Doing It – Hannah Witton

“I want this book to educate you, I want this book to feel like your friend gossiping with you. I want this book to make you feel normal, comfortable, empowered and in control of your body.”

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Blurb: “Figuring out how to build and maintain healthy relationships – with your family, friends, romantically and with yourself – is a crucial part of being a teen. It’s not easy though, particularly in a digital age where information and advice are so forthcoming it can be hard to know who or what to believe or trust. Porn is everywhere, sexting is the norm and messages about body image are highly mixed. Hannah combats this by tackling subjects ranging from masturbation and puberty to slut shaming and consent in an accessible, relatable and extremely honest way.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

When I first saw the announcement for this book I have to admit I was disheartened. There’s an endless stream of “YouTuber books” dominating the shelves and most of them feel unwarranted when they’re autobiographies from people who are the same age as me. It felt like Hannah was the newest addition to this money train but when she started to explain what her book was going to be about, it couldn’t have been a more perfect fit.

I have been subscribed to Hannah Witton on YouTube for a very long time and one thing I’ve always loved about her content is that she’s honest. Whether it’s her “drunk advice” or – more recently – the “hormone diaries” videos, Hannah is not afraid to bare all (pardon the pun) when talking about situations that are still seen as a taboo in our society. Even though I’m a twenty-three year old woman, I still find myself learning things about sex (mainly from Hannah) that I had never learnt in a classroom. This book is, as Hannah states in the introduction, something the reader should “dip in and out of for advice” rather than read cover to cover, but for the sake of this review, I read every single page.

Doing It covers everything from…well… “doing it” to the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, the time she lost her virginity, birth control, puberty and periods, porn and masturbation, the importance of consent and why it’s okay to wait; anything you can think of regarding sex and relationships is most likely in this book. But another thing I really admired about this book is that Hannah leaves it to certain experiences she hasn’t had to other contributors for whom they are a reality. For example, Riley Dennis has written a chapter about what it’s like dating when you’re trans, Amelia Morris has written about being asexual, Riki Poynter talks about what it’s like to have a sexual relationship when you’re deaf.

I was really educated on what is and isn’t true when it comes to the human body and sex (again even at my age) when Hannah would present a myth and then proceed to explain if it was true or not. For example: the hymen breaking during your first time having sex.

Books like this are bittersweet because Doing It is a book I really could have used when I was a teenager. Even though I didn’t lose my virginity until I was twenty. But it’s such a great thing that books like this and This book Is Gay by Juno Dawson exist to help any struggles that teenagers are going through where they may want to avoid talking to a family member.

“Just remember that whatever your gender, or sexuality, you are wonderful and deserve as much as the next person.”

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Empire Of Storms – Sarah J. Maas

“Hand in hand, they stared towards the darkness coating the mountains, the dread-lord’s bone drums pounding like hammers on iron. Too soon, those drums would be drowned out by the screams of dying soldiers. Too soon, the valley fields would be carved with streams of blood.”

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Blurb: “The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalities have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t. At the kingdom of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.”

This is the fifth book in the best-selling Throne Of Glass series and everything is certainly out to play for. Aelin Galathynius is finally back in her long-lost kingdom Terrasen though is having to stay hidden until she has built up enough allies to help her re-claim the throne. The witches are preparing for war and Dorian is reeling from the events of the previous book.

I found the reading experience of Empire of Storms very mixed. The main problem I had was that current storylines at the forefront were brought in during Heir of Fire so when I considered re-reading the previous two books in order to refresh my memory, I was left with the conundrum of “am I willing to re-read two 600+ page books before Empire of Storms?” I didn’t and so I found this novel a struggle because of how deep the roots of certain character arcs are now extending. I frequently had to access character wikis to remind myself of who certain people were and access full recaps of previous books to understand where the characters were. This is no fault really of Sarah J Maas but me and my laziness. However, what I did enjoy  is that seemingly separate characters are now starting to cross paths and form the bigger picture as this series is now nearing the end.

The character who formed the centre of my affections was Manon Blackbeak ( a character who previously I detested having to read).No matter what your thoughts are on her, it is impossible to deny how fantastically well she’s written. Throughout this book in particular I loved seeing how she grew when she finally decided to stand up for herself and I was rooting for her through every single appearance she made. Another was the seemingly irrelevant Elide Loche who becomes one of the vital characters in this part of the story. I wasn’t sure what to make of her but she is yet again another testament to brilliantly written characters and her story may be tragic enough to match Aelin’s. Elide was another character I rooted for every step of the way.

This book felt very slow, especially in the middle and I feel that a lot of the action that happened was moreso intended to keep the reader interested as it’s a long quest that takes the centre of the story.

Although, in true Sarah J.Maas manner, she left it on such a note that I can do nothing but impatiently wait until the next book.

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Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies – J.K.Rowling

“Minerva McGonagall was one of only a handful of people who knew, or suspected, how dreadful a moment it was for Albus Dumbledore when, in 1945, he made the decision to confront and defeat the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald.”

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Blurb: “These stories of heroism, hardship and dangerous hobbies profile two of the Harry Potter stories’ most courageous and iconic characters: Minerva McGonagall and Remus Lupin. J.K.Rowling also gives us a peak behind the closed curtain of Sybill Trelwaney’s life, and you’ll encounter the reckless, magical-beast-loving Silvanus Kettleburn along the way.”

When I first heard about even more Harry Potter material being launched into the world, I was both excited and sceptical. I will be reviewing each book over the course of this week so if you’re interested, keep an eye out.

This collection is basically the short stories that can be found on Pottermore, which as a free site makes the release of these ebooks feel very much like another chance to cash in on the new hype around the series. However, if you’re someone who’s a sucker for backstories then you’ll really enjoy Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies.

It’s split into four sections, focusing on different heroic characters from the Harry Potter series. Those are: Minerva McGonagall, Remus Lupin, Sybill Trelawny and Silvanus Kettleburn. The reader is given an insight into the lives of each of these characters along with learning more about the history of aspects they are linked to such as the “prejudice of werewolves” for Lupin and “history of the animagus” for McGonagall.

It’s a fun, quick little read and sure to give heart-warming feelings to any Harry Potter fans.

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The Beauty And The Beast Tag

Hello Everyone! Today I’m doing something I only used to do in the early days of this blog: a tag. The wonderful Kirstyandthecatread have created a Beauty and the Beast themed tag and were lovely enough to tag me. When I saw the theme and the questions, how could I possibly resist?

Tale As Old As Time – A popular theme, trope or setting you will never get bored of reading

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I can literally never get bored of training sequences in books. No matter how samey they can often feel as they are always part of the prelude to the action but I get serious enjoyment from reading the process of a character becoming physically and mentally stronger and the determination they go through to achieve that.

Belle – A book you bought for its beautiful cover that’s just as beautiful inside too

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The Night Circus is a book that I bought for its cover. The synopsis is incredibly vague but there was something so intriguing about this cover that meant I couldn’t leave the bookstore without it. The story is about a circus that shows up randomly. One day it’s there and the next it isn’t. It’s full of magic and mystery and a bet.

Beast – A Book you didn’t expect much from but pleasantly surprised you

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I did a review of this here. This was a book that had a lot of hype but I wasn’t personally interested. Then it started getting mixed reviews but when I saw it in my local library I thought, what really is there to lose? Short story, I ADORED it. The story is so different to anything I’ve read and it restored my faith in YA.

Gaston – A Book that everyone loves that you don’t

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This is more of a series/world than just a single book.  I can already hear people screaming in the distance and I’m sorry but I read the first book after seeing the film and just could not get into the actual written material. Part of me wants to delve into the world but I just don’t connect to or care for the story or the characters. Sorry!

LeFou – A loyal sidekick you can’t help but love more than their counter part

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Christina from the Divergent series comes to mind straight away. From the first page she’s introduced in the books I just felt some kind of connection to her. She’s loyal and honest (ha!) and throughout the series she proves to be the kind of person you’d want on side and just know will always have your back.

Mrs Potts, Chip, Lumier & Cogsworth – A book that helped you through a difficult time or that taught you something valuable

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When I was about 16 I was going through a really bad time mentally. I just wasn’t in a good place at all and this book entered my life. It became a crutch at a time when I needed it the most and it helped me to see things differently to how I’d been looking at them before. I honestly don’t think I would be here today if it wasn’t for this book.

Something There – A book series that you weren’t into at first but picked up towards the end

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This was actually a hard one to think of because normally I find with series that they start of good but then deteriorate as they go on. After a scroll through my read books on goodreads, I found my answer in The Infernal Devices. This was a series that I muddled through and didn’t really enjoy. However, the last book is by far the best and worth enduring the first two for.

Be Our Guest – A fictional character you’d love to have over for dinner

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Anyone who knows me will not at all be surprised by this answer. Magnus Bane means so much to me from a bisexual representation point of view but also I get the feeling he’d be a good cook and he’d have countless wonderful stories to share.

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Throne Of Glass Tag

This tag was created byAlexaLovesBook and Soobsessedwith and when I saw it was Throne of Glass themed I HAD to do it!

Lysandra – a book with a cover change you loved

 

Ironically my choice for this one is the book this tag is based off. Throne of Glass definitely has one of the best cover re-designs I’ve seen. I didn’t know there was a different cover until I saw it in one of jessethereader’svideos. I’m not a fan of books with models/real people on the cover. It just puts me off a bit. The new cover is simple, white and the drawing of Celaena is just so badass.
Abraxos – a book that’s better on the inside than it looks on the outside

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It’s not hard to ignore that the first edition cover of The Great Gatsby is well… not nice. I’m taking this topic in the sense of the book cover is awful, but the story inside is truly wonderful. There’s rich people, lavish parties, secrets and lies. I Love it so darn much.

Erilea – a series with great world building

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The world that immediately came to mind is that of the Darker Shade of Magic series.  In this book there are four different Londons: Grey London which lacks magic and is ruled by a mad king, Red London were magic is revered in a flourishing empire, White London ruled by whoever murders their way to power, and Black London… which no one mentions. The description of each of these realms is so rich and beautiful. I felt like I was walking through them while reading this book.

Rifthold – a book that combines genres

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Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is told through the medium of prose and creepy old photographs. It takes the basic things that make something horror-esque and combines it with magical fantasy elements. I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did because horror just isn’t for me. But this book is too good not to miss.

 

Damaris – a book based on/inspired by a myth or legend

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Hear me out on this one… Yes I have mentioned before on this blog that I’m not a fan of Percy Jackson, nor do I intend to finish the series BUT I have read The Lightning Thief and this was the first (and only) thing to come to mind when I looked at this question.

Kaltain Rompier – a book with an unexpected twist

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The last book I read that really made me gasp, splutter and drop it was A Grimm Warning which is the third book in The Land Of Stories series. Seriously, this ending nearly killed me. I need to get on to the fourth book pronto!
Assassin’s Keep – a book with an unreliable narrator

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I brought this up with a group of people a while ago and they disagreed with me however, I find that the protagonist – Charlie – is unreliable. The story is told through letters he writes to someone unknown (it reads like he’s writing the letters to you) talking about aspects of his life, mainly his internal struggles. Some of the things he chooses to and not to tell just makes me doubt whether I can trust him.

Asterin Blackbeak – a book that’s got squad goals

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Ultimate squad goals award goes to the shadowhunters of The Mortal Instruments universe. They just make a really cool badass team with the occasional help of warlock Magnus Bane.

 

Terrasen – a book that feels like home

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Harry Potter has been such a monumental part of my life. I grew up reading these books. I followed the characters from children to adulthood as I went through the process myself. Even though I hated school, the idea of Hogwarts (even with the workload) just fills me with warmth and happiness in a world where I can use Accio to get me things when I’m too lazy to move. Whenever I pick up any of the books and re-read them, I feel like I’m going home and returning to old, well-loved friends.

 

Aelin Ashryver Galathynius – a book with the power to destroy you

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Allegiant – the final book in the Divergent Trilogy – utterly ruined me. This was the most I’ve cried reading a book next to Harry Potter. I think this is probably my favourite in the trilogy because even though the ending is so bittersweet, it feels like the right ending for this book.

 

Manon Blackbeak – a book that intimidated you

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This is without a doubt one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. And I doubt I will find anything in my lifetime that tops it. This is the story of a German girl called Liesel who steals books… and the narrator of her adventures is death. You read that right, death. However, this book is huge. I am quite a quick reader but it took me a good month to get through this one.

 

Ronan Whitehorn – a book that makes you swoon

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I had to sit and think really hard for this one. I guess I’m just cold and heartless as I resorted to scrolling through my read list on Goodreads in the hopes of finding a suggestion. Then I came across Eleanor & Park. This book is so cute and the relationship formed between Eleanor and Park is adorable.

 

Chaol Westall – a book that challenged you to see things differently

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I bought a copy of this book along with the new, recently recovered Which Pet Should I Get? Purely because there was a line from Oh The Places You’ll Go that helped me get through high school: “You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose.” I knew this quote but had never actually read the book.

As a recent university graduate who is back in her hometown, living with her parents, not exactly doing or being where she wants to in life, I feel a bit stuck. Reading this book helped get things into perspective for me and made me see that sometimes being stagnant is all part of the journey and just because I’m in this position now, doesn’t mean I will be forever.

 

Fleetfoot – a book that you received as a gift

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This books was given to me as a git by my wonderful writer friend Jenny.  It’s an Alice In Wonderland spin-off kind of thing. I am still yet to read it but look how gorgeous this cover is!

 

Eye of Elena – A book you found right when you needed it

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I discovered this book at a really difficult time in my life and without it, I truly don’t know where I would have ended up. It gave me the courage and the strength to keep going on, when all I wanted to do was give up.

 

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

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For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings

 

 

Ultimate Book Tag

I was tagged by the wonderful Jenny over on her blog so, here we go!

Do you get sick when reading in the car?

I don’t really get sick as much as bored if it’s a long journey and I need to take a break. I tend to read a lot in the car.

Which Author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why?

Lemony Snicket. A Series Of Unfortunate Events was the first book series I ever read and there’s just something really compelling in his writing that I am yet to find in any other book.

Harry Potter or Twilight saga? (Give three reasons why)

Who on earth would pick the latter here?!
1) It was the first book I read in which I related to one of the characters: Hermione.
2) There’s magic
3) Some of the best, closest friends I have, I made because we both love Harry Potter. Jenny is one of those!

Do you carry a book bag? If so, what’s in it? (Beside books)

Typical things like keys, ipod, phone, tissues and the “Honey Trap”  lip balm from LUSH.

Do you smell your books?

Can you really call yourself a book lover if you don’t?

Books with or without illustrations?

Apart from maps, I prefer my books not to have illustrations because it prevents the imagination from creating its own image of the characters. Kind of like when you read a book after seeing the film. You’ll only see the cast as the character, right?

What book did you love while reading but later discover wasn’t quality writing?

I’m most likely going to get attacked for saying this but Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling. Let me set the scene for you: I’m sat in my first ever Creative Writing class at University and the teacher asks how many had read Harry Potter. Naturally, we all raised out hands. Then she dropped a bombshell: “J.K.Rowling is a good storyteller but not a good writer.” BLASPHEMY we silently declared. When I re-read Half Blood Prince a few months later, I realised she was right. That doesn’t mean I love it any less.

Do You have any funny stories including books from your childhood?

In Primary School me and two of my friends used to recreate the Gryffindor vs Slytherin Quidditch match from Chamber of Secrets. One of us would be Harry, the other would be Malfoy and then the third would be the balls and would run around doing gestures to represent the bludger, snitch and the quaffle.

What is the thinnest book on your shelf?

The Great Winglebury Duel by Charles Dickens.
It’s one of Penguin’s 80 classics for 80p

What is the thickest book on your shelf?

A Clash of Kings by George R.R.Martin

Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as an author?

I’m a writer and I hope to get published.

When did you get into reading?

As a child, I guess. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading.

Favourite Classic?

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

If you were given a book as a present that you’d read before and hated, what would you do?

I’d keep it, but probably never read it.

In school was your best subject English?

Yes. I did both English Literature and Language in college and my degree is in English and Creative Writing.

What is a lesser known series you know of that is similar to Harry Potter or The Hunger Games?

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.

What is a bad habit you do when reading?

I get sarcastic at characters and yell at them.

Favourite word?

Serendipity – the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

Are you a nerd, dork or dweeb?

Nerd, I guess.

Vampires or Fairies?

This is so hard! ummm Fairies!

Shapeshifter or Angels?

Neither.

Spirits or werewolves?

Werewolves.

Zombies or Vampires?

Vampires.

Love triangle or forbidden love?

Forbidden love.

Full on romance or action packed with a few love scenes mixed in?

Action with a few love scenes.

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

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For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings