So it’s already been a whole month since I moved down to Guildford! Time really has flown by as I’ve moved in, started my new job and started to explore the area. As someone who’s from the North, It’s a bit different living in Surrey.

The area as a whole seems a lot safer and calmer than Newcastle. Although there’s a high street, it’s not nearly as busy living in the City Centre in Newcastle. It’s just feels safer overall, but many of my colleagues at work have said that nothing bad really happens in Guildford. The worst is mainly traffic accidents, which isn’t surprising as I’ve seen the commuting traffic every morning and afternoon.

The high street is also full of more expensive shops, especially the end I live at. They do have the Friary Shopping Centre which holds my favourites such as Primark, Urban Outfitters and Topshop. There’s also so many places to eat at, and there’s a food court within the Friary. Since work is opposite the Friary, I’ve already tried many of them as well. Oops.

I updated you a bit on my new place a couple of weeks ago. It’s a really good flat, larger than my old one. It’s also in a fantastic place. Only 10 minutes walk to work, 15 to get to the main train station. It’s great for getting around as I’m also right around the corner from the high street and the secondary train station.

It’s also really close to London. There’s a fast train which can get you to Waterloo in about 40 minutes! This will be great to meet people who live in London, or who can also get into London easily. I’ve already visited one of my friends who’s also on a placement, and we visited Camden together!

I’m really loving my placement as well! It’s definitely the right role for me, and I’m still feeling really lucky I got it. I ended up having 13 assessment centres and interviews before I managed to get this Marketing Communications Internship so it was such a relief as well. I’ve been able to go to some really cool meetings and there’s so many amazing events I get to go to in the year ahead too.

 

 

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Kalinda has been with the sisterhood her entire life. Being sick with fevers since a child, she’s struggled to keep up with training. Despite this, she is chosen to be the hundredth wife to Rajah Tarek. She will become the Hundredth Queen.

The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen, #1)

I kept seeing this book on Goodreads – a lot of my friends seemed to be reading it. It has many mixed reviews as well, I saw one stars and five stars, which intrigued me. I also saw ads on my kindle. I decided to choose The Hundredth Queen* as my Kindle Lending Library book of the month.

King has created the myth, legend and religion within The Hundredth Queen. Character’s everyday actions are heavily influenced by their faith. There’s a clear point about the ‘winner’ of wars being able to shape the stories we tell afterwards. The king has altered the perceptions of bhutas in relation to their religion. Both this point and the overall background history was done well. The thing that bothered me was that it had been forgotten over 18 years. This feels like a very short time, and the older people should probably remember what it was like before.

I disliked the romance aspect. It was and insta-love moment. Even more annoyingly Kali fell in love with the first man she had ever seen. The way women are treated in general within the book is also extremely irritating. The ‘Benefactors’ can choose up to 100 wives plus courtesans who have to be completely obedient. Although it was touched on as wrong a little bit, it wasn’t particularly resolved. Kalinda never seems to steer away from her faith where obedience is one of the virtues. But, maybe King is leaving this for later books.

I felt the characters also lacked a lot of depth. I didn’t really feel anything for them, even in the emotional moments. Most of the wives and courtesans were indistinguishable. Admittedly, there’s 100+ and you can’t write detailed description of each, but the main ones should have been individualised a bit more.

I did read the majority of this in one day because I was on a train. It is a fairly easy book to read. But when I went to finish it the next day I kept just putting it down. The Hundredth Queen just didn’t capture my attention. I’m probably not going to continue with the series as I have many other books I’d rather read.

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For my first ever ‘Kindle First‘ choice, I of course went for the sci-fi book. Secondborn is about a society where secondborn children are seen as a lower class and live lives of servitude. Roselle comes from one of the highest class families, but must also serve under her fate, the Fate of Swords. As she is marked a traitor she must find find herself, face consequences and find her own destiny before her fate catches up to her.

Secondborn (Secondborn Series Book 1)

I found Secondborn to be a decent read that lacked world building. I couldn’t imagine the buildings, landscapes or monuments properly because it seemed to lack description. Roselle ends up living within a tree, as that’s where soldiers live. But it’s not a tree tree, it’s a steel or concrete tree. I’m sure in the authors head the imagination was great, but the author didn’t inscribe this onto paper well enough.

I didn’t care for the main character Roselle. She switched from being weak and naive to strong and highly intelligent too much. One of the main points is she’s been brought up to be completely subservient as a secondborn, but she’s not the best at taking orders. Her character had a lot of conflicting attributes which weren’t due to character growth or change. Also, she seemed well trained with weapons, but she never seemed like a soldier as I didn’t think she would be able to hold her own in a war.

Side characters were used as plot conveniences. They often helped Roselle with one specific task and then seemed to disappear just as quickly. This happened with at least 3 characters. They met Roselle, helped Roselle and then was never seen or spoken to again. The first two times, I expected them to fall in with the group of soldiers for the overall plotline, but it just wasn’t happening.

I was interested in the different ‘Fates’ and how they came about. Especially how firstborns are now superior to secondborns. Although the fates are faintly reminiscent of Hunger Games and Divergent as they’re sectors of the population with different specialities. I felt there was a back story to how this government came to form, but it wasn’t included in this storyline. I would hope Bartol would expand on this later in the series.

One part of the blurb confused me as ‘Now her decision to spare an enemy on the battlefield marks her as a traitor to the state.’ isn’t within the book. I felt like maybe in the first draft that was going to be part of the plot, but it was then changed. Roselle does spare a life, but it’s never a focal point as no one else finds out. That should definitely be changed before publishing.

The pacing was very up and down. It took a long time to introduce the Gates of Dawn faction into Roselle’s storyline. So a lot of filler was used to show Roselle adapting to being part of the soldiers and introducing random side characters. Within this filler, the romance subplot was bombarded.

As usual, I disliked the romance subplot because it seemed unrealistic. There was a time jump in the centre of the book which was unnecessary. It seemed to be for the sole purpose of telling the reader the romance has been going on for a length of time. This felt like lazy writing as Bartol didn’t need to actually write the romance progressing. It also felt jumpy for the actual plot as I questioned why nothing would have happened within that time frame.

Overall I didn’t particularly like Secondborn* and I most likely will not be purchasing the rest of the series when published. I assumed Secondborn was Bartol’s debut book, but I was wrong. So this was slightly disappointing to read.

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After a recommendation from one of my friends, I picked up the Sleek Solstice highlighter palette. Even though I usually use Revolution’s highlighter, I wanted to try out a cream highlighter. The gold metallic case is quite sturdy. Both the product and mirror were intact after moving day! It comes with 4 highlighters and a small brush.

From the top right clockwise the colours are: Ecliptic, Hemisphere, Equinox and Subsolar. Ecliptic is a rose-nude colour and is a cream highlighter. It creates a very subtle highlight, as it’s not quite as shimmery as the others. The cream texture feels quite oily, which I dislike when I have oily skin. When I first tried it, it was a lot better because I had dry skin at the time. So I expect it would work well for those with normal to dry skin.

Hemsiphere and Equinox are baked powders. Hemisphere is really strange as it’s lilac. It’s not as strong a colour when on your skin though. When applied, it looks  very vibrant, and is the strongest highlight of the four. It also applies quite heavy, you don’t need to put a lot on to see the effect. Equinox is not quite as bright as Hemisphere, but it’s still very visible as a highlighter. It’s more peach when applied, so don’t worry about your face looking orange like it looks it the palette.

Subsolar is a silky shimmer powder and has a yellow colouring within the palette. It is a lot less vibrant than the other two powders, but because it’s a more neutral colour, it works better on day to day basis. I prefer using Subsolar with my everyday makeup just to bring out my cheekbones a bit. Hemisphere and Equinox on the other hand work a lot better for night time looks. This is a personal preference as I prefer to keep my make-up ‘natural’ looking for my everyday.

I will probably still use my Revolution highlighter, as once Subsolar runs out, I won’t the Sleek Solstice Highlighter Palette for everyday. But, when they all run out, I would be happy to purchase again as they are good value for money.

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Ray and Sasha share three half siblings but aren’t related themselves. The Whole Thing Together takes place over the summer as Ray and Sasha occupy the same room alternative weeks due to his mum and her dad splitting the time at the house they both own. This summer is about to change lives for the whole family.

The Whole Thing Together

Although Ray and Sasha are our main characters, we also follow their half-siblings, Emma, Quinn and Mattie. This was probably too many people to focus on. There was a noted family tree at the start but as I was on a Kindle it was harder to flick between my page and the notes. As I continued reading I could differentiate a bit but the character’s didn’t have a lot of depth.

Ray and Sasha are basically the same person. The way they are written is so focused on one another and their siblings, you could interchange their names and it would probably still make sense. Actually, Brashare’s did interchange their names within the book. Which made it even more confusing.

Each of the half-sisters had their own storyline. But the only one I enjoyed was Mattie’s. The premise of her plot isn’t a unique or original story, but I would have preferred just focusing on hers rather than all five of them. It would have made Mattie and her parents more three dimensional, and would’ve made her reaction to the whole thing a bit easier to understand. I felt she was a bit upset and then got over it pretty quickly because there wasn’t enough time to spend with her and also have time focusing on everyone else.

The Ray and Sasha being two sides of the same coin being brought together felt boring. I didn’t care if they were going to meet or not. They ‘shared’ a room which fair enough there weren’t enough rooms within the house. But I found it really strange how they wouldn’t tidy before they left. I really questioned whether they were changing the bed sheets because Ray spent so much time saying the bed smelt like Sasha. I found it really awkward and weird the way it was set up for them to be two sides but the same.

The romance aspect was set up from the beginning but I hoped I was reading too much into it and it wouldn’t happen. Unfortunately for me, it did happen. I didn’t really like it for a couple of reasons. One reason is a spoiler so I wont say it. The other was that I felt they didn’t know each other enough for there to be a romance.

I disliked the ending. It felt very much that Brashares had rushed it. Basically a big life-changing event needed to happen and so there was an incident. After this incident, it was very ‘so this happened, and then this happened, and this happened, done’. It was a complete abrupt and hurried.

Overall, The Whole Thing Together wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read. But I didn’t really enjoy multiple aspects of the book. The plot wasn’t for me, it was predictable in places. There was one shock, but that was it. I didn’t really feel for the characters either, which would have helped to make the ending more likable.

I received The Whole Thing Together* by Ann Brashares as an e-book from the publisher via Netgalley. This is an unbiased and honest review.

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