaton; I think he’s done a banger of a job. He’s defiantly someone we need to keep an eye on.

Dwayne “the rock” Johnson said that “success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” This is something that I believe is fundamentally true, and something that Keaton is hinting at in his book.

I am an ambitious woman; I’m only at the beginning of my road, but my goals are clear and i’m working towards them. I have lots left to do before I can claim I am a success, though I have had success over the last 6 years. I am and always have been, a quiet achiever. But in 4 years when the inevitable High School reunions begin to be organised, I am looking forward to celebrating what I have achieved with others and their achievements. I’ll admit it, there’s that secret part of me that looks forward to shoving my happiness and progress in the face of those who doubted me and underestimated me, but I am human. Humans are entitled to a bit of wickedness every now and then.

If the last 6 years have changed me, than it’s little doubt that the next 6 years will change me yet again. Time goes very quickly, and I’ve got lots to do in that time.

My old classmates won’t talk about me to their friends; I am fairly certain they’ve forgotten I was in class with them. But I don’t measure my success by them, just as they shouldn’t measure their success by me. When I’m where I want to be though, I look forward to what they’ll say about me then.

When I graduated high school, Firework by Katy Perry was the pump-up song, and Warner Bros. had just released the last Harry Potter . Charlie Sheen had a melt-down, and the world fell in love with the Royals again with the Cinderella wedding of the decade. 17 year old Ashleigh was obsessed with Harry Potter (still am lets be real) and wanted to be a journalist.

It seems like yesterday, but I wouldn’t trade the last six years for all the world.

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Goodreads    ||    The Book Depository   ||   Amazon/Kindle

January 2017 Wrap Up

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So January kicked off a bit sluggishly for me this year and I made a very impressive dent in my 2017 Goodreads Challenge (Which is 50 again this year. I couldn’t quite get there last year but I’m determined to this time). I read 7 books in January. And boy did I read some crackers.

I’ve not done a monthly wrap up before but I think it might be a nice change this year.

  1. Drums of Autumn – Diana Gabaldon 

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… Ok, so I technically read 70% of this book in December 2016, but I finished it in the new year so i’m counting it. Man oh man was this book good. Without giving too much away of the previous three books, the fourth book shifts location and offers Gabaldon’s unique view of history for a totally different country. Gabaldon has such a fantastic way with words and her characters are so real and human, its hard to reconcile that they’re fictional. While two of the rising stars- Briana and Roger have been known to us previously, Gabaldon ensures we’ve fallen totally in love with both of them. A stellar fourth book; so good in fact, that I actually would have been satisfied if the series had ended here…. BUT I’M SO DESPERATE FOR BOOK 5 IT’S INSANE.

2. An Ember in the Ashes-  Sabaa Tahir

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So I waited to read this book for a very long time. I found out about it when the advanced readers were singing it’s praises and eagerly awaited it’s release. I was unable though to get my hands on it after it came out so I was left waiting listlessly for it. OMG this book is SO worth the hype. This book was not what I expected at all but I bloody love it. The summary is so misleading but in a good way; the characters are strong, determined and each powerful in their own rights. A corrupt government, a filthy, irredeemable villain and notorious rebels, make for a complex and rich plot. It’s a diverse novel that just works. I was on the edge of my seat the entire book.

3. A Thousand Nights – E. K. Johnston

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I was really worried this book would be too much like ‘The Wrath and the Dawn’ which I read last year and adored. I need not have feared though, this book was SO different. Worlds apart. With a fresh style that’s unlike any I’ve read, Johnston weaves a lush story. Johnston’s story is pretty faithful to the original folk tale, but diverges about half way through. Lo-Melkhiin is hideous and i’m glad Johnston didn’t try to romantasize him. I loved that the main character was left really ambiguous; with a nice trick at the end I didn’t see coming. You can tell Johnston knows her stuff; the way she described the land was so authentic and genuine- it was obvious she drew inspiration from real life. A fantastic interpretation of a classic.

4. Divergent- Veronica Roth

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I’m sure you’ve noticed a trend;- I tend to be super late to the party for most over-hyped teen franchises. When Divergent came out, I religiously avoided it; some part of me shied away from what I thought would be a dull and under-cooked book. I’d seen the movie but hadn’t felt a great tug towards it. I listened to this as an audiobook; summer radio in Australia is impossibly dull, and a 30 minute commute each way needed some filling. I got so into it, I used to listen to it in the afternoons when I got home from work. I was so pleasantly surprised by this book. I got so sucked up in the story, I forgot I was listening to a story. Is it worth all the hype, nah probably not. But I still quite enjoyed it. It’s an awfully dark tale for a teen audience, but I think it holds an extremely relevant commentary for current world affairs.

5. Passenger- Alexandra Bracken

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This was another one of those books that I’d meant to read for a very long time. I loved Alexandra Bracken’s work on the Darkest Minds series and I’ll honestly go for anything she publishes, she’s got that much skill and command. But time travel? Sign me the heck up! This book delivers. It’s certainly not what I thought it was- I was definitely lead down the wrong tunnel when listening to people’s book reviews. While the romance in there was cheesy at times and a little bit cringy, the time travel aspects were very well done. The sense of urgency is really well conveyed without rushing the plot. The side characters were well thought out, and Bracken spends the time to remind the reader how dangerous time travel is. Definitely for the Doctor Who fans- this book is original and fresh.

6. Illuminae – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Sci-fi -especially Sci-fi aimed at Young adults- always tends to be under-baked and totally unrealistic. This was one of the most god-damn interesting books I’ve read in a really long time. Holy Shmooze balls is this book GOOD. This has to be one of the most original ways to tell a story that I’ve come across; told via case-files, audio transcripts and instant message logs, this is fantastic. Kaufman and Kristoff have poured so much hard work to create texture and life into each and every page. Each page is an image- scribbles, black sections from sensors, memo style backgrounds, logos the works. No expense has been spared. The story is fantastic- it’s gritty, it’s complex, thought provoking and dynamic. The scary thing is, it’s really not that hard to put aside your disbelief; this honestly feels like it could happen. The book cleverly taps into everyone’s deep dark fears; Multi-national corporations, Artificial Intelligence, the deep- unexplored dark nothingness of space and war. It’s bloody brilliant and everyone needs to read it. Also can we please just appreciate some Aussie excellence (YEAH KAUFMAN AND KRISTOFF!!! REPRESENT!!)

7. Adulthood is a Myth- Sarah Anderson

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Funny story; I pre-ordered this book on the Book Depository 3 months before it came out last year and they cancelled my pre-order without notice or warning a few weeks out from publication… yeah it’s not actually that funny… I was pretty devastated to be honest. This book was so worth the wait though. I found Sarah and her work in 2015 and absolutely fell in love with her. Like literally, her comics are so real and so cute I just cant even. Anyway, I eventually got my hands on this book (it was a case of post-Christmas “treat yo self”) and I savoured every last page. Its only a relatively small book of comics, but I treated every last page like royalty. Anderson is a genius- her work is funny, well executed and so god-damn relatable. This is literally the perfect pick me up; after a long day of pretending to be an adult, the comics go down as nice as a cold glass of Chardonnay on a Friday arvo. 10/10 would recommend.

 

 

So there you have it… what a month. Can honestly say I didn’t read a bad/meh book in January. This is surely a good sign for the reading year ahead. Leave a comment below with any recommendations for me this year and if you have a reading challenge. I’d love to see what everyone’s goals are for the year.

 

Stay golden!

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Festive Christmas Book Tag

Ok… so this year…. I failed hard on book blogging.

Like so hard.

As in I stopped in June and have not been able to get back into the role since.

I know… i’m a bad blogger.

But as my 2016 Book Challenge this year enters it’s last leg and I begin planning things for the new year, I’ve decided to kick things off right for the new year, I’m just going to go ahead and try to immerse myself in the blogging world. Some of my favourite posts are book tags and so I went hunting for a festive tag to get things going.

I wasn’t tagged in this, and I’m not quite sure who the original creator was but I saw this on Reader Rayner’s blog and had to give it a whirl.

  1. A Fictional Family you would like to spend Christmas dinner with;

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I would love to spend Christmas Dinner with the Murray’s at Lallybroch (Outlander Series). I feel like Jenny and Ian would have a nice, quiet and homey Christmas planned surrounded by their many children and grand children. I imagine it to be a larger version of my on family’s Christmas and I think that’s why there’s a pull there. And I just love Lallybroch ok?

 

2. A bookish item you would like to receive as a Christmas gift.

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Just books mate. Any book on my good reads TBR list would be lovely.

 

3. A fictional character you think would be the perfect Christmas elf

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Come on, wouldn’t Luna be the perfect Elf? I feel like she’d get a lot done but you’d get quite weird presents. But she’s so immersed in the magical and her own world, I feel like she’d volunteer for the job and take it quite seriously.

 

4. Match a book to its perfect Christmas song

This was a hard one. Took me a bit to think of a good match. In the end I think the best fit is; “Baby it’s Cold Outside” and A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

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5. Bah Humbug; a book or a fictional character you’ve been disappointed in and that should be put on the naughty list.

This was a hard one. I think it’s because I generally have read quite good books recently and because I’m very picky on my reading pile, I can generally avoid duds. However, in a case of good luck running out, I did pick a dud while on Holidays recently that I thought would be fantastic but I’m really struggling to get into. I’m about 1/2 way through and seriously considering marking it as a DNF. It’s really disappointing because I was quite excited about the book as it promised an interesting premise and a new twist on a classic. It hasn’t delivered. So I name Stealing Snow by Danielle Page as my candidate.

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6. A book or character you think deserves more love and appreciation and deserves to be put on the nice list.

My answer for this could in fact be Outlander but that would be lame and I don’t like repeating books on tags. Outlander does have- by the end of 2016- quite a growing fanbase so I’ve decided to shine light on another gem that doesn’t get a lot of press, why I don’t know.

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Yo this book is HILARIOUS. I read this book this year upon a buzzfeed recommendation of little known books and I LOVED it. It’s silly, it’s frenetic, it’s poignant and so ridiculous it’s genius. Libba Bray purposefully delves into uncharted waters and creates a brilliant criticism of current western society. It’s a book that I think everyone needs to read; it’s quick and a lot deeper than you see on first glance.

 

7. Red, Gold and Green; a book cover that has a wonderfully christmasy feel to it

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This may be a bit out there this one, but I’m nominating the Raven King which is the last book in the Raven Cycle series by Maggie Steifvater. My reasoning behind this decision is that it’s like the “Ice Queen” in a bunch of stories I could have chosen. It’s a much darker Christmas tale than we usually hear at this time of year, but the triumph of friendship and family over the odds is what cinched the deal. This is a book about coming together to face a large threat. The quest to get home during the holiday season (at least on the south coast in Australia) could be mirrored by the boy’s and Blue’s dash towards the end. And hey, at least we all know that our family situations at home are not as mad as Blue’s or the boy’s.

 

8. A book or a series that you love so much that you want everyone to find it under your Christmas Tree this year so that they can read it and love it too

Again, it was hard not to pick Outlander. But, I’ve instead gone for…

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This book just needs to be read by everyone. I think it would cater to multiple tastes and it’s got a message that everyone needs to hear. This book turned my year around and when I was feeling truly crap about myself, it held my hand, sang soft Dolly Parton songs in my ear and showed me that things were ok. This book is a triumph and everyone needs to read it.

 

Thank you all for indulging me, both with this post and this year. I tag everyone who would like to have a go with this tag. It’s lots of fun.

The intimidating TBR Tag

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So… guess who still can’t string thoughts together to form a coherent review? This girl. So my answer is… you guessed it… another book tag! Hopefully this gets the creative juices flowing.

Original tag creator is  Lindsey Rey but the original video seems to have been taken down. I grabbed this tag from A Book Utopia on youtube. I just realised that this is the third book tag that I’ve been inspired to do because of Sasha. Thanks Sasha.

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What book have you been unable to finish?

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I desperately wanted to like this book. I carefully selected it due to good reviews and the fact that it had won several critical acknowledgements. I began it on a train journey over a year ago. Usually I whiz through books on train trips, but I really struggled trying to concentrate enough to truly get into it. I would like to have another crack at this book and see if I can finish it off, unfortunately, I think this book may get pushed down the rungs due to the other books that I would like to read more than this one.

 

What book do you have yet to read, but just haven’t had the time?

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This book, much like it’s predecessor is intimidatingly meaty. Just looking at this book, I know it will demand a lot of my time. Shannon’s stories are inherently complex and gripping and if this book is like the first, it can’t be rushed. This is a prime vacation book, but as I haven’t been on one recently, and am not likely to until the end of the year (new job and adult life and all that), this book will continue to sit ever tempting on myself. I know this book is going to be good, and I want to give it the appropriate justice and time.

 

What book do you have yet to read because it’s a sequel?

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I quite liked book 1 in this series. Fresh, and innovative, Leigh really sucked me in to the world of the Grisha. I know from other reviews, that the whole series is quite good, especially the spin off series. As hungry as I was for this sequel when I had finished the other book, I was on a book buying ban at the time, and exercised severe self restraint. When my book buying ban broke, this book fell back a few notches on my to read list due to several very, highly anticipated books suddenly becoming available at around the same time. I have purchased this recently and it has made it onto my list, but the priority to read it has slightly diminished.

 

What book do you have yet to read because it is brand new?

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I am desperate to read this book. I would have read it already if I was not struggling to find a copy available in my country. All books come to Australia mightily delayed, and this is one of those books, much to my horror. My usual online haunts have proved futile- sold out each time I look- and book stores remain frustratingly bare. The cover is so pretty that I would like a physical copy of this book. The epic quest continues. I shall not give in. This book will be mine.

 

What book do you have yet to read because read another book by the same author and didn’t enjoy it?

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I read the first book in this series at the end of 2011. I’ve had this book since I read the first one, and after the initial excitement of starting the first book was over, I realised, I didn’t actually like Hand’s style of writing. I was going to give the second book a go but since the end of 2011, my reading tastes have switched and the idea of diving into this book now frankly gives me the shivers. I had held out in the hopes of eventually braving it and just speed reading to find out if certain characters were alive, but now I think I may as well just pass this book on to someone who will actually read it and enjoy it.

 

What book do you have yet to read because you’re just not in the mood for it?

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Just by looking at this book, you know it’s going to be a dark and heavy ride. A hefty tome, I have always been rather intimidated by this book. I still really want to read it, and look  at it longingly every now and then from my book shelf. Up until recently, I haven’t really swung in the direction of Fairy tale re-tellings as the mood vanished soon after asking for this book for Christmas a few years ago. Over the last year I’ve begun to sink my teeth into the sub-genre, so hopefully this book will be read soon.

 

What book do you have yet to read because it’s humongous?

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The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon has had me locked in for the last few months, and I’ve loved it, but the books are soooooooo long. Like just when you think the first book is long, they begin to beat themselves as they move through the series, shifting up 100 pages more each time. My copy of voyager weighs in at over 1000 pages. OVER 10oo PAGES! That’s enough to make any bookworm begin to sweat. But I think that’s some of the Outlander series’ appeal; they challenge you. You go on these epic and meaty journeys that last for weeks and you love it the whole time you’re reading, you’ve just got to take that first step and jump over. I read the second book alongside the airing of season 2 so I was always one or two chapters ahead of the tv series. That put me through book too a lot quicker than expected;- I finished book two a month ago and the series on TV is still airing. It’s almost tempting now to wait on this book for a while as the TV series hasn’t begun filming yet, but I’m so desperate to know what happens (major cliff hanger at the end of book two guys), that I will probably pick up this book sooner rather than later.

 

What book do you have yet to read because it was a cover buy that ended up having not very good reviews?

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I was so excited for this book when it came out. Our queen J.K moving into a new genre? Heck yes! Sign me up! But as it took a while to get my hands on a copy, the hype had well and truly died down and the criticisms began coming in as I became ready to read it. I’ve heard a mixture of reviews from a variety of different personality types and ages. It tends to be that people in my age group who had been apart of the Harry Potter Generation were slightly disappointed with the quality of the writing. This is always bound to occur when a beloved writer strikes out with something different, but it was still enough to perturb me into holding off reading it.

 

What is the most intimidating book on your TBR?

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This is just one of those books that strikes awe into you. There are two different groups of people around this book; those that absolutely adore this book, and those who haven’t read it. This should encourage me to actually read it, but it’s actually done the opposite. This book intimidates the heck out of me. I would really like to read it and I definitely will, it’s just trying to get over the sheer cleverness that is so intimidating. It’s a goal of mine to read it this year. Hold me to it.

 

Who do I tag?

I tag absolutely everyone! If you want to do it- go ahead and do it! Post a link of the post where you do in the comments so that I- and everyone else- can read it! Looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!

OUTLANDER BOOK TAG!!!!

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When Sasha Alsberg at abookutopia created this tag a week or two ago, I knew I had to do it. This was confirmed when I saw Tashapolis‘ version today. If you’ve been around me for the last 6 months, then you’ll know that this story/show has become very dear to me and in honour of season 2 which is currently showing, I think it’s time we get some Outlander up in here!

The only rule in this tag was to try and avoid answering with Outlander to these questions.

  1. You touch some standing stones, and you get transported back in time.What year would you end up in? 

Oh I’d love to turn up in 1945. World War II fascinates me and I’d love to run around London or New York in the last year of the war. As a history major who focused on the early half of the 20th Century, the idea of being transported to such a pinnacle moment in modern history is beyond drool-worthy. Give me the war rations, the black outs and the general anxiety. Wouldn’t bother me.

… My mother tells me I’m strange constantly. Don’t worry I’m fine.

2. Claire is a good nurse. But what type of skill would you want that a fictional character excels at?

I would love to have the abilities of Ruby from Dangerous Minds by Alexandra Bracken. Even though the Dangerous Minds trilogy constantly reminds us how dangerous Ruby is and even though she runs into more than a few problems during the series, I honestly think it’s an awesome skill/ability. She’s incredibly empathetic to the people around her and she’s saved people she loves on more than one occasion. I would obviously only use the ability for the greater good…. *awkward cough*

3. Jamie and Claire are the ultimate relationship goals. Who is your favourite fictional couple?

OH there are SO many character I could answer with right now. Not all are canon…. Anyhoo, my answer for this question has to be Sydney and Adrian from the Blood Lines series by Richelle Mead. OH MY LORD. I LOVE these two together. Honestly, they were just made for each other. I’ve got so many Sydrian feels right now just thinking about it. OWIE!

4. The ending of Outlander was shocking. What is one book that you read that totally blew your mind? 

Oh man. Do I have some stories to tell you… Trying to pick just one is hard, because there has been a few books that have ripped the carpet out from under me. Outlander was obviously one of them, even though I knew what was happening as I had watched the series. But for this tag, I’m going to have to say Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins. It was a scream of a book and so much darn fun. The dialogue was witty, and southern charm dripped from every inch. I loved the major plot twists towards the end of the book. The end was just so shocking, it was like someone came up and shoved you out of your backless stilettos while you were standing at the top of some steep stairs.

5. Scotland has lots of castles and we see a few in Outlander. What fictional kingdom would you want to live in?

I think the answer to this is plainly obvious…

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6. Outlander has some very steamy scenes. What is your favourite romance novel?

Oooh… this is hard. A lot of the steamiest scenes in the books that I read happen to be in books that aren’t strictly romance. Most books I read only have romance as a sub-plot to the larger YA/Sci-fi backdrop. Given this, I’m going to break the rules of this tag and simply pick Outlander. Because lord, this book had me sweatin like a sinner in church. It was fire. It was god damn panty dropping. Miss Gabaldon  certainly knows how to write her romance scenes. (PSA: Don’t read or watch Outlander if you’re below the age of 18. Trust me my dears, you won’t be ready no matter how mature you are. Promise Aunty Ash you won’t read it until you reach the big 18) 

7. The Jacobite Rebellion is a huge plot point in Outlander. What is one of your favourite battles from a book?

Oh OH. SIT DOWN KIDDIES. I’ve read and seen a lot of final battles in my time. But I think the most intense one has to go to the one that literally choked the air out of me; The Other Side of Dawn by John Marsden. The last book in the Tomorrow Series, this book is one non-stop final battle that goes through varying stages. The tension of the previous 6 books culminates in one final anxiety driven conclusion that made 15 year old Ashleigh sob. Multiple times. Sometimes, I couldn’t bear to look at the page and read what was coming next. Didn’t want to know what stupid thing Ellie was going to do next. AUGH THIS BOOK. It’s been a good 7 years and I still can’t get over this book.

8. Jamie and Claire get married very unexpectedly. What fictional character would you like to marry on a whim?

Oh DUDE. I literally wrote a whole blog post about this particular gentleman. And honestly, in an absolute heartbeat I’d be at the end of the aisle in my best dress. My Outlander style wedding would definitely be to one, Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy. Because, as we know, it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

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9. Scotland is a very beautiful place. What fictional world would you love to visit?

OOOOOHHHH. THIS IS SO HARD…. uh…..

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How do I choose?

Bloody hell let’s just go with Middle Earth

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10. If you could change the past, would you?

Both Sasha and Natasha said no to this question and I can totally understand their reasoning, but I actually dont agree. I would try to change the past, but I’d be awfully selective. I am a firm beleiver that somethings may very well be a fixed point in time, and obviously, to avoid erasing myself from existance, as well as many other people, one would have to be very delicate when fiddling with time. In the end, I would probably alter certain events that SHOULDNT have happened and didn’t overly mess with time.

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SO, laddies and lasses, that was me Outlander tag ye ken?

I here by tag the following by name: Adventures of a Bibliophile , Alicia from Hashtag Love Books and Bookworm Maniac

I also tag absolutely everyone else that wants to do it! Because I never get tagged in things and I want everyone to have all the blog opportunities in the world.

Have a gif of Jamie eating a bannock to fill you for your voyage back into the interwebs.

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The Darcy Conundrum: Unrealistic Expectations of Men Thanks to Fiction

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The Darcy Conundrum: Unrealistic Expectations of Men Thanks to Fiction
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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a female reader, in want of a good book, will fall in love with many a fictional man.

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When I was 13 years old, I fell in love with Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy.

This was to begin a pattern, one that has affected me to this day, and will likely affect me for the years to come.

Relatively new to the world of fiction beyond such childhood classics like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and a Series of Unfortunate Events, Pride and Prejudice had a large impact on me in those formative teenage years. In fact, I would be so bold as to declare that Jane Austen successfully concreted my tastes in fictional men.

The brooding, clever and witty man as beheld in Mr Darcy, became my avidity.

Mr Darcy became a familiar companion to me over my teenage years, as I read and re-read Pride and Prejudice a great deal of times. Every TV series, movie or other pop culture reference was devoured with a similar fervor. I successfully canonized the characteristics and temperament of the dour Mr Darcy, as the base for judgment of a successful gentleman.

As my teenage taste-buds for fiction evolved, my taste for fictional men didn’t. All the characters that I later fell in love with, all held some similarity to our Mr Darcy; brooding Edward Cullen, serious Dimitri Belikov, clever Peeta Melark, the ever brutal Severus Snape and cultured Malfoy boys.

No matter what phase I was going through, Mr Darcy was always in my hind sight.

Because of my adoration for such characteristics, needless to say, I struggled finding boys in the real world who came up to scratch. I often loathed them; concerned only with sports, girls and their friends, these boys were not at all like what I was looking for in a partner. I looked quite intently for my Mr Darcy, but he remained very much at large.

By University, I had stopped looking for him altogether in the real world, but immersed my mind more within his characteristics as compensation. I knew this dream man of mine didn’t exist and wouldn’t come to sweep me away to Pemberly. I grew rather bitter, and after observing my University companions, abruptly fell into a dissatisfied sulk.

I had been ruined by Jane Austen. And all the other authors who had tempted me with sweet words and a heart throb of a hero.

How could a normal man stand up to such high standards and expectations? Real world men were in no competition. Gentlemen like Darcy had long vanished from the world.

My mother was keen to break my fantasy. She frequently worked to break me out of my own head, and had been doing so since I was a little girl. And honestly, I credit her for a chance meeting in early October 2013.

It was late 2013, and I was miserable. I had undergone a large friendship change and was feeling more than a little lonely. My best friend took matters into her own hands and channeled Mrs Bennett for some true match making finesse. The boy she introduced me to bore no resemblance to Mr Darcy what so ever; he was kind, sweet, a little goofy and had an immense passion for everything in the world. With similar interests to mine, we hit it off straight away. We talked for hours. He made me feel warm. He made me smile.

After an immense amount of courting (me doing all the hard yards I’d like to point out- he was utterly clueless), I finally managed to steal him. Benjamin and I became a couple.

Now, after 2 and a bit years of dating my first serious boyfriend, I’ve learned some important things about both myself and my expectations of men in general. I’d also like to point out, that Mr Darcy is still, very much, my fictional boyfriend.

Fiction is an escape, for many people, including myself. In fiction, you can do things that you never can in real life. You can be your favourite heroine or hero in their world; conquering, saving, living. You can be romanced by the dashing love interest. For a few hours, you are limitless and you exist far beyond the square, grey walls of reality.

But, as good as fiction, and Mr Darcy is, reality is sometimes the winner.

Mr Darcy doesn’t hold a candle to Benjamin’s enthusiasm for life. I’ve never met someone so happy and in love with the world around him. You cant help but catch his passion and excitement. It’s nice to put on some rose-coloured glasses every now and then. Benjamin is rarely sad or brooding; his resting face is a smile.

Mr Darcy wouldn’t dutifully and happily follow me around a pop culture convention, helping me lift my long skirts or carry my bag when I stopped to take photos with someone. Benjamin did. And not once did he complain or grumble. He was actually very happy to be there.

Mr Darcy wouldn’t talk with me for hours about whatever random thing popped into his head. He’d tell me to be quiet and not act like Mrs Bennett when the world made me mad. He’d hate it when I go on one of my all famous feminist rants. Benjamin listens to every word and adds in an extra point to give me further ammunition for my arguments.

While Benjamin doesn’t dance, like Mr Darcy, he finds other cute things we can do together instead.

I always know where I stand with Benjamin, and he never broods when something has upset him. I honestly don’t think he has a mean bone in his body and never looses his temper. He provides advice to others, but never pushes them to follow it. And while his dad jokes and puns are god awful, he never gives up and continually tries to get people to like them.

While it seems Mr Darcy is my dream man, he’s certainly not a perfect one. In real life, he’s not the sort of man you would instantly gravitate to. Because, at the end of the day, readers mostly return to reality as preference. Mr Darcy is the sort of boy your mother doesn’t  want you to marry, because, while he’s rich and certainly from good people, he wouldn’t make her comfortable or come round with you for Sunday dinner.

So, we, as the ever devoted readers, are left with a large conundrum. Do we value the fictional man of our dreams over the men of real life who offer a real life end game? When do we need to cut off our high expectations and begin to be more practical? Will we ever find our own Mr Darcy?

The answer is not simple, and in my good opinion, derived entirely from the inner thoughts of the individual.

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Only the deepest love will persuade me into matrimony, which is why I will end up an old maid.

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