Book Haul | October 2016

Every month I spend all the money all the books.

This is what sent me broke this month:

1. Every Move You Make: Chilling True Stories of Stalkers and their Victims | Victoria Heywood
2. Deadly Games: Kids Who Kill Kids | Gabrielle O’Reilly and Liz Frame

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I have recently gone into this True Crime Binge that is creepy as f*** and there are so few people in my circle of friends that I can fangirl over this stuff with. But to quote the great T-Swizzle, “Haters gonna hate!” You only need one true crime true friend who really understands you to get through this.

3. The Last Beginning | Lauren James
4. Gemina | Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
5. Crooked Kingdom | Leigh Bardugo
6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Illustrated edition) | JK Rowling
7. The Four Legendary Kingdoms | Matthew Reilly

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This was a month of sequels – ones that I have been highly anticipating!

The Last Beginning is part of The Next Together duology (I screamed when I found out this was a duology) and the first book made me so ridiculously happy. It’s not quite like anything else I have read before and it is about the reincarnations of these two people who are, for lack of a better term, soul mates.

GEMINA! Do I really need to talk about this? Surely you are just as excited as I when it comes to the Illuminae Files by these beautiful Australian authors. I will never not be proud that they are Australian and have written one of the most badass books (and I assume series) in the world. In case you have just abandoned your hermit life and the first thing you did was check out my blog then Illuminae is a story told in report style – about two people who escaped their destroyed planet and are now dealing with a plague aboard their spacecraft that is doing some real nasty shit to people. Gemina picks up minutes after the end of Illuminae and I can’t wait to devour this book (by the time this is released I may have read it already *spooky*)

Crooked Kingdom is my life. This is the book I am going to read for my really huge Goodreads event – my 1000th “read” book!! *and the crowd goes wild*

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This is another duology, one that I am desperate for. I took a while to read Six of Crows because I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Grisha trilogy – I only ended up reading the first two books :\ But SoC was beyond epic, the characters were intriguing and different, the story was badass AND IT ENDED ON THE BIGGEST CLIFFHANGER WHICH IS THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO TO A HUMAN BEAN!

The Four Legendary Kingdoms is something I read almost immediately after buying because I couldn’t hold out any longer.

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You can find my review here.

8. Three Dark Crowns | Kendare Blake
9. Vassa in the Night | Sarah Porter
10. Holding Up The Universe | Jennifer Niven

Three Dark Crowns was The YA Chronicles’ September book (as well as Owlcrate’s), so now I have two delicious copies of the book. I didn’t know that Kendare Blake had started another series until I opened up my Owlcrate and it was sitting there winking at me. It was a scream of excitement for the ages. This is a story about three sisters – triplets – that must fight to the death for the position of Queen. Oh, and they are sixteen…

Vassa in the Night is the book I prayed for in Owlcrate’s October box AND I GOT IT! It is a Russian folklore retelling, and I heart me some retellings.

11. Lumberjanes Volume 1 | Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis & Brooke A Allen
12. The First Third | Will Kostakis
13. Bright Smoke, Cold Fire | Rosamund Hodge

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Lumberjanes is by Noelle Stevenson. That’s all I needed to know before I made the snap decision to buy it. I don’t know what it is about apart from 5 kickass ladies doing their thing. I am sure it is going to be perfect.

The First Third is the second book by Kostakis. I have read his most recent novel “The Sidekicks” and adored it with every fibre of my being. A friend told me they liked TFT even more than the The Sidekicks so not buying it wasn’t even an option. The ‘thirds’ are described like this: “Life is made up of three parts: in the first third, you’re embarrassed by your family; in the second, you make a family of your own; and in the end, you just embarrass the family you’ve made.” I can already tell that this book is going to make me laugh and cry so hard.

Rosamund Hodge has easily become one of auto-buy authors. Her books aren’t perfect, but they are always interesting and I never regret reading them. There is always a unique universe that I am diving into and the female characters are always strong but vulnerable, flawed but enviable. She is one of my Queens of Retellings and this latest book is a Romeo and Juliet retelling. With necromancers.

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Top 5 Wednesday | Favourite Spooky Settings

 

 

This week’s theme is SPOOKTACULAR!!

I haven’t necessarily been spooked while reading them, there has just been something kind of eerie about each of these – whether it be the plot, characters or the setting. As you will see, I really fancy books which don’t feel like a particular time or place. So here we go!

5. Crimson Bound | Rosamund Hodge

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“Every day for the last three years, she had thought she deserved to die. She still didn’t want to. She wanted to live with every filthy desperate scrap of her heart.”

It was tough choosing between this book and Cruel Beauty because they are both pretty spooky. I decided on this one because of the lore that Hodge has written into the story.

This book was stunning. I sort of forgot just how wretchedly beautiful it was until I looked into it again. It is set in Durendal – a fictional city with a quite disturbing Great Forest.

Rachelle is our protagonist – Hodge’s interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood – and she is a protector, assassin and guard of the realm. Her main goal throughout the story is to end/stop the Devourer – this dark creature that wants to destroy the world.

The characters are intense and violent. The story is thorny and twisty. There are many dark creatures killing townspeople. It’s just a very spooky village!

4. The Raven Boys | Maggie Stiefvater

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“I guess now would be a good time to tell you,” He said. “I took Chainsaw out of my dreams.”

What makes this book so spooky is that you are never quite sure what is happening. You are kept on your toes. The story is told from many perspectives but you still aren’t 100% sure of people’s motives – you can’t trust everybody. And I love it when fantasy elements are wrapped into real-life situations. It raises the intensity of the story.

3. Her Fearful Symmetry | Audrey Niffenegger

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“There was only the cemetery itself, spread out in the moonlight like a soft grey hallucination, a stony wilderness of Victorian melancholy.”

This is about two sisters who are mirror twins. They are completely identical except that one sister’s organs are on the opposite side of the body, so it’s like looking into the mirror of yourself.

They inherit their Aunt’s flat and it is here that their unusually close relationship starts to crumble. The other inhabitants of the building have their own issues and they start to seep into the sisters’ lives. Mistrust and paranormal activity keep the sisters and the reader on edge. It was an intense and almost stressful book to read.

2. In the Shadow of Blackbirds | Cat Winters

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“We live in a world so horrifying, it frightens even the dead.”

Not only is this one of my favourite books but it is one of saddest and creepiest. It explores one of the great questions: Are ghosts real? Is there an afterlife?

This book is atmospheric. Winters really encapsulates American life in 1918 – it’s close to the end of the war but many people are still dying, especially from the Spanish Influenza. Not only are the supernatural elements strong here, but it is also exploring the social elements of life for a 16 year old girl in this time. There is strength and horror and fear.

1. The Diviners | Libba Bray

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“There is nothing more terrifying than the absoluteness of one who believes he’s right.”

I am ashamed to say that I still haven’t finished reading this! I am currently listening to the audiobook which is either the greatest or worst decision I have ever made. The narrator is spectacular! Her accents and the story she is telling really places the reader in 1920s New York and I feel like I have stepped through time to see this story play out.

There are some pretty graphic murder scenes in this book and one of the creepiest villains ever – he just feels insubstantial and his motive for killing beyond “Because I want to and can” aren’t 100% clear yet. And the fact that he sings while hunting his prey really makes my skin crawl. So even though I am only about 1/4 of the way through the book this is by far one of the creepiest settings for a book that I have come across.

Honourable Mentions

  • Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Supernatural Murder Mystery with a side of quirky humour – count me in! There are creepy characters and the setting is atmospheric, but it wasn’t too spooky to me. Dry, hot desert doesn’t really scream “Bump in the night”.

  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

This just missed out because the setting falls too much into the realm of surreal rather than spooky. An incredibly beautiful and heartbreaking story though.

 

Unboxing | Owlcrate | October 2016 | Once Upon A Dream

I am very pumped about this month’s box!

It was one of the cutest boxes that Owlcrate have put together and I was particularly excited about the book.

Vassa in the Night | Sarah Porter

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This book guys, this book! It was included in last month’s Fairyloot box and I was so sad that I didn’t get that box, so when I saw this I screamed.

Blurb: “In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…”

Retellings can be hit and miss, but this is one that I am not worried about. As usual this came with a delightful letter from the author, and it also came with a signed bookplate and temporary tattoo. Owlcrate choose the most giving authors for their boxes.

Bookmark

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This stripey piece of beautiful was an excellent edition. One can never have too many bookmarks, especially one this adorable.

It is created by My Heart My Tribe – I can’t find their store, but here is their Instagram account.

Notebook

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The next item was an Oz Passport notebook. It’s so freaking adorable and notebooks are always useful. This one was created by The Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild.

Bracelet

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After the book this was my favourite item. I’ve already worn it a bunch of times and it the jingliest, cutest bracelet ever. It has a Sleeping Beauty theme and that is one of my favourite Disney movies. Those fairies slay me!

Beanie

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Come on guys! You are killing me with cuteness! In Australia we are starting to get into hotter weather so I won’t be able to wear it for ages, but I will appreciate it from afar until that time.

This Peter Pan beanie is by Whosits & Whatsits and ya’ll need to get your own.

 

October Reviews | 15 October – 21 October 2016

V for Violet | Alison Rattle | 15 October 2016 | 3 stars

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I started this week with V for Violet by Alison Rattle. I usually put in a book blurb so you can see for yourself if you would be interested. After reading the book I decided the best thing I could do for you is not tell you because any description you read is about 78% spoiler. No joke. They give away a bunch of things in the blurb which are meant to be secret and mysterious.

So I am here to tell you DON’T READ ANY GOSH DARN BLURBS FOR THIS BOOK!!

I will tell you that it a historical murder mystery set in Ireland and that is all you need to know.

I liked that I was reading about a character that wasn’t very likeable (no idea if that was on purpose or not) – she’s so angry and a little angsty and she reminded me of me at her age. “No one understands me, my interests are different, why don’t I fit in”…the whole shebang!

It’s hard looking at an historically-set book with a modern brain because all my feminist hackles are raised by the quite disgusting sexism and victim blaming in the book, but at least it feels a bit more historically accurate by not shying away from it. It’s tough being a proud and disgusted reader at the same time.

The romance is a bit insta-lovey but it wasn’t the focus of the book so it didn’t phase me too much. Just a tiny bit of an eye-roll occurred over the main character falling for the “bad boy”.

The Problem With Forever | Jennifer L Armentrout | 18 October 2016 | 2.5 stars

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“When Mallory was a kid, she was bounced from one horrible foster home to another. At thirteen, a terrible accident got her removed from the group home where she was living to a hospital where she met the parents who would adopt her. But when she starts a new school and encounters an old friend from the foster system sparks start to fly.”

I found that there was nothing overly wrong with this book, but after reading some reviews I realised that she was not great – sometimes even offensive – at representing Puerto Rican people. Knowing nothing about their culture I didn’t want to make some misinformed judgements about it, this is just a warning for those that may find themselves really offended by it.

My main issue was that it was just really predictable. Within 50 pages I had predicted almost every single thing that would occur in it. Conversations and thoughts were repetitive and it made the story drag on a bit. Only so much internalised agonising by the protagonist can be handled by me. People can struggle to converse in social situations and still think straight instead of being a complete mess at all times.

I don’t feel like this story added anything new or unique to our understanding of children welfare in America or things like social anxiety.

Like I said, not a great book, not a bad one, just majorly average.

Jack West Jr and the Hero’s Helmet | Matthew Reilly | 19 October 2016 | 4 stars

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“Late on Christmas Eve, decorated SAS officer and Egyptologist Jack West Jr is about to make a discovery that could rewrite history.

In the ancient Temple of Dendur, housed in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, a legendary weapon has lain hidden for millennia.

But Jack is not the only person who knows about the artifact’s existence. As Jack examines the temple in the deserted museum, he is watched by a mysterious figure. A man intent on stopping him at any cost.”

THE HISTORY OF HOW JACKY BOY GOT HIS HELMET!! ALL THE SCREAMING!!!

Please tell me there are other Matthew Reilly fans here because this man writes the most fucking epic books! And I refuse to apologise for swearing. He deserves to be sworn over.

This was just a 20ish-page badass interlude that you can find here. It acts as a reintroduction to Jack and other characters (because sweet baby chestnuts it has been ages since the last book). I lubbed it ❤

The Four Legendary Kingdoms | Matthew Reilly | 21 October 2016 | 4.75 stars

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“There are sixteen contestants, but only one will survive.

The last thing Jack West Jr remembers is arriving for a meeting at a top-secret military base with his family in tow.

Now he awakes to find himself in a hellish scenario. Jack has been selected to take part in the Games, a series of deadly challenges designed to fulfil an ancient ritual. If he chooses not to compete, both he and his daughter will be killed.

With the fate of the Earth at stake, Jack will have to traverse diabolical mazes, fight ruthless assassins and face unimaginable horrors that will test him to the limit.

In the process, he will discover the mysterious and powerful group of individuals behind it all: the four legendary kingdoms.”

Well this is a first.

I legitimately felt giddy while reading this. Giddy. I only get this excited when squealing over smoochy kitties. It’s probably weird that I was smiling as much as I was while reading about a bunch of dudes murdering each other, but I like me for me 😉

But this, THIS, was everything. Worth the 63 million year wait.

Myth, action, heroes, legends, death, bizarre-o science that I don’t know even where to begin for fact-checking purposes, more death, friends, enemies, even more death.
Well, compared to his other books the death count isn’t actually that high. He didn’t George RR Martin us!

If you are reading this I don’t think you need to be told to read Reilly’s books, but I’m going to anyway. READ THE THINGS!

October Reviews | 8 October – 14 October 2016

Goodwood | Holly Throsby | 8 October 2016 | 2.5 stars

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“Goodwood is a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone. It’s a place where it’s impossible to keep a secret.

In 1992, when Jean Brown is seventeen, a terrible thing happens. Two terrible things. Rosie White, the coolest girl in town, vanishes overnight. One week later, Goodwood’s most popular resident, Bart McDonald, sets off on a fishing trip and never comes home.

People die in Goodwood, of course, but never like this. They don’t just disappear.

As the intensity of speculation about the fates of Rosie and Bart heightens, Jean, who is keeping secrets of her own, and the rest of Goodwood are left reeling.”

I received this book as an review copy in a Dymocks competition and I was so ridiculously excited. I am in the middle of this giant crime binge and I thought it would be right up my alley. This book took forever to read – like 18 days – and I was a little let down by the end of it.

‘Chaotic’ is how I would best describe this book.

It’s like we are seeing events unfold through Evie’s eyes but she doesn’t feel like the protagonist, just a narrator. She was basically the relayer of information without being emotionally/physically affected by the missing people. The stronger chapters were those with Mack and Davo or Judy and Mrs Bart because I could feel the emotional trauma caused by the missing people.

Evie’s self-discovery being intertwined with the unravelling of the mystery of the two missing people didn’t feel right for me – almost like two different stories were mashed together incohesively.

It flips between characters and between tenses but there were no strong individual voices between them – I felt like I was being told events in the same tone so everyone blended together and it would take me time to discern that the narrator had changed.

I was expecting a mystery but the mystery element wasn’t too strong. I felt like this was more an exploration of the underbelly of suburbia. So if you are in people’s psyches then this may be more up your alley.

I Hunt Killers | Barry Lyga | 12 October 2016 | 4.25 stars

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“Jazz is a likable teenager. A charmer, some might say.

But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, “Take Your Son to Work Day” was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could–from the criminals’ point of view.

And now, even though Dad has been in jail for years, bodies are piling up in the sleepy town of Lobo’s Nod. Again.

In an effort to prove murder doesn’t run in the family, Jazz joins the police in the hunt for this new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret–could he be more like his father than anyone knows?”

This, this, is what I’ve been needing in my life!

If this is what it’s really like in the head of a sociopath then consider me terrified. Jazz fully understands that he grew up in a fairly unhealthy environment and it shaped him. He is manipulative, obsessive, cunning and intelligent.

I love that this book boils down to a kid on the road to self-discovery but he is trying to figure out if he is or is not a killer. He knows that he is capable, but it’s an actual effort to remind himself that people matter. Not something the average Joe needs to worry about! It’s a book about choices – about nature vs nurture.

I thought the crime was interesting and well-plotted. Just an all-around pretty great book about killers and definitely a series that I need to continue.

October Reviews | 1 October – 7 October 2016

Perhaps a month of average books was necessary. My theory is that the more I read the harder it is for me to be impressed, intrigued and excited by a book.

My month began with the first three books in the Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole. Cole is one of my favourite supernatural romance authors but I have not been the biggest fan of her foray into YA.

So far it is has been the weirdest mix of post-apocalyptic, dystopia, fantasy and supernatural. I was overcome by how many elements there were and, although there was nothing inherently wrong with the way they meshed together, not enough time is devoted to each element because the “romance” overrides everything.

Poison Princess | Kresley Cole | 4 October 2016 | 3 stars

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“Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future-and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Derveaux.”

This was actually a fairly strong start to the series. I could feel Evie struggling with her hallucinations and the setting was clear in my head. I even liked the storytelling element. We are told from the start not to trust her version of events and there is nothing I like more than a purposefully-written unreliable narrator.

What let me down was the relationship drama. There is just so much petty jealousy and so many irritating conversations (both internal and external) about what certain characters did or didn’t do, and who they do and don’t like. Dudes. The world is ending. Finding food and water is a struggle. You are creating vegetables with your blood. You have bigger issues. This is a theme that ran throughout the three books and something I constantly struggled with.

Endless Knight | Kresley Cole | 5 October 2016 | 2.5 stars

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“Evie has fully come into her powers as the tarot Empress. And Jack was there to see it all. In the aftermath of killing Arthur, Evie realizes that there is a war brewing between the teens who’ve been given powers following the apocalypse, and it’s kill or be killed. When Evie meets Death, the gorgeous and dangerous Endless Knight, things get even more complicated. Somehow the Empress and Death share a romantic history. One that Evie can’t remember, but Death can’t forget. Evie is drawn to Death, but in love with Jack. She is determined to discover why she’s been granted these powers, and in the process, struggles to accept her place in the prophecy that will either save the world, or destroy it.”

And here cometh the love triangle *eyes roll right out of my head*

The second installment in the series was good at exploring the universe more and the history of these tarot kids – unfortunately it was through the lens of Death’s and Evie’s history. Now, I am a hopeless fangirl who can’t help but choose a side and I love me a bad boy, so I am all about the Death.

This book was also good at exploring the “evil” side of this to-the-death game. Everything is not black and white and everyone has different motives and a different sense of morality and ethics. I liked the sense of discovery in this book.

It was very dragged out though. And repetitive. And very “I broke up with you in my head therefore I feel free to do what I want with whomever I choose because I am 17 and can adult”. I just did not have time for Evie’s shit. I just want her to have a bit more backbone. Go, FUCK ALL THESE BOY PROBLEMS and get her shit together.

Dead of Winter | Kresley Cole | 6 October 2016 | 2 stars

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“Evie was almost seduced by the life of comfort that Death offered her—until Jack was threatened by two of the most horrific Arcana, the Lovers. She will do anything to save him, even escape Death’s uncanny prison, full of beautiful objects, material comforts…and stolen glances from a former love.”

And this is where I went “HELL TO THE NOPETY NOPE!!” It was legitimately an entire book about “Which boy will Evie choose?” I could even feel her exhaustion with it. And I was sitting there the entire time wondering why she should have to choose anyone at all. There was also some sort of incestuous evil twin thing going on but that was sort of glanced over because WHICH BOY?!?!

So, yeah. I think I have given up, despite there being another two or three books. I was tired and no longer cared what happened to the characters. Because, quite frankly, they were all fairly rank, desperate and fighting over a girl who is wishy-washy and condescending towards a character with Asperger’s.

Book-Tube-A-Thon 2015!!

I HAVE PARTICIPATED IN MY FIRST EVER BOOK-TUBE-A-THON AND IT WAS RADICAL! I have done a weekend-long readathon before but this was on a whole other level.

We were given a week to read as many books as possible while trying to complete set challenges. I ended up reading five books due to university commitments (yet I somehow had time to write this blog…why didn’t I read instead? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!)

Anyways, these were the books I munched on:

1. Read a book with blue on the cover

BT2015 - These Broken Stars

Title: These Broken Stars

Author: Amie Kaufman | Meagan Spooner

Rating: 8.8/10

2. Read a book by an author who shares the same first letter of your last name

BT2015 - Easy

Title: Easy

Author: Tammara Webber

Rating: 2.4/10

3. Read someone else’s favourite book

BT2015 - Yes Please

Title: Yes Please

Author: Amy Poehler

Rating: 8/10

4. Finish a book without letting it go

BT2015 - In The Skin Of A Monster

Title: In The Skin Of A Monster

Author: Kathryn Barker

Rating: 8.2/10

5. Read a book you really want to read

BT2015 - Magonia

Title: Magonia

Author: Maria Dahvana Headley

Rating: 8.6/10

So I ended up reading five books, which turned out to be about 1640 pages! I have also been doing a buddy read with my friend during the week so we have slowly been making our way through A Game Of Thrones, so that is about another 150 pages on top of that. I feel like quite the champion, even if I didn’t succeed in completing all seven challenges. Next year I will just have to take the week off work “sick” and make sure I am not studying 😀