REVIEW: Writers & Lovers by Lily King

Writers and Lovers is a slow-paced, but deep novel exploring the trying times of a struggling writer. I received a copy of Lily King’s new novel, Writers and Lovers for free via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Reading Experience

I read Writers and Lovers over a long stretch of weeks until remembering that NetGalley ARC’s expire and I had a day left to finish it. It was slightly difficult for me to become engrossed in the novel, mainly due to me being out of practice in reading slower books, but once hit about half-way, I found the book easier and quicker to read.

About

Writers and Lovers follows Casey, a struggling 30-something drowning in debt and grief from the passing of her mother, all-the-while trying to write her novel and navigate love.

Thoughts

Writers and Lovers feels very real, almost shockingly so. It’s a deep, thoughtful book with a flawed and fully realised protagonist. It touches on many topics that have plagued and still do plague writers and artists (well, probably most people) for years, one that really resonated with me was (of course), ‘am I wasting my life?’ It was great to connect to the book like that. However, I genuinely struggled getting through the slow pacing of this book. It comes off as trivial, mundane and banal in places, then again that’s also what makes it real. With Writers and Lovers, King isn’t trying to depict life through any rose-tinted glasses, she’s simply observing how it is and showing that to us. Whether that makes a book good, or a trifle boring, it depends on the reader’s taste. Personally, I was completely torn.

Though Writers and Lovers was a deep, and complex novel, I found it difficult to fully emotionally invest it. It’s one of those times that, for some inexplicable reason, the book and I just didn’t quite click.

Who Would I Recommend it to?

It’s perfect for readers who like character-driven novels that are slow, but thoughtful and deep.

REVIEW: Madness, Rack and Honey by Mary Ruefle

I've been meaning to write this review for years. I just don't know how I'm supposed to coherently explain my love for Madness, Rack and Honey. I'm not convinced there is a way. I'll do my best.

About Madness, Rack and Honey

I first saw Madness, Rack and Honey on @herpickings Instagram account, which is one of my favourite places to go to get recommendations. I was drawn in by the simplicity of the cover, and some of the quotes sent my heart in a tizzy. I loaned it from my library as soon as possible, and slowly devoured it over the following months.

Once I was finished, I quickly logged on to book depository and ordered myself a copy.

Madness, Rack and Honey is a collection of lectures from poet Mary Ruefle. It covers topic such as, theme, fear, Emily Dickenson, the moon etc. and it almost reads like a derailed train of thought. Sometimes you can't quite figure out where Mary is going, but like all good things, it's mostly about the journey and not so much about the destination.

This will be a short review, because there's only so many ways I can tell you that I absolutely adored the crap out of this book.

The Things I Loved in Three Examples

I think it best to simply show you what I loved, rather than tell you.

Number 1

"I remember reading Rilke's Duino Elegies again and again and again, until I "got" them, until something burst over me like a flood, and I remember, once again, weeping and weeping with a book in my hands." - Mary Ruefle (Madness, Rack and Honey)

This is how I feel about Madness, Rack and Honey.

Number 2

"I used to think I wrote because there was something I wanted to say. Then I thought, “I will continue to write because I have not yet said what I wanted to say”; but I know now I continue to write because I have not yet heard what I have been listening to." - Mary Ruefle (Madness, Rack and Honey)

My hands are in the air, I'm saying 'Preach it, sister.'

Number 3

"My idea for a class is you just sit in the classroom and read aloud until everyone is smiling and then you look around, and if someone is not smiling you ask them why, and then you keep reading - it may take many different books - until they start smiling, too." - Mary Ruefle (Madness, Rack and Honey)

This sounds like everything thats good in the world.

And On The Flip Side

This is, by no means, a book for everyone. It's non-fiction. It's poetry lectures. If you're not a fan of books like Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, then Madness, Rack and Honey will not be your cup of tea. However, if you're a poetry fan and criticism nerd like me, you need this book in your life. Now.

Overall, My Favourite Thing

This is it. This book is my island book. The one book I'd pick if I had to read a single thing over and over for the rest of my life. It's like the whisperings of a kindred spirit. Though, perhaps a better word would be ramblings. There's no other feeling like reading an author who just gets you. It's like your heart is constantly overflowing, and you can't possibly read for very long at a time because you've so much emotion there's every chance your heart may just give up and stop.

Simply put, I loved Madness, Rack and Honey.

Star Rating

All the stars. All the stars in the infinite night sky. Absolutely everything. I give the entire universe, the whole galaxy to Madness, Rack and Honey.

On a scale of one to ten, I love it an eleven.

Thanks for reading!


 

Madness Rack and Honey Review -- The Riverside Library

Madness Rack and Honey -- The Riverside Library

2020, A Time for Changes – Three Things I’ve Learned in My Years Blogging

It’s the seventh week of 2020, and I’m sitting down to write a post about my ~feelings~, so obviously, the year is off to a great start.
This URL expires in a few weeks, I’ll renew it, but it’s made me reflect on this blog a lot.
If you’re a regular reader of mine you’ll know that I haven’t posted a lot lately. Not to this blog, nor to my Instagram. Last year was a busy year, but more than that, 2019 was chaotic inside my head. It was so heavy on my shoulders that by October it had crushed me. That left little time for anything, least of all blogging.
Now that I’m feeling better, I can return to the part of my brain that thinks of books, reading, and this blog, and contemplate the future of it, while also reflecting on the past. I’m not sure how many years I’ve been blogging for (and frankly I don’t really care to know), but I’ve learnt a lot of lessons. Here are my top three.

1. When You Have a Business and a Semi-Public Life, Don’t Combine Them

I was quite public about my business (Potions Candle Co) on my bookstagram account, and vice versa. At first, I thought it was a great way to open my business up to more customers, but I never realised that it would come back to bite me.
Having customers follow both my accounts brought about an interesting predicament. Though no one mentioned anything, I felt immensely guilty posting anything to my bookstagram account when I had orders I needed to process, make or pack. I didn’t want to share that I was reading a book, in case it upset someone who was waiting on their order. Granted I think most people would understand that I had more than one order to do, and it simply wasn’t healthy to be working at 10 pm at night when I was reading, but I still felt guilty.
Not only did this reduce the amount of content I was producing for my bookstagram, it also fostered a strange sense of resentment toward Potions, for encroaching on my personal life in every way possible.
I still own Potions (which is Potions Illustration now), and most of my lovely followers are kind enough to follow me on both of my accounts, but because I take on very little client work, and my products are downloadable, there’s not the same pressure to be always working as there once was.
From now on, any other public venture I do, I probably won’t share on my bookstagram account, just for… you know, my own sanity.

2. Some Things Are Meant For Fun, Not For Success

Like this blog, for example.
When you’re searching for blogging tips and tricks (I often looked up something along the lines of: ‘how do I make the words come easier??!??!?!?!’) it’s easy to be sucked in my those million articles promising that you could get rich QUICK with just your blog, even if you never actually wanted to do it to make money.
So, you end up signing up to a handful of affiliate programs, get kicked off one for being too small, and make a whopping sum of $1.
Then, you sign up to AdSense before realising you hate having ads on your blog, so you install an ad blocker and completely forget that your blog still has ads, which, may I add, make you another whopping $1.
Finally, you start angling for some sponsored posts that never happen because you know deep down inside that your heart isn’t in it.
Then, you pull your head out of your a** of the sand and realise that you’ve misplaced the joy of blogging somewhere along the way. It fell out of your arms around the time you picked up SEO and those three hundred ‘How to Find Success on Pinterest’ articles that state the same thing in forty-two different font sizes (often all in the same post. My eyes. Halp).
Turns out, in the end, you sold the fun of your blog for $2 that you never actually got because you didn’t meet the payment threshold. Good job, kiddo.

3. Only You Can Decide The Direction of Your Happiness

How many times have I posted a poll on Instagram asking everyone what kind of content they’d like to see from me? Far too many. Why? I couldn’t tell you.
Perhaps it went something like this:

I run a book blog, and I couldn’t very well post anything other than books, could I?
I couldn’t have a mish-mash blog. That was what those Pinterest articles said. But maybe my followers thought something different?
Maybe they’d still read if I just rambled on about my ~feelings~.
Maybe they’d be interested in my favourite eco-friendly fashion brands.
Maybe they’d like an in-depth comparison of the quality of paper used by major notebook companies.
Best ask.
Oh, they’re fine with it.
But the Pinterest gurus…… they still say no. Better not. It’s a book blog after all.

Well, however it went, it’s no longer that way. I’ve realised (for the seven-billionth time) that I pave my own path to happiness, and no one can do it for me. It’s my choice to pick what materials I use for the path, what colour said materials are, if the path is windy, straight or uphill, it’s my choice where it starts and goes and ends.
I’m not giving the joy of my blog to Pinterest gurus anymore, nor am I selling it for $2 I never get. I’m just going to write stuff. Don’t know what. Probably book stuff. I like books. Maybe writing because that’s cool too. You never know, this might turn into my humble little place of self-rediscovery because we can’t all just go to Italy and eat pasta like that lady from Eat, Pray, Love.
Whatever 2020 brings for The Riverside Library, I’m going to enjoy it. Otherwise, it’s just a waste.
I hope my learning the hard way turns into the easy way for you! Happy blogging my friends!

REVIEW: Page Anchor – Is It Worth It?

Page Anchor Review-- The riverside Library-2

The one question I get most of all from my followers on Instagram is: 'Do you actually use your Page Anchor?' So, today I'm coming at you with my ling awaited Page Anchor review. I'm about to give you the brutally honest truth (which I can say because they totally unfollowed me on Instagram 😉🤣 )

Also, big shout out to my big sister for getting me my Page Anchor! Thanks a million.

Now, let's dive right into my Page Anchor review.

What is a Page Anchor?

A Page Anchor is a gorgeous looking bookish accessory designed to hold your book open while you read (or take photographs).

How Do You Use It?

The Page Anchor is simple to use. You slot the two pins between the pages of your novel, and slide the anchor down. When it's time to turn the page, you push the anchor up (not the whole way so it falls out), turn the page, and side it back down again. Does that get annoying? Sure, sometimes it does.

How Often Do I Use It?

I use my Page Anchor whenever I'm writing in my diary or reading a tightly bound book (i.e. my Knickerbocker Sherlock Holmes books). I generally don't reach for my Page Anchor for any ordinary book because I don't have an issue holding it open. I try to buy floppy books that will lie flat in my hand or on my bed, so I don't have to struggle to hold them.

Would I Recommend It?

Sure! As I mentioned above, the Page Anchor is a great accessory, so if you have the spare money and want one, definitely go for it! However, it's by no means a necessity for reading, nor does it elevate your status in the bookstagram community (as I've seen a few people theorise). It's simply a great way to hold your book open, and a very pretty accessory to have.

You can get your own Page Anchor here + see a video of how it works.

Page Anchor Review 2 -- The Riverside Library

100+ Bookstagram Hashtags by Post Type

100+ More bookstagram hashtags by post type -- The riverside Library-3

It's probably no surprise that one of my most popular blog posts to date is 100+ Bookstagram Hashtags. Having posted that one quite some time ago, I've had a while to consider how to improve it, and help you readers out some more with your hashtag game on bookstagram. In this post, I've grouped hashtags by post type (ie. bookshelves, library loans etc), and included some new, specific hashtags for you to use.

A Little Bookstagram Hashtag Tip

One of the best tips I've ever received is to save my hashtags as a keyboard shortcut in my phone. To do this on an iPhone, simply go to settings > general > keyboard >text replacement then paste the hashtags in 'phrase' and create a unique shortcut. Then, when it comes time to posting your Instagram photo, you can simply type in your unique shortcut and your phone will replace that with your hashtags!

Quick things to remember: Instagram will only allow you to use up to 30 hashtags per post. Also, I've tried my best to proof read this (and count), but forgive me if there are spelling errors. It really hurts your head to stare at hashtags for so long!


General Bookish

All General (28)

#photooftheday #bookstagram #bookworm #booklover #instabooks #bibliophile #bookish #booknerd #literature #bookaholic #reader #igreads #bookphotography #bookstagrammer #instabook #booksofinstagram #bookporn #ilovebooks #readersofinstagram #bookworms #booksbooksbooks #bookcommunity #readmore #bookobsessed #booksarelife #totalbooknerd #bookaddiction #readmorebooks

Half general (so you can mix it up with more specific ones) (15)

#readersofig #bookreader #bookaddicted #bookalicious #bookishgirl #bookish life #bookaholics #bookster #allthebooks #fortheloveofreading #bibliophilia #bookaccount #bookaddict #bookstagramit


For when you’re reading (28)

#amreading #currentlyreading #readersofinstagram #readingtime #ilovereading #lovereading #lovetoread #readingisfundamental #readmorebooks #ilovetoread #readersofig #bookrecommendation #lovetoreadbooks #bookreaders #readaholic #idratherbereading #readreadread #readingrocks #readallthebooks #fortheloveofreading #readstagram #bookreading #avidreader #readingiscool #readeveryday #readingtime #bookstoread #readingislife


When you’re showing your library love (23)

#library #libraryloans #librarylover #libraryporn #librarylove #publiclibrary #loveyourlibrary #publiclibraries #borrowedbooks #librariesrock #libraryphotography #librariesofinstagram #librarybook #librarygirl #libraryofinstagram #librarybooks #librarygram #libraryshelfie #libraryhaul #librarycard #librarygoals #libraryofbookstagram #librarytime


Shot of a bookshelf (30)

#bookshelf #shelfie #shelfiesunday #shelfies #shelfielicious #shelfiesaturday #shelfiegoals #shelfiedecor #shelfiestyling #shelfielovethursday #shelfielove #shelfielust #shelfietime #shelfieinspo #shelfiemagazine #shelfieday #shelfiestyle #shelfiefreak #shelfiemonday #shelfieselfie #shelfiesnotselfies #shelfiequeen #shelfielife #bookshelves #bookshelfstyling #bookshelfie #bookshelfporn #bookshelfgoals #bookshelflove


Bookstagram Features (27)

(If you're trying to get reposted by a feature account, check their bio first for instructions, and make sure you're following them. I've always found I have better success by tagging them in my photo, rather than simply using their hashtag).

#bookstagramfeatures #bookstagramfeature #bookstagramfeaturepage #bookstagramfeaturess #bookfeatured #bookfeaturepage #bookfeatures #bookfeaturereads #bookwormsfeature #mybookfeatures #bookishfeatures #bookfeaturefriday #booknerdfeature #bookfeaturespage #bookstafeatures #booksofinstagramfeature #bookfeaturefeed #bookwormfeatire #wildbookishfeature #mybookishfeatures #bookfeaturepages #bookfeaturedpage #featuremybooks #mybooksfeature #featuredbooklovers


Book Blog (17)

#bookblog #bookblogger #bookblogging #bookbloggers #bookbloggerlife #bookbloggersofig #bookblogs #bookbloggersofinstagram #bookbloggerbooks #bookbloggerpost #bookbloggerslife #bookbloggteam #bookbloggersunite #bookreviewblog #bookblogginglife #bookstagramblogger #bookblogfeatures


Book Haul/ Book Mail (16)

#bookhaul #bookmail #newbooks #bookaddict #ilovebookmail #bookmailisthebestmail #happybookmail #bookishmail #bookmailisthebest #snailmailbook #surprosebookmail #bookmailbox #booksbymail #newbookmail #bookhauls #bookhauler


Book stack (9)

#bookstack #bookstacks #bookstacksaturday #bookstackchallenge #bookstacksunday #bookstacking #bookstackattack #stacksofbooks #stacksofbookslife


Fantasy (8)

#fantasybooks #fantasybook  #fantasybookseries #fantasybooklover #fantasybooksrus #fantasybookcollector #fantasybookworm #amreadingfantasy


YA (7)

#iloveya #ireadya #yabooks #yabookstagram #yabookseries #yabookstagrammer #yabookworm

Don’t forget to include what YA subgenre your book is #yafantasy #yacontemporary #yaromance #yascifi


Romance (7)

#ireadromance #romancebook #romancebooks #readromance #gottareadromance #romancereaders #amreadingromance


So there you have it! Don't forget to check out my Instagram @riversidelibrary, and drop me a comment or send me a DM if this helped you! I love to chat!

 


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QUICK REVIEW: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Aurora Risisng Review -- The Riverside Library

Aurora Rising is jam-packed with action from the get-go, and I can safely say I have never enjoyed dual perspectives like this before. I was excited when a new character’s POV came along, because I actually liked them all.

Though the novel was around 400 pages, I felt like I didn’t get to know the characters as well as I would have liked, but this being a series, I’m not overly concerned about that. I can get to know them later.

The plot and concepts are incredible, complex and interesting. I feel like the only element that brings them squarely into the YA domain is the dialogue and teenage love. This isn’t a bad thing at all, but it did slight diminish my enjoyment of the novel. Having said that, this is a YA novel, so props to the authors for that.

You Need to Start a Commonplace Book, and Here’s Why

You Need to Start A Commonplace Book and Here's Why -- The Riverside Library

How often have you come across a line while reading a book, and felt a sudden surge of… something?

Something that makes your heart pulse a little more fervently, something that heats your chest, something that sparks a little fire in your soul. How often do you turn to whatever journal, book, or writing device you have nearby just to write it down, to remember it because it meant something to you?

Odds are, particularly if you’re a creative type, that’s happened quite a bit. It’s been a commonplace thing for many creatives throughout history, so much so, there’s even a name for the style of journaling. It’s called a commonplace book, and you should totally start one.

What is a commonplace book?

Simply put, a commonplace book is a journal in which phrases of note are copied or recorded for one's own personal use. This could be passages from books, quotes seen on Pinterest, things overheard, and even things you've thought.

 

How do you start a commonplace book?

Starting a commonplace book is simple. All you need is a journal, a pen/pencil, and a bunch of things you want to record.

Five tips for your commonplace book

Starting any kind of creative task can be daunting, so here are my tips for compiling your commonplace book.

1. Ignore the temptation to strive for perfection

A commonplace book isn't designed to be a beautiful thing placed on display. It's simply a place to record things you love. You can, of course, work hard to make it aesthetically pleasing, or filled with adorable drawings, but don't let the idea of creating something perfect stop you from starting. A messy commonplace book is better than none at all.

2. Don't worry about having things in order

Fill your commonplace book with passages as you find them. You don't have to work out a table of contents before you begin and proceed to categorise your work as you go. That will simply take time and cause confusion. The theme of this book is 'Things that Inspire Me,' resist the temptation to further divide that into subcategories.

3. Allow yourself creative free reign

Your commonplace book doesn't have to be solely reserved for quotes, or other written media. Mix things up a little with drawings, doodles, photographs, magazine cut-outs, or even pressed flowers. You can even write passages on different papers and glue or sellotape them into your book.

4. Make the experience an event

I understand that sometimes you don't have a spare moment to sit down and artistically add something to a notebook, but sitting down and recording things you love is such a relaxing experience. When I come across a passage I want to add to my commonplace book, I take note of it on my phone. Then, once I've compiled quite a list of things, I'll make myself some tea, sit in the sunlight, or cosy up with a blanket and a crackling candle on a rainy day, grab my pen or pencil and have a calm moment or two while I write. It's a form of self-care. Enjoy it.

5. Find inspiration everywhere

I have a list of things on my phone that inspire me. Strange things that I probably shouldn't reveal. Things like ants, climbing the gaps in cobblestones while carrying a crumb twice their size. Include strange little lists like these in your commonplace book, and seek inspiration everywhere you go. You can find it in nature, in books, in lyrics of songs, dialogue of movies, words of your best friend. If it inspires you, include it.

Stationary I love to use

I use a little journal for my commonplace book, which allows me to put it in my handbag and take it with me if I feel like I'm going to wind up somewhere that I'll be able to write. I picked up this blank book by seeso graphics at TK Maxx, in the discount section for around $2. If you're looking for something bigger, I thoroughly recommend Rhodia journals - their pages are some of the softest I've ever felt. As for writing utensils, I either use pencil (the pages in my journal are fairy see-through), or in my Rhodia journal, I use nothing but Stabilo Fineliners. I somehow scored a pack of 30 for $10, so keep your eyes peeled for discounts.

Thanks for reading! Happy commonplacing!

 

 


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The One Journal Every Creative Needs to Start Right Now -- The Riverside Library
The One Journal Every Creative Needs to Start Right Now -- The Riverside Library

You Need to Start a Common Place Book, and Here's Why -- The Riverside Library

REVIEW: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Review The Flatshare -- The Riverside Library

Of all the books I’ve come across in recent years, The Flatshare would have to have one of the most interesting premises. I was incredibly lucky to receive a review copy from Hachette Australia, and (this may just spoil the whole review for you) it was the complete highlight of my month.

The Flatshare follows Tiffy and Leon – two strangers who share a bed. How? While Leon works nights, Tiffy sleeps, and vice versa. It’s perfect – and they never have to meet. But what if that one person who you never meet, is actually someone you should? That’s the exact question The Flatshare asks.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that contemporaries are definitely a genre I try to stay away from, although, you’ll also know I like to challenge my reading tastes. It was that particular hobby and the unique premise of this book that inspired me to pick this one up. Once I did, trust me, there was no putting it down and I may have already read it twice.

What I liked

This book is sunshine. Complete and utter sunshine. There were so many things that I loved about the book, so I'll have to narrow it down to just a few for brevity's sake.

I adored both of our lead characters. Tiffy and Leon both had flaws but they weren’t painted in a negative light, in fact, I'd be more inclined to call them quirks instead of flaws. The Flatshare makes you love these characters even when Leon would be incredibly difficult to crack in real life, and Tiffy might be too much to handle. I felt like this book had some kind of gentle magic that made me love these two real, quirky, and flawed characters.

Another thing I appreciated for a heartwarming contemporary was that The Flatshare didn’t shy away from difficult subject matters. Seeing Tiffy’s journey throughout the book was not something I expected, but it honestly made the book so much more enjoyable for me. This was a classic case of something I never knew I needed until it was in my hands, going into my brain. It also added an element of unpredictability for me, possibly because I wasn't expecting the storyline, there were elements in there that really took me by surprise.

What I didn’t like

It feels so strange trying to talk about something I didn't like in a book where I genuinely enjoyed everything.

If I had to pick out one thing that might turn readers away, it would be that Leon’s POV writing took a little to get used to. Coming from a science background, I was kind of used to the succinct, to the point sentences. I also absolutely adored how the writing style subtly changed as the book went on and Leon found himself in a different place emotionally.

You know it's a truly special book when my 'What I Didn't Like' section turns into talking about more things I adored.

My favourite thing

Can I just say everything? I genuinely adore this book, and I think I may have said that enough now to get my point across. I even bought the eBook, so when I'm travelling I will always have a copy (read: ray of sunshine) with me. I can't urge you enough to go out and get yourself a copy, and also, please, take a leaf out of Tiffy's book, and go about life being unapologetically yourself.

Mikaela | The Riverside Library

Book details:

Title: The Flatshare
Author: Beth O'Leary
Australian Publisher: Hachette
Australian Publication Date: May 2019
RRP: AU$32.99

Blurb:

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met...

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they're crazy, but it's the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy's at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly-imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven't met yet, they're about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window...

 


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The Flatshare -- The Riverside Library

REVIEW: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Review We Hunt the Flame 1 -- The Riverside Library

Somehow, We Hunt the Flame managed to fly right under my radar as I conducted my extensive research into my most anticipated reads of 2019. I ended up hearing about it a few months before release, and I was lucky enough to receive a copy from Pan Macmillan Australia in exchange for a review.
I’m a huge mood reader, and I’m not sure if I can blame my mood for this, or if the book starts too slowly for me, but We Hunt The Flame took quite a while for me to get into. It’s no secret that I’m not a huge fan of slow-paced fantasy, after all, it took me a whopping three years to get past the first handful of chapters in The Fellowship of the Ring. However, once I was past the first third-or-so, I found the story a lot more intriguing.


Blurb

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.
Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.
War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.


Things I Loved:

It’s obvious to any reader that the world in this book has been lovingly crafted, and almost as if every single word was painstakingly deliberated over before it made the final cut, which, oftentimes can be slightly too much, but surely served to add to the world’s richness in We Hunt the Flame. It’s always a joy to read something that’s evidently loved by the author, and Faizal’s unique talent of incorporating that into her work was a surprising delight that added to the story’s charm.
The rich, slow writing style in this novel reminds me of adult fantasy. In some ways, We Hunt the Flame would make a good transitional read, if you’re feeling near the end of your love affair with YA, and adult fiction is calling your name from the infinite TBR stacks.
Also – this novel has a quest, guys! You know, I am all for a quest novel. It’s hands down one of my favourite types of stories, and I admire anyone who can write one. Imagine, you have to somehow make the story of a person walking from one place to another actually interesting. It’s a feat. Truly. Simply the presence of a quest in the novel is a huge thumbs up for me and if the quest is in hopes of restoring magic? Sign me up! 

Things I Didn’t Love

As I mentioned above, We Hunt the Flame was extremely hard for me to get into. Again, whether this is purely because of my reading mood, or perhaps because of the book’s pacing, I’m undecided.
Having said that, the book was definitely on the slower side pacing wise, I felt as though the book wanted the plot to happen as much as I did, but something kept holding it off right up until that third of the way through when I really got sucked in.
I think the writing style could definitely be the cause of the story’s speed.
As I mentioned above, the writing style was really beautiful, but in some parts, I did find it too descriptive – to the point, I became disoriented, not entirely sure where the characters were or what was happening. This is possibly a personal quirk, my imagination sometimes likes to shut down when there’s too much description and the characters exist in a black void.
Finally, something I find increasingly common in recent releases is the inclusion of wildly popular tropes that I really dislike. One of my least favourite romance tropes is enemies to lovers – a hugely unpopular opinion, I know. If you’re a sucker for that type of thing, the romance in We Hunt the Flame will definitely be for you.

My final thoughts

If you’re a fan of YA Fantasy, We Hunt the Flame is definitely something you should pick up, and you’ll likely devour it. Unfortunately, We Hunt the Flame and I just didn’t connect in the way I thought we would, and the book really wasn’t for me. I have quite the inkling that I am in the absolute minority with this opinion (let’s be honest, this happens a solid 76% of the time), however, and I encourage you to pick up a copy and dive into this beautiful fantasy world.
Thanks so much to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy for review!
Mikaela | The Riverside Library


BOOK DETAILS


TITLE: We Hunt the Flame
AUTHOR: Hafsah Faizal
PUBLISHER: Pan Macmillan/Farrar Straus Girox BYR
AUS PUBLICATION DATE: 14/05/2019
RRP: AU$18.99


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My Top Five Favourite Illustration & Digital Art Apps

My Top 5 Digital Art Apps -- The Riverside Library

I spend a great deal of my time drawing digital art on my iPad, usually, it's label art for Potions Candle Co, or just doodling until inspiration hits.

Over the past two years drawing digitally, I've tried a fair few apps available on the Apple and Android App stores, and I have my favourites. I can’t say that I’ve tried every one available, and I definitely haven’t used each one to its full capacity, but I do get asked about this quite often, so here are my top five digital art apps.

MediBang Paint


Price: Free!



MediBang Paint is a powerful free app that I wish I knew about at the beginning of my digital art journey. I don't have a lot of experience using this one, but from the short time I have spent on it, I was very impressed, especially considering it's free.

The reason this one isn’t higher on my list is due to the ease of use. I’ve always found it particularly difficult to find my way around this app. The interface has a lot of features, and it may be more familiar to people with more experience with other (perhaps desktop?) drawing apps, but for me, I like my canvas to take up most of the room on the app, not for all the bells and whistles to get in the way.

Though, I must say, the variety of brushes available is definitely a major plus. It also has pressure sensitivity with the Apple Pencil (I’m not certain about any other brands of stylus). In my perusing of the interwebs, MediBang Paint seems to be the free app of choice of many experienced digital artists and graphic designers.

Pros: Powerful, Free


Cons: It looks a little cluttered to me, and I find that quite distracting.



Adobe Sketch


Price: Free!


Adobe Sketch was the second digital art app that I ever used, and I loved its artistic brushes. The fact that I could use a watercolour brush on a digital interface just blew my mind. You don’t need to pick up a paintbrush, but if you hit print, it looks like you actually did some traditional art. Obviously, that’s not a perk of the app itself, because any app that has paint style brushes can accomplish that, but still, I was blown away.

Sketch has five brushes plus an eraser, pressure sensitivity is available with the Apple Pencil (I’m not sure about other brands of stylus, though I’m 90% certain it should work with the adobe draw stylus). I like the way that Adobe Sketch is presented, the interface is clean, and the canvas takes up most of the screen.

I didn’t use Adobe Sketch a lot, purely because it wasn’t suited to the style of art I was productions at the time I used it, but when I did spend time playing around with the app, I really enjoyed it.


Pros: Interesting artsy brushes

Cons: Limited number of brushes



Autodesk Sketchbook


Price: Free!



Autodesk Sketchbook is another app I found a lot later than the Adobe apps. I haven’t used it an awful lot, because I found my number 1 app shortly after, but I’d say that Autodesk Sketchbook is my second most used drawing app nowadays, and that’s all for one feature - it is the only app on this list that has a text feature.

Sometimes you just can’t hand letter everything. I use this app exclusively for that feature now, but when I first tried to use the app for illustration it was hard to find a brush that I actually liked. Don’t get me wrong, they have a great selection, but none of them were what I wanted. There was always just something off. Of course, you can adjust them in settings but I could never tweak them to be exactly what I wanted, hence why I don’t have a great lot of experience using it.

Pros: Wide array of brushes, text option, easy to use

Cons: Brushes are unusual, and I never managed to find one I loved

Adobe Draw


Price: Free!



For the first two years of my digital art journey, this was the app I loved. I was quite happy to use it forever, it did everything I needed at that point.

The app has a heap of great features, including shape templates and a ruler, the interface is clean and easy to use. It’s limitations were what pushed me to find a new app. Like Adobe Sketch, there are only five brushes available, plus an eraser. On top of this, your drawings can only have twenty layers. The brush limitations didn’t other me an awful lot, because I generally only used one (my drawings were very basic), but the limited number of layers were definitely an issue.

Having layers is hands down one of my favourite aspects of digital art. I love being able to change a lower layer without it affecting the top layer - imagine doing that in traditional art! Being limited to twenty was very difficult in some of my more complex drawings, especially when I had to merge some and then I wanted to go back and change something I’d merged.

Having said that, I definitely think Adobe Draw is a fantastic app and I enjoyed the two years I used it.


Pros: Easy to use

Cons: Limited brushes

Procreate


Price: AU$14.99



Procreate is the only app I have ever paid for. I ummed and ahhed about it for so long after seeing that it was the app of choice for artists and illustrators all over the internet. I begrudged paying the $14.99, especially having not trialled it first, but one day I bit the bullet, and reader, I'm so glad I did.

Procreate is a game changer. It is hands down my absolute favourite digital art app.

It took a while for me to get the hang of it, and for the first few months of having Procreate, I still favoured Adobe Draw, but slowly I found myself opening Procreate a lot more than I opened Adobe Draw, especially when I got my Apple Pencil.

Honestly, I’m yet to find something that Procreate can’t do. I don’t want to count the amount of brushes available, but if you find you need something that you don’t have, someone online has probably made one and made it available for free, so you can simply download it and use it.

You can even edit photos in Procreate.

If I’m being completely honest, there’s nothing about Procreate that I don’t like. If I ever find a shortcoming, I google it and discover a way around it. No ruler? No worries, just draw a line and don’t release it. It’ll come straight. Keep holding the line and press another finger on the screen and the line will move about in forty-five-degree increments. Want a circle? Draw one and don’t let go, it’ll form a perfect circle. Procreate is now the only app I use for my illustrations, and labels.

Pros: Everything


Cons: Only available on the Apple App Store

Do you create digital art? What is your favourite app?

Mikaela | The Riverside Library


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My Top 5 Digital Art Apps -- The Riverside Library

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