Sunday, 28 May 2017

Even This Page is White [Poetry Collection Review]

Hello everyone!

Title: Even this Page is White
Author: Vivek Shraya
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press
Published Date: 13th September 2016
Rating: 3 Stars

*Thanks to the publisher for the review copy*


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Synopsis: Vivek's debut collection of poetry is a bold and timely interrogation of skin: its origins, functions, and limitations. Poems that range in style from starkly concrete to limber break down the barriers that prevent understanding of what it means to be racialized. Shraya paints the face of everyday racism with words, rendering it visible, tangible, and undeniable.

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Review: I decided I wanted to read Even this Page is White by Vivek Shraya because I am someone who loves to read poetry, but rarely reads any modern, newly published poetry that isn’t classical. This particular collection caught my eye because it is about white privilege, and how to handle the topic of racism when you do care about it but don’t know how to approach it. In other words, it sounded like the perfect kind of poetry collection to get me started on modern poetry. However, it didn’t quite work for me in the way that I hoped.


It didn’t have anything to do with the content of the poems, or me having any difficulty understanding. Shraya does a wonderful job of discussing white privilege and the way that it can truly make it difficult to show empathy, and understanding. It’s hard to acknowledge that people have suffered, and that you want to help them in a manner which doesn’t champion their suffering and put you as the ‘leader’ again. It’s about give and take. In all honesty, I hadn’t thought of the difficulties that someone could face when handling the theme of racism from this perspective, as I am so used to seeing it portrayed through the eyes of minority. It was very eye opening for me.

It reminded me that we truly need to take all perspectives into account when it comes to handling a problem we all want to overcome. Shraya also uses the different forms of poetry to give more perspectives on the matter. One of the poems was in the form of an interview with three people. It was different from anything I’d read before, but that way we got to hear more voices.


However, his writing style truly wasn’t one for me. It wasn’t necessarily the lack of punctuation – there was some. I also didn’t mind the lack of capital letters – that’s a technique I usually harbor myself quite a bit when it comes to writing my own poetry. But his enjambment, and the way he structures his lines of poetry and sentences is far too choppy for me. It was sudden, and disjointed. Overall, I felt like I couldn’t get a grasp of rhythm when reading his poems. They were broken too randomly, and too jarringly.

I could see how this could be a representation of how we are all broken and disjointed when it comes to this subject. That although we all have the best intentions and we all feel that this matter is one which needs to be conquered, there is still a failure of communication which is leading to a lack of rhythm and connection to all our actions. Despite being able to see this, it just didn’t work for me. Rhythm, I discovered, is one of the main things I can appreciate in a poem. It makes it complete to me. So I couldn’t enjoy this collection nearly as much as I wanted to.


I do think that if rhythm doesn’t take such a forefront in your enjoyment of poetry, you’ll be able to enjoy this collection. It covers and discusses such an important subject, and Shraya uses literary techniques and his style to even portray another perspective on the matter. It’s impossible not to appreciate the poetry he has crafted in this collection.

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New Video! My video book review of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. 


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Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

Olivia’s Question: Do you read poetry? Who is your favourite poet?


Olivia-Savannah x

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Basketball ~ Nails Extravaganza & Giveaway!

Hello!

Nails extravaganza is a type of post on Olivia's Catastrophe where I share my nail art and the reasons why I chose to do that design. Nail art is just another hobby of mine that I keep coming back to, and what to share with you all. 



I do believe that at some point I mentioned it (in my March wrap up I believe?) but this year we had a basketball tournament in Switzerland. When it comes to any basketball match, especially a tournament, I try to be nice to my opponents. 

How do I do this? I cut my nails, pretty much down to the quick. 



I've gotten used to having short nails due to playing the harp (long nails become a hindrance, in that case, and are bad for the strings) and because there is a potential for broken nails when playing basketball. Mostly though, I have numerous scratches and cuts all along my hands, wrists and upper arms after a basketball match. When an opponent fouls you, that's usually where they hit, or accidentally scratch. It would be entirely harmless, of course, if they had shorter nails. For some reason, they never seem to. Which is why I try to be nice and have short nails for every basketball game. 


Anyway, it led me to at least wanting to make my nails look nice for this tournament, so I decided to go with a basketball theme to match the tournament I was going to. It was easy enough to find some basketball nails to copy on the internet. I wanted something a little bit more complex though, to work on improving my skills I am trying to gain again after a period of time where I was convinced I was so bad at nail art that I didn't bother doing it for a few months. However, I like to believe these turned out reasonably well?


Orange is one of my favourite colours, so I had no issue there. It was a bit tricky to make the hoop actually hoop-like, but I think it went okay. My favourite nail though, is the one where ther eis a girl on it, about to make a lay up. I think it turned out well and it left me pretty satisfied after doing my nails. I would've done another one on my accent nail, but I couldn't picture myself making a second one with my left hand to match, that wouldn't turn out disfigured. So I strategically leave it at one girl (which I did manage to replicate on my left hand, with difficulty and quite some time :P)

Giveaway! I am sneakily sharing another giveaway (you might get used to these...) Enter for a chance to win a $10 Amazon Giftcard, open internationally!


Olivia's Question: What's your favourite sport to watch on the telly?

Olivia-Savannah x

Monday, 22 May 2017

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold [Book Review]

Hello everyone!

Title: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (Kitty Hawk Detective Agency #1)
Author: Iain Reading
Publisher: Self-published
Published Date: 30th November 2012
Rating: 3 Stars

*Thanks to the publisher for the review copy*


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Synopsis: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new series of adventure mystery stories that are one part travel, one part history and five parts adventure. This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations.

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty's adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada and as the plot continues to unfold this spirited story will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada's Yukon, the harsh land made famous in the stories and poems of such writers as Jack London, Robert Service and Pierre Berton. It is a riveting tale that brings to glorious life the landscape and history of Alaska's inside passage and Canada's Yukon, as Kitty is caught up in an epic mystery set against the backdrop of the scenery of the Klondike Gold Rush.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves as Kitty prepares for her next adventure - flying around the world! 

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Review: I was eager to read Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold seeing as I had already read The Dragon of the Month Club by the same author and really enjoyed the creativity behind that one. I have to say, this novel wasn’t quite as good as this one, but it still an enjoyable read. You have to be appreciate Kitty Hawk as a character.

What I loved the most about this story had to be how much of an adventure it truly was. There’s no doubt this one can be pegged under this genre. But at the same time, there is also the quest element to it, and the mystery element as well. As Kitty Hawk goes on her adventure, she also sees a lot of the beautiful landscape of Alaska. It was so beautifully described that it made me wish that I was there myself. Iain Reading knew how to find the balance between giving us information about what we were seeing and experiencing as well as describing it in such a way that you had to admire the scene as if you were seeing it yourself.


However, I still felt like it was hard to peg whether this one was a young adult or middle grade book. It seemed to drift between the two age categories, and that bothered me a little. Because while Kitty Hawk was 18 and fresh out of high school, she was also having some pretty juvenile issues (such as the whole thing with Amanda) which seemed more fitting for a middle grade novel. It would be hard for both age categories to read it for that reason, so I felt a bit lukewarm about that.

Another aspect of the novel I really liked was the individuality of the characters. We get to know a little bit of detail on all of them individually – especially the four main characters. Yet we also get to see the four of them acting as one unit. We get to see their motivations and more about their background that made me actually really care for them. I liked how my own closeness to the characters seemed to steadily grow alongside Kitty’s care for them.


As for Kitty Hawk herself, I also loved her. Although at times she did seem a little too perfect, Reading resolved that by giving her a bit of a flaw at the end. Mostly, I admired her morals and how she was not afraid to stand up and hold fast to what she believed in. She had a very good moral compass that made me wish I had as strong and sure of a hold as she did on my own too. It made her so easy to love.

My main issue with the novel was at times it bordered on being a bit too wordy, which made it slower. It could have been faster paced and used fewer words, making the story more addicting. Toward the end of the novel I was really immersed and flipping pages, but personally, I felt like it took a little too long to get to that point. And the chapters were agonizingly short! It’s a personal matter, but it made the story feel disjointed to me. There were certainly new places where a new chapter did not need to be started.


Overall, this was a really good adventure story with a very important life lesson as a theme to the entirety of the novel. It told me a lot about greed, first impressions vs. true impressions, and loyalty. Hopefully there is something for you to take from reading this novel yourself, as well.

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Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

Olivia’s Question: What’s the first thing you would miss if you were stranded in the wilderness?

Olivia-Savannah x

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Pear Spice Smoothie Recipe!

Hey everyone!

The weather is finally getting warmer here in the Netherlands, and that makes my soul so happy because I am someone who adores summer. Honestly, I live for the sun. I'll always be outside if the weather is good :)


With warmer weather comes more outdoor yoga, reading and other endeavors for me. But when you're outside all the time, it is essential that you stay hydrated! Or at the very least, stay refreshed. I've been busy doing that by experimenting with more types of smoothie, and here is one I wanted to share with you!


I have a video down below on how to make this one, so you can make it for yourself and give it a go in the warm weather. I'm someone who doesn't really eat pears too often, so it was nice to try something more pear flavoured. Admittedly, my little sister was the biggest fan of this smoothie because she decided it tasted like pear crumble. She then proceeded to drink the majority of the jug I'd made. 



What I like the most about this smoothie is that is has everything you need in it. Some sugar from the honey, some fruit (because pear, duh) and then also some protein and energy from the oats. I hope you enjoy!

The video!



Olivia's Question: What's the weather like where you are? Summer time yet?

Olivia-Savannah x

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Isla and the Happily Ever After [Book Review]

Hi there!

Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3)
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton
Published Date: 14th August 2014
Rating: 4 Stars


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Synopsis: Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart. 

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

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Review: It took me a long time to get around to reading this book. I’m steadily learning that I am terrible at reading conclusions to series. Ash.reads from Instagram buddy reading this one with me is what finally made me do it! And I loved it of course. I spent the whole morning reading with her until we finished it together and boy, did it fill with those all too familiar feels that Stephanie Perkins always manages to cause. 

At first, I got a little bit annoyed with Isla character. Her crush was so typical and a little bit obsessive. But then again, we can all do some seriously silly things when we have a crush, so I gave her a little leeway. All these three books are allowed to be read with a little eye rolling from time to time. 

I liked Kurt, who was her best friend. He’s autistic, but you can tell he is generally a nice guy who is actually smart and understands a lot more than people think he does. He gets bullied a bit and although I’m sure it does affect him, he doesn’t let it get to him. 


There were quite a few time jumps from place to place that felt a bit disjointed, but for the most part this book reads smoothly. That’s one of the best things about Perkins’s writing style… it just flows so well. You get sucked in and before you know it, you’ve easily read 100 pages. It really does go that fast. The dialogue is incredibly realistic and there are moments that I feel like they could easily jump off the pages and happen in real life. The situations are that real. 

In this novel we’re back at the school in Paris. But don’t worry about it not having a new setting because we head over to America at times, and then we also end up in Spain at some point. Where everything is beautifully described to the point where you’ll be taking note of places to visit and be left with an extreme case of wanderlust when you put the book down. 

I really liked Josh, who is the love interest here. We’ve seen him before in book one, and there are some slight differences to his character… but he seems to be mostly the same person. He’s cute and awkward and feels all the things. The relationship in this book was very quick in happening. There isn’t as much drama as there is in the other two books, so I was wondering what would happen in the book. Don’t worry about, it because Perkins knows how to create issues for them both to face. 


All the three relationships we see in the series have a different kind of relationship. This was the one that was tested by long distance issues and I sort of liked that because you don’t get too many romance based books which handle that at all. It was unique. 

There were times with Isla bothered me a lot. She seems to spend a LOT of time crying… and she did something really dumb in the middle of the book as well >< It bothered me less when I realised that I am similar to her in the ways that we have our own insecurities and because of them we tend to shut people out so they can’t hurt us… even though we are hurting ourselves by doing that. Which of course, made me a bit more sympathetic…

But what was the best thing about this book? The ending! The title is a massive giveaway to it, but not in how it fulfills that title. There are cameos of all our favourite characters from the two previous books and Perkins just wraps the whole thing together with a bow so nicely. I was fangirling happy by the end of the book. 


I love this series and can’t wait for Perkins to publish another book. I’ll be reading it straight away!

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New Video! My unboxing of my Quirk Books Box!


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Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

Olivia’s Question: Which books give you wanderlust? 

Olivia-Savannah x

Thursday, 11 May 2017

April Wrap Up 2017

Happy Thursday everyone!

I'm back to my usual schedule, and I WILL get to blog commenting back sometime this week. I've totally been slacking off :D But anyway, without further ado, here is my April Wrap Up post for you. 




Life has been bittersweet lately. I feel like it is full of endings. 

For starters, I had my last basketball game with my secondary school team, and my last training. I will be seeing them in May one more time for the final basketball evening, but man, I love those girls. I'm gonna miss them a lot...



One of my older sisters was home for a bit this month as well. I was busy studying throughout her stay, but we did watch some movies together, like Deadpool (I've finally seen it!) and we went and had lunch out together at Bagels and Beans. 

There was a two week holiday, but it pretty much wasn't a holiday for me as I studied for my finals. Lots and lots of studying. I also had my last day of secondary school classes ever. I still feel like that hasn't quite sunk in. 

The first Taco Bell in the Netherlands just happened to open in my city, so my friend and I went to go eat there after the last day of school and had a nice time talking and relaxing in the park. I quite liked it actually, and Taco Bell is so affordable. It was the first taco I'd ever tried as well, so that was something new. 


Good Friday and Easter Sunday was in April as well. My church had a 24 hour prayer into Good Friday going on. So at 11pm to midnight my mum and I took a slot, and had an hour praying in the church. I don't think I've ever dedicated a whole hour to prayer, so that was extremely new to me. But it felt so good. It's definitely something I would like to try and do again in the future. 

I also had my last tutoring sessions. I tutor English to two families. One family I've been tutoring for a year. It was a challenge to work with them because they didn't speak English (their native language is Russian) and well, I don't speak that. Flashcards have been our best friend and their English has progressed so much. I'm gonna miss them. The second family I didn't realise I'd been tutoring them for three whole years now. They brought the most stunningly decorated cake that they made themselves as a thank you. It was almost too beautiful to eat. I'm gonna miss the kids so much as well.


As for yoga, I've made a bit more progress with my handstand. I can do it, I just can't hold it for long yet. I've managed to be able to get into the crow pose, at long last - but it needs a lot more work. A lot more. 

Lastly, I stayed up till 5am marathoning all the Twilight movies. No regrets. They're not the best, but I love them regardless.





 I finally had a good reading month! 15 books! 

For starters, before I binge watched all the Twilight movies, I binge read the entire Twilight Saga. It was nice to reread them, and I discovered that I still love them. I mean, I can see why people hate them. The novella is quite boring and the last book is too bizarre for my taste. But aside from that? These books shall always have my love. 

I also kept the rereading up by rereading Stygian and Sutphin Bouelvard by Santino Hassell. It got me back onto a new adult m/m romance kick and I kinda binge read more of his books. You'll see that in May as well. I also continued on to read the sequel of Sutphin Bouelvard which was Sunset Park. It was glorious.

I have reviews for Birthright by Jessica Ruddick, Even this Page is White by Vivek Shraya and Wild Blue Yonder by Charlotte Wilson upcoming, so I won't discuss them here. Well, the reviews will be coming -- y'know, as soon as I write them :D I've already reviewed It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany as well. 

Well, my reading count should actually be 12, because those three novellas by Renee Ahdieh were like 20 pages in total each and took me 10 minutes to read. They were nice... but not amazing or anything. Just decent. Not necessary in order to be able to enjoy the duology. 



I'm still reading Sense and Sensibility and Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold. I know, I'm slow, but I'll finish this month or SO HELP ME. 

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
Hellworld by Tom Leveen
Private Reserve by Diana Sobolewski 






 I signed up for Lonna's Summer 2017 Comment Challenge! You should check it out too :D

  New Video! Don't want to read the post? Here's my video version of it to watch instead.


Olivia's Question: What did you get up to in April? What was your favourite read? How many books did you read?

Olivia-Savannah x

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Top 10: Things You Need to Survive Exams

Happy Sunday!

As you know, seeing as I have been talking about it a lot on the blog lately, I'm currently going through exams. I've pretty much spent the last month studying for them as well. Which is why I feel like it might be appropriate to make this list of the ten things that helped me most when it comes to writing the exams and also preparing for them. For those who have exams in the future, I hope this is helpful. Or maybe you agree with some of these?


1. Family 

My family have been living through these exams with me. They ask me how it's going. They spoil me and buy me treats to motivate me to keep studying. They talk me down from mounting stress, and whenever I need a hug they are right there for me. I don't know if I could've seen this through without them!


2. Friends



Friends are great whether they are or aren't going through the exams with you. If they are, you have someone you can go to with questions! If not, then you just have someone to take your mind off of the upcoming exams for a little while. 


3. Good Food



Trust me, you'll need this. I've been eating healthy through my exams to have a happy and healthy brain. But it makes the treats you allow yourself to have as study rewards just that little bit more rewarding as well. :D


4. Yoga and Meditation



I love yoga and meditation. It's also a very free stress reliever. I was pretty much doing practice daily because it flushed all the tension out of my body that built up while I was scribbling answers in the exam room and anticipating the next one. 


5. 10 Min Cardio Workouts



Back at it again with the physical workout suggestions. But really, I am a firm believer of the happy and healthy body leading to a happy and healthy mind. I didn't do this everyday but it was a nice way to work up a little sweat, relax, and take a study break. 

6. Youtube Tutorials 



If there is a topic you're supposed to be studying and you can't understand it... youtube tutorials will be your lifesaver. Also, a tip of watching the tutorials at a faster pace, of 1.5x, means you might save a bit of time as well. 

7. Make a Schedule 


Time management is essential. You want to have time to study everything you need, but you also want to be able to rest and relax as well. Make a realistic schedule and try your best to stick to it. It will help you so much. 


8. A Good Television Series


Re-watch a favourite television series of yours before bed. If the episodes are short (20 minutes long) that's the ideal length. It's a great way to switch off before going to bed, and rest your mind from all the knowledge you're cramming in. I've been watching Baby Daddy.

9. Music 



I am aware this one doesn't work for everyone. But I really just CANNOT study without some music in the background. 

10. Perspective



This may be one of the most important ones. When you're going through exams sometimes life feels centered around them. It can be hard to see an 'after' exams, and what you will be doing then. Try and keep perspective in mind because exams aren't the beginning and end of everything ;)

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New Video! My book review of The Rains by Gregg Hurwitz :)


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Olivia's Question: What's a recommendation that you would have included on this list?

Olivia-Savannah x